Back to the complete issue
Thursday, 29 November 2018

How much do we know about ancient Egypt’s economy?

How much do we know about ancient Egypt’s economy? We are certain of the obvious: The Nile was the epicenter of the ancient economic structure, which was for the most part agrarian. The policies, institutions, and social structures in place, which the Conversation rounds up, were organized around estates, the economy’s primary building blocks.

The estates of the Old Kingdom: The ruling class divided the majority of the land on the banks of the Nile into large, intertwined estates whose heads ultimately responded to the Pharaoh. These heads of the estates were also burdened with taxes that the crown did not impose on farmers and individuals, and were “personally liable … to ensure that the domain, which they oversaw, delivered the expected surplus” needed to pay into the central treasury. From there, funds were either redistributed back to the estate heads, or used as proceeds to build royal tombs, national projects, or maintain funerary cults.

Sounds very much like medieval Europe’s feudal system: The ancient Egyptians’ social and economic structure has been likened to feudal systems such as those found in medieval Europe. This fairly advanced type of organization is what allowed them to erect massive structures that have stood the test of time.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

Enterprise is available without charge thanks to the generous support of HSBC Egypt (tax ID: 204-901-715), the leading corporate and retail lender in Egypt; EFG Hermes (tax ID: 200-178-385), the leading financial services corporation in frontier emerging markets; SODIC (tax ID: 212-168-002), a leading Egyptian real estate developer; SomaBay (tax ID: 204-903-300), our Red Sea holiday partner; Infinity (tax ID: 474-939-359), the ultimate way to power cities, industries, and homes directly from nature right here in Egypt; CIRA (tax ID: 200-069-608), the leading providers of K-12 and higher level education in Egypt; Orascom Construction (tax ID: 229-988-806), the leading construction and engineering company building infrastructure in Egypt and abroad; Moharram & Partners (tax ID: 616-112-459), the leading public policy and government affairs partner; Palm Hills Developments (tax ID: 432-737-014), a leading developer of commercial and residential properties; Mashreq (tax ID: 204-898-862), the MENA region’s leading homegrown personal and digital bank; Industrial Development Group (IDG) (tax ID:266-965-253), the leading builder of industrial parks in Egypt; Hassan Allam Properties (tax ID:  553-096-567), one of Egypt’s most prominent and leading builders; and Saleh, Barsoum & Abdel Aziz (tax ID: 220-002-827), the leading audit, tax and accounting firm in Egypt.