Showing posts from April, 2014

Z is for Zodiac

Just like us, the ancient Egyptians had their own version of a zodiac. Instead of signs, they use their gods (with the exception of Sphinx and Phoenix); Thoth, Horus, Wadget, Sekhmet, Sphinx, Shu, Isis, Osiris, Amun, Hathor, Phoenix and Anubis.

The ancient Egyptian zodiac was perceived and recorded by the pharaohs.

Go to this website to find out which god you come under - I was born under Isis, the god of discipline. I kind of have to disagree with the description, though.

Which god do you come under in the ancient Egyptian zodiac? Was the description accurate?

Y is for Youth

Children were not given a voice in ancient Egypt; what we know about their lives comes from descriptions from adults, as well as objects found in children's tombs.

- Ancient Egyptians also recognised in different stages of development in children: infant and toddler, child, and youth (late teens).

- These children became involved in the adult world early on, sometimes portrayed as miniature adults. They fulfilled social and economic tasks which got more demanding as they got older.

- It was the parents' duty to educate their children.

- Ancient Egyptian children owned dolls with real hair and played ball and stick games. They wore no clothes until they reached puberty, and imitated the work of their mothers and fathers.

- A child was considered fortunate to be born and survive to age one in ancient Egypt, as many women died in childbirth, while many infants died from infections. Protective deities would have been kept in the mother's home to protect her and her child. Spe…

X is for Xerxes

Wow, it was hard to find something for X. It's going to be a short one today.

- Xerxes was a King of Persia, and ruled over Egypt after they had been conquered by the Persians.

- There were rebellions in Egypt while he ruled, but he quelled them quickly. They caused him to rule more strictly.

- His rule over ancient Egypt was harsh; he disregarded their customs and beliefs.

- He was eventually assassinated, supposedly by order of one of is sons, who took the throne following his death.

W is for Writing

The ancient Egyptians were one of the first civilisations to use written language to record information.

- The most famous is the Egyptian hieroglyphic, though they also used other scripts. Hieroglyphics use pictures to represent different objects, actions, sounds or ideas.

- Ancient Egyptians would write in temples and on the walls of tombs, as well as on papyrus scrolls. This writing has helped us to understand a lot about ancient Egyptian beliefs, history and ideas.

- Hieroglyphics were deciphered with the help of the Rosetta Stone, which had three different types of writing on it; hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek.

- Hieroglyphics can be read left to right or right to left, or sometimes even from top to bottom. The trick is to see which way people or animal hieroglyphs are facing; if an animal faces left, you read from the left.

- Ancient Egyptians would write with thin, sharp reeds, which were dipped in ink which came from plants crushed and mixed with water.

- It was believed th…

V is for Valley of the Kings

I used to love learning about the Valley of the Kings. The name just sounds so magical.

- The Valley of the Kings is a desert valley, and is located to the west of Thebes. Despite its name, only a minority of tombs was built for members of the royal family.

- There are two main branches: the East Valley, where most of the royal tombs are, and the West Valley, where only the tombs of Amenhotep III and Ay are located.

- Each of the tombs have fallen victim to tomb robbers, although the tomb of Tutankhamun was discovered almost intact in 1922.
- The mummies were eventually moved to secret caches, to protect them from damage and salvage the remaining treasures from the tombs. Not all of the royal mummies have been found, so there may be a third cache, as yet undiscovered. 
- The only royal mummies found in their own tombs were Amenhotep II, who was re-buried in his tomb by 21st Dynasty priests, and Tutankhamun. 
- There are over 60 tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Some are small tombs, …

U is for Upper Egypt

Just a short one today.

- Upper Egypt is a narrow strip of land, and extends from modern day Aswan (at the bottom of the map) to just south of modern day Cairo.

- Upper Egypt was more isolated than Lower Egypt. It is located along the Nile Valley, and there are steep cliffs at either side. Therefore Lower Egypt had more dealings with the world, and therefore that's where the culture came from.

- The two areas had many differences in the ancient world. They spoke different dialects, had different customs, needs and interests. These differences, and the tensions created by them, still exist in modern times.

T is for Tombs (or Pyramids)

OK, so I'm being a little cheeky with this one, but the pyramids were built to be tombs, so I figure it's allowed.

- The pyramids were built as tombs for Pharaohs and their queens. The largest and most famous are the pyramids at Giza.

- The tombs were designed to protect the Pharaoh's mummified body, and the belongings he would need for the afterlife.

