Restoring the Political Power Through Magic

After reading about the re-unification of the Egyptian political structure, I found that the link between the appearance of magical amulets throughout the social hierarchy with that of the government quite interesting.  My first thought when reading about the magical pieces, such as the knives, was that everybody should have the capability of making these pieces since they were all artifacts that had some sort of deity carved into the blade.  It is hard for me to imagine that any blade with a deity carved into it would be considered a magical item.  For instance, holy water is not tap water that is called holy water; it is blessed by a priest.  For that reason, I believe that these magical items were only magical if blessed by some magic man in ancient Egypt.

To address the situation of ancient Egyptians throughout all social classes having these magic pieces, it is important to look at the Pharaoh himself.  The three dimensional scarab that was used as a seal and inevitably becoming a symbol of the Pharaoh.  Since this scarab was found throughout the common-man, it is possible that the Pharaoh adopted the piece as his own since it was so recognized by his subjects.  Another example between ancient Egypt and modern day would be that Twitter has been recently adopted by the President of the United States.  I mention this because it shows that to connect better with your people, you need to have common ground.  With a suffering political government in ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh and his viziers needed to connect with the people to show their presence in their everyday lives.  This could have easily been accomplished by sending these magical amulets throughout the social hierarchy and letting the people establish commonality with their Pharaoh and hence allowing the bureaucracy to grow.

There are probably other interpretations as to why these magical items came into the possession of the people and why the government adopted specific seals such as the scarab.  It is an obvious challenge that although there are many texts that describe the life in ancient Egypt, there is still plenty that is needed to be understood.  The above post is only an opinion based on the way I feel the Egyptians related to their government.  The fact that there are modern examples relating the current thought process of our government to the Pharaoh is just to show that although time has passed a great deal, the thought process of the human mind has not necessarily changed so much.

2 thoughts on “Restoring the Political Power Through Magic

  1. I hadn’t thought about the way that religious objects are made or given significance before. I think that you hit on an important point, and it makes sense to me that not everyone would have the ability to make religious/magical items. I don’t know that there is any evidence in the archeological record to suggest this, but it is a very intriguing idea. It seems like because the archeological record is so fragmented that it might never be able to prove one way or the other. It would be very convincing if written evidence was found describing the process of making or obtaining religious objects. Alternatively, birth bricks or other artifacts could have depictions of a religious agent that would suggest the use or origin of these objects as being more structured.
    I also agree that it’s important to look at the pharaoh when assessing the importance of the scarab amulets. I wonder what the chronology of use was though, it would help create a more definite sense of what the symbol of the scarab really meant to people. If, for example, the pharaoh originally used the scarab and then it filtered to the elite administrators and then the people it might be some kind of symbol of support for the government, like having an American flag in your yard. Alternatively, if it originated with the people and pharaoh adopted it, it might suggest pharaoh trying to participate in the popular religion and associate more closely with divinity. Whatever the chronology was though, it definitely played an important role in the middle kingdom administration. The idea of the pharaoh using the symbol as a type of power over the people is very interesting. It would be interesting to take this back to your earlier point about the origin of religious objects and see if the scarab amulets were made by any ordinary craftsman or were also blessed and made by religious figures.

  2. The magical amulets used in ancient Egyptian society are a very interesting topic. You made a great point that it is difficult to imagine a magical item just being anything with a deity carved on it. I found your example about holy water interesting; however, maybe these magical items could be similar to the crosses or crucifixes that some Christians wear as necklaces. Perhaps they were blessed by an Egyptian magic man, or maybe they simply believed that they were magical in themselves because of what they were.

    You also made an excellent connection between our government and the one of ancient Egypt. It is probably true that the Pharaoh used the scarab symbol to relate to the common man. Societies work better when common people feel close to their leader, so this would be a good way to get on people’s good side. The fact that our President has a Twitter makes people feel like he wants to be closer to regular people. Since so many Americans have a Twitter, it would be easy for the President to get close to a lot of people. The Pharaoh probably did something similar to this by putting his symbol on common items so they would be seen often and in large amounts.

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