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Life in Ancient Egypt in the Time of the Pharaohs{Part One}

posted 10 Jul 2011, 02:31 by Manal Raafat
Introduction to Ancient Egypt 

Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of eastern North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh. The history of ancient Egypt occurred in a series of stable Kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods. The Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age. Egypt reached the top of its power during the New Kingdom { Egyptian Empire }, in the Ramesside period { after the eleven pharaohs that took the name of Ramesses }, after which it entered a period of slow decline. Egypt was conquered by a succession of foreign powers in this late period.Egypt was conquered by a succession of foreign powers in this late period. The success of ancient Egyptian civilization came partly from its ability to adapt to the conditions of the Nile River Valley.Life in ancient Egypt was centered largely on agriculture. The predictable flooding and controlled irrigation of the fertile valley produced surplus crops, which fueled social development and culture . The many achievements of the ancient Egyptians include the quarrying, surveying and construction techniques that facilitated the building of monumental pyramids, temples, and obelisks; a system of mathematics, a practical and effective system of medicine, irrigation systems and agricultural production techniques, the first known ships, Egyptian faience and glass technology, new forms of literature, and the earliest known peace treaty . Egypt left a lasting legacy. Its art and architecture were widely copied, and its antiquities carried off to far corners of the world.

  Administration and commerce 
The pharaoh was the absolute monarch of the country and, wielded complete control of the land and its resources.The king was the supreme military commander and head of the government,who relied on a bureaucracy of officials to manage his affairs . The vizier, who acted as the king's representative . Ancient Egyptians did not use coinage until the Late period , they were using a type of money-barter system. During the 5th century BC coined money was introduced into Egypt from abroad. At first the coins were used as standardized pieces of precious metal rather than true money, but in the following centuries international traders came to rely on coinage. Grain could be traded for other goods, according to the fixed price list.

Social status
Egyptian society was highly stratified, and social status was expressly displayed .
 **Farmers made up the bulk of the population,but agricultural produce was owned directly by the state, temple, or noble family that owned the land.Farmers were also subject to a labor tax and were required to work on irrigation or construction projects in a corvée system. 
**Artists and craftsmen were of higher status than farmers, but they were also under state control, working in the shops attached to the temples and paid directly from the state treasury.
 **Scribes and officials formed the upper class in ancient Egypt .
 **The so-called "white kilt class" in reference to the bleached linen garments that served as a mark of their rank.
 **The upper class prominently displayed their social status in art and literature. Below the nobility were the priests, physicians, and engineers with specialized training in their field. 
**Slavery was known in ancient Egypt , but the extent is not clear . 
  The ancient Egyptians viewed men and women, including people from all social classes except slaves, as essentially equal under the law.
Both men and women had the right to own and sell property, make contracts, marry and divorce, receive inheritance, and pursue legal disputes in court. Compared with their counterparts in ancient Greece, Rome, and even more modern places around the world, ancient Egyptian women had a greater range of personal choices and opportunities for achievement. Women such as Hatshepsut and Cleopatra even became pharaohs. Despite these freedoms,Egyptian women were not as likely to be as educated as men.

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