- Many of the pyramids are on the western side of the Nile, just into the desert. This made it easier to get the blocks to the pyramid using the river.

- Other ancient civilisations built pyramids (the Mayans, for example) but the ancient Egyptian ones are the most well known.

- Ancient Egyptian pyramids often contain multiple chambers and passageways, including storage rooms and courtyards. Many also had traps designed to catch tomb robbers.

- Tomb robbers targeted many of the royal tombs, and most were robbed eventually. One tomb left largely intact was the tomb of Tutankhamun, which was located in the Valley of the Kings.

S is for Sphinx

Sphinx statues were built in ancient Egypt to guard tombs and temples. They have the body of a lion and the head of a person. The most well known is the Great Sphinx in Giza, which guards Khafra's pyramid.

- The Great Sphinx is very mysterious - there have been many stories and legends concerning it, and some people believe that there are hidden passageways and rooms beneath it, although nothing has been found.
- The beginning of a story is written on a slab between the Sphinx's paws. It reads that one day a young prince fell asleep next to the Sphinx. He was tired from hunting all day. He had a dream; the Great Sphinx promised him that he would become the ruler of Egypt if he cleared away the sand covering its body up to its neck. Unfortunately, the rest of the story is gone, so we'll never know the original ending, though I'm sure a lot of us could come up with one.
- The Great Sphinx is one of the largest and oldest statues in the world. It faces the sunrise, and g…

R is for Red and Black Lands

Ancient Egyptians thought of Egypt as divided into two types of land: the red land and the black land.

- The red land was the barren desert, protecting Egypt on two sides from neighbouring countries and invading armies. They were also a source for precious metals and stones.

- The black land was the fertile land on the banks of the Nile. This was used for crop growing, and was the only land in Egypt that could be used for crop growth.

Q is for Queen

Pharaohs were more commonly male, but some of the most famous pharoahs have been female.
- Ankhesenamun - married to Tutankhamun, it is believed she tried to save the throne once he died.
- Cleopatra VII - the most famous female pharaoh to come out of ancient Egypt.

- Hatshepsut - a hugely powerful pharaoh, who used her intelligence to maintain her stance.

- Nefertari - the queen of Ramses II, who was the most powerful pharaoh ever to rule Egypt.

- Nefertiti - known to be the most beautiful queen to rule ancient Egypt.

P is for Pharaoh

Pharaohs were a huge part of ancient Egyptian culture; they were the Kings (or Queens) of Egypt. Most pharaohs were men, but some of the most well known pharaohs have been women, for example Nefertiti and Cleopatra.
- Pharaohs were believed to be an embodiment of the god Horus, and therefore the most important and powerful person in the kingdom. He was head of the government, as well as high priest of every temple. He owned all of Egypt.

- The ancient Egyptians didn’t actually call their kings pharaohs - the word came from the Greek language, and was used by Greeks and Hebrews when referring to the Kings of Egypt.

- The first pharaoh was Narmer, who united Lower and Upper Egypt. He was the first king of the Old Kingdom, and founded the first capital of Egypt; Memphis.

- Pharaohs were originally buried in pyramids, but later began to be buried in hidden tombs in the Valley of the Kings, to prevent grave robbery.

- Pharaohs often had several wives, but only one was named Queen.

- The…

O is for Occupations

Ancient Egyptians had many of the same occupations that we use today.

Here are a few:

- Farmers - This was a common occupation in ancient Egyptian times. Farmers grew many different crops along the banks of the Nile.

- Craftspeople - There were many craft jobs; carpenters, weavers, jewellers and potters were a few of these.

- Soldiers - Being a soldier in ancient Egyptian times meant rising in society. During peacetime, soldiers would help with government projects such as pyramid building.

- Scribes - These were the only people in ancient Egypt who knew how to read and write. They came from wealthy families and it took years of training for them to learn complex hieroglyphics.

- Priests/Priestesses - These were responsible for temples and holding religious ceremonies.

- Noblemen - Essentially formed the government of ancient Egypt. They helped the Pharaoh to run the country.

- Merchants - It was their job to carry products such as gold, papyrus, rope, linen cloth and jewellery to other coun…

N is for the Nile

The Nile River was hugely important in ancient Egyptian times; without it, they wouldn't have been able to survive. It provided the ancient Egyptians with food, transportation, even building materials.

- The Nile is the longest river in the world; over 4100 miles long. As well as flowing through Egypt, it also flows through Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and Burundi.

