Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Inventions

The Egyptians had many amazing inventions, but here are just a few and how they worked.

First is the shaduf. This invention was definitely one of the most helpful, in my opinion. It was used to draw water for irrigation for the Egyptians' crops. Without it, there wouldn't be much as much farm land, which means more work, less food, and every single person would have to be a farmer (that would be SO boring!), and the civilization wouldn't be as diverse and developed as it was, and all the people would starve! You can see from the picture on the left, it was on the shore of the Nile, and the Egyptians would dip the bucket of the end into the river, and the weight on the end would balance the water's weight, and the farmer could pull it up, fill containers or use the water for whatever you need it for, and you had water. Not as easy as a garden hose, but hey, it was an ancient civilization!

Another useful invention was papyrus. This allowed a way for records and stories to be recorded in scrolls. This invention also brought another job to Egypt: scribes! Just imagine how their life would have been if they couldn't even record their history!!!!

The water clock was an invention that was very valuable to the religious leaders of Egypt. The citizens of Egypt weren't too concerned about clocks for their own time. So why would they need clocks? For their religious ceremonies, of course! The religious leaders needed a better and more specific way to tell time than how high the sun was in the sky. Why did they need to tell the time more precisely? Well, they had certain ceremonies that they believed they had to do in order to please their gods. So they invented the water clock. It was a large funnel that was marked into 12 sections for their hours, and it dripped down. The leaders just measured the water to tell the time. (However,I still prefer a watch. Well, at least the these clocks didn't need any batteries!)

So, what was one of the most important things to the Egyptians? Take one guess. The Nile, of course! Why? Well, its floods gave them fertile soil, which was the only thing that gave them food and livable conditions (I mean, they were in a desert!). The Egyptians needed a way to schedule and predict the time of the floods. I mean, you didn't want to be caught by surprise. And so the Egyptian solar calender was made! It was 365 long, with 3 seasons. And by the way; those seasons were not Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Of course, you can expect that living in a desert has pretty much the same weather year round, but they had Flood, Planting, and Harvest seasons. That way, they knew about when to expect the flood.

So obviously, the Egyyptians were very intelligent people who invinted tools and gadgets to help them meet their needs. That's kind of like what we still do today, right?

Using the Inventions

Well, each invention is different, and there is a specific way to use them all. Here are a few I found interesting. I hope you do, too!
The shaduf is used by lowering the bucket into the water by the rope. Then, when you want to pull up your water, you gently pull on the rope, and the weight on the end does the hard work for you! Easy, huh? The water in the water clock drips through the funnel. When they measured the water left in the funnel, they measured by hours. (There were 12 hours marked.)Papyrus is like paper and was used to write or record anything they needed to keep or remember. Whether it was a drawing, record, praise to the pharaoh, or just an account of what happened that day (and Egyptian diary entry!), papyrus was extremely useful, don't you think?
So, these inventions were used in the every day life of the Egyptians. They were used in extraordinary, unique, (and sometimes a little weird) ways!

Making the Inventions

Okay, so how are some of the inventions of Egypt made? Well, some are easier than others, but here are a few examples I find absolutely amazing for the amount of knowledge and technology was available to them. It's not like they had all these tools, electricity, solar satellites, or the Internet to help them. All they had was nature and what they could do with it with what they had.

The solar calendar was made by studying astronomy (so hints the name!). They studied the star Sirius (picture above) and its position, appearances, and based their calendar off of that one star!

Now, unlike our modern paper, papyrus was NOT made from trees. Surprised? Well, papyrus was actually made from a plant called papyrus (they got real creative with coming up with the name for the paper!). A picture of the plant is shown above on the right. The strips of the plant's stems was laid out, placed under pressure, and dried, and it became paper. Here's a fun fact: Did you know that papyrus is actually white? Most people think it is a more tan, browner color, but that is just from aging.

Wow, some of the makings of the inventions were more complicated than they appear. Just think how we would have to live if we had to make everything from nature! Every day things that we take for granted would be made a lot more difficult!

The Inventions Brought Change

Apparently, these inventions were made to make life easier. But did they succeed?Well, let's think. The shaduf let the Egyptians expand their farm land, and they didn't have to get in the river and haul it out. You can see from the picture at left exactly how far the farmland goes from the flood, and then expanded from the irrigation. This made it easier without a doubt! The calendar gave them the ability to prepare for the flood, and helped schedule other events as well. I think that the Egyptian farmers thought that was convenient. With papyrus, they could write and record history. This way, it wasn't written on stone and was portable, and more available. Plus, what if they couldn't write at all? The people would have to pass their stories down from generation to generation. Just think of the confusion, distortion, and the history that would have been lost to the people! Well, what about the water clock? Without it, how would the leaders know when to perform their special ceremonies? They would have no precise measure of time!As you can plainly see, the Egyptians succeeded in making life easier on themselves. The disasters would be overwhelming without these necessities.

How Egyptian Inventions Compare to Modern Day

The inventions of ancient Egypt were practical and useful for their time. And although there are some similarities, our lives are SO different than the Egyptians' were. I mean, come on, we don't live in a desert (that would be MISERABLE!) or have big important pharaohs, or special ceremonies for the sun setting. However, some of the things we use to get through the day are an awful lot like what the Egyptians used.

For example:take papyrus. They used it as paper to write down history and events on scrolls. Today, we use paper instead, which is easier to make, and more available. (It's not like you could go to a handy WalMart in the middle of Egypt and ask for some papyrus!)

Another similarity is their water clocks (on top left).The water clocks told time by water dripping through the end of the funnel, but today we have clocks and watches instead. Similar, but a bit more convenient, don't you think? They serve the same purpose, but are a lot more portable and easier to use. (After all, it would be rather difficult for people to carry around a water clock!)

One very close invention is the Egyptians' calendar. (I find it amazing that people with no where near our resources and technology could put together an accurate 365 day calendar, just by their floods each year and the stars. Their only fault was the 1/4 day for leap year!) It is very similar to our 365 1/4 day calender we use today. (Of course, we have different seasons than the Egyptians because of the location and weather. Egyptian weather was generally the same all year round, but we have seasons based on weather and tilt of the earth).

Although we are in a totally different time and life style than that of the Egyptians, some of the needs we have and that they had are similar. So it is no surprise that we have inventions and technology to do the same types of jobs that the ancient Egyptians did.