Wheat in Ancient Egypt

Egyptian Name:

Bdt or Bty

One of the principal cereals of ancient Egypt, Emmer Wheat (on rare occasions Einkorn Wheat or Common Wheat) was used to make bread and porridge, and it was also used in funerary rites. On the stela of Ramses II, the pharaoh states: "Lower Egypt rowed to Upper Egypt for you, with barley, wheat, salt, and beans without number." Wheat mixed with water was thought to ease constipation. As a symbol of transformation and undying life, grain itself was thought to have magical properties. One of the steps of mummification involved rubbing the body with wheat and barley so that the deceased could live again. Mummies sometimes wore a braided necklace of wheat leaves.

According to Egyptian myths, wheat grew out of the body of a woman, while barley grew out of the body of a man. This explains an ancient pregnancy test: a woman who suspected that she was pregnant would urinate on a two piles of grain, wheat and barley. If the wheat sprouted, she would have a girl; if the barley sprouted, she would have a boy; and if neither sprouted, she was not pregnant.

The Grains of Ancient Egypt