Technology i Technology in Ancient Egypt David Krumis History 302 Dr. Young May 30, 2009 Technology ii Abstract The ancient Egyptians utilized many basic methods of science and technology over the course of their culture’s era. You can find examples of these marvels in practically any aspect of their workings. From architecture to agriculture, medicinal practices and time keeping, one thing is for sure, they set a tone for the progression of technology over the centuries. Without these basic beginnings, we would not have what we have today. Technology 3
The land of Egypt did portray ancient technology, which no one after their civilization, has been able to copy or even come close to understand. The ancient Egypt technology did not look like our industrial machine world; they seem more involved with the nature of what surrounded them. When we think of high technology today, we see something like computers, iPhones and skyscrapers. Yet it is rather interesting that our perceptions are limited in the time period that we ourselves live in. Of course there was ancient Egyptian technology, and some of it is rather obvious, but our modern perceptions might prevent us from seeing it.
One of the great wonders of the ancient world is the pyramids. The pyramids are huge structures built of brick or stone, some of which are among the largest constructions by humans. Pyramids functioned as tombs for pharaohs. Many pyramids and temples are still standing today and could be mistaken for architecture of a much later time period. A time where many more resources and advanced machinery was available. Simple ramps, sleds and levers are the most obvious method for large scale pyramid construction, despite the fact that ramps were dismantled and the evidence of their existence is slim. Read Pronunciation Problems in Egypt essay.
Artifacts and customs of their time have passed from generation to generation for thousands of years. It was careful planning and patient, back-breaking heave-ho that got the pyramids up. (“Mysteries of ancient,” 2011) The Ancient Egyptians capped the peaks of their pyramids with gold and covered their faces with polished white limestone, although many of the stones used for the finishing purpose have fallen or been removed for use on other structures over the millennia. Technology 4 Ancient Egyptians were not in a hurry. They built monuments and whole cities dedicated to pharaohs and deities.
Those kinds of projects did not go up overnight like they seemingly do in modern cities such as Dubai. There were no cranes, trucks or computerized this and that to fast track the job. Instead they had basic straight-rules and plumb-bobs for keeping things square and planning their designs. Cutting the limestone blocks in the quarries with primitive hammer - chisel setups, drills and saws would have made production extremely slow. ("Epic eras," 2008) And, just how did ancient Egyptians keep track of time? They invented the 365-day calendar.
They used the sun to keep track of the days throughout the years and divided the year into three seasons of four months. Each month had 30 days and their year had 360 days. The ancient Egyptians also used shadow clocks. The first ones were obelisks in which the moving shadows formed a kind of sundial to help tell time. Another type of clock that was used is a water clock. A water clock sounds very complicated, but really it’s not. It is a little stand with a pot on the top of the stand and a pot at the bottom of the stand. The pot at the top of the stand had a hole drilled in the side.
This pot was then filled with water and the water would flow out of the top pot down to the bottom pot. When the water was at a certain level, it was a certain time. The only disadvantage to the water clock was that you had to keep refilling it. The sundial was also used. It was basically a circle with numbers written around it with a little stick in the middle. When the stick’s shadow fell at a certain number, it was that time. (Toothman, 2009) Agriculture was the mainstay to the economy of ancient Egypt, which is quite incredible considering the amount of desert occupying the Egyptian landscape.
You may be thinking it Technology 5 would be odd to bring up agriculture while speaking of technology, but the ancient Egyptians showed their era’s technological advances in these simple, everyday tasks. Using their geometry, they were able to survey and preserve the layout and ownership of farmland, which was flooded annually by the Nile River. Through the use of ancient irrigation techniques and technology the Egyptians were able to water the growing fields? They invented a tooled called the “shaduf” and used it, along with canals, to move the water to where it was required. The shaduf is a bucket, bag or basket at the end of a pole.
