Skip to comments.Study Shows Life Was Tough For Ancient Egyptians
Posted on 03/28/2008 8:20:26 PM PDT by blam
Study shows life was tough for ancient Egyptians
By Alaa Shahine
Fri Mar 28, 10:12 AM ET
Reuters Photo: The Giza pyramids in a file photo. New evidence of a sick, deprived population working...
CAIRO (Reuters) - New evidence of a sick, deprived population working under harsh conditions contradicts earlier images of wealth and abundance from the art records of the ancient Egyptian city of Tell el-Amarna, a study has found.
Tell el-Amarna was briefly the capital of ancient Egypt during the reign of the pharaoh Akhenaten, who abandoned most of Egypt's old gods in favor of the Aten sun disk and brought in a new and more expressive style of art.
Akhenaten, who ruled Egypt between 1379 and 1362 BC, built and lived in Tell el-Amarna in central Egypt for 15 years. The city was largely abandoned shortly after his death and the ascendance of the famous boy king Tutankhamen to the throne.
Studies on the remains of ordinary ancient Egyptians in a cemetery in Tell el-Amarna showed that many of them suffered from anemia, fractured bones, stunted growth and high juvenile mortality rates, according to professors Barry Kemp and Gerome Rose, who led the research.
Rose, a professor of anthropology in the University of Arkansas in the United States, said adults buried in the cemetery were probably brought there from other parts of Egypt.
"This means that we have a period of deprivation in Egypt prior to the Amarna phase," he told an audience of archaeologists and Egyptologists in Cairo on Thursday evening.
"So maybe things were not so good for the average Egyptian and maybe Akhenaten said we have to change to make things better," he said.
Kemp, director of the Amarna Project which seeks in part to increase public knowledge of Tell el-Amarna and surrounding region, said little attention has been given to the cemeteries of ordinary ancient Egyptians.
"A very large number of ordinary cemeteries have been excavated but just for the objects and very little attention has been paid for the human remain," he told Reuters.
"The idea of treating the human remains ... to study the overall health of the population is relatively new."
Paintings in the tombs of the nobles show an abundance of offerings, but the remains of ordinary people tell a different story.
Rose displayed pictures showing spinal injuries among teenagers, probably because of accidents during construction work to build the city.
The study showed that anemia ran at 74 percent among children and teenagers, and at 44 percent among adults, Rose said. The average height of men was 159 cm (5 feet 2 inches) and 153 cm among women.
"Adult heights are used as a proxy for overall standard of living," he said. "Short statures reflect a diet deficient in protein. ... People were not growing to their full potential."
Kemp said he believed further excavations in Tell el-Amarna would "firm-up" the conclusions of his team.
"We are seeing a more realistic picture of what life was like," he told Reuters. "It has nothing to do with the intentions of Akhenaten, which may have been good and paternal toward his people."
(Writing by Alaa Shahine, editing by Mary Gabriel)
Life was even tougher at this time here:
" The hieroglyphs there reported "all of Upper Egypt was dying of hunger to such a degree that everyone had come to eating their children".
You find stealth Obama plugs in the oddest places.
Now they have to deal with Cairo traffic jams.
"...there is no new thing under the sun." Ecc 1:9
So true, so true.
Worked pretty well.
Maybe that's why they walked that way.
Some, more than others.
"No more Botox!"
Anemia may be an interesting indicator here, because it could imply several possibilities, both in its cause and effects.
The assumption that the anemia was caused by malnutrition, and associated with protein deficiency may be correct, or it could be hereditary, or even caused by a disease or huge swarms of blood sucking parasites. Or a combination of the above.
In turn, the idea that this was a new city, yet was abandoned after this one pharaoh, also implies some interesting things. Leaving a previously inhabited area needs a strong motivation.
Perhaps something bad befell the old city, and was so awful that it resulted in the traditional gods being temporarily abandoned as ineffectual.
The Exodus dates to around this time, which would give good reason to abandon the Gods of old.
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And it caused a whole new culture to sprout in Amarna which then was stamped out under King Tut.
Or John Edwards plugs. Obviously there were two Egypts.
Didn’t Egyptian Pyramid workers get loads of beer and meat everyday? For all their work they got to pay fewer taxes and—the big pay off—eternal life for building the god-kings tomb.
Well, at least they had beer.
Herodotus tells us that 100,000 men labored for twenty years to build the Great Pyramid of Giza which is one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. A common saying of the ancient Egyptians was “man fears time but time fears the pyramids.” The pharoah was literally believed to be a god incarnate and to most Egyptians this life was merely a time of preparation for the next life - eternity with the gods.
To make things worse, apparently their Gods looked like "Michael Jackson".
“According to tradition, Exodus and the other four books of the Torah were written by Moses in the latter half of the 2nd millennium BC, and modern biblical scholarship sees it reaching its final form around 450 BC.”
It’s a real eye-opener to most Americans to realize that the Kingdoms of Egypt lasted about 3000 years, but that much of the framework of that guess is very rickety indeed, with lots of hundred year or more periods based on just the slightest evidence. Archaeology isn’t easy.
As an aside, I and some friends had a huge laugh while visiting the “Splendors of Ancient Egypt” touring exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum in 2000. Their last exhibit was of a painted “Greco-Roman Period” wooden coffin with a mummy.
The outside of the coffin was painted in broad red and white horizontal stripes, and the inside of the lid section over the face of the mummy was painted in a dark blue, with white stars in it to look like the night sky. And when this lid section was opened, it looked much like the American flag!
“Well,” I said to my friends, “at least we know the time machine works halfway!”
N.B.: The Greco-Roman period overlapped the year zero. Prime time for a Christian time traveler.
Some years ago, the Smithsonian came up with a low tech solution to the construction of the pyramids that would have reduced the time and manpower needed to a fraction of what it would have had to have been otherwise.
Simply put, using sectional wooden “wheels”, held together with pins, to turn square stones into cylinders that would be easy to roll up dirt ramps.
At the quarry, where there are considerable ruins of workers homes, you muscle the cut stone onto the first two of eight wooden pieces that are flat on the side facing the stone, and rounded on the outside. Then you add the other six wooden sections and pin them together.
The stone is like an axle with two wheels, so could then be rolled down to the dock and loaded on a small ship to take it down the river. Once there, it could be rolled all the way to the pyramid site.
On site, once the lowest level of stones had been laid, then you build a dirt ramp to the same height. Then push or pull the “wheeled” stones up the ramp to build the next level. There doesn’t even have to be a great incline to the dirt ramp, as it can circle the pyramid. Dirt ramp technology was well known at that time.
Once you have emplaced the capstone, you just remove the dirt, and you have a finished pyramid. Importantly, using this technique would also explain the ease with which the inner chambers of the pyramid were built.
Women and children hurt the most. Film at 11:00