Mummies wrapped in linen and enigmatic pyramids aren’t the only strange aspects of ancient Egypt. It has many more bizarre facts and here they are.
Egypt, the land of Pharaohs and pyramids, has a history that’s full of bizarre and intriguing stuff. When you think of ancient Egypt, the mysterious mummies, dimly-lit pyramids, and glamorously powerful kings come to mind. But that’s not it, the ancient Egypt has had many enigmatic theories, weird speculations, and historic events.
Let’s know some bizarre facts about ancient Egypt.
In today’s 21st century, it isn’t unusual at all for men especially male actors to wear makeup. However, can you believe that ancient Egyptian men also wore makeup other than women? Well, they really did! In fact, the ancient Egyptians were the first to invent cosmetics if one looks back in time and studies makeup history.
The ancient Egyptian men painted their eyes with green or black color mostly. The makeup was used for both practical and ritualistic purposes. They believed that the eye makeup helped in protecting their eyes from the harmful sunrays, flies, and infections. The dazzling makeup even emulated the facial markings of Horus, the sun god.
As a matter of fact, cosmetics even demonstrated rank in ancient Egypt. A woman with a portable cosmetics box was considered wealthy. In the rule of Ramses III, the laborers went on a strike when they weren’t provided balms and massage oils that were considered essential for complete well-being. (3.1)
The king of Egypt should ideally be the son of the previous king. But that wasn’t the case always and the coronation could convert the most improbable contender into an invincible king.
Ancient Egyptian women were enthroned at least thrice and they ruled in their own right as female kings and used the complete power of a king. And the most glorious female ruler happened to be Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt for over 20 prosperous years.
While in the English language, ‘king’ is gender-specific; so Sobeknefru, Hatshepsut, and Tausret can be classified as reigning queens. However, in the Egyptian language, ‘king’ conventionally translated as ‘queen’ literally. So ‘king’s wife’ is absolutely inapt for these women. (3.2)
In Ancient Egypt, dwarfs, giant people, and other people having unusual physical features were often hired for security-sensitive jobs. And they were mostly employed as a gold worker. So in case, some worker tried to steal away bags of gold, they could be easily spotted and captured in a crowd. (3.3)
You’d be amazed to know that the temperature inside the Great Pyramid of Giza mirrors earth’s internal temperature (68 degrees Fahrenheit or 20 degrees Celsius)! And with a desert environment having 115 degrees Fahrenheit (or 46 degree Celsius) temperature, 20 degrees Celsius sounds quite like intense air conditioning.
The men were sent for an embalming process soon after they died. However, the beautiful and powerful women were left decaying for some days according to law. That’s because embalmers weren't trustworthy and couldn’t keep their hands off the dead bodies and could indulge in necrophilia.
The legendary Ethiopian ruler Actisanes who conquered Egypt dealt with criminals in a unique way. By his ruling, whomsoever committed a crime had to get their nose cut off. And they were then sent to a city founded by him named Rhinocolura.
Entirely populated by noseless criminals, they had to cope alone in one of the country’s most draconian environments. They had to live on infected water and scattered pieces of scrap. It may sound ruthless in today’s times but it was considered the “height of kindness” back in the 6th century.
Moreover, Romans even penned down Rhinocolura and called it an example of Actisanes’s “kindly manner towards his subjects.” and at that time, losing nose for breaking the law meant that you’ve got off easy.
According to a universal trope in ancient Egypt, those people were struck by magical spells for taking revenge on others. The curse of the mummy is much known. It is said that pharaohs used to place magic spells on their tombs just to make sure that whoever got in and disturbed the body will have to pay for it.
Designed as an enduring home to the mummified body and the adjacent ka spirit, the tomb had a tomb-chapel that could be accessed by authorized families, well-wishers, and priests. They visited the deceased and left regular offerings required by ka. A secret burial chamber.
In the tomb chapel, regular food and drinks were offered to the deceased. Once the offerings were consumed spiritually by the ka, the living then consumed it physically. Throughout a yearly fiesta of death and renewal ‘feast of the valley’, several families would spend the night in the tomb-chapels of their forefathers. And they would celebrate the reunion with the deceased by drinking, feasting, and torch lighting.
Pharaohs never allowed their hair to be seen and always wore a headdress called nemes. While the rich Egyptians mostly slipped into wigs, the poor Egyptians donned pigtails or simply kept their hair long. Except for one long braid, the boys would usually shave off their heads in order to prevent infestation of lice.
At the time of mummification, the brain of the deceased was moved out through nostrils. And other organs except the heart were removed and kept inside the jar. The only heart was left within the body as they believed that it contained the soul.
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