down the Nile river and Mediterranean. Egyptians pioneered the development of river craft and there were many different types built for various uses. Agricultural produce, troops, cattle, stone and funeral processions were all carried on the Nile and its canals. These boats were made of bundles of bound papyrus reeds. Papyrus is different from paper, because papyrus is a laminated material made from thinly cut strips from the stalk of Cyprus Papyrus plant. It was believed to be first used about 4000 B.C., and became Egypt's major exports.
There were many types of boats that Egyptians used. Papyrus boats were built with bundles of papyrus. They were steered with oars. Sailboats were used a lot by Egyptians. Sailboats were steered by two oars. Sailboats usually only had one square sail. Funeral boats carried dead people downriver. They were used to carry the dead across the Nile River. The funeral boats were very elaborate.
The earliest record of a ship under sail is depicted on an Egyptian pot dating back to 3200BC. These Egyptian boats were made of either native woods or conifers from Lebanon. Papyrus boats were useful for hunting or crossing short stretches of water, using a paddle or a pole. These boats were made of bundles of bound papyrus reeds, and were lashed together into a long thin hull form in the style of a slight crescent. This lifted the ends out of the water. The bundle was made as wide as possible for stability, and an extra bundle was put on top so that the cargo and crew were kept reasonable dry. (Reed vessels like these of Ancient Egypt are still in use in Peru today.)