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Ancient Egyptian Geography

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Zachary Jordan

on 27 October 2015

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Transcript of Ancient Egyptian Geography

The Geography that Defined a Civilization
The Geography of Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was divided into two regions: Upper and Lower Egypt

The Geography of the Ancient Egyptians
Natural Barriers
An obstruction, occurring in nature, such as a mountain range or a river that prevents or hinders movement
What Is a Natural Barrier?
Ancient Egypt was surrounded by four Natural barriers
Deserts to the East and West
The Mediterranean Sea to the North
Six cataracts on the southern section of the Nile prevented people from traveling down the Nile to reach Ancient Egypt
The Natural Barriers of Egypt
A large and powerful waterfall or rapids
The cataracts hinder navigation of the Nile, and have done so for thousands of years.
Boats would have to be dragged up the cataract by teams of men, often with great difficulty.
Also known as Kabarega Falls
With a 43 meters (141 ft) fall, it is considered the most significant cataract on the Nile
Its water volume puts it among the most powerful waterfalls on the planet.
Murchison Falls
How did natural barriers impact the development of Egypt?
The desert to the west, the seas to the north, and the Nile 's cataracts to the south prevented frequent hostile attacks or trade with other civilizations.
The Ancient Egyptian Civilization developed
almost exclusively around the Nile River.

Egypt is roughly the size of Texas and New Mexico Combined...
"The Gift of the Nile"

Why it Matters
The Geography of

How the Nile Defined Ancient Egypt
Herodotus, the Greek Historian, remarked that Egypt was the "gift of the Nile".
What did he mean by this?
The Nile Begins in the Mountains of Africa flowing South to North to empty into the Mediterranean Sea
The Nile was the lifeblood of Ancient Egypt, it made life possible in the otherwise barren desert of Egypt.
The Nile is the longest river in the world at 4,160 miles long.
(155 miles longer than the Amazon )
The River Served as the major source of food from farming and fishing, water for bathing and drinking for the peoples of Ancient Egypt.
The Black Lands
Peret (October-February)
The Growing Season.
An Annual Rebirth
The annual flooding of the Nile created a fertile green valley across the desert
Akhet - the inundation (June-September)
The Flooding Season
The Cycle and the Seasons
In October the floodwater receded, leaving behind a layer of rich, black soil to plowed and seeded.
Shemu (March-May)
The Harvesting Season
The fully grown crops had to be harvested and removed before the Nile flooded again
Until the Aswan High Dam was built, Egypt received a yearly inundation - an annual flood caused by the heavy summer rains in the Ethiopian highlands, swelling the different tributaries of the Nile.
The first signs of the inundation were seen by the end of June, reaching its maxim by September, and then receded leaving behind a deposit of rich, black silt.
The rushing water of the Nile picked up bits of soil and plant life called silt.
As the flood receded, a strip of black soil emerged every year along the banks of the Nile.
The silt was rich in nutrients, and it provided the people of Egypt with two or three crops every year.
Due to the significance of the Nile's silt the Ancient Egyptians divided their kingdom into the Black and Red Lands.
The amount of silt left behind by the Nile determined the amount of crops that the Egyptians could grow. If the floodwater was too low, it would be a year of famine.
The Black lands were the fertile lands that surrounded the Nile while the Red Land was the barren desert.
A shaduf is an ancient water-raising device used by early Egyptians. It consists of a container made of animal skins or clay attached to a lever counterbalanced by stones.
Ancient Egypt was the first civilization to develop irrigation.

This technology was developed in order to bring the life giving water of Nile farther from the river to create more arable land.

