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Physical Characteristics of Egyptian People

Updated February 21, 2017

Egypt is the birthplace of one of the world's oldest civilisations, with development beginning around 3200 B.C. and the final native ruling dynasty falling to the Persians around 341 B.C. The ruling classes of ancient Egypt are depicted in art as having a physical appearance similar to Asiatic people, while the lower classes are shown as being of African descent.

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The various ruling dynasties of ancient Egypt are depicted in works of art as having tall and slender frames. The facial features of ancient Egypt's ruling class are usually shown as oval faces, with a sloped forehead and a long, straight nose. Within ancient Egypt, it was common for both men and women to wear wigs with straight, black hair, the natural hair of each person was often kept shaved in order to ensure the wig and ceremonial headdress would fit perfectly. In contrast, the lower classes of Egyptian people would be depicted in ancient artworks as the opposite of the ruling classes. People of lower class descent were shown as having a short and squat physical build, with a blunt nose and naturally curly hair.


The people of ancient Egypt were depicted as having younger physical attributes because of their low life expectancy. The people of ancient Egypt had a life expectancy of around 40 years, with diseases such as tuberculosis and scurvy reducing the life expectancy significantly. Other problems affecting both wealthy and poor people alike included malnutrition.


The people of Egypt living in different geographic regions have differing physical characteristics. As of 2011, around 98 per cent of the 81,713,517 population of Egypt lives in an area of the Nile Valley, which makes up about 4 per cent of the nation's size. The population of large urban areas such as Cairo show the most diverse physical characteristics. Centuries of invading countries have led to the introduction of physical characteristics such as hair colours including red and blond along with different eye colours. Invading armies that have conquered Egypt have included Romans, Greeks, European Crusaders and Turks.


The various desert regions in Egypt are home to people of different backgrounds and varied physical appearance. They often live as nomadic or seminomadic people. For example, the Beja people who inhabit the southern area of the eastern desert of Egypt have physical characteristics closest to those of the ruling classes of ancient Egypt. The northern portion of the eastern desert is inhabited by relatively newly arrive people of Arabic descent who bear a resemblance to the Arabian Bedouin tribes.

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About the Author

Paul Cartmell began his career as a writer for documentaries and fictional films in the United Kingdom in the mid-1990s. Working in documentary journalism, Cartmell wrote about a wide variety of subjects including racism in professional sports. Cartmell attended the University of Lincoln and London Metropolitan University, gaining degrees in journalism and film studies.

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