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8 The State of the Egyptian Economy

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Chapter Summary

Human systems are rarely simple or easily reified. The economy of Old Kingdom Egypt was composed of many players and many institutions and presents a complexity best approached by combining multiple lines of evidence from multiple social tiers. This chapter approaches the economy of Old Kingdom Egypt through not only texts but rather primarily through archaeology and artifacts. It focuses on ceramic analysis, the fruits of these analyses speak to multiple economic aspects: the structure of the ceramic industry, control and distribution of foodstuffs, relationships between multiple industries, and government access to and interaction with provincial life. Beer jars and bread moulds, specifically, routinely impacted the widest range of Egyptians and therefore encode information about all socioeconomic classes. Pots represent an avenue to the 'big picture' of the Egyptian economy.

Keywords: Beer jars; bread moulds; ceramic industry; Egyptian economy; Memphite royal house



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