Ancient Egypt consisted of two lands, upper and lower Egypt. While this may seem automatic that the upper will be the North and the lower the South, the opposite is true. Upper Egypt is located in the southern part of the country while lower Egypt is located in the North. There’s no denying that this may look weird on a map, but once you know about the Nile, it all makes sense.
Most rivers flow from north to south. With the River Nile, the opposite is true. When ancient Egyptians were naming the region, they did so in terms of how the river flows. The ancient Egyptians named the North so because that is where the river starts, and the South is so named because the river flows in that direction. You can take one of the all inclusive cruises of the Nile River to fully learn and experience everything about the Nile.
The majority of the land in Egypt is desert. However, every September, the Nile would flood and bring with it fertile soils that settle at the bank of the river. With these fertile soils, the Ancient Egyptians were able to grow many healthy crops such as flax, papyrus, and wheat. The rich soil that bore fruitful crops was named the Gift of the Nile. The ancient Egyptians knew that without the river, they would get limited food and their livelihoods would be at risk.
The Egyptians also had a way to measure how much crop they would yield each year depending on the annual flood. They had named this system the ‘Nilometre’. The system gave them an accurate estimate of their yearly yield. If the river did not flood, they would attribute that to the gods being angry, thus punishing them by failing to bring enough rain.
The ancient Egyptians practised agriculture and this produced lots of food. This included vegetables such as onions and cabbage, fruits such as melons, and wheat. Wheat was by far the most important, as they used it to make bread and beer. The importance of wheat was visible in the fact that they grew wheat before anything else. Once the flood water receded, they would begin planting wheat.
During the months when the river did not have too much water, the Egyptians would fish using nets and spears. This made sure the river provided in both the dry periods and rainy ones. The fertile soil that grew lush plants around the river banks made certain that there were animals in the area. The ancient Egyptians used this as an opportunity to hunt. Hunting made a great sport, especially for the Pharaohs who would show their hunting capabilities by going after large beats.
The ancient Egyptians used the crops that they grew along the Nile for more than food. For instance, they used a crop called flax to make clothes. The material produced from flax is linen, and fine linen was produced after a long process. This meant that the finest linen was reserved for the rich nobles.
One other crop that grew along the banks was papyrus, which the ancient Egyptians used to make paper to write on. The paper made from this material was so good that the Ancient Romans and Greeks also did the same. Papyrus was not only used to make paper, though. They also used it to make the cloth used in sailboats. It was used to make baskets, sandals, ropes, and mats.
Since the Nile was an essential part of life in Ancient Egypt, that means that most of the large cities were built near the river. The population in these cities was large and the people used the river to provide them with a place to wash, water to drink, and a place to work.