Why was farming important to the ancient Egyptians?

The ancient Egyptians based their farming around the annual flooding of the River Nile.

There were three seasons in the Egyptian calendar:

  • Akhet
    Also called the Season of the Inundation. Heavy summer rain in the highlands of Ethiopia each year would cause the Nile to flood as it flowed through Egypt. Farmland could be covered by up to two metres of water.
  • Peret
    Also called the Season of the Emergence. As the floodwaters went down, the land beside the Nile was left covered in thick dark mud which was very fertile. Farmers used this season to plant grain, barley and other fruits and vegetables.
  • Shemu
    Also called the Season of the Harvest. Egyptians harvested the food they had planted, collected seeds to plant the following year and stored grain in large silos.
Measuring the Nile flood waters

Can you name the farming seasons?

How did the ancient Egyptians farm?

To make the most of the annual rising and falling of the Nile, the Egyptians dug channels and walls to divert flood water away from cities and towards fields for farming. This was called basin irrigation.

They also invented tools like the shaduf. A shaduf is a long pole with a bucket attached to the end, which people could use to raise and move water from rivers or lakes onto land

An ancient Egyptian man using a Shaduf

Where next?

Test your knowledge with the Ancient Egypt quiz
What was life like for the ancient Egyptians?
Bitesize Primary KS2