Whereas Monty Python made a great gag out of asking what the Roman’s did for us in their hit film The Life of Brian, we decided to look back into the distant past to ask the same question of the ancient Egyptians.
The Egyptology diploma we offer covers the whole history of Egypt, from the foundations of the civilisation on the banks of the Nile through to the Roman occupation – to find out how Egyptian practices influence modern society.
Perhaps one of the ancient Egyptians greatest legacies was their use of the pith of the papyrus plant in order to craft writing material, often rolled up onto huge scrolls. These were used to record such important information as the Egyptian’s treatises on medicine and surgery, as well as mathematics and folk tales, providing us with a fascinating glimpse into the past.
Though many cultures refined and perfected the process for recording information on important documents, from the Chinese to the Arabs, the Egyptian use of papyrus remains and important starting point.
Thanks to the River Nile, the ancient Egyptians were one of the first societies to practice agriculture on a large scale. Utilising a form of basin irrigation, they could control the rise and fall of the Nile to suit whatever their agricultural needs were. When the river flooded, water was trapped in basins to ensure it stayed longer than it naturally would have. This allowed them to drain the basins depending on what was needed and where. This helped the Egyptians to build an empire based on the large wealth created from their agricultural spoils.
In the sweltering heat of Egypt, hair was considered unhygienic due to the constant threat of lice and nits, so routinely bathing, washing clothes and shaving their head and face was an important part of day to day life. Priests took the routine a step further and were known to shave their entire bodies every other day to ensure they remained clean and healthy in their worship.
This hygienic routine also led to the introduction of beauty products that continue to be used to this day including soap, toothpaste, perfumes, lipsticks, make-up palettes, creams, and face masks.
Perhaps the most influential innovation of the ancient Egyptians was the formulation of the yearly calendar, an important concept that was adopted and refined by the Roman’s in later centuries.
Whereas we use calendar’s to keep track of where we’ve been and what we have to do, the Egyptian’s weren’t necessarily bothered about recording the minutiae of their lives and the calendar was used by them to mark when the annual flooding of the Nile would happen. Tying this into their farming, the calendar was split up into three sections – the inundation season, growing season, and harvest season. Each of these seasons had four months and each month was split into 30 days.