Ancient Egypt's Economy: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Tammie Mihet

Tammie has taught elementary school for 14 yrs. and holds an MA in Instructional Technology

Ancient Egypt was the land of pharaohs and pyramids and also a land without money! Well, at least not the kind of money we use today. In this lesson find out how ancient Egypt's economy thrived.

Ancient Egypt's Economy

When you think about ancient Egypt, what comes to your mind? You may picture mummies in ancient tombs or majestic pharaohs sitting on thrones. What you should picture instead are farmers. That's right! Because of Egypt's location near the Nile River, land was fertile, or good for planting crops, so grain was plentiful! That is why grain was used as money. The ancient Egyptians had no coins or paper money; instead they used things like grain as their money system. To truly understand this we need to take a closer look at Egypt's location.

AE Map

The Nile Was Their Life Source

Ancient Egypt was located on the northeastern tip of Africa near what we now call the Middle East. The life of ancient Egyptians was centered around the Nile River. Each year the Nile River flooded and made the land around it very fertile and wonderful for growing crops! The Egyptian farmers grew many crops, such as wheat, barley, figs, vegetables and fruits. The most plentiful crops were grain crops.

Ancient Drawing Showing the Harvesting and Measuring of Crops
Measuring the Harvest

Can We Make a Trade?

The economy, or buying and selling of goods and services, was centered around the barter system. The barter system is the trading of goods or services for other goods or services. For example, say your friend has a new video game that you want and you are willing to trade for it. So, you begin to barter with your friend, discussing back and forth what your friend would like in exchange for the new video game. In the end, your friend decides to trade the new game for three of your older ones. You and your friend just participated in a bartering system. This was the system that the ancient Egyptians used to keep their economy thriving.

A Little Grain Please

Grain was used like we use money today. When workers would work the fields they were paid in grain. They could then take that grain and use it to feed their own family, or if they had extra, use it to barter for other things that they needed. Most of the local bartering happened in the market, where people would meet together to trade bread, grain, fish, fruits and vegetables for things like fish hooks, leather sandals, linen and ceramic pots. However, what happened to the people who could not work? How did they feed themselves and their family?

Grain

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