Ibis Coffin from Ancient Egypt

Ibis Coffin from Ancient Egypt


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Spartans and Helots: Was it a history of class struggle?

The Spartan relationship with those that they conquered was designed to maintain their superior strength as a fighting power. To do this they needed an underclass of workers who could maintain the living standards of their society. Those that they subjugated within the Peloponnese were called Helots, and they fulfilled this role. To consider whether this relationship could be described in terms of class struggle it is necessary to identify who the Helots were, their particular role in Spartan life, their reaction to this role, their treatment by the Spartans and its eventual effects.

Excepting for a few Achaean centres, when the Mycenaean period ended in about 1200 BCE it was followed by a severe depopulation of the Peloponnesian peninsula. In about 1000BCE, the Dorians, a northern migrant-warrior tribe invaded and settled Laconia. This occupation of the land happened over a long period, with any pre-Dorian population being used as slave labour or expelled, as the Dorians were not an agricultural people[1].

The city of Sparta began as a conglomeration of villages on the Eurotas River[2], on a site founded in the early tenth century that was previously uninhabited, evidenced by the absence of Mycenaean sherds[3]. About ten kilometres south of Sparta was Amyclae, the centre of the Laconian Achaeans. It was captured by the Dorian Spartans in the middle of the eighth century adding a fifth village to the four villages of Sparta. The land of Helos at the mouth of the Eurotas River was also subjugated[4]. In this early Spartan period of settlement and occupation social conditions developed that were the result of a relationship between the conquerors and the conquered[5].

Being a warrior community of small numbers, the Dorian-Spartans needed others to work the land for them. The land was divided into lots and tilled by the conquered that filled the role of serfs, or Helots [captives[6] ], and provided the livelihood for their masters. These early Helots were made up of a pre-Dorian agricultural community[7]. The Spartans, being a dominant force and increasing in number, acquired land in the west, north and south[8], but in particular the land of Messenia in the west of the Peloponnese.

This led to the First Messenian War around the latter part of the seventh century[9]. After the battle for the Messenian’s mountain fortress at Ithome, the Spartans were victorious and turned the inhabitants into Helots[10]. The seventh Spartan poet Tyrtaeus describes the Messenians paying tribute to their new masters ‘just like donkeys, worn down by heavy burdens[11]. This burden was great, in that Helots had to deliver half of their crop to their Spartan masters[12]. Yet there were many of them and consequently they became a threat to the Spartan state.

Although the expansion of Spartan territory into Laconia and Messenia doubled the state’s size and resulted in whole populations being subjugated into serf-like primary producers, it also found the Spartans constantly having to control ‘an enemy within’[13]. Unlike slaves elsewhere in Greece who were bought and sold by individual masters at will, Helots were not of disparate origin but born only in Laconia or Messenia and not sold beyond these lands[14]. Ehrenberg states that ‘it was the Messenians who ever afterwards threatened to revolt against Sparta’[15]. Forrest also asserts that through their numbers, their race and their identity, being of Messenian or Dorian-Greek origin, these Helots were a constant threat to Spartan society[16].

THE ROLE OF HELOTS IN SPARTAN SOCIETY

Surface surveys conducted in southwest Messenia show isolated settlements across the landscape, rather than individual farmsteads. This suggests that Helots lived together on estates and under some surveillance, not spread out in small family groups on cultivated land[17]. Xenophon saw the Helots as being integral to the Spartan state, much like slaves elsewhere[18]. Other than agricultural tasks, the functions performed by Helots were as domestic servants, wet nurses, grooms, attendants to Spartans on military campaigns, as well as troops and even hoplites between 424-369BCE[19]. Kennell thinks that Helots may have been owned individually[20]. Xenophon writes that the Spartan lawgiver Lycurgus allowed anyone to borrow another’s hunting dogs, horses or helots[21], which suggests that they were considered private property[22]. However, this could also mean that, rather than being owned, they were considered part of an individual’s share of the common good.

Helots did have a form of property and marriage rights and some form of social life. Talbert argues that, for some Helots, life must have been good through having some influence and power in administrating property while the owners were away fighting or in the city. This meant that they might profit from their work and their loyal military services and might suggest an acceptance of their position[23]. Herodotus states that Helots were used as troops in the Battle of Thermopylae in 480BCE[24] (Herod. 6.80 8.25), and at the Battle of Plataea in 479BCE there were seven armed helots to one Spartan hoplite[25]. There was a substantial drop in the Spartan population during the fifth century and therefore the number of Helots required serving in Spartan military expeditions increased[26]. Being small in number and located in the city itself unless on official business, the Spartans must have left the Helots to their own devices much of the time[27].

The territory of Sparta was extensive and difficult with many mountain ranges isolating various areas. Spartan households used a large amount of domestic attendants to do tasks such as wool-working that were normally carried out by women in other areas of Greece[28]. As a Spartan’s whole life was training for war, the whole orientation of society needed an enslaved population to assist this and constructed their lifestyle to make this hierarchy. In this way, the Helots were fundamental to the Spartan economy[29]. To rely for their survival on the helots the Spartans had to turn their city into a military barracks, but the compensation for this meant that Sparta became one of the most powerful cities in the Hellenic world[30]. However, this also resulted in Sparta having to devote much energy to asserting its power over the Helots and, until the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BCE it involved a constant rebalancing of benefits and dangers[31].

HELOT REACTION TO INFERIOR ROLE

Talbert asserts that the longevity of Helot submission is more significant than Helot rebellion, and the fact that population numbers remained high points to general well-being[32]. The helots had the advantage of being in a country that was protected from outside invaders. It was also a country where the masters had limited literary or cultural interests, therefore it is unlikely that isolated Helots would have been politically interested. As Sparta’s neighbours were all oligarchies, rather than democracies like Athens, it would appear that there was little chance for political organisation for the Helots, being isolated and uneducated[33]. As Helots infrequently came into contact with free people, this situation may have changed with the use of Helots in military expeditions in the early fifth century.

While the first revolt of the Helots came in the latter half of the seventh century, the Spartans took years to quell the rebellion and suggests a cause for the ongoing tensions between the Spartans and the Helots. While there are no accounts of rebellion in the sixth century, there are more than a few accounts of Helot disloyalty or conflict in the fifth and fourth centuries. By the time of Thucydides it seems that Spartan society was designed to keep it secure against the Helots[34].

Thucydides[35] states that all Helots, whether Laconian or Messenian were called Messenian, which suggests that the Spartans saw them all as potential dissidents[36]. An earthquake that devastated Sparta in 465/4 BCE[37] had an immediate effect upon the helots, with those in Messenia revolting and again being garrisoned in their mountain stronghold at Ithome. It was not until a decade later that there was a compromise[38]. However, Xenophon writes that by the late fifth century the Helots would have been happy to eat the Spartans raw[39].

SPARTAN TREATMENT OF HELOTS

In the Parnian area of Sparta a seventh century pattern can be seen through site surveys of small single-family farmsteads and hamlets. Surveyors surmise that these were evidence of the perioeci, free people who were neither helots nor Spartans. After the middle of the fifth century these decrease sharply indicating Spartan security concerns after the earthquake[40]. All Spartan treaties with their allies had a clause calling for assistance in case of a helot uprising[41] , and the Spartan state allegedly maintained an annual declaration of war against the helots through the use of a secret service of young warriors who would murder unsuspecting helots[42].

A fragment from Myron[43] tells of how the Spartans forced the Helots into the most insulting and degrading positions in order to reinforce their inferior position, even to the point of giving a death sentence if they looked too robust. Plutarch cites the practice of making Helots get drunk within the Spartan common dining halls as a form of humiliation designed to reinforce their inferior status[44]. Also, during a siege at Sphacteria during the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides wrote that many Helots came to assist the Spartans who offered them silver and freedom[45]. Later 2000 of these Helots were alleged to have been executed by the Spartans in fear that they had become too powerful[46].

Spartan apprehension of Helots is highlighted by them sending seven hundred with Brasidas to Thessaly[47] during the Peloponnesian War. When they returned in 421BCE they were freed by the state and offered land at Lepreum becoming known as ‘Brasedeoi’[48] and part of a new class of Neodamodeis [‘new men’]. This new status for Helots may have been a state action to balance the societal problems that arose through the stark inequalities of the Spartan/Helot relationship[49]. However, while they were granted land in return for military service, they were not granted citizenship[50]. There is also evidence of the state allowing Helots to be freed in exchange for helping besieged Spartans with food and also on the eve of the Theban invasion of 369BCE. However, so many volunteered to be hoplites that the Spartans retracted their offer in fear that they were arming their enemy[51].

It appears that with the severe decline in Spartan population during the fifth century, there was a need for Spartans to rely upon Helots as a fighting force which contradicted the underpinnings of their society, where Spartans were the soldiers and Helots were the workers. However, the longevity of the relationship over centuries between Spartans and Helots infers that the relationship was much like that of serfs in medieval society. Although there were periods of unrest the relationship relied upon a mutual security which could not be completely undone unless there was a significant change in political outlook. This change may have occurred with the use of Helots in more military expeditions, allowing them to observe other relationships and societies outside of their own isolated experience and being the likely cause of demands for freedom in the fifth and fourth centuries. Therefore, as population decline was a major contributing factor to the eventual demise of Spartan society, it would seem that Cartledge overstates the role of class struggle in Sparta.

  1. Cartledge, P. (2009), Ancient Greece: A History in Eleven Cities, Oxford University Press, New York
  2. Ehrenberg, V. (1971), From Solon to Socrates- Greek History and Civilization during the sixth and fifth centuries B.C., Methuen & Co Ltd, London
  3. Forrest, W.G., (1968), A History of Sparta: 950-192 B.C., W.W. Norton & Co., New York
    1. Herodotus, The Histories, viewed 16 April, 2013 on http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.01.0126
    2. Kennell, N. (2010), Spartans: A New History, Wiley-Blackwell, West Sussex
    3. Pausanius, Description of Greece, 4.14.4, viewed 19 April 2013 on http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0009%3Achapter%3D6%3Asection%3D8
    4. Plutarch, Lycurgus, viewed 17 April, 2013 on http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A2008.01.0047%3Achapter%3D28%3Asection%3D5
    5. Thomas, R.M., (n.d.), An Overview of Classical Greek History from Mycenae to Alexander, 6.8 viewed 20 April 2013 on http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0009%3Achapter%3D6%3Asection%3D8
    6. Talbert, R.J.A. (1989) “The role of the Helots in the class struggle at Sparta”, Historia , 38:2 , 1989
    7. Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, viewed 15 April, 2013 on http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.01.0200
    8. Xenophon, Anabasis, viewed 15 April 2013 on http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.01.0202
    9. Xenophon, Constitution of the Lacedaemonians, viewed 15 April 2013 on http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0210%3Atext%3DConst.+Lac.
    10. Xenophon, Hellenica, viewed on 16 April 2013 on http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.01.0206

    [1] Ehrenberg, V. (1971), From Solon to Socrates- Greek History and Civilization during the sixth and fifth centuries B.C., Methuen & Co Ltd, London, p. 29

    [2] Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, 1.10.2

    [6] Cartledge, P. (2009), Ancient Greece: A History in Eleven Cities, Oxford University Press, New York, p.75

    [11] Thomas, R.M., (n.d.), An Overview of Classical Greek History from Mycenae to Alexander, 6.8

    [12] Pausanius, Description of Greece, 4.14.4

    [14] Kennell, N. (2010), Spartans: A New History, Wiley-Blackwell, West Sussex, p. 81

    [16] Forrest, W.G., (1968), A History of Sparta: 950-192 B.C., W.W. Norton & Co., New York, p.31

    [21] Xenophon, Constitution of the Lacedaemonians, 6.3

    [23] Talbert, R.J.A. (1989) “The role of the Helots in the class struggle at Sparta”, Historia , 38:2 , 1989 , p.31

    [24] Herodotus, The Histories, 6.80 8.25.1

    [39] Xen. Hell. 3.3.6 Anabasis 4.18.4


    10 The Teenager And The Pyramid


    In the region of Beni Suef stands a pyramid. This odd duck is called the Meidum pyramid. It was originally a step monument but the sides were later smoothed to turn the structure into a real pyramid. Nobody knows why Meidum was altered in this way. In 2019, a grave added to the site&rsquos reputation to head-scratch for answers.

