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Egyptology

How much do you know about the Ancient Egyptians? Ever wondered how did they managed to build pyramids?! Life in Ancient Egypt was very magical – the Egyptian men and women believed in all sorts of Gods and Goddesses. They believed their rulers (the Pharaohs) were gods put on earth in human form, and that they deserved to be worshipped. This is why so many pharaohs were buried in magnificent tombs with gold, food and even boats. As they believed themselves to be gods amongst men their deaths should be as magnificent as their lives. Grab your papyrus and a pot of ink, it is time to take note of the awesome Ancient Egyptians.

  • Some of the pyramids weighed around 5,26,308,000 kilograms (that is like 3.5 of the Sydney Opera House).
  • The afterlife was incredibly important to the Egyptians. They believed that by preserving a dead person’s body – which they did through the process of mummification – their soul would live on in the after-life forever. 
  • Unwrapped, the bandages of an Ancient Egyptian mummy could stretch for 1.6 km. 
  • Ancient Egyptians believed in more than 2,000 deities. They had gods for everything, from dangers to chores. Each had different responsibilities and needed to be worshipped so that life could be kept in balance.
  • Love playing board games with your pals? Well so did the Ancient Egyptians! One popular game was Senet, which was played for over 2,000 years! The game involved throwing sticks (in the same way you throw dice) to see how many squares to move your piece forward on the board.
  • Egyptian men and women wore makeup. It was thought to have healing powers, plus it helped protect their skin from the sun.
  • They used mouldy bread to help with infections.
  • The Ancient Egyptians were scientists and mathematicians. They had numerous inventions including ways to build buildings, medicine, cosmetics, and the calendar, the plow for farming, musical instruments, and even toothpaste.
  • They were one of the first civilizations to invent writing. They also used ink to write and paper called papyrus.
  • The Egyptian alphabet contained more than 700 hieroglyphs. Uncover the meaning behind these ancient symbols by checking out this hieroglyphics resource.

Ancient Egypt 101

Pharaohs

Tutankhamun (or King Tut) was a Pharaoh in the 18th Egyptian dynasty during 1332 – 1323 B.C.E (Before the Common Era - around 3,300 years ago). Tut was known as the boy king because he became Pharaoh at the young age of 9 and unfortunately he died before he was 20. King Tut was the son of the powerful Akhenaten (also known as Amenhotep IV). At the time of his birth, ancient Egypt was going through great social and political upheaval. Tutankhaten's father had forbidden the worship of many gods in favour of worshiping one, Aten, the sun god. King Tut had the royal court moved back to Thebes and issued a decree restoring the temples, images, and privileges of the old gods; and admitted the errors of Akhenaten’s political and religious policies. He sought to restore the old order, hoping that the gods would once again look favourably on Egypt. His young death meant his tomb was hastily made and meant he had a smaller burial. His tomb was sealed and eventually the location was lost and he was forgotten by history, until it was found in 1922 by Howard Carter.

Ramses II ruled from 1279-1213 B.C.E and is known around the world as the greatest pharaoh in all Egyptian history, he was a great general and fought in many military campaigns alongside his father. He led the Egyptian armies to victories against enemies like the Hittites and the Syrians. Not only did he have great war time success, he also had many grand structures built during his reign. He was responsible for cities and great temples that have gone down in history as shining examples of Egyptian architecture. 
He died at the age of 90 after ruling for 66 years. He was buried in the Valley of Kings alongside his ancestors and his Queen Consort, Queen Nefertari, who was buried in the Valley of Queens. Nefertari’s tomb is one of the most spectacular to visit as it has beautiful colour, detail and vibrant paintings. These beautiful images show how beloved she was by her husband. 

