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Technology of Ancient Egypt

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    For most archaeologists and historians, it’s a clear fact in analyzing ancient cultures “Human societies have a long history of incorporating elements of the past into the present” (Scarre & Coningham, 2013, p. 195).  Technology is no exception to this concept due to the fact it appears in numerous ancient civilizations, has had unique examples incorporated and applied with science and machinery that would leave people of the modern age impressed by what intelligence and wisdom they held in their unique minds. Ancient Egypt is one of many of these ancient civilizations to show how incredible mankind can become when it comes to the basic building blocks of technology. Does modern day man know where humans got the concept of the 365-day calendar? Egypt originally created a 360-day calendar, however, added 5 extra days to celebrate the birthdays of their gods. How about clocks? Egypt had two types of clocks, which was the sundial for daytime uses and the water clock for nighttime use. Egypt had an evolutionary technological process of how to construct buildings, take care of distant farming territory, written literature, basic hygiene, and many more. However, many of these facts have been lost to the pages of time, only to be re-constructed centuries later, and recognized by historians and archaeologists as time goes on due to the fact that “Excavations of Egypt’s ancient sites have continued steadily since the early 20th century” (Pruitt, 2019). Plus, with every new discovery offering new insights into the striking knowledge held by the ancient civilization.

    Consequentially, Egypt has developed many aspects within the modern world today, so from the massive list of findings, it’s tough to say where to begin. One of these many inventions of the Egyptians was a lunar calendar, another separate calendar that came later in Egypt’s history and that is known as a solar calendar. A solar calendar splits the seasons and adds days “to celebrate the birthdays of five gods” (Mingren, 2019). However, some may not know in this cycle Egyptians divided the months into three periods of ten days, in which translates into the daily regimen of seven days residing within a week, at the last two days of each ten days act as holy days, and in which counts as modern society’s weekends. Therefore, five additional days were added by the conclusion of each calendar year to celebrate five Egyptian deities such as Horus, Isis, Nephthys, and finally but not least Osiris. Throughout each of these gods’ birthdays, the people didn’t have to work. Plus, these days were suggestively added to make the adoption of this calendar more consecutively “precise division of the years for administrative purposes” (Mingren, 2019). Consequently, this calendar started to fall out of synch due to the fact “every four years” the calendar lost a day, which caused the progress to worsen with each solar year that passes (Simpson, 2011, p. 104).

    Egyptians developed the plow in 4000 B.C. A small but useful device to help tend to the fields for peasant farmers to raise various types of crops. This tool most likely was forged by various hand tools, which made them light, however, these “scratch plows” were deemed ineffective since they could barely scratch the surface of the ground (Atteberry & Kiger, 2020a). Therefore, later in Egyptian history bronze plow blades were introduced. However, these blades could not be forged in the average household, not easily picked up from a market, “but by a barter, which could be a complex procedure involving intricate negotiations” (Brier & Hobbs, 2008, p. 83). The man might have everything he desires, so if a person had something the barter did not already own that individual could trade that item for the plow blade. The tool was used by oxen to plow the fields more effectively, thus, proves that the Egyptians were revolutionary when it came to be farming in the desert. Along with this technic of farming the people were smart to have farms, primarily around the river Nile, which “made farming easier for the Egyptians than perhaps any other society of the time” (Atteberry & Kiger, 2020a).

    Subsequently, Egyptians also dealt with the advancement or creation of numerous household goods. The first of these goods was the simple development of a handheld mirror that is found in many households today. These mirrors were decorated different types of figures of Egyptian rulers or gods or even animals. However, most mirrors of this age were manufactured in two separate parts, one was a circular disk that was relatively thin, the other piece being the handle in the form “of the goddess Hathor’s head, with bowing lotus leaf petals” (Mendoza, 2017, p. 27). They also made more decorative wall mirrors that were mainly used by the middle to upper-class citizens. The Egyptians were very self-conscious about how they looked and their self-hygiene because they saw it was very important to look their best in public, therefore, lead to the development of toothpaste and toothpowders between 3,000 to 5,000 BC. The ancient people of Egypt created a dental paste “which contained powdered ashes from oxen hooves, myrrh, egg shells and pumice” (Lippert, 2013, p. 2). The ancient people developed these important bits of hygiene because unwanted materials like sand and grit would sadly get in their daily meals between their baked bread and harvested vegetables. This would lead to many dental issues, thus, the ancient society had to develop dentistry to keep up with these pesky issues. Consequentially, later on, the Egyptians developed a recipe that contained a mix of spices such as frankincense and cinnamon heated with honey, which when cooled became the ancient world’s first signs of breath mints. However, that’s not all the household goods that this ancient civilization has created. In 3000 B.C, the ancient people discovered that mixing copper and tin ore they forge bronze, this new material would make its way into tools, armor, weapons, decorative pieces, and building materials. They forged detailed bronze statues of gods and Pharaohs to worship in small household shrines.

