Inventions and Technology in Egypt

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The Egyptians are known to be one of the first civilizations that ever ruled in the world.

They had many different technological advances and inventions, some that we use today.

List of Ancient Egyptian Inventions

  • Buildings
  • Ship building
  • Papyrus Sheets
  • Writing
  • Mathematics
  • Makeup
  • Tooth care
  • Medicine
  • The Calendar
  • Surgical Instruments
  • Black Ink
  • The Ox-drawn Plough
  • The Sickle
  • Clocks
  • Irrigation
  • The Police
  • Shadoof
  • Wigs
  • Mummification

Buildings

Some of the most important technology that was used by the Egyptians was when they built architecture.

They built pyramids, palaces, tombs and other things and in order to do this, they would use machines such as levers and ramps.

They were able to build some of the fanciest buildings and the perfected their building by adding arches and other architecture that we can see in different areas even today.

EgyptianPyramids3

Ships

The Egyptians weren’t just good at building buildings and tombs, they were also great at building ships.

They would take papyrus reeds and would build small boats that they could use on the Nile River so that they could trade with other areas.

They later were able to build larger ships by using woods such as cedar that were shipped in from Lebanon.

These bigger ships allowed them to transport people and to make bigger trades.

Papyrus

Papyrus was a plant and the plant was able to help them to make wood to build ships, but it also was used to make paper.

The Egyptians would use the paper to write things such as religious ideas and books.

The Egyptians also used their papyrus paper to write important documents so that they could record things.

Not only did they use the papyrus paper for themselves, they also would sell these sheets to people in Greece.

They would make the paper but not tell other people how to do it so that they could continue to use it as one of their trading items.

An official letter on a papyrus

Writing and Math

One of the most important advancements that the Egyptians made was writing.

They started by writing hieroglyphics.  Hieroglyphics is called “sacred text.”  This was where they would write using symbols.

Many historians are able to look at the hieroglyphics and tell things about people from Ancient Egypt.

The best thing about the writing during this time was that the Egyptians were able to write in order to keep records.

This is one of the ways that historians are able to know what happened during that time period.

Math such as geometry was very important for the Egyptians.  They had to use math in order to be able to build things like their pyramids and they used math in order to keep up with transactions.

Since math was new during this time, the Egyptians did not have the numbers for 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9 and they would only use the numbers such as 1, 10, 1000, 1000 and more.

If they wanted to write down the number 4, they would write four 1’s such as 1111.

If they wanted to write the number 30, they would write down three 10’s such as 101010.

Instead of just using regular numbers for math, the Ancient Egyptians used a decimal system.

This helped them to be able to keep track of what they did and to have a number for each thing that they wanted to count.

Ancient Egyptian Writing

Makeup and Tooth Care

Another thing that the Egyptians created was makeup.

They would make makeup for their eyes that was called kohl.  In order to make this kohl, they would use soot and minerals.

This makeup was not used for fashion or to make women look good, as a matter of fact, both men and women wore the kohl.

The kohl’s purpose was to make sure that their skin was protected from the sun.

People of Ancient Egypt had a lot of problems with their teeth because their food would always have sand in it.

This caused them to wear down their teeth quickly.

In order to take care of their teeth, they created a way to brush their teeth.

They would combine ashes, eggshells and hooves of animals and they would mix it together and brush their teeth with it.  No one is really sure what the toothbrushes were made out of.

Medicine

The ancient Egyptians used many strange and wonderful cures and medicines. Archaeologists have found written records that described some of the practices that they tried.

Various documents show over 700 different types of remedies.

Some of the remedies are very good but likewise, some of the remedies are very questionable.

Evidence shows that doctors were able to treat burns and broken bones very similar to the way this is done today.

Other evidence shows things like crocodile dung being used (can you imagine) this is not really a method we use nowadays.

The ancient Egyptians understanding of the cardiovascular system is surprisingly sophisticated and very accurate.

Ancient-Egyptian Medicine

The Calendar

The ancient Egyptian year was slightly different from what we currently use.

They divided their year into three main periods

  • The inundation season (akhet)
  • The sowing and growth of the crops (perit)
  • The harvest (shemu)

Each of the periods  was 120 days long

The start of the year coincided with the reappearance of Sirius (the Dog star) which appeared in the eastern sky  and was around the same time that the yearly flooding of the Nile River happened.

Overtime it became evident that calendar was short and this was then adjusted to 365 days. Again overtime an extra day was added every four years which is something we still practice today.

