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Egyptian Technology: Ancient Technological Achievements

Updated on April 5, 2022
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Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past—or else we're destined to repeat it.


Ancient Egypt was much like our modern civilized countries today in both values and structures. They set the foundation for technology, which now shapes who we are and why we do the things we do, despite the outstanding achievements and advancements in the last 4500 years. We are still the same people as those who ran Ancient Egypt.

Like us today, the Ancient Egyptians focused a lot on the hierarchy of workers and the importance of education.

FIndings in Pharaoh Khufu's Tomb

The most massive tomb ever built was created by Pharaoh Khufu 4500 years ago. People believed that aliens built them; others thought the Pharaoh hired thousands of enslaved people to build the tomb. We have learned through studies of ancient Egypt that there was a sophisticated hierarchy, much like the hierarchy found in a fortune five hundred company.

The workers on a pyramid were very well cared for and may even have had a medical program. When scientists examined x-rays of the worker's bones, they were surprised by the level of care even the lowest level person received. In many cases, the x-rays show that people had fractures before their death that had been treated. These fractures healed just like a broken bone set by our best physicians today. The advanced healing shows that they had someone who could set them well but who took care of them as they healed.


The Hierarchy of Workers

The hierarchy of workers was structured a lot like our companies today. Although our CEOs are not thought to be part gods like Pharaohs were, they are the head of our companies. Below the CEOs would be the managers, equal to a scribe or an official in Egyptian times. They do a lot of paper-pushing, but not necessarily the work.

The workers or craftsmen were like the good workers and artisans today. The ones who did the hard labor of carrying stones and constructing monuments were the middle class. Nowadays, we don't enslave people or peasants, but I'm sure we can look around and see that we have a class that might share many of the same attributes as this part of the hierarchy.

This prosthetic toe was actually uncovered at an archaeological dig in Egypt, showing that Egyptians often took extra care of their people, even giving prosthetic toes!
This prosthetic toe was actually uncovered at an archaeological dig in Egypt, showing that Egyptians often took extra care of their people, even giving prosthetic toes! | Source

Egyptian Medicine

Ancient Egyptians were the first to begin studying medicine. Many of their discoveries 50 centuries ago affect the medical world today. Partly due to the embalming process, the Egyptians were the first to understand the body's inside. They had to take out the brain and other major organs during the mummification process, which allowed them to see these organs and know how they affected the body.

They also had to find a substance that would keep the mummy dry. Otherwise, it may explode during decomposition. They used a material called Natron, similar to the gel we use today in electronics, to keep them dry.


We have learned a lot from the hieroglyphics on Egyptian walls, but more from ostracas. The word ostraca come from the Greek word 'ostrakon,' which means shell. In ancient Egypt, ostraca acted like today's paper. They were made from flat limestone that they would write on. These would include tax receipts, legal documents, and diary-like personal notes.

Through studying these small-but-instrumental archaeological pieces, we have learned a lot about how ancient Egyptians lived. Deciphered ostraca tell us how ancient Egyptians enjoyed fornication and gossiping. These little notes told who was sleeping with whose wife, who was cheating on their taxes, or who was honest and who was not. Such slices of daily life show that the Egyptians were not too different from us today.

Egyptian Mathematics

Ancient Egyptians were also some of the first to use math. One of the earliest mathematicians, Pythagoras studied in ancient Egypt and paved the way for many algebraic formulas. One of his most significant accomplishments was developing the Pythagorean Theorem. The Pythagorean Theorem has had a profound effect on later mathematics.

A statue of Queen Hatshepsut shows how they valued the greatness of a queen/pharaoh, and artists' abilities in sculpting beautiful statues.
A statue of Queen Hatshepsut shows how they valued the greatness of a queen/pharaoh, and artists' abilities in sculpting beautiful statues. | Source

Other Inventions Ancient Egypt Made

The ancient Egyptians were ahead of their time when it came to inventions. Some of their most famous designs include the following:

  • Black ink - They made it with gum, soot, and beeswax. They also were able to make varying colors.
  • Calendar - They devised a yearly calendar by calculating where Sirius the constellation was in the sky.
  • Clocks - They used two types of clocks. The first was similar to a sundial, and the second was a water clock that would keep track by dripping water into containers.
  • Irrigation - They utilized the Nile River's yearly flood to bring water to their crops.
  • Papyrus sheets - They were the first to use a paper-like substance to write on. Most other cultures chose to write on stone or animal hides.
  • Police - They utilized armed men to protect and defend the citizens.
  • Pyramids - Pyramids are probably the most well-known inventions of the Egyptians, which were tombs.
  • Sickle - Egyptians used the sickle to harvest wheat and barley.
  • Surgical instruments - They were very advanced in their medical practices, including their surgical tools.
  • Toothpaste - Scientists have found directions on how to make toothpaste and brush one's teeth written on papyrus, proving that this was a practice at the time of at least a few.
  • Wigs - Although an Egyptian priest was to be bald, they often wore a wig if they could afford it.
  • Writing - Along with the Mesopotamians, Egyptians were the only ancient people who had a written coded language.

The ancient Egyptians were much like modern people due to their hierarchy of workers and their lifestyle. They were our predecessors. They marked the ground for many of our own discoveries and the way we structure our country today. In many ways, they are more modern than the majority of countries that exist today.

© 2011 Angela Michelle Schultz


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