    Though these new advances may have its perks, it still does not match up with Egyptians homes one thousand years earlier in 4000 B.C the ancient civilization developed the first known door locks. This lock is referred to as “alock that would help people open a barred door from the outside” (Honovich, 2019, p. 50). These ancient locks were lined with pegs that held the door in place device and interacted with the insertion of a special key. When the specific key hit these pins upward, pushed away from the primary lock shaft system otherwise known as the bolt it would allow the door to be opened. However, as useful as these locks were, they had one major drawback and that was the sheer size of them. The largest ones in length were estimated to be a few feet long and for “greater security, these locks are occasionally sealed with a mass of clay” (Hobbs & Dodd & Tomlinson, 1853, p. 13). However, being big was helpful to these doors because that made them much more secure with their semi-complicated design.

    The Egyptian people also developed and made use of canals and irrigation systems to direct water from rivers to aid in distant farmland development an assortment of crops. They did this by developing their version of the water wheel called a shadouf. These devices were built with a long pole that was connected to a weight on one side, a pail on the other. These shadoufs helped distribute “the floodwaters of the Nile River” to distant farmlands (Cech, 2018, p. 6). However, these ancient water wheels were raised by mighty animals to swing the pole of liquid into empty waterways to send its way to the proper channels to help the Egyptian economy to prosper.

    Egyptians for many years used sundials as their unique form of telling time. During the day they would observe the shadows cast by the pillar moving across the sundials surface, at night they would use something called a water clock. This device was constructed with a stone-like vase with a small hole on its bottom surface. It worked like this when the water slowly dripped through the bottom hole at a constant rate, thus, simulating the passing of time, which was configured by “ten columns of twelve indentations” carved within this vase when it’s collecting water (Solodky, 2006, p. 19). The Water clock was used mainly to help keep time for ancient to perform numerous religious tasks.

    Consequentially, Egyptians were a self-developing nation and used everything in their surrounding nation to develop various goods including papyrus sheets. Papyrus sheets are a unique form of Egyptian paper made from a local plant known as papyrus. The plant grew to be stiff and reddish within the marshland surrounding the Nile. It was tough and felt like a type of fiber that “proved ideal for making durable sheets of writing material, along with sails, sandals, mats and other necessities of ancient Egyptian life” (Atteberry & Kiger, 2020b). Therefore, once these sheets were created, they would most of the time be merged with scrolls to record important information, such as music, religion, literature, and everything else written within them. This long-drawn-out task of producing the paper substance was kept secret to allow trade throughout Egypt. This leads to the next enhancement in writing text known hieroglyphic as created by the Egyptian people around 3300 B.C. These hieroglyphics is a complex “system of writing that uses pictures or symbols to represent specific objects like the sun, abstract ideas like heat, or sound” (Tracy, 2013, p. 37-38). However, separate symbols were used to represent individual ideas and objects known as pictograms. These Pictograms at first were made of simple representation through carving or painting in sacred places, scrolls, and in or on other items, however, later Egyptians inserted more art in their way of writing, and which were more like alphabet style characteristics. The previously mentioned characteristics were included to represent tole tails and other outside characters to allow the people to compose their names and thoughts.

