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Number 10 Board Games
Ancient Egyptians played a number of board games and archeological evidence indicates this was a rather common activity. Senet, for example, is a game dating back to around 3100 BC. It consisted of a grid with 30 squares, arranged in rows of ten, and two sets of pawns. The rules aren’t exactly clear as they changed depending on the period and region where the game was played. Mehen is another popular game and it’s roughly as old as senet.
Number 9 Treatment of Women
Most of the women didn’t work outside but those that did received equal pay to men doing the same job. There was even a type of prenuptial contract which ensured that the woman would keep her wealth and property in case of a divorce.
Number 8 Egyptian Blue
One mysterious pigment used by these artists is known as Egyptian blue. The manner of how Egyptian blue was created has been lost but it’s widely believed to have been the first synthetic pigment. It was made from a combination of lime, alkali, quartz and coloring agents, all of which were heated together until they became a crystalline mass of vibrant blue.
Number 7 Egyptian Animal-Headed Gods
In their earliest depictions, Egyptian gods were represented as various animals but gradually became therianthropic. This means they were shown as part human and part animal, in a manner that was symbolic of their role in the pantheon. The sun god Ra and Horus, the god of the sky, were both depicted with heads of falcons. He was depicted with the head of a Nile crocodile, the river’s most menacing creature.
Number 6 Beer Was Very Popular
Mesopotamians are usually credited with inventing beer but the Egyptian brew beverage was much closer to what we know today. Early Mesopotamian beer was thick and had a consistency similar to porridge while the Egyptians created a smoother, lighter beverage that could be poured in a glass. Beer was extremely popular in ancient Egypt and it was consumed by men, women and children. It was regarded as a source of nutrition and was even used as compensation for work, referred to as “hemu”. There were also over one hundred treatments in ancient Egyptian medicine which included beer.
Number 5 They Wore Makeup and Perfume
Both men and women in Ancient Egypt wore copious amounts of makeup. It was then applied around the eyes using utensils. Women would also color their hands and fingernails with henna or stain their cheeks with red paint. Both men and women wore perfumes made from cinnamon, myrrh and oil.
Number 4 Depiction of Pharaohs
In ancient Egyptian art, pharaohs are depicted as being physically fit but the reality was usually far from it. Their diet of wine, beer, honey and bread had a high sugar content and moderation wasn’t really a characteristic of the time. The sarcophagus of Queen Hatsheput, for example, depicts her as slim and athletic.
Number 3 Time Span
What we refer to as “Ancient Egypt” is more of an umbrella term that describes a rather long historical period. In fact, Queen Cleopatra lived closer to present times than to the building of the first pyramids. There were still mammoths in certain parts of the world when the construction of the pyramids started. The first dynasty of Egypt was established after the unification of the upper and lower territories, somewhere between the 34th and 30th centuries BC. The first king to rule over a unified Egypt and, consequently, the first pharaoh, was Narmer. The last dynasty came from the descendants of Ptolemy, before Egypt became a province of the Roman Empire.
Number 2 Building of the Pyramids
The idea largely came from Greek historian Herodotus in the 5th century BC. The pyramids at Giza were actually built using a permanent workforce of roughly 10,000 paid laborers and thousands of temporary workers. They were skilled builders and artisans that took pride in their craft. Graffiti found close to the monuments indicates that they would often assign humorous names to their crews such as “Friends of Khufu” or “Drunkards of Mekaure”.
Number 1 Cleopatra Wasn’t Egyptian
Cleopatra is remembered in history for her physical beauty, her love affair with Julius Caesar and her marriage to Roman general Marcus Antonius. Even though she’s one of the best known political figures in the region, it’s worth mentioning that Cleopatra wasn’t actually Egyptian. She’d been born in Alexandria, but was part of the Ptolemaic dynasty. This meant that she was actually a descendant of Macedonian Greeks.