The History And Significance Of River Nile In Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt comprised two regions; Lower Egypt and Upper Egypt. At first, it seems strange when you realize Upper Egypt is located in the South while Lower Egypt is situated to the North. However, the geography of these two lands can be best understood when you bring the River Nile into the picture.

Most rivers in the region flow from the North to the South, but the Nile moves the other way – it originates from the South and runs Northwards. Therefore, when naming the two kingdoms, the Ancient Egyptians positioned Upper Egypt to the South since that was the source (top) of the river and Lower Egypt to the North, where the river flowed (bottom).

Here is why the Nile was so valuable in Ancient Egypt:

Source Of Flooding Water And Fertile Soil And Silt

A large part of the land in Egypt is a desert. However, the Nile could flood at least every September, providing fertile land on the riverbanks to support agricultural activities. The fertile soil supported the growth of healthy crops such as wheat, flax, and papyruses and helped many people to produce food and earn an income. For this reason, the Egyptians referred to this fertile, black soil as the “Gift of the Nile.”For anyone wanting to go to Eygpt, I would recommend seeing panorama bungalows resort el gouna.

So important was the Nile to the Egyptians that they devised a creative way of measuring the river’s annual flood known as the ‘Nilometer.’ It was an effective technique that helped them accurately project the volume of crops they would grow during the planting season.

Ancient Egyptians believed that if the Nile failed to flood as they expected each season, they had wronged their gods, and the resulting crop failure or famine was a punishment for their transgressions.

For a long time, Ancient Egyptians planted many crops in the fertile soil near River Nile, including fruits such as melons and figs and vegetables such as onions, cabbages, and cucumbers. However, wheat was the primary crop grown in these areas and helped promote the growth of the bread and beer processing industries. As soon as the river flooded, the Egyptians ensured wheat was the first crop they planted after the floodwater receded to the river.

Other ways the Egyptians used the Nile included fishing; they used nets and spears to catch fish for food and sale. Thus, the Nile could enable the Egyptians to obtain food from the river without the floodwater and planting and harvesting crop.

In addition, the vegetation that grew near the banks of the river Nile provided food and an ecosystem for wild animals, making it an ideal hunting ground. Hunting wild animals was a popular sport for the Pharaohs who wanted to show their skills in hunting giant beasts.

Other than food crops, other crops that were grown near the banks of the Nile include:


Flax was used to producing linen – a popular fabric in the textile and clothing industry. The process of making quality linen was long and thorough. Therefore the softer and finer linen threads were only preserved for the nobles.


Papyrus was another crop grown near the river Nile and used in the production of writing paper. Papyrus was so effective for this work that the Ancient Greeks and the Ancient Romans wrote on paper made from Papyrus.

Other vital uses of Papyrus included producing rope, mats, baskets, sandals, and the strong fabric used to make sails for boats.

A Means Of Transport

Due to the significance of the river Nile as an economic hub, many large and notable cities were formed and grew along the river. The Nile provided the people living in these cities with drinking water, employment opportunities, a place to wash, and a means of transport.