Wednesday, September 20, 2017

What Makes Ancient Egypt So Fascinating?


Scandals of Ancient Eygpt
Badger Utopia
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Ancient Egypt's Greatest Masterminds - Documentary
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Hatshepsut. Secrets of Egypt's Lost Queen
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Everything you've been taught about ancient history is a lie (Part 1)
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Everything you've been taught about ancient history is a lie (Part 2)
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Ancient Egyptian Sexuality - Life in Ancient Egypt - Documentaries 2015
Japan Documentary
Published on Sep 19, 2015

'Queen Nefertiti' The Most Beautiful Face of Egypt 
(Discovery Channel)
Published on Dec 16, 2014
Ancient Egypt
By Joshua J. Mark
Published on 02 September 2009
Egypt is a country in North Africa, on the Mediterranean Sea, and is home to one of the oldest civilizations on earth. The name 'Egypt' comes from the Greek Aegyptos which was the Greek pronunciation of the Egyptian name 'Hwt-Ka-Ptah' ("Mansion of the Spirit of Ptah"), originally the name of the city of Memphis. Memphis was the first capital of Egypt and a famous religious and trade centre; its high status is attested to by the Greeks alluding to the entire country by that name.
To the Egyptians themselves, their country was simply known as Kemet which means 'Black Land' so named for the rich, dark soil along the Nile River where the first settlements began. Later, the country was known as Misr which means 'country', a name still in use by Egyptians for their nation in the present day. Egypt thrived for thousands of years (from c. 8000 BCE to c. 30 BCE) as an independent nation whose culture was famous for great cultural advances in every area of human knowledge, from the arts to 
science to technology and religion. The great monuments which Egypt is still celebrated for reflect the depth and grandeur of Egyptian culture which influenced so many ancient civilizations, among them Greece and Rome.
One of the reasons for the enduring popularity of Egyptian culture is its emphasis on the grandeur of the human experience. Their great monuments, tombs, temples, and art work all celebrate life and stand as reminders of what once was and what human beings, at their best, are capable of achieving. Although Egypt in popular culture is often associated with death and mortuary rites, something even in these speaks to people across the ages of what it means to be a human being and the power and purpose of remembrance.
To the Egyptians, life on earth was only one aspect of an eternal journey. The soul was immortal and was only inhabiting a body on this physical plane for a short time. At death, one would meet with judgment in the Hall of Truth and, if justified, would move on to an eternal paradise known as The Field of Reeds which was a mirror image of one's life on earth. Once one had reached paradise one could live peacefully in the company of those one had loved while on earth, including one's pets, in the same neighborhood by the same steam, beneath the very same trees one thought had been lost at death. This eternal life, however, was only available to those who had lived well and in accordance with the will of the gods in the most perfect place conducive to such a goal: the land of Egypt.
Egypt has a long history which goes back far beyond the written word, the stories of the gods, or the monuments which have made the culture famous. Evidence of overgrazing of cattle, on the land which is now the Sahara Desert, has been dated to about 8000 BCE. This evidence, along with artifacts discovered, points to a thriving agricultural 
civilization in the region at that time.  As the land was mostly arid even then, hunter-gathering nomads sought the cool of the water source of the Nile River Valley and began to settle there sometime prior to 6000 BCE.
Organized farming began in the region c. 6000 BCE and communities known as the Badarian Culture began to flourish alongside the river. Industry developed at about this same time as evidenced by 
faience workshops discovered at Abydos dating to c. 5500 BCE. The Badarian were followed by the Amratian, the Gerzean, and the Naqada cultures (also known as Naqada I, Naqada II, and Naqada III), all of which contributed significantly to the development of what became Egyptian civilization.  The written history of the land begins at some point between 3400 and 3200 BCE when hieroglyphic script is developed by the Naqada Culture III. By 3500 BCE mummification of the dead was in practice at the city of Hierakonpolis and large stone tombs built at Abydos. The city of Xois is recorded as being already ancient by 3100-2181 BCE as inscribed on the famous Palermo Stone. As in other cultures world-wide, the small agrarian communities became centralized and grew into larger urban centers.
The Early Dynastic Period (c. 3150-c. 2613 BCE) saw the unification of the north and south kingdoms of Egypt under the king Menes ( also known as Meni or Manes) of Upper Egypt who conquered Lower Egypt in c. 3118 BCE or c. 3150 BCE. This version of the early history comes from the Aegyptica (History of Egypt) by the ancient historian Manetho who lived in the 3rd century BCE  under the Ptolemaic Dynasty 
(323-30 BCE). Although his chronology has been disputed by later historians, it is still regularly consulted on dynastic succession and the early history of Egypt.
