Ancient Egyptian Ways of Travel

Horses were thought to be slower than camels in ancient Egypt.
... Chad Baker/Jason Reed/Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

Ancient Egypt had many desirable qualities, from rich culture to prosperity in farming. Although the society lacked the cars and buses of modern times, it still provided its citizens with several viable transportation options, notably boat travel on the Nile River. The Nile River served as an invaluable way of getting around in ancient Egypt.

1 Boat Travel

Ancient Egyptians frequently traveled by boat on the Nile River. People traveled to nearby destinations on smaller boats that were constructed out of papyrus reeds. Boats that were intended to travel for lengthy stretches were considerably larger and generally made out of wood. These bigger boats were typically employed to deliver large items to faraway locales. The Nile River was crucial, transportation-wise, in that it linked Lower and Upper Egypt together. It also traveled through the center of the nation. Ancient Egyptians could easily travel by boat between large cities such as Thebes and Memphis.

2 Walking for Travel

Walking also was a prominent form of ancient Egyptian transportation. Modern roads weren't yet in existence, but travelers followed rudimentary dirt paths that were established by passing donkeys and humans. When they walked for extended stretches, they frequently held their sandals in their hands instead of wearing them. Roads weren't established in ancient Egypt for several reasons. Floods could wipe them out too easily. Egyptians also didn't want to spoil perfectly good agricultural land by setting up roads.

3 Other Travel on Terra Firma

Rich ancient Egyptians, instead of walking, often opted to sit in chairs that were help up either by donkeys or between six and eight male human slaves. These chairs were referred to as "litters." Chariots that were pulled by horses were another common transportation option for privileged ancient Egyptians. Chariots were also frequently used in hunting. Donkeys were much more frequently seen in transportation than horses, as they simply were much cheaper to keep.

4 Camel Travel

When the Persians occupied ancient Egypt in 525 B.C., a lot of camels came along with them. Up until this point, the ancient Egyptians didn't generally use the ungulates for transportation, although they were aware of them. Camels gained appreciation as a form of travel when the ancient Egyptians realized that not only were they speedier than horses, but they could also manage without sustenance -- including water -- for lengthier periods of time.