Ancient Egyptian Weight of One Deben

Ancient Egyptian Weight of One Deben

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Ancient Egypt for Kids Paying for Goods

Goods, both imported and created by craftsmen at home, were purchased in four main ways - using grain banks, a barter system, metal weights, and bread and beer.

The Grain Banks: The grain banks worked like this: First you deposited grain into one of the huge state grain warehouses. Then, when you wanted to purchase something, you pulled some of your grain out of the grain bank. Of course there was a fee for this, paid in grain. The "fees" collected (in grain) were used to "pay" state workers, such as the men who worked and lived in the pyramid cities, building pyramids. Basically, food moved around as payment for services and goods, which is one reason no one went hungry in ancient Egypt.

The Barter System: You could barter with your neighbor if you wished. But there was a more complex barter system in place in ancient Egypt that worked like this: On certain days, and in some major cities everyday, people gathered in public marketplaces. They showed their wares and traded for other goods. Some markets were seasonal. Some ran year around.

Metal Weights: The Egyptians started using coins around 500 BCE. But prior to that, they used a system of metal weights. Metal was not exchanged. It was just used to measure value. A deben, for example, was composed of about 3 ounces of metal, typically silver or copper. A deben had a set value. The weight of the goods were weighted and compared to the weight and value of a deben. That's how goods were priced. Easy? Not really, but it was a system in place for many years in ancient Egypt.

Bread and Beer: Both bread and beer were used to pay some workers. This form of payment was not only for the lower classes. Everyone in ancient Egypt loved beer and bread. They were staple foods and popular forms of payment.

Egyptian Money



The third unit of value was the hin, a measure of volume equal to .48 liters. The Khar is a measure of the volume of grain, either emmer or barley, equal to 76.88 liters. The Khar was most commonly found as a unit of value for baskets, both because the volume of the basket was equal to its value and because baskets are relatively inexpensive.

Throughout Egyptian history, all of these measures do not seem to exist at the same time. Before coins started to circulate in ancient Egypt around 500 BC, there was a system of values based on weights of gold, silver, and copper. Metal measured in units of weight known as Deben (around 90 g) could be used to settle bills and to trade.

Records from the Eighteenth Dynasty show that often the actual metal did not change hands instead, it was used to value goods for exchange. Egypt had no easily accessible source of silver, but the Egyptian word for silver, hedj, came to mean something close to ‘Egyptian money’.

These ingots and metal rings date from the fourteenth century BC and were found at el-Amarna. They give us rare archaeological evidence for Egypt’s earliest money system. The complete ingots weigh around 3 Deben and the rings seem to be fractions of the Deben.

Problems of Equitable Distribution and Accurate Measurement

Not all measurements were units. Ro for example were unit fractions which Egyptians used instead of decimals or other fractions. Tables of unit fraction were used in the RMP. "Table 11.1 is a translation of the one made by the scribe in preparation for the first six problems of the RMP. In these problems which immediately follow the original table, 1,2,6,7,8,and 9 loaves are to be divided equally among 10 men." The table is in effect a ruler which allows a computation. Division of the numbers 1 to 9 by 10 [5] Table 11.1

Quotients of 1,2. 9 divided by 10 as listed in the RMP
Number 1st Quotient Second Quotient Third Quotient
1 '10
2 '5
3 '5 '10
4 '3 '15
5 '2
6 '2 '10
7 '3 '30
8 '3 '10 '30
9 '3 '5 '30

A similar computation can use a remen as the diagonal of a square with side a cubit or give a value for pi. In the RMP the scribes method of finding the area of a circle is "subtract from the diameter its '9 part and square the remainder." [5] At Saqarra an architect used numerical analysis to state a formula in the form of 3 '8 '64. where each added term from the formula would arrive at a better approximation. The formulas from the RMP include finding areas and volumes the area of a rectangle, the area of a triangle, the area of a circle, the volume of a cylindrical granary, equations of the first and second degree, geometric and arithmetric progressions, the volume of a truncated pyramid, the area of a semicylinder and the area of a hemisphere

Importance of Egyptian Currency

The barter system, being the most efficient and simple came to be employed in Ancient Egypt. It must be noted, that barter means exchange, or something in return for another. No standard form of currency or coin or paper money was in use at the time. In Egypt, the barter method worked like this.

