Egyptian Trade

Essential Question

What was the role of Egyptian trade in the eastern Mediterranean and Nile Valley (Kush)?

Egyptian trade in the Mediterranean and Nile valley

Egyptian Trade

Egypt was rich in fertile land and had vast amounts of surplus wheat, but it still lacked important resources like wood and metal. To solve this Egypt traded with some of its neighbors. Egypt traded with Mesopotamia, Crete (Greece), Kush, and other civilizations. Egypt had also made trading colonies in Canaan, Syria, and Kush. The pharaoh organized trade expeditions and all the goods brought back on the trade expeditions belonged to the pharaoh making him/her even more wealthy.

The Egyptians used the wood to build ships for sea trade and donkeys for overland trade. The trade during the Old Kingdom of Egypt brought in great wealth, enough to fund the pyramids of Giza and countless other monuments.

Egypt's trade agreements were achieved through peaceful negotiation and some were established by military campaign. For example it secured valuable trade centers with Kush using its army. Kush was rich in wood, ivory, slaves, copper, stone, and especially gold mines. The Egyptians called Kush Nubia, which gets its name from the Egyptian word for gold, nub. Later pharaohs would continue to keep a strong Egyptian presence on the border to ensure the safety of the resources and trade routes with Kush.

The difference between Old Kingdom and New Kingdom trade was that the New Kingdom was far more interested in luxury goods (goods that they don't need, but make life more enjoyable) and, the more they became acquainted with, the more they wanted gold, jewlery perfume, and more.

Discussion Questions

  • Why was trade so important to the Egyptians?

  • Who did the Egyptians trade with?

  • What were the two main methods of travel for Egyptian traders?

  • Are Kush and Nubia the same people? Explain?

  • Why was Egypt's trade with Kush so important?

Trade and Conquest

In order to preserve the extremely important trade with the Kingdom of Kush, Egypt slowly started to conquer it. The people of Kush were forced to pay tribute (a payment made by conquered people to the pharaoh). In one year of Thutmose III's tribute were hundreds of pounds of gold, cattle, slaves, ostrich feathers, and ivory from Nubia.

The people of Kush adopted many parts of the Egyptians' culture. They started to wear Egyptian clothes, worship Egyptian Gods, and even speak the Egyptian language. They even served in the Egyptian army and served as high government officials.

After the death of Ramses II, the Egyptian government collapsed. Kush became an independent kingdom ruled by Kush kings once again. In the mid 700s BC, a Kush king name Piye expanded the Kushite kingdom by conquering Egypt. The Kush pharaohs ruled Egypt for over a hundred years. Kush pharaohs built temples to Kush and Egyptian Gods and continued to encourage trade with Africa and the Mediterranean Sea. However, the Kush pharaohs lost control of Egypt when they tried to conquer the Assyrians in Mesopotamia. The Assyrians invaded Egypt in 663B.C. and the Kush rulers left Egypt to return to Kush.

Discussion Questions

  • What was Egypt's relationship with the Kingdom of Kush?

  • How did Egypt influence the Kingdom of Kush?

Activity 3: What were the causes and effects of Egyptian trade in the Mediterranean and Nile valley (Kush)?

Using the information from this lesson, answer the questions in a thinking map. Complete this assignment digitally or on paper. It will be collected in your portfolio.

Extension Activities