Manetho’s work is the only source which cites Menes and the conquest and it is now thought that the man referred to by Manetho as `Menes’ was the king 
Narmer who peacefully united Upper and Lower Egypt under one rule. Identification of Menes with Narmer is far from universally accepted, however, and Menes has been as credibly linked to the king Hor-Aha (c. 3100-3050 BCE)who succeeded him. An explanation for Menes' association with his predecessor and successor is that `Menes' is an honorific title meaning "he who endures" and not a personal name and so could have been used to refer to more than one king. The claim that the land was unified by military campaign is also disputed as the famous Narmer Palette, depicting a military victory, is considered by some scholars to be royal propaganda. The country may have first been united peacefully but this seems unlikely.
Geographical designation in Egypt follows the direction of the Nile River and so Upper Egypt is the southern region and Lower Egypt the northern area closer to the Mediterranean Sea. Narmer ruled from the city of Heirakonopolis and then from Memphis and Abydos. Trade increased significantly under the rulers of the Early Dynastic Period and elaborate mastaba tombs, precursors to the later pyramids, developed in ritual burial practices which included increasingly elaborate mummification techniques.
From the Pre-Dynastic Period (c. 6000-c.3150 BCE) a belief in the gods defined the Egyptian culture. An early Egyptian creation myth tells of the god Atum who stood in the midst of swirling chaos before the beginning of time and spoke creation into existence. Atum was accompanied by the eternal force of 
heka (magic), personified in the god Heka and by other spiritual forces which would animate the world. Heka was the primal force which infused the universe and caused all things to operate as they did; it also allowed for the central value of the Egyptian culture: ma'at, harmony and balance.
All of the gods and all of their responsibilties went back to ma'at and heka. The sun rose and set as it did and the moon traveled its course across the sky and the seasons came and went in accordance with balance and order which was possible because of these two agencies. Ma'at was also personified as a deity, the goddess of the ostrich feather, to whom every king promised his full abilities and devotion. The king was associated with the god Horus in life and Osiris in death based upon a myth which became the most popular in Egyptian history.
Osiris and his sister-wife Isis were the original monarchs who governed the world and gave the people the gifts of civilization. Osiris' brother, Set, grew jealous of him and murdered him but he was brought back to life by Isis who then bore his son Horus. Osiris was incomplete, however, and so descended to rule the underworld while Horus, once he had matured, avenged his father and defeated Set. This myth illustrated how order triumphed over chaos and would become a persistent motif in mortuary rituals and religious texts and art. There was no period in which the gods did not play an integral role in the daily lives of the Egyptians and this is clearly seen from the earliest times in the country's history.
During the period known as the Old Kingdom (c. 2613-2181 BCE), architecture honoring the gods developed at an increased rate and some of the most famous monuments in Egypt, such as the pyramids and the Great Sphinx at Giza, were constructed. The king Djoser, who reigned c. 2670 BCE, built the first Step Pyramid at Saqqara c. 2670, designed by his chief architect and physician Imhotep (c. 2667-2600 BCE) who also wrote one of the first medical texts describing the treatment of over 200 different diseases and arguing that the cause of disease could be natural, not the will of the gods. The Great Pyramid of Khufu (last of the seven wonders of the ancient world) was constructed during his reign (2589-2566 BCE) with the pyramids of Khafre (2558-2532 BCE) and Menkaure (2532-2503 BCE) following.
The grandeur of the pyramids on the Giza plateau, as they originally would have appeared, sheathed in gleaming white limestone, is a testament to the power and wealth of the rulers during this period. Many theories abound regarding how these monuments and tombs were constructed but modern architects and scholars are far from agreement on any single one. Considering the technology of the day, some have argued, a monument such as the 
Great Pyramid of Giza should not exist. Others claim, however, that the existence of such buildings and tombs suggest superior technology which has been lost to time.
There is absolutely no evidence that the monuments of the Giza plateau - or any others in Egypt - were built by slave labor nor is there any evidence to support a historical reading of the biblical Book of Exodus. Most reputable scholars today reject the claim that the pyramids and other monuments were built by slave labor although slaves of different nationalities certainly did exist in Egypt and were employed regularly in the mines. Egyptian monuments were considered public works created for the state and used both skilled and unskilled Egyptian workers in construction, all of whom were paid for their labor. Workers at the Giza site, which was only one of many, were given a ration of beer three times a day and their housing, tools, and even their level of health care have all been clearly established.
