Flint was the first mineral collected and used to make tools, and flint handaxes are the earliest pieces of evidence of habitation in the Nile valley.
Nodules of the mineral were carefully flaked to make blades and arrowheads of moderate hardness and durability even after copper was adopted for this purpose.
The Egyptians worked deposits of the lead ore galena at Gebel Rosas to make net sinkers, plumb bobs, and small figurines.
Copper was the most important metal for toolmaking in ancient Egypt and was smelted in furnaces from malachite ore mined in the Sinai.
Iron deposits found in upper Egypt were utilized in the Late Period. Deposits of decorative stones such as porphyry , greywacke, alabaster , and carnelian dotted the eastern desert and were collected even before the First Dynasty.
The ancient Egyptians engaged in trade with their foreign neighbors to obtain rare, exotic goods not found in Egypt. In the Predynastic Period , they established trade with Nubia to obtain gold and incense.
They also established trade with Palestine, as evidenced by Palestinian-style oil jugs found in the burials of the First Dynasty pharaohs. By the Second Dynasty at latest, ancient Egyptian trade with Byblos yielded a critical source of quality timber not found in Egypt.
By the Fifth Dynasty, trade with Punt provided gold, aromatic resins, ebony, ivory, and wild animals such as monkeys and baboons.
The ancient Egyptians prized the blue stone lapis lazuli , which had to be imported from far-away Afghanistan. The Egyptian language is a northern Afro-Asiatic language closely related to the Berber and Semitic languages.
Ancient Egyptian was a synthetic language , but it became more analytic later on. Late Egyptian developed prefixal definite and indefinite articles , which replaced the older inflectional suffixes.
There was a change from the older verb—subject—object word order to subject—verb—object. Coptic is still used in the liturgy of the Egyptian Orthodox Church , and traces of it are found in modern Egyptian Arabic.
Ancient Egyptian has 25 consonants similar to those of other Afro-Asiatic languages. These include pharyngeal and emphatic consonants, voiced and voiceless stops, voiceless fricatives and voiced and voiceless affricates.
It has three long and three short vowels, which expanded in Late Egyptian to about nine. Suffixes are added to form words.
The verb conjugation corresponds to the person. If the subject is a noun, suffixes are not added to the verb: Adjectives are derived from nouns through a process that Egyptologists call nisbation because of its similarity with Arabic.
Hieroglyphic writing dates from c. A hieroglyph can represent a word, a sound, or a silent determinative; and the same symbol can serve different purposes in different contexts.
Hieroglyphs were a formal script, used on stone monuments and in tombs, that could be as detailed as individual works of art. In day-to-day writing, scribes used a cursive form of writing, called hieratic , which was quicker and easier.
While formal hieroglyphs may be read in rows or columns in either direction though typically written from right to left , hieratic was always written from right to left, usually in horizontal rows.
A new form of writing, Demotic , became the prevalent writing style, and it is this form of writing—along with formal hieroglyphs—that accompany the Greek text on the Rosetta Stone.
Around the first century AD, the Coptic alphabet started to be used alongside the Demotic script. Coptic is a modified Greek alphabet with the addition of some Demotic signs.
As the traditional religious establishments were disbanded, knowledge of hieroglyphic writing was mostly lost.
Writing first appeared in association with kingship on labels and tags for items found in royal tombs. It was primarily an occupation of the scribes, who worked out of the Per Ankh institution or the House of Life.
The latter comprised offices, libraries called House of Books , laboratories and observatories. Late Egyptian was spoken from the New Kingdom onward and is represented in Ramesside administrative documents, love poetry and tales, as well as in Demotic and Coptic texts.
During this period, the tradition of writing had evolved into the tomb autobiography, such as those of Harkhuf and Weni. The genre known as Sebayt "instructions" was developed to communicate teachings and guidance from famous nobles; the Ipuwer papyrus , a poem of lamentations describing natural disasters and social upheaval, is a famous example.
The former tells the story of a noble who is robbed on his way to buy cedar from Lebanon and of his struggle to return to Egypt.
Many stories written in demotic during the Greco-Roman period were set in previous historical eras, when Egypt was an independent nation ruled by great pharaohs such as Ramesses II.
Most ancient Egyptians were farmers tied to the land. Their dwellings were restricted to immediate family members, and were constructed of mud-brick designed to remain cool in the heat of the day.
Each home had a kitchen with an open roof, which contained a grindstone for milling grain and a small oven for baking the bread. Floors were covered with reed mats, while wooden stools, beds raised from the floor and individual tables comprised the furniture.
The ancient Egyptians placed a great value on hygiene and appearance. Most bathed in the Nile and used a pasty soap made from animal fat and chalk.
Men shaved their entire bodies for cleanliness; perfumes and aromatic ointments covered bad odors and soothed skin. Children went without clothing until maturity, at about age 12, and at this age males were circumcised and had their heads shaved.
Music and dance were popular entertainments for those who could afford them. Early instruments included flutes and harps, while instruments similar to trumpets, oboes, and pipes developed later and became popular.
