Q:

What was the status of a merchant in the social hierarchy of Ancient Egypt?

A:

In the highly ordered social hierarchy of the Ancient Egyptian civilization, merchants enjoyed a status in their society just below that of a scribe. Because scribes were well-educated, vital to the administration of the government and members of the upper class, merchants found themselves living and working at a level of Egyptian society that placed them comfortably above the ranks of farmers, servants and slaves. They were also able to travel outside of their civilization to trade Egyptian goods for in-demand import items, such as ebony and cedar wood, ivory and animal skins.

 

The Egyptian merchants conducted their business in the manner of international traders. They were recognized for their ability to meet the upper-class demand for exotic and rare items that were not obtainable within their own civilization. The merchants conducted trade with other cultures as distant as Afghanistan and developed commerce relationships with the Mediterranean civilizations of Crete and Greece. In exchange for the luxury items they procured for the upper class, the Egyptian merchants exported papyrus, linen, gold and grain.


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