What pops up your mind when you think of Egypt today? Is it Mummy, pyramid, or Nile? Obviously It has become the face of Egypt today, but not many know that the ancient Egyptian civilization emerged as one of the most advanced civilizations the world had ever seen, and the impact survives still.
Wondering how to define ancient Egyptian inventions today? It is rather difficult to sum up a 3000 year legacy in a few words. Unlike the Greeks and the Chinese, the Egyptians had no predecessor to look up to and take the inspiration for their path-breaking discoveries. The driver of all inventions is necessity, and this led the Egyptians to invent mathematics, geometry, metallurgy, astronomy, paper, medicine, plough and more.
Turning down the pages, it is the Egyptians who are to be commended, for our lives would have been practically impossible without their inventions. The Egyptians evolved greatly because of its geographical location and the adversities of Nile River that followed. From fashion to education, Egyptians have drastically changed the way our life is.
Want to know how? Check out for yourself.
Ancient Egyptians used to keep their heads shaved in order to get rid of pests. It wasn’t aesthetically pleasing, so they made wigs. Both the sexes used wigs. Only the priest was not supposed to wear a wig. The wigs were made of human hair, plant fiber, or sheep wool, and covered with resin and beeswax to give a stiff quality and a braided look.
Sundial was a clock used by ancient Egyptians. It consisted of a flat base with twelve lies projecting from a hole that held an upright wooden or metal bolt. As the bolt’s shadow moved across the lines, the time could be told. With further improvements, Egyptians could tell the longest and shortest days of the year.
3 Water Clock
Water clock enabled Egyptians to check time at night. It was made from a stone vessel, shaped like an inverted cone with a tiny hole at the bottom to allow water to drip. The water dripped from the hole at a constant rate. Along the inside of the vessel were columns of equal spaced markings that allowed a person to tell what the hour was, by checking the water level.
4 Surgical Instruments
Edwin Smith Papyrus is possibly the earliest document that has the study of the brain and this could be called the starting point of neuroscience. The Egyptians did not carry out actual surgeries, but some small surgical operations that helped them gain more surgical knowledge.
Egyptians used some techniques to treat dislocated bones. It characterized 48 surgical cases of injures of the head, neck, shoulders, breast and chest. The Papyrus includes a list of instruments used during surgeries. The list featured lint, swabs, bandage, adhesive plaster, support, surgical stitches and cauterization.
Besides, 37 surgical instruments are carved on a wall in the temple of Kom-Ombo.
The oldest pyramid to date was erected back in 2750 BC. Prior to pyramids, the Egyptian kings were buried in rectangular mud-brick tombs dubbed Mastaba. The largest Egyptian pyramid built was the Great Pyramid of Giza, which for thousands of years remained the tallest architectural creation in the world until the erection of Lincoln Cathedral in 1311. The area of its base measures more than 52,600 square meters.
6 Paper Sheets
Paper comes from the Greek word ‘papyros’, or papyrus as we call it today. It was a writing material created by Egyptians. It was made from tough and fibrous reed-like plant that grew in marshy areas around Nile. The secret of making papyrus was kept a secret so that no one could sell it to others.
7 Ox Drawn Plough
Evidence suggests that the plough was first used by Egyptians around 4000 BC. Around 2000 BC, they improvised it by hooking it to a pair of oxen. It used the oxen power to pull, and was therefore much quicker and easy to loosen the soil. Earlier the plough was attached to the oxen’s horn but this restricted their breathing so straps were attached to their bodies. This revolutionized the Egyptian agriculture.
Ancient Egyptian calendar had 365 days. Twelve months in a year and 30 days each month, with five extra days at the end of the year. This calendar correlated with the flood cycle of Nile so that the farmers were informed of the best times to plant and reap. The year was divided into three seasons- akhet (inundation), peret (growth) and shemu(harvest).
9 Black Ink
It was first conceptualized by Egyptians for writing purpose. Ink was made of vegetarian gum, soot and bee wax. Different colors were produced by replacing soot by organic material. Ink didn’t just revolutionize literature but has lasted till now.
10 Written Language
The Egyptians first writing system began with pictograms, dating back to 6000 BC. Pictograms were simple illustrations of the things that were to be represented. The elements included alphabet like characters. Egyptians wrote abstract things, names and ideas. Record keeping abilities of Egyptians was extra ordinary. They are renowned for Hieroglyphics, a mix of alphabetic and syllabic symbols and ideograms. It helped them write about war, politics and culture.
11 Make Up
Egyptian male and female placed great importance to hygiene. Makeup was not for appearance but also for medical, religious and cultural reasons. Eye makeup was first invented by Egyptians around 4000 BC and still in use. They combined soot with a mineral called galena to make a black ointment known as “kohl”. They also made green eye makeup by combining malachite to the color ointment. In Egypt, the more colors worn by a person, the higher the social ranking. Even statues of gods wore makeup
Sickle has aided Egyptian farmers for a very long time. Harvesting grain, barley and wheat, demanded a lot of handy work. Sickle eased the work and helped in production of rich fertile soils.
Humans could not control the rainfall. Therefore, the ancient Egyptians developed irrigation systems using hydraulic engineering principles. Such systems were designed to replace rainfall during periods of drought. Early evidence indicates that irrigation systems were used in ancient Egypt as early as the twelfth dynasty, using the lake Fayum, as the reservoir to store water surpluses.
