DBQ: Work & Play in Ancient Egypt- How does it compare to that of today!
DBQ: Work and Play in Ancient Egypt
How are the work and leisure activities of ancient Egypt different from those in modern day America? How are they similar?
For centuries ancient Egyptians, life often involved hard work. When the weather was good, most worked in the fields, producing food for their families and for export. During flood season, thousands of these farmers were called upon to help build the pharaoh’s temples.
But life was not all about work. Archeological digs offer evidence that both upper-class Egyptians and the common people found ways to enjoy themselves
Use the following documents to learn more about Egyptian work and play, and answer the questions that follow.
Document A: Farmers
This detail from a tomb painting shows Egyptian farmers at work. Egyptians grew enough wheat and barley to have food reserves for themselves and for export to other civilizations. They also grew fruit and vegetables as well as irrigated the fields.
1. What are the similarities and differences amongst Egyptian farmers, and farmers today?
Document B: Games
Games were popular within all Egyptian classes. The board shown above is for the game senet- also depicted in the painting. In this game, players threw sticks or knuckle bones to move their pieces through squares of good or bad fortune. A player won by moving all his or her pieces off the board.
1. What game can the Egyptian Senet game be compared with today?
Document C: Cosmetics
Ancient Egyptians used cosmetics for both work and play. They protected field workers from sun and heat and were used to enhance beauty. Egyptian men and women applied makeup, called kohl, to their eyes. They made kohl from minerals mixed with water. They also soaked flowers and fragrant woods in oil and rubbed the oil into their skin. The dark eye makeup softened the glare of the sun. The oils protected their skin from the dry air. Egyptians kept their cosmetics in chest such as the one shown above.
1. Compare Egyptian use of cosmetics to that of cosmetics used today
Document D: Temple Builders
The Egyptian artist’s colorful drawing of what the Karnack Temple Complex might have looked like explains why Egyptian pharaohs needed thousands of laborers to build their temples. Some historians believe the laborers may have been part of a rotating workforce drafted from the agricultural classes around Egypt- a form of community service.
1. What comparisons about temples and temple builders can be compared with life today?
Document E: Surgeons
Ancient Egypt had skilled surgeons. Written evidence shows that Egyptian surgeons knew how to stick cuts and set broken bones. Some Egyptian mummies even show evidence of being operated on. We know the names of about 150 physicians- 2 of them were women.
Surgeons were very skilled and knew that in order to stop bleeding, one needed to apply pressure to the cut/wound. Although physicians knew a great deal about the body and its organs, they were confused by the heart and brain, believing their functions were reversed from what we now know.
1. How are physicians today similar to that of ancient Egypt? How are they different?
Document F: Papyrus Growers
A large industry was built around the harvesting of papyrus. Papyrus was used to make the material Egyptians wrote on. Scrolls of various sizes could be made. One mathematical papyrus was 15 feet long and 3 inches wide
1. Compare this information with that of today? How is it similar how is it different?
Document G: Pets
Egyptians kept various animals as pets. Nobles would even have their pets mummified and buries with them. A single pet cemetery was discovered that contained 1,000,000 bird mummies
Royal dogs. The Pharaoh hound was very popular in ancient Egypt. Artifacts from 4000 BCE show images of the breed.
Cats, especially were popular. They were kept as long as 1500 BCE. Cats controlled rat and mice populations and protected the family’s grain supply. In time, they became comparable to minor gods. It became a crime to kill a cat; the punishment was death. When a cat died, the owners mourned it and shaved their eyebrows in the traditional sign of respect
1. How can Egyptian Pets be similar to that of today? How can it be different?
1. From what you have read, what inferences can you make about Egyptian society?
2. How are the work and leisure activities of ancient Egypt different from those in modern day America? How are they similar?