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George Rawlinson
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 284 pages of information about Ancient Egypt.

Women, who in most civilized countries claim to themselves far more elaboration in dress and variety of ornament than men, were content, in the Egypt of which we are here speaking, with a costume, and a personal decoration, scarcely less simple than that of their husbands.  The Egyptian materfamilias of the time wore her hair long, and gathered into three masses, one behind the head, and the other two in front of either shoulder.  Like her spouse, she had but a single garment—­a short gown or petticoat reaching from just below the breasts to half way down the calf of the leg, and supported by two broad straps passed over the two shoulders.  She exposed her arms and bosom to sight, and her feet were bare, like her husband’s.  Her only ornaments were bracelets.

[Illustration:  GROUP OF STATUARY, CONSISTING OF A HUSBAND AND WIFE.]

There was no seclusion of women at any time among the ancient Egyptians.  The figure of the wife on the early monuments constantly accompanies that of her husband.  She is his associate in all his occupations.  Her subordination is indicated by her representation being on an unduly smaller scale, and by her ordinary position, which is behind the figure of her “lord and master.”  In statuary, however, she appears seated with him on the same seat or chair.  There is no appearance of her having been either a drudge or a plaything.  She was regarded as man’s true “helpmate,” shared his thoughts, ruled his family, and during their early years had the charge of his children.  Polygamy was unknown in Egypt during the primitive period; even the kings had then but one wife.  Sneferu’s wife was a certain Mertitefs, who bore him a son, Nefer-mat, and after his death became the wife of his successor.  Women were entombed with as much care, and almost with as much pomp, as men.  Their right to ascend the throne is said to have been asserted by one of the kings who preceded Sneferu; and from time to time women actually exercised in Egypt the royal authority.

FOOTNOTES: 

[7] R. Stuart Poole, “Cities of Egypt,” pp. 24, 25.

IV.

THE PYRAMID BUILDERS.

It is difficult for a European, or an American, who has not visited Egypt, to realize the conception of a Great Pyramid.  The pyramidal form has gone entirely out of use as an architectural type of monumental perfection; nay, even as an architectural embellishment.  It maintained an honourable position in architecture from its first discovery to the time of the Maccabee kings (1 Mac. xiii. 28); but, never having been adopted by either the Greeks or the Romans, it passed into desuetude in the Old World with the conquest of the East by the West.  In the New World it was found existent by the early discoverers, and then held a high place in the regards of the native race which had reached the furthest towards civilization; but

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