March 11, 2018

Farming in Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt was a big nation. The Ancient Egyptian grew many crop they needed to eat. There were wheat, barley, vegetables, figs, melons, pomegranates and vines. They also grew flax which was made into linen. Farming in Ancient Egypt was consider about the rotation from one commodities to another commodities.

The most important crop was grain. The ancient Egyptians used grain to make bread, porridge and beer. Grain was the first crop they grew after inundation (flooding season). Once the grain was harvested, they grew vegetables such as onions, leeks, cabbages, beans, cucumbers and lettuce. Farmers also planted fruit trees and vines along paths, to give shade as well as fruit.

Ancient Egypt was concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in the place that is now the country Egypt. Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC (according to conventional Egyptian chronology) with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes (often identified with Narmer).

The picture in the Tomb of Nakht show how farming in ancient egypt done

Where did the farmers grow their crops?

The ancient Egyptians grew their crops along the banks of the River Nile on the rich black soil, which was left behind after the yearly floods. The fertile soil was ideal to grow healthy crops. Most of the villagers of ancient Egypt were farmers. Farmers lived in towns too, along with craft workers, traders and other workers and their families.

Farming in ancient egypt

Egyptian farmers divided their year into three seasons, based on the cycles of the Nile River:

  1. Akhet – the inundation (June-September): The Flooding Season.
    Every June, the Nile flooded. This was known as the flooding season. No farming was done at this time, as all the fields were flooded. Instead, many farmers worked for the pharaoh (king), building pyramids or temples. Some of the time was spent mending their tools and looking after animals. During this time the farmers would mend tools or make new ones. People would go fishing for food or extra money.
  2. Peret (October-February): The Growing Season.
    The floodwaters receded in October, leaving behind a layer of rich, black soil. The farmer then start to plough and seeded this fertile soil.
  3. Shemu (March-May): The Harvesting Season.
    The fully grown crops had to be cut down (harvested) and removed before the Nile flooded again. It was also the time to repair the canals ready for the next flood.

The main seasons in the Ancient Egypt were: growing season and harvest season. In the growing season all the crops were planted. The harvest season was the time when crops were cut and gathered.

During harvest season, especially for corn farming, all families member join in the harvest activity. Reapers cut the ripe corn with wooden sickles edged with sharp flints. Women and children followed behind the reapers to collect any fallen ears of corn. Cattle were used to trample over the cut corn to remove the grain from the ears. Then the grain was tossed into the air so the breeze blew the light useless chaff away.

What farming tools did they have in Ancient Egypt?

Ancient Egyptians had simple farming tools such as winnowing scoops, hoes, rakes, flint-bladed sickles and ploughs. They had both hand ploughs and ones pulled by oxen. The ploughs were used to turn the soil.

Egyptian farmer sickle the grain

Animals were very important to Egyptian farmers. Animals helped them with jobs like trampling in the seeds, pulling the plough, eating unwanted grain or wheat and providing the Egyptians with food and drink. They kept animals such as cattle, goats, pigs, ducks, cows, and geese.

Egyptian farmer plough the soil

How did the Egyptian Farmers water their crops?

Once the floods receded and the fields dried, the plants would wither and die. The mud that the Nile left behind needed lots of watering in the hot sun. The ancient Egyptians tried to trap as much flood water as possible, so they did not have to constantly get water from the river. They built mud-brick reservoirs to trap and hold the water. They also had a network of irrigation canals that filled with water during the flood and were refilled from the reservoirs.

How did they lift water from canals on to the land?

To lift the water from the canal they used a shaduf. A shaduf is a large pole balanced on a crossbeam, a rope and bucket on one end and a heavy counter weight at the other. By pulling the rope it lowered the bucket into the canal. The farmer then raised the bucket of water by pulling down on the weight. He then swung the pole around and emptied the bucket onto the field.

The majority of the tools were made entirely out of wood, or a combination of wood and stone, however, some copper tools have also been found, indicating that they had some metal tools too.

Shaduf (shadoof) is a machine to move water from a lower place to a higher place

2 thoughts on “Farming in Ancient Egypt

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