Ancient Egypt Miners

Copper was mined in small quantities



Slowly, as the peasants toiled, an economic surplus grew, and food was laid aside for workers in industry and trade.

Having no minerals, Egypt sought them in Arabia and Nubia.



Ancient Egypt Miners

Ancient Egypt Miners


The great distances offered no temptation to private initiative, and for many centuries mining was a government monopoly.

Copper was mined in small quantities, iron was imported from the Hittites, gold mines were found along the eastern coast, in Nubia, and in every vassal treasury.

Diodorus Siculus (56 B.C.) describes ancient Egypt miners following with lamp and pick the veins of gold in the earth, children carrying up the heavy ore, stone mortars pounding it to bits, old men and women washing the dirt away.

We cannot tell to what extent nationalistic exaggeration distorts the famous passage:

    "The kings of Egypt collect condemned prisoners, prisoners of war and others who, beset by false accusations, have been in a fit of anger thrown into prison...

    Ancient Egypt miners, sometimes alone, sometimes with their entire family they send to the gold mines as miners, partly to exact a just vengeance for crimes committed by the condemned, partly to secure for themselves a big revenue through their toil....

    As these miners can take no care' of their bodies, and have not even a garment to hide their nakedness, there is no one who, seeing these luckless people, would not pity them because of the excess of their misery, for there is no forgiveness or relaxation at all for the sick, or the maimed, or the old, or for woman's weakness; but all with blows are compelled to stick to their labor until, worn out, they die in their servitude.

    Thus the poor wretches even account the future more dreadful than the present because of the excess of their punishment, and look to death as more desirable than life."




You may also be interested in...



From Ancient Egypt Miners, Return to Life in Ancient Egypt

Return to Home Page