Baking Bread in Ancient Egypt

A few experimental archaeologists are reclaiming recipes from ancient societies. By Keridwen Cornelius Around 2000 B.C., a baker in the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes captured yeast from the air and kneaded it into a triangle of dough. The baked bread was then buried in a dedication ceremony beneath the temple of Pharaoh Mentuhotep II[…]

The Rise of the State in Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptian culture began long before there was an Egyptian state. Introduction Ancient Egypt is known for many things that immediately come to mind: pyramids, large temples, and the life-giving Nile River are the three most apparent, and of course, there are hundreds of other features that made the early civilization among the most important[…]

Meet an Ushabti, an Ancient Egyptian Statuette Made for the Afterlife

What we know about this figure discovered in Neferibresaneith’s tomb. What’s an Ushtabi? Ushabtis are figurines that were designed to be placed in someone’s tomb. Ushabtis look like human figures that have been mummified, usually with their arms crossed over their chest. Some, like the Getty’s ushabti, were very carefully made, with detailed features, while[…]

What Is the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead?

These texts developed from spells that were first inscribed on scarabs and coffins at the end of Egypt’s Middle Kingdom period. “Book of the Dead” is a modern term to describe a series of ancient Egyptian funerary spells that helped the deceased find their way to the afterlife in order to become united with the[…]

Cleopatra: ‘Queen of the Nile’

As the last Ptolemaic heir of Alexander the Great, she remained committed to his policy of cultural fusion. Introduction Cleopatra VII Philopator (January, 69 B.C.E. – August 12, 30 B.C.E.) was queen of Ancient Egypt, the last member of the Macedonian Ptolemaic dynasty and hence the last Greek ruler of Egypt. Although many other Egyptian[…]

The Sun-Cult in Ancient Egypt

The name of the new god in ordinary everyday parlance was pa Aton, “the Aton.” By Dr. Aylward M. BlackmanLate Special LecturerUniversity of Manchester It has often been maintained that the Aton-cult instituted by Oklmaton (Amenophis IV.) displays non-Egyptian features and is in a large measure the product of foreign influences. I hope, however, clearly[…]

The Code of Hammurabi: Crime and Punishment in Ancient Egypt

Although a social hierarchy placed some in privileged positions, the code proscribed punishments applicable to all classes. Introduction The Code of Hammurabi (also known as the Codex Hammurabi and Hammurabi’s Code), created ca. 1780 B.C.E., is one of the earliest sets of laws found and one of the best preserved examples of this type of[…]

Texts, Tools, and Methods in Ancient Egyptian Medical Practice

Ancient Egyptians valued hygiene and proper medical care. Introduction Medical practice in ancient Egypt was so advanced that many of their observations, policies, and commonplace procedures would not be surpassed in the west for centuries after the fall of Rome and their practices would inform both Greek and Roman medicine. They understood that disease could[…]

Ancient Egyptian Medicine

The Greek historian Herodotus visited Egypt around 440 BCE and wrote extensively of his observations of their medicinal practice. Introduction The medicine of the ancient Egyptians is some of the oldest documented. From the beginnings of the civilization in the late fourth millennium BC until the Persian invasion of 525 BC, Egyptian medical practice went[…]

The Story of the Exodus and Lack of Historicity

Archaeologists from the 19th century actually expressed surprise when they failed to find any evidence whatsoever for the events of Exodus. Introduction This article examines the Young Earth creationist and Biblical literalist claims regarding the historical reality of the Exodus of the Hebrew people from Egypt, as well as the evidence relating to such claims.[…]

The Amarna Letters: Communication in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia

The Amarna letters reveal a treasury of knowledge concerning the political relations and social customs of their times. Introduction The Amarna letters (sometimes “Amarna tablets”) are an archive of correspondence on clay tablets, mostly diplomatic, between the Egyptian administration and its representatives in Canaan and Mesopotamia. The letters were found in Upper Egypt at Amarna,[…]

Identity and Superiority in Ancient Greek and Egyptian Interactions

Following the conquests of Alexander the Great, Egypt was taken over by a Greco-Macedonian dynasty based in the new city of Alexandria. “You Greeks are children.” That’s what an Egyptian priest is supposed to have said to a visiting Greek in the 6th century BC. And in a sense he was right. We think of[…]

The Five Gifts of Hathor: Ancient Egyptian Goddess of Fertility and Motherhood

Hathor was a multifaceted goddess, appealed to for a wide variety of needs, who provided many of the best aspects of life to humanity. Introduction The central cultural value of ancient Egypt was ma’at – harmony and balance – which maintained the order of the universe and the lives of the people. Keeping balance in one’s[…]

The Odyssey of an Ancient Egyptian Cat Sculpture

Analysis of a bronze cat reveals clues about its ancient past. By Jeffrey Maish, Judith Barr, and Almoatzbellah Elshahawi Introduction Ancient Egyptians revered cats, and worshiped the goddess Bastet, who could appear in human form with a feline head, or as a cat. Bronze and wood cat statuettes were placed as votive offerings at temples,[…]

Nebkheperure: King Tut, Boy Pharaoh of New Kingdom Egypt

Tutankhamun began his reign at age 9. Introduction Nebkheperure Tutankhamun (King Tut) was a Pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty (ruled 1333 B.C.E.–1324 B.C.E.), during the period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom. His original name, Tutankhaten, meant “Living Image of Aten,” while Tutankhamun meant “Living Image of Amun.” He is possibly also the[…]

Ten Interesting Facts about Ancient Egypt

For thousands of years, the civilization of Egypt was among the most significant in the ancient world. Introduction Ancient Egypt is defined as the civilization which flourished in North Africa between c. 6000-30 BCE – from the Predynastic Period in Egypt (c. 6000 – c. 3150 BCE) through the Ptolemaic Dynasty (323-30 BCE) before Egypt became[…]

The Dodekaschoinos: Lower Nubian “Twelve Cities” under Ptolemaic Rule in Ancient Egypt

The beginning of Ptolemaic influence in Nubia began when Ptolemy II led a campaign against the kingdom of Meroe c. 275 BCE. By Arienne King Introduction The Dodekaschoinos (literally “Twelve Cities” in Greek) was the name of a region in Lower Nubia that became an important province of the Ptolemaic Kingdom after it was annexed from Meroitic Nubia[…]

Women in Ancient Egypt

Women in ancient Egypt were the equals of men in every area except occupations. Introduction One of the central values of ancient Egyptian civilization, arguably the central value, was ma’at – the concept of harmony and balance in all aspects of one’s life. This ideal was the most important duty observed by the pharaoh who,[…]

Clergy, Priests, and Priestesses in Ancient Egypt

The clergy of ancient Egypt did not preach, interpret scripture, proselytize, or conduct weekly services. Introduction The ancient Egyptians understood that their gods had prevailed over the forces of chaos through the creation of the world and relied upon humanity’s help to maintain it. The people of Mesopotamia held this same belief but felt they[…]

Westcar Papyrus: The Art of the Story in Ancient Egypt

In the manuscript, each of Khufu’s sons speaks in turn, telling their own tale for their father’s entertainment. Introduction The ancient Egyptians enjoyed storytelling as one of their favorite pastimes. Inscriptions and images, as well as the number of stories produced, give evidence of a long history of the art of the story in Egypt[…]