2016/07/25

Ancient Egypt Social Structure

 Ancient Egypt Social Classes

The ancient Egyptian society had been perceived in a number of ways. Ramses the third, when looking at his subject thought of them as nobles, administrators, soldiers, servants and the general denizens of ancient Egypt. Whereas, Herodotus, a foreigner who visited Egypt during the ancient times viewed them as belonging to different classes.

They were, distributed with respect to their jobs or professions.  However, he did not put the slaves into any category. He did not consider them fit enough to be grouped together with the other men and women.The social class of ancient Egypt was at different extremes. There existed a huge gap between the people from different social classes.

Ancient Egypt Social Structure


This was prevalent ever since the Pre dynastic time and was further enhanced as time passed. At the time when ancient Egypt was unified, the small band of elite upper classes of men reigned along with the assistance of scribes who ran the administration. The administration presided over the general populace. Then came the peasants or the farmers and they were extremely poor, with a hand to mouth existence.

The labourers were absorbed instantly into the work and numerous projects everywhere. This phenomenon reached its absolute peak during times when the pyramids and the tombs and the temples were made. These jobs pulled in all the manual labour that could be bought. This development put the pharaoh in the utmost lofty position in the society. This immediately proceeded the time during which the king's wealth started diminishing which also led to the diminishing of the powers of the king and the royal families.

The noblemen and their families took up the mantle after this decline. Even the nobility, when they came into power, depended on the scribes to a very large extent. The scribes, therefore, continued to be in a position of power throughout the history of ancient Egypt. The nobility were separate from the centre of administration unlike those of the royal ones, who were mainly under the influence of the pharaoh. The scribes were the academicians and the scholars. They were recipients of a good and elite education consisting of reading, writing, mathematics, etc.

This ground knowledge enabled them to govern the country in a just and efficient manner. They were also trained in some specific professional thing, for example, medicine, mathematics, architecture, etc. They were also ranked according to their capabilities even in this selected group of people. The priests and military personnel were taken from all strata of the society and were a completely different group of their own. The labour was in majority throughout. They were mainly peasants, farm workers, etc and looked down upon by everyone alike.

They were worked hard and often ruthlessly. The outcasts also existed; however, not much information about them is available. All this apart, most people in ancient Egypt were complacent with their status and position in the society.

Ancient Egyptian Tomb Paintings

Ancient Egyptian civilisation is regarded as the most conservative and rigid ever. The basic patterns of Egyptian institutions, beliefs and artistic ideas were formed during the first few centuries and didn't change, reoccurring till the very end. The knowledge of Egyptian civilisation rests majorly on the tombs and their contents.

The Egyptian concept was that each person should equip himself well for a happy afterlife, which leads to the vast repertoire of grave goods and myriad tomb paintings in the pyramids. An early development of tomb art can be seen in a fragment of the wall painting from Heirakonpolis, with standardised human and animal figures and large white boats.

Ancient Egyptian Tomb Paintings
Ancient Egyptian Tomb Paintings

The Old Kingdom developed much further in this field in trying to create a replica of the daily life of a living man for his soul(ka). The Hippopotamus Hunt at the tomb of Ti in Saqqara is a perfect example because of its landscape setting. The representation of the deceased on all tomb paintings of the Old kingdom was passive and static, as an onlooker of all the action around him. It might be a subtle way of conveying the death of the human body but the continuation of the living soul. During the Middle Kingdom a loosening of the established norms can be observed in the tomb paintings of the princes of Beni Hasan, carved in the rock.

A good example is the mural "Feeding the Oryxes" from the rock-cut tomb of Khnum-hotep, where the painter has experimented with foreshortening and spatial effects. The best of all tomb paintings are derived from the New Kingdom. The formulas of projecting an image onto a flat surface continued, but there is more naturalism in the figures. The figure of the deceased is not static anymore but involved in the whole action, and he is also brought down in scale. There is relaxation of the stiff rules of representation and the set themes once thought appropriate for tomb paintings. King Akhenaton, along with starting a new faith based on Aton , gave a new direction to artistic activity.

There was a temporary relaxation of the Egyptian preoccupation with life in the hereafter, and greater concern with life on earth. There grew a different, more naturalistic way of representing the human figure. The survival of the Amarna Style( as this art was called) is seen in the tomb of Tutankhamen. The paintings on the panels of a golden chest portray the king's mission to define himself as the imperial conquerer. The chest depicts the king as a hunter and a warrior, a double proclamation of his royal power.

Although by Tutankhamen's times, the Amarna style had almost vanished, some lingering features were still practised, but the Pharaohs after Akhenaton re-established the cult of Amen, and returned to the old manner of art. Illustrated papyrus scrolls became the essential equipments of all well to do tombs. The scroll of Hu-Nefer in the Theban necropolis is an excellent example that represents the final judgement of the deceased.

Ancient Egyptian Government

Ancient Egyptian government has not been characterized by a democratic system. Power was concentrated in one person Pharaoh. He controlled and dominated the country. Pharaoh was considered a living god with ultimate control over the people and the land. His eldest son was usually his successor.Egypt had traits of theocracy as well. Religion has not been kept out of the state. Priests and holy men who have formed their own class exerted sufficient influence on the government. They were respected and considered a higher class of society in relation to the commoners.

Ancient Egyptian Government
Ancient Egyptian Government
The government structure of ancient Egypt other officials, including viziers, military commanders, generals and treasurers, Minister of Public Works and tax collectors, who all answered directly to the pharaoh.The status of a vizier was equivalent to that of a prime minister. Governors of specific pieces of land were sometimes controlled by the vizier. Court officials and nobles who held senior helped governance.

