Stretching across half of Africa, the River Nile flows from the forests and mountains of the equator to two distributaries that feed into the Mediterranean Sea. One of these distributaries or branches flows to the east, forming the Nile Delta, a rich agricultural region. Due to its location and it being a source of such fertility to surrounding lands, the Ancient Egyptians are known to have worshipped the river, considering it to have been responsible for the creation of this great country, along with the steady and constant cycle of the sun. Without this gift of the river, Egypt may never have become what is considered one of the most remarkable civilisations in history.
The Ancient Egyptians believed in many gods, some linked to the River Nile through the belief that the gods were connected to certain areas of the universe including the earth and the sky. A large number of Ancient Egyptian monuments and sacred temples can be found close to the shores, paying tribute to the gods who provided for the people in this ancient civilisation.
The Nile god, Hapi, was the god of annual flooding, which brought an annual deposit of silt onto the river’s banks, fertilising the land and boosting the growth of crops. Osiris, god of regeneration and rebirth was assassinated by his brother Set and thrown into the Nile in a lead-weighted box, only to be found by his wife Isis who brought him back to life. This resurrection gave him an Egyptian underworld connection with those who granted life, and he became associated with nature’s cycles including the growth of vegetation and flooding.
The fertile lands surrounding the Nile provided wheat, papyrus, flax and many other crops, often used for trading as well as providing for the people of the country. Economic stability was improved as diplomatic relationships were secured through trading practises and the ability to transport goods along the river.
Methods of irrigation were discovered when the essential annual flooding was inadequate, ensuring that crops did not suffer from drought. The Nile also yielded fish and provided essential water and crops for imported animals such as camels and water buffalo, ensuring that the country prospered even when others were affected by famine.