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Archaeology/The role of rope in the rise of ancient Egypt


Hello Ralph,

Ancient Egypt made much of the Nile resource.  It seems to have produced much food; and yet, off "all"  that I have learned over the years of its culture I cannot recall ever having heard much of anything pertaining to the actual sources of its economic success. Surely food cannot account for the fullness of Ancient Egypt's vast wealth. This causes me to wonder, specifically, about rope.
  Nile trafficking aside, the ancient Egyptians were not known for their seafaring. Still, as a principle and central Mediterranean culture they had to have had a significant impact on the region's maritime industry. There was, for instance, no better place in the then known world than the Nile delta for growing Cannabis—i.e., the raw material for making the thing for which the maritime industry produced an insatiable demand: rope. (If nothing else, I suspect cannabis production to have been the principle factor in the choice for the site of and in particular, Alexandria.)
  Can you throw any light on the role of rope production in the rise of Ancient Egypt. And can you offer suggestions for further research?
  I look forward to you observations.

Hi Dan,

You are right, in that just food production alone did not cause Egypt to rise to it former glory.  But it sure did help.  Large scale agriculture allows for more people and the development of trade and a middle class. This then leads to the development of cities and greater heirarchies of leadership until you get empire builders.  

Trade also plays a key role in the development of empires.  The Nile be a natural water way in to the heart of Africa and its riches was a natural trade route along with being a big player in the Mediterranian, Red Sea etc... A true cross roads.  

Egyptian ships plyed the Nile and the Med for centuries, even before the advent of the empire that became Ancient Egypt.  Rope, as well as many other materials were very important in the development of these technologies.

Egypt grew many materials that could be used in the making of rope like cotton, hemp, linen, papyrus, and others.  In different combinations or twists, they could make very strong rope to hold down huge stones used in the building projects across the empire.

there are a lot more articles on put in ancient egyptian rope and look at the entrys.


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Ralph Salier


Archaeologist for the last 30 years. Norh American generalist and Hopwell culture/Red Ocher culture specifically. Lithics Expert and Ground Stone tools.


Past/Present clients
Numerous museums in US and Canada. Several University Anthropology Departments.

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