Why Study Something From So Long Ago?

Why am I so intrigued by the ancient Egyptians? Well, friend, I am not the only one. A better question to ask is: why do their ways and artwork interest so many people? Why are there whole sections of museums and scientists who have dedicated their careers, to the study of a language and a people that lived so very long ago? It is such a fascinating puzzle when you really start to think about it. The interest sparks in us as children when we make our first trip to a museum and see an ancient artifact first hand, or when we see those pyramids on TV or in a textbook for the first time.


I think the main reason we’re so interested in people from so long ago stems from their accomplishments. We tend to think of the past, especially that long ago, to be primitive times. But we still don’t know how they managed to do some of the things they did. Some people have that their whole lives and dedicate their careers to solving some of those mysteries.


How did they build those pyramids with the kind of technology that was available at that time? By studying artwork, texts, and artifacts, scientists now think that those huge bricks were moved on a sledge while workers poured water on the sand directly in front to get it where they wanted the bricks to go. But how did they develop the plans, and get the bricks in place? They did not have the use of computer programs or modern construction equipment like we would now. How have the pyramids lasted as long as they have when things we build now can barely survive a few storms? Think about it – they couldn’t possibly have known or been able to predict the long-term weather effects on these structures. There has been erosion, yes, but the most damage has been done either deliberately or by having areas opened to tourists.


The Egyptians were some of the earliest embalmers that we know of. They believed that the body needed to be preserved so that the spirit could be reunited with their body when the time came. Scientists think it took around 70 days to complete the process. Organs were removed and embalmed separately. They dried out the body using a type of salt. Once the body was dry, it was wrapped and prepared for a tomb. We still embalm bodies, although we use different techniques. But how incredible is it that the work they did, so long ago, to preserve bodies has made them last as long as they have? Now, using xray machines, we can learn even more about how people lived, and how they died, from that time without risking any damage to the mummies themselves.


Learning about other cultures and different time periods can inspire us and teach us things. I think studying any culture has amazing benefits. And the Ancient Egyptians are probably the most interesting!