What Were Homes Like in Ancient Egypt?

Last updated on February 15th, 2023 at 06:03 am

Ancient Egypt is known for its grand pyramids, impressive temples, and elaborate tombs, but what about the everyday homes of the people who lived there?

The architecture and design of ancient Egyptian homes offer a look at the daily lives of the people who called this land home.

From the bustling cities of the Nile delta to the remote desert villages, homes in ancient Egypt were diverse and varied, reflecting the different social classes, lifestyles, and beliefs of the people who lived in them.

Homo Cosmicos / Shutterstock

What Factors Influenced Egyptian Homes?

Several factors influenced the homes of Ancient Egyptians. One of the most important was the climate. Because Ancient Egypt was located in a desert, it was scorching and dry. 

Egyptians made their homes out of materials such as mud and papyrus. Wood was scarce in the region and was mainly used to stabilize doorways and windows.

Slaves and children were assigned the task of forming mud bricks. To make a mud brick, they would mix clay with water and straw and then form it into shape. After the bricks dried in the sun, they would use them to build walls.

Roofs were made of palm fronds, mats, or reeds. These materials were readily available and could be easily replaced when worn out. 

In addition, families often constructed flat roofs that provided a surface to sleep on during hot summer nights. 

Egyptian citizens made their homes out of simple materials like these because they required little effort to gather and were also quite effective at keeping houses cool and warm at night.

The environment did pose some problems for these types of homes. For example, the Nile River flooded annually for approximately three months.

This flood would deposit a layer of silt on the land, which farmers then used to grow crops; however, the extensive moisture and consistent floods could erode and wash away the mud homes.

Ancient Egyptians also had to be concerned about function over form. Their homes had to be practical and offer them the necessary protection from extreme conditions.

Other factors influencing Egyptian homes were the inhabitants’ wealth and the household size (family).

The Two Main Types of Ancient Egyptian Homes

The Nile River could devastate Ancient Egyptian homes very quickly, which forced citizens to change the construction materials they used. As a result, there were two main types of dwellings in Ancient Egypt: those made from mud brick and those made from stone.

Mud brick was the most common type of material used for construction. This is because it was easy to make and affordable for lower-class families.

Stone was less common, but the wealthy still used it occasionally; it was more expensive, so more affluent families primarily used it.

  • Mud brick homes were made by mixing mud and straw and then shaping them or using molds to make the mixture into bricks. These bricks would be dried in the sun and used to build the house’s walls. The roof would usually be made out of reeds or palm fronds, which helped to keep the house cool.
  • Stone homes were made by cutting blocks of limestone or sandstone and then shaping them into the desired size. Unfortunately, stone homes were much more expensive than mud-brick homes.

Mud brick homes also varied depending on wealth. Generally, poorer families could only make one row of mud bricks. Wealthier typical families could build two or three rows of brick to increase their strength. In addition, families covered windows and doors with reeds to keep out the dust and the heat.

Merchants would undoubtedly live in much nicer established homes with several rows of mud bricks and more furniture. But, over time, mud-brick homes would still crumble from the elements, no matter how nice they were. So, of course, it was better to have a stone house despite their scarcity.

Ancient Egyptian Features

Like everything else about home construction, the home’s layout depended on the family’s status and the number of family members dictated the size of the home. 

While most houses had at least three rooms, they were usually two stories. It was common for crops and other food-related items to be stored in the lower section of the house.

Because of the environment, dust and debris were a constant issue so families would build their doors about 4 feet off the ground. A ramp would lead up to the remaining entrance from the floor. 

More affluent families would use this lower ramp section to build a courtyard.

Egyptian Furniture

Furniture was a luxury that only the wealthiest of citizens could afford. As a result, most Ancient Egyptian families would sit on the floor, usually covered in mats or rugs. More affluent families would have chairs and stools, often made of wood.

Beds were a luxury, usually raised off the ground and made of wood. If the poorer families did not have a bed, it was a simple straw mattress on the floor.

The Challenges of Egyptian Homes

No matter the family status, poor and wealthy families lacked the modern amenities we take for granted today.

Low-income families did not have running water or toilets in their homes. Instead, they went to the river to get water to bathe or cook with and to the restrooms. Families would usually have an outhouse on their property.

Poorer families often lived in homes built on top of each other. Families did this to save on space because mud-brick homes were not as sturdy.

While ancient Egyptian homes were very different from our homes today, they still served the same purpose – providing shelter for families. Of course, the family’s status dictated the layout and construction of the homes, but all homes were susceptible to the harsh conditions of the environment.

Ancient Egyptians made do with the resources they had available to them, and while their homes may have lacked some of the amenities we take for granted today, they were still able to provide their families with a place to call home.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top