Without Nile it would have been difficult for Egyptians to grow crops and keep the city alive. Shadouf was developed to aid water collection. A bucket was placed at one end of the pole while on the other end was a rock weight to balance. It was like a modern see-saw. The exact device is no longer in use but the concept is alive.
15 Toothpaste And Breath Mints
Egyptians toothpaste ingredients included ox hoove ash powder, burnt eggshells, and pumice. Egyptians had a lot of dental trouble because their bread had grit and sand in it, which wore out their enamel. They didn’t have dentistry but they made some effort to keep their teeth clean. Archaeologists have found toothpicks buried alongside mummies, apparently placed there so that they could clean food debris from between their teeth in the afterlife. Along with the Babylonians, they’re also credited with inventing the first toothbrushes
Bad breath was seen as bad dental health. To cope with this tooth decay, the Egyptians invented mints. The mints were made from frankincense, myrrh, and cinnamon boiled with honey. They then shaped these into pellets. The process of making mints today is quite similar, except they are now flavored with mint.
Egyptians were expert at preserving dead bodies. It helped us to learn of diseases like arthritis, schistosomiasis, tuberculosis, gout, etc.
17 Musical Instruments
Ancient Egyptians were an advanced civilization that enjoyed life. They created trumpet, Lyre and Oud, a musical instrument resembling guitar. Egyptians have always liked music. They loved it well before the invention of any instrument, and ad varied and well-developed musical instruments.
18 Door Locks
Thanks to the Egyptians that we have the door locks. The newest lock door contains a hollowed out bolt connected to an intricate system of pins. When the correct key is inserted the pins rise and the doors open.
19 Organized Labor
Egyptian workers were not afraid to protest for better working conditions during the reign of the New Kingdom pharaoh Ramses III. When laborers engaged in building the royal necropolis at Deir el-Medina did not receive their usual payment of grain, they organized one of the first recorded strikes in history. The protest took the form of a sit-in: The workers simply entered nearby mortuary temples and refused to leave until their grievances were heard. The gamble worked, and the laborers were eventually given their overdue rations.
20 Ships And Navigation
Being in a close proximity to River Nile did mean to have a waterway too. The Nile was a necessity to Egypt. Sails and boats are one of their earlier inventions.
21 Sophisticated Weapons
Prior to the Egyptian civilization, weapons used for protection, hunting or in combat were very basic. During the ancient Egyptian civilization, weapons became more and more sophisticated. Examples are stone-tipped arrows, battle axes, chariots, the khopesh, maces, body armor, slingshots and much more.
Egyptians invented a wide variety of furniture that includes beds, tables and stools that were recovered in ancient Egyptian tombs.
The Egyptians made observations about the night sky, studied the rise and fall of the stars and even built circular mud-brick walls to create false horizons where they could mark the position of the sun as it rose at dawn.
Then, they used plumb-bobs to make note of the solstices. They used their knowledge of astronomy to develop the lunar calendar based on the cycles of the moon and the star, Sirius. From their knowledge emerged the calendar that we use today, divided in 12 months, 365 days and 24-hour units.
Some of the earliest developments in medicine were made by the ancient Egyptian people. They had a variety of medicines and cures for both humans and animals, along with much knowledge of anatomy, as they practiced mummification and preservation of the dead.
They used honey and human brains to cure eye infections, a cooked mouse to cure coughs and cow dung for wounds and piercing to ward off infections. Egyptians were highly spiritual people as well. They cured with spells that were supposed to ward off the evil spirits that were making patients sick.
25 Shaving And Cutting Equipments
Egyptians are one of the first societies to be concerned about hair and grooming. They cut their hair and shaved their bodies regularly. They created the first shaving instruments, including a set of sharp stone blades with wooden handles.
In all of Egyptian society, the size of house and quality of the material used depended on the social class to which the family belonged. This also included the gods, who had their houses (temples) according to their popularity.
The main raw material used for the construction of most houses and even of palaces was adobe – clay brick – dried in the sun. They used stones to serve as a base for the columns that were basically made of wood, just like the roofs. The entrance of the sun, which illuminated the houses, was provided by the windows that used to be near the ceiling.
The most knowledgeable and innovative society in dealing with metals was Egyptians. They used it in production of tools, jewelry, and weapons as well as in constructing statues. They learnt the art of mining, metalworking and refining. Ancient Egypt lacked mineral ores, such as silver, copper, lead, tin etc, even though they produced large quantities of alloys.
Their knowledge of chemistry helped them to produce a variety of metals, glasses etc.
The Egyptians employed unique technical hand and pushed up the import and export of metal goods from Egypt. They imported huge quantity of raw materials and exported larger finished goods.
Egyptians are known to have used calcinated gypsum as cement. No more evidence prevails in this regard.
Order was kept by local officials with private police forces during the old and middle kingdoms. During the new kingdom, a centralized police force developed, made of Egypt’s Nubian allies, the Mejday. They were provided with dogs and staffs. Law was equal for law, with no liberty for the rich or the poor.
The Egyptian empire is the one closely build on the immense wealth generated solely from agriculture. They recognized three seasons- Akhet (flooding), Peret (planting) and Shemu (harvesting). A combination of favorable geographic and climatic factors contributed to the success of the Egyptian agricultural sector. The produce was- emmer, grains and barley, a staple for bread and beer. Papyrus growing on the bank of Nile was used in making paper. Other vegetables included leeks, garlic, melons, squashes, pulses, lettuce and other crops.