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Ancient Egypt

Good things come to an end

Good things come to an end

War has a close connection with politics and religion. Politicians were also military leaders in ancient civilizations.  Many kings led battles and conquered kingdom in an attempt to expand the boundaries. In doing so, it is not surprising that the fate of the nation, its rule and its people are affected too. This is especially important for ancient Egypt which won and lost many wars.

Ancient Egypt's Sacred XXX

Ancient Egypt's Sacred XXX

Sex has always been of significant importance in our lives, and this was no different in ancient Egypt. It played a crucial role in every aspect, starting from birth to death, and even in the afterlife; it was key to the creation of life. Yet, even though it was the females who bore children, the males were seen as the symbol of fertility.

The Ultimate Travel Guide in the Ancient Egyptian Underworld

The Ultimate Travel Guide in the Ancient Egyptian Underworld

Perhaps for most of us, life after death is full of uncertainties. However, this was not the case for the ancient Egyptians because they had a special guidebook called the Book of the Dead that served as an important religious symbol for the ancient Egyptians.

“The mouth of a perfectly contented man is filled with beer.” – Beer in Ancient Egypt

“The mouth of a perfectly contented man is filled with beer.” – Beer in Ancient Egypt

This is the second post of our two-part series on ‘Alcohol in Ancient Egypt’. You can check out our first post on wine in Ancient Egypt here.

If the ancient Egyptians were to have one thing right, it has to be that proverb. Clearly alcohol was not lacking in variety as wine was not the only drink they consumed to get inebriated! As an alternative, the Egyptian also brewed their own beer.

However, do not think for a second that their brew is exactly the same as the one you crack open just last weekend! As a rule, the ancient Egyptians identified one brew from the other by their alcoholic strength, colour and dominant flavour, and their most favoured type was blood red!

The Ascend to Man's Best Friend

Ever heard of the saying that “Dogs are Man's Best Friend”? Well, the first known account of that statement was first made by Fredrick II, King of Prussia in 1789. Enough about him, let us focus on the tale at hand. Dogs have been part of human history that date back to at least 13,000 BCE (With some researchers speculating that the dogs may have dated back to 100,000 years ago). Dogs were seen as protectors of agriculture, hunting companions, as well as many other variations throughout different cultures and time periods. Loyalty to the us homo-sapiens was a key trait that kept our bond strong, so strong that even part of our anatomy - our canines, resemble their name. This led to the Canis Familiaris (Scientific name for dogs) being featured in many myths and legends that have withstood the test of time.

Historical dog pictures are still dog pictures. And what better way to view them than Tumblr.

Our Tumblr Page: http://bahrkingawesomehistory.tumblr.com/

For those of you out there who really dig history and love dogs, we hope you loved the article as much as dogs love you. Please do not hesitate to share your experiences with dogs in the comments below. Stay pawsome.

 

References

If you are interested in where to find specific information from our blogpost, you may view the url links below:

http://www.ancient.eu/article/184/

Interesting Related Videos that inspired this post to be created:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWWO-RtIDv0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDmzzREXI_g

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCLQ_8I1paY

Mesopotamia (c. 5000 - 3500 BC)

http://www.matrifocus.com/IMB06/spotlight.htm

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Votive_dog_Louvre_AO4349.jpg

Ancient Egypt (c. 3100 - 2686 BC)

http://www.experience-ancient-egypt.com/ancient-egyptian-culture/ancient-egyptian-life/ancient-egyptian-dogs

http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/dogs.htm

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dog_Mummy,_305_B.C.E.-395_C.E.,05.308.jpg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Anubis,_Nordisk_familjebok.png

Ancient China (2070 - 1600 BCE)

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DogYearPaperCutting.jpg

http://giphy.com/gifs/dog-water-KJJPZ8Oa9JMIM

http://www.chinaculture.org/gb/en_chinaway/2003-11/19/content_44290.htm

https://pixabay.com/en/zodiac-signs-chinese-zodiac-250718/

Ancient Greece and Rome (800-500 BCE)

