Geographical setting, natural features and resources of New Kingdom Egypt and its neighbours

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  1. The geographical environment

  • Geographical setting, natural features and resources of New Kingdom Egypt and its neighbours

Known by the ancient Egyptians as:
- Kemet (the Black Land)
- The Two Lands of Upper and Lower Egypt

The Nile River was the most important feature of the New Kingdom landscape and forms south of Egypt at the junction between the Blue Nile and the White Nile

“EGYPT IS THE GIRFT OF THE NILE”- HERODOTUS: refers to both its life-giving waters in a country that very rarely saw rain and the dark rich silt (alluvial) deposited over the valley flats when the Nile broke its banks at the same time every year.

JUNE: Nile began to rise and green water (containing vegetable matter) appeared everywhere along the valley. Water continued to rise.

AUGUST: Water was a dark muddy colour (eroded material)
SEPTEMBER: Flood water reached its peak and after several weeks the level began to drop.
MAY: River level was at its lowest. The timing of the flood and the height of the waters were critical for the people of Egypt.

The resources gained from Egypt and territories under its control:

  • Significant sites: Thebes, Valley of the Kings, Malkata

Thebes: cultural and religious centre of New Kingdom Egypt. The pharaohs built their mortuary temples here and were buried in huge rock-cut tombs decorated with finely executed paintings or painted reliefs illustrating religious texts concerned with the afterlife. A town was established in western Thebes for the artists who created these tombs. At this site they left a wealth of information about life in an ancient Egyptian community of artisans and craftsmen.

The Valley of the Kings: located on the western side of the Nile in close proximity to Thebes and was the burial site of New Kingdom pharaohs.

Malkata: the name of the site of the palace of Amenhotep III, which is situated to the south of Thebes.

  1. Social structure and political organisation

  • Roles and images of the pharaoh; concept of ma’at

The pharaoh was a god/king.
- The earthly form of the falcon god, Horus
- The son of Re, the sun-god
- Horus, the son of Osiris, when he ascended the throne
- Osiris when he did
- In the New Kingdom he was the son of the imperial god, Amun

Egyptians believed in the concept of ma’at or divine order established at the time of creation. Without ma’at there would be chaos in both the physical and spiritual world.

The King was regarded as the representative of divine order on earth and when he died the people feared an outbreak of chaos and disorder, so it was imperative to get the next king crowned as soon as possible in order to re-establish harmony, stability and security in the kingdom. Ma’at could only be maintained if the king carried out his divine responsibilities.

The pharaoh was the law, owener of the land and responsible for its prosperity. The pharaoh was the commander of the army and the high priest of the god. The pharaoh’s officials, governors and ministers represented the person and command of the king. The pharaoh’s authority was, therefore, everywhere.

Many pharaohs of the New kingdom were war leaders. Some were true warrior kings like Thutmose I, III and Amenhotep II, other directed or participated in campaigns only in the first years of their reigns.

No matter what the abilities of the pharaohs they were always depicted in the monumental inscriptions as warrior kings.

As a god and king, the pharaoh represented the union of religious and secular powers and duties. The perceived balance between ‘god’ and ‘man’ changed during the New Kingdom.

The vizier was the highest leader of political authority under the pharaoh. There was one in upper and one in lower Egypt. They were the co-ordinators of the state organisation- helped the running of the country. The role remained within a family and often appointed by the pharaoh, mostly from loyalty or talent. They had many titles which included:
* overseers of the treasury
* overseers of the fields and cattle
* overseers of the royal buildings

  • Nature and role of the army

During the reign of Thutmose III the Egyptian army became professional. The king was the supreme commander and during the early New Kingdom invariably led his armies into battle.

The infantry was recruited from conscripts and volunteers from about one tenth of the male population as well as foreigners. It was comprised of three groups (first class/elite group, corps of seasoned soldiers and newest recruits). These infantry units were composed of spearmen, archers, axe-bearers, clubmen and slingers. Many foot soldiers lacked adequate armour; some were even without shields.

