What Was the Economy Like in Ancient Egypt?

Ancient Egypt had an agricultural economy, and while there is little evidence to suggest that the state told the farmers what to grow, there were quality inspections and taxes were collected. Initially, the ancient Egyptians did not have a coinage system, which meant they relied on trading sacks of corn and grain for goods.

Most of ancient Egypt’s wealth came from agriculture, which included farming animals, fishing and growing crops. In addition, people would manipulate and manufacture raw materials in their home to produce linen, and eventually larger towns saw the emergence of factories owned by richer members of society. Mining was practiced, but the materials found were used for tools rather than coinage for most of the ancient Egyptian period.

There is little evidence to suggest that officials told farmers what to produce. Most people were self sufficient, and although goods were collected in the form of taxes, many had enough left over to store as a surplus. As there was initially no form of coinage in ancient Egypt, it was possible to use this surplus as a form of bartering. Any trade outside the local region took place between market merchants acting on the behalf of the Pharaoh and large estates.