Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome Week #2

Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome

Ancient Egyptian Dress

Clothing was not in any way a practical necessity in Ancient Egypt. Egypt (and most of the rest of North Africa) was not the mainly desert country it is today, subject to the temperature extremes that a dry climate engenders. Then it was a lush, food-producing country, subject to annual flooding, and a warm, humid climate. Clothing was therefore a luxury item of no great practical value. Slaves and the poor in surviving Ancient Egyptian art are therefore usually depicted in little more than loincloths.As people went up the social scale more clothing and jewelry was worn, but even then the drapery of the clothing is light and designed more to accentuate the shape of the body than conceal it. The most elaborate Egyptian clothing was worn by the Pharaohs and their queens as symbols of power.

It is thought by some that royal Egyptians practiced body modification by wrapping the sculls of infants and altering the head shape to be more egg like than rounded in adulthood, others ascribe this to a natural genetic fluke in the royal family. Aristocratic Egyptians also often shaved their heads (and other body hair) and wore wigsinstead of natural hair to formal occasions. Kohl eye makeup was worn by both sexes, as were perfumes and body oils. (see During banquets, guests wore small mounds of beeswax impregnated with perfumed oil on top of their wigs; these mounds would melt into the wigs with the heat of the room, releasing scent, during the course of the party. Jewelry was the dominant costume focus, worn by both sexes; numerous examples of Ancient Egyptian jewelry survive in museums (see , and ). Clothing has been less fortunate in survival, but linen textile scraps remain to indicate that the mostly white pleated materials that are shown in Ancient drawings were probably fine linens. These pleated linen garments are usually depicted as straight pieces of cloth, pleated to give a body-hugging stretch, that are wrapped in a variety of ways and tied or tucked in front.

Links on Ancient Egypt

HistoryKohlerFig15egypt.jpg Costume of an Egyptian Priestfrom Karl Kohler's Kostumekunde (scan by C.L.M.)


EgyptAgnesbyoung1927Egyptiandress.jpg Plates from Stage Costume by Agnes B. Young, 1927

Go on to

Ancient Greece

HistoryKohlerFig10egypt.jpgAn Egyptian Queen in a pleated gown and huge wig, from Karl Kohler's Kostumekunde (scan by C.L.M.)

HistoryKohlerFig11egypt.jpgA Pharaoh and his Queen in pleated garments and wigs, from Karl Kohler's Kostumekunde (scan by C.L.M.)

Product Links

Egyptian Cosmetic Items

Jewels of a Princess

Tutankhamun's Treasures

Necklace with Amulets


Ancient Egyptian Jewelry Ancient Egyptian Jewelry

Ancient Egyptian Costumes Paper Dolls Ancient Egyptian Costumes Paper Dolls

Women's Work : The First 20,000 Years : Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times Women's Work : The First 20,000 Years : Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times

Ancient Egyptian Dances Ancient Egyptian Dances

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