Taxes were a burden in ancient Egypt, too
Ostracon- Courtesy of McGill Library

CAIRO: A 2,000 year-old ostracon, a potsherd inscribed with notes, has revealed that the concept of land-transfer tax was a common practice in ancient Egypt, according to

Translated by Brice C. Jones, a Ph.D. candidate in Religion and part-time lecturer at Concordia University, Montréal, the ostracon, which is the equivalent to a contemporary tax receipt, “shows a bill that is (literally) heavier than any American taxpayer will pay this year — more than 220 lbs. (100 kilograms) of coins,” according to the science news website.

Dating back to Egypt’s Ptolemaic era (323B.C.-30B.C.), the ostracon, along with other ancient and medieval texts, is currently on display at the McGill University Library and Archives, in Montreal, Canada, while information on the owner of the ostracon, where it was found and how it ended up Canada remain unknown, Livescience reported.

Upon conquering Egypt in 332 B.C., Alexander the Great founded a taxation system that was developed by the Ptolemaic Kings who were involved with the internal government in ancient Egypt, Professor of Greco-Roman history at Minya University Fathy Khourshid told The Cairo Post Sunday.

The concept of taxation in ancient Egypt was a Greek invention, as no records have been revealed to confirm Egyptian Pharaohs imposed taxes, according to Khourshid.

“The annual Nile flood had a big impact on Egyptian agriculture, so tax estimation was mainly based on the flood level. Most Greek temples in Egypt featured a Nilometer; a 20-30 meter-deep well dug inside the temple and linked with the River Nile through a tunnel. Priests measured the level through a long reed stick, on which different levels were marked, placed vertically into the Nilometer to measure the water level,” Khourshid said.

Due to the increase in the use of coinage in ancient Egypt during the Ptolemaic period, “the Greek kings imposed the traditional harvest taxes in kind and the occasional sales taxes in money with more regular money taxes,” he said.

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  1. Ted Ray Gee ThD PhD
    March 20, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    Brice Channing Jones has has a brilliant mind and has dedicated himself to making consistently excellent academic contributions to this field of science.

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