Ancient Egyptians: their days were 24 hours long

Since ancient times, long before the appearance of any writing, humans were obsessed with measuring the day. With so many ancient cultures to study, it is difficult to identify the time measurements each used. For example, the ancient Egyptians had exact 24-hour days. How did they go about calculating them? The answer is in their hieroglyphics.

Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs

How did ancient cultures measure time?

In many cases, the units of time derive from astronomical phenomena, although each culture did it differently. Thus, to measure the length of a day, they used the motion of the Earth with respect to the sun. While to measure the months, they were based on the lunar movements with their phases.

However, there are two time measurements that it is not clear which method they used, these are the hour and the week.

Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs reveal how they measured time.

Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic writing tells how they measured time. A form of measurement that spread from there to all of Europe and then to the rest of the world. It is worth noting that thehe first hieroglyphs written as text in Ancient Egypt date back to before 2400 BC (before Christ).

the ancient egyptians recorded in their hieroglyphs how they measured time.

In them appears the word “wnwt”(pronounced wenut) which translates as “time”. Although to understand its meaning, they made an analysis of the writings on the coffins of the city of Asyut. On the lid of the coffins, which date back to 2000 BC, there are decorations with astronomical tables.

Egyptian Calendar

In these tables represented periods of 10 days. The Egyptian calendar had 12 months, formed by three periods of 10 days (weeks) and completed with 5 holidays. In each of the 12 columns appears the name of a star, with which they form 12 rows. In the table they represented the stellar changes over the course of a year. Although at this point, the word wnwt, does not yet appear associated with the tables.

The first association arises around 1210 BC, where the word wnwt is linked to the number of rows of the tables. In the temple of Osireion at Abydos there are many astronomical data, including the method for creating an hourglass. Also there they discovered a coffin lid where the 12 stellar rows are labeled with the word wnwt.

In the Egyptian New Kingdom there were 12 diurnal wnwt and 12 others that were nocturnal. Thus, the 12 diurnal and 12 nocturnal hours are clearly dimensioned. However, they were not expressed together, i.e., as a 24-hour day.

The hours of the day were measured by the location of the sun in the firmament, while at night they followed the location of the stars. The number 12 is related to the choice of 12 stars in periods of 10 days. They chose the brightest, which was Sirius and also others that had similar behavior.

By timing the appearance and disappearance of the stars, they formed the 10-day weeks and were also able to calculate the duration of an hour.

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