Ancient Egyptian farmers were the backbone of society. Like many other occupations in ancient Egypt, a person would inherit the job or skill of their parents.
Ancient Egyptian farmers were farmers for life. Families would pass down farm land or maybe give a small parcel to their siblings as a gift.
But there was no greater gift to ancient Egyptian farmers than “The Gift of the Nile.”
The yearly flooding of the Nile River provided soil that was loaded with nutrients. The sandy brown soil would turn a rich black color after flooding.
The Nile River was also the main source of water for farmers. Most farms were located on the banks of the Nile River or within a short distance of the river. Farms were even located within the city walls.
Farmers lived in small sun baked mud brick houses next to their fields. Canals were constructed to bring water to the fields.
Each year the Nile River created between 20,000 and 34,000 square kilometers of farm land. After the Nile River flooded, the top soil deposited by the floods was easy to plough.
Ancient Egyptians farmers did not need to use a heavy plough like most farmers around the world. Ploughs in ancient Egypt were not heavy but light enough even for a human to pull with ease.
Ancient Egyptian farmers would also use a hand hoe to turn the soil over before planting their seeds. Fields were hand planted by people with baskets full seeds dangling from their necks.
Harvesting of crops took place from April to June. Tax collectors from the pharaoh would estimate the amount of crops to be harvested.
Ancient Egyptian farmers paid taxes on their crops before the crops were allowed to be harvested. Sickles were used during the harvesting of grains such as barley, flax and wheat.
Wealthy families would hire a team of workers to harvest their crops. Poorer ancient Egyptian farmers would work on these teams as well as harvest their own crops with family members.
Ancient Egyptian farmers cultivated a variety of crops. They had fields full of cucumbers, leeks, onions, beans, cabbages and garlic.
Ancient Egyptian farmers also grew plenty of wheat for bread and barley was used to make beer. Flax was another important crop for ancient Egyptian farmers.
Although flax was a native plant growing in the marshes of the Nile River, ancient Egyptian farmers grew flax in order to make linen for clothing. They also attended to vineyards full of a wide range of grape vines which were used to make wine as well as fruit juice.
The main fruits grown by ancient Egyptian farmers were dates, figs and plums.
The pharaoh was responsible for feeding the public during years of drought. When the Nile River did not flood, the pharaoh needed to have grain and food in storage.
The pharaoh hired scribes to measure the amount of grain in storage. Pharaohs also had extensive gardens within their palace walls.
The pharaoh’s garden was well manicured with fruit trees, flowers, fountains and plenty of vegetables.