Daily Life In Ancient Egypt
The daily life in ancient Egypt was actually much different than the vision that commonly comes to mind. Relics found in archeological digs as well as paintings and drawings on pyramid and tomb walls depict images of life in ancient Egypt that was, in some regards, not that much different than life in Egypt today.
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Life in ancient Egypt was primarily centered toward a polytheistic religion, the pharaoh and the importance of family. In ancient Egypt family life began early. Men and women tended to marry quite young in ancient Egypt and everyday life reflected their commitment to the sanctity of the family unit. Divorce was known to have existed but does not appear to have been that prevalent or common. Marriages were generally polygamous; at least in the royal and noble circles, with the husband having several wives. In most cases there was usually a senior wife or chief wife; however it is apparent that husbands were quite fond of all their wives.
Children were a very important component of life in Egypt and were considered to be a great blessing from the gods. Also in the noble and royal families, children were highly regarded. Paintings of King Akhenaten and his wife, Queen Nefertiti, indicate they had a very close and loving bond with their six daughters.
The role of women in ancient Egyptian society is often a surprise. It is usually assumed that women were relegated to the role of a second class citizen, when actually the opposite was true. Women were allowed to own property, testify in court and conduct business dealings. More than one woman even ruled the Egyptian land as pharaoh. While women were highly regarded and given rights that most of their contemporaries in other lands could only dream of, daily life in ancient Egypt for women also involved responsibilities for most of the duties of the home. It was the woman's responsibility to raise the children, see to the home and prepare the meals.
The daily life of people of ancient Egypt was very involved with the various gods and goddesses who ruled Egyptian mythology. It was quite acceptable to worship more than one deity and most towns and villages throughout Egypt did so, although a city would normally claim a patron god. Temples were built and scattered throughout Egypt, reflecting a religion that involved frequent rites, rituals and practices.
Peasant life in ancient Egypt was not always pleasant. Most peasants made their living off the land through agricultural means. Grain, particularly wheat, was a staple crop of life in ancient Egypt. As a result of few grazing lands and the expense of meat, most peasants subsisted off a diet of ground wheat foods, subsidized with meager vegetables. The Egyptians were one of the first people to introduce the use of the ox-drawn plow; however the work of plowing, planting and harvesting would have still been very difficult. Taxes were also imposed on the crops, which would have also made it difficult for most peasant families to move beyond their poor means.
Modern views on slave life in ancient Egypt are largely contradictory. Many scholars theorize that slaves in ancient Egypt actually performed more in the role of servant than actual slave; while other others have contended that those who were less fortunate in ancient Egyptian society were forced to work in humiliating and degrading positions. A long held theory indicates that the great pyramids of ancient Egypt were built upon slave labor, although this theory has been open to much conjecture.
Life in Egypt today is a reflective blend of a modern society who still appreciates a rich and cultured past. In many ways, not much has changed. The Egyptian people still have a very strong regard for family and children and feel very bonded to the land.