The First Strike

Much as I enjoy it, this post is not about the Jackie Chan movie (although I recommend it wholeheartedly). Instead, I wish to commend to you a post by my friend Jenny Cromwell (a papyrologist at Manchester Metropolitan University) on the first labor action in recorded history, carried out by the workmen at Deir el-Medina during the reign of Rameses III (ca. 1184–1153 BCE). The workmen, who were responsible for building and maintaining the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, went on strike because they had not been paid, and since the Egyptian economy at that time worked primarily on the basis of staple finance, wages were paid in food. Jenny’s post is a concise and interesting read that makes good sense of difficult evidence, and I recommend it unreservedly.

(I couldn’t resist)