Are you ready to be AMAZED ?!?
21 Fascinating Facts About Ancient Egypt !
If you’ve been following along with our FREE History Curriculum series, I think you’ll love this post which is the second of the 21 Fascinating Facts series!
If you need a little boost to get everyone excited about history this year, try these Ancient Egypt fascinating facts teasers! And some bonus facts to go along with the week spent on Ancient China too.
This quick guide was specifically made to use along with each day’s lesson in the FREE Ancient Egypt History Curriculum (or if you aren’t studying Ancient Egypt this year, just to read for FUN!).
Little bits of information seem to be the things we remember. Maybe it’s because they spark our interest and make us hungry for more. That is why I wanted to write this series of posts. Start each lesson with one of these amazing facts and get EXCITED about learning this year!
You can find the other posts in this series, 21 Fascinating Facts About Ancient Civilizations , 21 Fascinating Facts About Ancient Greece, and 21 Fascinating Facts About Ancient Rome by clicking on these links or on the images below.
Day 1- The Last Miles of the Nile
If you are searching for Egypt on a map, the Nile River makes it easy to find! And as we study through the beginnings of culture in Ancient Egypt, we will see just how important this body of water is to every part of Egyptian life. The Egyptian calendar was even made around the annual flooding of its banks. But did you know that NO ONE had traveled down the entire Nile from where it begins in Ethiopia to where it flows out into the Mediterranean Sea until 2004 ?!?
What an incredible adventure awaited the 2 men who decided to explore the Great Nile!
Want to know more?
You can also watch THIS account of the adventure on YouTube
(Please preview ! I haven’t watched the entire video)
Day 2- Did a Hippo Murder King Tut?
Ever since the discovery of the famous King Tut’s tomb, people have been trying to figure out what happened to the young Pharaoh. Recently, with the help of some modern science (DNA testing
and CT scans), a new and fairly reasonable answer has been suggested. The powerful and loved King Tut was killed by a … hippo.
Not a very glorious sounding death. There are still other theories, including being kicked by a horse. What do you think ?
Want to learn more?
Day 3- The Queen of the Nile was Greek ?
When you hear the name Cleopatra what do you think of ? A beautiful, elegant, Egyptian Queen gliding on her golden boat along the Nile? Maybe you picture her ruling the Egyptian people from her throne, guarded by her famous African cats? But, did you know that Cleopatra, sometimes known as the Queen of the Nile, was not even Egyptian? It’s true! She was actually Greek.
And it is written that the Egyptian people “forgave” her for this fact, because she ruled so well, and was able to speak their language. Not only did she speak their’s, but also at least 7 others !
Want to read more?
Week 2: Fabulous Facts About Abraham, Joseph,
and Israel in Egypt
Day 1- The Beauty Queen in Egypt
This week you will be reading about a very well known man from Ur named Abraham, and his wife Sarah. As a drought spread through the land, they decided to travel to Egypt to find relief. Can you guess why they picked Egypt ?
Yep. The Nile River! Soon, word came to the Pharaoh of these visitors. Do you know why he’d even take notice of them? One reason could have been that Abraham was considered “very rich” for the time. He owned many animals and had a large group of people (“tents”) with him. But that isn’t the reason we are given in the history the Scriptures. The buzz on the streets of Ancient Egypt was all about the exceeding beauty of the foreign woman with Abraham. His wife Sarah.
*Remember…the Ancient Egyptians were all about APPEARANCE!*
WOW! Imagine being able to say you traveled to Egypt and the Pharaoh noticed how lovely you were looking that day! Even though Sarah was not a young woman, Pharaoh was so attracted to her, that he ordered his officials to take her into his palace !
Abraham was afraid, and told the Pharaoh that Sarah was his sister, hoping he’d let her go. And what a mess he made with his lie! There’s definitely more to this story… including why God changed Sarai’s name to Sarah (scroll to the comments to read why- I never knew this!).
Want to find out more?
Day 2- Sweet Dreams in Egypt
Did you know that the Ancient Egyptians were fascinated by dreams? They believed it was the way that the gods spoke to them and even had a book that they recorded dreams and their meanings in. People who could tell the meaning of dreams were honored. One person we will read about this week was able to tell an Egyptian Pharaoh the meaning of his dream and it saved his life!
Do you know who this person was ? Here’s one more clue…his own dreams made a bunch of people really angry at him, and almost cost him his life!!
You can read more about Ancient Egyptians and Dreams here-
Day 3- How Old ARE You ?
