Egyptian Trade

Egyptian Trade

Created by Blake W. and Neil C


Ancient Egyptian trade was unique but at the same time very much like other civilization's trade tactics, for example, Ancient Greece . The Egyptians would constantly try to improve their culture and civilization. One of the best ways to improve a civilization is to trade their goods with other civilizations of the world. This made sure the Egyptians always had a variety of supplies. They would always keep their trades very accurate and precise. Trading is a external image The%20Egyptian%20Pyramid.jpgway to get good tools that the local people need, but don't have in the area. Ancient Egyptians had a very smart way to make sure they could afford other goods they needed. What they did to make sure was they would make or find extra materials that they had plentiful so they could trade their surplus supplies for things they needed. The Ancient Egyptians constantly tried to fulfill their greatest potential in establishing a civilization. Their way of getting food, supplies and tools they needed, was one of the reasons that the Egyptians were so successful for so many years in ancient history.


The ancient Egyptians had very well known and commonly used trade routes. They had two major trade routes, one leading north and the other leading south. The Northern route had two separate branches, one led to Palestine and along the coast of the Med. Sea, and the other went through Megiddo, along the Litani River and along the Orontes River. The Southern route went through Asiut to Tomas in Nubia. When Egypt first started trading, the people of Egypt only had donkeys to use when transporting the goods because horses were not introduced to them until 1539-1295 B.C and camels were used at about 500 B.C. The Egyptian Military guarded the trade routes from bandits and highwaymen, close to the 2nd Intermediate Period.

Map of Egypt during the New Kingdom Period (1550-1069 BCE)
Map of Egypt during the New Kingdom Period (1550-1069 BCE)

The ancient Egyptians also used boats to reach trading locations and to transport goods, instead of traveling by foot. Boats were probably the best way to trade goods because it took up less time and allowed a greater quantity of goods to travel with. Boats allowed the Egyptians to go to locations across the Med. Sea. The Egyptians also commonly traded with countries along the eastern part of the Mediterranean sea. Ancient Egyptians used the Nile and Red Sea as primary sources to travel to areas because they could cross easily by boat. The Egyptians built canals around the Nile so there was easier access to travel to trade locations.


external image nile.jpg

Traveling to trade locations was very dangerous to the people, so they had to be prepared for any attack. Nomadic people would usually attack traders to try to steal their goods and take them back to their own community. Big traded objects were taken to pieces for easier transport when moving to a new location/area.


A very mysterious area called the Land of Punt was known to trade with the ancient Egyptians. The Land of Punt traded major items and materials to the Egyptians like gold, ebony, ivory and foreign animals. This area was an unknown area as know one has ever located where it was. Modern scientists believe that the most likely location of Land of Punt would have been near Northern Etheopia.

Long trading expeditions to the middle east, other parts of Northern Africa and India could take up to a few years because the areas were so huge, there was many things to trade and they would travel to different areas. The Middle East, northern Africa and India were all major places so there was so much that they could gather and so much they could learn from the people that lived there. Long trading expeditions were very productive because they would accumulate many new items and then introduce them to their own area. The Egyptians traveled by large ships, because that was the fastest way to travel long distances.


The concept of trading is very simple, to receive new items that you want or need. Trading allows more variety of things and having the right supplies can make for an easier and more effective lifestyle. Trading with other civilizations was the best way to get foreign supplies and goods. In order for the Egyptians to get all the goods they wanted or needed they would make or find more supplies than they needed so that they could sell the extras to other civilizations for new supplies they didn't have. They would trade any extras so that they could get the supplies to make more of something they needed. The concept was very smart and productive.

Egyptian trading was very simple and easy. There were never any complications because of the bold transactions. When trading, the value of an item was very precise when it was being traded with a different item because the value would be worked out according to the quality of the item. Ex. 1 clay pot = 6 straw baskets. The Egyptians never had any source of coins or paper money so they traded using other goods. (bartering). Many people would also get paid by goods like sailors who got paid by wheat and corn. All trade exported from another area first belonged to the Pharaoh before anyone else could have possession of it.
Scribes kept a record of all traded goods by writing them down and keeping an organized list.


The ancient Egyptians traded many things. They traded items that were abundant, or ones that they had a lot of in their part of Egypt. They obtained items that they needed to make their lives easier or better in some way. The Egyptians traded many items for items they could use to upgrade their Egyptian Food variety. They gathered cereals, dried fish, salt, spices and cinnamon from other countries from trading.

(kiki oil)
(leopards, monkeys, etc.)
LAND OF PUNT / southern Africa
The Egyptians also exported goods away from Egypt and into other countries. They exported grain, gold, linen and papyrus.

Gold was a very precious resource that was traded by the ancient Egyptians. It was used for many things, including jewelry, like these two:
external image ancient-egypt-jewelry.jpgexternal image 153585-1.jpg
Some common trade goods were:

- ivory sticks ( used to play games) ( From Southern Africa)
- Cereals ( grain, wheat)
- Textiles ( fabric)
- paper
- dried fish
- beads
- copper
- rope
- Salt ( from the Nile Delta)
- ostrich feathers
- ebony ( very dark wood)
- spices

- gold rings
- giraffe tails
- ebony logs
- jasper
- leopard skin
- baboons on leashes
- gold ornaments
- incense
- wood
- cinnamon
- myrrh
- gold silver jewels
- foreign animals for the pharaoh (ex. giraffes, leopards)

- trees ( very few in Egypt)


The ancient Egyptians were very successful in trading because of their tactics and ideas. They were successful in receiving new goods because they had surpluses in things that most other countries didn't have. The Egyptians could trade gold to other countries for things they needed and since gold was very rare and expensive they were able to receive a lot in return. Trading was very crucial in their area because their were many things that weren't capable of being produced in Egypt because of their climate. The ancient Egyptians were so productive in establishing good trading techniques which led to them accomplishing the goal of having a stable civilization.


Shuter,Jane, '' The Ancient Egyptians'', Heinnemann Interactive Library, 1998
Hart,George, '' Ancient Egypt'', Lifetime Books, 1995
Matthews,Rupert, '' Ancient Egyptians'', Peter Bedrick Books, 1997

Rees, Rosemary, " The Ancient Egyptians" Reed Educational and Professional Publishing, 1997