Agriculture and food production are quite literally the skills that feed a civilization. Old Kingdom Egypt excelled in this area. Egypt’s high success in agriculture was due to many things, ranging from a near constant climate, to the Nile and its annual inundations causing the land to be inexhaustible, to Egypt’s vast amount of other natural resources.
This paper will only give a general overview of the more popular resources yielded by agriculture and food production in Old Kingdom Egypt. The Nile is of particular importance, as it was the source of life in Egypt. Egypt’s crop fields are the product of the fertile kamat soil. Egypt’s primary concern was on cereal crops that’s yields had various functions. Egypt’s marshlands provided Egypt with plants that could provide oil as well as building materials. It was also a source of a wide range of species of fish. Animal husbandry was particularly important in Old Kingdom Egypt, especially when dealing with cows. Cattle were a source of milk, of meat, and of prize animals. Both practically and religiously functional, the cow had a special place in Old Kingdom Culture. As previously stated, one cannot look at agriculture in Egypt without first examining the source of life, the Nile River.
II. The Nile
The Nile waters made farming and food production possible in Egypt. These waters provided the minerals, humidity, and irrigation that the Egyptians needed to grow their fields, as well as the drinking water necessary for animals. Literally speaking, the Nile made life possible in Egypt. The Nile tended to follow a constant cycle of flooding and receding. This pattern was particularly important for Egyptian agriculture.
Inundation was a process pivotal to the success of an Egyptian’s field crop. Inundation was the annual flooding of the Nile. It was caused by rainfall in “Central Africa and melting snow in the Ethiopian highlands.” The Inundation could be both a harbinger of wealth or death. If the inundation was too low, there was famine, if the inundation was to high, there was destruction of land and property. An inundation of seven to eight metres was the ideal. The inundation was very important because it was the vehicle which brought minerals, and thus fertility to the Egyptian soil. As the waters gathered and grew high,...
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... examples of cow cults found in the Old Kingdom.
Egypt was a thriving agricultural civilization during the Old Kingdom; however, one must keep in mind that none of this would have been possible without the Nile River. The Nile was the source of all life in Egypt. It provided the minerals, humidity and water for the field crops, it provided the grazing grounds for the cattle, it was an area that yielded various species of fish and birds, and it was the source of life.
Brewer, Douglas O. and Renee F. Friedman. Fish and Fishing in Ancient Egypt. Warminster England: Aris and Phillips, 1989.
Budge, Sir E.A. Wallis. The Dwellers on the Nile. New York/London: Benjamin Blom Inc, 1972.
Erman, Adolf. Life in Ancient Egypt. New York/London: Benjamin Blom Inc, 1969.
Giroux, Farirar Straus. An Introduction to Ancient Egypt. New York/London: British Museum Publications Limited, 1979.
Montet, Pierre. Everyday Life in Egypt – in the Days of Rameses the Great. London: Edward Arnold Publishers Ltd, 1958.
Kees, Hermann. Ancient Egypt: A Cultural Topography. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961
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