The building of the pyramids was only possible thanks to the unique economic system in ancient Egypt. Between 2700 and 2160 BC, the earth was able to generate huge amounts of energy, and the pyramids were an essential part of its economy.

The monarch gave work to tens of thousands of men on whom their family members depended. Historians speak of the economy of the Old Empire as a unique combination of Keynesianism – that is, central intervention in the economy – and decentralization. The individual administrative units mainly operated independently. But the critical prerequisite was tax collection.

“Central taxation contributed to an increase in labor and production. This created the wealth needed to build the pyramids,” summed Egyptologist David Warburton.

Tombs, not cities

Contemporary historians generally reject Herodot’s former theory that the pyramids built hundreds of thousands of slaves. The British Egyptologist John Romer refuted it.

In his 2008 Great Pyramid, he substantiated his claims, for example, by the fact that the creation of a hundred thousand labor force in Egypt at that time, with a population of about 1.6 million people, would cause an economic disaster. There is no one to work in the fields. According to him, Khufu’s pyramid was built by 21,000 workers for 20 years.

Moreover, archaeological findings from modern times show that the pyramids were built by workers who received regular wages for their work. Paying and providing shelter to this workforce was not a cheap matter.

“Most Egyptian sources went to the construction of temples and tombs, especially the royal ones,” said Egyptian scientist Rosalie David in her publication The Builders of the Pyramids of Ancient Egypt.

building-of-the-pyramids

The building of the pyramids in ancient Egypt was a massive undertaking that had a significant impact on the country's economic system.

Here’s why and how:

Why:

The pyramids were built as tombs for pharaohs and their consorts, and they were believed to be essential in ensuring the pharaoh’s safe passage to the afterlife. The pharaohs were considered to be divine, and their tombs were designed to reflect their status and importance. The pyramids were also intended to be a symbol of the pharaoh’s power and the wealth of the kingdom.

How:

Labor: The construction of the pyramids required an enormous amount of labor, which was primarily provided by the local population. Farmers and other laborers were conscripted to work on the pyramids for several months each year, and they were compensated with food and other goods. The construction of the pyramids was a significant drain on the economy, as it required the mobilization of a large portion of the population for labor.

Resources: The construction of the pyramids required an enormous amount of resources, including stone, timber, and metal. These resources had to be transported from all over the kingdom, which required a well-organized system of transportation and distribution. The government was responsible for coordinating the transportation of these resources, which put a strain on the already centralized economic system.

Craftsmanship: The construction of the pyramids also required skilled craftsmen, such as stonecutters and masons. These craftsmen were highly valued and were often compensated with goods and other benefits. The construction of the pyramids led to the development of new construction techniques and technologies, which contributed to the advancement of the economy.

Trade: The construction of the pyramids also had an impact on international trade. The ancient Egyptians traded goods such as gold, ivory, and incense, which were used to finance the construction of the pyramids. The pyramids were also a symbol of the kingdom’s power and wealth, which helped to attract traders and merchants from other countries.

In summary,

the building of the pyramids in ancient Egypt had a significant impact on the country’s economic system. It required an enormous amount of labor and resources, which put a strain on the centralized economic system. However, it also led to the development of new technologies and construction techniques and contributed to the advancement of the economy. The pyramids were also a symbol of the kingdom’s power and wealth, which helped to attract traders and merchants from other countries.

economic-system

Thus, Egypt was different from other ancient empires;

For example,

in Mesopotamia, resources were mainly spent on building cities. In Egypt, on the other hand, urbanization did not take hold during the Old Kingdom.

According to Christopher Eyre, Professor of Archeology at Liverpool University, small farm villages were formed by the gradual colonization of the banks of the Nile without the intervention of central power.

However,

this structure became a problem for the monarch at a time when he needed to collect taxes from the population. “It is unlikely that the royal collector will be sufficiently informed about the provincial structure, wealth, and needs only from occasional visits,” writes archaeologist Leslie Anne Warden in the book Pottery and Economy in the Egyptian Old Empire.

In the Old Kingdom, taxes represented the dominant income of the state coffers. The country was divided into administrative units, the so-called nomy, headed by administrators. The sovereign transferred responsibility for collecting taxes to them, and if they were unable to fulfill their duty, they faced physical punishments.

“To calculate income, and hence the amount of tax for the government, the monarch conducted regular censuses,” said historian Andreas Winkler of Oxford University. Instead of taxing the individual, Pharaoh determined the tax on the basis of an estimate of the goods and raw materials available.

Administrators were responsible for the quality

The fee to the state treasury was paid in various forms, accumulated in state warehouses where the monarch distributed it as needed back to the nomas, or used it for his construction projects.

“In many ways, redistribution is the dominant element of the Old Kingdom’s economy. The newer models show high social and economic complexity and provide an interesting insight into a vital economic system with many levels of control and interaction,” Warden writes.

The economic system of ancient Egypt was relatively stable, with the government playing a central role in ensuring the distribution of resources and goods. This stability contributed to the longevity of the civilization, which lasted for over 3,000 years.

The network of state warehouses, production centers, and agricultural centers contributed to the interconnection of the economy. “Agricultural products have been available to both local governments and the royal administration,” describes the nominee system of Egyptologist Juan Carlos Moreno García.

The functioning of each area was essential for the empire. Their administrators had to do high-quality administrative work, for which they were rewarded in the case of fulfilling their duties.

The building of the pyramids also depended on them. The Pharaoh could have asked them to pay a tax in the form of labor for his tomb. According to Winkler, the administrators were also responsible for ensuring that their workers had enough food, clothes, and a roof over their heads.

Interesting facts about unique economic system in ancient Egypt

  1. The economy was primarily based on agriculture, with the Nile River providing fertile land and a steady supply of water.

  2. The pharaoh and the elite class controlled most of the resources and land, and the government was responsible for the distribution of resources and goods.

  3. There was no concept of money in ancient Egypt, and the primary means of trade was through a barter system.

  4. The ancient Egyptians were skilled craftsmen and artists, creating beautiful pottery, jewelry, and textiles that were traded both within the country and internationally.

  5. Slavery was present in ancient Egypt, but the number of slaves was relatively low compared to other ancient civilizations.

Summary:

The economic system of ancient Egypt was unique in several ways. It was largely centralized, with the pharaoh and the government controlling most of the resources and goods. The economy was primarily based on agriculture, with the Nile River providing the necessary resources for farming. The ancient Egyptians engaged in international trade, despite the lack of a currency system. The society was hierarchical, with the pharaoh and the elite class controlling most of the resources and land. However, the economy was relatively stable, which contributed to the longevity of the civilization. The ancient Egyptians were skilled craftsmen and artists, and their goods were traded both within the country and internationally.

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