Life in Ancient
Daily life in ancient
The people of ancient
Most ancient Egyptians worked as field hands, farmers, craftsmen and scribes. A small group of people were nobles. Together, these different groups of people made up the population of ancient
The most powerful person in ancient
As 'Lord of the Two Lands' the pharaoh was the ruler of Upper and
As 'High Priest of Every Temple', the pharaoh represented the gods on Earth. He performed rituals and built temples to honor the gods.
Many pharaohs went to war when their land was threatened or when they wanted to control foreign lands. If the pharaoh won the battle, the conquered people had to recognize the Egyptian pharaoh as their ruler and offer him the finest and most valuable goods from their land.
The ancient Egyptians built pyramids as tombs for the pharaohs and their queens. The pharaohs were buried in pyramids of many different shapes and sizes from before the beginning of the
There are about eighty pyramids known today from ancient
Historic development of Pyramids
Tombs of early Egyptian kings were flat mounds called mastabas. Around 2780 B.C., King Djoser's architect, Imhotep, built the first pyramid by placing six mastabas, each smaller than the one beneath, in a stack to form a pyramid rising in steps. (The step pyramid at
The transition from the Step Pyramid to a true, smooth-sided pyramid took place during the reign of King Snefru, founder of the Fourth Dynasty. At Medum, a step pyramid was built, then filled in with stone, and covered with a limestone casing.
The largest and most famous of all the pyramids, the Great Pyramid at Giza, was built by Snefru's son, Khufu, known also as Cheops, the later Greek form of his name.
Also located at
The earliest ancient Egyptians buried their dead in small pits in the desert. The heat and dryness of the sand dehydrated the bodies quickly, creating lifelike and natural ‘mummies'.
Later, the ancient Egyptians began burying their dead in coffins to protect them from wild animals in the desert. However, they realized that bodies placed in coffins decayed when they were not exposed to the hot, dry sand of the desert.
Over many centuries, the ancient Egyptians developed a method of preserving bodies so they would remain lifelike. The process included embalming the bodies and wrapping them in strips of linen. Today we call this process mummification
The level of mummification depended on what one could afford. The most fully developed form involved four basic steps:
1. All of the internal organs, except the heart, were removed. Since the organs were the first parts of the body to decompose but were necessary in the afterlife, they were mummified and put in canopic jars that were placed in the tomb at the time of burial. The heart was believed to be the seat of intelligence and emotion and was therefore left in the body. The brain, on the other hand, was regarded as having no significant value and beginning in the
2. The body was packed and covered with spices and natron-a salty drying agent- and left to dry out for forty to fifty days. By this time all the body's liquid had been absorbed and only the hair, skin, and bones were left.
3. The body cavity was stuffed with resin, sawdust, or linen and shaped to restore the deceased's form and features.
4. The body was then tightly wrapped in many layers of linen with numerous good luck charms or amulets wrapped between the layers. The most important amulet was the scarab beetle which was placed over the heart. Jewelry was also placed among the bandages. At each stage of wrapping, a priest recited spells and prayers. This whole procedure could take as long as fifteen days. After the wrapping was complete, the body was put into a shroud. The entire mummification process took about seventy days.
Once preserved, the mummies were laid to rest in a sarcophagus (coffin) inside a tomb, where it was believed that the mummy would rest eternally.
The ancient Egyptians believed that temples were the homes of the gods and goddesses. Every temple was dedicated to a God or Goddess and he or she was worshipped there by the temple priests and the pharaoh.
The large temple buildings were made of stone so that they would last forever. Their walls were covered with scenes that were carved onto the stone then brightly painted. These scenes showed the pharaoh fighting in battles and performing rituals with the Gods and Goddesses.
There were two main categories: the cult temple, dedicated to the worship of one or more deities and the funerary temple, in which rituals were celebrated to ensure the well-being in the afterlife of a dead king.
Gods and Goddesses
The ancient Egyptians believed in many different Gods and Goddesses. Each one with their own role to play in maintaining peace and harmony across the land
Some Gods and Goddesses took part in creation, some brought the flood every year, some offered protection, and some took care of people after they died. Others were either local gods who represented towns, or minor gods who represented plants or animals.