Ancient Egyptian Law

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Definition

Ancient Egyptian culture flourished through adherence to tradition and their legal system followed this same paradigm. Basic laws and legal proscriptions were in place in Egypt as early as the Predynastic Period (c. 6000- c. 3150 BCE) and would continue, and develop, until Egypt was annexed by Rome in 30 BCE. Egyptian law was based on the central cultural value of ma'at (harmony) which had been instituted at the beginning of time by the gods. In order to be at peace with oneself, one's community, and the gods, all one had to do was live a life of consideration, mindfulness, and balance in accordance with ma'at.

More about: Ancient Egyptian Law

Timeline

  • c. 6000 BCE - c. 3150 BCE
    Evidence of legal system operating in ancient Egypt.
  • c. 3150 BCE - c. 2613 BCE
    Legal precedent and procedure established during the Early Dynastic Period in Egypt.
  • c. 2613 BCE - 2181 BCE
    Legal practices firmly established during the Old Kingdom of Egypt.
  • 2040 BCE - 1782 BCE
    Legal system develops during the time of the Middle Kingdom in Egypt; professional judges are appointed and police force established.
  • c. 1570 BCE - c. 1069 BCE
    The legal system in Egypt reaches its height during the period of the New Kingdom; starts to decline during later years of this era.
  • c. 1069 BCE - 525 BCE
    Egyptian legal system in decline during the Third Intermediate Period.
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