Trade and Commerce.

Accounts survive of lively market incidents which indicate that ordinary Egyptians gathered to trade goods with one another.

Tradesmen in the market usually dealt in household utensils and food, but more exotic things, even good-luck charms, were also available.

The bustle of crowds attracted thieves. Some robbers met their match in baboons that were trained to bite culprits.

Although there was no money, the value of goods was measured against a weight. A standard weight was called deben.The weights were often shaped like a bull's head.

Tomb workers were paid with basic things such as beer or bread. Bonus payments were also given by the government. These would have been in special goods such as oil, salt, beef, or linen.

Trade with other countries was carried on by the Pharaoh and his top advisers.

Another valued trade was in women cupbearers for the Pharaoh.

Eventually, Greek traders began to settle in Egypt in large numbers. They provided silver from their mines, olive oil, and the fine, painted pots in which the oil traveled. In return, they got flax to make linen sails, papyrus ropes for their boats, and wheat.

In the fourth century B.C., Egypt followed the rest of the Mediterranean countries and began to use coins and money.

Trade and Conquest.

At its height, the Egyptian empire stretched all the way from Nubia to Syria. The peoples of the Near East who were defeated by the pharaohs had to pay tribute in the form of valuable goods such as gold or ostrich feathers. However, the Egyptians were more interested in protecting their own land from invasion than in establishing a huge empire. They preferred to conquer by influence spread far and wide as official missions set out to find luxury goods for the pharaoh and his court (timer, precious stones or spices). Beautiful pottery was imported from the Minoan kingdom of Crete. Traders employed by the government were called shwty.

Expeditions also set out to the land of Punt, a part of east Africa. The traders brought back pet apes, greyhounds, gold, ivory, ebony and myrrh. Queen Hatshepsut particularly encouraged these trading expeditions. The wall of her mortuary temple record details of them and also show a picture of Eti, the Queen of Punt.