In the New Kingdom, the Egyptians played on bells, cymbals, tambourines, drums, and imported lutes and lyres from Asia. The ancient Egyptians enjoyed a variety of leisure activities, including games and music.
Senet , a board game where pieces moved according to random chance, was particularly popular from the earliest times; another similar game was mehen , which had a circular gaming board.
The first complete set of this game was discovered from a Theban tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Amenemhat IV that dates to the 13th Dynasty.
The excavation of the workers village of Deir el-Medina has resulted in one of the most thoroughly documented accounts of community life in the ancient world, which spans almost four hundred years.
There is no comparable site in which the organization, social interactions, working and living conditions of a community have been studied in such detail.
Egyptian cuisine remained remarkably stable over time; indeed, the cuisine of modern Egypt retains some striking similarities to the cuisine of the ancients.
The staple diet consisted of bread and beer, supplemented with vegetables such as onions and garlic, and fruit such as dates and figs. Wine and meat were enjoyed by all on feast days while the upper classes indulged on a more regular basis.
Fish, meat, and fowl could be salted or dried, and could be cooked in stews or roasted on a grill. The architecture of ancient Egypt includes some of the most famous structures in the world: Building projects were organized and funded by the state for religious and commemorative purposes, but also to reinforce the wide-ranging power of the pharaoh.
The ancient Egyptians were skilled builders; using only simple but effective tools and sighting instruments, architects could build large stone structures with great accuracy and precision that is still envied today.
The domestic dwellings of elite and ordinary Egyptians alike were constructed from perishable materials such as mud bricks and wood, and have not survived.
Peasants lived in simple homes, while the palaces of the elite and the pharaoh were more elaborate structures.
A few surviving New Kingdom palaces, such as those in Malkata and Amarna , show richly decorated walls and floors with scenes of people, birds, water pools, deities and geometric designs.
The earliest preserved ancient Egyptian temples , such as those at Giza, consist of single, enclosed halls with roof slabs supported by columns.
The step pyramid of Djoser is a series of stone mastabas stacked on top of each other. Pyramids were built during the Old and Middle Kingdoms, but most later rulers abandoned them in favor of less conspicuous rock-cut tombs.
The ancient Egyptians produced art to serve functional purposes. For over years, artists adhered to artistic forms and iconography that were developed during the Old Kingdom, following a strict set of principles that resisted foreign influence and internal change.
Images and text were intimately interwoven on tomb and temple walls, coffins, stelae, and even statues. The Narmer Palette , for example, displays figures that can also be read as hieroglyphs.
Ancient Egyptian artisans used stone as a medium for carving statues and fine reliefs, but used wood as a cheap and easily carved substitute.
Paints were obtained from minerals such as iron ores red and yellow ochres , copper ores blue and green , soot or charcoal black , and limestone white.
Paints could be mixed with gum arabic as a binder and pressed into cakes, which could be moistened with water when needed. Pharaohs used reliefs to record victories in battle, royal decrees, and religious scenes.
Common citizens had access to pieces of funerary art , such as shabti statues and books of the dead, which they believed would protect them in the afterlife.
In an attempt to duplicate the activities of the living in the afterlife, these models show laborers, houses, boats, and even military formations that are scale representations of the ideal ancient Egyptian afterlife.
Despite the homogeneity of ancient Egyptian art, the styles of particular times and places sometimes reflected changing cultural or political attitudes.
Beliefs in the divine and in the afterlife were ingrained in ancient Egyptian civilization from its inception; pharaonic rule was based on the divine right of kings.
The Egyptian pantheon was populated by gods who had supernatural powers and were called on for help or protection. However, the gods were not always viewed as benevolent, and Egyptians believed they had to be appeased with offerings and prayers.
The structure of this pantheon changed continually as new deities were promoted in the hierarchy, but priests made no effort to organize the diverse and sometimes conflicting myths and stories into a coherent system.
At the center of the temple was the cult statue in a shrine. Temples were not places of public worship or congregation, and only on select feast days and celebrations was a shrine carrying the statue of the god brought out for public worship.
Common citizens could worship private statues in their homes, and amulets offered protection against the forces of chaos. As a result, priests developed a system of oracles to communicate the will of the gods directly to the people.
The Egyptians believed that every human being was composed of physical and spiritual parts or aspects. After death, the spiritual aspects were released from the body and could move at will, but they required the physical remains or a substitute, such as a statue as a permanent home.
The ultimate goal of the deceased was to rejoin his ka and ba and become one of the "blessed dead", living on as an akh , or "effective one".
For this to happen, the deceased had to be judged worthy in a trial, in which the heart was weighed against a " feather of truth.
The ancient Egyptians maintained an elaborate set of burial customs that they believed were necessary to ensure immortality after death.
These customs involved preserving the body by mummification , performing burial ceremonies, and interring with the body goods the deceased would use in the afterlife.
