Ancient Egyptian Entertainment
There are many types of ancient Egyptian entertainment that the people took part in to wind down after a long day’s work. The ancient Egyptians loved to have fun and enjoy themselves.
And contrary to their seemingly morbid obsession with death, they were an extremely life-affirming people.
Food and drink were of course a great source of pleasure, especially at banquets and parties, with musicians and dancers giving the whole event a certain ambiance. There were also board games, such as Senet and Hounds and Jackals.
Let’s take a look at the different kinds of ancient Egyptian entertainment…
Celebrate Good Times, TUTan-Come-On!
OK, I’m sorry, it’s an EAE insider joke and I know it’s lame. But anyway, did you know that ancient Egyptians loved to boogie? In fact, they were notorious for their overindulgence in drinking and eating, sometimes till they threw up.
Most of these parties were for the elite, but it is without a doubt that get-togethers with food and drink were common in all classes of ancient Egyptian society.
Most of the records we have of the banquet and such are from tombs and are shown to have been funerary and religious festivals; but it is undoubted that there were some just for plain old fun.
Whatever the case, there would be plenty of delicacies, including meat and wine, which were not usually a daily affair in the average ancient Egyptian kitchen. The menus were sometimes preplanned and servants would go around making sure guests’ goblets were always full and the empty serving plates were refilled.
Music, singing and dancing would provide the entertainment for the guests as they ate to their heart’s content. Flower garlands and perfume cones were provided for them as well.
Stories, Songs and Poems
Although most storytelling was done orally in ancient Egypt, we are fortunate enough to have had scribes record some of them. But as with any oral message, stories would evolve and change over time, with some additions and subtractions according to the teller and the environment at the time.
Other than as just a form of ancient Egyptian Entertainment, telling stories also had a functional role. Many of the stories would either act as warning for the listener to not fall into the mistakes and traps of a character, such as the story of the Magician Ubaaner and his Wax Crocodile.
They were also told to exalt certain qualities that the listener may be inspired to nurture in his or her personality, or to act as praises for gods, kings or heroes.
Love Songs were not uncommon in ancient Egypt – but they were not written by the regular Egyptian whose linguistic and grammatical skill weren’t up to standard. They were usually written by very eloquent scribes and performed also as a form of ancient Egyptian entertainment. There are also other styles of poetry.
Sports and Hunting as Ancient Egyptian Entertainment
Although sports were an integral part of the training of soldiers, some ancient Egyptians, particularly the elite, also took them up. Whether for physical fitness or for fun, they very much resemble the military training activities.
Though chariots were only introduced into Egypt after the Second Intermediate Period, they became part of the military training of the king and other noblemen. But outside of battles, they were used in races too!
The chariots were drawn by horses and were quite small, fitting only the charioteer and an archer or spearman. Those who trained in this would learn to do both roles.
Wrestling and weight-lifting were common sports, and there seems to have been some kind sport that used balls made of animal skin and stuffed with dried grass.
Hunting and fishing were not just for the sake of feeding their kids. Ancient Egyptians seemed to have taken pleasure in the hunt, as the king would take part in this activity even though he could have his meat hunted for him.
In some cases, the animals were pre-hunted and caught alive by hunters and placed in a more confined space where royalty could hunt them with more ease. In the desert the main animals that were hunted were bulls, gazelles and lions. Mostly for their meat, though lion-skins were quite the luxury item.
Fishing and catching birds of all kinds were done in the marshlands. And of course the Nile was teeming with fish. Some ancient Egyptian boats were built solely for fishing.
Of course there were other types of daily pleasure and relaxation, such as joking (the ancient Egyptians loved animal satire!) and other forms of play. But this page should give you a sense of how ancient societies spent their free time.
Do you feel a sense of longing when thinking of these older forms of entertainment? Or do you still take part in outdoor activities, dancing with abandon, or making up bedtime stories for your kids?
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Thanks, and take care…