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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Ration System

  • Author(s): Vymazalova, Hana
  • et al.

The distribution of rations can be found in documents from different period of the Egyptian history but the general features of the ration system is not easy to trace. Most of the sources are the more or less fragmentary lists of wages/payments that reflect various conditions, such as status of the recipients, period to which the payment corresponds etc, that are not always known to us. Other documents provide us with categories of allowances ascribed to the workmen and officials who participated on the same project. A few traces of a systematic approach can be recognized in the evidence, for instance value-units and day’s work units, but many details remain unclear. Bread, beer and grain represented the basic components of the rations in all periods. Bread and beer was often allocated daily while the grain was at some periods used as a monthly payment. On the other hand meat was considered an extra ration while linen and other valuable products could be distributed in longer periods, for instance once a year. Rations were distributed to the attendants of projects organized by the state but similar payments in the form of commodities occurred in exchange for a hired service in the private sphere.

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