Interesting facts about Ancient Egypt

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Ancient Egypt is a bit of an enigma and there are many things about historical Egyptian culture that remain a mystery to experts today. However, what is known helps to provide a glimpse into life in Ancient Egypt and what went on several thousand years ago.  

No matter whether you’re planning a tour of Egypt to visit the Great Pyramid of Giza or you simply want to know more about life in this fascinating country from 5500 BC and beyond, there are some intriguing and surprising things to learn.

Read on for six interesting facts you may not know about Ancient Egypt.

They were one of the first civilisations to have pets

The Egyptians were one of the first civilisations to have pets at home. They were particularly drawn to cats; however, lions, baboons and dogs were also popular, along with birds such as ibises and hawks. 

These pets were considered dear to the Egyptians and after death, they were often mummified and buried along with their owners once they had passed on.  

Women had a number of rights and freedoms 

Despite being considered inferior to their male counterparts, Egyptian women had a surprising range of rights and freedoms. They were able to buy and sell property, enter into legal contracts, serve on a jury and create their own wills. 

While many women weren’t employed, those who were usually received the same pay for their roles as their male co-workers. 

The pyramids were not built by slaves 

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Many people believe the famous pyramids were built by slaves, but historians report the work was actually carried out by paid labourers, who were skilled artisans and experienced in that kind of harsh, physical labour. 

Cleopatra was not Egyptian

With her olive skin, long dark hair and bold eye makeup, Cleopatra has long been considered the face of Ancient Egypt. However, you may be surprised to learn she was not actually Egyptian. Cleopatra hailed from a long line of Greek Macedonians. This line was originally descended from Ptolemy I, who was one of Alexander the Great’s most trusted lieutenants. 

It was the first civilisation to read and write 

Alongside the Mesopotamians, Egyptians were early adapters of the written word. From 6000 BC they began using pictograms, before introducing alphabet-like symbols to denote certain sounds. Today, Egyptian hieroglyphs can be seen carved into many of the country’s ancient buildings.  

They loved to play board games

Egyptians would keep themselves entertained with board games including Senet, an early adaptation of what would later become Backgammon. Historians believe the game was thought to show obstacles that would face the players in the future. They’ve also suggested ceremonial games were thought to reveal a snippet of the afterlife. 

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