By L. J. Amstutz

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POTTERY As early as 4750 BCE, Egyptians created vessels out of readily available clay. They developed so many styles over the years that archaeologists now use pottery types to date excavation sites. To make pottery, the Egyptians kneaded clay by trampling it. They then added straw, chaff, or animal dung to make it less sticky. The potter shaped pots by hand or on a hand-turned potter’s wheel. Next, he applied slip, which is clay thinned to a fine consistency, and often a wash of red ochre before drying and baking the pot.

Four senet boards were buried with young King Tut. Along with board games, Egyptian children played with dolls, toy animals, balls, and slingshots. Boys fished, played games, ran races, and wrestled. Adults, especially the wealthy, enjoyed harpooning fish, hunting wild game in the desert, shooting at targets, throwing javelins, and wrestling. Adults also enjoyed board games, including senet. Although peasants had little time for play, they seem to have enjoyed talking and singing throughout the workday.

Most people wore sandals made of rush or papyrus. The Egyptians loved jewelry. Both sexes wore it to adorn themselves, to show their wealth and status, to honor service or bravery, and, most important, to protect themselves with magic against danger, disease, and death. Amulets were popular. These charms often took the form of sacred symbols, such as the scarab beetle or the ankh, a cross with a loop at the top that symbolized life. The Eye of Horus—a symbol of wisdom, health, and prosperity—was thought to hold especially potent magic.

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Ancient Egypt by L. J. Amstutz


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