    Dug next to the 4,600-year-old pyramid, the tomb held a teenage girl. When she died from unknown causes, she was about 13 years old. The time of her death is less certain but the teen was definitely an ancient Egyptian. Her body was arranged in a squatting position and there was a glaring lack of grave goods. The investigation did uncover signs of a cemetery and a pair of bovine skulls. They were likely a funerary offering but the heads could not be linked to any specific burial, including the anonymous girl&rsquos.

    The expedition also found traces of a brick wall, which may or may not have circled the cemetery. Overall, a teen buried without ceremony next to an altered pyramid surrounded by a wall is a combination that will likely keep archaeologists guessing for a while. [1]


    Model of a Male Offering Bearer

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    The Ancient View of Animals

    ‘If only thou couldst feel as I do, and couldst get thee power of speech’

    An important feature of the relationship between humans and animals since the early Neolithic age is one of reciprocity. In this line from Odysseus, Homer draws our attention to the close symbiotic relationship between a shepherd and his flock. The shepherd provides protection and the sheep provide sustenance and companionship in his lonely life[2]. However, Hesiod stated that it is the notion of justice that holds us apart from animals, with justice demanding that we do not prey on our own kind[3]. Lonsdale notes that Xenophon went further and argued that man is different because of his capacity to speak and reason, and also in his deep religiosity[4]. Yet, while the Greeks were deeply anthropocentric, the Egyptians did not have such a notion of division between human and animal. Humans were not considered superior and animals were considered the vehicle of earthly representation of the gods[5]. To consider ancient notions of the important attributes differentiating human and non-human it is necessary to review the literature left by ancient writers. These writers tend to relegate these attributes into three distinct types: rationality, intelligence and language, and argue for difference or deny it. The ancient argument that is most valid is the one propounded by writers such as Alexander, Plutarch and Porphyry and denies the superiority of humans, as it takes into account what we may not understand.

    The first criterion that many ancient writers cite is the lack of rationality found in animals. In the 5 th century BCE Alcamaeon of Croton wrote that humans have xunesis, an understanding which is the basis for rational thought. This allows language to develop which assists cultural maturity. He argues that animals do not have this facility and only have perception, or aesthesis, which humans have also[6]. Plato also states that the difference between humans and animals is human rationality and goes on to say that humans who do not use rational thought are no better than beasts[7]. Aristotle also denies animals reason but concedes that they have phronesis which is the knowledge needed to cope with their environment[8]. For Aristotle, humans live by skill and reason, whereas animals live by experience made up of impressions and memories[9]. In his protestation against his nephew Alexander’s assertion of the rationality of animals, Philo of Alexandria declares that, while animals might exhibit courage, only man has the understanding that enables him to form laws and governments, and to worship God[10]. Such a determination was later reflected even more vehemently by Augustine who stated that humans were made in God’s image and that animals were for their use. For Augustine, the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” only referred to humans[11].

    Other writers, such as Alexander, claimed that animals were very much like humans. Alexander said that there were two types of reason: logos endiathelos (reason within the mind) and logos proporikos (uttered reason), and that animals had both. Alexander used the ability of different animals to construct complex dwellings, especially some birds and bees, to prove reason in animals, and also contended that the deliberation of a dog in following its prey is proof of reason[12]. Plutarch and Porphyry also used such an argument, but Plutarch added that good rational thinking was not apparent in many humans and only came about through much education. He argued that because animals chose between useful and harmful and exhibited fear, hope and desire this proved their rationality[13]. Porphyry extended this further by stating that justice should be awarded to animals because both humans and non-humans are endowed with reason and practise justice[14]. However, Diogenes Laertius contended that the practice of reasoned thought in humans, especially after the fourteenth year, showed that humans have a governing principle, or hegemonikon[15], that allows one to express meaningful language and is considered to be the foundation of intelligence.

    Intelligence is the second criterion that ancient writers advance when they assert the superiority of humans over animals. For Aristotle, man is deliberative in that he has intentionality only man has the ability of recollection and reason which differentiates him intellectually from animals[16]. Philo thought that pleasure and self-preservation were the prime motivating factors of animals and that they did not need intelligence for these[17]. The Stoics stated that humans have no intellectual kinship with animals as they are irrational, and for this reason humans owe them no obligation of justice[18]. There are other ancient writers who disagreed with this view. Alexander asserted that animals do have a sovereign mind[19], while Plutarch contended that the cleverness and intellect animals use for their survival ought to be enough for us to treat them respectfully[20]. Plutarch also believed that humans shared kinship, or oikeinsois, through manner or lifestyle[21]. Lonsdale writes that Aristotle’s follower, Theophrastus, argued that animal sacrifice was wrong because humans and animals shared an intellectual kinship[22]. Further, Cicero thought that while humans were superior in that they had higher intentions, such as the pursuit of comfort, industry and sympathy for others, he conceded that some animals have such higher intentions and some intellect[23].

    Higher intentions and intellect could be prerequisites for engaging in contractual behaviour, a foundation of justice. Epicurus stated that, as animals do not have the capacity for language, they do not have the capacity for forming tacit contractual agreements with an intention to respect one another’s interests[24]. Language is the third criterion for the moral status of animals. For Xenophon, humans were superior to animals both intellectually and physically, and this was manifested in the human capacity for articulate language[25]. This view was also reflected by Diogenes Laertius, who stated that the lack of intelligible language in animals proved their inferiority[26]. While Aristotle thought that animals did communicate through language, he countered that it was not based in semantics and therefore inferior to humans[27]. Philo took this argument further, stating that animal utterances are as meaningless as musical notes[28]. However, Lucretius argues that humans and non-humans do engage in tacit contractual agreements. This is illustrated by the guardianship of humans to animals and the return of services and products by animals, and does not require the understanding of languages for it to be beneficial to both parties[29]. Plutarch and Porphyry also argue that humans lack the capacity to understand the language of animals not that animal language has no meaning[30] as the modern philosopher, Wittgenstein, stated: “If a lion could talk we would not understand him”[31].

    Most of the arguments above that deny non-humans the capacity of reason, intelligence and communication result in the denial to animals of any moral obligation. The Stoic, Chrysippus, puts this argument as such: humans and non-humans have three things on common: senses, utterance and reproduction. Humans can also reason, whereas animals are only motivated by impulse. Therefore, humans need not consider the interests of animals[32]. As Aristotle stated, slavery is a natural phenomenon because it is natural for one human to rule over another and as animals are intended for human use it is natural for humans to rule over animals[33]. This denial of interest to animals culminated in Augustine’s use of Aristotle’s and the Stoics’ arguments to defend the use of animals to benefit human lives on the grounds that God gave humans animals in order to help them to salvation[34]. To attribute reason to animals was tantamount to denying Christian notions of humans being fit for the divine recreation of God[35]. The Egyptian practice of animals representing the gods on earth was sacrilegious to Christian sensibilities. Therefore, animals became ‘the other’ and the primacy of humans became paramount.

    Rather than a symbiotic and reciprocal relationship based upon the interests of both humans and non-humans, this reliance on a criteria of reason, intelligence and language to assert an anthropocentric world view discounts and ignores all the ancient contentions that counter such a view. Porphyry, Plutarch and Alexander were right in using the many examples from their environment to show that other animals are very much like humans. They live in complex societies, they build complex dwellings, they make choices between good and bad, they exhibit hopes, fears and desires, and have autonomy. As Lucretius stated, humans and non-humans do engage in tacit contractual agreements when they breed animals for their products or services. However, these agreements can quickly degenerate into master/slave relationships when humans disregard the interests of animals. Also, just as some humans cannot understand the language of other humans from another society, so too it is with other animals. Therefore, arguments used by ancient writers to support the claim that animals are different to humans rely upon criteria that are not exclusive to human beings and have caused the suffering of animals for over two thousand years.

    1. Alcaemon of Croton, DK1a, Hermann Diels & Walther Kranz, eds, Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, 6 th edn (Berlin: Weidmann, 1951-52)
    2. Aristotle, “Metaphysics”, from Newmyer, S.T., Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, (2011), Routledge Press
    3. Aristotle, “Parts of Animals”, from Pierre Louis, ed., Aristote Les Parties des Animaux (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1956)
    4. Aristotle, “Politics”, Jean Aubonnet, ed., Aristote Politique, Livres I et II (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1968)
    5. Augustine, “De civitate dei” [The City of God], from B. Dombart & A. Kalb, eds, Sancti Aurelii Augustini de Civitate Dei Libri I-X (Turnhout: Brepols, 1955 (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 47)
    6. Beck, J., (2012), “Why we can’t say what animals think”, Philosophical Psychology, 2012, 1-27, Routledge Press
    7. Chryssipus, “SVF”, from Johannes von Arnim, ed. Stoicorum Veterum Fragmenta (Stuttgart Teubner, 1964 reprint of the edition of 1905)
    8. Cicero, “De finibus bonorum et malorum” [On the Ends of Good and Evil], from Claudio Moreschini, ed., M.Tullius Cicero Scripta Quae Manserunt Omnia Fasc. 43: De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum (Munich and Leipzig: Saur, 2005)
    9. Diogenes Laertius, “Lives of the Philosophers”, from H.S. Long, Diogenis Laertii Vitae Philosophum (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964)
    10. Epicurus, kuriai Doxai [Soveregn Maxims] XXXI and XXXII, as cited in Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers X. 150 [from the life of Epicurus], from Newmyer, S.T., (2011), Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, Routledge Press
    11. Gilhus, Ingvild S. (2006) “The religious value of animals” in Animals, Gods and Humans: Changing Attitudes to Animals in Greek, Roman and Early Christian Ideas , Gilhus, Ingvild S. , 2006 , 93-113
    12. Hesiod, The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, Works and Days. Cambridge, MA.,Harvard University Press London, William Heinemann Ltd, 1918
    13. Homer, The Odyssey with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, PH.D. in two volumes, Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1919
    14. Lonsdale, S.H., (1979), “Attitudes Towards Animals in Ancient Greece”, Greece and Rome, 2 nd Ser., Vol.26, No.2, (Oct., 1979), 146-159
    15. Lucretius, “De rerum natura” [On the Nature of Things], from Joseph Martin, ed., T. Lucreti Cari de Rerum Natura Libri Sex (Leipzig: Teubner, 1963)
    16. Newmyer, S.T., (2011), Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, Routledge Press
    17. Philo of Alexandria, “On Animals”, from Newmyer, S.T., Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, (2011), Routledge Press
    18. Plato, “Laws”, Burnet, J., ed., Platonis Opera (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1901-1902 rept. 1962-1967)
    19. Plutarch, “De esu cranium” [On the Eating of Flesh), from Newmyer, S.T., (2011), Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, Routledge PressPlutarch, “On the Cleverness of Animals”, from Newmyer, S.T., Animals in Greek and Roman Thought: A Sourcebook, (2011), Routledge Press
    20. Plutarch, “De Stoicurum repugnantis” [On the Self-Contradictions of the Stoics], from Michel Casevitz & Daniel Babut, eds, Plutarque: Ouvres Morales XV (Sur les Contradictions Stoiciennes, etc.) (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2004)
    21. Porphyry, “On Abstinence from Animal Flesh”, from Jean Bouffartigue, Michele Patillon, Alain Segond and Luc Brisson, eds, Porphyre De l’Abstinence (Paris: Les Belle Lettres, 1977-1995)
    22. Wittgenstein, L., (1973), Philosophical Investigations, Oxford: Blackwell
    23. Xenophon, “Memorabilia” [Recollections of Socrates], from E.C. Marchant, ed., Xenophontis Opera Omnia (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967)

    [1] Homer, The Odyssey with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, PH.D. in two volumes, Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press London, William Heinemann, Ltd. 1919

    [2] Lonsdale, S.H., (1979), “Attitudes Towards Animals in Ancient Greece”, Greece and Rome, 2 nd Ser., Vol.26, No.2, (Oct., 1979), 149

    [3] Hesiod, The Homeric Hymns and Homerica with an English Translation by Hugh G. Evelyn-White, Works and Days. Cambridge, MA.,Harvard University Press London, William Heinemann Ltd, 1914


    Deir el-Medina, The Place of Truth

    Deir el-Medina (Arabic: دير المدينة‎) is an ancient Egyptian village which was home to the artisans who worked on the tombs in the Valley of the Kings during the 18th to 20th dynasties of the New Kingdom period (ca. 1550–1080 BC). The settlement’s ancient name was “Set Maat” (translated as “The Place of Truth“), and the workmen who lived there were called “Servants in the Place of Truth”.

