January 4, 2013

Voluntary slavery?

Filed under: Egypt — acagle @ 8:01 am

Papyri Point to Practice of Voluntary Temple Slavery in Ancient Egypt

About one hundred of 2,200-year-old papyrus slave contracts have revealed that ancient Egyptians voluntarily entered into slave contracts with a local temple in the Egyptian city Tebtunis for all eternity, and even paid a monthly fee for the privilege.

“I am your servant from this day onwards, and I shall pay 2,5 copper-pieces every month as my slave-fee before Soknebtunis, the great god,” say the papyri from the temple city of Tebtunis, as translated by egyptologist Dr Kim Ryholt of the University of Copenhagen.

The explanation makes some sense, but I wonder why this wasn’t practiced in other periods (or maybe it was and we don’t have evidence for it)? He gives a possible reason, but that doesn’t seem likely that it would apply for all that time. I kind of wonder where they got the money to pay for the privilege in the first place.

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