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'The Gift of the Nile' to the Ancient.

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'The Gift of the Nile' to the Ancient October 26, 2003 Herodotus quotes that "Egypt is the gift of the river". To one of non-Egyptian descendant, the Nile River is minimally known as the longest river in the world. However, The Nile referred to by the ancient Egyptians, as Iteru or The River was much more than just a large river in Egypt. To the Egyptians it was their life source and offered much more to them than just water and fertile land or Black Land. The River also had a bearing on their lifestyle, administration communication and transportation, building, crafts and decorative arts and religious beliefs and morality. The Nile River was extraordinarily imperative to the people of ancient Egypt. Whatever activity the ancient Egyptians partook in, it almost always embraced on the Nile and its annual flood. They consulted a yearly calendar consisting of three seasons: Akhet, Perit and Shemu. Akhet, sometime in July was the season in which the flood began and when the waters began to rise. The king's coronation was held during this day of only two days. During this time large-scale buildings were carried out as the floodwaters enabled barges, transporting large blocks of stone, to get closer to building sites. Under conscription the farmers were made to work in groups on the production of temples and other major structures. It was also regular for people to hand feed their animals and repair equipment. ...read more.


Transportation on land was difficult as much of it was desert, and horses or wheeled vehicles were not available until approximately 1600 BCE. There are two facts that made sailing along the Nile easy. The prevailing winds blew from north to south, so boats traveling upstream could simply use their sails. The river current ran from south to north, so in a boat the current aided traveling northwards. Additionally, this came to the hieroglyph for traveling south being a boat with a sail and the hieroglyph for traveling north being a boat with oars. Evidence for this came from tomb paintings on walls depicting boats in the tomb of Sennefer or as models in tombs such as that of Pharaoh Tutankhamun. The fertile riches of the Black Land offered building materials for domestic architecture, resources for Egyptian crafts and decorative themes for Egyptian art. The Red Land provided resources for sacred buildings and funerary and temple equipment. All domestic buildings were made of sun-dried bricks from Nile mud including the palaces for kings. Temples and tombs were built using limestone and sandstone from the surrounding desert cliffs. The finest limestone came from the limestone quarry at Tura and was used as the material for the pyramids. Another resourceful natural product found along the Nile is papyrus reed. The papyrus grew abundantly along the marshes of the river and the swamps of the delta providing most of the raw materials for many items used in everyday life. ...read more.


The contrast between the fertile Black Land and the arid Red Land were compared to that of their belief in life and death. The east was where people generally lived. The western desert became the Land of the Dead, where the necropolises were located. This is how Anubis (god of the dead and guardian of the necropolis) got his image from the jackals that roamed the desert. During the New Kingdom, the Egyptians believed that life after death would be spent in the Field of Reeds, a place much like the delta with lush meadows, watercourses and canals. Kings were believed to have spent eternity riding across the sky in the boat of Re. Egypt's total dependence on the water of the Nile reflected from Egyptian morality. The prevention of a neighbour's water supply was regarded in the same as committing theft or even murder. In reference to tomb inscriptions, officials referred to sins they had not committed. One being: I have not fouled running water. Furthermore, one can see the extent The Nile River has had to the ancient Egyptians from transportation and even religious beliefs. Both the Black and the Red Lands of Upper and Lower Egypt offered great benefits for the Egyptian society. Today, the Nile stands as one of Egypt's prime natural resources with 99 percent of the population still in its inhabitance. It is the cradle of Egyptian civilisation and nevertheless, The River has ultimately transformed an almost waste of desert into one of the most fertile areas on earth. Without the Nile Egypt would undoubtedly be unrelieved desert. ...read more.

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