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Funeral_Stele_Depicting_a_Young_Hunter_with_his_Dog,_from_Pydna.jpg

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/miscellanea/canes/canes.html

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pluto_Serapis_and_Persephone_Isis_Heraklion_museum.jpg

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/Herakles/cerberus.html

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hades-et-Cerberus-III.jpg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Heinrich_Aldegrever_-Hercules_und_Cerebus(1550,_San_Francisco).jpg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:5174.Diana_(Artemis)_mit_Hirschkuh-Dresdner_Rondell-Sanssouci_Steffen_Heilfort.JPG

https://hemlockandhawthorn.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/dogs-in-mythology/

Medieval Europe (5th - 15th Century)

http://www.historytoday.com/beatrice-johnston/dogs-yesteryear#sthash.hUXXFjfX.dpuf

http://www.catholic-saints.info/patron-saints/saint-roch.htm

http://www.midi-france.info/030399_roque.htm

http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2013/09/dogs-medieval-mans-best-friend.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bayeux_hawking.jpg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Medieval_hounds2.png

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Saint_Roch_with_his_dog,_indicating_a_plague_bubo_on_his_gro_Wellcome_L0022461.jpg

Aztec (14th - 16th Century)

http://www.xoloitzcuintliclubofamerica.org/breed_history

http://www.mexicolore.co.uk/aztecs/flora-and-fauna/dog

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chihuahua1_bvdb.jpg

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Colima_-Dog_Effigy-Walters_20092051-_Three_Quarter_Left.jpg

Hope you enjoyed the post.

 

Tracing the Cat-alogy

Greetings to all! Welcome to our very last blog post. In light of the cat-craze on the Internet and in consideration of all cat lovers in the community, we have decided to dedicate this post to cats today and in ancient Egypt. Cats are a huge part of many animal lovers’ lives in Singapore today as it was in ancient Egypt, coy but beguiling. But cats do not always have it easy despite being well-loved by many, if we may bring up the unfortunate strings of cat abuses and deaths in Yishun, Singapore in recent months. This post shall also raise awareness of the importance of cats, it is meow or never! Cats which were also referred to ‘mau’, (due to the sounds they make) were highly important in ancient Egypt because they shared intimate relationships with humans. The close relationships were formed when people started noticing that cats were hunting and killing off pests such as rats, that were destroying their crops and spreading diseases. Thus, they began placing food around the village to attract more cats. Subsequently, cats began entering people's houses and eventually developed friendly relations with humans.

In fact, ancient Egyptians were the first few civilizations to keep cats as pets. Similarly today, many people own cats as pets and companions. There are also evidences suggesting that most domesticated cats across the world today could have probably originated from a common (cat) ancestor in Fertile Crescent, which included ancient Egypt.

Additionally, ancient Egyptian cats were associated with many well-known and respectable goddesses and therefore they are revered.

Notably, there are two respectable goddesses that are associated with cats. There is Mafdet, the goddess of justice and the first goddess associated with cats. People in ancient Egypt strongly believed that Mafdet protects humans from poisonous creatures like snakes and scorpions . She was also famous for executing a serpent with her sharp claws. (talk about the meow power)

Are you already intrigued by the cats of ancient Egypt? There is another well-known feline goddess associated with cats as well! This picture shows Bastet (also known as ‘Bast’).  Like Mafdet, she was strongly regarded as a protector for she acts as the defender of homes and the protector of women, children and royal families. She was also referred to the “Eye of Ra” who is the god of sun, and Egyptians believed that she could protect Egypt from threats.

Disclaimer! Content below is largely fictional  

During a trip to Egypt a few years back, we had managed to excavate a diary that belonged to the mistress of a cat named Layla. The mistress had  such a close relationship with Layla that she wrote a diary based on its life, from the perspective of a cat in most parts.

We are delighted to share all of the entries in the diary with all of you. Therefore, we have created an Instagram account and you can click on the link right below and we hope you will be able to gain a better insight of the life of an ancient Egyptian cat!

