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The River Nile and its contribution to ancient Egyptian Civilization

The River Nile and its contribution to ancient Egyptian Civilization

admin / December 31, 2018


The river Nile is known to be the world’s longest river (estimated to be 6500 kilometers long) and is strongly attributed to the ancient Egyptian civilization. The source of the river remained a mystery to the early inhabitants of ancient Egypt for a considerable amount of time. At first, it was believed to be an outpour from an underground tunnel that originated from a cataract.

Years later, travelers were of the opinion that its origin was located further to the south. The discovery of the source was made however established in the 19th century. It was said to feed from two tributaries, the Blue Nile and the White Nile (Rosalie, 2007).

Nonetheless, they considered it a great gift from God as and it was said to be responsible for the productivity of the lands located along its waters. This is because the river flowed across desert land, which was the more reason for the people to appreciate its waters.

Rosalie (2007) mentions that inhabitants of Ancient Egypt had little or no knowledge of the existence of the life beyond the river. The river Nile was the only thing that mattered to them, as it was their source of livelihood.

The Nile contributed to the people’s livelihood in a number of ways. These include the use of papyrus, an invaluable raw material, which grew along the river.

It was mainly used to make rope and was also a raw material in the making of boats (used in navigation along the river).These boats were used in fishing and hunting, which brought food to the table at the end of the day (Erlikh, 2000) .

The waters of river Nile were also useful in cultivation of land. The people used the water to irrigate the land (given the desert conditions in Egypt).This provision enabled them to grow various fruits and vegetables.

The river banks also provided good cultivating lands because of their rich fertile soil. This was a great impetus to increased tendency to cultivate; with crops such as barley used to make beer and wheat which was used to make bread (the staple food for many peasants) (Erlikh, 2000).

The Nile was also essential to civilization as it provided a mode of transport for the local inhabitants as well as foreigners who crossed the river to the other side. This facilitated communication, interaction and trade of commodities among the people. It is implicitly clear that the River Nile contributed majorly to the ancient Egypt civilization. This is because it brought a new life to the inhabitants who were able to cultivate and communicate with other people (since they could transcend the lake barrier by use of boats).


The river Nile took a number of years for its source to be correctly identified. I feel that this was a major contributor to development and civilization taking a comparatively longer time. Had the discovery been made earlier, I feel that the people would have had more awareness of their potential as a country.

They would had forged towards the region’s development many years before it essentially happened. I also feel that ancient Egypt inhabitants were proactive in nature.

This is exhibited by their efforts in making use of the available resources provided by the Nile. Initially, they were gatherers and had the option of continuing with this practice. However, they decided to make use of the Nile and this brought great benefits and changes to their lives.

My opinion on the activities of the people in ancient Egypt is that these activities empowered them to improve and sustain their lives. Nonetheless, this created independence on their part and led them to center their activities on themselves. I think this was facilitated by the natural barrier formed by the river Nile.

I chose this topic because I was fascinated by the fact that the river Nile’s potential remained undiscovered for a long time, despite the fact that it is the longest river in the world.

The rich impact it had on Ancient Egypt is also a fact to behold. This is because ancient Egypt is a desert and the people would have been hopeless living in such deplorable conditions, had it not been for the presence of river Nile.

The topic was worthwhile as I have gained knowledge of the ancient activities of Egypt and it contributes to a better understanding of the beginnings of the country and the extent to which the river Nile contributed to the country’s development.


Erlikh, H. (2000).The Nile. Histories, Cultures and Myths. New York. Lynne Rienner Publishers.

Rosalie, A. (2007). Handbook to Life in Ancient Egypt: Oxford. Oxford University Press.

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