The chariotry was the elite unit in the Egyptian army. Those who were part of the king’s chariotry were distinguished men of high birth and chariot drivers. Charioteers backed up the infantry by scouting and protecting the foot soldiers from enemy chariot attack. Each chariot was drawn by a pair of horses and was manned by a driver and a fighter armed with spear, bow and arrows

  • Roles and status of women: royal and non-royal

Women had legal rights. The queen had special priviledges as mother, or wife, of the god-king and the right to rule passed through the female line.

Women could buy and sell land. By the standards of those times, women were fairly liberated.

A married couple were considered equal.

Women occupied lowly positions in the temple organisation, and possible subordinate positions in the civil bureaucracy. Wives were always referred to in tomb scenes as “his wife, his beloved” (hemet ef meret ef).

The duty of upper class women was to support their husbands in their careers. They were permitted to appear in public, had freedom to visit and mix with men at banquets and could carry out acceptable activities outside the home.

The chief role of all women in all classes was a MISTRESS OF THE HOUSE, but in upper class household, with servants and slaves, this was purely supervisory.

The peasant women’s chief duty was in the home but evidence shows them helping their husbands in the fields; gleaning harvesting flax, winnowing carrying baskets to the storehouse and providing refreshments.

Amongst the slave class, women worked in the household as bread makers, personal attendants for the mistress and entertainers.

Women were employed as musicians, dancers and acrobats. EG, paintings of women as musicians on Nakht’s tomb.

Hatshepsut as king, was influential. She had become a ‘king’ with all the protocol of male monarch.

  • Scribes, artisans and agricultural workers

Scribes were essential to the organisation and government management of village life. Village scribes became the strength of government administration.

A few village scribes rose to the highest administrative posts in Egypt. A few exceptional scribes were deified (made into a god after their death).

As well as writing letters and despatches, they surveyed the land, measured the height of the crops to assess the taxes, took the census, recorded the item of tribute and trade, measured and recorded gold supplies and recorded the allocation of equipment and rations to the royal tomb workers.

The training of scribes was difficult. The most suitable candidates were often from the official class. The temples and palaces conducted scribal schools. Scribes were enrolled at the age of five.

Scribes could rise to social rank without the necessary family connections or status. They formed part of the growing middle class.

With the influx of wealth into Egypt there was an ever-increasing need for highly trained artists and craftsmen with the skill and imagination to meet the demands of:

- The kings as they initiated massive building projects, dedicated luxury items to the gods
and filled tombs with finest funerary objects.
- Upper class as their tastes became more sophisticated, lifestyles more opulent and tombs
more elaborate.
- The army for equipment such as chariots and weapons.

The agricultural peasant was the backbone of Egyptian society. Every other class depended on the never-ending toil of the farmers for their survival. They weren’t slaves but tenant farmers working the lands on behalf of their masters, sharing their harvests with their landlords. From time to time farmers were inscripted to work on buildings and major water and land management schemes.

  1. The economy

  • Importance of the Nile: agriculture, animal husbandry, transport

The Nile River was the most important feature of Ancient Egypt. The Nile forms south of Egypt at the junction between the – Blue Nile (from Ethiopia) and the White Nile (from the mountains of Uganda). The river flows for 7000kms from the south to the opening into the Mediterranean Sea in the north ending at the Nile Delta. (From north to south the delta is approximately 160 km in length also the Delta begins slightly down-river from Cairo)

Main Points on Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Transport;
- Crops were grown on the fertile strip of each side of the Nile.
- Every year the Nile flooded, dumping a layer of silt on the fields with this annual renewal of fertile soil provided rich farming land.
- The Nile also watered the crops through irrigation and irrigation channels.
- The Nile was also valued for the papyrus plants that grew by its banks, which provided materials for paper, mats, sandals boats and shipping.
- It also provided agricultural and natural resources, such as fish.
- Scenes of animal husbandry (the agricultural practice of breeding and raising livestock) and agriculture were the most prominent in relief scenes.
- The level of waters of the Nile determined the seasons of the year:
- Inundation - the time of flood. Workers not needed in the fields. The coronation of a new king was also linked to this season so as to ensure fertility of the land.
- Emergence of the fields - When the water was receding and the soil was still moist. Crops planted in the mud.
- Drought - when crops were harvested and thrashed.

