The Nile River has certainly played a critical role in the history of ancient Egypt. Famous as the longest river in the world, the river got its name from the Greek word Neilos, which means valley. The Nile floods the lands in Egypt, leaving behind black sediment. That’s why the ancient Egyptians named the river Ar, meaning black.
Interesting Nile River Facts List
- The name of the river (Nile) is derived from the Greek word “neilos” which means “river”.
- Ancient Egypt may have never become one of the greatest civilizations in history if it had not been for the Nile. Ancient Egypt relied on agriculture for its wealth and power.
- The Ancient Egyptians called the river Ar or Aur which means “black”. They named it this because the annual flood left black sediment along the river banks.
- There are several major cities that are located along the edge of the Nile. These cities are Cairo, Thebes/Luxor, Khartoum, Gondokoro, Aswan, and Karnak.
- Many parts of the Niles banks are teeming with Crocodiles. They are the largest crocodiles in Africa.
- Numerous animals live in and around the river they include Nile crocodiles, Nile monitors, frogs, mongooses, turtles, tortoises, hippopotamus, wildebeest, baboons, and over three hundred species of birds.
- The fertile soil and water supplied by the Nile enabled ancient civilizations in Egypt to form and flourish. Before stopping by dams the Nile would overflow every year leaving deposits of rich soil along the banks.
- The river serves as a major source of transportation. This is especially true during the flood season when road transportation in many areas along the river is impossible.
- Major dams built on the Nile include the Aswan High Dam, Roseires Dam, Owen Falls Dam, and Sennar Dam.
Spirituality and World View
The Nile River, for all its importance to the Ancient Egyptian, had no deity. It didn’t even have a name. Most simply called it “the river,” or “aur,” which means black. The closest thing to a god assigned to the Nile was Hapy, the god of the Inundation. Hapy had no temple. He was a fat, jubilant deity praised at the beginning of every flood cycle and mentioned only in passing the rest of the year.
Yet even though the Nile did not play a central part in Ancient Egyptian spirituality, it was the centre of their social worldview They oriented themselves in reference to the south, from whence the river came. The east bank, where the sun rose, was the side of birth. The west bank, where the sunset, was the side of death. All Ancient Egyptian tombs and pyramids were constructed on the west side of the Nile.