Anda di halaman 1dari 278

Ancient Egypt Topics


1 Main Topics 1
1.1 Ancient Egyptian agriculture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
1.1.1 Farming systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
1.1.2 Crops grown . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
1.1.3 Religion and agriculture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
1.1.4 Notes and references . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
1.1.5 Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
1.1.6 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
1.2 Ancient Egyptian architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
1.2.1 Characteristics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
1.2.2 Giza pyramid complex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
1.2.3 Karnak . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
1.2.4 Luxor Temple . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
1.2.5 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
1.2.6 Notes and references . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
1.2.7 Further reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
1.2.8 External links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
1.3 Art of ancient Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
1.3.1 Periods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
1.3.2 Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
1.3.3 Painting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
1.3.4 Sculpture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
1.3.5 Faience, pottery, and glass . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
1.3.6 Papyrus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
1.3.7 Amarna period . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
1.3.8 Ptolemaic period . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
1.3.9 Architecture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
1.3.10 Hieroglyphs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
1.3.11 Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
1.3.12 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
1.3.13 Further reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
1.3.14 External links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15


1.4 Egyptian astronomy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15

1.4.1 Ancient Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
1.4.2 Arabic-Islamic Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
1.4.3 Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
1.4.4 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
1.4.5 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
1.4.6 Further reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
1.4.7 External links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
1.5 Ancient Egyptian burial customs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
1.5.1 History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
1.5.2 Tombs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
1.5.3 Mummication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
1.5.4 Burial rituals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
1.5.5 Cons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
1.5.6 Funerary texts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
1.5.7 Burial goods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
1.5.8 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
1.5.9 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
1.5.10 External links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
1.6 Egyptian chronology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
1.6.1 Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
1.6.2 Regnal years . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
1.6.3 Synchronisms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
1.6.4 Alternative chronologies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
1.6.5 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
1.6.6 Notes and references . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
1.6.7 External links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
1.6.8 Further reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
1.7 Clothing in ancient Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
1.7.1 Elements of Egyptian clothing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
1.7.2 Pharaohs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
1.7.3 Men . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
1.7.4 Women . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
1.7.5 Children . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
1.7.6 Wigs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
1.7.7 Jewelry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
1.7.8 Cosmetics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
1.7.9 Footwear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34
1.7.10 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
1.7.11 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
1.7.12 External links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

1.8 Ancient Egyptian cuisine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

1.8.1 Meals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
1.8.2 Egyptian Bread . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37
1.8.3 Egyptian Beer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
1.8.4 Fruit and Vegetables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
1.8.5 Meat and Fish . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
1.8.6 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
1.8.7 Notes and references . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
1.8.8 External links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
1.9 List of ancient Egyptian dynasties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
1.9.1 Late prehistory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
1.9.2 Early Dynastic Period . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
1.9.3 Old Kingdom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
1.9.4 First Intermediate Period . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
1.9.5 Middle Kingdom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
1.9.6 Second Intermediate Period . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
1.9.7 New Kingdom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
1.9.8 Third Intermediate Period . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
1.9.9 Late Period . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
1.9.10 Graeco-Roman Period . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
1.9.11 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
1.9.12 Chart example . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
1.9.13 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
1.10 Great Royal Wife . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
1.10.1 Description . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
1.10.2 Great wives today . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
1.10.3 Examples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
1.10.4 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
1.10.5 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
1.11 History of ancient Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
1.11.1 Chronology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
1.11.2 Neolithic Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
1.11.3 Dynastic Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
1.11.4 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
1.11.5 Further reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
1.11.6 External links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
1.12 Egyptian language . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
1.12.1 Classication . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
1.12.2 History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
1.12.3 Dialects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
1.12.4 Orthography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56

1.12.5 Phonology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
1.12.6 Grammar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
1.12.7 Vocabulary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
1.12.8 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
1.12.9 Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
1.12.10 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
1.12.11 Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
1.12.12 Literature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
1.12.13 External links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
1.13 Ancient Egyptian literature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
1.13.1 Scripts, media, and languages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
1.13.2 Literary functions: social, religious and educational . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
1.13.3 Dating, setting, and authorship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
1.13.4 Literary genres and subjects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
1.13.5 Legacy, translation and interpretation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
1.13.6 Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
1.13.7 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
1.13.8 External links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
1.14 Ancient Egyptian mathematics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
1.14.1 Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
1.14.2 Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
1.14.3 Numerals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
1.14.4 Multiplication and division . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
1.14.5 Algebra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
1.14.6 Geometry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80
1.14.7 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
1.14.8 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
1.14.9 Further reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81
1.14.10 External links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
1.15 Ancient Egyptian medicine . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
1.15.1 Sources of information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
1.15.2 Nutrition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
1.15.3 Pharmacology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
1.15.4 Practices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84
1.15.5 Magic and religion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
1.15.6 Doctors and other healers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
1.15.7 Table of ancient Egyptian physicians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
1.15.8 Table of ancient Egyptian medical papyri . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
1.15.9 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
1.15.10 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86
1.15.11 Further reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87

1.15.12 External links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88

1.16 Military of ancient Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
1.16.1 The Old Kingdom 26862181 BC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88
1.16.2 The Middle Kingdom 20551650 BC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
1.16.3 The Second Intermediate Period 16501550 BC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
1.16.4 The New Kingdom 1550-1069 BC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
1.16.5 Old & Middle Kingdom Armies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90
1.16.6 New Kingdom Armies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90
1.16.7 Late Period Armies 712-332 BC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90
1.16.8 Military Organization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91
1.16.9 Projectile Weapons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92
1.16.10 Notes and references . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93
1.16.11 External links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94
1.17 Music of Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94
1.17.1 History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
1.17.2 Religious music in Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
1.17.3 Folkloric Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
1.17.4 Folk and roots revival . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
1.17.5 Western classical music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96
1.17.6 Arabic Egyptian musical instruments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
1.17.7 Electronic music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
1.17.8 Reconstruction of Ancient Egyptian Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
1.17.9 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
1.17.10 Notes and references . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
1.17.11 Further reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
1.17.12 External links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
1.18 Egyptian mythology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
1.18.1 Origins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99
1.18.2 Denition and scope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100
1.18.3 Content and meaning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100
1.18.4 Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
1.18.5 Cosmology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
1.18.6 Major myths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103
1.18.7 Inuence in Egyptian culture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107
1.18.8 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108
1.18.9 Notes and citations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108
1.18.10 Works cited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
1.18.11 Further reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111
1.19 List of ancient Egyptians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111
1.19.1 A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.19.2 B . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112

1.19.3 C . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.19.4 D . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.19.5 E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.19.6 G . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.19.7 H . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.19.8 I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.19.9 K . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.19.10 L . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.19.11 M . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.19.12 N . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.19.13 O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.19.14 P . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.19.15 Q . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.19.16 R . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.19.17 S . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.19.18 T . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.19.19 U . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.19.20 W . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.19.21 Y . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.19.22 Z . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.19.23 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.19.24 Notes and references . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.20 Pharaoh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.20.1 Etymology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
1.20.2 Regalia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113
1.20.3 Crowns and headdresses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113
1.20.4 Titles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
1.20.5 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115
1.20.6 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115
1.20.7 Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116
1.20.8 External links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116
1.21 List of pharaohs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116
1.21.1 Ancient Egyptian King Lists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116
1.21.2 Predynastic period . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116
1.21.3 Early Dynastic Period . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116
1.21.4 Old Kingdom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
1.21.5 First Intermediate Period . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
1.21.6 Middle Kingdom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
1.21.7 Second Intermediate Period . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118
1.21.8 New Kingdom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118
1.21.9 Third Intermediate Period . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119

1.21.10 Late Period . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119

1.21.11 Hellenistic Period . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120
1.21.12 Rome . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120
1.21.13 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120
1.21.14 Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120
1.21.15 External links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121
1.21.16 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121
1.22 Ancient Egyptian philosophy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
1.22.1 Philosophers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
1.22.2 The gure of the philosopher in Ancient Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
1.22.3 Notes and references . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124
1.23 Ancient Egyptian religion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124
1.23.1 Theology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124
1.23.2 Other important concepts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126
1.23.3 Writings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128
1.23.4 Practices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
1.23.5 History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 133
1.23.6 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136
1.23.7 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136
1.23.8 Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138
1.23.9 Further reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139
1.23.10 External links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139
1.24 List of ancient Egyptian sites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139
1.24.1 Nomes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 139
1.24.2 Lower Egypt (The Nile Delta) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 140
1.24.3 Middle Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141
1.24.4 Upper Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 142
1.24.5 Lower Nubia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143
1.24.6 Upper Nubia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144
1.24.7 The Oases and Mediterranean coast . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144
1.24.8 Sinai . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144
1.24.9 Eastern Desert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144
1.24.10 Notes and references . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144
1.24.11 Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145
1.25 Ancient Egyptian technology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145
1.25.1 Technology in Dynastic Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145
1.25.2 Later technology in Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150
1.25.3 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150
1.25.4 Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151
1.25.5 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 152
1.25.6 Further reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 152

1.25.7 External links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153

1.26 Ancient Egyptian trade . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153
1.26.1 Prehistoric transport and trade . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153
1.26.2 Trans-Saharan trade . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153
1.26.3 Maritime trade . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153
1.26.4 Canal construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 154
1.26.5 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155
1.27 Writing in Ancient Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 156
1.27.1 Etymology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157
1.27.2 History and evolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157
1.27.3 Writing system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159
1.27.4 Spelling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162
1.27.5 Simple examples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162
1.27.6 Encoding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162
1.27.7 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163
1.27.8 Notes and references . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163
1.27.9 Further reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 164
1.27.10 External links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 164

2 Exploration 165
2.1 Egyptology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165
2.1.1 History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165
2.1.2 Development of the eld . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165
2.1.3 Modern Egyptology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 166
2.1.4 Academic discipline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 166
2.1.5 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167
2.1.6 Notes and references . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168
2.1.7 Further reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168
2.1.8 External links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 169
2.2 List of Egyptologists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 169
2.2.1 A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170
2.2.2 B . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170
2.2.3 C . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171
2.2.4 D . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172
2.2.5 E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172
2.2.6 F . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172
2.2.7 G . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173
2.2.8 H . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173
2.2.9 I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173
2.2.10 J . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174
2.2.11 K . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174
2.2.12 L . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174

2.2.13 M . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175
2.2.14 N . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175
2.2.15 O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175
2.2.16 P . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176
2.2.17 Q . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176
2.2.18 R . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176
2.2.19 S . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177
2.2.20 T . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177
2.2.21 U . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 178
2.2.22 V . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 178
2.2.23 W . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 178
2.2.24 Y . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179
2.2.25 Z . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179
2.2.26 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179
2.2.27 Fictional egyptologists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179
2.2.28 Notes and references . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179
2.2.29 External links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179
2.3 List of museums of Egyptian antiquities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179
2.3.1 Museum collections of over 1,000 Ancient Egyptian artifacts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 179
2.3.2 Other signicant collections with unspecied number of artifacts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
2.3.3 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181

3 Overview Appendices 183

3.1 Outline of ancient Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183
3.1.1 What type of thing is Ancient Egypt? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183
3.1.2 Geography of ancient Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 183
3.1.3 Government and politics of ancient Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184
3.1.4 General history of ancient Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184
3.1.5 Egyptology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185
3.1.6 Culture of ancient Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186
3.1.7 Egyptian economy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 188
3.1.8 Scholars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 188
3.1.9 Publications about ancient Egypt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 188
3.1.10 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 188
3.1.11 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189
3.1.12 External links . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189
3.2 Index of ancient Egypt-related articles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189
3.2.1 09 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189
3.2.2 A . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189
3.2.3 B . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 194
3.2.4 C . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 195
3.2.5 D . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196

3.2.6 E . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 198
3.2.7 F . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199
3.2.8 G . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199
3.2.9 H . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200
3.2.10 I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202
3.2.11 J . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204
3.2.12 K . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204
3.2.13 L . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207
3.2.14 M . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 208
3.2.15 N . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 211
3.2.16 O . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 214
3.2.17 P . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 214
3.2.18 Q . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217
3.2.19 R . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 218
3.2.20 S . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 219
3.2.21 T . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 223
3.2.22 U . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227
3.2.23 V . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227
3.2.24 W . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 228
3.2.25 X . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 228
3.2.26 Y . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 228
3.2.27 Z . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 229
3.2.28 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 229
3.3 Glossary of ancient Egypt artifacts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 229
3.3.1 Glossary of ancient Egyptian artifacts and materials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 229
3.3.2 See also . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
3.3.3 References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230

4 Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses 231

4.1 Text . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 231
4.2 Images . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 241
4.3 Content license . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 267
Chapter 1

Main Topics

1.1 Ancient Egyptian agriculture

Ploughing with a yoke of horned cattle in Ancient Egypt. Painting

from the burial chamber of Sennedjem, c. 1200 BC

The civilization of Ancient Egypt was indebted to the Nile

River and its dependable seasonal ooding. The rivers
predictability and the fertile soil allowed the Egyptians to
build an empire on the basis of great agricultural wealth.
Egyptians are credited as being one of the rst groups
of people to practice agriculture on a large scale. This
was possible because of the ingenuity of the Egyptians as
they developed basin irrigation.[1] Their farming practices
allowed them to grow staple food crops, especially grains
such as wheat and barley, and industrial crops, such as
ax and papyrus.[2]

1.1.1 Farming systems

The Nile and eld planting

Further information: Geography of Egypt

The civilization of ancient Egypt developed in the arid

The Niles watershed
climate of northern Africa. This region is distinguished
by the Arabian and Libyan deserts,[3] and the River Nile.
The Nile is one of the longest rivers in the world, owing
northward from Lake Victoria and eventually emptying Nile is considered to be longer and easier to traverse, the
into the Mediterranean Sea. The Nile has two main trib- Blue Nile actually carries about two thirds of the water
utaries: the Blue Nile which originates in Ethiopia, and volume of the river. The names of the tributaries derive
the White Nile that ows from Rwanda. While the White from the color of the water that they carry. The tributaries


come together in Khartoum and branches again when it simply be drained to another basin that was in need of
reaches Egypt, forming the Nile delta.[4] more water.[5]
The Egyptians took advantage of the natural cyclical
ooding pattern of the Nile. Because this ooding hap- Horticulture
pened fairly predictably, the Egyptians were able to de-
velop their agricultural practices around it. The water
levels of the river would rise in August and September,
leaving the oodplain and delta submerged by 1.5 meters
of water at the peak of ooding. This yearly ooding of
the river is known as inundation. As the oodwaters re-
ceded in October, farmers were left with well watered and
fertile soil in which to plant their crops. The soil left be-
hind by the ooding is known as silt and was brought from
Ethiopian Highlands by the Nile. Planting took place in
October once the ooding was over, and crops were left
Gardens of Amun from the Temple of Karnak, painting in the
to grow with minimal care until they ripened between the
tomb of Nakh, the chief gardener, early 14th century B.C.
months of March and May. While the ooding of the Nile
was much more predictable and calm than other rivers,
Main article: Gardens of Ancient Egypt
such as the Tigris and Euphrates, it was not always per-
fect. High oodwaters were destructive and could destroy
canals that were made for irrigation. Lack of ooding cre- Orchards and gardens were also developed in addition to
ated a potentially greater issue because it left Egyptians eld planting in the oodplains. This horticulture gener-
suering from famine.[5] ally took place further from the oodplain of the Nile, and
as a result they required much more work.[6] The peren-
nial irrigation required by gardens forced growers to man-
Irrigation systems ually carry water from either a well or the Nile to water
their garden crops. Additionally, while the Nile brought
To make best use of the waters of the Nile river, the Egyp-
silt which naturally fertilized the valley, gardens had to be
tians developed systems of irrigation. Irrigation allowed
fertilized by pigeon manure. These gardens and orchards
the Egyptians to use the Niles waters for a variety of pur-
were generally used to grow vegetables, vines and fruit
poses. Notably, irrigation granted them greater control
over their agricultural practices.[1] Flood waters were di-
verted away from certain areas, such as cities and gardens,
to keep them from ooding. Irrigation was also used to 1.1.2 Crops grown
provide drinking water to Egyptians. Despite the fact that
irrigation was crucial to their agricultural success, there Food crops
were no statewide regulations on water control. Rather,
irrigation was the responsibility of local farmers. How- The Egyptians grew a variety of crops for consumption,
ever, the earliest and most famous reference to irrigation including grains, vegetables and fruits. However, their
in Egyptian archaeology has been found on the mace head diets revolved around several staple crops, especially ce-
of the Scorpion King, which has been roughly dated to reals and barley. Barley was grown with the intent of
about 3100 BC. The mace head depicts the king cutting later being fermented to make beer. Other major grains
into a ditch that is part of a grid of basin irrigation. The grown included einkorn wheat and emmer wheat, grown
association of the high ranking king with irrigation high- to make bread. Other staples for the majority of the popu-
lights the importance of irrigation and agriculture to their lation included beans, lentils, and later chickpeas and fava
society.[5] beans. Root crops, such as onions, garlic and radishes
were grown, along with salad crops, such as lettuce and
Basin irrigation Egyptians developed and utilized a parsley.[2]
form of water management known as basin irrigation. Fruits were a common motif of Egyptian artwork, sug-
This practice allowed them to control the rise and fall of gesting that their growth was also a major focus of agri-
the river to best suit their agricultural needs. A crisscross cultural eorts as the civilizations agricultural technol-
network of earthen walls was formed in a eld of crops ogy developed. Unlike cereals and pulses, fruit required
that would be ooded by the river. When the oods came, more demanding and complex agricultural techniques, in-
the water would be trapped in the basins formed by the cluding the use of irrigation systems, cloning, propagation
walls. This grid would hold water longer than it would and training. While the rst fruits cultivated by the Egyp-
have naturally stayed, allowing the earth to become fully tians were likely indigenous, such as the palm date and
saturated for later planting. Once the soil was fully wa- sorghum, more fruits were introduced as other cultural
tered, the oodwater that remained in the basin would inuences were introduced. Grapes and watermelon were

found throughout predynastic Egyptian sites, as were the as inundation began by making sacrices and the singing
sycamore g, dom palm and christs thorn. The carob, of hymns.[9]
olive, apple and pomegranate were introduced to Egyp- The god Osiris was also closely associated with the Nile
tians during the New Kingdom. Later, during the Greco- and the fertility of the land. During inundation festivals
Roman period peaches and pears were also introduced.[8] mud gures of Osiris were planted with barley.[9]

Industrial and ber crops 1.1.4 Notes and references

Egyptians relied on agriculture for more than just the [1] Kees, Herman. Ancient Egypt: A Cultural Topography.
production of food. They were creative in their use of Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961. Print.
plants, using them for medicine, as part of their religious
[2] Janick, Jules. Ancient Egyptian Agriculture and the Ori-
practices, and in the production of clothing. Herbs per- gins of Horticulture. Acta Hort. 583: 23-39. Electronic.
haps had the most varied purposes; they were used in
cooking, medicine, as cosmetics and in the process of [3] Mysteries of Egypt. Canadian Museum of Civiliza-
embalming. Over 2000 dierent species of owering or tion. "
aromatic plants have been found in tombs.[2] Papyrus was egypt/egcgeo2e.shtml
an extremely versatile crop that grew wild and was also [4] Hoyt, Alia. How the Nile Works. http://history.
cultivated.[9] The roots of the plant were eaten as food,
but it was primarily used as an industrial crop. The stem
of plant was used to make boats, mats and paper. Flax [5] Postel, Sandra. Egypts Nile Valley Basin Irriga-
was another important industrial crop what has several tion
uses. Its primary use was in the production of rope, and
for linen which was the Egyptians principal material for [6] Dollinger, Andre. An Introduction to the History and
making their clothing. Henna was grown for the produc- Culture of Pharaonic Egypt.
tion of dye.[2] il/ad/egypt/index.html.

[7] Agriculture. The Oxford Encyclopedia of ancient Egypt.

2001. Print.l
1.1.3 Religion and agriculture
[8] Janick, Jules. The Origins of Fruits, Fruit Growing and
Further information: Ancient Egyptian religion Fruit Breeding. Plant Breeding Reviews 25. (2005):
255-320. Electronic.

During the times of ancient Egypt religion was a highly [9] Baines, John. The Story of the Nile.
important aspect of daily life. Many of their religious
observances were centered on their observations of the [10] Teeter, Emily and Brewer, Douglas. Religion in
environment, the Nile and agriculture. They used reli- the Lives of the Ancient Egyptians. The University
gion as a way to explain natural phenomena, such as the of Chicago Library.
cyclical ooding of the Nile and agricultural yields.[10] 777777190168/
Although the Nile was directly responsible for either good
or bad fortune experienced by the Egyptians, they did not 1.1.5 Bibliography
worship the Nile itself. Rather, they thanked specic gods
for any good fortune. They did not have a name for the Jared Diamond, Guns, germs and steel. A short his-
river and simply referred to it as River. The term Nile tory of everybody for the last 13'000 years, 1997.
is not of Egyptian origin. [9]

1.1.6 See also

Badari culture
See also: Egyptian pantheon

The Egyptians personied the inundation with the cre- 1.2 Ancient Egyptian architecture
ation of the god called Hapi. Despite the fact that inun-
dation was crucial to their survival, Hapi was not consid- Ancient Egyptian architecture is the architecture of
ered to be a major god.[9] He was depicted as an over- Ancient Egypt, one of the most inuential civilizations
weight gure who ironically made oerings of water and throughout history, which developed a vast array of di-
other products of abundance to pharaohs.[6] A temple was verse structures and great architectural monuments along
never built specically for Hapi, but he was worshipped the Nile, including pyramids and temples.

Ancient Egyptian houses were made out of mud collected

from the Nile river. It was placed in molds and left to dry
in the hot sun to harden for use in construction.
Many Egyptian towns have disappeared because they
were situated near the cultivated area of the Nile Val-
ley and were ooded as the river bed slowly rose during
the millennia, or the mud bricks of which they were built
were used by peasants as fertilizer. Others are inaccessi-
ble, new buildings having been erected on ancient ones.
Fortunately, the dry, hot climate of Egypt preserved some
mud brick structures. Examples include the village Deir
al-Madinah, the Middle Kingdom town at Kahun,[3] and
The well preserved Temple of Horus at Edfu is an example of the fortresses at Buhen and Mirgissa. Also, many tem-
Egyptian architecture and architectural sculpture. ples and tombs have survived because they were built on
high ground unaected by the Nile ood and were con-
structed of stone.
1.2.1 Characteristics Thus, our understanding of ancient Egyptian architec-
ture is based mainly on religious monuments,[5] massive
Due to the scarcity of wood,[1] the two predominant structures characterized by thick, sloping walls with few
building materials used in ancient Egypt were sun-baked openings, possibly echoing a method of construction used
mud brick and stone, mainly limestone, but also sand- to obtain stability in mud walls. In a similar manner,
stone and granite in considerable quantities.[2] From the the incised and atly modeled surface adornment of the
Old Kingdom onward, stone was generally reserved for stone buildings may have derived from mud wall orna-
tombs and temples, while bricks were used even for royal mentation. Although the use of the arch was developed
palaces, fortresses, the walls of temple precincts and during the fourth dynasty, all monumental buildings are
towns, and for subsidiary buildings in temple complexes. post and lintel constructions, with at roofs constructed
The core of the pyramids consisted of locally quarried of huge stone blocks supported by the external walls and
stone, mudbricks, sand or gravel. For the casing stones the closely spaced columns.
were used that had to be transported from farther away,
predominantly white limestone from Tura and red granite Exterior and interior walls, as well as the columns and
from upper Egypt. piers, were covered with hieroglyphic and pictorial fres-
coes and carvings painted in brilliant colors.[6] Many
motifs of Egyptian ornamentation are symbolic, such
as the scarab, or sacred beetle, the solar disk, and the
vulture. Other common motifs include palm leaves, the
papyrus plant, and the buds and owers of the lotus.[7]
Hieroglyphs were inscribed for decorative purposes as
well as to record historic events or spells. In addition,
these pictorial frescoes and carvings allow us to under-
stand how the Ancient Egyptians lived, statuses, wars that
were fought and their beliefs. This was especially true
when exploring the tombs of Ancient Egyptian ocials
in recent years.
Ancient Egyptian temples were aligned with astronomi-
cally signicant events, such as solstices and equinoxes,
requiring precise measurements at the moment of the
particular event. Measurements at the most signicant
temples may have been ceremonially undertaken by the
Pharaoh himself.[8]

1.2.2 Giza pyramid complex

Main article: Giza pyramid complex

Drawings of the types of the architectural capitals specic for the The Giza Necropolis stands on the Giza Plateau, on the
Ancient Egyptian civilization. outskirts of Cairo, Egypt. This complex of ancient mon-

uments is located some 8 kilometers (5 mi) inland into caused the tombs to be robbed relatively soon after the
the desert from the old town of Giza on the Nile, some tomb was sealed in some cases.[18] However, there are
20 kilometers (12 mi) southwest of Cairo city center. sometimes additional tunnels, but these were used for the
This Ancient Egyptian necropolis consists of the Pyramid builders to understand how far they could dig the tomb
of Khufu (also known as the Great Pyramid and the into the crust of the Earth. Also, it is popular thought
Pyramid of Cheops), the somewhat smaller Pyramid of that due to grave robbers, future Kings were buried in
Khafre (or Kephren/Chefren), and the relatively modest- the Valley of the Kings to help keep them hidden. This
sized Pyramid of Menkaure (or Mykerinus/Mycerinus), is also false, as the Pyramid construction continued for
along with a number of smaller satellite edices, known many Dynasties, just on a smaller scale. Finally, the pyra-
as queens pyramids, the Great Sphinx as well as a few mid construction was stopped due to economic factors,
hundred mastabas, and chapels.[9] not theft.
Evidence suggests that they were built by paid laborers
and craftsmen that were well cared for and not by slaves.

1.2.3 Karnak
Main article: Karnak

The temple complex of Karnak is located on the banks

of the Nile River some 2.5 kilometers (1.5 mi) north of
Luxor. It consists of four main parts, the Precinct of
Amon-Re, the Precinct of Montu, the Precinct of Mut
and the Temple of Amenhotep IV (dismantled), as well
The Pyramids of Giza as a few smaller temples and sanctuaries located outside
the enclosing walls of the four main parts, and several av-
enues of ram-headed sphinxes connecting the Precinct of
The pyramids, which were built in the Fourth Dynasty,
Mut, the Precinct of Amon-Re and Luxor Temple.
testify to the power of the pharaonic religion and state.
They were built to serve both as grave sites and also as The key dierence between Karnak and most of the other
a way to make their names last forever.[10] The size and temples and sites in Egypt is the length of time over which
simple design show the high skill level of Egyptian design it was developed and used. Construction work began in
and engineering on a large scale.[11] The Great Pyramid the 16th century BC. Approximately 30 pharaohs con-
of Giza, which was probably completed c. 2580 BC, is tributed to the buildings, enabling it to reach a size, com-
the oldest of the Giza pyramids and the largest pyramid plexity and diversity not seen elsewhere. Few of the in-
in the world, and is the only surviving monument of the dividual features of Karnak are unique, but the size and
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.[12] The pyramid of number of those features is overwhelming.
Khafre is believed to have been completed around 2532
BC, at the end of Khafres reign.[13] Khafre ambitiously
placed his pyramid next to his fathers. It is not as tall 1.2.4 Luxor Temple
as his fathers pyramid but he was able to give it the im-
Main article: Luxor Temple
pression of appearing taller by building it on a site with
a foundation 33 feet (10 m) higher than his fathers.
Along with building his pyramid, Chefren commissioned The Luxor Temple is a huge ancient Egyptian temple
the building of the giant Sphinx as guardian over his complex located on the east bank of the River Nile in
tomb. The face of a human, possibly a depiction of the the city today known as Luxor (ancient Thebes). Con-
pharaoh, on a lions body was seen as a symbol of divinity struction work on the temple began during the reign of
among the Greeks fteen hundred years later.[15] The Amenhotep III in the 14th century BC. Horemheb and
Great Sphinx is carved out the limestone bedrock and Tutankhamun added columns, statues, and friezes and
stands about 65 feet (20 m) tall.[16] Menkaures pyramid Akhenaten had earlier obliterated his fathers cartouches
dates to circa 2490 BC and stands 213 feet (65 m) high and installed a shrine to the Aten but the only major
making it the smallest of the Great Pyramids.[17] expansion eort took place under Ramesses II some 100
Popular culture leads people to believe that Pyramids are years after the rst stones were put in place. Luxor is
highly confusing, with many tunnels within the pyramid thus unique among the main Egyptian temple complexes
to create confusion for grave robbers. This is not true. in having only two pharaohs leave their mark on its archi-
The shafts of pyramids are quite simple, mostly lead- tectural structure.
ing directly to the tomb. The immense size of the pyra- The temple proper begins with the 24 m (79 ft) high First
mids attracted robbers to the wealth that lay inside which Pylon, built by Ramesses II. The pylon was decorated

barque shrines located in the northwest corner. After

the peristyle courtyard comes the processional colonnade
built by Amenhotep III a 100 m (330 ft) corridor lined
by 14 papyrus-capital columns. Friezes on the wall de-
scribe the stages in the Opet Festival, from sacrices at
Karnak at the top left, through Amun's arrival at Luxor at
the end of that wall, and concluding with his return on the
opposite side. The decorations were put in place by Tu-
tankhamun: the boy pharaoh is depicted, but his names
have been replaced with those of Horemheb.
Beyond the colonnade is a peristyle courtyard, which also
dates back to Amenhoteps original construction. The
best preserved columns are on the eastern side, where
some traces of original color can be seen. The south-
ern side of this courtyard is made up of a 36-column hy-
postyle court that leads into the dark inner rooms of the

1.2.5 See also

Center for Documentation of Cultural and Natural


Egyptian pyramids

Egyptian pyramid construction techniques

The hypostyle hall of Karnak Temple
Egyptian Revival architecture

Egyptian revival decorative arts


List of ancient Egyptian sites


Medinet Habu

Urban planning in ancient Egypt

Luxor Temple, from the east bank of the Nile

1.2.6 Notes and references

with scenes of Ramessess military triumphs (particularly
the Battle of Qadesh); later pharaohs, particularly those [1] R. G. Blakemore, History of Interior Design and Furniture:
of the Nubian and Ethiopian dynasties, also recorded their From Ancient Egypt to Nineteenth-Century Europe, John
victories there. This main entrance to the temple complex Wiley and Sons 1996, p.100
was originally anked by six colossal statues of Ramesses [2] Blakemore, 1996, p.107
four seated, and two standing but only two (both
seated) have survived. Modern visitors can also see a 25 [3] W. M. Flinders Petrie, Kahun, Gurob, and Hawara,
m (82 ft) tall pink granite obelisk: this one of a matching Kegan Paul, Trench, Trbner, and Co., London 1890
pair until 1835, when the other one was taken to Paris
[4] Charles Gates, Ancient Cities: The Archaeology of Urban
where it now stands in the centre of the Place de la Con- Life in the Ancient Near East and Egypt, Greece and Rome,
corde. Routledge 2003, p.101
Through the pylon gateway leads into a peristyle court-
[5] Dieter Arnold, Byron Esely Shafer Temples of Ancient
yard, also built by Ramesses II. This area, and the py- Egypt, I.B.Tauris, 2005
lon, were built at an oblique angle to the rest of the tem-
ple, presumably to accommodate the three pre-existing [6] Blakemore, 1996, pp.107.

[7] Arnold, 2005, pp.204 1.2.8 External links

[8] Temples aligned with the stars, New Scientist 2724 (5 AEgArOn - Ancient Egyptian Architecture Online,
Sep. 2009), p. 7; see also J. Belmonte & M. Shaltout, open source project
Keeping Maat: an astronomical approach to the orienta-
tion of the temples in ancient Egypt, Advances in Space Ancient Egyptian Architecture - Aldokkan
Research (August 2009) doi:10.1016/j.asr.2009.03.033
Ancient Egypt Houses
[9] Winston, Alan. An overview of the Giza Plateau in
Egypt. Retrieved 26 July 2011.

[10] Reich, Lawrence S. Cunningham, John J. (2010). Culture 1.3 Art of ancient Egypt
and values : a survey of the humanities (7th ed.). Boston,
MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. ISBN 0-495-56877- Egyptian art redirects here. For art in modern Egypt,
see Contemporary art in Egypt.
[11] Reich, Lawrence S. Cunningham, John J. (2010). Culture Ancient Egyptian art is the painting, sculpture, ar-
and values : a survey of the humanities (7th ed.). Boston,
MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. ISBN 0-495-56877-

[12] The 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. Retrieved 26 July


[13] Lehner, Mark. The Pyramid of Khafre. The Complete

Pyramids. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011.
Retrieved 26 July 2011.

[14] Lehner, Mark. The Pyramid of Khafre. The Complete

Pyramids. Archived from the original on 28 July 2011.
Retrieved 26 July 2011.

[15] Reich, Lawrence S. Cunningham, John J. (2010). Culture

and values : a survey of the humanities (7th ed.). Boston,
MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. ISBN 0-495-56877-

[16] Reich, Lawrence S. Cunningham, John J. (2010). Culture

and values : a survey of the humanities (7th ed.). Boston,
MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. ISBN 0-495-56877-

[17] Pyramid of Mankaure. National Geographic: Egypt.

National Geographic Society. Retrieved 26 July 2011.

[18] Reich, Lawrence S. Cunningham, John J. (2010). Culture

and values : a survey of the humanities (7th ed.). Boston,
MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning. ISBN 0-495-56877-
5. Thutmose, Bust of Nefertiti, 1345 BC, Egyptian Museum of

1.2.7 Further reading chitecture and other arts produced by the civilization of
ancient Egypt in the lower Nile Valley from about 3000
Arnold, Dieter. The encyclopedia of ancient Egyp- BC to 30 AD. Ancient Egyptian art reached a high level
tian architecture. Cairo: American University in in painting and sculpture, and was both highly stylized
Cairo Press, 2003. and symbolic. It was famously conservative, and Egyp-
tian styles changed remarkably little over more than three
Fletcher, Banister; Cruickshank, Dan, Sir Banister thousand years. Much of the surviving art comes from
Fletchers a History of Architecture, Architectural tombs and monuments and thus there is an emphasis on
Press, 20th edition, 1996 (rst published 1896). life after death and the preservation of knowledge of the
ISBN 0-7506-2267-9. Cf. Part One, Chapter 3. past.
Hill, Marsha (2007). Gifts for the gods: images Ancient Egyptian art included paintings, sculpture in
from Egyptian temples. New York: The Metropoli- wood (now rarely surviving), stone and ceramics, draw-
tan Museum of Art. ISBN 9781588392312. ings on papyrus, faience, jewelry, ivories, and other art

Roman Egypt (30 BC to Christianization in the 4th

century AD)

1.3.2 Overview

Egyptian art is famous for its distinctive gure conven-

tion, used for the main gures in both relief and painting,
with parted legs (where not seated) and head shown as
seen from the side, but the torso seen as from the front,
and a standard set of proportions making up the gure, us-
ing 18 sts to go from the ground to the hair-line on the
forehead.[1] This appears as early as the Narmer Palette
from Dynasty I, but there as elsewhere the convention is
Tomb of Sarenput II. not used for minor gures shown engaged in some activ-
ity, such as the captives and corpses.[2] Other conventions
make statues of males darker than females ones. Very
conventionalized portrait statues appear from as early as
Dynasty II, before 2,780 BC,[3] and with the exception
of the art of the Amarna period of Ahkenaten,[4] and
some other periods such as Dynasty XII, the idealized
features of rulers, like other Egyptian artistic conven-
tions, changed little until after the Greek conquest.[5]
Egyptian art uses hierarchical proportion, where the size
of gures indicates their relative importance. The gods
or the divine pharaoh are usually larger than other gures
and the gures of high ocials or the tomb owner are
usually smaller, and at the smallest scale any servants and
entertainers, animals, trees, and architectural details.[6]

The Egyptian gure convention, with the torso shown frontally,

the head and legs from the side; fragment from the Tomb of
Amenemhet and His Wife Hemet

media. It displays an extraordinarily vivid representation

of the ancient Egyptians socioeconomic status and belief

1.3.1 Periods
Prehistoric (before 5000 3100 BC) Depiction of craftworkers in ancient Egypt

Early Dynastic (c. 3100 BC2680 BC) Symbolism can be observed throughout Egyptian art and
Old Kingdom (2680 BCc. 2200 BC) played an important role in establishing a sense of order.
The pharaohs regalia, for example, represented his power
First Intermediate Period (c. 2200 BC2055 BC) to maintain order. Animals were also highly symbolic g-
ures in Egyptian art. Some colors were expressive: blue
Middle Kingdom (2055 BC1650 BC) or gold indicated divinity because of its unnatural appear-
Second Intermediate Period (1650 BC1550 BC) ance and association with precious materials, and the use
of black for royal gures expressed the fertility of the Nile
New Kingdom (1550 BC1069 BC), including the from which Egypt was born.[7]
Amarna Period (1353 BC1336 BC)
Third Intermediate Period (1069 BC664 BC) 1.3.3 Painting
Late Period (664 BC332 BC)
Not all Egyptian reliefs were painted, and less prestigious
Ptolemaic Kingdom (33230 BC) works in tombs, temples and palaces were merely painted

Egyptian paintings are painted in such a way to show a

prole view and a side view of the animal or person at the
same time. For example, the painting to the right shows
the head from a prole view and the body from a frontal
view. Their main colors were red, blue, green, gold, black
and yellow.
Paintings showing scenes of hunting and shing can have
lively close-up landscape backgrounds of reeds and water,
but in general Egyptian painting did not develop a sense
of depth, and neither landscapes nor a sense of visual per-
spective are found, the gures rather varying in size with
their importance rather than their location.

1.3.4 Sculpture

Wall painting of Nefertari

on a at surface. Stone surfaces were prepared by white-

wash, or if rough, a layer of coarse mud plaster, with a
smoother gesso layer above; some ner limestones could
take paint directly. Pigments were mostly mineral, cho-
sen to withstand strong sunlight without fading. The bind-
ing medium used in painting remains unclear: egg tem-
pera and various gums and resins have been suggested. It
is clear that true fresco, painted into a thin layer of wet
plaster, was not used. Instead the paint was applied to
dried plaster, in what is called fresco a secco in Italian.
After painting, a varnish or resin was usually applied as
a protective coating, and many paintings with some ex-
Facsimile of the Narmer Palette, c. 3100 BC, which already
posure to the elements have survived remarkably well, al-
shows the canonical Egyptian prole view and proportions of
though those on fully exposed walls rarely have.[8] Small
the gure.
objects including wooden statuettes were often painted
using similar techniques. The monumental sculpture of ancient Egypt's temples
Many ancient Egyptian paintings have survived in tombs, and tombs is world-famous,[9] but rened and delicate
and sometimes temples, due to Egypts extremely dry cli- small works exist in much greater numbers. The Egyp-
mate. The paintings were often made with the intent tians used the distinctive technique of sunk relief, which
of making a pleasant afterlife for the deceased. The is well suited to very bright sunlight. The distinctive pose
themes included journey through the afterworld or pro- of standing statues facing forward with one foot in front
tective deities introducing the deceased to the gods of the of the other was helpful for the balance and strength of
underworld (such as Osiris). Some tomb paintings show the piece. It was adopted very early and remained un-
activities that the deceased were involved in when they changed until the arrival of the Greeks. Seated statues
were alive and wished to carry on doing for eternity. were also very common.
In the New Kingdom and later, the Book of the Dead Egyptian pharaohs were always regarded as gods, but
was buried with the entombed person. It was considered other deities are much less common in large statues, ex-
important for an introduction to the afterlife. cept when they represent the pharaoh as another deity;

Head of Pharaoh & face from a con

is still debated.
Early tombs also contained small models of the slaves, an-
imals, buildings and objects such as boats necessary for
the deceased to continue his lifestyle in the afterworld,
and later Ushabti gures.[11] However the great major-
ity of wooden sculpture has been lost to decay, or proba-
bly used as fuel. Small gures of deities, or their animal
personications, are very common, and found in popular
materials such as pottery. There were also large num-
bers of small carved objects, from gures of the gods to
toys and carved utensils. Alabaster was often used for
expensive versions of these; painted wood was the most
Menkaura (Mycerinus) and queen, Old Kingdom, Dynasty 4, common material, and normal for the small models of an-
2490 2472 BC. The formality of the pose is reduced by the imals, slaves and possessions placed in tombs to provide
queens arm round her husband. for the afterlife.
Very strict conventions were followed while crafting stat-
ues and specic rules governed appearance of every
however the other deities are frequently shown in paint- Egyptian god. For example, the sky god (Horus) was es-
ings and reliefs. The famous row of four colossal stat- sentially to be represented with a falcons head, the god
ues outside the main temple at Abu Simbel each show of funeral rites (Anubis) was to be always shown with a
Rameses II, a typical scheme, though here exceptionally jackals head. Artistic works were ranked according to
large.[10] Most larger sculptures survive from Egyptian their compliance with these conventions, and the con-
temples or tombs; massive statues were built to represent ventions were followed so strictly that, over three thou-
gods and pharaohs and their queens, usually for open ar- sand years, the appearance of statues changed very little.
eas in or outside temples. The very early colossal Great These conventions were intended to convey the timeless
Sphinx of Giza was never repeated, but avenues lined and non-aging quality of the gures ka.
with very large statues including sphinxes and other ani-
mals formed part of many temple complexes. The most
sacred cult image of a god in a temple, usually held in the
naos, was in the form of a relatively small boat or barque
holding an image of the god, and apparently usually in
precious metal none have survived.
By Dynasty IV (26802565 BC) at the latest the idea of
the Ka statue was rmly established. These were put in
tombs as a resting place for the ka portion of the soul,
and so we have a good number of less conventionalized
statues of well-o administrators and their wives, many in
wood as Egypt is one of the few places in the world where
the climate allows wood to survive over millennia, and Wooden
many block statues. The so-called reserve heads, plain tomb models, Dynastry XI; a high administrator
hairless heads, are especially naturalistic, though the ex- counts his cattle.
tent to which there was real portraiture in ancient Egypt

The Gold Mask of Osiris on a lapis lazuli

Tutankhamun, c. late Eighteenth dynasty, Egyptian pillar in the middle, anked by Horus on the left,
Museum and Isis on the right, 22nd dynasty, Louvre

The ka statue provided

The Younger Memnon a physical place for the ka to manifest. Egyptian
c. 1250 BC, British Museum Museum, Cairo

Block statue of Pa-Ankh-

Sunk relief of the crocodile god Ra, ship master, bearing a statue of Ptah. Late
Sobek Period, ca. 650633 BC, Cabinet des Mdailles.

A sculpted head of
Amenhotep III
New Kingdom pottery c.1400 BC

1.3.5 Faience, pottery, and glass

large number of smaller objects in enamel pottery were
also deposited with the dead. It was customary to craft on
the walls of the tombs cones of pottery, about six to ten
inches tall, on which were engraved or impressed legends
relating to the dead occupants of the tombs. These cones
usually contained the names of the deceased, their titles,
oces which they held, and some expressions appropri-
ate to funeral purposes.

1.3.6 Papyrus

Miniature Egyptian glassware from the New Kingdom period.

Egyptian faience, made from sand and chemicals, pro-

duced relatively cheap and very attractive small objects in
a variety of colours, and was used for a variety of types
of objects including jewellery. Ancient Egyptian glass
goes back to very early Egyptian history, but was at rst
very much a luxury material. In later periods it became
common, and highly decorated small jars for perfume and
other liquids are often found as grave goods.
Ancient Egyptians used steatite (some varieties were
called soapstone) and carved small pieces of vases,
amulets, images of deities, of animals and several other
objects. Ancient Egyptian artists also discovered the art The Book of the Dead written on papyrus
of covering pottery with enamel. Covering by enamel was
also applied to some stone works. The colour blue, rst Papyrus was used by ancient Egyptians (and exported to
used in the very expensive imported stone lapis lazuli, much of the ancient Mediterranean world) for writing
was highly regarded by ancient Egypt, and the pigment and painting. Papyrus is relatively fragile, lasting at most
Egyptian blue was widely used to colour a variety of ma- a century or two in a library, and though used all over
terials. the classical world has only survived when buried in the
Dierent types of pottery items were deposited in tombs very dry conditions of Egypt, and even then is often in
of the dead. Some such pottery items represented inte- poor condition. Papyrus texts illustrate all dimensions
rior parts of the body, like the lungs, the liver and smaller of ancient Egyptian life and include literary, religious,
intestines, which were removed before embalming. A historical and administrative documents.

1.3.8 Ptolemaic period

Two daughters of Akhenaten; Neferneferuaten Tasherit and

Neferneferure, c. 13751358 BC

Females face, probably a goddess. Sculptors model, used for

1.3.7 Amarna period plaster casts. Possibly originally from a statue. Limestone. Ptole-
maic period. From Egypt. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Ar-
Main article: Amarna art chaeology, London

The Amarna period and the years before the pharaoh

Akhenaten moved the capital there in the late Eighteenth
Dynasty form the most drastic interruption to the conti-
nuity of style in the Old and New Kingdoms. Amarna
art is characterized by a sense of movement and activity
in images, with gures having raised heads, many gures
overlapping and many scenes full and crowded. As the
new religion was a monotheistic worship of the sun, sac-
rices and worship were apparently conducted in open
courtyards, and sunk relief decoration was widely used in
The human body is portrayed dierently in the Amarna
style than Egyptian art on the whole. For instance, many
depictions of Akhenatens body give him distinctly femi-
nine qualities, such as large hips, prominent breasts, and
a larger stomach and thighs. This is a divergence from
the earlier Egyptian art which shows men with perfectly
chiseled bodies. Faces are still shown exclusively in pro-
Not many buildings from this period have survived the
ravages of later kings, partially as they were constructed
out of standard size blocks, known as Talatat, which were
very easy to remove and reuse. Temples in Amarna, fol-
lowing the trend, did not follow traditional Egyptian cus-
toms and were open, without ceilings, and had no closing
doors. In the generation after Akhenatens death, artists
reverted to their old styles. There were still traces of this
periods style in later art, but in most respects Egyptian Terracotta gurine of Isis/Aphrodite
art, like Egyptian religion, resumed its usual character-
istics after the death of Akhenaten as though the period Discoveries made since the end of the 19th century sur-
had never happened. Amarna itself was abandoned and rounding the (now submerged) ancient Egyptian city of
considerable trouble was gone to in defacing monuments Heracleum at Alexandria include a 4th-century BC, un-
from the reign, including dis-assembling buildings and usually sensual, detailed and feministic (as opposed to de-
reusing the blocks with their decoration facing inwards, ied) depiction of Isis, marking a combination of Egyp-
as has recently been discovered in one later building. tian and Hellenistic forms beginning around the time

of Egypts conquest by Alexander the Great in 332-331

BC. However this was untypical of Ptolemaic sculpture,
which generally avoided mixing Egyptian styles with the
general Hellenistic style which was used in the court art of
the Ptolemaic Dynasty,[12] while temples in the rest of the
country continued using late versions of traditional Egyp-
tian formulae.[13] Scholars have proposed an Alexan-
drian style in Hellenistic sculpture, but there is in fact
little to connect it with Alexandria.[14]
Marble was extensively used in court art, although it all
had to be imported, and use was made of various marble-
saving techniques, such as making even heads up from
a number of pieces, and using stucco for beards, the
back of heads and hair.[15] In contrast to the art of other
Hellenistic kingdoms, Ptolemaic royal portraits are gen-
eralized and idealized, with little concern for achieving
an individual portrait, though thanks to coins some por-
trait sculpture can be identied as one of the 15 King
Ptolemys.[16] Many later portraits have clearly had the
face reworked to show a later king.[17] One Egyptian trait
was to give much greater prominence to the queens than
Capital, limestone model. Roman period. From Egypt. The
other successor dynasties to Alexander, with the royal Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London
couple often shown as a pair. This predated the 2nd cen-
tury, a series of queens did indeed exercise real power.[18]
In the 2nd century, Egyptian temple sculptures did be- 1.3.10 Hieroglyphs
gin to reuse court models in their faces, and sculptures of
priest often used a Hellenistic style to achieve individually
distinctive portrait heads.[19] Many small statuettes were
produced, with Alexander, as founder of the dynasty,
a generalized King Ptolemy, and a naked Aphrodite
among the most common types. Pottery gurines in-
cluded grotesques and fashionable ladies of the Tanagra
gurine style.[20] Erotic groups featured absurdly large
phalluses. Some ttings for wooden interiors include very
delicately patterned polychrome falcons in faience.

1.3.9 Architecture

Main articles: Ancient Egyptian architecture and

Egyptian temple
Ancient Egyptian architects used sun-dried and kiln-
baked bricks, ne sandstone, limestone and granite. Ar-
chitects carefully planned all their work. The stones had
to t precisely together, since there was no mud or mor-
tar. When creating the pyramids, ramps were used to al-
low workmen to move up as the height of the construc-
tion grew. When the top of the structure was completed,
the artists decorated from the top down, removing ramp
sand as they went down. Exterior walls of structures like
the pyramids contained only a few small openings. Hi-
eroglyphic and pictorial carvings in brilliant colors were
abundantly used to decorate Egyptian structures, includ-
ing many motifs, like the scarab, sacred beetle, the solar
disk, and the vulture. They described the changes the
Pharaoh would go through to become a god.[21] Pot with hieroglyphs

Main article: Egyptian hieroglyphs 1.3.13 Further reading

Hill, Marsha (2007). Gifts for the gods: images from
Hieroglyphs are the ancient Egyptian writing system
Egyptian temples. New York: The Metropolitan Museum
in which pictures and symbols stand for sounds and
of Art. ISBN 9781588392312.
words. Jean-Francois Champollion rst decoded hiero-
glyphs from the Rosetta Stone, which was found in 1799.
Hieroglyphs have more than 700 symbols. 1.3.14 External links
Ancient Egyptian Art Aldokkan
1.3.11 Notes
Senusret Collection: A well-annotated introduction
[1] Smith, Stevenson, and Simpson, 33 to the arts of Egypt
[2] Smith, Stevenson, and Simpson, 1213 and note 17

[3] Smith, Stevenson, and Simpson, 2124 1.4 Egyptian astronomy

[4] Smith, Stevenson, and Simpson, 170178; 192194

[5] Smith, Stevenson, and Simpson, 102103; 133134

[6] The Art of Ancient Egipt. A resource for educators. (PDF).

New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. p. 44.
Retrieved July 7, 2013.

[7] Historical Atlas of Ancient Egypt, Bill Manley (1996) p.


[8] Grove

[9] Smith, Stevenson, and Simpson, 2

[10] Smith, Stevenson, and Simpson, 45; 208209

Chart from Senemuts tomb, 18th dynasty[1]
[11] Smith, Stevenson, and Simpson, 8990
Egyptian astronomy begins in prehistoric times, in the
[12] Smith, 206, 208-209
Predynastic Period. In the 5th millennium BCE, the stone
[13] Smith, 210 circles at Nabta Playa may have made use of astronom-
ical alignments. By the time the historical Dynastic Pe-
[14] Smith, 205 riod began in the 3rd millennium BCE, the 365-day pe-
[15] Smith, 206 riod of the Egyptian calendar was already in use, and the
observation of stars was important in determining the an-
[16] Smith, 207 nual ooding of the Nile. The Egyptian pyramids were
carefully aligned towards the pole star, and the temple
[17] Smith, 209
of Amun-Re at Karnak was aligned on the rising of the
[18] Smith, 208 midwinter sun. Astronomy played a considerable part in
xing the dates of religious festivals and determining the
[19] Smith, 208-209, 210 hours of the night, and temple astrologers were especially
adept at watching the stars and observing the conjunc-
[20] Smith, 210
tions, phases, and risings of the sun, moon and planets.
[21] Jenner, Jan (2008). Ancient Civilizations. Toronto:
In Ptolemaic Egypt, the Egyptian tradition merged with
Greek astronomy and Babylonian astronomy, with the
city of Alexandria in Lower Egypt becoming the cen-
1.3.12 References tre of scientic activity across the Hellenistic world.
Roman Egypt produced the greatest astronomer of the
Smith, R.R.R., Hellenistic Sculpture, a handbook, era, Ptolemy (90-168 CE). His works on astronomy,
Thames & Hudson, 1991, ISBN 0500202494 including the Almagest, became the most inuential
books in the history of Western astronomy. Following
Smith, W. Stevenson, and Simpson, William Kelly. the Muslim conquest of Egypt, the region came to be
The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt, 3rd edn. dominated by Arabic culture and Islamic astronomy. The
1998, Yale University Press (Penguin/Yale History astronomer Ibn Yunus (c. 950-1009) observed the suns
of Art), ISBN 0300077475 position for many years using a large astrolabe, and his

Plan of a stone circle at Nabta, Egypt

The precise orientation of the Egyptian pyramids serves

as a lasting demonstration of the high degree of technical
skill in watching the heavens attained in the 3rd millen-
nium BCE. It has been shown the pyramids were aligned
towards the pole star, which, because of the precession
of the equinoxes, was at that time Thuban, a faint star
in the constellation of Draco.[3] Evaluation of the site of
Nut, Egyptian goddess of the sky, with the star chart in the tomb the temple of Amun-Re at Karnak, taking into account
of Ramses VI
the change over time of the obliquity of the ecliptic, has
shown that the Great Temple was aligned on the rising
of the midwinter sun.[4] The length of the corridor down
observations on eclipses were still used centuries later. In
which sunlight would travel would have limited illumina-
1006, Ali ibn Ridwan observed the SN 1006, a supernova
tion at other times of the year.
regarded as the brightest stellar event in recorded history,
and left the most detailed description of it. In the 14th Astronomy played a considerable part in religious matters
century, Najm al-Din al-Misri wrote a treatise describ- for xing the dates of festivals and determining the hours
ing over 100 dierent types of scientic and astronomi- of the night. The titles of several temple books are pre-
cal instruments, many of which he invented himself. In served recording the movements and phases of the sun,
the 20th century, Farouk El-Baz from Egypt worked for moon and stars. The rising of Sirius (Egyptian: Sopdet,
NASA and was involved in the rst Moon landings with Greek: Sothis) at the beginning of the inundation was a
the Apollo program, where he assisted in the planning of particularly important point to x in the yearly calendar.
scientic explorations of the Moon.[2] One of the most important Egyptian astronomical texts
was the Book of Nut, going back to the Middle Kingdom
or earlier.
1.4.1 Ancient Egypt

Egyptian astronomy begins in prehistoric times. The The First Intermediate Period
presence of stone circles at Nabta Playa in Upper Egypt
dating from the 5th millennium BCE show the impor- Beginning with the 9th Dynasty, ancient Egyptians pro-
tance of astronomy to the religious life of ancient Egypt duced 'Diagonal star tables, which were usually painted
even in the prehistoric period. The annual ooding of on the inside surface of wooden con lids.[5] This prac-
the Nile meant that the heliacal risings, or rst visible tice continued until the 12th dynasty.[6] These 'Diagonal
appearances of stars at dawn, were of special interest in star tables or star charts are also known as 'diagonal star
determining when this might occur, and it is no surprise clocks; in the past they have also been known as 'star
that the 365-day period of the Egyptian calendar was al- calendars, or 'decanal clocks.[7] These star charts featur-
ready in use at the beginning of Egyptian history. The ing the paintings of Egyptian deities, decans, constella-
constellation system used among the Egyptians also ap- tions, and star observations are also found on the ceilings
pears to have been essentially of native origin. of tombs and temples.

An Egyptian 30th-dynasty (Ptolemaic) terracotta astrological

disc at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

some idea of the importance of astronomical observations

to the sacred rites:

'Star clock' method from the tomb of Rameses VI And after the Singer advances the As-
trologer (), with a horologium
() in his hand, and a palm (),
From the tables of stars on the ceiling of the tombs of the symbols of astrology. He must know by
Rameses VI and Rameses IX it seems that for xing the heart the Hermetic astrological books, which
hours of the night a man seated on the ground faced the are four in number. Of these, one is about
Astrologer in such a position that the line of observation the arrangement of the xed stars that are vis-
of the pole star passed over the middle of his head. On ible; one on the positions of the sun and moon
the dierent days of the year each hour was determined and ve planets; one on the conjunctions and
by a xed star culminating or nearly culminating in it, and phases of the sun and moon; and one concerns
the position of these stars at the time is given in the tables their risings.[10]
as in the centre, on the left eye, on the right shoulder, etc.
According to the texts, in founding or rebuilding temples
the north axis was determined by the same apparatus, and The astrologers instruments (horologium and palm) are
we may conclude that it was the usual one for astronomi- a plumb line and sighting instrument. They have been
cal observations. In careful hands, it might give results of identied with two inscribed objects in the Berlin Mu-
a high degree of accuracy. seum; a short handle from which a plumb line was hung,
Macrobius Ambrosius Theodosius (oruit 395423 CE) and a palm branch with a sight-slit in the broader end.
attributed the planetary theory where the Earth rotates The latter was held close to the eye, the former in the
on its axis and the interior planets Mercury and Venus re- other hand, perhaps at arms length. The Hermetic
volve around the Sun which in turn revolves around the books which Clement refers to are the Egyptian theo-
Earth, to the ancient Egyptians. He named it the Egyp- logical texts, which probably have nothing to do with
tian System, and stated that it did not escape the skill of Hellenistic Hermetism.[11]
the Egyptians, though there is no other evidence it was
known in ancient Egypt.[8][9]

Greco-Roman Egypt

See also: Astrology in Hellenistic Egypt and Greek as-

Writing in the Roman era, Clement of Alexandria gives Astronomical ceiling relief from Dendera, Egypt

Following Alexander the Great's conquests and the foun- as large as the disc of Venus and about one-quarter the
dation of Ptolemaic Egypt, the native Egyptian tradi- brightness of the Moon, and that the star was low on the
tion of astronomy had merged with Greek astronomy as southern horizon.[13]
well as Babylonian astronomy. The city of Alexandria The astrolabic quadrant was invented in Egypt in the 11th
in Lower Egypt became the centre of scientic activ- century or 12th century, and later known in Europe as
ity throughout the Hellenistic civilization. The great- the "Quadrans Vetus" (Old Quadrant).[14] In 14th cen-
est Alexandrian astronomer of this era was the Greek, tury Egypt, Najm al-Din al-Misri (c. 1325) wrote a trea-
Eratosthenes (c. 276-195 BCE), who calculated the size tise describing over 100 dierent types of scientic and
of the Earth, providing an estimate for the circumference
astronomical instruments, many of which he invented
of the Earth. himself.[15]
Following the Roman conquest of Egypt, the region once In the 20th century, Farouk El-Baz from Egypt worked
again became the centre of scientic activity through- for NASA and was involved in the rst Moon landings
out the Roman Empire. The greatest astronomer of this with the Apollo program, where he was secretary of the
era was the Hellenized Egyptian, Ptolemy (90-168 CE). Landing Site Selection Committee, Principal Investigator
Originating from the Thebaid region of Upper Egypt, he of Visual Observations and Photography, chairman of
worked at Alexandria and wrote works on astronomy in- the Astronaut Training Group, and assisted in the plan-
cluding the Almagest, the Planetary Hypotheses, and the ning of scientic explorations of the Moon, including
Tetrabiblos, as well as the Handy Tables, the Canobic In- the selection of landing sites for the Apollo missions
scription, and other minor works. The Almagest is one of and the training of astronauts in lunar observations and
the most inuential books in the history of Western as- photography.[2]
tronomy. In this book, Ptolemy explained how to predict
the behavior of the planets with the introduction of a new
mathematical tool, the equant. 1.4.3 Notes
A few mathematicians of late Antiquity wrote commen-
taries on the Almagest, including Pappus of Alexandria [1] Full version at Met Museum
as well as Theon of Alexandria and his daughter Hypatia.
[2] Muslim Scientists and Space Exploration - Farouk El-
Ptolemaic astronomy became standard in medieval west- Baz: With Apollo to the Moon - Interview. IslamOnline.
ern European and Islamic astronomy until it was dis-
placed by Maraghan, heliocentric and Tychonic systems [3] Ruggles, C.L.N. (2005), Ancient Astronomy, pages 354-
by the 16th century. 355. ABC-Clio. ISBN 1-85109-477-6.

[4] Krupp, E.C. (1988). Light in the Temples, in C.L.N.

Ruggles: Records in Stone: Papers in Memory of Alexan-
1.4.2 Arabic-Islamic Egypt
der Thom. CUP, 473-499. ISBN 0-521-33381-4.
See also: Astronomy in medieval Islam [5] Symons, S.L., Cockcroft, R., Bettencourt, J. and Koykka,
C., 2013. Ancient Egyptian Astronomy [Online database]
Diagonal Star Tables
Following the Muslim conquest of Egypt, the region came
to be dominated by Arabic culture. It was ruled by [6] Symons, S.L. A Stars Year: The Annual Cycle in the
the Rashidun, Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates up until Ancient Egyptian Sky in: Steele, J.M. (Ed.), Calendars
the 10th century, when the Fatimids founded their own and Years: Astronomy and Time in the Ancient World.
Caliphate centred around the city of Cairo in Egypt. The Oxbow Books, Oxford, pp. 1-33.
region once again became a centre of scientic activity,
competing with Baghdad for intellectual dominance in [7] Marshall Clagett, Ancient Egyptian Science, Volume 2:
Calendars, clocks, and astronomy. Philadelphia: Amer-
the medieval Islamic world. By the 13th century, the city
ican Philosophical Society, 1995 ISBN 0871692147 p53
of Cairo eventually overtook Baghdad as the intellectual
center of the Islamic world. [8] Otto E. Neugebauer (1975), A history of ancient mathe-
Ibn Yunus (c. 950-1009) observed more than 10,000 en- matical astronomy, Birkhuser, ISBN 3-540-06995-X
tries for the suns position for many years using a large [9] Rufus, W. Carl, The astronomical system of Coper-
astrolabe with a diameter of nearly 1.4 meters. His obser- nicus, Popular Astronomy, 31: 510521 [512],
vations on eclipses were still used centuries later in Simon Bibcode:1923PA.....31..510R
Newcomb's investigations on the motion of the moon,
while his other observations inspired Laplace's Obliquity [10] Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, vi. 4
of the Ecliptic and Inequalities of Jupiter and Saturn. [12]
[11] O Neugebauer, Egyptian Planetary Texts, Transactions,
In 1006, Ali ibn Ridwan observed the supernova of 1006,
American Philosophical Society, Vol. 32, Part 2, 1942,
regarded as the brightest stellar event in recorded his- Page 237.
tory, and left the most detailed description of the tempo-
rary star. He says that the object was two to three times [12] (Zaimeche 2002)

[13] Goldstein, Bernard R. (1965), Evidence for a Supernova 1.4.7 External links
of A.d. 1006, Astronomical Journal, 70 (1): 105114,
Bibcode:1965AJ.....70..105G, doi:10.1086/109679 Media related to Ancient Egyptian astronomy at
[14] (King, Cleempoel & Moreno 2002, p. 333)
Wikimedia Commons.

[15] (King 2004) Symons, S.L., Cockcroft, R., Bettencourt, J. and

Koykka, C., 2013. Ancient Egyptian Astronomy.
[Online database] Available at: <http://aea.physics.
1.4.4 See also>.

Ancient Egypt
Archaeoastronomy 1.5 Ancient Egyptian burial cus-
Dendera zodiac toms
Decans, Egyptian constellations.
The ancient Egyptians had an elaborate set of funer-
Egyptian astronomers ary practices that they believed were necessary to ensure
their immortality after death (the after life). These rituals
Egyptian calendar and protocols included mummifying the body, casting of
Egyptian mathematics magic spells, and burial with specic grave goods thought
to be needed in the Egyptian afterlife.[1][2]
History of astronomy
The burial process used by the ancient Egyptians evolved
Babylonian astronomy throughout time as old customs were discarded and new
ones adopted, but several important elements of the pro-
Ancient Greek astronomy
cess persisted. Although specic details changed over
Medieval Islamic astronomy time, the preparation of the body, the magic rituals in-
Nabta Playa volved, and the grave goods provided were all essential
parts of a proper Egyptian funeral.
Sothic cycle

1.5.1 History
1.4.5 References
Though no writing survives from Predynastic Egypt,
King, David A. (2004), Reections on some new scholars believe the importance of the physical body and
studies on applied science in Islamic societies (8th- its preservation originated there. This would explain why
19th centuries)", Islam & Science, June 2004. people of that time did not follow the common practice
King, David A.; Cleempoel, Koenraad Van; of cremation, but rather buried the dead. Some also be-
Moreno, Roberto (2002), A Recently Dis- lieve they may have feared [3]
the bodies would rise again if
covered Sixteenth-Century Spanish Astro- mistreated after death.
labe, Annals of Science, 59 (4): 331362, Early bodies were buried in simple, shallow oval pits, with
doi:10.1080/00033790110095813 a few burial goods. Sometimes multiple people and an-
imals were placed in the same grave. Over time, graves
This article incorporates text from a publication now
became more complex, with the body placed in a wicker
in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911).
article name needed basket, then later in wooden or terracotta cons. The
" ". Encyclopdia Britannica (11th
latest tombs Egyptians made were sarcophaguses. These
ed.). Cambridge University Press.
graves contained burial goods like jewelry, food, games
and sharpened splint.[4]
1.4.6 Further reading This demonstrates that this ancient period had a sense of
the afterlife, though archaeological evidence may show
Marshall Clagett, (2004), Ancient Egyptian Science: the average person had little chance of getting into it. This
A Source Book. Volume Two: Calendars, Clocks, may be because admission required that the deceased
and Astronomy, American Philosophical Society, must be able to serve a purpose there. The pharaoh was
ISBN 0-87169-214-7. allowed in because of his role in life, and others needed
Massimiliano Franci, Astronomia egizia, Intro- to have some role there.
duzione alle conoscenze astronomiche dell'antico Human sacrices found in early royal tombs reinforce this
Egitto, Edarc, Firenze 2010, ISBN 978-88-86428- view. These people were probably meant to serve the
94-1. pharaoh during his eternal life. Eventually, gurines and

he was allowed in the next life due to his status here, now
he was merely the ruler of the population who upon his
death would be leveled down towards the plane of the

Prehistory, earliest burials

The rst farmers in Egypt are known from the villages

of Omari and Maadi in the north. The people of these
villages buried their dead in a simple, round graves with
one pot. The body was neither treated nor arranged in
a regular way as would be the case later in the histori-
cal period. Without any written evidence, there is little
to provide information about contemporary beliefs con-
cerning the afterlife except for the regular inclusion of a
single pot in the grave. In view of later customs, the pot
was probably intended to hold food for the deceased.[8]

Predynastic period, development of customs

Funerary customs developed during the Predynastic pe-

riod from those of the Prehistoric Period. At rst peo-
ple excavated round graves with one pot in the Badarian
Period (4400-3800 B.C.E.), continuing the tradition of
Omari and Maadi cultures. By the end of the Predy-
nastic period, there were increasing numbers of objects
deposited with the body in rectangular graves, and there
is growing evidence of rituals practiced by Egyptians of
the Naquada II Period (3650-3300 B.C.E). At this point,
bodies were regularly arranged in a crouched or fetal po-
sition with the face toward either the east the rising sun
or the west (which in this historical period was the land
of the dead). Artists painted jars with funeral proces-
sions and perhaps ritual dancing. Figures of bare breasted
women with birdlike faces and their legs concealed under
Professional mourners in an eloquent gesture of mourning.
skirts also appeared in some graves. Some graves were
much richer in goods than others, demonstrating the be-
ginnings of social stratication. Gender dierences in
wall paintings begin to replace human victims.[5] Some of burial emerged with the inclusion of weapons in mens
these gurines may have been created to resemble certain graves and cosmetics palettes in womens graves.[9]
people, so they could follow the pharaoh after their lives
Early Dynastic Period, tombs and cons
Note that not only the lower classes had to rely on the
pharaohs favor, but also the noble classes. They believed By the First Dynasty, some Egyptians were wealthy
that when he died, the pharaoh became a type of god, enough to build tombs over their burials rather than plac-
who could bestow upon certain individuals the ability to ing their bodies in simple pit graves dug into the sand.
have an afterlife. This belief existed from the predynastic The rectangular, mud-brick tomb with an underground
period through the Old Kingdom. burial chamber, called a mastaba, developed in this pe-
Though many spells from the predeceasing texts were car- riod. These tombs had niched walls, a style of building
ried over, the new con texts also had additional new called the palace-faade motif because the walls imitated
spells added, along with slight changes made to make those surrounding the palace of the king. Since common-
this new funerary text more relatable to the nobility.[6] In ers as well as kings, however, had such tombs, the archi-
the First Intermediate Period, however, the importance tecture suggests that in death, some wealthy people did
of the pharaoh declined. Funerary texts, previously re- achieve an elevated status. Later in the historical period,
stricted to royal use, became more widely available. The it is certain that the deceased was associated with the god
pharaoh was no longer a god-king in the sense that only of the dead, Osiris.

