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Ancient Egypytian Society

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Ancient Egypytian Society

Ancient Egypytian Society

Ancient Egypt is well know for its rich history and culture, yet no one really understands what daily life was like, how the government was structured, or they were taught that Egypt was built on the backs of slave labor. There are those people that believe Ancient Egypt may have been ruthless and uncivilized, and then there are the others that want to see how it contributed to modern Western Civilization. Either way it goes Egyptian life cannot bbe looked at as easy-going or hard working without answering a few questions. Where is Egypt? Who were the Egyptians? What was daily life like? Questions like these and more need to be answered in order to gain a full understanding of this empire. Many Egyptians centered their lives on the Nile River. Before and during the use of canal irrigation in Egypt, the Nile could be separated into two parts: the River Basin and the Red Land. The River BBasin is also known as the flat alluvial, which consisted of black land soil. Furthermore, it was rich in wild life and waster fowl depending on the waxing and waning cycles of the Nile. The Red Land contained red desert lland, which was scarce of most wild life and water, regardless of the season.

Agricultural crops were not the basis of Egyptian diet because the Nile provided a continuous quantity of fish which were tended year round; not only was fish cultivated year round, cattle and water fowl were also. Geese were also raised to supply eggs, meat, and fat. Cattle, the Egyptian staple diet, were often used for grazing land at the times the Nile receded; however, during the inundation, cattle were brought to higher land and were often fed the grains that had been harvested from the previous year.

Many may speculate that the Egyptian diet consisted of nothing more than tree crops and vegetables or animal and vvegetables, however this is completely false. They also farmed and harvested crops such as barley, emmer wheat, beans, chick peas, flax, and many other vegetables; the farming of grains was not entirely for consumption and was usually turned into one of Egypt`s most prized possessions, oil. Oil was often used as payment t workmen employed by the province or state. It depended on what type of oil it was as to what value it possessed; certain oils possessed a very hhigh value, such as Sesame oil. Grain was essential to the Egyptian diet because it was extremely difficult to raise grazing animals because of seasonal conditions; therefore they relied heavily on grains that they harvested throughout the year. Beef was only eaten on special occasions because of the arid land and the very expensive price only made conditions worse. Grain was vital because it offered an endless supply of food and it rarely spoiled. Each community had a special storage unit for the grain called a granary. Grain was stored in this facility until it was ready to be used for making breads, cakes, or pastries.

Little has anyone realized but to turn grain into flour for pastries, cakes, or breads is a long, daily process. First the grain must be pounded then ground; afterwards, it t would put into a basic mill that would refine the grain even more until it became the consistency of flour. One of the most common breads that were made by this method was sour dough. It was often used in replacement of yeast and even barm from the last brewing of beer would be used as a replacement. Using honey, fruits, nuts, and ooils to the dough before baking often flavored breads.

Another important part of the Egyptian diet was fruits and vegetables. They were grown year round because of the hot climate and irrigation, thus there was an abundance of food. The Egyptians grew various vegetables, which included onions, leeks, garlic, lettuce, cucumber, radishes, cabbage, and raphanus (a wild radish). Onions and garlic were the main source of vegetables for them because they believed it had very powerful health benefits. Cabbage, like beef, was considered a delicacy. It was boiled and eaten before the rest of the meal. The most popular fruits grown at this time were grapes, melons, figs, pomegranates, and dates. These were the fruits that were able to withstand the Egyptian climate. If one were rich then they could other fruits imported, such as coconuts, peaches, and pears. But if you were poor, or „common“, then you rarely saw such fruit. In later years some imported fruits, such as peaches and apples, became staple crops.

The common people ate meat only on special occasions, because of the high price and scarceness of cattle. The rich could afford to have meat with every meal, and did so. The different kinds oof meat include beef, pork, duck, various birds, sheep, and goats. Meat would be prepared in many different fashions like boiling for stew, roasting, salting, drying, and smoking.

Honey was a great addition to the Egyptians diet, used for many different applications. It was commonly used as a substitute for sugar, and would be added to different breads and cakes to enhance their sweetness. Honey was also used in many different medicines because it was believed to have healing powers. The bee’s wax was also used for mummification, medicines, ship building, and for other bonding purposes.

