The Reason You'd Never Survive Life In Ancient Egypt

Despite their obsession with death, people in ancient Egypt thought of themselves as living the best possible lives. Of course hindsight is 20/20 and looking back at the trials and tribulations of life before the common era it's clear there was more than a little room for improvement. Those of us who enjoy the comforts of the modern world would probably be horrified to walk a day in the sandals of the average person in ancient Egypt.

Although Egypt was renowned for having a relatively advanced society compared to the rest of the ancient world, it was still a time before modern science and medicine. High infant mortality rates and risk of death during childbirth were contributing factors to the average life expectancy being around 40 years old, according to an article from the BBC (although many people lived much longer).

Egypt also had its own unique set of dangers, as outlined in the same BBC article. The Nile was the lifeblood of Egyptian society because of the agricultural yields produced by its nutrient rich silt, but it was also home to a plethora of life threatening parasites. Grain grown by the Nile fed most of the civilization's population, but that simple diet often lead to malnutrition and anemia. Another problem with Egyptian's addiction to grain was the omnipresent sand that found its way into bread. This wore down Egyptian's teeth over time, causing abscesses that could prove fatal if the infection spread to the bloodstream.

Capital punishment

According to Dr Aimé Muyoboke Karimunda's book The Death Penalty in Africa practices like human sacrifices and the death penalty weren't very common in ancient Egypt, but that doesn't mean you weren't at risk of running afoul of the law. If you were accused of a crime you were guilty until proven innocent, and depending on the crime you were being accused of being found guilty could mean dire consequences. 

The most brutal punishments were reserved for those who committed acts of treason against the state, which was also a sign of disrespect toward the gods. Ramses III was alleged to have put a group of conspirators to death by impalement. For less serious crimes such as tomb raiding or theft you were lucky if your punishment was an amputation. According to Ancient History Encyclopedia being convicted of more serious crimes, such as murder, put you at risk of being drowned, or even burned alive, a punishment that was especially brutal in a society that believed you needed your body to remain intact after death to pass to the afterlife.