The era known as The First Intermediate Period (2181-2040 BCE) saw a decline in the power of the central government following its collapse. Largely independent districts with their own governors developed throughout Egypt until two great centers 
emerged: Hierakonpolis in Lower Egypt and Thebes in Upper Egypt. These centers founded their own dynasties which ruled their regions independently and intermittently fought with each other for supreme control until c. 2040 BCE when the Theban king Mentuhotep II (c. 2061-2010 BCE) defeated the forces of Hierakonpolis and united Egypt under the rule of Thebes.
The stability provided by Theban rule allowed for the flourishing of what is known as the Middle Kingdom 
(2040-1782 BCE). The Middle Kingdom is considered Egypt’s `Classical Age’ when art and culture reached great heights and Thebes became the most important and wealthiest city in the country. According to the historians Oakes and Gahlin, “the Twelfth Dynasty kings were strong rulers who established control not only over the whole of Egypt but also over Nubia to the south, where several fortresses were built to protect Egyptian trading interests” (11). The first standing army was created during the Middle Kingdom by the king Amenemhat I (c. 1991-1962 BCE) the temple of Karnak was begun under Senruset I (c. 1971-1926 BCE), and some of the greatest art and literature of the civilization was produced. The 13th Dynasty, however, was weaker than the 12th and distracted by internal problems which allowed for a foriegn people known as the Hyksos to gain power in Lower Egypt around the Nile Delta.
The Hyksos are a mysterious people, most likely from the area of Syria/Palestine, who first appeared in Egypt c. 1800 and settled in the town of Avaris. While the names of the Hyksos kings are Semitic in origin, no definite ethnicity has been established for them. The Hyksos grew in power until they were able to take control of a significant portion of Lower Egypt by c. 1720 BCE, rendering the Theban Dynasty of Upper Egypt almsot a vassal state.
This era is known as The Second Intermediate Period 
(c.1782-c.1570 BCE). While the Hyksos (whose name simply means `foreign rulers’) were hated by the Egyptians, they introduced a great many improvements to the culture such as the composite bow, the horse, and the chariot along with crop rotation and developments in bronze and ceramic works. At the same time the Hyksos controlled the ports of Lower Egypt, by 1700 BCE the Kingdom of Kush had risen to the south of Thebes in Nubia and now held that border. The Egyptians mounted a number of campaigns to drive the Hyksos out and subdue the Nubians but all failed until  prince Ahmose I of Thebes (c.1570-1544 BCE) succeeded and unified the country under Theban rule.
Ahmose I initiated what is known as the period of the New Kingdom (c.1570- c.1069 BCE) which again saw great prosperity in the land under a strong central government. The title of pharaoh for the ruler of Egypt comes from the period of the New Kingdom; earlier monarchs were simply known as kings.  Many of the Egyptian sovereigns best known today ruled during this period and the majority of the great structures of antiquity such as the Ramesseum, Abu Simbel, the temples of Karnak and Luxor, and the tombs of the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens were either created or greatly enhanced during this time.
Between 1504-1492 BCE the pharaoh Tuthmosis I consolidated his power and expanded the boundaries of Egypt to the Euphrates River in the north, Syria and Palestine to the west, and Nubia to the south. His reign was followed by Queen Hatshepsut (1479-1458 BCE) who greatly expanded trade with other nations, most notably the Land of Punt. Her 22-year reign was one of peace and prosperity for Egypt.
Portrait of Queen Hatshepsut
Her successor, Tuthmosis III, carried on her policies (although he tried to eradicate all memory of her as, it is thought, he did not want her to serve as a role model for other women since only males were considered worthy to rule) and, by the time of his death in 1425 BCE, Egypt was a great and powerful nation. The prosperity led to, among other things, an increase in the brewing of beer in many different varieties and more leisure time for sports. Advances in medicine led to improvements in health.
Bathing had long been an important part of the daily Egyptian’s regimen as it was encouraged by their religion and modeled by their clergy. At this time, however, more elaborate baths were produced, presumably more for leisure than simply hygiene. The Kahun Gynecological Papyrus, concerning women’s health and contraceptives, had been written c. 1800 BCE and, during this period, seems to have been made extensive use of by doctors. Surgery and dentistry were both practiced widely and with great skill, and beer was prescribed by physicians for ease of symptoms of over 200 different maladies.
