Ancient Egyptian Boats and Transportation

Ancient Egypt was a place that was known for the Nile River and this river was important for the daily life of the Egyptians.  Not only was this river important for allowing the Ancient Egyptians to be able to have food and water, it was also important for trade.

Ships and Boats

The most important way that people of Ancient Egypt were able to get around was through the use of boats and ships.  Since they lived on the Nile River, this way of transportation was very important.

Trade was a huge thing during this time and people would transport goods all around the country.  The use of boats and ships was important for this so that the goods could be taken where they needed to go.

Parts of the Boats

The boat that was made by the Ancient Egyptians had many parts, it had a stern, a bow, and then later, the boats would have cabins for the people to ride in.

How Did the Boat Move?

The boats would move by the winds.  When the wind would blow a certain way, the boat would travel in that direction.  When boats would be traveling back north, they would use the currents and oars to help to guide and control the boat.


One of the simplest boats that was around during Ancient Egyptian times was the skiff.  This boat was a simple boat that was made from papyrus reeds and rope.  The reeds were tied together with the ropes and these boats would be used for the Egyptians to travel small distances on or to sit in the water and fish.

Wooden Ships

There were also larger ships that were made out of wood.  They would be equipped with sails and oars for the Egyptians to be able to control the direction.

Most of these ships were made with wooden planks that were held together with rope.  When the wood would expand, it would cause the ship to have no water in it and so it would not sink.

A wood called acacia wood was used on the lover parts of the ships so that they would be strong and would be able to carry heavier loads.

Ship Loads

Some of the ships would be made so that they could carry things such as blocks and stones to where the pyramids and temples were being built.  The ship would be loaded up with these large stones and wood and then it would travel down the Nile River to where the temple or pyramid was being built.


Not only were the ships used for transporting people and goods, they were also used for ceremonies.  Sometimes, these ships would be used to move the images of the gods or goddess from one temple to another.

The boats were also used during funerals so that mummies could be taken to where they would be laid to rest, in a tomb.


The roads in Ancient Egypt were sometimes small and dirt and full of rocks.  People would have to use animals or chariots in order to get around on land.

Some people would walk or ride on the backs of donkeys or oxen and sometimes the donkeys or oxen would help to pull loads when people traveled.


Some people think that the wheel was introduced into Ancient Egypt by the Hyksos, the foreign people.  Some believe that this happened during the Fifteenth Dynasty.

It is thought that the Hyksos people traveled through Ancient Egypt by chariots that were pulled by horses.

Facts About Ancient Egyptian Boats and Transportation:

  • The sun god was sent on a ship across the sky, according to myth.
  • Sometimes transportation was used by the royal people for hunting trips.
  • The Egyptians use a boat today called a felucca; this is a boat that has a sail that is shaped like a triangle.
  • Cabins didn’t appear on Ancient Egyptian boats until the New Kingdom.
  • The Nile River was considered a highway for travel.

What Did You Learn?

  1. What were some types of boats made out of during Ancient Egyptian times?  Some of the first boats were made out of papyrus reeds and rope.  These boats were small and would not go far out into the water.  Later, boats were made out of wood.
  2. What was important about the boats made out of wood? The boats that were made out of wood helped the Egyptians to be able to move bigger loads from one area to the other such as when building temples or pyramids.
  3. What other transportation did the Egyptians have? The Egyptians would use animals, walking and eventually chariots to travel through the roads of Ancient Egypt.
  4. What was important about the wheel? Some historians believe the wheel was introduced to the Ancient Egyptians by the Hyksos which were foreign people.
  5. What was another important thing boats were used for? Boats were also used for ceremonies such as moving mummies and taking royal kings and pharaohs to their tombs.