Grave goods expanded to include furniture, jewelry, and the depiction of wadjet eyes (the human eye with the
games as well as the weapons, cosmetic palettes, and food markings of a falcon). There are also regional variations
supplies in decorated jars known earlier, in the Predy- in the hieroglyphs used to decorate cons.
nastic period. Now, however, in the richest tombs, grave Occasionally men had tools and weapons in their graves,
goods numbered in the thousands. Only the newly in- while some women had jewelry and cosmetic objects
vented cons for the body were made specically for the such as mirrors. Grindstones were sometimes included in
tomb. There is also some inconclusive evidence for mum- womens tombs, perhaps to be considered a tool for food
mication. Other objects in the tombs that had been used preparation in the next world, just as the weapons in mens
during daily life suggests that Egyptians already in the
tombs imply mens assignment to a role in ghting.[12]
First Dynasty anticipated needing in the next life. Further
continuity from this life into the next can be found in the
positioning of tombs: those persons who served the king Middle Kingdom, new tomb contents
during their lifetimes chose burials in close proximity to
their lord. The use of stela in front of the tomb began in
the First Dynasty, indicating a desire to individualize the
tomb with the deceaseds name.[10]

Old Kingdom, pyramids and mummication

In the Old Kingdom, kings rst built pyramids for their

own tombs surrounded by stone mastaba tombs for their
high ocials. The fact that most high ocials were also
royal relatives suggests another motivation for such place-
ment: these complexes were also family cemeteries.
Among the elite, bodies were now mummied, wrapped
in linen bandages, sometimes covered with molded plas-
ter, and placed in stone sarcophagi or plain wooden
cons. At the end of the Old Kingdom, mummy masks in
cartonnage (linen soaked in plaster, modeled and painted)
also appeared. Canopic containers now held their inter-
nal organs. Amulets of gold, faience, and carnelian rst
appeared in various shapes to protect dierent parts of
the body. There is also rst evidence of inscriptions in-
side the cons of the elite during the Old Kingdom. Of-
ten, reliefs of every day items were etched onto the walls
supplemented grave goods, which made them available
through their representation.
Mask from a con. Cartonnage, 37.1387E, Brooklyn Museum
The new false door was a non-functioning stone sculpture
of a door into the tomb, found either inside the chapel or
Burial customs in the Middle Kingdom reect some of the
on the outside of the mastaba; it served as a place to make
political trends of this period. During the Eleventh Dy-
oerings and recite prayers for the deceased. Statues of
nasty, tombs were cut into the mountains of Thebes sur-
the deceased were now included in tombs and used for
rounding the kings tomb or in local cemeteries in Upper
ritual purposes. Burial chambers of some private people
and Middle Egypt; Thebes was the native city of the
received their rst decorations in addition to the decora-
Eleventh Dynasty kings, and they preferred to be buried
tion of the chapels. At the end of the Old Kingdom, the
there. But the Twelfth Dynasty, high ocials served the
burial chamber decorations depicted oerings, but not
kings of a new family now ruling from the north in Lisht;
these kings and their high ocials preferred burial in a
mastaba near the pyramids belonging to their masters.
First Intermediate Period, regional variation Moreover, the dierence in topography between Thebes
and Lisht led to a dierence tomb type: in the north, no-
The political situation in the First Intermediate Period, bles build mastaba tombs on the at desert plains, while in
with many centers of power, is clearly reected in the the south, local dignitaries continued to excavate tombs
many local styles of art and burial at this time. The many in the mountain.
regional styles for decorating cons make their origins For those of ranks lower than royal courtiers during the
easy to distinguish from each other. For example, some Eleventh Dynasty, tombs were simpler. Cons could be
cons have one-line inscriptions, and many styles include simple wooded boxes with the body either mummied

and wrapped in linen or simply wrapped without mummi- Nubian soldiers. Such graves reect very ancient cus-
cation, and the addition of a cartonnage mummy mask. toms and feature shallow, round pits, bodies contracted
Some tombs included wooded shoes and a simple statue and minimal food oerings in pots. The occasional in-
near the body. In one burial there were only twelve loaves clusion of identiable Egyptian materials from the Sec-
of bread, a leg of beef, and a jar of beer for food of- ond Intermediate Period provides the only marks distin-
ferings. Jewelry could be included but only rarely were guishing these burials from those of Predynastic and even
objects of great value found in non-elite graves. Some earlier periods.[14]
burials continued to include the wooden models that were
popular during the First Intermediate Period. Wooden
models of boats, scenes of food production, craftsmen New Kingdom, new object purposes
and workshops, and professions such as scribes or soldiers
have been found in the tombs of this period.
Some rectangular cons of the Twelfth Dynasty have
short inscriptions and representations of the most impor-
tant oerings the deceased required. For men the objects
depicted were weapons and symbols of oce as well as
food. Womens cons depicted mirrors, sandals, and jars
containing food and drink. Some cons included texts
that were later versions of the royal Pyramid Texts.
Another kind of faience model of the deceased as a
mummy seems to anticipate the use of shabty gurines
(also called shawabty or an ushabty) later in the Twelfth
Dynasty. These early gurines do not have the text di-
recting the gure to work in the place of the deceased that
is found in later gurines. The richest people had stone Deir-El-Bahari
gurines that seem to anticipate shabties, though some
scholars have seen them as mummy substitutes rather The majority of elite tombs in the New Kingdom were
than servant gures. rock-cut chambers. Kings were buried in multi-roomed,
rock-cut tombs in the Valley of the Kings and no longer in
In the later Twelfth Dynasty, signicant changes oc-
pyramids. Priests conducted funerary rituals for them in
curred in burials, perhaps reecting administrative
stone temples built on the west bank of the Nile opposite
changes enacted by King Senwosret III (1836-1818
of Thebes. From the current evidence, the Eighteenth
B.C.E.). The body was now regularly placed on its back,
Dynasty appears to be the last period in which Egyp-
rather than its side as had been done for thousands of
tians regularly included multiple objects from their daily
years. Con texts and wooden models disappeared from
lives in their tombs; beginning in the Nineteenth Dy-
new tombs of the period while heart scarabs and gurines
nasty, tombs contained fewer items from daily life and
shaped like mummies were now often included in burials,
included objects made especially for the next world. Thus
as they would be for the remainder of Egyptian history.
the change from the Eighteenth to the Nineteenth Dynas-
Con decoration was simplied. The Thirteenth Dy-
ties formed a dividing line in burial traditions: The Eigh-
nasty saw another change in decoration. Dierent motifs
teenth Dynasty more closely remembered the immediate
were found in the north and south, a reection of decen-
past in its customs whereas the Nineteenth Dynasty an-
tralized government power at the time. There were also a
ticipated the customs of the Late Period.
marked increase in the number of burials in one tomb, a
rare occurrence in earlier periods. The reuse of one tomb People of the elite ranks in the Eighteenth Dynasty placed
by a family over generations seems to have occurred when furniture as well as clothing and other items in their
wealth was more equitably spread.[13] tombs, objects they undoubtedly used during life on
earth. Beds, headrests, chairs, stools, leather sandals,
jewelry, musical instruments, and wooden storage chests
Second Intermediate Period, foreigner burials were present in these tombs. While all of the objects
listed were for the elite, many poor people did not put
Known graves from the Second Intermediate Period re- anything beyond weapons and cosmetics into their tombs.
veal the presence of non-Egyptians buried in the coun- No elite tombs survive unplundered from the Ramesside
try. In the north, graves associated with the Hyksos, a period. In this period, artists decorated tombs belong-
western Semitic people ruling the north from the north- ing to the elite with more scene of religious events, rather
east delta, include small mud brick structures containing than the everyday scene that had been popular since the
the body, pottery vessels, a dagger in a mens graves and Old Kingdom. The funeral itself, the funerary meal with
often a nearby donkey burial. Simple pan-shaped graves multiple relatives, the worshipping of the gods, even g-
in various parts of the country are thought to belong to ures in the underworld were subjects in elite tomb dec-

orations. The majority of objects found in Ramesside Late Period, monumentality and return to traditions
period tombs were made for the afterlife. Aside from the
jewelry, which could have been used also during life, ob- Burials in the Late Period could make use of large-scale,
jects in Ramesside tombs were manufactured for the next temple like tombs built for the non-royal elite for the
world.[15] rst time. But the majority of tombs in this period were
in shafts sunk into the desert oor. In addition to ne
statuary and reliefs reecting the style of the Old King-
Third Intermediate Period dom, the majority of grave goods were specially made
for the tomb. Cons continued to bear religious texts
and scenes. Some shafts were personalized by the use of
stela with the deceased prayers and name on it. Shabties
in faience for all classes are known. Canopic jars, though
often nonfunctional, continued to be included. Staves and
scepters representing the deceaseds oce in life were of-
ten present as well. A gure of either the god Osiris or
of the composite deity Ptah-Soker-Osiris could be found,
along with heart scarabs, both gold and faience examples
of djed-columns, Eye of Horus amulets, gures of gods,
and images of the deceaseds ba. Tools for the tombs rit-
ual called the opening of the mouth as well as magical
bricks at the four compass points could be included.[17]

Ptolemaic period, Hellenistic inuences

Following Egypts conquest by Alexander the Great, the

country was ruled by the descendants of Ptolemy, one of
his generals. The Macedonian Greek family fostered a
culture that promoted both Hellenistic and ancient Egyp-
tian ways of life: while many Greek-speaking people
living in Alexandria followed the customs of mainland
Greece, others adopted Egyptian customs, while Egyp-
tians continued to follow their own already ancient cus-
Very few Ptolemaic tombs are known. Fine temple stat-
uary of the period suggests the possibility of tomb sculp-
ture and oering tables. Egyptian elite burials still made
use of stone sarcophagi. Books of the Dead and amulets
were also still popular.[18]

Roman period, Roman inuences

Shabties of King Pinudjem I, ca. 1025-1007 B.C.E., 16.190,
Brooklyn Museum The Romans conquered Egypt in 30 B.C., ending the rule
of the last and most famous member of the Ptolemaic dy-
Though the political structure of the New Kingdom col- nasty, Cleopatra VII. During Roman rule, an elite hybrid
lapsed at the end of the Twentieth Dynasty, the majority burial style developed incorporating both Egyptian and
of burials in the Twenty-rst Dynasty directly reect de- Roman elements.
velopments from the earlier period. At the beginning of Some people were mummied and wrapped in linen ban-
this time, reliefs resembled those from the Ramesside pe- dages. The front of the mummy was often painted with
riod. Only at the very end of the Third Intermediate Pe- a selection of traditional Egyptian symbols. Mummy
riod did new funerary practices of the Late Period begin masks in either traditional Egyptian style or in Roman
to be seen. style could be added to the mummies. Another possi-
Little is known of tombs from this period. The very lack bility was a Roman-style mummy portrait, executed in
of decorations in tombs seem to have led to much more encaustic (pigment suspended in wax) on a wooden panel.
elaborate decoration of cons. The remaining grave Sometimes the feet of the mummy were covered. An al-
goods of the period show fairly cheaply made shabties, ternative to this was a complete shroud with Egyptian mo-
even when the owner was a queen or a princess.[16] tifs but a portrait in the Roman style. Tombs of the elite

size of graves eventually increased but according to sta-

tus and wealth. The dry, desert conditions were a benet
in ancient Egypt for burials of the poor, who could not
aord the complex burial preparations that the wealthy
The simple graves evolved into mudbrick structures
called mastabas. Royal mastabas later developed into
step pyramids and then true pyramids.[21] As soon as
a king took the throne he would start to build his pyra-
mid. Rituals of the burial, including the Opening of the
mouth ceremony took place at the Valley Temple.[20][22]
While a pyramids large size was made to protect against
robbery, it may also be connected to a religious belief
about the sun god, Ra.[23]

1.5.3 Mummication

Main articles: Mummy Mummication and rank, and

List of Egyptian mummies
In order to live for all eternity and be presented in front

The Mummy of Demetrios, 95-100 C.E.,11.600, Brooklyn Mu-


could also include ne jewelry.[19]

1.5.2 Tombs
Painted mummy bandage

of Osiris, the body of the deceased had to be preserved

by mummication, so that the soul could reunite with it,
and take pleasure in the afterlife. The main process of
mummication was preserving the body by dehydrating
it using natron, a natural material found in Wadi Natrun
which is like a combination of baking soda and salt. The
body is drained of any liquids and left with the skin, hair
and muscles preserved.[24]
This process was available for anyone who could aord
it. It was believed that even those who could not aord
this process could still enjoy the afterlife with the right
reciting of spells. The most classic and common method
of mummication dates back to the 18th Dynasty. The
Example of a mastaba rst step was to remove the internal organs and liquid so
that the body would not decay. The embalmers took out
In the Prehistoric Egypt, bodies were buried in deserts be- the brain through a process named excerebration by in-
cause they would naturally be preserved by dehydration. serting a sharp object in the nostril, breaking through it
The graves were small oval or rectangular pits dug in the into the brain and then liquefying it. They threw out the
sand. They could give the body of the deceased in a tight brain because they thought that the heart did all the think-
position on its left side alongside a few jars of food and ing. The next step was to remove the internal organs, the
drink and slate palettes with magical religious spells. The lungs, liver, stomach, and intestines, and place them in

Relief of Men Presenting Oxen, ca. 25002350 B.C.E. Lime-

stone. In this relief, three men bring cattle to the tomb owner,
from the towns of the estate, as the inscription says. Two
of these balding, rustic laborers wear kilts of coarse material
and the other wears nothing at all. A fragmentary scene be-
low shows men bringing cranes, which Egyptians penned and
raised for food. Artisans carved images of live food animals in
tombs to supply the deceased with an eternal source of provisions.
Brooklyn Museum

Mummy of pharaoh Seti I.

canopic jars with lids shaped like the heads of the pro-
tective deities, the four sons of Horus. The heart stayed
in the body, because in the hall of judgment it would be
weighed against the feather of Ma'at. After the body was
washed with wine, it was stued with bags of natron. The
dehydration process took 40 days.[25]
The second part of the process took 30 days. This was the
time where the deceased turned into a semi divine being,
and all that was left in the body from the rst part was
removed, followed by applying rst wine and then oils.
The oils were for ritual purposes, as well as preventing the
limbs and bones from breaking while being wrapped. The
body was sometimes colored with a golden resin. This
protected the body from bacteria and insects. This was
also based on the belief that divine beings had esh of
gold. The body was wrapped in bandages with amulets
while a priest recited prayers and burned incense. The Ay performing the opening of the mouth for Tutankhamun.
dressing provided physical protection and the wealthier
even had a burial mask of their head. The 70 days process
are connected to Osiris and the length the star Sothis was The priests, maybe even the kings successor, move the
absent from the sky.[26] body through the causeway to the mortuary temple. This
is where prayers were recited, incense was burned, and
more rituals were performed to help prepare the king for
1.5.4 Burial rituals his nal journey. The kings mummy was then placed
inside the pyramid along with enormous amount of food,
After the mummy was prepared, it would need to be re- drink, furniture, clothes, and jewelry which were to be
animated, symbolically, by a priest. The opening of the used in the afterlife.
mouth ceremony was conducted by a priest who would
utter a spell and touch the mummy or sarcophagus with The pyramid was sealed so that no one would ever enter
a ceremonial adze a copper or stone blade. This cere- it again. However the kings soul could move through the
mony ensured that the mummy could breathe and speak burial chamber as it wished. After the funeral the king
in the afterlife. In a similar fashion, the priest could ut- becomes a god and[20]could be worshipped in the temples
ter spells to reanimate the mummys arms, legs, and other beside his pyramid.
body parts. In ancient times Egyptians were buried directly in the

ground. Since the weather was so hot and dry, it was easy
for the bodies to remain preserved. Usually the bodies
would be buried in the fetal position.[27] Ancient Egyp-
tians believed the burial process to be an important part
in sending humans to a comfortable afterlife. The Egyp-
tians believed that, after death, the deceased could still
have such feelings of anger, or hold a grudge as the living
can. The deceased were also expected to support and help
their living family.[28] They believed that the Ba and Ka The Book of the Dead was a collection of spells designed to guide
are what enabled the dead to support their family. The Ba the deceased in the afterlife.
made it possible for an invisible twin to be released from
the body to support the family, while the Ka would rec-
ognize the twin when it would come back to the body.[29]
With the ideas of the dead being so valuable, it is clear
why the Egyptians treated the deceased with respect. The nerary literature consists of lists of spells and instructions
less fortunate Egyptians still wanted their family mem- for navigating the afterlife. During the Old Kingdom,
bers to be given a proper burial. A typical burial would only the pharaoh had access to this material, which schol-
be held in the desert where the family would wrap the ars refer to as the Pyramid Texts. The Pyramid Texts are
body in a cloth and bury it with everyday objects for the a collection of spells to assure the royal resurrection and
dead to be comfortable.[30] Although some could aord protect the pharaoh from various malignant inuences.
mummication, most commoners were not mummied The Pharaoh Unas was the rst to use this collection of
due to the expense.[31] Oftentimes, the poor are found in spells, as he and a few subsequent pharaohs had them
mass graves where their bodies are not mummied and carved on the walls of their pyramids.[32] These texts were
only with minimal household objects. If you were to nd individually chosen from a larger bank of spells.
the bodies of the poor in Egypt they would be spread out
throughout the desert, often in areas that are now popu- In the First Intermediate Period and in the Middle King-
lated. dom, some of the Pyramid Text spells also are found in
burial chambers of high ocials and on many cons,
where they begin to evolve into what scholars call the
1.5.5 Cons Con Texts. In this period, the nobles and many non-
royal Egyptians began to have access to funerary litera-
Having been preserved, the mummy was placed in a ture. Though many spells from the earlier texts were car-
brightly painted wooden con. The decorations on the ried over, the new con texts also had additional spells,
con usually t the deceaseds status. A central band along with slight changes made to make this new funerary
contained symbols of rebirth bordered by panels with im- text more t for the nobility.[6]
ages of god and goddesses. The large djed pillar painted In The New Kingdom, the Con texts became the Book
on the back of the con represented a backbone. This of the Dead, or the Funeral Papyri, and would last through
provided symbolic support for the mummy and was a the Late Kingdom. The text in these books was divided
place to write the deceaseds ancestry. according to chapters/ spells, which were almost two-
Next, the rst con was placed in another wooden con. hundred in number. Each one of these texts was individ-
Like the rst con, it was in the shape of the mummy, ualized for the deceased, though to varying degrees. If
but was more simply ornamented. The inside of the bot- the person was rich enough, then they could commission
tom was painted with a gure of a goddess. The lid again their own personal version of the text that would include
showed the deceaseds face, wig and sophisticated collar. only the spells that they wanted. However, if one was not
There was an image of a scarab beetle with outstretched so wealthy, then one had to make do with the pre-made
wings hovering over the mummy. versions that had spaces left for the name of the deceased.
Lastly, the mummy and cons were placed in a rectan- If the scribe ran out of room while doing the transcrip-
gular outermost con mostly made of wood. Sometimes tion, he would just stop the spell wherever he was and
the wealthy had ones of stone, inscribed with religious would not continue.[33] It is not until the Twenty-sixth
texts. On the top of the con would sit a jackal, most Dynasty that there began to be any regulation of the order
likely Anubis, with various burial goods nearby. or even the number of spells that were to be included in
the Book of the Dead. At this time, the regulation is set
at 192 spells to be placed in the book, with certain ones
1.5.6 Funerary texts holding the same place at all times.[34] This makes it seem
as if the order of the texts was not what was important,
Main article: Ancient Egyptian funerary texts so the person could place them in an order that he was
Many mummies were provided with some form of funer- comfortable with, but rather that it was what was written
ary literature to take with them to the afterlife. Most fu- that mattered.

1.5.7 Burial goods

The ancient Egyptians put green stone scarab beetles into the
cons of important people, along with the mummied bodies.
A selection of shabti statues.

Although the types of burial goods changed throughout rst heart scarabs. Shabtis were little clay statues made
ancient Egyptian history, their purpose to protect the de- to perform tasks on command for the pharaoh. Now ob-
ceased and provide sustenance the afterlife remained. jects of daily use appear in tombs again, often magical
From the earliest periods of Egyptian history, all Egyp- items already employed for protecting the living. Scarabs
tians were buried with at least some goods that they (beetles) collect animal dung and roll it into little balls.
thought were necessary after death. At a minimum, these To the Egyptians, these balls looked like the life-giving
consisted of everyday objects such as bowls, combs, and Sun, so they hoped that scarabs would bring them long
other trinkets, along with food. Wealthier Egyptians life. Scarabs have been found in tombs and graves.[37]
could aord to be buried with jewelry, furniture, and In the New Kingdom, some of the old burial customs
other valuables, which made them targets of tomb rob-
changed. For example, an anthropoid con shape be-
bers. In the early Dynastic Period, tombs were lled with came standardized, and the deceased were provided with
daily life objects, such as furniture, jewelry and other
a small shabti statue, which the Egyptians believed would
valuables. They also contained many pottery and stone perform work for them in the afterlife. Elite burials were
often lled with objects of daily use. Under Ramses II
As burial customs developed in the Old Kingdom, and later all daily life objects disappear from tombs. They
wealthy citizens were buried in wooden or stone cons. most often only contained a selection of items especially
However, the number of burial goods declined. They made for the burial. Also, in later burials, the numbers of
were often just a set of copper model copper tools and shabti statues increased; in some burials, numbering more
some vessels.[36] Starting in the First Intermediate pe- than four hundred statues. In addition to these shabti stat-
riod, wooden models became very popular burial goods. ues, the deceased could be buried with many dierent
These wooden models often depict everyday activities types of magical gurines to protect them from harm.
that the deceased expected to continue doing in the af- Funerary boats are a part of some ancient Egyptian
terlife. Also, a type of rectangular con became the burials.[38] Boats played a major role in religion because
standard, being brightly painted and often including an they were conceived as the main means by which the gods
oering formula. Objects of daily use were not often in- traveled across the sky and through the netherworld. One
cluded in the tombs during this period. type of boat used at funerals was for making pilgrimages
At the end of the Middle Kingdom, new object types were to holy sites such as Abydos. A large funerary boat, for
introduced into burials, such as the rst shabtis and the example, was found near the pyramid of the Old King-

dom Pharaoh Cheops. [16] Bleiberg, Edward (2008). To Live Forever: Egyptian
Treasure from the Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, NY:
Brooklyn Museum. pp. 100103.
1.5.8 See also
[17] Bleiberg, Edward (2008). To Live Forever: Egyptian
Treasure from the Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, New
Death and afterlife in Ancient Egypt
York: Brooklyn Museum. p. 103.
Egyptian mummies [18] Bleiberg, Edward (2008). To Live Forever: Egyptian
Treasure from the Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, NY:
Brooklyn Museum. p. 103.
1.5.9 References
[19] Bleiberg, Edward (2008). To Live Forever: Egyptian
[1] Digital Egypt, Burial customs Treasure from the Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, NY:
Brooklyn Museum. pp. 103106.
[2] Ancient Egyptian Mummies: A Web Quest for 4th-6th
Grade (Social Studies), Lee Anne Brandt. Retrieved from [20] Janice Kamrin and Salima Ikram, pp. 1011
the Wayback Machine internet archive on May 8, 2013.
[21] Leonard Lesko, pp. 45
[3] Franoise Dunand and Roger Lichtenberg, Mummies
and Death in Egypt, (London: Cornell University Press, [22] John Taylor, pp. 187193
2006), p. 9
[23] Leonard Lesko pp. 45
[4] Franoise Dunand and Roger Lichtenberg, Mummies
[24] Salima Ikram, Ancient Egypt, pp. 275282
and Death in Egypt, (London: Cornell University Press,
2006), p. 7 [25] Salima Ikram, Ancient Egypt, p. 276
[5] Sergio Donadoni, The Egyptians, (Chicago: University of [26] Salima Ikram, Ancient Egypt, pp. 282
Chicago Press, 1997) p. 262
[27] Burial Practices, Afterlife, & Mummies Rosicrucian
[6] Erik Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Book of the After- Egyptian Museum in San Jose Houses the Largest Col-
life, (Cornell: Cornell University Press, 1999) p. 7 lection of Egyptian Artifacts on Exhibit in Western North
America. Web. 02 Dec. 2013.
[7] John A. Wilson, The Culture of Ancient Egypt, (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1965), p. 116. [28] The Dead and The Living. N.p., n.d.
Web. 24 Nov. 2013 <
[8] Bleiberg, Edward (2008). To Live Forever: Egyptian
Treasure from the Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, NY:
Brooklyn Museum. p. 71. [29] How Were Other Ancient Egyptians Buried. Ancient Trustees of the British Museum, n.d. Web.
[9] Bleiberg, Edward (2008). To Live Forever: Egyptian
27 Nov. 2013.< pyra-
Treasure from the Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, NY:
Brooklyn Museum. pp. 7172.
[30] British Museum, n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2013. <http://www.
[10] Bleiberg, Edward (2008). To Live Forever: Egyptian pyramids/about/otheregy.html>
Treasure from the Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, NY:
Brooklyn Museum. pp. 7273. [31] How did ancient Egyptian embalmers work on the lower
classes?" Courtasy.Discovery. Discovery Channel, n.d.
[11] Bleiberg, Edward (2008). To Live Forever: Egyptian
Web. 23 Nov. 2013.
Treasure from the Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, NY:
Brooklyn Museum. pp. 7477. [32] Digital Egypt, Pyramid texts
[12] Bleiberg, Edward (2008). To Live Forever: Egyptian [33] Raymond O. Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Book of
Treasure from the Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, NY: The Dead, (New York, British Museum Publications,
Brooklyn Museum. p. 77. 1985) p. 11.
[13] Bleiberg, Edward (2008). To Live Forever: Egyptian [34] Raymond O. Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Book of
Treasure from the Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, NY: The Dead, (New York, British Museum Publications,
Brooklyn Museum. pp. 7786. 1985) p. 11.
[14] Bleiberg, Edward (2008). To Live Forever: Egyptian [35] Grajetzki, Burial Customs, pp. 714
Treasure from the Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, New
York: Brooklyn Museum. pp. 8689. [36] Grajetzki, Burial Customs, pp. 1526

[15] Bleiberg, Edward (2008). To Live Forever: Egyptian [37] Starry Dog (2003). History: Ancient Egypt. Biggest
Treasure from the Brooklyn Museum. Brooklyn, New Ever Book of Questions & Answers. WS PACIFIC PUB-
York: Brooklyn Museum. pp. 89100. LICATIONS, INC. p. 71. ISBN 978-1-4454-8792-2.

[38] Mary Ann Sullivan, Solar Boat/Funerary Boat of Cheops

(Khufu), 2001. Retrieved May 9, 2013.

Allen, James P. (2000). Middle Egyptian: An In-

troduction to the Language and Culture of Hiero-
glyphs. Cambridge University Press. pp. 315.
ISBN 0521774837.

David, Rosalie (2002). Religion and Magic in An-

cient Egypt. Penguin. p. 93. ISBN 0140262520.

David, Rosalie. Journey through the afterlife. El-

sevier Ltd. 377.9759 (2011): pp. 20. Web. 10
May. 2012.

Egypt. British Museum. Web. 7 May

slideshows/mummies/index.html>. Egyp-
tian Afterlife. Egyptian Afterlife. Web.
7 May 2012. <

Hornung, Erik (1999). The Ancient Egyptian

Books of the Afterlife. Translated by David Lorton.
Cornell University Press. ISBN 0801485150. Astronomical ceiling from the tomb of Seti I showing stars and
constellations used in calendar calculations
James, T.G.H. (2005). The British Museum Con-
cise Introduction to Ancient Egypt. Ann Arbor,
Michigan: University of Michigan Press. pp 122. 1.6 Egyptian chronology
ISBN 0-472-03137-6.
The majority of Egyptologists agree on the outline and
Kamrin, Janice; Ikram, Salima. The Ancient many details of the chronology of Ancient Egypt. This
Egyptian View Of The AFTERLIFE. Calliope scholarly consensus is the so-called Conventional Egyp-
17.1 (2006): pp. 10 11. MasterFILE Premier. tian chronology, which places the beginning of the Old
Web. 7 May 2012. Kingdom in the 27th century BC, the beginning of the
Middle Kingdom in the 21st century BC and the begin-
Lesko, Leonard H. Religion And The Afterlife. ning of the New Kingdom in the mid-16th century BC.
Calliope 12.1 (2001): pp. 45. MasterFILE Pre-
mier. Web. 8 May 2012."Mummies Death and Despite this consensus, disagreements remain within the
the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt. Mummies Death scholarly community, resulting in variant chronologies di-
and the Afterlife in Ancient verging by about 300 years for the Early Dynastic Period,
up to 30 years in the New Kingdom, and a few years in
Taylor, John (2001). Death and the Afterlife in An- the Late Period.
cient Egypt. University of Chicago Press.pp. 187 In addition, there are a number of alternative chronolo-
193. ISBN 0226791645. gies outside of scholarly consensus, such as the "New
Chronology" proposed in the 1990s, which lowers New
Wolfram Grajetzki: Burial Customs in Ancient Kingdom dates by as much as 350 years, or the "Glasgow
Egypt: Life in Death for Rich and Poor. Duckworth: Chronology" (proposed 19781982), which lowers New
London 2003 ISBN 0-7156-3217-5 Kingdom dates by as much as 500 years.

1.5.10 External links 1.6.1 Overview

Digital Egypt page on burial customs Further information: List of pharaohs
Egyptian mummication
Scholarly consensus on the general outline of the conven-
A Virtual Tomb for Kelvingrove in Internet Archae- tional chronology current in Egyptology has not uctu-
ology ated much over the last 100 years. For the Old Kingdom,

consensus uctuates by as much as a few centuries, but complicated by occasional conicting information on the
for the Middle and New Kingdoms, it has been stable to same regnal period from dierent versions of the same
within a few decades. This is illustrated by comparing thetext; thus, the Egyptian historian Manetho's history of
chronology as given by two Egyptologists, the rst writ- Egypt is only known by extensive references to it made
ing in 1906, the second in 2000 (all dates in the table are
by subsequent writers, such as Eusebius and Sextus Julius
BC).[2] Africanus, and the dates for the same pharaoh often vary
The disparities between the two sets of dates result from substantially depending on the intermediate source.
additional discoveries and rened understanding of the Regnal periods have to be pieced together from inscrip-
still very incomplete source evidence. For example, tions, which will often give a date in the form of the reg-
Breasted adds a ruler in the Twentieth dynasty that fur- nal year of the ruling pharaoh, yet only provides a min-
ther research showed did not exist. Following Manetho, imum length of that reign and may or may not include
Breasted also believed all the dynasties were sequential, any coregencies with a predecessor or successor. In addi-
whereas it is now known that several existed at the same tion, some Egyptian dynasties probably overlapped, with
time. These revisions have resulted in a lowering of the dierent pharaohs ruling in dierent regions at the same
conventional chronology by up to 400 years at the begin- time, rather than serially. Not knowing whether monar-
ning of Dynasty I. chies were simultaneous or sequential results in widely
diering chronological interpretations.
Where the total number of regnal years for a given ruler
1.6.2 Regnal years is not known, Egyptologists have identied two indica-
tors to provide that total number: for the Old Kingdom,
the number of cattle censuses; and for later periods, the
celebration of a sed festival. A number of Old King-
dom inscriptions allude to a periodic census of cattle,
which experts at rst believed took place every second
year; thus records of as many as 24 cattle censuses in-
dicate Sneferu had reigned 48 years. However, further
research has shown that these censuses were sometimes
taken in consecutive years, or after two or more years
had passed.[3] The sed festival was usually celebrated on
the thirtieth anniversary of the Pharaohs ascension, thus
rulers who recorded recording one could be assumed to
have ruled at least 30 years. However, once again, this
may not be the usual practice in all cases.[4]
In the early days of Egyptology, the compilation of reg-
nal periods may also have been hampered due to biblical
bias on the part of the Egyptologists. This was most per-
vasive before the mid 19th century, when Manethos g-
ures were recognized as conicting with biblical chronol-
ogy based on Old Testament references to Egypt (see
Pharaohs in the Bible). In the 20th century, such biblical
bias has mostly been conned to alternative chronologies
outside of scholarly mainstream.

1.6.3 Synchronisms

A useful way to work around these gaps in knowledge is

'Diagonal star table' from the 11th Dynasty con lid; found at to nd chronological synchronisms, which can lead to a
Asyut, Egypt. Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum Hildesheim precise date. Over the past decades, a number of these
have been found, although they are of varying degrees of
The backbone of Egyptian chronology are the regnal usefulness and reliability.
years as recorded in Ancient Egyptian king lists. Sur-
viving king lists are either comprehensive but have sig- Seriation, i.e. archeological sequences. While this
nicant gaps in their text (for example, the Turin King does not x a person or event to a specic year, by
List), or are textually complete but fail to provide a com- establishing a sequence of events can provide indi-
plete list of rulers (for example, the Abydos King List), rect evidence to provide or support a precise date.
even for a short period of Egyptian history. It is further For example, a number of inscribed stone vessels of

the rulers of the rst two dynasties were collected ble with scholarly opinions placing it in between the
and deposited in storage galleries beneath the Step 34th and 30th centuries.[11]
Pyramid of Djoser, a Pharaoh of the Third Dynasty,
which were sealed o by the construction of that The Thera eruption. This is a famous conundrum
building. Another example are blocks from the Old not just in Egyptian but also in Aegean (Minoan)
Kingdom bearing the names of several kings, which chronology, as the radiocarbon date for the erup-
were reused in the construction of Middle King- tion, between 1627 and 1600 BC (p=5%),[12] is o
dom pyramid-temples at Lisht in the structures of by a full century compared to the date traditionally
Amenemhat I. Likewise, the third pylon at Karnak, accepted in archaeology of c. 1500 BC.[13][14][15]
built by Amenhotep III contained as ll material Since 2012, there have been suggestions that the
from the kiosk of Sesostris I, along with various solution lies in adjustment of both dates towards a
stelae of the Second Intermediate Period and the compromise date in the mid 16th century BC,[16]
Eighteenth Dynasty of the New Kingdom.[5] but as of 2014 the problem has not been satisfacto-
rily resolved.
Synchronisms with other chronologies, the most
important of these being with the Assyrian and Dendrochronology. There have been occasional
Babylonian chronologies, although synchronisms opportunities to use dendrochronology to support
with the Hittites, ancient Palestine, and in the nal Egyptian chronology, mostly for the New Kingdom
period with ancient Greece are also used. The ear- period, e.g. the Uluburun shipwreck.[17] Combined
liest such synchronism appears in the 18th century use of dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating al-
BC where a stela of the Governor of Byblos Yantinu lowed identication of tree rings even back to the
indicates that pharaoh Neferhotep I was contempo- Middle Kingdom period, as in the con of Ipi-ha-
rary with kings Zimri-Lim of Mari and Hammurabi ishutef (dated 20739 BC) or the funerary boat of
of Babylon.[6] Other early synchronisms date to the Senusret III (dated 188711 BC; conventional reign
15th century BC, during the Amarna Period, when date 1878 BC1839 BC).[18]
we have a considerable quantity of diplomatic corre-
spondence between the Egyptian Kings Amenhotep
III and Akhenaten, and various Near Eastern monar- 1.6.4 Alternative chronologies
chs. (See Chronology of the Ancient Near East.)
A number of suggestions for alternatives to the consen-
Synchronisms with inscriptions relating to the burial sus on the conventional chronology have been presented
of Apis bulls begin as early as the reign of Amen- during the 20th century:
hotep III and continue into Ptolemaic times, but
there is a signicant gap in the record between The Revised Chronology of Immanuel Velikovsky
Ramesses XI and the 23rd year of Osorkon II. as postulated in his Ages in Chaos series.
The poor documentation of these nds in the
Serapeum also compounds the diculties in using The chronology of Donovan Courville as described
these records. in The Exodus Problem and Its Ramications.

Astronomical synchronisms. The best known of The Glasgow Chronology formulated by members
these is the Sothic cycle, and careful study of this of Velikovskys Society for Interdisciplinary Studies
led Richard A. Parker to argue that the dates of in 1978.
the Twelfth dynasty could be xed with absolute
precision.[7] More recent research has eroded this The New Chronology of David Rohl, as described
condence, questioning many of the assumptions in his Test of Time series.
used with the Sothic Cycle, and as a result experts
have moved away from relying on this Cycle.[8] For
example, Donald B. Redford, in attempting to x 1.6.5 See also
the date of the end of the Eighteenth dynasty, al-
most completely ignores the Sothic evidence, rely- Ancient Egypt
ing on synchronicities between Egypt and Assyria
(by way of the Hittites), and help from astronomical History of ancient Egypt
List of Pharaohs
Radiocarbon dating. This is useful especially for the Chronology of the Ancient Near East
Early Dynastic period, where Egyptological consen-
sus has only been possible within a range of about Biblical chronology
three or four centuries. A 2013 study found a First
Dynasty start in the 32nd or 31st century, compati- Dating methodologies in archaeology

1.6.6 Notes and references [14] Balter, M (2006). New Carbon Dates Support Revised
History of Ancient Mediterranean. Science. 312 (5773):
[1] K. A. Kitchen, The Chronology of Ancient Egypt, 508509. doi:10.1126/science.312.5773.508. PMID
World Archaeology: Chronologies, 23, (1991), p. 202 16645054.
[15] The date of this [volcanic] event is of critical importance
[2] Breasteds dates are taken from his Ancient Records (rst
to the synchronisations of the civilisations in the Eastern
published in 1906), volume 1, sections 5875; Shaws are
Mediterranean. The solution of this matter is the key to
from his Oxford History of Ancient Egypt (published in
most of our synchronisation problems. Bibliotheca Ori-
2000), pp. 479483.
entalis 61, #1-2 January-April 2004: Book review of W.
Mannings A Test of Time, 1999, Oxbow Books
[3] Miroslav Verner, Contemporaneous Evidence for the rel-
ative chronology of DYNS. 4 and 5, Ancient Egyptian [16] In 2012 one of the proponents of an archaeological date,
Chronology Erik Hornung, Rolf Krauss, and David A. Felix Hmayer, argued that archaeological evidence
Warburton (editors), (Leiden: Brill, 2006) pp. 124-8 could be consistent with a date as early as 1570 BCE, re-
ducing the discrepancy to around fty years. Hmayer,
[4] Erik Hornung, Introduction, Ancient Egyptian Chronol- Felix (2012). The Date of the Minoan Santorini Erup-
ogy Hornung, et al., pp. 10f tion: Quantifying the Oset"". Radiocarbon. 54 (3-
4): 444. Retrieved 3 November 2013. Conversely, the
[5] Kitchen, Chronology, p. 203 radiocarbon dates have been argued to be inaccurate by
Malcolm Wiener, Radiocarbon dating of the Theran erup-
[6] William Stevenson Smith: Interconnections in the Ancient tion", Open Journal of Archaeometry, 2 (2014). DOI
Near East: A Study of the Relationships Between the Arts 10.4081/arc.2014.5265
of Egypt, the Aegean, and Western Asia, Yale University
Press, 1965 [17] Kuniholm et al. Nature 1996, 782
[18] S. Manning et al., High-precision dendro-14C dating of
[7] Set forth in Excursus C: The Twelfth dynasty in his The
two cedar wood sequences from First Intermediate Period
Calendars of ancient Egypt (Chicago: University Press,
and Middle Kingdom Egypt and a small regional climate-
related 14C divergence, Journal of Archaeological Sci-
ence 46 (2014), 401416.
[8] One example is Patrick O'Mara, Censorinus, the Sothic
Cycle, and calendar year one in ancient Egypt: the Epis-
tological problem, Journal of Near Eastern studies, 62
(2003), pp. 17-26.
1.6.7 External links

[9] Redford, The Dates of the End of the 18th Dynasty, His- Scientic tool for converting calendar dates men-
tory and Chronology of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt: tioned in Greek and Demotic Papyri from Egypt into
Seven studies (Toronto: University Press, 1967), pp. 183- Julian dates

[10] Kate Spence, Ancient Egyptian chronology and the as- 1.6.8 Further reading
tronomical orientation of pyramids, Nature, 408 (2000),
pp. 320-324. She oers, based on orientation of the Great Erik Hornung, Rolf Krauss, and David A. Warbur-
Pyramid of Giza with circumpolar stars, for a date of that ton (editors), Ancient Egyptian Chronology. Leiden:
structure precise within 5 years. Brill, 2006. ISBN 978-90-04-11385-5 Scribd copy

[11] Michael Dee; David Wengrow; Andrew Shortland; Alice

Stevenson; Fiona Brock; Linus Girdland Flink; Christo-
pher Bronk Ramsey (2013). An absolute chronology for
1.7 Clothing in ancient Egypt
early Egypt using radiocarbon dating and Bayesian statis-
Ancient Egyptian clothes refers to clothing worn in
tical modelling. Proceedings of the Royal Society A. 469
(2159): 20130395. doi:10.1098/rspa.2013.0395. ancient Egypt from the end of the Neolithic period (prior
to 3100 BC) to the collapse of the Ptolemaic dynasty with
[12] Friedrich, Walter L; Kromer, B, Friedrich, M, Heine- the death of Cleopatra VII in 30 BC. Egyptian clothing
meier, J, Pfeier, T, and Talamo, S (2006). Santorini
was lled with a variety of colors. Adorned with precious
Eruption Radiocarbon Dated to 1627-1600 B.C. Science.
gems and jewels, the fashions of the Ancient Egyptians
American Association for the Advancement of Science.
312 (5773): 548. doi:10.1126/science.1125087. PMID were made for not only beauty but also comfort. Egyptian
16645088. Retrieved 2007-03-10. fashion was created to keep cool while in the hot desert.[1]

[13] Warren P.M. (2006). Czerny E, Hein I, Hunger H, Mel-

man D, Schwab A, eds. Timelines: Studies in Honour 1.7.1 Elements of Egyptian clothing
of Manfred Bietak (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 149).
Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium: Peeters. pp. 2: 305321. In ancient Egypt, linen was by far the most common tex-
ISBN 90-429-1730-X. tile. It helped people to be comfortable in the subtropical

pleated or gathered in the front.[3] During this time, mens

skirts were short. As the Middle Kingdom of Egypt, 1600
B.C., came, the skirt was worn longer.[3] Then, around
1420 BC, there was a light tunic or blouse with sleeves,
as well as a pleated petticoat.

1.7.4 Women

The clothing of men and women of several social levels of ancient

Egypt are depicted in this tomb mural from the fteenth century

heat.[1] Linen is made from the ax plant by spinning the

bers from the stem of the plant.[2] Spinning, weaving and
sewing were very important techniques for all Egyptian
societies.[2] Plant dyes could be applied to clothing but
the clothing was usually left in its natural color.[2] Wool
was known, but considered impure. Only the wealthy
wore animal bers that were the object of taboos. They
were used on occasion for overcoats, but were forbidden
in temples and sanctuaries.
Peasants, workers and other people of modest condition
often wore nothing, but the shenti (made of ax) was
worn by all people. Slaves often worked naked.
The most common headdress was the khat or nemes, a
striped cloth worn by men. Network dress. Faience, blue and black cylinder beads, 2 breast
caps and 2 strings of Mitra beads. 5th Dynasty. From burial 978
at Qau (Tjebu), Egypt. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archae-
1.7.2 Pharaohs ology, London

Royal clothing is particularly well documented, as well During the Old, Middle and New Kingdom, Ancient
as the clothing and crowns of the Pharaohs.The pharaohs Egyptian women often wore simple sheath dresses called
would wear leopard skins over their shoulders and added kalasiris.[4] Womens clothing in ancient Egypt was more
a lions tail that would hang from their belt. conservative than mens clothing.[2][5] The dresses were
held up by one or two straps and were worn down to the
ankle, while the upper edge could be worn above or be-
1.7.3 Men low the breasts.[2] The length of the dress denoted the so-
cial class of the wearer.[6] Beading or feathers were also
From about 2130 BC during the Old Kingdom, garments used as an embellishment on the dress.[7] Over the dress,
were simple.[3] The men wore wrap around skirts known women had a choice of wearing shawls, capes, or robes.
as the shendyt, which were belted at the waist, sometimes The shawl was a piece of cloth around 4 feet wide by 13

or 14 feet long.[2] This was mostly worn pleated as well.[2] On the other hand, silver was rare and was imported
Female clothes only changed slightly through the millen- from Asia. Therefore, it was silver that was often con-
nia. Draped clothing (with many varieties of drapery) sidered more precious than gold. The eastern desert was
sometimes gave the impression of completely dierent also an important source for colorful semi-precious stones
clothing. It was made of hak, a very ne muslin. such as carnelian, amethyst and jasper. In the Sinai were
Until the mid-Eighteenth Dynasty women wore a tight- turquoise mines, the deep blue lapis lazuli had to come
tting sheath dress, a simple garment that falls from just from far away Afghanistan. Glass and faience (glaze over
below the breasts to just above the ankles, being held up a core of stone or sand) were favorites to replace rocks
because they could be produced in many colors.[10]
by two shoulder straps. On statues the straps cover the
breasts, but in painting and relief the single breast de- The Egyptians became very skilled when making jew-
picted in prole is exposed. The dress hugs the body with elry from turquoise, metals like gold and silver, and small
no slack. Also when women are shown in movement, sit- beads. Both men and women adorned themselves with
ting or kneeling, the dress still clings to the outline of the earrings, bracelets, rings, necklaces and neck collars that
body as if elasticated. However Egyptian clothes were were brightly colored. Those who could not aord jew-
mostly made from linen, which tends to sag. Surviving elry made from gold or other stones would make their
dresses consist of a body made from a tube of material jewelry from colored pottery beads.[11]
sewn up one side, supported not by straps but by a bodice One creation that was specic to ancient Egypt was the
with sleeves. In contrast to dresses shown in art, such gorgerine, an assembly of metal discs worn on the chest,
linen garments tend to be baggy, and would conceal rather either over bare skin or over a shirt, and attached in the
than reveal the body.[8] back.

1.7.5 Children
1.7.8 Cosmetics
Children wore no clothing until 6 years old. Once they
turned six years old they were allowed to wear clothing Embalming allowed the development of cosmetics and
to protect them from the dry heat. A popular hairstyle perfumes. The perfumes of Egypt were the most nu-
among the children was the side-lock on the right side of merous, but also the most sought and the costliest of
the head.[9] Even though children usually wore no cloth- antiquity, which used them extensively. The Egyptians
ing, they wore jewelry such as anklets, bracelets, collars, used makeup most of all the ancient people. Nails and
and hair accessories.[9] When they grew up, they wore the hands were painted with henna.
same styles as their parents. Black kohl, which was used to mark eyes, was ob-
tained from galena. Eye shadow was made from crushed
malachite. Red, which was applied to lips, came from
1.7.6 Wigs ochre. These products were mixed with animal fat to
make them compact and to preserve them. They wore
Wigs, common to both genders, were worn by wealthy galena or crushed malachite not just to enhance beauty,
people of society. Made from real human and horse hair, but because they believed it kept dust and dirt from get-
they had ornaments incorporated into them. They were ting into their eyes. For this reason, both men and women
often woven into certain hairstyles and were quite inex- wore it.
pensive. In the royal court, women sometimes wore cu-
plets lled with perfume. They were worn to also keep Findings were published by American Chemical Society
out head lice and protected the head when doing danger- in the journal Analytic Chemistry suggest that the use of
ous things. lead in makeup was intentional. Findings suggest that the
lead in combination with salts produced naturally by the
body produce nitric oxide which boosts the immune sys-
1.7.7 Jewelry tem. It is believed that the production and result were
intentional. The increase in immune productivity would
help to prevent infections like conjunctivitis.[12]
Jewelry was very popular in Ancient Egypt, no matter the
social class. It was heavy and rather voluminous. The
main reason for wearing jewelry is because of its aesthetic
function. The Egyptians were quite soberly dressed in 1.7.9 Footwear
white linen fabrics, and jewelry oered a possibility for
contrast. The Egyptian preference was towards the use of Footwear was the same for both genders. It consisted of
bright colors, lustrous stones and precious metals. Gold sandals of leatherwork, or for the priestly class, papyrus.
was won in large quantities in the eastern desert of Egypt, Since Egyptians were usually barefoot, sandals were worn
but also came from Nubia, that was an Egyptian colony on special occasions or at times when their feet might get
for centuries. hurt.[6]

1.7.10 See also

Clothing in the ancient world
Biblical clothing

Clothing in ancient Rome

Ancient Egyptian int jewelry

1.7.11 References
[1] Ancient Egypt Fashion. Re-
trieved on 2012-05-05.



[3] The Latest Fashions in Ancient Egypt.

(2011-06-13). Retrieved on 2012-05-05.

[4] Tierney, Tom (1999). Ancient Egyptian fashions. Mine-

ola, N.Y.: Dover. p. 2. ISBN 9780486408064.

[5] Thompson, James. C. womens clothing and Fashions in

Ancient Egypt.

[6] Ancient Egypt: Clothing. Retrieved on


[7] Egypt: Daily Life.

[8] Gay Robin: Women in ancient Egypt (p. 181-2), British

museum press, 1993, ISBN 0-7141-0956-8

[9] Springer, I. (December, 2010) Egypt: Tour Egypt

Monthly: A Kid in Ancient Egypt. Re-
trieved on 2012-05-05.

[10] Ancient Egyptian Jewelry. Dr. Maarten van Raven, Cu-

rator Archaeological Museum, Leiden, the Netherlands
2016-01-02. Retrieved on 2016-03-17.

[11] Clothing Ancient Egypt. (2010-

04-30). Retrieved on 2012-05-05.

[12] Cleopatras Eye Makeup Warded O Infections?. Retrieved on 2012-05-

1.7.12 External links


Egyptian woman in a kalasiris


1.8 Ancient Egyptian cuisine raisins could be dried for long-term storage. The staples
bread and beer were usually prepared in the same loca-
tions, as the yeast used for bread was also used for brew-
ing. The two were prepared either in special bakeries or,
more often, at home, and any surplus would be sold.[3]
Honey was the primary sweetener, but was rather
expensive. There was honey collected from the wild,
and honey from domesticated bees kept in pottery hives.
A cheaper alternative would have been dates or carob.
There was even a hieroglyph (nedjem/bener) depicting
a carob pod, that bore the primary meaning of sweet;
pleasant. Oils would be made from lettuce or radish
seed, saower, ben, balanites and sesame. Animal fat
was employed for cooking and jars used for storing it
have been found in many settlements.

1.8.2 Egyptian Bread

An early Ramesside Period mural painting from Deir el-Medina
tomb depicts an Egyptian couple harvesting crops.

The cuisine of ancient Egypt covers a span of over three

thousand years, but still retained many consistent traits
until well into Greco-Roman times. The staples of both
poor and wealthy Egyptians were bread and beer, often
accompanied by green-shooted onions, other vegetables,
and to a lesser extent meat, game and sh.

1.8.1 Meals
Depictions of banquets can be found in paintings from
both the Old Kingdom and New Kingdom. They usu- A depiction of the royal bakery from an engraving in the tomb of
ally started sometime in the afternoon. Men and women Ramesses III in the Valley of the Kings. There are many types of
were separated unless they were married. Seating varied loaves, including ones that are shaped like animals. 20th dynasty.
according to social status, with those of the highest sta-
tus sitting on chairs, those slightly lower sat on stools and Egyptian bread was made almost exclusively from emmer
those lowest in rank sat on the raw oor. Before the food wheat, which was more dicult to turn into our than
was served, basins were provided along with perfumes most other varieties of wheat. The cha does not come
and cones of scented fat were lit to spread pleasant smells o through threshing, but comes in spikelets that needed
or to repel insects, depending on the type.[1] to be removed by moistening and pounding with a pestle
Lily owers and ower collars were handed out and to avoid crushing the grains inside. It was then dried in the
sun, winnowed and sieved and nally milled on a saddle
professional dancers (primarily women) entertained, ac-
companied by musicians playing harps, lutes, drums, quern, which functioned by moving the grindstone back
tambourines, and clappers. There were usually consider- and forth, rather than with a rotating motion.[4]
able amounts of alcohol and abundant quantities of foods; The baking techniques varied over time. In the Old King-
there were whole roast oxen, ducks, geese, pigeons, and dom, heavy pottery molds were lled with dough and then
at times sh. The dishes frequently consisted of stews set in the embers to bake. During the Middle Kingdom
served with great amounts of bread, fresh vegetables and tall cones were used on square hearths. In the New King-
fruit. For sweets there were cakes baked with dates and dom a new type of a large open-topped clay oven, cylin-
sweetened with honey. The goddess Hathor was often in- drical in shape, was used, which was encased in thick mud
voked during feasts.[2] bricks and mortar.[5]
Food could be prepared by stewing, baking, boiling, Dough was then slapped on the heated inner wall and
grilling, frying, or roasting. Spices and herbs were added peeled o when done, similar to how a tandoor oven
for avor, though the former were expensive imports and is used for atbreads. Tombs from the New Kingdom
therefore conned to the tables of the wealthy. Food such show images of bread in many dierent shapes and sizes.
as meats was mostly preserved by salting, and dates and Loaves shaped like human gures, sh, various animals

and fans, all of varying dough texture. Flavorings used green scallions and garlic and both also had medical uses.
for bread included coriander seeds and dates, but it is not There was also lettuce, celery (eaten raw or used to a-
known if this was ever used by the poor.[6] vor stews), certain types of cucumber and, perhaps, some
Other than emmer, barley was grown to make bread and types of Old World gourds and even melons. By Greco-
also used for making beer, and so were lily seeds and Roman times there were turnips, but it is not certain if
roots, and tiger nut. The grit from the quern stones used to they were available before that period. Various tubers of
grind the our mixed in with bread was a major source of sedges, including papyrus were eaten raw, boiled, roasted
tooth decay due to the wear it produced on the enamel. or ground into our and were rich in nutrients.
For those who could aord there was also ne dessert Tiger nut (Cyperus esculentus) was used to make a dessert
bread and cakes baked from high-grade our.[3] made from the dried and ground tubers mixed with honey.
Lily and similar owering aquatic plants could be eaten
raw or turned into our, and both root and stem were
1.8.3 Egyptian Beer edible. A number of pulses and legumes such as peas,
beans, lentils and chickpeas were vital sources of pro-
In Egypt beer was a primary source of nutrition, and con- tein. The excavations of the workers village at Giza have
sumed daily. Beer was such an important part of the revealed pottery vessels imported from the Middle East,
Egyptian diet that it was even used as currency.[7] Like which were used to store and transport olive oil as
most modern African beers, but unlike European beer, early as the 4th Dynasty.
it was very cloudy with plenty of solids and highly nu- The most common fruit were dates and there were also
tritious, quite reminiscent of gruel. It was an important gs, grapes (and raisins), dom palm nuts (eaten raw or
source of protein, minerals and vitamins and was so valu- steeped to make juice), certain species of Mimusops, and
able that beer jars were often used as a measurement of nabk berries (a species of the genus Ziziphus).[3] Figs
value and was used in medicine. Little is known about were so common because they were high in sugar and
specic types of beer, but there is mention of, for exam- protein. The dates would either be dried/dehydrated or
ple, sweet beer but without any specic details mentioned. eaten fresh. Dates were sometimes even used to ferment
Globular-based vessels with a narrow neck were used to wine and the poor would use them as sweeteners. Unlike
store fermented beer[8] from pre-dynastic times has been vegetables, which were grown year-round, fruit was more
found at Hierakonpolis and Abydos with emmer wheat seasonal. Pomegranates and grapes would be brought into
residue that shows signs of gentle heating from below. tombs of the deceased.
Though not conclusive evidence of early beer brewing
it is an indication that this might have been what they
were used for. Archeological evidence shows that beer 1.8.5 Meat and Fish
was made by rst baking beer bread, a type of well-
leavened, lightly baked bread that did not kill the yeasts,
which was then crumbled over a sieve, washed with wa-
ter in a vat and then left to ferment . There are claims of
dates or malts having been used, but the evidence is not
Microscopy of beer residue points to a dierent method
of brewing where bread was not used as an ingredi-
ent. One batch of grain was sprouted, which produced
enzymes. The next batch was cooked in water, dispersing
the starch and then the two batches were mixed. The en-
zymes began to consume the starch to produce sugar. The Hunting game birds and plowing a eld. Depiction on a burial
resulting mixture was then sieved to remove cha, and chamber from c. 2700 BC. Tomb of Nefermaat I and his wife
yeast (and probably lactic acid) was then added to begin a Itet.
fermentation process that produced alcohol. This method
of brewing is still used in parts of non-industrialized Meat came from domesticated animals, game and poul-
Africa. Most beers were made of barley and only a few try. This possibly included partridge, quail, pigeon, ducks
of emmer wheat, but so far no evidence of avoring has and geese. The chicken most likely arrived around the 5th
been found.[9] to 4th century BC, though no chicken bones have actually
been found dating from before the Greco-Roman period.
The most important animals were cattle, sheep, goats and
1.8.4 Fruit and Vegetables pigs (previously thought to have been taboo to eat because
the priests of Egypt referred pig to the evil god Seth).[11]
Vegetables were eaten as a complement to the ubiquitous Beef was generally more expensive and would at most
beer and bread, and the most common were long-shooted have been available once or twice a week, and then mostly

for the royalty. However, excavations at the Giza workers 1.9 List of ancient Egyptian dynas-
village have uncovered evidence of massive slaughter of
beef, mutton and pork, such that researchers estimate that
the workforce building the Great Pyramid were fed beef
every day.[12]
Mutton and pork were more common. Poultry, both wild
and domestic and sh were available to all but the most
destitute. The alternative protein sources would rather
have been legumes, eggs, cheese and the amino acids
available in the tandem staples of bread and beer. Mice
and hedgehogs were also eaten and a common way to
cook the latter was to encase a hedgehog in clay and bake
it. When the clay was then cracked open and removed, it
took the prickly spikes with it.[3]
The 31 pre-Ptolemaic dynasties by the length of their rule (in 25-
1.8.6 See also year bins),[example 1] each dynasty being a coloured box. The early
dynasties and the three Kingdoms are blue, with darker colours
meaning older. Intermediate periods are red, orange, and yellow.
Hunting, shing and animals in ancient Egypt
Note that multiple dynasties could reign from dierent cities si-
Egyptian cuisine multaneously in intermediate periods and at the end of the Middle
Kingdom. Dynastic reigning times are often very approximate;
Cuisine of Ancient Greece the above uses the dates of the Egyptian dynasty list template.

List of ancient dishes In Ancient Egyptian history, dynasties are series of rulers
sharing a common origin who are usually of the same
1.8.7 Notes and references
Ancient Egypts historical period is traditionally divided
[1] Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt; banquets into thirty-one pharaonic dynasties. These divisions are
due to the 3rd century BC Egyptian priest Manetho, and
[2] Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt; banquets
rst appeared in his work Aegyptiaca, which was perhaps
[3] The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt; diet written for the Greek-speaking Ptolemaic Egyptian ruler
of the time. The thirty-rst dynastys name is not due to
[4] Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt; bread Manetho and is a later coining.
[5] Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt; bread While widely used and useful, the system does have its
shortcomings. Some dynasties only ruled part of Egypt
[6] Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt; bread
and existed concurrently with other dynasties based in
[7] Homan, Michael. Beer and Its Drinkers: An Ancient other cities. The Seventh might not have existed at all, the
near Eastern Love Story. Near Eastern Archaeology. 67 Tenth seems to be a continuation of the Ninth, and there
(2): 8495. might have been one or several Upper Egyptian Dynasties
before the First Dynasty.
[8] Homan, Michael (June 2004). Beer and Its Drinkers: An
Ancient near Eastern Love Story. Near Eastern Archae- This page lists articles on dynasties of Ancient Egypt.
ology. 67 (2): 86. The cities in which power was held during these dynasties
follow their names, in parentheses.
[9] Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt; beer

[10] Hawass, Zahi, Mountains of the Pharaohs, Doubleday,

New York, 2006. p. 165. 1.9.1 Late prehistory
[11] Hawass, Zahi, Mountains of the Pharaohs, Doubleday, Protodynastic Period of Egypt
New York, 2006. p. 211.
Upper Egyptian protodynastic (several con-
[12] Hawass, Zahi, Mountains of the Pharaohs, Doubleday, current centres of power: Thinis, which suc-
New York, 2006. p. 211. ceeded from Abydos, was northernmost, fol-
lowed by Naqada and Nekhen)

1.8.8 External links

1.9.2 Early Dynastic Period
Food: Bread, beer, and all good things, re-, 2000-2005. First Dynasty of Egypt (Thinis)

Second Dynasty of Egypt (Thinis) 1.9.8 Third Intermediate Period

Twenty-rst Dynasty of Egypt (Tanis)

1.9.3 Old Kingdom
High Priests of Amun at Thebes
Third Dynasty of Egypt (Memphis)
Twenty-second Dynasty of Egypt (Bubastis)
Fourth Dynasty of Egypt (Memphis)
Twenty-third Dynasty of Egypt (obscure, per-
Fifth Dynasty of Egypt (Memphis) haps Herakleopolis Magna, Hermopolis Magna, or
Sixth Dynasty of Egypt (Memphis)
Twenty-fourth Dynasty of Egypt (Sais, Western
Nile Delta)
1.9.4 First Intermediate Period
Twenty-fth Dynasty of Egypt (Memphis, under
Seventh Dynasty of Egypt (Memphis), perhaps foreign control of Napata, Nubia)

Eighth Dynasty of Egypt (Memphis) 1.9.9 Late Period

Ninth Dynasty of Egypt (Herakleopolis Magna) Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt (Sais)

Tenth Dynasty of Egypt (Herakleopolis Magna), Twenty-seventh Dynasty of Egypt or the First Egyp-
continuation of the ninth[2] tian Satrapy (under control of the First Persian Em-

1.9.5 Middle Kingdom Twenty-eighth Dynasty of Egypt (Sais)

Eleventh Dynasty of Egypt (Thebes) Twenty-ninth Dynasty of Egypt (Mendes)

Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt (Itjtawy, Faiyum region) Thirtieth Dynasty of Egypt (Sebennytos)

Thirteenth Dynasty of Egypt (Itjtawy) Thirty-rst Dynasty of Egypt or the Second Egyp-
tian Satrapy (under control of the First Persian Em-
1.9.6 Second Intermediate Period

Fourteenth Dynasty of Egypt (Avaris) 1.9.10 Graeco-Roman Period

Fifteenth Dynasty of Egypt (Avaris) Ptolemaic dynasty (Alexandria)

Sixteenth Dynasty of Egypt (obscure, Thebes or Roman Period (Alexandria, under control of Rome)

Abydos dynasty (obscure, Abydos) 1.9.11 See also

Seventeenth Dynasty of Egypt (Thebes), concurrent List of Pharaohs
to the Fifteenth Dynasty
Egyptian chronology

1.9.7 New Kingdom Conventional Egyptian chronology

Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt (Thebes, Amarna,

then again Thebes) 1.9.12 Chart example
Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt (Thebes, Memphis, [1] Starting on the far right of this chart, only one dynasty
then Pi-Ramesses) lasted over 250 years (18th dynasty). Two dynasties lasted
between 200 and 225 years (two boxes). One dynasty
Twentieth Dynasty of Egypt (Pi-Ramesses) lasted between 175 and 200 years (one box, etc.)

1.9.13 References used to refer to the principal wife of the pharaoh of

Ancient Egypt. The former is also, in the form of the
[1] Wilkinson, Toby (2010). Timeline. The Rise and Fall simplication Great Wife, applied to more contempo-
of Ancient Egypt. New York: Random House. p. xiii. rary royal consorts in states all over modern Africa (e.g.,
ISBN 9781408810026. The system of dynasties devised Mantfombi Dlamini of Swaziland, chief consort of the
in the third century B.C. is not without its problemsfor
Zulu King).
example, the Seventh Dynasty is now recognized as being
wholly spurious, while several dynasties are known to have
ruled concurrently in dierent parts of Egypt...
1.10.1 Description
[2] Seidlmayer, Stephan (2000). Shaw, Ian, ed. The Oxford
History of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press. p. While most Ancient Egyptians were monogamous,
118. ISBN 0-19-815034-2. After the 8th Dynasty power the pharaoh would have had other, lesser wives and
was held by a succession of rulers originating from Her- concubines in addition to the Great Royal Wife. This ar-
akleopolis Magna, which was located in northern Middle rangement would allow the pharaoh to enter into diplo-
Egypt. These kings appear as both the 9th and 10th Dy- matic marriages with the daughters of allies, as was the
nasties in Manethos history, having been mistakenly sub- custom of ancient kings.[1]
divided in the course of the transmission of the original
king-list. In the past the order of succession in Ancient Egypt
was thought to pass through the royal women. This
theory, referred to as the Heiress Theory, has been re-
1.10 Great Royal Wife jected ever since the 1980s and is now not accepted by
Egyptologists.[2][3] The throne likely just passed to the
eldest living son of the pharaoh. The mother of the heir
to the throne was not always the Great Royal Wife, but
once a pharaoh was crowned, it was possible to grant the
mother of the king the title of Great Royal Wife, along
with other titles. Examples include Iset, the mother of
Thutmose III,[4] Tiaa, the mother of Thutmose IV[2] and
Mutemwia, the mother of Amenhotep III.[5]
Meretseger, the chief wife of Senusret III, is the earliest
queen whose name appears with this title; she also was the
rst consort known to write her name in a cartouche.[6]
However, she is only attested in the New Kingdom[7] so
the title might be an anachronism. Perhaps the rst holder
of its title was Nubkhaes of the Second Intermediate Pe-
A special place in the history of great royal wives was
taken by Hatshepsut. She was Great Royal Wife to her
half-brother Thutmose II. During this time Hatshepsut
also became a Gods Wife of Amun (the highest ranking
priestess in the temple of Amun in Karnak). After the
death of her husband, she became regent because of the
minority of her stepson, the only male heir (born to Iset),
who eventually would become Thutmose III. While he
was still very young, however, Hatshepsut was crowned
as pharaoh and ruled very successfully in her own right
for many years. Although other women before her had
ruled Egypt, Hatshepsut was the rst woman to take the
title, pharaoh, as it was a new term being used for the
rulers, not having been used before the eighteenth dy-
nasty. When she became pharaoh, she designated her
daughter, Neferure, as Gods Wife of Amun to perform
the duties of a priestess. Her daughter may have been
the great royal wife of Thutmose III but there is no clear
Hatshepsut was Great Royal Wife to Thutmose II, then regent for
evidence for this proposed marriage.[8]
her stepson Thutmose III (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)
Elsewhere, in Kush and other major states of ancient
Great Royal Wife, or alternatively Chief Kings Wife Africa, the rulers often structured their households in
(Ancient Egyptian: mt nswt wrt), is the term that was much the same way as has just been described.

1.10.2 Great wives today

The practice of creating great wives has continued to the
present day, with the most senior polygamous spouses
of contemporary African royals often being referred to
by the honoric Great Wife. In addition to the said
queen of the Zulus, contemporary holders of the title in-
clude the numerous bearers of the Iyaan chieftaincy of
Yorubaland and the future Ndlovukati of Swaziland.

