The ancient Egyptians loved life as were blessed with very rich land and beautiful climate. They considered their life to be perfect, to the point that they believed that their afterlife was the eternal continuation of life on earth. Daily life in ancient Egypt was focused on enjoying the time they had and make it memorable as much as possible. And through their observance of the harmony and the balance of the universe, they were encouraged to live in peace and happiness with themselves and others.
Social Classes During Life in Ancient Egypt
The population of Egypt was divided into social classes in the shape of social pyramids based on their profession and role in society. At the top of the pyramids was the king as he was the god’s chosen man and his royal family who enjoyed an unimaginable amount of status, wealth and luxury. Second to the top, is the educated professional class like the doctors, the accountants, priests, and scribes that were believed that they were chosen by the god Thoth. Then comes the working class like the sailors, the craftspeople, and soldiers who played a key role in providing and protecting life in Egypt. And in the lower class was the servants and the farmers that worked in the lands owned by the king, the elite which produced the goods that helped the entire culture to thrive and were the necessary labor force for the construction of the pyramids and other monuments of Egypt. All of the jobs and position in society was passed down from father to son.
Families During Life in Ancient Egypt
The concept of family was very important during life in ancient Egypt. Most of the marriages in Egypt were arranged by the parents and girls were usually married around the age of 12 and boys at the age of 15. Girls would stay at home and learn from their mother, while the boys would train in the profession of their fathers and uncles. Also, most marriages were polygamous with the husband having several wives, one of the wives was considered a chief wife who was considered higher than the other ones. Divorce also existed in life in ancient Egypt but it was highly rare because the Egyptians were committed to the sanctity of family unity. An unmarried man was seen to be incomplete and boys were advised to marry as soon as possible. The structure of the family is very simple as the wife is the mistress of the house that looks after all the household and the husband work outside the home to earn enough money to feed his family.
The Role of Women in Life in Ancient Egypt
Women in life in Ancient Egypt were often treated as equal to men as they were allowed to own property, conduct business dealings just like men, even testify in court and some women were able to rule Egypt like Cleopatra, Hatshepsut, and many others. Women had the ability to obtain high-ranking jobs like administrators, supervisors, and priestesses. But their main responsibility was to be the caretaker of the home and the children above all else.
Home and Shelter in Life in Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egyptians built their own houses, temples, and tombs out of adobe which is mud-bricks made of sun-dried mud. This material was fast and cheap and almost all the mud bricks have crumbled and dissolved the houses were filled with decoration, amulets and ancient religious artifacts. The houses were cool on the inside and had a flat roof, so in the summertime, people could sleep on the top on them. Most of the townhomes were divided into two floors, the first floor is reserved for the reception and the top floor is reserved as private housing for the residents. Houses were built around courtyards, and all the cooking was done outside in the courtyard. All of the noblemen houses were larger as they had three areas while the rest of the farmers lived in modest houses.
The Nile River’s Role in the Daily Life in Ancient Egypt
The Nile represents the bloodstream and the life force of Egypt. It was considered to be the main form of transportation for goods, materials, and people. The Nile was a line on communication between Upper and Lower Egypt and provided a very fertile land to the ancient Egyptians so they could grow all that they needed like wheat, barley, papyrus which was turned into paper, rope, and baskets and other crops. The Nile also played an important role as a religious entity because of the public view it as a gift from gods like the “God Sobek” who is credited with creating the Nile. You can cruise the Nile River on board Egypt Nile cruises to witness the most famous landmarks in Egypt.
Food and Drinks in Life in Ancient Egypt
Finding food and water in life in ancient Egypt was not that hard to grow as the soil was very fertile, the Nile was filled with nutrition water and that’s why many crops like wheat and barley were easily found. The bread was considered the source of carbohydrate and was seasoned with honey, herbs, fruits and sesame seeds. Their diet was mainly vegetarian as they lived on a combination of wheat and vegetables, and fish was their main source for protein as the meat was more expensive and difficult to come by and can only be found at the house of the elite. A lot of the animals were ritually slaughtered and extremely hard to keep the meat fresh within the Egyptian climate. The beer was also the main drink of life in ancient Egypt and was consumed at every meal. Wine also was found at the tables of the wealthy noblemen.
Entertainment of Daily Life in Ancient Egypt
The ancient Egyptians tried to live their life to the fullest as they engaged in everything from hunting crocodiles and hippopotamuses, and playing board games like Senet and Hound & jackals, they even had toys for children in the shapes of animals. There were also a lot of sports that included athletics the early versions of teams like swimming, hockey, handball, wrestling, rowing, archery, gymnastics, and many water sports like water jouster which was a form of sea battle played in small boats on the Nile River. The noblemen and the wealthy would throw extravagant parties filled with the finest foods and beverages. Music and dancing also were found very common in ancient Egyptian culture and were considered to be art forms.
Festivals in Life in Ancient Egypt
All the festivals in life in ancient Egypt had a unique felling depending on the nature of the events. Most of the festivals in life in ancient Egypt had a religious nature as all the Egyptians celebrated the gods birthday. The religious festivals were held in conjunction with the lunar calendar in temples like the festival of the valley in the honor of the god Amun, the feast of Hathor at Dendera, the festival of the goddess Isis at “Busiris“, and the celebration of Bastet at “Busastis“. There was also another kind of festivals like individual birthdays, the anniversaries of great deeds of the king, funerals, and house-wearing events. There were also of other festivals that had a unique religious nature like the “WepetRenpet” which marked the beginning of the year in July at the annual Nile flooding, “The Sea Festival” was held in the third reign of the pharaoh’s reign to celebrate his kingship and “The Festival of Khoiak” which honored Osiris death and revival. The Egyptian would indulge themselves in every kind of excess in these festivals despite the fact that self-indulgence wasn’t appropriate at every gathering. You can read more also about the festivals and public holidays in Egypt these days.
