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Government Workers in Ancient Egypt

The Pharaoh employed many skilled and unskilled labors. One of the major valley of the kings, egyptarcheological finds in Egypt was found at the city of Deir-el-Medina. Here, due to the very dry climate, a garbage dump was discovered that had writings carved in wood. These writing have given archeologist and historians much insight into the workforce of the Pharaoh.


The workforce at Deir-el-Medina consisted of one-hundred-and-twenty skilled and unskilled laborers. These men were split into two groups. Each group was assigned a half of the pharaoh’s tomb to construct. The men were paid on the twenty-eighth day of each month. Payment was made in grains (wheat or barley), fish, vegetables, water, and wood. Bonuses of salt, cakes, and beer were also given to the workers from time to time. The workers were usually paid enough that they could use any excess items to barter for other items which they wanted or needed.


It appears that workers with wives and families were paid higher wages than single workers. Records indicate that the workers stopped their labor when payments from the pharaoh were delayed, perhaps indicating Egypt’s first labor strike.


Men worked eight days in a row and then had two days off. A workday consisted of two, four-hour work periods separated by a lunch break.


Egyptian Social Pyramid

Pharaoh    Vizier    Nobles   Scribes   Government Workers

Workers    Farmers    Peasants & Slaves

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