The Nile in Ancient Egypt was practically everything to them. They didn’t have to use extra resources for roads. Instead, they built boats and traveled the Nile (Nelson, 2018). Boats were so important they also made their way into many different aspects of Egyptian mythology.
The first boats were made of papyrus reeds and held together by rope made of papyrus (Ganeri, 1999). When they went north, they used oars because that is the way the Nile flows. As time went on and they needed to travel South, they made sails to harness the wind and built wooden boats to better support the sails (Nelson, 2018). They didn’t use nails because they were invented until the 1600’s and weren’t mass produced until the 1800’s (Visser).
Around 1100 B.C., Ancient Egypt was attacked from the mouth of the Nile by the Sea Peoples. King Ramesses III built warships and sent them out to defend Egypt (Ganeri 1999). The way that they succeeded was all because they had both oars and sails and they could maneuver a lot better. The Sea People only had ships with sails (Ganeri, 1999).
The wooden boats were made with acacia, found in Egypt, or cedar wood from Lebanon (Nelson, 2018). They were more powerful than the papyrus boats. These boats made of wood were also the most popular funeral boats for the rich (Ganeri, 1999). Boats played a big part in Egyptian mythology Egyptians believed that the souls of the dead got ferried into the underworld by boat (Ganeri, 1999). They believed that Ra the sun god, or the sun itself, rode a boat through the sky and at night rode through the underworld (Nelson, 2018). Most Ancient Egyptians were buried with tiny models of boats to help their soul travel to the underworld. King Tut was buried with 35 different boats (Nelson, 2018).
Regardless of their everyday importance, most of their boats did not survive. A lot of the research is based on drawings and religious works. There were only a handful of wooden boats that were discovered and studied (Nelson, 2018). Imagine the time it took to make all of Tut’s boat’s.
In conclusion, the Nile River was the main way the Ancient Egyptians did anything. Because of this, boats were the main mode of transportation. They were known to carry all kinds of stuff from food to funerals. They were even used to explain where they went when they died and how the sun traveled through the sky. These boats kept Ancient Egypt together, but the only thing holding the boats together were rope and papyrus reeds.
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