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History Of The Nile River Research Paper

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Updated: Mar 27th, 2022

The Nile River is the greatest river in Northeastern Africa. It is the longest river in the world with a length of about 6,650 km. Its waters are shared by such nations as Rwanda, Egypt, South Sudan, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Kenya, Burundi, Ethiopia, and Eritrea.

There are two main tributaries of the Nile River which are the Blue Nile in Central Africa and the White Nile in Southeastern Africa. In the north, the river streams through the deserts of Sudan and Egypt that is why the nation of Egypt depends greatly on the Nile’s water resources. Many cities are built near the Nile. The history, economic life, and culture of Ancient Egypt were closely connected with the Nile as the main water artery of the region.

Thus, the Nile River played the important role in the success of the North African nations. It contributed to the development of agriculture, communication, and transportation, leading to the evolution of the ancient civilization. From this point, cities appeared only along the river which was the source for people’s transportation and for livestock; the water was also used for irrigation, and it helped in development of arts in Egypt. The main purpose of this paper is to analyze the importance of the Nile River for the northeastern nations.

The Nile River is not only the longest river in the world, and its location is connected with the history of northeastern African nations. The river was vital during the ancient times, and it also plays the huge role in the present world. The success in the usage of the Nile’s waters facilitated the development of the North African nations.

The Nile River was discussed as a “gift to Egypt”, and its rich sludge and waters fostered the development of the nation before the beginning of the Roman Empire (Stearns 2006). It also played an important role in the development of the Judeo-Christian tradition. The ancient Egypt was located along the lower parts of the Nile, and today it is known as the modern Egypt.

The Egyptian civilization occurred in 3150 BCE when there was a political alliance between the Lower and the Upper parts of the nation under the leadership of a pharaoh. Nevertheless, the development of the Egyptian civilization was as a result of the nation’s capacity to acclimatize to all the conditions of the Nile, especially to flooding, and then use the advantages of the fertile valley and specific weather effectively.

The Egyptians could predict floods and plan their actions. They used the Nile waters to irrigate the fertile valley which enabled them to produce the surplus crops (Guisepi 1998). At the same time, the river contributed to the cultural and social development at the river’s banks due to its richness in natural resources.

The silt drops at the river’s banks made the land fertile. The Egyptians took advantage of this fact and began to trade and cultivate papyrus, flax, wheat, and different crops along the Nile (Guisepi 1998). The main crop grown by the Egyptians was wheat. The ability to foresee floods and manage irrigation in the lands facilitated the huge production of the excess crops.

It also contributed to the social development due to the richness of the natural resources in the region. The Egyptians began to trade wheat with the other nations, and it led to the effective trade relationships and economic stability. The Egyptians used the Nile waters to irrigate the lands during dry seasons which enabled them to have food all the year round.

The Nile River was also used for transporting both animals and people. Buffalo and camel were delivered in Egypt from Assyria for food and for work that is why they were domesticated. Camel and buffalo were used for plowing and for carriage.

There are no records on using roads along the Nile River. Wheels were also not commonly used along the Nile because people mainly used the river for transportation. Boats were used to transporting donkeys and for people’s transportation. The winds from the Nile were used for sailing from the north to the south. The wind power even became the hieroglyphic sign in Egypt. The early boats which were used in the Nile were made of papyrus.

These were the same boats which were used for fishing and hunting games. However, later they were replaced by wooden boats with steering oars. These boats were suitable for transportation of both goods and people (Stearns 2006). They were mainly used for transportation along the Nile from the north to the south. The boats, however, were a religious symbol. For instance, it is possible to find boats being depicted on the walls of the graves.

Boats of different forms can be found in many burials to accentuate the wealth and position of the person buried. The Nile also facilitated transportation of heavy materials which were used for the construction of temples and palaces. The granite blocks were discovered in the northern part of the river, along Memphis/Tanis. The river was also a source of life because those ones who lived along the river used it for domestic purposes.

The summer floods in Egypt ended after the completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1970. The construction also affected the renewal of the soil along the Nile valley, and this changed the entire farming practices. The situation also helped the majority of the people living along its banks.

