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1 Egyptian Economic History: Locating Power, Placing Agency

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Chapter Summary

The economy of Old Kingdom Egypt is poorly understood at the level of its macroeconomic structure. Models for the economic world of the Old Kingdom tend to be influenced, consciously or unconsciously, by the pyramids. These large constructions seem to speak of an Egyptian state in charge of all resources, controlling all land and labor in the country. This chapter presents an overview of four economic theories (employing theory, theory of redistribution, Keynes' General Theory, modern economic theory) which have been employed to understand the Old Kingdom economy. While redistribution is in many ways the dominant paradigm, newer models embrace greater social and economic complexity and present an intriguing view of a vital economic system fostering many levels of control and economic interaction. Archaeological data can forward inquiry into the structure and complexity of the economy, but only when used in tandem with economic theories.

Keywords: archaeological data; employing theory; Keynes' General Theory; macroeconomic structure; modern economic theory; Old Kingdom Egypt; theory of redistribution

10.1163/9789004259850_002
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