While reading one of our assigned readings, I came across one sentence that caught my attention: “[t]here is a lack of evidence for slavery until later, in the 2nd millennium bc, and even then slaves were not employed for large construction” (Bard, 109). One of the common factors in every old movie about Egypt, and current movies too, is the element of slavery. I am actually surprised that I am learning so many new things about something I thought I knew a lot about.
A major question that comes to mind after hearing that there were no slaves used in the building/construction of the tombs is: how? What sane person would volunteer to go out in the incredible heat every day to build monuments to the very men who take from you but never give? I think this says a lot about how well organized the form of government was and how much power the rulers held over their citizens.
One thought I’d like to expand on is: why? Why were the people willing to go out and do this work? I believe that a large part of it actually relies on how stratified their society in ancient Egypt was. Adopting ideas from anthropologists such as Louis Althusser; rather than using physical and obvious control over the people through means such as bullying with an army, the rulers used a set of ideological state apparatuses such as their ways of education and religion.
Religion was an obviously important part of every ancient civilization, not just the Egyptians. Every religion had a set of rituals and a set of rules or codes of conduct. A clever way to rule someone is to give them a set of rules to follow. After they are adjusted to the set of rules that obviously leave you better off, give them rituals. The rituals, if you are smart, will empower you and give you authority in their eyes and you become an undeniable person of power.
Religion is so all-encompassing that many people even in our modern world refuse to fight against it or refute it. Egyptians were ruled by their gods and they were very devout to their gods. I think that one of the reasons they were so willing to oblige and build the tombs for their rulers was because their rulers were believed to be related to their gods which gave them the same authority to rule.