In ancient Egypt, slavery was prevalent. However, theory and practice of slavery in Egypt was considered different from those of Greece, Rome, or the southern states of America in the ancient days. Slaves in Egypt were either prisoners of war or traded by slave merchants (debt slaves), however, both types of slaves were allowed to be free after serving for a certain period of time. Some of the slaves who came originally from Egypt were often children from poor families who were sold into slavery. While the rest of the slaves were people from Meroe and Kush, south of Egypt and Libya.
As we learnt in our Egyptian lecture, it was presumed that thousands of slaves toiled under hard conditions to build the pyramids. However, it was later realised that the builders of the pyramids were free Egyptians who committed themselves to the building project. So then, what were slaves for in Ancient Egypt? Slaves in Egypt were mainly fieldworkers. However, there were also other types of slaves such as house cleaners, nannies, wet nurses, cooks, skilled dancers, musicians and accountants. A master might employ a slave for domestic uses such as guardians of their children, brewers and maids or for other outdoor uses such as gardeners. Slaves might also be required for trading aids whereby the slave would have to learn how to excel in trading. Educated slaves could also become managers of their master’s estate.
So, as part of our third blog post, we decided to “stalk” a private Facebook group of the ancient Egyptian slaves. Do visit the link below to get an insight of the daily lives of some of the slaves mentioned above. The history of slaves dates back to the Old Kingdom in the Third Dynasty around 2670 BC all the way to the New Kingdom in 1544 BC, with a surge of Hebrews becoming slaves, coming in during the Middle Kingdom due to the drought in Europe. They had been enslaved for about 400 years. The historians however, have been unable to pinpoint exactly how different slaves are treated between each of these time periods. Thus for easy understanding, this Facebook group will be set in about 14th century BC.
Please click on the link below to view the Facebook Group!
Through this post, we learnt that the slaves in Ancient Egypt did not all have the same plight due to some historical underpinnings. For example, the Hebrews. Different types of slaves led different types of lives. Some of them were slaves voluntarily while others were forced. The diversity in the lives they led was a result of the different personal issues that they faced. We chose the Facebook portal to convey this content on Ancient Egyptian slaves as we imagined how they would have expressed their sentiments through informal anecdotal reflections with other slaves in their community.