Walk like an Egyptian ... A closer look at ancient Egyptian people.
Probably the most defining aspect of ancient Egyptian people was the well functioning structure of their society. Sure if you were at the bottom of the social pyramid you could not aspire for much more, but then again, maybe the simple life was truly the good life.
No, we are not talking about the ones made from stone here. We are talking about the metaphorical social pyramid structure. One that was just as strong and everlasting as their solid structure counterparts. So lets break it down into its parts and take a look.
All hail the King
Obviously at the very top was the Pharaoh. He was the pinnacle that reached up into the sky, closer to the gods. In many cases, such as Ramesses II, they were considered god-like or as close as any mortal human could get to becoming one.
Also we can squeeze the royal family into a narrow place just below. After all it was more than likely that the queen was the next most important, closely followed by the oldest son who was next in line to rule.
Keeping the gods happy
The religious aspects of ancient Egyptian society were critical to their daily life. The gods had to be pleased for crops to grow and for the deceased to make it successfully into the afterlife. But the gods were high maintenance, requiring smooth talking, hard working and well trained individuals to keep them smiling.
That's where the priests came in. They performed daily rituals and kept the temples in tip top shape. They were second only in line to the Pharaoh but were extremely influential in much of the decision making in major projects.
A life of luxury
Further down the line where the pyramid starts to fatten out a little was the Noble class. These gentlemen and ladies enjoyed a lifestyle that sat higher than today's middle class but lower than the filthy rich.
where as the lower classes did not enjoy the same standard of living as the Nobles, the higher classes were under more pressure and more critical outcomes hinged on their decisions and actions. So sitting right in the middle was arguably the best place to be in ancient Egypt.
The Nobles could afford better clothes, better food and more than likely a higher life expectancy. There were government officials or politically based occupations in this class.
There was probably no sharp dividing line between Nobles with government type positions and those with other upper stature forms of employment where education was needed. Military leaders, landowners and treasurers enjoyed a similar lifestyle to those above.
Scribes were also considered highly because of their education in important writing skills but they were at the bottom of this group.
Working class man
These were the wheels under the Egyptian train. They were the ones who built the furniture, who constructed the pyramids, who made the houses and ploughed the fields.
Agriculture was pivotal to Egypt's survival and many hands were needed in the industry. But even though they grew the crops and raised the cattle there was rarely a steak on their plates or wine in their glasses. They shared a basic existence with little or no chance to change their fortune.
Servants occupied the floor of the class pyramid.
Over the years debate has see-sawed over whether the pyramids were constructed by a slave labour force or willing workers. The latter is the more modern popular opinion.
By all accounts ancient Egyptian people served their king without toiling under a cracking whip. Their did not appear to be any social uprisings against these projects or revolutions like in Russia.
And the pictorial history of Egypt found in the form of paintings, drawings and other art forms suggest that whatever your class, everyday family life for ancient Egyptian people was not dissimilar to today. You grew up, got married,carried on a form of employment and hopefully died with an honest reputation intact that got you into the right places afterwards.
So let's dissect aspects of ancient Egyptian people a little further with the links below.
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