10 weird facts about ancient Egyptians that will surprise you.
The ancient Egyptians were considered extremely powerful in all aspects, including government, arts, writing and religion. They came up with some of the most legendary innovations, such as toothpaste and the water wheel.
The Egyptian pyramids still speak of the power of the ancient civilisation and society. There is no denial of their greatness, but sometimes Egyptians pushed it a little too much for the rest of the world to bear with their weird beliefs and rituals. Take a look at some crazy ancient Egyptian weird facts from how they used dung as contraceptives to thinking that peeing on barley to test pregnancy.
1. Ancient Egyptians used sauteed greyhound’s legs to cure baldness
A medical text in the 1550 B.C. called Ebers Papyrus recommended some absurd ways the Egyptians could get rid of baldness. They included creating a mixture of fats from ibex, tomcat, hippopotamus and crocodiles. The Egyptians boiled the porcupine’s hair in water and applied it to their scalp for four days. Another suggestion that the book mentioned was to sautee the leg of a female greyhound with a donkey’s hoof in oil.
2. They believed that they were made of clay
The ancient Egyptian god Khnum is associated with several things such as the desert’s water, the beginning of life, the creation of gods and afterlife protection. That certainly is a lot of responsibility for one god. People prayed to him back in the 1st dynasty (2925-2775 BCE). Khnum is one of the oldest Egyptian gods and is often referred to as the “Father of Fathers and Mother of Mothers,” of the pharaohs. His name stands for “join or build.” Due to this, he is associated with the creation of humans and fertility.
Khnum is believed to have a ram head and a potter’s wheel to create humans. So he is picturised with hands. The Egyptians believe that he created humans from clay. Not only did he create their bodies, but he also built every human’s “ka” or spirit. With this spirit, they were blessed with good health. Ancient Egyptians also believed that Khnum created other gods on the potter wheel and created the “First Egg.” From this, the sun appeared. Since Egyptians consider rams very fertile, Khnum, too, is associated with fertility.
3. Egypt’s Pharaohs ejaculated into the Nile in hopes of a good harvest
According to an Egyptian legend, a god named Atum created the universe. He did so by ejaculation from masturbation! The Nile, also the longest river globally, is connected to the number of times Atum ejaculated. That isn’t it; ancient pharaohs followed a ritual of ejaculating into the Nile. This was a ceremony held every year to recreate the gift given by Atum to nourish the Nile.
On the Min’s feast, the general public and the ruling Pharaoh would perform the holy rite. When he got to the shore, the Pharaoh would remove his clothes and ejaculate so that his semen reached the river. The men from the public would do the same. The Egyptians believed that by this ritual, the Nile would bless them a good harvest. This is surely one of those crazy ancient Egyptian facts.
4. Egyptians used all sorts of animal and insect poo as medicine
Another one of the weird ancient Egyptian fact is, Egyptians of the past saw poo as a sign of immortality. They celebrated the scarab beetles almost five thousand years ago as they saw them as a symbol of creation. The bugs bury their eggs in animal poo and later, their young ones emerge from the mess, literally. This fascinated the Egyptians and they saw this as a sign of new life. Hence, they regard spherical animal droppings as holy.
The pushing of dung balls by dung beetles symbolised sunrise and sunset. The emergence of a new beetle was viewed as immortality. The scarab is a type of dung beetle that is found in Egypt. It has made several mentions in Egyptian artworks as well. Even some jewellery and amulets are made out of it. Since Egyptians view its poo as sacred, scarabs are part of the mythology too.
Khepri, an Egyptian god who symbolised renewal and creation of life, possesses a scarab head. They used the beetle’s poo along with that of dogs, donkeys and gazelles in medicine. Some used the mixtures to be free of evil spirits too.
5. Women shoved crocodile dung into their vaginas to avoid pregnancies
By now, you must be mind-boggled by how weird Egyptian rituals were. However, we have one that tops the list. The Egyptian Kahun Gynaecological Papyrus’ medical records tell us what the most ancient people of Egypt used as contraception. The 4000-year-old document mentions that women used honey and crocodile dung as pessaries to avoid pregnancy. Well, it sounds disgusting, but listen out. The acidic manure may act as a spermicide. On the other hand, any bugs in it could be killed by honey, which is an anti-bacterial. So, this could have been the best bet for a good birth control and low infection rates. In fact, several ancient Indian ladies used elephant dug. As you can see, they made the best of what was available.
6. Egyptians used rotten donkey liver to dye their hair black
The Egyptians were very conscious about how their hair looked, both men and women. They used the black ox’s blood (for blackening the hair), the gazelle’s black horn (to prevent greys from appearing) and the rotten liver of donkeys as dyes.
7. They used baboons for catching criminals
We all know that ancient Egyptians worshiped animals (and their dung!). They kept several animals as pets at home, including baboons. However, they were more than just pets – baboons helped catch criminals. They did as great a job today’s sniffer dogs. According to Egyptian artworks, trained baboons made police animals. They also knew how to pick fruits, dance and even better, make beer! Their owners loved them so much that some mummies were found with tattoos of baboons. Does this sound like a crazy ancient Egyptian fact to you?
8. Women peed on wheat to determine pregnancy
We don’t recommend trying this, but ancient Egyptian women peed on barley and wheat seeds to determine pregnancy. If the seeds sprouted, the lady was carrying. They even found the gender of the baby using this method. If the wheat seeds sprouted, she would have a boy and if the barley seeds sprouted, it was a girl. How did they manage to come up with things like this? Who knows.
Not just the Egyptians, the Greeks, too, would insert an onion into the female’s vagina. If her breath smelt of onions the next day, she isn’t pregnant.
9. They shaved off their eyebrows when their cat died
It’s heartwarming to know how much the ancient Egyptians respected and loved their animals. But sometimes they took it to a whole other level! When a cat in the family dead, every family member shaved off their eyebrows. This was a ritual to mourn their beloved pet’s death.
10. One more crazy ancient Egyptian fact – Men thought they menstruated
Last one in our weird ancient egpytian facts is ancient Egypt had a lot of diseases like schistosomiasis, which made people urinate and poop blood. It was so widespread that people didn’t think it was a disease; they thought men were menstruating. Egyptians accepted that males had periods like women, as part of growing up. They even believed that bleeding men were fertile. How mad is that?
Now that you know the weirdest things that ancient Egyptians did and believed in, check out the best landmarks in Egypt!