Clothing and Fashion
The ancient Egyptians wore clothes made from linen, which is a light and cool fabric woven from cotton. Both men and women wore the same material in the shape of linen kilts. Most women dressed in plain sleeved dresses. Servants and lower-class women are often shown wearing a kilt while the royal and the noble women are shown wearing fitted dresses from the shoulder to the ankles and the noblemen are seen in skirts and blouses. All the little children in ancient Egypt didn’t wear clothes until the age of ten. All of the social classes went barefoot to imitate the gods who didn’t need footwear. But when someone was on a long journey or a place where they would hurt or injure their feet, they would wear sandals. The lower class would wear cheap sandals made of woven rushes while the nobles and the rich would wear expansive sandals made of leather or painted wood. Men, women, and children wore cosmetics like Kohl which was considered to be the most popular type of makeup and it also helped protect the ancient Egyptians from the sun. The ancient Egyptians like the lower class wore jewelry like rings, pierced ears, necklaces, and amulets while the higher and wealthier class wore jewelry made of gold, silver, and electrum for both fashion and religious purposes. They also were very civilized as they took extra care of their hygiene, they would cleanse themselves in the river or a bath at home. They didn’t have soap but they used a cleansing cream made of oil, lime, and perfume instead.
Health in Life in Ancient Egypt
The ancient Egyptian medical condition was heavily affected by the religious atmosphere. They used a combination of scientific techniques like observation and diagnosis and magical rituals such as spells and charms All of Egypt’s doctors began their training as scribes as they needed to read medical texts to figure out the right cures. Most diseases were thought to inflicted by the gods as a form of punishment for commuting a certain sin and that’s why they had to know which supernatural presence was responsible. In order to do their job, they had to read a lot of religious literature works on surgery, the setting of broken bones, dentistry and the treatment of various illnesses. The ancient Egyptian gained a great deal of knowledge in the field of anatomy due to the practice of removing the human organs and understanding the afflictions and the remedies of the human body. The cared deeply about their dental hygiene as they developed the toothpaste made of eggshells, ox hooves and ashes, and the toothbrush to keep their teeth healthy and clean of sand and grit, they also invented breath mints to cover their bad morning aroma.
Religion in Life in Ancient Egypt
The ancient Egyptian mythology had thousands of deities over the years. Their religion was polytheistic as every town and village had its own god or goddess. Every deity or religion had its own temple, rituals, ceremonies and other special practices that had a powerful influence on their life. They believed in life after death as the body was preserved in a lifelike form through the mummification process. They confused magic with science and believed it’s only in the power of gods to create or destroy. They had many myths that explained the way the world and beyond like the creation of the universe, and the afterlife. Most of our information comes from the book of the dead as it was written throughout Egypt’s history and contained text, hymns, formulas, incantations and magical words to help the dead arrive safely to the underworld to be judged and explain the origin of the gods.
Technology in Life in Ancient Egypt
The ancient Egyptians were natural born explorers and inventors. They made the earliest inventions that we still use today. They were the first to create a writing system in the form of hieroglyphics which was drawing portraying a story, they used it to keep accurate records of their lives, discoveries, and religious dogma. They also developed a sheet on paper called papyrus which they personally created and black ink which they used in writing and painting, it also came in various colors.
The ancient Egyptians use the knowledge of astronomy to develop the lunar calendar based on the cycles of the moon and the star Sirius, which we still use to track the days until today. They were the first people to divide days into equal parts 12 months, 356 days, 24 hours units through timekeeping devices like obelisks, shadow clocks, water clocks, and sundials. The position of the sun determined the passing of the days and the passing of the night was determined by the rise and fall of the stars. There observation of the sun, the night sky, and the stars affected their religion and way of life.
The ancient Egyptians had a talent for geometry and math as they used it to accurately to build pyramids, temples and other buildings as well as for record keeping and business transactions. They also created the ox-drawn plow and an irrigation system using hydraulic engineering principles in order to improve their agriculture. They also worked on developing the best ships through their knowledge of aerodynamics
Crime & Punishment
The ancient Egyptian society was a law-abiding community, Egyptian law was swift for anyone who chooses to break it. Justice and judgment were the responsibility of the vizier, the king’s right hand and second in command. The local court or “Kenbet” was made up of community leaders who would hear the cases and decides who’s guilty and who’s innocent. The court could be even held in the marketplace or on the street and there was also an administrative building called the judgment hall which existed in any city. In the new kingdom, there were no lawyers or appeals, the priests of Amun were the ones who decided the verdict as the people trusted them to give a just hearing and to make the right judgment. Minor offenses were fined but major crimes like rape, assault, murder or tomb robbing were punished by mutilation, incarceration, forced labor or even death in some cases. All the convicted felons were used for manual labor in Karnak and were held in the great prison of Thebes. It was also known that the guilty will face a far worse fate in the afterlife.
After reading this article, you can pretty tell how the ancient Egyptian were very civilized and way ahead of their time. They elevated their daily life and looked for means to improve it for thousands of years. So you can discover more about the ancient Egyptians during your trip to Egypt, by checking our breathtaking Egypt tour packages and Nile cruises.