- Most of Egypt is desert, apart from the areas along the Nile River. The Nile provided fertile land along its banks, where the rich soil was ideal for growing crops. The ancient Egyptians referred to this soil as the "Gift of the Nile". The three main crops grown by ancient Egyptians were wheat, flax and papyrus. Wheat was the main food staple, used to make bread. They also sold much of their wheat, helping them to gain prosperity. Flax was used to make linen cloth for clothes. Papyrus was used for paper, baskets, rope and sandals.

- The Nile would flood annually, around September, bringing fertile black soil so …

M is for Magic

Ancient Egyptians believed that magic (or heka) was used by the creator to make the world. Everyone was thought to possess this, but there were rules about how it could be used.

- Priests were believed to be the main users of magic in ancient Egypt. It was believed that they were given this secret knowledge by the gods. The most respected users were the Lector priests, who were able to read ancient books of magic kept in temples and palace libraries.

- These priests would perform magical rituals in order to protect their king, and to help the dead to rebirth. Eventually, their role was taken over by magicians (or hekau).
- The priests of Sekhmet, the goddess of plague, were known for their healing magic.

- Other magic uses were the scorpion charmers, who would use their magic to get rid of poisonous reptiles and insects.

- Midwives and nurses were believed to use magic also, as well as wise women, who were usually consulted about ghosts.

- Amulets were believed to be a source of magi…

L is for Lower Egypt

Ancient Egypt was split into two areas: Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt. Lower Egypt was the area of the Nile Delta; between Memphis and the Mediterranean coast.

- Lower Egypt was densely inhabited early on. It was ultimately divided into 17 Nomes (sections), each with its own distinct tribe.
- It is thought that ancient Egyptian religion was evolved in this region.
- Lower Egypt was more open to attack than Upper Egypt, because of the open sea to the north, and the empty desert to the west. Eventually Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt joined because of this.
- Archaeological evidence suggests that culture spread up the Nile Valley, from Lower Egypt to Upper Egypt, rather than the other way around.

K is for Kingdoms

There were three kingdoms in ancient Egypt, the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom.

The Old Kingdom

- The earliest pyramids were built in this period, such as the Step Pyramid, which was the first pyramid to be built, and the famous pyramids at Giza.

- This was a prosperous period for ancient Egypt.

- Pharaohs were credited with supernatural powers, and had absolute authority. They were thought to be gods on Earth.

- The sun god Ra was important during this period, and many obelisks were built for him in Egyptian temples.

- Pharaohs were buried in pyramids only in this time period, which is why it is also known as 'The Pyramid Age'.

The Middle Kingdom

- This was Egypt's Golden Age. Trade, the arts and literature thrived, and strong armies were built to fend off Egypt's neighbours.

- During this age, Pharaohs were buried in hidden tombs rather than in pyramids. This is because they realised pyramids are easy to find, and therefore easy to rob.

- These to…

Celebrate the Small Things

If you're looking for my J post for the A to Z challenge, you can find it here.

Celebrate the Small Things is a weekly bloghop hosted by Viklit over at Scribblings of an Aspiring Author. The idea is to post anything you want to celebrate from the last week.

This week I'm celebrating:
- I hit 300 followers on my blog this week - wow! Thanks to all my followers, old and new :)
- Game of Thrones is back! This picture cracked me up when I first saw it:

- Alex featured me on his blog today! I knew he was featuring bloggers during the A to Z, but I never imagined he would feature me. Thanks, Alex!

J is for Jewellery

Jewellery was worn for many reasons in ancient Egypt, and used for different purposes.

- Some jewellery was made for religious reasons, for example gems carved in the shape of scarab beetles, symbolising rebirth.
- Both men and women would wear jewellery, as a projection of wealth and also as a protection from evil.

- Gold and bronze were the metals most used in ancient Egyptian jewellery.

- Soft gems were also used for jewellery in ancient Egyptian times. These included lapis lazuli, malachite, turquoise, quartz and jasper. Royalty was represented by the colour blue, which made lapis one of the most prized gemstones.

- The colour of jewellery was also important to the ancient Egyptians, as different colours meant different things. Green symbolised fertility, and red was worn by the dead.

- Some items of jewellery worn by ancient Egyptians were unique to them, such as the pectoral, an ornamental item found on many mummies.

- The deceased would be buried with all of their earthly poss…

I is for Inventions

The ancient Egyptians invented a lot of things that we still use today.

- The pyramids - probably their biggest and most impressive invention.

