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It's a long way to the top: elite male leadership career trajectories and social status within Egypt's provinces during the Old Kingdom

posted on 2022-03-29, 02:15 authored by Thérèse Clarke
How did elite males progress through civil and temple leadership paths in the Old Kingdom? What titles identified that progression? How did their social status/seniority factor into their careers? Is it possible to measure that social status? This thesis examines the career trajectories of elite males with links to non-Memphite Egypt across the Old Kingdom to answer these questions. The approach adopted is one of cohort-based analysis of the career paths and social status of leaders involved in provincial administration across the Old Kingdom using the tools of prosopography. The study has applied a robust and systematic approach to analysing career trajectories via an examination of civil and temple leadership titles, as well as an innovative method for measuring social status through development of an index to convert honorifics, Residence-related titles and royal cult titles into a single measure: the Patronage Index. The analysis has demonstrated that those involved in the day to day administration of provinces or temples had very specialist careers when compared to individuals who advanced to higher office. Similarly, there was a significant difference in their seniority. As is the case today, 'highflyers' were less common than the 'typical', even though 'highflyers' are more likely to be visible in the record than the latter. The study rejects the use of terms such as nomarch or governor, instead proposing that Provincial Leadership is a spectrum that developed across the Old Kingdom, from locality chiefs through to the Great Overlords, which it collectively terms Provincial Leaders. It challenges existing scholarship regarding the classification of certain individuals as nomarchs or governors, noting a tendency to conflate high status with Provincial Leadership. It concludes that titles or roles should not be inferred when the evidence does not offer explicit support. It further suggests that social status can be estimated more effectively through the adoption of a single measure of the totality of links to court (the Patronage Index), than strings of honorifics -- abstract.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Civil and temple leadership: the titles and associated scholarship -- Chapter 3. Approach and methods -- Chapter 4. Provincial Leadership -- Chapter 5. Provincial oversight -- Chapter 6. Temple leadership -- Chapter 7. Acceptance of difference: social or leadership status does not equate to Provincial Leadership status -- Chapter 8: It's a long way to the top: drawing conclusions from this study -- References -- Appendices (Volume 2).


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 371-418

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Ancient History (Egyptology)

Department, Centre or School

Department of Ancient History

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Linda Evans


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1 online resource (729 pages)

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