  • Economic exchange: barter and taxation

Transactions and exchanges involved a sophisticated barter system that used a scale of value based on metal weights. The main standard used for small transactions was copper and the basic unit was one deben.

Taxation was calculated on an annual basis according to a census of size of arable land, number of livestock and the height of the inundation of the Nile during the flooding season. All citizens and government institutions were expected to pay an annual fee which was in the form of a fixed percentage of the annual harvest.

  • Impact of empire: booty, tribute and trade

gyptian trade and economy was based on bartering - the Deben system – the value of every good was equal to a particular weight in copper sheets, called Deben.

Ordinary villagers also had the ability to sell any extra goods they produced through trading at riverbank markets.

Ancient Egypt was considered by some to have been the most heavily taxed nation and to have collapsed due to the weight of the levies imposed on the populace.

State relied on revenues in the forms of labor and taxes paid in kind. Grain was the most important produce hoarded by the authorities, as it could be stored with relative ease and was vital in years of bad harvests.

Foreign trade was also based on exchange.

Egypt gained necessities such as copper from Cyprus and olive oil from Krete.

Every year, Egypt’s temples were endowed with treasures paid to it as “tribute” from lesser countries under its power. These treasures could in turn be used for foreign trade.

  • Crafts and industry: wood, stone and metal

Manufacturing goods involved a wide variety of workers.

Woodworkers used a variety of tools and finished goods that have survived and are of a very high standard of manufacture. Timbers – many used were imported, thus they were rare and expensive.

Brick making was a hard trade and captives often worked as slaves in this field. Bricks were sun-dried in moulds and used for the building of private homes, walls and palaces.

Stonemasons played a crucial role in the construction of temples and other public places.

Metalworkers common in tomb reliefs. Metal was a valuable commodity, as it was carefully weighed and distributed to the workers. Smelting and other processes are also shown.

  • Technology: tools, building materials, techniques and construction

TOOLS- There has been a lot discovered about the tools of New Kingdom Egypt through the graves of craftsmen and decorations of artisans with their tools demonstrating their technique.

Wood was a great resource for developing tools as it combines toughness and pliability and can be moulded to any shape. Ploughs, hoes, rakes, grain scoops, spindles, looms and carpenters mallets were all made from wood.

The 3 functions of stone tools were pounding, grinding and cutting. Stone was used to develop edges for tools such as knives and axes. The stone was mined and distributed in remote locations away from any main cities.

Copper was the first source of tools in Egypt and was used for a variety of tools. Many copper tools have been found that include copper ornaments, vessels, weapons, needles, saws, scissors, pincers, axes, adzes, harpoon and arrow tips, and knives.

Bronze was a great improvement on copper as it was far stronger. Bronze was used for chisels, arrow heads, fishing hooks, nails and many more.

Iron was imported to Egypt from European countries such as Greece. Iron was used for tools that cover most human activities in Egypt as it replaced copper and bronze.

BUILDING MATERIALS- Many of the buildings in New Kingdom Egypt were built of sun baked bricks made of Nile mud and straw. This made the buildings weak and caused many buildings to collapse from earthquakes, floods and many other human and natural impacts. Many metals were used for human activities such as copper, iron, bronze, silver, lead and gold, developing a range of statues and monuments throughout New Kingdom Egypt. Transports such as chariots were made from a combination of timber and metal.

TECHNIQUES- Copper and bronze were smelted in a furnace to be moulded into tools and utensils.

The Egyptians made glass through melting sand in a furnace and they were the first to develop glass that was translucent.

  1. Religion, death and burial

  • Gods, goddesses, cults and priesthoods including Amun-Re, Osiris

The first gods are portrayed as animals on tomb walls. Egyptians depicted the ‘nature’ of a god in animal representations. Live animals were kept in temples during the New Kingdom and were mummified after death.

