When we talk about Egypt, first few things that come to our mind are the humongous pyramids, mysterious tombs and mummies that had a curse put on them, all thanks to the Hollywood mummy-movies! Well, Egypt is much more than that.
The birth of Egyptian civilization
Egyptian civilization took birth some 8,000 years ago on the banks of the Nile when some hunters and fishermen settled there. The Egyptian people revered river Nile and believed it to be the source of their wealth.
They were quick learners and had mastered the art of irrigation to grow profitable crops which very soon made them extremely wealthy. Once, the money came, they started doing business with their neighbours and also learned to sail boats. Egypt was a flourishing land that rapidly attracted the attention of its enemies.
Brief history of rule in Egypt
First, it was taken over by its strong neighbours – the Romans and then it fell under the control of Muslim warriors. During the 16th century, Egypt became a part of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. In 1882, the British attacked and occupied Egypt. The Egyptians bravely struggled for their freedom, and in 1952, Egypt gained full independence from the British.
Today, Egypt is a democratic country where elections are held to choose the leaders for running the country. The flag of Egypt is a tricolour consisting of the three equal horizontal bands of red, white, and black colour with a golden eagle placed in the centre of the white band. About 90 percent of Egyptians are Muslim and Arabic is the national language.
Egypt is famous for its delicious cuisine. The ancient Egyptians grew wheat and then made bread out of it. The fertile farmland nurtured by the Nile allowed them to grow a host of vegetables and fruits. The Egyptian food of today is a mixture of all the different civilizations that came to Egypt and left their influence in the due course of time. Modern Egyptian cuisine makes heavy use of legumes, veggies and fruits. Even after so many years, rice and bread remain staple foods. Molokhiyya, which is a spinach-like vegetable, and Ful mudammas or cooked beans, are still as popular as they were years ago.
Ancient Egyptian civilization
Egyptian people believed in life after death which is why they used to preserve the bodies of their dead so they could use them in the afterlife. The process of preserving dead bodies was known as mummification. It was a complicated and lengthy process in which various chemicals were applied onto the body and lasted up to 70 days or more.
Animals were very important to the ancient Egyptians. Cats were given utmost importance as they believed them to have magical powers.
Ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses
The ancient Egyptians worshipped a number of gods and goddesses that were part humans, part animals. Osiris was one of the most worshipped gods who ruled the underworld and judged the dead. Some job he had! His wife-goddess Isis was the mother of Horus, yet another Egyptian god.
One of the most famous gods was Thoth, who was regarded as the god of writing and science and the inventor of the hieroglyphics. An intelligent god indeed!
Mummies and tombs
Don’t you think? You would have also heard about Anubis in the Hollywood movies based on mummies. Anubis was a jackal-headed god, who was the considered as the god of mummies and tombs. We really wonder if he enjoyed the work that was assigned to him.
Tutankhamun or King Tut
The ancient Egyptian kings were known as ‘pharaohs’ who were thought to be both-a man and a god by the general public. Tutankhamun or “King Tut” is probably the most famous Egyptian pharaoh.
All the Egyptian pharaohs used to build magnificent pyramids for themselves and when they died, they were buried inside the pyramids along with the things that they cherished the most. It is believed that thousands of slaves were used to cut up large blocks of stone and then move them up the pyramid on ramps.
It took many years to build one pyramid so the pharaohs started building pyramids and tombs for themselves as soon as they took over command. The Pyramid of Khufu, also known as the Great Pyramid of Giza, is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. According to the scientists, it took at more than 20,000 workers over 23 years to erect the Great Pyramid of Giza. No wonder it is one of the best examples of man’s ingenuity!
The Sphinx of Giza
The Great Sphinx of Giza, a large half-human, half-lion Sphinx statue is on the west bank of the Nile River, next to the Great Pyramid. The Great Sphinx is one of the largest single-stone statues on Earth, and is commonly believed to have been built by ancient Egyptians in the 3rd millennium BC, somewhere between 2520 BC and 2494 BC.
7 Interesting facts about the Egyptians
- Though there were no smart phones to take selfies, looking beautiful was pretty important to the Egyptians. Men and women, both, wore lovely pieces of jewellery and make-up. While the rich wore jewellry made of gold and silver, the poor used copper. They loved using dark eye paints like green, blue and black. As far as clothes were concerned, Egyptians loved to wear white linen clothes to ward off heat. Men wore kilts and women wore long gowns.
- Women were given due respect in the Egyptian culture. They were allowed to hold high-ranking positions such as priestesses, administrators and supervisors.
- It is believed that the Egyptians invented writing. It made use of various pictorial symbols called Hieroglyphs. They used ink to write on a special kind of paper called papyrus.
- A pharaoh had to keep his hair covered all the time.
- The pharaohs were buried with their precious belongings in the pyramids which is why several traps and curses were put on the pyramids to try and keep robbers at bay.
- King Tut’s gold mask was made with 10 kgs of pure gold. Amazing, isn’t it?
- Bread was the staple food of the ancient Egyptians, but it was so hard that most of the Egyptians had severely damaged teeth.