The Lives of Average Ancient Egyptians

Nearly all historical studies tend to focus on major figures — monarchs, chiefs, military leaders, and revolutionaries — the folks who most stood out in terms of their pivotal roles, monuments, or outsized characters. But clearly, these individuals are an exceedingly small minority in the societies they lived in, and hardly representative of the typical person’s lifestyle, beliefs, routines, etc. We can only glean so much from the exceptional and often disconnected upper-classes that are often disproportionately represented.

Moreover, even the greatest and most exemplary leaders could only accomplish so much without the thousands (if not millions) of faceless and nameless people that helped make it happen. From the peasants and laborers that helped build empires, to the grunts that executed successful conquests and campaigns, these are the neglected masses that deserve some attention, if only to know: how did average joes and janes like us get by day-to-day?

With respect to Ancient Egypt at least — one of the world’s most spectacular and captivating civilizations — there is thankfully a great two-part series that sheds some light on how members of this advanced society got by. It is of course courtesy of the esteemed BBC.   Check out the videos below, as they are well worth your time.

Who knew that Egyptian courtship was relatively so liberal? Or that Egyptian homes were advanced enough to feature proto-fridges and ovens? Or that the Egyptians used moldy bread to successfully treat infection, unknowingly realizing the benefits of penicillin before we even knew such microorganisms existed. The familiarity and humanity of these thousands-year old people is absolutely awe-inspiring…to me at least.

Feel free to share your own thoughts and reactions.

The 10 Most Overlooked But Important Moments in History

The list, compiled for the BBC by its readers, has some some pretty obscure and interesting selections, even for a self-styled history buff like me. They are the following:

  1. The discovery of industrial ammonia
  2. The Rebellion of Andreas Hofer
  3. Al-Hazen’s Work on Optics
  4. The Danube Script
  5. Double-Entry Bookkeeping
  6. The Seven Years’ War
  7. The Kingdom of Axum
  8. The Law Code of Hammurabi
  9. Rise of the Khmer Empire (and its building of the Angkor War)
  10. The Life of Simon Bolivar

Each of these things played a vital role in shaping the course of human history. Yet how many of them are even remotely known, let alone discussed? What do you guys thing? What are some things you’d add to the list?