15 Strange Facts About Ancient Egypt That Can Stupefy Even History Buffs
When we think of ancient Egypt, we can’t help but envision a sea of pyramids. We’ve seen lots of films about mummies and pharaohs’ tombs and we know that Egyptians invented paper. But there are still some facts that teachers didn’t tell us about in school. For example, pharaohs weren’t fit people like they were depicted in the pictures.
Bright Side loves history and knows many facts. But these facts about ancient Egypt surprised us immensely!
Their lipstick was made from crushed insects.
Red carminic acid extracted from cochineal or scale insects used to be used as a makeup component. However, modern women, unlike Cleopatra, don’t have to extract carmine dye to produce makeup. To apply lipstick, they don’t have to boil and crush insects.
Pharaohs used slaves as bait to get rid of flies.
Flies spoiled the ancient Egyptians’ lives even more than they do now. Today, we use different sprays and creams but King Pepi II had slaves cover themselves with honey to serve as bait for flies. Quite an unpleasant job, right?
People decorated tombs like homes and brought food there.
Egyptians paid a lot of attention to the afterlife. They believed that after death, a person continued living another life and needed all those things they had before they were mummified. They put makeup products, utensils, food, drinks, and even favorite pets and slaves into their tombs.
Pharaohs suffered from obesity.
In many pictures from ancient Egypt, we can see fit and healthy people. But scientists have performed an x-ray analysis on mummies and concluded that these pictures are far from reality: rich Egyptians, especially pharaohs, were actually fat and unhealthy. Harmful foods enriched with carbs and saturated fats and alcohol contributed to obesity and health problems.
Proctologists were in high demand.
As we know, Egyptians had really great medicine considering their resources back then. There were experts in different spheres like dentists, ophthalmologists, and surgeons, for example. But proctologists were the most popular doctors. It’s not surprising considering the fact that pharaohs and wealthy people spent a lot of time eating and drinking. They needed enemas (which were actually invented in Egypt) and enteroclysis on a regular basis. Some proctologists were also dentists and took care of their pharaoh’s digestive tract health “from both sides”.
Men used makeup.
Both women and men used makeup products in ancient Egypt. They had 3 reasons for this. First, makeup protected their skin from the sun. Second, they believed the gods Ra and Horus were kind to those who applied makeup. Third, makeup was believed to be healing. Here, we agree up to a point. An eyeliner containing lead helped to fight against conjunctivitis. Unfortunately, lead and cinnabar (mercury sulfide) did more harm than good.
Children didn’t wear clothes until they became teenagers.
Children wore neither clothes nor shoes. To prevent pediculosis, parents shaved their heads, leaving a small braid. Bald and naked boys and girls wore anklets, bracelets, and collars only.
Egyptians had “trial marriages”.
In Ancient Egypt, marriage was undocumented. The couple simply started living together. However, wealthy couples used to draw up contracts outlining the financial consequences of divorce. Some contracts even stated “the validity of the marriage”. Thus, in cases where partners failed to get along with each other or one of them was infertile, they could break up without any problems.
Most men had “periods”.
Egyptians believed that men also had periods. If a man had no blood in his urine, he was considered to be sick. The thing is, most Egyptians suffered from schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease spread by coming into contact with fresh, infected water. Chronic schistosomiasis could lead to anemia, infertility, and even death.
There was a presumption of guilt in court.
Despite a well-developed legal system, there was a rule stating that an accused person was guilty until proven otherwise. To learn the truth, an accused person, as well as witnesses, were tortured. By the way, the accused didn’t have lawyers.
A statue used to decide what to do with an accused person.
In 1550 BCE −1069 BCE, priests started interfering in the judicial processes and when judges found it difficult to pass a sentence, the statues of gods “helped” them. The 2 papyri were placed in front of the statue and it was to turn toward one of them, deciding on the fate of the accused person. In fact, priests used to manipulate the statues’ movements in order to win bribes.
They could never escape all the insects.
Different insects such as flies, lice, fleas, bedbugs, mosquitoes, and locusts spoiled people’s lives more than wild animals. People tried to fight against them with the help of oils, herbs, and powders. To get rid of lice, they shaved their heads. Unfortunately, there was no solution against locusts. A huge swarm could destroy all plants and leave thousands of people without food.
Dwarfs enjoyed privileges.
In ancient Egypt, dwarfism was considered to be a gift from the gods, so dwarfs enjoyed many privileges. They held senior positions at work, were personal assistants and jewel keepers, and worked only for The Royal Family during The First Dynasty.
People applied deodorant to a dirty body.
A hot climate, lack of opportunity, and hard physical work made people stink. They used 2 unusual methods to fight this problem: first, they shaved their heads regularly (they believed it was their hair that smelled bad). Second, they used deodorants containing different ingredients like pine needles, cinnamon, citrus, flowers, and even ostrich eggs. People made balls and kept them in their armpits. Materials with strong smells could hide body odor for a certain amount of time.
Men molested women in the streets.
According to Herodotus, in ancient Egypt, men attracted women’s attention by whistling. He described the men being in a boat on their way to a sacred ceremony held in a temple. They would take off their clothes and whistle to women on the bank. But there was no punishment for harassment.
Which fact surprised you the most? Share your opinion with us!
Illustrated by Xenia Shalagina for BrightSide.me