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Ancient Egypt: Life in Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptian Culture

Ancient Egyptian culture was, as the scholar Salima Ikram writes:

Judging by the numbers of tombs and mummies that the ancient Egyptians left behind, one can be forgiven for thinking that they were obsessed by death. However, this is not so. The Egyptians were obsessed by life and its continuation rather than by a morbid fascination with death. The tombs, mortuary temples and mummies that they produced were a celebration of life and a means of continuing it for eternity…For the Egyptians, as for other cultures, death was part of the journey of life, with death marking a transition or transformation after which life continued in another form, the spiritual rather than the corporeal. (ix).

From Death and Burial in Ancient Egypt by Salima Ikram, Longman 2003

Heiroglyphics

The ancient Egyptians believed that writing was invented by the god Thoth and called their hieroglyphic script "mdju netjer" ("words of the gods"). The word hieroglyph comes from the Greek hieros (sacred) plus glypho (inscriptions) and was first used by Clement of Alexandria. 

The hieroglyphic script was used mainly for formal inscriptions on the walls of temples and tombs. In some inscriptions, the glyphs are very detailed and in full colour, in others, they are simple outlines. For everyday writing, the hieratic script was used.

Fashion

Ancient Egyptian fashion consisted of clothes adorned with a variety of colours and precious gems and jewels. While fashion in Ancient Egypt was primarily constructed for the purpose of comfort, this did not mean that ancient Egyptians felt they should sacrifice beauty for comfort.

Daily life

The daily life in ancient Egypt was much different than the vision that commonly comes to mind. Relics found in archaeological digs, as well as paintings and drawings on pyramid and tomb walls, depict images of life in ancient Egypt that was, in some regards, not that much different than life in Egypt today.

Daily life depicted in art.

Housing

For the most part, ancient Egypt houses were constructed using materials that were handy and plentiful. This meant that the design of houses in ancient Egypt varied little, even among the wealthy. This makes it very easy to imagine what Egyptian houses look like.

Food and drink

In Ancient Egypt, the food and drink people consumed depended on the location - a harsh stretch of land in North-Eastern Africa - and the tools and recipes they had already developed. Nonetheless, cuisine in Ancient Egypt was not much different from the food we eat today.