Life in Ancient Egypt
Life in Ancient Egypt
THE Greeks, who from the seventh century B.C. were frequent visitors to the Nile Valley, marvelled to find there a civilisation which, though more ancient, was at least the equal of their own. They saw to their astonishment powerful populous towns, strange gigantic temples, and a people who in no wise resembled the inhabitants of Ionia and the Greek islands. This people honoured as gods oxen and crocodiles, which were served by bald linen-clad priests; and not only in their worship did they differ from other nations, but also in their daily life they seemed to do everything in a way contrary to that usual in other countries.
"Concerning Egypt," says the wise Herodotos, "I shall extend my remarks to a great length, because there is no country that possesses so many wonders, nor any that has such a number of works which defy description. Not only is the climate different from that of the rest of the world, and the rivers unlike any other rivers, but the people also, in most of their manners and customs, exactly reverse the common practice of mankind. The women attend the markets and trade, while the men sit at home at the loom; and here, while the rest of the world works the woof up the warp, the Egyptians work it down; the women likewise carry burthens upon their shoulders, while the men carry them upon their heads. A woman cannot serve the priestly office either for god or goddess, but men are priests to both; sons need not support their parents unless they choose, but daughters must, whether they choose or no. In other countries the priests have long hair, in Egypt their heads are shaven; elsewhere it is customary, in mourning, for near relatives to cut their hair close; the Egyptians, who wear no hair at any other time, when they lose a relative let their beards and the hair of their heads grow long. All other men pass their lives separate from animals, the Egyptians have animals always living with them; others make barley and wheat their food, it is a disgrace to do so in Egypt, where the grain they live on is spelt, which some call zea. Dough they knead with their feet, but they mix mud with their hands. Their men wear two garments apiece, their women but one. They put on the rings and fasten the ropes to sails inside, others put . . .