Ancient Egyptian Leadership

Leadership in ancient Egyptian society provided the organization for massive building projects.
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Ancient Egyptians are responsible for the creation of pyramids and the use of a formal writing system. While limited technology may make these feats seem impossible, the organization required for creating epic structures and developing a system of writing and recording was carefully monitored through a hierarchy of structures that started with gods and the pharaohs who were treated like gods.

1 The Gods and Pharaohs

The gods, whom Egyptians believed controlled the entire universe and, ultimately, the fate of the people, headed Egyptian leadership. This belief led the Egyptians to look for ways to please the gods. Additionally, status as a god was granted to the pharaohs, who assumed the highest leadership role in Egyptian society. The role of the pharaoh was to both provide political leadership to the people and to serve as the connection between the Egyptian people and their gods. Pharaohs provided leadership in terms of social order and in advancing their society in the realm of the arts. The pharaoh had the ability to control the army, enact laws and collect taxes.

2 Chief Ministers

Second to the pharaohs in terms of power were those who assisted the leaders directly, including the vizier and the scribes. The vizier served as the chief minister with the responsibility of collecting the taxes from Egyptian citizens in the form of grain. Scribes also worked closely with pharaohs and were granted leadership roles based on their uncommon ability to read and write. In addition, scribes could serve as accountants, and they worked with the vizier to create records of taxes. With their reading and writing ability, scribes were also able to work as priests and doctors.

3 Nobles and Priests

Under the pharaoh in status was the noble class. The noble status granted its holder the ability to gain a government job. Nobles included viziers, assisting the pharaoh in collecting taxes, and often were rewarded by the pharaoh with gifts of gold, clothing and jewels. The primary role of the priest in Egyptian society was to please the gods. Priests were charged with the sacred rituals in the temple, and fathers handed down the role to their sons. Similar to nobles, the priests were often rewarded by the pharaohs and were wealthy members of society.

4 Soldiers and the Common People

The soldiers in Egyptian society were charged with fighting during times of war and with supervising farmers and slaves during times of peace. Both foot soldiers and chariot soldiers were active during wartime. Foot soldiers fought directly with spears and battle-axes, while chariot soldiers used bows and arrows from their chariots. The slaves and farmers worked to create irrigation systems and build pyramids under the direction of the soldiers.

Based in Los Angeles, Jana Sosnowski holds Master of Science in educational psychology and instructional technology, She has spent the past 11 years in education, primarily in the secondary classroom teaching English and journalism. Sosnowski has also worked as a curriculum writer for a math remediation program. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from the University of Southern California.