Gods and goddesses fell into four categories:

  • Household of village gods worshipped by ordinary people in shrines.

  • Local gods worshiped by the priests in cult temples throughout Egypt. Over the centuries many local cult deities coalesced. EG Horus the falcon-headed god.

  • Funerary gods such as Osiris, the mummification God of the Underworld.

  • State gods. These were usual in a triad and included Re/Atum, the creator sun god whose cult centre was at Heliopolis. EG, Osiris (with Isis and Horus) and Amun, the god of empire (with Mut and Khonsu) whose cult centre was at Thebes.

During the New Kingdom Amun the local god of Thebes was elevated to national god and then to god of empire. Amun was:

  • Referred to as the ‘hidden one’ and depicted in human form wearing a headdress of tall ostrich feathers

  • Associated with Re, the creator sun-god (Amun-Re) so he would have no rival.

  • Believed responsible for leading Egypt’s armies to victory.

  • Raised in importance above all other gods.

The most important of the many forms of Egyptian worship were the cults of Osiris and of Ra. Osiris was especially important as king and judge of the dead, but he was identified as well with the waters of the Nile, with the grain yield of the earth, with the moon, and even with the sun. A noble king, Osiris was the protector of all, the poor and the rich. His myth, portraying the ideals of family devotion, expressed aspirations that were close to the people. His murder by his brother, Set, and his restoration to life by his wife, Isis, made him the great symbol of the eternal persistence of life. The revenge exacted by his son and successor, Horus, showed the triumph of good over evil. 

Festival of Opet, dedicated to Amun, during which the status of Amun, Mut and Khonsu were taken from Temple of Karnak via the sphinx-lined processional way to the Temple of Luxor three kilometres to the south. The festival actually focussed on the transformation of the king. After eleven days of offerings and sacrifices the divine barques retuned via the river to Karnack.

The Beautiful Feast of the Valley was celebrated every year during the Harvest Season in order to honour the dead.  During this festival, the sacred icons of Amun-Ra, his consort Mut and their offspring Khonsu left the temple at Karnak in order to visit the funerary temples of deceased kings on the West Bank and other important shrines. 

The Heb-Sed Festival was one of the oldest feasts of ancient Egypt, celebrated by the king after 30 years of rule and repeated every 3 years thereafter. The festival was in the nature of a jubilee, and it is believed that the ceremonies represented a ritual re-enactment of the unification of Egypt, traditionally accomplished by Menes.

  • Myths and legends: Creation myth, Osiris myth

CREATION MYTH- In the beginning there was only water, a chaos of churning, bubbling water- this Egyptians called Nu or Nun.

It was out of Nu that everything began. As with the Nile, each year the inundation no doubt caused chaos to all creatures living on the land, so this represents Nu. Eventually the floods would recede and out of the chaos of water would emerge a hill of dry land, one at first, then more. On this first dry hilltop, on the first day came the first sunrise. So that is how the Egyptians explain the beginning of all things.

The sun was also among the most important elements in the Egyptians lives and therefore had an important role as a creator god. His names and attributes varied greatly.

To the Egyptians the moon was any one of a number of gods. As an attribute of the god Horus the moon represented his left eye while his right was the sun.

OSIRIS MYTH- The Egyptians believed that Osiris, the king of the dead once possessed human form and walked among Egyptians as a King. He showed the Egyptians how to live civilized lives, how to worship the Gods, how to work in agriculture and gave them laws.

Osiris was Egypt's greatest king who ruled through kindness and persuasion. Having civilized Egypt, Osiris traveled to other lands, leaving Isis, his sister and wife to teach other peoples what he taught the Egyptians. Osiris was father to Horus and Anubis and brother of Seth. In Osiris’ absence Seth plotted to take the throne from Isis and upon Osiris’ return Seth and 72 other conspirators murdered him. Isis magically located his dead body and resurrected him. Once Seth found out about this he murdered him again scattering the 14 pieces of his body across Egypt. Once again Isis found 13/14 of these pieces and resurrected him again so she could give birth to the new King Horus.

