The concept of law and justice in ancient Egypt



by Nicolaas Johannes Van Blerk
published on 21 November 2011

This thesis discusses the interaction between the concepts of ”justice” (ma’at) and ”law” (hpw) in ancient Egypt. Ma’at, one of the earliest abstract terms in human speech, was a central principle and, although no codex of Egyptian law has been found, there is abundant evidence of written law, designed to realise ma’at on earth. The king, as the highest legal authority, was the nexus between ma’;at and the law. Egyptologists have few sources of knowledge about law and justice in ancient Egypt because the ancient Egyptians used commonplace language in legal documents and they only had a few imprecise technical terms relating to law. For Egyptology to advance, therefore, we need to reappraise its sources. The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant has a strong legal background and should be treated as an additional source of information about how law and justice were perceived and carried out in ancient Egypt.

Written by , linked by Jan van der Crabben, published 21 November 2011. Source URL:

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