In case a merchant wanted a carpet that would normally cost 20 pieces of silver. But he does not have any silver in order to buy the carpet. He would then exchange a camel in lieu of silver and give it to the other person and obtain the carpet. Therefore, it as highly personalised and depended on whatever a person possessed in order to barter that object for another.

Another method of payment was giving one’s daughter’s hand in marriage. In 500 BC, coin, as a method of payment was established. Initially, the gold and silver that was brought into the country from outside, was considered as precious metals with standard weights and not as proper formal Egyptian Currency.

However, during the second half of 400 BC, merchants from the Mediterranean’s started depending upon these standard weight coins as a method of barter and payment. Traders from Greece, who, up till then, were satisfied with pieces of land in exchange of any service, began to ask for money, as in the ‘Specie’, an Egyptian coin that was akin to the Greek Tetra drachmas.

When Ptolemy began his rule, coins were minted with the faces of Hellenic kings. Silver and gold were accepted modes of payment, but bronze was much more commonly used to buy daily products. This was based upon the same standardisation of copper.

However, all this shift in the mode of payment and Egyptian Currency system had minimal effect upon local commerce till Roman era. This was so because the European concept of loans, interest on loans and amassing of riches began to be practiced in Ancient Egypt.

In an organized economy and centrally administrated state, taxes have to be levied. Since the major occupation was farming, grain was given as tax payment. It was used as currency, so much so that grain banks sprouted up. The copper currency of Ancient Egypt was called a deben ( .5 ounce copper).

Ancient Egyptian Algebra for 12 – 16 year olds

These questions are intended to help illustrate the benefit of using algebra. Parts ‘a’ to ‘d’ may be solved intuitively, or algebraically but part ‘e’ may only be [easily] solved using algebra.

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1 . Question

(A) – A man borrows donkeys to use for transporting goods.

To re-pay the loan the man must give the lender deben of copper every month per donkey.

The man uses each donkey for days per month

for transporting goods and earns deben of copper per donkey per day for this work.

How many deben of copper does the man make per month?

Intuitive solution:

The man has to spend 30 x 200 = 6000 deben of copper per month in loan repayments.
The man receives 16 x 20 = 320 deben of copper per month for one donkey. For thirty donkeys he therefore receives 320 x 30 = 9600 deben of copper

The man therefore makes 9600 – 6000 = 3600 deben of copper per month

Algebraic solution:

Algebraic solution:
N = number of donkeys = 30
X = monthly cost per donkey = 200
D = number of days a donkey works per month = 16
Y = amount man charges per donkey per day = 20

Cost to the man = N x X
Earnings = N x D x Y

The man keeps the earnings – the costs, therefore:
The man makes (N x D x Y) – (N x X) = (30 x 16 x 20) – (30 x 200) = 3600 deben of copper per month

2 . Question

(B) The donkeys take some looking after, though.

The man has to spend deben of copper per donkey per day for feed. When the donkeys are working they need twice as much feed as they do when they’re resting.

How much does the man have to spend per month to keep the donkeys?

(There were days in the
ancient Egyptian month and the donkeys are working as described in part in Question 1)

Intuitive solution:

A resting donkey needs 2 deben of copper worth of food per day. Therefore a working donkey needs 2 x 2 = 4 deben of copper worth of food per day.

Each donkey works for 16 days, which is 16 x 4 = 64 deben of copper worth of food.
The rest of the time the donkey is resting so it needs (30 – 16) x 2 = 14 x 2 = 28 deben of copper worth of food.

Each donkey therefore needs 64 + 28 = 92 deben of copper worth of food per month.

For 30 donkeys this is 30 x 92 = 2760 deben of copper per month

Algebraic solution:


N = number of donkeys = 30
C = cost (at rest) per day = 2
D = number of days a donkey works per month = 16
M = number of days in a month = 30

Cost at work per donkey = D x 2 x C
Cost at rest per donkey = (M – D) x C

Cost per month per donkey = (D x 2 x C) + ((M – D) x C)

Cost for all the donkeys = N x ((D x 2 x C) + ((M – D) x C)) = 30 x ((16 x 2 x 2) + ((30 – 16) x 2)) = 2760 deben of copper per month

3 . Question

(C) Occasionally the man has to get the donkey doctor to visit if the donkeys get sick.

