Various aspects of life in ancient Egypt:
Art and artefacts
Clothing and jewellery
The Country and its people: geography, population, flora, and fauna
Drink and Food
Economy, crafts, raw materials, trade, transportation and travel
Health and Hygiene
Leisure and enjoyment
Politics and policies
Religion, mythology, world view
Social relationships and institutions
Making beer, much less widespread in Egypt today than it was in ancient times
Picture source: Jon Bodsworth
Aspects of Life in Ancient Egypt
One of the most astonishing facts about Egypt is how little everyday life changed over the millennia. The rhythm of
Egyptian life was the rhythm of the Nile until a few years ago, when the Aswan dam was erected.
Even today one can find the ancient shadoof, oxen pulling ploughs and houses made of mud bricks.
The gods are gone, so are the pharaohs, the language and the writing. The cities look European in a ramshackle
sort of way, transportation is partly 20th century, there's some industry, and radio and television are everywhere. But villages in the farther off corners of the country must still look very much like those of thousands of years ago.
Concerning these pages
I mostly chose topics not widely dealt with on the web. For the time being I do not include anything about pyramids or royal tombs for instance, as plenty of material can be found on these subjects.
Descriptions generally refer to the period of the New Kingdom.
I've tried to be as accurate as possible. Should you find facts which are incorrect, please let me know. Thank you.
List of Topics
- Architectural elements Foundations, arches, pillars, obelisks, stairs
- Building in stone: The tools, the stone, the mason's craft
- Building in ancient Egypt: Planning, ceremonies, materials, tools.
- Town planning: Location, city quarters, residential areas, temple districts
- Hat-hetep-Senusret (Kahun), map of a planned city
- Walls and ramparts: Private dwellings, palaces, city walls.
- Contemporary plan of the tomb of Ramses IV
- Crafts, craftsmen and artists
- The economy: Population, sources of wealth, duties imposed and beneficiaries of the system.
- Raw materials
- Animal products: Leather, fur, eggshells, bone, ivory
- Clay: Pottery, building
- Metals: sources, technologies, uses
- Mining of metals, precious stones, natron etc.
- Stone: Quarrying, transporting and working stone
- Travel and transportation
- Ships and Boats: The archaeological evidence, the state involvement, ship construction, navigation, constructions facilitating navigation.
- Travel in ancient Egypt
- Journeys of exploration: Henenu's exploration of the Red Sea, journeys to Punt under Hatshepsut, the circumnavigation of Africa
- Means of transportation: Walking, ferries, litters, chariots, beasts of burden, ships and boats.
- Medical Care: The healers, the diseases, herbal medicine, pregancy and childbirth, surgery, prosthetics, dentistry, historical perspective.
- Personal Hygiene and Cosmetics: Cosmetics, perfumes, washing, hair, manicure.
- Vermin: Insects - Birds -Rodents - Remedies
- Funerary practices
- Mummification: the embalmers and their art
- Preparations and burial
- Funerary objects: Amulets,
Canopic jars, censers, coffins, funerary cones, funerary masks, hypocephali, models, mummy labels, the nemset vessel, the netjeri blade, offering tables, Osiris beds, papyrus scrolls, the pesesh-kaf, reserve heads, statues, stelae, ushabtis
- The funerary cortège and the opening of the mouth ceremony, Ptolemaic period
- Solar ships and funerary boats
- On mourning and burial
- The ushabti: A life of eternal servitude
- The judgment of the Dead
- The Egyptians and their Dead: Life after Death - Ancestor Worship - The Dead and the Living - Remembering the Dead
- Heka, the Magic of Ancient Egypt: Acquiring Magical Powers - The Practitioners of Magic - Practical Purposes - The Practice of Magic
- Execration rituals
- The Memphite mythology
- The gods
- The Religion of the People: Worship in the Temples - Personal Piety
- Public ceremonies: Processions, festivals
- Corn mummies
- Theatre: Religious plays
- Body and soul: Explanations of the terms associated with the Egyptian view of self
- The four kas: Human happiness as gift of the gods
- Man and Woman: The Family - Husband and Wife - Property - Infidelity - Marital Violence - Death - Divorce
- Masters and Workers: Labour relations in ancient Egypt
- Slavery: The Enslavement - The Slave Population - The Price of a Slave - The Treatment of Slaves - Runaways - The Setting-free - The Status of Women and Foreigners
- The Social Classes in Ancient Egypt: The nobility, the intelligentsia, labour, the outcast, the military, the priesthood, social stability
- Childhood: Origin - Birth - The Toddler - Education - Coming of Age - Death of a Child
- Friendship: The Teachings - Literary Friendships - Real-life Friendships - The Pharaohs - The Gods
- The administration: The court, the civil adminstration, the military, foreign relations, the temples, regional governments, the vice-royalty of Nubia.
- The armed forces: The army and navy
- Law enforcement: The police, the criminals and their crimes, the laws, the courts, the punishments
- Duties: Taxation, forced labour, military service
[ ] Source of the three 20th century photographs (reaper, potter, winnowers): University of Washington website