Population- New Kingdom (16th to 11th centuries B.C.)- two million & Roman times had five million. Today, there are over 60 million.
Racially mixed, from light skin-tones in the north to dark brown in the far south. Immigration- both peaceful and hostile- existed, meaning Egypt developed a very cosmopolitan society, with foreign gods, foreign men holding government and military positions.
**Misc. everyday living facts:
Life lived around the Nile- for, outside the margins of the river and the handful of oases, the country is desert. In the south, the cultivatable area varies with the river. In the north, however, the broad delta spreads out towards the Mediterranean, with miles of flat, fertile land, criss-crossed by canals. In preceding centuries, the growing of crops depended on the annual natural inundation of the Nile. In summer, rains in the Ethiopian highlands swell the tributaries, flooding the entire Nile valley and delta- credited as divine personification as Hapy. They receded in October/November, leaving a rich layer of fertile silt on the fields. Crops planted were ready for harvesting in March/April, with little or no watering required.
Throughout the centuries, agriculture was the principle occupation. After the rising of the flood, dykes would have to be maintained to prevent the water from leaving the fields too early or flooding the villages. Then crops would be sown, and later, harvested. In between these high-points of activity, work was easier than with other agricultural methods- meaning man-power could be diverted to public works.
The spiritual part of a dead person was believed to have a number of aspects, including the ka, the ba, the akh, and the shadow.
Ba- depicted as a human-headed bird, which was the form in which the spirit travelled within and beyond the vicinity of the tomb. It would fly around or sit before the grave, taking its repose in the ‘cool sweet breeze.’
Ach- someone more esoteric, being the aspect of the dead in which he or she had ceased to be dead, having been transfigured into a living being. Viewed as a light in contrast to the darkness of death; often associated with the stars.
Ka- very complex. Being an aspect of the person created at the same time as the body and surviving as its companion. It was the part of the deceased that was the immediate recipient of offerings, but had other functions.
Throughout Egyptian history- prepared mummies were taken in procession to the tomb with the items to be placed with it in the burial chamber. The cortege would be accompanied by the mourning family and friends of the deceased, priests, and perhaps a host of professional mourners. The ceremonies of interment culminated in the ceremony of ‘opening the mouth’, in which the dead body was reanimated, involving implements that recalled those used at birth, including that which cut the umbilical cord.
Tombs had two or three parts. While they could be together, the different parts could often be miles apart- such as kings buried in the Valley of the Kings, but the offering being given at a row of free-standing temples on the other side of the mountain. It is important to recognize that in spite of their monumental size, the royal pyramids of the Old and Middle Kingdoms conform precisely to the ‘generic’ tomb structure. However, they do add further elements to produce what is known as the “Pyramid Complex.”
Part 1) Burial place itself, containing the body. Corpse viewed as person’s link with the earth, so it had to be kept incorrupt. The burial place could range from a simple hole in the earth to the extended substructure of the great pyramids.
Part 2) Offering place, acting as interface between this world and the hereafter. Offerings were left by relatives and priests and/or generated by inscriptions or paintings. (Example: a picture of food being prepared would ensure the dead person was fed after his relatives had departed). This could range from simply leaving beer and bread on the east side of the simple grave to the multiple temples, chapels, and rooms (filled with pillars, statues, and offering tables) used by priests to make offerings.
Part 3) Superstructure. Not on all tombs. Most characteristic were mastaba- low, bench-shaped building- and the pyramid.
A king’s pyramid complex was generally a focus for other high-status burials. In particular, the king’s wives were interred nearby. Most had small pyramids, but others had mastabas or even rock-cut tombs. Although locations vary, it is common to find queens’ tombs on the east side of the king’s pyramid, particularly in the north-east quadrants. The tombs of the nobility and lesser members of the royal family were initially kept well away from the king’s tomb complex, but during the fourth Dynasty this tendency was radically reversed, with huge cemeteries purposely built close to the Great Pyramid at Giza. This strictly planned approach did not last, but in future the standing of an individual could be measured by the proximity of his tomb to that of his king.