Ancient Egypt is one of the most fascinating periods of history in the MENA region. The Ancient Egyptians were extremely advanced in many ways, and we list a few surprising facts about their lifestyles that you may not know.
1) Pharaohs were actually a bit on the hefty side – Although Ancient Egyptian royalty were often pictured as muscular, well-sculpted beings, most research suggests they were actually quite plump. Comfortably plump. It’s been commonly stated that the Ancient Egyptians diet consisted of loads of bread, honey and alcoholic beverages which were high in sugar and carbohydrates. Many royal mummy examinations have given signs that they were over weight, and some even suffered from diabetes. Hatshepsut, the Queen who ruled as a pharaoh in the 15th century, was recently discovered to not have been the slender image she is often depicted as, but rather, quite plump and hairy.
2) They weren’t drag queens, but men and women BOTH wore makeup – Ancient Egyptians slathered on the makeup, partially because they believed it gave them protection from the gods Ra and Horus. Kohl that lined their eyes were made by grinding various materials, some of which even included beetles. Women were also known to color their cheeks with paint, and paint their nails with henna. Being that many of these cosmetics were lead-based, they also helped protect their eyes from bacterial infections and bugs.
3) Actually…slaves didn’t build the pyramids – Contrary to popular belief, the royals didn’t make slaves build the Great Pyramids of Egypt. Evidence suggests that actually the tombs were built by paid laborers who actually were quite skilled at their craft (as evidence shows… I mean, all the pyramids are basically still in tact, as if vacuum sealed!) Herodotus, the Greek historian, was the first to suggest that slaves built the pyramids but Egyptologists have found much research that suggests otherwise.
4) They loved a good “game night” – Hieroglyphics have often depicted Egyptians sitting around, relaxing and playing what might be deemed today as “board games”. One of the most popular games, as depicted through various paintings including one found in Queen Nerertari‘s tomb, is called Senet. The game dates all the way back to 3100 BC, and was played on a painted board with 30 squares. Though Senet’s actual rules are still debated, the popularity of the game amongst Ancient Egyptians is not.
5) They created the first pregnancy tests – As documented in Egyptian medical papyri found in the Egyptian Museum of Berlin, Ancient Egyptians had several methods of testing for pregnancy. One of the methods was to give the woman a concoction of beer and dates and wait to see her reaction; if she vomited, it was said she was most likely pregnant. Another method was that a woman would urinate on a bag of wheat and barley, and if the bags grew, she was believed to be pregnant.
Did any of these surprise you? Do you know of any other interesting Ancient Egyptian facts? Tell us in the comments below!