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spiky green palm leaves with garlands of orange date clusters

Date palm

Palms and papyrus

The plants that grew in ancient Egypt were very different from plants that grow in America or Britain. The lotus and the papyrus plants, for instance, were (and are) very common in Egypt.

Egyptian environment
Egyptian animals
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Papyrus is a kind of reed which grows in wetlands along the banks of the Nile River. Date palms grew all over Egypt, and other palms that people used to make palm oil.

More about papyrus
History of dates
What is palm oil?

Importing wood to Egypt

There were not very many trees in ancient Egypt, because there isn’t enough water in Egypt to support big trees. When the Egyptians needed wood, they had to buy it from Lebanon, further north, and sail it south to Egypt on boats.

Early African boats

Papyrus plant

Papyrus plant

Food plants in ancient Egypt

There were also plants which are more familiar in the United States like wheat, barley, lentils, chickpeas, and figs. Egypt was especially famous for producing huge amounts of wheat, thanks to the Nile flood every year.

History of wheat
Where are chickpeas from?
What’s the Nile flood?

A field of yellow stems of wheat

A field of wheat growing

Egyptian people made some of their wheat into beer; Egypt is the only Mediterranean country where people mainly drank beer instead of wine (though beer was also popular in Mesopotamia).

History of beer

Learn by doing: eating dates and figs
More about Egyptian animals
History of dates
More about the Egyptian environment

Bibliography and further reading about Egyptian plants:

The Egyptian environment
More about ancient Egypt
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