Egypt: The Gift of the Nile

The Nile, is the longest river in the world, and is located in northeastern Africa. Its principal source is Lake Victoria, in east central Africa. The Nile flows north through Uganda, Sudan, and Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea, with a total distance of 5584 km. From its remotest headstream in Burundi, the river is 6671 km long. The river basin covers an area of more than 3,349,000 sq km. Not only is the Nile considered a wonder by Herodotus, but by people all over the world, due to its impotance to the growth of a civilization.

The first great African civilization developed in the northern Nile Valley in about 5000 BC. Dependent on agriculture, this state, called Egypt, relied on the flooding of the Nile for irrigation and new soils. It dominated vast areas of northeastern Africa for millennia. Ruled by Egypt for about 1800 years, the Kush region of northern Sudan subjugated Egypt in the 8th century BC. Pyramids, temples, and other monuments of these civilizations blanket the river valley in Egypt and northern Sudan.

To Egypt, the Nile is seen as the fountain of life. Every year, between the months of June and October, the great rivers of the Nile rush north, and flood the highlands of Etiopia. The flooding surges of the land, and leaves behind water for the people, and fertile land, which can be used for agriculture. The impact the Nile has on Egypt during the ancient times and present are consierably apparent. The influence the Nile has is so extensive, that even the speech is transposed. For example, "To go north" in the Egyption language is the same as, "to go down stream"; "to go south" the same as "to go upstream." Also, the term for a "foreign country" in Egypt would be used as "highland" or "desert", because the only mountains or deserts would be far away, and foreign to them. The Nile certainly had an exceptional influence on Egypts, both lifestyle and thinking.

The Nile also forced a change on the political system and ruling in Egypt. Because of the vast floods every year, the country needed a ruler that was capable of enforcing of the farmings and methods used. Such as the hoarding of the water and the stocking of the food harvested. Second, only a stongly cetralized administration could manafe the economy properly. To Egypts benefit, they lived in a fairly isolated area, which would aid them in their development of a government.

Not only was the Egyptian life, thinking, political sytem and government development affected. But the scientific evolution was greatly affected. For example, due to the yearly occurrence of the flood, scientists used that information and incoporated it into their creation of the yearly calender. Not only were sundials used in Egypt for telling the time, but a water dial was also used. I guess people used the water dial on a cloudy day!