Mummies and pyramids are perhaps the first things that come to mind when you think of ancient Egypt. Actually, many inventions and technologies that have had a significant impact on the world and are still in use today are attributed to Egyptian civilization. Egypt’s rich history tells of how these inventions came about and the role they played in Egyptian society. Here we will explore five of these influential inventions.
1. Make-up and Wigs
The Egyptian women were known for their beauty. They invented a variety of rituals and products intended to highlight a woman’s appearance. Beauty became a top priority for the affluent women of ancient Egypt who didn’t have to work. They created make-up from natural pigments like crushed beetles and hazardous lead to enhance their facial features. Wigs were also invented by the Egyptians and were quite popular. The royal family had their wigs manufactured completely of human hair, frequently from Nubian people, whereas the least expensive and most widely accessible wings were composed of vegetable fibers.
2. Written Language
Egyptian and Mesopotamian cultures gave rise to the first writing systems. The earliest pictograms used in the Egyptian writing system date back to 6000 B.C.E. Pictograms were straightforward representations of the words they stood in for, but they had certain drawbacks. With the addition of other components over time, the Egyptians were able to write out names and abstract concepts, including alphabet-like letters that stood for specific sounds and other characters. The hieroglyphics, which were widely used in Egyptian tombs, were a combination of alphabetic, syllabic, and ideograms that most people now associate with the Egyptians.
3. The Calendar
Egyptians invented the calendar and timekeeping systems we use today. The Egyptian calendar had twelve months of 30 days each, with an extra five days at the end of the year to make a total of 365 days, all based on the cycles of the sun and moon. This is quite similar to what we use today. The Egyptians, unlike us, could only distinguish between three seasons, which helped farmers plan when to plant and harvest their crops. Without this invention the Egyptians’ entire agricultural system would be in jeopardy.
The Egyptians had several dental issues. Their loaves of bread contained pieces of grit and chips of stone which wore down the enamel of their teeth.They also developed abscesses. As a result, dental health became a priority for the Egyptians. They made toothpaste by mixing powder of ox hooves, burnt egg shells, ashes and salt. This was applied to the teeth with their fingers or an early form of toothbrush made from frayed twigs. The Egyptians were also known to invent breath mints which helped to conceal the unpleasant odors of their mouths.
5. Papyrus Sheets
Around 140 BCE, the Chinese invented paper, but the Egyptians had already created a wonderful alternative using the papyrus plant thousands of years before. This tough, reed-like plant thrived along the Nile’s swampy banks. The hard, fibrous inside of the plant was ideal for producing sturdy sheets of writing paper, as well as sails, sandals, and mats. The sheets were joined to make scrolls used for religious writings. The lengthy process of making papyrus remained a closely-guarded secret by the ancient Egyptians, allowing them to sell papyrus sheets across the region. It is difficult for historians to pinpoint the precise procedure that the Egyptians used to transform the plant into a writing surface because there are no records.
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