Ancient Egypt Workers
The great wars brought in thousands of captives workers
In general every trade was a caste, as in modern India, and sons were expected to follow and take over the occupations of their fathers.
The great wars brought in thousands of captives workers, making possible the large estates and the triumphs of engineering.
Rameses III presented 113,000 slaves workers to the temples during the course of his reign.
The free artisans were usually organized for the specific undertaking by a “chief workman” or overseer, who sold their labor as a group and paid them individually.
A chalk tablet in the British Museum contains a chief workman’s record of forty-three workers, listing their absences and their causes “ill,” or “sacrificing to the god,” or just plain “lazy.”
Strikes were frequent.
Once, their pay being long overdue, the workmen besieged the overseer and threatened him.
“We have been driven here by hunger and thirst,” they told him; “we have no clothes, we have no oil, we have no food.
Write to our lord the Pharaoh on the subject, and write to the governor” (of the nome) “who is over us, that they may give us something for our sustenance.”
A Greek tradition reports a great revolt in Egypt, in which the slaves workers captured a province, and held it so long that time, which sanctions everything, gave them legal ownership of it; but of this revolt there is no record in Egyptian inscriptions.
It is surprising that a civilization so ruthless in its exploitation of labor should have known or recorded so few revolutions.