    On the way to Deir el-Medina this morning in a tuk-tuk, passing the Colossi of Memnon.

    View from the empty parking lot of Deir el-Medina. Once again, I am a lone tourist here.

    In 1922 a team led by Bernard Bruyère began to excavate the site. This work has resulted in one of the most thoroughly documented accounts of community life in the ancient world that spans almost four hundred years. There is no comparable site in which the organisation, social interactions, working and living conditions of a community can be studied in such detail.

    During their days off the workmen could work on their own tombs, and since they were amongst the best craftsmen in Ancient Egypt who excavated and decorated royal tombs, their own tombs are considered to be some of the most beautiful on the west bank.

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    Contents

    The Nile has been the lifeline of its region for much of human history. [8] The fertile floodplain of the Nile gave humans the opportunity to develop a settled agricultural economy and a more sophisticated, centralized society that became a cornerstone in the history of human civilization. [9] Nomadic modern human hunter-gatherers began living in the Nile valley through the end of the Middle Pleistocene some 120,000 years ago. By the late Paleolithic period, the arid climate of Northern Africa became increasingly hot and dry, forcing the populations of the area to concentrate along the river region.

    Predynastic period

    In Predynastic and Early Dynastic times, the Egyptian climate was much less arid than it is today. Large regions of Egypt were covered in treed savanna and traversed by herds of grazing ungulates. Foliage and fauna were far more prolific in all environs and the Nile region supported large populations of waterfowl. Hunting would have been common for Egyptians, and this is also the period when many animals were first domesticated. [10]

    By about 5500 BC, small tribes living in the Nile valley had developed into a series of cultures demonstrating firm control of agriculture and animal husbandry, and identifiable by their pottery and personal items, such as combs, bracelets, and beads. The largest of these early cultures in upper (Southern) Egypt was the Badarian culture, which probably originated in the Western Desert it was known for its high-quality ceramics, stone tools, and its use of copper. [11]

    The Badari was followed by the Naqada culture: the Amratian (Naqada I), the Gerzeh (Naqada II), and Semainean (Naqada III). [12] [ page needed ] These brought a number of technological improvements. As early as the Naqada I Period, predynastic Egyptians imported obsidian from Ethiopia, used to shape blades and other objects from flakes. [13] In Naqada II times, early evidence exists of contact with the Near East, particularly Canaan and the Byblos coast. [14] Over a period of about 1,000 years, the Naqada culture developed from a few small farming communities into a powerful civilization whose leaders were in complete control of the people and resources of the Nile valley. [15] Establishing a power center at Nekhen (in Greek, Hierakonpolis), and later at Abydos, Naqada III leaders expanded their control of Egypt northwards along the Nile. [16] They also traded with Nubia to the south, the oases of the western desert to the west, and the cultures of the eastern Mediterranean and Near East to the east, initiating a period of Egypt-Mesopotamia relations. [17] [ when? ]

    The Naqada culture manufactured a diverse selection of material goods, reflective of the increasing power and wealth of the elite, as well as societal personal-use items, which included combs, small statuary, painted pottery, high quality decorative stone vases, cosmetic palettes, and jewelry made of gold, lapis, and ivory. They also developed a ceramic glaze known as faience, which was used well into the Roman Period to decorate cups, amulets, and figurines. [18] During the last predynastic phase, the Naqada culture began using written symbols that eventually were developed into a full system of hieroglyphs for writing the ancient Egyptian language. [19]

    Early Dynastic Period (c. 3150–2686 BC)

    The Early Dynastic Period was approximately contemporary to the early Sumerian-Akkadian civilisation of Mesopotamia and of ancient Elam. The third-century BC Egyptian priest Manetho grouped the long line of kings from Menes to his own time into 30 dynasties, a system still used today. He began his official history with the king named "Meni" (or Menes in Greek), who was believed to have united the two kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt. [20]

    The transition to a unified state happened more gradually than ancient Egyptian writers represented, and there is no contemporary record of Menes. Some scholars now believe, however, that the mythical Menes may have been the king Narmer, who is depicted wearing royal regalia on the ceremonial Narmer Palette, in a symbolic act of unification. [22] In the Early Dynastic Period, which began about 3000 BC, the first of the Dynastic kings solidified control over lower Egypt by establishing a capital at Memphis, from which he could control the labour force and agriculture of the fertile delta region, as well as the lucrative and critical trade routes to the Levant. The increasing power and wealth of the kings during the early dynastic period was reflected in their elaborate mastaba tombs and mortuary cult structures at Abydos, which were used to celebrate the deified king after his death. [23] The strong institution of kingship developed by the kings served to legitimize state control over the land, labour, and resources that were essential to the survival and growth of ancient Egyptian civilization. [24]

    Old Kingdom (2686–2181 BC)

    Major advances in architecture, art, and technology were made during the Old Kingdom, fueled by the increased agricultural productivity and resulting population, made possible by a well-developed central administration. [25] Some of ancient Egypt's crowning achievements, the Giza pyramids and Great Sphinx, were constructed during the Old Kingdom. Under the direction of the vizier, state officials collected taxes, coordinated irrigation projects to improve crop yield, drafted peasants to work on construction projects, and established a justice system to maintain peace and order. [26]

    With the rising importance of central administration in Egypt, a new class of educated scribes and officials arose who were granted estates by the king in payment for their services. Kings also made land grants to their mortuary cults and local temples, to ensure that these institutions had the resources to worship the king after his death. Scholars believe that five centuries of these practices slowly eroded the economic vitality of Egypt, and that the economy could no longer afford to support a large centralized administration. [27] As the power of the kings diminished, regional governors called nomarchs began to challenge the supremacy of the office of king. This, coupled with severe droughts between 2200 and 2150 BC, [28] is believed to have caused the country to enter the 140-year period of famine and strife known as the First Intermediate Period. [29]

    First Intermediate Period (2181–2055 BC)

    After Egypt's central government collapsed at the end of the Old Kingdom, the administration could no longer support or stabilize the country's economy. Regional governors could not rely on the king for help in times of crisis, and the ensuing food shortages and political disputes escalated into famines and small-scale civil wars. Yet despite difficult problems, local leaders, owing no tribute to the king, used their new-found independence to establish a thriving culture in the provinces. Once in control of their own resources, the provinces became economically richer—which was demonstrated by larger and better burials among all social classes. [30] In bursts of creativity, provincial artisans adopted and adapted cultural motifs formerly restricted to the royalty of the Old Kingdom, and scribes developed literary styles that expressed the optimism and originality of the period. [31]

    Free from their loyalties to the king, local rulers began competing with each other for territorial control and political power. By 2160 BC, rulers in Herakleopolis controlled Lower Egypt in the north, while a rival clan based in Thebes, the Intef family, took control of Upper Egypt in the south. As the Intefs grew in power and expanded their control northward, a clash between the two rival dynasties became inevitable. Around 2055 BC the northern Theban forces under Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II finally defeated the Herakleopolitan rulers, reuniting the Two Lands. They inaugurated a period of economic and cultural renaissance known as the Middle Kingdom. [32]

    Middle Kingdom (2134–1690 BC)

    The kings of the Middle Kingdom restored the country's stability and prosperity, thereby stimulating a resurgence of art, literature, and monumental building projects. [33] Mentuhotep II and his Eleventh Dynasty successors ruled from Thebes, but the vizier Amenemhat I, upon assuming the kingship at the beginning of the Twelfth Dynasty around 1985 BC, shifted the kingdom's capital to the city of Itjtawy, located in Faiyum. [34] From Itjtawy, the kings of the Twelfth Dynasty undertook a far-sighted land reclamation and irrigation scheme to increase agricultural output in the region. Moreover, the military reconquered territory in Nubia that was rich in quarries and gold mines, while laborers built a defensive structure in the Eastern Delta, called the "Walls of the Ruler", to defend against foreign attack. [35]

    With the kings having secured the country militarily and politically and with vast agricultural and mineral wealth at their disposal, the nation's population, arts, and religion flourished. In contrast to elitist Old Kingdom attitudes towards the gods, the Middle Kingdom displayed an increase in expressions of personal piety. [36] Middle Kingdom literature featured sophisticated themes and characters written in a confident, eloquent style. [31] The relief and portrait sculpture of the period captured subtle, individual details that reached new heights of technical sophistication. [37]

    The last great ruler of the Middle Kingdom, Amenemhat III, allowed Semitic-speaking Canaanite settlers from the Near East into the Delta region to provide a sufficient labour force for his especially active mining and building campaigns. These ambitious building and mining activities, however, combined with severe Nile floods later in his reign, strained the economy and precipitated the slow decline into the Second Intermediate Period during the later Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties. During this decline, the Canaanite settlers began to assume greater control of the Delta region, eventually coming to power in Egypt as the Hyksos. [38]

    Second Intermediate Period (1674–1549 BC) and the Hyksos

    Around 1785 BC, as the power of the Middle Kingdom kings weakened, a Western Asian people called the Hyksos, who had already settled in the Delta, seized control of Egypt and established their capital at Avaris, forcing the former central government to retreat to Thebes. The king was treated as a vassal and expected to pay tribute. [39] The Hyksos ("foreign rulers") retained Egyptian models of government and identified as kings, thereby integrating Egyptian elements into their culture. They and other invaders introduced new tools of warfare into Egypt, most notably the composite bow and the horse-drawn chariot. [40]

    After retreating south, the native Theban kings found themselves trapped between the Canaanite Hyksos ruling the north and the Hyksos' Nubian allies, the Kushites, to the south. After years of vassalage, Thebes gathered enough strength to challenge the Hyksos in a conflict that lasted more than 30 years, until 1555 BC. [39] The kings Seqenenre Tao II and Kamose were ultimately able to defeat the Nubians to the south of Egypt, but failed to defeat the Hyksos. That task fell to Kamose's successor, Ahmose I, who successfully waged a series of campaigns that permanently eradicated the Hyksos' presence in Egypt. He established a new dynasty and, in the New Kingdom that followed, the military became a central priority for the kings, who sought to expand Egypt's borders and attempted to gain mastery of the Near East. [41]

    New Kingdom (1549–1069 BC)

    The New Kingdom pharaohs established a period of unprecedented prosperity by securing their borders and strengthening diplomatic ties with their neighbours, including the Mitanni Empire, Assyria, and Canaan. Military campaigns waged under Tuthmosis I and his grandson Tuthmosis III extended the influence of the pharaohs to the largest empire Egypt had ever seen. Beginning with Merneptah the rulers of Egypt adopted the title of pharaoh.

