Egypt’s cardinal resource was the Nile, with its fertile flood plain providing food, and acting as a natural artery of communication and trade. This usually gave surpluses of grain, cotton, and papyrus to utilize in trade. Given the scale of their architectural ambitions, Egypt’s rulers had to large quantities and varieties of building materials accessible for quarrying: limestone in Lower Egypt; granite from Aswan; basalt; sandstone and decorative rocks such as porphyry and alabaster from the eastern deserts. Gold and copper could also be mined in the eastern deserts, but the quantities required needed to be supplemented by imports from respectively, Asia Minor and Nubia. Tin, needed to alloy with copper for bronze, was brought from Anatolia. Some home-grown timber was available from the western oases but was also imported, particularly cedarwood from Lebanon and ebony via Nubia, while olive oil was shipped from Crete and Palestine.
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