Contributions of Ancient Egypt
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Contributions of ancient egypt Many of ancient Egypt’s contribution to society not only advanced them as a civilization but left an impressionable impact on the accomplishments of the modern day. Nestled within the fertile valley of the Nile, Egypt was protected on all sides from invasion and at the same time uninfluenced by many outside cultures. Although its overall isolation by the expanse of the surrounding desert to the west and the red sea to the east, this thriving culture’s achievements went beyond the imagination of even the most seemingly advanced world.
This allowed the Egyptians to not only live peacefully and without an active army but also provided them with the security and time to concentrate on what is known today as the foundation of an effective way of life. One of the gifts that the Egyptian empire had bestowed on the heathens of modern society was the beginning of an elaborate alphabetic system. It was from this system of writing that many other contributions such as an accurate calendar and mathematical equations that the Egyptians were able to move forward with architectural wonders, specialized doctors and the practices of justice and religious rituals.
The Egyptians established a form of writing known as hieroglyphics. Hieroglyphics was a style of writing which incorporated the three characters of pictographic, syllabic, and alphabetic. Both pictographic and syllabic characters were primarily established within Sumerian cuneiform. It was later that the Egyptians combined the Sumerian cuneiform along with an alphabetic system all into one that became the rough foundation for what is now known as the modern day alphabet. Although the Egyptians were but a step away form establishing a complete alphabet by separating the alphabetic system from the syllabic into 24 symbols they were to become ingenious for their advancement from the unrefined system of their predecessors.
The hieroglyphics are the basis for which all civilized alphabetic systems are founded upon. Once a form of writing had been established it was necessary to uncover all means of keeping their scripts and scrolls. The Egyptians needed something not only light and readily available to write on, it also needed to be easily storable. Due to the abundance of the Papyrus reed this natural resource was exactly that. The Papyrus reed, also known as the symbol for lower Egypt, could be rolled into scrolls, and stored safely to keep all of Egypt’s official business on record as well as many of their intellectual secrets.
Once the Egyptians established a way to record their work they were able to document the elements of their second greatest accomplishment, an accurate calendar. The calendar, that deadly thing you forget to look at whenever your girlfriend’s birthday comes around can now be blamed on someone. The Egyptians created one of the first most accurate ungodly creations. They calculated their calendar by the rising of the star Sirius. Once a year on the seventeenth of July Sirius would rise in a direct line with the sun, marking the beginning of the rising of the Nile. This allowed the Egyptians to not only plant their crops on time to ensure large harvests but to also avoid the hazards of the rising waters. As for the modern day, this calendar created a way for getting into trouble when forgetting birthdays and other events such a paper due dates.
Not all of the Egyptian’s creations were trouble-making. The Egyptians established a mathematical system for the purpose of civil engineering. They used the elements of geometry and trigonometry to enable them to calculate the volumes and areas of triangles and cylinders in order to create some of the greatest architectural achievements of their time and ours. The Egyptians were the first to find the formula for the circumference of a circle now know as “pi”. This knowledge added to their architectural capabilities and aided them in the construction of such mysteries as the Pyramids.
From the remarkable pyramids of the Egyptian civilization to the towering skyscrapers of New York, the Egyptian’s applications of mathematics helped them in another of their great contributions, that of architectural accomplishments. They introduced the Corbel form of arching found in the construction of all the pyramids including the Khufu pyramid. Standing at exactly 482 feet in the air, the Khufu pyramid is one of the largest pyramids constructed by the Egyptians. It contains a perfect angle of 52 degrees “making its pinnacle stand in relation to its circumference as in the pi ratio of circles (Lerner, p. 50)”. The Khufu was only one of the Egyptian’s many architectural structures made possible by the use of mathematical figures and formulas. Each contribution the Egyptians made were but a step in their journey upward on the ladder of intellectual enlightenment.
Beyond the realm of reading, writing and arithmetic the Egyptians flourished in the field of medical science. They advanced with the existence of “specialized doctors”, physicians for specific areas of medicine. The Egyptians had doctors for dental, optometry, proctology as well as many other medical purposes. Due to the effects of the desert on the Egyptian population it was necessary to establish specialized doctors to aid in decreasing the wear and tare of their bodies from day to day strain. The desert sand would grind down their teeth, sphincters, sphinxes, and eyes. The Egyptians had dental work lasting longer than that of today’s modern dentistry. Since the average life span of an Egyptian was thirty years, funeral arrangements had to be made early and should you had money accompanied by status, you could be honored with the process of embalming.
Embalming became a large part of the Egyptian funeral process and to this day is still a practiced performance by a wacky doctor or two. All organs were removed from the deceased body except for the heart because of the belief that it was the center of all being. The organs were then placed in jars which represented the four sons of Osiris. The body was soon stuffed with herbs and flowers and finely wrapped in cloth soaked with frankincense and various botanical oils. The hot dry climate contributed immensely to the dehydration step of the mummification process, it was at the time the body was completely drained of all fluids that it would weigh half its original weight. The embalming of the dead was not performed strictly for cosmetic or sanitary purposes, it held a deep rooted importance in their religious practices.
The Egyptian religion gave its people a sense of ethics. It was these ethics that the Egyptians strived to live by in order to live among the elite in the afterlife. The reward of living according to law and basic human kindness within the world of the living and the right of passage as a reward into the world of the afterlife was clearly outlined within the text of the book of the dead. The book of the dead details the judgment of Osiris and his decision to let those who lived an honest and good life to enter into the afterlife. It was in front of Osiris that the individual’s soul was questioned as to what type of life they had led; and it was also by Osiris’ hand that the soul would be destroyed and unable to live in paradise or permitted to pass through to the other side. It was such rewards and punishments as these that gave the people a conscience to be good unto their neighbor while in the living.
Many civilizations and many cultures have contributed to the ways of the modern man. It is because of such great accomplishments as those of the Egyptian people that we are able to do and create beyond the boundaries of our minds today. We are and exist because of all the ideas and creative elements that the Egyptian people laid solid ground for. We live and dwell in security of our surroundings knowing that they were built with the exactness and precision of all the tools formulated by Egyptian advancements. Although from day to day we go without thinking of such seemingly minuscule issues it is in fact that they were once great mysterious wonders that the great people of the Egyptian empire took the time to invest and expand on.