By Norman Bancroft Hunt
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Extra resources for Living in Ancient Egypt (Living in the Ancient World)
In the country, boys attend a small school in the open air run by the local priest. Their city counterparts are taught in the House of Life, a complex of temple buildings that houses religious texts. 48 n Egypt, education is the key. They hope that it will make the boy’s fortune, and in turn benefit the family. A peasant’s son who is lucky enough to be sent to school is unlikely to reach the highest ranks of government—but his grandson might. The teachers must be stern, for the task of learning hundreds of hieroglyphs and their shorthand forms is boring.
Each hieroglyph corresponds to the sound of one or two letters, for instance: bread loaf ankh cataract t nh sw A sign can also represent an object. ” f (viper) n (water) r (mouth) To complicate matters, there are also some three-letter signs. For example nfr might also be written as a single sign: Pharaohs and nobles have their names inscribed in stone or painted on walls in hieroglyphics. The collected words are called cartouches. These are the two cartouches of Pharaoh Amenhotep IV. 56 No vowels Egyptian scribes write in consonants only.
Those who can afford it even have stone baths, with a pipe to carry the waste water out through the wall. Being a precious commodity in Egypt, this water is collected in a jar to be used for watering the garden. The rich also have latrines—a wooden seat on brick supports, under which a pottery vessel is placed that a slave empties after use. In lesser homes people use a portable lavatory—a wooden stool with part of the seat cut away and a pottery vessel underneath. There is a reception at the front where the master of the house conducts his business, a hall in the center for entertaining visitors, and private quarters at the back where the family lives.