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15 Valuable Lessons From Ancient Egypt

19 April 2021

Being Ancient Does Not Mean Being Irrelevant. Here Are Some Lessons From Ancient Egypt That Are Still Relevant Today.

Hollywood’s version of Ancient Egypt is whitewashed. The Ten Commandments, Cleopatra, The Mummy and Gods of Egypt all depict white lead characters. So, our first unofficial lesson is that one can’t erase Egypt’s African history… and here are another 15 Valuable Lessons from Ancient Egypt.

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With that said, let’s jump straight into the article.

1

The Importance of Water and How To Distribute It

Throughout history, entire civilizations and cities have disappeared through their inability to retain and distribute water properly.

Water in ancient Egypt worked on a simple and equitable scheme whereby the state managed the distribution threof. The state employed local administration to bring water from the rural areas into towns and cities. Enough evidence remains to understand how they did this, with one well-known case being the “water-carriers” of the village of Deir el-Medina.

Water carriers were people employed to carry water from the main well, located 30 minutes away from the village.

Shadufs, similar to a mini crane, were also used to scoop water out the river. Mud / brick reservoirs were built to trap and hold water, especially during flooding which happened for roughly 3 months each year. Irrigation canals were filled with flood water or water from the reservoirs when needed.

2

The Importance of Flora to the Ancient Egyptians

We mentioned that flooding took place each year, but it wasn’t all bad. Flooding brought plenty of fertile soil which meant trees, plants and flowers flourished.

Gardens, much like ours today, were the pride and joy of ancient Egyptians as highlighted by askalladin.com. The wealthier you were, the bigger and more beautiful your garden was.

Flowers weren’t just meant for decorating though, and the ancient priests would grow plants for medicinal purposes. Pharaohs were supportive about health and well-being.

Academicjournals.org published a paper by N. H. Aboelsoud, titled Herbal medicine in ancient Egypt, which said, “If you had to be ill in ancient times, the best place to do so would probably have been Egypt. The Ancient Egyptians were quite advanced in their diagnoses and treatments of various illnesses.”

Many of their findings have stood the test of time, like bilharzia.

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3

We’ve Learnt More About Bilharzia

The role that the ancient Egyptians played on the modern world cannot be denied. A major problem that has always plagued the Nile is the parasitical infestation bilharzia. If untreated, bilharzia can lead to cancer.

Egyptologists have discovered that bilharzia from ancient Egypt and our modern bilharzia are both identified by testing for the presence of antibodies, as reported by bbc.co.uk/history.

This proves that the parasite hasn’t changed since ancient times. Scientists are now studying mummies to figure out the genetic code that’s causing the cancer.

4

Ancient Egypt Was the First Society To Introduce Peace Treaties

History.com confirms that ancient Egypt forged one of the earliest peace treaties ever recorded. For over 200 years, fighting ensued between the Egyptians and the Hittite Empire, both wanting control of the lands of todays Syria.

Neither were victorious. Ramses II and the Hittite Kingn Hattusili III, decided to call truce and signed a peace treaty. They agreed to work together and should there be an invasion by a 3rd party, to unite against them. A copy of this peace treaty sits at the entrance to the United Nations Security Council Chamber in New York.

Ramses II recently made an unexpected appearance – stick around to find out how.

5

Ancient Curses Are Only Myths  

A lot of ancient Egypt has been caught up in misconceptions, one being that Pharoah’s were all tyrants. And we get it… a health and wellness, peace treaty signing Pharaoh is not exactly going to sell more movies than a chiselled, demi-god barking orders at slave’s while being fanned by beautiful girls.

It runs deeper than that, Aluxers. In recent weeks, headlines in Egypt have blamed the curse of the Pharaohs for several unfortunate events, including the ship that blocked the Suez Canal.

To prove that the curse is simply a myth, roads along the Nile were shut down for a parade of 22 ancient Egyptian royal mummies. As reported by cnbc.com, “The national treasures traveled about 3 miles from the Egyptian Museum, opened in 1902 in central Cairo’s Tahrir Square, to their new home in the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Fustat…”

6

The Pharaoh Knew How to Curate His Image, Much Like Leaders Today

It’s all about image, whether you were living in ancient Egypt or modern times. Ramesses II is often depicted as the greatest Pharaoh of all, but what he was genuinely great at, was his own PR.

And just in case his own rhetoric wasn’t sufficient, he commissioned more statues of himself than any other pharaoh. He wasn’t shy to keep reminding people of all the great things he did with monuments, sculptures, and his large brood left to carry his name.

Even during his battles with the Hittite’s, he almost lost several times but would create stories on how he came out triumphantly. As reported by historyextra.com, “His near defeat was spun into a masterful retelling of victory, applauding the fearless king.”

7

Elite Women Were Seen as Equals to Their Partners

Women in ancient Egypt were further ahead than many women today. They shared many of the basic rights that men enjoyed, could own property, divorce, and rule the land.

And yes, ancient Egypt was patriarchal in nature and was dominated by men, but according to UShistory.org, “Egyptian women could have their own businesses, own and sell property, and serve as witnesses in court cases.”

