Week 7: Trade

During the late dynasties, once the Greek began to enter Egypt and start to seize control, trade (already having been existed in Ancient Egypt) soon became a necessity. Trade was taking place overseas. I became interested in the fact that large vessels were setting sail. Have we recovered any ancient Egyptian ships that were en route carrying goods? If so, this could show us just exactly what they were trading and with whom? Did they have multiple ships or did they choose one ship to move from port to port? Trade was of considerable importance to the Ptolemies, and the establishment of ports on the Egyptian Red Sea coast enabled expeditions over large areas.  The two most important ports appeared to have been Berenice and Myos Hormos.

Bernice has been the subject of an excavation project, “one of the most important reasons for creating this new harbour was the need of the Ptolemies for elephants. These were used in the wars against the Seleucids in the Near East, who blocked the import of Indian elephants. The Ptolemies decided to catch African elephants in what now is eastern Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia and ship them over the Red Sea on special
ships (elephantagoi) in order to land them in southern Egypt and walk
them to the Nile valley (Byrnes, 2007).” This is just an example of one port that made up a popular trade route. Could there be possible ships that have not been recovered yet here? I tried to research ancient ships recovered in regard to this time frame and I had no luck. What I did find was that unfortunately most of the Ptolemaic layers of Berenice are still sealed beneath the Roman levels, which meant that at the moment there is very little known about the site at this time. Perhaps in the future we will know even more about trade that took place between ancient Egypt and overseas partners.



Byrnes, Andie. (2007). Ptolemaic, Roman and Byzantine. Retrieved from http://archaeology-easterndesert.com/html/graeco-roman.html