Ancient Egyptian Government and Legal System

Pharoah was the ultimate ruler in Egypt, and he owned everything including land, food, clothes, animals, people, jewellery and buildings. There was however still a government structure. During the early, middle and later kingdoms of Egypt, this structure did not change greatly but the Pharoah would give more power to government at certain times and limit it at other times when he thought he might be losing overall control.


A Vizier was the primary leader of government and the Overseer of the land. All other government officials reported to the Vizier and he in turn reported directly to Pharoah as his second in command.


Nomarchs were local governors who ruled over individual areas of land named Nomes (districts). There were two ways in which to secure the position of Nomarch. It could be handed down from father to son or Pharoah could appoint you to the position.

There were other government officials including:

-Chief Treasurer
-Minister of Public Works
-Army Commander

And their tasks would include:

-Collecting taxes
-Maintaining the Police Force
-Maintaining the Army
-Keeping State Records
-Building monuments and temples
-Monitoring food and granaries

Legal System

The Egyptian legal system was based on right and wrong. There were 2 courts that dealt with this; Lower Court and High Court.

The Lower Court was managed by local town elders and would deal with straightforward cases.

The High Court was managed by the Vizier who would hear the case and act as judge. Pharoah, however was the supreme High Court judge and had ultimate right over the sentence.

If a case was seen in Lower Court, but you were unhappy with the decision, you could request to also be seen in High Court, but only if you could provide evidence that the decision in Lower Court was wrong. This was a dangerous decision to make because it was known for the Vizier to impose a stricter sentence than was given in Lower Court. Once a case was seen in High Court; this would be the final decision.

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