My mother says "When you gonna live your life right?"
Oh ,mother,dear, We're not the fortunate ones,
And girls, They wanna have fun.
My father yells "What you gonna do with your life?"
You know you're still number one,
But girls, They wanna have fun
And hide her away from the rest of the world.
I wanna be the one to walk in the sun.
Oh, girls, They wanna have fun.
See, ancient Egypt was peppered with temples, large and small, and each had their priests and their grain fields to support them, and slaves to work those fields. They were like corporations are today. By the best estimates, 14% of the irrigated land and 2% of the population were owned by the temple priests. The temples also owned 500,000 head of cattle, 88 large ships and some 53 workshops and shipyards. And in 1167 B.C. all of this was tax exempt, which shifted more of the tax burden onto the nobles and peasants. Does any of this sound familiar?
Ramses III tried to reduce his expenses by replacing his bureaucrats and large parts of the army with slaves, supplied by independent contractors, a practice in current vogue with the American government. But Ramses III also contributed to this power shift to the priesthood by continuing the practice of donating large sums to the temples. Gold and silver went straight out of the government coffers and into the collection plates. Ramses III boasted on a temple wall, "I did mighty deeds and benefactions...for the gods and goddesses of South and North." Those benefactions hastened the bankruptcy of the national treasury. Familiar again, right?
Just three years before this original "Year of the Woman" the artisans working in the royal tombs had stopped work because their pay had stopped. Ramses crushed this first worker's revolt in history as if he were the Governor of Wisconsin. But that wildcat strike indicated what was at stake. Tey was not just trying to make her son Pharaoh, she was trying to reverse the decline of the power of The Pharaohs. The whole thing came to a head, say the ancient accounts, when Ramses III decided to spend a night with the girls. He did get up, but he was not waking steady when he did, and he died a few days later. And the feeling at the time was, somebody killed him.
Since Ramses III's mummy was discovered in 1886 we know that the Pharaoh received no knife or spear wounds. And his skeleton reveals no broken bones. I'll bet that Usimare (Rasmes III) was poisoned, not killed but weakened enough that within a few days after setting down to spend some time with the girls, he died, perhaps of heart failure or dehydration. A hint is that in later centuries, Egyptians invoked Ramses III's name when seeking divine assistance in the case of snake bite. And like a snake, Ramses III lashed out from his death bed against those who had stepped upon him.
In three scandalised trials conducted after Ramses III's death, twenty-seven men and six women were convicted of treason, including Tey's boy, Pentaweret. Poor Pentaweret was forced to drink poison. Every one else, including Tey herself was slowly simmered to death on a barbecue, cooked until the flesh was just falling off their bones. And then their bones were ground up and their ashes were scattered to the four winds, condemning the immortal souls of these original resurectionists to wander the after-life without a body. Tough, I know. But if you are going to shoot at the Pharaoh, you had better not miss. And even if you do hit him, it had better be someplace vital, so he goes before he can order his guards to cut off your head.
And it is a shame Tey did miss. In his will, Ramses III donated 86,400 slaves to the estates of the god Amon's temples. His son and heir, Isis' boy Heqamatre, became Ramses IV, but he ruled for just six years. And after his demise Ramses followed Ramses with such rapidity that the High Priest of el-Kab who had helped Ramses III celebrate his Heb Sed, was still in office when Ramses IX died in 1111 B.C.E. By then the priest were openly the dominant power in Egypt, and the country was run for their benefit, sort of like the bankers run America today. Egypt slipped into a centuries long dark age.When the working day is done,
Oh, girls, They wanna have fun.
Ah, if only Tey aka Tiy had been quicker, then the New Kingdom might have lasted a few hundred years longer, and women might have played a bigger part in history, and history might have been more fun. After all, the girl just wanted to have fun.
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