The House of Life is an institution associated with royalty in ancient Egyptian texts and architecture, conserving and generating knowledge in written and graphic form. There may have been a House of Life in each of Egypt's major temples during the Late Period. It is possible that the institution was introduced during the New Kingdom when kings began to preserve knowledge by writing it down.
The house consisted of a library where books were stored; scholars came to read them. The king was said to regulate the house, ordering new works to be bought and old ones destroyed. He might also order some scholars to go abroad to study other languages or art.
Some houses remained independent of royal authority but most belonged to some temple during the early periods. They are mentioned in inscriptions dating from about 1500 B.C. to A.D. 300.
Later houses included those at Leontopolis, Philae, Edfu, and Dendera. These were all part of the Great Library of Alexandria. That library was burned down in A.D. 431 but its records were preserved because they were made of wood. Many of these manuscripts have survived until today.
Books were kept in special rooms called catacombs. At Leontopolis there were several such rooms under one roof. Each room had shelves for holding papyrus scrolls.
The House of Life was a location in each ancient Egyptian town of size where priests learnt to read and write, scribe school was conducted, and children of the affluent and privileged went to school to learn economics, law, astronomy, geography, and mathematics. The house of life was usually located near the temple of the founder of the city.
It should not be confused with the House of Life or Soul which was believed to exist after death. This place was seen as the dwelling for the soul after death. The House of Life was where the body lay in state until it was buried. Here, the person's heart was removed and preserved in order to keep it from being taken by evil spirits.
In addition to educating citizens about government and society, schools also taught students the skills they needed to function properly in today's world. Students were taught how to read and write so they could keep track of their personal finances or legal documents. Schools also offered training in crafts such as cooking, sewing, and weaving that would help students find employment once they left school. In fact, historians believe that the purpose of schools in ancient Egypt was primarily economic.
Students at school learned about history and the people who had gone before them. They also learned the principles of math and science that are still used today. When students completed their studies at age 20, they were given a certificate indicating that they had been educated.
Inside the exclusive residence The walls and ceilings were decorated with colorful frescos showing hieroglyphics and deity figures, and the chambers were equipped with seats, tables, mirrors, ceramics, and other items. The Egyptians also used furniture such as beds, chairs, and chests.
They made use of materials at hand to furnish their dwellings. Wood was the main material used for household objects. Carpentry was not advanced and there were many simple tools available to the man who wanted to build a house. Stone was also used but only in larger cities where there were stone quarries. In smaller towns and villages wood was preferred because it was easy to find and cheap.
The Egyptians built houses in three main styles: the rammed-earth house, the mud brick house, and the stone house. The rammed-earth house was made of earth mixed with straw and manure and packed hard by foot or with weights. It was an economical style of building and common throughout Egypt. The mud brick house was built by mixing clay with water and then packing the mixture into forms made of wood or stone to produce rectangular or round bricks. This was the most common type of house in ancient Egypt and remains popular in some parts of the world today. The stone house was built entirely out of cut and polished stones without any help from metal tools.
Inside a typical house Houses typically opened onto open-walled courtyards where animals were housed and food was prepared. Papyrus was used to cover the windows and doors. The furniture was quite simple, consisting mostly of reed mats and the occasional wooden chair or bed. The walls were usually painted red, although in wealthier homes white or yellow paint was also used.
Modern houses in Egypt are very similar to those five thousand years ago. They usually have four rooms: a living room, a dining room, a kitchen, and a bathroom. Sometimes there is only one bedroom instead of two.
The living room contains the couch for sitting and watching television or reading. There are often chairs for seating around this couch. A table with four chairs sits in the middle of the room. This is where people eat their meals. The dining room has a table that can be set for two people or for four. It usually doesn't stay set up all day long like in a restaurant. The kitchen is where you will find the stove, the refrigerator, and other cooking equipment. There should be a counter space for eating snacks and making tea. The bathroom has a toilet, a sink, and sometimes even a shower.
Household items such as dishes, pots, and pans are kept in a closet or under the sink. Furniture is made of wood and designed to fit within the available space.