Eye of HorusWritten by Dr. Sherin ElKhawaga
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The Eye of Horus symbol was used in funerary rites and decoration, as instructed in Egyptian Book of Dead. After 1200 BC, it was also used by Egyptians to represent fractions, based on repeated division by two. The value of a fraction was assigned to each individual part of eye which Seth had torn up according to myth. Their total, corresponding to restoration of eye brought about by Thot, should have added up to a whole. In fact, however, total of six fractions used results in only 63/64; it was assumed that Thot had withheld missing 1/64 by magic. The Eye of Horus fraction system was based on Eye of Horus symbol. This system was used to record prescriptions, land and grain. Fractions are created by combining sections of Eye of Horus symbol. Each section has a different value. The complete Eye of Horus with all parts in place has a value of 1. In reality complete Eye of Horus represents 63/64, which is rounded off to 1. The system is based on halves. Half of 1 equals 1/2, half of 1/2 equals 1/4 and so on until smallest value of 1/64. By adding together values of different sections fractions are created. The 'Rx' symbol which is used by pharmacies and in medicine has its origins in Eye of Horus. This article is courtesy of www.kingtutshop.com
Dr. Sherin Elkhawaga, egyptian radiologist. Interested in egyptology
Ancient Egyptian BoatsWritten by Dr. Sherin ElKhawaga
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Over time, ancient Egyptians created and utilized three types of boats, each with its own purpose. Simple reed rafts were used mostly for hunting in marshes and as time progressed, they were used less frequently on Nile. Wooden boats generally replaced papyrus rafts for Nile travel, and, since they were faster and more stable than rafts, they were also used for transport. Eventually stronger wooden boats were used for lengthy ocean excursions as well as to transport boulder blocks weighing many tons and obelisks weighing hundreds of pounds from quarries to pyramid and temple building sites. The third type of boat was papyriform boat, made technologically similar to wooden boats but with shape of an elaborate papyrus raft in order to maintain connection to royalty and gods. These ships appear to have been used as pleasure boats and transportation for royalty; they were also used as funerary boats and burial boats, as well as in religious events like pilgrimages and transporting statue of a god. The famous Royal Ship of King Cheops (fourth dynasty ruler of Old Kingdom), more formally known as Khufu, is a perfect example of a papyriform boat. Discovered around 1954, Royal Ship is still considered to be one of world’s most outstanding archaeological artifacts. The ancient boat had been dismantled into 651 separate parts, and its nearly perfectly preserved timbers were found in 13 scrupulously arranged layers that were buried in a sealed boat pit which was carved into Giza plateau’s limestone bedrock. It took years for boat to be painstakingly reassembled, primarily by Egyptian Department of Antiquities’ chief restorer, Ahmed Youssef Moustafa (later known as Hag Ahmed Youssef). Once completed, Royal Ship measured approximately 150 feet in length. The timbers were made of Lebanese cedar while pegs and other small parts were made from native acacias, sycamores and sidders. Cedar was not new to Egypt of Cheops' time - it had been found in predynastic graves, indicating to modern archaeologists that trade had occurred with Lebanon at least as far back as end of fourth millennium BC. Egyptians had what has been termed as an "emotional need" for trade with Lebanon because of that country’s large supply of invaluable resinous woods and oils so necessary in Egyptian funerary customs. Trade with Lebanon had to be conducted over water, because Egyptians had neither wheeled transportation nor heavy draft animals, and brutal desert regions through which they would have had to travel hosted hostile tribes. The supposition is that heavy ships and smaller trading ships were most likely constructed in Nile Valley, then dismantled and carried piecemeal to Qoseir where they were reassembled and put in sea. In general, sea-going boats were referred to by ancient Egyptians as "Byblos boats" because earliest seaworthy boats’ initial trade was with Lebanese port town of Byblos. Transportation and trade were not only reasons for seaworthy boats to be built in ancient Egypt. The pharaohs also recognized need for a powerful navy. Many pharaohs achieved incredible feats with their fleets, such as Queen Hatshepsut’s voyage to Punt, but from 20th dynasty on, they improved their ships even more by copying some of more advanced models used by other cultures. Herodotus describes Egyptians as having boats "in great numbers" and carrying "many thousands of talents’ burden". Papyriform boats were also used to transport images of important gods, but these vessels were never intended to be put in water. The image of god would be placed upon a gold encrusted papyriform barque studded with gems that was carried on shoulders of priests who took it to its place of honor. If this journey included a trip on Nile, golden barque was put on a papyriform transport boat and taken to its destination. From boat pits such as those of Cheops and at Abydos, we know that actual full-sized boats were buried with dead to take them on their journey in afterlife, but by twelfth dynasty this practice became too expensive. So instead, models of boats were placed in tombs, which would serve same purpose as full-sized vessels. In addition to models of boats, there were also miniature models of daily life, including bakeries, butcher shops, and potters’ studios. These models have given archaeologists wonderful glimpses into ancient life. While royal papyriform vessels remained relatively unchanged throughout centuries, hundreds of model boats found in private tombs show a tremendous variety of shapes. Unlike court artisans who were strictly held to tradition, private artists could customize their clients’ models according to their wishes or they could produce models with their own creative touches, as long as they stayed within certain basic limits. Even lighthouses were developed in ancient Egypt under Ptolemy Soter (circa 290-270 BC). The Pharos lighthouse of Alexandria may have been first Egyptian lighthouse, as there are no records describing earlier ones. The Pharos lighthouse was over 100 meters high and contained a mirror that reflected sun during day, while at night light of a fire was used to warn incoming and passing vessels. The light could be seen at a distance of 50 kilometers. For ancient Egyptians, Nile could have been an obstacle that kept them pinned to one location. But with their seemingly endless creativity and resourcefulness, they turned their watery boundary into an open highway of opportunity. This article is courtesy of www.kingtutshop.com ,home of handmade crafts and educational kits.
Dr. Sherin Elkhawaga, egyptian radiologist, sales administritive at Egypt Cyber LLC, interested in egyptology and on line education.