In 1353 BCE the pharaoh Amenhotep IV succeeded to the throne and, shortly after, changed his name to 
Akhenaten ('living spirit of Aten') to reflect his belief in a single god, Aten. The Egyptians, as noted above, traditionally believed in many gods whose importance influenced every aspect of their daily lives. Among the most popular of these deities were Amun, Osiris, Isis, and Hathor. The cult of Amun, at this time, had grown so wealthy that the priests were almost as powerful as the pharaoh. Akhenaten and his queen, Nefertiti, renounced the traditional religious beliefs and customs of Egypt and instituted a new religion based upon the recognition of one god.
His religious reforms effectively cut the power of the priests of Amun and placed it in his hands. He moved the capital from Thebes to Amarna to further distance his rule from that of his predecessors. This is known as The Amarna Period (1353-1336 BCE) during which Amarna grew as the capital of the country and polytheistic religious customs were banned.
Among his many accomplishments, Akhenaten was the first ruler to decree statuary and a temple in honor of his queen instead of only for himself or the gods and used the money which once went to the temples for public works and parks. The power of the clergy declined sharply as that of the central government grew, which seemed to be Akhenaten's goal, but he failed to use his power for the best interest of his people. The Amarna Letters make clear that he was more concerned with his religious reforms than with foreign policy or the needs of the people of Egypt.
Death Mask of Tutankhamun
His reign was followed by his son, the most recognizable Egyptian ruler in the modern day, 
Tutankhamun, who reigned from c.1336- c.1327 BCE. He was originally named `Tutankhaten’ to reflect the religious beliefs of his father but, upon assuming the throne, changed his name to `Tutankhamun’ to honor the ancient god Amun. He restored the ancient temples, removed all references to his father’s single deity, and returned the capital to Thebes. His reign was cut short by his death and, today, he is most famous for the intact grandeur of his tomb, discovered in 1922 CE, which became an international sensation at the time.
The greatest ruler of the New Kingdom, however, was Ramesses II (also known as Ramesses the Great, 1279-1213 BCE) who commenced the most elaborate building projects of any Egyptian ruler and who reigned so efficiently that he had the means to do so. Although the famous Battle of Kadesh of 1274 (between Ramesses II of Egypt and Muwatalli II of the Hitties) is today regarded as a draw, Ramesses considered it a great Egyptian victory and celebrated himself as a champion of the people, and finally as a god, in his many public works.
His temple of Abu Simbel (built for his queen Nefertari) depicts the battle of Kadesh and the smaller temple at the site, following Akhenaten’s example, is dedicated to Ramesses favorite queen Nefertari. Under the reign of Ramesses II the first peace treaty in the world (The Treaty of Kadesh) was signed in 1258 BCE and Egypt enjoyed almost unprecedented affluence as evidenced by the number of monuments built or restored during his reign.
Ramesses II's fourth son, Khaemweset (c.1281-c.1225 BCE), is known as the "First Egyptologist" for his efforts in preserving and recording old monuments, temples, and their original owner's names. It is largely due to Khaemweset's initiative that Ramesses II's name is so prominent at so many ancient sites in Egypt. Khaemweset left a record of his own efforts, the original builder/owner of the monument or temple, and his father's name as well.
Ramesses II became known to later generations as `The Great Ancestor’ and reigned for so long that he out-lived most of his children and his wives.  In time, all of his subjects had been born knowing only Ramesses II as their ruler and had no memory of another. He enjoyed an exceptionally long life of 96 years, over double the average life-span of an ancient Egyptian. Upon his death, it is recorded that many feared the end of the world had come as they had known no other pharaoh and no other kind of Egypt.
Ramesses II Statue
One of his successors, Ramesses III (1186-1155 BCE), followed his policies but, by this time, Egypt’s great wealth had attracted the attention of the Sea Peoples who began to make regular incursions along the coast. The Sea Peoples, like the Hyksos, are of unknown origin but are thought to have come from the southern Aegean area. Between 1276-1178 BCE the Sea Peoples were a threat to Egyptian security. Ramesses II had defeated them in a naval battle early in his reign as had his successor Merenptah (1213-1203 BCE). After Merenptah's death, however, they increased their efforts, sacking Kadesh, which was then under Egyptian control, and ravaging the coast. Between 1180-1178 BCE Ramesses III fought them off, finally defeating them at the Battle of Xois in 1178 BCE.