World View
The annual Flooding of the Nile was such an important aspect of Ancient Egyptian society that they worshiped a god named Hapi, whose sole responsibility was to bring water to Egypt
Wafa' al-Nil
Wafa' al-Nil meaning "Fullness of the Nile" was a two week feast celebrating the inundation of the Nile that began when the waters of the Nile reached a certain height.
The compactness of Ancient Egypt's liveable lands, around the Nile, favored political unity.
Pharaohs controlled agricultural resources through ultimate ownership of land.
Effective organization and the productivity of agriculture made it possible, for people to follow specialized and elite occupations.
Ancient Egyptians dug canals to direct water to places far from the banks of the Nile and used the shadoof, to bring water from the Nile or a canal to higher fields.
The Source of the Nile
The White Nile
The Nile is fed by two major tributaries the White and Blue Nile
The Blue Nile
The Blue Nile flows about 1,400 km (850 miles) to Nile from Lake Tana 1,800 meters above sea level in the Ethiopian Mountains.
The Blue Nile receives its name because of the muddy color of its water due to the huge amount of fertile soil it erodes from the Ethiopian highlands.
In the summer from June to September Lake Tana floods, feeding the Blue Nile. It is this flood that sets the Nile apart from many other great river systems of the world.
The White Nile receives its name from the light colored clay sediment suspended in the water.
The origins of the White Nile are in deep central Africa, as far south as southern Rwanda. The river flows north through Tanzania, Lake Victoria, Uganda and into Southern Sudan.
The White Nile contributes only sixteen percent of the total water flow in the Nile, however the White Nile has a more steady flow of water which keeps the Nile proper from running dry in April and May, supplying about eighty percent of the Nile's water during these dry months.
The White Nile is the longer of the tributaries, but the Blue Nile is the main source of water and fertile soil.
Going to the Source
Upper Egypt was the long, narrow strip located south of the Delta.
Lower (northern) Egypt consisted of the Nile River's delta made by the river as it empties into the Mediterranean.
Geographic Background
Ancient Egypt was found in North east Africa.
The coordinates of the modern state of Egypt are
30 N longitude, 30 E latitude
Ancient Egypt resided a sandy desert plateau, divided by the Nile River.
Egypt is very hot and dry. Temperatures regularly exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and rain is very scarce.
Sahara Desert
Major Geographic Features
The Nile River
Mediterranean Sea
The Sahara is the world's largest hot desert and third largest desert, after Antarctica and the Arctic.

At over 9,400,000 square kilometres (3,600,000 sq mi), it covers most of North Africa, making it almost as large as China or the United States.
A Land of Red and Black
The Nile flood brought with it the rich black mud that, every year, was deposited on the riverbanks.

The Egyptians called their country “Kemet,” meaning the “black land,” in reference to the rich black soil.

Here in this narrow strip and in the fertile Delta people grew their food, reared their animals, and established their towns and villages.
The landscape of Ancient Egypt provided a sharp contrast between life and death in terms of cultivation and the desert.
The Black Lands
On either side of this cultivated area there was the desert.

The Egyptians regarded this as a place of fear, terror, and death, where wild animals roamed.

They called it “Deshret,” meaning the “red land,” on account of the predominant coloring of the landscape. Our own word desert is derived from this.
The Red Lands
The Impact of Geography
Today Egypt depends on the Nile in a way no other depends upon its water source.

So much so, that the former Egyptian President , Anwar Sadat, predicted that if Egypt ever went to war again it would not be for money, oil or land but for water.
...and 97% of its population (82,536,770) lives on 2.5% of the country's surface.
About 95 percent of Egypt's population lives within 12 miles of the Nile River.
This flood is extremely important because it is only during this time that the erosion and transportation of the fertile silt occurs.
Each year during the heavy rains, the Blue Nile swells to over 50 times its dry season size and carries with it a staggering 140 million tons of rich, fertile silt.
While the Nile is largely associated with Egypt, only 22% of the Nile’s course runs through Egypt.
Ancient Egyptians believed that the Nile flooded every year because of the goddess Isis's tears of sorrow for her dead husband, Osiris.
The Nile River is unusual because it floods predictably and gradually, with the flood period lasting more than 100 days over the summer and fall.
The predictable nature of the Nile's annual flooding allowed the Egyptians to depend on the river to sustain their farms and feed their people
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