And while a woman’s first role was to be a mother and wife, she could also consider several professions including weaving, perfume making, and entertainment. Women could also be scribes, priests, or doctors, according to worldhistory.org, but that wasn’t common as getting an education was expensive and traditionally, it was the son that followed the father’s footsteps and not the daughter.

Some female leaders you’ll no doubt have heard of include Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra.

8

Several Business Lessons Can Be Learnt From the Pharaohs

Businessdestinations.com highlights many parallels between business leaders today and the pharaohs of ancient Egypt.

          The vision of a single person creates a successful, sustainable business.

          A strong leader is needed to see these visions become reality.  

          The vision has purpose attached to it, enabling a leader to employ recruits who share the vision.

          Often goals and dreams take time to materialize, be patient but keep putting in the effort.

          Teamwork is integral to making big dreams a reality.

If you are thinking of starting your own business and are eager to learn some more business lessons, check out 15 Things You Should Know When Starting a Business

9

The Ancient Egyptians Invented Items That Are Priceless

The ancient Egyptians have added so much value in our lives by giving us the written language, dams, eye-make up, bowling, calendars, toothpaste, high-heels, condoms, and paper.

These creations form a part of our everyday existence.

There’s more, we can add mathematics, geometry, surveying, metallurgy, astronomy, accounting, medicine, the ramp, the lever, the plough, mills for grinding grain and all the paraphernalia that goes with large, organised societies, as confirmed by discoveringegypt.com.

They add, as a side note, that the Greeks will often take credit for mathematics, but according to ancient text, the Greeks learnt it from the Egyptians.  

10

The Value Of Looking After Your Staff

An image that has been depicted through art and movies ad nauseum… slaves being beaten and treated terribly, while the great pyramids were being erected.

But the pyramids would have taken much longer to erect if workers were treated like sh*t, were weak and undernourished, and were continually beaten to a pulp.

It’s believed that workers were paid for their labour… in beer. The Smithsonian claims between 4 and 5 litres of beer was given each day per worker. It’s further believed that it wasn’t slaves that built the pyramids, but rather locals, as severe flooding meant they couldn’t farm – so what better way to bide the time away, then by erecting massive pyramids?

And just a FYI – the slaves in ancient Egypt were criminals or captives from foreign military campaigns.

11

Labour Strikes Were Common Among Disgruntled Labourers

Downing tools is nothing new. And if things were not going according to plan or what was promised, the ancient Egyptians would strike.

One of the most famous ancient Egyptian strikes during the reign of Ramses III. Workers building the royal necropolis at Deir el-Medina didn’t receive their payment of grain and they arranged a sit-in protest. It paid off, and the labourers received what was owed to them.

This is one of the first recorded strikes in history.

12

Ancient Egyptians Loved Life

Aluxers, as cliched as what that sounds, it’s fact.

The ancient Egyptians loved sporting events, boardgames, reading, festivals and spending time with friends and family when they weren’t working.

The ancient Egyptians had a concept called ma’at, which symbolized harmony and balance. As suggested by worldhistory.org, “through the observance of balance and harmony people were encouraged to live at peace with others and contribute to communal happiness. “

All social classes valued life, just as we do today.

13

They Integrated Many Different Cultures

One thing the ancient Egyptians did well, was they thrived as a multi-cultural society. The Wall Street Journal aptly remarked, “The Egyptians probably had no hieroglyphic for “multiculturalism,” but given the cultural and commercial exchanges that flourished in Egypt and the Mediterranean in ancient times, they should have had one.”

There’s a great account on ancient Egypt, which we recommend you listen to on audible called, The History of Ancient Egypt, by Bob Brier. Get your free listen by heading alux.com/freebook.

14

Pets Were More Than Just Animals

We already know the importance of cats to the ancient Egyptians, but it wasn’t just cats that were important – it was dogs too as seen with the recent discovery of the world’s oldest pet cemetery.

The pets buried in this graveyard still had collars around their necks, with little shells, wrapped in the remains of blankets. They’re in sleeping position which shows that they were loved and taken care of.

As pointed out by lead researcher Maria Osypi?ska for livescience.com, “Many scholars argue that the ancient world had no concept of “pets,” but “our discovery shows that we humans have a deep need for the companionship of animals.”

15

Fighting With Friends Doesn’t Need To Be Aggressive – a Letter Will Do!  

We can learn a valuable lesson from ancient Egypt and how friends were treated after a difference of opinion.

Literate Egyptians would write letters to their friends expressing their annoyance. These days we do it on our phones, those days they did it on papyrus.

According to Egyptologist Deborah Sweeney, extensive written records have been found at Deir el-Medina. As she explains for daily.jstor.org, “a scribe named Nakhtsobk writes to “the crew member Amennakhte.” After hailing his longtime friend and wishing him well, Nakhtsobk says plaintively, “What offence have I done against you? Aren’t I your old eating companion?”

It seems a far more valuable lesson to take with us than getting the fists out and having a scuffle in the street, doesn’t it?

Question:

What valuable lesson do you believe the ancient Egyptians have taught us? We’d love your feedback Aluxers.