Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Ancient Egyptians by Brier and Hobbs ****

So much of history, particularly ancient history, is about politics and powers. In the case of Egypt, this means the XXXIII dynasties of pharaohs. The Ancient Egyptians by Brier and Hobbs can't get away from all those pharaohs, but it also covers work, play, food, clothes, etc.

When archaeologists look back many thousands of years, many of their conclusions involve guessing. They are beyond the earlier archaeologists where the bias was to to confirm The Bible. Still today, when a chaotic city for pyramid workers is uncovered, someone can't help but suggest that  the large workers' encampment lead the Greeks to identify it with the labyrinth on Crete. Such is the innate human drive to rationalize and explain.

Egyptian had a limited palette of colors:black, white, blue, red, yellow, and brown.

Interesting to writers, beyond bookkeeping, Egypt left significant "wisdom literature," simply called "instructions." These still seem familiar today.
The respectful man prospers.
Praised is the modest one.
The tent is open to the silent.
This is an excellent references for anyone interested in ancient Egypt from grade 4/5 to adult.

Egyptian Food

Some interesting notes about Egyptian science.

Egypt had two medical systems. One was magical and the other clinical. Known issues, such a animal bites and broken bones were treated clinically. Other diseases, termed "unknown diseases," were treated magically. (Compare ancient "unknown" diseases to modern "idiopathic" diseases.) This is not so different from the present day situation, expect that we have fewer "unknown" diseases.

Since resurrection was a major Egyptian belief, autopsies were out of the question. As a result most anatomical knowledge came from butchering animals. Hieroglyphs for parts of the body all pictures animal parts. For example a uterus was a two-chambered organ, as in a cow, versus the single chamber found in humans.

Much medicine was based on the principle of similars. For example dehydrated pigs eyes were a treatment for blindness, Also mandrake roots which look something like male genitalia were prescribed for impotency and infertility.

On a more scientific note, many potions were mixed into a base of honey which has a proven antibacterial property. Also the pregnancy test of soaking barley in a woman's urine, has been shown to have a 70% accuracy.

The Egyptians invented the 24-hour day. The Greeks combined this with base-60 arithmetic from Babylon.
Thus, modern timekeeping is based on an Egyptian invention, which was standardize by the Greeks using a Babylonian mathematical system.

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