Ancient Egypt: Manners & Customs
Marriage, Family Life, Daily Life, Burial Customs and More Regarding the Ancient Egyptians.
A Kid in Ancient Egypt
They owned dolls with real hair knotted into the heads, they played ball and stick games, they ran around naked until puberty, and imitated their mothers and fathers at their work at home or in the field. These are the children of ancient Egypt. Although they were kids like kids of every age and place, we have discovered some very intriguing things about the lives of ancient Egyptian children. First, you were considered fortunate to be born and survive to age one in ancient Egypt. Many women died in childbirth and many infants died within days, weeks and months after birth from infections and other diseases. To protect herself and her newborn child, an ancient Egyptian mother may have kept protective deities in her homes, such as Bastet"”the cat goddess of fertility. She also wore special amulets, such as the Eye of Horus, to ward off evil spirits.
Ancient Egypt Houses
According to Diodorus Siculus' somewhat speculative report the first Egyptian dwellings were constructed of reeds, a building technique not completely abandoned by the first century BCE: Traces thereof remain among the herdsmen of Egypt who, to these days, do not have habitations but they are made of reeds, which they consider to be sufficient. He explained the fact that Egyptian housing was made of perishable materials in his Historical Library as follows: The inhabitants think little of life on earth; while they put greatest value on the continued existence in glorious memory after death. They call the dwellings of the living 'hostels' given that we dwell in them for a short time only. The tombs of the dead they call 'eternal homes' as they assume their eternal continuation in the underworld. This is the reason they invest little effort in the building of houses; but are eager to furnish their tombs with unsurpassable equipment.
Ancient Egypt Medical Care
The Life of Ancient Egyptians. For Every Malady a Cure. Of all the branches of science pursued in ancient Egypt, none achieved such popularity as medicine. Homer put it aptly in the Odyssey (IV, 229-232): That fecund land brings forth abundant herbs, Some baneful, and some curative when duly mixed. There, every man's a doctor; every man Knows better than all others how to treat All manner of disease ...
Ancient Egypt: Burial Customs
The Egyptians believed that each person had a ba, or soul, and a ka, an invisible twin of the deceased person, which were released from the body after death. The ba visited family and friends and the ka traveled back and forth from the body to the underworld. In order for a person to live on forever, the ba and the ka had to be able to recognize the body when they returned to it every night. The process of mummification was a crucial practice for the ancient Egyptians as it ensured the survival of a person's remains, thus promising eternal life.
Ancient Egypt: Domestic Trade
In a society where most of the population made a living from agriculture and surpluses were small, trade was limited. The needs of the farming population were basic: grain for baking bread and brewing beer, dried fish, vegetables, some linen for a simple loincloth and mud bricks for a hut. Food and flax they could grow themselves. Mud was found at the nearby river bank. And sometimes there was a surplus which could be exchanged for little luxuries. Trade was done by barter, a reasonably efficient method when mostly basic necessities were exchanged. Even after coined money was introduced in the second half of the first millennium BCE, barter continued to be widespread among the farming population for centuries.
Ancient Egypt: Education and Learning
In Ancient Egypt the child's world was not as clearly separated from the adult's as it tends to be in modern Western society. As the years went by childish pastimes would give way to imitations of grown-up behavior. Children would more and more frequently be found lending a hand with the less onerous tasks and gradually acquiring practical skills and knowledge from their elders. By precept and example, parents would instill into them various educational principles, moral attitudes and views of life. Thus from a tender age they would receive their basic education in the bosom of the family. For girls, this was usually all the schooling they would get, but for boys it would be supplemented by proper training in whatever line they chose, or was chosen for them.
Ancient Egyptian Medicine
If you had to be ill in ancient times, the best place to do so would probably have been Egypt. Not that it would have been much fun. Unlike the injuries received through accidents or fighting which were dealt with by the zwn.w (sunu) , or scorpion stings and snake bites for which the xrp srqt (kherep serqet) , the exorcist of Serqet, knew the appropriate spells and remedies, illnesses and their causes were mysterious. The Egyptians explained them as the work of the gods, caused by the presence of evil spirits or their poisons, and cleansing the body was the way to rid the body of their influence. Incantations, prayers to the gods - above all to Sekhmet  the goddess of healing, curses, and threats, often accompanied by the injection of nasty smelling and tasting medicines into the various bodily orifices, were hoped to prove effective.
Ancient Egyptian Society and Family Life
The nuclear family was the core of Egyptian society and many of the gods were even arranged into such groupings. There was tremendous pride in one's family, and lineage was traced through both the mother's and father's lines. Respect for one's parents was a cornerstone of morality, and the most fundamental duty of the eldest son (or occasionally daughter) was to care for his parents in their last days and to ensure that they received a proper burial. Countless genealogical lists indicate how important family ties were, yet Egyptian kinship terms lacked specific words to identify blood relatives beyond the nuclear family. For example, the word used to designate "mother" was also used for "grandmother," and the word for "father" was the same as "grandfather"; likewise, the terms for "son," "grandson," and "nephew" (or "daughter," "granddaughter," and "niece") were identical. "Uncle" and "brother" (or "sister" and "aunt") were also designated by the same word. To make matters even more confusing for modern scholars, the term "sister" was often used for "wife," perhaps an indication of the strength of the bond between spouses.
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.
