Thursday, March 31, 2011

Exerpt from Wilkinson's "Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt"

New York Times

See the above page for the full exerpt.

Chapter 3
Absolute Power
Command Economy

Ideology is never enough, on its own, to guarantee power. To be successful over the long term, a regime must also exercise effective economic control to reinforce its claims of legitimacy. Governments seek to manipulate livelihoods as well as lives. The development in ancient Egypt of a truly national administration was one of the major accomplishments of the First to Third dynasties, the four- hundred- year formative phase of pharaonic civilization known as the Early Dynastic Period (2950–2575). At the start of the period, the country had only just been unified. Narmer and his immediate successors were faced with the challenge of ruling a vast realm, stretching five hundred miles from the heart of Africa to the shores of the Mediterranean. By the close of the Early Dynastic Period, the government presided over a centrally controlled command economy, financing royal building projects on a lavish scale. Just how this was achieved is a story of determination, innovation, and, above all, ambition.

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