Ancient Egypt and Government
From its prehistoric origin as a society of hunter-gatherers in the
Nile delta valley, Ancient Egypt and government organization developed
in a span of over 3,500 years, to create a hierarchy of power capable
of administering a vast empire. Egypt's splendor and greatness could
only be made possible by the strong centralized government structure
of Ancient Egypt, capable of controlling and placing raw materials and
labor resources at the service of the head of state, the pharaoh. He
was the only landholder, high priest, chief judge and military commander
in ancient Egypt.
Ancient Egypt and Government Hierarchy
Image via Wikipedia
Directly below the pharaoh was the vizier, or tjaty, running all aspects of Ancient Egypt laws and government on the ruler's behalf. The position was very powerful and, like that of king, it passed from father to son. As overseer of all public works, the vizier exercised direct control of the economy, through the collection of taxes in the form of cattle, grain and other material resources and laborers for the pharaohs building projects and army.
During the 18th Dynasty, the pharaohs relied on two viziers, one for Lower and another for Upper Egypt, mainly to keep their rising power in check.
More government efficiency was attained by dividing the country into sepat, administrative districts known by the Greek term, nome, each which a pharaoh-appointed governor or nomarch. These were responsible for the affairs of the state, tax collection, security and the people's welfare.
Memphis was the ancient capital of the first nome of Lower Egypt and of the Old Kingdom from its foundation until around 1300 BC. Saqqara and Giza, well known by Egypt travelers, are actually necropolises for the ancient inhabitants of Memphis, and thus important archaeological sites.
Thebes was the capital of Waset, the fourth Upper Egyptian nome. It rose to become Egypt's capital during the height of Egyptian civilization. Present day Luxor and Karnak, as well as the West Bank of the Nile, are among the most visited sites by both tourists and archaeologists.
Theocracy is another significant element of Ancient Egypt and government, with the priests establishing a noble class of its own. The high priests of Amon at Thebes, in particular, gathered enough political power during the 18th Dynasty to become a menace to the absolute rule of the pharaoh.
Category: Ancient Egypt