    Between their reigns, Hatshepsut, a queen who established herself as pharaoh, launched many building projects, including restoration of temples damaged by the Hyksos, and sent trading expeditions to Punt and the Sinai. [42] When Tuthmosis III died in 1425 BC, Egypt had an empire extending from Niya in north west Syria to the Fourth Cataract of the Nile in Nubia, cementing loyalties and opening access to critical imports such as bronze and wood. [43]

    The New Kingdom pharaohs began a large-scale building campaign to promote the god Amun, whose growing cult was based in Karnak. They also constructed monuments to glorify their own achievements, both real and imagined. The Karnak temple is the largest Egyptian temple ever built. [44]

    Around 1350 BC, the stability of the New Kingdom was threatened when Amenhotep IV ascended the throne and instituted a series of radical and chaotic reforms. Changing his name to Akhenaten, he touted the previously obscure sun deity Aten as the supreme deity, suppressed the worship of most other deities, and moved the capital to the new city of Akhetaten (modern-day Amarna). [45] He was devoted to his new religion and artistic style. After his death, the cult of the Aten was quickly abandoned and the traditional religious order restored. The subsequent pharaohs, Tutankhamun, Ay, and Horemheb, worked to erase all mention of Akhenaten's heresy, now known as the Amarna Period. [46]

    Around 1279 BC, Ramesses II, also known as Ramesses the Great, ascended the throne, and went on to build more temples, erect more statues and obelisks, and sire more children than any other pharaoh in history. [a] A bold military leader, Ramesses II led his army against the Hittites in the Battle of Kadesh (in modern Syria) and, after fighting to a stalemate, finally agreed to the first recorded peace treaty, around 1258 BC. [47]

    Egypt's wealth, however, made it a tempting target for invasion, particularly by the Libyan Berbers to the west, and the Sea Peoples, a conjectured confederation of seafarers from the Aegean Sea. [b] Initially, the military was able to repel these invasions, but Egypt eventually lost control of its remaining territories in southern Canaan, much of it falling to the Assyrians. The effects of external threats were exacerbated by internal problems such as corruption, tomb robbery, and civil unrest. After regaining their power, the high priests at the temple of Amun in Thebes accumulated vast tracts of land and wealth, and their expanded power splintered the country during the Third Intermediate Period. [48]

    Third Intermediate Period (1069–653 BC)

    Following the death of Ramesses XI in 1078 BC, Smendes assumed authority over the northern part of Egypt, ruling from the city of Tanis. The south was effectively controlled by the High Priests of Amun at Thebes, who recognized Smendes in name only. [49] During this time, Libyans had been settling in the western delta, and chieftains of these settlers began increasing their autonomy. Libyan princes took control of the delta under Shoshenq I in 945 BC, founding the so-called Libyan or Bubastite dynasty that would rule for some 200 years. Shoshenq also gained control of southern Egypt by placing his family members in important priestly positions. Libyan control began to erode as a rival dynasty in the delta arose in Leontopolis, and Kushites threatened from the south.

    Around 727 BC the Kushite king Piye invaded northward, seizing control of Thebes and eventually the Delta, which established the 25th Dynasty. [51] During the 25th Dynasty, Pharaoh Taharqa created an empire nearly as large as the New Kingdom's. Twenty-fifth Dynasty pharaohs built, or restored, temples and monuments throughout the Nile valley, including at Memphis, Karnak, Kawa, and Jebel Barkal. [52] During this period, the Nile valley saw the first widespread construction of pyramids (many in modern Sudan) since the Middle Kingdom. [53] [54] [55]

    Egypt's far-reaching prestige declined considerably toward the end of the Third Intermediate Period. Its foreign allies had fallen under the Assyrian sphere of influence, and by 700 BC war between the two states became inevitable. Between 671 and 667 BC the Assyrians began the Assyrian conquest of Egypt. The reigns of both Taharqa and his successor, Tanutamun, were filled with constant conflict with the Assyrians, against whom Egypt enjoyed several victories. Ultimately, the Assyrians pushed the Kushites back into Nubia, occupied Memphis, and sacked the temples of Thebes. [57]

    Late Period (653–332 BC)

    The Assyrians left control of Egypt to a series of vassals who became known as the Saite kings of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty. By 653 BC, the Saite king Psamtik I was able to oust the Assyrians with the help of Greek mercenaries, who were recruited to form Egypt's first navy. Greek influence expanded greatly as the city-state of Naukratis became the home of Greeks in the Nile Delta. The Saite kings based in the new capital of Sais witnessed a brief but spirited resurgence in the economy and culture, but in 525 BC, the powerful Persians, led by Cambyses II, began their conquest of Egypt, eventually capturing the pharaoh Psamtik III at the Battle of Pelusium. Cambyses II then assumed the formal title of pharaoh, but ruled Egypt from Iran, leaving Egypt under the control of a satrapy. A few successful revolts against the Persians marked the 5th century BC, but Egypt was never able to permanently overthrow the Persians. [58]

    Following its annexation by Persia, Egypt was joined with Cyprus and Phoenicia in the sixth satrapy of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. This first period of Persian rule over Egypt, also known as the Twenty-Seventh Dynasty, ended in 402 BC, when Egypt regained independence under a series of native dynasties. The last of these dynasties, the Thirtieth, proved to be the last native royal house of ancient Egypt, ending with the kingship of Nectanebo II. A brief restoration of Persian rule, sometimes known as the Thirty-First Dynasty, began in 343 BC, but shortly after, in 332 BC, the Persian ruler Mazaces handed Egypt over to Alexander the Great without a fight. [59]

    Ptolemaic period (332–30 BC)

    In 332 BC, Alexander the Great conquered Egypt with little resistance from the Persians and was welcomed by the Egyptians as a deliverer. The administration established by Alexander's successors, the Macedonian Ptolemaic Kingdom, was based on an Egyptian model and based in the new capital city of Alexandria. The city showcased the power and prestige of Hellenistic rule, and became a seat of learning and culture, centered at the famous Library of Alexandria. [60] The Lighthouse of Alexandria lit the way for the many ships that kept trade flowing through the city—as the Ptolemies made commerce and revenue-generating enterprises, such as papyrus manufacturing, their top priority. [61]

    Hellenistic culture did not supplant native Egyptian culture, as the Ptolemies supported time-honored traditions in an effort to secure the loyalty of the populace. They built new temples in Egyptian style, supported traditional cults, and portrayed themselves as pharaohs. Some traditions merged, as Greek and Egyptian gods were syncretized into composite deities, such as Serapis, and classical Greek forms of sculpture influenced traditional Egyptian motifs. Despite their efforts to appease the Egyptians, the Ptolemies were challenged by native rebellion, bitter family rivalries, and the powerful mob of Alexandria that formed after the death of Ptolemy IV. [62] In addition, as Rome relied more heavily on imports of grain from Egypt, the Romans took great interest in the political situation in the country. Continued Egyptian revolts, ambitious politicians, and powerful opponents from the Near East made this situation unstable, leading Rome to send forces to secure the country as a province of its empire. [63]

    Roman period (30 BC – AD 641)

    Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire in 30 BC, following the defeat of Marc Antony and Ptolemaic Queen Cleopatra VII by Octavian (later Emperor Augustus) in the Battle of Actium. The Romans relied heavily on grain shipments from Egypt, and the Roman army, under the control of a prefect appointed by the Emperor, quelled rebellions, strictly enforced the collection of heavy taxes, and prevented attacks by bandits, which had become a notorious problem during the period. [64] Alexandria became an increasingly important center on the trade route with the orient, as exotic luxuries were in high demand in Rome. [65]

    Although the Romans had a more hostile attitude than the Greeks towards the Egyptians, some traditions such as mummification and worship of the traditional gods continued. [66] The art of mummy portraiture flourished, and some Roman emperors had themselves depicted as pharaohs, though not to the extent that the Ptolemies had. The former lived outside Egypt and did not perform the ceremonial functions of Egyptian kingship. Local administration became Roman in style and closed to native Egyptians. [66]

    From the mid-first century AD, Christianity took root in Egypt and it was originally seen as another cult that could be accepted. However, it was an uncompromising religion that sought to win converts from Egyptian Religion and Greco-Roman religion and threatened popular religious traditions. This led to the persecution of converts to Christianity, culminating in the great purges of Diocletian starting in 303, but eventually Christianity won out. [67] In 391 the Christian Emperor Theodosius introduced legislation that banned pagan rites and closed temples. [68] Alexandria became the scene of great anti-pagan riots with public and private religious imagery destroyed. [69] As a consequence, Egypt's native religious culture was continually in decline. While the native population continued to speak their language, the ability to read hieroglyphic writing slowly disappeared as the role of the Egyptian temple priests and priestesses diminished. The temples themselves were sometimes converted to churches or abandoned to the desert. [70]

    In the fourth century, as the Roman Empire divided, Egypt found itself in the Eastern Empire with its capital at Constantinople. In the waning years of the Empire, Egypt fell to the Sasanian Persian army in the Sasanian conquest of Egypt (618–628). It was then recaptured by the Roman Emperor Heraclius (629–639), and was finally captured by Muslim Rashidun army in 639–641, ending Roman rule.

    Administration and commerce

    The pharaoh was the absolute monarch of the country and, at least in theory, wielded complete control of the land and its resources. The king was the supreme military commander and head of the government, who relied on a bureaucracy of officials to manage his affairs. In charge of the administration was his second in command, the vizier, who acted as the king's representative and coordinated land surveys, the treasury, building projects, the legal system, and the archives. [71] At a regional level, the country was divided into as many as 42 administrative regions called nomes each governed by a nomarch, who was accountable to the vizier for his jurisdiction. The temples formed the backbone of the economy. Not only were they places of worship, but were also responsible for collecting and storing the kingdom's wealth in a system of granaries and treasuries administered by overseers, who redistributed grain and goods. [72]

    Social status

    Egyptian society was highly stratified, and social status was expressly displayed. Farmers made up the bulk of the population, but agricultural produce was owned directly by the state, temple, or noble family that owned the land. [77] Farmers were also subject to a labor tax and were required to work on irrigation or construction projects in a corvée system. [78] Artists and craftsmen were of higher status than farmers, but they were also under state control, working in the shops attached to the temples and paid directly from the state treasury. Scribes and officials formed the upper class in ancient Egypt, known as the "white kilt class" in reference to the bleached linen garments that served as a mark of their rank. [79] The upper class prominently displayed their social status in art and literature. Below the nobility were the priests, physicians, and engineers with specialized training in their field. It is unclear whether slavery as understood today existed in ancient Egypt, there is difference of opinions among authors. [80]

