Daily Life in Ancient Egypt
2013-02-25 0:00

By Shemsu Sesen | EmHotep.net

What was daily life like in ancient Egypt? That was the question we pondered with this week’s Em Hotep Digest. How did Egyptian families get along? What was town and home life like? What did they eat and drink? How did they attire themselves? What did they do for entertainment? All these issues are considered within.

Family Life

The Family Unit

From Handbook to Life in Ancient Egypt, by Rosalie David

“The Egyptian family was a small, independent unit consisting of father, mother, and children, although it was sometimes extended to include unmarried or widowed female relatives. The financial position of women and children was protected by law, and even after marriage women retained ownership of their own property. If a woman’s husband divorced her, she kept her own property and he had to pay her compensation. Bigamy and polygamy were rare among commoners, and consanguineous marriages outside the royal family were infrequent before the Greco-Roman Period” (p. 359).

The whole family pitched in to keep the household running smoothly. Wooden models from the tomb of Djehutynakht, late Eleventh Dynasty

Children and Coming of Age

From Red Land, Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt by Barbara Mertz

“Until relatively recent times, and in most cultures, children entered into adulthood at an age which may seem scandalously young to us. They didn’t have time to waste. Life was short and hazardous. In pharaonic Egypt the average lifespan was thirty to forty years…

“Even before formal achievement of maturity, children started working—girls in the house, helping their mothers with household chores and the care of younger children, boys learning the tricks of their fathers’ trades. The fact is, we don’t know much about the lives of the peasants, all of whom were illiterate and few of whom could afford tombs or other lasting monuments. When we talk about careers or professions we are talking about the small percentage of people who did leave such records—skilled workmen, members of the professional class, and the nobility. However, even those records are scantier than we would like” (p. 50)."

Love and Marriage

From Red Land, Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt by Barbara Mertz

“Setting up a household was a proper adult activity. A man needed to beget sons to carry out his funeral ceremonies and see that his spirit was provided with food and drink. This is the formal reasoning, but it would be absurd to suppose that it was the only reason why the ancient Egyptians got married. We don’t know how often marriages were arranged by parents, but there was no seclusion of the female, and in some cases at lease a boy and a girl married because they had fallen in love.


Read the full article at: emhotep.net

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