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Ancient Egyptian Monuments Part 1

Ancient Egyptian Monuments, Ancient Egypt Monuments, Ancient Egyptian, Ancient Egypt, New Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, Dynasty 18, Tuthmosis III, Hatshepsut, Amenhotep III, Ahmose I, Ramses II

Egyptian hieroglyph and Society

Egypt was the first territorial state in history, a monarchy legitimized by cosmology, founded on a society of growing complexity based in its turn on a wide reaching division of labor. This basic structure forced Egypt to develop a complex and effective administration. From Early Dynastic period until Predynastic Period, its ruling class was centered on a royal court, and civil service was its principal path to advancement and financial gains. Language constituted the adhesive force and the communicative flux of this society.

Its organization was founded on and doubly bound to theological reasoning, and much effort was spent on formulating, writing, and rewriting decorum texts, official and self fashioning verbal representations. Speaking well and well regulated eloquence were called for in councils, a prerequisite to court office and an integral part of etiquette. Independently of the individuals standing in society, it conveyed prestige and granted social acceptance. The ability to read and write was the entrance ticket to a career and to professional advancement; there were schools in the royal residence and connected to the temples, but formal education was short and followed by sometimes very long on the job training. Professional specialization was common; the administrative officials were trained mainly in Hieratic, while priests and temple officials, designers, and specific groups of artisans and workmen commanded both Hieratic and hieroglyphic scripts with varying degrees of proficiency.

In the Middle Kingdom, the growing density of educational facilities led to the emergence of literary texts designed to further social self fashioning (teachings and complaints) and to provide entertainment (fictional narratives); a selection of these texts was to become school reading in the New Kingdom. During periods of instability of the central administration (Intermediate periods) and toward the end of Egyptian civilization, literacy decreased, as did the general level of knowledge. Literacy has been calculated as I percent of the population of I to L5 million, on the basis of adult male office-holders in the Memphite necropolis of the Old Kingdom (cf. Baines I984). These figures allow for possibly higher rates in the New Kingdom, but they presumably underestimate the size of the gray area of non-professionals on the periphery of a society that rated literacy as highly as Egyptian society did.

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