Essay on Egyptian Geography

Egypt was kept from outside influence because of its natural boundaries and the Nile. Therefore, this had positive effects on Egypt’s agriculture and development. The natural boundaries included the Mediterranean Sea, deserts and the six cataracts of the Nile. Since there were no outside influences

there were no pressures and so this ancient river valley civilization could develop. The Nile did not only protect them but it also benefited them a lot. The annual flood of the Nile gave them good soil to grow and the prevailing winds of the Nile made it easier to travel up and down the Nile. The annual flood also allowed them to develop a calendar. Also the Nile valley gave them a lot of good building materials and other natural resources for tools and jewelry. The Egyptians lived this uninfluenced lifestyle until around 3,000 B.C.

Ancient Egypt’s natural boundaries offered it lots of protection which caused it to be so uninfluenced until 3,000 B.C. These natural barriers did not give them full protection and were still vulnerable. The first natural barrier was the Mediterranean above the delta. Before 1500 B.C. not many people traveled by ship and so the Mediterranean offered great protection. The next natural boundaries were the Western Desert and the Lower Desert. A desert is a region that receives less than ten inches of precipitation every year. It was hard to move an army through a desert and also the provisions needed to make the tour. The last natural barrier that gave the Ancient Egyptians protection from outside influences was the six cataracts along the Nile. A cataract is a waterfall or a violent rush of water. These cataracts didn’t let any foreigners or enemies travel in the Nile and therefore kept them out too. Although the Nile river valley was very protected there was one vulnerable place from which they could be attacked. This vulnerable stop is known as the Suez Canal. This was the only way to get into Ancient Egypt. Also known as the Isthmus of Suez which was the land bridge between Asia and Africa. Today the Suez Canal is used for transporting goods. Because of the Ancient Egypt’s natural boundaries it was able to keep out enemies and so could easily develop.

Like the Greek historian Herodotus once said, “Egypt is the gift of the Nile.” Herodotus’ quote about Ancient Egypt was right. Indeed Ancient Egypt is the gift of the Nile because without it there would be no Egypt. The yearly flood was one of the reasons why Egypt developed so well agriculturally. Every year June and October the summer rains in the Ethiopian highlands and the melted snow from the mountains came down to the Nile and caused its banks to over flow. This gave fertility to the land and created silt. The flood was very important and life supporting. If there was no flood then the land wouldn’t be good for planting and therefore nothing could be grown. That is why agriculturally Egypt developed so well because of the annual flood. The Ancient Egyptians therefore developed a machine which was used to irrigate the crops. It was called a shadoof and consisted of a balanced beam which on one side had a bucket that took the water from the Nile and then brought it to the canals. By using this technique the Egyptians were able to not only grow one crop per year but up to three crops which gave them a bigger surplus of food. Since the flood was annual and came every year around the same time the Ancient Egyptians developed a calendar around the flood. In order to develop a calendar you need a predictable event such as the rise and fall of the Nile. Therefore, Egyptian priests studied the night skies for stars to mark the beginning of the Nile flood. They did find a star that marks the beginning of the Nile flood called sepdet. Around this a 5,000 year old calendar was formed. Because of the prevailing winds that swept over the Nile transport was very easy and important. You could either go up stream with the current or against the current with the prevailing winds. This was important because it was easier to travel along the Nile and allowed them to trade and transport goods along the Nile. Because the Nile was so protected from outside influences they developed their own system of irrigation and a system of calendar based on the flood. This also clearly shows that the Nile gave the people a lot and was therefore the key to survival in Ancient Egypt.

In addition the Nile Valley and the desert provided a lot of good resources for the Ancient Egyptians. One of the main resources of the Nile was the papyrus plant which grew along the Nile in abundance. Papyrus was used to make paper by cutting of the stem of the plant and using the pith of the plant which was then compressed and that made the paper. But papyrus could also be used to make rope by twisting it. The ability to make paper gave them the ability to write and therefore this was a very important achievement in Ancient Egypt. This was also very beneficial because through this they could write down their ideas on paper and keep records. Copper and turquoise were found in the Sinai Peninsula. Turquoise was used to carve scarabs and was used in jewelry. Copper was used to make tools for building or other utensils of some sort. Gold was found in the desert Thebes and was mainly used for jewelry. Clay however, could be found almost anywhere in Egypt and when mixed with water and straw you could make bricks for building. There was limestone available for building. Granite was quarried near the first cataract which was also a very good source for building. Once the Egyptians were able to successfully quarry stone and transport they could build different houses or buildings out of stone. Because the Nile valley was so rich in natural resources there were a lot of things that could be made to their benefit. The granite, limestone and clay bricks were good ways for building. Therefore, we can see that the Nile valley was very important to the Egyptians.

The reason why the Egyptians developed so well and stayed a civilization for so long was because of the optimal geographical location they were in. Because they had natural boundaries which protected them they didn’t have to fear attack and could develop. The natural boundaries kept enemies out. The Nile was the main reason though that there was Egypt. It was the source for their agricultural development and it gave them a lot of resources that were important for their development. Basically the Egyptians developed a civilization around the Nile. Without of the Nile this area would have never been populated. Because of the annual flood the Egyptians developed one of the earliest calendars known to us. Although different cultures have shown that isolation and natural “protection” has only stopped their process of development it was exactly the opposite for the Ancient Egyptians.