Ancient Egyptian Children

The main sources of information about the children of ancient egypt are the descriptions of the grown-ups in various writings or inscriptions on the tombs of the children. Various facts about the children of this time can be inferred from these writings, from their everyday life, education and the toys and games they played with. It was a common custom to have large families in Egyptian society and families could often have as many as fifteen children. They also received a proper education when they were of school age and eventually most of the working boys joined the professions of their fathers while some went into new careers. Some Egyptian children also received further advanced education and went on to become priests or government officials, but this was mostly common among the children of the nobility. Girls, unlike boys, received education in domestic matters at home and were not sent to school.

The lives of Children in Ancient Egyptian Times

Egyptian Children’s lives were divided into various clearly defined stages. For instance, the toddler during the earliest years of life stayed at home and learnt basic skills of talking and walking from his parents. But there were also wet nurseries which looked after the kids if their mothers were absent or not available. Children had a variety of toys and games which filled their pre-school lives. For instance, one of the most popular games for children was called “Senet” which involved throwing sticks to judge the movement of a piece on a square made on ground. At about the age of 4 or 5, the children were sent to schools where properly defined curriculum of education was provided and they were taught almost all the available branches of knowledge. School education continued until about the age of 14. After that, most of the students joined the professions of their fathers while some pursued advanced studies as well. Agriculture was the most common profession while well to do facilities also indulged in trade and commerce.

The Education of the Children of Egypt

Ancient Egyptian Children 1

A mix of Egyptian adults and children enjoying a feast and celebration.

Although there is no extensive information about ancient Egyptian children’s education, the available details give a quite sufficient picture. School education was provided between the ages of 4 and 14. During this time, various subjects including mathematics, history, geography, and medicine etc. were taught to the children. However, girls could not attend the schools and were generally instructed at homes. Children were educated at village schools which were established at many places. Schools were also generally attached with temples or government buildings which signified the government patronage of education. While most children after the completion of school joined the professions of their fathers, some pursued further studies even though the choices were limited. Some children also acquired advanced theological education which was known as knowledge of wisdom.

Egyptian Children’s Clothing

Ancient Egyptian children just like men and women used specific types of clothing which did not change markedly over the centuries. Up until the age of 6, most Ancient Egyptian Children simply did not wear any clothes. This was particularly true for the children of the common people. Ancient Egyptian Children started wearing clothes at the age of 6 which were primarily designed to protect the body from dry heat. It was common to use a plain garment of cloth which could be wrapped around the body. Additionally, the children also wore jewellery which included bracelets, anklets, and various hair accessories. The children of ancient Egypt also had a certain kind of hair style which consisted of a side-lock on the right side of the head. As they grew up into adults, they used the same clothing that their parents used.

Children’s Role in the Family in Egyptian Society

There was no important role that the Egyptian children served at home. Until the time they became adults, their roles were defined and enforced by their parents. Wet nurses were common and looked after the children whose mothers were either not present or could not look after the children. The wet nurses who served the nobility or king enjoyed considerable social status. During the years of education, ancient Egyptian children were expected to keep education as their primary purpose as they were not strong enough yet to help their fathers in their profession. It was only after they had completed their education that they assisted their parents in whatever profession they had. This was after the age of 14 when boys would start helping their fathers in agriculture or trade. Girls, on the other hand, helped their mothers in household chores such as cooking, sewing, and such. Children who hailed from the nobility were given a high standard of education and grew up to have official responsibilities in government.

Ancient Egyptian Children’s Names & King Tut

The various popular names for children included Amarna, Maya, Menna, Meri, Pentu, and others. Perhaps one of the most famous names among all ancient Egyptian children is King Tut, whose real name was Tutankhamen, who became the Pharaoh of Egypt at the age of nine. He was a king during the New Kingdom and ruled from around 1332 BC to about 1323 BC. Since he was too young to run the affairs of the state, he was assisted by his uncle named Ay. However, he died at a young age of 18.

Summary of the Children of Ancient Egypt

The lives of ancient Egyptian children were not very different from the lives of the children from other ancient societies. However, they obviously had certain peculiar roles to play within their families. One of the most interesting features of the lives of Egyptian children was their schooling for which proper schools were established and education in various subjects was given. After the completion of education, most children simply joined the professions of their fathers while some continued with higher education. There were also special schools for the children of nobility which was called the “school of the prince” since the Pharaohs son also went there, ant then the education of ancient Egyptian children was completed by the age of 14.

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