Following the reign of Ramesses III, his successors attempted to maintain his policies but increasingly met with resistance from the people of Egypt, those in the conquered territories, and, especially, the priestly class. In the years after Tutankhamun had restored the old religion of Amun, and especially during the great time of prosperity under Ramesses II, the priests of Amun had acquired large tracts of land and amassed great wealth which now threatened the central government and disrupted the unity of Egypt. By the time of Ramesses XI (1107-1077 BCE), the end of the 20th Dynasty, the government had become so weakened by the power and corruption of the clergy that the country again fractured and central administration collapsed, initiating the so-called Third Intermediate Period of c.1069-525 BCE.
Third Intermediate Period
Under the Kushite King Piye (752-722 BCE), Egypt was again unified and the culture flourished, but beginning in 671 BCE, the Assyrians under 
Esarhaddon began their invasion of Egypt, conquering it by 666 BCE under his successor 
Ashurbanipal. Having made no long-term plans for control of the country, the Assyrians left it in ruin in the hands of local rulers and abandoned Egypt to its fate. Egypt rebuilt and re-fortified, however, and this is the state the country was in when Cambyses II of 
Persia struck at the city of Pelusium in 525 BCE. Knowing the reverence the Egyptians held for cats (who were thought living representations of the popular goddess Bastet) Cambyses II ordered his men to paint cats on their shields and to drive cats, and other animals sacred to the Egyptians, in front of the army toward Pelusium. The Egyptian forces surrendered and the country fell to the Persians. It would remain under Persian occupation until the coming of Alexander the Great in 332 BCE.
Alexander was welcomed as a liberator and conquered Egypt without a fight. He established 
the city of Alexandria and  moved on to conquer 
Phoenicia and the rest of the Persian Empire. After his death in 323 BCE his general, Ptolemy, brought his body back to Alexandria and founded the Ptolemaic Dynasty (323-30 BCE). The last of the Ptolemies was Cleopatra VII who committed suicide in 30 BCE after the defeat of her forces (and those of her consort Mark Antony) by the Romans under Octavian Caesar at the Battle of Actium (31 BCE). Egypt then became a province of Rome (30 BCE-476 CE) then of the Byzantine Empire (c. 527-646 CE) until it was conquered by the Arab Muslims under Caliph Umar in 646 CE and fell under Islamic Rule. The glory of Egypt's past, however, was re-discovered during the 18th and 19th centuries CE and has had a profound impact on the present day's understanding of ancient history and the world. Historian Will Durant expresses a sentiment felt by many:
The effect or remembrance of what Egypt accomplished at the very dawn of history has influence in every nation and every age. ‘It is even possible', as Faure has said, 'that Egypt, through the solidarity, the unity, and the disciplined variety of its artistic products, through the enormous duration and the sustained power of its effort, offers the spectacle of the greatest civilization that has yet appeared on the earth.' We shall do well to equal it. (217)
Egyptian Culture and history has long held a universal fascination for people; whether through the work of early archeologists in the 19th century CE (such as Champollion who deciphered the Rosetta Stone in 1822 CE) or the famous discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun by Howard Carter in 1922 CE. The ancient Egyptian belief in life as an eternal journey, created and maintained by divine magic, inspired later cultures and later religious beliefs. Much of the iconography and the beliefs of Egyptian religion found their way into the new religion of 
Christianity and many of their symbols are recognizable today with largely the same meaning. It is an important testimony to the power of the Egyptian civilization that so many works of the imagination, from films to books to paintings even to religious belief, have been and continue to be inspired by its elevating and profound vision of the universe and humanity's place in it. 
Joshua J. Mark
A freelance writer and former part-time Professor of Philosophy at Marist College, New York, Joshua J. Mark has lived in Greece and Germany and traveled through Egypt. He has taught history, writing, literature, and philosophy at the college level.
Ancient Egyptian Inventions
Mark Millmore
The Egyptian’s inventions were many and it might be easier to list the things they did not invent such as the wheel; not unexpected in a country where everyone travels on water.
Most scholars now believe that isolated civilizations first arose independently at several locations; initially in Mesopotamia around Tigris and Euphrates rivers and, a little later, in Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean. Other civilizations arose in Asia along the Indus River in modern India and the Yellow River in what is now China.
All these early civilisations had to invent or discover everything for themselves because unlike later civilisations such as the Greeks in the west or the Chinese in the east, they had no one to learn from. Therefore, the Egyptians had to invented mathematics, geometry, surveying, metallurgy, astronomy, accounting, writing, paper, medicine, the ramp, the lever, the plough, mills for grinding grain and all the paraphernalia that goes with large organised societies.
