Ancient Egyptian Ways of Travel

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Ancient Egyptians traveled in harsh weather conditions.
Ancient Egyptians traveled in harsh weather conditions.

Though most ancient Egyptians traveled to their destinations on foot, this civilization was advanced enough to offer other means of transportation for those who could afford it. Non-agricultural regions of ancient Egypt were known as the 'red lands' because they were quite barren and exposed to full sun. Roads were rare in ancient times, so even the most sophisticated ground transportation could be expected to provide a rough ride on most occasions.

  1. Animals

    • Donkeys were a common means of transportation in ancient Egypt.
      Donkeys were a common means of transportation in ancient Egypt.

      A number of different animals were employed in ancient Egypt to travel across the arid desert. Camels and mules were all used in the most prehistoric times in this region of the world. During the Greco-Roman period, horses were used on occasion to transport goods. Donkeys were the most common beasts of burden employed in ancient Egypt. While they typically carried physical goods, they were also ridden by humans from time to time.

    Chariots

    • Chariots were a two-wheeled means of transportation.
      Chariots were a two-wheeled means of transportation.

      Primarily used for transportation during times of war, the chariot was first fashioned in Mesopotamia circa the third millennium B.C. They were two-wheeled wagons with an axle used to change direction while en route. Chariots were pulled by one or more horses, which would increase or decrease the speed and pulling power of individual chariots.

    Watercraft

    • The Nile River provided a convenient way of travel.
      The Nile River provided a convenient way of travel.

      Since most ancient Egyptians lived along the Nile River, it was natural to quickly adopt rafts and boats as their primary means of transportation. It was the general rule to only travel via watercraft by day, as a safety precaution. Ships were also constructed in ancient Egypt, but they were a dangerous means of travel on the wild, open sea. Egyptians traveling by ship kept as close as possible to the shore.

    Litters

    • Utilized by the more wealthy citizens of ancient Egypt, litters were comprised of a simple wooden platform frame and a cloth covering. Two windows were generally cut into the cloth to let in fresh air without exposing travelers to the hot sun. Litters were carried by human beings, who bore the burden on their shoulders. Sometimes litters were carried by beasts of burden, though this was rare.

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