Ancient Egypt for Kids - The Marketplace Illustration

Ancient Egypt for Kids
The marketplace

Every ancient Egyptian town and city had an outdoor marketplace where people to came to shop everyday. Merchants set up stalls to sell their goods. A stall could be as simple as a mat on the ground or a more elaborate three sided structure with a table. These merchants were called vendors. Farmers sold produce in the marketplace. Spells on papyrus were purchase at the spell stall in the marketplace. You could buy medicines, amulets, jewelry, perfumes, clothing, fruit and vegetables and all kinds of food, leather goods, metal goods, papyrus and ink, live animals, dead animals, tools, rugs, furniture, grave goods, and salt.

What you did was head to the stall that was selling the item or items you wanted. There were things in the marketplace for sale that came in by boat from people who traded with other ancient Egyptian towns up and down the Nile and some who traded with other ancient civilizations. Traders were respected and on the same social scale level as merchants. All markets had many vendors, but the outdoor market in a major ancient Egyptian city was a splendid site to see, rich in color and excitement!

There were two ways to buy goods. 

  • You could do an outright trade - my duck for your hoe, for example. 

  • Or you could use the deben system. The ancient Egyptians used a weight system. Debens were metal weights. In today's weights, one deben would weight about 3 ounces. What you bought to trade was put on one side of the scale, and debens were added to the other side of the scale, until the scale was balanced. Then you could decide if you wanted to make a trade. If you did, you collected your debens and used them somewhere else in the marketplace.

Women brought things they made at home to trade. They might bring a loaf of bread or a woven mat, and trade what they brought for something else. Most woman shopped in the marketplace every day to purchase fresh food for her family, along with the goods they needed or wanted.

Game: The Market Stall

Ancient Egyptian Virtual Marketplace


Grain Banks

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