Oasis Magazine Articles

7 Odd Things You Didn't Know about Ancient Egypt

By Oasis Staff Writer

September 01, 2016

Originally published in print as "Mind Blast: Fun Facts About Ancient Egypt"

Ancient Egypt has a way of weaving a spell and enchanting people from all over the world. The wealth of history, mythology, mystery, customs, rituals, art, innovation and architecture can leave a person dumbfounded and fascinated by this rich tapestry of culture our ancient ancestors created. We may take for granted that we are to living on the same patch of earth they did many centuries ago, and we do often complain that they had it a lot better than us
or so we think!

  1. Tutankhamen was embalmed without his heart and breast plate - a very drastic departure from traditional Egyptian burial process, as Ancient Egyptians believed the heart of the source of the soul and never removed it. This suggests that he may have suffered a horrific injury prior to his death, and leads some Egyptologists to suggest he was wounded on one of his infamous wild game hunts.
  2. Ancient Egyptians were the first to create birth control, but it was really gross. A mixture of mud, honey, and crocodile dung was concocted, thus creating an acidic environment which acted as an effective spermicide. Lovely!
  3. The Ancient Egyptians would have spent hours of YouTube watching cat videos, because they were quite literally obsessed with them and revered them to the status of demi-gods. When a family cat died, the mourning family would shave off their own eyebrows in sorrow. If someone killed a cat, it was considered treason and punishable by death. Cats were so sacred; they were mummified and buried in designated cat cemeteries, along with mummified mice for the afterlife.
  4. Pharaohs had ingenious ways of keeping themselves protected from everyday nuisance. Pepi II always kept several naked slaves nearby smeared with honey as a fly deterrent. Sounds like one of the worst jobs ever.
  5. Infectious disease was rife in Ancient Egypt. Smallpox, diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid, jaundice, and fever were responsible for many deaths, especially during the hot months of spring and summer. All hail modern medicine and vaccinations!
  6. The Egyptian diet of beer, wine, bread, and honey was high in sugar. Examinations of mummies indicate that many Egyptian rulers were unhealthy and overweight, even showing signs of diabetes. Queen Hatshepsut, for example, is often depicted in artwork and statues as slender and athletic, but historians believe she was actually obese… and balding!
  7. Young boys had their heads shaved with the exception for one plaited lock, perhaps the old school version of a rat tail that some still sport today? In fact, most Ancient Egyptians had an aversion to body hair of any kind, shaving it all off and preferring wigs. Apparently this was a method of protection against lice and fleas.

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