How the Ancient Egyptian economy laid the groundwork for building the pyramids

Andreas Winkler, Departmental Lecturer in Egyptology and Coptic, University of Oxford writes this really cool piece.

The way these huge pyramids were funded seems to be quite similar to the way British used zamindari system of land settlements to collect taxes in India:

In general, the estates, together with towns, were the basic units of economic and societal organisation. The sources suggest that the crown did not tax individuals, such as farmers, since the administration does not seem to have been able to handle the detail of such a task on a countrywide basis. Instead, it burdened the heads of these estates, who were personally liable to deliver revenues to the coffers of the crown, and to ensure that the domain, which they oversaw, delivered the expected surplus. Failure to do so could result in physical punishment.

In order to calculate the revenues and thus how much tax would be paid to the royal administration, the crown conducted periodic censuses. Individuals were not counted but rather taxable goods, such as cattle, sheep and goats. It is also clear that other products were collected, such as fabrics and other types of handiwork.

The taxes that the state levied were amassed in granaries and treasuries and then redistributed back to estates or to building projects of various sorts. This could be the construction of a royal tomb and the upkeep of its mortuary cult. Evidence for how such a royal mortuary cult was run has been found at Abusir, just outside modern Cairo. These texts enlighten historians about the daily doings and dealings of the priests, and how the worship of the deceased king was connected to the royal administration and various other temples estates.

Read the whole thing…

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: