Egypt Part 2 - 1 EGYPT GEOGRAPHY The Greek historian...

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EGYPTGEOGRAPHYThe Greek historian, Herodotus, described Egypt as “the gift of the Nile”. In deed, he was right. Egypt would never have existed had it not been for the Nile River. The Nile allowed for this oasis in the middle of the desert. The Nile, of course, provided water thatmade agriculture possible. In addition, the Nile was known for its predictable floods. The Egyptians could calculate the precise day that the Nile would start to rise. Thus, the floods of the Nile did not cause damage because the people were prepared. In fact, they welcomed the floods because they made alluvial deposits that kept their soil very fertile. The Egyptians used the flood season as the time to devote to their great building projects.The Nile River also served as the highway for Egypt. It was deep enough and flowed north to the Mediterranean Seas. (This is unusual because most of the rivers in the northern hemisphere flow south.) If Egyptians needed to travel north, the currents would carry their boats in that direction. The prevailing winds in Egypt tended to blow south. So the Egyptians raised their sails to travel to the south. Few civilizations have been blessed with such a “corporative” river.The climate in Egypt is warm enough for agriculture the year around. The days are dominated by the bright Sun in a blue sky. Clouds are not common. With the Sun playing such a dominate role in the lives of the Ancient Egyptians, it is not a surprise that their most important God was the Sun God – Amon Ra. The pharaohs were believed to be direct descendants of Ra.Egypt was also blessed with natural protection that helped to keep them independent and free from invasion for many years. Look at a map and you can see that Egypt had seas tonorth and east. Deserts surrounded on the west and to the south. About the only way to invade was from the east on a very narrow isthmus. That was easy to defend. This is a major reason why Egypt’s history plays out so differently from Mesopotamia’s.Finally, Egypt was blessed with great natural resources. They had plenty of different types of stone that was perfect for building tombs and temples that would last for 5000 years. In addition, they had an abundance of gold. As others would describe it “Gold was as common as dust in Ancient Egypt.”Egypt’s geography not only contributed to their independence, but also their durability and stability that were apparent throughout their long (approximately 3000 year) history. Egypt’s history is so long that we have to divide it into several periods in order to discuss it. They are: The Pre-dynastic Period; The Old Kingdom; The Middle Kingdom; The New Kingdom; and The Period of Decline, Civil War, and Invasion. 1
THE PRE-DYNASTIC PERIOD (5000BC – 3100BC)This is the time before Egypt had been united under one leader. There were many different Neolithic villages developing on the banks of the Nile. Toward the end of this period, an area called Memphis, in the north, begin to dominate. Eventually, the king of

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