Introduction to ancient Egyptian civilization Life in ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt can be thought of as an oasis in the desert of northeastern Africa, dependent on the annual inundation of the Nile River to support its agricultural population. Between the floodplain and the hills is a variable band of low desert that supported a certain amount of game. To the south lay the far less hospitable area of Nubiain which the river flowed through low sandstone hills that in most regions left only a very narrow strip of cultivable land. West of the Nile was the arid Saharabroken by a chain of oases some to miles to km from the river and lacking in all other resources except for a few minerals.
The social classes in ancient Egypt: The nobilitythe intelligentsialabourthe outcast the military and priesthoodsocial stability Search Opening in a new window Printout Ancient egyptian writing and education best results save the whole page pictures included onto your hard disk, open the page with Word 97 or higher, edit if necessary and print.
Interestingly he left out slaves, called "tools that speak" by the Greeks and barely considered human, and peasants. Now of the Egyptians there are seven classes, and of these one class is called that of the priests, and another that of the warriors, while the others are the cowherds, swineherds, shopkeepers, interpreters, and boatmen.
This is the number of the classes of the Egyptians, and their names are given them from the occupations which they follow.
When they had appointed a king, they divided the people into three classes, into soldiers, husbandmen, and priests. The latter had the care of everything relating to sacred things of the godsthe others of what related to man; some had the management of warlike affairs, others attended to the concerns of peace, the cultivation of the ground, and the practice of the arts, from which the king derived his revenue.
The priests devoted themselves to the study of philosophy and astronomy, and were companions of the kings. It is not easy for us to gauge how deep the social divides were and how difficult it was to cross them, and even harder to understand how the ancient Egyptians perceived social groupings.
Some people rose from humble standings and ended their careers in positions of authority. In traditionalistic societies, as existed in the Europe of the Late Middle Ages for instance, they and their offspring would not be accepted as social equals by those who had inherited such positions from ancient forebears, for generations.
In Egyptian texts the basic equality of men is often averred, e. But their hearts have resisted my commandments. Thanks to tomb inscriptions we know how the deceased thought of their own social position, but only as part of their official relationship with the king: Others had ancestors whom they referred to: I surpassed the feats of the ancestors Ankhtifi or I remitted all imposts which I found counted by my fathers Kheti II.
The members of these two groups were part of the inner circle of power, men who thought of themselves as elevated above the masses but immeasurably below the king, the living god. Harwa, a descendant of a Theban priestly family who came to rule part of Lower Egypt saw himself as part of this nobility For I am a noble for whom one should act, One sound of heart to the end of life.
At least the wealthier ones were proud of their position, relative independence and achievements: I was a respected citizen at the head of the army on the day of difficulty, praised by his lord and his court. Except for occasional local discontinuities that occur due to ecological, economic, or political events, Pre-dynastic Egypt evolved steadily into a more stratified society without great disruption.
From the unification of the country onward, a diminutive rich upper class ruled with the help of a small scribal administration over the masses of Egyptian workers and peasants living barely above subsistence level, soaking up most of the surplus the labour of the workers produced.
This development reached an apex during the beginning of the pyramid age, when the building of the royal tombs and mortuary temples required the effort of the whole nation, setting the pharaoh apart from the other members of the upper class.
It was followed by a decline in the wealth and power of the pharaohs and their families and by the rise of the local nobility during the late Old Kingdom and the First Intermediate Period. After the 12th dynasty monarchs gained power over the country, they relied heavily on the services of the scribal class which remained the mainstay of authority throughout pharaonic history.
The nobility The status of the local nobility was more independent of the central authority than that of the royal administrators who flourished around the person of the king.
The nomarchs, who formed part of the royal administration, were generally chosen from among these noblemen. During the late Old Kingdom the position of these nomarchical families became so strong that rule over the nomes became virtually hereditary. The courts of the local nobility vied at times with the royal centre for cultural predominance.
They were generally pillars of social stability, provided local political cohesion to their regions in times of failing central power and from their midst often emerged new royal lines.
While the pharaohs as living gods were considered to be immeasurably above other members of their own social class, it was generally among the nobility that they looked for social contact, military leadership and political advice.Egyptian School. Formal education in ancient Egypt was mostly reserved for the boys of wealthier families.
Although there is some evidence that occasionally, girls . A fantastic resource, useful to support independent writing tasks that you may set for your children in this topic. Why not also check out our lovely ancient egypt resources?
A very useful resource when teaching children about hieroglyphs and the Ancient Egyptians.
Ancient Egyptian religion was a complex system of polytheistic beliefs and rituals which were an integral part of ancient Egyptian society. It centered on the Egyptians' interaction with many deities who were believed to be present in, and in control of, the world.
Rituals such as prayers and offerings were efforts to provide for the gods and gain their favor. Follow up learning about ancient Egypt with a word search that features some great vocabulary about ancient Egyptian life.
The social classes in ancient Egypt Two ancient views of Egyptian society, the first belonging to a king, Ramses III, who thought of his people as composed of noblemen, administrators, soldiers, personal attendants, and a multitude of citizens.. the princes, and leaders of the land, the infantry and chariotry, the Sherden, the numerous archers, and all the citizens of the land of Egypt.