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Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower

reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt.

Cleopatra was actually part of a


long line of Greek Macedonians
originally descended from
Ptolemy I, one of Alexander the
Greats most trusted lieutenants.

Egyptian women had a


wide range of rights
and freedoms.
While they may have been publicly and socially viewed as inferior to men,
Egyptian women enjoyed a great deal of legal and financial independence.
They could buy and sell property, serve on juries, make wills and even enter
into legal contracts. Egyptian women did not typically work outside the
home, but those who did usually received equal pay for doing the same jobs
as men. Unlike the women of ancient Greece, who were effectively owned
by their husbands, Egyptian women also had the right to divorce and
remarry.

Egyptian pharaohs were often overweight.


Egyptian art commonly depicts pharaohs as being trim and statuesque, but
this was most likely not the case. The Egyptian diet of beer, wine, bread and
honey was high in sugar, and studies show that it may have done a number
on royal waistlines

The pyramids were not built by slaves.


The classical historian Herodotus believed that the Great Pyramid had been
built by 100,000 slaves. His image of men, women and children desperately
toiling in the harshest of conditions has proved remarkably popular with
modern film producers. It is, however, wrong.

Archaeological evidence indicates that the Great Pyramid was in fact built by a
workforce of 5,000 permanent, salaried employees and up to 20,000
temporary workers. These workers were free men, summoned under the
corve system of national service to put in a three- or four-month shift on the
building site before returning home. They were housed in a temporary camp
near the pyramid, where they received payment in the form of food, drink,
medical attention and, for those who died on duty, burial in the nearby
cemetery.

Cleopatra many not have been beautiful


Cleopatra VII, last queen of ancient Egypt, won the hearts of Julius Caesar and
Mark Antony, two of Romes most important men. Surely, then, she must have
been an outstanding beauty?

Her coins suggest that this was probably not the case. All show her in profile
with a prominent nose, pronounced chin and deep-set eyes. Of course,
Cleopatras coins reflect the skills of their makers, and it is entirely possible
that the queen did not want to appear too feminine on the tokens that
represented her sovereignty within and outside Egypt.

Unfortunately we have no eyewitness description of the queen. However the


classical historian Plutarch who never actually met Cleopatra tells us that
her charm lay in her demeanour, and in her beautiful voice.

A Pharaoh never let his hair be seen he would always wear a crown or a
headdress called a nemes (the striped cloth headdress made famous by
Tutankhamens golden mask (pictured above).

2. In order to deter flies from landing on him, Pepi II of Egypt always kept
several naked slaves nearby whose bodies were smeared with honey.
3. Both Egyptian men and women wore makeup eyepaint was usually
green (made from copper) or black (made from lead). The Egyptians
believed that the makeup had healing power. Originally the makeup was
used as a protection from the sun rather than for adornment.

4. While the use of antibiotics did not begin in the 20th century, early folk
medicine included the use of mouldy foods or soil for infections. In ancient
Egypt, for example, infections were treated with mouldy bread.

5. Egyptian children wore no clothing at all until they were in their teens.
The temperature in Egypt made it unnecessary. Adult men wore skirts while
women wore dresses.

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Facts 6 10

6. Rich Egyptians wore wigs while the other classes would wear their hair
long or in pig tails. Until 12, Egyptian boys had their heads shaved except
for one plaited lock this was as a protection against lice and fleas.

7. It is not known who destroyed the nose of the Sphinx (pictured above).
There are sketches of the Sphinx without a nose in 1737, over 60 years
before Napoleon reached Egypt and hundreds of years before the British
and German armies of the two World Wars. The only person known to have
damaged it was an Islamic cleric, Saim al-dahr, who was lynched in 1378
for vandalism.

8. Egyptians believed that the earth was flat and round (like a pancake)
and that the Nile flowed through the center of it.

9. Egyptian soldiers were used as an internal police force. Additionally, they


collected taxes for the Pharaoh.

10. In every temple in ancient Egypt the pharaoh was supposed to carry out
the duties of the high priests, but his place was usually taken by the chief
priest.