Over a five-month period the donkey doctor has to visit times
the first month, in the second, times in the
third, times the fourth and in the fifth month.

What is the average number of visits the donkey doctor makes per month?


Total number of visits over 5 month period = 3 + 1 + 4 + 6 + 1 = 15

Average number of visits = total visits ÷ number of months = 15 ÷ 5 = 3 visits per month

4 . Question

(D) The donkey doctor charges deben of copper per visit.

Taking into account the amount the man must spend on the loan (Question A) and the feed (Question B), and the amount that the man makes from hiring out the donkeys (Question A) –
how much does the man get to keep each month?

Intuitive solution:

Donkey doctors costs per month = number of visits per month x cost per visit = 3 [Question C] x 150 = 450 deben of copper per month.

Cost of feed per month = answer to part ‘B’ = 2760

Man’s earnings not including cost of feed and doctor’s bills = answer to part ‘A’ = 3600

The man gets to keep = earnings – costs = 3600 – 2760 – 450 = 390 deben of copper per month

Algebraic solution:

V = number of doctor’s visits per month = answer to ‘C’ = 3
Z = doctor’s charge = 150
E = earnings = answer to ‘A’ = 3600
F = cost of feed = answer to ‘B’ = 2760

The doctor’s charges = V x Z

The total costs are therefore F + (V x Z)

The man therefore earns E – (F + (V x Z)) = 3600 – (2760 + (3 x 150)) = 390 deben of copper per month

5 . Question

(E) If the man needs to earn at least deben of copper per month to support his family then what is the minimum number of whole days he needs each donkey to work to make enough money?

(assume the donkey doctor makes the same number of visits per month)?

Algebraic solution: All definitions remain as before.

From part ‘D’ we know that the man’s ‘salary’, which we will call S = E – (F + (V x Z))
From previous definitions we can expand the compound parts of the equation (in other words, the previous answers) to break the equation down to the figures given in the questions. Therefore:

E = (N x D x Y) – (N x X)
F = N x ((D x 2 x C) + ((M – D) x C))
V = 3
So, S = (N x D x Y) – (N x X) – (N x ((D x 2 x C) + ((M – D) x C)) + (3 x Z))

Now, we want S to be greater than or equal to 1000 and we want to know the value of D that satisfies this.
So let’s set S = 1000 and the equation becomes:
1000 = (N x D x Y) – (N x X) – (N x ((D x 2 x C) + ((M – D) x C)) + (3 x Z))

We want to solve this for D, so, to make the equation easier to read let’s remove the multiplication signs, so it becomes:
1000 = NDY – NX – (N(2DC + (M – D)C) + 3Z)

Now expand the brackets out:
1000 = NDY – NX – 2NDC – NMC +NDC – 3Z

Now re-arrange so all terms including D are on the right:
1000 + NX + NMC + 3Z = NDY – 2NDC + NDC

Simplify the right hand side by adding common terms:
1000 + NX + NMC + 3Z = NDY – NDC

Switch the equation round (left to right) so it’s easier to resolve:
NDY – NDC = 1000 + NX + NMC + 3Z

Now separate out the D term:
D(NY – NC) = 1000 + NX + NMC + 3Z

And divide both sides by (NY – NC) to resolve for D:
D = (1000 + NX + NMC + 3Z)/ (NY – NC)

Substitute the values:
D = (1000 + 30 x 200 + 30 x 30 x 2 + 3 x 150)/(30 x 20 – 2 x 30)

And solve the equation:
D = 9250 / 540 = 17.12 (2 decimal places)

Rounding this up to the nearest whole number shows that the man must hire
out his donkeys for at least 18 days per month to be able to support his family.

Ancient Egyptian Algebra for 12 – 16 year olds

The Egyptian Math Worksheet Creator

The Egyptian Math Worksheet Creator is base on the amazingly successful Ancient Egyptian Math Problems. These Math puzzles are used by thousands of teachers around the world and now with Worksheet Creator you can make your own math puzzles.

Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh May Be the 1st Known 'Giant'

The supposed remains of Sa-Nakht, a pharaoh of ancient Egypt, may be the oldest known human giant, a new study finds.

Myths abound with stories of giants, from the frost and fire giants of Norse legends to the Titans who warred with the gods in ancient Greek mythology. However, giants are more than just myth accelerated and excessive growth, a condition known as gigantism, can occur when the body generates too much growth hormone. This usually occurs because of a tumor on the pituitary gland of the brain.

As part of ongoing research into mummies, scientists investigated a skeleton found in 1901 in a tomb near Beit Khallaf in Egypt. Previous research estimated that the bones dated from the Third Dynasty of Egypt, about 2700 B.C. [Photos: The Amazing Mummies of Peru and Egypt]

Prior work suggested that the skeleton of the man &mdash who would have stood at up to 6 feet 1.6 inches (1.987 meters) tall &mdash may have belonged to Sa-Nakht, a pharaoh during the Third Dynasty. Previous research on ancient Egyptian mummies suggested the average height for men around this time was about 5 feet 6 inches (1.7 m), said study co-author Michael Habicht, an Egyptologist at the University of Zurich's Institute of Evolutionary Medicine.

Ancient Egyptian kings were likely better fed and in better health than commoners of the era, so they could be expected grow taller than average. Still, the over-6-foot-tall remains the scientists analyzed would have towered over Ramesses II, the tallest recorded ancient Egyptian pharaoh, who lived more than 1,000 years after Sa-Nakht and was only about 5 feet 9 inches (1.75 m) tall, Habicht said.

In the new study, Habicht and his colleagues reanalyzed the alleged skull and bones of Sa-Nakht. The skeleton's long bones showed evidence of "exuberant growth," which are "clear signs of gigantism," Habicht said.

These findings suggest that this ancient Egyptian probably had gigantism, making him the oldest known case of this disorder in the world, the researchers said. No other ancient Egyptian royals were known to be giants.

"Studying the evolutionary development of diseases is of importance for today's medicine," Habicht said.

In the early dynasties of Egypt, short statures were apparently preferred, with "many small people in royal service," Habicht said. "The reasons for this preference are not always certain."

Still, because the alleged remains of Sa-Nakht were buried in an elite tomb, there may have been no social stigma attached with gigantism at the time, the researchers said.

The scientists detailed their findings in the August issue of the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.


CURWOOD: Well, bees and humans have interacted for millennia &ndash new research shows beeswax in use some 8000 years ago in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and records of beekeeping in Egypt date back to the days of the Pharaohs. A new book called The Tears of Re documents what we know and how we know it &ndash by the way &ldquoRe&rdquo is the name modern Egyptian scholars give the sun god who most of us grew up calling &ldquoRa.&rdquo Gene Kritsky, chair of Biology Department at Mount St Joseph University in Cincinnati wrote the book, and he spoke with Living on Earth&rsquos Helen Palmer.

PALMER: Professor Kritsky, your book is called, The Tears of Re. Can you read the inscription that gives it that title?

KRITSKY: Certainly, the title is inspired by a papyrus that was written around 300 BCE, and it tells the story of the god Re and the origin of bees and reads:
&ldquoThe god Re wept, and the tears from his eyes fell on the ground and turned into a bee. The bee made his honeycomb and busied himself with the flowers of every plant and so wax was made and also honey out of the tears of Re.&rdquo

PALMER: So, tell me what the ancient Egyptians believed about bees?

A reconstruction of the beekeeping scene in the tomb of Rekhmire based on firsthand observations by Kritsky. (Photo: Gene Kritsky and used with permission.)

KRITSKY: Well, bees were considered sacred because they were a gift from Re. They were made from his tears and that gave bees not only a valuable aspect because of what they've contributed and brought to Egyptian society, but also they were theologically important. During the 26th dynasty, which is where the seat of the Egyptian government was at the time, in Sais the temple of Neith was called the house of the bee.

PALMER: The 26th dynasty. when about was that?

KRITSKY: That was approximately around 600 BCE.

PALMER: Now, they believed that the bees came from Re, but how important were they in Egyptian society?

The offering table with two containers of honey in the tomb of Menna. (Photo: Gene Kritsky and used with permission.)

