The Egyptian lifestyle that is shown in movies nowadays is not what it was at all compared with the daily life in ancient Egypt before.
The movies have always presented ancient Egyptians as people who loved death and were preoccupied with darkness and disturbance. On the contrary, that was not how ancient Egyptians lived because you can see that they were full of life and fun.
Similar to their clothing and jewelry, their lives were always full of vibrant colors and elaborate designs. Their festivals and games were always intense and enjoyable.
What Was Daily Life Like in Ancient Egypt?
Daily life in ancient Egypt depended on their status in society. You can imagine that royal people surely lived a luxurious life compared to farmers and skilled workers. Agricultural methods were used by most peasants to make a living.
Taxes were already a thing back then, such that it was difficult for the poor to gain a decent amount of money to be able to live a normal life. The lowest class comprised the peasants who were working as farmers or living in the land they do not own. You can tell that the society of peasants was the lowest and the largest community that existed in the ancient age.
It’s important to know that everyday life in ancient Egypt focused on agricultural land, and no one went hungry under normal circumstances. Food might be cultivated on farms, obtained through rations when there was no income, hunted, fished, or bartered in the markets. Freshwater might be acquired from wells, the Nile, or Egyptian-built irrigation canals as part of the daily life of ancient Egypt.
When the Nile River overflowed due to flooding, farming became impossible. As a result, the society of lower-class citizens was forced to work for the pharaoh. The ancient history of infrastructure was said to be built by slaves and lower-class citizens, but this was never proven accurate by historians and researchers.
You must understand that there was no physical or literary evidence to support that theory. The Egyptian economy was centered on agriculture and ran on a barter system until the Persian colonization in 525 BC. The grains supplied to surrounding nations brought in much money for Egypt’s government. You might have noticed stone scales that were used in the marketplace to measure the value of wheat and other supplies.
Interestingly, ancient Egypt had the world’s highest birth rate in the ancient age. Despite this scenario, things were far from ideal. You can observe that illnesses and accidents were unavoidable, and there was no welfare system in place to help the poor. Marriage was a practical rather than a romantic tie aimed to produce a viable ecosystem, with the family providing the sole support mechanism.
Any unmarried man was considered incomplete or unhappy with his life. Young men were also taught and advised to get married as soon as possible. Marriage for them was part of life; hence, even gods and goddesses were married. Young girls were also advised to get married in their teenage years. You might believe that it was too early, but it was the trend in the past.
As for ancient Egyptians’ lifestyle, weddings were more of a civil affair than a sacred act. The parents organized most weddings in any of the classes. Around the age of 12, girls were wedded; around the age of 15, lads were allowed to marry.
It was prohibited for women to leave Egypt as wives for other rulers because it was believed that they would never be comfortable outside of their very own nation. Nonetheless, royal offspring were frequently wedded to those of neighboring monarchs to secure alliances when they were nothing more than newborns.
Citizens of the higher class had a more relaxed life. Most of the higher-class citizens that were not pharaohs were usually priests or government officials. They had more time for recreations and celebrations. Suffice to say, most government officials originated from noble families at that period because they could usually inherit the position of their older family members.
Remember the priests who were powerful at that time because of the significant influence of religion on every people in ancient Egypt. You know that they oversaw the rituals and the temples that existed back then.
The priests were also responsible for the rituals and ceremonies performed before the burial of an ancient Egyptian citizen. The ancient Egyptians believed that the afterlife is just an extension of what their life was on Earth. This gives you an idea why priests were highly influential around that time.
Priests could be any of the two genders. The main priest of any religious movement was usually of the same sexuality as the deity they worshipped. For instance, the leader of the Cult of Isis was female, whereas the leader of the Cult of Amun was male. Priests could and did have spouses, and their children often followed in their footsteps as priests. Don’t be confused, but you should recognize female priests as well.
The Scribes’ Way of Life
Scribes were well-respected members of ancient history. They gathered data for government and religious officials. Many years would pass before a person could become a scribe because the standard was high.
You know it was assumed that the words of Thoth and his bride, Seshat, the goddess of writing, were recorded in the everlasting library of the gods. This made the words of the scribes vital in the record of eternity.
The residences of scribes, such as nomarchs, were either magnificent or simple, depending on the degree of their accomplishment and the location where they resided.
Nebmare Nakht, the writer of the Papyrus Lansing, claimed to live in luxury and to own land and slaves comparable with those of a powerful monarch. This allegation is undoubtedly correct because it is generally known that priests in Egypt were able to maintain a certain level of luxury and authority as emperors. Scribes would have had the same ability.