1.10.3 Examples
Middle Kingdom

Second Intermediate Period

New Kingdom

Third Intermediate Period

Late Period

1.10.4 See also

List of consorts of the Muhammad Ali Dynasty, for
the modern queens and sultanas of Egypt

Gods Wife of Amun

Divine Adoratrice of Amun

Interregnum queen

1.10.5 References
Nefertari, the Great Royal Wife of Ramasses II, from the temple
[1] Shaw, Garry J. The Pharaoh, Life at Court and on Cam- he built to honour her at Abu Simbel, she holds a sistrum and a
paign, Thames and Hudson, 2012, p. 48, 91-94. sacred lotus
[2] O'Connor and Cline (Editors), Amenhotep III: Perspec-
tives on his reign, pg 6 1.11 History of ancient Egypt
[3] G. Robins, A Critical examination of the Theory that the
Right to the Throne in Ancient Egypt Passed through the The history of ancient Egypt spans the period from the
Female Line in the Eighteenth Dynasty. GM 62: pg 67-77 early prehistoric settlements of the northern Nile valley
[4] O'Conner and Cline, Thutmose III: A new biogra- to the Roman conquest, in 30 BC. The Pharaonic Pe-
phy,2006 riod is dated from the 32nd century BC, when Upper and
Lower Egypt were unied, until the country fell under
[5] Joann Fletcher: Egypts Sun King Amenhotep III (Duncan Macedonian rule, in 332 BC.
Baird Publishers, London, 2000) ISBN 1-900131-09-9,

[6] Aidan Dodson & Dyan Hilton: The Complete Royal Fam-
1.11.1 Chronology
ilies of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson, 2004, ISBN
0-500-05128-3, pp.25-26 Note For alternative 'revisions to the chronology of
Egypt, see Egyptian chronology.
[7] L. Holden, in: Egypts Golden Age: The Art of Living in the
New Kingdom, 1558-1085 B.C., Boston 1982, S. 302f.
Egypts history is split into several dierent periods ac-
[8] Tyldesley, Chronicle of the Queens of Ancient Egypt, pg cording to the ruling dynasty of each pharaoh. The dating
110 of events is still a subject of research. The conservative
dates are not supported by any reliable absolute date for

a span of about three millennia. The following is the list forced them to adopt a more sedentary lifestyle. How-
according to conventional Egyptian chronology. ever, the period from 9th to the 6th millennium BC has
left very little in the way of archaeological evidence.
Prehistoric Egypt (Prior to 3100 BC)

Naqada III (the protodynastic period"; approxi- Prehistoric Egypt

mately 31003000 BC)
Main article: Prehistoric Egypt
Early Dynastic Period (FirstSecond Dynasties) Further information: Naqada
The Nile valley of Egypt was basically uninhabitable un-
Old Kingdom (ThirdSixth Dynasties)

First Intermediate Period (Seventh and Eighth

Eleventh Dynasties)

Middle Kingdom (TwelfthThirteenth Dynasties)

Second Intermediate Period (Fourteenth

Seventeenth Dynasties)

New Kingdom (EighteenthTwentieth Dynasties)

Third Intermediate Period (also known as the

Libyan Period; Twenty-rstTwenty-fth Dynas-

Late Period (Twenty-sixthThirty-rst Dynasties)

1.11.2 Neolithic Egypt

Neolithic period

The Nile has been the lifeline for Egyptian culture since
nomadic hunter-gatherers began living along it during the
Pleistocene. Traces of these early people appear in the A Gerzeh culture vase decorated with gazelles, on display at the
form of artifacts and rock carvings along the terraces of
the Nile and in the oases. To the Egyptians the Nile meant til the work of clearing and irrigating the land along the
life and the desert meant death, though the desert did pro-banks was started.[3] However it appears that this clear-
vide them protection from invaders. ance and irrigation was largely under way by the 6th mil-
Along the Nile in the 12th millennium, an Upper Pale- lennium. By that time, Nile society was already engaged
olithic grain-grinding culture using the earliest type of in organized agriculture and the construction of large
sickle blades had replaced the culture of hunting, shing, buildings.[4]
and hunter-gatherers using stone tools. Evidence also in- At this time, Egyptians in the southwestern corner of
dicates human habitation and cattle herding in the south- Egypt were herding cattle and also constructing large
western corner of Egypt near the Sudan border before the buildings. Mortar was in use by the 4th millennium.
8th millennium BC.
The people of the valley and the Nile Delta were self-
Despite this, the idea of an independent bovine domesti- sucient and were raising barley and emmer, an early va-
cation event in Africa must be abandoned because subse- riety of wheat, and stored it in pits lined with reed mats.[5]
quent evidence gathered over a period of thirty years has They raised cattle, goats and pigs and they wove linen and
failed to corroborate this.[1] baskets.[5] Prehistory continues through this time, vari-
The oldest-known domesticated cattle remains in Africa ously held to begin with the Amratian culture.
are from the Faiyum c. 4400 BC.[2] Geological evidence Between 5500 BC and the 31st century BC, small settle-
and computer climate modeling studies suggest that nat- ments ourished along the Nile, whose delta empties into
ural climate changes around the 8th millennium began the Mediterranean Sea.
to desiccate the extensive pastoral lands of North Africa,
The Tasian culture was the next to appear; it existed
eventually forming the Sahara by the 25th century BC. in Upper Egypt starting about 4500 BC. This group
Continued desiccation forced the early ancestors of the is named for the burials found at Deir Tasa, a site on
Egyptians to settle around the Nile more permanently and the east bank of the Nile between Asyut and Akhmim.

The Tasian culture is notable for producing the earliest the area of modern Cairo.
blacktop-ware, a type of red and brown pottery painted
black on its top and interior.[6]
1.11.3 Dynastic Egypt
The Badari culture, named for the Badari site near Deir
Tasa, followed the Tasian; however, similarities mean Early dynastic period
many avoid dierentiating between them at all. The
Badari culture continued to produce the kind of pot- Main article: Early Dynastic Period (Egypt)
tery called blacktop-ware (although its quality was much The historical records of ancient Egypt begin with Egypt
improved over previous specimens), and was assigned
the sequence dating numbers between 21 and 29.[7] The
signicant dierence, however, between the Tasian and
Badari, which prevents scholars from completely merg-
ing the two, is that Badari sites are Chalcolithic while the
Tasian sites remained Neolithic and are thus considered
technically part of the Stone Age.[7]
The Amratian culture is named after the site of el-Amreh,
about 120 kilometres (75 mi) south of Badari. El-Amreh
was the rst site where this culture was found unmingled
with the later Gerzeh culture. However, this period is
better attested at Nagada, and so is also referred to as
the Naqada I culture.[8] Black-topped ware continued
to be produced, but white cross-line ware, a type of pot-
tery decorated with close parallel white lines crossed by
another set of close parallel white lines, began to be pro-
duced during this time. The Amratian period falls be-
tween S.D. 30 and 39.[9] Newly excavated objects indi-
cate that trade between Upper and Lower Egypt existed
at this time. A stone vase from the north was found at
el-Amreh, and copper, which is not present in Egypt, was
apparently imported from the Sinai Peninsula or perhaps
Nubia. Obsidian[10] and an extremely small amount of
gold[9] were both denitively imported from Nubia dur-
ing this time. Trade with the oases was also likely.[10]
The Gerzeh culture (Naqada II), named after the site
of el-Gerzeh, was the next stage in cultural development,
and it was during this time that the foundation for ancient
Egypt was laid. The Gerzeh culture was largely an unbro-
ken development out of the Amratian, starting in the Nile
Delta and moving south through Upper Egypt; however, it
failed to dislodge the Amratian in Nubia.[11] The Gerzeh
culture coincided with a signicant drop in rainfall[11]
and farming produced the vast majority of food.[11] With
increased food supplies, the populace adopted a much
more sedentary lifestyle, and the larger settlements grew
to cities of about 5000 residents.[11] It was in this time
that the city dwellers started using adobe to build their
cities.[11] Copper instead of stone was increasingly used to
make tools[11] and weaponry.[12] Silver, gold, lapis lazuli
(imported from Badakhshan in what is now Afghanistan),
Stela of the Second Dynasty pharaoh Nebra, displaying the hiero-
and Egyptian faience were used ornamentally,[13] and the glyph for his Horus name within a serekh surmounted by Horus.
cosmetic palettes used for eye paint since the Badari cul- On display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
ture began to be adorned with reliefs.[12]
By the 33rd century BC, just before the First Dynasty of as a unied state, which occurred sometime around 3150
Egypt, Egypt was divided into two kingdoms known from BC. According to Egyptian tradition, Menes, thought to
later times as Upper Egypt to the south and Lower Egypt have unied Upper and Lower Egypt, was the rst king.
to the north.[14] The dividing line was drawn roughly in This Egyptian culture, customs, art expression, architec-
ture, and social structure was closely tied to religion, re-

markably stable, and changed little over a period of nearly

3000 years.
Egyptian chronology, which involves regnal years, be-
gan around this time. The conventional chronology was
accepted during the twentieth century, but it does not
include any of the major revision proposals that also
have been made in that time. Even within a single
work, archaeologists often oer several possible dates, or
even several whole chronologies as possibilities. Conse-
quently, there may be discrepancies between dates shown
here and in articles on particular rulers or topics related
to ancient Egypt. There also are several possible spellings
of the names. Typically, Egyptologists divide the history
of pharaonic civilization using a schedule laid out rst
by Manetho's Aegyptiaca, which was written during the
Ptolemaic Kingdom during the third century BC.
Prior to the unication of Egypt, the land was settled with
autonomous villages. With the early dynasties, and for
much of Egypts history thereafter, the country came to
be known as the Two Lands. The pharaohs established a
national administration and appointed royal governors.
According to Manetho, the rst pharaoh was Menes, but
archeological ndings support the view that the rst ruler
to claim to have united the two lands was Narmer, the
nal king of the Naqada III period. His name is known
primarily from the famous Narmer Palette, whose scenes
have been interpreted as the act of uniting Upper and
Lower Egypt. Menes is now thought to be one of the titles
of Hor-Aha, the second pharaoh of the First Dynasty.
Funeral practices for the elite resulted in the construc-
tion of mastabas, which later became models for subse-
quent Old Kingdom constructions such as the step pyra-
mid, thought to have originated during the Third Dynasty
of Egypt.

Old Kingdom Greywacke statue of the pharaoh Menkaure and his queen con-
sort, Khamerernebty II. Originally from his Giza temple, now on
display at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Main article: Old Kingdom of Egypt
The Old Kingdom is most commonly regarded as span-
ning the period of time when Egypt was ruled by the
Third Dynasty through to the Sixth Dynasty (26862181 (governor) or work as tax collectors. Egyptians in this
BCE). The royal capital of Egypt during this period was era worshiped the pharaoh as a god, believing that he en-
located at Memphis, where Djoser (26302611 BCE) es- sured the annual ooding of the Nile that was necessary
tablished his court. for their crops.
The Old Kingdom is perhaps best known, however, for The Old Kingdom and its royal power reached their
the large number of pyramids, which were constructed at zenith under the Fourth Dynasty. Sneferu, the dynastys
this time as pharaonic burial places. For this reason, thisfounder, is believed to have commissioned at least three
epoch is frequently referred to as the Age of the Pyra- pyramids; while his son and successor Khufu (Greek
mids. The rst notable pharaoh of the Old Kingdom was Cheops) erected the Great Pyramid of Giza, Sneferu had
Djoser of the Third Dynasty, who ordered the construc- more stone and brick moved than any other pharaoh.
tion of the rst pyramid, the Pyramid of Djoser, in Mem- Khufu, his son Khafra (Greek Chephren), and his grand-
phis necropolis of Saqqara. son Menkaure (Greek Mycerinus) all achieved lasting
It was in this era that formerly independent states became fame in the construction of the Giza pyramid complex.
nomes (districts) ruled solely by the pharaoh. Former To organize and feed the manpower needed to cre-
local rulers were forced to assume the role of nomarch ate these pyramids required a centralized government

with extensive powers, and Egyptologists believe the Old

Kingdom at this time demonstrated this level of sophis-
tication. Recent excavations near the pyramids led by
Mark Lehner have uncovered a large city that seems to
have housed, fed and supplied the pyramid workers. Al-
though it was once believed that slaves built these mon-
uments, a theory based on The Exodus narrative of the
Hebrew Bible, study of the tombs of the workmen, who
oversaw construction on the pyramids, has shown they
were built by a corve of peasants drawn from across
Egypt. They apparently worked while the annual ood
covered their elds, as well as a very large crew of spe-
cialists, including stonecutters, painters, mathematicians
and priests.
Pottery model of a house used in a burial from the First Interme-
The Fifth Dynasty began with Userkaf c. 2495 BC and
diate Period, on display at the Royal Ontario Museum.
was marked by the growing importance of the cult of the
sun god Ra. Consequently, less eorts were devoted to
the construction of pyramid complexes than during the
these were likely local monarchs who did not hold much
Fourth Dynasty and more to the construction of sun tem-
power outside of their nome. There are a number of texts
ples in Abusir. The decoration of pyramid complexes
known as Lamentations from the early period of the
grew more elaborate during the dynasty and its last king,
subsequent Middle Kingdom that may shed some light on
Unas, was the rst to have the Pyramid Texts inscribed in
what happened during this period. Some of these texts re-
his pyramid.
ect on the breakdown of rule, others allude to invasion
Egypts expanding interests in trade goods such as ebony, by Asiatic bowmen. In general the stories focus on a
incense such as myrrh and frankincense, gold, copper and society where the natural order of things in both society
other useful metals compelled the ancient Egyptians to and nature was overthrown.
navigate the open seas. Evidence from the pyramid of
It is also highly likely that it was during this period that all
Sahure, second king of the dynasty, shows that a regular
of the pyramid and tomb complexes were robbed. Fur-
trade existed with the Syrian coast to procure cedar wood.
ther lamentation texts allude to this fact, and by the be-
Pharaohs also launched expeditions to the famed Land of
ginning of the Middle Kingdom mummies are found dec-
Punt, possibly the Horn of Africa, for ebony, ivory and
orated with magical spells that were once exclusive to the
aromatic resins.
pyramid of the kings of the Sixth Dynasty.
During the Sixth Dynasty (23452181 BCE), the power
By 2160 BC, a new line of pharaohs, the Ninth and Tenth
of pharaohs gradually weakened in favor of powerful no-
Dynasties, consolidated Lower Egypt from their capi-
marchs. These no longer belonged to the royal family and
tal in Heracleopolis Magna. A rival line, the Eleventh
their charge became hereditary, thus creating local dy-
Dynasty based at Thebes, reunited Upper Egypt, and a
nasties largely independent from the central authority of
clash between the rival dynasties was inevitable. Around
the pharaoh. Internal disorders set in during the incred-
2055 BC, the Theban forces defeated the Heracleopoli-
ibly long reign of Pepi II Neferkare (22782184 BCE)
tan pharaohs and reunited the Two Lands. The reign of
towards the end of the dynasty. His death, certainly well
its rst pharaoh, Mentuhotep II, marks the beginning of
past that of his intended heirs, might have created succes-
the Middle Kingdom.
sion struggles and the country slipped into civil wars mere
decades after the close of Pepi IIs reign. The nal blow
came when the 4.2 kiloyear event struck the region in the
22nd century BC, producing consistently low Nile ood Middle Kingdom
levels.[15] The result was the collapse of the Old Kingdom
followed by decades of famine and strife. Main article: Middle Kingdom of Egypt
The Middle Kingdom is the period in the history of
ancient Egypt stretching from the 39th regnal year of
First Intermediate Period Mentuhotep II of the Eleventh Dynasty to the end of the
Thirteenth Dynasty, roughly between 2030 and 1650 BC.
Main article: First Intermediate Period of Egypt The period comprises two phases, the Eleventh Dynasty,
After the fall of the Old Kingdom came a roughly 200- which ruled from Thebes, and then the Twelfth Dynasty,
year stretch of time known as the First Intermediate Pe- whose capital was Lisht. These two dynasties were orig-
riod, which is generally thought to include a relatively ob- inally considered the full extent of this unied kingdom,
scure set of pharaohs running from the end of the Sixth but some historians now[16] consider the rst part of the
to the Tenth and most of the Eleventh Dynasties. Most of Thirteenth Dynasty to belong to the Middle Kingdom.

the Red Sea coast and to quarry stone for the royal mon-
The leader of this expedition was his vizier Amen-
emhat, who is widely assumed to be the future pharaoh
Amenemhat I, the rst pharaoh of the Twelfth Dynasty.
Amenemhat is therefore assumed by some Egyptologists
to have either usurped the throne or assumed power after
Mentuhotep IV died childless.
Amenemhat I built a new capital for Egypt, Itjtawy,
thought to be located near the present-day Lisht, al-
though Manetho claims the capital remained at Thebes.
Amenemhat forcibly pacied internal unrest, curtailed
the rights of the nomarchs, and is known to have at
launched at least one campaign into Nubia. His son
Senusret I continued the policy of his father to recapture
Nubia and other territories lost during the First Interme-
diate Period. The Libu were subdued under his forty-ve
year reign and Egypts prosperity and security were se-
Senusret III (18781839 BC) was a warrior king, leading
his troops deep into Nubia, and built a series of massive
forts throughout the country to establish Egypts formal
boundaries with the unconquered areas of its territory.
An Osiris statue of Mentuhotep II, the founder of the Middle Amenemhat III (18601815 BC) is considered the last
Kingdom great pharaoh of the Middle Kingdom.
Egypts population began to exceed food production lev-
els during the reign of Amenemhat III, who then ordered
The earliest pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom traced their the exploitation of the Faiyum and increased mining op-
origin to two nomarchs of Thebes, Intef the Elder, who erations in the Sinai Peninsula. He also invited settlers
served a Heracleopolitan pharaoh of the Tenth Dynasty, from Western Asia to Egypt to labor on Egypts monu-
and his successor, Mentuhotep I. The successor of the lat- ments. Late in his reign, the annual oods along the Nile
ter, Intef I, was the rst Theban nomarch to claim a Horus began to fail, further straining the resources of the gov-
name and thus the throne of Egypt. He is considered the ernment. The Thirteenth Dynasty and Fourteenth Dy-
rst pharaoh of the Eleventh Dynasty. His claims brought nasty witnessed the slow decline of Egypt into the Second
the Thebans into conict with the rulers of the Tenth Dy- Intermediate Period, in which some of the settlers invited
nasty. Intef I and his brother Intef II undertook several by Amenemhat III would seize power as the Hyksos.
campaigns northwards and nally captured the important
nome of Abydos.
Warfare continued intermittently between the Thebean Second Intermediate Period and the Hyksos
and Heracleapolitan dynasties until the 39th regnal year
of Mentuhotep II, second successor of Intef II. At this Main articles: Second Intermediate Period of Egypt and
point, the Herakleopolitans were defeated and the The- Hyksos
ban dynasty consolidated their rule over Egypt. Men- The Second Intermediate Period marks a period when
tuhotep II is known to have commanded military cam- Egypt once again fell into disarray between the end of the
paigns south into Nubia, which had gained its indepen- Middle Kingdom and the start of the New Kingdom. This
dence during the First Intermediate Period. There is also period is best known as the time the Hyksos made their
evidence for military actions against the Southern Levant. appearance in Egypt, the reigns of its kings comprising
The king reorganized the country and placed a vizier at the Fifteenth Dynasty.
the head of civil administration for the country. The Thirteenth Dynasty proved unable to hold onto the
Mentuhotep II was succeeded by his son, Mentuhotep III, long land of Egypt, and a provincial family of Lev-
who organized an expedition to Punt. His reign saw the antine descent located in the marshes of the eastern
realization of some of the nest Egyptian carvings. Men- Delta at Avaris broke away from the central authority
tuhotep III was succeeded by Mentuhotep IV, the nal to form the Fourteenth Dynasty. The splintering of the
pharaoh of this dynasty. Despite being absent from vari- land most likely happened shortly after the reigns of the
ous lists of pharaohs, his reign is attested from a few in- powerful Thirteenth Dynasty pharaohs Neferhotep I and
scriptions in Wadi Hammamat that record expeditions to Sobekhotep IV c. 1720 BC.[17][18]

the weakened state of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Dy-

nasty kingdoms could explain why they rapidly fell to the
emerging Hyksos power.
The Hyksos princes and chieftains ruled in the eastern
Delta with their local Egyptian vassals. The Fifteenth Dy-
nasty rulers established their capital and seat of govern-
ment at Memphis and their summer residence at Avaris.
The Hyksos kingdom was centered in the eastern Nile
Delta and central Egypt but relentlessly pushed south for
the control of central and Upper Egypt. Around the time
Memphis fell to the Hyksos, the native Egyptian ruling
house in Thebes declared its independence and set itself
up as the Sixteenth Dynasty. Another short lived dynasty
might have done the same in central Egypt, proting from
the power vacuum created by the fall of the 13th dynasty
and forming the Abydos Dynasty.[21]
By 1600 BC, the Hyksos had successfully moved south
in central Egypt, eliminating the Abydos Dynasty and di-
rectly threatening the Sixteenth Dynasty. The latter was
to prove unable to resist and Thebes fell to the Hyksos for
a very short period c. 1580 BC.[21] The Hyksos rapidly
withdrew to the north and Thebes regained some inde-
pendence under the Seventeenth Dynasty. From then on,
Hyksos relations with the south seem to have been mainly
of a commercial nature, although Theban princes appear
to have recognized the Hyksos rulers and may possibly
have provided them with tribute for a period.
The Seventeenth Dynasty was to prove the salvation of
Egypt and would eventually lead the war of liberation that
drove the Hyksos back into Asia. The two last kings of
this dynasty were Seqenenre Tao and Kamose. Ahmose
I completed the conquest and expulsion of the Hyksos
from the Nile Delta, restored Theban rule over the whole
of Egypt and successfully reasserted Egyptian power in
its formerly subject territories of Nubia and the South-
ern Levant.[22] His reign marks this beginning of the
Eighteenth Dynasty and the New Kingdom.
Statuette of Merankhre Mentuhotep, a minor pharaoh of the
Sixteenth Dynasty, reigning over the Theban region c. 1585 BC.
New Kingdom

While the Fourteenth Dynasty was Levantine, the Hyk- Main article: New Kingdom of Egypt
sos rst appeared in Egypt c. 1650 BC when they took
control of Avaris and rapidly moved south to Memphis, Possibly as a result of the foreign rule of the Hyksos dur-
thereby ending the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Dynasties. ing the Second Intermediate Period, the New Kingdom
The outlines of the traditional account of the invasion saw Egypt attempt to create a buer between the Levant
of the land by the Hyksos is preserved in the Aegypti- and Egypt, and attain its greatest territorial extent. It ex-
aca of Manetho, who records that during this time the panded far south into Nubia and held wide territories in
Hyksos overran Egypt, led by Salitis, the founder of the the Near East. Egyptian armies fought Hittite armies for
Fifteenth Dynasty. More recently, however, the idea of a control of modern-day Syria.
simple migration, with little or no violence involved, has
gained some support.[19] Under this theory, the Egyptian
rulers of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties were Eighteenth Dynasty This was a time of great wealth
unable to stop these new migrants from traveling to Egypt and power for Egypt. Some of the most important
from the Levant because their kingdoms were struggling and best-known pharaohs ruled at this time. Hatshepsut
to cope with various domestic problems, including pos- was a pharaoh at this time. Hatshepsut is unusual as
sibly famine and plague.[20] Be it military or peaceful, she was a female pharaoh, a rare occurrence in Egyp-

Egypt and its world in 1300 BC.

Golden mask from the mummy of Tutankhamun

tian history. She was an ambitious and competent

leader, extending Egyptian trade south into present-day
Somalia and north into the Mediterranean. She ruled for
twenty years through a combination of widespread pro-
paganda and deft political skill. Her co-regent and suc-
cessor Thutmose III (the Napoleon of Egypt) expanded
Egypts army and wielded it with great success. Late in
his reign he ordered her name hacked out from her mon-
uments. He fought against Asiatic people and was the
most successful of Egyptian pharaohs. Amenhotep III
built extensively at the temple of Karnak including the
Luxor Temple, which consisted of two pylons, a colon-
nade behind the new temple entrance, and a new temple
to the goddess Maat.

Colossal depictions of Ramesses II at one of the Abu Simbel tem-

Nineteenth Dynasty Ramesses I reigned for two years ples.
and was succeeded by his son Seti I. Seti I carried on the
work of Horemheb in restoring power, control, and re-
spect to Egypt. He also was responsible for creating the culminated in the Battle of Kadesh in 1274 BC, where
temple complex at Abydos. he led Egyptian armies against those of the Hittite king
Muwatalli II and was caught in historys rst recorded
Arguably Ancient Egypts power as a nation-state peaked military ambush.
during the reign of Ramesses II (the Great) of the
Nineteenth Dynasty. He reigned for 67 years from the age Ramesses II was famed for the huge number of children
of 18 and carried on his immediate predecessors work he sired by his various wives and concubines; the tomb
and created many more splendid temples, such as that of he built for his sons (many of whom he outlived) in the
Abu Simbel temples on the Nubian border. He sought to Valley of the Kings has proven to be the largest funerary
recover territories in the Levant that had been held by complex in Egypt.
the Eighteenth Dynasty. His campaigns of reconquest His immediate successors continued the military cam-

paigns, though an increasingly troubled court compli- Third Intermediate Period

cated matters. Ramesses II was succeeded by his son
Merneptah and then by Merenptahs son Seti II. Seti Main article: Third Intermediate Period
IIs throne seems to have been disputed by his half- After the death of Ramesses XI, his successor Smendes
brother Amenmesse, who may have temporarily ruled
from Thebes.
Upon his death, Seti II son Siptah, who may have been
aicted with poliomyelitis during his life, was appointed
to the throne by Chancellor Bay, a West Asian commoner
who served as vizier behind the scenes. At Siptahs early
death, the throne was assumed by Twosret, the queen
dowager of Seti II and possibly Amenmesses sister.
A period of anarchy at the end of Twosrets short reign
saw a native reaction to foreign control leading to the exe-
cution of Bay and the enthronement of Setnakhte, estab-
lishing the Twentieth Dynasty.

Twentieth Dynasty The last great pharaoh from the

New Kingdom is widely considered Ramesses III, the son
of Setnakhte who reigned three decades after the time
of Ramesses II. In Year 8 of his reign, the Sea People
invaded Egypt by land and sea. Ramesses III defeated
them in two great land and sea battles. He claimed that
he incorporated them as subject people and settled them
in Southern Canaan, although there is evidence that they
forced their way into Canaan. Their presence in Canaan
may have contributed to the formation of new states in
this region such as Philistia after the collapse of the Egyp-
Sphinx of the Nubian pharaoh Taharqa.
tian Empire. He was also compelled to ght invading
Libyan tribesmen in two major campaigns in Egypts
Western Delta in his Year 6 and Year 11 respectively.[23]
The heavy cost of these battles slowly exhausted Egypts
treasury and contributed to the gradual decline of the
Egyptian Empire in Asia. The severity of these dicul-
ties is stressed by the fact that the rst known strike action
in recorded history occurred during Year 29 of Ramesses
IIIs reign, when the food rations for the Egypts favoured
and elite royal tomb-builders and artisans in the village
of Deir el-Medina could not be provisioned.[24] Some-
thing in the air prevented much sunlight from reaching
the ground and also arrested global tree growth for almost
two full decades until 1140 BC.[25] One proposed cause
is the Hekla 3 eruption in Iceland, but the dating of that
25th Dynasty
event remains in dispute.
Following Ramesses IIIs death there was endless bicker- ruled from the city of Tanis in the north, while the High
ing between his heirs. Three of his sons would go on to as- Priests of Amun at Thebes had eective rule of the
sume power as Ramesses IV, Ramesses VI and Ramesses south of the country, whilst still nominally recognizing
VIII, respectively. However, at this time Egypt was also Smendes as king.[26] In fact, this division was less signif-
increasingly beset by a series of droughts, below-normal icant than it seems, since both priests and pharaohs came
ooding levels of the Nile, famine, civil unrest and ocial from the same family. Piankh, assumed control of Up-
corruption. The power of the last pharaoh, Ramesses XI, per Egypt, ruling from Thebes, with the northern limit of
grew so weak that in the south the Theban High Priests his control ending at Al-Hibah. (The High Priest Herihor
of Amun became the eective de facto rulers of Up- had died before Ramesses XI, but also was an all-but-
per Egypt, while Smendes controlled Lower Egypt even independent ruler in the latter days of the kings reign.)
before Ramesses XIs death. Smendes would eventually The country was once again split into two parts with the
found the Twenty-rst Dynasty at Tanis. priests in Thebes and the Pharaohs at Tanis. Their reign

seems without other distinction, and they were replaced be war between the two states. Taharqa's reign and that
without any apparent struggle by the Libyan kings of the of his successor, Tanutamun, were lled with constant
Twenty-Second Dynasty. conict with the Assyrians against whom there were nu-
Egypt has long had ties with Libya, and the rst king of merous victories, but ultimately Thebes was occupied and
the new dynasty, Shoshenq I, was a Meshwesh Libyan, Memphis sacked.
who served as the commander of the armies under the
last ruler of the Twenty-First Dynasty, Psusennes II. He Late Period
unied the country, putting control of the Amun clergy
under his own son as the High Priest of Amun, a post Main article: Late Period of Ancient Egypt
that was previously a hereditary appointment. The scant
and patchy nature of the written records from this pe-
riod suggest that it was unsettled. There appear to have From 671 BC on, Memphis and the Delta region became
been many subversive groups, which eventually led to the the target of many attacks from the Assyrians, who ex-
creation of the Twenty-Third Dynasty, which ran con- pelled the Nubians and handed over power to client kings
current with the latter part of the Twenty-Second Dy- of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty. Psamtik I was the rst rec-
nasty. The country was reunited by the Twenty-Second ognized as the king of the whole of Egypt, and he brought
Dynasty founded by Shoshenq I in 945 BC (or 943 BC), increased stability to the country during a 54-year reign
who descended from Meshwesh immigrants, originally from the new capital of Sais. Four successive Saite kings
from Ancient Libya. This brought stability to the coun- continued guiding Egypt successfully and peacefully from
try for well over a century. After the reign of Osorkon 610526 BC, keeping the Babylonians away with the help
II the country had again splintered into two states with of Greek mercenaries.
Shoshenq III of the Twenty-Second Dynasty controlling By the end of this period a new power was growing in
Lower Egypt by 818 BC while Takelot II and his son (the the Near East: Persia. The pharaoh Psamtik III had to
future Osorkon III) ruled Middle and Upper Egypt. face the might of Persia at Pelusium; he was defeated and
After the withdrawal of Egypt from Nubia at the end of briey escaped to Memphis, but ultimately was captured
the New Kingdom, a native dynasty took control of Nu- and then executed.
bia. Under king Piye, the Nubian founder of Twenty-
Fifth Dynasty, the Nubians pushed north in an eort to
crush his Libyan opponents ruling in the Delta. Piye Persian domination
managed to attain power as far as Memphis. His op-
ponent Tefnakhte ultimately submitted to him, but he Main article: History of Achaemenid Egypt
was allowed to remain in power in Lower Egypt and
founded the short-lived Twenty-Fourth Dynasty at Sais. Achaemenid Egypt can be divided into three eras: the
The Kushite kingdom to the south took full advantage rst period of Persian occupation when Egypt became a
of this division and political instability and defeated the satrapy, followed by an interval of independence, and the
combined might of several native-Egyptian rulers such second and nal period of occupation.
as Peftjaubast, Osorkon IV of Tanis, and Tefnakht of
The Persian king Cambyses assumed the formal title
Sais. Piye established the Nubian Twenty-Fifth Dynasty
of Pharaoh, called himself Mesuti-Re (Re has given
and appointed the defeated rulers as his provincial gover-
birth), and sacriced to the Egyptian gods. He founded
nors. He was succeeded rst by his brother, Shabaka, and
the Twenty-seventh dynasty. Egypt was then joined
then by his two sons Shebitku and Taharqa. Taharqa re-
with Cyprus and Phoenicia in the sixth satrapy of the
united the Two lands of Northern and Southern Egypt
Achaemenid Empire.
and created an empire that was as large as it had been
since the New Kingdom. The 25th dynasty ushered Cambyses successors Darius I the Great and Xerxes pur-
in a renaissance period for Ancient Egypt.[27] Religion, sued a similar policy, visited the country, and warded
the arts, and architecture were restored to their glorious o an Athenian attack. It is likely that Artaxerxes I and
Old, Middle, and New Kingdom forms. Pharaohs, such Darius II visited the country as well, although it is not at-
as Taharqa, built or restored temples and monuments tested in our sources, and did not prevent the Egyptians
throughout the Nile valley, including at Memphis, Kar- from feeling unhappy.
nak, Kawa, Jebel Barkal, etc.[28] It was during the 25th During the war of succession after the reign of Darius II,
dynasty that the Nile valley saw the rst widespread con- which broke out in 404, they revolted under Amyrtaeus
struction of pyramids (many in modern Sudan) since the and regained their independence. This sole ruler of the
Middle Kingdom.[29][30][31] Twenty-eighth dynasty died in 399, and power went to
The international prestige of Egypt declined considerably the Twenty-ninth dynasty. The Thirtieth Dynasty was es-
by this time. The countrys international allies had fallen tablished in 380 BC and lasted until 343 BC. Nectanebo
under the sphere of inuence of Assyria and from about II was the last native king to rule Egypt.
700 BC the question became when, not if, there would Artaxerxes III (358338 BC) reconquered the Nile val-

ley for a brief period (343332 BC). In 332 BC Mazaces The Beginnings of Domestication in the Sahara and the
handed over the country to Alexander the Great without Nile Valley. l'Erma di Bretschneider. ISBN 978-88-8265-
a ght. The Achaemenid empire had ended, and for a 017-9.
while Egypt was a satrapy in Alexanders empire. Later [2] Barbara E. Barich et al. (1984) Ecological and Cultural
the Ptolemies and then the Romans successively ruled the Relevance of the Recent New Radiocabon dates from
Nile valley. Libyan Sahara, in Lech Krzyaniak and Micha Kobus-
iewicz [eds.], Origin and Early Development of Food-
Producing Cultures in Northeastern Africa, Pozna, Poz-
Ptolemaic dynasty na Archaeological Museum, pp. 41117.

Main article: Ptolemaic dynasty [3] Carl Roebuck, The World of Ancient Times (Charles
Schribners Sons Publishing: New York, 1966) p. 51.

In 332 BC Alexander III of Macedon conquered Egypt [4] Redford, Donald B. Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient
with little resistance from the Persians. He was welcomed Times. (Princeton: University Press, 1992), p. 6.
by the Egyptians as a deliverer. He visited Memphis, and
[5] Carl Roebuck, The World of Ancient Times, p. 52.
went on a pilgrimage to the oracle of Amun at the Oasis
of Siwa. The oracle declared him the son of Amun. He [6] Gardiner (1964), p.388
conciliated the Egyptians by the respect he showed for
their religion, but he appointed Greeks to virtually all the [7] Gardiner (1964), p.389
senior posts in the country, and founded a new Greek city, [8] Grimal (1988) p.24
Alexandria, to be the new capital. The wealth of Egypt
could now be harnessed for Alexanders conquest of the [9] Gardiner (1964), 390.
rest of the Persian Empire. Early in 331 BC he was ready [10] Grimal (1988) p.28
to depart, and led his forces away to Phoenicia. He left
Cleomenes as the ruling nomarch to control Egypt in his [11] Redford, Donald B. Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient
absence. Alexander never returned to Egypt. Times. (Princeton: University Press, 1992), p. 16.

Following Alexanders death in Babylon in 323 BC, a [12] Gardiner (1694), p.391
succession crisis erupted among his generals. Initially,
[13] Redford, Donald B. Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient
Perdiccas ruled the empire as regent for Alexanders half-
Times. (Princeton: University Press, 1992), p. 17.
brother Arrhidaeus, who became Philip III of Macedon,
and then as regent for both Philip III and Alexanders in- [14] Adkins, L. and Adkins, R. (2001) The Little Book of Egyp-
fant son Alexander IV of Macedon, who had not been tian Hieroglyphics, p155. London: Hodder and Stoughton.
born at the time of his fathers death. Perdiccas appointed ISBN .
Ptolemy, one of Alexanders closest companions, to be
[15] The Fall of the Old Kingdom by Fekri Hassan
satrap of Egypt. Ptolemy ruled Egypt from 323 BC,
nominally in the name of the joint kings Philip III and [16] Callender, Gae. The Middle Kingdom Renasissance from
Alexander IV. However, as Alexander the Great's empire The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, Oxford, 2000
disintegrated, Ptolemy soon established himself as ruler
[17] Janine Bourriau, The Second Intermediate Period (c.
in his own right. Ptolemy successfully defended Egypt
16501550 BC) in The Oxford History of Ancient
against an invasion by Perdiccas in 321 BC, and consol- Egypt, ed: Ian Shaw, (Oxford University Press: 2002),
idated his position in Egypt and the surrounding areas paperback, pp.178179 & 181
during the Wars of the Diadochi (322301 BC). In 305
BC, Ptolemy took the title of King. As Ptolemy I Soter [18] Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research
(Saviour), he founded the Ptolemaic dynasty that was (BASOR) 315, 1999, pp.4773.
to rule Egypt for nearly 300 years. [19] Booth, Charlotte. The Hyksos Period in Egypt. p.10.
The later Ptolemies took on Egyptian traditions by mar- Shire Egyptology. 2005. ISBN 0-7478-0638-1
rying their siblings, had themselves portrayed on pub-
[20] Manfred Bietak: Egypt and Canaan During the Middle
lic monuments in Egyptian style and dress, and partici- Bronze Age, BASOR 281 (1991), pp. 2172 see in par-
pated in Egyptian religious life.[32][33] Hellenistic culture ticular p. 38
thrived in Egypt well after the Muslim conquest. The
Ptolemies had to ght native rebellions and were involved [21] Kim Ryholt: The Political Situation in Egypt during the
in foreign and civil wars that led to the decline of the king- Second Intermediate Period, Museum Tusculanum Press,
dom and its annexation by Rome. (1997)

[22] Grimal, Nicolas. A History of Ancient Egypt p. 194. Li-

brairie Arthme Fayard, 1988.
1.11.4 References
[23] Nicolas Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt, Blackwell
[1] Barich, Barbara E. (1998). People, Water, and Grain: Books, 1992. p.271

[24] William F. abbey , The Strikes in Ramses IIIs Twenty- Clarke, Somers; R. Engelbach (1990). Ancient
Ninth Year, JNES 10, No. 3 (July 1951), pp. 137145 Egyptian Construction and Architecture. Dover Pub-
lications. ISBN 0-486-26485-8.
[25] Frank J. Yurco, End of the Late Bronze Age and Other
Crisis Periods: A Volcanic Cause in Gold of Praise: Stud- Clayton, Peter A. (1994). Chronicle of the
ies on Ancient Egypt in Honor of Edward F. Wente, ed: Pharaohs. Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-500-
Emily Teeter & John Larson, (SAOC 58) 1999, pp.456 05074-0.
Dodson, Aidan; Hilton, Dyan (2004). The Complete
[26] Cerny, p.645
Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson.
[27] Diop, Cheikh Anta (1974). The African Origin of Civiliza- ISBN 0-500-05128-3.
tion. Chicago, Illinois: Lawrence Hill Books. pp. 219
Edgerton, William F. (July 1951). The Strikes in
221. ISBN 1-55652-072-7.
Ramses IIIs Twenty-Ninth Year. Jnes 10 (No. 3
[28] Bonnet, Charles (2006). The Nubian Pharaohs. New ed.).
York: The American University in Cairo Press. pp. 142
154. ISBN 978-977-416-010-3. Gillings, Richard J. (1972). Mathematics in the Time
of the Pharaohs. New York: Dover. ISBN 0-262-
[29] Mokhtar, G. (1990). General History of Africa. Califor- 07045-6.
nia, USA: University of California Press. pp. 161163.
ISBN 0-520-06697-9. Greaves, R.H.; O.H. Little (1929). Gold Resources
of Egypt, Report of the XV International Geol.
[30] Emberling, Geo (2011). Nubia: Ancient Kingdoms of Congress, South Africa.
Africa. New York: Institute for the Study of the Ancient
World. pp. 911. ISBN 978-0-615-48102-9. Grimal, Nicolas (1992). A History of Ancient Egypt.
Blackwell Books. ISBN 0-631-17472-9.
[31] Silverman, David (1997). Ancient Egypt. New York: Ox-
ford University Press. pp. 3637. ISBN 0-19-521270-3. Herodotus ii. 55 and vii. 134

[32] Bowman (1996) pp25-26 Kemp, Barry (1991). Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a
Civilization. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-01281-3.
[33] Stanwick (2003)
Kitchen, Kenneth Anderson (1996). The Third In-
termediate Period in Egypt (1100650 BC) (3rd ed.).
1.11.5 Further reading Warminster: Aris & Phillips Limited.

Pharaonic Egypt Lehner, Mark (1997). The Complete Pyramids.

London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500-05084-
Adkins, L.; Adkins, R (2001). The Little Book 8.
of Egyptian Hieroglyphics. London: Hodder and
Lucas, Alfred (1962). Ancient Egyptian Materials
and Industries, 4th Ed. London: Edward Arnold
Baines, John and Jaromir Malek (2000). The Cul- Publishers.
tural Atlas of Ancient Egypt (revised ed.). Facts on Peter Der Manuelian (1998). Egypt: The World
File. ISBN 0-8160-4036-2. of the Pharaohs. Bonner Strae, Cologne Ger-
many: Knemann Verlagsgesellschaft mbH. ISBN
Bard, KA (1999). Encyclopedia of the Archaeology
of Ancient Egypt. NY, NY: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-
18589-0. Myliwiec, Karol (2000). The Twighlight of Ancient
Egypt: First Millennium B.C.E.(trans. by David Lor-
Bierbrier, Morris (1984). The Tomb Builders of the
ton). Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press.
Pharaohs. New York, NY: Charles Scribners Sons.
ISBN 0-684-18229-7. Nicholson, Paul T.; et al. (2000). Ancient Egyptian
Materials and Technology. Cambridge, UK: Cam-
Booth, Charlotte (2005). The Hyksos Period in bridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-45257-0.
Egypt. Shire Egyptology. ISBN 0-7478-0638-1.
Romer, John. A History of Ancient Egypt:From the
Cerny, J (1975). Egypt from the Death of Ramesses First Farmers to the Great Pyramid. Allen Lane
III to the End of the Twenty-First Dynasty' in The (2012). ISBN 978-1-84614-377-9
Middle East and the Aegean Region c.13801000
BC. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521- Robins, Gay (2000). The Art of Ancient Egypt. Har-
08691-4. vard University Press. ISBN 0-674-00376-4.

Scheel, Bernd (1989). Egyptian Metalworking and Texts from the Pyramid Age Door Nigel C. Strud-
Tools. Haverfordwest, Great Britain: Shire Publica- wick, Ronald J. Leprohon, 2005, Brill Academic
tions Ltd. ISBN 0-7478-0001-4. Publishers

Shaw, Ian (2003). The Oxford History of Ancient Ancient Egyptian Science: A Source Book Door
Egypt. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-500- Marshall Clagett, 1989
WWW-VL: History: Ancient Egypt
Wilkinson, R. H. (2000). The Complete Temples of
Ancient Egypt. London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN A Short History of Ancient Egypt
Illustrated overview of the history of Egypt
Wilkinson, R.H. (2003). The Complete Gods and
Goddesses of Ancient Egypt. London: Thames and
Hudson. ISBN 0-500-05120-8. 1.12 Egyptian language
Wilkinson, R.H. (2010). The Rise and Fall of
Ancient Egypt: The History of a Civilisation from The language spoken in ancient Egypt was a branch of
3000BC to Cleopatra. London: Bloomsbury. ISBN the Afroasiatic language family. The earliest known com-
978-0-7475-9949-4. plete written sentence in the Egyptian language has
been dated to about 2690 BCE, making it one of the old-
Yurco, Frank J. (1999). End of the Late Bronze est recorded languages known, along with Sumerian.[3]
Age and Other Crisis Periods: A Volcanic Cause. Egyptian was spoken until the late seventeenth century
Saoc 58. in the form of Coptic. The national language of modern
Egypt is Egyptian Arabic, which gradually replaced Cop-
Ptolemaic Egypt tic as the language of daily life in the centuries after the
Muslim conquest of Egypt.[1]
Bowman, Alan K (1996). Egypt after the Pharaohs Coptic is still used as the liturgical language of the Coptic
332 BC AD 642 (2nd ed.). Berkeley: University of Orthodox Church of Alexandria. It has several hundred
California Press. pp. 2526. ISBN 0-520-20531-6. uent speakers today.[4]

Lloyd, Alan Brian (2000). The Ptolemaic Period

(33230 BC) In The Oxford History of Ancient 1.12.1 Classication
Egypt, edited by Ian Shaw. Oxford and New York:
Oxford University Press. The Egyptian language belongs to the Afroasiatic lan-
Stanwick, Paul Edmond (2003). Portraits of guage family. Among the typological features of Egyp-
the Ptolemies: Greek kings as Egyptian pharaohs. tian that are typically Afroasiatic are fusional morphol-
Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292- ogy, nonconcatenative morphology, a series of emphatic
77772-8. consonants, a three-vowel system /a i u/, nominal femi-
nine sux *-at, nominal m-, adjectival *-, and charac-
teristic personal verbal axes.[5] Of the other Afroasi-
1.11.6 External links atic branches, Egyptian shows its greatest anities with
Semitic, and to a lesser extent Cushitic.[6]
The people of ancient Egypt In Egyptian, the Proto-Afroasiatic voiced consonants */d
z / developed into pharyngeal //, e.g. Eg. r.t 'por-
Ancient Egyptian History
tal', Sem. *dalt 'door'.[7] Afroasiatic */l/ merged with
Ancient Egyptian History Aldokkan Egyptian n, r, , and j in the dialect on which
the written language was based, while being preserved
Glyphdoctors: Online courses in Egyptian hiero- in other Egyptian varieties.[7] Original */k g / palatalize
glyphics and history to j in some environments and are preserved as k g
q in others.[7]
The Ancient Egypt Site
Egyptian has many biradical and perhaps monoradical
Nile File an interactive introduction to ancient roots, in contrast to the Semitic preference for triradi-
Egypt for children cal roots.[8] Egyptian probably is more archaic in this re-
gard, whereas Semitic likely underwent later regulariza-
Seven Wonder of the World Ancient Times tions converting roots into the triradical pattern.[8]
Brian Brown (ed.) (1923) The Wisdom of the Egyp- Although Egyptian is the oldest Afroasiatic language doc-
tians. New York: Brentanos umented in written form, its morphological repertoire

is greatly dierent from that of the rest of the Afroasi-

atic in general and Semitic in particular.[9] This suggests
that Egyptian had already undergone radical changes
from Proto-Afroasiatic before being recorded, that the
Afroasiatic family has so far been studied with an exces-
sively Semito-centric approach, or that Afroasiatic is a
typological rather than genetic grouping of languages.[9]
(The general consensus is that Afroasiatic is indeed a
genetic grouping, and that Egyptian did in fact diverge
greatly in its prerecorded history, although there is almost
certainly a Semitic bias in Afroasiatic reconstruction.)

1.12.2 History

Scholars group the Egyptian language into six major

chronological divisions:[10]

Archaic Egyptian language (before 2600 BCE, the Seal impression from the tomb of Seth-Peribsen, containing the
language of the Early Dynastic Period) oldest known complete sentence in Egyptian

Old Egyptian language (2686 BC 2181 BCE, the

Latin during the Middle Ages and that of Classical Ara-
language of the Old Kingdom)
bic today. Demotic rst appears about 650 BCE and sur-
Middle Egyptian language (2055 BC 1650 BCE), vived as a written language until the fth century CE.
characterizing Middle Kingdom (2055 BC 1650 Coptic appeared in the rst century CE and survived as
BC, but enduring through the early 18th Dynasty un- a living language until the sixteenth century, when Eu-
til the Amarna Period (1353 BCE), and continuing ropean scholars traveled to Egypt to learn it from native
on as a literary language into the fourth century CE). speakers during the Renaissance. It probably survived in
the Egyptian countryside as a spoken language for several
Late Egyptian language (1353700 BCE, charac- centuries after that. Bohairic Coptic is still used by the
terizing the Third Intermediate Period (1069700 Coptic Churches.
BC), but starting earlier with the Amarna Period).

Demotic (7th century BCE 5th century CE, Late

Period through Roman Egypt)

Coptic (rst century CE 17th century, early Ro-

man Egypt to the early modern period)

The earliest Egyptian glyphs date back to around 3300

BC.[11] These early texts are generally lumped together
under the general term Archaic Egyptian. They record
names, titles and labels, but a few of them show morpho-
logical and syntactic features familiar from later, more
complete, texts.[12]
Old Egyptian is dated from the oldest known complete
sentence, found in the tomb of Seth-Peribsen and dated
to around 2690 BCE. It reads:
dm.n.f t3wj n z3.f nswt-bjt pr-jb.snj
Third-century Coptic inscription
"He has united the Two Lands for his son, Dual King
Peribsen.[3] Old, Middle, and Late Egyptian were all written using
Extensive texts appear from about 2600 BCE.[12] Middle hieroglyphs and hieratic. Demotic was written using a
Egyptian was spoken from about 2000 BCE for a fur- script derived from hieratic; its appearance is vaguely
ther 700 years, when Late Egyptian made its appearance; similar to modern Arabic script and is also written from
Middle Egyptian did, however, survive until the rst few right to left (although the two hardly hold any relation).
centuries CE as a written language, similar to the use of Coptic is written using the Coptic alphabet, a modied

form of the Greek alphabet with a number of symbols cannot be known with certainty, Egyptologists use a sys-
borrowed from Demotic for sounds that did not occur in tem of transliteration to denote each sound which could
ancient Greek. be represented by a uniliteral hieroglyph.[17] The two sys-
Arabic became the language of Egypts political adminis- tems which are still in common use are the traditional sys-
tration soon after the early Muslim conquests in the sev- tem and the European system;[17]
in addition a third system
enth century, and gradually replaced Coptic as the lan- is used for computer input.
guage spoken by the populace. Today, Coptic survives as
the sacred language of the Coptic Orthodox Church of 1.12.5 Phonology
Alexandria and the Coptic Catholic Church.
The Bible contains some words, terms and names thought Further information: Transliteration of Ancient Egyptian
by scholars to be Egyptian in origin. An example of this
is Zaphnath-Paaneah, the Egyptian name given to Joseph. While the consonantal phonology of the Egyptian lan-
guage may be reconstructed, its exact phonetics are un-
known, and there are varying opinions on how to classify
1.12.3 Dialects the individual phonemes. In addition, because Egyptian
is also recorded over a full two millennia, the Archaic
Pre-Coptic Egyptian does not show great dialectal dier- and Late stages being separated by the amount of time
ences in the written language due to the centralized nature that separates Old Latin from modern Italian, it must be
of Egyptian society.[13][14] However, they must have ex- assumed that signicant phonetic changes would have oc-
isted in speech; this is evidenced by a letter from c. 1200 curred over that time.
BCE complaining that the language of a correspondent
is as unintelligible as the speech of a northern Egyptian Phonologically, Egyptian contrasted labial, alveolar,
to a southerner.[13][14] Recently, some evidence of inter- palatal, velar, uvular, pharyngeal, and glottal consonants
nal dialects has been found in pairs of similar words in in a distribution rather similar to that of Arabic. It also
Egyptian, which, based on similarities with later dialects contrasted voiceless and emphatic consonants, as with
of Coptic, may be derived from Northern and Southern other Afroasiatic languages, although exactly how the em-
dialects of Egyptian.[15] Written Coptic has ve major di- phatic consonants were realized is not precisely known.
alects which dier mainly in graphic conventions, most Early research had assumed opposition in stops was one
notably the southern Saidic dialect which was the main of voicing, but is now thought to either be one of tenuis
classical dialect and the northern Bohairic dialect which and emphatic consonants, as in many of the Semitic lan-
is currently used in Coptic Church services.[13][14] guages, or one of aspirated and ejective consonants, as in
many of the Cushitic languages.[18]
Since vowels were not written, reconstructions of the
1.12.4 Orthography Egyptian vowel system are much more uncertain, rely-
ing mainly on the evidence from Coptic and foreign tran-
Main article: Egyptian hieroglyphs scriptions of Egyptian personal and place names. The vo-
calization of Egyptian is partially known, largely on the
Most surviving texts in the Egyptian language are primar- basis of reconstruction from Coptic, in which the vowels
ily written on stone in hieroglyphs. However, in antiquity, are written. Recordings of Egyptian words in other lan-
the majority of texts were written on perishable papyrus guages provide an additional source of evidence. Scribal
in hieratic and (later) demotic, which are now lost. There errors provide evidence of changes in pronunciation over
was also a form of cursive hieroglyphs used for religious time. The actual pronunciations reconstructed by such
documents on papyrus, such as the Book of the Dead of means are used only by a few specialists in the language.
the Twentieth Dynasty; this script was simpler to write For all other purposes the Egyptological pronunciation is
than the hieroglyphs in stone inscriptions, but was not as used, which is, of course, articial and often bears little
cursive as hieratic, lacking the wide use of ligatures. Ad- resemblance to what is known of how Egyptian was spo-
ditionally, there was a variety of stone-cut hieratic known ken.
as "lapidary hieratic.
In the languages nal stage of development, the Coptic Consonants
alphabet replaced the older writing system.
The native name for Egyptian hieroglyphic writing is z The following consonant system is posited for Archaic
n mdw-nr or writing of the gods words. Hieroglyphs (before 2600 BC) and Old Egyptian (26862181 BC),
are employed in two ways in Egyptian texts: as ideograms with IPA equivalents in square brackets where they dif-
that represent the idea depicted by the pictures; and more fer from the usual transcription scheme:
commonly as phonograms denoting their phonetic value. *possibly unvoiced ejectives
Due to the fact that the phonetic realization of Egyptian The phoneme /l/ did not have an independent representa-

tion in the hieroglyphic orthography, and was frequently , while other dialects did not mark aspiration,
written with the sign for /n/ or /r/.[19] The probable ex- thus Sahidic vs. Bohairic 'the sun'.[25][nb 2] It then
planation is that the standard for written Egyptian was may be observed that Bohairic does not mark aspiration
based on a dialect in which former /l/ had merged with for reexes of older *d g q, e.g. Sahidic & Bohairic
other sonorants.[7] // was rare and also not indicated */dib/ 'horn'.[25] Similarly, the denite article is unaspi-
orthographically.[19] The phoneme /j/ was written as j rated when a word beginning with a glottal stop follows,
in initial position (jt = */jatVj/ 'father') and immedi- e.g. Bohairic + > 'the account'.[26]
ately after a stressed vowel (bjn = */bajin/ 'bad'), as The consonant system of Coptic is as follows:
jj word-medially immediately before a stressed vowel
(jjk = */ajak/ 'you will appear'), and as null word- *various orthographic representations; see above
nally (jt = /jatvj/ 'father').[19]
In Middle Egyptian (20551650 BC), a number of con- Vowels
sonantal shifts took place. By the beginning of the
Middle Kingdom period, /z/ and /s/ had merged, and The following is the vowel system posited for earlier
the graphemes s and z were used interchangeably.[20] Egyptian:
In addition, /j/ had become // word-initially in an un-
Vowels were always short in unstressed syllables (e.g.
stressed syllable (e.g. jwn /jawin/ > */awin/ 'color)
tpj = */tapij/ 'rst'), long in open stressed syllables (e.g.
and following a stressed vowel (e.g. jpw */ujpvw/ >
rm = */ramac/ 'man'), and either short or long in
/ep(vw)/ '[the god] Apis).[21]
closed stressed syllables (e.g. jnn = */janan/ 'we' vs.
In Late Egyptian (1069700 BC), the following changes mn = */man/ 'to stay').[28]
are present: the phonemes d g gradually merge with
Late New Kingdom, after Ramses II i.e. c. 1200 BC:
their counterparts t k (dbn */diban/ > Akkadian tran-
*/a/ > */o/ (parallel to the Canaanite shift), e.g. rw
scription ti-ba-an 'dbn-weight'); often become /t d/,
'(the god) Horus */ara/ > */or/ (Akkadian transcrip-
though they are retained in many lexemes; becomes
tion: -uru).[22][29] This provoked */u/ > */e/, e.g. nj
//; and /t r j w/ become // at the end of a stressed sylla-
'tree' */un(?)j/ > */en/ (Akkadian transcription: -
ble and eventually null word-nally (e.g. p.t */piat/
[22] sini).[22]
> Akk. transcription -pi-ta 'bow').
Early New Kingdom: short stressed */i/ > */e/, e.g.
More consonantal changes occurred in the rst millen-
mnj "Menes" */manij/ > */mane/ (Akkadian tran-
nium BCE and the rst centuries CE, leading to the Cop-
scription: ma-n-e).[22] Later, probably circa 1000800
tic language (1st17th century AD). In Sahidic
BC, short stressed */u/ > */e/, e.g. n.t "Tanis" */u-
merged into (most often from ) and /h/ (most of-
[23] nat/ was borrowed into Hebrew as *un but later tran-
ten ). Bohairic and Akhmimic are more conser-
scribed as e-e'-nu/a-a'-nu in the Neo-Assyrian pe-
vative, having also a velar fricative /x/ ( in Bohairic,
[23] riod.[30]
in Akhmimic). Pharyngeal * merged into glot-
tal //, after having aected the quality of surrounding Unstressed vowels, especially after the stress, became
vowels.[24] // is only indicated orthographically when *//, e.g. nfr 'good' */nar/ > */naf/ (Akkadian
following a stressed vowel, in which case it is marked transcription -na-a-pa). */i/ > */e/ next to // and /j/,
by doubling the vowel letter (except in Bohairic), e.g. e.g. ww 'soldier' */wiiw/ > */we/ (earlier Akka-
Akhmimic /xop/, Sahidic & Lycopolitan dian transcription: -i-, later: -e-e).
op, Bohairic op 'to be' < pr.w */apraw/ 'has In Sahidic and Bohairic Coptic, Late Egyptian stressed
become'.[23][nb 1] The phoneme /b/ probably was pro- */a/ becomes */o/ and */e/ becomes /a/, while in
nounced as a fricative [], and became /p/ after a the other dialects these are preserved, e.g. sn */san/
stressed vowel in syllables which were closed in earlier 'brother' > SB son, ALF san; rn 'name' */rin/ >
Egyptian (compare < */nabaw/ 'gold' and < */ren/ > SB ran, ALF ren.[24] However, SB preserve
*/dib/ 'horn').[23] The phonemes /d g z/ are only found */a/ and Fayyumic renders it as e in the presence of
in Greek borrowings, with rare exceptions triggered by guttural fricatives, e.g. b '10000' */ba/ > SAL tba,
a proximate /n/ (e.g. / < .t n.t sb .w B tba, F tbe.[31] In Akhmimic and Lycopolitan, */a/
'school').[23] becomes /o/ before etymological /, /, e.g. jtrw 'river'
Earlier *d g q were preserved as ejective t' c' k' k' in pre- */jatraw/ > */jar()/ > S eioor(e), B ior, A ioore,
vocalic position in Coptic.[25] Despite the fact that these ire, F iaal, iaar.[31] Similarly the diphthongs */aj/,
were written using the same graphemes as for the pul- */aw/, which normally have reexes /oj/, /ow/ in Sahidic
monic stops ( ), their existence may be inferred and are preserved in other dialects, in Bohairic are writ-
based on the following evidence: The stops /p ten i (in non-nal position) and ou respectively, e.g.
t c k/ were allophonically aspirated [p t c k] before to me, to them S eroi, eroou, AL arai, arau, F elai,
stressed vowels and sonorant consonants.[25] In Bohairic elau, B eroi, erou.[31] Sahidic and Bohairic preserve
these allophones were written with the special graphemes */e/ before // (either etymological or from lenited /t r
j/ or tonic-syllable coda /w/), e.g. SB ne /ne/ 'to you

(fem.)' < */net/ < */nic/.[31] */e/ may also have dierent a, i, and u all represent consonants; for example,
reexes before sonants, in proximity of sibilants, and in the name Tutankhamun (13411323 BC) was written in
diphthongs.[31] Egyptian twt- n- mn. Experts have assigned generic
Old */a/ surfaces as /u/ after nasals and occasionally sounds to these values as a matter of convenience, but
other consonants, e.g. nr 'god' */nacar/ > /nute/ this articial pronunciation should not be mistaken for
noute [32] /u/ has acquired phonemic status, as evi- how Egyptian was actually pronounced at any point in
denced by minimal pairs like 'to approach' hn /hon/ time. For example, twt- n- mn is conventionally pro-
< */anan/ nn vs. 'inside' houn /hun/ < */anaw/ nounced /tutn.kmn/ in English, but in his time was
likely realized as something like *[tawat anxu a-
nw.[33] Etymological */u/ > */e/ often surfaces as /i/ [35][36][37][38][39][40][41][29]
next to /r/ and after etymological pharyngeals, e.g. SL man].
hir < */ur/ 'street' (Semitic loan).[33]
Most Coptic dialects have two phonemic vowels in un-
stressed position.[33] Unstressed vowels generally became 1.12.6 Grammar
//, written as e or null (i in Bohairic and Fayyu-
mic word-nally), but pretonic unstressed /a/ occurs as Morphology
a reex of earlier unstressed */e/ in proximity to an ety-
mological pharyngeal, velar, or sonant (e.g. 'to become Egyptian is a fairly typical Afroasiatic language. At the
many' aai < */ii/), or unstressed */a/.[33] Pre- heart of Egyptian vocabulary is a root of three conso-
tonic [i] is underlyingly /j/, e.g. S 'ibis hibi < h(j)bj.w nants. Sometimes there were only two, for example r(w)
*/hijbaj?w/.[33] [ria] sun (where the [] is thought to have been some-
thing like a voiced pharyngeal fricative), but larger roots
Thus the following is the Sahidic vowel system c. 400
are also common, some being as large as ve: sdd be
upside-down. Vowels and other consonants were then
inserted into the consonantal skeleton in order to derive
Phonotactics dierent meanings, in the same way as Arabic, Hebrew,
and other Afroasiatic languages do today. However, be-
Earlier Egyptian had syllable structure CV(:)(C), where cause vowels (and sometimes glides) were not written
V was long in open, stressed syllables and short in any Egyptian script except Coptic, it can be dicult
elsewhere.[28] In addition, syllables of the type CV:C or to reconstruct the actual forms of words; hence ortho-
CVCC could occur in word-nal, stressed position.[28] graphic stp to choose, for example, could represent
However CV:C only occurred in the innitive of bi- the stative (as the stative endings can be left unexpressed)
consonantal verbal roots, and CVCC only in some or imperfective verb forms or even a verbal noun (i. e., a
plurals.[28][30] In later Egyptian stressed CV:C, CVCC, choosing).
and CV became much more common because of the loss
of nal dentals and glides.[30]
Nouns Egyptian nouns can be either masculine or fem-
inine (indicated as with other Afroasiatic languages by
Stress adding a -t), and singular, plural (-w / -wt), or dual (-wy
/ -ty).
Earlier Egyptian: penultimate or ultimate.[34] According
to some scholars this is a development from a stage in Articles (both denite and indenite) did not develop until
proto-Egyptian where the antepenult could be stressed; Late Egyptian, but are used widely thereafter.
this was lost as open posttonic syllables lost their vowels,
e.g. */upiraw/ > */upraw/ 'transformation'.[34]
Pronouns Egyptian has three dierent types of
personal pronouns: sux, enclitic (called dependent by
Egyptological pronunciation Egyptologists) and independent pronouns. It also has a
number of verbal endings added to the innitive to form
As a convention, Egyptologists make use of an Egyp- the stative, which are regarded by some linguists[42] as a
tological pronunciation in English, in which the conso- fourth set of personal pronouns. They bear close re-
nants are given xed values and vowels are inserted in semblance to their Semitic counterparts. The three main
accordance with essentially arbitrary rules. Two conso- sets of personal pronouns are as follows:
nants, alef and the ayin, are generally pronounced //.
The yodh is pronounced /i/, and w /u/. Between other It also has demonstrative pronouns (this, that, these and
consonants, // is then inserted. Thus, for example, the those), in masculine, feminine, and common plural:
Egyptian king whose name is most accurately transliter- Finally there are interrogative pronouns (what, who,
ated as R -ms-sw is transcribed as Ramesses, meaning etc.).They also bear close resemblance to their Semitic
"Ra has Fashioned (lit., Borne) Him. In transcription, and Berber counterparts

Verbs The verbal morphology Egyptian can be divided found in English. Even those associated with ancient
into nite and non-nite forms. Finite verbs convey Egypt were usually transmitted in Greek forms. Some
person, tense/aspect, mood, and voice. Each is indi- examples of Egyptian words that have survived in En-
cated by a set of axal morphemes attached to the verb: glish include ebony (Egyptian hbny, via Greek
the basic conjugation is sm.f 'he hears. The non- and then Latin), ivory (Egyptian bw, literally 'ivory;
nite forms occur without a subject and they are the elephant'), pharaoh (Egyptian pr- , literally great
innitive, the participles and the negative innitive, which house"; transmitted through Greek), sack (Egyptian
Gardiner calls negatival complement. There are two q, bag, through Greek), as well as the proper names
main tenses/aspects in Egyptian: past and temporally un- Phinehas (Egyptian p -nsy, used as a generic term for
marked imperfective and aorist forms. The latter are de- Nubian foreigners) and Susan (Egyptian sn, literally lily
termined from their syntactic context. ower"; probably transmitted rst from Egyptian into He-
brew Shoshanah).[43]

Adjectives Adjectives agree in gender and number with

their nouns, for example: s nfr "(the) good man and st 1.12.8 See also
nfrt "(the) good woman.
Altgyptisches Wrterbuch
Attributive adjectives used in phrases fall after the noun
they are modifying, such as in "(the) great god (nr ). Ancient Egyptian literature
However, when used independently as a predicate in an
adjectival phrase, such as "(the) god (is) great ( nr) Coptic language
(lit., great (is the) god), the adjective precedes the noun.
Demotic Egyptian
Egyptian Arabic
Prepositions Egyptian adpositions come before the
noun. Egyptian hieroglyphs
Egyptian numerals
Adverbs Adverbs are words such as here or
where?". In Egyptian, they come at the end of a
sentence, e.g., z .n nr m the god went there, there Transliteration of ancient Egyptian
( m) is the adverb.
Some common Egyptian adverbs:
1.12.9 Notes

Syntax [1] There is still evidence that Bohairic had a phonemic glottal
stop, see Loprieno (1995:44).
Classical Egyptians basic word order is verbsubject [2] In the other dialects these graphemes were designated only
object; this pattern holds true for Old Egyptian and for clusters of stop+/h/ and thus were not used for aspi-
Middle Egyptian. However, it is not true for the later rates, see Loprieno (1995:248).
stages of the languages development, including Late
Egyptian, Demotic and Coptic. The equivalent to the
man opens the door, would be a sentence corresponding 1.12.10 References
to opens the man the door (wn s ). It uses the so-
[1] The language may have survived in isolated pockets in
called status constructus to combine two or more nouns
Upper Egypt into the 19th century according to James
to express the genitive, similar to Semitic and Berber lan- Edward Quibell, When did Coptic become extinct?" in
guages. The early stages of Egyptian possessed no arti- Zeitschrift fr gyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde, 39
cles (no words for the or a), but later forms used the (1901), p. 87.
words p , t and n . Like other Afroasiatic languages,
Egyptian uses two grammatical genders, masculine and [2] Hammarstrm, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath,
feminine. It also uses three grammatical numbers, con- Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). Egyptian (An-
cient)". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the
trasting singular, dual, and plural forms, but there is a
Science of Human History.
tendency for the loss of the dual as a productive form in
later Egyptian. [3] Allen, James P. (2013-07-11). The Ancient Egyptian Lan-
guage: An Historical Study. Cambridge University Press.
p. 2. ISBN 9781107032460.
1.12.7 Vocabulary
[4] Coptic languages last survivors. Daily Star Egypt, De-
cember 10, 2005 (archived)
While Egyptian culture is one of the inuences of
Western civilization, few words of Egyptian origin are [5] Loprieno (1995:1)

[6] Loprieno (1995:5) [37] Fecht, G. Wortakzent und Silbenstruktur - Untersuchun-

gen zur Geschichte der gyptischen Sprache, Glckstadt-
[7] Loprieno (1995:31) Hamburg-New York (1960), 112 A. 194, 254 A. 395
[8] Loprieno (1995:52)
[38] Osing, J. Die Nominalbildung des gyptischen. Deutsches
[9] Loprieno (1995:51) archologisches Institut, Abteilung Kairo (1976)

[10] Bard, Kathryn A.; Steven Blake Shubert (1999). Encyclo- [39] Schenkel, W. Zur Rekonstruktion deverbalen Nomi-
pedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt. Routledge. p. nalbildung des gyptischen, Harrasowitz, Wiesbaden.
325. ISBN 0-415-18589-0. 1983, pp. 212, 214,247

[11] Richard Mattessich (2002). The oldest writings, and in- [40] Vergote, Jozef. Grammaire Copte. Louvain : Peters,
ventory tags of Egypt. Accounting Historians Journal. 29 1973-1983
(1): 195208. JSTOR 40698264.
[41] Loprieno, A. Ancient Egyptian - A Linguistic Introduction,
[12] Allen, James P. (2003). The Ancient Egyptian Language.
Cambridge University Press (1995)
Cambridge University Press. pp. 23. ISBN 978-1-107-
66467-8. [42] Loprieno 1995, p. 65
[13] Allen (2000:2)
[14] Loprieno (1995:8)

[15] Satzinger (2008:10)

1.12.11 Bibliography
[16] Allen (2000:1415)
Allen, James P. (2000). Middle Egyptian: An Intro-
[17] Allen (2000:13) duction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs.
[18] see Egyptian Phonology by Carsten Peust for a review of Cambridge University press. ISBN 0-521-65312-6.
the history of thinking on the subject. Note that his re-
constructions of words are non-standard. Callender, John B. (1975). Middle Egyptian. Un-
dena Publications. ISBN 0-89003-006-5.
[19] Loprieno (1995:33)
Loprieno, Antonio (1995). Ancient Egyptian: A
[20] Loprieno (1995:34)
linguistic introduction. Cambridge University press.
[21] Loprieno (1995:35) ISBN 0-521-44384-9.