    The ancient Egyptians viewed men and women, including people from all social classes, as essentially equal under the law, and even the lowliest peasant was entitled to petition the vizier and his court for redress. [81] Although slaves were mostly used as indentured servants, they were able to buy and sell their servitude, work their way to freedom or nobility, and were usually treated by doctors in the workplace. [82] Both men and women had the right to own and sell property, make contracts, marry and divorce, receive inheritance, and pursue legal disputes in court. Married couples could own property jointly and protect themselves from divorce by agreeing to marriage contracts, which stipulated the financial obligations of the husband to his wife and children should the marriage end. Compared with their counterparts in ancient Greece, Rome, and even more modern places around the world, ancient Egyptian women had a greater range of personal choices, legal rights, and opportunities for achievement. Women such as Hatshepsut and Cleopatra VII even became pharaohs, while others wielded power as Divine Wives of Amun. Despite these freedoms, ancient Egyptian women did not often take part in official roles in the administration, aside from the royal high priestesses, apparently served only secondary roles in the temples (not much data for many dynasties), and were not so likely to be as educated as men. [81]

    Legal system

    The head of the legal system was officially the pharaoh, who was responsible for enacting laws, delivering justice, and maintaining law and order, a concept the ancient Egyptians referred to as Ma'at. [71] Although no legal codes from ancient Egypt survive, court documents show that Egyptian law was based on a common-sense view of right and wrong that emphasized reaching agreements and resolving conflicts rather than strictly adhering to a complicated set of statutes. [81] Local councils of elders, known as Kenbet in the New Kingdom, were responsible for ruling in court cases involving small claims and minor disputes. [71] More serious cases involving murder, major land transactions, and tomb robbery were referred to the Great Kenbet, over which the vizier or pharaoh presided. Plaintiffs and defendants were expected to represent themselves and were required to swear an oath that they had told the truth. In some cases, the state took on both the role of prosecutor and judge, and it could torture the accused with beatings to obtain a confession and the names of any co-conspirators. Whether the charges were trivial or serious, court scribes documented the complaint, testimony, and verdict of the case for future reference. [83]

    Punishment for minor crimes involved either imposition of fines, beatings, facial mutilation, or exile, depending on the severity of the offense. Serious crimes such as murder and tomb robbery were punished by execution, carried out by decapitation, drowning, or impaling the criminal on a stake. Punishment could also be extended to the criminal's family. [71] Beginning in the New Kingdom, oracles played a major role in the legal system, dispensing justice in both civil and criminal cases. The procedure was to ask the god a "yes" or "no" question concerning the right or wrong of an issue. The god, carried by a number of priests, rendered judgement by choosing one or the other, moving forward or backward, or pointing to one of the answers written on a piece of papyrus or an ostracon. [84]

    Agriculture

    A combination of favorable geographical features contributed to the success of ancient Egyptian culture, the most important of which was the rich fertile soil resulting from annual inundations of the Nile River. The ancient Egyptians were thus able to produce an abundance of food, allowing the population to devote more time and resources to cultural, technological, and artistic pursuits. Land management was crucial in ancient Egypt because taxes were assessed based on the amount of land a person owned. [85]

    Farming in Egypt was dependent on the cycle of the Nile River. The Egyptians recognized three seasons: Akhet (flooding), Peret (planting), and Shemu (harvesting). The flooding season lasted from June to September, depositing on the river's banks a layer of mineral-rich silt ideal for growing crops. After the floodwaters had receded, the growing season lasted from October to February. Farmers plowed and planted seeds in the fields, which were irrigated with ditches and canals. Egypt received little rainfall, so farmers relied on the Nile to water their crops. [86] From March to May, farmers used sickles to harvest their crops, which were then threshed with a flail to separate the straw from the grain. Winnowing removed the chaff from the grain, and the grain was then ground into flour, brewed to make beer, or stored for later use. [87]

    The ancient Egyptians cultivated emmer and barley, and several other cereal grains, all of which were used to make the two main food staples of bread and beer. [88] Flax plants, uprooted before they started flowering, were grown for the fibers of their stems. These fibers were split along their length and spun into thread, which was used to weave sheets of linen and to make clothing. Papyrus growing on the banks of the Nile River was used to make paper. Vegetables and fruits were grown in garden plots, close to habitations and on higher ground, and had to be watered by hand. Vegetables included leeks, garlic, melons, squashes, pulses, lettuce, and other crops, in addition to grapes that were made into wine. [89]

    Animals

    The Egyptians believed that a balanced relationship between people and animals was an essential element of the cosmic order thus humans, animals and plants were believed to be members of a single whole. [90] Animals, both domesticated and wild, were therefore a critical source of spirituality, companionship, and sustenance to the ancient Egyptians. Cattle were the most important livestock the administration collected taxes on livestock in regular censuses, and the size of a herd reflected the prestige and importance of the estate or temple that owned them. In addition to cattle, the ancient Egyptians kept sheep, goats, and pigs. Poultry, such as ducks, geese, and pigeons, were captured in nets and bred on farms, where they were force-fed with dough to fatten them. [91] The Nile provided a plentiful source of fish. Bees were also domesticated from at least the Old Kingdom, and provided both honey and wax. [92]

    The ancient Egyptians used donkeys and oxen as beasts of burden, and they were responsible for plowing the fields and trampling seed into the soil. The slaughter of a fattened ox was also a central part of an offering ritual. Horses were introduced by the Hyksos in the Second Intermediate Period. Camels, although known from the New Kingdom, were not used as beasts of burden until the Late Period. There is also evidence to suggest that elephants were briefly utilized in the Late Period but largely abandoned due to lack of grazing land. [91] Cats, dogs, and monkeys were common family pets, while more exotic pets imported from the heart of Africa, such as Sub-Saharan African lions, [93] were reserved for royalty. Herodotus observed that the Egyptians were the only people to keep their animals with them in their houses. [90] During the Late Period, the worship of the gods in their animal form was extremely popular, such as the cat goddess Bastet and the ibis god Thoth, and these animals were kept in large numbers for the purpose of ritual sacrifice. [94]

    Natural resources

    Egypt is rich in building and decorative stone, copper and lead ores, gold, and semiprecious stones. These natural resources allowed the ancient Egyptians to build monuments, sculpt statues, make tools, and fashion jewelry. [95] Embalmers used salts from the Wadi Natrun for mummification, which also provided the gypsum needed to make plaster. [96] Ore-bearing rock formations were found in distant, inhospitable wadis in the Eastern Desert and the Sinai, requiring large, state-controlled expeditions to obtain natural resources found there. There were extensive gold mines in Nubia, and one of the first maps known is of a gold mine in this region. The Wadi Hammamat was a notable source of granite, greywacke, and gold. Flint was the first mineral collected and used to make tools, and flint handaxes are the earliest pieces of evidence of habitation in the Nile valley. Nodules of the mineral were carefully flaked to make blades and arrowheads of moderate hardness and durability even after copper was adopted for this purpose. [97] Ancient Egyptians were among the first to use minerals such as sulfur as cosmetic substances. [98]

    The Egyptians worked deposits of the lead ore galena at Gebel Rosas to make net sinkers, plumb bobs, and small figurines. Copper was the most important metal for toolmaking in ancient Egypt and was smelted in furnaces from malachite ore mined in the Sinai. [99] Workers collected gold by washing the nuggets out of sediment in alluvial deposits, or by the more labor-intensive process of grinding and washing gold-bearing quartzite. Iron deposits found in upper Egypt were utilized in the Late Period. [100] High-quality building stones were abundant in Egypt the ancient Egyptians quarried limestone all along the Nile valley, granite from Aswan, and basalt and sandstone from the wadis of the Eastern Desert. Deposits of decorative stones such as porphyry, greywacke, alabaster, and carnelian dotted the Eastern Desert and were collected even before the First Dynasty. In the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods, miners worked deposits of emeralds in Wadi Sikait and amethyst in Wadi el-Hudi. [101]

    Trade

    The ancient Egyptians engaged in trade with their foreign neighbors to obtain rare, exotic goods not found in Egypt. In the Predynastic Period, they established trade with Nubia to obtain gold and incense. They also established trade with Palestine, as evidenced by Palestinian-style oil jugs found in the burials of the First Dynasty pharaohs. [102] An Egyptian colony stationed in southern Canaan dates to slightly before the First Dynasty. [103] Narmer had Egyptian pottery produced in Canaan and exported back to Egypt. [104] [105]

    By the Second Dynasty at latest, ancient Egyptian trade with Byblos yielded a critical source of quality timber not found in Egypt. By the Fifth Dynasty, trade with Punt provided gold, aromatic resins, ebony, ivory, and wild animals such as monkeys and baboons. [106] Egypt relied on trade with Anatolia for essential quantities of tin as well as supplementary supplies of copper, both metals being necessary for the manufacture of bronze. The ancient Egyptians prized the blue stone lapis lazuli, which had to be imported from far-away Afghanistan. Egypt's Mediterranean trade partners also included Greece and Crete, which provided, among other goods, supplies of olive oil. [107]

    Historical development

    The Egyptian language is a northern Afro-Asiatic language closely related to the Berber and Semitic languages. [108] It has the second longest known history of any language (after Sumerian), having been written from c. 3200 BC to the Middle Ages and remaining as a spoken language for longer. The phases of ancient Egyptian are Old Egyptian, Middle Egyptian (Classical Egyptian), Late Egyptian, Demotic and Coptic. [109] Egyptian writings do not show dialect differences before Coptic, but it was probably spoken in regional dialects around Memphis and later Thebes. [110]

    Ancient Egyptian was a synthetic language, but it became more analytic later on. Late Egyptian developed prefixal definite and indefinite articles, which replaced the older inflectional suffixes. There was a change from the older verb–subject–object word order to subject–verb–object. [111] The Egyptian hieroglyphic, hieratic, and demotic scripts were eventually replaced by the more phonetic Coptic alphabet. Coptic is still used in the liturgy of the Egyptian Orthodox Church, and traces of it are found in modern Egyptian Arabic. [112]

    Sounds and grammar

    Ancient Egyptian has 25 consonants similar to those of other Afro-Asiatic languages. These include pharyngeal and emphatic consonants, voiced and voiceless stops, voiceless fricatives and voiced and voiceless affricates. It has three long and three short vowels, which expanded in Late Egyptian to about nine. [113] The basic word in Egyptian, similar to Semitic and Berber, is a triliteral or biliteral root of consonants and semiconsonants. Suffixes are added to form words. The verb conjugation corresponds to the person. For example, the triconsonantal skeleton S-Ḏ-M is the semantic core of the word 'hear' its basic conjugation is sḏm, 'he hears'. If the subject is a noun, suffixes are not added to the verb: [114] sḏm ḥmt, 'the woman hears'.

    Writing

    Hieroglyphic writing dates from c. 3000 BC, and is composed of hundreds of symbols. A hieroglyph can represent a word, a sound, or a silent determinative and the same symbol can serve different purposes in different contexts. Hieroglyphs were a formal script, used on stone monuments and in tombs, that could be as detailed as individual works of art. In day-to-day writing, scribes used a cursive form of writing, called hieratic, which was quicker and easier. While formal hieroglyphs may be read in rows or columns in either direction (though typically written from right to left), hieratic was always written from right to left, usually in horizontal rows. A new form of writing, Demotic, became the prevalent writing style, and it is this form of writing—along with formal hieroglyphs—that accompany the Greek text on the Rosetta Stone. [120]

    Around the first century AD, the Coptic alphabet started to be used alongside the Demotic script. Coptic is a modified Greek alphabet with the addition of some Demotic signs. [121] Although formal hieroglyphs were used in a ceremonial role until the fourth century, towards the end only a small handful of priests could still read them. As the traditional religious establishments were disbanded, knowledge of hieroglyphic writing was mostly lost. Attempts to decipher them date to the Byzantine [122] and Islamic periods in Egypt, [123] but only in the 1820s, after the discovery of the Rosetta Stone and years of research by Thomas Young and Jean-François Champollion, were hieroglyphs substantially deciphered. [124]

    Literature

    Writing first appeared in association with kingship on labels and tags for items found in royal tombs. It was primarily an occupation of the scribes, who worked out of the Per Ankh institution or the House of Life. The latter comprised offices, libraries (called House of Books), laboratories and observatories. [125] Some of the best-known pieces of ancient Egyptian literature, such as the Pyramid and Coffin Texts, were written in Classical Egyptian, which continued to be the language of writing until about 1300 BC. Late Egyptian was spoken from the New Kingdom onward and is represented in Ramesside administrative documents, love poetry and tales, as well as in Demotic and Coptic texts. During this period, the tradition of writing had evolved into the tomb autobiography, such as those of Harkhuf and Weni. The genre known as Sebayt ("instructions") was developed to communicate teachings and guidance from famous nobles the Ipuwer papyrus, a poem of lamentations describing natural disasters and social upheaval, is a famous example.