KRITSKY: Bees were incredibly important in the sense of. the oldest honeybee hieroglyph goes back to just shy of 3000 BCE, so it was a very ancient symbol in the Egyptian writings, but even in the old kingdom beekeeping was an important activity organized by the state. We know that honey was important because it was an important sweetener to the Egyptian cuisine it was also used as a medicine. And we know that beeswax was used in cosmetics as well as in paintings and even in some embalming practices.

PALMER: Well, we know, of course, that honey is a very powerful antiseptic now. I presume they didn't know of that value of it, but you say it was used as a medicine. Do we know how?

KRITSKY: Yes, it was. In fact, they would use honey for cuts and for burns. But of the 900 some odd prescriptions I found in some of the various medical papyri, close to 500 of them included honey as one of the ingredients. They used honey as a way of making the medicine taste a little sweeter, but it also, as you pointed out, had antibacterial properties, which also probably included medicinal value to the concoctions.

Beekeeping relief in the tomb of Pabasa. (Photo: Gene Kritsky and used with permission.)

PALMER: Of course, we're talking about a time when there wasn't sugar cane, there wasn't sugar beets. So there presumably wasn't any other main source of sweetener apart from honey and maybe fruit.

KRITSKY: That's correct. Indeed it was very expensive commodity in ancient Egypt and usually only the higher classes and parts of the Royal Court, for example, would have enjoyed honey.

PALMER: How do we know it was expensive?

KRITSKY: Well, we know that on a number of the papyri that talk about the rations given to workers.
We know that people who, for example, work directly with the Pharaoh would receive an allotment of honey daily, but the laborers did not.

PALMER: Is there any way of having an objective sort of like money value of it? Do we have any clue about that?

Part of a beekeeping relief at Pabasa&rsquos tomb. (Photo: Gene Kritsky and used with permission.)

KRITSKY: Well, one of the things that's really, I think really interesting about ancient Egypt is that their economy was not currency-based like ours. Their entire economy is based on almost like a bartering economy. It was based on the concept of the deben, and that's a quantity of copper which could be used to make a certain-sized vessel. And they didn't carry around pieces of this copper. Instead if you're to be paid, let's say two bags of grain for a day&rsquos work and the person paying you didn't have the grain, he or she could pay with an equivalent value of another commodity. It could be honey, it could be beer, it could be something like that. But they had a very complex understanding of the comparative value of various things that were needed for daily life.

PALMER: In your book you have some wonderful pictures of cave paintings and papyri that show honey. It was also used as a kind of tribute from the various provinces to the Pharaoh?

KRITSKY: Definitely. In the tomb of Rekmire, you'll find a whole series of paintings that show tribute being paid in the form of honey.

PALMER: So how much can we read about what the hieroglyphs tell us about bees?

A honeybee hieroglyph throughout Egyptian history. a. Tomb of Mereruka, Sixth Dynasty b. Deir el-Bahri, Eighteenth Dynasty c. Ramesseum, Nineteenth Dynasty d. Medinet Habu, Nineteenth Dynasty e. Kom Ombo, Ptolemaic Period f. Kom Ombo, Ptolemaic Period g. Philae, Ptolemaic Period h. Kalabsha Temple, Roman Era. (Photo: Gene Kritsky and used with permission.)

KRITSKY: Well, the Egyptian hieroglyph language was quite complex compared to ours. In addition having consonants like we have with our alphabet for example, they had over 700 hieroglyphic symbols, and the honeybee hieroglyph could represent with a certain notation to mean a bee, the actual insect, but it also formed the syllable bit. So if was part of the royal titular, which was Nesu-Biti, that would mean the King of Upper and Lower Egypt that represented the delta or Lower Egypt region of the country. It's also used in the word for honey, and it's also used in the word for beekeeper and symbolized, in the case of the word for beekeeper, you have a laborer next to a honeybee with the consonant for the t, that basely symbolized the occupation for the beekeeper.

PALMER: Describe for me what the ancient Egyptian hives were like because they are quite different from the kind of hives we have today.

