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Ancient Egypt. Geography. What was the river cycle? How did it affect Egyptians ?. Unlike most rivers, the Nile flows in a northern direction (from Lake Victoria) because of the many mountains located in central Africa. Simply put, the Nile is flowing in a downward direction. Fun Fact

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ancient egypt

Ancient Egypt



Unlike most rivers, the Nile flows in a northern direction (from Lake Victoria) because of the many mountains located in central Africa. Simply put, the Nile is flowing in a downward direction.

Fun Fact

The Nile is the longest river in the world (4,187* miles). The Greek historian, Herodotus claimed that “Egypt was the Gift of the Nile”

how can there be such fertile soil in the desert
How Can There Be Such Fertile Soil in the Desert?

The Nile flooded each year from July to October. When the water went down, it left behind lots of mud that was a rich soil good for crops.

Egypt was separated into two contrasting lands- “black land” (mineral rich soil from the melting snow in the mountains) and the scorching “red land” (desert).

the seasons
The Seasons
  • The inundation was when the river flooded. This lasted from July to October.
  • Then came the planting season, from November to April.
  • May and June were harvest months and were very busy.
  • The river would flood
  • Farmers could not work in the fields
  • Spent time fixing their tools and taking care of animals
  • Also had to do duty work for the pharaoh (clear out irrigation canals, temple work, stone work, and tomb building)
planting season harvest the main crops of egypt
Planting Season/HarvestThe main crops of Egypt
  • Grain was the first crop planted after the inundation
  • Once grain was harvested, farmers grew vegetables-mainly onions, leeks, cabbages, beans, cucumbers, and lettuce
  • Farmers planted fruit trees and vines along paths to give shade as well as fruit
  • Dates, figs, pomegranates, and grapes all grew well in the heat
  • Honey was important to Egyptians because they did not have sugar
how did the nile support human life in ancient times
How did the Nile support human life in ancient times?
  • Fish, ducks, crocodiles, hippos , giraffes, ostriches and geese were some of the animals that lived in the Nile River and delta region.
  • Many of these animals became delicious meals. Others did not!
  • Most ancient Egyptians did not eat much meat!
  • They ate a lot of fish.
  • River was full of fish such as, catfish and eels

Egypt received very little rain.

  • The temperature was hot and dry all year-similar to summer. Egyptians often relied on the Nile for personal relief from the heat. No doubt, it also provided entertainment for people, but watch out for the alligators!
  • How did the Nile River help trade?
  • With the passage of time, Egyptians could produce more food than they needed. The Nile was the regions super highway! Horses and wheeled vehicles did not show up for years. Boats were eventually created which could travel from place to place on the Nile. Goods uncommon in certain areas (such as wood in Egypt) could be easily transported back and forth.
what were the natural barriers
What were the natural barriers?
  • Cataracts-All six cataracts of Ancient Egypt were a main resource for the transportation of boats.
  • The six cataracts were all throughout Egypt so that the boats can go from one place to another without any problems.
  • All the cataracts would be used for a natural protection, so if anyone ever came to attack a civilization and the attackers were in a boat traveling on the cataracts the rocks and the rapid waters would make the boats break and possibly the attackers would die.
to the north
To the North
  • The Mediterranean Sea-unless the invader had a good navy this was a large barrier.
to the south
To the South
  • Mountains and cataracts
to the east
To the East
  • The Arabian Desert and the Red Sea
to the west
To the West
  • The Libyan Desert to the West was too big and harsh to cross
working together
Working Together
  • Landowners along the Nile learned to rely on each other. People had to be careful not to pollute water upstream at the expense of their neighbor. They had to repair canals and avoid being overly greedy (sound familiar?) Pharaohs oversaw a lot of these issues from their capital along the Nile initially in Memphis and later in Thebes.

What Role Did The Gods Play in Ancient Egyptian Farming?

  • In 2600 BCE, food was scarce. Pharaoh Djoser turned to his chief advisor, Imhotep seeking help from the God of the Nile, Khnum. Khnum appeared in a dream of Djoser’s. In return for a portion of the harvest, and an elaborate temple, Khnum promised to open the flood gates of the Nile. It worked.

This belief in a “Nile God” is very symbolic of the Egyptian way of life. Gods were believed to be responsible for all events that took place on earth.


Egyptians initially struggled with yearly floods. Crops, houses and lives were often destroyed. (Believed to be messages from the Gods).

  • However, once they figured out that the floods took place at the same time every year, they developed methods for using the mineral rich silt. Egyptian life was split into 3 seasons: flooding, planting and harvesting season. Detailed records of the water levels (cubits) were kept.
how the nile shaped the egyptian landscape
How the Nile Shaped the Egyptian Landscape

The Nile provided the new settlers with other gifts besides food and drink.

Papyrus reeds grew on the banks of the Nile which was used to make paper, build boats and part of houses. Houses were originally made of papyrus reeds with thatched roofs. Later, mud brick houses were developed.