For instance, it enabled the Egyptians to move from the Sahara deserts to the fertile lands at the river banks. Thus, the population used the Nile waters for agriculture, for domestic purposes, and for transportation. Cities developed along the Nile valley, and they included Khartoum, Giza-Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan (Guisepi 1998).

The first waterfalls appeared in the river near the Aswan Dam that is why the territory became a popular route for tourists in the city. Traditional wooden boats and cruise ships were used to sail people to the river banks. Several cruise paths were developed in the Nile, for instance, between Aswan and Luxor, and between Kom Ombo and Edfu. However, the main concern was the security near the northern parts of the river.

The Egyptians decided to construct dikes, dams, canals, and sluices to save the water which regularly and systematically flowed in the fields after summer rains. The Egyptians also transformed swamps into paddocks after draining out water that was in swamps. The community took part in the project actively, and they worked to achieve the common goal which was to save their land.

The Egyptians concentrated on specifics of observing changes of seasons to avoid the effects of floods or droughts. The waters from the canals and dams were used during the dry seasons to guarantee the plenty of food for the nation. The Egyptians irrigated their lands during dry seasons intensively, and this enabled those who lived in North Africa, particularly at the Nile’s banks, to have the adequate amount of food (Gilbert 2008).

As a result of food abundance, the population began to grow rapidly along the Nile because there was enough food for the entire group. The Egyptians’ life also changed along the Nile as the majority of the population became richer because of farming. Other people managed to obtain money through fishing in the river since there were suitable boats to enable people to go fishing (Guisepi 1998).

There were those who earned their source of living through mining industries, and others earned money orienting to arts. Cities developed along the Nile as well as industries, and the prosperity was experienced as a result of developing agriculture. Life became better along the Nile valley despite the fact that the majority of the places were previously dry, for instance, Sudan and Egypt. However, the maximization of the waters from the Nile brought tremendous prosperity to the North African nations which lived along the Nile valley.

The Nile resources also attracted foreigners in North Africa. Thus, Morrice and Allan conducted the computer simulation study with an intention of planning the economic development of the Nile River, especially in Sudan. They began to examine how the waters could be used and stored for years to come, the conservation of the waters, especially during rainy seasons, to be used during dry years. The researchers also considered new irrigation procedures and latest navigation methods to study the Nile.

They identified a new set of operations and reservoirs for the water to be released and used in upstream. The water reservoirs were developed in Sudan, and the quality of the water was also monitored. However, the development of these reservoirs could not prevent the breakage of drought in 1980 in Sudan and Ethiopia (Guisepi 1998). Nevertheless, Egypt managed to overcome the drought because of Lake Nasser.

The Nile also played an important role in the spiritual life of the Egyptians. The Egyptians believed in the god of floods whom they named Hapy. They believed that Hapy controlled the yearly floods together with a pharaoh. The Egyptians regarded the Nile River as the source for the life, death, and afterlife.

The Egyptians discussed the eastern part of the Nile as a region of development and confinement while the west was a region of death because of the god Ra (Stearns 2006). This is the reason why all the tombs in Egypt were situated in the western part of the Nile.

The Egyptians believed that to experience the afterlife, the dead should be buried in the area which signified death. Since the Nile played the major role in the life of the Egyptians, they decided to work out their calendar on the basis of three phases of the Nile. The seasons comprised 3 months, each being of 30 days, which were known as Shemu, Akhet, and Peret. They represented the periods when the Nile River used to flood, and there were layers of the fertile soil left to be cultivated.

The Nile River also contributed greatly to the growth of cities in North America. For instance, Egypt is rich in copper, gold, building and decorative stone, semiprecious stones, and lead ores. All these minerals are found in the valley of the Nile River. The resources facilitated the building of tombstones, manufacture of tools, fashion jewelry, and mold statues. There are stones of high quality which are used for building houses and industries along the Nile valley.

