Ancient Egypt for Kids
Farming & Farmers
What crop used to make bread was the major crop in ancient Egypt? Answer: Barley
Occupation: Farmer. In ancient Egypt, for the most part, you followed in your father's footsteps. If your father was a farmer, mostly probably, when you grew up, you would become a farmer. If he was a soldier, most probably, that was your future as well. In ancient Egypt, everyone had a job and most jobs were inherited. But, in ancient Egypt, you were not locked in to a particular job. If you had talent as an artist or craftsman, someone would take you for training in their shop. If you were accepted to scribe school, that was a sure way to climb the social scale.
Social Scale: Farmers were on the bottom of the social scale, except for slaves, who were even lower. Artists and craftsmen were above farmers on the social scale. Above them were the merchants. Pharaoh was at the top. Pharaoh owned everything.
Farmers divided planned their time around 3 seasons - the flooding season, the growing season, and the harvest season.
The Flooding Season: Each spring, snow on the mountains would melt. The Nile River would flood. This was a very good thing. When the flood waters receded, they left behind fertile soil. Crops could easily be grown in this black, rich soil. The ancient Egyptians called this soil the "The Gift of the Nile".
The Growing Season: Farmers planted wheat, barley, vegetables, figs, melons, pomegranates, corn, and flax (which they used to make into linen.)
The Harvest Season: Once the crops were harvested, what could be dried or stored was stored. The Egyptians were very practical people. They knew they had to save what food they could in case the Nile did not flood! After the harvest, farmers repaired the canals that led water from the Nile to their crops, to get ready for the next flooding season.
Farming was not as easy as it might sound. In ancient Egypt, tools were simple. Cattle needed care. Snakes and jackals roamed the fields. Farmers had to barter a great many of their harvested crops for the things and animals they needed to plant more crops. Although they were lower on the social scale than artists and craftsmen, merchants and scribes and priests, farmers were given respect. Everyone knew farming was hard work, and successful farming was important to everyone.