Imagine meeting the ruler of the “world” ! Or at least the President of a country. That’s what the Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt was like. And if you were an Egyptian, you probably believed that he was a god himself. A man named Jacob (later renamed Israel), the father of Joseph, stood in front of the Pharaoh. What did the Pharaoh say to him? “How old ARE you ?!?” (Genesis 47:8). I guess he didn’t know that wasn’t a polite question.
You can read more about Jacob’s meeting with Pharaoh here-
Week 3: Amazing Facts About Mummies & Egyptian Life
Day 1- Ox Hoof Toothpaste Anyone ?
The Ancient Egyptians’ day started much like ours. They woke up, had a bowl of cereal, got dressed, and brushed their teeth. Ok, so maybe they didn’t have the luxury of a big bowl of Cheerios (or Fruit Loops) to start their day, but the rest is accurate. The Egyptians really liked to look good. They dressed to impress, and both men and women wore makeup (though there were several reasons why they did). AND the Ancient Egyptians are credited with inventing…TOOTHPASTE ! Pearly whites were in vogue even that long ago. BUT do you know what the original recipe included ? Some of the same ingredients were used that are in today’s toothpastes, with the addition of burnt eggshells, crushed bones, and very often pulverized OX HOOVES !
Day 2- A Million Mummies
Did you know that over a million mummies have been discovered in Egypt ? Pharaohs, servants, old men, women, and little children have all been found carefully wrapped and preserved. You may be surprised to learn though that out of the more than one million mummies found, the majority haven’t been human. Gazelle, monkeys, pet dogs, birds, cows, beetles, crocodiles, and most of all CATS ! LOTS and lots and lots of mummy cats!
You can learn why they made so many mummy cats here-
Read more amazing mummy facts here-
Day 3- Kohl, Perfume, and the Afterlife
As we read in Day 1 this week, the Egyptians put a lot of effort into looking their best! Archeologists have found makeup pots, perfume pots, toothbrushes, toothpicks, and other beauty products in the burial areas of both royalty and common Egyptians. But did you know that their neat, clean, beautified appearance had more to do with their religious beliefs than their vanity? One was believed not to be able to take part in the afterlife if found smelly, shoeless, and without eye makeup ?!
You might also be interested to know that this practice (however accidently) actually provided the Egyptians with some excellent health benefits as well.
If you want to know more-
Week 4: The Shang Dynasty & Ancient China
Day 1- Doggie Defense
We read earlier this week about the Ancient Egyptians’ love for dogs, and how they turned them from work animals to household pets. The Ancient Chinese had another use for dogs altogether.
Personal DEFENSE ! Small dogs called Pekingese were frequently trained to be “sleeve dogs”. The rich and important among the Chinese would frequently wear these little dogs inside their large sleeves. If anyone got too close to them, the dogs would jump out and attack ! YIKES!
You can read more here-
Day 2- Decision Makers
Sometimes it’s hard to make a choice! Vanilla ice cream or chocolate? Pancakes or waffles? It’s even harder to guess what might happen in the future? Will it rain today? Will my brother stop bothering me?
Seriously though. It’s been that way since ancient times. The Ancient Chinese had a way to solve this. BONES. Sometimes they were called oracle bones. They thought that these bones could predict the future. And they used them to help them make choices about things they couldn’t decide on. Do you think these bones were very accurate ?
You can read more-
Day 3- An Ancient Accidental Discovery
Sometimes the most wonderful discoveries are made unintentionally ! Did you know that x-rays, playdoh, velcro, and the microwave were all accidental ? One such find that we really appreciate still today (especially here in the south), is TEA ! While we can’t be sure exactly who first decided they should pick some leaves and stick them in a pot of hot water and drink it, there are some ancient tales.
Find out how it was first discovered here !
Week 5: Facts & Marvels- Moses & The Exodus
Day 1- Ramses the Ruthless ?
Did you ever wonder WHICH Pharaoh enslaved the Hebrew people ? Which Pharaoh it was that Moses went to and commanded him, “Let my people go!”? If you’ve been wondering that during our studies, you aren’t the only one! People have been trying to solve this history mystery for a long time. Each time there has been a new archeological discovery in Ancient Egypt, it has helped to figure this puzzle out. Recently, historians think they’ve solved it! They have concluded it COULD be the Pharaoh Ramses II…maybe. What do YOU think ? Why?
