Published on January 29, 2008
Finances publiques et histoire: Finances publiques et histoire Egypt, 2700 BC-First century AD Part 1-Overview Political history and the environment: Political history and the environment Egyptian history methodology The Nile river The state Property rights Management With a view to long term institutional history Egyptian history (in a nutshell): Egyptian history (in a nutshell) 4000 years of history Continuous adjustment of agricultural system to dynamic environment Cycles of centralized states followed by disruption associated with Nile anomalies, and political problems “Reevaluation of adaptive strategies” (Butzer) Key point: we are dealing with a gradual development of state, and articulation of bureaucratic control over time, with important interruptions Egypt the first centralized territorial state in the world Egyptian history the story of increasing ability to capture revenue Greco-Roman period far better institutional basis of finance Pre-dynastic period: Pre-dynastic period Ca. 4650-3150 BCE Agriculture came late into Egypt, ca. 5000 BCE Civilization= “proto-kingdoms” in Upper Egypt. Circumscription theory A marked population increase 4000-3000 BCE Warfare, preserved in later myth, and important early objects Archaic Period: Archaic Period Dynasties = families Manetho, ca. 270 BCE Dynasty 1 - 2 3150-2686 BCE Dynasty 0 ?? King Scorpion King Narmer Royal cemetery at ABYDOS: Royal cemetery at ABYDOS Falcon god Horus Royal name Palace facade The Old Kingdom: The Old Kingdom The Age of the Pyramids Dynasty 3-6, ca. 2686-2181 BCE King Djoser--step pyramid at Sakkara Khufu, Khafre & Menkaure at Giza Pepi II--the longest reign of any king?? The Middle Kingdom: The Middle Kingdom Dynasty 11-13 2181-1650 BCE The Classic Age of Egyptian literature Beginnings of imperial expansion south the rise of Thebes The rise of a bureaucracy Perhaps no coincidence that it is then the the Fayyum is first developed-the first evidence of direct state involvement in expansion A period of environmental stress The New Kingdom: The New Kingdom Dynasty 18-20 1570-1069 BCE Imperial Egypt, new technology Queen Hatshepsut King Tutankhamun King Akhenaten King Ramses II The Late Period: The Late Period Dynasty 26-31 656-332 BCE The Saite renaissance Persian imperial domination Ptolemaic and Roman period: Ptolemaic and Roman period 332 BCE-ca 323 CE Macedonian and Roman domination Very important for legacy Rosetta Stone Cleopatra The “Intermediate” periods: The “Intermediate” periods After the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms A decline of central state authority Important, creative periods where there clearly were responses and adjustments Methods and Papyrology: Methods and Papyrology Survival of documents skewed in multiple dimensions What survives? Posener estimates .0001% of written documentation Number of papyri-Ptolemaic to Arabic-between 1 and 1.5 million documents The environment: The environment The Nile Annual flood Upper and Lower Egypt (& Middle Egypt) 3 distinct “eco-zones” Delta, Fayyum, Nile valley Administrative divisions, or nomes Pop. density- highest in southern Upper Egypt and Delta Geography matters: Geography matters Egypt provides a unique physical, archaeological, and historical record of environment, technology, land use, settlement, and economic history. In effect, the Nile constitutes an oasis corridor through a thinly inhabited desert, providing a test tube case for a society circumscribed by its environment and relatively isolated from external turmoil. Karl Butzer The Nile: The Nile One of the most predictable rivers, yet too much or too little water led to famine, other long term effects 6,800 km in length Virtually flat in Egypt, gradient = 1:12,000 Inter-annual variability Supported a high population density Created a near-unitary society Beni Hasan, northern Middle Egypt: Beni Hasan, northern Middle Egypt A circumscribed environment View from the tomb of the nomarch Khnumhotep II Basin irrigation: Basin irrigation Control of the annual inundation and recession. The predominant form of irrigation in ancient Egypt >> generally local control Flooding late June in Aswan, reached Cairo area late August Natural, or recessional agriculture developed into a more controlled “artificial” system,caused by competition, split holdings as a risk strategy, and gardens The artificial system probably began quite early, i.e no “Bewasserungsrevolution” as Schenkel posits. Note the connection between canal digging for irrigation and for monumental building, I.e. pyramids