[22] Loprieno (1995:38) Satzinger, Helmut (2008). What happened to the

[23] Loprieno (1995:41)
voiced consonants of Egyptian?" (PDF). 2. Acts of
the X International Congress of Egyptologists. pp.
[24] Loprieno (1995:46) 15371546.
[25] Loprieno (1995:42)

[26] Loprieno (1995:43) 1.12.12 Literature

[27] Loprieno (1995:4042) Overviews
[28] Loprieno (1995:36)
Loprieno, Antonio, Ancient Egyptian: A Linguis-
[29] Allen, J. The Ancient Egyptian Language: An Historical tic Introduction, Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Study, Cambridge (2013) ISBN 0-521-44384-9 (hbk) ISBN 0-521-44849-2
[30] Loprieno (1995:39) (pbk)

[31] Loprieno (1995:47) Peust, Carsten, Egyptian phonology : an introduc-

tion to the phonology of a dead language, Peust &
[32] Loprieno (1995:4748)
Gutschmidt, 1999. ISBN 3-933043-02-6 PDF
[33] Loprieno (1995:48)
Vycichl, Werner, La vocalisation de la langue gyp-
[34] Loprieno (1995:37) tienne, IFAO, Le Caire (Cairo), 1990. ISBN 9782-
[35] Vycichl, W. Dictionnaire tymologique de la Langue
Copte, Leuven 1983, pp. 10, 224, 250
Vergote, Jozef, Problmes de la Nominalbildung
[36] Vycichl, W. La vocalisation de la langue gyptienne, en gyptien, Chronique d'gypte 51 (1976), 261-
IFAO, Le Caire (Cairo) (1990), p. 215 285

Grammars Online dictionaries

Allen, James P., Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to The Beinlich Wordlist, an online searchable dictio-
the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs, rst edi- nary of ancient Egyptian words (translations are in
tion, Cambridge University Press, 1999. ISBN 0- German)
521-65312-6 (hbk) ISBN 0-521-77483-7 (pbk)
Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae, an online service
Borghouts, Joris F., Egyptian: An Introduction to available from October 2004 which is associated
the Writing and Language of the Middle Kingdom with various German Egyptological projects, includ-
(2 vols.), Peeters, 2010. ISBN 978-9-042-92294-5 ing the monumental Altgyptisches Wrterbuch of
(pbk, 2 vol. set) the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wis-
senschaften (Brandenburg Academy of Sciences,
Collier, Mark, and Manley, Bill, How to Read Egyp- Berlin, Germany).
tian Hieroglyphs : A Step-by-Step Guide to Teach
Yourself, British Museum Press (ISBN 0-7141-
Important Note: the old grammars and dictionaries of
1910-5) and University of California Press (ISBN
E. A. Wallis Budge have long been considered obsolete by
0-520-21597-4), both in 1998.
Egyptologists, even though these books are still available
Gardiner, Sir Alan H., Egyptian Grammar: Being for purchase.
an Introduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs, Grith More book information is available at Glyphs and Gram-
Institute, Oxford, 3rd ed. 1957. ISBN 0-900416- mars

Hoch, James E., Middle Egyptian Grammar, Benben

1.12.13 External links
Publications, Mississauga, 1997. ISBN 0-920168-
12-4 Thesaurus Linguae Aegyptiae: Dictionary of the
Selden, Daniel L., Hieroglyphic Egyptian: An Intro- Egyptian language
duction to the Language and Literature of the Middle The Pronunciation of Ancient Egyptian by Kelley L.
Kingdom, Univ. of California Press, 2013. ISBN Ross
978-0-520-27546-1 (hbk)
The Egyptian connection: Egyptian and the Semitic
languages by Helmut Satzinger
Ancient Egyptian Language Discussion List
Adolf Erman, Hermann Grapow: Das Wrter-
buch der gyptischen Sprache, Wiley-VCH Ver- Dictionnaire tymologique de la Langue Copte by
lag GmbH, Berlin, 1992. ISBN 978-3050022642 Werner Vycichl
(paperback), ISBN 978-3050022666 (reference
vols 1-5) Site containing direct translations from English to
Raymond O. Faulkner: A Concise Dictionary of
Middle Egyptian, Grith Institute, Oxford, 1962.
ISBN 0-900416-32-7 (hardback) 1.13 Ancient Egyptian literature
Leonard H. Lesko: A Dictionary of Late Egyp-
tian, 2nd ed., 2 Vols., B.C. Scribe Publications,
Providence, 2002 et 2004. ISBN 0-930548-14-0
(vol.1), ISBN 0-930548-15-9 (vol. 2).

Shennum, *, English-Egyptian Index of Faulkners

Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian, Undena
Publications, 1977. ISBN 0-89003-054-5

Yvonne Bonnamy and Ashraf-Alexandre Sadek:

Dictionnaire des Hirogriphes, Actes-sud:fr(www., Arles, 2010. ISBN 978-2-7427-

Werner Vycichl: Dictionnaire tymologique de la

Langue Copte, Peeters, Leuven, 1984. ISBN 2- Egyptian hieroglyphs with cartouches for the name "Ramesses II",
8017-0197-1 from the Luxor Temple, New Kingdom

Ancient Egyptian literature was written in the Egyptian the oodplain of the Nile is under-represented because
language from ancient Egypt's pharaonic period until the the moist environment is unsuitable for the preservation
end of Roman domination. It represents the oldest corpus of papyri and ink inscriptions. On the other hand, hidden
of Egyptian literature. Along with Sumerian literature, it caches of literature, buried for thousands of years, have
is considered the worlds earliest literature.[1] been discovered in settlements on the dry desert margins
Writing in ancient Egyptboth hieroglyphic and of Egyptian civilization.
hieraticrst appeared in the late 4th millennium BC
during the late phase of predynastic Egypt. By the Old
Kingdom (26th century BC to 22nd century BC), literary
1.13.1 Scripts, media, and languages
works included funerary texts, epistles and letters, hymns
Hieroglyphs, hieratic, and Demotic
and poems, and commemorative autobiographical texts
recounting the careers of prominent administrative
Main article: Writing in ancient Egypt
ocials. It was not until the early Middle Kingdom
By the Early Dynastic Period in the late 4th millennium
(21st century BC to 17th century BC) that a narrative
Egyptian literature was created. This was a media
revolution which, according to Richard B. Parkinson,
was the result of the rise of an intellectual class of
scribes, new cultural sensibilities about individuality,
unprecedented levels of literacy, and mainstream access
to written materials.[2] However, it is possible that the
overall literacy rate was less than one percent of the
entire population. The creation of literature was thus an
elite exercise, monopolized by a scribal class attached
to government oces and the royal court of the ruling
pharaoh. However, there is no full consensus among
modern scholars concerning the dependence of ancient
Egyptian literature on the sociopolitical order of the
royal courts.
Middle Egyptian, the spoken language of the Middle
The slab stela of the Old Kingdom Egyptian princess Nefere-
Kingdom, became a classical language during the New tiabet (dated c. 25902565 BC), from her tomb at Giza, with
Kingdom (16th century BC to 11th century BC), when hieroglyphs carved and painted on limestone[3]
the vernacular language known as Late Egyptian rst
appeared in writing. Scribes of the New Kingdom BC, Egyptian hieroglyphs and their cursive form hieratic
canonized and copied many literary texts written in Mid- were well-established written scripts.[4] Egyptian hiero-
dle Egyptian, which remained the language used for glyphs are small artistic pictures of natural objects.[5] For
oral readings of sacred hieroglyphic texts. Some genres example, the hieroglyph for door-bolt, pronounced se,
of Middle Kingdom literature, such as "teachings" and produced the s sound; when this hieroglyph was com-
ctional tales, remained popular in the New Kingdom, bined with another or multiple hieroglyphs, it produced
although the genre of prophetic texts was not revived un- a combination of sounds that could represent abstract
til the Ptolemaic period (4th century BC to 1st century concepts like sorrow, happiness, beauty, and evil.[6] The
BC). Popular tales included the Story of Sinuhe and The Narmer Palette, dated c. 3100 BC during the last phase of
Eloquent Peasant, while important teaching texts include Predynastic Egypt, combines the hieroglyphs for catsh
the Instructions of Amenemhat and The Loyalist Teaching. and chisel to produce the name of King Narmer.[7]
By the New Kingdom period, the writing of commemo-
rative grati on sacred temple and tomb walls ourished The Egyptians called their hieroglyphs words of god
as a unique genre of literature, yet it employed formu- and reserved their use for exalted purposes, such as com-
laic phrases similar to other genres. The acknowledg- municating with divinities and spirits of the dead through
ment of rightful authorship remained important only in funerary texts.[8] Each hieroglyphic word represented
a few genres, while texts of the teaching genre were both, a specic object and embodied the essence of that
pseudonymous and falsely attributed to prominent histor- object, recognizing it as divinely made and belonging
ical gures. within the greater cosmos.[9] Through acts of priestly rit-
ual, like burning incense, the priest allowed spirits and
Ancient Egyptian literature has been preserved on a wide deities to read the hieroglyphs decorating the surfaces of
variety of media. This includes papyrus scrolls and pack- temples.[10] In funerary texts beginning in and following
ets, limestone or ceramic ostraca, wooden writing boards, the Twelfth dynasty, the Egyptians believed that disgur-
monumental stone edices and cons. Texts preserved ing, and even omitting certain hieroglyphs, brought con-
and unearthed by modern archaeologists represent a small sequences, either good or bad, for a deceased tomb occu-
fraction of ancient Egyptian literary material. The area of pant whose spirit relied on the texts as a source of nour-

ishment in the afterlife.[11] Mutilating the hieroglyph of

a venomous snake, or other dangerous animal, removed
a potential threat.[11] However, removing every instance
of the hieroglyphs representing a deceased persons name
would deprive his or her soul of the ability to read the
funerary texts and condemn that soul to an inanimate

Abbott Papyrus, a record written in hieratic script; it describes an

inspection of royal tombs in the Theban Necropolis and is dated
to the 16th regnal year of Ramesses IX, ca. 1110 BCE.

Hieratic is a simplied, cursive form of Egyptian

hieroglyphs.[12] Like hieroglyphs, hieratic was used in
sacred and religious texts. By the 1st millennium BC,
calligraphic hieratic became the script predominantly
used in funerary papyri and temple rolls.[13] Whereas
the writing of hieroglyphs required the utmost preci-
sion and care, cursive hieratic could be written much
more quickly and was therefore more practical for scribal
record-keeping.[14] Its primary purpose was to serve as
a shorthand script for non-royal, non-monumental, and An ostracon with hieratic script mentioning ocials involved in
the inspection and clearing of tombs during the Twenty-rst dy-
less formal writings such as private letters, legal docu-
nasty of Egypt, c. 1070945 BC
ments, poems, tax records, medical texts, mathematical
treatises, and instructional guides.[15] Hieratic could be
written in two dierent styles; one was more calligraphic
and usually reserved for government records and literary black and red ochre, the reed pen was used to write on
manuscripts, the other was used for informal accounts scrolls of papyrusa thin material made from beating
and letters.[16] together strips of pith from the Cyperus papyrus plant
as well as on small ceramic or limestone ostraca known
By the mid-1st millennium BC, hieroglyphs and hieratic as potsherds.[19] It is thought that papyrus rolls were
were still used for royal, monumental, religious, and fu- moderately expensive commercial items, since many are
nerary writings, while a new, even more cursive script palimpsests, manuscripts that have their original con-
was used for informal, day-to-day writing: Demotic.[13] tents erased to make room for new written works.[20]
The nal script adopted by the ancient Egyptians was the This, alongside tearing o pieces of papyrus documents
Coptic alphabet, a revised version of the Greek alpha- to make smaller letters, suggests that there were seasonal
bet.[17] Coptic became the standard in the 4th century shortages caused by the limited growing season of Cype-
AD when Christianity became the state religion through- rus papyrus.[20] It also explains the frequent use of ostraca
out the Roman Empire; hieroglyphs were discarded as and limestone akes as writing media for shorter writ-
idolatrous images of a pagan tradition, unt for writing ten works.[21] In addition to stone, ceramic ostraca, and
the Biblical canon.[17] papyrus, writing media also included wood, ivory, and
Writing implements and materials By the Roman Period of Egypt, the traditional Egyptian
reed pen had been replaced by the chief writing tool of
Egyptian literature was produced on a variety of media. the Greco-Roman world: a shorter, thicker reed pen with
Along with the chisel, necessary for making inscrip- a cut nib.[23] Likewise, the original Egyptian pigments
tions on stone, the chief writing tool of ancient Egypt were discarded in favor of Greek lead-based inks.[23] The
was the reed pen, a reed fashioned into a stem with adoption of Greco-Roman writing tools inuenced Egyp-
a bruised, brush-like end.[18] With pigments of carbon tian handwriting, as hieratic signs became more spaced,

had rounder ourishes, and greater angular precision.[23] inhabitants of Deir el-Medina were incredibly literate by
ancient Egyptian standards, and cautions that such nds
only come " rareed circumstances and in particular
Preservation of written material conditions.[29]

Underground Egyptian tombs built in the desert provide John W. Tait stresses, Egyptian material survives in a
possibly the most protective environment for the preser- very uneven fashion ... the unevenness of survival com-
vation of papyrus documents. For example, there are prises both time and space.[27] For instance, there is
many well-preserved Book of the Dead funerary papyri a dearth of written material from all periods from the
Nile Delta but an abundance at western Thebes, dat-
placed in tombs to act as afterlife guides for the souls of
the deceased tomb occupants.[24] However, it was only ing from its heyday.[27] He notes that while some texts
customary during the late Middle Kingdom and rst half were copied numerous times, others survive from a sin-
of the New Kingdom to place non-religious papyri in gle copy; for example, there is only one complete surviv-
burial chambers. Thus, the majority of well-preserved ing copy of the Tale of the shipwrecked sailor from the
literary papyri are dated to this period.[24] Middle Kingdom.[30] However, Tale of the shipwrecked
sailor also appears in fragments of texts on ostraca from
Most settlements in ancient Egypt were situated on the the New Kingdom.[31] Many other literary works survive
alluvium of the Nile oodplain. This moist environment only in fragments or through incomplete copies of lost
was unfavorable for long-term preservation of papyrus originals.[32]
documents. Archaeologists have discovered a larger
quantity of papyrus documents in desert settlements on
land elevated above the oodplain,[25] and in settlements Classical, Middle, Late, and Demotic Egyptian lan-
that lacked irrigation works, such as Elephantine, El- guage
Lahun, and El-Hiba.[26]

Columns with inscribed and painted Egyptian hieroglyphs, from

the hypostyle hall of the Ramesseum (at Luxor) built during the
reign of Ramesses II (r. 12791213 BC)

Egyptian peasants harvesting papyrus, from a mural painting in Although writing rst appeared during the very late
a Deir el-Medina tomb dated to the early Ramesside Period (i.e. 4th millennium BC, it was only used to convey short
Nineteenth dynasty) names and labels; connected strings of text did not
appear until about 2600 BC, at the beginning of the
Writings on more permanent media have also been lost in Old Kingdom.[33] This development marked the begin-
several ways. Stones with inscriptions were frequently re- ning of the rst known phase of the Egyptian language:
used as building materials, and ceramic ostraca require a Old Egyptian.[33] Old Egyptian remained a spoken lan-
dry environment to ensure the preservation of the ink on guage until about 2100 BC, when, during the beginning
their surfaces.[27] Whereas papyrus rolls and packets were of the Middle Kingdom, it evolved into Middle Egyp-
usually stored in boxes for safekeeping, ostraca were rou- tian.[33] While Middle Egyptian was closely related to Old
tinely discarded in waste pits; one such pit was discovered Egyptian, Late Egyptian was signicantly dierent in
by chance at the Ramesside-era village of Deir el-Medina, grammatical structure. Late Egyptian possibly appeared
and has yielded the majority of known private letters on as a vernacular language as early as 1600 BC, but was not
ostraca.[21] Documents found at this site include letters, used as a written language until c. 1300 BC during the
hymns, ctional narratives, recipes, business receipts, and Amarna Period of the New Kingdom.[34] Late Egyptian
wills and testaments.[28] Penelope Wilson describes this evolved into Demotic by the 7th century BC, and although
archaeological nd as the equivalent of sifting through a Demotic remained a spoken language until the 5th cen-
modern landll or waste container.[28] She notes that the tury AD, it was gradually replaced by Coptic beginning

in the 1st century AD.[35] ing letters, sales documents, and legal documents would
Hieratic was used alongside hieroglyphs for writing in Old have been frequently sought by illiterate people.[42] Lit-
and Middle Egyptian, becoming the dominant form of erate people are thought to have comprised only 1% of
writing in Late Egyptian.[36] By the New Kingdom and the population,[43] the remainder being illiterate farm-
throughout the rest of ancient Egyptian history, Middle ers, herdsmen, artisans, and other laborers,[44] as well
Egyptian became a classical language that was usually as merchants who required the assistance of scribal
reserved for reading and writing in hieroglyphs.[37] For secretaries.[45] The privileged status of the scribe over
the rest of ancient Egyptian history, Middle Egyptian re- illiterate manual laborers was the subject of a popular
Ramesside Period instructional text, The Satire of the
mained the spoken language for more exalted forms of
literature, such as historical records, commemorative au- Trades, where lowly, undesirable occupations, for exam-
ple, potter, sherman, laundry man, and soldier, were
tobiographies, hymns, and funerary spells.[38] However,
Middle Kingdom literature written in Middle Egyptian mocked and the scribal profession praised.[46] A similar
demeaning attitude towards the illiterate is expressed in
was also rewritten in hieratic during later periods.[39]
the Middle Kingdom Teaching of Khety, which is used to
reinforce the scribes elevated position within the social
1.13.2 Literary functions: social, religious
and educational The scribal class was the social group responsible for
maintaining, transmitting, and canonizing literary clas-
sics, and writing new compositions.[48] Classic works,
such as the Story of Sinuhe and Instructions of Amen-
emhat, were copied by schoolboys as pedagogical exer-
cises in writing and to instill the required ethical and
moral values that distinguished the scribal social class.[49]
Wisdom texts of the "teaching" genre represent the ma-
jority of pedagogical texts written on ostraca during the
Middle Kingdom; narrative tales, such as Sinuhe and
King Neferkare and General Sasenet, were rarely copied
for school exercises until the New Kingdom.[50] William
Kelly Simpson describes narrative tales such as Sinuhe
and The shipwrecked sailor as "...instructions or teachings
in the guise of narratives, since the main protagonists of
such stories embodied the accepted virtues of the day,
such as love of home or self-reliance.[51]
There are some known instances where those outside
the scribal profession were literate and had access to
classical literature. Menena, a draughtsman working at
Deir el-Medina during the Twentieth dynasty of Egypt,
quoted passages from the Middle Kingdom narratives
Eloquent Peasant and Tale of the shipwrecked sailor in an
instructional letter reprimanding his disobedient son.[31]
Menenas Ramesside contemporary Hori, the scribal au-
thor of the satirical letter in Papyrus Anastasi I, admon-
ished his addressee for quoting the Instruction of Hard-
Seated statue of an Egyptian scribe holding a papyrus document jedef in the unbecoming manner of a non-scribal, semi-
in his lap, found in the western cemetery at Giza, Fifth dynasty
educated person.[31] Hans-Werner Fischer-Elfert further
of Egypt (25th to 24th centuries BC)
explains this perceived amateur aront to orthodox liter-
Throughout ancient Egyptian history, reading and writ-
ing were the main requirements for serving in public of-
ce, although government ocials were assisted in their What may be revealed by Horis attack on
day-to-day work by an elite, literate social group known the way in which some Ramesside scribes felt
as scribes.[40] As evidenced by Papyrus Anastasi I of the obliged to demonstrate their greater or lesser
Ramesside Period, scribes could even be expected, ac- acquaintance with ancient literature is the con-
cording to Wilson, " organize the excavation of a ception that these venerable works were meant
lake and the building of a brick ramp, to establish the to be known in full and not to be misused as
number of men needed to transport an obelisk and to quarries for popular sayings mined deliberately
arrange the provisioning of a military mission.[41] Be- from the past. The classics of the time were to
sides government employment, scribal services in draft- be memorized completely and comprehended

thoroughly before being cited.[52] 1.13.3 Dating, setting, and authorship

Hieroglyphs from the Mortuary Temple of Seti I, now located at

The stela of Minnakht, chief of the scribes, hieroglyph inscrip-
the Great Hypostyle Hall of Karnak
tions, dated to the reign of Ay (r. 13231319 BC)

There is scant but solid evidence in Egyptian litera- Richard B. Parkinson and Ludwig D. Morenz write that
ture and art for the practice of oral reading of texts ancient Egyptian literaturenarrowly dened as belles-
to audiences.[53] The oral performance word to recite lettres (beautiful writing)was not recorded in writ-
(dj) was usually associated with biographies, letters, and ten form until the early Twelfth dynasty of the Mid-
spells.[54] Singing (sj) was meant for praise songs, love dle Kingdom.[61] Old Kingdom texts served mainly to
songs, funerary laments, and certain spells.[54] Discourses maintain the divine cults, preserve souls in the after-
such as the Prophecy of Neferti suggest that compositions life, and document accounts for practical uses in daily
were meant for oral reading among elite gatherings.[54] life. It was not until the Middle Kingdom that texts were
In the 1st millennium BC Demotic short story cycle cen- written for the purpose of entertainment and intellectual
tered on the deeds of Petiese, the stories begin with the curiosity.[62] Parkinson and Morenz also speculate that
phrase The voice which is before Pharaoh, which indi- written works of the Middle Kingdom were transcriptions
cates that an oral speaker and audience was involved in of the oral literature of the Old Kingdom.[63] It is known
the reading of the text.[55] A ctional audience of high that some oral poetry was preserved in later writing; for
government ocials and members of the royal court are example, litter-bearers songs were preserved as written
mentioned in some texts, but a wider, non-literate audi- verses in tomb inscriptions of the Old Kingdom.[62]
ence may have been involved.[56] For example, a funerary Dating texts by methods of palaeography, the study of
stela of Senusret I (r. 19711926 BC) explicitly mentions handwriting, is problematic because of diering styles of
people who will gather and listen to a scribe who recites
hieratic script.[64] The use of orthography, the study of
the stela inscriptions out loud.[56] writing systems and symbol usage, is also problematic,
Literature also served religious purposes. Beginning with since some texts authors may have copied the charac-
the Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom, works of funer- teristic style of an older archetype.[64] Fictional accounts
ary literature written on tomb walls, and later on cons, were often set in remote historical settings, the use of
and papyri placed within tombs, were designed to protect contemporary settings in ction being a relatively recent
and nurture souls in their afterlife.[57] This included the phenomenon.[65] The style of a text provides little help in
use of magical spells, incantations, and lyrical hymns.[57] determining an exact date for its composition, as genre
Copies of non-funerary literary texts found in non-royal and authorial choice might be more concerned with the
tombs suggest that the dead could entertain themselves mood of a text than the era in which it was written.[66]
in the afterlife by reading these teaching texts and narra- For example, authors of the Middle Kingdom could set
tive tales.[58] See also Egyptian inuences in the Hebrew ctional wisdom texts in the golden age of the Old King-
Bible. dom (e.g. Kagemni, Ptahhotep, and the prologue of Ne-
Although the creation of literature was predominantly a ferti), or they could write ctional accounts placed in a
male scribal pursuit, some works are thought to have been chaotic age resembling more the problematic life of the
written by women. For example, several references to First Intermediate Period (e.g. Merykare and The Elo-
women writing letters and surviving private letters sent quent Peasant).[67] Other ctional texts are set in illo tem-
and received by women have been found.[59] However, pore (in an indeterminable era) and usually contain time-
Edward F. Wente asserts that, even with explicit refer- less themes.[68]
ences to women reading letters, it is possible that women Parkinson writes that nearly all literary texts were
employed others to write documents.[60] pseudonymous, and frequently falsely attributed to well-

quatrains were used.[80]

Instructions and teachings

Further information: Ancient Egyptian philosophy

The instructions or teaching genre, as well as the

One of the Heqanakht papyri, a collection of hieratic private let-

ters dated to the Eleventh dynasty of the Middle Kingdom[69]

known male protagonists of earlier history, such as kings

and viziers.[70] Only the literary genres of teaching and
laments/discourses contain works attributed to histori-
cal authors; texts in genres such as narrative tales were
never attributed to a well-known historical person.[71]
Tait asserts that during the Classical Period of Egypt,
Egyptian scribes constructed their own view of the his-
tory of the role of scribes and of the 'authorship' of texts,
but during the Late Period, this role was instead main-
tained by the religious elite attached to the temples.[72]
There are a few exceptions to the rule of pseudonymity.
The real authors of some Ramesside Period teaching texts
were acknowledged, but these cases are rare, localized,
and do not typify mainstream works.[73] Those who wrote A New Kingdom copy on papyrus of the Loyalist Teaching, writ-
private and sometimes model letters were acknowledged ten in hieratic script
as the original authors. Private letters could be used in
courts of law as testimony, since a persons unique hand- genre of reective discourses, can be grouped in the
writing could be identied as authentic.[74] Private letters larger corpus of wisdom literature found in the ancient
received or written by the pharaoh were sometimes in- Near East.[81] The genre is didactic in nature and is
scribed in hieroglyphics on stone monuments to celebrate thought to have formed part of the Middle Kingdom
kingship, while kings decrees inscribed on stone stelas scribal education syllabus.[82] However, teaching texts of-
were often made public.[75] ten incorporate narrative elements that can instruct as
well as entertain.[82] Parkinson asserts that there is evi-
dence that teaching texts were not created primarily for
1.13.4 Literary genres and subjects use in scribal education, but for ideological purposes.[83]
For example, Adolf Erman (18541937) writes that the
For technical works outside literature proper, see ctional instruction given by Amenemhat I (r. 1991
Medical papyri and Egyptian mathematics. 1962 BC) to his sons "...far exceeds the bounds of school
philosophy, and there is nothing whatever to do with
Modern Egyptologists categorize Egyptian texts into school in a great warning his children to be loyal to the
genres, for example "laments/discourses" and narrative king.[84] While narrative literature, embodied in works
tales.[76] The only genre of literature named as such by the such as The Eloquent Peasant, emphasize the individual
ancient Egyptians was the teaching or sebayt genre.[77] hero who challenges society and its accepted ideologies,
Parkinson states that the titles of a work, its opening state- the teaching texts instead stress the need to comply with
ment, or key words found in the body of text should be societys accepted dogmas.[85]
used as indicators of its particular genre.[78] Only the Key words found in teaching texts include to know (rh)
genre of narrative tales employed prose, yet many of and teach ([81] These texts usually adopt the for-
the works of that genre, as well as those of other genres, mulaic title structure of the instruction of X made for
were written in verse.[79] Most ancient Egyptian verses Y, where X can be represented by an authoritative g-
were written in couplet form, but sometimes triplets and ure (such as a vizier or king) providing moral guidance to

his son(s).[86] It is sometimes dicult to determine how form well-known historical gures such as Khaemweset
many ctional addressees are involved in these teachings, (Nineteenth Dynasty) and Inaros (First Persian Period)
since some texts switch between singular and plural when into ctional, legendary heroes.[99] This is contrasted with
referring to their audiences.[87] many stories written in Late Egyptian, whose authors fre-
Examples of the teaching genre include the Maxims quently chose divinities [51]
as protagonists and mythological
of Ptahhotep, Instructions of Kagemni, Teaching for places as settings.
King Merykare, Instructions of Amenemhat, Instruction
of Hardjedef, Loyalist Teaching, and Instructions of
Amenemope.[88] Teaching texts that have survived
from the Middle Kingdom were written on papyrus
manuscripts.[89] No educational ostraca from the Mid-
dle Kingdom have survived.[89] The earliest schoolboys A raised-relief depiction of Amenemhat I accompanied by
wooden writing board, with a copy of a teaching text (i.e. deities; the death of Amenemhat I is reported by his son Senusret
Ptahhotep), dates to the Eighteenth dynasty.[89] Ptahhotep I in the Story of Sinuhe.
and Kagemni are both found on the Prisse Papyrus, which
was written during the Twelfth dynasty of the Middle Parkinson denes tales as "...non-commemorative, non-
Kingdom.[90] The entire Loyalist Teaching survives only functional, ctional narratives" that usually employ the
in manuscripts from the New Kingdom, although the en- key word narrate (sdd).[95] He describes it as the most
tire rst half is preserved on a Middle Kingdom biograph- open-ended genre, since the tales often incorporate ele-
ical stone stela commemorating the Twelfth dynasty of- ments of other literary genres.[95] For example, Morenz
cial Sehetepibre.[91] Merykare, Amenemhat, and Hard- describes the opening section of the foreign adventure
jedef are genuine Middle Kingdom works, but only sur- tale Sinuhe as a "...funerary self-presentation that paro-
vive in later New Kingdom copies.[92] Amenemope is a dies the typical autobiography found on commemorative
New Kingdom compilation.[93] funerary stelas.[100] The autobiography is for a courier
whose service began under Amenemhat I.[101] Simp-
son states that the death of Amenemhat I in the report
Narrative tales and stories given by his son, coregent, and successor Senusret I (r.
19711926 BC) to the army in the beginning of Sinuhe
is "...excellent propaganda.[102] Morenz describes The
shipwrecked sailor as an expeditionary report and a travel-
narrative myth.[100] Simpson notes the literary device of
the story within a story in The shipwrecked sailor may
provide "...the earliest examples of a narrative quarrying
report.[103] With the setting of a magical desert island,
and a character who is a talking snake, The shipwrecked
sailor may also be classied as a fairy tale.[104] While sto-
The Westcar Papyrus, although written in hieratic during the ries like Sinuhe, Taking of Joppa, and the Doomed prince
Fifteenth to Seventeenth dynasties, contains the Tale of the Court contain ctional portrayals of Egyptians abroad, the Re-
of King Cheops, which is written in a phase of Middle Egyptian port of Wenamun is most likely based on a true account
that is dated to the Twelfth dynasty.[94] of an Egyptian who traveled to Byblos in Phoenicia to ob-
tain cedar for shipbuilding during the reign of Ramesses
The genre of tales and stories is probably the least rep- XI.[105]
resented genre from surviving literature of the Middle Narrative tales and stories are most often found on papyri,
Kingdom and Middle Egyptian.[95] In Late Egyptian lit- but partial and sometimes complete texts are found on os-
erature, tales and stories comprise the majority of sur- traca. For example, Sinuhe is found on ve papyri com-
viving literary works dated from the Ramesside Period posed during the Twelfth and Thirteenth dynasties.[106]
of the New Kingdom into the Late Period.[96] Major nar- This text was later copied numerous times on ostraca dur-
rative works from the Middle Kingdom include the Tale ing the Nineteenth and Twentieth dynasties, with one os-
of the Court of King Cheops, King Neferkare and Gen- traca containing the complete text on both sides.[106]
eral Sasenet, The Eloquent Peasant, Story of Sinuhe, and
Tale of the shipwrecked sailor.[97] The New Kingdom cor-
pus of tales includes the Quarrel of Apepi and Seqenenre, Laments, discourses, dialogues, and prophecies
Taking of Joppa, Tale of the doomed prince, Tale of Two
Brothers, and the Report of Wenamun.[98] Stories from the The Middle Kingdom genre of "prophetic texts", also
1st millennium BC written in Demotic include the story known as "laments", "discourses", "dialogues", and
of the Famine Stela (set in the Old Kingdom, although apocalyptic literature,[107] include such works as the
written during the Ptolemaic dynasty) and short story Admonitions of Ipuwer, Prophecy of Neferti, and Dispute
cycles of the Ptolemaic and Roman periods that trans- between a man and his Ba. This genre had no known

precedent in the Old Kingdom and no known original tains the king with prophecies that the land will enter
compositions were produced in the New Kingdom.[108] into a chaotic age, alluding to the First Intermediate Pe-
However, works like Prophecy of Neferti were fre- riod, only to be restored to its former glory by a righteous
quently copied during the Ramesside Period of the New king Amenywhom the ancient Egyptian would read-
Kingdom,[109] when this Middle Kingdom genre was can- ily recognize as Amenemhat I.[115] A similar model of a
onized but discontinued.[110] Egyptian prophetic litera- tumultuous world transformed into a golden age by a sav-
ture underwent a revival during the Greek Ptolemaic dy- ior king was adopted for the Lamb and Potter, although
nasty and Roman period of Egypt with works such as the for their audiences living under Roman domination, the
Demotic Chronicle, Oracle of the Lamb, Oracle of the Pot- savior was yet to come.[116]
ter, and two prophetic texts that focus on Nectanebo II Although written during the Twelfth dynasty, Ipuwer only
(r. 360343 BC) as a protagonist.[111] Along with teach-
survives from a Nineteenth dynasty papyrus. However, A
ing texts, these reective discourses (key word mdt) are man and his Ba is found on an original Twelfth dynasty
grouped with the wisdom literature category of the an-
papyrus, Papyrus Berlin 3024.[117] These two texts re-
cient Near East.[81] semble other discourses in style, tone, and subject matter,
although they are unique in that the ctional audiences are
given very active roles in the exchange of dialogue.[118] In
Ipuwer, a sage addresses an unnamed king and his atten-
dants, describing the miserable state of the land, which
he blames on the kings inability to uphold royal virtues.
This can be seen either as a warning to kings or as a le-
gitimization of the current dynasty, contrasting it with
the supposedly turbulent period that preceded it.[119] In
A man and his Ba, a man recounts for an audience a con-
versation with his ba (a component of the Egyptian soul)
on whether to continue living in despair or to seek death
as an escape from misery.[120]

Poems, songs, hymns, and afterlife texts

The ba in bird form, one component of the Egyptian soul that is

discussed in the Middle Kingdom discourse Dispute between a This vignette scene from the Book of the Dead of Hunefer
man and his Ba (Nineteenth dynasty) shows his heart being weighed against the
feather of truth. If his heart is lighter than the feather, he is al-
In Middle Kingdom texts, connecting themes include a lowed into the afterlife; if not, his heart is swallowed by Ammit.
pessimistic outlook, descriptions of social and religious
change, and great disorder throughout the land, taking The funerary stone slab stela was rst produced dur-
the form of a syntactic then-now verse formula.[112] Al- ing the early Old Kingdom. Usually found in mastaba
though these texts are usually described as laments, Ne- tombs, they combined raised-relief artwork with inscrip-
ferti digresses from this model, providing a positive so- tions bearing the name of the deceased, their ocial titles
lution to a problematic world.[81] Although it survives (if any), and invocations.[121]
only in later copies from the Eighteenth dynasty on- Funerary poems were thought to preserve a monarchs
ward, Parkinson asserts that, due to obvious political con- soul in death. The Pyramid Texts are the earliest sur-
tent, Neferti was originally written during or shortly af- viving religious literature incorporating poetic verse.[122]
ter the reign of Amenemhat I.[113] Simpson calls it "...a These texts do not appear in tombs or pyramids originat-
blatant political pamphlet designed to support the new ing before the reign of Unas (r. 23752345 BC), who
regime of the Twelfth dynasty founded by Amenemhat, had the Pyramid of Unas built at Saqqara.[122] The Pyra-
who usurped the throne from the Mentuhotep line of the mid Texts are chiey concerned with the function of pre-
Eleventh dynasty.[114] In the narrative discourse, Sneferu serving and nurturing the soul of the sovereign in the
(r. 26132589 BC) of the Fourth dynasty summons to afterlife.[122] This aim eventually included safeguarding
court the sage and lector priest Neferti. Neferti enter- both the sovereign and his subjects in the afterlife.[123]

A variety of textual traditions evolved from the orig- Only a single poetic hymn in the Demotic script has been
inal Pyramid Texts: the Con Texts of the Middle preserved.[136] However, there are many surviving ex-
Kingdom,[124] the so-called Book of the Dead, Litany of amples of Late-Period Egyptian hymns written in hiero-
Ra, and Amduat written on papyri from the New King- glyphs on temple walls.[137]
dom until the end of ancient Egyptian civilization.[125] No Egyptian love song has been dated from before the
Poems were also written to celebrate kingship. For ex- New Kingdom, these being written in Late Egyptian,
ample, at the Precinct of Amun-Re at Karnak, Thutmose although it is speculated that they existed in previous
III (r. 14791425 BC) of the Eighteenth dynasty erected times.[138] Erman compares the love songs to the Song of
a stela commemorating his military victories in which the Songs, citing the labels sister and brother that lovers
gods bless Thutmose in poetic verse and ensure for him used to address each other.[139]
victories over his enemies.[126] In addition to stone stelas,
poems have been found on wooden writing boards used
by schoolboys.[127] Besides the glorication of kings,[128] Private letters, model letters, and epistles
poems were written to honor various deities, and even the

A blind harpist, from a mural of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt,

15th century BC

Surviving hymns and songs from the Old Kingdom in-

clude the morning greeting hymns to the gods in their re-
spective temples.[130] A cycle of Middle-Kingdom songs
dedicated to Senusret III (r. 18781839 BC) have been
discovered at El-Lahun.[131] Erman considers these to be
secular songs used to greet the pharaoh at Memphis,[132]
while Simpson considers them to be religious in nature Hieratic script on an ostracon made of limestone; the script was
written as an exercise by a schoolboy in Ancient Egypt. He copied
but arms that the division between religious and sec-
four letters from the vizier Khay (who was active during the reign
ular songs is not very sharp.[131] The Harpers Song, the of Ramesses II).
lyrics found on a tombstone of the Middle Kingdom and
on Papyrus Harris 500 from the New Kingdom, was to be The ancient Egyptian model letters and epistles are
performed for dinner guests at formal banquets.[133] grouped into a single literary genre. Papyrus rolls sealed
During the reign of Akhenaten (r. 13531336 BC), with mud stamps were used for long-distance letters,
the Great Hymn to the Atenpreserved in tombs of while ostraca were frequently used to write shorter, non-
Amarna, including the tomb of Aywas written to the condential letters sent to recipients located nearby.[140]
Aten, the sun-disk deity given exclusive patronage dur- Letters of royal or ocial correspondence, originally
ing his reign.[134] Simpson compares this compositions written in hieratic, were sometimes given the exalted
wording and sequence of ideas to those of Psalm 104.[135] status of being inscribed on stone in hieroglyphs.[141]

The various texts written by schoolboys on wooden writ- Columbia, Missouri, writes that the earliest commem-
ing boards include model letters.[89] Private letters couldorative inscriptions belong to ancient Egypt and date to
be used as epistolary model letters for schoolboys to the 3rd millennium BC.[154] She writes: In ancient Egypt
copy, including letters written by their teachers or their the formulaic accounts of Pharaohs lives praised the con-
families.[142] However, these models were rarely featured tinuity of dynastic power. Although typically written in
in educational manuscripts; instead ctional letters found the rst person, these pronouncements are public, gen-
in numerous manuscripts were used.[143] The common eral testimonials, not personal utterances.[155] She adds
epistolary formula used in these model letters was The that as in these ancient inscriptions, the human urge to
ocial A. saith to the scribe B.[144] "...celebrate, commemorate, and immortalize, the im-
The oldest-known private letters on papyrus were found pulse of life against death, is the aim of biographies writ-
ten today.[155]
in a funerary temple dating to the reign of Djedkare-
Izezi (r. 24142375 BC) of the Fifth dynasty.[145] More
letters are dated to the Sixth dynasty, when the epistle
subgenre began.[146] The educational text Book of Kemit,
dated to the Eleventh dynasty, contains a list of episto-
lary greetings and a narrative with an ending in letter
form and suitable terminology for use in commemorative
biographies.[147] Other letters of the early Middle King-
dom have also been found to use epistolary formulas simi-
lar to the Book of Kemit.[148] The Heqanakht papyri, writ-
ten by a gentleman farmer, date to the Eleventh dynasty
and represent some of the lengthiest private letters known
to have been written in ancient Egypt.[69]
During the late Middle Kingdom, greater standardization
of the epistolary formula can be seen, for example in a
series of model letters taken from dispatches sent to the
Semna fortress of Nubia during the reign of Amenemhat
III (r. 18601814 BC).[149] Epistles were also writ-
ten during all three dynasties of the New Kingdom.[150]
While letters to the dead had been written since the Old
Kingdom, the writing of petition letters in epistolary form
to deities began in the Ramesside Period, becoming very
popular during the Persian and Ptolemaic periods.[151]
The epistolary Satirical Letter of Papyrus Anastasi I
written during the Nineteenth dynasty was a pedagog-
ical and didactic text copied on numerous ostraca by
schoolboys.[152] Wente describes the versatility of this
epistle, which contained "...proper greetings with wishes
for this life and the next, the rhetoric composition, inter-
pretation of aphorisms in wisdom literature, application A funerary stela of a man named Ba (seated, sning a sacred
of mathematics to engineering problems and the calcula- lotus while receiving libations); Bas son Mes and wife Iny are
tion of supplies for an army, and the geography of western also seated. The identity of the libation bearer is unspecied.
Asia".[153] Moreover, Wente calls this a "...polemical The stela is dated to the Eighteenth dynasty of the New Kingdom
tractate that counsels against the rote, mechanical learn- period.
ing of terms for places, professions, and things; for ex-
ample, it is not acceptable to know just the place names
Olivier Perdu, a professor of Egyptology at the Collge
of western Asia, but also important details about its
de France, states that biographies did not exist in ancient
topography and routes.[153] To enhance the teaching, the
Egypt, and that commemorative writing should be con-
text employs sarcasm and irony.[153] sidered autobiographical.[156] Edward L. Greenstein, Pro-
fessor of Bible at the Tel Aviv University and Bar-Ilan
University, disagrees with Perdus terminology, stating
Biographical and autobiographical texts
that the ancient world produced no autobiographies in
the modern sense, and these should be distinguished from
Further information: Weni the Elder and Harkhuf 'autobiographical' texts of the ancient world.[157] How-
ever, both Perdu and Greenstein assert that autobiogra-
Catherine Parke, Professor Emerita of English and phies of the ancient Near East should not be equated with
Womens Studies at the University of Missouri in the modern concept of autobiography.[158]

In her discussion of the Ecclesiastes of the Hebrew

Bible, Jennifer Koosed, associate professor of Religion
at Albright College, explains that there is no solid con-
sensus among scholars as to whether true biographies or
autobiographies existed in the ancient world.[159] One of
the major scholarly arguments against this theory is that
the concept of individuality did not exist until the Eu-
ropean Renaissance, prompting Koosed to write "...thus
autobiography is made a product of European civiliza-
tion: Augustine begat Rosseau begat Henry Adams, and
so on.[159] Koosed asserts that the use of rst-person I
in ancient Egyptian commemorative funerary texts should
not be taken literally since the supposed author is already
dead. Funerary texts should be considered biographical
instead of autobiographical.[158] Koosed cautions that the
term biography applied to such texts is problematic,
since they also usually describe the deceased persons ex-
periences of journeying through the afterlife.[158]
Beginning with the funerary stelas for ocials of the late
Third dynasty, small amounts of biographical detail were
added next to the deceased mens titles.[160] However, it
was not until the Sixth dynasty that narratives of the lives
and careers of government ocials were inscribed.[161]
Tomb biographies became more detailed during the Mid-
dle Kingdom, and included information about the de-
ceased persons family.[162] The vast majority of autobi-
ographical texts are dedicated to scribal bureaucrats, but
during the New Kingdom some were dedicated to mili-
tary ocers and soldiers.[163] Autobiographical texts of The Annals of Pharaoh Thutmose III at Karnak
the Late Period place a greater stress upon seeking help
from deities than acting righteously to succeed in life.[164]
royal decrees recounted the deeds of ruling pharaohs.[172]
Whereas earlier autobiographical texts exclusively dealt
For example, the Nubian pharaoh Piye (r. 752721 BC),
with celebrating successful lives, Late Period autobio-
founder of the Twenty-fth dynasty, had a stela erected
graphical texts include laments for premature death, sim-
and written in classical Middle Egyptian that describes
ilar to the epitaphs of ancient Greece.[165]
with unusual nuances and vivid imagery his successful
military campaigns.[173]
Decrees, chronicles, king lists, and histories An Egyptian historian, known by his Greek name as
Manetho (c. 3rd century BC), was the rst to compile
Modern historians consider that some biographical a comprehensive history of Egypt.[174] Manetho was ac-
or autobiographicaltexts are important historical tive during the reign of Ptolemy II (r. 283246 BC) and
documents.[166] For example, the biographical stelas of used The Histories by the Greek Herodotus (c. 484 BC
military generals in tomb chapels built under Thutmose c. 425 BC) as his main source of inspiration for a his-
III provide much of the information known about the tory of Egypt written in Greek.[174] However, the primary
wars in Syria and Palestine.[167] However, the annals of sources for Manethos work were the king list chronicles
Thutmose III, carved into the walls of several monu- of previous Egyptian dynasties.[171]
ments built during his reign, such as those at Karnak, also
preserve information about these campaigns.[168] The
annals of Ramesses II (r. 12791213 BC), recounting Tomb and temple grati
the Battle of Kadesh against the Hittites include, for the
rst time in Egyptian literature, a narrative epic poem, Fischer-Elfert distinguishes ancient Egyptian grati writ-
distinguished from all earlier poetry, which served to ing as a literary genre.[175] During the New Kingdom,
celebrate and instruct.[169] scribes who traveled to ancient sites often left graf-
Other documents useful for investigating Egyptian his- ti messages on the walls of sacred mortuary tem-
tory are ancient lists of kings found in terse chronicles, ples and pyramids, usually in commemoration of these
such as the Fifth dynasty Palermo stone.[170] These doc- structures.[176] Modern scholars do not consider these
uments legitimated the contemporary pharaohs claim scribes to have been mere tourists, but pilgrims visit-
to sovereignty.[171] Throughout ancient Egyptian history, ing sacred sites where the extinct cult centers could be

Artistic grati of a canine gure at the Temple of Kom Ombo,

built during the Ptolemaic dynasty

used for communicating with the gods.[177] There is ev-

idence from an educational ostracon found in the tomb
of Senenmut (TT71) that formulaic grati writing was
practiced in scribal schools.[177] In one grati message,
left at the mortuary temple of Thutmose III at Deir el- The trilingual Rosetta Stone in the British Museum
Bahri, a modied saying from The Maxims of Ptah-
hotep is incorporated into a prayer written on the temple
wall.[178] Scribes usually wrote their grati in separate I (r. 379395 AD).[184] In the 4th century AD, the
clusters to distinguish their grati from others.[175] This
Hellenized Egyptian Horapollo compiled a survey of al-
led to competition among scribes, who would sometimes most two hundred Egyptian hieroglyphs and provided
denigrate the quality of grati inscribed by others, even his interpretation of their meanings, although his under-
ancestors from the scribal profession.[175] standing was limited and he was unaware of the pho-
netic uses of each hieroglyph.[185] This survey was appar-
ently lost until 1415, when the Italian Cristoforo Buondel-
1.13.5 Legacy, translation and interpreta- monti acquired it at the island of Andros.[185] Athanasius
tion Kircher (16011680) was the rst in Europe to realize
that Coptic was a direct linguistic descendant of ancient
See also: Transliteration of Ancient Egyptian Egyptian.[185] In his Oedipus Aegyptiacus, he made the
rst concerted European eort to interpret the mean-
ing of Egyptian hieroglyphs, albeit based on symbolic
After the Copts converted to Christianity in the rst [185]
centuries AD, their Coptic Christian literature became inferences.
separated from the pharaonic and Hellenistic literary It was not until 1799, with the Napoleonic discovery of
traditions.[179] Nevertheless, scholars speculate that an- a trilingual (i.e. hieroglyphic, Demotic, Greek) stela in-
cient Egyptian literature, perhaps in oral form, inuenced scription on the Rosetta Stone, that modern scholars were
Greek and Arabic literature. Parallels are drawn between able to decipher ancient Egyptian literature.[186] The rst
the Egyptian soldiers sneaking into Jaa hidden in baskets major eort to translate the hieroglyphs of the Rosetta
to capture the city in the story Taking of Joppa and the Stone was made by Jean-Franois Champollion (1790
Mycenaean Greeks sneaking into Troy inside the Trojan 1832) in 1822.[187] The earliest translation eorts of
Horse.[180] The Taking of Joppa has also been compared Egyptian literature during the 19th century were attempts
to the Arabic story of Ali Baba in One Thousand and to conrm Biblical events.[187]
One Nights.[181] It has been conjectured that Sinbad the Before the 1970s, scholarly consensus was that an-
Sailor may have been inspired by the pharaonic Tale of cient Egyptian literaturealthough sharing similarities
the shipwrecked sailor.[182] Some Egyptian literature was with modern literary categorieswas not an indepen-
commented on by scholars of the ancient world. For ex- dent discourse, uninuenced by the ancient sociopoliti-
ample, the Jewish Roman historian Josephus (37 c. 100 cal order.[188] However, from the 1970s onwards, a grow-
AD) quoted and provided commentary on Manethos his- ing number of historians and literary scholars have ques-
torical texts.[183] tioned this theory.[189] While scholars before the 1970s
The most recently carved hieroglyphic inscription of an- treated ancient Egyptian literary works as viable histor-
cient Egypt known today is found in a temple of Philae, ical sources that accurately reected the conditions of
dated precisely to 394 AD during the reign of Theodosius this ancient society, scholars now caution against this

approach.[190] Scholars are increasingly using a multi- [23] Forman & Quirke 1996, p. 169.
faceted hermeneutic approach to the study of individual
[24] Quirke 2004, p. 14.
literary works, in which not only the style and content, but
also the cultural, social and historical context of the work [25] Wente 1990, pp. 23; Tait 2003, pp. 910.
are taken into account.[189] Individual works can then be
used as case studies for reconstructing the main features [26] Wente 1990, pp. 23.
of ancient Egyptian literary discourse.[189] [27] Tait 2003, pp. 910.

[28] Wilson 2003, pp. 9193.

1.13.6 Notes
[29] Wilson 2003, pp. 9193; see also Wente 1990, pp. 132
[1] Foster 2001, p. xx.
[30] Tait 2003, p. 10; see also Parkinson 2002, pp. 298299.
[2] Parkinson 2002, pp. 6466.
[31] Fischer-Elfert 2003, p. 121.
[3] Forman & Quirke 1996, p. 26.
[32] Simpson 1972, pp. 34; Foster 2001, pp. xvii-xviii.
[4] Wilson 2003, pp. 710; Forman & Quirke 1996, pp. 10
12; Wente 1990, p. 2; Allen 2000, pp. 12, 6. [33] Allen 2000, p. 1.

[5] Wilson 2003, p. 28; Forman & Quirke 1996, p. 13; Allen [34] Allen 2000, p. 1; Fischer-Elfert 2003, p. 119; Erman
2000, p. 3. 2005, pp. xxv-xxvi.

[6] Forman & Quirke 1996, p. 13; for similar examples, see [35] Allen 2000, p. 1; Wildung 2003, p. 61.
Allen (2000: 3) and Erman (2005: xxxv-xxxvi).
[36] Allen 2000, p. 6.
[7] Wilkinson 2000, pp. 2324; Wilson 2004, p. 11;
[37] Allen 2000, pp. 1, 56; Wildung 2003, p. 61; Erman
Gardiner 1915, p. 72.
2005, pp. xxv-xxvii; Lichtheim 1980, p. 4.
[8] Wilson 2003, pp. 22, 47; Forman & Quirke 1996, pp. 10;
[38] Allen 2000, p. 5; Erman 2005, pp. xxv-xxvii; Lichtheim
Wente 1990, p. 2; Parkinson 2002, p. 73.
1980, p. 4.
[9] Forman & Quirke 1996, p. 10.
[39] Wildung 2003, p. 61.
[10] Wilson 2003, pp. 6364. [40] Wente 1990, pp. 67; see also Wilson 2003, pp. 1920,
[11] Wilson 2003, p. 71; Forman & Quirke 1996, pp. 101 9697; Erman 2005, pp. xxvii-xxviii.
103. [41] Wilson 2003, p. 96.
[12] Erman 2005, p. xxxvii; Simpson 1972, pp. 89; Forman [42] Wente 1990, pp. 78.
& Quirke 1996, p. 19; Allen 2000, p. 6.
[43] Wente 1990, pp. 78; Parkinson 2002, pp. 6667.
[13] Forman & Quirke 1996, p. 19.
[44] Wilson 2003, pp. 2324.
[14] Wilson 2003, pp. 2223.
[45] Wilson 2003, p. 95.
[15] Wilson 2003, pp. 2223, 9192; Parkinson 2002, p. 73;
Wente 1990, pp. 12; Spalinger 1990, p. 297; Allen [46] Wilson 2003, pp. 9698.
2000, p. 6.
[47] Parkinson 2002, pp. 6667.
[16] Parkinson 2002, pp. 7374; Forman & Quirke 1996, p. [48] Fischer-Elfert 2003, pp. 119121; Parkinson 2002, p. 50.
[49] Wilson 2003, pp. 9798; see Parkinson 2002, pp. 5354;
[17] Forman & Quirke 1996, p. 17. see also Fischer-Elfert 2003, pp. 119121.
[18] Forman & Quirke 1996, pp. 1719, 169; Allen 2000, p. [50] Parkinson 2002, pp. 5455; see also Morenz 2003, p.
6. 104.
[19] Forman & Quirke 1996, pp. 19, 169; Allen 2000, p. 6; [51] Simpson 1972, pp. 56.
Simpson 1972, pp. 89; Erman 2005, pp. xxxvii, xlii;
Foster 2001, p. xv. [52] Fischer-Elfert 2003, p. 122.

[20] Wente 1990, p. 4. [53] Parkinson 2002, pp. 7879; for pictures (with captions)
of Egyptian miniature funerary models of boats with men
[21] Wente 1990, pp. 45. reading papyrus texts aloud, see Forman & Quirke 1996,
pp. 7677, 83.
[22] Allen 2000, p. 5; Foster 2001, p. xv; see also Wente 1990,
pp. 56 for a wooden writing board example. [54] Parkinson 2002, pp. 7879.

[55] Wilson 2003, p. 93. [88] Parkinson 2002, pp. 313319; Simpson 1972, pp. 159
200, 241268.
[56] Parkinson 2002, pp. 8081.
[89] Parkinson 2002, pp. 235236.
[57] Forman & Quirke 1996, pp. 5156, 6263, 6872, 111
112; Budge 1972, pp. 240243. [90] Parkinson 2002, pp. 313315; Simpson 1972, pp. 159
[58] Parkinson 2002, p. 70.
[91] Parkinson 2002, pp. 318319.
[59] Wente 1990, pp. 1, 9, 132133.
[92] Parkinson 2002, pp. 313314, 315317; Simpson 1972,
[60] Wente 1990, p. 9. pp. 180, 193.
[61] Parkinson 2002, pp. 4546, 4950, 5556; Morenz 2003, [93] Simpson 1972, p. 241.
p. 102; see also Simpson 1972, pp. 36 and Erman 2005,
pp. xxiv-xxv. [94] Parkinson 2002, pp. 295296.

[62] Morenz 2003, p. 102. [95] Parkinson 2002, p. 109.

[63] Parkinson 2002, pp. 4546, 4950, 5556; Morenz 2003, [96] Fischer-Elfert 2003, p. 120.
p. 102.
[97] Parkinson 2002, pp. 294299; Simpson 1972, pp. 1576;
[64] Parkinson 2002, pp. 4748. Erman 2005, pp. 1452.

[65] Parkinson 2002, pp. 4546; Morenz 2003, pp. 103104. [98] Simpson 1972, pp. 77158; Erman 2005, pp. 150175.

[66] Parkinson 2002, p. 46. [99] Gozzoli 2006, pp. 247249; for another source on the
Famine Stela, see Lichtheim 1980, pp. 9495.
[67] Parkinson 2002, pp. 4647; see also Morenz 2003, pp.
101102. [100] Morenz 2003, pp. 102104.

[68] Morenz 2003, pp. 104107. [101] Parkinson 2002, pp. 297298.

[69] Wente 1990, pp. 5455, 5863. [102] Simpson 1972, p. 57.

[70] Parkinson 2002, pp. 7576. [103] Simpson 1972, p. 50; see also Foster 2001, p. 8.

[71] Parkinson 2002, pp. 7576; Fischer-Elfert 2003, p. 120. [104] Foster 2001, p. 8.

[72] Tait 2003, pp. 1213. [105] Simpson 1972, pp. 81, 85, 87, 142; Erman 2005, pp.
[73] Parkinson 2002, pp. 238239.
[106] Simpson 1972, p. 57 states that there are two Middle-
[74] Wente 1990, p. 7. Kingdom manuscripts for Sinuhe, while the updated
work of Parkinson 2002, pp. 297298 mentions ve
[75] Wente 1990, pp. 1718.
[76] Fischer-Elfert 2003, pp. 122123; Simpson 1972, p. 3.
[107] Simpson 1972, pp. 67; Parkinson 2002, pp. 110, 193;
[77] Fischer-Elfert 2003, pp. 122123; Simpson 1972, pp. 5 for apocalyptic designation, see Gozzoli 2006, p. 283.
6; Parkinson 2002, p. 110.
[108] Morenz 2003, p. 103.
[78] Parkinson 2002, pp. 108109.
[109] Simpson 1972, pp. 67.
[79] Foster 2001, pp. xv-xvi.
[110] Parkinson 2002, pp. 232233.
[80] Foster 2001, p. xvi.
[111] Gozzoli 2006, pp. 283304; see also Parkinson 2002, p.
[81] Parkinson 2002, pp. 110. 233, who alludes to this genre being revived in periods
after the Middle Kingdom and cites Depauw (1997: 97
[82] Parkinson 2002, pp. 110, 235. 9), Frankfurter (1998: 2418), and Bresciani (1999).

[83] Parkinson 2002, pp. 236237. [112] Simpson 1972, pp. 78; Parkinson 2002, pp. 110111.

[84] Erman 2005, p. 54. [113] Parkinson 2002, pp. 4546, 4950, 303304.

[85] Loprieno 1996, p. 217. [114] Simpson 1972, p. 234.

[86] Simpson 1972, p. 6; see also Parkinson 2002, pp. 236 [115] Parkinson 2002, pp. 197198, 303304; Simpson 1972,
238. p. 234; Erman 2005, p. 110.

[87] Parkinson 2002, pp. 237238. [116] Gozzoli 2006, pp. 301302.

[117] Parkinson 2002, pp. 308309; Simpson 1972, pp. 201, [152] Wente 1990, p. 98.
[153] Wente 1990, pp. 9899.
[118] Parkinson 2002, pp. 111, 308309.
[154] Parke 2002, pp. xxi, 12.
[119] Parkinson 2002, p. 308; Simpson 1972, p. 210; Erman [155] Parke 2002, pp. 12.
2005, pp. 9293.
[156] Perdu 1995, p. 2243.
[120] Parkinson 2002, p. 309; Simpson 1972, p. 201; Erman
2005, p. 86. [157] Greenstein 1995, p. 2421.

[121] Bard & Shubert 1999, p. 674. [158] Koosed 2006, p. 29.
[159] Koosed 2006, pp. 2829.
[122] Forman & Quirke 1996, pp. 4851; Simpson 1972, pp.
45, 269; Erman 2005, pp. 12. [160] Breasted 1962, pp. 56; see also Foster 2001, p. xv.
[123] Forman & Quirke 1996, pp. 116117. [161] Breasted 1962, pp. 56; see also Bard & Shubert 1999,
pp. 3637.
[124] Forman & Quirke 1996, pp. 65109.
[162] Breasted 1962, pp. 56.
[125] Forman & Quirke 1996, pp. 109165.
[163] Lichtheim 2006, p. 11.
[126] Simpson 1972, p. 285.
[164] Lichtheim 1980, p. 5.
[127] Erman 2005, p. 140.
[165] Lichtheim 1980, p. 6.
[128] Erman 2005, pp. 254274. [166] Gozzoli 2006, pp. 18.
[129] Erman 2005, pp. 137146; 281305. [167] Breasted 1962, pp. 1213.
[130] Erman 2005, p. 10. [168] Seters 1997, p. 147.
[131] Simpson 1972, p. 279; Erman 2005, p. 134. [169] Lichtheim 2006, p. 6.

[132] Erman 2005, p. 134. [170] Gozzoli 2006, pp. 18; Brewer & Teeter 1999, pp. 27
28; Bard & Shubert 1999, p. 36.
[133] Simpson 1972, p. 297; Erman 2005, pp. 132133.
[171] Bard & Shubert 1999, p. 36.
[134] Erman 2005, pp. 288289; Foster 2001, p. 1.
[172] Lichtheim 1980, p. 7; Bard & Shubert 1999, p. 36.
[135] Simpson 1972, p. 289.
[173] Lichtheim 1980, p. 7.
[136] Tait 2003, p. 10. [174] Gozzoli 2006, pp. 8, 191225; Brewer & Teeter 1999,
[137] Lichtheim 1980, p. 104. pp. 2728; Lichtheim 1980, p. 7.
[175] Fischer-Elfert 2003, p. 133.
[138] Simpson 1972, pp. 7, 296297; Erman 2005, pp. 242
243; see also Foster 2001, p. 17. [176] Fischer-Elfert 2003, p. 131.
[139] Erman 2005, pp. 242243. [177] Fischer-Elfert 2003, p. 132.

[140] Wente 1990, pp. 2, 45. [178] Fischer-Elfert 2003, pp. 132133.

[141] Wilson 2003, pp. 9192; Wente 1990, pp. 56. [179] Bard & Shubert 1999, p. 76.
[180] Simpson 1972, p. 81.
[142] Erman 2005, p. 198; see also Lichtheim 2006, p. 167.
[181] Mokhtar 1990, pp. 116117; Simpson 1972, p. 81.
[143] Erman 2005, pp. 198, 205.
[182] Mokhtar 1990, pp. 116117.
[144] Erman 2005, p. 205.
[183] Gozzoli 2006, pp. 192193, 224.
[145] Wente 1990, p. 54.
[184] Wilson 2003, pp. 104105; Foster 2001, pp. xiv-xv.
[146] Wente 1990, pp. 15, 54.
[185] Wilson 2003, pp. 104105.
[147] Wente 1990, p. 15.
[186] Wilson 2003, pp. 105106.
[148] Wente 1990, p. 55. [187] Foster 2001, p. xii-xiii.
[149] Wente 1990, p. 68. [188] Loprieno 1996, pp. 211212.
[150] Wente 1990, p. 89. [189] Loprieno 1996, pp. 212213.
[151] Wente 1990, p. 210. [190] Loprieno 1996, pp. 211, 213.

1.13.7 References Koosed, Jennifer L. (2006), (Per)mutations of Qo-

helet: Reading the Body in the Book, New York and
Allen, James P. (2000), Middle Egyptian: An Intro- London: T & T Clark International (Continuum im-
duction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs, print), ISBN 0-567-02632-9
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-
521-65312-6 Lichtheim, Miriam (1980), Ancient Egyptian Litera-
ture: Volume III: The Late Period, Berkeley and Los
Bard, Katherine A.; Shubert, Steven Blake (1999), Angeles: University of California Press, ISBN 0-
Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, 520-04020-1
New York and London: Routledge, ISBN 0-415-
18589-0 Lichtheim, Miriam (2006), Ancient Egyptian Liter-
ature: Volume II: The New Kingdom, with a new
Breasted, James Henry (1962), Ancient Records of foreword by Hans-W. Fischer-Elfert, Berkeley and
Egypt: Vol. I, The First to the Seventeenth Dynas- Los Angeles: University of California Press, ISBN
ties, & Vol. II, the Eighteenth Dynasty, New York: 0-520-24843-0
Russell & Russell, ISBN 0-8462-0134-8
Loprieno, Antonio (1996), Dening Egyptian Lit-
Brewer, Douglas J.; Teeter, Emily (1999), Egypt and erature: Ancient Texts and Modern Literary The-
the Egyptians, Cambridge: Cambridge University ory, in Cooper, Jerrold S.; Schwartz, Glenn M., The
Press, ISBN 0-521-44518-3 Study of the Ancient Near East in the 21st Century,
Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, pp. 209250,
Budge, E. A. Wallis (1972), The Dwellers on the
ISBN 0-931464-96-X
Nile: Chapters on the Life, History, Religion, and
Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, New York: Ben- Mokhtar, G. (1990), General History of Africa
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Berkeley: University of California Press, ISBN 92-
Erman, Adolf (2005), Ancient Egyptian Literature:
A Collection of Poems, Narratives and Manuals of
Instructions from the Third and Second Millennia Morenz, Ludwid D. (2003), Literature as a Con-
BC, translated by Aylward M. Blackman, New York: struction of the Past in the Middle Kingdom,
Kegan Paul, ISBN 0-7103-0964-3 in Tait, John W., 'Never Had the Like Occurred':
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Forman, Werner; Quirke, Stephen (1996), Hiero-
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Gardiner, Alan H. (1915), The Nature and De- Perdu, Olivier (1995), Ancient Egyptian Autobi-
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Gozzoli, Roberto B. (2006), The Writings of His- Seters, John Van (1997), In Search of History: His-
tory in Ancient Egypt during the First Millennium BC toriography in the Ancient World and the Origins of
(ca. 1070180 BC): Trends and Perspectives, Lon- Biblical History, New Haven: Yale University Press,
don: Golden House Publications, ISBN 0-9550256- ISBN 1-57506-013-2
Simpson, William Kelly (1972), Simpson, William
Greenstein, Edward L. (1995), Autobiographies in Kelly, ed., The Literature of Ancient Egypt: An An-
Ancient Western Asia, Civilizations of the Ancient thology of Stories, Instructions, and Poetry, transla-
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William Kelly Simpson, New Haven and London: 1.14 Ancient Egyptian mathemat-
Yale University Press, ISBN 0-300-01482-1
Spalinger, Anthony (1990), The Rhind Mathemat-
ical Papyrus as a Historical Document, Studien zur Ancient Egyptian mathematics is the mathematics that
Altgyptischen Kultur, 17: 295337 was developed and used in Ancient Egypt c.3000 to c.300
Tait, John W. (2003), Introduction'...Since the
Time of the Gods", in Tait, John, 'Never Had the
Like Occurred': Egypts View of Its Past, London: 1.14.1 Overview
University College London, Institute of Archaeol-
ogy, an imprint of Cavendish Publishing Limited,
Written evidence of the use of mathematics dates back to
pp. 114, ISBN 1-84472-007-1
at least 3000 BC with the ivory labels found in Tomb U-j
at Abydos. These labels appear to have been used as tags
Wente, Edward F. (1990), Meltzer, Edmund S., ed., for grave goods and some are inscribed with numbers.[1]
Letters from Ancient Egypt, translated by Edward F. Further evidence of the use of the base 10 number sys-
Wente, Atlanta: Scholars Press, Society of Biblical tem can be found on the Narmer Macehead which depicts
Literature, ISBN 1-55540-472-3 oerings of 400,000 oxen, 1,422,000 goats and 120,000
Wildung, Dietrich (2003), Looking Back into the
Future: The Middle Kingdom as a Bridge to the The evidence of the use of mathematics in the Old King-
Past, in Tait, John, 'Never Had the Like Occurred': dom (ca 26902180 BC) is scarce, but can be deduced
Egypts View of Its Past, London: University Col- from inscriptions on a wall near a mastaba in Meidum
lege London, Institute of Archaeology, an imprint which gives guidelines for the slope of the mastaba. The
of Cavendish Publishing Limited, pp. 6178, ISBN lines in the diagram are spaced at a distance of one cubit
1-84472-007-1 and show the use of that unit of measurement.[1]
The earliest true mathematical documents date to the
Wilkinson, Toby A. H. (2000), What a King Is 12th dynasty (ca 19901800 BC). The Moscow Math-
This: Narmer and the Concept of the Ruler, ematical Papyrus, the Egyptian Mathematical Leather
The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, 86: 2332, Roll, the Lahun Mathematical Papyri which are a part
doi:10.2307/3822303, JSTOR 3822303 of the much larger collection of Kahun Papyri and the
Berlin Papyrus 6619 all date to this period. The Rhind
Wilson, Penelope (2003), Sacred Signs: Hieroglyphs Mathematical Papyrus which dates to the Second Inter-
in Ancient Egypt, Oxford and New York: Oxford mediate Period (ca 1650 BC) is said to be based on an
University Press, ISBN 0-19-280299-2 older mathematical text from the 12th dynasty.[4]

Wilson, Penelope (2004), Hieroglyphs: A Very Short The Moscow Mathematical Papyrus and Rhind Math-
Introduction, Oxford and New York: Oxford Uni- ematical Papyrus are so-called mathematical problem
versity Press, ISBN 0-19-280502-9 texts. They consist of a collection of problems with
solutions. These texts may have been written by a
teacher or a student engaged in solving typical mathemat-
ics problems.[1]
1.13.8 External links
An interesting feature of Ancient Egyptian mathematics
Internet Ancient History Source Book: Egypt (by is the use of unit fractions. The Egyptians
1 1
used some
Fordham University, NY) special notation for fractions such as ,
2 3 and 3 and in
some texts for 4 , but other fractions were all written as
The Language of Ancient Egypt (by Belgian Egyp- unit fractions of the form n or sums of such unit frac-
tologist Jacques Kinnaer) tions. Scribes used tables to help them work with these
fractions. The Egyptian Mathematical Leather Roll for
Book: Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, Read- instance is a table of unit fractions which are expressed
able HTML format as sums of other unit fractions. The Rhind Mathemati-
cal Papyrus and some of the other texts contain n2 tables.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Literature of These tables allowed the scribes to rewrite any fraction of
the Ancient Egyptians (E. A. Wallis Budge) the form 1
n as a sum of unit fractions.[1]
During the New Kingdom (ca 15501070 BC) mathe-
University of Texas Press - Ancient Egyptian Liter- matical problems are mentioned in the literary Papyrus
ature: An Anthology (2001) (The entire preface, by Anastasi I, and the Papyrus Wilbour from the time of
John L. Foster) Ramesses III records land measurements. In the workers

village of Deir el-Medina several ostraca have been found represented by two strokes, etc. The numbers 10, 100,
that record volumes of dirt removed while quarrying the 1000, 10,000 and 1,000,000 had their own hieroglyphs.
tombs.[1][4] Number 10 is a hobble for cattle, number 100 is repre-
sented by a coiled rope, the number 1000 is represented
by a lotus ower, the number 10,000 is represented by a
1.14.2 Sources nger, the number 100,000 is represented by a frog, and
a million was represented by a god with his hands raised
Our understanding of ancient Egyptian mathematics is in adoration.[5]
impeded by the reported paucity of available sources.
The sources we do have include the following texts gen-
erally dated to the Middle Kingdom and Second Interme-
diate Period:

The Moscow Mathematical Papyrus [5]

The Egyptian Mathematical Leather Roll [5]
The Lahun Mathematical Papyri [5]
The Berlin Papyrus 6619 was written around 1800
The Akhmim Wooden Tablet.[4]
The Reisner Papyrus dates to the early Twelfth dy-
nasty of Egypt and was found in Nag el-Deir, the Slab stela of Old Kingdom princess Neferetiabet (dated 2590
ancient town of Thinis.[5] 2565 BC) from her tomb at Giza, painting on limestone, now in
the Louvre.
The Rhind Mathematical Papyrus (RMP) dates
from the Second Intermediate Period (c. 1650 BC), Egyptian numerals date back to the Predynastic period.
but its author, Ahmes, identies it as a copy of a Ivory labels from Abydos record the use of this number
now lost Middle Kingdom papyrus. The RMP is the system. It is also common to see the numerals in oering
largest mathematical text.[5] scenes to indicate the number of items oered. The kings
daughter Neferetiabet is shown with an oering of 1000
From the New Kingdom we have a handful of mathemat- oxen, bread, beer, etc.
ical texts and inscription related to computations: The Egyptian number system was additive. Large num-
bers were represented by collections of the glyphs and the
The Papyrus Anastasi I is a literary text from the value was obtained by simply adding the individual num-
New Kingdom. It is written as a (ctional) letter bers together.
written by a scribe named Hori and addressed to a
scribe named Amenemope. A segment of the letter
describes several mathematical problems.[4]
Ostracon Senmut 153 is a text written in hieratic.[4]
Ostracon Turin 57170 is a text written in hieratic.[4]
Ostraca from Deir el-Medina contain computations.
This scene depicts a cattle count (copied by the Egyptologist
Ostracon IFAO 1206 for instance shows the calcu-
Lepsius). In the middle register we see 835 horned cattle on the
lations of volumes, presumably related to the quar- left, right behind them are some 220 animals (cows?) and on the
rying of a tomb.[4] right 2235 goats. In the bottom register we see 760 donkeys on
the left and 974 goats on the right.

