Five foods the ancient Egyptians used to eat


Detail from North Side of the West Wall of Nakht’s Offering Chapel showing grape picking to make wine IMAGE/The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Evidence of some uniquely Egyptian foods from the ancient world still remains – a record of the diets and plans for the afterlife

We might not know what was on the daily menu in a typical ancient Egyptian household, but there’s no shortage of evidence of favourite foods. 

Dr Mennat-Allah El Dorry, an archaeologist and archaeobotanist who specialises in the history of food, says that the cuisine Egyptian rulers prepared for the afterlife are well documented, and a clue to what Egyptians ate in daily life.

“Things like how many meals they ate a day weren’t significant enough to document for all eternity, and it wasn’t going to help you have a good afterlife. What would help you have a good afterlife? Having bread and beer,” says El Dorry. 

One of the main sources of what we know about ancient Egyptian cuisine are the remains found in tombs, including an abundance of foodstuffs, ostensibly left for afterlife servants to prepare and for the deceased to enjoy.

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