March 19, 2009

INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT ANCIENT EGYPT

Egyptian Ancient Language:
Egyptian language is an Afro-Asian language formerly spoken in ancient Egypt. Now extinct, it however gave rise to the coptic language, liturgical language which ceased to be used as living language. Evolution of the Egyptian language on more than 4500 years can be divided in several great periods:

Archaic Egyptian
(
before 2600 BC)
Early Dynastic Period
Old Egyptian
(
2600 BC – 2000 BC)
Old Kingdom
Middle Egyptian (
2000 BC – 1300 BC)
Middle Kingdom up to the Amarna period
Late Egyptian (
1300 BC – 700 BC)
Amarna period through the Third Intermediate
Demotic Egyptian (
7th BC – 5th AD)
Late Period through Roman times
Coptic Egyptian (
1st AD – 17th AD)
Early Roman times to early modern times

Hieroglyphic Characters:
The Egyptologists distinguish 3 categories of Hieroglyphic Characters:
1. Logograms, which represent an object (pictogram) or a concept (ideogram);
2. Phonograms, which correspond to an isolated consonant or a series of consonants;
3. Determinatives, “dumb” signs which indicate the lexical field to which belongs the word.


Following is an image of the Hieroglyphic Alphabet:


Appeared four thousand year BC, hieroglyphic characters will be used until the Roman era, thus during more than three thousand years. Hieroglyphic characters knowledge has been lost when the Roman emperor Theodose closed the pagan places of worship in 380. Luckily, after fourteen centuries, Rosetta stone discovery, as well as the genius of Jean-Fran├žois Champollion to break, hieroglyphic characters’ seal has been broke.

Rosetta stone:
The Rosetta stone is a stele fragment from ancient Egyptian origin carrying three versions of the same text, in two languages (old Egyptian and old Greek) and three writing systems (hieroglyphic characters, demotic and Greek). The Rosetta stone was the key in the deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphic by Jean-Fran├žois Champollion in 1822. The Rosetta stone was discovered in the village of Rachid (Rosetta) in July 1799 during the Bonaparte campaign in Egypt. Since 1802, The Rosetta stone is exposed to the British Museum.

Tombs of Ancient Egypt:
Ancient Egyptians had funerary habits which, according to them, were necessary to ensure their immortality after death. Thesis rituals and protocols included mummification, casting of magic spells, and burial with specific goods thought to be needed in the afterlife. These rituals and protocols used by the ancient Egyptians evolved and old funerary habits were discarded and new ones adopted.

According to the period and the social status of the dead, the tomb took a different aspect. We distinguish three types of tombs:
- Ancient Egypt Empire: mastabas (dignitaries), and pyramids (kings)
- Average/New Empire: hypogeans (population)

How to Mummify:
The mummification process is performed by the embalmers priests who are specialized and only allowed to carry out embalming (during mummification, the priests carry the Anubis mask). The body is washed with water or palm oil, then shaved and depilated. The mummification process itself begins four days after death and last 70 days over 5 phases:
1. The brain is removed with a long bronze hook introduced into the nostrils;
2. The internal organs are withdrawn from the body: intestines, stomach, liver and lungs are put in vases called canopic jars.
3. The body is dehydrated, filled with linens containing natron (salt) and aromatics. All the body is also covered with natron and exposed to the sun in a tank during 40 days.
4. After dehydration, the priests rub the body with myrrh, soften the skin with ointments (oils and resins), then they stuff the abdominal cavity with fabrics. The body is then rsewed.
5. The last operation which lasts 15 days is the wrapping of each member by fine flax strips impregnated with gum. Protective and magic amulets are placed at various places of the body, essential to support the rebirth. Toutankhamon was protected by a hundred amulets.

Ancient Egypt Canopic Jar:
During the mummification process, the internal organs (intestines, stomach, liver and lungs) are withdrawn from the body and put in vases called canopic jars. The heart is left in place because required while the dead is judge by Osiris.


Calcite and wood. From Deir el-Bahri, Upper Egypt, 21st Dynasty, c.1069-945 BC. This set of jars belonged to the lady Neskhons, wife of the High Priest of Amun, Pinedjem II, and are inscribed with her name and numerous titles. The wooden lids are painted in brilliant colours and constitute one of the finesh collective images of the Sons of Horus. British Museum, London, UK.

4 comments:

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