Ancient Egyptian Trade

Profited by the fertile river valley and abundant resources, the Egyptian society was essentially self-sufficient. This was because the needs of an agricultural community were basic. However, trade brought huge sum as revenue to the Egyptian population.

Hieroglyphic inscriptions, Evidence from formal art, Discovery of foreign-styled items and Excavation of foreign materials constitute the important sources of trade. Trade partners emerged from different parts of the world.

Usage of seaway transport was advantageous to trade. Usually, business went smoothly as long as there was goodwill and both parties were honest. But abstract value system created many difficulties

Trade was carried out through barter system. Even after coined money was introduced in the second half of the first millennium BCE, barter continued to be widespread among the farming population for centuries.

In the fifth century BCE, foreign coins were introduced. At first these imported gold and silver pieces were used by the Egyptians as precious metal of standardized weight rather than true money.

The conquest of Nubia had economic interests of bringing the rich Nubia gold mines. Farmers also use to grow crops such as the flax, parley and three different types of the wheat were available for the farming.

Flax was the important source for the textile fibre. Slave trade too existed. Ancient Egyptian trade has brought back certain innate culture of pottery to the people living at the Egypt.

The products made out of mud are imported from various other countries. These products have drawn interests of the people to make it a point that this art of making pots are cultivated among the people.

Certain metallic components are imported and also certain metal raw materials were traded for benefit of people. In addition to agricultural produce and raw materials like gold and precious stones, artefacts were also exported.

Granting credit to one another was probably quite widespread. Perhaps one of the parties did not have what the other wanted at the time of the exchange.

The custom of officially exchanging gifts between individuals of unequal status was called inw. It involved, apart from the economic value, a social element which resulted in an increase of prestige and honour of the giver.

Most daily transactions were based on oral agreements, given the fact that the sums involved were often small, people could neither read nor write and scribes were not always available. Writing was employed for big amounts.

Overseas trade was mainly in the hands of royal emissaries. It is also probable that many inland merchants were agents of the crown or the great temple estates. Official Egyptian trade was handled by scribes as representatives of the king or by priests if a temple was involved.