Social Labor Organization in Ancient Egyptian Society - Sociology of Labor

Social organization of labor in ancient Egyptian society

No less ancient than the Sumerian, is the culture of Ancient Egypt. Initially, the Nile delta was inhabited by shepherd tribes, who had developed a clan system and dominated the cult of ancestors. As the desertification of North Africa, these tribes gradually moved to agriculture. In the technique of irrigation agriculture nothing new has appeared. In addition to barley, the Egyptians grew wheat (polbu and emer). Like the Sumerians, they did not invent mills and used graters, but the Egyptians knew what yeast was, and up to 30 varieties of bread were baked in the New Kingdom era.

The Egyptians, in contrast to the Sumerians, loved meat food. They grew huge African bulls "Iua", which were fed so that the animals could no longer walk. In addition to livestock, the source of meat was hunting gazelles, antelopes and even hyenas. Birds, ducks, geese were caught, but domestic chicken appeared only in the II millennium BC. The Egyptians learned how to work with bees, sweet honey was considered a delicacy. Egyptians drank, as well as Sumerians, beer, and mastered and winemaking. Kitchen utensils included a clay oven, various iron braziers and barbecues, kazans and pots. The dishes were made of clay and the most durable - stone. The manufacture of stone dishes by hand, without turning and other machines, required hard work. At the same time there were no cutlery yet, ate mostly with hands.

In the field of construction craft Egyptians have achieved perfection: instead of Sumerian clay brick, they began to master stone works. Everybody knows the Egyptian pyramids, in particular, the stepped pyramid of Djoser (about 2650 BC), reminiscent of Sumerian ziggurats, the pyramid of Cheops (about 2560-2540 BC) and Khafre (circa 2540 -2520 BC). The large pyramids in Giza demanded the construction of huge labor costs: 1 billion man-hours per each.

An interesting fact.

For the smooth operation of the creation of the Great Pyramid Khufu (Cheops), a whole city of builders was founded. It was simultaneously built up to 100 thousand people for 20 years. In the profession of builders, architects, engineers (striking accuracy of calculations, error in orienting the sides of the pyramid is 1/12 degrees), foremen, brigadiers, rockets (cut blocks from the rock with bronze chisels, it was known that they could cut down a granite block 30 meters long for stellas or columns and deliver it intact for thousands of kilometers), carriers and stone grinders. The carpenters already had the entire arsenal of carpentry tools known today (except for the plane). In a separate caste included chariot collectors, in which the main part were wooden wheels with spokes.

All work on the construction was perfectly organized: all the workers were divided into teams, those in turn to brigades of 10 people, each headed by a brigadier. The builders considered themselves to be free people, their social status was relatively high.

The intellectual elite of the Egyptian society also included priests, scribes, managers (the whole kingdom was divided into 42 regions with its administrative apparatus). Below, on the social ladder there were soldiers, artisans (potters, weavers, masons, carpenters, blacksmiths, sculptors, artists, sailors, traders, jewelers, hairdressers, shoemakers); even lower - peasants, shepherds and fishermen; slaves were mainly employed as servants (they could have their own family and property) and did not play a significant role in the social work of the Egyptians.

The main economic relationship was distribution. Exchange in the country to a greater extent existed in kind (money was used only as a change in the case of a natural exchange). International exchange developed on the basis of maritime trade. Already in the III millennium BC. Egyptians learned how to build ships from boards connected by leather belts, crevices were closed with papyrus.

The social organization of labor in ancient Egypt assumed a large number of public works. Peasants (fellahi) were engaged in agriculture no more than half a year, all the rest of the time they were used for works for state purposes. The land in Egypt belonged to communities as well as to temples and pharaoh, but private property was also known. Such a social organization of labor under the ubiquitous influence of the state, redistribution and public works was called the "Asian mode of production", which, strictly speaking, differs from the ancient one, which did not presuppose any irrigation farming with the central role of state power and government. An ancient way of production was built on the economy of individual families (oikos and oikonomika) and communities, on the exchange of money and the great value of slave labor.

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