Ancient Egyptian Society
Ancient Egypt was an era where many concepts and inventions were created. The ancient Egyptian people shaped how we utilize certain inventions today. Technology, from ancient Egypt, has impacted us greatly and without this technology, we wouldn’t be as advanced as we are now.
Ancient Egyptian art has influenced people for many years, even still to this today. Their style and skills inspired multiple Roman and Greek artists. Ancient Egyptian artists always remained unknown because they created art simply for observing. All art during this time had some form of an objective or goal. Egyptian artists never viewed their artwork as anything else other than useful. “Egyptian temples, palaces, homes and gardens, statuary and paintings, signet rings and amulets were all created with balance in mind and all reflect the value of symmetry. The Egyptians believed their land had been made in the image of the world of the gods and, when someone died, they went to a paradise they would find quite familiar (Narmer Palette). A very known piece of Egyptian art is the memorable Narmer Palette. It was a two-sided, liturgical plate of siltstone that had a very meaningful display on it. It displayed the consolidation of the Lower and Upper Egypt by King Narmer, which was carefully carved. The bulls on the top of each side symbolize power. The symmetry serves as an overall balance for this piece. The harmony in this masterpiece showcases how progressive Egyptians were during this time. The Seated Scribe was also another fascinating piece in Egypt. “Seated Scribe , c. 2500 B.C.E., c. 4th Dynasty, Old Kingdom, [was] painted limestone with rock crystal, magnesite, and copper/arsenic inlay for the eyes and wood for the nipples, found in Saqqara (The Seated Scribe). Ancient Egypt was highly wealthy which allowed them to create many styles of art that were used for functional purposes only like jewelry, cosmetic cases, furniture, sandals, etc. Many items people use today without even thinking about where it came from.
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The ancient Egyptians really developed and contributed to the technology and inventions we still use present day. Ancient Egypt shaped how we write, what we write with, and what we write on. They created multi-colored inks to keep record of important events or documents. They would utilize this invention on what they called papyrus, which was the first type of reliable and long-lasting paper created. It was massively fabricated and transported to other known ancient civilizations. Egyptians also contributed to how we tell time. The first calendar they created had some flaws. Realizing how inaccurate it was, they created an improved one that was based on astronomy. We still use this type of calendar to this day. The ancient Egyptians usually determined time by the position of the sun, but there were signs of them using water clocks. Water clocks would float and were shaped like a bowl with a tiny hole in the bottom. The number of hours that passed were determined by the rising water that would fill up the bowl. They were the first ones to operate massive groups of organized labor to build large structures, like the pyramids. The Egyptians also created useful tools to help them build these insane structures like the lever and the ramp. Ancient Egyptians also contributed to making medicine, furniture, and even toothpaste. “Some of the earliest developments in medicine were made by the ancient Egyptian people. They had a variety of medicines and cures for both humans and animals, along with much knowledge of anatomy, as they practiced mummification and preservation of the dead. One of the earliest accounts of medical texts originates in ancient Egypt. It attempts to describe and analyze the brain, providing the earliest insight into neuroscience. Although they had many ‘cures’ for various ailments, some of their medicinal practices were questionable at best (Ancient Egypt Online). Without this specific invention, many tragic deaths would occur and, we may not even be alive today. Medicine has allowed us to live a longer and healthier life.
Egyptian society was shaped in the form of a pyramid with the Pharoah at the top and the slaves/servants at the bottom. In between were the government officials, soldiers, scribes, merchants, artisans, and the farmers. In ancient Egypt, everyone was judged by what their occupation was. Doctors and priests were praised and had special privileges because Egyptian culture considered medicine and religion a priority. “During long periods of peace, soldiers also supervised the peasants, farmers, and slaves who were involved in building such structures as pyramids and palaces. Skilled workers, such as physicians and craftsperson’s, made up the middle class. Craftsperson’s made and sold jewelry, pottery, papyrus products, tools, and other useful things. Naturally, there were people needed to buy goods from artisans and traders. These were the merchants and storekeepers who sold these goods to the public (Egyptian Social Structure). Captured prisoners of war would usually become slaves that would work for the Pharoah or nobles. This is how civilizations survived for a long time and without this type of system, past developments and progress may have never existed.
The ancient Egyptian economy would be classified as a command economy, which means that everything was controlled by the government. Agriculture is what brought them most of their security. A generous amount of manufacture goods came from groups of people who produced raw goods. Men would catch the fish while women would clean and dry them. Most things that were mined during this time only interested a few wealthy people. “Most of the produce was consumed by the producers themselves. What was left after landlords and tax-collectors had taken their share, could be sold by barter on the free market either directly to consumers or to professional traders. Little is known about these merchants. It is generally assumed that they were, at least until the Late Period, for the most part agents of the crown or the great estates. Some of the wheat harvested and belonging to private owners was stored in state warehouses. So was much of the grain collected as taxes. Written withdrawal orders by owners of lots of grain were used as a kind of currency (The Ancient Egyptian Economy). Muscle power or domesticated animals were used as their main source of energy. Cattle and donkeys were the animals typically used for transporting goods and doing harsh work. Pharoahs had control of all the land, which was a privilege many admired and honored. This economy is not one we may use in the United States but, it constructed our mixed-economy and how it functions.
In ancient Egypt, pharaohs were the ones in control. The type of government ancient Egypt had was a monarchy, where one person rules the land. Pharaohs were viewed as gods that would protect the Egyptian people. The pharaoh would control when the army would fight, and any laws had to go through them first. “The pharaoh appointed a chief minister called a vizier as a supervisor. The vizier ensured that taxes were collected. Working with the vizier were scribes who kept government records. These high-level employees had mastered a rare skill in ancient Egypt they could read and write…only nobles could hold government posts; in these positions they profited from tributes paid to the pharaoh. Priests were responsible for pleasing the gods. Nobles enjoyed great status and also grew wealthy from donations to the gods. All Egyptians from pharaohs to farmers gave gifts to the gods (Egyptian Social Structure). Today, many professions have specific responsibilities that others may dearly depend on. Without leadership being introduced, civilizations would collapse due to the lack of having someone to guide them.
In ancient Egypt, there was a lot of mystery and secrecy with Egyptian philosophy. Which was something Egyptian priests wanted since they believed that if their religion was classified a private, it would be more sophisticated they would appear to be. Due to some catastrophic events, awareness and wisdom of ancient Egypt’s traditions were merged together. Many people, throughout the years, created their own stories and created false ideas about Egypt. “This fraud sustained their ancient reputation. People came from all countries of the known world to seek wisdom in Egypt. Egyptian priests had such disciples as Moses, Orpheus, Linus, Plato, Pythagoras, Democritus and Thales; all the Greek philosophers, in short. To substantiate their systems, the philosophers lent their authority to the hierophants. For their part, the hierophants took advantage of the very testimony of the philosophers to attribute their discoveries to themselves (Diderot). Without all this confusion and misunderstandings, we wouldn’t have tried to look deeper into Egyptian philosophy and try to get a better understanding on what Egyptians believed in.
Ancient Egypt opened multiple doors for the future, especially in technology. Without their intelligence and creative minds, some inventions wouldn’t exist. They thought ahead of their time and allowed us to enjoy the futuristic life of today.