A strong government and a well-organized bureaucracy were the need of time. The main areas of administration were the Treasury, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Public Works, the judiciary and the army. The functions of the central government changed over time. The basic functions include Build royal monuments, civil order control, achieving the population census, the management of industries, tax collection, maintaining the army, recording rainfall and water levels of the river Nile law enforcement and punishment, etc.


Realized was an important feature of the administrative system. Everything was recorded, wills, lists of conscription, tax lists, letters and transcripts of the trial.The government has been divided into the central government and the provincial government. Both Upper and Lower Egypts had their own governments and leaders. Upper Egypt was divided into 22 districts and Lower Egypt into 20 districts.Upper and Lower Egypt were finally united in 3118 BC. Under the previous government included the ancient Egyptian districts. 


 Districts were called nomes and the governor or the head of the provincial administration was called a nomarch. The police were called Medjay. The police maintained public order. Although Egypt was one of the most peaceful countries, there was an army. Military recruitment was not always voluntary. Taxation existed mainly in forms of labor and goods. Taxes were often a burden on the public. Laws have been developed and implemented. The concept of Maat and customs are very important.  

Make "bad" invited public disapproval and disgrace.Although the general govern has been consistent in Egyptian history, governments have often been reversed or replaced for reasons such as invasions, chaos or the undue influence of religion, etc.

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Ancient Egyptian Famous People

Some of the famous ancient Egyptians were:

Menes : was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the early dynastic period, credited by classical tradition with having united Upper and Lower Egypt, and as the founder of the first dynasty.The identity of Menes is the subject of ongoing debate, although mainstream Egyptological consensus identifies Menes with the protodynastic pharaoh Narmer or first dynasty Hor-Aha.Both pharaohs are credited with the unification of Egypt, to different degrees by various authorities.


Menes
Menes


Djoser
Djoser

Djoser : was an ancient Egyptian king of the 3rd dynasty during the Old Kingdom and the founder of this epoque. He is well known under his Hellenized names Tosorthros and Sesorthos . He was the son of king Khasekhemwy and queen Nimaethap, but if he also was the direct throne successor is still unclear. Most Ramesside Kinglists name a king Nebka before him, but since there are still difficulties in connecting that name with contemporary horus names, some Egyptologists question the handed down throne sequence.

Khufu
Khufu

Khufu : is the birth name of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, who ruled in the 4th dynasty of the Old Kingdom, around 2580 B.C. He is equally well known under his Hellenized name Khêops or Cheops  and less well known under another Hellenized name, Súphis . Khufu was the second pharaoh of the 4th dynasty; he followed his possible father, king Sneferu, on the throne. He is generally accepted as having built the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but many other aspects of his reign are rather poorly documented.The only completely preserved portrait of the king is a three-inch high ivory figurine found in a temple ruin of later period at Abydos in 1903. All other reliefs and statues were found in fragments and many buildings of Khufu are lost. Everything known about Khufu comes from inscriptions in his necropolis at Giza and later documents. For example, Khufu is the main actor of the famous Papyrus Westcar from 13th dynasty.

  Thutmose III
Thutmose III



Thutmose III :  was the sixth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty. During the first twenty-two years of Thutmose's reign he was co-regent with his stepmother, Hatshepsut, who was named the pharaoh. While he is shown first on surviving monuments, both were assigned the usual royal names and insignia and neither is given any obvious seniority over the other. He served as the head of her armies.After her death and his later rise to being the pharaoh of the kingdom, he created the largest empire Egypt had ever seen; no fewer than seventeen campaigns were conducted, and he conquered from Niya in North Syria to the fourth waterfall of the Nile in Nubia.

Ancient Egyptian Artifacts

Art and artifacts were evaluated by the ancient Egyptians. Different spheres of Egyptian life can be studied by analyzing ancient Egyptian artifacts.

Ancient Egyptian Artifacts

Ancient Egyptian Artifacts

Ancient Egyptian Artifacts

Ancient Egyptian Artifacts


Ancient Egyptian Artifacts

Ancient Egyptian Artifacts

Ancient Egyptian Artifacts


Ancient Egyptian Headrest

The headrest is made of wood and has been used as a type of pillow. Some were clear and some beautifully carved. They do not look very comfortable due to lack spacing the part that touches your head. The headrest comprises a upper seal with a curved rectangular. Headrests have also been used to support those responsible for death to keep evil spirits from entering the earth in the body.

Ancient Egyptian Shabti

Shabti figures statuettes, usually in the form of a mummy. The Egyptians believed they would magically do the work they had to do in "life after death". 365 Shabti figures were often placed in a tomb of one for every day of the year.

Ancient Egyptian Make-up pot

Make-up has been used both my men and women. Special powders and pastes were used to cover their skin. Make-u p is not only beautiful, but also protect against the warm and sunny climate. Were usually jars lids. This pot can be saved "Kohl" - black makeup that Egyptians used to decorate them.

Ancient Egyptian Mirror

The mirror is made of bronze. It was carried out by removing a piece of bronze until the cardboard. Then it was polished to make it shiny enough to reflect the light back in your face. Sometimes, these mirrors have handles made of bone or ivory.

Ancient Egyptian play piece

Egyptians themselves engaged in games. Senet is a board game. Rom a game piece approximately 3 cm long was the game play of Senet. Senet pieces are on display in various museums.

Ancient Egyptian Amulet
An amulet was appointed as the eye of "Horus". Horus was an ancient powerful god. He had a human body and falcon head. Amulet lucky. He represented one of the gods that the ancient Egyptians believed in. Egyptians wrapped the body of these amulets in the tombs.



Ancient Egyptian Necklace

The Egyptians were actually fans of beauty. It was the distinction between rich and poor. The poor wore jewelry made from clay or bone. Richer people are more elaborate jewelry in bronze, silver or gold.