The Importance of the River Nile in Ancient Egypt
The River Nile was life in ancient Egypt,
providing a fundamental source of water and fertile silt
while simultaneously offering protection and spiritual strength.
Ancient Egyptians monitored the Nile
and regulated their daily and annual activities based on its waters.
The Nile river, which extends for more than 4,100 miles
northward through the African continent
is the world’s longest river.
The Nile river delta, an area that extends roughly 100 miles,
served as a strategic port and hub of life in ancient Egypt.
Within the delta itself,
the Nile splits to form the Rosetta branch and the Demiater branch,
which run west and east respectively.
From as early as 8,000 to 6,000 BC,
people began permanently settling in the Nile valley.
The regularity of the Nile floods often brought nutrient rich silt
to areas along the river banks,
valuable resource farmers used to grow grains like wheat and barley.
This dynamic made Egypt
one of the most fertile regions in the ancient world.
By roughly 3,500BC,
Egyptians began tracking the Nile using millimeters.
Initially, millimeters were read on columns placed in the river
to mark water levels
and priests would keep records.
Later on, designs included stairs descending into the river itself.
Similarly, observers noted the cycles of the Nile.
The year was devided according to those cycles, with three district seasons.
During Akhet or inundation, the Nile flooded,
following the first season, the Peret or growing season,
then took place as the land emerged from the flood.
Once the crops were ready,
the Egyptians harvested during Shemu,
the third season in the ancient Egyptians calendar.
And the water were short and the crops were harvested.
Farming techniques in ancient Egypt involve manual labor
with the use of some draught animals to plough the land.
Wheat was separated by winnow
using a wooden scoop which was thrown in the air.
So the chaff was blown away,
leaving the heavy seeds on the ground.
Grain was used to make bread, porridge, beer,
谷物被用于制作面包 粥 啤酒等
all food stuffs fundamental to sustaining life.
Farmers also grew cotton, beans, flax and papyrus.
农民们还种植棉花 豆类 亚麻和纸莎草
Egyptians began to irrigate with the water from the Nile,
extending the amount of the land that could be used for agricultural production.
By 3,100 BC,
canals and dams emerged to channel water throughout the valley.
The development of Shaduf use a system of ropes, beams and buckets
to retrieve water from the Nile
allowed people to move water from one channel to another
or to transport water to fields further out.
From Shaduf appearing from around 1,700BC
to water wheels the millennium later
irrigation continued to expand throughout the Nile valley.
With the great understanding of the Nile came more informed
and better coordinated trade practices,
the Nile served as the primary transportation route through the region.
Egyptians traded amongst themselves
with interaction between the upper and lower regions of Egypt
long before unification in roughly 3,150BC.
They also traded with Nubians to the south
and were able to interact with various other societies
by using the Nile.
Because Egypt had plentiful supplies of grains.
It was able to obtain wood, metal and luxury items
through exchange with Nubians to the South
和美索不达米亚 希腊 罗马等地的同时代人交易
and contemporaries in locations like Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome.
Because the Nile was so important to life, agriculture and production,
Egyptians connected spirituality to its waters.
A famine or less than a fruitful harvest
was associated with unhappy gods,
their wrath and the need to appease them.
The most closely connected myth with the Nile
were Osiris, Seth and Isis.
Osiris was murdered by his brother Seth.
Because the latter was jealous of the former’s power
by tricking Osiris into a coffin
that he then threw into the Nile.
Seth killed his brother.
Osiris’s wife Isis undertook a search for her husband ‘s body.
She found him
and left her sister Nephthys to guard the body from Seth.
Seth inevitably found the body,
cut it into pieces
and distributed those parts throughout Egypt.
Isis and Nephthys went to find all of the pieces
and were able to locate everything but Osiris’ genitals
which Seth had thrown into the Nile.
It was eaten by the oxyrhynchus fish.
It was therefore forbidden to eat that type of fish in ancient Egyp.
Another god was Hapi,
who was the personification of the Nile river,
symbolizing water and fertility.
He was seen as the god who controlled the annual flooding of the Nile river
and was worshipped by everyone in Egypt.
Because the Pharaohs were seen as gods and mortal form,
they were also tied closely to the activities of the Nile.
It is said that when the Pharaoh Joseph experienced a famine during his reign,
he was visited by the god Khnum who made a dream
Khnum connected to rebirth and creation
instructed Joseph to fix his temple in order to end the famine,
which Joseph did.
As a result, Egypt returned to a state of fertility
and Joseph was heralded as a great king.
Egyptians enjoyed protection thanks to the Nile.
The Egyptians kingdom raised many mud brick forts along the Nile
that enhanced the defensive capabilities of the kingdom
against its southern neighbor Nubia.
Hostilities with Nubia to the south were also mitigated by cataracts.
All shallow areas with rapid water, stones
have prohibited easy movement.
As a thriving civilization,
Egypt developed with in a limited area around the Nile
protected by a dry desert all around it.
The arid land served as a deterrent to potential invaders and raiders.
The Nile was also a source of recreation and fun.
Swimming and games in the Nile were common,
as the boat races and riding the rapids.
Fishing in the Nile could be an activity to obtain food
or part of a day relaxing near the river.
Egyptians would fish with spears, nets and baskets made out of papyrus.
The Nile river was not without any dangers, however.
As many wild animals lurk in its waters,
crocodiles and hippopotamus were the scourge of the waters,
wreaking havoc and devastation.
As the father of life and the mother of all men,
the Nile was intertwined with aspects of life in ancient Egypt.
The first century Roman authors, Seneca the younger
described the Nile as unique and exceptional.
The power and importance of its waters has been recognized since ancient time
and the status of the Nile as an Egyptian lifeline,
was realized, welcomed and praised.
The Importance of the River Nile in Ancient Egypt