From Appleseeds, 1999-02-01
Issue Theme: Children of Ancient Egypt
Subject: Ancient Civilizations, Egypt, Family
Time Period: 1000BC-AD300: Classical Civs / Religions and Empires
Ancient Egyptians loved children, and families had fun together.
A favorite outing was to go fishing and hunting in the marshes. These are wet grassy areas along the river or in the delta. (The delta is the place in northern Egypt where the Nile River fans out into many smaller waterways.) The whole family would climb into a boat made from reeds and sail through the marshes.
Children caught fish with spears or nets and picked lotus blossoms. Sometimes the family hunted wild birds with throwing sticks. They picked up the stunned birds that fell from the sky. At home, they put them in a bird house to eat later.
Pharaoh Akhnaton liked having his family around him all the time. When he and his queen, Nefertiti, visited temples or took walks, their daughters were often with them. In the palace, the daughters were usually at their parents' side, even during receptions for important foreign visitors. When the pharaoh went on an inspection tour of his country, he brought his family along.
Egypt's many festivals were a special time for families. There were festivals for the beginning of spring, the harvest, and the flooding of the Nile River. There were festivals for the birth, death, or crowning of a pharaoh.
At festival time tents and food stalls were set up. People feasted on watermelons, grapes, pomegranates, figs, and little loaves of bread. Sometimes drummers in feathered costumes came from the lands far south of the desert. Bands of young girls played the lute, harp, or flute and women shook the sistrum (a sacred rattle). Acrobats danced to the music, did backbends, and turned somersaults.
In the city of Thebes, the Feast of Opet lasted for nearly a month. It took place during the time that the Nile River flooded the fields. Then no one could work, so people came to Thebes to enjoy the fun.
The Opet Feast began when priests carried a golden statue of a special god out of Karnak Temple. The statue was placed in the middle of a beautiful boat. People crowded the river banks to watch the boat sail by. It was a time when Egyptians could beg the gods and pharaoh for favors. Or they could sing, clap, and shout along with the crowd and have a happy time.
In the Festival of the Valley people honored their dead relatives and ancestors. In the valleys across the Nile from Thebes, tombs had been cut into the mountains. They were decorated with wall paintings, furniture, and statues. Ancient Egyptians wanted to make sure that the spirits of the dead enjoyed a good life after death. Families visited the tombs to make offerings of food and drink. Then they feasted in chapels above the tombs. Afterward they spent the night in the chapels to be close to the souls of their dead relatives.
To ancient Egyptians, family was all-important, whether dead or alive.
Copyright (c) 2003 Carus Publishing Company|
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