Ancient Egypt was essentially divided into two: Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt. Interestingly, Lower Egypt is in the North while Upper Egypt is in the South. It looks particularly strange when viewed on a map, with Upper Egypt at the bottom of the country and Lower Egypt at the top.
The location of the two kingdoms, however, makes perfect sense once you consider the river Nile. Unlike most rivers that start in the North and flow South, the Nile actually does the opposite – It starts in the South and flows towards the North.
So, when Ancient Egyptians were naming their two kingdoms, Upper Egypt was placed in the South since that’s where the river originates (the river’s “top”) while Lower Egypt was placed in the North since that’s where the river ends (the river’s “bottom”).
Much of the land in Egypt is desert, but since the Nile flooded rather reliably each September, fertile soil could be found along the river banks. This meant that the soil here was rich enough to grow healthy crops, which included papyrus, wheat, and flux. Those rich, black soils were referred to as the “Gift of the Nile” since their livelihoods would suffer without it and they would have little food.
The Egyptians would measure the height of the Nile’s annual flood with the brilliantly named ‘Nilometer’. It was a handy contraption that helped them guess accurately how many crops would grow that year.
Ancient Egyptians held the belief that when the Nile didn’t flood, they must have done something to displease the gods whose preferred mode of punishment was crop failure as well as famine.
Ancient Egyptians grew lots of food in the fertile soil next to the Nile, which included vegetables such as cucumbers, onions, cabbages, etc., and fruits such as melons, figs, etc. Still, wheat was the most important crop they grew, which was used to make beer and bread. Wheat would be grown before anything else, immediately after the flood waters receded.
The Egyptians would also go fishing in the Nile using nets and spears to catch food. That way, the Nile was still used for gathering food when it was in flood and no crops could either be grown or even harvested.
The lush plants that grew in the fertile land surrounding the banks of the river Nile would also attract animals. This is what made it such an excellent location for hunting, which was a popular sport for the Pharaohs that loved showing their prowess by taking down large beasts.
Crops grown by the Ancient Egyptians in the fertile land along the Nile were actually used for much more than food.
A crop known as Flax was transformed into linen that was used for creating clothing. Making the linen was an incredibly long process, which is why the rich nobles received the finer, softer threads that generally took longer to make. If you are thinking of visiting the Nile see Panorama bungalows resort el gouna.
Papyrus also grew along the banks of the Nile. Its most well-known use was creating paper for writing on. Papyrus paper actually worked so well that even the Ancient Romans and Ancient Greeks also used it.
Still, Papyrus had other useful functions. It could be used for making cloth, which worked particularly well as a sail for boats. It was also used for creating rope, baskets, mats, and even sandals.
The Nile was essential for life to thrive in Ancient Egypt, which is why most of the large and important cities were built close to the river. This meant that the population of those cities enjoyed easy access to all the amenities supplied by the river; a place to wash, drink water, and a place to work.