How Pharaohs Used Counselors To Rule

As one of the ancient civilizations in the world, Egypt has provided mankind with pyramids and other architectural infrastructures. As a country, Egypt sustained its beautiful historical landmarks and offered some vacation spots. But have you ever wondered how this great civilization was able to maintain itself for thousands of years?

Numerous Egyptian emperors or pharaohs emerged from the Nile Valley three thousand years ago. Pharaohs became the rulers of the people as well as religious leaders. Being a religious figure is acting as a divine mediator between their gods and the Egyptian people. As politicians, pharaohs are involved in making laws, collecting tasks, and waging war. They are also in charge of managing all of the lands that Egypt owns.

Yet, they are not entirely alone in ruling this vast and bountiful land. Pharaohs have counselors or advisors called a vizier who serves them. 

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What Was A Vizier’s Role And Responsibilities

The vizier was the highest official in ancient Egypt. Viziers held the second most powerful position after the king. In the Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms, viziers were often appointed by the pharaohs. During the Egyptian dynasty’s 4th and 5th centuries, viziers often hailed from the royal family.

A vizier’s primary responsibility is similar to that of a prime minister: to oversee the country’s administration. It can be as simple as ensuring that the city has enough water supply. Viziers were also responsible for almost every aspect of government operations. Some research also suggests that viziers were not merely counselors but rather administrative heads. They implemented policies made by the pharaoh.

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Religious Roles

Viziers helped the pharaoh to carry out their religious and traditional practices. For instance, they supervised the execution of rituals and ensured that they were carried out correctly. Viziers were also responsible for appointing high priests, as well as other people in religious positions.

Financial Roles

These counselors supervised taxation implementation. Viziers ensured that taxes were applied fairly and correctly to both the wealthy and the poor. Viziers were also in charge of treasury and wealth management. Other lesser officials, such as scribes and tax collectors, reported to the vizier.

Judicial Roles

Since viziers sat in the High Court, they were also responsible for appointing judges. If there were issues concerning injustices, they served as the Chief Counselor and provided resolutions. The viziers also appointed the Chief of Police.

Agricultural Roles

When there were any land disputes, the vizier was responsible for overseeing agricultural procedures. They were in charge of deciding how Egyptian land will be used. Lands may be used for business or exclusively for farming. Viziers also oversaw the fair use of agricultural lands. They needed to ensure that there was enough food for the whole city.

Military Roles

As the right hand of the pharaoh, viziers were responsible for appointing generals. They were also involved in planning military strategies and tactics. All military choices made by their subordinates were reported to them, and in turn, they reported directly to the pharaoh about the situation of warfare. Viziers had an enormous role in keeping the military intact and united.

Architectural And Interior Construction Roles

Another role of viziers involves planning and building monuments. They may serve as the Chief Architect responsible for building the pharaoh’s tomb and other infrastructures. Aside from this, viziers also supervise the construction and reparation of roads, dikes, and canals.  

Most Important Egyptian Counselors

For viziers to have performed all of their designated duties, they needed to be highly knowledgeable about these different professions and highly educated on how these government agencies function. Viziers received training as scribes to be literate. They also had to master being a lawyer, farmer, judge, historian, architect, and a priest. The following people are some of the most important viziers in Egyptian history:

Imhotep

Imhotep of the third Dynasty is probably the most famous vizier. He was a counselor to the pharaoh, Djoser, and serves as the high priest at Heliopolis. Imhotep is also an architect, engineer, and doctor. During his time, he was given the divine status and called the real father of medicine.

Rekhmire

Rekhmire served the king, Thutmose III, during the 18th dynasty. This vizier rose to fame when his tomb was discovered to contain a detailed depiction of his daily life in the New Kingdom of Egypt. Although Rekhmire served various pharaohs for more than 50 years, he was relieved from duty when he was already in his seventies.

Ankhu

As the son of a vizier, Ankhu served the pharaohs Sobekhotep II and Khendjer during the 13th dynasty. Scholars suggest that he served around five kings for only short periods. As a vizier, Ankhu strived to maintain continuity of rule. This was when several kings were deposed, and the country may have been subjected to chaos.

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Pharaohs knew what it took to run a government. They knew that the position required a significant amount of knowledge, responsibility, and accountability. They appointed a vizier to oversee the kingdom in their name. This position was a highly coveted one during the Pharaonic period. Ancient Egyptian viziers were expected to be impartial, law-abiding, and level-headed citizens. As a counselor, viziers play various roles to maintain the reign of an Egyptian king. 

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