(https://www.instagram.com/laylathemau/)

References

Alchin, L., Egyptian Cat, 2015. Retrieved from http://www.historyembalmed.org/ancient-egyptians/egyptian-cat.htm

Alchin, L., Cat goddesses, March 2015. Retrieved from http://www.landofpyramids.org/cat-goddesses.htm

Audrey, T., Second man arrested over cat abuse in Yishun, January 24 2016. Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/second-man-arrested-over-cat-abuse-in-yishun

Hill, J.,  Cats in Ancient Egypt, 2010. Retrieved from http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/cat.html

Hill, J., Ancient Egyptian gods: Bast, 2010. Retrieved from  http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/bast.html

Amstutz. L. J., Ancient Egypt, January 1 2015. Retrieved from Google Books

Larson, K., Egyptian cat names, n.d. Retrieved from http://www.findcatnames.com/egyptian-cat-names/

Names and meanings, Egyptian girl names, n.d. Retrieved from http://www.names-meanings.net/names/female-egyptian

Petcentric, Why Ancient Egypt worship cats, n.d. Retrieved from https://www.petcentric.com/11-27-2012/why-ancient-egypt-worshipped-cats

Springer, L., The cat in Ancient Egypt, June 5 2011. Retrieved from http://www.touregypt.net/egypt-info/magazine-mag04012001-magf1.htm

The goddess Bast, n.d. Retrieved from http://www.goddessgift.com/goddess-myths/goddess_bast.htm

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The art of ancient Egypt. Retrieved from http://www.metmuseum.org/~/media/Files/Learn/For%20Educators/Publications%20for%20Educators/The%20Art%20of%20Ancient%20Egypt.pdf

Unwrapping the secrets of ancient Egypt: Cats, September 2014. Retrieved from http://www.themuseum.ca/blog/unwrapping-secrets-ancient-egypt-cats

Wade, N., Study traces cat’s ancestry to Middle East, June 29 2007. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/29/science/29cat.html?_r=1

Citations for images (according to the order in Instagram)

By Malcolm Gin derivative work: Abujoy. Egyptian-mau-face [CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 ]

By Anonymous Egyptian tomb artist(s) Sennedjem and Ti harvesting papyrus [Public domain]

Screenshot of GIF Via giphy

By Maler der Grabkammer des Horemhab. Locust detail from a hunt mural in the grave-chamber of Horemhab. Ancient Egypt [Public domain]

By aneplhia. Egyptian cat with his mistress via http://anelphia.deviantart.com/art/Egyptian-Cat-293539443 [CC BY 3.0]

John Reinhard Weguelin. The Obsequies of an Egyptian Cat [Public domain]

Manfred Heyde. Tomb of Nebamun [public domain]

Own work

By Avsar Aras. Baby Face [CC BY-SA 4.0]

Own work

Own work

Own work

By Alma E. Guinness. Egyptian professional mourners in a sorrowful gesture of mourning [CC 0]

Own work

By Greudin. Antiquité égyptienne, Musée du Louvre, pavillon sully, 2002[CC 0]

By Larazoni. Sarcophagus of Prince Thutmose's cat by Madam Rafaèle (http://www.flickr.com/photos/laraz/2063179834/) [CC BY 2.0)]

Video by: Muhammad Irfan Danish Bin Azhar

Determining Pregnancy & Fertility in Ancient Times

Everyone knows how to test for pregnancy or fertility in modern times. An appointment with your doctor can determine your fertility. A trip to the pharmacy store, pay some money and you get a test kit, pee on it and magic happens! That’s about the easiest, fastest and most accurate method you can rely on to determine pregnancy and if you are fertile enough to conceive or not. Pregnancy Test Kit. (Image from Google)

 

But, how about women in the ancient times – Egypt & Greece? How are they supposed to know if they are pregnant or not? How will they ever know if they are fertile?

 

On behalf of the ancient Egyptians & Greeks, this post will be answering these 3 questions:

  1. How do women in ancient times determine or confirm their pregnancy?
  2. How to determine fertility in women in ancient times?
  3. Are the methods/tests for pregnancy & fertility scientifically reliable?

 

 

Egypt

One of the earliest written forms of records from the Berlin Medical Papyrus in 1350 BCE suggests that Egyptians women should do a urine-based pregnancy test. It is stated that a woman who suspected herself to be pregnant should pee on wheat or barley seeds for several days. If both seeds did not grow it means that the woman is not pregnant. However, if the barley seeds grew, it means that the woman is expecting a male child. If the wheat grew, it means the woman is expecting a female child.

 

Barley & Wheat. (Image from Google)

Sounds absurd? Maybe not! Scientists and researches did a testing in 1963 and found that the pregnant women urinating on barley and wheat had indeed promoted growth and it had 70% accuracy in determining pregnancy. That is oddly high. Scientist thought that the elevated growth of the barley and wheat had something to do with one of the components found in pregnant women urine. However, it is not proven that the barley or wheat can determine the gender of the child so that part of the pee test is untrue!

 

There were 2 other methods named in the same papyrus to determine pregnancy. One of the methods was drinking the breast milk of a mother who had a son and if the woman vomited, she is pregnant. Another method was to get the woman to sit on a pile of mashed dates and beer and if she vomited, she is pregnant.

 

Is this scientific? NO! Maybe all those vomiting may detect early signs of pregnancy – morning sickness. But then again, the tests are all pretty gross that even men could vomit from them!

 

Greece

The Greeks had a less gross test for pregnancy! It is the Honey Test. Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician (460-370 BC) believed that beverages made with honey could determine whether a woman is pregnant. Women were asked to drink a beverage made with honey before sleeping. If she had a bloated stomach or cramps at night, she is definitely pregnant.

 

Honey. (Image from Google)

So how scientifically sound is the honey test? Not sound at all. Some people just have a bad stomach or weak digestive system. Men can go to bed feeling bloated or cramped after a honey drink too, this shows that the honey test is inaccurate in determining pregnancy!

 

This brings us to the final question of how the ancient Egyptians and Greeks determined whether a woman is fertile enough to be pregnant?

 

Both the Egyptians and Greeks believed in the same fertility test. The fertility test involved inserting a clove of garlic or an onion into a woman’s vagina.

Wait...What? (meme image from google)

If the woman’s breath reeked of garlic/onion then she must be fertile! The Egyptians and Greeks logic behind this test is simple. They assumed that every part of the human body is linked, so if the breath smells, it means that there is no blockage at the womb, which allows the smell to travel from the vagina all the way up to the woman’s mouth.

 

Garlic & Onion

So, how accurate is the garlic/onion fertility test? No scientific basis, every person’s breath differs and the smell of garlic/onion breath could be acquired through food. This means that a man or a woman that is not pregnant can have garlic/onion inserted into the anus (for men) or vagina (for women) can also have garlic/onion breath from the food they ate last night. It does not mean that men could conceive or women wombs were unblocked or blocked. IT DOES NOT DETERMINE ANYTHING ABOUT FERTILITY CASE CLOSED.

 

Conclusion 

To conclude, I thank technology for its advancement that I do not have to wait several days to determine my pregnancy unlike the Egyptians (Need to wait for the Barley/Wheat to grow out) or go through horrid and disgusting tests to determine my fertility. (Nobody wants to have an onion/garlic inserted into their body other than the mouth.)

 

 

 

 

Sources:

http://www.invitra.com/top-10-historical-pregnancy-tests/

http://io9.com/5878715/the-bizarre-history-of-pregnancy-tests

http://www.early-pregnancy-tests.com/history.html

http://mentalfloss.com/article/48655/9-historical-methods-detecting-pregnancy

http://www.essentialbaby.com.au/conception/trying-to-conceive/the-weird-and-wonderful-history-of-the-pregnancy-test-20130929-2umte.html

http://www.womenintheancientworld.com/pregnancy%20and%20childbirth.htm

http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/did-ancient-greeks-use-venus-calendar-track-pregnancy-00811

 

Makeup Timeline

Makeup. The commodity that got people to spend $8 billion on annually, just in the USA alone. The industry that allows makeup gurus on YouTube to become billionaires, have their wax figures made in Madame Tussauds, just like any Hollywood stars. All these demonstrates how much love we have for makeup. It can be seen as a form of fashion, art and sometimes even a way of making people feel better about themselves. Furthermore, it is also a topic that creates many debate about how much to wear, what to wear and when to wear since the beginning of history. Makeup can tell us about how one’s culture is like, especially when you know how makeup is perceived as in particular cultures.  

