Egyptian Civ Ch 1-3 - Chapter One The Geography of Egypt-alluvial flood-plain Egypt="the gift of the Nile the river annually renews the flood plain

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Chapter One: The Geography of Egypt -alluvial flood-plain; Egypt= “the gift of the Nile” - the river annually renews the flood plain through the silt brought down by the Inundation The River - For over 1000 miles north of Khartoum, the Nile cuts a shallow bed across a desert plain with a thin ribbon of cultivatable land on either bank. - The river must pass through 6 cataracts cause by the emergence at the surface of bands of granite strata; which was problematic for shipping and penetrating Nubia - For any invader coming from the south, the cataracts proved virtually impassable, providing Egypt with a natural defense “in depth” on its African border - Egypt began at the first cataract (where town of Aswan occupied east bank): o An adjacent island (Elephantine/Yeb) was responsible for ivory trade with sub-Saharan Africa o People from this region suffered from deafness because of the noise of the water crashing over the cataract - Stretch of river between Aswan and the apex of the delta constitutes Upper Egypt - On average the arable land reached about 6-9 miles but can go as far as 15; silt can reach 1500 meters - Most of arable land lies on east bank (Esna to Baga Hammadi) until the massif of Kasr es-Sayyed approaches the bank and is pinched off - From this point to Syut the alluvium is evenly divided; but from Asyut to Atfih the cliffs on the eastern desert border the river and all the arable land is on the Western side (Middle Egypt) - North of the Giza, the cliffs retreat (both on east and west) enabling the river to spread out and form a delta (south Egypt) - In antiquity the Egyptians found the Mediterranean coast as unfavorable to human activity - Delta coast acted as a barrier to invasion of the North The Annual Inundation - “Egypt had be specially favored by the divine” - Rainfall being negligible everything depends upon the annual flooding of the Nile - The immediate impact of the inundation has changed because of the construction of two dams at Aswan, creating an artificial lake - Before the 20 th century the annual inundation had enacted in the same way that it had been for millennia - By mid June inhabitants of middle Egypt can detect the rise of the waters, and celebrate the festival of the “night of the drop” on June 18 [Isis grieving over her deceased husband Osiris]
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- Annual flood effectively flushed out the valley and delta, but in antiquity it also deposited a film of fertile silt upon the valley floor amounting to four inches per century - Too much and too little water could prove detrimental to irrigation; in order to better control accurate prognostication, the Egyptians set up graduated scales or Nilometers (at Elephantine, Semma) to measure successive inundations- helping with predictability and lead time - Preparation for inundations occurred in the spring; everything was built on raised embankments and mounds or protected by walls except the dykes and catchment basins which were repaired each year Arable Land and Agriculture -
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This note was uploaded on 03/30/2008 for the course CAMS 020 taught by Professor Matthewadams during the Spring '08 term at Pennsylvania State University, University Park.

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Egyptian Civ Ch 1-3 - Chapter One The Geography of Egypt-alluvial flood-plain Egypt="the gift of the Nile the river annually renews the flood plain

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