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The methods employed by the ancient Egyptians to develop their agriculture

Cemetery, Tombstone, Grave, Harmony
Ancient Egypt is well known for its association with the Nile River, though the Nile passes through other countries in the East and Northern parts of Africa. The Nile was instrumental in the development of different agricultural practices of the ancient Egyptians. The various agricultural practices devised by the Egyptians are discussed below.

One of the major features of the Nile River is its perennial flooding at both banks of the river. This flooding deposited silt on a large track of otherwise dry lands bordering both banks of the Nile. The silt that is deposited moistened the land and made it conducive for farming activities. The Egyptians embarked on extensive cultivation of crops after each flooding season.

Employing the help of animals
Another method used by the ancient Egyptians to develop their agriculture was the use of animals in the preparation of their lands before planting. The animals were used to plough the lands so that the top soil can be loosened for easy cultivation. One particular animal that was mainly used was the oxen.

Use of manpower for irrigation
In the early days of agricultural activity in Egypt, the Egyptians manually fetched the water with containers from the Nile and directly poured it into the canals that were constructed to carry the water to where it was needed. Though this was laborious, it was the only means available at the time. This method was further improved with the invention of the “shaduf” the reduce the drudgery.

The use the of the “Shaduf”
The ingenuity of the Egyptians drove them to develop simple machines to carry water to the farmlands faster than was hitherto the case. One machine they invented was called the “shaduf”. It was made up of a pole, a pivot and bucket or buckets, depending on the design. As the pole turned on the pivot, the bucket is dipped into the water to be filled and as the pole continued to turn, the buckets, filled with water are drawn out to be poured into the canal and the water carried away. This technology improved water supply to the farmlands to enhance agricultural activity.

Limiting farming activity to the Nile Valley
At either sides of the Nile were desert plateaus. This area was not suitable for intensive farming. For this reason, the ancient Egyptians, limited their major agricultural activities to the Nile valley. The desert plateaus were also used but they required the right amount of water to be able to do so. This was where the technology of the “shaduf” and canals were greatly needed and therefore employed.

Agricultural activity in Egypt was also developed through fishing. It was one of the major agricultural activities that they engaged in. The Egyptians developed fishing implements such as the hook and line which were used in fishing in the Nile.


1. Describe how the ancient Egyptians made use of the Nile for agricultural purposes.

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