    The Story of Sinuhe, written in Middle Egyptian, might be the classic of Egyptian literature. [126] Also written at this time was the Westcar Papyrus, a set of stories told to Khufu by his sons relating the marvels performed by priests. [127] The Instruction of Amenemope is considered a masterpiece of Near Eastern literature. [128] Towards the end of the New Kingdom, the vernacular language was more often employed to write popular pieces like the Story of Wenamun and the Instruction of Any. The former tells the story of a noble who is robbed on his way to buy cedar from Lebanon and of his struggle to return to Egypt. From about 700 BC, narrative stories and instructions, such as the popular Instructions of Onchsheshonqy, as well as personal and business documents were written in the demotic script and phase of Egyptian. Many stories written in demotic during the Greco-Roman period were set in previous historical eras, when Egypt was an independent nation ruled by great pharaohs such as Ramesses II. [129]

    Daily life

    Most ancient Egyptians were farmers tied to the land. Their dwellings were restricted to immediate family members, and were constructed of mudbrick designed to remain cool in the heat of the day. Each home had a kitchen with an open roof, which contained a grindstone for milling grain and a small oven for baking the bread. [130] Ceramics served as household wares for the storage, preparation, transport, and consumption of food, drink, and raw materials. Walls were painted white and could be covered with dyed linen wall hangings. Floors were covered with reed mats, while wooden stools, beds raised from the floor and individual tables comprised the furniture. [131]

    The ancient Egyptians placed a great value on hygiene and appearance. Most bathed in the Nile and used a pasty soap made from animal fat and chalk. Men shaved their entire bodies for cleanliness perfumes and aromatic ointments covered bad odors and soothed skin. [132] Clothing was made from simple linen sheets that were bleached white, and both men and women of the upper classes wore wigs, jewelry, and cosmetics. Children went without clothing until maturity, at about age 12, and at this age males were circumcised and had their heads shaved. Mothers were responsible for taking care of the children, while the father provided the family's income. [133]

    Music and dance were popular entertainments for those who could afford them. Early instruments included flutes and harps, while instruments similar to trumpets, oboes, and pipes developed later and became popular. In the New Kingdom, the Egyptians played on bells, cymbals, tambourines, drums, and imported lutes and lyres from Asia. [134] The sistrum was a rattle-like musical instrument that was especially important in religious ceremonies.

    The ancient Egyptians enjoyed a variety of leisure activities, including games and music. Senet, a board game where pieces moved according to random chance, was particularly popular from the earliest times another similar game was mehen, which had a circular gaming board. “Hounds and Jackals” also known as 58 holes is another example of board games played in ancient Egypt. The first complete set of this game was discovered from a Theban tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Amenemhat IV that dates to the 13th Dynasty. [136] Juggling and ball games were popular with children, and wrestling is also documented in a tomb at Beni Hasan. [137] The wealthy members of ancient Egyptian society enjoyed hunting, fishing, and boating as well.

    The excavation of the workers' village of Deir el-Medina has resulted in one of the most thoroughly documented accounts of community life in the ancient world, which spans almost four hundred years. There is no comparable site in which the organization, social interactions, and working and living conditions of a community have been studied in such detail. [138]

    Cuisine

    Egyptian cuisine remained remarkably stable over time indeed, the cuisine of modern Egypt retains some striking similarities to the cuisine of the ancients. The staple diet consisted of bread and beer, supplemented with vegetables such as onions and garlic, and fruit such as dates and figs. Wine and meat were enjoyed by all on feast days while the upper classes indulged on a more regular basis. Fish, meat, and fowl could be salted or dried, and could be cooked in stews or roasted on a grill. [139]

    Architecture

    The architecture of ancient Egypt includes some of the most famous structures in the world: the Great Pyramids of Giza and the temples at Thebes. Building projects were organized and funded by the state for religious and commemorative purposes, but also to reinforce the wide-ranging power of the pharaoh. The ancient Egyptians were skilled builders using only simple but effective tools and sighting instruments, architects could build large stone structures with great accuracy and precision that is still envied today. [140]

    The domestic dwellings of elite and ordinary Egyptians alike were constructed from perishable materials such as mudbricks and wood, and have not survived. Peasants lived in simple homes, while the palaces of the elite and the pharaoh were more elaborate structures. A few surviving New Kingdom palaces, such as those in Malkata and Amarna, show richly decorated walls and floors with scenes of people, birds, water pools, deities and geometric designs. [141] Important structures such as temples and tombs that were intended to last forever were constructed of stone instead of mudbricks. The architectural elements used in the world's first large-scale stone building, Djoser's mortuary complex, include post and lintel supports in the papyrus and lotus motif.

    The earliest preserved ancient Egyptian temples, such as those at Giza, consist of single, enclosed halls with roof slabs supported by columns. In the New Kingdom, architects added the pylon, the open courtyard, and the enclosed hypostyle hall to the front of the temple's sanctuary, a style that was standard until the Greco-Roman period. [142] The earliest and most popular tomb architecture in the Old Kingdom was the mastaba, a flat-roofed rectangular structure of mudbrick or stone built over an underground burial chamber. The step pyramid of Djoser is a series of stone mastabas stacked on top of each other. Pyramids were built during the Old and Middle Kingdoms, but most later rulers abandoned them in favor of less conspicuous rock-cut tombs. [143] The use of the pyramid form continued in private tomb chapels of the New Kingdom and in the royal pyramids of Nubia. [144]

    Model of a household porch and garden, c. 1981–1975 BC

    The Temple of Dendur, completed by 10 BC, made of aeolian sandstone, temple proper: height: 6.4 m, width: 6.4 m length: 12.5 m, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)

    The well preserved Temple of Isis from Philae is an example of Egyptian architecture and architectural sculpture

    Illustration of various types of capitals, drawn by the Egyptologist Karl Richard Lepsius

    The ancient Egyptians produced art to serve functional purposes. For over 3500 years, artists adhered to artistic forms and iconography that were developed during the Old Kingdom, following a strict set of principles that resisted foreign influence and internal change. [145] These artistic standards—simple lines, shapes, and flat areas of color combined with the characteristic flat projection of figures with no indication of spatial depth—created a sense of order and balance within a composition. Images and text were intimately interwoven on tomb and temple walls, coffins, stelae, and even statues. The Narmer Palette, for example, displays figures that can also be read as hieroglyphs. [146] Because of the rigid rules that governed its highly stylized and symbolic appearance, ancient Egyptian art served its political and religious purposes with precision and clarity. [147]

    Ancient Egyptian artisans used stone as a medium for carving statues and fine reliefs, but used wood as a cheap and easily carved substitute. Paints were obtained from minerals such as iron ores (red and yellow ochres), copper ores (blue and green), soot or charcoal (black), and limestone (white). Paints could be mixed with gum arabic as a binder and pressed into cakes, which could be moistened with water when needed. [148]

    Pharaohs used reliefs to record victories in battle, royal decrees, and religious scenes. Common citizens had access to pieces of funerary art, such as shabti statues and books of the dead, which they believed would protect them in the afterlife. [149] During the Middle Kingdom, wooden or clay models depicting scenes from everyday life became popular additions to the tomb. In an attempt to duplicate the activities of the living in the afterlife, these models show laborers, houses, boats, and even military formations that are scale representations of the ideal ancient Egyptian afterlife. [150]

    Despite the homogeneity of ancient Egyptian art, the styles of particular times and places sometimes reflected changing cultural or political attitudes. After the invasion of the Hyksos in the Second Intermediate Period, Minoan-style frescoes were found in Avaris. [151] The most striking example of a politically driven change in artistic forms comes from the Amarna Period, where figures were radically altered to conform to Akhenaten's revolutionary religious ideas. [152] This style, known as Amarna art, was quickly abandoned after Akhenaten's death and replaced by the traditional forms. [153]

    Egyptian tomb models as funerary goods. Egyptian Museum in Cairo

    Kneeling portrait statue of Amenemhat holding a stele with an inscription c. 1500 BC limestone Egyptian Museum of Berlin (Germany)

    Fresco which depicts Nebamun hunting birds 1350 BC paint on plaster 98 × 83 cm British Museum (London)

    Portrait head of pharaoh Hatshepsut or Thutmose III 1480–1425 BC most probably granite height: 16.5 cm Egyptian Museum of Berlin

    Falcon box with wrapped contents 332–30 BC painted and gilded wood, linen, resin and feathers 58.5 × 24.9 cm Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)

    Religious beliefs

    Beliefs in the divine and in the afterlife were ingrained in ancient Egyptian civilization from its inception pharaonic rule was based on the divine right of kings. The Egyptian pantheon was populated by gods who had supernatural powers and were called on for help or protection. However, the gods were not always viewed as benevolent, and Egyptians believed they had to be appeased with offerings and prayers. The structure of this pantheon changed continually as new deities were promoted in the hierarchy, but priests made no effort to organize the diverse and sometimes conflicting myths and stories into a coherent system. [154] These various conceptions of divinity were not considered contradictory but rather layers in the multiple facets of reality. [155]

    Gods were worshiped in cult temples administered by priests acting on the king's behalf. At the center of the temple was the cult statue in a shrine. Temples were not places of public worship or congregation, and only on select feast days and celebrations was a shrine carrying the statue of the god brought out for public worship. Normally, the god's domain was sealed off from the outside world and was only accessible to temple officials. Common citizens could worship private statues in their homes, and amulets offered protection against the forces of chaos. [156] After the New Kingdom, the pharaoh's role as a spiritual intermediary was de-emphasized as religious customs shifted to direct worship of the gods. As a result, priests developed a system of oracles to communicate the will of the gods directly to the people. [157]

    The Egyptians believed that every human being was composed of physical and spiritual parts or aspects. In addition to the body, each person had a šwt (shadow), a ba (personality or soul), a ka (life-force), and a name. [158] The heart, rather than the brain, was considered the seat of thoughts and emotions. After death, the spiritual aspects were released from the body and could move at will, but they required the physical remains (or a substitute, such as a statue) as a permanent home. The ultimate goal of the deceased was to rejoin his ka and ba and become one of the "blessed dead", living on as an akh, or "effective one". For this to happen, the deceased had to be judged worthy in a trial, in which the heart was weighed against a "feather of truth." If deemed worthy, the deceased could continue their existence on earth in spiritual form. [159] If they were not deemed worthy, their heart was eaten by Ammit the Devourer and they were erased from the Universe.

