Top 10 AMAZING Facts About ANCIENT EGYPT
If there’s anything that the film “The Mummy” taught us about Ancient Egypt, it’s that you don’t want to mess around with their curses. There is plenty about the ancient civilization that would intrigue and delight us, though, and we are bringing ten of these wondrous facts to you. In this edition from Top10Archive, we’ll travel to the time of great pyramids and pharaohs and learn a thing or two about Ancient Egypt.
First Mummy is Osiris
The process of mummification is something that Ancient Egyptians are widely known for, but where did it all start? Legend has it that Osiris had been murdered by his brother, Set, and his body thrown into the Nile in a coffin built specifically for him. Osiris’ wife, Isis, sought out her husband’s body, finding it and hiding it in marshland. Upon discovering this, Set dismembered Osiris’ corpse and dispersed it, with Isis finding all but one piece. In order to assemble the body, she bandaged the parts back together, turning Osiris into the first mummy. In this form, Osiris formed an akh and traveled to the underworld, where he would become king and judge of the dead.
Advanced Medical Practices
One cause of death in ancient societies was a severe lack of medical know-how, but Ancient Egyptian doctors were way ahead of their time. Egyptian physicians were known all over the world for their healing abilities, sometimes using medical practices that are still common today. It is believed that Egyptian medicine men were the first to sew wounds closed, some doctors even having a personal suture kit that they carried in a hollowed bird bone case. Of course, a good portion of their medical practices revolved around magic, but Egyptian physicians also used herbal medicines and surgery to extend one’s life. Ancient Egyptians were also known for providing prosthetics to those in need.
Napoleon Did Not Shoot Off The Sphinx Nose
During the French campaign in Egypt from 1798 to 1801 A.D, it was believed that Napoleon’s soldiers were responsible for the missing nose of the Great Sphinx. The myth spread like wildfire and was popular amongst those that visited the great structure, but any good historian that performed a little research would have found that the nose was gone long before Napoleon entered Egypt. Even prior to France’s occupation, visitors to the Great Sphinx had mentioned the missing part. Instead, ancient Arabian scholar, Al-Maqrizi, blamed the missing feature on Mohammed Sa’im al-Dahr after the sufi vandalized the structure in 1378 A.D.
Egyptian Belief on Creation
For Ancient Egyptian mythology, there was no big bang theory and man didn’t evolve from primates like science believes today. Instead, the creation of life all started with the Sun God, Atum-Ra. According to Egyptian belief, Atum-Ra was responsible for the creation of the universe in one day, and the 6 days that follow, progress of life followed. On day two, Ra created Shu, the god of air, and his wife Tefnut, the goddess of moisture. Shu and Tefnut gave birth to Nut and Geb, the goddess of sky and the god of Earth. What followed is something well suited for a Jerry Springer episode as siblings Nut and Geb wed and conceived Osirus, Horus the Elder, Seth, Isis, and Nephthys. In the final three days, man was created by Khnum in a potter’s wheel, leading to the Egyptian belief that man is made of clay. Poor Khnum is said to be working constantly to create life.
The Many Names of Egypt
Throughout its history, Egypt has been given many different names. Between 2650 and 2134 B.C., Egypt was known as Kemet or Black Land, a reference to the dark, rich soil that made up the Nile Valley. Thanks to the expanse of rolling deserts, it was also known as Deshret, or Red Land. There was also a time where it was named for Ptah, the god of craftsmen and architects, under the name of Hwt-Ka-Ptah, or House of the Ka of Ptah. After the Romans took rule of the area after Octavian’s defeat of Mark Antony in 30 BC, the province became known as Aegyptus.
History’s First Death Sentence
The debate on capital punishment is one that has gone one for quite a long time, but it doesn’t seem to be one that Ancient Egyptians ever questioned. The first recorded death sentence came during 16th Century BC Egypt. The accused was a member of nobility that was accused of performing magic. Due to the individual’s status within society, they were sentenced to end their own life rather than be on the sharp end of an axe like any non-noble man or woman sentenced to death would have been.
1,000 Egyptian Gods
Like any culture across time, Ancient Egypt had its own belief system that included a belief in afterlife and worship of a grander being. Egyptians believed and worshipped over 1,000 gods, though only a handful are popularly known today. Included in some of the lesser known deities are Tawaret, the goddes of hippos, Babi, the god of wild baboons, Nekhbet, the goddess of vultures, and Bes, the god of dwarves. It is believed that many of Egypt’s gods were attributed to planets, such as Thoth, who carried many principles connected to Mercury.
Egyptian Women’s Rights
Compared to most ancient cultures, women of Egypt were amongst the best treated in recorded history. Where other cultures believed women were to serve man, the women of Ancient Egypt could own land and act on their own free will. Women could enter into legal bindings, initiate divorce, manage her own finances, and be involved in legal proceedings as witnesses in court. Though non-royal women were still bound as the “mistress of the house,” the husband would not interfere, instead allowing and trusting her to keep things in order, including overseeing the house servants.
Egyptian Mummification was an Elaborate Process
Thought to ensure safe passage into the afterlife, the process of mummification followed a very specific process. First, the body is transported to the ‘ibu’, or where the body is purified with palm wine and water from the Nile. All internal organs are removed via precise surgical methods and placed inside canopic jars designed after an Egyptian god. With the organs removed, the body is dried out then covered with oils before being wrapped. The wrapping process was quite involved with the arms, legs, fingers, and toes being wrapped individually at first. Amulets and scrolls scribed with spells from the Book of the Dead are placed on the body before the limbs are tied together and the body is wrapped entirely. Finally, the last layer of cloth is painted with a picture of Osiris, the god of the Afterlife. At this point, the body is ready to be placed in its coffin, about 70 days after the deceased has passed away.
The Great Pyramid of Giza
Though each pyramid of Egypt is amazing in its own right, The Great Pyramid of Giza stands to be the largest in the world – that is so long as you are not accounting for volume, as the Cholula Pyramid in Mexico beats Giza in that aspect by about 1,000,000 cubic yards. Giza, however, was built 230 meters or 755 feet long and 146 meters or 479 feet high as the final resting place for the King Khufu. The massive structure took over 20 years to complete and it is estimated that it took 2 and a half minutes to set each of the 2 million limestone blocks in place. The pyramid’s interior is made up of three burial chambers, with only one at the center of the pyramid being inhabited. King Khufu rests at the center of the pyramid, accessible only by an 8 meter or 26 foot high Grand Gallery.