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The Nile River and her fertile river banks provided the basis for most ancient Egyptian

food. In a
land that is otherwise almost completely dry desert land; the people of Egypt are blessed to have
soil that is so fertile it is almost completely black. This fertile soil has allowed the Egyptian
people to maintain a bountiful agricultural system since the days when the first Egyptians settled
along the Nile River, in spite of the fact that Egypt sees very little annual rainfall.
The Nile River produced an abundance of fish, which could be incorporated into a number of
ancient Egyptian food recipes. Due to the desert geography of the Egyptian nation, it was
extremely difficult for the ancient Egyptian peoples to raise livestock, therefore meats such as
pork and beef were not often seen in ancient Egyptian food preparations. Fish likely provided the
bulk of meat to the Egyptian diet.

Besides fish, bread and beer contributed to the majority of the ancient Egyptian food and drink
diet. The fertile soil deposited by the Nile River allowed the ancient Egyptians to grow wheat in
abundance. The wheat could be fermented into beer or prepared in a variety of manners such as
bread and cakes. Typical ancient Egyptian foods included recipes made from the wheat and often
sweetened with honey
Figs and dates have always been extremely popular and sensible food crops in the arid Egyptian
climate. Grapes were a well liked ancient Egyptian food, both as a fruit and in the form of wine;
for those who could afford it.
Because Egypt was very dry, and relied mostly on the Nile River to water the crops, people in
Egypt could only grow certain kinds of food. Mainly farmers grew wheat and barley.
The Egyptians made the wheat into bread and into soup and porridge, and they also fermented
barley to make beer. In fact, some people think the real reason that the Egyptians first began
growing grain was to make beer. This is an Egyptian model of beer jars, which the Egyptians
made to put in your grave when you died so you would have beer in the next world.

The Egyptians also ate meat. You could go to a butcher shop and buy lamb there, just as people
do today. Only because it rarely rains in Egypt, they could have the meat outside in the courtyard

of the store instead of inside. Here is a model of a butcher shop, also from somebody's grave.
Can you see the different cuts of meat all laid out? At the very bottom there is a whole leg of
But, like other people from the Eastern Mediterranean like the Jews and the Phoenicians, the
Egyptians would not eat pigs (bacon or ham or pork or salami) because they thought pigs carried
leprosy. They ate beef and mutton and duck and goose.

For dessert, the Egyptians liked to eat dates and figs. This is a picture of some real Egyptian
dates which were put into somebody's grave for them to eat in the next world, and which were
preserved in the dry climate for three thousand years until archaeologists dug them up again.


All clothes were almost always made of linen which is made from flax.
The ancient Egyptians wore light clothes made from linen.
Linen is made from flax - a plant which was grown along the Nile. The picture below shows the
flax growing process.

Once harvested, the flax was soaked in water until soft. The soften flax was then separated into
fibres which were beaten before being spun into thread which was then woven into cloth.

1. Workers wore loincloths made of animal hide and linen. They also wore simple tunic
2. Loincloth: a piece of material fastened around the waist and worn by men.
3. Most of the slaves worked naked.

1. Men or women wore long see-through robes that were pleated.
2. Better-off people wore wide clothes of white cloth.
3. Wealthy people did not wear more jewelry or fancier clothes to show wealth. They did
wear gold jewelry and the most transparent clothes.

All men wore a wrap-round skirt that was tied at the waist with a belt. Sometimes the material
was wrapped around the legs as well. The length of the skirt varied depending on the fashion
of the time - in the time of the Old Kingdom they were short while in the Middle Kingdom
they were calf length. During the New Kingdom period it was fashionable to wear a pleated

Rich Egyptian men were able to afford the best quality linen which was very
fine and almost see-through. Rich Egyptian men also wore as much jewellery as
they could afford and decorated their clothes. They also wore headdresses for special
Egyptian women wore full length straight dresses with one or two shoulder straps. During the
New Kingdom period it became fashionable for dresses to be pleated or draped. The dresses
worn by rich Egyptian women were made from fine transparent linen. Like the men, rich
Egyptian women decorated their clothes and wore jewellery and headdresses.

Ancient Egyptian children did not wear clothes until they were about six
years old when they would wear the same clothes as men and women.

The Ancient Egyptians went barefoot most of the time but wore sandals for special occasions
or if their feet were likely to get hurt.
The sandals worn by the poor were made of woven
papyrus or palm while those worn by the rich were made
of leather.
The picture (left) shows the various styles of sandals

Most houses were made of brick. The banks of the Nile provided the mud used to make
bricks . Brick makers collected mud, added straw and water to it as needed, and stomped it
with their feet until it reached the right consistency. The mixture was then placed in a
mould. Once shaped, the bricks were removed from the mould and left on the ground to
dry in the sun.

Egyptian peasants would have lived in simple mud-brick homes containing only a few
pieces of furniture: beds, stools, boxes and low tables.

Cross-section of a typical house in the workers' village at Deir el-Medina. The

workers who built the tombs in the Valley of the Kings lived in this village.
Drawing: Catherine Fitzpatrick.

Craftworkers lived in one- or two-storey flat-roofed dwellings made of mud bricks. The
walls and roof would have been covered with plaster and painted. Inside, there was a
reception room, a living room, bedrooms and a cellar in which food and beverages were
stored. Food was prepared in an outdoor kitchen equipped with a mud-brick oven. Stairs
on the exterior of the house led to a roof-top terrace.

The homes of the wealthy were larger and more luxurious. Spacious reception and living
rooms opened onto a central garden courtyard with a fish pond and flowering plants. Each
bedroom had a private bathroom, and the walls, columns and ceilings were painted with
beautiful designs inspired by nature. Elaborate and highly decorated furniture included
beds, chairs, boxes and tables. Painted clay pots and vessels, as well as alabaster bowls and
jars, were also found in the homes of the nobles.