While Horus eventually took control of the throne from Seth Osiris became King of the afterlife. He allowed those that had lived a good life into the Duat, the gentle, fertile land in which the righteous dead lived, that had lived a good and correct life upon earth, and had been buried with appropriate ceremonies under the protection of certain amulets, and with the proper recital of certain "divine words" and words of power. His realm was said to lie beneath Nun, in the northern heavens or in the west.

Osiris was usually portrayed as a bearded, mummified human with green skin and wearing the atef crown. His hands emerge from the mummy wrappings and hold the flail and crook.

  • Funerary customs, rituals and texts: afterlife concepts, mummification

Mummification: a combination of climate and environment, as well as the people's religious beliefs and practices, led first to unintentional natural mummification and then to true mummification. In Egypt, and particularly ancient Egypt, there was a lack of cultivatable land and so the early Egyptians chose to bury their dead in shallow pit-graves on the edges of the desert, where the heat of the sun and the dryness of the sand created the natural mummification process. Even this natural process produced remarkably well preserved bodies. Often, these early natural mummified bodies retained skin tissue and hair, along with a likeness of the person's appearance when alive. 

The embalmers and priests used a variety of tools and accessories in the mummification process and its associated rites. In the actual preparation of the body, the embalmers and their assistants employed a blade of obsidian, sometimes called a "stone of Ethiopia", to make the incision in the side of the mummy. They also used a hooked tool for brain extraction together with various containment vessels which held the plant remains and resin used to anoint the mummy.

There were amulets placed between the layers of bandages and a cartoonage mask was placed on the face. There were also chest and foot covers placed over the mummy to supply support, and even toe and finger stalls were sometimes utilized to prevent damage to those appendages.

To protect the spirit of the deceased, scenes and inscriptions were written on coffins and the walls of tombs. These texts included such writings as adaptations of the myth about the death of Osiris and spells to protect the deceased on his or her dangerous journey to the underworld.

The final step in the transition to the afterlife was the judgment by Osiris, god of the underworld, in a ritual known as the Weighing of the Heart. If a person had led a decent life, he or she would be judged worthy of eternal life. Many spells and rituals were designed to ensure a favourable judgment and were written in the papyrus or linen "Book of the Dead."

All ancient Egyptians believed in the afterlife and spent their lives preparing for it. Pharaohs built the finest tombs, collected the most elaborate funerary equipment, and were mummified in the most expensive way. Others were able to provide for their afterlives according to their earthly means. Regardless of their wealth, however, they all expected the afterlife to be an idealized version of their earthly existence.

  • The Book of the Dead and the Amun Duat (Book of What is in the Netherworld)

THE BOOK OF THE DEAD- Common name given to funerary text called “The Spells of Coming (or Going) forth by Day”. Written on the papyrus and placed inside a sarcophagus. It contained spells, hymns and instruction intended to assist the dead in the afterlife.

During the new kingdom period there was no definite order to “The Book of the Dead”. The text concentrated mainly on images of the events in the afterlife and was in great detail. The quality of the writing was poorer. Initial thoughts considered it to be some sort of Egyptian bible but this was disproven owing to the lack of religious tenants and their lack of belief in it being of divine revelation. Consequently this meant that its contents changed over time.

AMUN DUAT- Translated literally to “That which is in the Underworld”. But unlike the “book of the dead” it was reserved exclusively for Pharaohs or favored nobles. The texts describes the god RA’s journey through the underworld and that of the pharaohs same journey to come.

The underworld is divided into 12 hours each with allies and enemies, the purpose of the Amduat is to give the names of each of these beings in order to call upon them for help or to defeat them.

  • Temples: architecture and function: Karnak, Luxor, Deir el-Bahri

In the New Kingdom there were predominantly two types of temples: the mortuary temple (dedicated to the cult of the dead pharaoh) and the god’s temple (dedicated to the worship and housing of the image of the god). All the temples at Thebes were under the administrative control of the Temple of Amun-Re at Karnak.

