Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: March 2020

16 - Violence in Ancient Egyptian Society

from Part III - Intimate and Collective Violence


Ancient Egypt, its society, law and belief system were brought into being, and sustained, by the threat and application of violence in the form of cruel and unusual punishments intended unabashedly to intimidate. The ‘Big Man’ role which informs the office of kingship from the outset of Egyptian history, maintains itself on celestial as well as terrestrial levels. The fertility of valley and delta promised untold agricultural riches to the human community if there was general cooperation; it was essential therefore to deter free thought and action by all available means of violent force. Prosperity would come through the plans of a single authority, not the collective debate of a people. Similarly, in Egypt’s sphere of influence whole-hearted subservience was required on pain of violent punishment. From the third millennium BCE Egypt had begun the process of cloning this life to produce a heaven and hell.