The makeup did more than make them look good. Ancient Egypt was a civilization that lasted from 3300 to 525 B.C.E. They were forbidden to wear items from animal origin like wool or leather as they were considered unclean. Egyptian priests did not necessarily work full time at the temples. Their shaving habits and clothing requirements were meant to act as a visual representation of these attributes. The Egyptians usually wore tunics that were sewn to fit them. It was a transition to the sphere of the gods and eternity. But that one might also have been an imitation. Priests and priestesses were divided into 'watches' and would serve the temple one month in every four. (266). These priests were responsible for providing the daily offerings and conducting the rituals which allowed for the continued journey in the afterlife of the kings. Education in ancient Egypt was shaped by its conservative social system. Ancient History Encyclopedia. A freelance writer and former part-time Professor of Philosophy at Marist College, New York, Joshua J. The priesthood has highly rooted in Egyptian traditions. The priesthood was therefore allowed to flourish and became especially powerful at Thebes. Priests were generally only permitted to wear linen clothing and white papyrus sandals when tending a god (neither leather nor wool were considered to be ritually pure). There are wrap-around garments for ancient Egyptians made from a length of cloth. read more. Ancient Egyptian clothing is quite different from the ancient Mediterranean type. An analysis of the foods listed in hieroglyphic inscriptions on temple walls showed the meals offered to the gods were laden with saturated fat. Related Content By the time of Akhenaten, the cult of Amun had grown so powerful and wealthy that they rivaled the king. How were priests treated in ancient Egypt? Both men and women also wore jewelry and headdresses. Temple priests were in charge of the many temples scattered throughout Egypt. The wearing of these special clothing was required by the Torah (Exodus chapter 28). They gave advice and performed healings. There is not a single period in Egyptian history in which this paradigm is not evident. The Ancient History Encyclopedia logo is a registered EU trademark. Even the cult singers and musicians needed to have had some training in the priesthood to perform their duties, though probably not the kind of initiation or education which actual priests went through. Civic and criminals cases, matters of policy, domestic issues, building policies, were all decided at Thebes by Amun whose will was then interpreted and implemented by the priests. In most cases, it was a custom that priests were the same sex as the god they served. The hour-priests were astronomers who kept the calendar, determined lucky and unlucky days, interpreted omens and dreams. Priests had certain requirements to meet while they were "on duty." There is evidence that people came to the temple for help with medical, financial, and emotional needs as well as to request protection against evil spirits or ghosts, and it is also clear they would bring offerings to the temple in gratitude for prayers answered. (209). A new college of priests was created in 196 B.C. There were also sem priests who presided over mortuary rituals and conducted funeral services. Although there is evidence of women serving in all other positions in temple life, there is no record of a female lector priest. Clothing. They also dyed their hair with different natural materials such as henna. Clergy, Priests & Priestesses in Ancient Egypt, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. Like many other cultures Egypts religious clothing was different for men and women. Priests in ancient Egypt were very different from our modern priests. Egyptian fashion was practical, simple, and, for most of the population, the same kind of outfit worn by a woman was worn by a man. The position of God's Wife of Amun, held by royal women at the Temple of Karnak at Thebes, had begun as an honorary title in the late Middle Kingdom of Egypt (2040-1782 BCE) but, by the New Kingdom, was a powerful post, and in the Third Intermediate Period (c. 1069-525 BCE), the daughter of King Kashta (c. 750 BCE), Amenirdis I, effectively ruled Upper Egypt from Thebes as God's Wife. Priests wore white linen robes and, according to Herodotus, could wear no other color as white symbolized purity and the sacred. The priests lived in the temples of ancient Egypt. The overseers of the estates and granaries, scribes, soldiers, all reported to the high priests of their temple. Clothing. They could own property and were, at court, legally equal to men. According to scholar Marie Parsons, by the time of the reign of Ramesses III (1186-1155 BCE) in the later New Kingdom, the priests of the various cults held more power and wealth than the pharaoh; especially the priests of Amun. Bibliography In ancient Egypt the priest had the duties of serving as a political adviser to the Pharaoh. This behavior was directed by the central cultural value, ma'at (harmony and balance) which was sustained by an underlying force known as heka (magic). These records come from all periods and regions of Egypt. Heavy incense perfumed the air as the priest reverently washed the statue and dressed it in a fine linen robe. Just as Akhenaten may have feared, the power of the priests compromised the position of the king. In the time of the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, and even before the Temple was built during the time of the Mishkon (the temporary dwelling place before the Temple was built), the priests were required to wear special clothing during the services. Mark, Joshua J. How is ancient Egypt different from modern day Egypt today? In Ancient Egypt, pharaohs were seen as living gods. Re-dressed the image in new linen garments of white, blue, red and green colors. Mark has lived in Greece and Germany and traveled through Egypt. We know its a priest because its mummified together with its cat! The ancient Egyptian diet is often characterized as being primarily vegetarian, and included vegetables, pulses, unleavened bread and salted fish. On the other hand, priests normally married, had children, and enjoyed family life. Murmuring Amun would be pleased. Over a robe of checker work the High Priest wore a garment called an 'ephod'. High priests were chosen by the king, who was considered the high priest of Egypt, the mediator between the people and their gods, and so this position had political as well as religious authority. In Ancient Egyptian Religion, the clergy is referred to as priests. The leopard was considered a sacred animal, personification of the ancient sky-Goddess Mafdet. Ancient priests and priestesses Sumerian en (Akkadian: entu) were top-ranking priestesses who were distinguished with special ceremonial attire and held equal status to high priests. read more, Becoming a priest in Ancient Egypt was an initiation similar to the one undergone by the deceased during their journey through the "underworld". High ranking priests and the Pharaoh sometimes wore leopard skin cloaks over their shoulders. Most women who became priestesses were either virgins or beyond child bearing age. 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