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2 Wages and Payers

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Chapter Summary

Bread and beer, two very basic consumables which constituted the basis of the Egyptian diet, appear to have been the most fundamental commodities comprising wage payments, while other goods could be added or substituted occasionally. Linen was frequently used as a wage, though it does not appear to have been as universal as bread and beer and rarely stood as a payment on its own. The archaeological record cannot verify the role of linen in wage payments as little linen has survived. Textual evidence shows wage payments being made by two authorities: the central government and private individuals. The authority paying the wages was the authority benefitting from the labor. When an individual worked for a royal funerary temple, he was paid by the state; when an individual helped build a private mastaba, he was paid directly by the owner of that mastaba.

Keywords: archaeological record; beer; bread; central government; Egypt; linen; private mastaba; wage payments



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