Egyptian inventions may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think about ancient Egypt. Images of mummies and pyramids are likely the more commonly known facets of the civilization. In fact, Egypt is the birthplace of some of the most significant inventions that we still use today. The following list is just a short one, but many more inventions have their origins in ancient Egypt.
Here are just a few of them:
Black ink was first conceptualized by the Egyptians for writing purposes. Theirs was made from vegetable gum, bee wax and soot. They didn’t just stop at black, however. Different colors were later incorporated to ink by simply substituting organic material with soot.
The ancient Egyptians didn’t just create something that revolutionized literature. They also made sure that it will last for centuries. Check out the manuscripts that they left behind. Practically everything is legible—a testament to how this civilization left an impact well beyond their time.
If they invented the ink, then it only makes sense that the Egyptians also created the first paper as well. During their time, though, it was called the “papyrus”—an old-school paper made from Cyperus papyrus plants found along the Nile River.
Like their ink, the papyrus manage to last for centuries and can be found in some of the best museums today. The papyrus plant wasn't just used for paper. The plant fibres where originally utilized for mats, ropes, sandals and baskets.
Cosmetics, is one of the inventions whose origins can be traced to ancient Egypt, and it is still used today! Many Egyptian concepts are the forerunners of the modern deodorant, tooth paste, wigs and make up used to make ourselves appear better. They even had recipes for creams to remove stretch marks, a system for creating hair extension, and a cure for baldness in men. It’s true that most of their recipes today have been altered to fit specific needs, but the Egyptians first introduced the original concepts. How do you think Cleopatra got those beautifully shaped lips and lashes?
Ancient Egyptians were an advanced civilization that enjoyed all that life has to offer—including music. They created a modern version of the trumpet which was originally made using a ram’s horn. In the Egyptian version, they used metals such as copper and bronze. They even paved the way for the creation of the Lyre, and the Oud, a stringed instrument that resembles a guitar.
Considering how the Nile River is so close to Egyptians home, it only made sense for the Egyptians to develop a method of water navigation. It isn’t surprising to find sails as one of their earlier inventions. In fact, the proximity of the Nile has served as an inspiration to many other inventions and innovations from Egypt, proving that necessity and availability are good sources for innovation.
The Nile River was a necessity to the life in Egypt. Without it they would have problems growing crops and keeping their city alive. The shaduf was developed to aid collection of water from the Nile. A bucket was placed at one end of a pole while the other end was weighted by rocks. The pole was then balanced on a stable stand, resembling your modern see-saw. Think of it as an old-school well for fetching water. The exact device is not really used nowadays, but the concept still lingers.
Mechanical clocks were invented in different parts of the world, but it was the Egyptians that introduced the concept. The most popular one is probably the sun clock where the shadow made by the sun is used to judge what time of day it is. You’ve probably heard of them before as “obelisks”.
But what happens if the sun is gone? That’s where the water clock comes in. The Ancient Egyptians created them to tell time at night. It works like an hourglass where water drips down at a predictable rate and time is told depending on the level of liquid. The invention of the clock also gave way to other inventions such as the 365-day calendar we use today and even the concept of leap years!
The concept of clocks also helped largely with the classification of seasons. Remember how important the Nile River is? Well, the conceptualization of “time” helped Egyptians plot when flood season is coming, when drought will most likely happen, when is the time to harvest, and when they should start planting crops.
Of course, those aren’t the only inventions that emerged out of Egypt and contributed to society. Those mentioned are basically the product of ancient Egypt but even many inventions today still come from the Egypt.
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