What Were Homes Like in Ancient Egypt?

If you’re interested in history, you’ll want to learn about the homes of Ancient Egyptians. First, we will discuss the different types of homes people built in Ancient Egypt and their features. 

We will also talk about the daily life of Ancient Egyptians and how their homes played a role.

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What Factors Influenced What Egyptian Homes Were Like?

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. 

As a result, Egyptian citizens were simple and made their homes out of plentiful 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 constructing 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, people would use them to build walls.

Ancient Egyptian homes’ 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 on their homes because it gave them a break from the scorching sun. They would also relax and sleep on their roofs.

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

This meant that houses had to be designed to keep them cool. However, the environment forced them to reconsider their construction methods. 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 would erode and wash away the mud homes with ease. 

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, so they were not as expected.

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, often, 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; the number of family members dictated the size of the home. 

While most houses had at least three rooms, they were usually constructed with two floors. 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 that 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. Finally, the ramp would lead up to the square, where they would plant beautiful gardens.

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. Wealthier families used cookware made of bronze and copper. Typical families do pottery.

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.

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