Thousands of years have passed and the world is still intrigued by the civilization of Ancient Egypt. Archeologists today are still unearthing relics of the past which give us more insight into the curious ways of the Egyptians, who are credited with inventing mathematics, astrology, and writing, among other things that have shaped the world we live in.
But there’s more to the Egyptians than mummies and hieroglyphs. This civilization is widely presented in pop culture, but sometimes the depictions we have are based on myths rather than facts. Keep reading to find out 10 real facts about the Ancient Egyptians that you’ll learn in Cairo.
10 Many Pharaohs Were “Photoshopped” To Look Slimmer
Okay, so maybe the pharaohs weren’t photoshopped, but they were depicted as being slimmer than they were. You can see in Egyptian art that many of the pharaohs have enviable athletic bodies. But in reality, these rulers lived unhealthy lives and were probably overweight.
According to Swedish Nomad, some historians believe that the pharaohs followed a diet consisting mainly of bread, honey, wine, and beer. Many suffered from diabetes too. Just like today, they were altered to look slimmer than they actually were!
9 Slaves Did Not Build The Great Pyramid
Even today, many are under the impression that the Great Pyramid of Giza was constructed by slaves. The historian Herodotus believed that it took 100,000 forced laborers to build the pyramids but recent archeological evidence proves this theory wrong.
In fact, the Great Pyramid was built by 25,000 workers who were definitely paid. While 20,000 of them were temporary workers, the rest were permanent. They were paid with food, drink, and medical care, according to History Extra. Those who lost their lives in the process were buried at a nearby cemetery.
8 They Were Fans Of Labor Strikes
Labor strikes are certainly not a modern phenomenon. As History.com points out, the workers would often stand up for themselves if they believed they were denied the right working conditions.
One of the first recorded labor strikes in history took place in the 12th century B.C. when Egyptian workers refused to leave the site until they were paid their promised rations.
Most people did view the pharaoh as a celestial being, but that didn’t stop them from protesting if they weren’t given the payment that they deserved.
7 Board Games Were A Popular Pastime
Ever wondered how they passed the time in the ancient world without Netflix and Wi-Fi? In Ancient Egypt, at least, they played board games. One of the games they played was called Senet, which was a game of chance.
The exact rules of the game aren’t known but each player had to move their pieces along a board with thirty squares according to the roll of the dice. A Senet board was found in the tomb of Tutankhamun and there are also paintings portraying other prominent figures playing the game.
6 Men And Women Had Similar Rights
It’s pretty remarkable to think that women enjoyed many of the same rights as men in Ancient Egypt, considering there are still countries today that are still striving for gender equality. Men and women were of equivalent social status in Ancient Egypt, meaning that women could own property and raise their own children if they were widowed or divorced.
Marriage was a huge part of society, and once married, women took on different roles from men. While men were tasked with earning wages, women ran the household and raised the children.
5 Women Could Be Kings
History shows us that women in Ancient Egypt could also become something else that they couldn’t in other societies: kings. There were at least three recorded female kings in Ancient Egypt, the most famous of which is Hatshepsut.
These women were kings and not queens because they took the throne and ruled, rather than just being the wife of the king. Hatshepsut, in particular, ruled over Egypt for more than 20 years following the death of her husband. In paintings and sculptures, she was often depicted with a male body and beard.
4 They Liked To Drink Beer
Aside from wine, beer was a favorite drink among Ancient Egyptians. Both adults and children enjoyed the drink, which was not quite the alcoholic beverage that it is today. Egyptian beer was thicker and sweeter and contained more nutrients than its modern equivalent. That said, it still had intoxicating effects.
Some workers even received their wages in beer, which shows how prized a commodity it was. Tjenenet was the Egyptian goddess of beer and brewing, who was also associated with childbirth and is mentioned in the Book of the Dead.
3 They Had A Strong Relationship With Animals
The Ancient Egyptians might have been more obsessed with their pets than we are today. They didn’t just believe that their fur babies were good boys; they believed they were incarnations of the gods. It is well documented that they were cat people, as cats were associated with a goddess called Bastet. But other pets were also common in Egypt, including dogs, hawks, and even lions. When pet owners died, their pets were sometimes buried with them.
There were also animals trained to help specific professions in Ancient Egypt. Monkeys and dogs were sometimes used to aid police officers.
2 Cleopatra May Have Been More Greek Than Egyptian
One of the most famous Egyptians of all might not have been as Egyptian as most people believe she was. Cleopatra VII was technically born in Alexandria, but evidence shows that she came from a line of Greek Macedonians. Her family could be traced back to Ptolemy I, who was associated with Alexander the Great.
Historians believe that the Ptolemaic Dynasty maintained their Greek traditions even while they lived in Egypt. It is said that Cleopatra was actually one of the first members of her family to speak Egyptian.
1 Only The Elite Were Mummified
Mummies are perhaps the most iconic relic of Ancient Egypt, so few people today know that most Egyptians weren’t mummified. In reality, only the elite were turned into mummies following their deaths because mummification was expensive.
The wealthy and royal members of society were mummified because the Egyptians believed they would live again after their deaths due to the fact that they kept a human form through being eviscerated and bandaged up. On the other hand, average members of society were simply buried in pits in the desert.