So how do we define Egyptian inventions today? It is very difficult to determine because three thousand years is a long time for discoveries to be made and lost or appropriated by others. For example the Greeks sometimes take the credit for inventing mathematics but they learned their math from the Egyptians then later developed and improved upon what the Egyptian achieved.
3000 BC appears to have been a critical time for the development of technology, especially metal making. The Egyptians as well as the Mesopotamians independently discovered that by mixing a small quantity of tin ore with copper ores they could make bronze which is harder and more durable. This set off a chain of connected innovations that could not have happened without the primary discovery.
The Pyramids
The oldest pyramid was erected for King Zoser between 2667-2648 BC.The oldest pyramid was erected for King Zoser between 2667-2648 BC. In fact it is the first monumental stone building designed and constructed that we know of.
Along with the Mesopotamians, the Egyptians were the first people to develop their language into a codified form of writing. All early forms of writing were pictograms – pictures. All writing systems developed in this way but their original forms become lost as the pictures are refined into abstract forms. What is interesting about the Egyptians is that although their writing changed to the abstract form of Hieratic they deliberately preserved the hieroglyphic pictures in their original forms.
Papyrus Sheets
Papyrus sheets are the earliest paper-like material – all other civilisations used stone, clay tablets, animal hide, wood materials or wax as a writing surface. Papyrus was, for over 3000 years, the most important writing material in the ancient world. It was exported all around the Mediterranean and was widely used in the Roman Empire as well as the Byzantine Empire. Its use continued in Europe until the seventh century AD, when an embargo on exporting it forced the Europeans to use parchment.
Black Ink
The Egyptians mixed vegetable gum, soot and bee wax to make black ink. They replaced soot with other materials such as ochre to make various colours.
The Ox-drawn Plough
The Ox-drawn PloughUsing the power of oxen to pull the plough revolutionised agriculture and modified versions of this Egyptian invention are still used by farmers in developing countries around the world.
The Sickle
The sickle is a curved blade used for cutting and harvesting grain, such as wheat and barley.
The Egyptians constructed canals and irrigation ditches to harness Nile river’s yearly flood and bring water to distant fields.
The Shadoof is a long balancing pole with a weight on one end and a bucket on the other. The bucket is filled with water and easily raised then emptied onto higher ground.
The Calendar
The Egyptians devised the solar calendar by recording the yearly reappearance of Sirius (the Dog Star) in the eastern sky. It was a fixed point which coincided with the yearly flooding of the Nile. Their calendar had 365 days and 12 months with 30 days in each month and an additional five festival days at the end of the year. However, they did not account for the additional fraction of a day and their calendar gradually became incorrect. Eventually Ptolemy III added one day to the 365 days every four years.
In order to tell the time Egyptians invented two types of clock.
Obelisks were used as sun clocks by noting how its shadow moved around its surface throughout the day. From the use of obelisks they identified the longest and shortest days of the year.
An inscription in the tomb of the court official Amenemhet dating to the16th century BC shows a water clock made from a stone vessel with a tiny hole at the bottom which allowed water to dripped at a constant rate. The passage of hours could be measured from marks spaced at different levels. The priest at Karnak temple used a similar instrument at night to determine the correct hour to perform religious rites.
The Police
During the Old and Middle Kingdoms order was kept by local officials with their own private police forces. During the New Kingdom a more centralized police force developed, made up primarily of Egypt’s Nubian allies, the Medjay. They were armed with staffs and used dogs. Neither rich nor poor citizens were above the law and punishments ranged from confiscation of property, beating and mutilation (including the cutting off of ears and noses) to death without a proper burial. The Egyptians believed that a proper burial was essential for entering the afterlife, so the threat of this last punishment was a real deterrent, and most crime was of a petty nature.
“They went to the granary, stole three great loaves and eight sabu-cakes of Rohusu berries. They drew a bottle of beer which was cooling in water, while I was staying in my father’s room. My Lord, let whatsoever has been stolen be given back to me.” (Eighteenth Dynasty)
Surgical Instruments
The Edwin Smith Papyrus shows the Egyptians invented medical surgery. It describes 48 surgical cases of injures of the head, neck, shoulders, breast and chest. It includes a list of instruments used during surgeries with instructions for the suturing of wounds using a needle and thread. This list includes lint, swabs, bandage, adhesive plaster, surgical stitches and cauterization. It is also the earliest document to make a study of the brain. The Cairo Museum has a collection of surgical instruments which include scalpels, scissors, copper needles, forceps, spoons, lancets, hooks, probes and pincers.
