By Astrid Lindenlauf

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Likewise, for non-elites, the percentages of people buried in humble tombs skyrocket. Graves become rectangular as a rule, and traditions about the proper orientation for a corpse that had lasted for millennia begin to crumble in some places and are completely superceded in others (Castillos 1982). Thus, before it became naturalized over many successive centuries and dynasties, the state in Egypt, as elsewhere, would have been an entirely new venture, and one that would have completely transformed the lives (and deaths) of its subjects.

Keita and Boyce discovered, rather unexpectedly, that the people buried around the funerary enclosures appear to have enjoyed better health than those arrayed around the royal tombs. Porotic hyperostosis (or porous defects) on a skull can betray nutritional stress, exposure to parasites, or other health problems. Although the difference in the rates and intensity of porotic hyperostosis between the two populations was not dramatic, it was statistically significant and suggested that the two groups did not share the same social and/or occupational advantages.

26 The ratio of reed mats to wood coffins was 5:1, and in four of the intact tombs the bodies were not provided with any observable protection whatsoever. sacrifice for the state 27 cupants of the back few rows of Group E — suggesting perhaps that while these people may not have made the cut to be placed for eternity on the king’s right hand, they were nonetheless marked out as special by their grave goods. The lowest status individuals, those whose deaths the state hardly found it worthwhile to compensate, occupied Group D, located farthest from the center.

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