Egyptian History and Peoples

The Valley of the Nile





   Like a giant lifeline in the midst of desperation, the Nile River, longest river in the world, cuts a swath of green and life through the barrenness of the giant Sahara desert in North Africa. Fed by three major sources—the White Nile which begins at Lake Victoria, the Atbara, and the Blue Nile, which joins the Nile near Khartoum in the Sudan—the river rushes down into the Nile Valley and beyond that into the rich alluvial plain of the Nile delta. Swollen by rains, the river yearly floods the Nile Valley, so that the valley literally turns into isolated islands separated by the high waters. In an area without any rainfall, the Nile brings water and life, and in its periodic flooding, it also brings nutrient-rich silt which it deposits on the agricultural land in the Nile Valley.

   Along this narrow strip of life, one of the greatest and most enduring human civilizations established itself. It was an African civilization which fed off human cultures to the south, the west, the east, and eventually, the north. At times it was the greatest power in the world; at other times, the Egyptians groaned under the domination of foreign powers. By 300 AD, its greatness had faltered permanently, and this great culture faded from memory. People forgot its religion and its writing; only the stones of their monuments stood as a mute testimony of three thousand years of human experience.

   Whatever the Egyptians were, they had little in common with any contemporary cultures. In fact, they are probably the most mysterious culture you will ever encounter. Who were they? What happened for three thousand years? What did they think? How did they view the world? We will start to answer these questions as we journey from the beginnings to the final ends of Ancient Egypt



Next . . .
Egyptian Prehistory


Egypt
World Cultures
World Cultures Home Page


1996, Richard Hooker
Updated 9-27-97