What Did the Egyptians Invent?

did-egyptians-invent Credit: J. Debru/The Image Bank/Getty Images

The Ancient Egyptians are the well-known constructors of the Pyramids and the Great Sphinx. They invented hieroglyphs, one of the earliest writing systems, and a number system for whole numbers and fractions, including rudimentary algebraic formulations. Egyptians created breath mints, toothpaste, the calendar and bowling. Perhaps their greatest invention, however, was papyrus scrolls, which allowed information to be collected, transported and stored for immediate use or for future generations.

The Ancient Egyptians relied almost entirely on the Nile River for water, transportation and irrigation and silt for agriculture, their primary source of commerce. The Egyptians invented boats made from tightly bundled papyrus reeds and papyrus rope to travel on the river and transport goods. The Ancient Egyptians probably used these boats from about 8,000 B.C. until lumber was required for larger cargo many millennia later.

By at least the 4th millennium B.C., the Ancient Egyptians had invented papyrus sheets from the pith of the abundant papyrus plants along the Nile. Many cultures had yet to develop a writing system or used large, heavy clay tablets. The sheets could be rolled into scrolls, which weighed little and had small forms that were a boon to information transfer. Papyrus was sold to other nations. As of 2014, much of what is known about antiquity is derived from preserved papyrus scrolls or codices. Papyrus remained one of the primary materials for writing until the Chinese invented the paper.