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A controversial topic: Slavery
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2004 11:06 am    Post subject: A controversial topic: Slavery Reply with quote

What was slavery like in Egyptian times? I've heard a wide range of opinions on this subject-some people claiming that slavery was quite minor, as in that there there were personal house slaves and servants, for the rich, but not much else.
And then of course you have the theories that the Egyptians enslaved huge amounts of people (especially foreigners and commoners), mainly to build pyramids. (One theory which i don't like is the theory that the Hebrew slaves built the pyramids. That is blatantly untrue because the pyramids were built waaaaaaay before that! But I'm still unsure as to whether or not the pyramids were built by slaves or not.) I've even seen the theory that the Hebrews were not really 'enslaved' by the Egyptians at all.
Any opinions, debates, views on this subject?
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Meresankh
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2004 1:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've read that slavery proper only existed in ancient Egypt during the New Kingdom. Before and after that, there were only various levels of "indentured servitude", i.e where someone was obliged to work for someone for a period of time, but was not otherwise a slave. It's generally considered that the pyramids weren't built by slaves, but that most of the workers were people who could be spared from agricultural labour during the Nile flood. Smile
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2004 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw something on the tv once that showed that the pyramid builders were very well looked after and were paid well too. It seems that it was voluntary/seasonal work, and recent evidence seems to be dispelling the image of cruel pharaohs with whips slavedriving thousands of people to build the pyramids, and I think that idea comes from Hollywood anyway, and you know how Hollywood sometimes distorts history Laughing
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Steve
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2004 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I saw one about the same thing on discovery but they said the workers where drafted and paid in food and lodgings and once they where done there time they went back to there normal lives. Slaves difenatley existed, but somehow I dont think they built monuments, almost every ancient civilization had slaves, but it was different from the attrocities of the black slave trade during and before the civil war. Slaves where definatley looked after because they where probably expensive, and why would you kill off your investment by starving and beating it so it cant work?
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Segereh
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PostPosted: Wed May 19, 2004 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Pyramid-workers were an elite actually - if u can speak of a working man's elite in any case. They were highly regarded for their work on Pharaoh's eternity, lived in a temporary city to house a certain 10.000 men (families inc.) and some of the foremen were even allowed a burial place in the distant shadow of graves of the happy few of High Society.

Slavery was, much like in Roman times, not even a strictly hereditary system. I believe Bay, a king-maker during the late 19th dynasty was a grandson of a slave. This could be lore, since we do not know a lot concerning the guy, but it reminds me of the Mamluks in later Egypt, coming from slave-families under Saladin to become rulers of Egypt.
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Steve
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PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2004 2:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

there is no proof they where an elite work force they just think they may have been because of the city they found on the plateau, but that dosent prove anything. A slave is just a worker that is owned by the state or by an individual, I personaly belive in the draft theory, but that dosent mean they werent an elite workforce.
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Segereh
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PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2004 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

U say they're slaves again. Some of them were buried in the vicinity of the pyramid graves though and it's a fact that they took pride out of working so closely for the pharaoh. I think it's just a hard-to-overcome myth about slaves working on the pyramids.
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Steve
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PostPosted: Thu May 20, 2004 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I dont belive in holy woods version of the slaves........ I do belive however that the work force could have very well been a slave force, Im not saying they where but im noit saying they werent either. There is evidence that they where but there is evidence to the contrary to....
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PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2004 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The workers on the pyramids were paid, and were supplied with medical assistance. There is hard evidence of bones being set and possibly even brain surgery (dubious outcome of the surgery though). The workmanship on the huge stones was quite obviously not done by the uneducated masses - the initial hewing probably but not the finishing.
Add to that, as Bart said, the privilege of burial nearby, and I think more a practical solution to the unemployed farmers during the inundation season. With no need whatsoever for the outdated slaves theory - Hebrews or otherwise.
Slavery, such that it was, is widely accepted to have been introduced into Egypt by the Hyksos rulers - New Kingdom - Not Old.
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Segereh
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PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2004 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Exactly my thoughts, little mushroom. I'd suggest everyone interested in this topic to read Mark Lehner's "Pyramids", describing to the very small details the organisation of working man's shifts and teams at the sites of the pyramids. These texts are not mere opinions or suggestions, but based on strong and generally excepted evidence. A must for anyone who likes his ideas to depend on facts.

I'd quote from it, but I've got a Dutch version. I won't pain u with a Dutch chapter, don't pain me with asking to translate. Cool
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Steve
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PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2004 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

another thing is also the exodus is said to take place in Ramases the great reign according to bilical archiologists.......... the bible cleary states that the hebrew where working on the pyramids, but all the pyramids where already built by the time Ramases came around. Perhaps somewhere along the line (which happens very often when translating a book to language to language) could pyramids actualy mean monuments like abu Simbel because no one can deny the fact that Ramases was a tyrant and used his power to solidify his rule. Although I still belive in the new theorys that the builders where Egyptian and where treated really well.. perhaps the old story is true after all for all we know! But I also belive the most believable theory is the draft theory because lets be honest Pharaoh asks for volunteers to move heavy stones alllll day long in the scorching heat....... who do you think would volunteer no matter how much they loved the pharaoh!
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Segereh
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PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2004 8:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I never really payed much attention to the Ramses II-exodus. Fact: the Bible doesn't mention Pi-Ramses as capital city, but No-Amon, Thebes.

My idea: Merneptah ruled from Thebes for a while, during the first combined invasions of Lybians and the 'Sea People' (who struck again under the underestimated Ramses III). This seems to me to be a rather decent background for a (forced) emigration of (in that case) hostile semite tribes.

It's tradition turned backwards, I know, it's not for being a pain though. It's just an idea.
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Steve
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PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2004 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

its a good theory though
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2004 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've heard so many theories as who the Exodus pharaoh was. And I really think that the 'pyramids built by Hebrews' theory is outdated and inaccurate.
I don't think Ramses was a tyrant-a megalomaniac maybe, but he didn't mistreat the people of Egypt. (i don't want to get too political here...)
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Segereh
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PostPosted: Sat May 22, 2004 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The ones who have stuck around since I joined already know a little of my views on Ramses II. Still thinking he's a megalomanious sex-crazed overcompensating under-achiever. He built a lot though, but he was also the first one to be an active series-work builder. Meaning every one of his statues is practically an identical copy of the others. I really like the black one where he's seated, holding his sceptres, wearing the high blue crown. But that one actually was built for his father Cool

I'm exagerating just a little bit. I know, back to topic Smile
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