Nile River In Ancient Egypt

Nile River: (From the Dictionary of Ancient Egypt)

View of the Nile valley, looking north from
the cliffs of Beni Hasan.
(Graham Harrison)
The longest river in the worlel, stretching for 6741 km from East Africa to the mediterranean, which is unquestionably the single most important element of the geography of both ancient and modern Egypt. Without the waters and fertile flood-plain of the Nile, it is highly unlikely that Egyptian civilization would have developed in the deserts of north-eastern Africa.

The study of the topography and geology of the Nile valley has revealed a complex sequence of phases, whereby the river gradually changed its location and size over the course of millions of years. Even in recent millennia, the course of the river has continued to shift, resulting in the destruction or submesian of archaeological remains, particularly of the Predynastic Period.

Three rivers flowed into the Nile from the south: the Blue Nile, the White Nile and the Atbarah. The southern secrion of the Nile proper, between Aswan and Khanoum, was interrupted by six 'cataracts' each of which consists of a series of rapids produced by changes in the type of rock forming the river bed. This section of the Nile valley corresponds to the land of Nubia, conventionally divided into Lower Nubia (the nonhern hall), between the first and second cataracts, and Upper Nubia, between the second and sixth cataracts. The border between the modern states of Egypt and Sudan is located just to the north of the second cataract.

From the earliest times, the waters of the Nile, swollen by monsoon rains in Ethiopia, flooded over the surrounding valley every year between June and September - an event known as the inundation - and new layers of fertile soil were thus annually deposited on the flood-plain. From the early nineteenth century onwards, however, the Nile was subject to a series of dams and sluices, culminating in the completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1971. After more than a decade of rescue work, Lower Nubia was largely flooded by Lake asser. Since then, the Egyptian section of the Nile valley has ceased to be subject to the inundation, thus allowing thou­sands of acres of new land to be cultivated through irrigation schemes, as well as the production of electricity from a hydroelectric plant attached to the dam.

Nilometer
The steps of the Nilometer on the island
of Elephantine at Aswan measured the
height of the Nile. This example dates
to the Roman Period.
(P.T. Nicholson)

Device for measuring the height of the Nile, usually consisting of a series of steps against which the increasing height of the inundation, as well as the general level of the river, could be measured. Records of the maximum height of the inundation were kept, although there is no firm evidence that these records were used in any systematic way in the determination of taxation on the amount of agricultural land flooded.

There are surviving Nilometers associated with the temples at Philae, Edfu, Esna, Kom Ombo and Dendera, but one of the best­ known examples is located on the island of Elephantine at Aswan. The Elephantine Nilometer was rebuilt in Roman times, and the markings still visible at the site date from this later phase. It was also repaired in 1870 by the Khedive Ismail. At Geziret el-Rhoda in Cairo there is an "Islamic" Nilometer dating back to AD 705-15, although it was possibly built on the site of an earlier Pharaonic exam­ple. The Islamic Nilometer worked on the same principles as its ancient counterparts, except for the use of an octagonal pillar (rather than steps) as the measures.

Nile River In Ancient Egypt

Nile River: (From the Dictionary of Ancient Egypt)

View of the Nile valley, looking north from
the cliffs of Beni Hasan.
(Graham Harrison)
The longest river in the worlel, stretching for 6741 km from East Africa to the mediterranean, which is unquestionably the single most important element of the geography of both ancient and modern Egypt. Without the waters and fertile flood-plain of the Nile, it is highly unlikely that Egyptian civilization would have developed in the deserts of north-eastern Africa.

The study of the topography and geology of the Nile valley has revealed a complex sequence of phases, whereby the river gradually changed its location and size over the course of millions of years. Even in recent millennia, the course of the river has continued to shift, resulting in the destruction or submesian of archaeological remains, particularly of the Predynastic Period.

Three rivers flowed into the Nile from the south: the Blue Nile, the White Nile and the Atbarah. The southern secrion of the Nile proper, between Aswan and Khanoum, was interrupted by six 'cataracts' each of which consists of a series of rapids produced by changes in the type of rock forming the river bed. This section of the Nile valley corresponds to the land of Nubia, conventionally divided into Lower Nubia (the nonhern hall), between the first and second cataracts, and Upper Nubia, between the second and sixth cataracts. The border between the modern states of Egypt and Sudan is located just to the north of the second cataract.

From the earliest times, the waters of the Nile, swollen by monsoon rains in Ethiopia, flooded over the surrounding valley every year between June and September - an event known as the inundation - and new layers of fertile soil were thus annually deposited on the flood-plain. From the early nineteenth century onwards, however, the Nile was subject to a series of dams and sluices, culminating in the completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1971. After more than a decade of rescue work, Lower Nubia was largely flooded by Lake asser. Since then, the Egyptian section of the Nile valley has ceased to be subject to the inundation, thus allowing thou­sands of acres of new land to be cultivated through irrigation schemes, as well as the production of electricity from a hydroelectric plant attached to the dam.

Nilometer
The steps of the Nilometer on the island
of Elephantine at Aswan measured the
height of the Nile. This example dates
to the Roman Period.
(P.T. Nicholson)

Device for measuring the height of the Nile, usually consisting of a series of steps against which the increasing height of the inundation, as well as the general level of the river, could be measured. Records of the maximum height of the inundation were kept, although there is no firm evidence that these records were used in any systematic way in the determination of taxation on the amount of agricultural land flooded.

There are surviving Nilometers associated with the temples at Philae, Edfu, Esna, Kom Ombo and Dendera, but one of the best­ known examples is located on the island of Elephantine at Aswan. The Elephantine Nilometer was rebuilt in Roman times, and the markings still visible at the site date from this later phase. It was also repaired in 1870 by the Khedive Ismail. At Geziret el-Rhoda in Cairo there is an "Islamic" Nilometer dating back to AD 705-15, although it was possibly built on the site of an earlier Pharaonic exam­ple. The Islamic Nilometer worked on the same principles as its ancient counterparts, except for the use of an octagonal pillar (rather than steps) as the measures.

Latest ancient Egyptian jewelry, information and products: