Uncovered: Ritual public drunkenness and sex in ancient Egypt

I’ll bet you that archaeologist Betsy Bryan’s perspective on reality-show behavior is a little longer than most. Since 2001, Bryan has led the excavation of the temple complex of the Egyptian goddess Mut in modern-day Luxor, the site of the city of Thebes in ancient¬†Egypt. And the ritual she has uncovered, which centers on binge drinking, thumping music and orgiastic public sex, probably makes “Jersey Shore” look pretty tame.

At least it was thought to serve a greater societal purpose.

Bryan, a specialist in the art, ritual and social hierarchy of Egypt’s New Kingdom (roughly 1600 to 1000 BC),¬† has painstakingly pieced together the details of the Festivals of Drunkenness, which took place in homes, at temples and in makeshift desert shrines throughout ancient Egypt at least once and, in some places (including at the Temple of Mut), twice a year.

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