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image of Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

The author analyses the social background of agriculture in Old Kingdom Egypt as well as the interaction of its main constituents : institutions, peasants and the royal taxes. The impact of the foundation of royal farms and temples on peasant communities enhanced the position of the local elite, which became gradually incorporated into the State administration as the local representative of the Pharaoh. Social inequalities also increased on the long term, as some peasants became heavily indebted whereas rural potentates acquired land, serfs and flocks. The final result was the weakening of the State and the struggle for power by the members of the rural elite enriched during this process.

L'auteur analyse l'organisation sociale de l'agriculture égyptienne pendant l'Ancien Empire, ainsi que les rapports existant entre ses éléments les plus importants : d'une part les institutions, d'autre part les paysans et, finalement, les impôts et les taxes prélevés par l'Etat. La fondation de temples et d'exploitations agricoles de la couronne contribua à renforcer la condition sociale des élites locales, de plus en plus intégrées dans l'appareil de l'Etat en tant que représentantes locales du Pharaon. Des inégalités sociales apparurent aussi au cours du temps, puisque certains secteurs de la paysannerie devinrent endettés en même temps que les potentats ruraux cumulaient des terres, des serfs et des troupeaux. Ce processus aboutit à l'affaiblissement du pouvoir de l'Etat et à des luttes pour le pouvoir entre les membres des élites rurales, enrichies grâce à ce processus.


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