Egyptian Roman and Indus Civilizations
The old Egyptian civilization emerged in the Nile valley .It was the settlement of early farmers along the banks of the Nile river.
The Egyptians kings were known as ‘pharaohs’ and built burial chambers called pyramids. The best known pyramid is the famous Great Pyramid at Giza.
The old Egyptian society was divided into 3 classes .The 1st were the pharaohs (kings & family),the 2nd nobility(consisting of priests and high ranking government officials) and in the 3rd rank were farmers & craftsmen.
Both Egyptian men and women wore makeup – eye paint was usually green which was made from copper or black, made from lead. They believed that the makeup had some kind of healing power. Actually it saved them from sunlight thus giving an impression of its healing abilities.
For ancient Egyptians, bread was the most important food and beer was their most favorite drink.
In ancient Egypt, they had devised a unit of measurement known as ‘Cubit’, a man’s fore arm, about 45 cm long.
The ancient Egyptian art of writing is known as ‘hieroglyphics ‘meaning sacred writing. It was made of picture signs. Hieroglyphic writing was from right to left. Later on Egyptians developed a 24-letter alphabet. It was written on papyrus, a paper like material made from a tree of same name.
The ancient Egyptians were the 1st to have a year consisting of 365 days, which was divided into 12 months. They also invented clocks. They first devised 360 days calendar first after observing annual recurrence of floods in Nile river .Later on they added another 5 days to adjust certain myths about moon & religious festivals
You would wonder to know that the oldest death sentence recorded is found in ancient Egypt.
Also the oldest dress in the world comes from Egypt. It is 5,000 years old.
Ancient Egyptians had knowledge of several drugs and chemicals with which they preserved the bodies of their dead, called mummies.
The Egyptians believed in life after death. They mummified the dead body so that the spirits could use it as their home.
They put these mummified bodies into tombs with many things like tools, weapons, jewelry and even tables & chairs. Models of brewers were also left in tombs to ensure that the deceased had plenty of beer in the next world.
Even the slaves and attendants were also buried with the pharaohs.
There was a belief in ancient Egyptians that mummification ensured the dead a safe passage to the afterlife. The mummification process had 2 stages: 1st the embalming of the body with certain chemicals, then the wrapping and burial of the body.
When a body was mummified, its brain was removed through one of its nostrils and its intestines were also removed .Each organ was placed in its own jar. The only internal organ they did not remove was the heart, because it was considered to be the seat of the soul by Egyptians.
Ancient Egyptians mummified not only people but animals too. Archeologists have discovered a 15-foot- long mummified crocodile.
In mummification, Mud was pushed under the mummy’s skin to pad it out. False eyes could be made from onions.
Rome had been founded in 753 BC as a hill town on the Tiber river. Roman civilization started as a small settlement of farmers & later grew into one of the mightiest on the planet ,which lasted for centuries.
There is a legend of a fight between Romulus & Remus-two brothers.Romulus won the fight and founded Rome, after his name.
The ancient Roman society was divided into two classes called patricians and plebians.The aristocrats & big landlords constituted patricians class whereas workers ,farmers and artisans formed plebian class.
There were lot of struggles among patricians & plebians for control of power, which resulted in evolution of Rome as first Republic in the world,having the senate & the assembly.
The Romans built a huge empire and conquered new lands, thanks to their very strong army. You would be amazed to know that the Roman army could march up to 40km a day!
Roman civilization was very developed . They devised a strong legal system for making a better society where people could have rights & regulations. The laws and ways we determine what to do with someone who is accused of breaking a law came originally from the Roman principles.
Roman laws were carved on twelve tablets. They were actually carved out on rocks so that every one could know what the laws were.
Slaves were very important in Roman lives. Romans thought that not owning slaves was a sign of poverty. Many people would take 2 to 3 slaves with them just to go to the baths. Funny,isn’t it ?
The early Romans spoke a Greek dialect known as ‘Konie’, from this dialect ‘Latin’ developed later.The language used in Western world especially in Europe today was developed from the Romans.Many of modern words are based on Latin words.