Egyptian Calendar

Surgical Instruments

The ancient Egyptians had a mixture of magical treatments and more traditional treatments.

The Edwin Smith Papyrus was written around 1600 BC and is a medical text on surgery from ancient Egypt.

it has a list of instruments that the ancient Egyptians used for many different types of surgeries.

The list includes things like swabs, bandage, surgical stitches, swabs and lint to help with many treatments.

The Museum in Cairo holds a collection of different types of surgical instruments that would’ve been used during this time they include things like scissors, copper needles, scalpels, hooks, pincers, spoons, and forceps.

I would be really worried if I went to the doctor and they used a spoon to help!

Egyptian Surgical Instruments

Black Ink

The ancient Egyptians use a mixture of bee wax, soot and vegetable gum to make black ink.

In 2017 scientists analyzing 2000-year-old papyri paper fragments with a sophisticated x-ray microscope discovered that this ink also contained copper.

Egyptian Black Ink

The Ox-drawn Plough

A simple little invention that helped to revolutionize agriculture.

It’s something that we still see being used today by many farmers although these may be modified versions of what the ancient Egyptians used the principles are still very much alike.

The Ox-drawn Plough

The Sickle

A sickle is a curved blade used for cutting and harvesting different grains like barley and wheat.

In ancient Egypt, the blade was made of wood rather than Iron.

They used methods to glazed and then honed the wood to allow them to shape the edges.

Ancient Egyptian Sickle

Clocks

The Egyptians were the first to use sundial clocks. They used something called a gnomon which was a stick or a pillar they correlated the time depending on the length of the shadow.

They used a T-shaped sundial which consisted of a crossbar and a vertical stick. The stick was marked with five hours in the morning they placed the stick East and the afternoon to stick facing West.

The built obelisks to calculate time as the shadows cast were similar to a sundial.

Over time they were able to calculate the shortest day and longest day of the year and they also build portable sundials which were basically a smaller version of obelisks.

Sundial

Irrigation

As the river Nile floated every year the ancient Egyptians worked on ways to build canals and ditches to bring water from the river banks of the Nile to distant fields.

Shadoof

This is a crane-like tool that helps with irrigation. As you can see in the photograph below it looks like a long pole with a bucket attached to the end of it.

As you read above irrigation helped Egyptians bring water from the Nile to faraway fields.

Using the Shadoof this helps them lift the water out and enable them to water crops in a more manageable way along irrigation ditches in the required direction.

Shadoof

Wigs

it was very warm in the summer months in ancient Egypt and many people shaved the hair from the heads for a couple of reasons it was more hygienic and to prevent pests such as lice.

Another reason was to protect the shaved hairless heads from the sun.

Ancient Egyptians Wigs

Mummification

The Ancient Egyptians believed that when you died the body made a journey to the next world. To make it into the afterlife they had to preserve the body.

This is how they came up with Mummification which helped to preserve the body from decomposing after death.

They removed all internal organs and kept them in jars with water and palm oil. However, they did not remove the heart as they believed this to be the essence of a body.

Each organ had a different jar the Egyptian believe these to be important

  • one for the stomach
  • one for the intestines
  • one for the lungs
  • one for the liver

The body was then wrapped and placed in a tomb

Mummification

Facts About Inventions and Technology in Ancient Egypt:

  • The Ancient Egyptians were not the ones that created the wheel. This was introduced to them when foreigners took over their land and used chariots. This was probably during the reign of the Hyksos.
  • The Egyptians had many games, one of them was like golf and bowling mixed. The player would roll the ball and try to get it into a hole in order to win.
  • Another invention made from the Egyptians was door locks. Some of these were extremely big and the keys were very big too.  Some of them were over 2 foot long.
  • Paper comes from the Greek word for papyrus plant.

What Did You Learn?

  1. What was one of the greatest inventions that the Egyptians made?  One of the greatest inventions that the Egyptians made was their architecture.  They built many pyramids and some of them are huge and are still around today.
  2. What are some things that the Ancient Egyptians made that we have today? Some of the things that the Ancient Egyptians made that we have today are paper, toothbrushes and toothpaste.
  3. What is one invention that the Egyptians made that we have but that we use for other reasons? Makeup is one thing that the Egyptians made that we have today, but we use it to make ourselves look better and not to protect our skin.
  4. Beside building tombs and pyramids, what is another thing that they Egyptians built? Other things that the Egyptians built were ships.  Some were small and some were large.
  5. Were the Egyptians able to count?   The Egyptians were able to count but they used a different numbering system than we use today.