1.14.3 Numerals The Egyptians almost exclusively used fractions of the

form 1/n. One notable exception is the fraction 2/3,
Main articles: Egyptian numerals and Egyptian fraction which is frequently found in the mathematical texts. Very
rarely a special glyph was used to denote 3/4. The fraction
Ancient Egyptian texts could be written in either 1/2 was represented by a glyph that may have depicted a
hieroglyphs or in hieratic. In either representation the piece of linen folded in two. The fraction 2/3 was repre-
number system was always given in base 10. The num- sented by the glyph for a mouth with 2 (dierent sized)
ber 1 was depicted by a simple stroke, the number 2 was strokes. The rest of the fractions were always represented

by a mouth super-imposed over a number.[5] contains four of these type of problems. Problems 1, 19,
and 25 of the Moscow Papyrus are Aha problems. For in-
stance problem 19 asks one to calculate a quantity taken
1.14.4 Multiplication and division 1 and times and added to 4 to make 10.[5] In other
words, in modern mathematical notation we are asked to
Main article: Ancient Egyptian multiplication solve the linear equation:

Egyptian multiplication was done by repeated doubling

of the number to be multiplied (the multiplicand), and 3/2 x + 4 = 10.
choosing which of the doublings to add together (essen-
tially a form of binary arithmetic), a method that links to Solving these Aha problems involves a technique called
the Old Kingdom. The multiplicand was written next to method of false position. The technique is also called the
the gure 1; the multiplicand was then added to itself, and method of false assumption. The scribe would substitute
the result written next to the number 2. The process was an initial guess of the answer into the problem. The solu-
continued until the doublings gave a number greater than tion using the false assumption would be proportional to
half of the multiplier. Then the doubled numbers (1, 2, the actual answer, and the scribe would nd the answer
etc.) would be repeatedly subtracted from the multiplier by using this ratio.[5]
to select which of the results of the existing calculations
The mathematical writings show that the scribes used
should be added together to create the answer.[2] (least) common multiples to turn problems with fractions
As a short cut for larger numbers, the multiplicand can into problems using integers. The multiplicative factors
also be immediately multiplied by 10, 100, 1000, 10000, were often recorded
in red ink and are referred to as Red
etc. auxiliary numbers.

For example, Problem 69 on the Rhind Papyrus (RMP) The use of the Horus eye fractions shows some (rudimen-
provides the following illustration, as if Hieroglyphic tary) knowledge of geometrical progression. Knowledge
symbols were used (rather than the RMPs actual hieratic of arithmetic progressions is also evident from the math-
script).[5] ematical sources.[5]

The denotes the intermediate results that are added Quadratic equations
together to produce the nal answer.
The table above can also be used to divide 1120 by 80. The ancient Egyptians were the rst civilization to de-
We would solve this problem by nding the quotient (80) velop and solve second-degree (quadratic) equations.
as the sum of those multipliers of 80 that add up to 1120. This information is found in the Berlin Papyrus fragment.
In this example that would yield a quotient of 10+4=14.[5] Additionally, the Egyptians solve rst-degree algebraic
A more complicated example of the division algorithm is equations found in Rhind Mathematical Papyrus.[6]
provided by Problem 66. A total of 3200 ro of fat are to
be distributed evenly over 365 days.
1.14.6 Geometry
First the scribe would double 365 repeatedly until the
largest possible multiple of 365 is reached, which is Main article: Egyptian geometry
smaller than 3200. In this case 8 times 365 is 2920
and further addition of multiples of 365 would clearly
give a value greater than 3200. Next it is noted that There are only a limited number of problems from an-
(2/3 + 1/10 + 1/2190) times 365 gives us the value of cient Egypt that concern geometry. Geometric prob-
280 we need. Hence we nd that 3200 divided by 365 lems appear in both the Moscow Mathematical Papyrus
must equal 8 + 2/3 + 1/10 + 1/2190 .[5] (MMP) and in the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus (RMP).
The examples demonstrate that the Ancient Egyptians
knew how to compute areas of several geometric shapes
1.14.5 Algebra and the volumes of cylinders and pyramids.

Main article: Egyptian algebra Area:

Triangles: The scribes record problems com-
Egyptian algebra problems appear in both the Rhind puting the area of a triangle (RMP and
mathematical papyrus and the Moscow mathematical pa- MMP).[5]
pyrus as well as several other sources.[5] Rectangles: Problems regarding the area of a
Aha problems involve nding unknown quantities (re- rectangular plot of land appear in the RMP and
ferred to as Aha) if the sum of the quantity and part(s) the MMP.[5] A similar problem appears in the
of it are given. The Rhind Mathematical Papyrus also Lahun Mathematical Papyri in London.[7][8]

Circles: Problem 48 of the RMP compares the 1.14.7 See also

area of a circle (approximated by an octagon)
and its circumscribing square. This problems Babylonian, Hellenistic, Roman, and Islamic math-
result is used in problem 50, where the scribe ematics
nds the area of a round eld of diameter 9
khet.[5] Egyptian hieroglyphics and Transliteration of An-
cient Egyptian
Hemisphere: Problem 10 in the MMP nds
the area of a hemisphere.[5] Ancient Egyptian units of measurement and

Mathematics and architecture

1.14.8 References
[1] Imhausen, Annette, Ancient Egyptian Mathematics: New
Perspectives on Old Sources, The Mathematical Intelli-
gencer, Vol 28, Nr 1, 2006, pp 1927

Image of Problem 14 from the Moscow Mathematical Papyrus. [2] Burton, David, The History of Mathematics: An Intro-
The problem includes a diagram indicating the dimensions of the duction , McGrawHill, 2005, ISBN 978-0-07-305189-5
truncated pyramid.
[3] Rossi, Corinna Architecture and Mathematics in Ancient
Egypt Cambridge University Press. 2007 ISBN 978-0-
Volumes: 521-69053-9

Cylindrical granaries: Several problems com- [4] Katz V, Imhasen A, Robson E, Dauben JW, Plofker
pute the volume of cylindrical granaries (RMP K, Berggren JL (2007). The Mathematics of Egypt,
4143), while problem 60 RMP seems to con- Mesopotamia, China, India, and Islam: A Sourcebook.
cern a pillar or a cone instead of a pyramid. It Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-11485-4.
Is rather small and steep, with a seked (recip- [5] Clagett, Marshall Ancient Egyptian Science, A Source
rocal of slope) of four palms (per cubit).[5] In Book. Volume Three: Ancient Egyptian Mathematics
section IV.3 of the Lahun Mathematical Pa- (Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society) Ameri-
pyri the volume of a granary with a circular can Philosophical Society. 1999 ISBN 978-0-87169-232-
base is found is using the same procedure as 0
RMP 43.
[6] Moore, Deborah Lela (1994). The African roots of mathe-
Rectangular granaries: Several problems in
matics (2nd ed.). Detroit, Mich.: Professional Educational
the Moscow Mathematical Papyrus (problem Services. ISBN 1884123007.
14) and in the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus
(numbers 44, 45, 46) compute the volume of [7] R.C. Archibald Mathematics before the Greeks Science,
a rectangular granary.[5][7] New Series, Vol.73, No. 1831, (Jan. 31, 1930), pp. 109
Truncated pyramid (frustum): The volume 121
of a truncated pyramid is computed in MMP [8] Annette Imhausen Digitalegypt website: Lahun Papyrus
14.[5] IV.3

The Seqed
Problem 56 of the RMP indicates an understanding of the 1.14.9 Further reading
idea of geometric similarity. This problem discusses the
ratio run/rise, also known as the seqed. Such a formula Boyer, Carl B. 1968. History of Mathematics. John
would be needed for building pyramids. In the next prob- Wiley. Reprint Princeton U. Press (1985).
lem (Problem 57), the height of a pyramid is calculated
from the base length and the seked (Egyptian for the re- Chace, Arnold Buum. 19271929. The Rhind
ciprocal of the slope), while problem 58 gives the length Mathematical Papyrus: Free Translation and Com-
of the base and the height and uses these measurements mentary with Selected Photographs, Translations,
to compute the seqed. In Problem 59 part 1 computes Transliterations and Literal Translations. 2 vols.
the seqed, while the second part may be a computation Classics in Mathematics Education 8. Oberlin:
to check the answer: If you construct a pyramid with base Mathematical Association of America. (Reprinted
side 12 [cubits] and with a seqed of 5 palms 1 nger; what Reston: National Council of Teachers of Mathemat-
is its altitude?[5] ics, 1979). ISBN 0-87353-133-7

Clagett, Marshall. 1999. Ancient Egyptian Science: Strudwick, Nigel G., and Ronald J. Leprohon. 2005.
A Source Book. Volume 3: Ancient Egyptian Math- Texts from the Pyramid Age. Brill Academic Pub-
ematics. Memoirs of the American Philosophical lishers. ISBN 90-04-13048-9.
Society 232. Philadelphia: American Philosophical
Society. ISBN 0-87169-232-5 Struve, Vasilij Vasil'evi, and Boris Aleksandrovi
Turaev. 1930. Mathematischer Papyrus des
Couchoud, Sylvia. 1993. Mathmatiques gypti- Staatlichen Museums der Schnen Knste in Moskau.
ennes: Recherches sur les connaissances mathma- Quellen und Studien zur Geschichte der Mathe-
tiques de l'gypte pharaonique. Paris: ditions Le matik; Abteilung A: Quellen 1. Berlin: J. Springer
Lopard d'Or
Van der Waerden, B.L. 1961. Science Awakening.
Daressy, G. Ostraca, Cairo Museo des Antiquities Oxford University Press.
Egyptiennes Catalogue General Ostraca hieraques,
vol 1901, number 25001-25385. Vymazalova, Hana. 2002. Wooden Tablets from
Cairo...., Archiv Orientalni, Vol 1, pages 2742.
Gillings, Richard J. 1972. Mathematics in the Time
of the Pharaohs. MIT Press. (Dover reprints avail- Wirsching, Armin. 2009. Die Pyramiden von Giza
able). Mathematik in Stein gebaut. (2 ed) Books on De-
mand. ISBN 978-3-8370-2355-8.
Imhausen, Annette. 2003. "gyptische Algorith-
men. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz
1.14.10 External links
Johnson, G., Sriraman,B., Saltztstein. 2012.
Where are the plans? A socio-critical and archi- History Topics: Ancient Egyptian mathematics
tectural survey of early Egyptian mathematics"| In
Bharath Sriraman, Editor. Crossroads in the History Egyptian Arithmetic
of Mathematics and Mathematics Education. The
Introduction to Early Mathematics
Montana Mathematics Enthusiast Monographs in
Mathematics Education 12, Information Age Pub-
lishing, Inc., Charlotte, NC
1.15 Ancient Egyptian medicine
Neugebauer, Otto (1969) [1957]. The Exact Sci-
ences in Antiquity (2 ed.). Dover Publications. ISBN

Peet, Thomas Eric. 1923. The Rhind Mathematical

Papyrus, British Museum 10057 and 10058. Lon-
don: The University Press of Liverpool limited and
Hodder & Stoughton limited

Reimer, David (2014). Count Like an Egyptian:

A Hands-on Introduction to Ancient Mathematics.
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN

Robins, R. Gay. 1995. Mathematics, Astronomy,

and Calendars in Pharaonic Egypt. In Civilizations
of the Ancient Near East, edited by Jack M. Sasson,
John R. Baines, Gary Beckman, and Karen S. Ru- The Edwin Smith Papyrus documents ancient Egyptian medicine,
binson. Vol. 3 of 4 vols. New York: Charles Schrib- including the diagnosis and treatment of injuries.
ners Sons. (Reprinted Peabody: Hendrickson Pub-
lishers, 2000). 17991813 The medicine of the ancient Egyptians is some of the old-
est documented. From the beginnings of the civilization
Robins, R. Gay, and Charles C. D. Shute. 1987. The in the late fourth millennium BC until the Persian inva-
Rhind Mathematical Papyrus: An Ancient Egyptian sion of 525 BC, Egyptian medical practice went largely
Text. London: British Museum Publications Lim- unchanged but was highly advanced for its time, includ-
ited. ISBN 0-7141-0944-4 ing simple non-invasive surgery, setting of bones, den-
tistry, and an extensive set of pharmacopoeia. Egyptian
Sarton, George. 1927. Introduction to the History of medical thought inuenced later traditions, including the
Science, Vol 1. Willians & Williams. Greeks.

1.15.1 Sources of information of ointments made from animal, vegetable or fruit sub-
stances or minerals.[3] The earliest known surgery to be
Main article: Egyptian medical papyri performed in Egypt occurred around 2750 BC.
Until the 19th century, the main sources of infor- The Ebers papyrus c. 1550 BC is full of incanta-
tions and foul applications meant to turn away disease-
causing demons, and also includes 877 prescriptions.[4] It
may also contain the earliest documented awareness of
tumors, if the poorly understood ancient medical termi-
nology has been correctly interpreted.
The Kahun Gynaecological Papyrus[5] treats womens
complaints, including problems with conception. Thirty
four cases detailing diagnosis and[6] treatment survive,
some of them fragmentarily.[7] Dating to 1800 BC, it is
the oldest surviving medical text of any kind.
Other documents such as the Hearst papyrus (1450 BC),
and Berlin Papyrus (1200 BC) also provide valuable in-
sight into ancient Egyptian medicine.
Other information comes from the images that often
adorn the walls of Egyptian tombs and the translation
of the accompanying inscriptions. Advances in modern
medical technology also contributed to the understand-
ing of ancient Egyptian medicine. Paleopathologists were
able to use X-Rays and later CAT Scans to view the bones
and organs of mummies. Electron microscopes, mass
spectrometry and various forensic techniques allowed sci-
entists unique glimpses of the state of health in Egypt
4000 years ago.

Ebers Papyrus treatment for cancer: recounting a "tumor against

the god Xenus, it recommends do thou nothing there against
1.15.2 Nutrition
mation about ancient Egyptian medicine were writings The ancient Egyptians were at least partially aware of the
from later in antiquity. The Greek historian Herodotus importance of diet, both in balance and moderation.[8]
visited Egypt around 440 BC and wrote extensively Owing to Egypts great endowment of fertile land, food
of his observations of their medicinal practice. Pliny production was never a major issue although of course
the Elder also wrote favourably of them in histori-
no matter how bountiful the land, paupers and starvation
cal review. Hippocrates (the father of medicine), still exist. The main crops for most of ancient Egyptian
Herophilos, Erasistratus and later Galen studied at the
history were emmer wheat and barley. Consumed in the
temple of Amenhotep, and acknowledged the contribu- form of loaves which were produced in a variety of types
tion of ancient Egyptian medicine to Greek medicine.
through baking and fermentation, with yeast greatly en-
In 1822, the translation of the Rosetta stone nally al- riching the nutritional value of the product, one farmers
lowed the translation of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic in- crop could support an estimated twenty adults. Barley
scriptions and papyri, including many related to medical was also used in beer. Vegetables and fruits of many types
matters (Egyptian medical papyri). The resultant interest were widely grown. Oil was produced from the linseed
in Egyptology in the 19th century led to the discovery of plant and there was a limited selection of spices and herbs.
several sets of extensive ancient medical documents, in- Meat (sheep, goats, pigs, wild game) was regularly avail-
cluding the Ebers papyrus, the Edwin Smith Papyrus, the able to at least the upper classes and sh were widely con-
Hearst Papyrus, the London Medical Papyrus and others sumed, although there is evidence of prohibitions during
dating back as far as 2900 BC. certain periods against certain types of animal products;
The Edwin Smith Papyrus is a textbook on surgery Herodotus wrote of the pig as being 'unclean'. Oerings
and details anatomical observations and the examina- to King Unas (c. 24942345 BC) were recorded as
tion, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis of numerous "...milk, three kinds of beer, ve kinds of wine, ten
ailments.[1] It was probably written around 1600 BC, but loaves, four of bread, ten of cakes four meats, dierent
is regarded as a copy of several earlier texts. Medical in- cuts, joints, roast, spleen, limb, breast, quail, goose, pi-
formation in it dates from as early as 3000 BC.[2] It is geon, gs, ten other fruits, three kinds of corn, barley,
thus viewed as a learning manual. Treatments consisted spelt, ve kinds of oil, and fresh plants...

It is clear that the Egyptian diet was not lacking for the
upper classes and that even the lower classes may have
had some selection (Nunn, 2002).

1.15.3 Pharmacology

Like many civilizations in the past, the ancient Egyp-

tians amply discovered the medicinal properties of the
plant life around them. In the Edwin Smith Papyrus
there are many recipes to help heal dierent ailments.
In a small section of this papyrus, there are ve recipes
one dealing with problems women may have had, three
on techniques for rening the complexion, and the fth
recipe for ailments that deal with the colon.[9] The ancient
Egyptians were known to use Honey...for its medici-
nal properties...and the juice of pomegranates served as
both an astringent and a delicacy.[10] In the Ebers Pa-
pyrus, there are over 800 remedies; some were topical
like ointments, and wrappings, others were taken orally
like pills and mouth rinses, still others were taken through
inhalation.[11]:15 The recipes to cure constipation con-
sisted of berries from the castor oil tree, Male Palm,
and Gengent beans, just to name a few. One recipe
that was to help headaches called for inner-of-onion,
fruit-of-the-am-tree, natron, setseft-seeds, bone-of-the-
sword-sh, cooked, redsh, cooked, skull-of-craysh,
cooked, honey, and abra-ointment.[11]:44 and 60 Some of
the recommended treatments made use of cannabis and
incense.[12]:156 and 158 Egyptian medicinal use of plants
in antiquity is known to be extensive, with some 160 dis-
tinct plant products...[13] Amidst the many plant extracts
Ancient Egyptian medical instruments depicted in a Ptolemaic pe-
and fruits, the Egyptians also used animal feces and even riod inscription on the Temple of Kom Ombo.
some metals as treatments.[14] These prescriptions of an-
tiquity were measured out by volume, not weight, which
makes their prescription making craft more like cook-
Egyptian physicians were aware of the existence of the
ing than what Pharmacists do today.[12]:140 While their
pulse and of a connection between pulse and heart. The
treatments and herbal remedies seem almost boundless,
author of the Smith Papyrus even had a vague idea of
they still included incantations along with some therapeu-
a cardiac system, although not of blood circulation and
tic remedies.[9]:472
he was unable, or deemed it unimportant, to distinguish
between blood vessels, tendons, and nerves. They devel-
oped their theory of channels that carried air, water and
1.15.4 Practices blood to the body by analogies with the River Nile; if it
became blocked, crops became unhealthy and they ap-
Medical knowledge in ancient Egypt had an excellent plied this principle to the body: If a person was unwell,
reputation, and rulers of other empires would ask the they would use laxatives to unblock the channels.[16]
Egyptian pharaoh to send them their best physician to
treat their loved ones.[15] Egyptians had some knowl- Quite a few medical practices were eective, such as
edge of human anatomy. For example, in the classic many of the surgical procedures given in the Edwin
mummication process, mummiers knew how to in- Smith papyrus. Mostly, the physicians advice for staying
sert a long hooked implement through a nostril, break- healthy was to wash and shave the body, including under
ing the thin bone of the brain case and remove the brain. the arms, and this may have prevented infections. They
They also must have had a general idea of the location in also advised patients to look after their diet, and avoid
the body cavity of the inner organs, which they removed foods such as raw sh or other animals considered to be
through a small incision in the left groin. But whether this unclean.
knowledge was passed on to the practitioners of medicine Many practices were ineective or harmful. Michael D.
is unknown and does not seem to have had any impact on Parkins says that 72% of 260 medical prescriptions in the
their medical theories. Hearst Papyrus had no known curative elements,[17] and

many contained animal dung which contains products of though it may never have been prominent. The Egyp-
fermentation and molds, some of them having curative tian diet was high in abrasives from sand left over from
properties, but also bacteria posing a grave threat of in- grinding grain and bits of rocks in which the way bread
fection. was prepared, and so the condition of their teeth was
poor. Archaeologists have noted a steady decrease in
severity and incidence of worn teeth throughout 4000 BC
Surgery to 1000 AD, probably due to improved grain grinding
techniques.[12] All Egyptian remains have sets of teeth
The oldest metal (Bronze[18] or copper[19] [20] ) surgical in quite poor states. Dental disease could even be fa-
tools[21] in the world were discovered in the tomb of tal, such as for Djedmaatesankh, a musician from Thebes,
Qar. Surgery was a common practice among physicians who died around the age of thirty ve from extensive den-
as treatment for physical injuries. The Egyptian physi- tal disease and a large infected cyst. If an individuals
cians recognized three categories of injuries; treatable, teeth escaped being worn down, cavities were rare, due to
contestable, and untreatable ailments. Treatable ailments the rarity of sweeteners. Dental treatment was ineective
the surgeons would quickly set to right. Contestable ail- and the best suerers could hope for was the quick loss of
ments were those where the victim could presumably sur- an infected tooth. The Instruction of Ankhsheshonq con-
vive without treatment, so patients assumed to be in this tains the maxim There is no tooth that rots yet stays in
category were observed and if they survived then surgi- place.[8] No records document the hastening of this pro-
cal attempts could be made to x the problem with them. cess and no tools suited for the extraction of teeth have
They used knives, hooks, drills, forceps, pincers, scales, been found, though some remains show sign of forced
spoons, saws and a vase with burning incense.[22] tooth removal.[12] Replacement teeth have been found,
Circumcision of males was the normal practice, as stated although it is not clear whether they are just post-mortem
by Herodotus in his Histories.[23] Though its performance cosmetics. Extreme pain might have been medicated with
as a procedure was rarely mentioned, the uncircumcised opium.[8]
nature of other cultures was frequently noted, the uncir-
cumcised nature of the Liberians was frequently refer-
enced and military campaigns brought back uncircum- 1.15.5 Magic and religion
cised phalli as trophies, which suggests novelty. However,
other records describe initiates into the religious orders as Magic and religion were an integral part of everyday life
involving circumcision which would imply that the prac- in ancient Egypt. Evil gods and demons were thought to
tice was special and not widespread. The only known be responsible for many ailments, so often the treatments
depiction of the procedure, in The Tomb of the Physi- involved a supernatural element, such as beginning treat-
cian, burial place of Ankh-Mahor at Saqqara, shows ado- ment with an appeal to a deity. There does not appear to
lescents or adults, not babies. Female circumcision may have existed a clear distinction between what nowadays
have been practiced, although the single reference to it in one would consider the very distinct callings of priest and
ancient texts may be a mistranslation.[8] physician. The healers, many of them priests of Sekhmet,
often used incantations and magic as part of treatment.
Prosthetics, such as articial toes and eyeballs, were also
used; typically, they served little more than decorative The widespread belief in magic and religion may have
purposes. In preparation for burial, missing body parts resulted in a powerful placebo eect; that is, the per-
would be replaced; however, these do not appear as if ceived validity of the cure may have contributed to its
they would have been useful, or even attachable, before eectiveness. The impact of the emphasis on magic is
death.[8] seen in the selection of remedies or ingredients for them.
Ingredients were sometimes selected seemingly because
The extensive use of surgery, mummication practices, they were derived from a substance, plant or animal that
and autopsy as a religious exercise gave Egyptians a vast had characteristics which in some way corresponded to
knowledge of the bodys morphology, and even a consid- the symptoms of the patient. This is known as the prin-
erable understanding of organ functions. The function ciple of simila similibus (similar with similar) and is
of most major organs was correctly presumedfor ex- found throughout the history of medicine up to the mod-
ample, blood was correctly guessed to be a transpiration ern practice of homeopathy. Thus an ostrich egg is in-
medium for vitality and waste which is not too far from cluded in the treatment of a broken skull, and an amulet
its actual role in carrying oxygen and removing carbon portraying a hedgehog might be used against baldness.
dioxidewith the exception of the heart and brain whose
functions were switched. Amulets in general, were very popular. They were
worn for many magical purposes. Health related amulets
are classied as homeopoetic, phylactic and theophoric.
Dentistry Homeopoetic amulets portray an animal or part of an an-
imal, from which the wearer hopes to gain positive at-
Dentistry was an important eld, as an independent pro- tributes like strength or speed. Phylactic amulets pro-
fession it dated from the early 3rd millennium BC, al- tected against harmful gods and demons. The famous

Eye of Horus was often used on a phylactic amulet. 1.15.7 Table of ancient Egyptian physi-
Theophoric amulets represented Egyptian gods; one rep- cians
resented the girdle of Isis and was intended to stem the
ow of blood at miscarriage. They were often made of 1.15.8 Table of ancient Egyptian medical
bone, hanging from a leather strap.

1.15.9 See also

1.15.6 Doctors and other healers Ancient Greek medicine

Medicine in ancient Rome
Medicine in medieval Islam

1.15.10 References
[1] Edwin Smith papyrus (Egyptian medical book)".
Encyclopdia Britannica (Online ed.). Retrieved 1
January 2016.

[2] Arab, Sameh M. Medicine in Ancient Egypt - Part 1.

Arab World Books. Retrieved 2011-11-18.

[3] Fagan, Brian M. (2004). The Seventy Great Inventions

of the Ancient World. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 978-

This wood and leather prosthetic toe was used by an amputee to [4] Pain, Stephanie (15 December 2007). The pharaohs
facilitate walking pharmacists. New Scientist. p. 43.

[5] Grith, F. Ll. (1898). The Petrie Papyri: Hieratic Pa-

pyri from Kahun and Gurob. London: Bernard Quaritch.
The ancient Egyptian word for doctor is swnw. This (Please note the book pages run from back to front.)
title has a long history. The earliest recorded physician
[6] Bynum, W. F.; Hardy, Anne; Jacyna, Stephen; Lawrence,
in the world, Hesy-Ra, practiced in ancient Egypt. He
Christopher; Tansey, E.M. (2006). The Rise of Science
was Chief of Dentists and Physicians to King Djoser, in Medicine, 18501913. The Western Medical Tradi-
who ruled in the 27th century BC.[24] The lady Peseshet tion: 18002000. Cambridge University Press. pp. 198
(2400 BC) may be the rst recorded female doctor: she 199. ISBN 978-0-521-47565-5.
was possibly the mother of Akhethotep, and on a stela
dedicated to her in his tomb she is referred to as imy-r [7] Dollinger, Andr. The Kahun Gynaecological Papyrus.
swnwt, which has been translated as Lady Overseer of An introduction to the history and culture of Pharaonic
Egypt. Kibbutz Resham. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
the Lady Physicians (swnwt is the feminine of swnw).
There were many ranks and specializations in the eld of [8] Dollinger, Andr (December 2002). Ancient Egyptian
Medicine. An introduction to the history and culture of
medicine. Royalty employed their own swnw, even their
Pharaonic Egypt. Kibbutz Resham.
own specialists. There were inspectors of doctors, over-
seers and chief doctors. Known ancient Egyptian special- [9] Breasted, James Henry (1930). The Edwin Smith Papyrus.
ists are ophthalmologist, gastroenterologist, proctologist, Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press.
dentist, doctor who supervises butchers" and an unspeci-
[10] Allen, James P (2005). The Art of Medicine in Ancient
ed inspector of liquids. The ancient Egyptian term for Egypt. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
proctologist, neru phuyt, literally translates as shepherd ISBN 978-0-300-10728-9.
of the anus. The latter title is already attested around
2200 BC by Irynachet. [11] Bryan, Cyril (1932). The Ebers Papyrus. New York: D.
Appleton and Company.
Institutions, called (Per Ankh)[25] or Houses of Life, are
known to have been established in ancient Egypt since the [12] Nunn, John F. (1996). Ancient Egyptian Medicine.
1st Dynasty and may have had medical functions, being at Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press.
times associated in inscriptions with physicians, such as ISBN 978-0-8061-2831-3.
Peftauawyneit and Wedjahorresnet living in the middle [13] Ritner, Robert K. (April 2000). Innovations and Adap-
of the 1st millennium BC.[26] By the time of the 19th tations in Ancient Egyptian Medicine. Journal of Near
Dynasty their employees enjoyed such benets as medical Eastern Studies. University of Chicago Press. 59 (2):
insurance, pensions and sick leave.[24] 107117. JSTOR 545610.

[14] Dollinger, Andr. Herbal Medicine. An introduction to [29] Agut-Labordre, Damien (2013). The Saite Period: The
the history and culture of Pharaonic Egypt. Kibbutz Re- Emergence of a Mediterranean Power. Ancient Egyptian
sham. Retrieved 9 October 2015. Administration. Handbook of Oriental Studies. Leiden:
Brill Academic Publishers. pp. 9651027. ISBN 978-
[15] Prioreschi, Plinio (1996). History of Medicine Volume 1: 90-04-24952-3.
Primitive and Ancient Medicine. Edwin Mellen Press. p.
257f. ISBN 978-0-77349661-3. [30] Wedjahor-Resne. Jona Lendering. 22 Au-
gust 2015. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
[16] What progress did the Egyptians make in medical knowl-
edge?". Medicine Through Time: Model Questions and [31] Fonahn, Adolf (1909-01-01). Der altgyptische Arzt
Answers. Passmores Academy. Archived from the origi- Iwti. Archiv fr Geschichte der Medizin. 2 (5): 375378.
nal on 1 May 2008. Retrieved 1 January 2016. JSTOR 20772830.

[17] Parkins, Michael D.; Szekrenyes, J. (March 2001). [32] Fonahn, Adolf (February 1909). Der altgyptische Arzt
Pharmacological Practices of Ancient Egypt (PDF). Iwti. Archiv fr Geschichte der Medizin (in German).
Proceedings of the 10th Annual History of Medicine Days. Franz Steiner Verlag. 2 (5): 375378. JSTOR 20772830.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada: The University of Calgary. pp.
1.15.11 Further reading
[18] El-Aref, Nevine (December 2006). Too big for a con.
Al-Ahram Weekly. Cairo, Egypt: Al-Ahram. Archived English
from the original on 18 November 2014. Retrieved 1 Jan-
uary 2016.
Ancient Egyptian Medicine, John F. Nunn, 1996
[19] Hawass, Zahi (2003). The tomb of the physician Qar.
Hidden Treasures of the Egyptian Museum: One Hundred The Greatest Benet to Mankind: A medical His-
Masterpieces from the Centennial Exhibition (Supreme tory of Humanity, Roy Porter, 1997
Council of Antiquities ed.). Cairo, Egypt: American Uni-
versity in Cairo Press. p. xx. ISBN 978-977424778-1.
A History of Medicine, Lois N. Magner, 1992

[20] Lauer, Jean Philippe (3 January 2013). Imhoteb Mu- Medicine in the Days of the Pharaohs, Bruno
seum. Egypt Tourism News. Egypt Tourism Board. Re- Halioua, Bernard Ziskind, M. B. DeBevoise (Trans-
trieved 1 January 2016. lator), 200

[21] Jackson, Russell (6 December 2006). Mummy of an- Pharmacological practices of ancient Egypt,
cient doctor comes to light. The Scotsman. Edinburgh. Michael D. Parkins, 10th Annual Proceedings of
Retrieved 2011-03-24. the History of Medicine Days, 2001
[22] Greiner, Ryan (2001). Ancient Egyptian Medicine. Pain, Stephanie. (2007). The pharaohs pharma-
Creighton University Virtual Museums. Creighton Uni- cists. New Scientist. 15 December 2007, pp. 4043
versity. Retrieved February 2011. Check date values in:
|access-date= (help)
[23] Herodotus (25 February 2006) [First published 1890]. An
Account of Egypt (from The History of Herodotus Trans- Ange Pierre Leca, La Mdecine gyptienne au
lated Into English, Vol. I, Pages 115-208). Translated by temps des Pharaons, d. Dacosta, Paris, 1992
Macaulay, G. C. Project Gutenberg.
(ISBN 2-851-28-029-5)
[24] Arab, Sameh M. Medicine in Ancient Egypt - Part 3.
Thierry Bardinet, Les papyrus mdicaux de l'gypte
Arab World Books. Retrieved 2011-11-18.
pharaonique, d. Fayard, Paris, 1995 (ISBN 2-213-
[25] Gordan, Andrew H.; Shwabe, Calvin W. (2004). The 59280-2)
Quick and the Dead: Biomedical Theory in Ancient Egypt.
Egyptological Memoirs. Leiden: Brill Academic Publish- Histoire de la mdecine en Egypte ancienne, Paris,
ers. p. 154. ISBN 978-90-04-12391-5. 2013- (

[26] Grajetzki, Wolfram; Quirke, Stephen (2003). Richard-Alain Jean, propos des objets gyptiens
Knowledge and production: the House of Life. conservs du muse dHistoire de la Mdecine, d.
Digital Egypt for Universities. University College London. Universit Ren Descartes Paris V, coll. Muse
Retrieved 2011-11-18. d'Histoire de la Mdecine de Paris, Paris, 1999
[27] Bare, Ladislav (2005). The Shaft Tomb of Udjahorres-
(ISBN 2-9508470-3-X)
net. Czech Institute of Egyptology. Charles University in Richard-Alain Jean, La chirurgie en gypte an-
Prague. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
cienne. propos des instruments mdico-
[28] Wood, Gemma Ellen (4 July 2012). Dispelling the myth chirurgicaux mtalliques gyptiens conservs au
Herodotus, Cambyses, and Egyptian religion #1. The muse du Louvre, Editions Cybele, Paris, 2012
Egyptiana Emporium. Retrieved 1 January 2016. (ISBN 978-2-915840-29-2)

Richard-Alain Jean, Anne-Marie Loyrette, pro- 1.16 Military of ancient Egypt

pos des textes mdicaux des Papyrus du Rames-
seum nos III et IV, I : la reproduction, in S.H.
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of eastern
Aufrre (d.), Encyclopdie religieuse de lUnivers
North Africa, concentrated along the Northern reaches
vgtal (ERUV II), Montpellier, 2001, pp. 537
of the Nile River in Egypt. The civilization coalesced
564 (ISBN 978-2-84269-502-6)
around 3150 BC[1] with the political unication of Upper
Richard-Alain Jean, Anne-Marie Loyrette, pro- and Lower Egypt under the rst pharaoh, and it developed
pos des textes mdicaux des Papyrus du Rames- over the next three millennia.[2] Its history occurred in a
seum nos III et IV, I : la contraception, in S.H. series of stable Kingdoms, separated by periods of rela-
Aufrre (d.), Encyclopdie religieuse de lUnivers tive instability known as Intermediate Periods. Ancient
vgtal (ERUV II), Montpellier, 2001, pp. 564 Egypt reached its pinnacle during the New Kingdom, af-
592 (ISBN 978-2-84269-502-6) ter which it entered a period of slow decline. Egypt was
conquered by a succession of foreign powers in this late
Bruno Halioua, La mdecine au temps des period, and the rule of the pharaohs ocially ended in
Pharaons, d. Liana Levi, coll. Histoire lieu, Paris, 31 BC when the early Roman Empire conquered Egypt
2002 (ISBN 2-867-46-306-8) and made it a province.[3] Although the Egyptian military
Richard-Alain Jean, Anne-Marie Loyrette, pro- forces in the Old and Middle kingdoms were well main-
pos des textes mdicaux des Papyrus du Rames- tained, the new form that emerged in the New Kingdom
seum nos III et IV, I : la gyncologie (1), in S.H. showed the state becoming more organized to serve its
Aufrre (d.), Encyclopdie religieuse de lUnivers needs.
vgtal (ERUV III), Montpellier, 2005, pp. 351 For most parts of its long history, ancient Egypt was uni-
487 (ISBN 2-84269-695-6) ed under one government. The main military concern
Richard-Alain Jean, Anne-Marie Loyrette, La mre, for the nation was to keep enemies out. The arid plains
lenfant et le lait en gypte Ancienne. Traditions they wanted to get rid of and deserts surrounding Egypt
mdico-religieuses. Une tude de snologie gyp- were inhabited by nomadic tribes who occasionally tried
tienne, S.H. Aufrre (d.), d. LHarmattan, coll. to raid or settle in the fertile Nile river valley. Neverthe-
Kubaba Srie Antiquit Universit de Paris 1, less, the great expanses of the desert formed a barrier that
Panthon Sorbonne, Paris, 2010 (ISBN 978-2-296- protected the river valley and was almost impossible for
13096-8) massive armies to cross. The Egyptians built fortresses
and outposts along the borders east and west of the Nile
German Delta, in the Eastern Desert, and in Nubia to the south.
Small garrisons could prevent minor incursions, but if a
Wolfhart Westendorf, Handburch der altgyptis- large force was detected a message was sent for the main
chen Medizin, d. Brill, coll. HdO, Leiden, 1999 army corps. Most Egyptian cities lacked city walls and
(Band 1 : ISBN 90-04-11320-7, Band II : ISBN 90- other defenses.
04-11321-5) The history of ancient Egypt is divided into three king-
doms and two intermediate periods. During the three
Kingdoms Egypt was unied under one government.
1.15.12 External links During the Intermediate periods (the periods of time be-
Medicine in Old Egypt Transcript from History of tween Kingdoms) government control was in the hands of
Science by George Sarton the various nomes (provinces within Egypt) and various
foreigners. The geography of Egypt served to isolate the
Ancient Egyptian Medicine Aldokkan country and allowed it to thrive. This circumstance set the
stage for many of Egypts military conquests. They enfee-
Ancient Egyptian Medicine
bled their enemies by using small projectile weapons, like
Brian Brown (ed.) (1923) The Wisdom of the Egyp- bows and arrows. They also had chariots which they used
tians. New York: Brentanos to charge at the enemy.
Texts from the Pyramid Age by Nigel C. Strudwick,
Ronald J. Leprohon, 2005, Brill Academic Publish-
1.16.1 The Old Kingdom 26862181 BC
Ancient Egyptian Science: A Source Book by Mar-
shall Clagett, 1989 The Old Kingdom was one of the most prosperous times
in Egypts history. Because of this auence, it allowed
(French) Site sur la mdecine et la chirurgie dans
the government to stabilize and in turn organize a func-
l'Antiquit Egyptienne.
tioning military. Before Egypts New Kingdom, there
(French) Ancient medicine website were four major causes for military conict.

1. The Libyans from the Sahara to the west

2. The Nubians from the south
3. The Sinai and Canaanites to the north
4. Internal conict when the regions, or nomes, divided
from the monarchy to form rival factions

All of the areas outside Egypt were connected in con-

ict either by raiding parties entering Egypt or Egypt
maintaining a policy of eradication imperialism. The Old
The Hyksos of Ancient Egypt drove chariots
Kingdoms military was most marked by their construc-
tion of forts along the Nile River. At this time, the main
conict was with Nubia (to the south) and Egypt felt the took control, many Egyptians ed to Thebes, where they
urge to defend their borders by building forts deep into eventually began to oppose the Hyksos rule.[9]
this country. These forts were never actually attacked,
The Hyksos, Asiatics from the Northeast, set up a forti-
but they acted as a deterring factor towards potential in-
ed capital at Avaris. The Egyptians were trapped at this
vaders. Many are currently underwater in Lake Nasser,
time; their government had collapsed. They were literally
but while they were visible they were a true testament
in the middle of an 'enemy sandwich' between the Hyksos
to the auence and military prowess of ancient Egypt
in the north and the Kushite Nubians in the south. This
during this time. During the Old Kingdom there was no
period marked a great change for Egypts military. The
professional army in Egypt. Governors of each Nome
Hyksos brought with them to Egypt the horse, the chariot,
(administrative division) had to raise their own volunteer
and the composite bow. These tools drastically altered
army.[5] Then, all the armies would come together under
the way Egypts military functioned. The Hyksos intro-
the Pharaoh to battle. Because the army was not a very
duced the Ourarit (Chariot) to the Egyptians. Although
prestigious position, it was mostly made up of lower-class
the Hyksos have been credited with these introductions,
men, who could not aord to train in other jobs[6]
a fragment from a Stela shows Khonsuemwaset, son of
Old Kingdom soldiers were equipped with many types of Pharaoh Dudimose, one of the last rulers of the 13th Dy-
weapons, including shields, spears, cudgels, maces, dag- nasty, with a pair of chariot gloves under his seat, which
gers, and bows and arrows. The most common Egyptian denote his status as Master of the Horse, as is seen in the
weapon was the bow and arrow. During the Old King- tomb of Ay (18th Dynasty), with him depicted as Mas-
dom, a single-arched bow was often used. This type of ter of the Horse, wearing charioteers gloves, like those
bow was dicult to draw, and there was less draw length. depicted in the above stela fragment.[10] Clearer evidence
After the composite bow was introduced by the Hyksos, for the use of horses in the early SIP comes from Tell-
Egyptian soldiers used this weapon as well.[7] el-Khebir, where Ali Hassan had excavated the complete
skeleton of a horse, which he has dated, from associated
nds, to the 13th Dynasty.[11] Kanawati has also uncov-
1.16.2 The Middle Kingdom 20551650 ered a 12th Dynasty tomb at el-Rakakna containing an
BC object engraved with the head of a horse'.[12] The Char-
iot was not invented by the Hyksos but was introduced
In the Middle Kingdom, the theory of equilibrium impe- in the north by the Hurrians.[6] The composite bow al-
rialism really began to develop .[8] Egypts control of the lowed for more accuracy and kill distance with arrows.
surrounding territories became something that the mili- These advances ultimately worked against the Hyksos
tary was forced to be directly involved in. They needed because they allowed the Egyptian military to mobilize
to control their own borders for several reasons. First of and oust them from Egypt, beginning when Seqenenre
all, Egypt was protecting her own strength, land, and re- Tao became ruler of Thebes and opened a struggle that
sources. Also, she needed to control trade routes so Egypt claimed his own life in battle. Seqenenre was succeeded
could continue to be wealthy and powerful. Borders were by Kamose, who continued to battle the Hyksos, before
also expanded during this time. his brother Ahmose was nally successful in driving them
from Egypt.[9] This marked the beginning of the New
1.16.3 The Second Intermediate Period
16501550 BC
1.16.4 The New Kingdom 1550-1069 BC
After Merneferre Ay ed his palace in at the end of the
13th dynasty, a Canaanite tribe called the Hyksos sacked In the New Kingdom new threats emerged. However,
Memphis (the Egyptians capital city) and claimed do- the military contributions of the Hyksos allowed Egypt
minion over Upper and Lower Egypt. After the Hyksos to defend themselves from these foreign invasions suc-

major powers in the Middle East. Egyptian war chariots

were manned by a driver holding a whip and the reins
and a ghter, generally wielding a composite bow or, af-
ter spending all his arrows, a short spear of which he had
a few.[7] The charioteers wore occasionally scale armor,
but many preferred broad leather bands crossed over the
chest or carried a shield. Their torso was thus more or
less protected, while the lower body was shielded by the
chariot itself. The pharaohs often wore scale armour with
inlaid semi-precious stones, which oered better protec-
tion, the stones being harder than the metal used for arrow
A New Kingdom khopesh tips.[14]
The principal weapon of the Egyptian army was the bow
cessfully. The Hittites hailed from further northeast than and arrow; it was transformed into a formidable weapon
had been previously encountered. They attempted to con- with the introduction by the Hyksos of the composite
quer Egypt, yet were defeated and a peace treaty was bow. These bows, combined with the war chariot, en-
made. Also, the mysterious Sea Peoples invaded the en- abled the Egyptian army to attack quickly and from a
tire ancient Near East during this time. The Sea Peoples distance.[15]
caused many problems, but ultimately the military was Other new technologies included the khopesh,[15] which
strong enough at this time to prevent a collapse of the temple scenes show being presented to the king by the
government. The Egyptians were strongly vested in their gods with a promise of victory, body armour and im-
infantry, unlike the Hittites who were dependent on their proved bronze casting; in the 19th Dynasty soldiers be-
chariots. It is in this way the New Kingdom army was gan wearing leather or cloth tunics with metal scale
dierent than its two preceding kingdoms.[13] coverings.[16]
These changes also caused changes in the role of the mil-
1.16.5 Old & Middle Kingdom Armies itary in Egyptian society, and so during the New King-
dom, the Egyptian military changed from levy troops into
Before the New Kingdom the Egyptian armies were com- a rm organization of professional soldiers.[5][17] Con-
posed of conscripted peasants and artisans, who would quests of foreign territories, like Nubia, required a perma-
then mass under the banner of the pharaoh.[5] During the nent force to be garrisoned abroad. The encounter with
Old and Middle Kingdom Egyptian armies were very ba- other powerful Near Eastern kingdoms like the Mitanni,
sic. The Egyptian soldiers carried a simple armament the Hittites, and later the Assyrians and Babylonians,
consisting of a spear with a copper spearhead and a large made it necessary for the Egyptians to conduct campaigns
wooden shield covered by leather hides. A stone mace far from home. Over 4,000 infantry of an army corps
was also carried in the Archaic period, though later this were organized into 20 companies between 200 and 250
weapon was probably only in ceremonial use, and was re- men each.[18] There were also companies of Libyans, Nu-
placed with the bronze battle axe. The spearmen were bians, Canaanite and Sherdens who served in the Egyp-
supported by archers carrying a simple curved bow and tian army. They were often described as mercenaries but
arrows with arrowheads made of int or copper. No ar- they were most likely impressed prisoners who preferred
mor was used during the 3rd and early 2nd Millennium the life of a soldier instead of slavery.[19]
BC. Foreigners were also incorporated into the army, Nu-
bians (Medjay), entered Egyptian armies as mercenaries
and formed the best archery units.[7]

1.16.6 New Kingdom Armies

1.16.7 Late Period Armies 712-332 BC
The major advance in weapons technology and warfare
began around 1600 BC when the Egyptians fought and
nally defeated the Hyksos people who had made them- The next leap forwards came in the Late Period (712-
selves lords of Lower Egypt.[5] It was during this period 332 BC), when mounted troops and weapons made of
the horse and chariot were introduced into Egypt, which iron came into use. After the conquest by Alexander the
the Egyptians had no answer to until they introduced their Great, Egypt was heavily hellenised and the main mil-
own version of the war chariot at the beginning of the itary force became the infantry phalanx. The ancient
18th Dynasty.[5] The Egyptians then improved the design Egyptians were not great innovators in weapons technol-
of the chariot to suit their own requirements. That made ogy, and most weapons technology innovation came from
the Egyptian chariots lighter and faster than those of other Eastern Asia and the Greek world.

1.16.8 Military Organization end of the Second Intermediate Period (c.1650-1550

BC) / the beginning of the New Kingdom (c.1550-1069
As early as the Old Kingdom (c.2686-2160 BC) Egypt BC).[26] Charioteers were drawn from the upper classes
used specic military units, with military hierarchy ap- in Egypt. Chariots were generally used as a mobile plat-
pearing in the Middle Kingdom (c.2055-1650 BC). By form from which to use projectile weapons, and were gen-
the New Kingdom (c.1550-1069 BC), the Egyptian mil- erally pulled by two horses[27] and manned by two chario-
itary consisted of three major branches: the infantry, the teers; a driver who carried a shield, and a man with a bow
chariotry, and the navy.[20] or javelin. Chariots also had infantry support.[28] By the
time of Qadesh, the chariot arm was at the height of its de-
velopment. It was designed for speed and maeuverability,
Infantry being lightweight and delicate in appearance. Its oen-
sive power was in its capacity to rapidly turn, wheel and
repeatedly charge, penetrating the enemy line and func-
tioning as a mobile ring platform that aorded the ght-
ing crewmen the opportunity to shoot many arrows from
the composite bow. The chariot corps served as an inde-
pendent arm but were attached to the infantry corps. At
Qadesh, there were 25 vehicles per company. Many of
the lighter vehicles were retained for scouting and com-
munication duties. In combat, the chariots were deployed
in troops of 10, squadrons of 50 and the larger unit was
called the pedjet, commanded by an ocer with the ti-
tle 'Commander of a chariotry host' and numbering about
250 chariots.[29]
Wooden gures found in the tomb of Mesehti: Egyptian army of
the 11th Dynasty

Infantry troops were partially conscripted, partially

voluntary.[21] Egyptian soldiers worked for pay, both na-
tives and mercenaries.[22] Of mercenary troops, Nubians
were used beginning in the late Old Kingdom, Asiatic Main article: Ancient Egyptian navy
maryannu troops were used in the Middle and New King- Before the New Kingdom, the Egyptian military was
doms, the Sherden, Libyans, and the Na'arn were used
in the Ramesside Period,[23] (New Kingdom, Dynas-
ties XIX and XX, c.1292-1075 BC[24] ) and Phoenicians,
Carians, and Greeks were used during the Late Period.[25]


Main article: Chariotry in ancient Egypt

Chariotry, the backbone of the Egyptian army, was in-

Model of a warship eet of Ramses III

mainly aquatic, and the high ranks were composed of

the elite middle class Egyptians.[30] Egyptian troops were
transported by naval vessels as early as the Late Old
Kingdom.[31] By the later intermediate period, the navy
Ancient Egyptian chariot was highly sophisticated, and used complicated naval ma-
neuvers, e.g. Kamose's campaign against the Hyksos in
troduced into ancient Egypt from Western Asia at the the harbor of Avaris (c.1555-1550 BC)[32]

1.16.9 Projectile Weapons "...... Behold His Majesty was armed with
his weapons, and His Majesty fought like Set
Projectile weapons were used by the ancient Egyptians as in his hour. They gave way when His Majesty
stando artillery, used to weaken the enemy before an looked at one of them, and they ed. His
infantry assault. Slings, throw sticks, spears, and javelins majesty took all their goods himself, with his
were used, but the bow and arrow was the primary pro- spear..... "
jectile weapon for most of Egypts history.
The spear was appreciated enough to be depicted in the
hands of Ramesses III killing a Libyan. It remained short
The Throw Stick
and javelin-like, just about the height of a man.[33]
The throw stick does appear to have been used to some
extent during Egypts predynastic period as a weapon, but Bow and arrow
it seems to have not been very eective for this purpose.
Because of their simplicity, skilled infantry continued to
use this weapon at least with some regularity through the
end of the New Kingdom. It was used extensively for
hunting fowl through much of Egypts dynastic period.
Most of the Egyptians were intent on using this weapon
for it had a holy eect as well.

The Spear

The spear does not t comfortably into either the close

combat class or the projectile type of weapons. It
could be either. During the Old and Middle Kingdom
of Egypts Dynastic period, it typically consisted of a
pointed blade made of copper or int that was attached to
a long wooden shaft by a tang. Conventional spears were
made for throwing or thrusting, but there was also a form
of spear (halberd) which was tted with an axe blade and
thus used for cutting and slashing.
The spear was used in Egypt since the earliest times for
hunting larger animals, such as lions. In its form of javelin
(throwing spears) it was replaced early on by the bow and
arrow. Because of its greater weight, the spear was bet-
ter at penetration than the arrow, but in a region where
armor consisted mostly of shields, this was only a slight
advantage. On the other hand, arrows were much easier
to mass-produce.
In war it never gained the importance among Egyptians Egyptian archer on a chariot, from an ancient engraving at
which it was to have in classical Greece, where phalanxes Thebes.
of spear-carrying citizens fought each other. During the
New Kingdom, it was often an auxiliary weapon of the The bow and arrow is one of ancient Egypts most crucial
charioteers, who were thus not left unarmed after spend- weapons, used from Predynastic times through the Dy-
ing all their arrows. It was also most useful in their hands nastic age and into the Christian and Islamic periods. The
when they chased down eeing enemies stabbing them in rst bows were commonly horn bows, made by joining
their backs. Amenhotep IIs victory at Shemesh-Edom in a pair of antelope horns with a central piece of wood.
Canaan is described at Karnak: By the beginning of the Dynastic Period, bows were made
of wood. They had a single curvature and were strung
with animal sinews or strings made of plant ber. In the
pre-dynastic period, bows often had a double curvature,
but during the Old Kingdom a single-arched bow, known
as a self (or simple) bow, was adopted. These were used
Bronze spearhead from Leontopolis, 2nd millennium BC, to re reed arrows etched with three feathers and tipped
National Archaeological Museum (France). with int or hardwood, and later, bronze. The bow it-
self was usually between one and two meters in length

and made up of a wooden rod, narrowing at either end. Composite bows needed more care than simple bows, and
Some of the longer self bows were strengthened at certain were much more dicult and expensive to produce. They
points by binding the wooden rod with cord. Drawing a were more vulnerable to moisture, requiring them to be
single-arched bow was harder and one lost the advantage covered. They had to be unstrung when not in use and re-
of draw-length double curvature provided. strung for action, a feat which required not a little force
During the New Kingdom the composite bow came into and generally the help of a second person. As a result,
use, having been introduced by the Asiatic Hyksos. Often they were not used as much as one might expect. The
these bows were not made in Egypt itself but imported simple stave bow never disappeared from the battleeld,
even in the New Kingdom. The simpler bows were used
from the Middle East, like other 'modern' weapons. The
older, single-curved bow was not completely abandoned, by the bulk of the archers, while the composite bows went
rst to the chariots, where their penetrative power was
however. For example, it would appear that Tuthmosis
III and Amenhotep II continued to use these earlier-styled needed to pierce scale armor.
bows. A dicult weapon to use successfully, it demanded The rst arrow-heads were int, which was replaced by
strength, dexterity and years of practice. The experienced bronze in the 2nd millennium. Arrow-heads were mostly
archer chose his weapon with care. For example, we are made for piercing, having a sharp point. However, the
told that: arrow heads could vary considerably, and some were even
blunt (probably used more for hunting small game).
Amenhotep II ... drew three hundred of the
bows hardest to bend in order to examine the
workmanship, to distinguish between a worker The Sling
who doesn't know his profession and the ex-
pert. Hurling stones with a sling demanded little equipment or
practice in order to be eective. Secondary to the bow
and arrow in battle, the sling was rarely depicted. The
We are then told that he chose a bow with-
rst drawings date to the 20th century BC. Made of per-
out aw which only he could draw.
ishable materials, few ancient slings have survived. It re-
lied on the impact the missile made and like most impact
... he came to the northern shooting range weapons was relegated to play a subsidiary role. In the
and found they had prepared for him four tar- hands of lightly armed skirmishers it was used to distract
gets made of Asiatic copper thick as a mans the attention of the enemy. One of its main advantages
palm. Twenty cubits divided between the was the easy availability of ammunition in many loca-
poles. When His Majesty appeared in his tions. When lead became more widely available during
Chariot like Montu with all his power, he the Late Period, sling bullets were cast. These were pre-
reached for his bow and grabbed four arrows ferred to pebbles because of their greater weight which
with one hand. He speeded his chariot shoot- made them more eective.[34] They often bore a mark.
ing at the targets, like Montu the god. His ar-
row penetrated the target, cleaving it. He drew
his bow again at the second target. None had 1.16.10 Notes and references
ever hit a target like this, none had ever heard
that a man shot an arrow a target made of cop- [1] Only after 664 BC are dates secure. See Egyptian
per and that it should cleave the target and fall chronology for details. Chronology. Digital Egypt for
to the ground, none but the king, strong and Universities, University College London. Retrieved 2008-
powerful, as Amen made him a conqueror. 03-25.

[2] Dodson (2004) p. 46

The Composite Bow
[3] Clayton (1994) p. 217
The composite bow achieved the greatest possible range
[4] Healy, Mark (2005). Qadesh 1300 BC. London: Osprey.
with a bow as small and light as possible. The maximum pp. 2728.
draw length was that of the archers arm. The bow, while
unstrung, curved outward and was under an initial ten- [5] Egyptology Online
sion, dramatically increasing the draw weight. A sim-
ple wooden bow was no match for the composite bow in [6] Benson, Douglas S. Ancient Egypts Warfare: A survey
range or power. The wood had to be supported, other- of armed conict in the chronology of ancient Egypt, 1600
wise it would break. This was achieved by adding horn BC-30 BC, Bookmasters Inc., Ashland, Ohio, 1995
to the belly of the bow (the part facing the archer) which [7] Ancient Egyptian Weapons
would be compressed during the draw. Sinew was added
to the back of the bow, to withstand the tension. All these [8] Smith, Stuart Tyson State and Empire in the Middle and
layers were glued together and covered with birch bark. New Kingdoms

[9] Tyldesley, Joyce A. Egypts Golden Empire, Headline [32] Darnell, John Colemen; Menassa, Colleen. Tu-
Book Publishing, London, 2001. ISBN 0-7472-5160-6 tanKhamuns Armies. John Wiley and Sons Inc., New
Jersey: 2007. pp.65-66
[10] W. Helck"Ein indirekter Beleg fur die Benutzung des
liechten Streitwagens in Agypten zu ende der 13 Dynas- [33] Edged Weapons: The Spear
tie, in JNES 37, pp. 337-40
[34] Projectiles
[11] see Egyptian Archaeology 4, 1994

[12] see KMT 1:3 (1990), p. 5 1.16.11 External links

[13] Healy, Mark (2005). Qadesh 1300 BC. London: Osprey.
The Egypian Army In The Ancient Pharaonic His-
p. 35.
[14] Body armour
Ancient Egyptian and Roman armies
[15] Pharaohs Military
The army in Ancient Egypt
[16] Evolution of Warfare
Egyptology Online
[17] Ancient Egyptian Army
Egyptian Warfare
[18] Healy, Mark (2005). Qadesh 1300 BC. London: Osprey.
p. 37. Projectile Type Weapons of Ancient Egypt

[19] Healy, Mark (2005). Qadesh 1300 BC. London: Osprey. The Military of Ancient Egypt
pp. 3738.

[20] Darnell, John Colemen; Menassa, Colleen. Tu-

tanKhamuns Armies. John Wiley and Sons Inc., New 1.17 Music of Egypt
Jersey: 2007. p.60

[21] Darnell, John Colemen; Menassa, Colleen. Tu-

tanKhamuns Armies. John Wiley and Sons Inc., New
Jersey: 2007. pp.60-63

[22] Spangler, Anthony J.. War in Ancient Egypt. Blackwell

Publishing, Malden, MA: 2005. p.7

[23] Spangler, Anthony J.. War in Ancient Egypt. Blackwell

Publishing, Malden, MA: 2005. pp.6-7

[24] Hornung, Erik. History of Ancient Egypt. trans. Lor-

ton, David. Cornell University Press, Ithica, New York:
1999. p.xvii

[25] Allen, James; Hill, Marsha (October 2004). Egypt in the

Late Period (ca. 712332 B.C.)". Metropolitan Museum
of Art.

[26] Spangler, Anthony J.. War in Ancient Egypt. Blackwell

Publishing, Malden, MA: 2005. p.8

[27] Spangler, Anthony J.. War in Ancient Egypt. Blackwell

Publishing, Malden, MA: 2005. p.36

[28] Darnell, John Colemen; Menassa, Colleen. Tu- Music has been an integral part of Egyptian culture since
tanKhamuns Armies. John Wiley and Sons Inc., New
antiquity. The Bible documents the instruments played
Jersey: 2007. pp.63-65
by the ancient Hebrews, all of which are correlated in
[29] Healy, Mark (2005). Qadesh 1300 BC. London: Osprey. Egyptian archaeology. Egyptian music probably had a
p. 39. signicant impact on the development of ancient Greek
music, and via the Greeks was important to early Euro-
[30] Spangler, Anthony J.. War in Ancient Egypt. Blackwell pean music well into the Middle Ages. The modern mu-
Publishing, Malden, MA: 2005. p.6
sic of Egypt is considered Arabic music as it has been a
[31] Darnell, John Colemen; Menassa, Colleen. Tu- source for or inuence on other regional styles. The tonal
tanKhamuns Armies. John Wiley and Sons Inc., New structure of Arabic music is dened by the maqamat,
Jersey: 2007. p.65 loosely similar to Western modes, while the rhythm of

Arabic music is governed by the iqa'at, standard rhyth- Egyptians in Medieval Cairo believed that music exer-
mic modes formed by combinations of accented and un- cised too powerful an eect upon the passions, and
accented beats and rests. leading men into gaiety, dissipation and vice. However,
Egyptians generally were very fond of music. Though, ac-
cording to E.W. Lane, no man of sense would ever be-
1.17.1 History come a musician, music was a key part of society. Trades-
men of every occupation used music during work and
The ancient Egyptians credited the goddess Bat with the schools taught the Quran by chanting.[2](p359)
invention of music. The cult of Bat was eventually syn-
cretised into that of Hathor because both were depicted The music of Medieval Egypt was derived from Greek,
as cows. Hathors music was believed to have been used Persian and Indian traditions. Lane said that the most
by Osiris as part of his eort to civilize the world. The remarkable peculiarity of the Arab system of music is
lion-goddess Bastet was also considered a goddess of mu- the division of tones into thirds, although today West-
sic. ern musicologists prefer to say that Arabic musics tones
are divided into quarters. The songs of this period were
similar in sound and simple, within a small range of tones.
Neolithic Period Egyptian song, though simple in form, is embellished by
the singer. Distinct enunciation and a quavering voice are
In prehistoric Egypt, music and chanting were commonly also characteristics of Egyptian singing.[2](pp360361)
used in magic and rituals. Rhythms during this time were
Male professional musicians during this period were
ovular and music served to create rhythm. Small shells
called Alateeyeh (plural), or Alatee (singular), which
were used as whistles.[1](pp2630)
means a player upon an instrument. However, this
name applies to both vocalists as well as instrumental-
Predynastic Period ists. This position was considered disreputable and lowly.
However, musicians found work singing or playing at par-
During the predynastic period of Egyptian history, funer- ties to entertain the company. They generally made three
ary chants continued to play an important role in Egyptian shillings a night, but earned more by the guests giving
religion and were accompanied by clappers or a ute. De- more.
spite the lack of physical evidence in some cases, Egyp- Female professional musicians were called Awalim (pl)
tologists theorize that the development of certain instru- or Almeh, which means a learned female. These singers
ments known of the Old Kingdom period, such as the were often hired on the occasion of a celebration in the
end-blown ute, took place during this time.[1](pp3334) harem of a wealthy person. They were not with the
harem, but in an elevated room that was concealed by a
Old Kingdom screen so as not to be seen by either the harem or the mas-
ter of the house. The female Awalim were more highly
The evidence is for instruments played more securely paid than male performers and more highly regarded than
attested in the Old Kingdom when harps, utes and the Alateeyeh as well. Lane relates an instance of a fe-
double clarinets were played. Percussion instruments and male performer who so enraptured her audience that she
lutes were added to orchestras by the Middle Kingdom. earned to fty guineas for one nights performance from
Cymbals frequently accompanied music and dance, much the guests and host, who were not considered wealthy.
as they still do in Egypt today.
Typically ancient Egyptian music was composed from Modern Egyptian classical and pop music
the phrygian dominant scale, phrygian scale, double har-
monic scale (Arabic scale) or lydian scale. The phrygian Egyptian music began to be recorded in the 1910s, when
dominant scale may often feature an altered note or two Egypt was still part of the Ottoman Empire. The cos-
in parts to create tension. For instance the music could mopolitan Ottomans encouraged the development of the
typically be in the key of E phrygian dominant using the arts, encouraging women and minorities to develop their
notes E, F, G sharp, A, B, C, D and then have an A sharp, musical abilities. By the fall of the Empire, Egypts classi-
B, A sharp, G natural and E to create tension. cal musical tradition was already thriving, centered on the
city of Cairo. In general, modern Egyptian music blends
its indigenous traditions with Turkish, Arabic, and West-
Medieval Music
ern elements.
Arabic music is usually said to have begun in the 7th cen- Since the end of World War I, some of the Middle Easts
tury in Syria during the Umayyad dynasty. Early Arabic biggest musical stars have been Egyptian. Contemporary
music was inuenced by Byzantine, Indian and Persian Egyptian music traces its beginnings to the creative work
forms, which were themselves heavily inuenced by ear- of luminaries such as Abdu-l Hamuli, Almaz and Mah-
lier Greek, Semitic, and ancient Egyptian music. mud Osman, who were all patronized by the Ottoman

Khedive Ismail, and who inuenced the later work of Since the Nasser era, Egyptian pop music has become
the 20th centurys most important Egyptian composers: increasingly important in Egyptian culture, particularly
Sayed Darwish, Umm Kulthum, Mohammed Abdel Wa- among the large youth population of Egypt. Egyptian folk
hab, Abdel Halim Hafez, and Zakariyya Ahmad. Most music continues to be played during weddings and other
of these stars, including Umm Kulthum and Najat Al traditional festivities. In the last quarter of the 20th cen-
Saghira, were part of the classical tury, Egyptian music was a way to communicate social
and class issues. Among some of the most popular Egyp-
tian pop singers today are Mohamed Mounir and Amr
1.17.2 Religious music in Egypt Diab.
Sawahli (coastal) music is a type of popular music from
Religious music remains an essential part of traditional
the northern coast, and is based around the simsimiyya,
Muslim and Coptic celebrations called mulids. Mulids
an indigenous stringed instrument. Well-known singers
are held in Egypt to celebrate the saint of a particular
include Abdo'l Iskandrani and Aid el-Gannirni.
church. Muslim mulids are related to the Su zikr ritual.
The Egyptian ute, called the ney, is commonly played at
mulids. The liturgical music of the Alexandrian Rite also Saidi (Upper Egyptian)
constitutes an important element of Egyptian music and
is said to have preserved many features of ancient Egyp- Egyptian musicians from Upper Egypt play a form of folk
tian music. music called adi which originates from Upper Egypt).
Discovered in 1975 by Alan Weber, Metqal Qenawis Les
Musiciens du Nil( Musicians of the Nile) are the most
popular saidi group, and were chosen by the government
to represent Egyptian folk music abroad. They spent over
three decades touring Europe performing at various fes-
tivals and musical events and in 1983 after their perfor-
mance in the World of Music and Dance Festival, they
were signed to Peter Gabriels label Real World-Carolina
and went on to feature on his Album Passion. Other
performers include Shoukoukou, Ahmad Ismail, Omar
Gharzawi, Sohar Magdy and Ahmed Mougahid.


Nubians are native to the south of Egypt and northern

Lute and double pipe players from a painting found in the
Theban tomb of Nebamun, a nobleman of the 18th Dynasty of Sudan, though many live in Cairo and other cities. Nu-
the New Kingdom, c. 1350 BC bian folk music can still be heard, but migration and inter-
cultural contact with Egyptian and other musical genres
have produced new innovations. Ali Hassan Kuban's ef-
forts had made him a regular on the world music scene,
1.17.3 Folkloric Music while Mohamed Mounir's social criticism and sophisti-
cated pop have made him a star among Nubians, Egyp-
Egyptian folk music, including the traditional Su dhikr tians, and other people worldwide. Ahmed Mounib,
rituals, are the closest contemporary music genre to Mohamed Mounir's mentor, was by far the most notable
ancient Egyptian music, having preserved many of its fea- Nubian singer to hit the Egyptian music scene, singing in
tures, rhythms and instruments.[3][4] both Egyptian Arabic his native Nobiin. Hamza El Din is
another popular Nubian artist, well-known on the world
music scene and has collaborated with the Kronos Quar-
1.17.4 Folk and roots revival tet.