Burial Customs in Ancient Egypt
Too often 'ancient Egypt' is treated in general books as a monolithic block, nowhere more so than in coverage of funerary archaeology. There is no such phenomenon as 'the ancient Egyptian burial' as a general type: burial customs evolved continuously throughout Egyptian history. Studying the developments allows us to separate the history of these customs into broad periods:
Childbirth and Childcare in Ancient Egypt
By Marie Parsons, Children were considered a blessing in ancient Egypt. Sons and daughters took care of their parents in their old age. They were often called "the staff of old age," that is, one upon whom the elderly parents could depend upon for support and care. The scribe Ani instructed that children repay the devotion of Egyptian mothers: "Repay your mother for all her care. Give her as much bread as she needs, and carry her as she carried you, for you were a heavy burden to her. When you were finally born, she still carried you on her neck and for three years she suckled you and kept you clean."
Education in Ancient Egypt
In ancient Egypt, parents would instill in their children various educational principles, moral attitudes, and views of life from a tender age. They would receive their basic education in the bosom of the family. This was about all of the schooling that girls would get; for boys it would be supplemented by proper training in whatever line they chose, or was chosen for them. Ancient Egyptian education covered both the general upbringing of a child and their training for a particular vocation.
Egypt: Daily Life
Ancient Egypt was a narrow strip of land along the Nile River. Each year the river flooded its banks, leaving behind a fertile fringe of soil they called "the Black Land," while the desert all around the Nile valley was called "the Red Land." It was here the Ancient Egyptians built their homes. The people of ancient Egypt highly valued family life. They treasured children and regarded them as a great blessing. In the lower class families, the mother raised the children. The wealthy and nobility, had slaves and servants that helped take care of the children by attending to their daily needs. If a couple had no children, they would pray to the gods and goddesses for help. They would also place letters at the tombs of dead relatives asking them to use their influence with the gods. Magic was also used as an attempt to have children. In event that a couple still could not conceive a child, adoption was also an option.
Article written by Herodotus, The Histories 2. 35-36. About Egypt I shall have a great deal to relate because of the number of remarkable things which the country contains, and because of the fact that more monuments which beggar description are to be found there than anywhere else in the world. That is reason enough for my dwelling on it at greater length. Not only is the Egyptian climate peculiar to their country, and the Nile different in its behavior from other rivers elsewhere, but the Egyptians themselves in their manners and customs seem to have reversed the ordinary practices of mankind.
Family Structure in Ancient Egypt
It is important to assert that much of the archaeological reference to family structure in Ancient Egypt reflects the life of well-to-do families. It it is fair, however, to assume that many of the habits and customs we find in text, documents, paintings and sculpture of Ancient Egypt can also be applied to the working classes. A typical family structure in Ancient Egypt would be similar to what we find in today's Egypt, with the father as husband and head of household responsible for the economic well-being of the family. In ancient times, upper-class men earned their living as priests or government officials, while men of lower classes worked as farmers, hunters, artists, sculptors, potters or other craftsmen. It was possible to rise in social rank through the army or by learning to read and write and becoming a scribe.
Houses of Ancient Egypt
The Egyptians lived in houses made of bricks. The bricks were made of mud and chopped straw. They mixed the mud and straw and then poured the mixture into molds. The molds were placed in the sun to bake into hard bricks. Some of the tools used to make homes were the T-square which was used for measuring angles. They also had a mallet, which is a type of big hammer. Of course, they had the brick molds to make bricks. They had plumb lines which they used to make sure the houses were built straight and level.
Life in Ancient Egypt for Kids
Just as in the modern world, in ancient Egypt life was very different for people, depending on their wealth. For example, kings and high officials in ancient Egypt lived entirely differently than poor workers. Ancient Egypt has always fascinated people, because of the way that they lived more so than the way that they died. Ancient Egyptians were also devoted to their families, which were apparent in the activities that they enjoyed with friends, music, parties, swimming, fishing, hunting, sailing, and especially their children.
Life in Ancient Egypt: Daily Life
To understand the everyday life of ancient Egyptians, archaeologists draw on many sources. The most valuable sources include tomb paintings, reliefs, and the objects included in tombs that the Egyptians used in their daily life. Artifacts from the few towns that have been excavated and hundreds of documents written by the ancient Egyptians shed additional light on their life. Much of the day-to-day running of their households, however, remains obscure.
Life in Ancient Egypt: Funerary Customs
Much of our knowledge about ancient Egyptian culture comes from archaeological evidence uncovered in tombs. Objects, inscriptions, and paintings from tombs have led Egyptologists to conclude that what appeared to be a preoccupation with death was in actuality an overwhelming desire to secure and perpetuate in the afterlife the "good life" enjoyed on earth.
Medicine and Health Care in Ancient Egypt
External injuries like wounds and fractures were often obvious. The Egyptian concept of the human body was seen as a series of interconnecting canals, likened to the Nile and its tributaries, in which air, blood, urine, faeces and semen flowed. They therefore believed that the precondition of good health was the free flow of these canals, and that illness and ailments were the result of a blocked canal. Internal ailments were usually attributed to the influences of the gods, who could be malevolent or benevolent, sometimes sending down a sickness as a punishment to the wrongdoer.
The Manners & Customs of Ancient Egyptians
Full Text of "The Manners & Customs of Ancient Egyptians"¯ by Sir J. Gardner Wilkinson
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