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Egyptian Social Order

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The pyramid of Giza
Created by Joey and Gagarin


In every civilization, each and every one has to have their place within the society. No matter the position, each member contributes to it, in a method that helps the culture flow in harmony. The Egyptian people are divided into six main classes, pharaohs, nobles and viziers, priests and scribes, craftspeople and merchants, peasant farmers, and slaves.




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The Pharaoh


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Amenhotep II
Meaning of “Pharaoh”

The term pharaoh itself means “great house”, initially referring to the King’s palace, the meaning of the word became King of Ancient Egypt, and it is name for kingship in the new kingdom of Ancient Egypt. Each pharaoh had five regal names each.

Pharaoh Description

There are so many pharaohs because Ancient Egypt lasted for thousands of years. Iry-Hor was the first known pharaoh of ancient Egypt. Some archaeologists are uncertain of his existence. He was most likely Ka’s direct predecessor. If he was an actual person, he would be the earliest documented person. The pharaoh has full control over Ancient Egypt. Pharaohs are typically male, but on infrequent occasions, female pharaohs existed.

Pharaoh Characteristics
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Double crowns were worn, red representing Lower Egypt, and white signifying Upper Egypt. During wars, pharaohs wore blue crowns and wore a striped head cloth, called nemes for day to day activities. There are all kinds of crowns worn during different ceremonies. False beards made of goat hair were worn during special ritual and ceremonies. Crowns were assumed to have magical powers. Regardless of its widespread description in portraits, no ancient Egyptian crown has yet been uncovered.


Nobles and Viziers


Nobles

Nobles were appointed by the pharaoh and have an especially high level of importance in the land of Ancient Egypt. They carried out and enforced orders made by the pharaoh. Nobles grew wealthy from donations to the gods since all Egyptians at that point gave gifts to the gods. Nobles served as advisors, local governors, tax collectors, and military commanders.

Viziers
A statue of a vizier
A statue of a vizier

Viziers were personal advisors to the pharaohs of Egypt. They held a very important role; help making decisions for the pharaoh. Viziers often held his reign more than the pharaohs did, and on rare occasions, viziers could even be elevated to a pharaoh. In Egyptian art, viziers are usually portrayed wearing a long robe which came up to the armpits. The garment, usually of pure white material, represented his objectivity.









Priests and Scribes

Egyptian High Priest
Egyptian High Priest

Priests

Priests were near the middle of the Egyptian pyramid of importance. They were the Egyptians connection to the gods in whom they blamed all good and bad will on. Priests knew about all of the gods and what sacrifices they wanted. They were educated with this knowledge, and stood as a gateway for the gods. The priests held all of the magic ceremonies in which the Egyptians all believed in. The customary priests were unable to have contact spaceball.gifwith other people. Also, they were the ones whom preformed a ritual for when somebody dies. Priests usually had married and had kids, but their temple's wellbeing is their first priority.

Scribes

Scribes had a very intellectual job. They along with the rulers and gods were the only people to know how to read and write. Dressed in clean clothes and not responsible for any physical labour, the scribes had a comfortable lifestyle. Their duties range from keeping track of harvests to doing accounting for the army. All of their recordings are very important pieces of information, which are needed to maintain a controlled civilization. Without the scribes' form of data recording, the ancient civilization of Egypt would have fallen quite easy. The highly educated middle-class workers also kept track of oral traditions, just like the way we do today.


Here is a video that demonstrates the job's production:




Craftspeople

Ptah, god of Craftsman and Creator
Ptah, god of Craftsman and Creator

Craftsmen in Ancient Egypt were trained and gifted labourers. Well respected within the community, they had a comfortable life, although the quality of their life would depend on how good they were and past experiences. These craftsmen included leatherworkers, sandal makers, metalworkers, stonecutters, chariot makers, jewellers, metal workers, sculptors and painters. Craftsmen mostly worked together, and depending on the type of their craft, would be based in either a temple or palace workshops. The ones, whom catered to the local community, were based in smaller local workshops. Craftsmen whom were involved with the decoration of a royal tomb and the creation of funerary equipment and other goods for the tomb, would often live on site in villages created for the specific purpose the craftsmen faced. These craftsmen were limited in their creativity by strict rules for thousands of years Craftsmen worked with stone, clay, wood, bone, ivory, feathers, and metals such as gold, silver, copper, bronze and finally iron. Craftsmen were sometimes buried in decorated tombs, made of a tiny underground chamber that contained the body of the Craftsman and that of his family.


Farmers


Varieties of Food

In ancient Egyptian society, just like all societies, farming was very important. The farmer had to provide nourishment for their neighbourhood. He worked with the fertility found by the great Nile River. The fertility gave birth to enough fruits, grains, and so much other food, that the community all enjoyed.