The Egyptians even used their own teeth as instruments

they would make tapping noises and would use special 1.17.5 Western classical music
plucks to make interesting noises with their teeth. The
20th century has seen Cairo become associated with a Western classical music was introduced to Egypt, and,
roots revival. Musicians from across Egypt are keep- in the middle of the 18th century, instruments such as
ing folk traditions alive, such as those of rural Egyptians the piano and violin were gradually adopted by Egyp-
(fellahin), the Nubians, the Arabs, the Berbers, the tians. Opera also became increasingly popular during
Gypsies and the Bedouins. Mixtures of folk and pop have the 18th century, and Giuseppe Verdi's Egyptian-themed
also risen from the Cairo hit factory. Aida was premiered in Cairo on December 24, 1871.

By the early 20th century, the rst generation of Egyptian of such foreign-born musicologists as Hans Hickmann.
composers, including Yusef Greiss, Abu Bakr Khairat, By the early 21st century, Egyptian musicians and musi-
and Hasan Rashid, began writing for Western instru- cologists led by the musicology professor Khairy El-Malt
ments. The second generation of Egyptian composers at Helwan University in Cairo had begun to reconstruct
included notable artists such as Gamal Abdelrahim. Rep- musical instruments of Ancient Egypt, a project that is
resentative composers of the third generation are Ahmed ongoing.[5]
El-Saedi and Rageh Daoud. In the early 21st century,
even fourth generation composers such as Mohamed Ab-
delwahab Abdelfattah (of the Cairo Conservatory) have
gained international attention.

1.17.6 Arabic Egyptian musical instru-

Broken Egyptian Sistrum

Egyptian Sistrum

A typical Arabic ensemble compromising the Oud, qanun, violin,

ney and cello.

During the Abbasid and Ottoman dynasty Egypt was one

of the main musical hubs in the middle east and therefore
after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1923 Egypt be-
came the capital of Arabic music where classical instru-
ment such as the oud, qanun and ney were widely used. Collection of sistrums at the
The typical tact (ensemble) consisted of an Oud player, Louvre
qanun player, ney player and violin player. The takht (lit-
erally meaning a sofa) was the most common form of
ensembles in the early 20th century before the adoption
of more orchestral instruments which were introduced by
composers such as Mohamed El Qasabgi, Riad Al Sun-
bati and Mohammed Abdel Wahab.

1.17.7 Electronic music

From the Walters Art Museum,
One of the most respected early electronic music com- 380250 BC
posers, Halim El-Dabh, is an Egyptian. However, the
Egyptian electronic music scene has only gained a main-
stream foothold recently in the form of techno, trance and
dance pop DJs such as Aly & Fila.

1.17.8 Reconstruction of Ancient Egyp-

tian Music
In the early 21st century, interest in the music of the Ancient Egyptian Long Flute
pharaonic period began to grow, inspired by the research

[2] Lane, Edward William (2003). An Account of the Man-

ners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians: The Denitive
1860 Edition. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.
ISBN 9789774247842.

[3] Hickmann, Hans (1957). Un Zikr Dans le Mastaba

Ancient Egyptian Stringed de Debhen, Guizah (IVeme Dynastie)". Journal of
Instruments the International Folk Music Council. 9: 5962.

[4] Hickmann, Hans (January 1960). Rythme, mtre et

mesure de la musique instrumentale et vocale des an-
ciens Egyptiens. Acta Musicologica. 32 (1): 1122.

[5] Ancient Egyptian Music Symposium

Ancient Egyptian With TwoSided

Drum 1.17.11 Further reading
Lodge, David and Bill Badley. Partner of Poetry.
2000. In Duane, Orla; McConnachie, James (2000).
Broughton, Simon; Ellingham, Mark, eds. World
Ancient Egyptian Music Music, Vol. 1: Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
Band London: Rough Guides. pp. 32331. ISBN 1-

Marcus, Scott L. (2007). Music in Egypt. New York:

Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-514645-X.

Late Style Egyptian Lyre

1.17.12 External links
Audio clips: Traditional music of Egypt. Muse
d'ethnographie de Genve. Accessed November 25,
2010. (French)

Coptic Orthodox Music of Egypt at Saint Takla

Haymanout Church
Ancient Egyptian Woman Playing Arabic Music and Songs
Ghostly Echoes: an essay on Egypt and its contem-
porary music!

1.18 Egyptian mythology

See also: Ancient Egyptian religion
Egyptian Lyre
Egyptian mythology is the collection of myths from
ancient Egypt, which describe the actions of the Egyptian
gods as a means of understanding the world. The beliefs
1.17.9 See also that these myths express are an important part of ancient
Egyptian religion. Myths appear frequently in Egyptian
Egyptian Arts post Revolution writings and art, particularly in short stories and in reli-
gious material such as hymns, ritual texts, funerary texts,
and temple decoration. These sources rarely contain a
1.17.10 Notes and references complete account of a myth and often describe only brief
[1] Arroyos, Rafael Prez (2003). Egypt: Music in the Age
of the Pyramids (1st ed.). Madrid: Centro de Estudios Inspired by the cycles of nature, the Egyptians saw time
Egipcios. p. 28. ISBN 8493279617. in the present as a series of recurring patterns, whereas

used in stories that range from humor to allegory, demon-

strating that the Egyptians adapted mythology to serve a
wide variety of purposes.

1.18.1 Origins

The development of Egyptian myth is dicult to trace.

Egyptologists must make educated guesses about its ear-
liest phases, based on written sources that appeared much
later.[1] One obvious inuence on myth is the Egyptians
natural surroundings. Each day the sun rose and set,
bringing light to the land and regulating human activity;
each year the Nile ooded, renewing the fertility of the
soil and allowing the highly productive farming that sus-
tained Egyptian civilization. Thus the Egyptians saw wa-
ter and the sun as symbols of life and thought of time
as a series of natural cycles. This orderly pattern was
at constant risk of disruption: unusually low oods re-
sulted in famine, and high oods destroyed crops and
buildings.[2] The hospitable Nile valley was surrounded
by harsh desert, populated by peoples the Egyptians re-
garded as uncivilized enemies of order.[3] For these rea-
sons, the Egyptians saw their land as an isolated place of
Nun, the embodiment of the primordial waters, lifts the barque stability, or maat, surrounded and endangered by chaos.
of the sun god Ra into the sky at the moment of creation. These themesorder, chaos, and renewalappear re-
peatedly in Egyptian religious thought.[4]
Another possible source for mythology is ritual. Many
the earliest periods of time were linear. Myths are set rituals make reference to myths and are sometimes based
in these earliest times, and myth sets the pattern for the directly on them.[5] But it is dicult to determine whether
cycles of the present. Present events repeat the events of a cultures myths developed before rituals or vice versa.[6]
myth, and in doing so renew maat, the fundamental order Questions about this relationship between myth and rit-
of the universe. Amongst the most important episodes ual have spawned much discussion among Egyptologists
from the mythic past are the creation myths, in which the and scholars of comparative religion in general. In an-
gods form the universe out of primordial chaos; the sto- cient Egypt, the earliest evidence of religious practices
ries of the reign of the sun god Ra upon the earth; and the predates written myths.[5] Rituals early in Egyptian his-
Osiris myth, concerning the struggles of the gods Osiris, tory included only a few motifs from myth. For these
Isis, and Horus against the disruptive god Set. Events reasons, some scholars have argued that, in Egypt, ritu-
from the present that might be regarded as myths include als emerged before myths.[6] But because the early evi-
Ras daily journey through the world and its otherworldly dence is so sparse, the question may never be resolved
counterpart, the Duat. Recurring themes in these mythic for certain.[5]
episodes include the conict between the upholders of In private rituals, which are often called magical, the
maat and the forces of disorder, the importance of the
myth and the ritual are particularly closely tied. Many of
pharaoh in maintaining maat, and the continual death and the myth-like stories that appear in the rituals texts are
regeneration of the gods. not found in other sources. Even the widespread motif
The details of these sacred events dier greatly from one of the goddess Isis rescuing her poisoned son Horus ap-
text to another and often seem contradictory. Egyptian pears only in this type of text. The Egyptologist David
myths are primarily metaphorical, translating the essence Frankfurter argues that these rituals adapt basic mythic
and behavior of deities into terms that humans can under- traditions to t the specic ritual, creating elaborate new
stand. Each variant of a myth represents a dierent sym- stories (called historiolas) based on myth.[7] In contrast,
bolic perspective, enriching the Egyptians understanding J. F. Borghouts says of magical texts that there is not
of the gods and the world. a shred of evidence that a specic kind of 'unorthodox'
Mythology profoundly inuenced Egyptian culture. It mythology was coined... for this genre.[8]
inspired or inuenced many religious rituals and pro- Much of Egyptian mythology consists of origin myths,
vided the ideological basis for kingship. Scenes and sym- explaining the beginnings of various elements of the
bols from myth appeared in art in tombs, temples, and world, including human institutions and natural phenom-
amulets. In literature, myths or elements of them were ena. Kingship arises among the gods at the beginning

of time and later passed to the human pharaohs; warfare its complex and exible nature.[20] Tobin argues that nar-
originates when humans begin ghting each other after rative is even alien to myth, because narratives tend to
the sun gods withdrawal into the sky.[9] Myths also de- form a simple and xed perspective on the events they
scribe the supposed beginnings of less fundamental tradi- describe. If narration is not needed for myth, any state-
tions. In a minor mythic episode, Horus becomes angry ment that conveys an idea about the nature or actions of
with his mother Isis and cuts o her head. Isis replaces a god can be called mythic.[19]
her lost head with that of a cow. This event explains why
Isis was sometimes depicted with the horns of a cow as
part of her headdress.[10] 1.18.3 Content and meaning
Some myths may have been inspired by historical events.
Like myths in many other cultures, Egyptian myths serve
The unication of Egypt under the pharaohs, at the end of
to justify human traditions and to address fundamental
the Predynastic Period around 3100 BC, made the king
questions about the world,[21] such as the nature of disor-
the focus of Egyptian religion, and thus the ideology of
der and the ultimate fate of the universe.[14] The Egyp-
kingship became an important part of mythology.[11] In
tians explained these profound issues through statements
the wake of unication, gods that were once local patron
about the gods.[20]
deities gained national importance, forming new relation-
ships that linked the local deities into a unied nationalEgyptian deities represent natural phenomena, from
tradition. Geraldine Pinch suggests that early myths physical objects like the earth or the sun to abstract forces
may have formed from these relationships.[12] Egyptian like knowledge and creativity. The actions and interac-
sources link the mythical strife between the gods Horus tions of the gods, the Egyptians believed, govern the be-
and Set with a conict between the regions of Upper and havior of all of these forces and elements.[22] For the most
Lower Egypt, which may have happened in the late Pre- part, the Egyptians did not describe these mysterious pro-
dynastic era or in the Early Dynastic Period.[13][Note 1] cesses in explicit theological writings. Instead, the rela-
tionships and interactions of the gods illustrated such pro-
After these early times, most changes to mythology devel-
cesses implicitly.[23]
oped and adapted preexisting concepts rather than creat-
ing new ones, although there were exceptions.[14] Many Most of Egypts gods, including many of the major ones,
scholars have suggested that the myth of the sun god do not have signicant roles in mythic narratives, al-
withdrawing into the sky, leaving humans to ght among though their nature and relationships with other deities
themselves, was inspired by the breakdown of royal au- are often established in lists or bare statements without
thority and national unity at the end of the Old Kingdom narration. For the gods who are deeply involved in nar-
(c. 2686 BC 2181 BC). [15]
In the New Kingdom (c. ratives, mythic events are very important expressions of
15501070 BC), minor myths developed around deities their roles in the cosmos. Therefore, if only narratives
like Yam and Anat who had been adopted from Canaanite are myths, mythology is a major element in Egyptian re-
religion. In contrast, during the Greek and Roman eras ligious understanding, but not as essential as it is in many
(332 BC641 AD), Greco-Roman culture had little inu- other cultures.
ence on Egyptian mythology.

1.18.2 Denition and scope

Scholars have diculty dening which ancient Egyptian
beliefs are myths. The basic denition of myth suggested
by the Egyptologist John Baines is a sacred or culturally
central narrative". In Egypt, the narratives that are cen-
tral to culture and religion are almost entirely about events
among the gods.[17] Actual narratives about the gods ac-
tions are rare in Egyptian texts, particularly from early pe-
riods, and most references to such events are mere men-
tions or allusions. Some Egyptologists, like Baines, argue
that narratives complete enough to be called myths ex- The sky depicted as a cow goddess supported by other deities.
isted in all periods, but that Egyptian tradition did not fa- This image combines several coexisting visions of the sky: as a
vor writing them down. Others, like Jan Assmann, have roof, as the surface of a sea, as a cow, and as a goddess in human
said that true myths were rare in Egypt and may only form.[27]
have emerged partway through its history, developing out
of the fragments of narration that appear in the earliest The true realm of the gods is mysterious and inaccessible
writings.[18] Recently, however, Vincent Arieh Tobin[19] to humans. Mythological stories use symbolism to make
and Susanne Bickel have suggested that lengthy narra- the events in this realm comprehensible.[28] Not every de-
tion was not needed in Egyptian mythology because of tail of a mythic account has symbolic signicance. Some

images and incidents, even in religious texts, are meant ity of approaches that the Egyptians used to understand
simply as visual or dramatic embellishments of broader, the divine realm. Frankforts arguments are the basis for
more meaningful myths.[29][30] much of the more recent analysis of Egyptian beliefs.[41]
Few complete stories appear in Egyptian mythological Political changes aected Egyptian beliefs, but the ideas
sources. These sources often contain nothing more than that emerged through those changes also have deeper
allusions to the events to which they relate, and texts meaning. Multiple versions of the same myth express dif-
that contain actual narratives tell only portions of a larger ferent aspects of the same phenomenon; dierent gods
story. Thus, for any given myth the Egyptians may have that behave in a similar way reect the close connections
between natural forces. The varying symbols of Egyptian
had only the general outlines of a story, from which
fragments describing particular incidents were drawn. [24] mythology express ideas too complex to be seen through
a single lens.[28]
Moreover, the gods are not well-dened characters, and
the motivations for their sometimes inconsistent actions
are rarely given.[31] Egyptian myths are not, therefore,
fully developed tales. Their importance lay in their under- 1.18.4 Sources
lying meaning, not their characteristics as stories. Instead
of coalescing into lengthy, xed narratives, they remained The sources that are available range from solemn hymns
highly exible and non-dogmatic.[28] to entertaining stories. Without a single, canonical
version of any myth, the Egyptians adapted the broad
So exible were Egyptian myths that they could seem- traditions of myth to t the varied purposes of their
ingly conict with each other. Many descriptions of the writings.[42] Most Egyptians were illiterate and may
creation of the world and the movements of the sun occur therefore have had an elaborate oral tradition that trans-
in Egyptian texts, some very dierent from each other.[32] mitted myths through spoken storytelling. Susanne
The relationships between gods were uid, so that, for in- Bickel suggests that the existence of this tradition helps
stance, the goddess Hathor could be called the mother, explain why many texts related to myth give little de-
wife, or daughter of the sun god Ra.[33] Separate deities tail: the myths were already known to every Egyptian.[43]
could even be syncretized, or linked, as a single being. Very little evidence of this oral tradition has survived,
Thus the creator god Atum was combined with Ra to form and modern knowledge of Egyptian myths is drawn from
Ra-Atum.[34] written and pictorial sources. Only a small proportion of
One commonly suggested reason for inconsistencies in these sources has survived to the present, so much of the
myth is that religious ideas diered over time and in dif- mythological information that was once written down has
ferent regions.[35] The local cults of various deities de- been lost.[25] This information is not equally abundant in
veloped theologies centered on their own patron gods.[36] all periods, so the beliefs that Egyptians held in some eras
As the inuence of dierent cults shifted, some mytho- of their history are more poorly understood than the be-
logical systems attained national dominance. In the Old liefs in better documented times.[44]
Kingdom (c. 26862181 BC) the most important of
these systems was the cults of Ra and Atum, centered at
Heliopolis. They formed a mythical family, the Ennead, Religious sources
that was said to have created the world. It included the
most important deities of the time but gave primacy to Many gods appear in artwork from the Early Dynastic
Atum and Ra.[37] The Egyptians also overlaid old reli- Period of Egypts history (c. 31002686 BC), but little
gious ideas with new ones. For instance, the god Ptah, about the gods actions can be gleaned from these sources
whose cult was centered at Memphis, was also said to because they include minimal writing. The Egyptians
be the creator of the world. Ptahs creation myth in- began using writing more extensively in the Old King-
corporates older myths by saying that it is the Ennead dom, in which appeared the rst major source of Egyp-
who carry out Ptahs creative commands.[38] Thus, the tian mythology: the Pyramid Texts. These texts are a col-
myth makes Ptah older and greater than the Ennead. lection of several hundred incantations inscribed in the
Many scholars have seen this myth as a political attempt interiors of pyramids beginning in the 24th century BC.
to assert the superiority of Memphis god over those of They were the rst Egyptian funerary texts, intended to
Heliopolis.[39] By combining concepts in this way, the ensure that the kings buried in the pyramid would pass
Egyptians produced an immensely complicated set of safely through the afterlife. Many of the incantations al-
deities and myths.[40] lude to myths related to the afterlife, including creation
myths and the myth of Osiris. Many of the texts are likely
Egyptologists in the early twentieth century thought that
much older than their rst known written copies, and they
politically motivated changes like these were the prin-
therefore provide clues about the early stages of Egyptian
cipal reason for the contradictory imagery in Egyptian
religious belief.[45]
myth. However, in the 1940s, Henri Frankfort, realizing
the symbolic nature of Egyptian mythology, argued that During the First Intermediate Period (c. 21812055 BC),
apparently contradictory ideas are part of the multiplic- the Pyramid Texts developed into the Con Texts, which
contain similar material and were available to non-royals.

Succeeding funerary texts, like the Book of the Dead in Other sources
the New Kingdom and the Books of Breathing from the
Late Period (664323 BC) and after, developed out of References to myth also appear in non-religious Egyptian
these earlier collections. The New Kingdom also saw the literature, beginning in the Middle Kingdom. Many of
development of another type of funerary text, containing these references are mere allusions to mythic motifs, but
detailed and cohesive descriptions of the nocturnal jour- several stories are based entirely on mythic narratives.
ney of the sun god. Texts of this type include the Amduat, These more direct renderings of myth are particularly
the Book of Gates, and the Book of Caverns.[42] common in the Late and Greco-Roman periods when,
according to scholars such as Heike Sternberg, Egyptian
myths reached their most fully developed state.[50]
The attitudes toward myth in nonreligious Egyptian texts
vary greatly. Some stories resemble the narratives from
magical texts, while others are more clearly meant as en-
tertainment and even contain humorous episodes.[50]
A nal source of Egyptian myth is the writings of Greek
and Roman writers like Herodotus and Diodorus Sicu-
lus, who described Egyptian religion in the last cen-
turies of its existence. Prominent among these writers is
Plutarch, whose work De Iside et Osiride contains, among
other things, the longest ancient account of the myth of
Osiris.[51] These authors knowledge of Egyptian religion
Temple decoration at Dendera, depicting the goddesses Isis and was limited because they were excluded from many reli-
Nephthys watching over the corpse of their brother Osiris gious practices, and their statements about Egyptian be-
liefs are aected by their biases about Egypts culture.[25]

Temples, whose surviving remains date mostly from the

New Kingdom and later, are another important source of 1.18.5 Cosmology
myth. Many temples had a per-ankh, or temple library,
storing papyri for rituals and other uses. Some of these Maat
papyri contain hymns, which, in praising a god for its ac-
tions, often refer to the myths that dene those actions. Main article: Maat
Other temple papyri describe rituals, many of which are
based partly on myth.[46] Scattered remnants of these pa-
The Egyptian word maat refers to the fundamental or-
pyrus collections have survived to the present. It is possi-
der of the universe in Egyptian belief. Established at the
ble that the collections included more systematic records
creation of the world, maat distinguishes the world from
of myths, but no evidence of such texts has survived.[25]
the chaos that preceded and surrounds it. Maat encom-
Mythological texts and illustrations, similar to those on
passes both the proper behavior of humans and the nor-
temple papyri, also appear in the decoration of the temple
mal functioning of the forces of nature, both of which
buildings. The elaborately decorated and well-preserved
make life and happiness possible. Because the actions of
temples of the Ptolemaic and Roman periods (305 BC
the gods govern natural forces and myths express those
AD 380) are an especially rich source of myth.[47]
actions, Egyptian mythology represents the proper func-
The Egyptians also performed rituals for personal goals tioning of the world and the sustenance of life itself.[52]
such as protection from or healing of illness. These rituals
To the Egyptians, the most important human maintainer
are often called magical rather than religious, but they
of maat is the pharaoh. In myth the pharaoh is the son of
were believed to work on the same principles as temple
a variety of deities. As such, he is their designated rep-
ceremonies, evoking mythical events as the basis for the
resentative, obligated to maintain order in human society
just as they do in nature, and to continue the rituals that
Information from religious sources is limited by a system sustain them and their activities.[53]
of traditional restrictions on what they could describe and
depict. The murder of the god Osiris, for instance, is
never explicitly described in Egyptian writings.[25] The Shape of the world
Egyptians believed that words and images could aect
reality, so they avoided the risk of making such nega- In Egyptian belief, the disorder that predates the ordered
tive events real.[49] The conventions of Egyptian art were world exists beyond the world as an innite expanse of
also poorly suited for portraying whole narratives, so formless water, personied by the god Nun. The earth,
most myth-related artwork consists of sparse individual personied by the god Geb, is a at piece of land over
scenes.[25] which arches the sky, usually represented by the goddess

mythology rarely take place in foreign lands. While some

stories pertain to the sky or the Duat, Egypt itself is usu-
ally the scene for the actions of the gods. Often, even
the myths set in Egypt seem to take place on a plane of
existence separate from that inhabited by living humans,
although in other stories, humans and gods interact. In ei-
ther case, the Egyptian gods are deeply tied to their home


The Egyptians vision of time was inuenced by their en-

The air god Shu, assisted by other gods, holds up Nut, the sky, as vironment. Each day the sun rose and set, bringing light
Geb, the earth, lies beneath. to the land and regulating human activity; each year the
Nile ooded, renewing the fertility of the soil and allow-
Nut. The two are separated by the personication of air, ing the highly productive agriculture that sustained Egyp-
Shu. The sun god Ra is said to travel through the sky, tian civilization. These periodic events inspired the Egyp-
across the body of Nut, enlivening the world with his tians to see all of time as a series of recurring patterns
light. At night Ra passes beyond the western horizon into regulated by maat, renewing the gods and the universe.[2]
the Duat, a mysterious region that borders the formless- Although the Egyptians recognized that dierent histor-
ness of Nun. At dawn he emerges from the Duat in the ical eras dier in their particulars, mythic patterns dom-
eastern horizon.[54] inate the Egyptian perception of history.[61]

The nature of the sky and the location of the Duat are un- Many Egyptian stories about the gods are characterized
certain. Egyptian texts variously describe the nighttime as having taken place in a primeval time when the gods
sun as traveling beneath the earth and within the body of were manifest on the earth and ruled over it. After this
Nut. The Egyptologist James P. Allen believes that these time, the Egyptians believed, authority on earth passed to
explanations of the suns movements are dissimilar but human pharaohs.[62] This primeval era seems to predate
coexisting ideas. In Allens view, Nut represents the vis- the start of the suns journey and the recurring patterns of
ible surface of the waters of Nun, with the stars oating the present world. At the other end of time is the end of
on this surface. The sun, therefore, sails across the wa- the cycles and the dissolution of the world. Because these
ter in a circle, each night passing beyond the horizon to distant periods lend themselves to linear narrative better
reach the skies that arch beneath the inverted land of the than the cycles of the present, John Baines sees them as
Duat.[55] Leonard H. Lesko, however, believes that the the only periods in which true myths take place.[63] Yet,
Egyptians saw the sky as a solid canopy and described the to some extent, the cyclical aspect of time was present
sun as traveling through the Duat above the surface of the in the mythic past as well. Egyptians saw even stories
sky, from west to east, during the night.[56] Joanne Con- that were set in that time as being perpetually true. The
man, modifying Leskos model, argues that this solid sky myths were made real every time the events to which they
is a moving, concave dome overarching a deeply convex were related occurred. These events were celebrated with
earth. The sun and the stars move along with this dome, rituals, which often evoked myths.[64] Ritual allowed time
and their passage below the horizon is simply their move- to periodically return to the mythic past and renew life in
ment over areas of the earth that the Egyptians could not the universe.[65]
see. These regions would then be the Duat.[57]
The fertile lands of the Nile Valley (Upper Egypt) and 1.18.6 Major myths
Delta (Lower Egypt) lie at the center of the world in
Egyptian cosmology. Outside them are the infertile
Some of the most important categories of myths are
deserts, which are associated with the chaos that lies be-
described below. Because of the fragmentary nature
yond the world.[58] Somewhere beyond them is the hori-
of Egyptian myths, there is little indication in Egyp-
zon, the akhet. There, two mountains, in the east and the
tian sources of a chronological sequence of mythical
west, mark the places where the sun enters and exits the
events.[66] Nevertheless, the categories are arranged in a
very loose chronological order.
Foreign nations are associated with the hostile deserts
in Egyptian ideology. Foreign people, likewise, are
generally lumped in with the "nine bows", people who Creation
threaten pharaonic rule and the stability of maat, although
peoples allied with or subject to Egypt may be viewed Main article: Ancient Egyptian creation myths
more positively.[60] For these reasons, events in Egyptian

Among the most important myths were those describ- n Texts, they described the formation of the world as the
ing the creation of the world. The Egyptian developed realization of a concept rst developed within the mind
many accounts of the creation, which dier greatly in of the creator god. The force of heka, or magic, which
the events they describe. In particular, the deities cred- links things in the divine realm and things in the phys-
ited with creating the world vary in each account. This ical world, is the power that links the creators original
dierence partly reects the desire of Egypts cities and concept with its physical realization. Heka itself can be
priesthoods to exalt their own patron gods by attributing personied as a god, but this intellectual process of cre-
creation to them. Yet the diering accounts were not re- ation is not associated with that god alone. An inscription
garded as contradictory; instead, the Egyptians saw the from the Third Intermediate Period (c. 1070664 BC),
creation process as having many aspects and involving whose text may be much older, describes the process in
many divine forces.[67] detail and attributes it to the god Ptah, whose close asso-
ciation with craftsmen makes him a suitable deity to give
a physical form to the original creative vision. Hymns
from the New Kingdom describe the god Amun, a mys-
terious power that lies behind even the other gods, as the
ultimate source of this creative vision.[71]
The origin of humans is not a major feature of Egyp-
tian creation stories. In some texts the rst humans spring
from tears that Ra-Atum or his feminine aspect, the Eye
of Ra, sheds in a moment of weakness and distress, fore-
shadowing humans awed nature and sorrowful lives.
Others say humans are molded from clay by the god
Khnum. But overall, the focus of the creation myths is
the establishment of cosmic order rather than the special
The sun rises over the circular mound of creation as goddesses place of humans within it.[72]
pour out the primeval waters around it

One common feature of the myths is the emergence of The reign of the sun god
the world from the waters of chaos that surround it. This
event represents the establishment of maat and the origin In the period of the mythic past after the creation, Ra
of life. One fragmentary tradition centers on the eight dwells on earth as king of the gods and of humans. This
gods of the Ogdoad, who represent the characteristics of period is the closest thing to a golden age in Egyptian
the primeval water itself. Their actions give rise to the tradition, the period of stability that the Egyptians con-
sun (represented in creation myths by various gods, es- stantly sought to evoke and imitate. Yet the stories about
pecially Ra), whose birth forms a space of light and dry- Ras reign focus on conicts between him and forces that
ness within the dark water.[68] The sun rises from the rst disrupt his rule, reecting the kings role in Egyptian ide-
mound of dry land, another common motif in the creation ology as enforcer of maat.[73]
myths, which was likely inspired by the sight of mounds In an episode known in dierent versions from temple
of earth emerging as the Nile ood receded. With the
texts, some of the gods defy Ras authority, and he de-
emergence of the sun god, the establisher of maat, the stroys them with the help and advice of other gods like
world has its rst ruler.[69] Accounts from the rst mil-
Thoth and Horus the Elder.[74][Note 2] At one point he
lennium BC focus on the actions of the creator god in faces dissent even from an extension of himself, the Eye
subduing the forces of chaos that threaten the newly or-
of Ra, which can act independently of him in the form
dered world.[14] of a goddess. The Eye goddess becomes angry with Ra
Atum, a god closely connected with the sun and the and runs away from him, wandering wild and dangerous
primeval mound, is the focus of a creation myth dating in the lands outside Egypt. Weakened by her absence,
back at least to the Old Kingdom. Atum, who incorpo- Ra sends one of the other godsShu, Thoth, or Anhur,
rates all the elements of the world, exists within the waters in dierent accountsto retrieve her, by force or per-
as a potential being. At the time of creation he emerges suasion. Because the Eye of Ra is associated with the
to produce other gods, resulting in a set of nine deities, star Sothis, whose heliacal rising signaled the start of the
the Ennead, which includes Geb, Nut, and other key ele- Nile ood, the return of the Eye goddess to Egypt coin-
ments of the world. The Ennead can by extension stand cides with the life-giving inundation. Upon her return,
for all the gods, so its creation represents the dierentia- the goddess becomes the consort of Ra or of the god who
tion of Atums unied potential being into the multiplicity has retrieved her. Her pacication restores order and re-
of elements present within the world.[70] news life.[76]
Over time, the Egyptians developed more abstract per- As Ra grows older and weaker, humanity, too, turns
spectives on the creation process. By the time of the Cof- against him. In an episode often called The Destruction

of Mankind, related in The Book of the Heavenly Cow,

Ra discovers that humanity is plotting rebellion against
him and sends his Eye to punish them. She slays many
people, but Ra apparently decides that he does not want
her to destroy all of humanity. He has beer dyed red to
resemble blood and spreads it over the eld. The Eye
goddess drinks the beer, becomes drunk, and ceases her
rampage. Ra then withdraws into the sky, weary of ruling
on earth, and begins his daily journey through the heavens
and the Duat. The surviving humans are dismayed, and
they attack the people among them who plotted against
Ra. This event is the origin of warfare, death, and hu-
mans constant struggle to protect maat from the destruc-
tive actions of other people.[77]
In The Book of the Heavenly Cow, the results of the de-
struction of mankind seem to mark the end of the direct
reign of the gods and of the linear time of myth. The
beginning of Ras journey is the beginning of the cycli-
cal time of the present.[63] Yet in other sources, mythic
time continues after this change. Egyptian accounts give
sequences of divine rulers who take the place of the sun
god as king on earth, each reigning for many thousands
of years.[78] Although accounts dier as to which gods
Statues of Osiris and of Isis nursing the infant Horus
reigned and in what order, the succession from Ra-Atum
to his descendants Shu and Gebin which the kingship
passes to the male in each generation of the Enneadis
common. Both of them face revolts that parallel those in tioner of healing magic.[83]
the reign of the sun god, but the revolt that receives the In the third phase of the story, Horus competes with
most attention in Egyptian sources is the one in the reign Set for the kingship. Their struggle encompasses a great
of Gebs heir Osiris.[79] number of separate episodes and ranges in character from
violent conict to a legal judgment by the assembled
gods.[84] In one important episode, Set tears out one or
Osiris myth both of Horus eyes, which are later restored by the heal-
ing eorts of Thoth or Hathor. For this reason, the Eye
Main article: Osiris myth of Horus is a prominent symbol of life and well-being in
Egyptian iconography. Because Horus is a sky god, with
one eye equated with the sun and the other with the moon,
The collection of episodes surrounding Osiris' death and
succession is the most elaborate of all Egyptian myths, the destruction and restoration of the single eye explains
why the moon is less bright than the sun.[85]
and it had the most widespread inuence in Egyptian
culture.[80] In the rst portion of the myth, Osiris, who Texts present two dierent resolutions for the divine con-
is associated with both fertility and kingship, is killed test: one in which Egypt is divided between the two
and his position usurped by his brother Set. In some ver- claimants, and another in which Horus becomes sole
sions of the myth, Osiris is actually dismembered and the ruler. In the latter version, the ascension of Horus, Osiris
pieces of his corpse scattered across Egypt. Osiris sister rightful heir, symbolizes the reestablishment of maat af-
and wife, Isis, nds her husbands body and restores it to ter the unrighteous rule of Set. With order restored, Ho-
wholeness.[81] She is assisted by funerary deities such as rus can perform the funerary rites for his father that are
Nephthys and Anubis, and the process of Osiris restora- his duty as son and heir. Through this service Osiris is
tion reects Egyptian traditions of embalming and burial. given new life in the Duat, whose ruler he becomes. The
Isis then briey revives Osiris to conceive an heir with relationship between Osiris as king of the dead and Horus
him: the god Horus.[82] as king of the living stands for the relationship between
The next portion of the myth concerns Horus birth and every king and his deceased predecessors. Osiris, mean-
childhood. Isis gives birth to and raises her son in se- while, represents the regeneration of life. On earth he is
cluded places, hidden from the menace of Set. The credited with the annual growth of crops, and in the Duat
episodes in this phase of the myth concern Isis eorts he is involved[86]in the rebirth of the sun and of deceased
to protect her son from Set or other hostile beings, or to human souls.
heal him from sickness or injury. In these episodes Isis is Although Horus to some extent represents any living
the epitome of maternal devotion and a powerful practi- pharaoh, he is not the end of the lineage of ruling gods.

He is succeeded rst by gods and then by spirits that rep- At sunset Ra passes through the akhet, the horizon, in the
resent dim memories of Egypts Predynastic rulers, the west. At times the horizon is described as a gate or door
souls of Nekhen and Pe. They link the entirely mythi- that leads to the Duat. At others, the sky goddess Nut is
cal rulers to the nal part of the sequence, the lineage of said to swallow the sun god, so that his journey through
Egypts historical kings.[62] the Duat is likened to a journey through her body.[92] In
funerary texts, the Duat and the deities in it are portrayed
in elaborate, detailed, and widely varying imagery. These
Birth of the royal child images are symbolic of the awesome and enigmatic na-
ture of the Duat, where both the gods and the dead are
Several disparate Egyptian texts address a similar theme: renewed by contact with the original powers of creation.
the birth of a divinely fathered child who is heir to the Indeed, although Egyptian texts avoid saying it explicitly,
kingship. The earliest known appearance of such a story Ras entry into the Duat is seen as his death.[93]
does not appear to be a myth but an entertaining folktale,
found in the Middle Kingdom Westcar Papyrus, about
the birth of the rst three kings of Egypts Fifth Dynasty.
In that story, the three kings are the ospring of Ra and
a human woman. The same theme appears in a rmly
religious context in the New Kingdom, when the rulers
Hatshepsut, Amenhotep III, and Ramesses II depicted in
temple reliefs their own conception and birth, in which
the god Amun is the father and the historical queen the
mother. By stating that the king originated among the
gods and was deliberately created by the most impor-
tant god of the period, the story gives a mythical back-
ground to the kings coronation, which appears alongside
Ra (at center) travels through the underworld in his barque, ac-
the birth story. The divine connection legitimizes the
companied by other gods[94]
kings rule and provides a rationale for his role as inter-
cessor between gods and humans.[87] Certain themes appear repeatedly in depictions of the
Similar scenes appear in many post-New Kingdom tem- journey. Ra overcomes numerous obstacles in his course,
ples, but this time the events they depict involve the gods representative of the eort necessary to maintain maat.
alone. In this period, most temples were dedicated to a The greatest challenge is the opposition of Apep, a ser-
mythical family of deities, usually a father, mother, and pent god who represents the destructive aspect of disor-
son. In these versions of the story, the birth is that of the der, and who threatens to destroy the sun god and plunge
son in each triad.[88] Each of these child gods is the heir to creation into chaos.[95] In many of the texts, Ra over-
the throne, who will restore stability to the country. This comes these obstacles with the assistance of other deities
shift in focus from the human king to the gods who are who travel with him; they stand for various powers that
associated with him reects a decline in the status of the are necessary to uphold Ras authority.[96] In his passage
pharaoh in the late stages of Egyptian history.[87] Ra also brings light to the Duat, enlivening the blessed
dead who dwell there. In contrast, his enemiespeople
who have undermined maatare tormented and thrown
The journey of the sun into dark pits or lakes of re.[97]
The key event in the journey is the meeting of Ra and
Ras movements through the sky and the Duat are not Osiris. In the New Kingdom, this event developed into
fully narrated in Egyptian sources,[89] although funerary a complex symbol of the Egyptian conception of life and
texts like the Amduat, Book of Gates, and Book of Cav- time. Osiris, relegated to the Duat, is like a mummied
erns relate the nighttime half of the journey in sequences body within its tomb. Ra, endlessly moving, is like the ba,
of vignettes.[90] This journey is key to Ras nature and to or soul, of a deceased human, which may travel during the
the sustenance of all life.[30] day but must return to its body each night. When Ra and
In traveling across the sky, Ra brings light to the earth, Osiris meet, they merge into a single being. Their pairing
sustaining all things that live there. He reaches the peak reects the Egyptian vision of time as a continuous re-
of his strength at noon and then ages and weakens as he peating pattern, with one member (Osiris) being always
moves toward sunset. In the evening, Ra takes the form static and the other (Ra) living in a constant cycle. Once
of Atum, the creator god, oldest of all things in the world. he has united with Osiris regenerative power, Ra contin-
According to early Egyptian texts, at the end of the day he ues on his journey with renewed vitality.[65] This renewal
spits out all the other deities, whom he devoured at sun- makes possible Ras emergence at dawn, which is seen as
rise. Here they represent the stars, and the story explains the rebirth of the sunexpressed by a metaphor in which
why the stars are visible at night and seemingly absent Nut gives birth to Ra after she has swallowed himand
during the day.[91] the repetition of the rst sunrise at the moment of cre-

ation. At this moment, the rising sun god swallows the to maat. The rituals of Egyptian religion were meant
stars once more, absorbing their power.[91] In this revital- to make the mythic events, and the concepts they rep-
ized state, Ra is depicted as a child or as the scarab beetle resented, real once more, thereby renewing maat.[64] The
god Khepri, both of which represent rebirth in Egyptian rituals were believed to achieve this eect through the
iconography.[98] force of heka, the same connection between the physical
and divine realms that enabled the original creation.[103]
End of the universe For this reason, Egyptian rituals often included actions
that symbolized mythical events.[64] Temple rites in-
Egyptian texts typically treat the dissolution of the world cluded the destruction of models representing malign
as a possibility to be avoided, and for that reason they do gods like Set or Apophis, private magical spells called
not often describe it in detail. However, many texts al- upon Isis to heal the sick as she did for Horus,[104]
lude to the idea that the world, after countless cycles of and funerary rites such as the Opening of the Mouth
renewal, is destined to end. This end is described in a ceremony[105] and ritual oerings to the dead evoked the
passage in the Con Texts and a more explicit one in the myth of Osiris resurrection.[106] Yet rituals rarely, if ever,
Book of the Dead, in which Atum says that he will one day involved dramatic reenactments of myths. There are bor-
dissolve the ordered world and return to his primeval, in- derline cases, like a ceremony alluding to the Osiris myth
ert state within the waters of chaos. All things other than in which two women took on the roles of Isis and Neph-
the creator will cease to exist, except Osiris, who will sur- thys, but scholars disagree about whether these perfor-
vive along with him.[99] Details about this eschatological mances formed sequences of events.[107] Much of Egyp-
prospect are left unclear, including the fate of the dead tian ritual was focused on more basic activities like giving
who are associated with Osiris.[100] Yet with the creator oerings to the gods, with mythic themes serving as ide-
god and the god of renewal together in the waters that ological background rather than as the focus of a rite.[108]
gave rise to the orderly world, there is the potential for a Nevertheless, myth and ritual strongly inuenced each
new creation to arise in the same manner as the old.[101] other. Myths could inspire rituals, like the ceremony with
Isis and Nephthys; and rituals that did not originally have
a mythic meaning could be reinterpreted as having one,
1.18.7 Inuence in Egyptian culture as in the case of oering ceremonies, in which food and
other items given to the gods or the dead were equated
In religion with the Eye of Horus.[109]
Kingship was a key element of Egyptian religion, through
the kings role as link between humanity and the gods.
Myths explain the background for this connection be-
tween royalty and divinity. The myths about the Ennead
establish the king as heir to the lineage of rulers reach-
ing back to the creator; the myth of divine birth states
that the king is the son and heir of a god; and the myths
about Osiris and Horus emphasize that rightful succes-
sion to the throne is essential to the maintenance of maat.
Thus, mythology provided the rationale for the very na-
ture of Egyptian government.[110]

In art

Further information: Art of ancient Egypt

Illustrations of gods and mythical events appear exten-
sively alongside religious writing in tombs, temples, and
funerary texts.[42] Mythological scenes in Egyptian art-
work are rarely placed in sequence as a narrative, but in-
dividual scenes, particularly depicting the resurrection of
Set and Horus support the pharaoh. The reconciled rival gods
Osiris, do sometimes appear in religious artwork.[111]
often stand for the unity of Egypt under the rule of its king.[102]
Allusions to myth were very widespread in Egyptian art
Because the Egyptians rarely described theological ideas and architecture. In temple design, the central path of
explicitly, the implicit ideas of mythology formed much the temple axis was likened to the sun gods path across
of the basis for Egyptian religion. The purpose of Egyp- the sky, and the sanctuary at the end of the path repre-
tian religion was the maintenance of maat, and the con- sented the place of creation from which he rose. Tem-
cepts that myths express were believed to be essential ple decoration was lled with solar emblems that under-

were written in the Late and Greco-Roman periods. Al-

though these texts are more clearly derived from myth
than those mentioned above, they still adapt the myths
for non-religious purposes. "The Contendings of Horus
and Seth", from the New Kingdom, tells the story of the
conict between the two gods, often with a humorous
and seemingly irreverent tone. The Roman-era Myth
of the Eye of the Sun incorporates fables into a fram-
ing story taken from myth. The goals of written ction
could also aect the narratives in magical texts, as with
the New Kingdom story "Isis, the Rich Womans Son,
and the Fishermans Wife", which conveys a moral mes-
sage unconnected to its magical purpose. The variety of
ways that these stories treat mythology demonstrates the
Funerary amulet in the shape of a scarab wide range of purposes that myth could serve in Egyptian

scored this relationship. Similarly, the corridors of tombs

were linked with the gods journey through the Duat, 1.18.8 See also
and the burial chamber with the tomb of Osiris.[112] The
pyramid, the best-known of all Egyptian architectural Index of Egyptian mythology articles
forms, may have been inspired by mythic symbolism, for
it represented the mound of creation and the original sun- Kemetism
rise, appropriate for a monument intended to assure the
owners rebirth after death.[113] Symbols in Egyptian tra-
dition were frequently reinterpreted, so that the meanings 1.18.9 Notes and citations
of mythical symbols could change and multiply over time
like the myths themselves.[114] Notes
More ordinary works of art were also designed to evoke [1] Horus and Set, portrayed together, often stand for the
mythic themes, like the amulets that Egyptians commonly pairing of Upper and Lower Egypt, although either god
wore to invoke divine powers. The Eye of Horus, for in- can stand for either region. Both of them were patrons of
stance, was a very common shape for protective amulets cities in both halves of the country. The conict between
because it represented Horus well-being after the restora- the two deities may allude to the presumed conict that
tion of his lost eye.[115] Scarab-shaped amulets symbol- preceded the unication of Upper and Lower Egypt at the
ized the regeneration of life, referring to the god Khepri, start of Egyptian history, or it may be tied to an apparent
the form that the sun god was said to take at dawn.[116] conict between worshippers of Horus and Set near the
end of the Second Dynasty.[13]

[2] Horus the Elder is often treated as a separate deity from

In literature Horus, the child born to Isis.[75]

Themes and motifs from mythology appear frequently in

Egyptian literature, even outside of religious writings. An Citations
early instruction text, the "Teaching for King Merykara"
from the Middle Kingdom, contains a brief reference to a [1] Anthes in Kramer 1961, pp. 2930
myth of some kind, possibly the Destruction of Mankind;
the earliest known Egyptian short story, "Tale of the [2] David 2002, pp. 12
Shipwrecked Sailor", incorporates ideas about the gods [3] O'Connor, David, Egypts View of 'Others", in Tait
and the eventual dissolution of the world into a story set 2003, pp. 155, 178179
in the past. Some later stories take much of their plot
from mythical events: "Tale of the Two Brothers" adapts [4] Tobin 1989, pp. 1011
parts of the Osiris myth into a fantastic story about ordi-
nary people, and "The Blinding of Truth by Falsehood" [5] Morenz 1973, pp. 8184
transforms the conict between Horus and Set into an [6] Baines 1991, p. 83
[7] Frankfurter in Meyer and Mirecki 2001, pp. 472474
A fragment of a text about the actions of Horus and
Set dates to the Middle Kingdom, suggesting that sto- [8] Pinch 2004, p. 17
ries about the gods arose in that era. Several texts of this
type are known from the New Kingdom, and many more [9] Assmann 2001, pp. 113, 115, 119122

[10] Griths, J. Gwyn, Isis, in Redford 2001, vol. II, pp. [45] Pinch 2004, pp. 611
[46] Morenz 1971, pp. 218219
[11] Anthes in Kramer 1961, pp. 3336
[47] Pinch 2004, pp. 3738
[12] Pinch 2004, pp. 67
[48] Ritner 1993, pp. 243249
[13] Meltzer, Edmund S., Horus, in Redford 2001, vol. II,
pp. 119122 [49] Pinch 2004, p. 6

[14] Bickel in Johnston 2003, p. 580 [50] Baines, in Loprieno 1996, pp. 365376

[15] Assmann 2001, p. 116 [51] Pinch 2004, pp. 35, 3942

[52] Tobin 1989, pp. 7982, 197199

[16] Meeks and Favard-Meeks 1996, pp. 4951
[53] Pinch 2004, p. 156
[17] Baines, in Loprieno 1996, p. 361
[54] Allen 1989, pp. 37
[18] Baines 1991, pp. 8185, 104
[55] Allen, James P., The Egyptian Concept of the World, in
[19] Tobin, Vincent Arieh, Myths: An Overview, in Redford
O'Connor and Quirke 2003, pp. 2529
2001, vol. II, pp. 464468
[56] Lesko, in Shafer 1991, pp. 117120
[20] Bickel in Johnston 2003, p. 578
[57] Conman 2003, pp. 3337
[21] Pinch 2004, pp. 12
[58] Meeks and Favard-Meeks 1994, pp. 8288, 91
[22] Assmann 2001, pp. 8081
[59] Lurker 1980, pp. 6465, 82
[23] Assmann 2001, pp. 107112
[60] O'Connor, David, Egypts View of 'Others", in Tait
[24] Tobin 1989, pp. 3839
2003, pp. 155156, 169171
[25] Baines 1991, pp. 100104 [61] Hornung 1992, pp. 151154
[26] Baines 1991, pp. 104105 [62] Pinch 2004, p. 85
[27] Anthes in Kramer 1961, pp. 1820 [63] Baines, in Loprieno 1996, pp. 364365
[28] Tobin 1989, pp. 18, 2326 [64] Tobin 1989, pp. 2731
[29] Assmann 2001, p. 117 [65] Assmann 2001, pp. 7780
[30] Tobin 1989, pp. 4849 [66] Pinch 2004, p. 57
[31] Assmann 2001, p. 112 [67] David 2002, pp. 81, 89
[32] Hornung 1992, pp. 4145, 96 [68] Dunand and Zivie-Coche 2005, pp. 4550
[33] Vischak, Deborah, Hathor, in Redford 2001, vol. II, [69] Meeks and Favard-Meeks, pp. 1921
[70] Allen 1989, pp. 811
[34] Anthes in Kramer 1961, pp. 2425
[71] Allen 1989, pp. 3642, 60
[35] Allen 1989, pp. 6263
[72] Pinch 2004, pp. 6668
[36] Traunecker 2001, pp. 101103
[73] Pinch 2004, p. 69
[37] David 2002, pp. 28, 8485
[74] Meeks and Favard-Meeks 1994, pp. 2225
[38] Anthes in Kramer 1960, pp. 6263
[75] Pinch 2004, p. 143
[39] Allen 1989, pp. 4546
[76] Pinch 2004, pp. 7174
[40] Tobin 1989, pp. 1617
[77] Assmann 2001, pp. 113116
[41] Traunecker 2001, pp. 1011
[78] Uphill, E. P., The Ancient Egyptian View of World His-
[42] Traunecker 2001, pp. 15 tory, in Tait 2003, pp. 1726

[43] Bickel in Johnston 2003, p. 379 [79] Pinch 2004, pp. 7678

[44] Baines 1991, pp. 84, 90 [80] Assmann 2001, p. 124


[81] Hart 1990, pp. 3033 1.18.10 Works cited

[82] Pinch 2004, pp. 7980
Allen, James P. (1988). Genesis in Egypt: The Phi-
[83] Assmann 2001, pp. 131134 losophy of Ancient Egyptian Creation Accounts. Yale
Egyptological Seminar. ISBN 0-912532-14-9.
[84] Hart 1990, pp. 3638
[85] Kaper, Olaf E., Myths: Lunar Cycle, in Redford 2001, Anthes, Rudolf (1961). Mythology in Ancient
vol. II, pp. 480482 Egypt. In Kramer, Samuel Noah. Mythologies of
the Ancient World. Anchor Books.
[86] Assmann 2001, pp. 129, 141145
Assmann, Jan (2001) [1984]. The Search for God in
[87] Assmann 2001, pp. 116119
Ancient Egypt. Translated by David Lorton. Cornell
[88] Feucht, Erika, Birth, in Redford 2001, p. 193 University Press. ISBN 0-8014-3786-5.
[89] Baines in Loprieno 1996, p. 364 Baines, John (April 1991). Egyptian Myth and
[90] Hornung 1992, p. 96 Discourse: Myth, Gods, and the Early Written and
Iconographic Record. Journal Near Eastern Stud-
[91] Pinch 2004, pp. 9192
ies. 50 (2). JSTOR 545669.
[92] Hornung 1992, pp. 9697, 113
Baines, John (1996). Myth and Literature. In Lo-
[93] Tobin 1989, pp. 49, 136138 prieno, Antonio. Ancient Egyptian Literature: His-
[94] Pinch 2004, pp. 183184 tory and Forms. Cornell University Press. ISBN
[95] Hart 1990, pp. 5254
Bickel, Susanne (2004). Myth and Sacred Narra-
[96] Quirke 2001, pp. 4546
tives: Egypt. In Johnston, Sarah Iles. Religions of
[97] Hornung 1992, pp. 95, 99101 the Ancient World: A Guide. The Belknap Press of
Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-01517-7.
[98] Hart 1990, pp. 57, 61
[99] Hornung 1982, pp. 162165 Conman, Joanne (2003). Its About Time: Ancient
Egyptian Cosmology. Studien zur Altagyptischen
[100] Dunand and Zivie-Coche 2005, pp. 6768 Kultur. 31.
[101] Meeks and Favard-Meeks 1996, pp. 1819
David, Rosalie (2002). Religion and Magic in An-
[102] te Velde, Herman, Seth, in Redford 2001, vol. III, pp. cient Egypt. Penguin. ISBN 0-14-026252-0.
Dunand, Franoise; Christiane Zivie-Coche (2005)
[103] Ritner 1993, pp. 246249 [2002]. Gods and Men in Egypt: 3000 BCE to 395
[104] Ritner 1993, p. 150 CE. Translated by David Lorton. Cornell University
Press. ISBN 0-8014-8853-2.
[105] Roth, Ann Macy, Opening of the Mouth in Redford
2001, vol. II, pp. 605608 Frankfurter, David (1995). Narrating Power: The
[106] Assmann 2001, pp. 4951 Theory and Practice of the Magical Historiola in
Ritual Spells. In Meyer, Marvin; Mirecki, Paul.
[107] O'Rourke, Paul F., Drama, in Redford 2001, vol. I, pp. Ancient Magic and Ritual Power. E. J. Brill. ISBN
407409 0-8014-2550-6.
[108] Baines 1991, p. 101
Hart, George (1990). Egyptian Myths. University of
[109] Morenz 1973, p. 84 Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-72076-9.
[110] Tobin 1989, pp. 9095 Hornung, Erik (1982) [1971]. Conceptions of God
[111] Baines 1991, p. 103 in Egypt: The One and the Many. Translated by John
Baines. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-
[112] Wilkinson 1992, pp. 2729, 6970 1223-4.
[113] Quirke 2001, p. 115
Hornung, Erik (1992). Idea into Image: Essays on
[114] Wilkinson 1992, pp. 1112 Ancient Egyptian Thought. Translated by Elizabeth
[115] Andrews, Carol A. R., Amulets, in Redford 2001, vol.
Bredeck. Timken. ISBN 0-943221-11-0.
I, pp. 7582 Lesko, Leonard H. (1991). Ancient Egyptian Cos-
[116] Lurker 1980, pp. 74, 104105 mogonies and Cosmology. In Shafer, Byron E. Re-
ligion in Ancient Egypt: Gods, Myths, and Personal
[117] Baines in Loprieno 1996, pp. 367369, 373374
Practice. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-
[118] Baines in Loprieno 1996, pp. 366, 371373, 377 2550-6.

Lurker, Manfred (1980) [1972]. An Illustrated Dic- James, T. G. H (1971). Myths and Legends of An-
tionary of the Gods and Symbols of Ancient Egypt. cient Egypt. Grosset & Dunlap. ISBN 0-448-00866-
Translated by Barbara Cummings. Thames & Hud- 1.
son. ISBN 0-500-27253-0.

Meeks, Dimitri; Christine Favard-Meeks (1996)

[1993]. Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods. Translated
by G. M. Goshgarian. Cornell University Press.
ISBN 0-8014-8248-8.

Morenz, Siegfried (1973) [1960]. Egyptian Reli-

gion. Translated by Ann E. Keep. Methuen. ISBN
0801480299. Sternberg, Heike (1985). Mythische Motive and
Mythenbildung in den agyptischen Tempein und Pa-
O'Connor, David; Quirke, Stephen, eds. (2003). pyri der Griechisch-Romischen Zeit (in German).
Mysterious Lands. UCL Press. ISBN 1-84472-004- Harrassowitz. ISBN 3-447-02497-6.

Pinch, Geraldine (2004). Egyptian Mythology: A

Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of An-
cient Egypt. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-

Quirke, Stephen (2001). The Cult of Ra: Sun Wor-

ship in Ancient Egypt. Thames and Hudson. ISBN
0-500-05107-0. Tyldesley, Joyce (2010). Myths and Legends of An-
cient Egypt. Allen Lanes. ISBN 1-84614-369-1.
Redford, Donald B., ed. (2001). The Oxford Ency-
clopedia of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press.
ISBN 0-19-510234-7.

Ritner, Robert Kriech (1993). The Mechanics of

Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice. The Oriental
Institute of the University of Chicago. ISBN 0-

Tait, John, ed. (2003). 'Never Had the Like Oc-

curred': Egypts View of Its Past. UCL Press. ISBN
1.19 List of ancient Egyptians
Tobin, Vincent Arieh (1989). Theological Principles
of Egyptian Religion. P. Lang. ISBN 0-8204-1082-
Ancient Egyptians redirects here. For the television
Traunecker, Claude (2001) [1992]. The Gods of series, see Ancient Egyptians (TV series).
Egypt. Translated by David Lorton. Cornell Uni- This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
versity Press. ISBN 0-8014-3834-9.

Wilkinson, Richard H. (1993). Symbol and Magic This is a list of ancient Egyptian people who have articles
in Egyptian Art. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500- on Wikipedia. The list covers key ancient Egyptian indi-
23663-1. viduals from the start of the rst dynasty until the end of
the ancient Egyptian nation when the Ptolemaic Dynasty
ended and Egypt became a province of Rome in 30 BC.
1.18.11 Further reading Note that the dates given are approximate. The list pre-
sented below is based on the conventional chronology of
Armour, Robert A (2001) [1986]. Gods and Myths Ancient Egypt, mostly based on the Digital Egypt for
of Ancient Egypt. The American University in Cairo Universities database developed by the Petrie Museum
Press. ISBN 977-424-669-1. of Egyptian Archaeology.
Ions, Veronica (1982) [1968]. Egyptian Mythology. A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O -
Peter Bedrick Books. ISBN 0-911745-07-6. P-Q-R-S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z

1.19.1 A 1.19.24 Notes and references

1.19.2 B 1.20 Pharaoh

1.19.3 C For other uses, see Pharaoh (disambiguation).
Pharaoh (/, /fr.o/[1][2] or /fr.o/[2] ) is the
1.19.4 D

1.19.5 E

1.19.6 G

1.19.7 H

1.19.8 I

1.19.9 K

1.19.10 L

1.19.11 M

1.19.12 N

1.19.13 O

1.19.14 P

1.19.15 Q

1.19.16 R

1.19.17 S

1.19.18 T

1.19.19 U

1.19.20 W
After Djoser of the third dynasty, pharaohs were usually depicted
1.19.21 Y wearing the nemes headdress, a false beard, and an ornate kilt.

1.19.22 Z common title of the monarchs of ancient Egypt from the

First Dynasty (c. 3150 BCE) until the Macedonian con-
1.19.23 See also quest in 305 BCE,[3] although the actual term Pharaoh
was not used contemporaneously for a ruler until circa
Other articles including lists of ancient Egyptians: 1200 BCE.

List of pharaohs 1.20.1 Etymology

List of children of Ramesses II
The word pharaoh ultimately derive from the Egyp-
Great Royal Wife (including list of title holders) tian compound pr-3 great house, written with the two
biliteral hieroglyphs pr house and 3 column, here
Gods Wife of Amun (including list of title holders) meaning great or high. It was used only in larger
1.20. PHARAOH 113

phrases such as smr pr-3 'Courtier of the High House', English at rst spelt it Pharao, but the King James Bible
with specic reference to the buildings of the court or revived Pharaoh with h from the Hebrew. Meanwhile
palace.[4] From the twelfth dynasty onward, the word ap- in Egypt itself, *[par-o] evolved into Sahidic Coptic
pears in a wish formula Great House, may it live, pros- prro and then rro (by mistaking p- as the denite
per, and be in health", but again only with reference to article prex the from ancient Egyptian p3).[12]
the royal palace and not the person.
During the reign of Thutmose III (circa 14791425 BCE)
in the New Kingdom, after the foreign rule of the Hyksos
1.20.2 Regalia
during the Second Intermediate Period, pharaoh became
the form of address for a person who was king.[5] Scepters and staves

The earliest instance where pr-3 is used specically to Scepters and staves were a general sign of authority in
address the ruler is in a letter to Amenhotep IV (Akhen- ancient Egypt. One of the earliest royal scepters was dis-
aten), who reigned circa 13531336 BCE, which is ad- covered in the tomb of Khasekhemwy in Abydos. Kings
dressed to Pharaoh, all life, prosperity, and health".[6] were also known to carry a sta, and Pharaoh Anedjib
During the eighteenth dynasty (16th to 14th centuries is shown on stone vessels carrying a so-called mks-sta.
BCE) the title pharaoh was employed as a reverential The scepter with the longest history seems to be the heqa-
designation of the ruler. About the late twenty-rst dy- scepter, sometimes described as the shepherds crook.
nasty (10th century BCE), however, instead of being used The earliest examples of this piece of regalia dates to pre-
alone as before, it began to be added to the other titles dynastic times. A scepter was found in a tomb at Abydos
before the rulers name, and from the twenty-fth dy- that dates to the late Naqada period.
nasty (eighth to seventh centuries BCE) it was, at least
in ordinary usage, the only epithet prexed to the royal Another scepter associated with the king is the was-
appellative.[7] scepter. This is a long sta mounted with an animal head.
The earliest known depictions of the was-scepter date to
From the nineteenth dynasty onward pr-3 on its own was the rst dynasty. The was-scepter is shown in the hands
used as regularly as hm.f, 'Majesty'. The term, therefore, of both kings and deities.
evolved from a word specically referring to a building to
a respectful designation for the ruler, particularly by the The ail later was closely related to the heqa-scepter (the
twenty-second dynasty and twenty-third dynasty. crook and ail), but in early representations the king was
also depicted solely with the ail, as shown in a late pre-
For instance, the rst dated appearance of the title dynastic knife handle which is now in the Metropolitan
pharaoh being attached to a rulers name occurs in Year museum, and on the Narmer Macehead.[13]
17 of Siamun on a fragment from the Karnak Priestly An-
nals. Here, an induction of an individual to the Amun
priesthood is dated specically to the reign of Pharaoh The Uraeus
Siamun.[8] This new practice was continued under his
successor Psusennes II and the twenty-second dynasty The earliest evidence we have of the use of the Uraeus
kings. For instance, the Large Dakhla stela is speci- a rearing cobrais from the reign of Den from the rst
cally dated to Year 5 of king 'Pharaoh Shoshenk, beloved dynasty. The cobra supposedly protected the pharaoh by
of Amun' whom all Egyptologists concur was Shoshenq spitting re at its enemies.[13]
Ithe founder of the Twenty-second dynastyincluding
Alan Gardiner in his original 1933 publication of this
stela.[9] Shoshenq I was the second successor of Siamun. 1.20.3 Crowns and headdresses
Meanwhile, the old custom of referring to the sovereign
simply as pr-3 continued in traditional Egyptian narra- The red crown of Lower Egypt, the Deshret crown, dates
tives. back to pre-dynastic times. A red crown has been found
By this time, the Late Egyptian word is reconstructed on a pottery shard from Naqada, and later, king Narmer is
to have been pronounced *[par-o] whence Herodotus shown wearing the red crown on both the Narmer mace-
derived the name of one of the Egyptian kings, head and the Narmer palette.
.[10] In the Bible, the title also occurs as The white crown of Upper Egypt, the Hedjet crown, is
[parh](Pharaoh).;[11] from that, Septuagint shown on the Qustul incense burner which dates to the
phara and then Late Latin phara, both -n stem nouns. pre-dynastic period. Later, King Scorpion was depicted
The Qur'an likewise spells it r'awn with n wearing the white crown, as was Narmer.
(here, always referring to the one evil king in the Exo-
The combination of red and white crown into the double
dus story, by contrast to the good king Aziz in sura 12s
crown, or Pschent crown, is rst documented in the mid-
Joseph story). Interestingly, the Arabic combines the
dle of the rst dynasty. The earliest depiction may date to
original pharyngeal ayin sound from Egyptian, along with
the reign of Djet, and is otherwise surely attested during
the -n ending from Greek.
the reign of Den.[13]

Khat and nemes headdresses Physical evidence

Egyptologist Bob Brier has noted that despite its

widespread depiction in royal portraits, no ancient Egyp-
tian crown ever has been discovered. Tutankhamun's
tomb, discovered largely intact, did contain such regalia
as his crook and ail, but no crown was found, how-
ever, among the funerary equipment. Diadems have been
It is presumed that crowns would have been believed
to have magical properties. Briers speculation is that
crowns were religious or state items, so a dead pharaoh
likely could not retain a crown as a personal possession.
The crowns may have been passed along to the successor.

1.20.4 Titles

Main article: Ancient Egyptian royal titulary


During the early dynastic period kings had as many as

The khat headdress consists of a kind of kerchief whosethree titles. The Horus name is the oldest and dates to
end is tied similarly to a ponytail. The earliest depictions
the late pre-dynastic period. The Nesw Bity name was
of the khat headdress comes from the reign of Den, but added during the rst dynasty. The Nebty name was
is not found again until the reign of Djoser. rst introduced toward the end of the rst dynasty.[13]
The Nemes headdress dates from the time of Djoser. The The Golden falcon (bik-nbw) name is not well under-
statue from his Serdab in Saqqara shows the king wearing stood. The prenomen and nomen were introduced [15]
the nemes headdress. [13] and are traditionally enclosed in a cartouche. By the
Middle Kingdom, the ocial titulary of the ruler con-
sisted of ve names; Horus, nebty, golden Horus, nomen,
and prenomen[16] for some rulers, only one or two of them
may be known.

Nesu Bity name

The Nesu Bity name, also known as Prenomen, was one of

the new developments from the reign of Den. The name
would follow the glyphs for the Sedge and the Bee. The
title is usually translated as king of Upper and Lower
Egypt. The nsw bity name may have been the birth name
of the king. It was often the name by which kings were
recorded in the later annals and king lists.[13]

Horus name

The Horus name was adopted by the king, when taking

the throne. The name was written within a square frame
representing the palace, named a serekh. The earliest
known example of a serekh dates to the reign of king
Ka, before the rst dynasty.[17] The Horus name of sev-
eral early kings expresses a relationship with Horus. Aha
refers to Horus the ghter, Djer refers to Horus the
strong, etc. Later kings express ideals of kingship in
Statuette of Pepy I (ca. 2338-2298 B.C.E.) wearing a nemes their Horus names. Khasekhemwy refers to Horus: the
headdress Brooklyn Museum
two powers are at peace, while Nebra refers to Horus,
Lord of the Sun.[13]
1.20. PHARAOH 115

Nebty name 1.20.6 References

The earliest example of a nebty name comes from the [1] Merriam-Websters Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edi-
reign of king Aha from the rst dynasty. The title links tion. Merriam-Webster, 2007. p. 928
the king with the goddesses of Upper and Lower Egypt
[2] Dictionary Reference: pharaoh
Nekhbet and Wadjet.[13][15] The title is preceded by the
vulture (Nekhbet) and the cobra (Wadjet) standing on a [3] Beck, Roger B.; Black, Linda; Krieger, Larry S.; Naylor,
basket (the neb sign).[13] Phillip C.; Shabaka, Dahia Ibo (1999). World History:
Patterns of Interaction. Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell.
ISBN 0-395-87274-X.
Golden Horus
[4] Ancient Egyptian Grammar (3rd ed.), A. Gardiner (1957)
The Golden Horus or Golden Falcon name was preceded 7176
by a falcon on a gold or nbw sign. The title may have rep-
resented the divine status of the king. The Horus associ- [5] Redmount, Carol A. Bitter Lives: Israel in and out of
Egypt. p. 8990. The Oxford History of the Biblical
ated with gold may be referring to the idea that the bodies
World. Michael D. Coogan, ed. Oxford University Press.
of the deities were made of gold and the pyramids and 1998.
obelisks are representations of (golden) sun-rays. The
gold sign may also be a reference to Nubt, the city of [6] Hieratic Papyrus from Kahun and Gurob, F. LL. Grith,
Set. This would suggest that the iconography represents 38, 17. Although see also Temples of Armant, R. Mond
Horus conquering Set.[13] and O. Myers (1940), pl.93, 5 for an instance possibly
dating from the reign of Thutmose III.

Nomen and prenomen [7] pharaoh. in Encyclopdia Britannica. Ultimate Refer-

ence Suite. Chicago: Encyclopdia Britannica, 2008.
The prenomen and nomen were contained in a car-
[8] J-M. Kruchten, Les annales des pretres de Karnak (OLA
touche. The prenomen often followed the King of Upper
32), 1989, pp.47-48
and Lower Egypt (nsw bity) or Lord of the Two Lands
(nebtawy) title. The prenomen often incorporated the [9] Alan Gardiner, The Dakhleh Stela, Journal of Egyptian
name of Re. The nomen often followed the title Son of Archaeology Vol. 19, No. 1/2 (May, 1933) pp.19-30
Re (sa-ra) or the title Lord of Appearances (neb-kha).[15]
[10] Herodotus, Histories 2.111.1. See Anne Burton (1972).
Diodorus Siculus, Book 1: A Commentary. Brill., com-
menting on ch. 59.1.

[11] Elazar Ari Lipinski: Pesach - A holiday of ques-

tions. About the Haggadah-Commentary Zevach Pesach
of Rabbi Isaak Abarbanel (14371508). Explaining the
meaning of the name Pharaoh. Published rst in German
in the ocial quarterly of the Organization of the Jewish
Communities of Bavaria: Jdisches Leben in Bayern. Mit-
teilungsblatt des Landesverbandes der Israelitischen Kul-
tusgemeinden in Bayern. Pessach-Ausgabe = Nr. 109,
2009, ZDB-ID 2077457-6, S. 34.

[12] Walter C. Till: Koptische Grammatik. VEB Verlg En-

Nomen and prenomen of Ramesses III zyklopdie, Leipzig, 1961. p. 62

[13] Wilkinson, Toby A.H. Early Dynastic Egypt. Routledge,

2001 ISBN 978-0-415-26011-4
1.20.5 See also
[14] Shaw, Garry J. The Pharaoh, Life at Court and on Cam-
List of pharaohs paign. Thames and Hudson, 2012, pp. 21, 77.

Coronation of the pharaoh [15] Dodson, Aidan and Hilton, Dyan. The Complete Royal
Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. 2004.
Great Royal Wife, the chief wife of a male pharaoh ISBN 0-500-05128-3

Egyptian chronology [16] Ian Shaw, The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, Oxford
University Press 2000, p. 477
Pharaohs in the Bible
[17] Toby A. H. Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt, Routledge
Pharaoh, a historical novel written by Bolesaw Prus 1999, pp. 57f.

