Eternal Egypt

Ancient Egypt was basically what is called a supply state. Products for consumption were delivered to state or temple institutions, which in turn distributed food and other goods to the population. Distribution was based on a fair assessment of each persons needs.Extra goods could be traded at local markets, a system that helped fill the gaps in the flow of supply. Trade among regions was always conducted by institutions, which bartered with the surplus from their own production. Merchants worked for these institutions as agents in the exchange of goods.Their task was to trade the surplus of the institutions they represented for as many valuable goods as possible. Merchants who worked for personal gain existed in Ancient Egypt only during the New Kingdom.The oldest form of trade is market trading by means of barter. Bartering is trading one good for another, rather than exchanging money. The very nature of barter makes it difficult to tell buyers from sellers in Ancient Egyptian paintings and reliefs, but distinctions are possible.Sellers are usually shown seated either on the ground or on low stools, calling out their goods, while the buyers are shown standing, frequently carrying a shopping bag slung over the shoulder, responding with what they would offer in exchange.At the market there were staple foods and goods such as bread, beer, fresh or dried fish, meat, fruits, and vegetables. The goods offered in exchange included leather or rush sandals, large fans for fanning fires, walking sticks with ornate knobs, pieces of furniture, and headrests. Ceramic containers were also brought to the market, as were objects made of copper, such as mirrors, fish hooks, and chisels as well as salves and oils.The potential for trade in more valuable goods is illustrated by the trade in linen. The cloth came from state-run weaving workshops and was sold at a fixed price based on a measure of value.Two commonly used measures of value were applied to determine the price of goods. One was the heqat measure, which developed from cereal farming and was used to determine the amount of goods given as wages.The other was shat, which stood for an absolute measure of value.

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