It balanced on a frame and has a heavy weight attached at the other end. The user pulled down to fill the bucket from the water source (the Nile) and lets the weight pulled the bucket of water up. It is then swung, or pivoted, around to the higher ground and emptied into a canal that went out to the field of crops. The fields were then reaped with that historically well known piece of farming technology, the ever-faithful sickle. (Kaplan, 2004) Another technology that we can attribute to the ancient Egyptians, and one that we take for granted in our current times, is paper and writing.
The word “Paper” comes from the ancient Egyptian writing material called “papyrus”, which was formed from beaten strips of papyrus plants. Papyrus was produced as early as 3000 BC in Egypt, and sold to ancient Greece and Rome. Egyptian hieroglyphs, a phonetic writing system, served as the basis for the Phoenician alphabet from which later alphabets were derived. With this ability, writing and record keeping, the Egyptians developed one of the—if not the—first decimal system. (Heath, 2003) Of course, we cannot deny the early medical attempts and advances that came from the ancient Egyptians.
The “Edwin Smith papyrus” is one of the first medical documents still in Technology 6 existence, and perhaps the earliest document which attempts to describe and analyze the brain. Some even see it as the very beginnings of neuroscience. However, medical historians believe that ancient Egyptian pharmacology was largely ineffective. Approximately 72% of 260 medical prescriptions in the Hearst Papyrus had no healing benefits. (“Whitelaw”, 2001) Pharmacology first began in ancient Egypt and was continued through the Middle Ages, and while the use of animal feces was thought to have curative properties, it is not without its risk.
Practices such as applying cow dung to wounds, ear piercing, tattooing, and chronic ear infections were important factors in developing tetanus. It was noted that early Egyptian medicine used fly specks, lizard blood, swine teeth, and other such remedies which we know today to be more harmful than helpful. (Snoek, 2001) One of the most popular medical advances practiced by the ancient Egyptians was mummification of the dead. Mummification was not always practiced in Egypt, but once it began, an individual was placed at a final resting place through a set of rituals and protocol.
The Egyptian funeral was a complex ceremony including various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in honor of the deceased. The poor, who could not afford expensive tombs, were buried in shallow graves in the sand, and because of the arid environment they were often naturally mummified. Later, the ancient Egyptians began burying their dead in coffins to protect them from wild animals in the desert. However, they realized that bodies placed in coffins decayed when they were not exposed to the hot, dry sand of the desert. Technology 7
Over many centuries, the ancient Egyptians developed a method of preserving bodies so they would remain lifelike. The mummification process included embalming the bodies and wrapping them in strips of linen. (“Mummification Story”, 1999) Overall, the ancient Egyptians utilized many basic methods of science and technology over the course of their culture’s era. Some of their methods have stood the test of time and lasted thousands of years, and some have fallen victim to the advances of the decades. One thing is for sure, they set a tone for the progression of technology over the centuries.
Without these basic beginnings, we would not have what we have today. Only time will tell what “basic technologies” we use today will be looked back on years from now as a good start. Technology 8 References Mysteries of ancient egypt. (2011, April 05). Retrieved from http://www. mysteriesofancientegypt. com/2011/04/ancient-egypt-technology. html Epic eras - ancient egypt. (2008). Retrieved from http://www. epiceras-ancientegypt. com/ancient_egypt_technology. html Toothman, J. (2009, January 05). How did ancient civilizations tell time?. Retrieved from http://wiki. answers. om/Q/What_did_the_ancient_egyptians_create_to_keep_track_of_time Kaplan, L. (2004). Technology of ancient eqypt. Rosen Publishing Group. Heath, T. (2003). Manual of greek mathematics. Oxford Clarendon Press. Whitelaw, W. A. (2001, March). 10th annual proceedings of the history of midicinal days. Retrieved from http://www. hom. ucalgary. ca/Dayspapers2001. pdf Snoek, F. (2001, August 01). The mind matters. Retrieved from http://www. dailyweekee. com/daily/Ancient_Egyptian_technology Mummification story. (1999). Retrieved from http://www. ancientegypt. co. uk/mummies/home. html