You can read more about the reasons they chose Ramses II below-
Day 2- Moses and the Scary Snake
Are you afraid of snakes ? There were LOTS of snakes in Ancient Egypt. The Ancient Egyptians had a love/hate relationship with them. Either way, snakes were respected in their culture…and some, like the cobra, were even worshipped. Wadjet was the name of one of the gods and even was fashioned on the crowns of some Pharaohs. Magicians were common entertainers in the palaces. They often used snake tricks to shock and surprise their audience. Moses, who we’ve been reading about this week, didn’t need any magic tricks when he came before Pharaoh. God told Moses to throw down his walking stick…immediately it became a slithering snake!! It scared Moses so much, he jumped and ran!
You can read about that here- Exodus 4
Learn more about the importance of snakes to the Ancient Egyptians here-
Day 3- Exodus Song and Holiday
Did you know that there’s a whole song about the Exodus in the Bible?
-> Exodus 15
And that people all over the world STILL celebrate the Exodus once a year?
Want to hear what the song might have sounded like (not really, but it is FUN!)?
Here is one fun version ->https://youtu.be/iSxrlgP_y0E
and another that is an instrumental version with the lyrics -> https://youtu.be/0ayhislN5I4
You can also watch this short video about how Jewish people celebrate the Exodus today with a special holiday we call Passover
Week 6: Fantastical Final Ancient China Facts
Day 1- Happy Birthday to EVERYONE!
We have learned that every culture had some type of feast or celebration honoring special events in their history, their religious gods, or important people. But did you know that the Ancient Chinese celebrated more than the coming year during their lunar New Year celebrations? One day of the week long festival was set aside to celebrate every single person’s birthday at once!
Day 2- MyFavorite Pet…Cricket ?
The ancients loved their pets, and the Ancient Chinese were no different. But their pet of choice might be! Would you like to have a pet insect? How about a pet CRICKET ?!?! The Ancient Chinese loved the way these little creature sang and sometimes even had elaborate cages of gold made for them!
Want to know why they loved crickets so much? Read more about it here-
Day 3- Tricky Tactics
War and battles are a part of every period of history. The Ancient Chinese were among some of the most inventive in the tactics and strategies. Sometimes they used mannequins to fool their enemies into shooting all their arrows before they shot a single one! Sometimes they
And one time a single general tricked an army of 150,000 men to give up and retreat! Want to know how he did it? By calmly sitting on the city wall playing his LUTE! (a lute is like a small guitar) The other army’s general was so confused that this man could be so calm and playing his instrument, that he thought it was surely a trap! Battle over.
Want to read more about the General and his lute?
Week 7: A Few Final Freaky Facts
Day 1- (Ancient Egyptian) Man’s Best Friend
Most of the time when we think of the animals of Ancient Egypt, we think of hippos, crocodiles, ibis birds, and things like those living along the Nile River. Maybe cats come to mind as well, as they are often depicted in Egyptian artwork, and as a symbol of the goddess Bastet. But did you know that the Egyptians were one of the first cultures to keep dogs as pets? Before this time, dogs were mostly used for hunting and other work. The Ancient Egyptians still used dogs as work animals for herding, etc, but they also really enjoyed them as companions. They had so much affection for their four legged friends, that they often had them mummified when they died!
See if you notice any images of dogs in the Egyptian artwork you study.
*Note- Just another fun fact find—> We can once again credit the AMAZING Ancient Sumerians with inventing some more items we still use today- dog collars and leashes !
Want to know more ?
Egyptians also liked to keep some other pretty strange pets! Read about that here-
Day 2- Giant Man-Eating Fish of the Nile
More danger lurks in the muddy banks of the Nile than the dreaded crocodile ! One giant fish called the Vundu Catfish has been known to grab a full grown man and pull him right down to the bottom of the River! And when I saw big, I mean BIG! These “fish” can weigh more than 140 pounds!!! And if that doesn’t scare you just a little bit…these crazy creatures can breathe on land. True!
And read more about it here-
Day 3- Something Soft
Can you think of something soft that you use everyday? I’ll give you a couple of hints. The Ancient Chinese invented it, but it was only used by royalty. It wasn’t silk. Give up?
TOILET PAPER! Really! I was so surprised because people weren’t even writing too much on paper yet!
They were way ahead of the times for sure! I’m sure the Romans (who used a shared stick with a sponge on the end) and even the Americans (who used corn cobs or magazines for the job- ouch!) until about the 1860’s wished they had had this invention! I guess necessity is the mother of invention after all.
You can read more about it here-
Here’s hoping that you have a new appreciation for our Ancient ancestors (that toilet paper invention was sure a good one!). Wishing you a wonderful year of living, loving, and learning together !