We remember the Romans all year round. They invented most of our calendar,which is known as Gregorian calendar.Did you know that the calendar we use today is more than 2,000 years old? It was started by Julius Caesar, a Roman ruler. It is based on the movement of the earth around the sun, and so is called the 'solar calendar.' The solar calendar has 365 days a year, and 366 days every leap year, or every fourth year. The names of our months are taken from the names of Roman gods and rulers. January is named after Janus, their 2-headed god of new beginnings. The month 'July,' in fact, is named after Julius Caesar himself!
Even the practice of census (counting people living in a country/boundary) was started by early Romans.The Roman Empire was huge and included millions of people living over a large area. How did they keep track of all these people? Easy! They counted them! The Roman Empire began the practice of taking a census, or a 'count,' of all the people within its boundaries every so often.
The Romans also invented central heating. Rich people’s homes had heating. The warmth came from an underfloor wood-burning fire, looked after by the slaves.
The first-ever shopping mall was built by the Emperor Trajan in Rome. It consisted of several levels and more than 150 outlets that sold everything ranging from food and spices to clothes.
In absence of any newspaper ,TV or any other mass media ,Roman coins were used to publicize the emperor, his achievements, and his family .
Romans were highly superstitious .One of the example is their fear for anything to do with the left, which is why their words for ‘left’ and ‘left-handed’ were sinister and sinstra , giving us the modern meaning of the word ‘sinister’ meaning bad or wicked.
Romans used powdered mouse brains as toothpaste! Yuck!
The Roman army didn't have toilet paper so they used a water soaked sponge on the end of a stick instead!
Romans wore wedding rings. And Roman brides wore veils and carried flowers too. The bride and groom signed a contract to become man and wife, just like today.
Roman schoolboys practised their writing on wax tablets, using a pointed stylus. They could melt the wax to reuse the tablet again and again!
Purple, the most expensive dye in those days, which was made from Murex seashells, was reserved for the emperors’ clothes or senators. It was considered to be a treason for anyone other than the emperor to dress completely in purple.
The snake was a common image in Roman art and jewelry and it was believed to have powers over a family’s well-being.
The Romans liked to enjoy their food, often lying down on a couch while eating with their hands. They occasionally used a spoon, but they never used a knife and fork.
The earliest Greek civilizations existed nearly 4,000 years ago. The Ancient Greeks used to live in Greece and the countries that we now call Turkey and Bulgaria.
Ancient Greek civilization was unique as compared to other civilization due to its City States. The people shared some common language, religion and culture but they were not under rule of one common ruler or king. The common culture in these city states is known as Hellenic, Greece called itself ‘Hellas’ meaning the Greek culture.
Few of the famous city states were Athens, Sparta and Macedonia. There were frequent wars among these city states.
Greek society was divided into two classes. The first class consisted of high society people, the riches, priests and authorities and the 2nd class constituted peasants and slaves.
Greece is remembered for its contributions in various fields of culture –arts, literature, drama and sports etc.
Greek Civilization is also known for many famous philosophers who wrote & debated about various aspects of human life & society. You might have heard few of the names like Plato, Socrates, Aristotle and Pythagoras. Plato is called the ‘Father of Politics’, Aristotle is known as the ‘Father of Debate’ and Pythagoras is famous for his geometrical formula known a ‘Pythagoras theorem’.
Ancient Greeks also contributed a lot to medicine field. Hippocrates, who is known as ‘father of medicine’ belonged to old Greek civilization.
The present Olympic Games are also a legacy of the Greeks. The 1st Olympic Games were held in 776 BC at the Greek city of Olympia. The Olympics were actually a religious festival dedicated to the great god ZEUS.
The Ancient Greeks also played an important role in the development of the alphabet. The word ‘alphabet’ itself comes from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet - alpha and beta.
Ancient Greeks are considered to be starters of ‘Theatre’ culture. The word ‘theatre’ itself is Greek. Most modern theatres follow the Greek plan. Almost every Greek city had a theatre because plays were part of many religious festivals.
Mount Olympus in Greece is the highest mountain in the country. In ancient times, it was considered to be the home of the gods, because it was often so cloudy and no-one could see its summit.
The Greeks believed that 12 most important gods and goddesses lived at the top of Mount Olympus. They considered that they were a family and, just like a human family.
Greek coins used to have the face of a god or goddess. Alexander, the Great, was the first ruler to put his own face on Greek coins.
With kind courtesy from retd.Prof.Dr.Radha Menon,DU
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