Ancient Egyptian Market Scenes | Student Handouts
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Egyptian Market Scenes from an Egyptian Tomb > World History > Ancient Egypt > Ancient Egypt Maps and Pictures
Egyptian Market Scenes from an Egyptian Tomb
Egyptian Market Scenes from an Egyptian Tomb: Selling and cleaning fish; bartering a necklace for pots of perfume. In the upper central parts of each scene are examples of Egyptian writing in hieroglyphics. Fish, caught in the Nile River and Mediterranean Sea, was a staple in the Egyptian diet. Click here to enlarge this image.

In ancient Egypt, markets played a significant role in the daily life of the population. Markets were bustling centers of commerce, where people could buy and sell a wide range of goods and services.

Marketplaces and Locations: Markets were typically held in open-air locations, often near temples, major cities, or along the banks of the Nile River. The Nile served as a vital transportation route, connecting various parts of Egypt and facilitating trade.

Goods for Sale: Ancient Egyptian markets offered a diverse range of goods and products. These included agricultural products like grain, vegetables, and fruits. Craftsmen and artisans sold pottery, jewelry, textiles, and various handicrafts. Livestock, including cattle, sheep, and goats, were also traded. There were specialized markets for commodities like salt and fish.

Bazaars and Street Vendors: In addition to formal marketplaces, there were also bazaars and street vendors who sold goods in smaller, more informal settings. These vendors might set up stalls or spread their goods on the ground.

Barter System: Money as we know it today did not exist in ancient Egypt. Instead, a barter system was commonly used in which people exchanged goods directly without a common currency. However, standardized units of grain, such as the deben, were sometimes used as a form of currency.

Market Days: Market days were typically on a regular schedule and varied depending on the specific location. Large cities might have daily markets, while smaller towns had weekly or monthly markets. People from surrounding areas would often travel to these markets to buy and sell.

Government Regulation: The ancient Egyptian government regulated trade and market activities to some extent. Officials ensured fair practices, monitored quality, and collected taxes on various goods.

Trade with Foreign Lands: Egypt was a vital trading hub due to its strategic location and the existence of the Nile River. Egyptian markets were places where foreign merchants would come to trade goods such as spices, incense, exotic animals, and precious metals.

Market Activity and Social Interaction: Markets were not just places for economic transactions; they were also hubs for social interaction. People met friends, engaged in discussions, and shared news. Markets were important community gathering spaces.

Transportation and Storage: Traders and merchants often transported goods to markets using boats on the Nile or by pack animals. Storage facilities, like granaries, were present near the markets to keep perishable goods fresh.

Market Administration: In larger cities, markets were overseen by local administrators who managed issues such as cleanliness, the collection of taxes, and dispute resolution.

Ancient Egyptian markets were central to the economic and social life of the civilization. They were places where people from all walks of life came together to exchange goods, engage in conversation, and foster a sense of community.
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