12 facts about the culture of ancient Egypt, which are not written in school textbooks
We know about Ancient Egypt mainly from the information received at school in history lessons. We immediately imagine majestic and cruel pharaohs, mysterious pyramids, hieroglyphs, and crowds of enslaved people. This is certainly interesting, but if you deviate from the stereotyped stories, you can learn many amazing things about the ancient Egyptians, their customs, and their achievements. We have collected some facts about Ancient Egypt that will blow your mind.
1. Egyptian pharaohs wore fake beards
In the pictures in textbooks and ancient drawings, the pharaohs are depicted with beards of various shapes, often unnatural, such as a rectangle or triangle. In fact, in ancient Egypt, it was not customary to wear loose beards and long hair. Unshaven usually indicated that the person was an outsider or of low social status.
The beard was one of the royal regalias for the pharaohs, symbolizing masculinity and strength. Therefore, the rulers used false beards during solemn events – they, like wigs, were made from wool and cut hair and intertwined with gold threads, giving various shapes. Sometimes even gold and other precious metals, decorated with drawings, became the material for a false beard. They fastened such a beard with two bandages, and after the pharaoh’s death, his wife could wear it. To get the latest stories, install our app here
2. The Egyptians came close to discovering the benefits of penicillin
The Egyptians were close to discovering the beneficial properties of penicillin before the invention of antibiotics: they used certain types of mould as medicine. Doctors of Ancient Egypt – priests – often treated their patients by applying mouldy bread to wounds and cuts, and to fight colds, they prepared mould growing on herbs and leaves for ingestion.
3. The Egyptians were among the first to brew beer
Beer is considered the oldest drink: judging by scientists’ findings, man invented this drink about ten thousand years ago. The Babylonian king Hammurabi issued a code that regulated the rules for the production and consumption of beer. True, the drink was stored for no more than a day, and in taste and composition, it was completely different from the one you are used to seeing on store shelves: in those days, honey, oak bark, and tree leaves were often added to beer. To get the latest stories, install our app here
The Egyptians bought beer from the Babylonians, but it quickly lost much of its flavour value because of the long camel journey in the heat. Therefore, the inhabitants of the Nile independently mastered its production and even modernized the recipe. To make a drink, the Egyptians baked bread from wheat, crumbled it into a basin, poured juice from dates, mixed it, and filtered it. Beer was a truly popular drink: it was drunk by pharaohs and even slaves. The invention of wheat beer was so important to the people of Egypt that its patron gods appeared in their culture.
4. Men In ancient Egypt wore skirts
Of course, they did it because of the tropical climate. To withstand high temperatures in the pants would be much more difficult. The poor could generally walk around without clothes on the lower half of the body – they dressed in spacious shirts.
5. The Egyptians were among the first to invent contraceptives
The history of contraception has been more than one thousand years. The inhabitants of Ancient Egypt did not seek to have many children, so they tried in every possible way to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies. Women, for example, used various ointments that included ingredients such as cow dung, honey, and cotton. Men dipped their gen!tals in onion juice and even resin. To get the latest stories, install our app here
6. Ancient Egyptians valued board games
The inhabitants of ancient Egypt loved board games; some even survived to this day. Entire legends were associated with their appearance. For example, one of the most famous games, “Senet,” was invented by the ancient Egyptian god of knowledge, Thoth.
The sun god Ra cursed the goddess Nut: she could not give birth to a child on any of the 360 days of the year. He invited the moon god, Khonsu, to play senet with him to win Nut’s extra days. At stake was 1/72 of the “light” of each of the 360 days of the lunar year. He managed to beat Khonsu, thanks to which he received an additional five days a year.
7. The Egyptians made marriage contracts
In ancient Egypt, a husband and wife signed a marriage contract, which was approved by the governor of the pharaoh. Such a document spelled out a man’s duty to provide for his wife. Also, in the wedding contract, the bride’s dowry was often listed so that in the event of a divorce, she could return everything with which she came to her husband’s house.
8. In ancient Egypt, children did not wear clothes until they reached adolescence
The tropical climate allowed children to walk the streets naked until adolescence. One of the few accessories that they wore, the so-called “sidelock of youth,” was a false lock of hair or a blue braid, which was shifted along with the temple.
9. Cosmetics were used equally by men and women
Cosmetics in Ancient Egypt were in demand not only among women. Men also used it daily. The thing is that the main purpose of cosmetics at that time was to protect the skin from sunlight and not at all to decorate the face. To get the latest stories, install our app here
10. The Egyptians caught mammoths
To be more precise, they were the descendants of those mammoths that we used to imagine. Mammoths did not die out at the snap of their fingers – some individuals fought desperately for existence. But the lack of food has led to a decrease in the size of animals.
And although dwarf mammoths could not have crossed paths with the inhabitants of Ancient Egypt, the very idea that they walked around our planet in the same period in which the Egyptians lived seems incredible.
11. The world’s first police appeared in Ancient Egypt
The first “law enforcement agencies” in the history of humankind appeared in ancient Egypt. These were people close to the pharaoh and provided power and order. The “police” of Ancient Egypt often monitored the observance of charge in the company of patrol animals – trained dogs and monkeys.
12. The Egyptians were the first to wear wedding rings
Wedding rings appeared about 4,800 years ago in ancient Egypt, and their original appearance was very different from what we have now. Rings were woven from sedge, which was collected on the banks of the Nile, and presented to their chosen ones. Such rings symbolized the inextricable bond between two people.
The shape of the decoration was not chosen by chance: the Egyptians worshipped the Moon and the Sun, and they have the shape of a circle. Wedding rings were worn on the ring finger – it was believed that it was in it that there was a vein leading directly to the heart.