The Temple of Karnak is a complex of temples, each dedicated to the Sun God, and at periods pharaoh-overseer god of Amun. The complex is the largest created Ancient Egyptian Complex, and the largest Ancient Religious site in the world, covering about 200 acres, that is, 1.5km by 0.8km. The area of the sacred enclosure of Amun, one facet of the temple, alone is 61 acres in area, and would hold ten average-sized European cathedrals. The great temple at the heart of Karnak is so vast in its area, St Peter's, Milan and Notre Dame Cathedrals could be lost within its walls.

The Deir el-Bahri Temple Complex (also spelled Deir el-Bahari) includes one of the most beautiful temples in Egypt, perhaps in the world, built by the architects of the New Kingdom Pharaoh Hatshepsut in the 15th century BC. This structure is found in a steep half-circle of cliffs on the west bank of the Nile River and guarding the entrance to the great Valley of the Kings. Hatshepsut (Hatshepsowe) ruled for 21 years [1473-1458 BC] during the early part of the New Kingdom, before the vastly successful imperialism of her nephew/stepson and successor Thutmose (Thutmosis) III. This differs in its architecture, in that it is almost a temple within a cliff cavity, and hence involved much carving as opposed to building, whilst it is also primarily a self-glorifying, dedication to Hateshepsut.

Luxor Temple: Known in the Egyptian language as "the southern sanctuary", the temple was dedicated to the Theban Triad of Amun, Mut, and Chons and was built during the New Kingdom, the focus of the annual Opet Festival, in which a cult statue of Amun was paraded down the Nile from nearby Karnak Temple to stay there for a while, with his consort Mut, in a celebration of fertility – whence its name.

The barque chapels, just behind the first pylon, were built by Hatshepsut, and appropriated by Tuthmosis III. The main part of the temple - the colonnade and the sun court were built by Amenhotep III, and a later addition by Rameses II, who built the entrance pylon, and the two obelisks linked the Hatshepsut buildings with the main temple.

  • Tombs: architecture and decoration: Thebes

Tombs of royalty were cut into the rocky, desolate, isolated limestone cliffs of the Valley of the Kings. These tombs sloped down from one corridor to another.

Tombs of the nobles/great officials were scattered over the limestone cliffs facing the Nile valley at a number of sites. Because these involved a great investment in money and time, many were left unfinished. Most were of a conventional T-shape.

Mortuary temples were built on the plain or against the cliffs like that of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri.

It is not accurate to use the term ‘decoration’ when speaking of the painting and reliefs on the walls of tombs as the purpose was not to make them attractive but to help the deceased on his or her journey to the afterlife. Once the tomb was sealed the scenes were never intended to be seen.

  1. Cultural Life

  • Art: sculpture, jewellery and wall paintings

For Egyptians, the cycles of human life, rebirth, and afterlife mirrored the reproductive cycles that surrounded them in the natural world. After death, the Egyptians looked forward to continuing their daily lives as an invisible spirit among their descendents on Earth in Egypt, enjoying all the pleasures of life with none of its pain or hardships.

This vision is vividly depicted in the sculptures, reliefs, and wall paintings of Egyptian tombs, with the deceased portrayed in the way he or she wished to remain forever accompanied by images of family and servants. These forms of art not only reflect the Egyptians' love of life but also by their very presence made the afterlife a reality.

Tomb painting from the tomb of a man named Menna- The Egyptians believed that the pleasures of life could be made permanent through scenes like this one of Menna hunting in the Nile marshes. In this painting Menna, the largest figure, is shown twice. He is spear fishing on the right and flinging throwing sticks at birds on the left. His wife, the second-largest figure, and his daughter and son are with him. By their gestures they assist him and express their affection. The son on the left is drawing attention with a pointed finger to the two little predators (a cat and an ichneumon) that are about to steal the birds' eggs. Pointed fingers were a magical gesture for averting evil in ancient Egypt, and the attack on the nest may well be a reminder of the vulnerability of life.