in the Old Kingdom The system largely locally organized, in response to shocks, population pressure, with the ruler coordinating by decree and sanction And, importantly. State investment in artificial irrigation-but how much? Most basin land produced one crop per year, with rotation? Average wheat yield 1:10 in the basins, could be much higher with improvements in technology The bureaucracy: The bureaucracy In Old Kingdom, largely tied to the royal family Taxation, bureaucracy tied to monumental building Rise of a “professional” bureaucracy by end of O.K. Articulated in Middle Kingdom, and increased in New Kingdom Centered on the nomes, with royal appointment, but inherited Unlike the Han, no recruitment/examination system as far as we know administration: administration Capital at Memphis (normally), but political center shifts (Thebes, Itj-taway in 12th dynasty) Not well documented before New Kingdom Property (land) tied to state service (as elsewhere in Asia)-plantation agriculture, markets Land survey-certainly documented in Middle Kingdom Role of the state--clearly seen in Middle Kingdom: Role of the state-- clearly seen in Middle Kingdom Amememhat reconfirms nomarchs in the nomes, boundaries reestablished and enforced (Khnumhotep II tomb biography at Beni Hasan) Built “walls of the ruler” in east. Delta Quarying expedition in Wadi Hammmat w/ 80 officials and 19,000 men Sesostris III campaigns in Nubia, later deified Sesostris III a great conqueror in Herodotus (5th cent. BCE) Under Amenemhat III-centralization, reduces power of nomarchs. Long reign Settlement of population Capital investment in new irrigation Law and justice: Law and justice “Maat” signified concepts of “justice, order, truth” The king was divine, born of a god. His word was law. Thus royal decrees set the law of the land. Everyone had a right to petition the king for justice Probably no written law codes as other places in the ancient Near East. The Vizier was responsible for administration of justice. Two such officials in the New Kingdom. Technology: Technology Measurement of flood (Nilometers ), estimate taxation Land survey Primitive mathematics to measure surface area Storage of grain Lifting of water onto higher-lying fields by shaduf (New Kingdom), later the saqiyah (Ptolemaic period), both used into modern times Early tax assessor’s day book[P. Harageh 3, late Middle Kingdom]: Early tax assessor’s day book [P. Harageh 3, late Middle Kingdom] Year 2, Month 2 of inundation, Day 14-list of staff, days 15-19-spent in an enquiry in the bureau of fields, southern (?) section, day 20 (a) spent recording the assessment of income due, in the bureau of fields, northern section, (b) assembly before the national overseer of fields Redienptah, northern section, © list of staff assembled by the scribe of the cadaster, keeper of regulations, Psentieni, day 21-13 spent……income due, in the bureau of fields… Note: most of the staff listed are seasonal Malthus, “Oriental Despotism,” and the structure of rural Egypt: Malthus, “Oriental Despotism,” and the structure of rural Egypt Population growth > diminishing returns Pop. growth grows exponentially, resources grow in a fixed, linear way> rural poverty Assumes a fixed supply of land Presumably an optimum balance of labor supply and resources Famines, epidemics may have kept population below optimum No shortage of land, soldiers important historically Politics and “Oriental Despotism”: Politics and “Oriental Despotism” Max Weber: “hydraulic civilization” “Oriental Despotism” Karl Wittfogel: stress>irrigation> managerial bureaucracy>despotic control Important because the only systematic study of early civilizations interns of Economics cf. Butzer, “only centralized aspect was the traditional link between tax rates and the potential harvest…” Irrigation leads to organizing capacity, but not extensive Social caging effects of the environment: Note: water was never taxed, or controlled by the State The Hekanakhte letters: The Hekanakhte letters Middle Kingdom Economic decisions of an individual Household consumption/ budgets Household size= 18 + 1 Owned more than 70 arouras-providing for household, 23 ar. Leased out Crops-emmer & flax for consumption, cloth, surplus barley for purchase of other items 2 bad years (low Nile floods)-no income, hence the urgency of the letters Note:half the Nile valley floodplain still used as unimproved pasture or fallow Grain budget[sacks of grain]: Grain budget [sacks of grain] Barley Emmer Total Income harvest @ 15 sacks/ar. 382.5 127.5 510 Expenses grain tax @ 10% 