- Make up - the ancient Egyptians are the ones who invented the kohl that we still use today. Both men and women would wear a lot of make up, especially around their eyes, because they believed it could cure and prevent eye diseases.
- Written language - everyone knows about Egyptian hieroglyphics, which started off as simple pictograms, which were developed over time. 
- Papyrus - a plant which grows in the marshy areas along the Nile. It was used as a writing material for the ancient Egyptians. 
- The calendar - the Egyptians needed a calendar so that they would know when the annual flooding of the Nile would begin. Their calendar, however, was split into three main seasons: inundation, growing and harvest. Each season was four months long, with 30 days in each month. This equalled 360 days a year, so 5 days were added as religious holidays. 
- Br…

H is for Health

The ancient Egyptians were the first civilisation to recognise medicine as a profession. They developed practical cures for illnesses, rather than just praying and using spiritual remedies (though they did this as well).

Here are a few facts about ancient Egyptian health care:
- There were no anaesthetics available to Egyptian doctors, so surgical operations would have been difficult for them.

- Ancient Egyptians had no problem with health problems on the surface of the skin - they could reset dislocated joints, mend broken bones, and were excellent at stitching and bandaging wounds. They used willow leaves in the bandages, which are known for their antiseptic properties. However, there were no anaesthetics available to them, so surgical operation would have been very difficult. 
- The Egyptians made use of medical textbooks when diagnosing patients. Their doctors would ask questions, take the patient's pulse and touch the pained area. 
- The Egyptians believed in the 'Channe…

G is for Gods

Gods and goddesses were very important in ancient Egyptian times, and therefore a great many were worshipped. Ancient Egyptians believed that if they did not recognise and worship these gods and goddesses, life would not go smoothly. Some took part in creation, others brought the flood of the Nile every year, some offered protection to Egyptian people while others took care of people in the afterlife. There were also local gods who represented towns, and minor gods who represented plants or animals.

These are some of the most important Egyptian gods and goddesses:

- Anubis - the god of funerals and death, often painted on the walls of tombs as Egyptians believed him to be the protector of the dead. He is usually shown as a jackal or a wild dog.
- Bastet - the goddess of cats, women and children. She is usually shown with a cat's head.
- Bes - thought to protect women in childbirth, children and families against evil influences. He was small and human-like, and wore a feathered headd…

F is for Funerals

The Funeral:

Funerals would start with the Funeral procession, where the embalmed body and coffin were taken in a procession to the western side of the river, where burials took place. Relatives were positioned at either end of the coffin, while two of the female relatives would act the roles of Isis and Nephthys. Some people in the procession would carry canopic jars or other things for the grave, while others were hired mourners, dancers, musicians or priests.

The funerary rites would take place in front of the tomb. The mummy is raised upright for the 'Opening of the Mouth' ceremony, which is performed so that the dead person can use their senses in the afterlife. Food and clothing are then offered to the dead person, while the mourners participate in the funerary banquet. The mummy is then places in the burial chamber, ready for the afterlife. 
The Afterlife:
The underworld was considered a dangerous place by the ancient Egyptians, but the spirit had to cross it in order …

E is for Equality

Ancient Egyptian society was a fairly equal society to live in, especially for women. It is believed that they enjoyed the same legal and economic rights as men. However, if you belonged to a lower social class, you would have less rights than someone of a higher social class.
Women could manage, own and sell private property such as slaves, land, livestock and money. They could resolve or conclude legal settlements. They could execute testaments, free slaves, make adoptions, and were entitled to sue at law. In comparison, Greek women required a designated male to represent her if she wanted to do any of these things, usually her husband, father or brother.

When a woman got married, the wife kept her independence and still kept control of her own assets. However, the husband controlled any joint property, but it was known that a share of this belonged to his wife, and if the marriage ended she could collect her share. If the husband died the wife got a third of her husband's prop…

Celebrate the Small Things

If you're here to see my D post, you can find it here.
Celebrate the Small Things is a weekly bloghop hosted by Viklit over at Scribblings of an Aspiring Author. The idea is to post anything you want to celebrate from the last week.

This week I'm celebrating:
- A great start to the A to Z challenge - this week has gone really well, and I'm loving seeing what everyone's come up with this year.
- Game of Thrones starts next week! I can't wait, I feel like I've been waiting forever. 
- Home made cookies, yum. 
- My mum and I are going shopping together tomorrow, and I can't wait - I love spending time with her.