KRITSKY: Oh, they certainly were quite amazing. They were these horizontal tube hives. They were made out of mud that was dried into large cylinder and then stacked on top of each other, very similar in the construction of the hives we still see used in Azerbaijan and Iran, for example.

PALMER: Do we have any real understanding of exactly how they practiced beekeeping? Can you say to me if I were an Egyptian beekeeper what would I be doing on a daily basis or on a monthly basis?

KRITSKY: Well, we don't have any real evidence of how they actually kept their bees, but there are some practices that we can discern from the temple and tomb paintings. We know, of course, they used horizontal hives, but in one of the hives, the oldest one from 2450 BCE, we actually see the beekeeper holding something to his face and it's right up against the opening of the hive. The hieroglyph above it means &ldquoto weaken&rdquo or &ldquoto slacken&rdquo or &ldquoto emit a sound&rdquo, and that's been interpreted as smoking bees - which is a way of quieting bees - or may be calling bees. One of things the traditional Egyptian beekeepers practiced, they would call the queen, make a little sound and the queen would respond. That would tell them if there was a queen ready to emerge or what was the status inside the hive. If that was the case then their beekeeping was much more sophisticated than we can appreciate.

Egyptian words and phrases that incorporate the honey bee hieroglyph. (Photo: Gene Kritsky and used with permission.)

Once they got the honey, we have a painting that shows them removing round honeycomb from these horizontal hives. The honeycomb was crushed and then placed into containers. There's a sub-discipline called experimental archaeology. So of course I had to do this. I took honeycomb and I crushed it, and I put it in a container in hot sun and the beeswax floated the top and the honey stayed below the beeswax. And in one of the reliefs we actually see one of the beekeepers holding a vessel - it has a spout coming from not the top of the vessel but from the middle or towards the bottom - much like a gravy separator or a fat separator used for making gravy, and that may be one way they could've decanted a lot of the honey and not getting a lot of the wax mixed in with it. Once they had the honey separated from the wax, they would seal it in jars. In the Old Kingdom these jars were large and round. In the New Kingdom we see these sort of almost diamond shaped vessels that were like two bowls with the bottom bowl filled with honey and then a ring of wax along the middle and then another bowl on top and that was the typical container that was used to hold the honey.

PALMER: Now, you say they not only used the honey, they also made use of the wax. Tell me a bit more about how they used the wax.

KRITSKY: We know that wax was used in cosmetics, for example, they wore wigs and they would keep the curls of the wigs in place by using beeswax. We have evidence of beeswax being found in a very thin layer on some mummies, so it was used as a preservative that way but it wasn't going to be prevalent enough for the broader context. But beeswax was also important as a wonderful magical substance. Beeswax when it burns, it burns with a very bright light. It also doesn't leave any ash. Moreover, if you put beeswax in the hot Egyptian sun, it will start to change, it'll get a little molten like, a little liquidy. And so all these tied in with their solar theology would've been important to the Egyptians, and so they had a number of ways that you could take beeswax carvings, for example, if you wanted to ward off evil by taking a hippopotamus for example and carving it into an beeswax and igniting it and burning it away, that would be one kind of magic that would help form a protective spell, for example.

Four beeswax sons of Horus. From the left: Hapy, Duamutef, Imsety, and Imsety. Third Intermediate Period, late Twenty-first Dynasty (1069-945 BCE) or early Twenty-second Dynasty (945-715 BCE) (Photo: used with permission of the Cleveland Museum of Art)

PALMER: Wow, so you are, I know, a beekeeper yourself. Do you feel kinship with these ancient Egyptians and their beekeeping?

KRITSKY: Oh, I really do. There's something. if anybody out there has not kept bees or if they have kept bees they'll know what this like. Of course, western beekeeping, we're wearing the veil, the protective gear, and it sort of limits your peripheral vision. You've got your smoker going, and when you open up that hive and you smell the sweet smell of the honey and the honeycomb, and if when you're really at one with your bees you don't use gloves anymore. It's almost like a tai chi. You're carefully moving the frames around, so the bees don't get alarmed and don't sting you and so on. To me it's a very ancient occupation because it goes back to ancient Egypt obviously, but there's something that's kinship with us, humans and bees, that I find very alluring.

