As ancient civilizations go, the Egyptians are undoubtedly one of the most well-known and influential in the history of our world. Famed for their building prowess, beautiful picture writing, and cosmetic artistry, the footprints they left behind continue to fascinate us even today.
We know many of their names better than we do those of our own rulers and politicians: Ramses the Great, Tutankhamun, Akhenaten, Nefertiti, Hatshepsut, Cleopatra… Their lives and times enchant those with an appreciation of art and culture, with many of their finest works rivalling modern masterpieces to this very day.
But they didn’t just leave behind a legacy of crumbling papyrus and towering pyramids. In fact, they continue to influence us even now…
You may have spent most of your school days inwardly cursing the inventors of mathematics, but did you know it was the Egyptians your vitriol was aimed at? Responsible for developing new and efficient ways to carry out both multiplication and division, as well as originating the principle of fractions, they so lauded the numerically talented that they had a special name for them: arpedonapti. Tasked with calculating the area of land, it was these much-valued professionals who would eventually pass their knowledge on to the Greeks.
If you’ve ever enjoyed a game of bowling with friends, you have the Egyptians to thank for this too. The creators of a very similar game, they left archaeological evidence of how they liked to entertain themselves behind for us to discover again thousands of years later, in the form of a “bowling” room dating back to the second century. Crude pins and small marbles were also uncovered in the grave of an Egyptian child, suggesting this was a pastime enjoyed by people of all ages, just as it is today.
Perhaps the most famous remnant of yesteryear that they left behind was their inimitable style. To this day, we associate this ancient culture with blunt-fringed bobs, winged eyeliner, and loose, floating dresses, as well as beautifully drawn hieroglyphics, towering pyramids, and desert sands. This aesthetic can be found everywhere, from themed restaurants to casinos where you can enjoy exciting Egyptian online slots. No matter where these hallmarks are, we recognize them instantly.
Personal hygiene may not be something we typically envisage when we think of ancient civilizations, but unlike the denizens of later eras, the Egyptians were actually a lot cleaner and more concerned with this than one might expect. In fact, it’s they who were responsible for inventing toothpaste, with a perfectly preserved recipe for this found in papyrus documents, and dozens of toothbrushes discovered in tombs to date.
Numerous alphabets are in existence today, and modern civilizations have the Egyptians to thank for inventing them. The first to use a phonetic alphabet (one in which each symbol represents a sound rather than a word), they developed 24 unilateral signs to indicate pronunciation. This idea would eventually catch on with the Phoenicians, who passed it to Greece and the Near East, and thus brought into being the prototype for all contemporary alphabets.