Ancient Egyptian food production

A bigger picture

Most ordinary Egyptians worked on the land for at least some of the year as part of their duty to the state. The majority of the farmland belonged to wealthy individuals such as the king and his noblemen, or to institutions like temples. Landowners employed stewards to look after their farms and supervise the field workers. Every year officials measured the fields and checked the boundary stones to make sure they had not been moved. Then they calculated how much of the harvest the landowner would have to pay in tax. Grain paid in taxation was stored in state granaries and provided some insurance against famine in years when the harvest was poor.

Painting of an official surveying field boundaries

44-bigpic-00 See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aes/n/nebamun_surveying_the_fields.aspx

Tomb model of ploughing

44-bigpic-01 See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aes/w/wooden_model_of_a_man_ploughin.aspx

Wooden ploughs

44-bigpic-02 See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aes/w/wooden_plough.aspx

A farmer


Tomb model of a farmer using a wooden hoe

See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aes/f/figure_of_a_man_with_a_hoe.aspx

Scene from the Book of the Dead


Agricultural scene from the Book of the Dead, showing fields, irrigation channels and farming activities including ploughing and harvesting.

See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aes/p/papyrus_from_the_book_of_the-5.aspx

Sickle and hoes

44-bigpic-05 See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aes/w/wooden_hoe.aspx

Winnowing fan


A winnowing fan used for separating the grain from the chaff.

See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aes/w/winnowing_fan.aspx

A granary


Model of a granary with remnants of real grain.

See more See more: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aes/p/painted_wooden_model_of_a_gran.aspx
Next section: Teaching ideas

Ancient Egyptian food production