Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures
- Author(s): Vinson, Steve
- et al.
Seafaring either to or from Egypt cannot be specifically documented before the Old Kingdom, but evidence points to the possibility of sea contact between Egypt and the Syro-Palestinian coast in the Early Dynastic Period, and it is not implausible to suggest that such contacts could have been established in the Predynastic Period or earlier. Egypt’s wooden boat-building industry appears to extend back that far, and while all currently available evidence is oriented towards Nile River shipping, there is no obvious reason why Predynastic Egyptian vessels could not have navigated coastal waters, as Mesolithic and Neolithic Aegean watercraft certainly did. Old Kingdom texts and images confirm seafaring on both the Mediterranean and Red Seas, and this activity continued throughout documented Egyptian history. By the Roman Period, Egypt was the nexus of a far-flung international maritime system that tied the Mediterranean to distant ports in East Africa, Arabia, and India.