Of course growing crops to farm would have been impossible without tools to work with and thus many inventions (and jobs) came into effect. Around 5000 BCE, Egyptians began figuring out a way to control the overflow of the Nile River. In doing so, they created the world’s first irrigation systems and they also created the very fist official position in the Egyptian government called the „Canal Digger.“ They began digging canals to direct the floodwater to distant fields and later, they would construct reservoirs, or lakes, to save and contain water for use during the dry season. Fayum was a low-lying area of

the desert and it also happened to be the world’s first reservoir. During the flood the Fayum would become a lake; the Egyptians constructed about twenty miles of embankments around the low-lying vicinity. When the embankment, or dike’s, gates was open, water flowed through the canals and dampened the fields. The tops of the dams were usually level and were used as roads; during flood season, however, the dams were broken so that the waters could rush into the canals. AAnother invention that came along was the Shaduf; it was constructed around the sixteenth century BCE. The Shaduf was a long pole equalized on a horizontal wooden beam. At one end of the pole was a weight and on the other was a bucket. The weight was helpful because it was made easier to raise less than three liters of water for irrigation or drinking purposes. Some researchers believe the Egyptian civilization may have been the first to use a pplow. Early hieroglyphics show a bow-shaped stick that was dragged across the ground; later on, humans could be seen harnessed to the plow. One wall painting depicted several people hauling and one directing the tool. Around 2000 BCE, oxen had ttaken over the heavy workload. A harness was slipped over the animal’s horn and a neck collar was later invented that did not disrupt or interfere with the animal’s respiration.

It appears likely that most of Egypt’s adult population spent some time farming. Although there were full time farmers, during the inundation most men were drafted through forced labor by the government as taxation, or corv’ee, to amplify the personnel available for scouring irrigation canals, surveying land precincts, and preparing the ground for planting. Evasion of corv’ee carried stiff consequences for the individual and occasionally his family. People such as Noblemen and scribes, the literate upper class, were the only people excluded from the corv’ee. The majorities of noblemen were iinevitably involved in the agricultural system because they possessed farms and administered royal or temple agricultural land.

Most importantly, there was family; family was important to Egyptians because life was short and difficult. In fact, newborn children were not expected to survive their first year. The infant mortality rate and the rate of women during or after childbirth was around sixty to seventy percent. It was seen as special blessing from the gods if they survived their first year.

At aabout five years of age boys and girls were separated in their learning experiences, in other words, they began to take on gender roles. If the boy came from a wealthy family then he had the advantage of being taught in school; if the boy was poor then he had to help tithe the men’s jobs in the fields or whatever occupation his father held. They boys’ education lasted between the ages of twelve and sixteen; this is about the time the adolescent male was considered grown and could begin work for himself. This was also the earliest age for men to marry but they normally would not seek a wife until they reached the ages of seventeen through twenty. A man could have more than one wife, but he had to be able to support each of then and their children. Consequently, only the wealthy members of the community usually did this. Most men continued to work until their death; unfortunately the average life span was approximately thirty years of age for the underclass. Men who made it past the age of forty received a special blessing and were greatly rewarded. Each year the men were contracted a stipend, oor take-home-pay, from the government that consisted of vegetables and grain. The ration was smaller than what he would have earned than if he had continued to work, but it was enough to keep him alive.

Girls’ lives were centered on the home and family. There were no formal schools for girls; therefore the mothers educated their daughters at home. At the age of four, girls began to learn how to maintain the house, how to sew, make foods, and spend hours at a time doing domestic chores with their mother. The hours that the female spent doing domestic chores were far longer than that of the educational hours of the boys. The females had to also learn to make cloth and sew it into clothing and tend the fields and crops along with other countless chores.

Women did attend professional schools, such at Heliopolis, a school for medicine and Sais, where they learned to become doctors. Egyptian women did seek employment outside of their homes and many of them worked as dancers or musicians in temples and during festivals. If the woman belonged to a wealthy family, she would hire a nanny or a professional mourner for funerals.

Other wwomen spent their time and resources on operating a small business out of their home; these businesses would include things such as perfume or linen manufacturing. Such businesses increased the household income because such things were in great demand for funeral rights.

Those that attended the medical schools sought employment as a midwife, gynecologist, or physician. Those that took up dancing and music became the director of a dancing or singing troupe. Most women chose the occupation of being a gynecologist and their skills included cesarean sections, more commonly called a C-Section today, and the surgical removal of a cancerous breast. As soon as a girl began menstruating around the age of twelve or thirteen, she was expected to marry; they were also expected to have a child within the first year of marriage. Marriage was a secular activity and was regulated by custom instead of law. Instead of a marriage contract, men and women drew up property agreements at the time of marriage in the event that there would be a divorce or a death. Women would then travel to the home of their new husband. Pregnancy was a widely celebrated occasion among ancient Egyptians; even if the girl

was not married, her pregnancy was celebrated.

Women did, and needed to, have the same legal rights und the law as men who were away from home for much of the time due to recurrent projects or warfare. Many responsibilities, legal rights, and status were divided among class lines rather ...

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