  • Writing and literature: love poetry, Papyrus Lansing: Be a Scribe, Wisdom Literature: the Instruction of Ani

Apart from tomb biographies, monumental inscriptions, prayers and hymns, there were others forms of writing produced in the New Kingdom. These included:

LOVE POEMS: recorded on two papyrus manuscripts and a Cairo vase. They are written in first person by a young man or women to the opposite sex. Some alternate between a male and female speaker. The lovers refer to themselves as ‘brother’ and ‘sister’.

WISDOM LITERATURE OR DIDACTIC LITERATURE: The Instruction of Ani in which a father gives advice to his son is different in several ways to pervious wisdom literature because the scribe, Ani, was not one of the elite, but that a minor official and so his words, although addressed to his son, were really advice to the ordinary Egyptian.

SCHOOL COPYBOOKS used to develop the characters of young scribes: Be A Scribe is part of A Schoolbook found recorded on Papyrus Lansing. It was devoted to the theme of being a scribe and was a compilation of praise for the scribal profession; advice and exhortations to the pupil to study hard; the miseries of other professions; the hardships of a soldiers life and the misfortunes that befall the peasants.

  1. Everyday life

  • Daily life and leisure activities

The most valuable source used in the study of daily life in New Kingdom Egypt is Tomb paintings and objects found in tombs, provided for the afterlife, that were used in daily life.

Nuclear family was the fundamental social unit. The father was the “breadwinner” and cared for the children. Although children are often depicted playing with toys, most of their childhood was spent preparing for adulthood. For example sons of carpenters were often apprentices for their father.

Children of wealthy families sometimes received a formal education in oder to become scribes or army officers.

Furniture in most households was simple, the most common item being a wooden stool used by the pharaoh as well.

Both men and women decorated usually plain clothing with jewellery with minerals. Due to superstition the Egyptians often included good luck charms called amulets in their jewellery.

Cosmetics were used not only as an important part of dress but for a matter of personal hygiene. Many items such as oils were used as protection against the hot, dry Egyptian winds.

Interpreted every occurrence the responsibility of the relationship of natural and supernatural. For example the annual cycle of the Nile and the weather.

Believed the earth was just a flat clay slab floating on water from which the Nile sprung. The forces of nature are described as divine descendants

There is a lot of evidence of participation in leisure activities in ancient Egypt. Men engaged in physical sports such as hunting, fishing, archery, wrestling, boxing, and stick fencing.

Long distance races demonstrated physical power and therefore prestige. Both men and women participated in swimming.

Board games were popular and were made from simple materials such as wood or clay. Items such as animal ankle bones were used to indicate moves. Towards the late new kingdom wooden dice were used very similar to the ones used today.

  • Food and clothing

Clothing in Ancient Egypt was typically made out of white linen. Wool was used also, but it was not allowed in any of the temples because the material came from animals. Due to Egyptian religious beliefs about animals, wool was not permitted to touch the skin. Also, linen was a cooler material, and considering the warmth of the climate, it was better for most Egyptians.

Men normally wore loincloths or short skirts. Shirts for men were worn in some periods of their history. Women wore robes or tight dresses, some with straps that covered the woman’s breasts or with one or both breasts exposed, depending on the particular style of the time. Children rarely wore clothing until they reached puberty.

The linen clothing was usually not dyed. Early Egyptian fashion was simple, but became more complex and stylish toward the end of the New Kingdom.

Clothing styles also varied based on a person’s occupation. Farmers wore loincloths while the vizier may have worn a full-length robe. Poor people wore very little clothing.

Wealthy Egyptians wore leather sandals. Common people usually went barefoot.

Egypt's dominance of the ancient world was a result of more than just determination and brute force. Ancient Egypt was blessed with an abundance of natural resources - not least the river Nile.