    Burial customs

    The ancient Egyptians maintained an elaborate set of burial customs that they believed were necessary to ensure immortality after death. These customs involved preserving the body by mummification, performing burial ceremonies, and interring with the body goods the deceased would use in the afterlife. [149] Before the Old Kingdom, bodies buried in desert pits were naturally preserved by desiccation. The arid, desert conditions were a boon throughout the history of ancient Egypt for burials of the poor, who could not afford the elaborate burial preparations available to the elite. Wealthier Egyptians began to bury their dead in stone tombs and use artificial mummification, which involved removing the internal organs, wrapping the body in linen, and burying it in a rectangular stone sarcophagus or wooden coffin. Beginning in the Fourth Dynasty, some parts were preserved separately in canopic jars. [160]

    By the New Kingdom, the ancient Egyptians had perfected the art of mummification the best technique took 70 days and involved removing the internal organs, removing the brain through the nose, and desiccating the body in a mixture of salts called natron. The body was then wrapped in linen with protective amulets inserted between layers and placed in a decorated anthropoid coffin. Mummies of the Late Period were also placed in painted cartonnage mummy cases. Actual preservation practices declined during the Ptolemaic and Roman eras, while greater emphasis was placed on the outer appearance of the mummy, which was decorated. [161]

    Wealthy Egyptians were buried with larger quantities of luxury items, but all burials, regardless of social status, included goods for the deceased. Funerary texts were often included in the grave, and, beginning in the New Kingdom, so were shabti statues that were believed to perform manual labor for them in the afterlife. [162] Rituals in which the deceased was magically re-animated accompanied burials. After burial, living relatives were expected to occasionally bring food to the tomb and recite prayers on behalf of the deceased. [163]

    The ancient Egyptian military was responsible for defending Egypt against foreign invasion, and for maintaining Egypt's domination in the ancient Near East. The military protected mining expeditions to the Sinai during the Old Kingdom and fought civil wars during the First and Second Intermediate Periods. The military was responsible for maintaining fortifications along important trade routes, such as those found at the city of Buhen on the way to Nubia. Forts also were constructed to serve as military bases, such as the fortress at Sile, which was a base of operations for expeditions to the Levant. In the New Kingdom, a series of pharaohs used the standing Egyptian army to attack and conquer Kush and parts of the Levant. [164]

    Typical military equipment included bows and arrows, spears, and round-topped shields made by stretching animal skin over a wooden frame. In the New Kingdom, the military began using chariots that had earlier been introduced by the Hyksos invaders. Weapons and armor continued to improve after the adoption of bronze: shields were now made from solid wood with a bronze buckle, spears were tipped with a bronze point, and the khopesh was adopted from Asiatic soldiers. [165] The pharaoh was usually depicted in art and literature riding at the head of the army it has been suggested that at least a few pharaohs, such as Seqenenre Tao II and his sons, did do so. [166] However, it has also been argued that "kings of this period did not personally act as frontline war leaders, fighting alongside their troops." [167] Soldiers were recruited from the general population, but during, and especially after, the New Kingdom, mercenaries from Nubia, Kush, and Libya were hired to fight for Egypt. [168]

    Technology

    In technology, medicine, and mathematics, ancient Egypt achieved a relatively high standard of productivity and sophistication. Traditional empiricism, as evidenced by the Edwin Smith and Ebers papyri (c. 1600 BC), is first credited to Egypt. The Egyptians created their own alphabet and decimal system.

    Faience and glass

    Even before the Old Kingdom, the ancient Egyptians had developed a glassy material known as faience, which they treated as a type of artificial semi-precious stone. Faience is a non-clay ceramic made of silica, small amounts of lime and soda, and a colorant, typically copper. [169] The material was used to make beads, tiles, figurines, and small wares. Several methods can be used to create faience, but typically production involved application of the powdered materials in the form of a paste over a clay core, which was then fired. By a related technique, the ancient Egyptians produced a pigment known as Egyptian blue, also called blue frit, which is produced by fusing (or sintering) silica, copper, lime, and an alkali such as natron. The product can be ground up and used as a pigment. [170]

    The ancient Egyptians could fabricate a wide variety of objects from glass with great skill, but it is not clear whether they developed the process independently. [171] It is also unclear whether they made their own raw glass or merely imported pre-made ingots, which they melted and finished. However, they did have technical expertise in making objects, as well as adding trace elements to control the color of the finished glass. A range of colors could be produced, including yellow, red, green, blue, purple, and white, and the glass could be made either transparent or opaque. [172]

    Medicine

    The medical problems of the ancient Egyptians stemmed directly from their environment. Living and working close to the Nile brought hazards from malaria and debilitating schistosomiasis parasites, which caused liver and intestinal damage. Dangerous wildlife such as crocodiles and hippos were also a common threat. The lifelong labors of farming and building put stress on the spine and joints, and traumatic injuries from construction and warfare all took a significant toll on the body. The grit and sand from stone-ground flour abraded teeth, leaving them susceptible to abscesses (though caries were rare). [173]

    The diets of the wealthy were rich in sugars, which promoted periodontal disease. [174] Despite the flattering physiques portrayed on tomb walls, the overweight mummies of many of the upper class show the effects of a life of overindulgence. [175] Adult life expectancy was about 35 for men and 30 for women, but reaching adulthood was difficult as about one-third of the population died in infancy. [c]

    Ancient Egyptian physicians were renowned in the ancient Near East for their healing skills, and some, such as Imhotep, remained famous long after their deaths. [176] Herodotus remarked that there was a high degree of specialization among Egyptian physicians, with some treating only the head or the stomach, while others were eye-doctors and dentists. [177] Training of physicians took place at the Per Ankh or "House of Life" institution, most notably those headquartered in Per-Bastet during the New Kingdom and at Abydos and Saïs in the Late period. Medical papyri show empirical knowledge of anatomy, injuries, and practical treatments. [178]

    Wounds were treated by bandaging with raw meat, white linen, sutures, nets, pads, and swabs soaked with honey to prevent infection, [179] while opium, thyme, and belladona were used to relieve pain. The earliest records of burn treatment describe burn dressings that use the milk from mothers of male babies. Prayers were made to the goddess Isis. Moldy bread, honey, and copper salts were also used to prevent infection from dirt in burns. [180] Garlic and onions were used regularly to promote good health and were thought to relieve asthma symptoms. Ancient Egyptian surgeons stitched wounds, set broken bones, and amputated diseased limbs, but they recognized that some injuries were so serious that they could only make the patient comfortable until death occurred. [181]

    Maritime technology

    Early Egyptians knew how to assemble planks of wood into a ship hull and had mastered advanced forms of shipbuilding as early as 3000 BC. The Archaeological Institute of America reports that the oldest planked ships known are the Abydos boats. [5] A group of 14 discovered ships in Abydos were constructed of wooden planks "sewn" together. Discovered by Egyptologist David O'Connor of New York University, [182] woven straps were found to have been used to lash the planks together, [5] and reeds or grass stuffed between the planks helped to seal the seams. [5] Because the ships are all buried together and near a mortuary belonging to Pharaoh Khasekhemwy, originally they were all thought to have belonged to him, but one of the 14 ships dates to 3000 BC, and the associated pottery jars buried with the vessels also suggest earlier dating. The ship dating to 3000 BC was 75 feet (23 m) long and is now thought to perhaps have belonged to an earlier pharaoh, perhaps one as early as Hor-Aha. [182]

    Early Egyptians also knew how to assemble planks of wood with treenails to fasten them together, using pitch for caulking the seams. The "Khufu ship", a 43.6-metre (143 ft) vessel sealed into a pit in the Giza pyramid complex at the foot of the Great Pyramid of Giza in the Fourth Dynasty around 2500 BC, is a full-size surviving example that may have filled the symbolic function of a solar barque. Early Egyptians also knew how to fasten the planks of this ship together with mortise and tenon joints. [5]

    Large seagoing ships are known to have been heavily used by the Egyptians in their trade with the city states of the eastern Mediterranean, especially Byblos (on the coast of modern-day Lebanon), and in several expeditions down the Red Sea to the Land of Punt. In fact one of the earliest Egyptian words for a seagoing ship is a "Byblos Ship", which originally defined a class of Egyptian seagoing ships used on the Byblos run however, by the end of the Old Kingdom, the term had come to include large seagoing ships, whatever their destination. [183]

    In 2011, archaeologists from Italy, the United States, and Egypt excavating a dried-up lagoon known as Mersa Gawasis have unearthed traces of an ancient harbor that once launched early voyages like Hatshepsut's Punt expedition onto the open ocean. Some of the site's most evocative evidence for the ancient Egyptians' seafaring prowess include large ship timbers and hundreds of feet of ropes, made from papyrus, coiled in huge bundles. [184] In 2013 a team of Franco-Egyptian archaeologists discovered what is believed to be the world's oldest port, dating back about 4500 years, from the time of King Cheops on the Red Sea coast near Wadi el-Jarf (about 110 miles south of Suez). [185]

    In 1977, an ancient north–south canal dating to the Middle Kingdom of Egypt was discovered extending from Lake Timsah to the Ballah Lakes. [186] It was dated to the Middle Kingdom of Egypt by extrapolating dates of ancient sites constructed along its course. [186] [d]

    Mathematics

    The earliest attested examples of mathematical calculations date to the predynastic Naqada period, and show a fully developed numeral system. [e] The importance of mathematics to an educated Egyptian is suggested by a New Kingdom fictional letter in which the writer proposes a scholarly competition between himself and another scribe regarding everyday calculation tasks such as accounting of land, labor, and grain. [188] Texts such as the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus and the Moscow Mathematical Papyrus show that the ancient Egyptians could perform the four basic mathematical operations—addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division—use fractions, calculate the areas of rectangles, triangles, and circles and compute the volumes of boxes, columns and pyramids. They understood basic concepts of algebra and geometry, and could solve simple sets of simultaneous equations. [189]

    Mathematical notation was decimal, and based on hieroglyphic signs for each power of ten up to one million. Each of these could be written as many times as necessary to add up to the desired number so to write the number eighty or eight hundred, the symbol for ten or one hundred was written eight times respectively. [190] Because their methods of calculation could not handle most fractions with a numerator greater than one, they had to write fractions as the sum of several fractions. For example, they resolved the fraction two-fifths into the sum of one-third + one-fifteenth. Standard tables of values facilitated this. [191] Some common fractions, however, were written with a special glyph—the equivalent of the modern two-thirds is shown on the right. [192]

    Ancient Egyptian mathematicians knew the Pythagorean theorem as an empirical formula. They were aware, for example, that a triangle had a right angle opposite the hypotenuse when its sides were in a 3–4–5 ratio. [193] They were able to estimate the area of a circle by subtracting one-ninth from its diameter and squaring the result:

    a reasonable approximation of the formula πr 2 . [194]

    The golden ratio seems to be reflected in many Egyptian constructions, including the pyramids, but its use may have been an unintended consequence of the ancient Egyptian practice of combining the use of knotted ropes with an intuitive sense of proportion and harmony. [195]

    Estimates of the size of the population range from 1-1.5 million in the 3rd millennium BCE to possibly 2-3 million by the 1st millennium BCE, before growing significantly towards the end of that millennium. [196]

    A team led by Johannes Krause managed the first reliable sequencing of the genomes of 90 mummified individuals in 2017 from northern Egypt (buried near modern-day Cairo), which constituted "the first reliable data set obtained from ancient Egyptians using high-throughput DNA sequencing methods." Whilst not conclusive, because of the non-exhaustive time frame (New Kingdom to Roman period) and restricted location that the mummies represent, their study nevertheless showed that these ancient Egyptians "closely resembled ancient and modern Near Eastern populations, especially those in the Levant, and had almost no DNA from sub-Saharan Africa. What's more, the genetics of the mummies remained remarkably consistent even as different powers—including Nubians, Greeks, and Romans—conquered the empire." Later, however, something did alter the genomes of Egyptians. Some 15% to 20% of modern Egyptians' DNA reflects sub-Saharan ancestry, but the ancient mummies had only 6–15% sub-Saharan DNA. [197] They called for additional research to be undertaken. Other genetic studies show much greater levels of sub-Saharan African ancestry in the current-day populations of southern as opposed to northern Egypt, [198] and anticipate that mummies from southern Egypt would contain greater levels of sub-Saharan African ancestry than Lower Egyptian mummies.

