Study: Ancient Egyptians burned brands on their slaves

(ORDO NEWS) — Slavery in ancient Egypt was very different from what we know from antiquity or modern times. It is not completely clear how it was arranged, so every grain of information is very important for scientists.

A new study suggests that small iron brands from ancient Egypt were likely used to mark slaves, Live Science reports. According to the author of an article published in the Journal of Egyptian Archeology, this is indicated by several ancient texts and illustrations, as well as 10 metal stamps.

These stamps, made of bronze, are now in the collections of museums in Great Britain. According to the study, the tradition of branding people can be traced back to roughly the 19th to the 25th dynasties of Egypt: from about 1292 B.C. until in 656 BC.

Until now, most Egyptologists assumed that the marks found by archaeologists were used to represent cattle – such drawings are found in ancient Egyptian sources.

“However, these marks are so small that they cannot be used on cattle or horses. It is possible that they were used for branding goats, but there is no such evidence, but there is some evidence for branding people.

For example, the mark can be seen on a depiction of prisoners of war on a relief at Medinet Abu near Luxor, dating back to the 20th dynasty, possibly around 1185 BC,” said Ella Kareva, an Egyptologist from the University of Chicago (USA), the author of the study.

Current guidelines for branding cattle call for a brand at least 10.6 cm long so that the scar they leave does not become illegible as the calf grows.

It is difficult to assume that the ancient Egyptians did not know about this. But the ancient Egyptian hallmarks are three times smaller. According to Kareva, some of the ancient Egyptian brands are almost the same size as those used by Europeans on African slaves many centuries later.

Ancient Egyptian texts say that people were sometimes bought and sold as property, perhaps with land. But there is also evidence that dowries for the marriage of a slave may have been paid by their owner and that many slaves were adopted into families. In addition, there is evidence that people were often set free, freed from slavery.


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