The sun-scorched dunes of the Egyptian desert stretch across the barren land for miles. It is difficult to perceive how one of the most efficient cultures of the ancient world could persevere in such conditions, but then the Nile comes into the picture. It became so important to daily life that the Egyptians developed their whole society around it, right down to their religious beliefs.
With the harsh desert covering the majority of the land, growing enough food to sustain life was impossible without a source of fresh water. The people thrived along its banks. They depended on the annual flooding to rejuvenate the land and make it fertile for agriculture.
The Nile brought destruction as well as life to the valley. When the river rose it destroyed everything within its path. However, when the river failed to rise in seasons of drought it brought great famine across the land. These conditions were often unpredictable and so the Egyptians based their faith on the tributes and sacrifices made to the gods.
To ensure a safe voyage to the after-life, they buried their dead on the west bank of the river. The reason for this was that they associated the west with the underworld where the sun died each nightfall.
Without the aid of the Nile ancient Egypt would have failed early on. It was this river that provided the breath of life to the peoples along its banks. |