Monday, September 5, 2016

Ancient Egypt this week: By Bread Alone

Labor Day in Ancient Egypt
Labor Day is a holiday in the United States, and one most of us look forward to celebrating. (Who doesn't like a day off work?) This link is to a post I did last for Labor Day 2015; to be perfectly honest, not that much changed in ancient Egyptian labor practices since last year.

What was it like to be a working man or woman in ancient Egypt?

Not as bad as some might expect. Some workers enjoyed health insurance, free food and lodging, and 2 days off every 10 days. In case you're wondering, a week in Ancient Egypt was 10 days long.

That whole slaves building the pyramid, yeah that's just a story. No Pharaoh was going to entrust his House of a Million Years to disgruntled slave labor. Still, working in Ancient Egypt was no cruise up the Nile either.


Following an old recipe can be challenging. Following a recipe that is not written, but only depicted in pictograms and drawings, archeological examples, and assumptions is even more difficult. The job here is to not only follow the recipe, but also try to understand the culture and traditions where this bread came to be.

In this case, I’m trying to make bread as it was done in ancient Egypt. Bread is not only one of the oldest food staples in many cultures, but it is also a good marker of civilization.

Food: Bread, beer, and all good things

The staple food was bread and beer, supplemented by onions or other vegetables and dried fish.

They eat loaves of bread of coarse grain which they call cyllestis. They make their beverage from barley, for they have no vines in their country.They eat fish raw, sun-dried or preserved in salt brine.

Archaeologist Alain Zivie about the Tomb of Aper-el at Saqqara

French archaeologist Dr Alain Zivie shows some of the findings from the Tomb of the vizier Aper-el, which dates from the latter part of the 18th Dynasty, around 1353-1335 BC and are now stored at the Imhotep Museum at Saqqara.

Ancient Egyptian Farmhouse

Click on the arrow to rotate the farmhouse.

Ancient Egyptians used metal in wooden ships
 (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)
Cairo (AFP) - A piece of wood recovered at a dig near the Great Pyramid of Giza shows for the first time that ancient Egyptians used metal in their boats, archaeologists said Wednesday.

Egypt's antiquities minister attended the  lifting of newfound beam of Khufu's second boat. It may be the oars holder of King Khufu's second solar boat. For a second article, click here.

Identity marks and their relation to writing in New Kingdom Egypt

Van der Moezel studied identity marks from the settlement at Deir el-Medina, on the west bank of the Nile. This is where some 40 to 120 workers and their families lived between 1550 and 1070 BC. These were the workers who built and decorated the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings, where the legendary King Tutankhamen is buried, along with other pharaohs and elite.

Dr Robert Connolly and the Garstang Mummy

Dr Robert Connolly is an anatomist at the University of Liverpool who assisted with the anatomical work done on the mummy of Tutankhamun back in the 1960s as a grad student, and has carried out a significant amount of research on Egyptian mummies since then.

Does Chinese Civilization Come From Ancient Egypt?

On a cool Sunday evening in March, a geochemist named Sun Weidong gave a public lecture to an audience of laymen, students, and professors at the University of Science and Technology in Hefei, the capital city of the landlocked province of Anhui in eastern China. But the professor didn’t just talk about geochemistry. He also cited several ancient Chinese classics, at one point quoting historian Sima Qian’s description of the topography of the Xia empire — traditionally regarded as China’s founding dynasty, dating from 2070 to 1600 B.C. “Northwards the stream is divided and becomes the nine rivers,” wrote Sima Qian in his first century historiography, the Records of the Grand Historian. “Reunited, it forms the opposing river and flows into the sea.”

In other words, “the stream” in question wasn’t China’s famed Yellow River, which flows from west to east. “There is only one major river in the world which flows northwards. Which one is it?” the professor asked. “The Nile,” someone replied. Sun then showed a map of the famed Egyptian river and its delta — with nine of its distributaries flowing into the Mediterranean. This author, a researcher at the same institute, watched as audience members broke into smiles and murmurs, intrigued that these ancient Chinese texts seemed to better agree with the geography of Egypt than that of China.

Before Mrs. Simpson, there were pyramids . . .

In 1861 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert decided that their 20 year-old son, “Bertie” (Albert), Prince of Wales and future King Edward VII, would benefit from a royal tour of the Middle East. As well as a history lesson, it would offer him the chance to meet many of the rulers in the region – essential training as heir to the throne.

The royal tour was accompanied by acclaimed photographer Francis Bedford, who photographed the touring party and the many sights they took in along the way. Thanks to this, we now have a series of incredible images of 19th century Egypt. When Bertie steamed into Cairo station on the train from Alexandria in March 1862, the first thing he did was jump onto a donkey and ride through the streets of the city!

At the time of Albert’s visit, excavations were still ongoing at Luxor Temple. Today, the colossal statues of Ramesses II standing at the first pylon are visible down to their feet.

[Photos: Royal Collection Trust]

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