Significance of the Nile during Ancient Egypt

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Egypt is known as the gift of the Nile and rightly so, as the river has certainly played a crucial role in the history of ancient Egypt. The river derived its name from the Greek word ‘Neilos,’ which means valley and is the longest river in the world. The Nile is known to be the lifeline of its region for much of human history.

Civilization

The ancient Egyptian civilization succeeded mostly due to its ability to adapt to the conditions of the Nile river valley. The fertile floodplain of the Nile helped its occupants to establish an agricultural economy and create a more sophisticated, centralized society that developed as a cornerstone in the history of human civilization. The flooding helped the people to control irrigation and produce surplus crops that in turn supported the large population, and assisted in its social development and culture. The extra resources helped the administration fund the utilization of the mineral from valley and trade with the surrounding desert regions. The collective strength of the military, construction as well as agricultural projects and development of an independent writing system helped the Egyptians assert their dominance.

Resources

Apart from providing a source of drinking water, year after year, the Nile River also saturated the parched land with water and life-giving silt during the floods, helping the Egyptian farmers earn from their agricultural produce. A small garrison town named Aswan in Egypt was considered indispensable because of its unique granite rock called Syenite. The Nile river and the syenite from Aswan made possible the pyramids and shrines of Egypt. The raw stones were chiseled into blocks, and shipped down the Nile river, to the halls of the god-king pharaohs.

The Nile was also an excellent source of papyrus reeds, used for a variety of purposes such as paper and building materials.

Religious Importance

Egypt mainly consists of desert land since there is very little rainfall throughout most of the year. Only the abundant Nile River provided the much-needed water and silt for irrigation. The farmers thanked the water and fertility god ‘Hapy’ and initiated the old calendar year. A mention of ‘Sobek’ is made in the pyramid text as an ancient god of crocodiles, who created the Nile, and signified fertility and rebirth, and was considered the symbolic strength of the ruler of Egypt. The people of Egypt worshiped him till the Roman times lasted to gain his protection and strength.

Visitors today can journey along the famous river aboard the Nile river cruises departing from numerous cities along the bank and soak in the experience up close and personal of the ancient river that starts out in Upper Egypt and heads towards the north to Lower Egypt, where it finally empties into the Mediterranean.

Author Bio : As a travel writer the author’s literature mainly involves guide books, nature writing, and travel memoirs. Egypt is one of his favorite destinations, and he has covered its many historical sites through the Nile river cruises.

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