While the land of pharaohs, mummies and majestic cats is widely known and recognized, there are many interesting facts about Egypt that a lot of people don’t realize.
13 Interesting Facts About Egypt
1. Pyramids Weren’t Built by Slaves
Popular myths, stories and movies have for many years propagated the idea that it was Israelite slaves captured by the Egyptian Empire that built the great pyramids of Egypt. The misconception arose because of the reputation that the ancient Egyptians had of oppressive towards those they conquered.
In fact, recent excavations and discoveries have shown that the pyramid builders were in fact fair paid voluntary laborers who took on the job of building the opulent tombs out of loyalty to their pharaohs.
They were in fact from Egyptian families who were very highly respected for their work and if they did die during the construction, they were honored by being buried in tombs near the sacred pyramids. These tombs were the ones recently discovered that allowed scientists this new insight into the history of the formidable structures.
2. Pyramids of Giza Aren’t the Biggest Pyramids in the World
The Pyramids of Giza may be the tallest and most well known, but the biggest pyramid in the world is actually found in Mexico, measuring 450m by 450m at its base. The Great Pyramid of Cholula, also known as Tlachihualtepetl (‘man-made mountain) is about twice as big as the one in Egypt.
For many years it was hidden under layers of vegetation, so much so that people lived on top of it, it remained undiscovered during the Spanish invasion and a church was even built at the very peak. It wasn’t until exploration began of the tunnels that run beneath the mountain in the 1930s that it was discovered to in fact be one of the Greatest Aztec temples.
3. Egyptian Calendar Was Invented to Predict Flooding
The flooding of the Nile has been an important natural cycle of Egyptian farmers. To develop and precise an accurate calendar at first, Egyptians used the raising water levels, floods, and harvests, but since the floods were arriving within an 80 days, which made the calendar inaccurate.
Then they switched to recording the yearly reappearance of Sirius (the Dog Star) in the eastern sky. It was a fixed point which perfectly coincided with the yearly flooding of the Nile. It occurred the 19th day of July of the Julian calendar and it was defined as the first of the year.
4. Ancient Egyptian Women Had a Lot of Privileges
Ancient Egyptian women had more rights and privileges than most other women in the ancient world. For example, they could own property, carry out business deals, and initiate divorce. Women from wealthy families could become doctors or priestesses.
In Egypt, men and women of equivalent social status were treated as equals in the eyes of the law. This meant that women could own, earn, buy, sell and inherit property.
They could live unprotected by male guardians and, if widowed or divorced, could raise their own children. They could bring cases before, and be punished by, the law courts. And they were expected to deputize for an absent husband in matters of business.
5. Facebook Is Extremely Popular in Egypt
There are five million Facebook users in Egypt, more than any other Middle Eastern country.
6. Egyptian Loved Their Cats
Cats were considered sacred. For ancient Egyptians, having a cat in the purring in the house would guarantee good luck. They were so fond of cats that if one killed it accidentally, it resulted in a death penalty.
Ancient Egyptians shaved off their eyebrows when their cat died.
7. Most of the Land in Egypt Is Unused
Egypt is the 15th country with the highest population in the world, with 99% of the country’s people living on just 5.5% of the land.
The majority of the population lives near the River Nile because this is the only arable land in the country. Much of the rest of the land is desert and can get very hot which makes it quite uninhabitable except by the rural Bedouin tribes that have lived there for hundreds of years.
8. The Practice of Mummification Didn’t Start in Egypt
When you think of mummies, the image of Tutankhamun’s casket comes to mind as well as all the countless mummy movies you may have seen. However, the process of mummification was actually first practiced religiously by a tribe in South America known as the Chinchorro about 2000 years before the Egyptians were doing it.
The Egyptians evolved it and made it their own. A process which took around 70 days and was intended to help guide their people into the afterlife.
9. Hippos Were Hated
Hippos were considered bad omens and were associated with the evil god Seth. They were more dangerous than crocodiles and they often capsized boats traveling the Nile
King Tut may have been killed by a hippopotamus. Some Egyptologists believe that King Tut might have been killed by a hippopotamus. Ancient Egyptians hunted the animal for sport, and statues found in King Tut’s tomb even depict him in the act of throwing a harpoon.
10. Forensic Fingerprint Powder Originated in Egypt
You know the dust powder they use on CSI to identify the culprit through their fingerprints? That’s Egyptian Blue; the world’s oldest synthetic pigment produced by yours truly – ancient Egyptians, not us.
11. Ancient Egyptians Invented Toothpaste
Of course, there were no dentists back in the day, but ancient Egyptians contributed to innovations in dental hygiene with the invention of toothpaste – ingredients included the powder of ox hooves, ashes, burnt eggshells and pumice.
Egyptians also believed in the afterlife. That would explain the toothpicks buried alongside mummies, apparently placed there so that they could clean food debris from between their teeth in the afterlife.
Ancient Egyptians used a combination of powders derived from ox hooves, ashes, burnt eggshells and pumice on their teeth and gums – to protect the teeth from hygiene issues.
12. Cleopatra Probably Invented the First Vibrator
Ancient Egyptians were definitely not shy when it came to sexual pleasure. In fact, many academics have agreed that Cleopatra filled a box with angry bees and then placed it against her genitals for pleasure.
The buzzing of angry bees inside the box created a vibrator-like sensation that she used for masturbation. Even though Cleopatra was ethnically Greek, her invention was obviously inspired by her rule of Egypt.
13. Until 2015, no Egyptian President Had Ever Left Office Without Dying or Being Arrested
During the age of the Pharaohs, the kings and queens of Egypt reigned until their death. The Office of President in Egypt was set up in 1954 and the rulers of the country have, up until 2015, either found themselves assassinated, diagnosed terminally ill while still in office or being forcibly removed and arrested following a coup d’etat.