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Egypt – An ancient civilization

from 978-3-14-100790-9 from page 152 fig. 1
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Egypt – An ancient civilization
Egyptian life in historical times was determined by location on the Nile and the seasonal flow cycles. Settlements were located either on the river oases or in the Nile delta, for only by the Nile, was there enough water in an otherwise hostile environment. The areas outside the Nile Valley was crossed by a network of caravan routes and there were very few oases. Construction materials (granite, porphyry, sandstone, alabastre) and ores (copper, gold) and precious stones were extracted mainly in the mountains between the Nile and the Red Sea.

Farmland on the Nile
Strips of cultivated land about 10 km wide on both sides of the river, extended only as far as the delta. The Nile was then at a minimum flow in May and flood wave vertexes in September, were the result of summer rainfall on the upper reaches of the Blue and White Niles. The cultivation of crops began when the waters from the flood drained and the fields dried out.
The alluvial nutrients (clay) of the Nile and the moisture contained in the soil, enabled a high-yielding crop. Crops could be introduced at the beginning of the dry season. The importance high water for agriculture in ancient Egypt is illustrated by the tradition of the new year at the beginning of July – the start of the flood wave.
There were six rapids (cataracts), in total, in the middle reaches of the Nile which formed a natural obstacle for shipping. The boundary lines of the Egyptian kingdoms were located respectively in the vicinity of these cataracts. The dam of Aswan is now located on the 1st cataract and the 2nd cataract is flooded by Lake Nasser.

The Nile valley today
The geographical distribution of settlements has been virtually unchanged since ancient times, only their size and population density have greatly increased. Even today, with over 3,000 people per square km, the Nile Valley is the preferred settlement area in Egypt – in contrast to the sparsely populated or totally unpopulated desert or semi-deserts areas outside the river oases. Cultivation land has only extended to areas around the few oases. Cairo, with over 15 million inhabitants, is one of the largest city agglomerations in the world. The constrictive coexistence through different utilisations and the resulting conflicts mean that upper Egypt is a metropolitan region with typically characteristic crises and problems of rapid urban growth, conversion of scarce arable land into developed sites, environmental pollution and traffic chaos.
M. Felsch; Ü: C. Fleming


Keywords: alluvial delta estuary caravan trade route delta Egypt land cover landscape Mediterranean Sea pyramid

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