When you think of ancient Egypt, what are the first things that come to your mind? The pyramids, right? Maybe the pharaohs? But ancient Egypt was so much more than just that! It was one of the most successful, advanced, and long-lasting civilizations ever. We did some research on this topic to provide you with some cool ancient Egyptian facts and myths you might not know. If you want to learn more about ancient Egypt, check out these 25 Crazy Myths And Facts About Ancient Egypt.
Ancient Egyptians were very tolerant of genetic and medical disorders. Dwarfism, for example, was quite common back then. However, the dwarfs were highly respected people. Amenemope, a pharaoh of the 21st Dynasty, wrote that care for the old, the sick, and the malformed was a moral duty.
Pharaohs wore fake metallic beards to imitate the appearance of god Osiris, whose duty was to judge the deceased in the afterlife.
Ancient Egyptian women used crocodile droppings as birth control. Documents dating back to 1850 BC refer to this unusual method of contraception. Crocodile excrement is actually slightly alkaline, like modern-day spermicides, so it could have worked.
There are many indications that the ancient Egyptians were true mathematical and astrological geniuses. It has been found, for example, that the location of the pyramids of Giza perfectly align with Orion’s Belt.
Fascinated by the pyramids? Check out 25 Fascinating Facts About Egyptian Pyramids You May Not Know.
There are also many weird Ancient Egypt facts. For example, some pharaohs had their servants covered in honey so that the flies would stick to them and would not bother the pharaohs.
The ancient Egyptians enjoyed passing their free time playing interesting board games. There were a number of board games like “Mehen” and “Mancala.” However, far more popular was the “Senet” – one of the oldest board games in the world, dating back to around 3100 BC.
Hygiene and appearance were very important for the ancient Egyptians. Men shaved their entire bodies, and they loved using flowery and aromatic scents. Unsurprisingly, it was the pharaohs who used the most fragrant and luxurious perfumes.
The River Nile was of the utmost importance for the ancient Egyptians as it was their main source of water. The river was thought to have flowed from the primeval waters of Nun, through the land of the dead, the heavens, and finally into Egypt.
Cleopatra's Needle is an ancient Egyptian obelisk that was transported to New York City from Alexandria in 1881. It has suffered much more damage during the short time spent in America than it had during almost 3000 years in Egypt. Pollution and acid rains are to blame for the weathering.
Also check out 25 Awesome Pieces of Egyptian Architecture.
Women in ancient Egypt were the equals of men in almost every area except occupations. Women could marry and divorce who they wanted; they could hold what jobs they liked (within certain limits), administer their property, buy and sell what they wanted, travel freely etc.
The famous ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics might have looked cool, but they were too time-consuming to create. Therefore, they were only reserved for the most important texts (such as decorative tomb inscriptions). Common texts were written in hieratic – a simplified form of the hieroglyphics.
One of the most famous man-made structures in the world, the Great Pyramid of Giza was built from approximately 2.5 million limestone blocks weighing on average 2.6 tons each. The total mass of the pyramid is more than 6.3 million tons.
One of ancient Egypt's most famous, longest-ruling and prolific pharaohs, Ramses II reigned Egypt for 60 years and is believed to have had over 100 children. He died in his 90's, a truly outstanding age for that era.
The word “pharaoh” translates as “great house.” When the word was first used, it actually referred to the palace of the king and its greatness, not just to the king himself.
One of the most common myths about ancient Egypt is that when a pharaoh died, his family, servants, and officials were buried with him, alive. This kind of human sacrifice did happen a few times throughout ancient Egyptian history, but it definitely was not a common practice.
In ancient Egypt, both men and women wore distinct make-up, but rather than for decoration, they used it as protection against sunburn and sandy winds.
When a human body was mummified, all internal organs were removed from the body except the heart. The Egyptians believed that the heart was the source of human wisdom, as well as emotions, memory, the soul, and the personality itself.
