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VI. “El Fiel de la Balanza”: Aristocracy and Institution in Middle Egypt

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Chapter Summary

Across the Twenty-Fifth and Twenty-Sixth Dynasties, the allegiance of Middle Egypt not only shifted the balance of power but also served as the chief indicator by which those shifts could be gauged: "el fiel de la balanza". The transition from the Twenty-Fifth to Twenty-Sixth Dynasty was imagined as a triumph of institutions over aristocracy, of nationalism over tribalism. Neither the Saïtes nor the Kushites exhibited such a marked and systematic distaste for tribal aristocracy in favor of institutions. On the contrary, the office of Harbor Master and possibly also the institution of the Qnb.t-court were allowed to obsolesce under Saïtes rule, and the post of High Priest of Amun was eventually folded into that of God's Wife so that one Saïtes scion could lay claim to both. Such processes are perhaps best understood as the triumph of one aristocracy over several others, rather than of institution over aristocracy.

Keywords: aristocracy; el fiel de la balanza; institutions; Kushites; Middle Egypt; Saïtes; Twenty-Fifth Dynasty

10.1163/9789004262959_007
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