The aerial shots in Mysteries of Egypt capture the beauty of the Nile Valley. The majestic Nile River flows north from the headwaters in Burundi to the Mediterranean Sea, a distance of 6,650 kilometres. This makes it the longest river in the world!
The shape of the Nile River Valley resembles a lotus flower, the ancient Egyptian symbol for the regeneration of life. The long, narrow river valley is the stem, the delta that spreads out in the shape of a triangle is the flower, and Fayyum Region is a bud.
For centuries, the Nile River flooded the valley, enriching the land with a thick layer of alluvial soil. Flooding occurred from July to September as the result of the tropical rains in the Ethiopian tableland. The river attained its highest level in October, then began to recede to its lowest point sometime between April and June.
Some degree of flood control has been practised since early times. River banks were raised and canals dug to funnel the water over the land. Elaborate precautions were taken to prevent overflooding, but, at times, excessive flooding caused destruction and a loss of property and life. The land has not experienced flooding since the construction of the Aswan Dam, however. The dam was built in 1902 and raised to its current height sixty years later.
The flooding of the Nile rendered the narrow strip of land on either side of the river extremely fertile. Intensive agriculture was practised by the majority of the peasant population. As the flood waters receded, sowing and ploughing began, using primitive wooden ploughs.
Since rainfall is almost non-existent in Egypt, the floods provided the only source of moisture needed to sustain crops. Irrigation canals were used to control the water, particularly during dry spells. The principal crops cultivated during the Pharaonic era were barley, emmer (a coarse wheat), lentils, beans, cucumbers, leeks, onions, dates, figs and grapes. The abundance of flowers provided nectar for the bees to produce honey, which the Egyptians processed. Flax was grown for making linen, and papyrus was harvested to be converted into paper, ropes, mats, sandals and light skiffs.
A variety of domesticated animals were raised, including cattle, oxen, sheep, goats, pigs, ducks and geese. Donkeys and horses came from Asia around 1600 B.C., and camels were introduced much later. During the time of the early pharaohs, camels were unknown.
The Nile River was the highway that joined the country together. Up until the nineteenth century, travel by land was virtually unknown. Since there are no forests in Egypt, wood was brought from Lebanon. Acacia wood was used in Lower Nubia to build the boats that transported granite for the construction of pyramids. Today, the felucca, a small open sailboat, is a common mode of transporting people and goods on the Nile.
The Nile River Valley is truly a gift to Egypt. Without its water and rich soil, the Egyptian civilization would not have emerged.
main menu | civilization | geography
The earliest forms of civilizations were said to be located on the three river valleys of the Tigris-Euphrates River in ancient Mesopotamia, the Nile River in ancient Egypt and the Huang He and Indus River in ancient India and China. These three river valley civilizations had many differences yet still lived common life styles. Although the civilizations are located on different continents, they share similar social, political, and economic beliefs from their intellectual developments to types of government to religious beliefs and trading systems. When the civilizations were first invented, there was a lot of chaos and confusion. This led to the invention of the different forms of writing. Each civilization had a form of writing for their people. However, only a minority of the people were literate. However, this minute problem didn’t stop the civilizations from wanting to further advance themselves in life; the complex skills were left to those who had time to master it. The Mesopotamians were the first to invent their own style of writing called Cuneiform. The Cuneiform used different pictures to represent various objects but soon shifted to the use of geometric shapes to symbolize spoken sound. The Egyptians were the first to invent the numbering system through a style called hieroglyphics. Their knowledge in math was able to define the twenty-four hour time period in a day and they influenced the development of later Mediterranean cultures. The Phoenicians then came along and shortened the alphabet with twenty-two letters and better the Egyptian numbering system. On the other hand, the Indians and Chinese were big advocates for science. They had remarkable achievements in astronomy which led to the creation of the calendar in which we still use today. They also had remarkable achievements in bronze work which helped create many tools used for farming and agriculture. Each intellectual development throughout the three civilizations has contributed to better the civilizations at that time period and is still used modern day. With better intellect and further developing societies, the need for government came into play. All three of the major river civilizations had a government in the form of hierarchy. Each civilization had a ruler; they were in a monarchy system. Some of the systems were considered to be well off systems because they were able to rule without any disruptions while others had systems in which were not in equality with men and women. In Mesopotamia, there was a king who ruled city-state regions. The kings were war leaders and their main function was to make sure everything was running great in their region. On the other hand, the Egyptians, Indians, and Chinese had similar monarchy systems. Their rulers were Pharaohs and kings, however in their society, people were slaves. The Pharaoh was such an elite person that they needed people in their society (slaves) to build pyramids and elaborate palaces for them. With each civilization having a distinct leader, this helped keep the environment more stable although some civilizations weren’t fair in the distribution of power. As time was progressing, the civilizations have been developing techniques to better their ways of life. All three civilizations were accustomed to trade because they were located near rivers. Although they had access to the water surrounding their civilization, not all the civilizations traded with one another. Each of the civilizations was farmers but they had different ways to go about farming their lands. The Mesopotamians invented the wheel, which was used to transport both people ad goods and also to make pottered pots. While on the other hand, the Chinese was able to do overland trading with India and the Middle East. With opening up to the outside world, each civilization was able to develop new ideas from other civilizations and help make their life better in their community. In Conclusion, the first civilizations were the ones located at the major river valleys. These civilizations had different styles but lived similar lives I their individual civilizations. Each civilization created and intellectual development that is still used current day each had a monarchy way of living and traded in order to open contacts along their waterlines and also to help get ideas to better their civilizations.
Read full document← View the full, formatted essay now!