ANCIENT ERA (5000BCE -1000BCE)

 

ANCIENT EGYPT (3100-1070BCE)

The civilization famous for the dark lined eyes, wigs and elaborate fashion sense. They wore makeup for a variety of reasons as seen in simsyeunice  in details in her blog-post. So I will just talk about the uses relatively briefly.

For instance, for magical protection provided from the god Horus when they lined their eyes with black-khol and green malachite.

Furthermore, some researchers reported that their makeup protected them from infections and even increased their immune system because the ingredients they used (arsenic and lead) could kill bacteria. However high dosage would cause high toxicity. The fact that Egyptians were attracted to such compounds due to the colour payoff produced is not very arguable, however whether the Egyptians were aware of the toxicity or benefits of such compounds is disputed.

They viewed cosmetics as objects with magical healing properties, rather than non-magical objects with healing properties like medicine to us. As we have learnt in lecture that they have integrated music into all aspects of life, it makes it difficult for them to view objects with healing properties as non-magical. In my opinion, because of the fact magic was so intertwined with their lifestyles, they themselves probably were not very sure of the actual properties of the substances. Even if they were good at making cosmetics, they may just think that each ingredient possess a special therapeutic function due to the rituals they perform while making the cosmetics rather than having knowledge of the properties.

Makeup was not restricted to some privileged few, but rather something that everyone had access to because both men and women of all classes wore makeup then. We can also infer from this that women enjoyed some degree of independence or rights. Makeup was also used religious reasons, beauty, and health by everyone. Its presence was weaved into their culture, deeply ingrained. The role of makeup in creating the history of Ancient Egypt and telling us about their history is thus significant.

 

Classical Era 1000BCE-300 CE:

 

Classical Greece 800-350BCE:

With the influence of women’s role in the Classical Greece culture, women were expected to be virtuous and were not supposed to reveal anything. This social expectation extended into the practice of makeup because women were not allowed to wear heavy makeup since they should be virtuous and focus on domestic chores. Hence, women would only wear a light layer of white powder on their face, colours on their lips and cheeks with fruits or plants. Sometimes they would even use toxic lead-based of mercury-based ingredients for their cosmetics. They also had a unique perception of beauty…

The uni-brow.

 

 

If one did not have a uni-brow naturally, they would draw them on with soot or apply animal hair.

They preferred a natural look, just like the current trend of “no-make-up-make-up look” minus the uni-brow of course.

The minimal take on makeup expected by Classical Greece women shows us that the women had little freedom as they were not supposed to be concerned with how they look, but rather focus on being virtuous and fulfilling their domestic duties.

 

Medieval Era 300-1450CE

Due to the religion during the Early Medieval Era by the churches, women in Europe were not allowed to wear make-up because it was taught to be associated with loose morals. There were even periods where make-up could only be used in brothels. They were also associated with deception and sin. This inspired women to look as natural as possible with their own sneaky techniques experimented at home. This reflects on how women were perceived as the source of temptation and probably did not enjoy much freedom. It also shows that the society then valued spiritual beauty rather than outward appearances due to religion.

 

During the Late Medieval Era, makeup was back in use. Contrary to the culture in the Early Medieval Era, it was said that an Italian Catholic priest reluctantly agreed that woman should wear makeup to be attractive enough to prevent their husbands from committing adultery and not cause husbands of other wives to commit adultery with them.

Flawless and fair skin was seen as beautiful because of the prevalence of diseases then and also because fair skin meant that one was a wealthy person who did not have to work outdoors (Hmm, fair enough! See what I did there). English women also made their skin pale by applying flour or even based makeup. The females would make their face pale, plucked their brows  and applied rouge to make their cheeks pink. Up to this moment, I cannot help but wonder what is up with society and their eyebrow trends? Frst unibrows, then no brows and today, thick bushy brows!

