some Egyptians thought fish to be unclean, dried fish were nevertheless a
staple food for most of the population. Reed rafts served for fishing.
Nets and weir baskets were made from willow branches.
The Nile didn't just feed the Egyptians, it was both an
obstacle and the main highway. Too wide to be bridged, there must have
been a great many ferryboats carrying people and wares from one shore to
the other. But if you wanted to go anywhere, going by river would have
been a good choice. We tend to forget that, until the invention of the
steam engine, travelling by ship was generally faster and cheaper than any
other kind of locomotion.
The wind blowing mostly from the North, sailing upriver on the wide, slow
flowing Nile was easy. Boats and ships could also be rowed or towed.
Substantial loads were transported on wooden Nile barges. Because of the
way they were constructed, Egyptian ships could carry heavy loads only in
Blocks of rock weighing many tens of tons and obelisks weighing hundreds
were carried downstream from the quarries in Upper Egypt to the building
sites of pyramids and temples.
There is also the possibility that they used two ships
connected catamaran-like with beams onto which the obelisks were loaded.
According to Pliny
two wide barges were loaded with cubes of
granite...until the weight of the blocks was double that of the
obelisk...their total volume being also twice as great. The ships were
thus able to float beneath the obelisk which was suspended by its ends
from both banks of the canal. Then the blocks of granite were unloaded,
and the lightened barges took up the weight of the obelisk...the
consultant responsible for this scheme was paid 50 talents.
How the obelisks were moved, loaded onto the
boats and unshipped at their destination is subject of a hot debate.
However it was achieved by the Egyptians, the Romans found a way to do it
as well using similar means. They shipped a 32 metre tall obelisk to Rome.
Their 16th century descendents moved it to the Lateran.
Gaius Publius Secundus, Natural History
The pharaohs prided themselves on their
pleasure boats with multiple decks containing cabins, kitchens, dining
rooms and lounges.
[ ] The model is from the Pharaonic
Village, Egypt. It may quite
possibly be wrong. It is difficult to conceive how they could have loaded
obelisks on a ship which got much of its structural strength from a hawser
stretched between stern and bow and suspended on poles above the deck. A
double-hulled construction may be more likely. Unfortunately there is no
archaeological evidence to support this theory.
 About 40 to 80 kilometres per day, depending on
many conditions such as the windspeed, the velocity of the Nile, the
sailing direction (up- or downstream) etc. Sailing in the dark was
dangerous and consequently rare.