The Nile


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The farmer had to follow a deadline in order to have enough food. In July, when the water level of the Nile began to rise, the farmers had little to do. During that time, any seeds planted would not grow because of flooding. Therefore, he spent his extra time helping out his Pharaoh with building and other sorts of things.
Ancient egyptian farmers plowing
Ancient egyptian farmers plowing

Plowing
The water-level would later drop down in November. The farmers needed to plow the soil quickly while it was still moist. After the fields were plowed and the furrows hoed, they then would start to plant seeds. They then irrigated and de-weeded the field.

Taxes

The tax officials would come and visit the farmers at this time. The amount of taxes to be paid was determined by measuring his crop that season. This was done by stretching a rope around the area where the crops were growing. By the end of March, the farmers were using sickles to reap the grain. The women would then toss the grain into the wind to remove the husk. Now the grain was ready to be stored for the flood season.


Slaves


Selling Slaves
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Slaves being whipped

In ancient Egypt, people became slaves in a variety of different ways. In some countries, children were sold to the Egyptian pharaoh for small lumps of money. Another cause of slavery came from wars, when the Egyptian army obtained captives; some were later used as slaves to better Egypt. Contrary to what most people think, slavery was quite rare before the New Kingdom was established. There were three different categories of tasks, and slaves would be assigned to one. The first deals with household cleanliness which means they took care of the Pharaoh and Nobles houses. Next, the second task is about mining and how the slaves mined in the royal mine which was owned by the state they were in. Finally, the third task requires the slave to help out the priests and take care of all of the Egyptian gods and their needs.

Female Slavery

Female slaves sometimes also had an extra task to perform. They sometimes were forced to have babies with others, and those babies occasionally ended up quite high in the Egyptian ladder of importance. Some examples of that would be Thutmose III, and Siptah both were pharaohs that were created this way. The children created this way were adopted by families, cutting off all access to the real mother. An interesting fact that ended the lives of many slaves, is that sometimes large amounts of slaves were executed when the current pharaoh had died, in an effort to have the slaves accompany the pharaoh to his afterlife.


References


Abu Simbel Temple - Slavery. 2005. Flickr. 15 Feb. 2008 http://flickr.com/photos/hussny/24623765.

Agizio, Muzio. Pharaoh. 2007. Flickr. 5 Feb. 2008 <http://flickr.com/photos/sybz/404936535/>.

Ancient Egypt. 1999. The British Museum. 15 Feb. 2008 http://www.ancientegypt.co.uk/menu.html

Andrews, Mark. "The Viziers of Ancient Egypt." Tour Egypt. 2003. 16 Feb. 2008 http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/vizier.htm.

Bayuk, Andrew. "Guardian's Egypt." Jan.-Feb. 2008. 15 Feb. 2008 http://guardians.net/egypt/.</span

Cheesman, Ian, ed. "Pharaoh." Wikipedia. 8 Feb. 2008. 8 Feb. 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharaohs>.

Dahl, Jeff, ed. "Ancient Egypt." Wikipedia. 4 Feb. 2008. 5 Feb. 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_egypt>.

"Iry-Hor." Wikipedia. 10 Jan. 2008. 9 Feb. 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iry-Hor>.

Kjeilen, Tore. "Ancient Egypt." Looklex Encyclopaedia. 2008. 16 Feb. 2008 <http://lexicorient.com/e.o/egypt_a.htm>.

McDevitt, April. "The Egyptian Farmer." Ancient Egypt. Aug.-Sept. 2007. 15 Feb. 2008 <http://www.egyptianmyths.net/farmer.htm>.

McDowell, Bart. Ancient Egypt, Discovering Its Splendors. 1st ed. Natl Geographic Society, 1977.

"Nile." Wikipedia. 16 Feb. 2008 <http://geography.about.com/od/specificplacesofinterest/a/nile.htm>.

Payne, Elizabeth A. The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt. 2nd ed. New York: Random House, 1981.

Robinson Jr., Charles A. Ancient Egypt. Comp. Lorna Greenberg. New York: F, Watts, 1984.

Royal Headdresses. 9 Feb. 2008 www.ancientegypt.co.uk/pharaoh/explore/bluec_b1.htmll.

Roy, Egyptian High Priest, British Museum. 2006. Flickr. 16 Feb. 2008 http://flickr.com/photos/barryslemmings/164292637.</span>

"Social Pyramid." 15 Feb. 2008. 15 Feb. 2008 <http://www.aldokkan.com/society/social_pyramid.htm>.

Toutant, Arnold, and Susan Doyle. Ancient Worlds. New York: Oxford UP, 2000. 100-101.

Wall Inscriptions, Medina Tabu. 2007. Flickr. 16 Feb. 2008 <http://flickr.com/photos/ollyd2311/2148864680/>.

(0386) L'Esfinx I La PiràMide De Giza, Egypt. 2007. Flickr. 16 Feb. 2008 http://flickr.com/photos/joanot/2114699177/.


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