    The culture and monuments of ancient Egypt have left a lasting legacy on the world. Egyptian civilization significantly influenced the Kingdom of Kush and Meroë with both adopting Egyptian religious and architectural norms (hundreds of pyramids (6–30 meters high) were built in Egypt/Sudan), as well as using Egyptian writing as the basis of the Meroitic script. [199] Meroitic is the oldest written language in Africa, other than Egyptian, and was used from the 2nd century BC until the early 5th century AD. [199] : 62–65 The cult of the goddess Isis, for example, became popular in the Roman Empire, as obelisks and other relics were transported back to Rome. [200] The Romans also imported building materials from Egypt to erect Egyptian-style structures. Early historians such as Herodotus, Strabo, and Diodorus Siculus studied and wrote about the land, which Romans came to view as a place of mystery. [201]

    During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, Egyptian pagan culture was in decline after the rise of Christianity and later Islam, but interest in Egyptian antiquity continued in the writings of medieval scholars such as Dhul-Nun al-Misri and al-Maqrizi. [202] In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, European travelers and tourists brought back antiquities and wrote stories of their journeys, leading to a wave of Egyptomania across Europe. This renewed interest sent collectors to Egypt, who took, purchased, or were given many important antiquities. [203] Napoleon arranged the first studies in Egyptology when he brought some 150 scientists and artists to study and document Egypt's natural history, which was published in the Description de l'Égypte. [204]

    In the 20th century, the Egyptian Government and archaeologists alike recognized the importance of cultural respect and integrity in excavations. The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (formerly Supreme Council of Antiquities) now approves and oversees all excavations, which are aimed at finding information rather than treasure. The council also supervises museums and monument reconstruction programs designed to preserve the historical legacy of Egypt.

    Frontispiece of Description de l'Égypte, published in 38 volumes between 1809 and 1829.


    Reverent Kitty

    Animals were viewed not only as pets, but as incarnations of gods. As such, the Egyptians buried millions of mummified cats, birds, and other creatures at temples honoring their deities. Using CT scans some mummies held complete cat skeletons. They even folded the forelegs and paws and laid them over its belly in a position similar to the placement of arms in human mummies

    Several incarnations were:

    • cats as Bastet, goddess of music and joy and protector of women
    • the Apis bull, a sacred animal known as the incarnation of Osiris, god of embalming and cemeteries
    • hawks were Horus, the god of light
    • ibises with Thoth, the god of wisdom and learning
    • and so on.

    X-rays have revealed any of these animals were killed deliberately, that the huge numbers of cats found in temple cemeteries had their necks broken while still relatively young. Lizard, fish, and even beetle mummies from ancient Egypt have been unearthed.


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    Ibis Coffin from Ancient Egypt - History

    I'm sure you can see why the Ancient Egyptian exhibits at the Brooklyn Museum are among my favorites. I feel privileged to have seen so much of the collection over my lifetime living in Brooklyn and it is nice to know that these treasures are being maintained and preserved for future generations.

    To see my introduction post about the Brooklyn Museum click here, and to see my post about a few special exhibits I saw at the museum click here.

    I am linking this post with Mosaic Monday on Mary's blog at The Little Red House. Click on the link to see links to Mary's beautiful photo mosaic and links to all all the participating blogs.

    52 comments:

    Pat, this was just wonderful. Wish I had enough time to go see this but 3 days goes pretty fast we are trying to plan our days, there is so much to see and do.
    It must be getting close to your trip.
    yvonne

    Right now I'm very sorry for the Egyptian people he does not have a stable government, I was in Cairo last May and visited the museum that has left me speechless for the wonders that I saw your pictures confirm what I say. I hope in your heart that may soon have a democratic government, thanks to Pat for all the photos you've shown in this interesting museum

    I do love seeing aracheologial obejcts, and Egypt has such a treasures of culture!

    Since my youth I've long been fascinated by the art & ancient history of Egypt. so seeing all of this was fantastic, Pat! I just feel so sad for what's been happening within the country now. ((HUGS))

    Very interesting post, Pat. I remember seeing the King Tut exhibit in New York back in 1979.

    Fascinating display. I remember some years ago when the Royal Ontario Museum brought King Tut's collection to Toronto and going to it and being absolutely amazed at the beauty and thought that went into the items as well as the mummification process. V

    The video about the Book of the Dead is fascinating. How wonderful that people devote their skills to preserving such treasures. Cats never forgot their status did they?

    Beautiful pics of these wonderful ancient Egyptian exhibits!! They are truly a marvel to see!

    I always found their art of mummification truly fascinating even if a little macabre- especially when the contents are on display! I will never forget seeing my first mummified egyptian cat in the British Museum here!!

    The Book of the Dead sounds amazing - I need to be home to see this clip - can't wait!!

    Thanks for a fantastic look around this most prestigious of museums! Take care
    x

    Fantastic exhibit, I can definitely see why it's a favorite!

    I had no idea there was a fabulous Egyptian collection within the Brooklyn Museum. I've always enjoyed visiting the Met's Egyptian collection, but now I have another reason to visit the BMA.

    I love ancient Egypt and all things associated with it. In fact, when I was a teenager, I considered archeology as a career. When our son lived in Brooklyn for a few years, we gave him a yearly membership to the museum and enjoyed it ourselves. And, I've certainly enjoyed "visiting" this morning.

    Marvelous! Ancient Egypt has always fascinated me. Love Bastet and the Ibis. You are so lucky to live there and have all these wonderful places to visit. Thanks for being our tour guide!

    What a beautiful photo tour post. I didn't know that this exhibit was at the Met. Sadly, I never have enough time when I'm i NYC to visit it. Your photos illustrate the treasures of Egypt so wonderfully. I would have spent HOURS in that exhibit alone. What a great opportunity for you!

    This takes me back to my school days. and studying ancient Egypt. To have all those treasures right at your doorstep is amazing!

    Pat, this is fascinating. I think the work of preserving treasures is so admirable, too. You may think this is weird, but I have to admit I have sort of an odd feeling when I look at some of these artifacts in museums (spent hours in the British Museum doing that) because of what they represented in people's lives. Cat worship being one of them, though my former cats would all tell you that, while they weren't worshipped, they were completely adored.

    While I don't believe in reincarnation, I do often wonder if we don't carry some memory gene in our DNA code that would account for some of these feelings. Maybe I descend from Moses! You have to wonder, though, how people actually worshipped golden idols. Then, again, we all have idols of sorts in our own lives, and while they may not be made of gold, they could qualify as such all the same.

    See? Going to museums makes me think! To that end, I was thinking that one could never leave the boundaries of New York and still lead the world's most fascinating life. That's so evident from all of your posts, my friend. Thanks for sharing.

    Clarifying: Evident that life in NYC is fascinating, not that you don't leave. LOL! Besides, I know you are headed out soon to go see some special folks! :-) Can you tell I was awakened early this morning by the sound of hammers? My brain is on auto pilot. -)

    Interesting post today. I was always a little in awe of mummies. This is an awesome collection. xo,

    I always love to go to the Ancient Egyptian Art section of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Fascinating displays. I'm certain that I'd enjoy these displays at the Brooklyn Museum. Perhaps some fine day.

    Great post! Though now you may make me get the kids in the car this weekend and head into the city!
    Smiles

    Pat, this is a stunning post!
    You won Lori's giveaway for the $100 1-800 flowers! please email your address at [email protected] with your email address/snail mail so I can give it to Lori. I'm not sure how she'll send it so both addresses will be best. Thanks!

    Egyptology holds such fascination for the west. I remember visiting and revisiting the display at the Royal Ontario Museum when I was a school girl. I think the collection that you've shown is spectacular.

    How interesting. I can't believe they cut the book of the dead!! Into pieces!! The cat and ibis mummies and coffins, wild! Now that ibis statue on the left, is that actually the coffin.

    Another fabulous post, Pat. One of my greatest thrills was seeing the artifacts at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. That said, I would love to visit the Brooklyn Museum to see this collection.

    I really enjoy visiting Boston's MFA Egypt exhibit. We also have tow friends who an experts on Egyptology.

    Beautiful photos of all the Egyptian art, Pat. What a great exhibit!

    Its so nice of you to share this with others. Really, some of us don't get out much and its just a pleasure to be able to sight see with you.
    Thanks.

    Pat, you are very fortunate to live where you do and to appreciate all that New York has to offer. I'm sre anyone who has not visited and lives with in striking distance will be inspired to visit after reading your post. I was amazed to learn of the vast Egyptian collection the Brooklyn Museum holds.

    I love Egyptian art and culture. We were fortunate to see the King Tut exhibit while we were in Denver this past fall. Such an incredible culture.

    Your posts are always so interesting. Ancient Egyptian art fascinates so many people. Wish I could visit this wonderful exhibit.

    You've given us a wonderful overview of the display. I've always been fascinated by the Egyptian artifacts.

    I love this, Pat. The last time I was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I wound up spending so much time in the Egyptian exhibit that my day practically got away from me. Never enough time! If I could I would spend an entire week at the museum. Thanks again for allowing me to visit the Bklyn Museum vicariously. Just absolutely glorious photos.

    In the best possible scenario, a muserum can bring home the huimanity of other times and cultures. As I pause through the post, I don't see an ancient culture, but a vibrant people.

    Pat, thanks for taking us on a tour of the Brooklyn Museum. What a wonderful collection.
    Congratulations on your win at Gollums.

    Had no idea Brooklyn's museum was so large! As nicely displayd as the Met!

    Egyptian History is so interesting but I know little about it. It must be a wonderful experience to see these artefacts of so long ago.

    Truly fascinating! The boys in my class were always excited to learn about mummification. The girls didn't dig the pulling out the brain process so much. )
    Congrats on winning the big prize at Gollum's!

    The Ancient Egyptians were fascinating! It's one of the history topics I always love to teach in school. The children are so enthusiastic about them.

    It must be wonderful to have a museum that close to you. We visit museums in Balboa Park in San Diego when I go to see my sons during the week. that's one of our favorite things. but nothing like this!!

    We saw a similar exhibit in Memphis several years ago. It was fascintating! Thank you so much for another tour, Pat. blessings

    I would gladly walk up and down the corridors of the museum with you. Fascinating!

    Pat, I can't imagine an exhibit I would love more that this. I find Egyptian art and history so incredibly fascinating.

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

    Fascinating, Pat! I love ancient Egyptian history.

    So interesting! I love seeing the colors that some of the artifacts were painted. You are so fortunate to have access to so much art.

    Love the photo of the grandbabies on your sidebar. They are precious.

    This just blows me away! Imagine something from back then making it until now! Imagine the energy each piece holds. Wow!!

    I love everything related to Egypt, and my lifetime dream is to go actually there one day.
    Thanks for sharing such beautiful photos.

    What a wonderful gallery. I have a friend who lives in Egypt and I sure hope I can visit her some day! Thanks for sharing the information.

    Pat. lovely tour of the museum! Enjoy Egyptian art and learning about their ancient culture!

    And one day, you'll take the grandsons! (Treasures to see treasures!)

    I really love the Mummy Chamber

    your grandsons are precious
    I didn't notice the shots on the sidebar before

    Pat, I don't know how I missed this post. it is extraordinary! What an extensive display this is.
    ♥, Susan


    Watch the video: 9th English 1S C3 L8. The Scarlet Ibis: Summary, Setting u0026 Themes