38.25 12.75 51 Seed @ 1.5 sacks/ar. 38.25 12.75 51 Cattle tax 4 10.5 14.5 Year of food 25.8 90 115.8 Year of salary 136.2 TOTAL 242.5 126 368.5 (surplus) (140) (1.5) (141.5) Social organization: Social organization king officials scribes, priests, soldiers cultivators, craftsmen, herdsmen Low levels of literacy Basin irrigation dictates social cooperation at the basin level, autonomous units Landholding ~ state service ~ finance of ruler Corvée-how did it work? Coordinated by village headmen ~ seeking prestige Quarrying graffito from wadi Hammamat: Quarrying graffito from wadi Hammamat His true servant of his affection who does all that he praises daily. The great one of the 30 of Upper Egypt who is called Iker’s son Iker’s son Amenemhat who says: “I came to this desert in order to drag white stone for his majesty of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt Kheperkare, given life forever, in year 38, 4th month, 4th day. I went down in peace in the 4th month of akhet day 6, having charge of 80 slabs which were cut, drug by 2,000 men, 1500, 1000 men respectively. Irrigated land was reached in 4th month, day 20. After I did what was commanded by the lord without a man who was deficient, no man without thirst on the way, no one passed a moment of disgust(?) The complete force came to the cultivation’s edge sated with bread and beer as is done at the festival for the god in accordance with the praise of the Lord. The list of the expedition that came with me to this land of the prince of Edfu Isy with his town, the princes of the head of Upper Egypt, their 10 guards and all their forces under the command of 3 men, the followers of the Lord, 30 craftsmen equipped with warehousemen??, 3 men with food from the king’s house from my own magazines, as my servants of workmen, 30 workmen, bowmen, 50 drillers who came after me to this land.” MoneySee further Barry Kemp, “The birth of economic man,” in Ancient Egypt. Anatomy of a civilization. Chapter 6.: Money See further Barry Kemp, “The birth of economic man,” in Ancient Egypt. Anatomy of a civilization. Chapter 6. Commodity-based economy Polanyi’s redistribution model still holds sway. Exchange normally by barter against a fixed value of a commodity, usually silver, bronze/copper or grain (even cloth in the case of Hekanakhte). Much of the evidence comes from the New Kingdom artisan village at Deir el-Medina (Thebes). Was this the norm?? The standard “silver” amount in transactions treated as the “price” for the exchanged items comes close to concept of “money.” “Prices” appear to have been generally stable, and unregulated by the state taxation: taxation A clear contrast to the Greek world-direct taxation of the land by the state Dependent on the annual flood level Originally, taxation supplied the king and his followers Survey of land- one of the oldest state institutions in Egypt-good evidence in the Middle Kingdom Cadastral survey was irregular centralized knowledge of the exact extent of each nome, measured by its length along the Nile–– in essence a theological statement of the political control of Egypt –– can be traced back to the Middle Kingdom (Dynasty 12, ca. 1991-1783 BC) Cattle counting, record-keeping: Cattle counting, record-keeping Temple economies & property rights: Temple economies & property rights Temples as independent institutions, given land grants guaranteed by the king Endowments temporary Temples provide local infrastructure of state finance (remember geography!) Temples as local managers- Cf. Butzer p. 108 King assigns rights to temples, and officials Royal land part of temple estate, so here the temple as administrative institution for labor market Temples were major landholders during New Kingdom Inter-regional dependence But individuals held land with right of use, conveyable Manufactured linen, leased land, stored grain, recording functions I can do no better than Butzer:: I can do no better than Butzer: Government seems to have been primarily interested in agriculture as a tax base--i.e., as an end-product--contributing little to its direct organization or maintenance. Agricultural productivity. Although influenced by public order and security and responsive to new technologies, was primarily a response to the Nile floods. The health of the overall economic system, overwhelmingly dependent on agriculture, was consequently controlled as much by environmental as by human variables. Ultimately, the central government was weak when the national economy was weak, although a weak government could equally well lead to a weak economy.