Welcome to another post about Ancient Egypt! Ok, so where did we leave off the last time? Oh yes, we were talking about how the Nile was essential to life in Egypt, and how, if they weren’t careful about its floods, then the rest of Egypt suffered, particularly Upper Egypt.
Ok, so before we move on, let me remind you that Upper Egypt meant southern Egypt, and Lower Egypt was northern Egypt. I guess the reason why is because the unity of Egypt was mostly in thanks to the ruling family, of Dynasty Zero (i.e. the first dynasty that ruled a united Egypt), when they decided to take over the north. They came from Upper Egypt, where a kingdom had already been built and city that spanned 5km across the banks of the River Nile, had a thriving population of 10 000 people.
Are You Ready For More?
Alright, let’s carry on! We left off last time, with the citizens of Egypt watching the tide of the Nile, to make sure that it didn’t over-flood crops, or under-flood them. That meant that they had to keep watch, and of course, with their limited knowledge of science, geography and meteorology, they didn’t exactly have the know-how to actually predict the floods. So, what they did instead was to pray.
That’s right! King Narmer (remember him?) led his people in ceremonies at Elephantine to ensure that the goods looked kindly upon them. So, every summer, when the Nile did flood, it didn’t leave the people ruined or hungry. Basically, he would watch as the floods came in from the Blue Nile (in Ethiopia, remember?) and would bless the gods for the surge. From there, the rest of Dynasty Zero would continue to watch the floods, so it became a yearly tradition. In fact, they dedicated a temple to the goddess Satet, at Elephantine, and pilgrims would go to worship her there, to ask for a good flood for the year.
Now, while we now know that it was because of the Ethiopian rains that the Nile would flood, it’s actually still a good idea, in the modern day, to keep an eye on it, because even today, agricultural methods that were thought up by the Ancient Egyptians are still being used! That’s right, they are still using the hard labour of farmers to make sure that their crops are thriving. It’s because it’s so effective, so why change it?
How Did They Manage The Water?
Ok, so knowing when the floods happen and how to predict them are all well and good, but how did they manage the inundation of water? Well, much like we do today, with reservoirs that hold water for us when we need it, the Ancient Egyptians built irrigation channels, to save the water that the Nile provided, so that they could use it later, during the planting season.
Of course, in Ancient Egypt, irrigation systems weren’t just man-made creations, they were sacred, since it provided the water that the gods had sent. So, what they’d do, every time a new irrigation canal was built, was to inaugurate it, and not anyone could do it. King Narmer had to do it. He even had a ceremonial mace to inaugurate the canal. Remember, water was sacred to the Ancient Egyptians, so they really cared about how they stored and used it.
Eventually, with their careful planning and their respect for the Nile, the Ancient Egyptians began to grow more and more crops that were able to feed at least a million people, during the reign of Dynasty Zero. Not only that, at the time, they didn’t exactly have coins as currency, so what they did was use the grains that were grown as a means of trade. It became their main source of export. It helped during times of disaster or famine.
The Nile Wasn’t Just A Source Of Water
Nope, remember, it’s a river, it’s a large body of water with a current. So, what did they use it for? Transport of course! It acted as their main thoroughfare, since they didn’t exactly have roads and the streets of the city were mostly used for walking, since the concept of roads hadn’t crossed their minds (until the Romans invaded, but that’s later).
During the reign of Dynasty Zero, boats were everything. In fact, King Narmer mostly used boats to get from one place to another. If he wanted to go south, he’d rely on the winds, if he wanted to go north, he’d rely on the current, since the Nile led to the Mediterranean Sea. It was the fastest way to travel, by their standards. After all, they didn’t have cars like we do today! I mean, it would take 30 days to travel the Nile, from the Delta to the south, since wind power was stronger than the current, a boat could travel up to 4km/h.
Now, although grain was important in their everyday lives, boats were considered much more vital. It was sort of like how gold or diamond is to us. It was valuable and because it was, they’d bring it with them, even to the afterlife. So, it’s no surprise that archaeologists have found loads of models of boats in ancient tombs. After all, they’re like what cars are to us. They’re really useful for transportation, and they’re what unified both Lower and Upper Egypt, during Narmer’s reign. It made Egypt prosperous as a trading society flourished on the banks of the river.
We’re Nearly At The End Of The Episode!
Yeah, ok, so I’m basically basing these posts on the Planet Egypt episode I’d watched, but it does have a lot of information, and these blog posts will end up being an essay, if I wrote it all down in one. So, that’s why it’s pretty much a three-part post series. Anyway, if you haven’t already, I highly recommend you go and watch Planet Egypt, because it does help when looking at the timeline of Egypt’s thriving Pharaonic period. Not to mention, it has so much more information than my posts will ever have. So, go and check it out! That’s your homework!
Well, that’s it from me today, I’ll see you guys next time. For now, don’t forget to like, subscribe and follow for more updates and the latest posts here on Feather’s Charm and on my social media accounts. Oh, and share these posts with family and friends, those who you’d think might enjoy these topics and tips! I’ll see you later!