10 Misconceptions about the ancient Egypt

It’s easy to understand why so many misconceptions exist about ancient Egypt. After all, the civilization was one of the most advanced of its time and left behind a wealth of artifacts and monuments. But despite our best efforts to learn more about this fascinating culture, many myths still persist. Let’s take a closer look at 10 of the most common misconceptions about ancient Egypt.

Ancient Egyptians were all slaves

Misconceptions about ancient Egyptian culture have been widely perpetuated, with no life being greater in falsehood than the idea that all ancient Egyptians were slaves. In reality, this claim is far from accurate – only a small fraction of the population was actually made up of slave labor. The majority of citizens in this storied civilization held professions such as farmers, artisans, and laborers who enjoyed a degree of economic freedom much higher than those perceived by foreign or later cultures.

Ancient Egyptians only worshipped animals

Ancient Egyptians

In truth, Egyptians paid reverence to various gods and goddesses with various animal traits. Bastet, the celebrated cat goddess, is a case in point. Though depicted as a feline, she was said to embody qualities such as intelligence and protection.

Also accounted for were deities such as Sobek, an alligator god of strength and fertility; Hathor, represented by a cow; Apis, symbolized by a bull; and Taweret, portrayed as a hippopotamus. Religion in ancient Egypt not only celebrated animal-headed figures but also those which entertained more human-like forms.

Egyptian tombs were booby-trapped

This theory that tombs are dangerous places filled with booby traps to protect the dead has been popularly portrayed by movies such as Indiana Jones. While visually engaging, this idea is actually untrue. Contrary to belief, the main purpose of a tomb was not to serve as a fortress, but simply a resting place for the deceased. Tombs were decorated with precious items and wall inscriptions in order to commemorate the deceased and provide them peace in their afterlife.

This begs the question of why these historical structures were constrained if their primary use was for peaceful intentions. However, it seems that having a safe area for loved ones to rest in perpetuity was more important than providing security from any potential threats from trespassers or grave robbers.

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Egyptian hieroglyphs are a secret, ancient code

Egyptian Hieroglyphs

Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs have long been understood as a secret code that has remained undecipherable. Despite the popular misunderstanding, this is not the case. Hieroglyphs are an old writing system adopted by ancient Egyptians to record their history, chronicles, and stories around 1500 BCE. These symbols, which were simplified for the everyday user, can now be deciphered due to much research and the work of linguists.

The exact meaning behind the hieroglyphs still remains largely unknown because they were so intricately developed, but modern scholars are able to make some conclusions on the basis of these writings. By decoding these symbols, we gain insight into Ancient Egypt’s rich history and culture.

Napoleon shot the Sphinx’s nose off

Sphinx'S Nose

Napoleon Bonaparte is widely thought to be responsible for the loss of the Sphinx’s nose, though its mysterious disappearance predates his 1798 arrival in Egypt by more than 60 years. Historical records show drawings featuring a nose-less Sphinx as early as the 1730s, so Napoleon’s involvement may only be a popular legend.

However, little is known about how or why this part of the monument was destroyed but there are theories supporting the actions of a cleric named Sa’im Al-Dahr who vandalized it in 1370. Despite that possible explanation, the mystery still remains unsolved to this day. With its timeless grandeur, tourists and historians alike ponder this enigma approximately 4500 years after its construction.

Ancient Egyptians mummified everyone


Misconceptions about mummification often persist, with many people believing that every ancient Egyptian was mummified upon death. This could not have been farther from the truth; in fact, most members of society were buried without any special treatment. Mummification was a complex process requiring high-cost materials, so it was only available to the very wealthy and influential. It’s clear that while the ancient Egyptians may have valued life after death, they certainly did not believe that all individuals deserved the same level of care upon their passing.

The Curse of The Pharaohs


Misconceptions about the ‘Curse of the Pharaohs’ have long been perpetuated by media hype and our own irrational fear of patterns. After the excavation of Tutankhamun’s tomb, 8 people who were involved in the excavation tragically died. This resulted in speculation by many that a dark curse had been awakened.

In reality, however, these deaths were nothing more than tragic coincidences, and Lord Carnarvon, the main expedition leader, went on to live a long and healthy life afterward. Misconceptions surrounding this topic remain rampant today due to its popularity but it is important to recognize their basis in falsehoods.

Were Egyptians Obsessed with Death?

Misconceptions often arise when discussing Ancient Egypt, particularly concerning death. Popular belief holds that Egyptians were obsessed with death and the afterlife, but this is far from the truth. In reality, Ancient Egyptians desired to live a good life and viewed death as a necessary transition to make that happen. Mummification, ceremonial burials, and detailed tomb illustrations served more than funerary purposes; they ensured that Egyptians would continue to be included in their community long after their physical bodies had gone away.

Such precautions allowed for the deceased to spend eternity embraced by family and loved ones in the “Field of Reeds”—a blissful afterlife similar to early Egyptian beliefs of paradise. So contrary to popular belief, it seems Egyptians were not preoccupied with death but rather focused on creating a better life after death.

Egyptians practiced human sacrifice

The ancient Egyptians are believed to have practiced retainer sacrifice in some form, as evidenced by the many subsidiary graves found surrounding the royal tombs of the First Dynasty kings. The tomb of Djer is a notable example with its more than 300 subsidiary burials. Historians have identified them as various officials, priests, and retainers of their Pharaoh through the various stelae present near their grave sites. Thus, revisiting this old practice reveals a surprising element of an ancient civilization that fascinates us even today.

The pyramids were built by aliens

Pyramids Were Built By Aliens

The pyramids of Egypt are widely recognized as one of the most impressive structures ever built by man, but for centuries there have been numerous misconceptions about how they were constructed. The idea that aliens were involved in the building of the pyramids has been put forward repeatedly as a possible explanation for their construction. While these theories can often be exciting and entertaining, there is no evidence to suggest that aliens played a role in pyramid building.

 In reality, they were constructed by ancient Egyptians with primitive tools and a complicated set of instructions. Although it sounds impossible, modern engineers believe that the Egyptians understood enough about mathematics and physics to complete such an enormous task. To be sure, some aspects are still mysterious from a scientific standpoint; however, strong evidence suggests that the Egyptians were more than capable of building these wonders themselves.

It is important to be aware of the misconceptions that are often perpetuated about ancient civilizations. In the case of Ancient Egypt, many popular beliefs simply aren’t true. By understanding the real story behind these myths, we can gain a more accurate picture of this fascinating culture.


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