House Models and Designs
You can see that a village of sunbaked mud homes housed typical families. The homes were small, with few windows and furnishings. In the summer, when it was excessively hot inside, people would sleep on flat roofing. A common problem for houses around that time was the flood from the Nile River. However, the mud from the flood was also valuable for building houses.
The houses back then were made from mud mixed with sand and reed. This mixture made the foundation of the houses strong and resistant to storms and bad weather conditions. The wealthy and the poor had the same materials for building their houses. The only differences were the size and the number of floors there were in the houses.
The rich usually had more rooms in their houses, and they typically had some bathrooms for different members of the family. Their houses and gardens were more luxurious. It was rare to see peasants having multiple rooms in their homes. Peasant houses usually just contained a few pieces of furniture.
Working with metals, stones, and sculptures might provide opportunities for the lower class as part of the ancient Egyptians’ daily life. Skilled men crafted fine jewelry, which featured diamonds placed delicately in intricate settings.
You can now realize that one person’s income was often wanted by another who would seek to rob it, as it is in every age of human history. There was a police force after the New Kingdom, but even before that, individuals were taken even before the local official and charged with offenses stretching across the scope of present criminal conduct.
Individual birthdays, anniversaries of important deeds by rulers, commemorations of gods’ acts in human history, funerals, wakes, housewarming festivities, and births were all celebrated by the Egyptian gods. Each of these events, as well as others, was commemorated with something, such as a party or carnival. Now, you can prove that Egyptians loved fun.
Celebrations provided an ideal setting for indulging in all kinds of extravagance, including drinking beer and meat consumption for those who so desired, albeit self-indulgence was not permitted at every gathering.
Just like in the present society, ancient Egyptians saw people who were not neat as inferior. It was important to take care of your personal appearance and hygiene. Men and women both wore jewelry and cosmetics.
You can see their love for color and embellishment as they typically used jewelry to symbolize their overflowing wealth. Amulets were also a famous type of jewelry back then. They believed that a person who wears an amulet would be protected and kept stronger by the item of jewelry itself.
Egyptian jewelry featured beautiful designs and frequently mirrored religious elements. Illustrations of deities, Egyptian inscriptions, birds, and animals from the creation myth were among the themes. They’re so elegant that you will be in awe of their beauty.
Their footwear was made of papyrus. Leather and fiber-made sandals were also common to be worn, but men and women were still portrayed as barefooted.
The wealthy often hired the best hairstylists to take care of their tresses. It was common for the rich to have their hair washed and scented. They even used henna to lighten the shade of their hair. Wigs were common even at that time.
These were long and heavy wigs made from human hair. Men and women wore perfumed cones on top of their heads. As it melted, the cone would release the fragrance. However, traces of cones are still not found.
Priests completely shaved their heads to symbolize cleanliness and purification. It was also a sign of devotion to their gods.
Except for one or two strands or a braid kept at the side, kids’ heads were shaved. This was known as the sidelock of youth, and it was a style used mostly by Horus as nothing more than a child.
Meanwhile, the higher society used cosmetics to enhance their looks. They usually used paints for the face, oils, and perfumes. They used kohl to outline their eyelids. It’s something similar to what we call eyeliner nowadays.
Kohl could also help grow their eyelashes. Powdered green malachite was dusted underneath the eyes mostly during the Old Kingdom. A red pigment was used to make blush for the lips and face.
Pharaohs, aristocrats, deities, and goddesses were depicted in gigantic and life-size stone structures by the ancient Egyptians. You know that they portrayed themselves as powerful, self-assured individuals qualified to lead their country and conquer their foes.
Fishing provided diversity to the middle class’s meals. The impoverished, such as farmers, ate fish instead of beef because they couldn’t purchase it. The Nile, the Delta marshland, and the Mediterranean Sea provided them with a diverse range of species. Hooks and wires, harpoons, traps, and nets were all used to catch fish. There were plenty of locations for them to fish.
When comparing ancient Egyptians to modern-day folks, we’ll discover a few parallels and distinctions in their daily lives. Spirituality, government, social status, literacy, and occupational specializations are just a few examples. It was surprising to learn that the ancient Egyptians’ method of parting was similar to others’. Of course, there are more significant distinctions, but they’re still quite advanced for their time.
Ancient Egyptians were polytheistic, which meant that they believed in multiple gods rather than a single supreme divinity. They had gods for battle, the sunlight, and burial, and the emperors were also considered gods. Unlike other nations, where there were many different religions distributed across the states, the entire community believed in much the same concept.
You have learned that the daily life of ancient Egyptians was full of life and vigor. They had everything for work, fun, entertainment, fashion, jewelry, and even death.
It’s easy to see that they’re versatile in all aspects, and our attempt to discover more about them gives us a classic invitation to unveil their opulent and glamorous past.