    However, the subject that complexes archaeologists in today’s society deals with how the Egyptians built their massive structures such as pyramids, obelisks, and their many other sacred monuments. Consequently, the ancient civilization was mainly known for building the pyramids since these great structures symbolize ancient Egypt. These structures that lie within the desserts of Giza remain impressive for thousands of years. These structures took plenty of ancient tools to ship the supplies and construct them. They developed large boats to move the limestone rocks from the riverbanks and “then thousands of men dragged it across the land on sledges” (Filer, 2005, p. 13). A sledge was an ancient term for what mankind calls a sled a form of primitive technology to move these materials to locations within a fast pace of time, in early Egyptian illustrations depicts water being tossed in front of these sledges to probably help ease the burden of dragging these stones. Thus, after the stones have been delivered a sloping ramp would be drawn together “flanked by two staircases with post holes” (Cascone, 2018). These pillars would have ropes to work like a pulley system created to ease the pain of moving the giant blocks of rock, a sled was constructed to aid in moving the blocks up steep structures or inclines in aiding with massive building projects.

    Therefore, in conclusion, it’s clear that ancient Egypt has a decent number of unique examples of technological advances to be appreciated, understood by the wisdom that created them. These ancient civilizations are a crowning achievement of what mankind can stride for as knowledge of building improves as the tethers of time goes on, whether it’s improving farm life, basic literature, home goods dealing with decorations and dental hygiene there’s just so much more humanity can learn from their ancestral origins that shows more than meets the eye. Consequentially, archaeologists find lost scripts and artifacts that detail secrets of lost formulas and blueprints all the time that help broaden mankind’s horizon of what time has yet to teach humanity about how intelligent their ancestors once were and what they possibly can be still teaching mankind from beyond the veil of life itself.

    References

    1. Atteberry, J., & Kiger, P. J. (2020b, January 27). 10 Amazing Ancient Egyptian Inventions. Retrieved from https://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/inventions/5-amazing-ancient-egyptian-inventions3.htm
    2. Brier, B., & Hobbs, A. H. (2008). Daily life of the ancient Egyptians. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
    3. Cascone, S. (2018, November 7). Does This Newly Discovered Ramp System Reveal How Egyptians Built the Pyramids? Retrieved from https://news.artnet.com/art-world/does-this-ramps-explain-how-pyramids-were-built-1389712
    4. Cech, T. V. (2018). Principles of water resources history, development, management, and policy. Hoboken: Wiley.
    5. Filer, J. (2005). Pyramids (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
    6. Honovich, N. (2019). 1,000 Facts about ancient Egypt. Washington, DC: National Geographic Kids.
    7. Hobbs, a. c., Dodd, G., & Tomlinson, C. (1853). Rudimentary treatise on the construction of Locks edited by C. Tomlinson. London.
    8. Jarus, O. (2016, June 14). How Were the Egyptian Pyramids Built? Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/32616-how-were-the-egyptian-pyramids-built-.html
    9. Lippert, F. (2013). An Introduction to Toothpaste – Its Purpose, History and Ingredients. Monographs in Oral Science Toothpastes, 1–14. doi: 10.1159/000350456
    10. Mark, J. J. (2016, November 9). Ancient Egyptian Science & Technology. Retrieved February 20, 2020, from https://www.ancient.eu/article/967/ancient-egyptian-science–technology/
    11. Mendoza, B. (2017). Artifacts from Ancient Egypt. Santa Barbara (Calif.): Greenwood, an imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC.
    12. Mingren, W. (2019, May 16). Why Are There 365 Days in a Year? Organizing Dates with an Ancient Egyptian Calendar. Retrieved from https://www.ancient-origins.net/artifacts-ancient-technology/why-are-there-365-days-year-organizing-dates-ancient-egyptian-calendar-021761
    13. Pruitt, S. (2019, May 9). Ancient Egypt’s 10 Most Jaw-Dropping Discoveries. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/news/ancient-egypt-10-best-discoveries-king-tut-pyramids
    14. Tanenhaus, S. (2011). The New York Times guide to essential knowledge: a desk reference for the curious mind. (p. 869) New York: St. Martins Press.
    15. Tracy, K. (2013). We visit Egypt. Hockessin, DE: Mitchell Lane Publishers. Scarre, G., & Coningham, R. (2013). Appropriating the past: philosophical perspectives on the practice of archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    16. Solodky, M. (2006). The technology of ancient Egypt. New York: Rosen Pub. Group.
    17. Wendorf, M. (2019, August 8). Ancient Egyptian Technology and Inventions. Retrieved from https://interestingengineering.com/ancient-egyptian-technology-and-inventions

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