Facts About Egypt
1. Egypt has a total area of approximately 386,560 square miles, making it slightly larger than Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona combined. It is located in the northeast part of the continent of Africa and is bordered to the west by the country of Libya and to the south by Sudan. To the north is the Mediterranean Sea and to the east is the Red Sea and between the two is a strip of land that borders Israel.
2. Egypt has a hot desert climate and on average only an inch of rain falls in the country per year. Sand storms occur regularly from March to May due to an extremely hot, dry, and dusty wind called khamasīn. The wind blows from the south and causes temperatures to soar to dangerous levels – often near 113ºF.
3. The Great Pyramid at Giza was built as a burial place for King Khufu. It took more than 20 years to build and is constructed from more than two million blocks of limestone and each one of those blocks weighs as much as two and a half elephants. The structure stands at approximately 460 feet high, which is taller than the Statue of Liberty, and the base takes up almost as much space as five football fields. The pyramid has vents which point to the constellation Orion so that the mummy’s spirit could fly straight up to the gods.
4. According to legend, the first mummy was Osiris, who was murdered by his brother Set. Isis wrapped him up and used magic to bring him back to life and he then became god of the underworld. Osiris is often depicted with green skin because that color was associated with the afterlife.
5. The Egyptians were the first to use papyrus, a plant material, to make paper. In addition to using it as a writing surface, they employed it in the construction of reed boats, mats, rope, sandals, and baskets.
6. The Egyptians are also believed to be the first to use veneer, or thin slices of wood (thinner than 1/8 inch) that were typically glued onto other wood surfaces to create flat and/or decorative surfaces. It is obtained by peeling tree trunks or slicing large rectangular blocks of wood. They used expensive and rare woods over cheaper timbers to produce furniture and sarcophagi (funeral boxes).
7. The Nile River in Egypt is the world’s longest, running 4,135 miles. By comparison, the longest U.S. River is the Missouri at 2,341 miles. The Colorado River is 1,450 miles long, making the Nile nearly three times its length. Ancient Egyptians called the river “Iteru,” which means “Great River” and they believed the tears of the goddess Isis made it overflow each year. This flood was key to agriculture along the floodplains next to the Nile. The event was so important that ancient Egyptians needed to predict when it would happen each year, which led to the development of the world’s first calendar.
8. Ma’at is the quality ancient Egyptians valued most. It means good behavior, honesty, and justice. It is also the name of the Goddess of Truth who, according to myth, weighs every Egyptian’s heart after death.
9. It was believed that the god Thoth invented writing and passed along its secret to humans. As an offering to the god and thanks for the gift, scribes would always pour out some water mixed with ink as an offering before they wrote anything. The system of writing used by ancient Egyptians is called hieroglyphs, which translates to “sacred carving” in Greek.
10. The ancient Egyptians knew of the existence of Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars, and Jupiter. They had names for them such as “God of Morning” for Mercury, “Bull of the Sky” for Saturn, and “Horus the Red” for Mars.