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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

200                                  Law
further additions impossible. At the time of the Third Dynasty
a special croyal document' was added to the 'house-document'.
That was possibly a confirmation of the transaction by the king
in his capacity of superior owner. But later, the chouse-docu-
ment' alone was undoubtedly sufficient.
Whenever it was intended to undertake an obligation which
was to be fulfilled in the future, the debtor confirmed it by an
oath in which the king, as a god, was usually invoked. Whether
an obligation which was undertaken without such an oath was
regarded as valid we do not know. The theory has been put
forward in respect of certain ancient legal systems, e.g. those
of Greece and Rome, that the whole institution of transactions
creating an obligation developed from an oath. It is to be hoped
that this question, which is of great importance for the whole
history of law, will one day be answered with certainty by the
help of Egyptian texts.
Coinage was unknown to the Egyptians. Payment was made in
kind by the handing over of such objects as the creditor was
willing to accept. Up to this point it was a system of barter.
But since, for the purpose of such payment in kind, all objects
were valued according to a general standard, and since they were
accounted for by the creditor in accordance with such valuation,
it is a law of sale rather than a law of barter which we find
developed at that time in Egypt.
The religion of the Egyptians provided them with a firm
belief in a life after death. To make that life pleasant it was
essential that the body should lie in a well-appointed tomb, and
that the dead should receive regular offerings. The Egyptian
therefore tried to ensure by contracts that such offerings should
be made to him for ever. For that purpose he used to settle
some profit-bearing part of his properties upon a body of
*Ka-servantsV subject to a continuing obligation to provide in
perpetuity such offerings after his decease. A property whick
1 The Egyptian name for these 'priests' specialty appointed for this purpose.