Ancient Egyptian houses and their architectural styles were influenced by the environment, the wealth of their inhabitants, and the size of their household.
There are no forests in Egypt so wood is scarce and is not used for house building. The earliest inhabitants of Egypt lived in huts made from papyrus reeds. However, it was soon discovered that the mud left behind after the annual flooding of the Nile (inundation) could be made into bricks which could be used for building. Bricks were made by mixing mud and straw and leaving them to dry in the sun.
The ancient Egyptian houses of the poorest people used one row of bricks while those that were not so poor used two or three rows. Although mud brick houses were relatively cheap to make, they were not very strong and began to crumble after a few years.
The ancient Egyptian houses of the richest people were stronger because they could afford to build their home from stone.
Most houses had at least three rooms and all houses had flat roofs which formed part of the living area.
The farmhouse (above) has two floors. The upper floor is used for living space while the lower floor is used to store crops. A reed canopy has been made on the roof to provide shade.
Small windows can be seen at the top of the upper rooms. Windows and doors were covered with reed mats to keep out dust, flies and heat.
The ancient Egyptian houses of the rich were often built around a central courtyard where flowers, fruit and vegetables were grown.
Some rich people’s houses had bathrooms and indoor toilets. Sewerage from rich and poor was disposed of by digging cess pits, throwing it in the river or in the streets.
From the time of the New Kingdom onwards, the rich generally had their own private well for fresh drinking water. Poorer people could use public wells that were constructed in various areas, however, many used water from the Nile or canals.
Ancient Egyptian Houses: Furniture
The Ancient Egyptians did not have much furniture. The most common item of furniture was a low stool, although many people, especially the poor sat on the floor. Rich people had beds and mattresses, while poorer people slept on a straw mattress or rug on the floor. The Ancient Egyptians did not have cupboards but stored things in reed baskets.
This article is part of our larger selection of posts about Egypt in the ancient world. To learn more, click here for our comprehensive guide to Ancient Egypt.