Cleopatra (born in 69 B.C.E) was an Egyptian queen, famous as the wife of the Roman, Mark Antony and for the romance she shared with Julius Caesar. She was also descended from Macedonian royalty and was a princess by blood. Cleopatra became a leader in Egypt with her brother, Ptolemy the 13th, after the king (their father) died. Cleopatra was the last true Pharaoh of Egypt, after the conflict between the Egyptians and the Romans came to a conclusion. Cleopatra took her own life (or perhaps she was poisoned) as her city fell to the conquering Romans. 

Need a little help with the dates and places in Ancient Egyptian history? Have a look here for a detailed timeline of Ancient Egypt.

Pyramids 

The Great Pyramid of Giza was built for the pharaoh Khufu, it was over 146 metres tall when it was built but over time it has eroded. It now stands at around 138 metres. It covers over ten acres of land! The Great Pyramid has three rooms: the Grand Gallery, the King’s Chamber and the Queen’s Chamber. The King’s Chamber contains the pharaoh’s sarcophagus. It took over 20 years to build and 20,000 people worked together to build it. Some of the workers who built the Great Pyramid were paid in radishes, garlic and onions because these were rare and hard to get.

King Tut’s tomb is in the Valley of Kings near Luxor, Egypt. The tomb was found in 1922 after 6 years of searching by Howard Carter, an archaeologist. 
Once the tomb was found, it was discovered to be filled with treasure, gold jewellery, model boats, chairs, paintings and most importantly, Tutankhamun’s mummy. It was an amazing discovery and took 10 years to catalogue everything in the tomb. Much of what we know about the Ancient Egyptians today is because of this discovery. There was a rumour that the tomb was cursed because many people who were there when it was opened died within ten years. Coincidence or a mummy’s curse? 

The Step Pyramid of Djoser is the oldest pyramid in Egypt, having been built around 4700 years ago. It is made up of 6 layers, one on top of the other, and reaches a height of 60 metres. It was constructed with clay and stone and contains a labyrinth of tunnels beneath the pyramid about 5 .5 km long.

Egyptian Gods

Osiris was the Egyptian god of death, the Underworld and Rebirth. He became lord of the underworld when he was murdered by his jealous brother. He carried the flail and the crook, both signs of power and kingship and had green skin, white clothing and the Atef crown. 

Isis was the most famous goddess in Ancient Egypt. She was associated with protection, healing, motherhood, children and nature. She is depicted as wearing a long dress and wearing a crown, and holding an ankh – the symbol of eternal life. Isis was the wife and also the sister of the god Osiris, together they had a son called Horus.

Horus was the god of the Sky. He became the king of Egypt after defeating his uncle Seth, but during this battle he lost his eye. The Eye of Horus became a powerful amulet to fight off evil, danger and disease. Horus was often depicted as a man with the head of a falcon or sometimes a crocodile with the head of a falcon, with a double crown atop. 

Ra was the Sun God and a very old god. He was shown in human form with a falcon head crowned with the sun disk, encircled by Uraeus, the sacred cobra. It was believed that the sun itself was taken from his body or maybe his eye. Ra had his own amulet called the all-seeing Eye of Ra. 

Anubis was the God of Death - he was linked to mummification and the journey to the afterlife. Anubis had the head of a jackal, the tail of a lion and the body of a man. He wore a golden tie or a necklace. 

Want to know more about these mysterious and mystical gods and goddesses

The Egyptian Book of the Dead: A guidebook for the underworld 

Egyptian Afterlife  

Mummification was the process the Ancient Egyptians used to embalm and preserve their dead. It was an expensive process and anyone who could afford it would plan to have themselves mummified after death. It took 70 days to embalm a body. 

The Journey to the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt was a challenging journey. The Egyptians used spells from the Book of the Dead to make their journey easier. 

The Hall of Final Judgment was the last step in the journey to the afterlife, where one had to stand in judgement from the god Osiris. Here, Anubis would weigh your heart against a feather. If your heart was free from guilt and lighter than the white feather of Ma’at, you would be free to enter the eternal paradise of the Field of Reeds where your favourite things, your long lost pets and your home would be waiting.

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