Trading and Agriculture in Ancient Egypt

Research Question: Egyptian Trade and how they relied on the Trade Routes from the Fertile Crescent linked to the environment?

Agriculture of Ancient Egypt:

Ancient Egyptian agriculture was very important to the Egyptians’ economy.  Without the Nile River however, the Ancient Egyptian civilization would not have existed.  They relied on the food they grew and their trade for their civilization to survive. Their ability to plant, grow and store food allowed them time to develop as a complex society. (This video, How farming planted seeds for the Internet,  explains why farming is the seed of civilization.

 They grew wheat, barley, vegetables, figs, melons, pomegranates, and vines. 

For more information – click here:

Ancient Egyptian Agriculture by: Joshua J. Mark (

Threshing of GrainFarming along the Nile

GmbH, T. Y. P. G. F. B. (2012, April 26). Threshing of Grain in Egypt. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from
This image shows how the harvested wheat
was piled up and trampled by oxen to separate the grain from the straw.
Farming in Ancient Egypt. Historical Eve. Retrieved from

The pictures above shows the Ancient Egyptian farmers and how they divided their year into three seasons, based on the cycles of the Nile River:

Akhet – the inundation (June-September): The Flooding Season.

  • fields were flooded
  • no  farming, farmers took care of animals, fixed tools, canals
  • some farmers worked on the pharaoh, building projects

Peret (October-February): The Growing Season.

  • the floodwaters receded
  • this left behind a layer of rich, black soil
  • then the Ancient Egyptians plowed and seeded it

Shemu (March-May): The Harvesting Season.

  • the full grown crops had to be harvested
  • they had also had to be removed before the river Nile flooded again
  • then they repaired the canals for to be ready for next season

Trade in Ancient Egypt

The Ancient Egyptians used something called deben to trade for things. It was a small copper coin that could be used to buy anything. Ancient Egyptians also used grain and other sources of necessary things to live to trade for things. For more information on what was used to trade click here:

- deben was not really a currency
- debens themselves could not be exchanged, they were worthless
- debens were a system of pricing
- if a shirt was worth one deben, and a sack of flour was worth 4 debens, you could trade one sack of flour for four shirts
- trading in ancient Egypt was not easy
- they were allowed to use something called the barter system to trade with their neighbors
- Egyptians had a hard time trading items because if they weren't priced with deben, it was hard to barter a fair trade

The table above shows how the Ancient Egyptians traded using debens and the barter system:


  • Debens weren’t used directly for trading
  • Shopkeepers priced things with them
  • Citizens would come in see how much for example a toothbrush was worth, 1 deben, and a your dress was worth two debens. You could trade your dress for two toothbrushes
  • This method wasn’t always easy, because it was hard to price things fairly 

The Barter System:

  • Merchants would come together in the Marketplace to barter with the local citizens for other goods
  • This is also where some deben might be used for pricing
  • But, when there wasn’t any deben pricing, the Ancient Egyptians would use the barter system to trade
  • Neighbors were also allowed to do this to trade with each other using the system
  • This could be really difficult, trying to find a fair trade

Trading Partners:

One of the civilizations that the Ancient Egyptians traded was with the Fertile Crescent. It was a civilization in the Middle East area, and was rich in trade and was well associated with the rest of the world with trading. For more information on the Fertile Crescent click here:

The Ancient Egyptians also traded with other merchants from far away lands. They would sail down the Nile River until they came to the meeting place where the merchants from Ancient Egypt would barter with other merchants from other lands. But, the Ancient Egyptians merchants never traveled far from Egypt. For more information on how this worked, click here: