The Daily Life of an Ancient Egyptian Peasant
There is a romanticized version of how the ancient Egyptians lived. Because most of the artifacts found belong to the elite class, we have the vision of finely dressed people in crisp white linen, dripping in gold and jewels, surrounded by servants catering to their every desire. While that may be true of the ruling class, most of Egypt was occupied by peasant farmers and laborers. The point of this essay is to dispel some of the misconceptions we have concerning this ancient people and explain what life really was like for the majority of the population.
In ancient Egypt, you belonged to the social class you were born into. Because they believed this class system maintained order in society, there was very little chance of rising above your class. The most they could hope for would be to gain the favor of a noble or official but even that was a rare occurrence.
Although the peasant class represented about eighty percent of the population of ancient Egypt they made up the lowest level of the social pyramid. Despite being of the lowest social class, all of Egyptian society depended on them. They worked as farmers who grew the crops that supplied everyone with food and the laborers who built the bricks and hauled the stone needed for the houses and the temples.
An Egyptian’s life revolved around three seasons: They sowed their fields in the planting season. The Egyptians planted mostly barley and wheat. This made up the staple diet of the peasants. They used wheat to make bread and barley to make beer. Although the higher classes had a consistent supply of a wide variety of food, such as meat, fish, and many different types of fruits and vegetables, to the average peasant these items were considered a luxury they could not afford.
They cut and gathered food during the harvest season. It was backbreaking work, completed by the whole family using had...
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