Satirical criticism is Pharaonic heritage: Archaeologist

Satirical criticism is Pharaonic heritage: Archaeologist

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Mon, 28/10/2013 - 16:12
Pharaonic rulers of Egypt were subjected to satirical criticism using words and pictures, according to Archaeologist Ahmed Salah, the head of Abu Simbel area antiquities.
 
The expression of opinion was an integral part of the ancient Egyptians culture, not a creation of the West, while dictatorship and slavery were not always a stigma of governance in the East, he added.
 
Saleh said on Monday that the most prominent evidence of the exposure of pharaoh to satirical criticism is the Turin papyrus, which dates back to the era of the modern state between the 16th and the 10th century BC.. The papyrus shows the king as a cat playing with a mouse, that represents the people. Another shows him as a mouse riding a Chariot in a battle.
 
Such pictures, he explains, reflect the eternal conflict between the ruler and the people.
 
Other evidence of such satire is the ancient Egyptians mocking of the relationship of Queen Hatshepsut and architect Senenmut, in addition to the Leyden papyrus which describes how people addressed Pharaohs at the peak of their glory.
 
Saleh pointed out to one incident that shows ancient Egyptians were pioneers of the freedom of expression, the events of workmen's village near Luxor. Events in the West Bank heated up for 8 days in 1151 BC when the wages of workers in the tombs were delayed and they led massive protests.
 
The workers protested with three demands: receiving their delayed wages, countering corruption in the state administration and reaching out their voice to the king. Protests took place on their work site, the tombs, and in religious places, temples, including the temples of Tuthmosis III, the way upward to the temple of Mentuhotep III, the Temple of Seti I, the Ramesseum and the Temple of Merneptah.
 
Egyptians were the first to use demonstrations, strikes and sit-ins as a way for protest, according to Salah.
 
The workers also had a leader to voice their demands to the state minister and claim their rights. The government then had no option but to give the workers part of their delayed wages, and tried to give them temporary solutions so they would agree to go back to work.
 
 
Edited translation from MENA