The Concept of Law and Justice in Ancient Egypt


Jan van der Crabben
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.

Editorial Review This Article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication.

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

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Cite This Work

APA Style

Blerk, N. J. V. (2011, November 21). The Concept of Law and Justice in Ancient Egypt. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Blerk, Nicolaas J. V. "The Concept of Law and Justice in Ancient Egypt." Ancient History Encyclopedia. Last modified November 21, 2011.

MLA Style

Blerk, Nicolaas J. V. "The Concept of Law and Justice in Ancient Egypt." Ancient History Encyclopedia. Ancient History Encyclopedia, 21 Nov 2011. Web. 19 Feb 2019.

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