Ancient Egyptian WigDuring the hot summers many Egyptians shaved their heads to keep them clean and prevent pests such as lice. Although priests remained bald as part of their purification rituals, those that could afford it had wigs made in various styles and set with perfumed beeswax.
Cosmetic Makeup
The Egyptian invented eye makeup as far back as 4000 B.C. They combined soot with a lead mineral called galena to create a black ointment known as kohl. They also made green eye makeup by combining malachite with galena to tint the ointment.
Both men and women wore eye makup; believing it could cure eye diseases and keep them from falling victim to the evil eye.
At the 2003 dental conference in Vienna, dentists sampled a replication of ancient Egyptian toothpaste. Its ingredients included powdered of ox hooves, ashes, burnt eggshells and pumice. Another toothpaste recipe and a how-to-brush guide was written on a papyrus from the fourth century AD describes how to mix precise amounts of rock salt, mint, dried iris flower and grains of pepper, to form a “powder for white and perfect teeth.”
The Egyptians were so expert at preserving the bodies of the dead that after thousands of years we know of the diseases they suffered such as arthritis, tuberculosis of the bone, gout, tooth decay, bladder stones, and gallstones; there is evidence, too, of the disease bilharziasis (schistosomiasis), caused by small, parasitic flatworms, which still exists in Egypt today. There seems to have been no syphilis or rickets.
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Ancient Egyptian Surgery
10 Bizarre Facts About What Surgery Was Like In Ancient Egypt
Harrison Tenpas
The ancient Egyptians were one of the first great civilizations on the planet. A foundationally well-structured society, the Egyptians had a sophisticated agricultural economy, a highly organized government, and proper law enforcement which created a sense of stability in their everyday lives that nurtured research and documentation. Through trial and error, the ancient Egyptians were able to discover medical treatments that were far ahead of their time - many of which are still employed today.
With the use of some of the world's oldest surgical tools, ancient Egyptian medical practices were able to treat a wide variety of topical ailments, putting them ahead of the curve among other civilizations of their time. This list explores what surgery and medicine were like in ancient Egypt, of which there are various records due to the customs of meticulous documentation.
Ancient Egyptians May Have Started The Practice Of Male Circumcision
Ancient Egyptians May Have Sta... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 10 Bizarre Facts About What Surgery Was Like In Ancient Egypt
It is speculated by some that the ancient Egyptians may have invented the act of male circumcision. While the jury is out on the definitive origins of the practice, it is known that the Egyptians shared their knowledge of circumcision with other cultures, as the Greek historian Herodotus wrote in the mid-5th century BCE, "They are the only people in the world - they at least, and such as have learnt the practice from them - who use circumcision... The Egyptians practice circumcision for the sake of cleanliness, considering it better to be cleanly than comely.”
The ancient Egyptians appear to have performed circumcision in the male's pre-adolescent phase and not at infancy, leading some to believe that it was a ritual to commemorate a transition from boyhood to manhood. The practice does not appear to have denoted social class or status, as not all kings (preserved through mummification) appear to be circumcised.
An important note: anesthesia did not exist at the time.
Dental Surgery Was Painful And Ineffective
The diet of the average ancient Egyptian was not exactly conducive to a great set of teeth. The tools used to grind food often left behind traces of sand and stone, which are naturally abrasive, and this often meant tooth loss at an early age. The ancient Egyptians did employ some remedies for dental ailments, but they were somewhat bizarre and painful - for example, according to the Ebers Papyrus, the treatment for a toothache was rubbing a powdered mixture of onion, cumin, and incense on a tooth.
There are cases where the ancient Egyptians filled cavities with a mix of resin and a greenish mineral that contained copper, and drilled into jawbones to drain abscesses of fluid, but curiously, the process of tooth extraction (often lifesaving in cases of infection) was almost never used.
Surgeries May Have Been Performed By The First Female Doctors In Recorded History
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While they were ahead of the curve in technology, ancient Egypt also had its progressive achievements in civil rights. Being the first at many milestones of medicine, it should come as little surprise that the first recorded instance of a female doctor occurred in ancient Egypt.
