As someone with a long time interest in history, there is an almost infinite amount of aspects of history that I find fascinating, from the ancient world to twentieth century history. For better or worse, history shapes our society, politics, culture, religion and language ? arguably every aspect of who we are as people has been inherited from our ancestors over many thousands of years. The amount of interesting events, fascinating historical figures and life-changing developments in technology throughout history is far too great to discuss in one article.
Thus, I’d like to focus on only one aspect for this article, namely ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptians themselves had a long-lasting, rich and captivating history spanning thousands of years, so I want to just take a broad look at what their culture and society was like.
Arguably, the ancient Egyptian’s most obvious and well-known legacy is their reverence of the dead. The pyramids of Giza, built as the resting place of the pharaohs (or the ancient kings of Egypt, believed by their people to be Gods), has amazed and fascinated visitors for thousands of years. Contrary to popular belief, the pyramids were not built by slaves but rather by paid workers who were housed in camps near the building site and worked for about three to four months before returning home. They were free men and were also provided with food, drink and medical care when needed. It is also important to note that the pharaohs of the Old Kingdom (c2686?2125 BC) and Middle Kingdom (c2055?1650 BC) were the ones who built the famous pyramids, whereas this practice seemed to have fallen out of favor with the pharaohs of the New Kingdom (c1550 BC).
The ancient Egyptians were also known for mummifying their dead, and were known to have spent large amounts of money on having a book of the dead made for their loved ones in order to guide them through the afterlife and make sure their souls are saved. As having a personal book of the dead made was very expensive, it was initially only reserved for pharaohs, but copies have also been found in the tombs of high-ranking officials as well as scribes and others who were able to afford to have one made. The afterlife was clearly very important to the ancient Egyptians, and many of their festivals and much of their public and private life centered on this idea.
The iconic hieroglyphs often seen in ancient Egyptian art were, interestingly enough, not in common use and mostly only used by a select group of trained scribes to decorate tombs, or in the previously mentioned book of the dead, once again highlighting the importance of the afterlife.
Interestingly enough, ancient Egyptian culture was far more advanced when it came to gender equality than many civilizations that came after them. According to the law, women had equal rights to men, were able to own or inherit property if it was left to them and could also buy and sell property as they wished. Unmarried women could raise their children by themselves and married women often did business on behalf of their husbands. There were also a number of female Pharaohs, with Cleopatra arguably being the most well known.
infinite (adj.) ? neverending; continuous
captivating (adj.) ? able to attract and hold one’s interest; fascinating
legacy (n) ? life accomplisments; what you are remembered for after you pass away
reverence (n) ? a deep respect for something or someone