Why did ancient egypt leave so little impact on the west?

Nov 2016
44
Australia
Actually part of the Bible, Proverbs, is a direct lift from an ancient Egyptian text, "The Teachings of Amenmope", one of these "books of wisdom" that was an entire genre of literature with the ancient Egyptians.

Also, the entire concept of a happy afterlife, of a paradise after death, is Egyptian. No other ancient civilization and religion had that. It's fundamentally Egyptian, passed on to successor religions.

Alphabetic writing is also down to the Egyptians originally.
How the Alphabet Was Born from Hieroglyphs

It seems not so much that the Egyptians didn't make an impression, but rather that modern times are fairly bad at recalling it.
The phoeniecian alphabet developed from proto-sinaitic which started (possibly) amongst the slaves of egypt..... i wouldn't consider this a major contribution of the egyptian 'state' itself.
 
Nov 2016
44
Australia
Maybe also papyrus... if only for the greek and roman literature that was written on it.
 
Nov 2016
44
Australia
Is it simply that Egypt never conquered 'The West'... unlike the Romans who took along with them Greek, and later Christian culture?
It seems to me that one can trace a lineage from Mesopotamia to "The West", with much lesser contributions from Egyptian, Indian culture.
Do others disagree on the relative contributions?
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,767
The phoeniecian alphabet developed from proto-sinaitic which started (possibly) amongst the slaves of egypt..... i wouldn't consider this a major contribution of the egyptian 'state' itself.
Considering the Egyptians had a defined set of consistently used alphabetic signs, an alphabet in its own right, and the first Sinaitic script copied this the Egyptian alphabet, I would venture to surmise that it's because you might not quite have grasped just how tight the connection between Egyptian alphabetic writing and the Sinaitic actually is?

The alphabetisation of the signs was ALREADY done and dusted BY the Egyptians themselves when the Semitic speaking fellows in Sinai happened upon them, and found them useful. The jump from ideogram to alphabetic sign WAS completed by the Egyptians already, and not something the writers of the Sinaitic alphabet had to come up with. (They recognised that they didn't themselves also NEED the ideograms to be able to write their own lingo.)

So it's a major contribution. The first standardised alphabetic script was Egyptian.
1559033769677.png
It's just one of these quirks that the Egyptians didn't simply ditch the ideograms and go full-alphabetic. They could have. Classical (Middle Kingdom) Egyptian used its 27 sign alphabet + ca 700 ideograms, definitely too few of the latter to form an actual complete pictoral script (which is what the tendency is to think it was).

This is the cartouche, the royal name, of late, Greek, pharao Ptolemaios, in Egyptian script. Just referencing it to the listed alphabet should show just how alphabetic Egyptian hieroglyphic script could be (didn't find much use for vowels, but that's the same as in most Semitic language scripts):
1559036023959.png

It's even more paradoxical because the OLDEST Egyptian writing was the most alphabetic. In Old Kingdom tombs inscriptions the ideograms could often almost entirely be dispensed with – the wall paintings and reliefs did the job of the pictoral representation – and the inscriptions could be alphabetic. Then in the really late stages of the history of ancient Egypt the hieroglyphic script clearly became increasingly esoteric, something only for the initiated (priesthood), and then the number of ideograms in use ballooned to something like 7000.
 
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Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,904
Portugal
Is it simply that Egypt never conquered 'The West'... unlike the Romans who took along with them Greek, and later Christian culture?

It seems to me that one can trace a lineage from Mesopotamia to "The West", with much lesser contributions from Egyptian, Indian culture.
Do others disagree on the relative contributions?
It is not necessary to conquest exercise influence. Greece never conquered Rome, and yet its influence there is notorious. Nobody here argues that Egypt conquered “the West”. And yet the influence of Egypt in all the Mediterranean is also notorious.

A bit out of topic but Egyptian products were traded quite far as luxury products (as scarab beetles). Some were found in Portugal in ancient archaeological sites.

https://digitalis-dsp.uc.pt/bitstream/10316.2/23780/1/Cadmo19_Artigo4.pdf?ln=pt-pt
 

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
5,394
Netherlands
Alexandria wasn't the cultural and scientific capital of the known world by chance. It was because the Hellenic Greeks could use older Egyptian examples. Or rather the only reason we call their writings Greek, is because they were written in Greek, not necessarily by Greeks.

Also chaps like Pythagoras (whose theorem was widely used in Egypt to calculate areas of cropland in order to calculate the taxes) and Thales of Miletus didn't start out as smart mathematicians, that only happened after visiting Egypt.
 

Corvidius

Ad Honorem
Jul 2017
3,047
Crows nest
If the West can define itself as being Christian, which has long been the case, then the West causes the ba of Osiris to live, which is no little impact that Egypt continues to exert.
 
Jan 2019
62
Eastern Europe
But did they really had an impact on the western world (aside Romans and partially Greeks)?
Also generally newer cultures used the base of the older ones.