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Restricted knowledge, hierarchy, and decorum: modern perceptions and ancient institutions

"Modern scholarly attitudes to the phenomenon of restricted knowledge in ancient Egypt have been affected by political and ideological issues of the present more strongly than have some other domains of the subject. markedly affected by the and what its significance and position in society and ideology was. From the Old Kingdom onward clear cases can be found of elite display of access to restricted knowledge coupled with concealment of its content. Such knowledge includes inititation into and performance of priestly roles. The title Hry-sStA ‘keeper of secrets’ is a general designation for people with such privileges. A major relevant domain is the solar cult, in which the king is presented as having exclusive understanding, some of which is related to magic for a slightly broader elite group. In social terms, access to knowledge is displayed in terms of meritocracy and in relation to elite hierarchies. Decorum, focused on religion and royal–divine ideology, is closely integrated with the restriction of knowledge. Hierarchy and decorum are the organizing principles in Egypt of the nearly universal restriction of knowledge. Patterns of development in such knowledge that can be discerned for the Old to New kingdoms could perhaps be extended to the first millennium."

Author(s):  Baines, John
Format:  Article
Publisher:  Oxford Eprints
Publication City:  Oxford
Date:  2006
Source:  American Research Center in Egypt
Volume Info:  1990
Volume:  27
Pages:  23-Jan