Today the Wickedness by Deborah White Blog Tour is stopping at Once Upon a Bookcase. Read on for a guest post from Deborah: A Day in the Life of an Egyptian Teenager.
Was it good to be a teen in Ancient Egypt? Well if you got to be a teen then you were doing well. Child mortality was high. As a child…a pre-teen, you wore their hair in the ‘sidelock of youth’. Basically a tress of hair hanging down over one ear. The rest of your head was shaved. As you got older you got to keep your hair…and maybe wear someone else’s too! Women wore long heavy wigs of real hair for special occasions. Men wore shorter….but very elaborate wigs. Hair pieces and plaits were common too. And what about make-up? Kohl was used to outline the eyes (natural disinfectant and eye protection). Ochre was used as rouge. Henna coloured your hair. Tattoos seemed to be quite common. In Egyptian art women are portrayed as being lighter skinned. Maybe just that they were indoors more? Oh and there were copper razors. Men were mostly clean shaven. Women too I guess! If you were well off you might wear lots of gold, silver, lapis lazuli, turquoise and amethyst jewellery. Lovely collar necklaces, earrings, brooches and bead belts. And what about clothes? Well if you look at Egyptian art…people didn’t seem to wear much clothing. Maybe a loin cloth if you were a man. A linen sheath dress for a woman. Not highly coloured either until the Roman period of Egyptian history.
Most people were illiterate. Apprenticeships for boys were common. You got to work with your dad learning his craft. Sorry girls…you get to stay at home and do the cooking and weaving. It seems that even girls from rich families weren’t taught to read or write. But the rich boys got to go to ‘school’. They would be taught reading, writing and mathematics in The House of Life at the temple…or even at court. Learning was by rote. Lots of copying out texts. Lots of memorizing. And boy was it strict. An Egyptian saying goes” A boy’s ear is on his back…he listens when he is beaten.” And what about when you weren’t working or learning? Music and quite acrobatic dancing was really popular. Lots of musical instruments such as drums, flutes, oboes and trumpets. There were board games to play. Balls made of linen and reeds have been found. Also toy animals and ‘dolls’. There were festivals to go to…religious ones. And there is evidence of pet dogs and cats. Also you got to drink beer and wine and eat lots of onions, bread, garlic and vegetables. Yum. Oh and if the garlic wasn’t a turn off and you indulged in that universal pastime of bored teens…sex, the earliest known pregnancy test has been uncovered. ‘Take some barley and emmer wheat. Moisten with your urine. If the seeds germinate (you) will give birth’. Modern experiments confirm it works! But maybe best not to get pregnant at all. Excrement of crocodile mixed with sour milk is recommended. Eugh…would work as a contraceptive for me anytime.
Thanks, Deborah, for a brilliant guest post! Be sure to head to Totally Bookalicious on 12th September for the next stop.