 

In conclusion, the practices of makeup can reflect on the cultural values of a society as well as giving us an insight on women were perceived as during then and even today. I am thankful that we do not have such restricting rules for makeup today but just some flexible ones that are even encouraged to be broken at times (eg. "Thou shall not wear heavy eye makeup with a bold lip").

Mummification 101

We all know how important mummification are to the people of ancient Egypt. We all know what mummification is! It is basically the preservation of ones body after death. But do you know that mummification is a long and tedious process? There are actually many different steps involved. The Egyptians took life after death very seriously and they had rituals that had to be followed in sending someone off into the afterlife. They believed the mummified body provided a place for a person's ba (spirit) to return to the body after death. So let’s begin! There are a total of 6 steps in their burial ritual and in crating a mummy!

Step 1: The Announcement of Death

Once a person passes on, an announcement is to everyone in the civilization. This is to prepare for mourning.

Step 2: The Embalming the Body

(Embalming)

Embalming a body would mean to preserve the body and organs through the use of chemicals so that the body will not decay and it will stay in it’s original form. The embalming process has been said to take usually about 70 days. The embalmers were located in special tents or buildings and these building are called ibu. First the embalmers would wash the body with a nice smelling wine or a chemical before rinsing the body with water afterward. The wine acted like a preservation chemical and they would then remove all hair on the body with the exception of the person's facial hair.

Step 3: The Removal of Internal Organs and Brain

Next, they would make a small incision on the left side of the body and a embalmer would remove four organs, “the stomach, lungs, intestines, and liver.” As the stomach, lungs, intestines and liver will be the first to decay. They were then kept with a product called natron, which is a natural salt used to dry out the organs. The heart was an organ that could be left inside the body because Egyptians believed that the heart was what made a person, it was his intelligence and that it could testify for the dead person in his afterlife. An amulet however, was placed over the heart as a protection for his voyage into the netherworld. Egyptians did not know the importance of the brain or how it worked and hence they did not hold high regards for it and thought there was no use keeping it in the body. Hence, embalmers would remove the brain cutting the brain into small pieces and then removing it out from the brain by breaking a bone through the nose.

Step 4: The Drying Out Process

(Drying)

The body would now be covered with the same salt as mentioned about, natron salt, which would then start the preservation and drying process. Over, the next 40 days, the salt would absorb all the moisture in the body, the would flesh shrink, and the skin would darken. After the body had dried, the embalmers would then again wash the body with water before rubbing on oils to keep the body elastic.

Step 5: The Wrapping Process

(The Wrapping Process)

Once, the body and organs have dried. Embalmers would take the organs and wrap it with linen, before placing it back in the body in its original position. The body was then stuffed with materials such as leaves or linen so as to make it life like. Next, the body was rubbed with nice smelling oils before the wrapping process begun. Through each layer of the linen, charms and amulets were placed. Amulets were to protect the body and to bring the mummy good luck in the afterlife. Lastly, a painted mask was placed over the person’s head. This was because the Egyptians believed that the Ka of a person would then be able to recognise its owner in the afterlife. The person was then placed into coffins that were beautifully decorated and painted, just like the ones we see in the movies.

Step 6: Procession

A ceremony was held where family and friends gathered. Two ceremonies were held called the “opening of the mouth” and “weighing of the heart”. The opening of the mouth where spells were recited and the priest would touch different parts of the mummy. If this procedure was not carried out, Egyptians believed that the mummy would not be able to move, see, eat or here in the afterlife and hence, this ceremony was essential.

Lastly, we have the “weighing of the heart” where Maat, the goddess of truth would weigh the mummy’s heart on a weighing scale, in comparison to a feather. If it was balanced, the mummy would then be granted a everlasting afterlife and the burial procedure would continue. This would then mark the end of the Mummification.

I hope you enjoyed learning how mummies were created and how important it was to the Egyptians that their loved enjoyed a good and prosperous life on earth and again in the afterlife.