The arid, desert conditions were a boon throughout the history of ancient Egypt for burials of the poor, who could not afford the elaborate burial preparations available to the elite.
Wealthier Egyptians began to bury their dead in stone tombs and use artificial mummification, which involved removing the internal organs , wrapping the body in linen, and burying it in a rectangular stone sarcophagus or wooden coffin.
Beginning in the Fourth Dynasty, some parts were preserved separately in canopic jars. By the New Kingdom, the ancient Egyptians had perfected the art of mummification; the best technique took 70 days and involved removing the internal organs, removing the brain through the nose, and desiccating the body in a mixture of salts called natron.
The body was then wrapped in linen with protective amulets inserted between layers and placed in a decorated anthropoid coffin.
Mummies of the Late Period were also placed in painted cartonnage mummy cases. Actual preservation practices declined during the Ptolemaic and Roman eras, while greater emphasis was placed on the outer appearance of the mummy, which was decorated.
Wealthy Egyptians were buried with larger quantities of luxury items, but all burials, regardless of social status, included goods for the deceased.
Funerary texts were often included in the grave, and, beginning in the New Kingdom, so were shabti statues that were believed to perform manual labor for them in the afterlife.
After burial, living relatives were expected to occasionally bring food to the tomb and recite prayers on behalf of the deceased. The military protected mining expeditions to the Sinai during the Old Kingdom and fought civil wars during the First and Second Intermediate Periods.
The military was responsible for maintaining fortifications along important trade routes, such as those found at the city of Buhen on the way to Nubia.
Forts also were constructed to serve as military bases, such as the fortress at Sile, which was a base of operations for expeditions to the Levant.
In the New Kingdom, a series of pharaohs used the standing Egyptian army to attack and conquer Kush and parts of the Levant. Typical military equipment included bows and arrows , spears, and round-topped shields made by stretching animal skin over a wooden frame.
In the New Kingdom, the military began using chariots that had earlier been introduced by the Hyksos invaders.
Weapons and armor continued to improve after the adoption of bronze: In technology, medicine, and mathematics, ancient Egypt achieved a relatively high standard of productivity and sophistication.
Traditional empiricism , as evidenced by the Edwin Smith and Ebers papyri c. The Egyptians created their own alphabet and decimal system.
Even before the Old Kingdom, the ancient Egyptians had developed a glassy material known as faience , which they treated as a type of artificial semi-precious stone.
Faience is a non-clay ceramic made of silica , small amounts of lime and soda , and a colorant, typically copper.
Several methods can be used to create faience, but typically production involved application of the powdered materials in the form of a paste over a clay core, which was then fired.
By a related technique, the ancient Egyptians produced a pigment known as Egyptian Blue , also called blue frit, which is produced by fusing or sintering silica, copper, lime, and an alkali such as natron.
The product can be ground up and used as a pigment. The ancient Egyptians could fabricate a wide variety of objects from glass with great skill, but it is not clear whether they developed the process independently.
However, they did have technical expertise in making objects, as well as adding trace elements to control the color of the finished glass.
A range of colors could be produced, including yellow, red, green, blue, purple, and white, and the glass could be made either transparent or opaque.
The medical problems of the ancient Egyptians stemmed directly from their environment. Living and working close to the Nile brought hazards from malaria and debilitating schistosomiasis parasites, which caused liver and intestinal damage.
Dangerous wildlife such as crocodiles and hippos were also a common threat. The lifelong labors of farming and building put stress on the spine and joints, and traumatic injuries from construction and warfare all took a significant toll on the body.
The grit and sand from stone-ground flour abraded teeth, leaving them susceptible to abscesses though caries were rare. The diets of the wealthy were rich in sugars, which promoted periodontal disease.
Ancient Egyptian physicians were renowned in the ancient Near East for their healing skills, and some, such as Imhotep , remained famous long after their deaths.
Medical papyri show empirical knowledge of anatomy, injuries, and practical treatments. Wounds were treated by bandaging with raw meat, white linen, sutures, nets, pads, and swabs soaked with honey to prevent infection,  while opium thyme and belladona were used to relieve pain.
The earliest records of burn treatment describe burn dressings that use the milk from mothers of male babies. Prayers were made to the goddess Isis.
Moldy bread, honey and copper salts were also used to prevent infection from dirt in burns. Ancient Egyptian surgeons stitched wounds, set broken bones , and amputated diseased limbs, but they recognized that some injuries were so serious that they could only make the patient comfortable until death occurred.
The Archaeological Institute of America reports that the oldest planked ships known are the Abydos boats. Early Egyptians also knew how to assemble planks of wood with treenails to fasten them together, using pitch for caulking the seams.
The " Khufu ship ", a Early Egyptians also knew how to fasten the planks of this ship together with mortise and tenon joints.
Large seagoing ships are known to have been heavily used by the Egyptians in their trade with the city states of the eastern Mediterranean, especially Byblos on the coast of modern-day Lebanon , and in several expeditions down the Red Sea to the Land of Punt.
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