PALMER: Now so as far as we know, they didn't have some of the problems that beekeepers have today, and I know that you are actually working on bees and some of the problems in your current research. Can you tell me a little about that?

A wall apiary south of Minya in central Egypt. (Photo: Gene Kritsky and used with permission.)

KRITSKY: Certainly. I'm working in association with Dr. Andrew Rasmussen, he's our microbiologist here at Mount St. Joseph University, looking at the impact of fungicide contaminated beeswax foundation which is used to actually give the bees a little bit of a head start when they are starting a hive. So we're going out and we're seeing what flowers are the bees visiting. We're sampling those flowers for natural yeasts and fungi and we're intercepting the bees with their pollen balls as they're entering the beehive to get the pollen balls and then we're going into the hive itself to sample what the pollen is doing in the hive. The bee basically inoculates that pollen with yeasts which ferments the pollen into what we call bee bread - which is called bee bread because it actually smells like bread dough - and that fermentation that these yeasts do in the pollen helps convert it into the bee bread which the bees use as a food product.

Entomologist Gene Kritsky at Edfu (Photo: ©Jessee Smith, courtesy of Gene Kritsky)

PALMER: Typically when people are making new frames they put in a wax foundation, which is shaped like a honeycomb that tells bees where to actually build up walls. Are you saying that this foundation that all of us beekeepers buy and put into the hive is already contaminated with fungicide?

KRITSKY: Yes the recent papers have shown that close to if not all the foundation that's being manufactured now has fungicides already present in that wax and this may be a contributing factor to some of the bee health problems because the bees aren't getting the same nutrition they normally get if indeed natural yeasts are not present. And that's what we're trying to find out with our research. We're trying to see do these that yeast we're finding in the flowers, that we find in the pollen balls, how long are they still surviving in the honeycomb as the pollen is converted to bee bread.

PALMER: Wow, that's really interesting. I didn't know about the fungicides on the foundation.

KRITSKY: And it's not just fungicides. There's insecticides on some of the wax as well, so there are a number of laboratories around the states and in Europe that are looking at this question because it's rather critical because bees are important for life.

CURWOOD: That&rsquos Gene Kritsky, Entomologist, Chair of the Biology Department at Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati and author of The Tears of Re. He spoke with Living on Earth&rsquos Helen Palmer. And by the way, we asked what his current research on pesticides and fungicides in wax had discovered, and he told us &ldquoit&rsquos still too soon.&rdquo

The God Thoth Ancient Egypt for Kids Weighing of the Heart

Most people in ancient Egypt were afraid of one particular god - the god Ammut (also spelled Ammit.) Ammut was the god with the crocodile head. The ancient Egyptians believed if you did something really bad during your lifetime that the god Ammut might magically appear and eat you. With her crocodile head, she had the teeth to do so.

The god Ammut was always on hand after you died, in case she was needed. The ancient Egyptians believed that to enter your afterlife, your heart had to be light. You gained a light heart by doing many good deeds during your lifetime. After you died, on your way to your afterlife, you had to travel through the Hall of Maat. The god Anubis weighed your heart. The god Thoth (pictured above) recorded the findings. And the god Ammut stood by. If your heart was as a light as a feather, you passed Maat's test, and entered your afterlife. But, if your heart was heavy, Ammut would move swiftly and gobble you up.

Everyone wanted to enter their afterlife. So nearly everyone in ancient Egypt did many good deeds during their lifetime. Nobody wanted to be eaten by the dreaded god, Ammut, whose body was a mix of lion and hippo, and whose head was that of a crocodile, the three most dangerous man-eating animals in ancient Egypt.

1 The Nile

In the off chance you ever make it into orbit, or if you happen to see a satellite image of the ancient country, you’ll probably notice a lot of empty desert mixed in with random architecture and cities all located around a giant area of water. This waterway is known as the Nile River and it the backbone of the country. Without the giant river, there would be no chance of civilization or modern civilization as we know it.

Without the river, pharaohs would not have been able to dominate trade, make advancements in language or even create a regional economic powerhouse and possibly disconnecting countries and cultures from each other. When the river inevitability flooded, the ancient desert residents used the opportunity to water their crops. Nowadays, the country still takes great pride in the Nile floods and uses the water to generate electricity for the country.

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