Flax, a winter vegetable, was an essential. Flax had two main uses: oil and fiber. The flax stems were combed to remove the bolls, which contained linseed oil. The remaining fibers were spun to make linen threads, which could then be woven into clothing, sheets and blankets

Cooking was done in clay ovens as well as over open fires. Wood was used for fuel, even though it was scarce. Food was baked, boiled, stewed, fried, grilled, or roasted. What is known about kitchen utensils and equipment is from the items that have been found in the tombs. Storage jars, bowls, pots, pans, ladles, sieves, and whisks were all used in the preparation of food. Most of the commoners used dishes that were made of clay, while the wealthy used dishes made of bronze, silver, and gold.

Beer was the most popular beverage, and bread was the staple food in the Egyptian diet. The beer was made with barley. The barley was left to dry, and then baked into loaves of bread. The baked barley loaves were then broken into pieces and mixed with the dried grain in a large jug of water and left to ferment. Wine was a drink that was produced by the Egyptians, however, it was usually found only at the tables of the wealthy. To make the bread, women ground wheat into flour. The flour was then pounded by men to make a fine grain. Sesame seeds, honey, fruit, butter, and herbs were often added to the dough to help flavor the bread.

  • Housing and furniture

Houses were not built of stone but of mud bricks. Bricks were made to a standard size in a mould out of wet mud strengthened with finely chopped up straw and were put in the sun until they were hard. The houses lasted a long time but not for thousands of years. Old houses were also raided for their mud bricks which made goods fertilizer once crumbled up.

Houses of ordinary people (even wealthy ones) were plain in appearance. They were enclosed by a high wall ad had stairs up to a flat roof- people spent a lot of time on the roof as the inside was rather gloomy.

The only “windows” (no glass) were very small and set high in the walls. Because of the heat in Egypt, houses were designed to keep the sunlight out

Grander houses too looked plain and box like but they were much more comfortable; They stood among gardens; They had a small religious shrine; Had steps leading up to the front entrance which opened into a large hall (lined with column). Beyond the hall was the main dining room and living room, a spacious chamber was beyond this (also with columns).

At one end of this chamber was a raised platform where people lounged on cushions and rugs. Smaller rooms ranged all around including bedrooms, offices, larders, rooms for high ranking servants. Other servants slept in separate buildings among stables and storehouses. Kitchen was also kept spate, perhaps to keep the smell away.

Main rooms were decorated with: Paintings, Tiles, Wooden panels

Furniture in the houses was sparse. Mainly consisting of: Chairs, Beds, Couches, Low tables, Stools, Chests for storage

The finest furniture, with beautiful veneers, inlaid with gold and enamel was made for royal palaces. Very poor people had almost no furniture making do with sleeping mats and perhaps a rough table. Even wealthy members of the society often sat on the floor.

Also some of the occupations that women undertook.

Some Female Job Titles:
Grinding Girl
Supervisor of the Cloth
Supervisor of the Wig Workshop
Supervisor of the Dancers of the King
Supervisor of the Royal Harem

Under the vizier were the governors who controlled the local nomes into which Egypt was divided. Beneath the governors were the scribes and overseers. The scribes were the keepers of the records. The overseers supervised the farming of the land, and the peasants. Government and religion were inseparable in Egypt.

Manufacturing: A large part of the manufactured goods came from the families which produced the raw materials. Labor was divided according to gender, with the processing generally left to the women. While the men grew flax, their women spun it into thread and wove the linen. A sizable proportion of the grain produced was used for beer production. The fish caught by the men had to be cleaned and dried by the women to be of much use in the hot climate of Egypt. In the towns small factories appeared, often financed by rich noblemen: bakeries, breweries, carpentry workshops and the like with a few dozen employees. In these manufactories weaving, for instance, became a largely male occupation with the introduction of upright looms during the New Kingdom.

Mining: Most of the things mined were of little interest to anyone but a small number of rich people. Precious metals were not in general circulation until the Late Period and even then remained in the hands of few. The metals used for tools - copper, bronze and, from the Late Period onwards, iron - were expensive and the implements fashioned from them were beyond the reach of many. Poorer people continued to use stone and wooden tools for most purposes well into the bronze and even iron age.

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