The Egyptians living along the Nile valley mined limestone; basalt and sandstone were found in the desert, and granite was available in Aswan. There were also deposits of decorative stones along with alabaster (Guisepi 1998). Carnelian dotted, porphyry, and greywacke were collected by the Egyptians prior to the day of the First Dynasty.

The majority of the North African rulers subsidized the development of minerals along the Nile valley and the adjacent areas in the deserts. They also promoted the collective construction of agricultural projects, development of independent writing system, and trade within the region. The security of the region around the Nile valley was also increased with powerful military forces to protect Egypt.

Religious leaders, the pharaoh’s overseers, and the organization of elite scribes took part in the entire process. They ensured that there was unity and cooperation among the Egyptian people with a perspective of the developed religious system. The Egyptians managed to acquire massive accomplishments, for instance, construction, quarrying and surveying methods which led to the building of epic pyramids, obelisks, and temples.

The mathematics system, irrigation systems, effective medicine system, glass technology, agricultural production methods, and different forms of literature were developed as well as the massive development was observed in economy, and the population along the riverbanks, including Egypt and Aswan, also grew.

The Nile River influenced the social and economic life of the region significantly. The Nile’s resources guaranteed the food for the nation due to the presence of fertile soils which stimulated the growth of different crops along the valley.

The poor people living along the river depended mainly on agriculture. They used the Nile waters to irrigate their lands during dry seasons which enabled them to have food all the year round. As it was mentioned earlier, the majority of people planted corn and wheat which they used to make bread and beer. A lot of people also planted onions and vegetables for sale and for consumption purposes.

The breads made in Egypt were of different shapes, there were those which were made in moulds and used for ritual purposes while there were some sorts which were used to make beer, especially those which were as barley (Gilbert 2008). Barley was the reason why beer was in form of the thick soupy liquid.

It mainly contributed to the production of the soupy liquid. The Egyptians also obtained oil from nuts removed from moringa tree and flax from linseed oil. Oil was of great value in the nation, especially high quality oil, which was placed in the tombs to grant the afterlife for the dead.

The Egyptians ate meat only during festive seasons because they considered meat as luxury. The poor people, nevertheless, complimented their diets with meat from gazelle, wild animals, and hares which were obtained through hunting in deserts and along the bushy Nile’s banks. From this perspective, the economy of the Egyptians was completely based on the Nile’s resources.

The White Nile is associated with the European discovery of North Africa in the 19th century. The explorers’ main mission was to find the source of the Nile, however, their trial to penetrate through Sudd failed. The British explorers decided to move to the coastal region in Zanzibar, a place which is now known as Tanzania. They decided to go forth to the northern region in order to do more research on the mysterious lakes that formed the Nile River.

In 1858, one of the explorers, known as Speke, found the source of the Nile waters to be Lake Victoria named after the Queen of England. Speke suggested that Lake Victoria was the main foundation of the White Nile and shared the information with his partner Burton. After the great exploration, they both made a decision to move back to Zanzibar, but Speke returned back home in England, leaving his partner behind.

He did not see the need to stay back in North Africa after discovering the White Nile. Later on, he came back in Zanzibar for the second expedition with Grant and decided to go further inland. In the year of 1862, they went around the lake while exploring its contents until they managed to solve the puzzle of the source of the White Nile ( 2011). Thus, the river intrigued many foreigner researchers because of its significant role in the development of North Africa.

The Nile River contributed to the success of the North African nations significantly. It facilitated agriculture, communication, and transportation, leading to the evolution of the prosperous ancient civilization. For instance, the Nile River stimulated the development of cities at the riverbanks, and it became the main source of transportation of people as well as for livestock. The waters of the river were also used for irrigation, and it helped develop the arts and culture in Egypt.


Gilbert, Erik

2008 Africa in World History, From Prehistory to the Present. New York. Prentice Hall.

Guisepi, Robert

1998 The Rise of Civilization in the Middle East and Africa. New York. Westview Press.

Jeal, Tim

2011 Explorers of the Nile: The Triumph and Tragedy of a Great Victorian Adventure. New York. .

Stearns, Peter

2006 World Civilizations: The Global Experience. New York. Pearson Education, Inc.

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