E is for Egypt

Published April 5, 2012 by caitlinnicoll

The Egyptians are known for the impressive buildings, and of course, their elaborate burial practices. The Egyptians took such great care of the deceased because they believed it was necessary to insure immortality in the afterlife. After mummification, they were buried, sometimes in elaborate tombs, with everything they thought they would need in the afterlife (which was basically everything they owned in life. Yes, even their pets) Of course, these practices were only available to the elite.

Pharaohs (and some nobility) practiced polygamy and incest, often marrying their sisters, and sometimes their step-mothers (as is the case with Hatshepsut and Thutmose III). And, like The Celts, The women were treated as equals, and could rise to positions of power (although it wasn’t common).

There have been women to become Pharaohs, like Hatshepsut and Cleopatra VI. After 30 years of reign, a Pharaoh celebrated the Sed Festival, which celebrated their continued reign. The festival would be held every 3 years afterwards. Notable exceptions were Hatshepsut, who celebrated hers after only 16 years on the throne. Many scholars speculate she counted her years as co-ruler with her husband. Pharaohs who followed the typical tradition, but did not reign 30 years were promised a “millions of jubilees” in the afterlife.

One of Akenhaten's wives, Nefertiti

In the 14t century, Amenhotep IV, who later changed his name to Akhenaten, turned Egyptian religion on its head, when he converted to monotheism, and worshiped Aten, a sun deity. This was so blasphemous, that when he died, his successors tried to wipe him from history. Akhenaten was the father of Tutankhamun.

Ramses II is perhaps the most famous Pharaoh in Egyptian history. He was said to have celebrated more Sed festivals than any other Pharaoh. He led many campaigns for expansion, including the battle of Kadesh against the Hittites, and later signed a peace treaty with them and married a Hittite woman. Legends say he lived to 99 years, but he probably only lived to be 91 or  92.

Egyptian gods were depicted with animalistic qualities. For instance, Anubis (god of mummification and the afterlife) was depicted with the head of a jackal, and Ra (the sun god) had the head of a falcon.

Sekhmet

It was said that the breath of the warrior goddess, Sekhmet created the desert, and she has such fierce names as the (One) Before Whom Evil Trembles, the Mistress of Dread, and the Lady of Slaughter. Sekhmet was born when Ra, the sun god, created her from a fiery eye to destroy mortals of Lower Egypt who turned against him. However, Sekhmet’s blood-lust could not be sated and she went on a rampage to destroy all of humanity. Ra had to trick her by turning the Nile into red wine that looked like blood, and when she drank it, she got so drunk that she gave up the slaughter. This myth explained why the Nile turned red every year when it became inundated.

And lastly, because John Green says it better…

Book recommendations for reading challenges:

Fantasy                                                                                                    Sci-fi

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6 comments on “E is for Egypt

  • When there was no post, I was worried that TL had taken you out… Yankees fans can be ruthless. #bewarefakeallies. Or Minnesotans bearing gifts… #lessonlearnedthehardway

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