1.20.7 Bibliography Palermo stone (5th dynasty); carved on an olivin-

basalt slab. Broken into pieces and thus today in-
Shaw, Garry J. The Pharaoh, Life at Court and on complete.
Campaign, Thames and Hudson, 2012.
Giza King List (6th dynasty); painted with red,
Sir Alan Gardiner Egyptian Grammar: Being an In- green and black ink on gypsum and cedar wood.
troduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs, Third Edition, Very selective.
Revised. London: Oxford University Press, 1964.
South Saqqara Stone (6th dynasty); carved on a
Excursus A, pp. 7176.
black basalt slab. Very selective.
Jan Assmann, Der Mythos des Gottknigs im Al- Karnak King List (18th dynasty); carved on
ten gypten, in Christine Schmitz und Anja Bet- limestone. Very selective.
tenworth (hg.), Menschen - Heros - Gott: Wel-
tentwrfe und Lebensmodelle im Mythos der Vor- Abydos King List of Seti I (19th dynasty); carved
moderne (Stuttgart, Franz Steiner Verlag, 2009), pp. on limestone. Very detailed, but omitting the First
1126. Intermediate Period.

Abydos King List of Ramses II (19th dynasty);

1.20.8 External links carved on limestone. Very selective.

Saqqara King List (19th dynasty), carved on lime-

Digital Egypt for Universities
stone. Very detailed, but omitting most kings of the
10 Inuential Pharaohs 1st dynasty for unknown reasons.

Turin King List (19th dynasty); written with red and

black ink on papyrus. Most possibly the most com-
1.21 List of pharaohs plete king list in history, today damaged.

Manetho's Aegyptiaca (Greek Period); possibly

This article contains a list of the pharaohs of Ancient written on papyrus. The original writings are lost
Egypt, from the Early Dynastic Period before 3100 BC today and many anecdotes assigned to certain kings
through to the end of the Ptolemaic Dynasty, when Egypt seem ctitious.
became a province of Rome under Augustus Caesar in 30
Note that the dates given are approximate. The list of 1.21.2 Predynastic period
pharaohs presented below is based on the conventional
chronology of Ancient Egypt, mostly based on the Digital Lower Egypt
Egypt for Universities database developed by the Petrie
Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, but alternative dates Lower Egypt geographically consisted of the northern
taken from other authorities may be indicated separately. Nile and the Nile delta. The following list may not be

1.21.1 Ancient Egyptian King Lists Upper Egypt

Modern lists of pharaohs are based on historical records: Regrouped here are predynastic rulers of Upper Egypt
Ancient Egyptian king lists and later histories, such as belonging to the late Naqada III period, sometimes infor-
Manetho's Aegyptiaca, as well as archaeological evidence. mally described as Dynasty 00.
Concerning ancient sources, Egyptologists and Histori-
ans alike call for caution about the credibility, exactitude
and completeness of these sources, many of which were 1.21.3 Early Dynastic Period
written long after the reigns they report.[2] An additional
problem is that ancient king lists are often damaged, in- Main article: Early Dynastic Period of Egypt
consistent with one another and/or selective.
The following ancient king lists are known (given here by
dynasties):[3] Predynastic Rulers: Dynasty 0

Den seal impressions (1st dynasty); found on a cylin- The following list of predynastic rulers may be incom-
der seal in Den's tomb. It lists all 1st dynasty kings plete. Since these kings precede the First Dynasty, they
from Narmer to Den by their Horus names. have been informally grouped as Dynasty 0.

First Dynasty II, the son and successor of pharaoh Intef III defeated the
Herakleopolitan pharaohs and reunited the Two Lands,
Main article: First Dynasty of Egypt thereby starting the Middle Kingdom.

Seventh and Eighth Dynasties (combined)

Second Dynasty
The Seventh and Eighth Dynasties ruled for approxi-
Main article: Second Dynasty of Egypt mately 2045 years. They comprise numerous ephemeral
kings reigning from Memphis over a possibly divided
Egypt and, in any case, holding only limited power ow-
ing to the eectively feudal system into which the ad-
1.21.4 Old Kingdom
ministration had evolved. The list below is based on the
Main article: Old Kingdom of Egypt Abydos King List dating to the reign of Seti I and taken
from Jrgen von Beckerath's Handbuch der gyptischen
Knigsnamen[40] as well as from Kim Ryholt's latest re-
construction of the Turin canon, another king list dating
Third Dynasty to the Ramesside Era.[41]

Main article: Third Dynasty of Egypt

Ninth Dynasty

The Ninth Dynasty[45] ruled from 2160 to 2130 BC. The

Fourth Dynasty Turin King List has 18 kings reigning in the Ninth and
Tenth Dynasties. Of these, twelve names are missing and
Main article: Fourth Dynasty of Egypt four are partial.[45]

Fifth Dynasty Tenth Dynasty

The Fifth Dynasty ruled from 2498 to 2345 BC. The Tenth Dynasty was a local group that held sway over
Lower Egypt that ruled from 2130 to 2040 BC.

Sixth Dynasty
Eleventh Dynasty
The Sixth Dynasty ruled from 2345 to 2181 BC.
The Eleventh Dynasty was a local group with roots in
Upper Egypt that ruled from 2134 to 1991 BC. The 11th
1.21.5 First Intermediate Period dynasty originated from a dynasty of Theban nomarchs
serving kings of the 8th, 9th or 10th dynasty.
The First Intermediate Period (21812060 BC) is a pe-
riod of disarray and chaos between the end of the Old The successors of Intef the Elder, starting with
Kingdom and the advent of the Middle Kingdom. Mentuhotep I, became independent from their north-
ern overlords and eventually conquered Egypt under
The Old Kingdom rapidly collapsed after the death of Mentuhotep II.
Pepi II. He had reigned for more than 64 and likely up
to 94 years, longer than any monarch in history. The lat-
ter years of his reign were marked by ineciency because 1.21.6 Middle Kingdom
of his advanced age. The union of the Two Kingdoms fell
apart and regional leaders had to cope with the resulting The Middle Kingdom (20601802 BC) is the period from
famine. the end of the First Intermediate Period to the begin-
The kings of the 7th and 8th Dynasties, who represented ning of the Second Intermediate Period. In addition to
the successors of the 6th Dynasty, tried to hold onto the Twelfth Dynasty, some scholars include the Eleventh,
some power in Memphis but owed much of it to pow- Thirteenth and Fourteenth Dynasties in the Middle King-
erful nomarchs. After 20 to 45 years, they were over- dom. The Middle Kingdom can be noted for the expan-
thrown by a new line of pharaohs based in Herakleopolis sion of trade outside of the kingdom that occurred dur-
Magna. Some time after these events, a rival line based at ing this time. This opening of trade eventually led to the
Thebes revolted against their nomial Northern overlords downfall of the Middle Kingdom, induced by an invasion
and united Upper Egypt. Around 2055 BC, Mentuhotep from the Hyksos.

Eleventh Dynasty continued Fourteenth Dynasty

The second part of the Eleventh Dynasty is considered to The Fourteenth Dynasty was a local group from the east-
be part of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt. ern Delta, based at Avaris,[63] that ruled from either from
1805 BC or c. 1710 BC until around 1650 BC. The dy-
nasty comprised many rulers with West Semitic names
and is thus believed to have been Canaanite in origin. It
Enigmatic kings, only attested in Lower Nubia is here given as per Ryholt, however this reconstruction
of the dynasty is heavily debated with the position of the
Twelfth Dynasty ve kings preceding Nehesy highly disputed.
The position and identity of the following pharaohs is un-
The Twelfth Dynasty ruled from 1991 to 1802 BC. certain:
The Turin King List provides additional names, none of
which are attested beyond the list.

1.21.7 Second Intermediate Period

Fifteenth Dynasty
The Second Intermediate Period (18021550 BC) is a
period of disarray between the end of the Middle King- The Fifteenth Dynasty arose from among the Hyksos
dom, and the start of the New Kingdom. It is best people who emerged from the Fertile Crescent to estab-
known as when the Hyksos, whose reign comprised the lish a short-lived governance over much of the Nile re-
Fifteenth, made their appearance in Egypt. gion, and ruled from 1674 to 1535 BC.
The Thirteenth Dynasty was much weaker than the
Twelfth Dynasty, and was unable to hold onto the two Abydos Dynasty
lands of Egypt. Either at the start of the dynasty, c. 1805
BC or toward the middle of it in c. 1710 BC, the provin- The Second Intermediate Period may include an indepen-
cial ruling family in Xois, located in the marshes of the dent dynasty reigning over Abydos from c. 1650 BC until
eastern Delta, broke away from the central authority to 1600 BC.[65][66][67] Four attested kings may be tentatively
form the Canaanite Fourteenth Dynasty. attributed to the Abydos Dynasty, and they are given here
The Hyksos made their rst appearance during the reign without regard for their (unknown) chronological order:
of Sobekhotep IV, and around 1720 BC took control of
the town of Avaris (the modern Tell el-Dab'a/Khata'na),
Sixteenth Dynasty
conquering the kingdom of the 14th dynasty. Then,
some time around 1650 BC the Hyksos, perhaps led by
The Sixteenth Dynasty was a native Theban dynasty
Salitis the founder of the Fifteenth Dynasty, conquered
emerging from the collapse of the Memphis-based 13 th
Memphis, thereby terminating the 13th dynasty. The
dynasty c. 1650 BC and nally conquered by the Hyksos
power vacuum in Upper Egypt resulting from the collapse
15th dynasty c. 1580 BC. The 16th dynasty held sway
of the 13th dynasty allowed the 16th dynasty to declare its
over Upper-Egypt only.
independence in Thebes, only to be overrun by the Hyk-
sos kings shortly thereafter. The 16th Dynasty may also have comprised the reigns of
pharaohs Sneferankhre Pepi III[72] and Nebmaatre. Their
Subsequently, as the Hyksos withdrew from Upper
chronological position is uncertain.[69][70]
Egypt, the native Egyptian ruling house in Thebes set it-
self up as the Seventeenth Dynasty. This dynasty eventu-
ally drove the Hyksos back into Asia under Seqenenre Seventeenth Dynasty
Tao, Kamose and nally Ahmose, rst pharaoh of the
New Kingdom. The Seventeenth Dynasty was based in Upper Egypt and
ruled from 1650 to 1550 BC:
The early 17th Dynasty may also have comprised the
Thirteenth Dynasty reign of a pharaoh Nebmaatre, whose chronological po-
sition is uncertain.[60]
The Thirteenth Dynasty (following the Turin King List)
ruled from 1802 to around 1649 BC and lasted 153 or 1.21.8 New Kingdom
154 years according to Manetho. This table should be
contrasted with Known kings of the 13th Dynasty. The New Kingdom (15501077 BC) is the period cover-
The position of the following kings is uncertain: ing the Eighteenth, Nineteenth, and Twentieth dynasty of

Egypt, from the 16th to the 11th century BC, between the ing their names in cartouches and being buried in royal
Second Intermediate Period, and the Third Intermediate tombs.
Through military dominance abroad, the New Kingdom
Twenty-second Dynasty
saw Egypts greatest territorial extent. It expanded far
into Nubia in the south, and held wide territories in the
The pharaohs of the Twenty-Second Dynasty were
Near East. Egyptian armies fought with Hittite armies for
Libyans, ruling from around 943 to 728 BC:
control of modern-day Syria.
Three of the best known pharaohs of the New Kingdom
are Akhenaten, also known as Amenhotep IV, whose ex- Twenty-third Dynasty
clusive worship of the Aten is often interpreted as the
rst instance of monotheism, Tutankhamun known for The Twenty-Third Dynasty was a local group, again of
the discovery of his nearly intact tomb, and Ramesses Libyan origin, based at Herakleopolis and Thebes that
II who attempted to recover the territories in modern ruled from 837 to c. 735 BC:
Israel/Palestine, Lebanon and Syria that had been held in Rudamun was succeeded in Thebes by a local ruler:
the Eighteenth Dynasty. His reconquest led to the Battle
of Qadesh, where he led the Egyptian armies against the
army of the Hittite king Muwatalli II. Twenty-fourth Dynasty

The Twenty-fourth Dynasty was a short-lived rival dy-

Eighteenth Dynasty
nasty located in the western Delta (Sais), with only two
pharaohs ruling from 732 to 720 BC.
The Eighteenth Dynasty ruled from c. 1550 to 1292 BC:

Twenty-fth Dynasty
Nineteenth Dynasty
Nubians invaded Lower Egypt and took the throne of
The Nineteenth Dynasty ruled from 1292 to 1186 BC
Egypt under Piye although they already controlled Thebes
and includes one of the greatest pharaohs: Rameses II
and Upper Egypt in the early years of Piyes reign. Piyes
the Great:
conquest of Lower Egypt established the Twenty-fth
Dynasty which ruled until 656 BC.
Twentieth Dynasty They were ultimately driven back into Nubia, where they
established a kingdom at Napata (656590), and, later, at
The Twentieth Dynasty ruled from 1190 to 1077 BC: Mero (590 BC 4th century AD).

1.21.9 Third Intermediate Period 1.21.10 Late Period

The Third Intermediate Period (1077664 BC) marked The Late Period runs from around 664 to 332 BC, and
the end of the New Kingdom after the collapse of the includes periods of rule by native Egyptians and Persians.
Egyptian empire. A number of dynasties of Libyan origin
ruled, giving this period its alternative name of the Libyan
Period. Twenty-sixth Dynasty

The Twenty-sixth Dynasty ruled from around 664 to 525

Twenty-rst Dynasty
The Twenty-First Dynasty was based at Tanis and was a The son and successor of Necho I, Psamtik I, managed to
relatively weak group. Theoretically, they were rulers of reunify Egypt and is generally regarded as the founder of
all Egypt, but in practice their inuence was limited to the Twenty-sixth Dynasty.
Lower Egypt. They ruled from 1069 to 943 BC

Twenty-seventh Dynasty (First Persian period)

Theban High Priests of Amun
Egypt was conquered by the Persian Empire in 525 BC
Though not ocially Pharaohs, the High Priests of Amun and constitutued a satrapy as part of this empire until 404
at Thebes were the de facto rulers of Upper Egypt dur- BC. The Achaemenid Shahanshahs were acknowledged
ing the Twenty-rst and Twenty-second Dynasties, writ- as Pharaohs in this era, forming the 27th Dynasty:

Twenty-eighth Dynasty 1.21.12 Rome

The Twenty-eighth Dynasty lasted only 6 years, from 404 Cleopatra VII had aairs with Roman Dictator Julius
to 398 BC, with one Pharaoh: Caesar and Roman General Mark Antony, but it was not
until after her suicide (after Marc Antony was defeated
by Octavian, who would later be Emperor Augustus) that
Twenty-ninth Dynasty Egypt became a province of Rome in 30 BC. Subsequent
Roman Emperors were accorded the title of Pharaoh, al-
The Twenty-ninth Dynasty ruled from 398 to 380 BC: though exclusively while in Egypt. One Egyptian king-list
lists the Roman Emperors as Pharaohs up to and includ-
ing Decius. See the list of Roman Emperors.
Thirtieth Dynasty

The Thirtieth Dynasty ruled from 380 until Egypt once 1.21.13 See also
more came under Persian rule in 343 BC:
Conventional Egyptian chronology

Egyptian chronology
Thirty-rst Dynasty (Second Persian period)
History of Egypt
Egypt again came under the control of the Achaemenid
Persians. After the practice of Manetho, the Persian
rulers from 343 to 332 BC are occasionally designated 1.21.14 Bibliography
as the Thirty-rst Dynasty:
J. H. Breasted, History of Egypt from the Earliest
Time to the Persian Conquest, 1909
1.21.11 Hellenistic Period
J. Cerny, 'Egypt from the Death of Ramesses III to
Argead Dynasty the End of the Twenty-First Dynasty' in The Mid-
dle East and the Aegean Region c.13801000 BC,
The Macedonians under Alexander the Great ushered in Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-08691-4
the Hellenistic period with his conquest of Persia and Clayton, Peter A. (1995). Chronicle of the
Egypt. The Argeads ruled from 332 to 309 BC: Pharaohs: The Reign-by-Reign Record of the Rulers
and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt. The Chronicles Se-
ries (Reprinted ed.). London: Thames and Hudson.
Ptolemaic Dynasty ISBN 978-0-500-05074-3.
The second Hellenistic dynasty, the Ptolemies, ruled Dodson, Aidan and Hilton, Dyan. The Complete
Egypt from 305 BC until Egypt became a province of Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hud-
Rome in 30 BC (whenever two dates overlap, that means son. 2004. ISBN 0-500-05128-3
there was a co-regency). The most famous member of
this dynasty was Cleopatra VII, who in modern times is Sir Alan Gardiner Egyptian Grammar: Being an In-
known simply as Cleopatra who was successively the con- troduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs, Third Edition,
sort of Julius Caesar and after Caesars death, of Mark Revised. London: Oxford University Press, 1964.
Antony, and had children with both of them. Cleopatra Excursus A, pp. 7176.
strove to create a dynastic and political union between
Egypt and Rome but the assassination of Caesar and the Nicolas Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt,
defeat of Mark Antony doomed her plans. Caesarion (Blackwell Books: 1992)
(Ptolemy XV Philopator Philometor Caesar) was the last
Murnane, William J. Ancient Egyptian Coregencies,
king of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt, he reigned jointly
Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization. No. 40. The
with his mother Cleopatra VII of Egypt, from September
Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 1977
2, 47 BC. He was the eldest son of Cleopatra VII, and
possibly the only son of Julius Caesar, after whom he was Michael Rice, Whos Who in Ancient Egypt, Rout-
named. Between the alleged death of Cleopatra, on Au- ledge 1999
gust 12, 30 BC, up to his own alleged death on August 23,
30 BC, he was nominally the sole pharaoh. It is tradition Ryholt, Kim & Steven Bardrum. 2000. The Late
that he was hunted down and killed on the orders of Octa- Old Kingdom in the Turin King-list and the Identity
vian, who would become the Roman emperor Augustus, of Nitocris. Zeitschrift fr gyptische Sprache und
but the historical evidence does not exist. Altertumskunde 127

Shaw, Ian. The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt., [9] Thomas Schneider: Lexikon der Pharaonen. Albatros,
Oxford University Press, 2000. Dsseldorf 2002, ISBN 3-491-96053-3, p. 311.

Shaw, Garry. The Pharaoh, Life at Court and on [10] Thomas Schneider: Lexikon der Pharaonen. Albatros,
Campaign, Thames and Hudson, 2012. Dsseldorf 2002, ISBN 3-491-96053-3, p. 137.

Toby A. H. Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt, Rout- [11] Ludwig David Morenz: Bild-Buchstaben und symbolische
Zeichen. Die Herausbildung der Schrift der hohen Kultur
ledge 1999, ISBN 0-415-18633-1
Altgyptens (= Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis 205). Fribourg
Verner, Miroslav, The Pyramids - Their Archaeol- 2004, ISBN 3-7278-1486-1, p. 91.
ogy and History, Atlantic Books, 2001, ISBN 1- [12] P. Tallet, D. Laisnay: Iry-Hor et Narmer au Sud-Sina
84354-171-8 (Ouadi 'Ameyra), un complment la chronologie des
expditios minire gyptiene. In: Bulletin de L'Institute
Egypt, History & Civilisation By Dr. R Ventura. Franais D'Archologie Orientale (BIFAO) 112. Aus-
Published by Osiris, PO Box 107 Cairo. gabe 2012, S. 381395.

[13] Gnter Dreyer: Horus Krokodil, ein Gegenknig der Dy-

1.21.15 External links nastie 0. In: Renee Friedman and Barbara Adams (Hrsg.):
The Followers of Horus, Studies dedicated to Michael
Egyptian Royal Genealogy Allen Homan, 19491990 (= Egyptian Studies Associa-
tion Publication, vol. 2). Oxbow Publications, Blooming-
Manetho and the King Lists Review of dierent pri- ton (IN) 1992, ISBN 0-946897-44-1, p. 259263.
mary king lists
[14] Jrgen von Beckerath: Handbuch der gyptischen
Chronology Table - 0 Dynasty&History Period, by Knigsnamen (= Mnchner gyptologische Studien, vol.
Dariusz Sitek Multi-pages of list of pharaohs in dif- 49. von Zabern, Mainz 1999, ISBN 3-8053-2591-6, p.
ferent king lists, without the god kings, in Egyptian 3637.
hieroglyphs and English [15] Toby Wilkinson: Early Dynastic Egypt: Strategy, Society
and Security. Routeledge, London 1999, ISBN 0-415-
Egyptian Journey 2003: History: King Lists Hyper-
18633-1, p. 38, 56 & 57.
link texts of the Manetho, Abydos & Turin king lists,
without the god-kings [16] Wolfgang Helck: Untersuchungen zur Thinitenzeit (=
gyptologische Abhandlungen (A), Vol. 45). Harras-
Digital Egypt for Universities sowitz, Wiesbaden 1987, ISBN 3-447-02677-4, p. 124.
List of all female Pharaohs [17] Wolfgang Helck: Untersuchungen zur Thinitenzeit (Agyp-
tologische Abhandlungen), ISBN 3-447-02677-4, O. Har-
rassowitz (1987), p. 124
1.21.16 References
[18] William Matthew Flinders Petrie: The Royal Tombs of
[1] Clayton 1995, p. 217. Although paying lip-service to the the Earliest Dynasties. Cambridge University Press, New
old ideas and religion, in varying degrees, pharaonic Egypt York 2013 (reprint of 1901), ISBN 1-108-06612-7, p. 49.
had in eect died with the last native pharaoh, Nectanebo
II in 343 BC [19] Nicolas-Christophe Grimal: A History of Ancient Egypt.
Blackwell, Oxford UK/ Cambridge USA 1992, ISBN
[2] Toby A. H. Wilkinson: Royal Annals Of Ancient Egypt. 978-0-631-19396-8, p. 53.
Routledge, London 2012, ISBN 1-136-60247-X, p. 50.
[20] Wilkinson (1999) pp. 8384
[3] Toby A. H. Wilkinson: Royal Annals Of Ancient Egypt.
Routledge, London 2012, ISBN 1-136-60247-X, p. 61. [21] Dietrich Wildung: Die Rolle gyptischer Knige im Be-
wutsein ihrer Nachwelt. Teil I. Posthume Quellen ber
[4] Thomas Schneider: Lexikon der Pharaonen. Albatros, die Knige der ersten vier Dynastien. In: Mnchener gyp-
Dsseldorf 2002, ISBN 3-491-96053-3, p. 259. tologische Studien, vol. 17. Deutscher Kunstverlag, Mu-
nich/Berlin 1969, p. 3133.
[5] Thomas Schneider: Lexikon der Pharaonen. Albatros,
Dsseldorf 2002, ISBN 3-491-96053-3, p. 139. [22] Wilkinson (1999) p. 79

[6] Thomas Schneider: Lexikon der Pharaonen. Albatros, [23] Wilkinson (1999) pp. 8788
Dsseldorf 2002, ISBN 3-491-96053-3, p. 199.
[24] Pascal Vernus, Jean Yoyotte, The Book of the Pharaohs,
[7] Thomas Schneider: Lexikon der Pharaonen. Albatros, Cornell University Press 2003, p.27
Dsseldorf 2002, ISBN 3-491-96053-3, p. 138.
[25] Jrgen von Beckerath: Handbuch der gyptischen
[8] Thomas Schneider: Lexikon der Pharaonen. Albatros, Knigsnamen. Deutscher Kunstverlag, Mnchen/Berlin
Dsseldorf 2002, ISBN 3-491-96053-3, p. 181. 1984, ISBN 3-422-00832-2, page 171.

[26] Toby A.H. Wilkinson: Early Dynastic Egypt. Routledge, [46] Margaret Bunson: Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, In-
London/New York 2002, ISBN 1-134-66420-6, p. 75 fobase Publishing, 2009, ISBN 978-1-4381-0997-8,
76. available online, see p. 181

[27] Jrgen von Beckerath: Handbuch der gyptischen [47] Labib Habachi: King Nebhepetre Menthuhotep: his monu-
Knigsnamen. 2. verbesserte und erweiterte Auage. von ments, place in history, deication and unusual representa-
Zabern, Mainz 1999, S. 4445. tions in form of gods, in: Annales du Service des Antiquits
de l'gypte 19 (1963), pp. 1652
[28] Thomas Schneider: Lexikon der Pharaonen. Albatros,
Dsseldorf 2002, ISBN 3-491-96053-3, page 175. [48] Wolfram Grajetzki (2006) pp. 2325

[29] King Khasekhem [49] Wolfram Grajetzki (2006) pp. 2526

[30] King Khasekhemwy [50] Wolfram Grajetzki (2006) pp. 2728

[31] Toby Wilkinson, Early Dynastic Egypt, Routledge, 1999, [51] Amenemhat I
pp.83 & 95
[52] Wolfram Grajetzki (2006) pp. 2835
[32] Toby Wilkinson, Royal Annals of Ancient Egypt, pp.79
& 258 [53] Murnane (1977) p.2

[33] Clayton (1994) p.32 [54] Murnane (1977) p.7

[34] Mark Lehner: Geheimnis der Pyramiden. Econ, Dssel- [55] Murnane (1977) p.9
dorf 1997, ISBN 3-572-01039-X, S. 9496.
[56] Josef Wegner, The Nature and Chronology of the Senwos-
[35] Clayton (1994) p.42 ret IIIAmenemhat III Regnal Succession: Some Consider-
ations based on new evidence from the Mortuary Temple of
[36] Thomas Schneider: Lexikon der Pharaonen. Albatros, Senwosret III at Abydos, JNES 55, Vol.4, (1996), pp.251
Dsseldorf 2002, ISBN 3-491-96053-3, S. 278279.
[57] Wolfram Grajetzki (2006) pp. 5661
[37] Miroslav Verner (2000): Who was Shepseskara, and when
did he reign?, in: Miroslav Brta, Jaromr Krej (editors): [58] Amenemhat IV Maakherure (1807/06-1798/97 BCE)".
Abusir and Saqqara in the Year 2000, Academy of Sci- Digital Egypt for Universities.
ences of the Czech Republic, Oriental Institute, Prague,
ISBN 80-85425-39-4, p. 581602, available online. [59] Grajetzki (2006) pp. 6163

[38] Dodson & Hilton (2004) p.73 [60] K.S.B. Ryholt, The Political Situation in Egypt during the
Second Intermediate Period, c.18001550 BC, Carsten
[39] Ryholt & Bardrum (2000) pp.87100. Niebuhr Institute Publications, vol. 20. Copenhagen:
Museum Tusculanum Press, 1997
[40] Jrgen von Beckerath: Handbuch der gyptischen
Knigsnamen, Mnchner gyptologische Studien, Heft [61] Thomas Schneider: Lexikon der Pharaonen, Albatros,
49, Mainz : P. von Zabern, 1999, ISBN 3-8053-2591-6, Dsseldorf 2002, ISBN 3-491-96053-3
available online
[62] Thomas Schneider: Lexikon der Pharaonen, Albatros,
[41] Kim Ryholt: The Late Old Kingdom in the Turin King- 2002
list and the Identity of Nitocris, Zeitschrift fr gyptis-
che, 127, 2000, p. 99 [63] K.S.B. Ryholt: The Political Situation in Egypt during the
Second Intermediate Period, c.18001550 BC, Carsten
[42] Gustave Jquier, Malaat al-thr (1993): Les pyra- Niebuhr Institute Publications, vol. 20. Copenhagen:
mides des reines Neit et Apouit (in French), Cairo: Institut Museum Tusculanum Press, 1997
franais d'archologie orientale, OCLC 195690029, see
plate 5. [64] Kings of the 2nd Intermediate Period

[43] Percy Newberry (1943): Queen Nitocris of the Sixth Dy- [65] Detlef Franke: Zur Chronologie des Mittleren Reiches. Teil
nasty, in: The Journal of Egyptian Archeology, vol. 29, II: Die sogenannte Zweite Zwischenzeit Altgyptens, In Ori-
pp=5154 entalia 57 (1988), p. 259

[44] Gae Callender: Queen Neit-ikrety/Nitokris, in: Miroslav [66] Ryholt, K.S.B. (1997). The Political Situation in Egypt
Barta, Filip Coppens, Jaromic Krecji (editors): Abusir During the Second Intermediate Period, C. 18001550
and Saqqara in the year 2010/1, Prague: Czech Institute B.C. Museum Tusculanum Press. p. 164. ISBN 87-7289-
of Egyptology, Faculty of Arts, Charles University, 2011, 421-0.
ISBN 978-80-7308-384-7, see pp. 249250
[67] Giant Sarcophagus Leads Penn Museum Team in Egypt
[45] Turin Kinglist, Columns IV,18 to V,10, Ancient Egypt dot To the Tomb of a Previously Unknown Pharaoh. Penn
org. Accessed 10 February 2010. Museum. January 2014. Retrieved 16 Jan 2014.

[68] Marcel Mare: A sculpture workshop at Abydos from 1.22 Ancient Egyptian philosophy
the late Sixteenth or early Seventeenth Dynasty, in: Mar-
cel Mare (editor): The Second Intermediate period
(Thirteenth-Seventeenth Dynasties), Current Research, Fu- There is very little extant information on Ancient Egyp-
ture Prospects, Leuven, Paris, Walpole, MA. 2010 ISBN tian philosophy today, but what little information avail-
978-90-429-2228-0. p. 247, 268 able reveals about its similarity to Ancient Greek philos-
ophy is a matter of dispute. Despite claims to the con-
[69] Jrgen von Beckerath: Untersuchungen zur politischen trary by some scholars,[1] the accepted view is that there
Geschichte der Zweiten Zwischenzeit in gypten, Glck- is no known inuence by Ancient Egyptian philosophy on
stadt, 1964 Ancient Greek philosophy or evidence of Ancient Egyp-
tian philosophy inuencing the development of Eastern
[70] Jrgen von Beckerath: Chronologie des pharaonischen or Western philosophy,[2] even when noted Egyptologist
gyptens, Mnchner gyptologische Studien 46. Mainz James Henry Breasted wrote:
am Rhein, 1997
"...the Greek tradition of the origin of their philosophy in
[71] Jrgen von Beckerath: Handbuch der gyptischen Egypt undoubtedly contains more of the truth than has in
Knigsnamen, Mnchner gyptologische Studien 49, recent years been conceded.[3]
Mainz 1999.

[72] Wolfgang Helck, Eberhard Otto, Wolfhart Westendorf,

Stele - Zypresse: Volume 6 of Lexikon der gyptologie, 1.22.1 Philosophers
Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 1986, Page 1383
The most notable currently known ancient Egyp-
[73] Christopher Bronk Ramsey et al., Radiocarbon-Based
tian philosophers were Imhotep, Ptahhotep, and
Chronology for Dynastic Egypt, Science 18 June 2010:
Vol. 328. no. 5985, pp. 15541557. Amenhotep.[4]
Born in the 27th Century BC in Memphis, Egypt,[5]
[74] Ramesses I Menpehtire. Digital Egypt. University Col- Imhotep is well known for his work as an architect, astrol-
lege London. 2001. Retrieved 2007-09-29. ogist, physician, and vizier. Son of the architect Kanofer
and his wife, Khreduonkh, he is credited with the design
[75] King Merenptah. Digital Egypt. University College and construction of the step pyramid built at the necropo-
London. 2001. Retrieved 2007-09-29. lis of aqqrah in the city of Memphis.[4] He also served
as vizier to the pharaoh, Djoser, in the Third Dynasty (c.
[76] Sety II. Digital Egypt. University College London.
2980-2900 BC).
2001. Retrieved 2007-10-27.
Ptahhotep, like his predecessor Imhotep, served as vizier
[77] Siptah Sekhaenre/Akhenre. Digital Egypt. University to the pharaoh in the late 25th, early 24th century BC.
College London. 2001. Retrieved 2007-10-27. Ptahhotep is known for his comprehensive work on eth-
ical behavior and moral philosophy, called The Maxims
[78] Grimal (1992) p.291 of Ptahhotep. The work, which is believed to have been
compiled by his grandson Ptahhotep Tshe, is a series of
[79] Ramesses XI Menmaatre-setpenptah. Retrieved 2007- 37 letters or maxims addressed to his son, Akhethotep,
10-28. speaking on such topics as daily behavior and ethical
[80] Cerny p.645
Yet another vizier to a pharaoh, Amenhotep was also an
[81] R. Krauss and D.A. Warburton, Chronological Table for architect and ancient philosopher. Son of Hapu, he
the Dynastic Period in Erik Hornung, Rolf Krauss & was revered for his knowledge of the ancient ways of
David Warburton (editors), Ancient Egyptian Chronology the Egyptians. In the court of King Amenhotep III, he
(Handbook of Oriental Studies), Brill, 2006. p.494 was considered an insightful philosopher, a wise man, and
[82] Dan'el Kahn, The Inscription of Sargon II at Tang-i Var
and the Chronology of Dynasty 25, Orientalia 70 (2001),
pp. 118
1.22.2 The gure of the philosopher in An-
[83] Late Period Kings. Retrieved 2007-10-27.
cient Egypt
[84] Placed in this dynasty only for chronological reasons, as
he was not related to the Achaemenids. Demotic (late Egyptian) texts contain dialogues between
Thoth (the Egyptian god of knowledge) and someone who
[85] Nakhthorhebyt. Digital Egypt for Universities. Re- is called he-who-loves-knowledge, which is quite simi-
trieved March 1, 2011. lar to the greek word philosophos.[8]

See also more prominent in the course of Egyptian history as the

status of the Pharaoh declined. Another important as-
Wisdom literature#Ancient Egyptian literature pect was the belief in the afterlife and funerary practices.
The Egyptians made great eorts to ensure the survival
Book of Thoth
of their souls after death, providing tombs, grave goods,
and oerings to preserve the bodies and spirits of the de-
1.22.3 Notes and references ceased.
The religion had its roots in Egypts prehistory and lasted
[1] Bernal, Martin (1987). Black Athena: Afroasiatic Roots for more than 3,000 years. The details of religious be-
of Classical Civilization, Volume I: The Fabrication of lief changed over time as the importance of particular
Ancient Greece, 1785-1985. Rutgers University Press.
gods rose and declined, and their intricate relationships
ISBN 978-0-8135-1277-8.
shifted. At various times, certain gods became preemi-
[2] Bleiberg, Edward (2005). Ancient Egypt 2675-332 nent over the others, including the sun god Ra, the cre-
B.C.E.: Philosophy. In Bleiberg, Edward; et al. Arts ator god Amun, and the mother goddess Isis. For a
and Humanities Through the Eras. Vol. 1: Ancient Egypt brief period, in the theology promulgated by the Pharaoh
2675-332 B.C.E. Detroit: Gale. pp. 182197. Akhenaten, a single god, the Aten, replaced the tradi-
tional pantheon. Ancient Egyptian religion and mythol-
[3] Breasted, J.H. : Development of Religion and Thought in
Ancient Egypt, Pennsylvania University Press - Pennsyl- ogy left behind many writings and monuments, along with
vania, 1972. signicant inuences on ancient and modern cultures.

[4] Asante, Mole Kete (2000). The Egyptian Philoso-

phers: Ancient African Voices From Imhotep to Akhen- 1.23.1 Theology
aten. Chicago, Illinois: African American Images. ISBN
The beliefs and rituals now referred to as ancient Egyp-
[5] tian religion were integral within every aspect of Egyp-
tian culture. Their language possessed no single term cor-
[6] Browder, Anthony (1988). Nile Valley Contributions to responding to the modern European concept of religion.
Civilization. Karmaic Institute.
Ancient Egyptian religion was not a monolithic institu-
[7] Aldred, Cyril (1984). The Egyptians. London: Thames tion, but consisted of a vast and varying set of beliefs and
and Hudson. practices, linked by their common focus on the interac-
tion between the world of humans and the world of the
[8] divine. The characteristics of the gods who populated the
divine realm were inextricably linked to the Egyptians un-
derstanding of the properties of the world in which they
1.23 Ancient Egyptian religion lived.[1]

See also: Egyptian mythology

Ancient Egyptian religion was a complex system of Main article: Ancient Egyptian deities
polytheistic beliefs and rituals which were an integral part The Egyptians believed that the phenomena of nature
of ancient Egyptian society. It centered on the Egyptians were divine forces in and of themselves.[2] These deied
interaction with many deities who were believed to be forces included the elements, animal characteristics, or
present in, and in control of, the forces of nature. Rit- abstract forces. The Egyptians believed in a pantheon of
uals such as prayers and oerings were eorts to provide gods, which were involved in all aspects of nature and
for the gods and gain their favor. Formal religious prac- human society. Their religious practices were eorts to
tice centered on the pharaoh, the king of Egypt, who was sustain and placate these phenomena and turn them to
believed to possess a divine power by virtue of his po- human advantage.[3] This polytheistic system was very
sition. He acted as the intermediary between his people complex, as some deities were believed to exist in many
and the gods and was obligated to sustain the gods through dierent manifestations, and some had multiple mytho-
rituals and oerings so that they could maintain order in logical roles. Conversely, many natural forces, such as
the universe. The state dedicated enormous resources to the sun, were associated with multiple deities. The di-
Egyptian rituals and to the construction of the temples. verse pantheon ranged from gods with vital roles in the
Individuals could interact with the gods for their own pur- universe to minor deities or demons with very limited
poses, appealing for their help through prayer or com- or localized functions.[4] It could include gods adopted
pelling them to act through magic. These practices were from foreign cultures, and sometimes humans: deceased
distinct from, but closely linked with, the formal ritu- Pharaohs were believed to be divine, and occasionally,
als and institutions. The popular religious tradition grew distinguished commoners such as Imhotep also became

The gods Osiris, Anubis, and Horus, in order from left to right

deied.[5] Amun-Ra kamutef, wearing the plumed headdress of Amun and

the sun disk representing Ra
The depictions of the gods in art were not meant as lit-
eral representations of how the gods might appear if they
were visible, as the gods true natures were believed to be
mysterious. Instead, these depictions gave recognizable Associations between deities
forms to the abstract deities by using symbolic imagery to
indicate each gods role in nature.[6] Thus, for example, The Egyptian gods had complex interrelationships, which
the funerary god Anubis was portrayed as a jackal, a crea- partly reected the interaction of the forces they repre-
ture whose scavenging habits threatened the preservation sented. The Egyptians often grouped gods together to re-
of the body, in an eort to counter this threat and employ ect these relationships. Some groups of deities were of
it for protection. His black skin was symbolic of the color indeterminate size, and were linked by their similar func-
of mummied esh and the fertile black soil that Egyp- tions. These often consisted of minor deities with little
tians saw as a symbol of resurrection. This iconography individual identity. Other combinations linked indepen-
was not xed, and many of the gods could be depicted in dent deities based on the symbolic meaning of numbers in
more than one form.[7] Egyptian mythology; for instance, pairs of deities usually
Many gods were associated with particular regions in represent the duality of opposite phenomena. One of the
Egypt where their cults were most important. However, more common combinations was a family triad consisting
these associations changed over time, and they did not of a father, mother, and child, who were worshipped to-
mean that the god associated with a place had originated gether. Some groups had wide-ranging importance. One
there. For instance, the god Monthu was the original such group, the Ennead, assembled nine deities into a the-
patron of the city of Thebes. Over the course of the ological system that was involved in the mythological ar-
Middle Kingdom, however, he was displaced in that role eas of creation, kingship, and the afterlife.[9]
by Amun, who may have arisen elsewhere. The national The relationships between deities could also be expressed
popularity and importance of individual gods uctuated in the process of syncretism, in which two or more dif-
in a similar way.[8] ferent gods were linked to form a composite deity. This

process was a recognition of the presence of one god in During the New Kingdom the pharaoh Akhenaten abol-
another when the second god took on a role belonging to ished the ocial worship of other gods in favor of the
the rst. These links between deities were uid, and did sun-disk Aten. This is often seen as the rst instance
not represent the permanent merging of two gods into of true monotheism in history, although the details of
one; therefore, some gods could develop multiple syn- Atenist theology are still unclear and the suggestion that
cretic connections.[10] Sometimes, syncretism combined it was monotheistic is disputed. The exclusion of all but
deities with very similar characteristics. At other times it one god from worship was a radical departure from Egyp-
joined gods with very dierent natures, as when Amun, tian tradition and some see Akhenaten as a practitioner
the god of hidden power, was linked with Ra, the god of monolatry rather than monotheism,[16][17] as he did
of the sun. The resulting god, Amun-Ra, thus united the not actively deny the existence of other gods; he sim-
power that lay behind all things with the greatest and most ply refrained from worshipping any but the Aten. Under
visible force in nature.[11] Akhenatens successors Egypt reverted to its traditional
religion, and Akhenaten himself came to be reviled as a
Unifying tendencies

Many deities could be given epithets that seem to indi- 1.23.2 Other important concepts
cate that they were greater than any other god, suggest-
ing some kind of unity beyond the multitude of natural Cosmology
forces. In particular, this is true of a few gods who, at
various times in history, rose to supreme importance in
Egyptian religion. These included the royal patron Horus,
the sun god Ra, and the mother goddess Isis.[12] During
the New Kingdom (c. 15501070 BC), Amun held this
position. The theology of the period described in partic-
ular detail Amuns presence in and rule over all things,
so that he, more than any other deity, embodied the all-
encompassing power of the divine.[13]
Because of theological statements like this, many past
Egyptologists, such as Siegfried Morenz, believed that
beneath the polytheistic traditions of Egyptian religion
there was an increasing belief in a unity of the divine,
moving toward monotheism. Instances in Egyptian liter-
ature where god is mentioned without reference to any The air god Shu, assisted by other gods, holds up Nut, the sky, as
specic deity would seem to give this view added weight. Geb, the earth, lies beneath.
However, in 1971 Erik Hornung pointed out that the traits
of an apparently supreme being could be attributed to The Egyptian conception of the universe centered on
many dierent gods, even in periods when other gods Ma'at, a word that encompasses several concepts in En-
were preeminent, and further argued that references to glish, including truth, justice, and order. It was the
an unspecied god are meant to refer exibly to any de- xed, eternal order of the universe, both in the cosmos
ity. He therefore argued that, while some individuals may and in human society. It had existed since the creation
have henotheistically chosen one god to worship, Egyp- of the world, and without it the world would lose its co-
tian religion as a whole had no notion of a divine being hesion. In Egyptian belief, Ma'at was constantly under
beyond the immediate multitude of deities. Yet the de- threat from the forces of disorder, so all of society was re-
bate did not end there; Jan Assmann and James P. Allen quired to maintain it. On the human level this meant that
have since asserted that the Egyptians did to some de- all members of society should cooperate and coexist; on
gree recognize a single divine force. In Allens view, the the cosmic level it meant that all of the forces of nature
notion of an underlying unity of the divine coexisted in- the godsshould continue to function in balance.[20] This
clusively with the polytheistic tradition. It is possible that latter goal was central to Egyptian religion. The Egyp-
only the Egyptian theologians fully recognized this under- tians sought to maintain Ma'at in the cosmos by sustain-
lying unity, but it is also possible that ordinary Egyptians ing the gods through oerings and by performing rituals
identied the single divine force with a single god in par- which staved o disorder and perpetuated the cycles of
ticular situations.[14][15] nature.[21][22]
The most important part of the Egyptian view of the
Atenism cosmos was the conception of time, which was greatly
concerned with the maintenance of Ma'at. Throughout
Main article: Atenism the linear passage of time, a cyclical pattern recurred,
in which Ma'at was renewed by periodic events which

echoed the original creation. Among these events were the Pharaoh was human and subject to human weakness,
the annual Nile ood and the succession from one king to they simultaneously viewed him as a god, because the di-
another, but the most important was the daily journey of vine power of kingship was incarnated in him. He there-
the sun god Ra.[23][24] fore acted as intermediary between Egypts people and
When thinking of the shape of the cosmos, the Egyp- the gods.[29] He was key to upholding Ma'at, both by
tians saw the earth as a at expanse of land, personied maintaining justice and harmony in human society and
by the god Geb, over which arched the sky goddess Nut. by sustaining the gods with temples and oerings. For
The two were separated by Shu, the god of air. Beneath these reasons, he oversaw all state religious activity.[30]
However, the Pharaohs real-life inuence and prestige
the earth lay a parallel underworld and undersky, and be-
yond the skies lay the innite expanse of Nu, the chaos could dier from that depicted in ocial writings and
depictions, and beginning in the late New Kingdom his
that had existed before creation.[25][26] The Egyptians also
believed in a place called the Duat, a mysterious region religious importance declined drastically.[31][32]
associated with death and rebirth, that may have lain in The king was also associated with many specic deities.
the underworld or in the sky. Each day, Ra traveled over He was identied directly with Horus, who represented
the earth across the underside of the sky, and at night he kingship itself, and he was seen as the son of Ra, who
passed through the Duat to be reborn at dawn.[27] ruled and regulated nature as the Pharaoh ruled and reg-
In Egyptian belief, this cosmos was inhabited by three ulated society. By the New Kingdom he was also asso-
types of sentient beings. One was the gods; another was ciated with Amun, the supreme force in the cosmos.[33]
the spirits of deceased humans, who existed in the divine Upon his death, the king became fully deied. In this
realm and possessed many of the gods abilities. Living state, he was directly identied with Ra, and was also
humans were the third category, and the most important associated with Osiris, god of death and rebirth and the
among them was the pharaoh, who bridged the human mythological father of Horus.[34] Many mortuary temples
and divine realms.[28] were dedicated to the worship of deceased pharaohs as


The Egyptians had elaborate beliefs about death and the

afterlife. They believed that humans possessed a ka, or
life-force, which left the body at the point of death. In
life, the ka received its sustenance from food and drink,
so it was believed that, to endure after death, the ka
must continue to receive oerings of food, whose spir-
itual essence it could still consume. Each person also had
a ba, the set of spiritual characteristics unique to each
individual.[35] Unlike the ka, the ba remained attached to
the body after death. Egyptian funeral rituals were in-
tended to release the ba from the body so that it could
move freely, and to rejoin it with the ka so that it could
live on as an akh. However, it was also important that the
body of the deceased be preserved, as the Egyptians be-
lieved that the ba returned to its body each night to receive
new life, before emerging in the morning as an akh.[36]
Originally, however, the Egyptians believed that only the
Colossal statue of the Pharaoh Ramesses II pharaoh had a ba,[37] and only he could become one with
the gods; dead commoners passed into a dark, bleak
realm that represented the opposite of life.[38] The no-
bles received tombs and the resources for their upkeep as
Divine pharaoh
gifts from the king, and their ability to enter the afterlife
was believed to be dependent on these royal favors.[39] In
See also: Pharaoh early times the deceased pharaoh was believed to ascend
to the sky and dwell among the stars.[40] Over the course
Egyptologists have long debated the degree to which the of the Old Kingdom (c. 26862181 BC), however, he
Pharaoh was considered a god. It seems most likely that came to be more closely associated with the daily rebirth
the Egyptians viewed royal authority itself as a divine of the sun god Ra and with the underworld ruler Osiris as
force. Therefore, although the Egyptians recognized that those deities grew more important.[41]

Judgment ture. The details of the events they recounted could

change to convey dierent symbolic perspectives on the
During the late Old Kingdom (26862181 BC) and the mysterious divine events they described, so many myths
First Intermediate Period (c. 21812055 BC), the Egyp- exist in dierent and conicting versions.[48] Mythical
tians gradually came to believe that possession of a ba narratives were rarely written in full, and more often
and the possibility of a paradisiacal afterlife extended to texts only contain episodes from or allusions to a larger
everyone.[37][42] In the fully developed afterlife beliefs of myth.[49] Knowledge of Egyptian mythology, therefore,
the New Kingdom, the soul had to avoid a variety of su- is derived mostly from hymns that detail the roles of
pernatural dangers in the Duat, before undergoing a nal specic deities, from ritual and magical texts which de-
judgment known as the Weighing of the Heart. In this scribe actions related to mythic events, and from funer-
judgment, the gods compared the actions of the deceased ary texts which mention the roles of many deities in the
while alive (symbolized by the heart) to Ma'at, to deter- afterlife. Some information is also provided by allusions
mine whether he or she had behaved in accordance with in secular texts.[46] Finally, Greeks and Romans such as
Ma'at. If the deceased was judged worthy, his or her ka Plutarch recorded some of the extant myths late in Egyp-
and ba were united into an akh.[43] Several beliefs coex- tian history.[50]
isted about the akh's destination. Often the dead were
Among the signicant Egyptian myths were the creation
said to dwell in the realm of Osiris, a lush and pleasant
myths. According to these stories, the world emerged as
land in the underworld.[44] The solar vision of the after-
a dry space in the primordial ocean of chaos. Because
life, in which the deceased soul traveled with Ra on his
the sun is essential to life on earth, the rst rising of Ra
daily journey, was still primarily associated with royalty,
marked the moment of this emergence. Dierent forms
but could extend to other people as well. Over the course
of the myth describe the process of creation in various
of the Middle and New Kingdoms, the notion that the akh
ways: a transformation of the primordial god Atum into
could also travel in the world of the living, and to some
the elements that form the world, as the creative speech
degree magically aect events there, became increasingly
of the intellectual god Ptah, and as an act of the hidden
power of Amun.[51] Regardless of these variations, the act
of creation represented the initial establishment of maat
and the pattern for the subsequent cycles of time.[22]
1.23.3 Writings
The most important of all Egyptian myths was the myth
See also: Ancient Egyptian literature of Osiris and Isis.[52] It tells of the divine ruler Osiris,
who was murdered by his jealous brother Set, a god of-
ten associated with chaos.[53] Osiris sister and wife Isis
While the Egyptians had no unied religious scripture,
resurrected him so that he could conceive an heir, Horus.
they produced many religious writings of various types.
Osiris then entered the underworld and became the ruler
Together the disparate texts provide a very extensive,
of the dead. Once grown, Horus fought and defeated Set
but still incomplete, understanding of Egyptian religious
to become king himself.[54] Sets association with chaos,
practices and beliefs.[46]
and the identication of Osiris and Horus as the rightful
rulers, provided a rationale for Pharaonic succession and
Mythology portrayed the Pharaohs as the upholders of order. At the
same time, Osiris death and rebirth were related to the
Main article: Egyptian mythology Egyptian agricultural cycle, in which crops grew in the
Egyptian myths were metaphorical stories intended to wake of the Nile inundation, and provided a template for
the resurrection of human souls after death.[55]
Another important mythic motif was the journey of Ra
through the Duat each night. In the course of this journey,
Ra met with Osiris, who again acted as an agent of regen-
eration, so that his life was renewed. He also fought each
night with Apep, a serpentine god representing chaos.
The defeat of Apep and the meeting with Osiris ensured
the rising of the sun the next morning, an event that rep-
resented rebirth and the victory of order over chaos.[56]

Ritual and magical texts

Ra (at center) travels through the underworld in his barque, ac-
companied by other gods[47] The procedures for religious rituals were frequently writ-
ten on papyri, which were used as instructions for those
illustrate and explain the gods actions and roles in na- performing the ritual. These ritual texts were kept mainly

in the temple libraries. Temples themselves are also in-

scribed with such texts, often accompanied by illustra-
tions. Unlike the ritual papyri, these inscriptions were not
intended as instructions, but were meant to symbolically
perpetuate the rituals even if, in reality, people ceased
to perform them.[57] Magical texts likewise describe rit-
uals, although these rituals were part of the spells used
for specic goals in everyday life. Despite their mundane
purpose, many of these texts also originated in temple li-
braries and later became disseminated among the general

Hymns and prayers

Section of the Book of the Dead for the scribe Hunefer, depicting
The Egyptians produced numerous prayers and hymns, the Weighing of the Heart.
written in the form of poetry. Hymns and prayers fol-
low a similar structure and are distinguished mainly by
the purposes they serve. Hymns were written to praise tombs of non-royal ocials.[66] In the New Kingdom, sev-
particular deities.[59] Like ritual texts, they were writ- eral new funerary texts emerged, of which the best-known
ten on papyri and on temple walls, and they were prob- is the Book of the Dead. Unlike the earlier books, it of-
ably recited as part of the rituals they accompany in ten contains extensive illustrations, or vignettes.[67] The
temple inscriptions.[60] Most are structured according book was copied on papyrus and sold to commoners to
to a set literary formula, designed to expound on the be placed in their tombs.[68]
nature, aspects, and mythological functions of a given
The Con Texts included sections with detailed descrip-
deity.[59] They tend to speak more explicitly about fun-
tions of the underworld and instructions on how to over-
damental theology than other Egyptian religious writings,
come its hazards. In the New Kingdom, this material
and became particularly important in the New Kingdom,
gave rise to several books of the netherworld, includ-
a period of particularly active theological discourse.[61]
ing the Book of Gates, the Book of Caverns, and the
Prayers follow the same general pattern as hymns, but
Amduat.[69] Unlike the loose collections of spells, these
address the relevant god in a more personal way, asking
netherworld books are structured depictions of Ras pas-
for blessings, help, or forgiveness for wrongdoing. Such
sage through the Duat, and by analogy, the journey of
prayers are rare before the New Kingdom, indicating that
the deceased persons soul through the realm of the dead.
in earlier periods such direct personal interaction with a
They were originally restricted to pharaonic tombs, but in
deity was not believed possible, or at least was less likely
the Third Intermediate Period they came to be used more
to be expressed in writing. They are known mainly from
inscriptions on statues and stelae left in sacred sites as
votive oerings.[62] As Egypt became more modernized, its archaic practices
were substituted with new and ecient scientic tech-
niques. Some of these scientic advancements were re-
Funerary texts lated to the development of mummication. By enhanc-
ing their advanced practice of mummication, the Egyp-
Main article: Ancient Egyptian funerary texts tians were able to reach a new level of excellency con-
Among the most signicant and extensively preserved cerning afterlife.
Egyptian writings are funerary texts designed to ensure
that deceased souls reached a pleasant afterlife.[63] The
earliest of these are the Pyramid Texts. They are a loose 1.23.4 Practices
collection of hundreds of spells inscribed on the walls
of royal pyramids during the Old Kingdom, intended to Temples
magically provide pharaohs with the means to join the
company of the gods in the afterlife.[64] The spells appear Main article: Egyptian temple
in diering arrangements and combinations, and few of
them appear in all of the pyramids.[65] Temples existed from the beginning of Egyptian history,
At the end of the Old Kingdom a new body of funerary and at the height of the civilization they were present in
spells, which included material from the Pyramid Texts, most of its towns. They included both mortuary tem-
began appearing in tombs, inscribed primarily on cons. ples to serve the spirits of deceased pharaohs and tem-
This collection of writings is known as the Con Texts, ples dedicated to patron gods, although the distinction
and was not reserved for royalty, but appeared in the was blurred because divinity and kingship were so closely

tative to the gods. In reality, ritual duties were almost

always carried out by priests. During the Old and Mid-
dle Kingdoms, there was no separate class of priests; in-
stead, many government ocials served in this capacity
for several months out of the year before returning to
their secular duties. Only in the New Kingdom did pro-
fessional priesthood become widespread, although most
lower-ranking priests were still part-time. All were still
employed by the state, and the pharaoh had nal say in
their appointments.[76] However, as the wealth of the tem-
First pylon and colonnade of the Temple of Isis at Philae. ples grew, the inuence of their priesthoods increased,
until it rivaled that of the pharaoh. In the political frag-
mentation of the Third Intermediate Period (c. 1070
664 BC), the high priests of Amun at Karnak even be-
intertwined.[22] The temples were not primarily intended came the eective rulers of Upper Egypt.[77] The temple
as places for worship by the general populace, and the sta also included many people other than priests, such
common people had a complex set of religious prac- as musicians and chanters in temple ceremonies. Outside
tices of their own. Instead, the state-run temples served the temple were artisans and other laborers who helped
as houses for the gods, in which physical images which supply the temples needs, as well as farmers who worked
served as their intermediaries were cared for and pro- on temple estates. All were paid with portions of the tem-
vided with oerings. This service was believed to be nec- ples income. Large temples were therefore very impor-
essary to sustain the gods, so that they could in turn main- tant centers of economic activity, sometimes employing
tain the universe itself.[71] Thus, temples were central to thousands of people.[78]
Egyptian society, and vast resources were devoted to their
upkeep, including both donations from the monarchy and
large estates of their own. Pharaohs often expanded them Ocial rituals and festivals
as part of their obligation to honor the gods, so that many
temples grew to enormous size.[72] However, not all gods State religious practice included both temple rituals in-
had temples dedicated to them, as many gods who were volved in the cult of a deity, and ceremonies related
important in ocial theology received only minimal wor- to divine kingship. Among the latter were coronation
ship, and many household gods were the focus of popular ceremonies and the sed festival, a ritual renewal of the
veneration rather than temple ritual.[73] pharaohs strength that took place periodically during his
The earliest Egyptian temples were small, impermanent reign.[79] There were numerous temple rituals, including
structures, but through the Old and Middle Kingdoms rites that took place across the country and rites limited
their designs grew more elaborate, and they were increas- to single temples or to the temples of a single god. Some
ingly built out of stone. In the New Kingdom, a basic tem- were performed daily, while others took place annually
ple layout emerged, which had evolved from common el- or on rarer occasions.[80] The most common temple rit-
ements in Old and Middle Kingdom temples. With vari- ual was the morning oering ceremony, performed daily
ations, this plan was used for most of the temples built in temples across Egypt. In it, a high-ranking priest, or
from then on, and most of those that survive today ad- occasionally the pharaoh, washed, anointed, and elabo-
here to it. In this standard plan, the temple was built rately dressed the gods statue before presenting it with
along a central processional way that led through a se- oerings. Afterward, when the god had consumed the
ries of courts and halls to the sanctuary, which held a spiritual essence of the oerings, the items themselves
statue of the temples god. Access to this most sacred were taken to be distributed among the priests.[79]
part of the temple was restricted to the pharaoh and the
The less frequent temple rituals, or festivals, were still
highest-ranking priests. The journey from the temple en-
numerous, with dozens occurring every year. These fes-
trance to the sanctuary was seen as a journey from the tivals often entailed actions beyond simple oerings to
human world to the divine realm, a point emphasized by the gods, such as reenactments of particular myths or the
the complex mythological symbolism present in temple symbolic destruction of the forces of disorder.[81] Most of
architecture.[74] Well beyond the temple building proper
these events were probably celebrated only by the priests
was the outermost wall. In the space between the two and took place only inside the temple.[80] However, the
lay many subsidiary buildings, including workshops and most important temple festivals, like the Opet Festival
storage areas to supply the temples needs, and the library
celebrated at Karnak, usually involved a procession car-
where the temples sacred writings and mundane records rying the gods image out of the sanctuary in a model bar-
were kept, and which also served as a center of learning
que to visit other signicant sites, such as the temple of
on a multitude of subjects.[75] a related deity. Commoners gathered to watch the pro-
Theoretically it was the duty of the pharaoh to carry cession and sometimes received portions of the unusually
out temple rituals, as he was Egypts ocial represen- large oerings given to the gods on these occasions.[82]

Animal cults through which a priest apparently spoke. The means of

discerning the gods will gave great inuence to the priests
who spoke and interpreted the gods message.[87]

Popular religion

While the state cults were meant to preserve the stability

of the Egyptian world, lay individuals had their own reli-
gious practices that related more directly to daily life.[88]
This popular religion left less evidence than the ocial
cults, and because this evidence was mostly produced by
the wealthiest portion of the Egyptian population, it is
uncertain to what degree it reects the practices of the
populace as a whole.[89]
Popular religious practice included ceremonies marking
important transitions in life. These included birth, be-
cause of the danger involved in the process, and naming,
because the name was held to be a crucial part of a per-
sons identity. The most important of these ceremonies
The Apis bull were those surrounding death (see Funerary practices
below), because they ensured the souls survival beyond
At many sacred sites, the Egyptians worshipped individ- it.[90] Other religious practices sought to discern the gods
ual animals which they believed to be manifestations of will or seek their knowledge. These included the interpre-
particular deities. These animals were selected based on tation of dreams, which could be seen as messages from
specic sacred markings which were believed to indicate the divine realm, and the consultation of oracles. Peo-
their tness for the role. Some of these cult animals re- ple also sought to aect the gods behavior to their own
tained their positions for the rest of their lives, as with benet through magical rituals (see Magic below).[91]
the Apis bull worshipped in Memphis as a manifestation Individual Egyptians also prayed to gods and gave them
of Ptah. Other animals were selected for much shorter private oerings. Evidence of this type of personal piety
periods. These cults grew more popular in later times, is sparse before the New Kingdom. This is probably due
and many temples began raising stocks of such animals to cultural restrictions on depiction of nonroyal religious
from which to choose a new divine manifestation.[83] A activity, which relaxed during the Middle and New King-
separate practice developed in the Twenty-sixth Dynasty, doms. Personal piety became still more prominent in the
when people began mummifying any member of a par- late New Kingdom, when it was believed that the gods in-
ticular animal species as an oering to the god whom tervened directly in individual lives, punishing wrongdo-
the species represented. Millions of mummied cats, ers and saving the pious from disaster.[62] Ocial temples
birds, and other creatures were buried at temples honor- were important venues for private prayer and oering,
ing Egyptian deities.[84][85] Worshippers paid the priests even though their central activities were closed to laypeo-
of a particular deity to obtain and mummify an animal ple. Egyptians frequently donated goods to be oered
associated with that deity, and the mummy was placed in to the temple deity and objects inscribed with prayers to
a cemetery near the gods cult center. be placed in temple courts. Often they prayed in per-
son before temple statues or in shrines set aside for their
use.[89] Yet in addition to temples, the populace also used
separate local chapels, smaller but more accessible than
The Egyptians used oracles to ask the gods for knowledge the formal temples. These chapels were very numerous,
or guidance. Egyptian oracles are known mainly from the and probably staed by members of the community.[92]
New Kingdom and afterward, though they probably ap- Households, too, often had their own small shrines for
peared much earlier. People of all classes, including the oering to gods or deceased relatives.[93]
king, asked questions of oracles, and, especially in the late The deities invoked in these situations diered somewhat
New Kingdom their answers could be used to settle le- from those at the center of state cults. Many of the impor-
gal disputes or inform royal decisions.[86] The most com- tant popular deities, such as the fertility goddess Taweret
mon means of consulting an oracle was to pose a question and the household protector Bes, had no temples of their
to the divine image while it was being carried in a festi- own. However, many other gods, including Amun and
val procession, and interpret an answer from the barques Osiris, were very important in both popular and ocial
movements. Other methods included interpreting the be- religion.[94] Some individuals might be particularly de-
havior of cult animals, drawing lots, or consulting statues voted to a single god. Often they favored deities ali-

ated with their own region, or with their role in life. The
involved written or spoken incantations, although these
god Ptah, for instance, was particularly important in his were usually accompanied by ritual actions. Often these
cult center of Memphis, but as the patron of craftsmen rituals invoked the power of an appropriate deity to per-
he received the nationwide veneration of many in that form the desired action, using the power of heka to com-
occupation.[95] pel it to act. Sometimes this entailed casting the prac-
titioner or subject of a ritual in the role of a charac-
ter in mythology, thus inducing the god to act toward
Magic that person as it had in the myth. Rituals also employed
sympathetic magic, using objects believed to have a mag-
Main article: Heka ically signicant resemblance to the subject of the rite.
The Egyptians also commonly used objects believed to
The word magic is used to translate the Egyptian term be imbued with heka of their own, such as the magi-
heka, which meant, as James P. Allen puts it, the abil- cally protective amulets worn in great numbers by ordi-
ity to make things happen by indirect means.[96] Heka nary Egyptians.[101]
was believed to be a natural phenomenon, the force which
was used to create the universe and which the gods em-
ployed to work their will. Humans could also use it, how- Funerary practices
ever, and magical practices were closely intertwined with
religion. In fact, even the regular rituals performed in Main article: Ancient Egyptian burial customs
temples were counted as magic.[97] Individuals also fre-
quently employed magical techniques for personal pur- Because it was considered necessary for the survival of
poses. Although these ends could be harmful to other the soul, preservation of the body was a central part of
people, no form of magic was considered inimical in it- Egyptian funerary practices. Originally the Egyptians
self. Instead, magic was seen primarily as a way for hu- buried their dead in the desert, where the arid conditions
mans to prevent or overcome negative events.[98] mummied the body naturally. In the Early Dynastic Pe-
riod, however, they began using tombs for greater pro-
tection, and the body was insulated from the desiccating
eect of the sand and was subject to natural decay. Thus
the Egyptians developed their elaborate embalming prac-
tices, in which the corpse was articially desiccated and
wrapped to be placed in its con.[102] The quality of the
process varied according to cost, however, and those who
could not aord it were still buried in desert graves.[103]

Amulet in the shape of the Eye of Horus, a common magical


Magic was closely associated with the priesthood. Be-

cause temple libraries contained numerous magical texts,
great magical knowledge was ascribed to the lector priests
who studied these texts. These priests often worked
outside their temples, hiring out their magical services
to laymen. Other professions also commonly employed
magic as part of their work, including doctors, scorpion-
The Opening of the Mouth ceremony being performed before the
charmers, and makers of magical amulets. It is also likely
that the peasantry used simple magic for their own pur-
poses, but because this magical knowledge would have Once the mummication process was complete, the
been passed down orally, there is limited evidence of mummy was carried from the deceased persons house
it.[99] to the tomb in a funeral procession that included his or
Language was closely linked with heka, to such a degree her friends and relatives, along with a variety of priests.
that Thoth, the god of writing, was sometimes said to Before the burial, these priests performed several ritu-
be the inventor of heka.[100] Therefore, magic frequently als, including the Opening of the mouth ceremony in-

tended to restore the dead persons senses and give him

or her the ability to receive oerings. Then the mummy
was buried and the tomb sealed.[104] Afterward, relatives
or hired priests gave food oerings to the deceased in a
nearby mortuary chapel at regular intervals. Over time,
families inevitably neglected oerings to long-dead rel-
atives, so most mortuary cults only lasted one or two
generations.[105] However, while the cult lasted, the liv-
ing sometimes wrote letters asking deceased relatives for
help, in the belief that the dead could aect the world of
the living as the gods did.[106]
The rst Egyptian tombs were mastabas, rectangular
brick structures where kings and nobles were entombed.
Each of them contained a subterranean burial chamber Narmer, a Predynastic ruler, accompanied by men carrying the
and a separate, above ground chapel for mortuary rit- standards of various local gods
uals. In the Old Kingdom the mastaba developed into
the pyramid, which symbolized the primeval mound of
have emerged more slowly than those in animal shape.
Egyptian myth. Pyramids were reserved for royalty, and
Each region of Egypt originally had its own patron de-
were accompanied by large mortuary temples sitting at
ity, but it is likely that as these small communities con-
their base. Middle Kingdom pharaohs continued to build
quered or absorbed each other, the god of the defeated
pyramids, but the popularity of mastabas waned. Increas-
area was either incorporated into the other gods mythol-
ingly, commoners with sucient means were buried in
ogy or entirely subsumed by it. This resulted in a com-
rock-cut tombs with separate mortuary chapels nearby,
plex pantheon in which some deities remained only lo-
an approach which was less vulnerable to tomb robbery.
cally important while others developed more universal
By the beginning of the New Kingdom even the pharaohs
signicance.[113][114] As the time changed and the shift-
were buried in such tombs, and they continued to be used
ing of the empires changed like the middle kingdom, new
until the decline of the religion itself.[107]
kingdom, and old kingdom, usually the religion followed
Tombs could contain a great variety of other items, in- stayed within the border of that territory.
cluding statues of the deceased to serve as substitutes for
The Early Dynastic Period began with the unication of
the body in case it was damaged.[108] Because it was be-
Egypt around 3000 BC. This event transformed Egyptian
lieved that the deceased would have to do work in the
religion, as some deities rose to national importance and
afterlife, just as in life, burials often included small mod-
[109] the cult of the divine pharaoh became the central focus of
els of humans to do work in place of the deceased.
religious activity.[115] Horus was identied with the king,
The tombs of wealthier individuals could also contain fur-
and his cult center in the Upper Egyptian city of Nekhen
niture, clothing, and other everyday objects intended for
was among the most important religious sites of the pe-
use in the afterlife, along with amulets and other items in-
riod. Another important center was Abydos, where the
tended to provide magical protection against the hazards
[110] early rulers built large funerary complexes.[116]
of the spirit world. Further protection was provided
by funerary texts included in the burial. The tomb walls
also bore artwork, including images of the deceased eat- Old and Middle Kingdoms
ing food which were believed to allow him or her to magi-
cally receive sustenance even after the mortuary oerings During the Old Kingdom, the priesthoods of the major
had ceased.[111] deities attempted to organize the complicated national
pantheon into groups linked by their mythology and wor-
shipped in a single cult center, such as the Ennead of
1.23.5 History
Heliopolis which linked important deities such as Atum,
Ra, Osiris, and Set in a single creation myth.[117] Mean-
Predynastic and Early Dynastic periods
while, pyramids, accompanied by large mortuary temple
The beginnings of Egyptian religion extend into prehis- complexes, replaced mastabas as the tombs of pharaohs.
tory, and evidence for them comes only from the sparse In contrast with the great size of the pyramid complexes,
and ambiguous archaeological record. Careful burials temples to gods remained comparatively small, suggest-
during the Predynastic period imply that the people of ing that ocial religion in this period emphasized the cult
this time believed in some form of an afterlife. At the of the divine king more than the direct worship of deities.
same time, animals were ritually buried, a practice which The funerary rituals and architecture of this time greatly
may reect the development of zoomorphic deities like inuenced the more elaborate temples and rituals used in
those found in the later religion.[112] The evidence is less worshipping the gods in later periods.[118]
clear for gods in human form, and this type of deity may Early in the Old Kingdom, Ra grew in inuence, and

theological discussion produced detailed descriptions of

Amuns universal power.[126][127]
Increased contact with outside peoples in this period led
to the adoption of many Near Eastern deities into the
pantheon. At the same time, the subjugated Nubians
absorbed Egyptian religious beliefs, and in particular,
adopted Amun as their own.[128]

The pyramid complex of Djedkare Isesi

his cult center at Heliopolis became the nations most

important religious site.[119] By the Fifth Dynasty, Ra
was the most prominent god in Egypt, and had devel-
oped the close links with kingship and the afterlife that
he retained for the rest of Egyptian history.[120] Around
the same time, Osiris became an important afterlife de-
ity. The Pyramid Texts, rst written at this time, reect
the prominence of the solar and Osirian concepts of the
afterlife, although they also contain remnants of much
older traditions.[121] The texts are an extremely important
source for understanding early Egyptian theology.[122]
In the 22nd century BC, the Old Kingdom collapsed into
the disorder of the First Intermediate Period, with im-
portant consequences for Egyptian religion. Old King-
dom ocials had already begun to adopt the funerary
rites originally reserved for royalty,[42] but now, less rigid
barriers between social classes meant that these practices
and the accompanying beliefs gradually extended to all Akhenaten and his family worshipping the Aten
Egyptians, a process called the democratization of the
afterlife.[123] The Osirian view of the afterlife had the The New Kingdom religious order was disrupted when
greatest appeal to commoners, and thus Osiris became Akhenaten acceded, and replaced Amun with the Aten as
one of the most important gods.[124] the state god. Eventually he eliminated the ocial wor-
ship of most other gods, and moved Egypts capital to a
Eventually rulers from Thebes reunied the Egyptian new city at Amarna. This part of Egyptian history, the
nation in the Middle Kingdom (c. 20551650 BC). Amarna period, is named after this. In doing so, Akhen-
These Theban pharaohs initially promoted their patron aten claimed unprecedented status: only he could wor-
god Monthu to national importance, but during the Mid- ship the Aten, and the populace directed their worship
dle Kingdom, he was eclipsed by the rising popularity of toward him. The Atenist system lacked well-developed
Amun.[125] In this new Egyptian state, personal piety grew mythology and afterlife beliefs, and the Aten seemed dis-
more important and was expressed more freely in writing, tant and impersonal, so the new order did not appeal to or-
a trend which continued in the New Kingdom.[37] dinary Egyptians.[129] Thus, many probably continued to
worship the traditional gods in private. Nevertheless, the
withdrawal of state support for the other deities severely
New Kingdom
disrupted Egyptian society.[130] Akhenatens successors
The Middle Kingdom crumbled in the Second Intermedi- restored the traditional religious system, and eventually
ate Period (c. 16501550 BC), but the country was again they dismantled all Atenist monuments.[131]
reunited by Theban rulers, who became the rst pharaohs Before the Amarna period, popular religion had trended
of the New Kingdom. Under the new regime, Amun be- toward more personal relationships between worshippers
came the supreme state god. He was syncretized with Ra, and their gods. Akhenatens changes had reversed this
the long-established patron of kingship, and his temple trend, but once the traditional religion was restored, there
at Karnak in Thebes became Egypts most important re- was a backlash. The populace began to believe that
ligious center. Amuns elevation was partly due to the the gods were much more directly involved in daily life.
great importance of Thebes, but it was also due to the Amun, the supreme god, was increasingly seen as the -
increasingly professional priesthood. Their sophisticated nal arbiter of human destiny, the true ruler of Egypt. The

pharaoh was correspondingly more human and less di- with characteristics of Greek deities, and who became
vine. The importance of oracles as a means of decision- very popular among the Greek population. Nevertheless,
making grew, as did the wealth and inuence of the or- for the most part the two belief systems remained sepa-
acles interpreters, the priesthood. These trends under- rate, and the Egyptian deities remained Egyptian.[137]
mined the traditional structure of society and contributed Ptolemaic-era beliefs changed little after Egypt became a
to the breakdown of the New Kingdom.[132][133] province of the Roman Empire in 30 BC, with the Ptole-
maic kings replaced by distant emperors.[136] The cult of
Isis appealed even to Greeks and Romans outside Egypt,
Later periods
and in Hellenized form it spread across the empire.[138] In
Egypt itself, as the empire weakened, ocial temples fell
In the 1st millennium BC, Egypt was signicantly weaker
into decay, and without their centralizing inuence reli-
than in earlier times, and in several periods foreigners
gious practice became fragmented and localized. Mean-
seized the country and assumed the position of pharaoh.
while, Christianity spread across Egypt, and in the third
The importance of the pharaoh continued to decline, and
and fourth centuries AD, edicts by Christian emperors
the emphasis on popular piety continued to increase. An-
and iconoclasm by local Christians eroded traditional be-
imal cults, a characteristically Egyptian form of worship,
liefs. While it persisted among the populace for some
became increasingly popular in this period, possibly as a
time, Egyptian religion slowly faded away.[139]
response to the uncertainty and foreign inuence of the
time.[134] Isis grew more popular as a goddess of protec-
tion, magic, and personal salvation, and became the most Legacy
important goddess in Egypt.[135]

Altar to Thoth of a Kemetic follower.