Merit-Ptah (c. 2700 BCE) is the first known woman physician in history. She likely held the title of "Chief Physician," meaning she had the authority to teach, had supervision over male peers, and personally attended to the monarch of that time.
Egypt Probably Had The First Prosthetics, Evidenced By Wooden Toe
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A culture of firsts, it's very likely that the world's first-ever prosthetics were used in ancient Egypt. A female mummy discovered near Luxor, Egypt - her death dating between 950 to 710 BCE - was found to have a prosthetic toe made from wood and leather. While the idea of a cosmetic replacement for a severed toe is an impressive innovation, researchers at the University of Manchester suggest it may have actually helped the woman walk.
The prosthetic toe showed significant signs of wear, which prompted University researchers to conduct a study that tested the gait of its participants with and without the aid of the replicated digit. What was found was that walking in ancient Egypt in sandals (the common footwear) would have been incredibly difficult without a big toe, and prosthetics - similar to the one found on the Luxor mummy - went a long way to assist the afflicted.
They Fashioned Surgical Instruments That Are Still Used Today
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The ancient Egyptian society was one of considerable innovations, including effective surgical tools to aid medical treatment. Primarily crafted from the newly discovered metal of copper, the ancient Egyptians had versions of pincers, forceps, spoons, saws, hooks, and knives - all of which can be found in medical facilities today. They also crafted excellent bandages and had the foresight to infuse them with 
willow leaves to treat inflammation, a practice that was incredibly ahead of its time.
They Were Knowledgable On The Functions Of Major Organs
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Though invasive surgery was an extremely rare practice in ancient Egypt, medical practitioners actually had a pretty solid knowledge of the internal organs and how they functioned. The Ebers Papyrus - one of the oldest preserved documents regarding medical practices - illustrates the thoughts on the workings of vital organs at the time. While some of the theories are slightly off, there are some which are impressively spot on.
Some quotes (adapted to modern language) from the document:
The heart: "From the heart there are vessels to all four limbs, to every part of the body."
The respiratory system: "When we breathe in through our noses, the air enters our hearts and lungs, and then the entire belly."
The liver: "The liver is supplied with liquid and air via four vessels. When they overfill the liver with blood, they cause many diseases."
And, of course, the anus: "The liquid and air that come out of the anus come from four vessels. The anus is also exposed to all the vessels that exist in the arms and legs when they are overflowing with waste."
Post-Mortem Dissection Was Common, But Little Was Learned From It
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The ancient Egyptians are known for their sophisticated process of mummification, which has led to an understanding of how they functioned as a society and how they viewed public health. The mummification procedure is an incredibly invasive one that involves thorough dissection to remove moisture from the body - including the removal of brain tissue through the nostril via a gruesome hook implement - and as such, the priests who performed the sacred act got a very close look at the internal organs of human beings.
Curiously, the knowledge gleaned from mummification was not employed for any medical use. A strong possible explanation for this is that priests and doctors of the time simply did not operate in the same circles, so the communication just wasn't there. It has been regarded as a strange oversight for a civilization that practiced such thorough documentation.
Procedures Were Performed As Early As 3300 BCE
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Ever the overachievers, the ancient Egyptians have practiced medicine as far back as 3300 BCE. Largely through trial and error, they began treating battle wounds, snake bites, scorpion stings, and other topical ailments, putting them ahead of other civilizations in the same era. Even though the average life expectancy at the time was about 34 years in ancient Egypt, you were much better off in a society that was able to heal burns and set broken bones than ones where such injuries were considered a death sentence.
They Used Both Science And The Supernatural To Treat Injuries
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Though the ancient Egyptians used many legitimate medical remedies, the primary method of care still relied heavily on magic. As they believed that all diseases had supernatural causes, healing also logically relied on the supernatural as well, so medical treatment often came with a spell to aide recovery.
One example of this would a remedy for whooping cough. The medical treatment would consist of a grounded, roasted mouse mixed into milk, followed by the magical aid of a lullaby that drove off evil spirits. It's believed that the documented effectiveness of these rituals is likely due to a powerful placebo effect.
They Were Adept At Stitches And Setting Broken Bones
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Invasive surgery was something that was simply not done in ancient Egypt. The lack of anesthesia and antiseptic made it essentially impossible as it would have resulted in excruciating pain and almost certain death from infection. However, the ancient Egyptians were quite adept at topical remedies.
With the use of wooden splints and linens, they had a functional knowledge of how to set broken bones and correct dislocations. They also knew to stitch wounds and made effective herbal ointments to heal burns.