Arts & Culture

Bizarre Traditions From Ancient Egypt: How Did the Pharaohs Do Baby Gender Test?

Bizarre Traditions From Ancient Egypt: How Did the Pharaohs Do Baby Gender Test?

North wall of the Tutankhamun burial chamber. Credit: Factum Arte

Egypt’s history is rich and diverse. Ancient Egyptians built a civilization that still astonishes the entire world– even after 7000 years. There is a lot more to ancient Egyptians than just building the pyramids and the Sphinx; they progressed in medicine and several other scientific fields. The origins of many Egyptian festivals today originally dates back to ancient Egyptians including Sham el-Nessim.

However, they also had traditions that are not used today, but still prove that they relate to the modern world and that they knew things about anatomy and life more than we thought.

Baby Gender Test
Ancient Egyptians were the first to detect the sex of unborn babies. Women used to urinate on wheat and barley seeds. If it barely grew, then the baby was a boy and if the wheat grew, then the baby was a girl. This test was believed to be highly accurate.

Mummification
The idea of mummification first emerged in ancient Egypt. They believed in the afterlife and that souls would search for their bodies so they had to make the bodies recognizable for the souls to possess them back. The artificial preservation was a lengthy process that took up to 70 days.

Tutankhamun

The golden mask of Pharaoh Tutankhamen is seen on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, January 24, 2015. REUTERS/Al Youm Al Saabi Newspaper

Incest was rather common in ancient Egypt, and the parents of Tutankhamun were siblings; hence, he was born with several congenital flaws and physical deformities. King Tut was one of Egypt’s most prominent and greatest rulers. When his body was discovered, it was discovered that he was mummified with an erect penis. A study in 2014 suggested that this was to help quash a religious revolution started by his father. A study revealed that he was buried this way to look like Osiris, the god of the afterlife.

Preventing pregnancy
Women in ancient Egypt seem to have known a lot of methods to prevent pregnancy. They used the excrements of crocodiles, and sometimes elephants, and mixed them with honey and herbs to cover the genitalia. This method is belived to have effectively worked with them.

Death Penalties
In ancient Egypt, death penalties were quite cruel. They used to have both fatal punishments and non-fatal punishments, along with imprisonments. The Pharaohs used to set the laws and implement the punishments along with their officials –both fatal and non-fatal. Fatal punishments included impalement that was executed by Ramses III and also included burning alive.

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