Thursday, 1 July 2010

Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll in Ancient Egypt

By Rob Mabry

While we may view the Egyptian culture through a shroud of mystery, in many ways the daily life of the Egyptians and particularly their leisure time was spent pursuing many of the same activities that we enjoy today. Music played an essential role in the lives of ancient Egyptians. Banquets and festivities were a common way to pass idle time. These gatherings tended to focus on sensual activity. Consumption of wine, beer and narcotics was not uncommon.

Music was an integral part of both Egyptian culture and religion. It was believed that music pleased the gods and mortals alike and nearly any festival or banquet included musicians. The three female musicians wall relief found at the Tomb of Nakht dated Dynasty XVIII 1450 B.C. is just one depiction that strengthens our notion of the importance of music in the Egyptian culture. There are numerous others and even a few instruments have been preserved, but because there is no musical annotation we do not know how the instruments might have sounded when they were played.

Archaeological findings demonstrate that the majority of musicians in the new Kingdom were women. These female groups would frequently perform at banquets and festivities often accompanied by dancers. The instruments of the time included flutes, drums, lyres, harps and lutes. Egyptian statues usually depict the goddess of music, Hathor, holding a sistrum, a ritual instrument similar to a maraca. Worship at the temple of Hathor was frequently accompanied by the performance of female musicians.

Those who enjoyed music in ancient Egypt usually did so at a festival or banquet. Along with the music wine was plentiful. The Egyptians also enjoyed beer which was often flavored with regional fruits. These banquets emphasized the exotic and erotic with special emphasis on pleasing the senses of taste and smell. To enhance the experience partygoers often combined narcotic flowers and in particular "the blue Lotus," actually a lily which was believed to have narcotic properties when combined with alcohol.

To add to the enjoyment of the banquets, attendees were usually given a flower bud or blossom to smell during the entertainment. Servants would place a sweet smelling ointment on the wigs of partygoers believed to have delivered a pleasant fragrance.

The center of attraction at an Egyptian banquet was sure to be the performance of the dancers. In ancient Egyptian culture men generally danced with men and women with women. The dances could range from slow, fluid movements to more vigorous performances that border on the acrobatic.

Rob Mabry is a former military journalist, screenwriter and technologists living in San Antonio. He is and his wife, Sherry, own the eCommerce site, Your Museum Store, where you can find museum quality reproductions of fossils, art. statues, sculptures and wall art for your home, office or garden.

Find a museum gift  to satisfy your inner archaeologist. From Egyptian statues to Greek, Aztec, Celtic, Roman, Hindu and Buddhist art, Your Museum Store sells unique, museum quality reproductions of art work from the finest museums around the world. Our selection includes statues, busts and wall reliefs from ancient cultures along with dinosaur skulls, fossils and collectibles from the Parastone Mouseion collection.

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