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Education in ancient Egypt

A scribe sat cross-legged with a board, on which to rest the papyrus scroll, across his knees. Only the pharaoh's children and the sons and daughters of wealthy families went to school. Many children who received an education learned to be scribes. Scribes were highly thought of in ancient Egypt. It was the way to a good career. The children were taught by officials such as priests or government administrators. On becoming scribes, some went on to work in the temples and “Houses of Life”, offices where scribes wrote and copied out religious documents and other texts.



Pupils learning to write

Learning to write

Written records were vital to the way Egypt was governed, so for a person to take any important job it was necessary for them to train as a scribe. All high-ranking government officials, priests, army generals, as well as the pharaoh himself, knew how to read and write. Pupils started learning at the age of five. Nearly all were boys from wealthy families, the only ones that could afford education for their children. They learned how to write hieroglyphs, the form of writing used in ancient Egypt, practising on old pieces of pottery, called ostraca.
There were more than 700 different hieroglyphs, representing people, animals or objects, to learn. Boys were expected to master the art by the age of 12, the time when they finished their education. Besides its use in literature and inscriptions, writing was essential for recording transactions.

Noble or wealthy children started school at the age of five.

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