Egyptian religion produced the temples and tombs which

are ancient Egypts most enduring monuments, but it also
inuenced other cultures. In pharaonic times many of its
symbols, such as the sphinx and winged solar disk, were
adopted by other cultures across the Mediterranean and
Near East, as were some of its deities, such as Bes. Some
of these connections are dicult to trace. The Greek con-
cept of Elysium may have derived from the Egyptian vi-
sion of the afterlife.[140] In late antiquity, the Christian
conception of Hell was most likely inuenced by some
of the imagery of the Duat. Biblical accounts of Jesus
and Mary may have been inuenced by that of Isis and
Osiris.[141] Egyptian beliefs also inuenced or gave rise
to several esoteric belief systems developed by Greeks
and Romans, who considered Egypt as a source of mys-
tic wisdom. Hermeticism, for instance, derived from
the tradition of secret magical knowledge associated with
In the 4th century BC, Egypt became a Hellenistic king-
dom under the Ptolemaic dynasty (30530 BC), which as- Modern times Traces of ancient beliefs remained in
sumed the pharaonic role, maintaining the traditional reli- Egyptian folk traditions into modern times, but its in-
gion and building or rebuilding many temples. The king- uence on modern societies greatly increased with the
doms Greek ruling class identied the Egyptian deities French Campaign in Egypt and Syria in 1798 and their
with their own.[136] From this cross-cultural syncretism seeing the monuments and images. As a result of it,
emerged Serapis, a god who combined Osiris and Apis Westerners began to study Egyptian beliefs rsthand,

and Egyptian religious motifs were adopted into Western [21] Assmann 2001, pp. 45.
art.[143][144] Egyptian religion has since had a signicant
[22] Shafer 1997, pp. 24.
inuence in popular culture. Due to continued interest
in Egyptian belief, in the late 20th century, several new [23] Assmann 2001, pp. 6879.
religious groups have formed based on dierent recon-
structions of ancient Egyptian religion.[145] [24] Allen 2000, pp. 104, 127.

[25] Lesko 1991, pp. 11721.

1.23.6 See also [26] Dunand & Zivie-Coche 2005, pp. 4546.

Ancient Egyptian concept of the soul [27] Allen, James P., The Cosmology of the Pyramid Texts,
in Simpson 1989, pp. 2026.
Egyptian pantheon
[28] Allen 2000, p. 31.
Kemetism [29] Wilkinson 2003, pp. 5456.
List of Egyptian mythology topics [30] Assmann 2001, pp. 56.
Prehistoric religion [31] Wilkinson 2003, p. 55.

Religions of the Ancient Near East [32] Van Dijk, Jacobus, The Amarna Period and the Later
New Kingdom, in Shaw 2000, pp. 31112.
Traditional African religion
[33] David 2002, pp. 69, 95, 184.

[34] Wilkinson 2003, pp. 6063.

1.23.7 References
[35] Allen 2000, pp. 7980.
[1] Assmann 2001, pp. 15, 80.
[36] Allen 2000, pp. 9495.
[2] Assmann 2001, pp. 6364, 82.
[37] Callender, Gae, The Middle Kingdom, in Shaw 2000,
[3] Allen 2000, pp. 4344. pp. 18081.
[4] Wilkinson 2003, pp. 30, 32, 89. [38] Assmann 2005, pp. 12128, 38990.
[5] Silverman 1991, pp. 5558. [39] David 2002, p. 79.

[6] David 2002, p. 53. [40] Taylor 2001, p. 25.

[7] Wilkinson 2003, pp. 28, 18789. [41] David 2002, pp. 90, 9495.

[8] Teeter 2001, pp. 34044. [42] Assmann 2005, pp. 38991.

[9] Wilkinson, pp. 7479. [43] Fleming & Lothian 1997, p. 104.

[10] Dunand & Zivie-Coche 2005, pp. 2728. [44] David 2002, pp. 16061.

[11] Wilkinson 2003, pp. 3335. [45] Assmann 2005, pp. 20910, 398402.

[12] Wilkinson 2003, pp. 36, 67. [46] Traunecker 2001, pp. 15.

[13] Assmann 2001, pp. 18992, 24142. [47] Wilkinson 2003, pp. 222223.

[14] Wilkinson 2003, pp. 3639. [48] Tobin 2001, pp. 46468.

[15] Assmann 2001, pp. 1011. [49] Pinch 1994, p. 18.

[16] Montserrat, Dominic (2000), Akhenaten: History, Fan- [50] Fleming & Lothian 1997, p. 26.
tasy and Ancient Egypt, Routledge, pp. 36, ISBN 0-415-
[51] Allen 2000, pp. 14345, 17173, 182.
[52] Assmann 2001, p. 124.
[17] Najovits, Simson (2003). Egypt, trunk of the tree. 2. Al-
gora. pp. 13144. ISBN 978-0-87586-256-9. [53] Fleming & Lothian 1997, pp. 76, 78.

[18] Dunand & Zivie-Coche 2005, p. 35. [54] Quirke & Spencer 1992, p. 67.

[19] Allen 2000, p. 198. [55] Fleming & Lothian 1997, pp. 84, 107108.

[20] Allen 2000, pp. 11517. [56] Fleming & Lothian 1997, pp. 33, 3839.

[57] Dunand & Zivie-Coche 2005, pp. 9399. [91] Baines, in Shafer 1991, pp. 164171

[58] Pinch 1995, p. 63. [92] Lesko, Barbara S. Cults: Private Cults, in Redford
2001, vol. I, pp. 336339
[59] Foster, John L., Lyric, in Redford 2001, vol. II, pp.
31217. [93] Sadek 1988, pp. 7678

[60] Dunand & Zivie-Coche 2005, p. 94. [94] David 2002, pp. 273, 276277

[61] Assmann 2001, p. 166. [95] Traunecker 2001, p. 98

[62] Ockinga, Boyo, Piety, in Redford 2001, vol. III, pp. [96] Allen 2000, pp. 156157
[97] Pinch 1995, pp. 917.
[63] Allen 2000, p. 315.
[98] Baines, in Shafer 1991, p. 165.
[64] Hornung 1999, pp. 15.
[99] Pinch 1995, pp. 5163.
[65] David 2002, p. 93.
[100] Pinch 1995, pp. 16, 28.
[66] Taylor 2001, pp. 19495.
[101] Pinch 1995, pp. 7378.
[67] Hornung 1999, pp. xvii, 14.
[102] Quirke & Spencer 1992, pp. 8690.
[68] Quirke & Spencer 1992, p. 98.
[103] David 2002, pp. 3001.
[69] Allen 2000, pp. 31617.
[104] Taylor 2001, pp. 18793.
[70] Hornung 1999, pp. 2627, 30.
[105] Taylor 2001, p. 95.
[71] Wilkinson 2003, pp. 4244.
[106] David 2002, p. 282.
[72] Wilkinson 2000, pp. 89, 50.
[107] Taylor, pp. 14155.
[73] Wilkinson 2000, p. 82.
[108] Fleming & Lothian 1997, pp. 1001.
[74] Dunand & Zivie-Coche 2005, pp. 7282, 8689.
[109] Taylor 2001, pp. 99103.
[75] Wilkinson 2000, pp. 7275.
[110] Taylor 2001, pp. 10710, 20013.
[76] Shafer 1997, p. 9
[111] Quirke & Spencer 1992, pp. 9798, 112.
[77] Wilkinson 2000, pp. 9, 2526
[112] Wilkinson 2003, pp. 1215.
[78] Wilkinson 2000, pp. 9293
[113] Wilkinson 2003, p. 31.
[79] Thompson, Stephen E., Cults: Overview, in Redford
[114] David 2002, pp. 5052.
2001, vol. I, 326332
[115] Wilkinson 2003, p. 15.
[80] Wilkinson 2000, p. 95
[116] Wilkinson 2000, pp. 1719.
[81] Dunand and Zivie-Coche, pp. 9395; Shafer 1997, p. 25
[117] David 2002, pp. 51, 8185.
[82] Shafer 1997, pp. 2728
[118] Dunand & Zivie-Coche 2005, pp. 7879.
[83] Dunand and Zivie-Coche 2005, pp. 21, 83
[119] Malek, Jaromir, The Old Kingdom, in Shaw 2000, pp.
[84] Quirke and Spencer 1992, pp. 78, 9294 9293, 1089.
[85] Owen, James (2004). Egyptian Animals Were Mummi- [120] David 2002, pp. 9091, 112.
ed Same Way as Humans. National Geographic News.
Retrieved 2010-08-06. [121] Malek in Shaw 2000, p. 113.

[86] Kruchten, Jean-Marie, Oracles, in Redford 2001, pp. [122] David 2002, p. 92
[123] Seidlmayer, Stephen, The First Intermediate Period. in
[87] Frankfurter 1998, pp. 145152 Shaw 2000, p. 124.

[88] Sadek 1988, pp. 12 [124] David 2002, pp. 15456.

[89] Wilkinson 2003, pp. 46 [125] David & 2002 154.

[90] Dunand and Zivie-Coche 2005, pp. 128131 [126] David 2002, pp. 18184, 186.

[127] Assmann 2001, pp. 166, 19192. Foster, John L (2001), Lyric in Redford 2001, vol.
II, pp. 31217.
[128] David 2002, pp. 276, 304.
Frankfurter, David (1998). Religion in Roman
[129] David 2002, pp. 21518, 238.
Egypt: Assimilation and Resistance. Princeton Uni-
[130] Van Dijk 2000, pp. 287, 311. versity Press. ISBN 0-691-07054-7.

[131] David 2002, pp. 23839. Hornung, Erik (1999). The Ancient Egyptian Books
of the Afterlife. Lorton, David transl. Cornell Uni-
[132] Van Dijk 2000, pp. 289, 31012. versity Press. ISBN 0-8014-8515-0.
[133] Assmann, State and Religion in the New Kingdom, in (2001). The Secret Lore of Egypt: Its Impact
Simpson 1989, pp. 7279. on the West. Lorton, David transl. Cornell Univer-
[134] David 2002, pp. 31217. sity Press. ISBN 0-8014-3847-0.

[135] Wilkinson 2003, pp. 51, 14649. Lesko, Leonard H (1991), Ancient Egyptian Cos-
mogonies and Cosmology in Shafer & 1991 pp. 117
[136] Peacock 2000, pp. 43738. 21.
[137] David 2002, pp. 32528. Malek, Jaromir (2000), The Old Kingdom, in Shaw
[138] David 2002, p. 326.
2000, pp. 9293, 1089.

[139] Frankfurter 1998, pp. 2330. Melton, J. Gordon (2009). Encyclopedia of Amer-
ican Religions (8th ed.). Gale Cengage Learning.
[140] Assmann 2001, p. 392. ISBN 0-7876-9696-X.
[141] Strong, Steven; Strong, Evan (2008). Mary Magdalenes Peacock, David (2000), The Roman Period, in Shaw
Dreaming: A Comparison of Aboriginal Wisdom and 2000, pp. 43738.
Gnostic Scripture. University Press of America. p. 5.
ISBN 978-0-76184280-4. Pinch, Geraldine (1995). Magic in Ancient Egypt.
University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-76559-2.
[142] Hornung 2001, pp. 1, 911, 7375.
Quirke, Stephen; Spencer, Jerey (1992). The
[143] Hornung 2001, p. 75. British Museum Book of Ancient Egypt. Thames &
[144] Fleming & Lothian 1997, pp. 13336. Hudson. ISBN 0-500-27902-0.

[145] Melton 2009, pp. 841, 847, 851, 855. Redford, Donald B, ed. (2001). The Oxford Ency-
clopedia of Ancient Egypt. Oxford University Press.
ISBN 0-19-510234-7.
1.23.8 Bibliography
Sadek, Ashraf Iskander (1988). Popular Religion in
Allen, James P (2000). Middle Egyptian: An Intro- Egypt during the New Kingdom. Hildesheim. ISBN
duction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs. 3-8067-8107-9.
Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-77483-7. Shafer, Byron E, ed. (1991). Religion in Ancient
Assmann, Jan (2001) [1984]. The Search for God Egypt: Gods, Myths, and Personal Practice. Cornell
in Ancient Egypt. Lorton, David transl. Cornell Uni- University Press. ISBN 0-8014-9786-8.
versity Press. ISBN 0-8014-8729-3. Shafer, Byron E, ed. (1997). Temples of Ancient
Egypt. IB Tauris. ISBN 1-85043-945-1.
(2005) [2001]. Death and Salvation in An-
cient Egypt. Lorton, David transl. Cornell Univer- Shaw, Ian, ed. (2000). The Oxford History of An-
sity Press. ISBN 0-8014-4241-9. cient Egypt. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-
David, Rosalie (2002). Religion and Magic in An-
cient Egypt. Penguin. ISBN 0-14-026252-0. Silverman, David P (1991), Divinity and Deities in
Ancient Egypt in Shafer 1991, pp. 5558.
Dunand, Franoise; Zivie-Coche, Christiane
(2005). Gods and Men in Egypt: 3000 BCE to 395 Simpson, William Kelly, ed. (1989). Religion and
CE. Lorton, David transl. Cornell University Press. Philosophy in Ancient Egypt. Yale Egyptological
ISBN 0-8014-8853-2. Seminar. ISBN 0-912532-18-1.
Fleming, Fergus; Lothian, Alan (1997). The Way Taylor, John (2001). Death and the Afterlife in An-
to Eternity: Egyptian Myth. Amsterdam: Duncan cient Egypt. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-
Baird. ISBN 0-7054-3503-2. 226-79164-5.

Teeter, Emily (2001), Cults: Divine Cults in Redford Philosophique de Memphis et du Grand Hymne
2001, vol. I, pp. 34044. Thologique d'Echnaton, Academy of African
Thought (in French), 2, Munich-Paris, sec I.
Tobin, Vincent Arieh, Myths: An Overview, in
Redford 2001, vol. II, pp. 46468. Pinch, Geraldine (2004), Egyptian Mythology: A
Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of an-
Traunecker, Claude (2001) [1992]. The Gods of cient Egypt, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-
Egypt. Lorton, David transl. Cornell University 517024-5.
Press. ISBN 0-8014-3834-9.
Schulz, R; Seidel, M (1998), Egypt: The World of
Van Dijk, Jacobus (2000), The Amarna Period and the Pharaohs, Cologne: Knemann, ISBN 3-89508-
the Later New Kingdom in Shaw 2000, pp. 31112. 913-3.
Wilkinson, Richard H (2000). The Complete Tem-
ples of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. ISBN
1.23.10 External links
(2003). The Complete Gods and Goddesses Budge, EA Wallis, Legends of the Gods: readable
of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0-500- HTML book with images and footnotes
05120-8. Egyptian Gods.
Ideology and Belief in Ancient Egypt, Digital
1.23.9 Further reading Egypt, UK: UCL.

Clarysse, Willy; Schoors, Antoon; Willems, Harco; Ancient Egypt, The Internet Sacred Text Archive.
Quaegebeur, Jan (1998), Egyptian Religion: The
Religion in the Lives of the Ancient Egyptians, U
Last Thousand Years: Studies Dedicated to the Mem-
ory of Jan Quaegebeur, Peeters, ISBN 90-429-
Harris, Geraldine; Sibbick, John; O'Connor, David 1.24 List of ancient Egyptian sites
(1992), Gods and Pharaohs from Egyptian Mythol-
ogy, Bedrick, ISBN 0-87226-907-8.
This is a list of ancient Egyptian sites, throughout all
Hart, George (1997), Egyptian Myths, Legendary of Egypt and Nubia. Sites are listed by their classical
Past, University of Texas Press, ISBN 0-292-72076- name whenever possible, if not by their modern name,
9. and lastly with their ancient name if no other is available.

Hill, Marsha (2007). Gifts for the gods: images

from Egyptian temples. New York: The Metropoli- 1.24.1 Nomes
tan Museum of Art. ISBN 9781588392312.
Bilolo, Mubabinge (2004) [Kinshasa-Munich
1987], Les cosmo-thologies philosophiques
d'Hliopolis et d'Hermopolis. Essai de thmatisation
et de systmatisation, Academy of African Thought
(in French), 2, Munich-Paris, sec I.
(2003) [Kinshasa-Munich, 1986], Les
cosmo-thologies philosophiques de lgypte Antique.
Problmatique, prmisses hermneutiques et prob-
lmes majeurs, Academy of African Thought (in
French), 1, Munich-Paris, sec I.
(2003) [Kinshasa-Munich 1995], Mta-
physique Pharaonique IIIme millnaire av. J.-
C., Academy of African Thought (in French), 4,
Munich-Paris: C.A. Diop-Center for Egyptological
Studies-INADEP, sec I.
The nomes of Ancient Egypt, in lower Egypt
(2004) [Kinshasa-Munich 1988], Le Cra-
teur et la Cration dans la pense memphite et A nome is a subnational administrative division of An-
amarnienne. Approche synoptique du Document cient Egypt.

Nome 11: The Set animal (Seth)

Nome 12: Viper mountain

Nome 13: Upper pomegranate tree (Upper

Sycamore and Viper)

Nome 14: Lower pomegranate tree (Lower

Sycamore and Viper)

Nome 15: Hare

Nome 16: Oryx

Nome 17: The black dog (Jackal)

Nome 18: Falcon with spread wings (Nemty)

Nome 19: The pure sceptre (Two Sceptres)

Nome 20: Upper laurel (Southern Sycamore)

Nome 21: Lower laurel (Northern Sycamore)

Nome 22: Knife

1.24.2 Lower Egypt (The Nile Delta)


Great Library of Alexandria

Pharos of Alexandria
Pompeys Pillar

Athribis (Modern: "Tell Atrib", Ancient: "Hut-

Heryib" or "Hut-Tahery-Ibt")

Avaris (Modern: "Tell el-Dab'a", Ancient: "Pi-

The nomes of Ancient Egypt, in upper Egypt Ri'amsese")

Behbeit el-Hagar
Lower Egypt
Upper Egypt Bubastis (Modern: "Tell Basta", Ancient: "Bast")
Nome 1: Land of the arch or To Khentit: the frontier Busiris (Modern: "Abu Sir Bana")
Buto (Modern: "Tell el-Fara'in", Ancient: "Pe")
Nome 2: Throne of Horus
Cairo (or near Cairo)
Nome 3: The rural (Shrine)
Abu Rawash
Nome 4: The sceptre
Giza Necropolis (Giza Plateau)
Nome 5: The two falcons Khufus Pyramid (Great Pyramid)
Nome 6: The crocodile Khafres Pyramid
Menkaures Pyramid
Nome 7: Sistrum Great Sphinx of Giza
Nome 8: Great lands Heliopolis (Modern: "Tell Hisn", Ancient:
Nome 9: Minu (Min)
Letopolis (Modern: "Ausim", Ancient:
Nome 10: Cobra "Khem")

Hermopolis Parva (Modern: "El-Baqliya" Ancient: Sebennytos (Modern: "Samannud", Ancient: "Tjeb-
"Ba'h") nutjer")
Iseum (Modern: "Behbeit el-Hagar", Ancient: Shagamba
Kom el-Hisn (Ancient: "Imu" or "Yamu")
Taposiris Magna (Modern: "Abusir")
Leontopolis (Yahudiya) (Modern: "Tell el-
Yahudiya", Ancient: "Nay-Ta-Hut") Tanis (Modern: "San el-Hagar", Ancient:
Leontopolis (Modern: "Tell el-Muqdam")
Tell el-Maskhuta (Ancient: "Tjeku")
Naukratis (Modern: "el-Gi'eif", "el-Niqrash",el-
Nibeira") Tell el-Rataba
Tell el-Sahaba
Memphite Necropolis (Memphis)
Tell Nabasha
Abu Ghurab
Abusir (Busiris) Tell Qua'
Pyramid of Neferefre Terenuthis (Modern: "Kom Abu Billo")
Pyramid of Neferirkare
Thmuis (Modern: "Tell el-Timai")
Pyramid of Nyuserre
Pyramid of Sahure Tura
Sun temple of Nyuserre
Xois (Modern: "Sakha")
Sun temple of Userkaf
1.24.3 Middle Egypt
Bent Pyramid
Black Pyramid The area from about Al Fayyum to Asyut is usually re-
Red Pyramid ferred to as Middle Egypt.
White Pyramid
Helwan Akoris (Modern: "Tihna el-Gebel")
Mit Rahina Fraser Tombs
Ankyronpolis (Modern: "el-Hiba", Ancient: "Teud-
Sekhemkhet's Buried Pyramid joi")
Gisr el-mudir
Antinoopolis (Modern: "el-Sheikh 'Ibada")
Haram el-Shawaf
Mazghuna Deir el-Bersha
Pyramid of Ibi
Deir el-Gabrawi
Pyramid of Khendjer
Pyramid of Teti Dishasha
Pyramid of Unas Dja (Modern: "Medinet Madi" Ancient: "Nar-
Pyramid of Userkaf mouthis")
Step Pyramid of Djoser
el-'Amarna (Ancient: "Akhetaten")
Southern South Saqqara pyramid
Zawyet el'Aryan el-Sheikh Sa'id

Mendes (Modern: "Tell el-Rub'a", Ancient: "'An- Faiyum

pet") Crocodilopolis (Hellenistic: "Arsinoe")
Tell Tebilla el-Lahun
Qantir / El-Khata'na el-Lisht
Sais (Modern: "Sa el-Hagar", Ancient: "Zau")
Herakleopolis Magna (Modern: "Ihnasiyyah
Saft el-Hinna (Ancient: "Per-Sopdu") al-Madinah", Ancient: "Henen-Nesut")

Kom Medinet Ghurab el-Hawawish

Meidum el-Salamuni
Sidment el-Gebel
Khemmis or Panopolis (Modern: "Akhmin", An-
cient: "Ipu" or "Khent-Min")
Gebel el-Haridi
Hermopolis Magna (Modern: "El Ashmunein", An-
cient: "Khmun") Khenoboskion (Modern: "el-Qasr", "el-Saiyad")

Hebenu (Modern: "Kom el-Ahmar") Koptos (Modern: "Qift", Ancient: "Gebtu")

Beni Hasan Naga ed-Der
Speos Artemidos (Modern: "Istabl 'Antar")
Nag' el-Madamud (Ancient: "Mabu")
Zawyet el-Maiyitin
Ombos (Naqada) (Modern: "Naqada", Ancient:
Hur (Ancient: "Herwer") "Nubt")
Lykopolis (Modern: "Asyut", Ancient: "Zawty") Shanhr
Oxyrhynchus (Modern: "el-Bahnasa", Ancient: Southern Upper Egypt
Aphroditopolis (Modern: "Gebelein", Ancient:
Sharuna "Per-Hathor")
Tuna el-Gebel Apollinopolis Magna (Modern: "Edfu", Ancient:
"Djeba, Mesen")

1.24.4 Upper Egypt Aswan

Northern Upper Egypt Agilkia Island

Elephantine Island
Abydos (Ancient: "Abedju")
New Kalabsha
el-'Araba el Madfuna Northern Granite Quarries
Kom el-Sultan Philae Island
Umm el-Qa'ab Qubbet el-Hawa
Shunet ez Zebib Sehel Island
Southern Granite Quarries
Apollinopolis Parva (Modern: "Qus", Ancient:
el-Mo'alla (Ancient: "Hefat")
"Gesa" or "Gesy")
Eileithyiaspolis (Modern: "el-Kab", Ancient:
Qus Necropolis
Antaeopolis (Modern: "Qaw el-Kebir", Ancient:
"Tjebu" or "Djew-Qa") Gebel el-Silsila (Ancient: "Kheny")

Ar Raqqinah (Known as "Reqaqnah") Hermonthis (Modern: "Armant", Ancient: "Iuny")

Athribis (Modern: "Wannina", Ancient: "Hut- Hierakonpolis (Modern: "Kom el-Ahmar", Ancient:
Repyt") "Nekhen")

Beit Khallaf Kom al-Ahmar Necropolis

Tentyris (Modern: "Dendera", Ancient: "Iunet" or Kom Ombo

Ombos (Modern: "Kom Ombo", Ancient:
Temple of Hathor "Nubt")

Diospolis Parva (Modern: "Hiw", Ancient: "Hut- Latopolis (Modern: "Esna", Ancient: "Iunyt, Senet,
Sekhem") Tasenet")

Medamud 1.24.5 Lower Nubia

Thebes (Modern: "Luxor", Ancient: "Niwt-rst" or
Deir el-Medina
Temple of Hathor
Workmens Village
Workmens Tombs
Shrine to Meretseger & Ptah
Deir el-Bahri
Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut
Mortuary Temple of Mentuhotep II
Mortuary Temple of Thotmose III
Palace of Amenhotep III
Deir el-Shelwit
Karnak (Ancient: "Ipet-Isut")
Temple of Amenhotep IV
Precinct of Amon-Re
Precinct of Montu
Precinct of Mut Map of Nubia
Luxor (Ancient: "Ipet-Resyt")
Temple of Amun
Medinet Habu Amada
Mortuary Temple & Palace of Ramesses Abu Simbel
Mortuary Temple of Ay & Horemheb Contra Pselchis (Modern: "Quban", Ancient:
Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III "Baki")
Colossi of Memnon
Mortuary Temple of Merneptah
Mortuary Temple of Ramesses IV el-Lessiya
Mortuary Temple of Thutmose IV
Mi'am (Modern: "'Aniba")
Mortuary Temple of Thutmose III
Qasr el-'Aguz Primis (Modern: "Qasr Ibrim")
Temple of Thoth
Pselchis (Modern: "el-Dakka", Ancient: "Pselqet")
Mortuary Temple of Seti I Temple of Dakka
Tombs of the Nobles
el-Assasif Talmis (Modern: "Kalabsha")
Beit el-Wali
Dra' Abu el-Naga' Temple of Derr
Qurnet Murai Gerf Hussein
Sheikh Abd el-Qurna
Qasr Ibrim
Ramesseum (Mortuary Temple of Ramesses
II) Wadi es-Sebua
Valley of the Kings (Modern: "Wadi el-
Muluk") Taphis (Modern: "Tafa")
Valley of the Queens (Modern: "Biban el-
Harim") Tutzis (Modern: "Dendur")

Tuphium (Modern: "Tod", Ancient: "Djerty") Tzitzis (Modern: "Qertassi")


1.24.6 Upper Nubia el-Qasr

'Amara East el-Dakhla Oasis

'Amara West[1] Amheida

Abahuda (Abu Oda) Balat
Deir el-Hager
Aksha (Serra West)
Askut Island
Kellis (Modern: "Ismant el-Kharab")
Buhen Mut el-Kharab
Dabenarti Qaret el-Muzawwaqa
Dibeira el-Kharga Oasis
Dorginarti Island Baris
Faras Gebel el-Teir
Gebel el-Shams Hibis
Kysis (Modern: "Dush")
Gebel Barkal
Qasr el-Ghueida
Kumma Qasr Zaiyan
Meinarti Island
Mediterranean Coast
Zawiyet Umm el-Rakham

Semna South 1.24.8 Sinai

Serra East
Uroarti Island
Eilat (Elath)

1.24.7 The Oases and Mediterranean Kuntillet Ajrud

coast Pelusium (Sin)
Siwa Oasis Rud el-'Air
Aghurmi Serabit el-Khadim
Tell Kedwa
Gebel el-Mawta
Qaret el-Musabberin Wadi Maghareh
Umm el-'Ebeida

Bahriya Oasis 1.24.9 Eastern Desert

el-Qasr Wadi Hammamat
1.24.10 Notes and references
Farafra Oasis
[1] The British Museum, Amara West: investigating life in an
'Ain el-Wadi Egyptian town

1.24.11 Bibliography
Atlas of Ancient Egypt, John Baines & Jaromir
Malek, America University of Cairo Press, 2002

1.25 Ancient Egyptian technology

Ancient Egyptian technology describes devices and
technologies invented or used in Ancient Egypt. The
Egyptians invented and used many simple machines, such
as the ramp and the lever, to aid construction processes.
They used rope trusses to stien the beam of ships. Egyp-
tian paper, made from papyrus, and pottery were mass-
produced and exported throughout the Mediterranean A section of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which is written and
basin. The wheel was used for a number of purposes, but drawn on papyrus
chariots only came into use after the Second Intermediate
period. The Egyptians also played an important role in
to ancient Greece and Rome. The establishment of the
developing Mediterranean maritime technology includ-
Library of Alexandria limited the supply of papyrus for
ing ships and lighthouses.
others. As a result, according to the Roman historian
Pliny (Natural History records, xiii.21), parchment was
invented under the patronage of Eumenes II of Pergamon
to build his rival library at Pergamon. This however is a
myth; parchment had been in use in Anatolia and else-
where long before the rise of Pergamon.
Egyptian hieroglyphs, a phonetic writing system, served
as the basis for the Phoenician alphabet from which later
alphabets were derived. With this ability, writing and
record keeping, the Egyptians developed one of the
if not the rst decimal system.[1][2][3]
The city of Alexandria retained preeminence for its
records and scrolls with its library. That ancient library
was damaged by re when it fell under Roman rule,[4] and
Ancient Egyptian depiction of women engaged in mechanical was destroyed completely by 642 CE.[5][6] With it, a huge
rope making, the rst graphic evidence of the craft, shown in amount of antique literature, history, and knowledge was
the two lower rows of the illustration lost.

Structures and construction

1.25.1 Technology in Dynastic Egypt
Signicant advances in ancient Egypt during the dynastic Tools Some of the older tools used in the construction
period include astronomy, mathematics, and medicine. of Egyptian housing included reeds and clay. Accord-
Their geometry was a necessary outgrowth of surveying ing to Lucas and Harris, reeds were plastered with clay
to preserve the layout and ownership of farmland, which in order to keep out of heat and cold more eectually.
was ooded annually by the Nile river. The 3,4,5 right Other tools that were used were limestone, chiseled
triangle and other rules of thumb served to represent rec- stones, wooden mallets, and stone hammers. [8] With
tilinear structures, and the post and lintel architecture of these tools, ancient Egyptians were able to create more
Egypt. Egypt also was a center of alchemy research for than just housing, but also sculptures of their gods, god-
much of the western world. desses, pyramids, etc.

Paper and writing Buildings Many temples from Ancient Egypt are not
standing today. Some are in ruin from wear and tear,
The word paper comes from the Greek term for the an- while others have been lost entirely. The Egyptian struc-
cient Egyptian writing material called papyrus, which was tures are among the largest constructions ever conceived
formed from beaten strips of papyrus plants. Papyrus and built by humans. They constitute one of the most
was produced as early as 3000 BC in Egypt, and sold potent and enduring symbols of Ancient Egyptian civi-

lization. Temples and tombs built by a pharaoh famous

for her projects, Hatshepsut, were massive and included
many colossal statues of her. Pharaoh Tutankamun's
rock-cut tomb in the Valley of the Kings was full of jew-
ellery and antiques. In some late myths, Ptah was iden-
tied as the primordial mound and had called creation
into being, he was considered the deity of craftsmen, and
in particular, of stone-based crafts. Imhotep, who was
included in the Egyptian pantheon, was the rst docu-
mented engineer.[9]

Giza Plateau, Cairo. Khafres pyramid in the background

pyramid was referred to as mer, literally place of ascen-

dance. The Great Pyramid of Giza is the largest in Egypt
and one of the largest in the world. The base is over 13
acres (53,000 m2 ) in area. It is one of the Seven Won-
ders of the World, and the only one of the seven to sur-
vive into modern times. The Ancient Egyptians capped
the peaks of their pyramids with gold and covered their
faces with polished white limestone, although many of the
stones used for the nishing purpose have fallen or been
removed for use on other structures over the millennia.
The Red Pyramid of Egypt (c.26th century BC), named
for the light crimson hue of its exposed granite surfaces,
The Lighthouse of Alexandria on the island of Pharos. is the third largest of Egyptian pyramids. Menkaures
Pyramid, likely dating to the same era, was constructed
of limestone and granite blocks. The Great Pyramid of
In Hellenistic Egypt, lighthouse technology was devel-
Giza (c. 2580 BC) contains a huge granite sarcophagus
oped, the most famous example being the Lighthouse
fashioned of Red Aswan Granite. The mostly ruined
of Alexandria. Alexandria was a port for the ships that
Black Pyramid dating from the reign of Amenemhat III
traded the goods manufactured in Egypt or imported into
once had a polished granite pyramidion or capstone, now
Egypt. A giant cantilevered hoist lifted cargo to and from
on display in the main hall of the Egyptian Museum in
ships. The lighthouse itself was designed by Sostratus of
Cairo (see Dahshur). Other uses in Ancient Egypt,[10]
Cnidus and built in the 3rd century BC (between 285 and
include columns, door lintels, sills, jambs, and wall and
247 BC) on the island of Pharos in Alexandria, Egypt,
oor veneer.
which has since become a peninsula. This lighthouse was
renowned in its time and knowledge of it was never lost. The ancient Egyptians had some of the rst monumental
A 2006 drawing of it created from the study of many ref- stone buildings (such as in Sakkara). How the Egyptians
erences, is shown at the right. worked the solid granite is still a matter of debate. Ar-
chaeologist Patrick Hunt[11] has postulated that the Egyp-
tians used emery shown to have higher hardness on the
Monuments Main articles: Egyptian pyramids and Mohs scale. Regarding construction, of the various meth-
Egyptian pyramid construction techniques ods possibly used by builders, the lever moved and up-
lifted obelisks weighing more than 100 tons.
The Nile valley has been the site of one of the most in-
uential civilizations in the world with its architectural Obelisks and pillars Obelisks were a prominent part
monuments, which include the pyramids of Giza and the of the architecture of the ancient Egyptians, who placed
Great Sphinxamong the largest and most famous build- them in pairs at the entrances of various monuments and
ings in the world. important buildings, such as temples. In 1902, Ency-
The most famous pyramids are the Egyptian pyramids clopdia Britannica wrote, The earliest temple obelisk
huge structures built of brick or stone, some of which are still in position is that of Senusret I of the XIIth Dynasty
among the largest constructions by humans. Pyramids at Heliopolis (68 feet high)". The word obelisk is of
functioned as tombs for pharaohs. In Ancient Egypt, a Greek rather than Egyptian origin because Herodotus,

the great traveler, was the rst writer to describe the ob- Navigation and ship building
jects. Twenty-nine ancient Egyptian obelisks are known
to have survived, plus the unnished obelisk being built by The Ancient Egyptians had knowledge to some extent
Hatshepsut to celebrate her sixteenth year as pharaoh. It of sail construction. This is governed by the science of
broke while being carved out of the quarry and was aban- aerodynamics.[14] The earliest Egyptian sails were simply
doned when another one was begun to replace it. The placed to catch the wind and push a vessel.[15] Later Egyp-
broken one was found at Aswan and provides the only tian sails dating to 2400 BCE were built with the recog-
insight into the methods of how they were hewn. The nition that ships could sail against the wind using the side
obelisk symbolized the sky deity Ra and during the brief wind.[15][16] Queen Hatshepsut oversaw the preparations
religious reformation of Akhenaten, was said to be a pet- and funding of an expedition of ve ships, each measur-
ried ray of the Aten, the sun disk. It is hypothesized ing seventy feet long, and with several sails. Various oth-
by New York University Egyptologist Patricia Blackwell ers exist, also.
Gary and Astronomy senior editor Richard Talcott that
the shapes of the ancient Egyptian pyramid and Obelisk
were derived from natural phenomena associated with
the sun (the sun-god Ra being the Egyptians greatest
deity).[12] It was also thought that the deity existed within
the structure. The Egyptians also used pillars extensively. Stern-mounted steering oar
It is unknown whether the Ancient Egyptians had kites, of an Egyptian riverboat depicted in the Tomb of
but a team led by Maureen Clemmons and Mory Gharib Menna (c. 14221411 B.C.)
raised a 5,900-pound, 15-foot (4.6 m) obelisk into verti-
cal position with a kite, a system of pulleys, and a support
frame.[13] Maureen Clemmons developed the idea that Ancient Egyptians had experience with building a variety
the ancient Egyptians used kites for work.[13] Ramps have of ships.[17][18][19] Some of them survive to this day as
been reported as being widely used in Ancient Egypt. A Khufu Solar ship.[20] The ships were found in many areas
ramp is an inclined plane, or a plane surface set at an an- of Egypt as the Abydos boats[21][22][23] and remnants of
gle (other than a right angle) against a horizontal surface. other ships were found near the pyramids.[22][24][25]
The inclined plane permits one to overcome a large resis-
tance by applying a relatively small force through a longer Sneferus ancient cedar wood ship Praise of the Two
distance than the load is to be raised. In civil engineering Lands is the rst reference recorded to a ship being re-
the slope (ratio of rise/run) is often referred to as a grade ferred to by name.[26]
or gradient. An inclined plane is one of the commonly- Although quarter rudders were the norm in Nile nav-
recognized simple machines. Maureen Clemmons sub- igation, the Egyptians were the rst to use also stern-
sequently lead a team of researchers demonstrating a mounted rudders (not of the modern type but center
kite made of natural material and reinforced with shellac mounted steering oars).
(which according to their research pulled with 97% the
eciency of nylon), in a 9 mph wind, would easily pull
an average 2-ton pyramid stone up the 1st two courses of Irrigation and agriculture
a pyramid (in collaboration with Cal Poly, Pomona, on a
53-stone pyramid built in Rosamond, CA). Irrigation as the articial application of water to the soil
was used to some extent in Ancient Egypt, a hydraulic
civilization (which entails hydraulic engineering).[27] In
crop production it is mainly used to replace missing rain-
fall in periods of drought, as opposed to reliance on di-
rect rainfall (referred to as dryland farming or as rain-
fed farming). Before technology advanced, the people of
Egypt relied on the natural ow of the Nile River to tend
to the crops. Although the Nile provided sucient water-
ing survival domesticated animals, crops, and the people
of Egypt, there were times where the Nile would ood
the area wreaking havoc amongst the land. [28] There is
evidence of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Amenemhet III
in the twelfth dynasty (about 1800 BCE) using the natu-
Egyptian ship, 1250 B.C. Egyptian ship on the Red Sea, showing ral lake of the Faym as a reservoir to store surpluses of
a board truss being used to stien the beam of this ship water for use during the dry seasons, as the lake swelled
annually with the ooding of the Nile.[29] Construction of
drainage canals reduced the problems of major ooding
from entering homes and areas of crops; but because it

was a hydraulic civilization, much of the water manage- split into 10 units, with 12 hours for the night and an hour
ment was controlled in a systematic way. [30] for the morning and evening twilights.[36] However, by
Seti Is time day and night were normally divided into 12
hours each, the length of which would vary according to
Glassworking the time of year.
Key to much of this was the motion of the sun god Ra
Egyptian knowledge of glassmaking was advanced.[31]
and his annual movement along the horizon at sunrise.
The earliest known glass beads from Egypt were made
Out of Egyptian myths such as those around Ra and the
during the New Kingdom around 1500 BC and were pro-
sky goddess Nut came the development of the Egyptian
duced in a variety of colors. They were made by winding
calendar, time keeping, and even concepts of royalty. An
molten glass around a metal bar and were highly prized as
astronomical ceiling in the burial chamber of Ramesses
a trading commodity, especially blue beads, which were
VI shows the sun being born from Nut in the morning,
believed to have magical powers. The Egyptians made
traveling along her body during the day and being swal-
small jars and bottles using the core-formed method.
lowed at night.
Glass threads were wound around a bag of sand tied to
a rod. The glass was continually reheated to fuse the During the Fifth Dynasty six kings built sun temples in
threads together. The glass-covered sand bag was kept honour of Ra. The temple complexes built by Niuserre at
in motion until the required shape and thickness was Abu Gurab and Userkaf at Abusir have been excavated
achieved. The rod was allowed to cool, then nally the and have astronomical alignments, and the roofs of some
bag was punctured and the sand poured out and reused of the buildings could have been used by observers to
. The Egyptians also created the rst colored glass rods view the stars, calculate the hours at night and predict the
which they used to create colorful beads and decorations. sunrise for religious festivals.
They also worked with cast glass, which was produced by
pouring molten glass into a mold, much like iron and the
more modern crucible steel.[32]


Main articles: Egyptian calendar and Archaeoastronomy

The Egyptians were a practical people and this is re-

ected in their astronomy[33] in contrast to Babylonia
where the rst astronomical texts were written in astro-
logical terms.[34] Even before Upper and Lower Egypt
were unied in 3000 BCE, observations of the night sky
had inuenced the development of a religion in which
many of its principal deities were heavenly bodies. In
Lower Egypt, priests built circular mud-brick walls with
which to make a false horizon where they could mark the
position of the sun as it rose at dawn, and then with a
plumb-bob note the northern or southern turning points The Dendera Zodiac was on the ceiling of the Greco-Roman tem-
(solstices). This allowed them to discover that the sun ple of Hathor at Dendera
disc, personied as Ra, took 365 days to travel from his
birthplace at the winter solstice and back to it. Mean- Claims have been made that precession of the equinoxes
while, in Upper Egypt a lunar calendar was being devel- was known in Ancient Egypt prior to the time of
oped based on the behavior of the moon and the reappear- Hipparchus.[37] This has been disputed however on the
ance of Sirius in its heliacal rising after its annual absence grounds that pre-Hipparchus texts do not mention pre-
of about 70 days.[35] cession and that it is only by cunning interpretation of
After unication, problems with trying to work with two ancient myths and images, which are ostensibly about
calendars (both depending upon constant observation) led something else, that precession can be discerned in them,
to a merged, simplied civil calendar with twelve 30-day aided by some pretty esoteric numerological speculation
months, three seasons of four months each, plus an ex- involving the 72 years that mark one degree of shift in
tra ve days, giving a 365-year day but with no way of the zodiacal system and any number of permutations by
accounting for the extra quarter day each year. Day and multiplication, division, and addition. [38]
night were split into 24 units, each personied by a deity. Note however that the Egyptian observation of a slowly
A sundial found on Seti Is cenotaph with instructions for changing stellar alignment over a multi-year period does
its use shows us that the daylight hours were at one time not necessarily mean that they understood or even cared

what was going on. For instance, from the Middle King-
dom onwards they used a table with entries for each
month to tell the time of night from the passing of constel-
lations. These went in error after a few centuries because
of their calendar and precession, but were copied (with
scribal errors) long after they lost their practical useful-
ness or the possibility of understanding and use of them
in the current years, rather than the years in which they
were originally used.


The Edwin Smith Papyrus is one of the rst med-

ical documents still extant, and perhaps the earliest
document which attempts to describe and analyze the
brain: given this, it might be seen as the very begin-
nings of neuroscience. However, medical historians be-
lieve that ancient Egyptian pharmacology was largely
ineective.[39] According to a paper published by Michael
D. Parkins, 72% of 260 medical prescriptions in the
Hearst Papyrus had no curative elements.[40] According
to Michael D. Parkins, sewage pharmacology rst began
in ancient Egypt and was continued through the Middle
Ages,[39] and while the use of animal dung can have cura-
tive properties,[41] it is not without its risk. Practices such
as applying cow dung to wounds, ear piercing, tattooing,
and chronic ear infections were important factors in de-
veloping tetanus.[42] Frank J. Snoek wrote that Egyptian
medicine used y specks, lizard blood, swine teeth, and
other such remedies which he believes could have been
harmful.[43] Stained glass window from c. 1914 depicting weaving and spin-
Mummication of the dead was not always practiced in ning in ancient Egypt
Egypt. Once the practice began, an individual was placed
at a nal resting place through a set of rituals and proto-
col. The Egyptian funeral was a complex ceremony in- to Tutenkhamens). Recovered Ancient Egyptian furni-
cluding various monuments, prayers, and rituals under- ture includes a third millennium BC bed discovered in the
taken in honor of the deceased. The poor, who could not Tarkhan Tomb, a c.2550 BC. gilded set from the tomb
aord expensive tombs, were buried in shallow graves in of Queen Hetepheres I, and a c. 1550 BC. stool from
the sand, and because of the arid environment they were Thebes.
often naturally mummied.
Some have suggested that the Egyptians had some
form of understanding electric phenomena from observ-
The Wheel ing lightning and interacting with electric sh (such as
Malapterurus electricus) or other animals (such as electric
Evidence indicates that Egyptians made use of potters eels). The comment about lightning appears to come
wheels in the manufacturing of pottery from as early as from a misunderstanding of a text referring to high
the 4th Dynasty. Chariots, however, are only believed poles covered with copper plates to argue this[47] but Dr.
to have been introduced by the invasion of the Hyksos in Bolko Stern has written in detail explaining why the cop-
the Second Intermediate period;[45] during the New King- per covered tops of poles (which were lower than the as-
dom era, chariotry became central to Egypts military. sociated pylons) do not relate to electricity or lightning,
pointing out that no evidence of anything used to manip-
ulate electricity had been found in Egypt and that this was
Other developments a magical and not a technical installation.[48]
Those exploring fringe theories of ancient technology
The Egyptians developed a variety of furniture. There have suggested that there were electric lights used in
in the lands of ancient Egypt is the rst evidence for Ancient Egypt. Engineers have constructed a working
stools, beds, and tables (such as from the tombs similar model based on their interpretation of a relief found in

the 3rd century BC. A papyrus dating to the 2nd cen-

tury BC also found in Faiyum mentions a water wheel
used for irrigation, a 2nd-century BC fresco found at
Alexandria depicts a compartmented Sakia, and the writ-
ings of Callixenus of Rhodes mention the use of a Sakia
in Ptolemaic Egypt during the reign of Ptolemy IV in the
late 3rd century BC.[51]
Ancient Greek technology was often inspired by the need
to improve weapons and tactics in war. Ancient Roman
technology is a set of artifacts and customs which sup-
ported Roman civilization and made the expansion of Ro-
man commerce and Roman military possible over nearly
a thousand years.
The single representation of the image, called the "Dendera light"
by some alternative suggestions, exists on the left wall of the right Arabic-Islamic Egypt
wing in one of the crypts of the Hathor temple
Main articles: Inventions in medieval Islam, Muslim
Agricultural Revolution, and Timeline of science and
the Hathor temple at the Dendera Temple complex.[49] engineering in the Islamic world
Authors (such as Peter Krassa and Reinhard Habeck)
have produced a basic theory of the devices operation.[49]
The standard explanation, however, for the Dendera light, Under Arab rule, Egypt once again became one of the
which comprises three stone reliefs (one single and a most prosperous regions around the Mediterranean. The
double representation) is that the depicted image repre- Egyptian city of Cairo was founded by the Fatimid
sents a lotus leaf and ower from which a sacred snake is Caliphate and served as its capital city. At the time, Cairo
spawned in accordance with Egyptian mythological be- was second only to Baghdad, capital of the rival Abbasid
liefs. This sacred snake sometimes is identied as the Caliphate. After the fall of Baghdad, however, Cairo
Milky Way (the snake) in the night sky (the leaf, lotus, overtook it as the largest city in the Mediterranean region
or bulb) that became identied with Hathor because of until the early modern period.
her similar association in creation. Inventions in medieval Islam covers the inventions de-
veloped in the medieval Islamic world, a region that ex-
tended from Al-Andalus and Africa in the west to the
1.25.2 Later technology in Egypt Indian subcontinent and Central Asia in the east. The
timeline of Islamic science and engineering covers the
Greco-Roman Egypt general development of science and technology in the Is-
lamic world.
Main articles: Ancient Greek technology and Roman
1.25.3 See also
Under Hellenistic rule, Egypt was one of the most pros-
List of Egypt-related topics
perous regions of the Hellenistic civilization. The ancient
Egyptian city of Rhakotis was renovated as Alexandria, Egyptian chronology
which became the largest city around the Mediterranean
Basin. Under Roman rule, Egypt was one of the most History of ancient Egypt
prosperous regions of the Roman Empire, with Alexan-
dria being second only to ancient Rome in size. History of technology

Recent scholarship suggests that the water wheel origi- Egyptian mathematics
nates from Ptolemaic Egypt, where it appeared by the
History of science in early cultures
3rd century BC.[50][51] This is seen as an evolution of the
paddle-driven water-lifting wheels that had been known Astrology and astronomy
in Egypt a century earlier.[50] According to John Peter
Oleson, both the compartmented wheel and the hydraulic Archaeoastronomy
Noria may have been invented in Egypt by the 4th century
BC, with the Sakia being invented there a century later. Hand drill (hieroglyph)
This is supported by archeological nds at Faiyum, Egypt, Imhotep
where the oldest archeological evidence of a water-wheel
has been found, in the form of a Sakia dating back to Hero of Alexandria

1.25.4 Notes [26] Anzovin, item # 5393, page 385 Reference to a ship with a
name appears in an inscription of 2613 BCE that recounts
[1] Georges Ifrah, The Universal History of Numbers. Page the shipbuilding achievements of the fourth-dynasty Egyp-
162 (cf., "As we have seen, Sumer used a sexagesimal base; tian pharaoh Sneferu. He was recorded as the builder of a
whereas the system of Ancient Egypt was strictly decimal.") cedarwood vessel called Praise of the Two Lands.

[2] Robert E Krebs, Groundbreaking scientic experiments, [27] Blake L. White, Ancient Egypt Provides an Early Exam-
inventions, and discoveries of the Middle Ages and the ple of How A Societys Worldview Drives Engineering
Renaissance. Page 127. ISBN 0-313-32433-6 and the Development of Science. Strategic Technology
Institute. Page 2.
[3] Thomas Little Heath, Manual of Greek Mathematics.
Page 11. [28] JG Manning, Water, Irrigation, and Their Connection to
State Power in Egypt (Econ Yale 2012), 8.
[4] Plutarch, Life of Caesar 49.3.
[29] Amenemhet III. Britannica Concise. Retrieved 2007-
[5] Abd-el-latif (1203): the library which 'Amr ibn al-'As 01-10.
burnt with the permission of 'Umar.
[30] JG Manning, Water, Irrigation, and Their Connection to
[6] Europe: A History, p 139. Oxford: Oxford University State Power in Egypt (Econ Yale 2012), 9.
Press 1996. ISBN 0-19-820171-0
[31] Ancient Egyptian Glassmaking Recreated. Lockergnome,
[7] A. Lucas and J. Harris, Ancient Egyptian Materials and December 17, 2007
Industries (New York: Courier Corporation, 2012), 48.
[32] Susan Hampton. Glassmaking in Antiquity. The Uni-
[8] A. Lucas and J. Harris, Ancient Egyptian Materials and versity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Archived from
Industries (New York: Courier Corporation, 2012), 64. the original on 5 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-21.
[9] What is Civil Engineering: Imhotep. [33] Ronald A Wells, Archaeoastronomy in Egypt, in
[10] eeescience : Cairo Rocks Walker, Christopher, Ed Astronomy before the telescope,
British Museum Press, 1996 p.28
[11] Arce/Nc Archives Archived October 14, 2007, at the
Wayback Machine. [34] John Britton and Christopher Walker, Astrology and As-
tronomy in Mesopotamia, in Walker, Christopher, Ed As-
[12] Patricia Blackwell Gary; Richard Talcott (June 2006). tronomy before the telescope, British Museum Press, 1996
Stargazing in Ancient Egypt. Astronomy: 627. p. 42

[13] Caltech researchers successfully raised an obelisk with a [35] Tyldesley, Joyce, Pyramids: The Real Story Behind
kite to test theory about ancient pyramids Egypts Ancient Monuments, Viking, 2003, p. 74

[14] A primary feature of a properly designed sail is an amount [36] Neugebauer, Otto (1969) [1957]. The Exact Sciences in
of "draft", caused by curvature of the surface of the sail. Antiquity (2 ed.). Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0-486-
When the sail is oriented into the wind, this curvature in- 22332-2., p.86
duces lift, much like the wing of an airplane.
[37] De Santillana, G.; Von Dechend, H. (1977). Hamlets
[15] Encyclopedia Of International Sports Studies. Page 31 Mill. David R. Godine. ISBN 9780879232153.

[16] Technological Choices: Transformation in Material Cul- [38] Paul Jordan (2006). Esoteric Egypt. In Garrett G. Fa-
tures. Page 410. gan. Archaeological Fantasies:How Pseudoarchaeology
Misrepresents the Past and Misleads the Public. Routledge.
[17] Ships and boats in Egypt p. 123. ISBN 978-0-415-30593-8.
[18] Ancient Egyptian boat building [39] Microsoft Word Proceedings-2001.doc Archived April
7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
[19] Shipbuilding in Ancient Egypt
[40] 10th Annual Proceedings of the History of Medicine Days
[20] Solar ships
Archived April 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
[21] The Abydos Ship
[41] animal dung can have curative properties.
[22] Sakkara and Abydous Ship Graves Archived September
[42] Mamtani R, Malhotra P, Gupta PS, Jain BK (June 1978).
29, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
A comparative study of urban and rural tetanus in adults.
[23] Abydos Boat. Archived from the original on 2009-10- Int J Epidemiol. 7 (2): 1858. doi:10.1093/ije/7.2.185.
25. PMID 681065.

[24] Ancient Egypt Ships [43] Frank J. Snoek (August 2001). The Mind Mat-
ters. Diabetes Spectrum. 14 (3): 116117.
[25] Ship Minimatures at Egyptian museum doi:10.2337/diaspect.14.3.116.

[44] Doherty, Sarah (2013). The origins and the use of the pot- Pannekoek, A. A History of Astronomy. New York:
ters wheel in Ancient Egypt. (Thesis). Cardi University. Dover, 1961.
Retrieved 8 January 2016.
Parker Richard A. Egyptian Astronomy, Astrology,
[45] Hyskos introduced chariots to ancient Egypt Archived and Calendrical Reckoning. Dictionary of Scientic
June 29, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
Biography. 15: 706727.
[46] Heinrich Karl Brugsch-Bey and Henry Danby Seymour,
"A History of Egypt Under the Pharaohs". J. Murray, Budge, E. A. Wallis. Egyptian Religion. Kessinger
1881. Page 422. (cf., [... the symbol of a] 'serpent' is Publishing, 1900.
rather a sh, which still serves, in the Coptic language, to
designate the electric sh [...]) Budge, E. A. Wallis. The Gods of the Egyptians Vol-
ume 1 of 2. New York: Dover Publications, 1969
[47] Bruno Kolbe, Francis ed Legge, Joseph Skellon, tr., "An (original in 1904).
Introduction to Electricity". Kegan Paul, Trench, Trbner,
1908. 429 pages. Page 391. (cf., "[...] high poles cov-
ered with copper plates and with gilded tops were erected
'to break the stones coming from on high'. J. Dmichen,
1.25.6 Further reading
Baugeschichte des Dendera-Tempels, Strassburg, 1877)
Anzovin, Steven et al., Famous First Facts (Inter-
[48] Stern, Bolko (1998) [1896]. gyptische Kulturgeschichte. national Edition), H. W. Wilson Company, 2000,
Reprint-Verlag-Leipzig. pp. 106108. ISBN 978-3- ISBN 0-8242-0958-3
David, Rosalie A.; H.G.M. Edwards & D.W. Far-
[49] Krassa, P., and R. Habeck, "Das Licht der Pharaonen.". well (2001). Raman Spectroscopic Analysis of An-
ISBN 3-548-35657-5 (Tr. The Light of the Pharaohs)
cient Egyptian Pigments. Archaeometry. 43 (4):
[50] rjan Wikander (2008). Chapter 6: Sources of Energy 461473. doi:10.1111/1475-4754.00029.
and Exploitation of Power. In John Peter Oleson. The
Oxford Handbook of Engineering and Technology in the Earl, Bryan (Summer 1995). Tin Smelting at the
Classical World. Oxford University Press. pp. 1412. Oriental Institute. The Oriental Institute News and
ISBN 0-19-518731-8 Notes. 146.

[51] Adriana de Miranda (2007). Water architecture in the Gourdin, W.H.; W.D. Kingery (1975). The Be-
lands of Syria: the water-wheels. L'Erma di Bretschnei- ginnings of Pyrotechnology: Neolithic and Egyp-
der. pp. 389. ISBN 88-8265-433-8 tian Lime Plaster. Journal of Field Archaeology.
2: 133150. doi:10.1179/009346975791491277.
JSTOR 529624.
1.25.5 References
Lucas, Alfred. 1962. Ancient Egyptian Materi-
Leslie C. Kaplan, "Technology of Ancient Egypt. als and Industries, 4th Edition. London: Edward
2004, 24 pages. ISBN 0-8239-6785-9 Arnold Publishers.
Denys Allen Stocks "Experiments in Egyptian Ar- Meyer, Carol; Bir Umm Fawakhir (1997). In-
chaeology: Stoneworking Technology in Ancient sights into Ancient Egyptian Mining. JOM.
Egypt". Routledge, 2003. 336 pages. ISBN 0-415- 49 (3): 648. Bibcode:1997JOM....49c..64M.
30664-7 doi:10.1007/BF02914661.
Katheryn A. Bard Encyclopedia of the Archaeology
Nicholson, Paul T. and Ian Shaw, eds. 2000. An-
of Ancient Egypt By Katheryn A. Bard". Routledge,
cient Egyptian Materials and Technology. Univer-
1999. 968 pages. ISBN 0-415-18589-0
sity Press, Cambridge.
R. J. Forbes, "Studies in Ancient Technology". 1966.
Pulak, C. A (1998). The Uluburun Shipwreck: An
rjan Wikander, "Handbook of Ancient Water Tech- Overview. International Journal of Nautical Ar-
nology". 2000. chaeology. 27 (3): 188224. doi:10.1111/j.1095-
Patricia Blackwell Gary; Richard Talcott (June
2006). Stargazing in Ancient Egypt. Astronomy: Scheel, Bernd. 1989. Egyptian Metalworking and
627. Tools. Haverfordwest, Great Britain: Shire Publi-
cations Ltd.
Evans, James. The History and Practice of Ancient
Astronomy. New York: Oxford University Press, Shaw, Ian. Editor. 2000. The Oxford History of
1998. Ancient Egypt. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Shortland, A.J. (2004). Evaporites of the Wadi of the western desert to the west, and the cultures of the
Natrun: Seasonal and Annual Variation and its eastern Mediterranean to the east.[18]
Implication for Ancient Exploitation. Archaeom- Pottery and other artifacts from the Levant that date to
etry. 46 (4): 497516. doi:10.1111/j.1475- the Naqadan era have been found in ancient Egypt.[19]
4754.2004.00170.x. Egyptian artifacts dating to this era have been found in
Davis, Virginia. Mines and Quarries of Ancient Canaan [21]and other regions of [22] the Near East, including
Egypt, an Introduction Online article Tell Brak and Uruk and Susa in Mesopotamia.
By the second half of the 4th millennium BCE, the gem-
Institutt for Arkeologi, Kunsthistorie og Konserver-
stone lapis lazuli was being traded from its only known
ing website, in English at
source in the ancient worldBadakhshan, in what is now
northeastern Afghanistanas far as Mesopotamia and
Egypt. By the 3rd millennium BCE, the lapis lazuli trade
1.25.7 External links
was extended to Harappa, Lothal and Mohenjo-daro in
History of the Egyptian obelisks, the Indus Valley Civilization (Ancient India) of modern-
day Pakistan and northwestern India. The Indus Valley
Ancient Egyptian Industries was also known as Meluhha, the earliest maritime trading
partner of the Sumerians and Akkadians in Mesopotamia.
The ancient harbor constructed in Lothal, India, around
1.26 Ancient Egyptian trade 2400 BCE is the oldest seafaring harbour known.[23]

Ancient Egyptian trade consisted of the gradual cre- 1.26.2 Trans-Saharan trade
ation of land and sea trade routes connecting the Ancient
Egyptian civilization with the Fertile Crescent, Arabia, Main article: Trans-Saharan trade
Sub-Saharan Africa, and India.

The overland route through the Wadi Hammamat from

1.26.1 Prehistoric transport and trade the Nile to the Red Sea was known as early as predynastic
times;[24] drawings depicting Egyptian reed boats have
Epipaleolithic Natuans carried parthenocarpic gs from been found along the path dating to 4000 BCE.[25] An-
Africa to the southeastern corner of the Fertile Cres- cient cities dating to the First Dynasty of Egypt arose
cent, c. 10,000 BCE.[1] Later migrations out of the along both its Nile and Red Sea junctions,[24] testifying
Fertile Crescent would carry early agricultural prac- to the routes ancient popularity. It became a major route
tices to neighboring regionswestward to Europe and from Thebes to the Red Sea port of Elim, where travel-
North Africa, northward to Crimea, and eastward to ers then moved on to either Asia, Arabia or the Horn of
Mongolia.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13] Africa.[24] Records exist documenting knowledge of the
route among Senusret I, Seti, Ramesses IV and also, later,
The ancient people of the Sahara imported domesti-
the Roman Empire, especially for mining.[26]
cated animals from Asia between 6000 and 4000 BCE.
In Nabta Playa by the end of the 7th millennium BCE, The Darb el-Arbain trade route, passing through Kharga
prehistoric Egyptians had imported goats and sheep from in the south and Asyut in the north, was used from as
Southwest Asia.[14] early as the Old Kingdom of Egypt for the transport and
trade of gold, ivory, spices, wheat, animals and plants.[27]
Foreign artifacts dating to the 5th millennium BCE in
Later, Ancient Romans would protect the route by lin-
the Badarian culture in Egypt indicate contact with dis-
ing it with varied forts and small outposts, some guarding
tant Syria. In predynastic Egypt, by the beginning of the
large settlements complete with cultivation.[28] Described
4th millennium BCE, ancient Egyptians in Maadi were
by Herodotus as a road traversed ... in forty days, it
importing pottery[15] as well as construction ideas from
became by his time an important land route facilitating
trade between Nubia and Egypt.[29] Its maximum extent
By the 4th millennium BCE shipping was well estab- was northward from Kobbei, 25 miles north of al-Fashir,
lished, and the donkey and possibly the dromedary had passing through the desert, through Bir Natrum and Wadi
been domesticated. Domestication of the Bactrian camel Howar, and ending in Egypt.[30]
and use of the horse for transport then followed. Char-
coal samples found in the tombs of Nekhen, which were
dated to the Naqada I and II periods, have been identied 1.26.3 Maritime trade
as cedar from Lebanon.[16] Predynastic Egyptians of the
Naqada I period also imported obsidian from Ethiopia, Shipbuilding was known to the Ancient Egyptians as
used to shape blades and other objects from akes.[17] early as 3000 BCE,[31][32] and perhaps earlier.[32] An-
The Naqadans traded with Nubia to the south, the oases cient Egyptians knew how to assemble planks of wood

into a ship hull, with woven straps used to lash the planks 1.26.4 Canal construction
together,[31] and reeds or grass stued between the planks
helped to seal the seams.[31] The Archaeological Institute Main article: Canal of the Pharaohs
of America reports[31] that the earliest dated ship75
feet long, dating to 3000 BCE[32] may have possibly be- The legendary Sesostris (likely either Pharaoh Senusret
longed to Pharaoh Aha.[32] II or Senusret III of the Twelfth dynasty of Egypt[36][37] )
An Egyptian colony stationed in southern Canaan dates is said to have started work on an ancient Suez Canal
to slightly before the First Dynasty.[33] Narmer had Egyp- joining the River Nile with the Red Sea. This ancient
tian pottery produced in Canaanwith his name stamped account is corroborated by Aristotle, Pliny the Elder, and
on vesselsand exported back to Egypt,[34] from regions Strabo.[38]
such as Arad, En Besor, Raah, and Tel Erani.[34] In 1994
excavators discovered an incised ceramic shard with the One of their kings tried to make a canal to it
serekh sign of Narmer, dating to c. 3000 BCE. Miner- (for it would have been of no little advantage to
alogical studies reveal the shard to be a fragment of a them for the whole region to have become nav-
wine jar exported from the Nile valley to Palestine. Due igable; Sesostris is said to have been the rst of
to Egypts climate wine was very rare and nearly impos- the ancient kings to try), but he found that the
sible to produce within the limits of Egypt. In order to sea was higher than the land. So he rst, and
obtain wine the Egyptians had to import it from Greece, Darius afterwards, stopped making the canal,
Phoenicia, and Palestine. These early friendships played lest the sea should mix with the river water and
a key role in Egyp