The ancient Egyptians were the first to adopt a 365 days year calendar approximately equal to the solar year. They did so to know when the Nile would flood. The earliest version of the calendar dates back to around 3000 BC.
The pyramids of Egypt are not only the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, they are also the only ones to survive today. An Arab proverb perfectly captures the pyramids endurance, “Man fears Time, yet Time fears the Pyramids.”
Cats were the most sacred animals for the ancient Egyptians. When a cat died, every member of the mourning family would shave off their own eyebrows in sorrow. Dead cats were often mummified and buried in a special cat cemetery.
While the wives of Egyptian pharaohs were very powerful and highly regarded, few women achieved the status of sole rulers of ancient Egypt. Some of the most notable ancient Egyptian queens are Nefertiti, Hatshepsut, Neithikret, Sobekneferu, and – most famously – Cleopatra.
Talking about Cleopatra, this prominent ancient Egyptian queen was described as “woman of surpassing beauty” who was “brilliant to look upon.” However, recent studies based on her ancient busts and coin portraits suggest she actually was rather average-looking, possibly hook-nosed and even manly.
A popular myth has it that it was Napoleon's soldiers who caused the Sphinx's nose to break off. However, sketches of the Sphinx created decades before Napoleon showed that it had been missing earlier. Even today, it is still not known who or what caused the legendary Sphinx to lose its nose.
Ancient Egyptian texts as well as some modern studies of mummies suggest that a terrifying parasite known as the guinea worm was common in ancient Egypt. Once the parasite was mature, it emerged from his host's skin. The worm could be about 1 m (over 3 in) long. The process of leaving the host's body was extremely painful for the infected person.
Most people think that the Tomb of King Tut (Tutankhamun) was intact when Howard Carter discovered it in 1922. Indeed, even though King Tut was not a major pharaoh, his tomb was packed with marvelous treasures. However, his tomb turned out to not be fully intact. The tomb had been robbed several times during antiquity.
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Photos: Feature Image: Pixabay (public domain; border added), 25. Archeologo, Statua di Bes, I sec. d.C., marmo bianco, da Colonna (Monti Albani), CC BY-SA 3.0, 24-23. pixabay (public domain), 22. pixabay (public domain), 21. pixabay (public domain), 20. Keith Schengili-Roberts, SenetBoard-InscribedWithNameOfAmunhotepIII BrooklynMuseum, CC BY-SA 3.0, 19. wikimedia commons (public domain), 18. Michael Gwyther-Jones via flickr, CC BY-2.0, 17. Ekem at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0 (unported), 16-15. wikimedia commons (public domain), 14. Nina at the Norwegian bokmål language Wikipedia, Kheops-Pyramid, CC BY-SA 3.0, 13. Bedoyere at English Wikipedia, Colossus of Ramesses II restored, CC BY 3.0, 12. anonymous, Tutankhamun-mask-retouched, CC BY-SA 3.0, 11. CaptMondo, IvoryLabelOfDen-BritishMuseum-August19-08, CC BY-SA 3.0, 10. ddenisen (D. Denisenkov), Canopic container Lid (Tutankhamun), CC BY-SA 2.0, 9. Keith Schengili-Roberts, AncientEgyptianMummy-Antjau-CloseUp-ROM, CC BY-SA 3.0, 8. Alchemica, River-Nile-near-Aswan, CC BY-SA 3.0, 7. Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, The Pyramids at Giza (III), CC BY 2.0, 6. Anonymous, Ancient Egyptian bronze statue of a reclining cat and kitten, CC BY-SA 1.0, 5. wikimedia commons (public domain), 4. Walters Art Museum, Egyptian – Head of a Queen, Perhaps Cleopatra II or Cleopatra III – Walters 22407 (2), CC BY-SA 3.0, 3. Daniel Mayer, Giza Plateau – Great Sphinx – front view, CC BY-SA 4.0, 2. wikimedia commons (public domain), 1. zh.wikipedia.org (public domain)