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The Influence of Nile and Other Factors on Ancient Egypt

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Ancient Egypt was one of the most influential civilizations based off of the geography, engineering, writing, and Religion which would be an influence to later Religions. “Ancient Egypt was one of the world’s great civilizations. It was blessed by moderately warm climate, a river that flooded regularly and fertilized the land with soil carried by the floodwaters from the highlands of Ethiopia, and relative isolation from foreign invaders for the first 10 centuries of its existence. The people were industrious, obedient to a government that ensured cooperation and justice, and faithful to a pantheon of gods and goddesses who they believed ensured their well-being in this life and after death.” There are many factors that cause Ancient Egypt to be an influence to civilizations but the use of geographic factors, engineering, writing, and Religion will be the more important factors that will influence multiple later civilizations.

Egypt is known as the gift of the Nile because without the Nile River the area where Egypt stands would be a complete desert. The Nile River brings life and controls the daily life and economy of the Egyptians. The Nile Valley was made habitable by the annual Nile flood, which would carry water and rich nutrients to the area where it would be used for farming and storing crops which would be later used for trade. The Nile River wasn’t always promising. It was sometimes unpredictable and would either flood too much destroying crops and villages or not flood enough to have it beneficial for the people. It was not until the people learned how to build dams and embankments to be able to store the water. Before this they would not be able to use the full force of the Nile for it to be a promising resource. “To take advantage of the flood, the Egyptian people learned how to build dams, weirs, embankments, and basins, channeling and storing the river waters to facilitate raising their crops.” This would help with the Dry Period known as “Dryness (shemu).” There were three agricultural periods of the land. Arthur, Guillemette Andreu writes,

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The first was the “Inundation (akhet)” that covered the fields from mid-July to mid-November, brining life-giving water at the hottest time of the year. Next came the season of “Emergence (peret)”, that is to say, the return of the river to its bed and the emergence of the waterlogged land. It was during this season, from mid-November to mid-March, that the farmers worked in the fields. From mid-March to mid-July, there was the dry period, marking the end of the harvest, when the parched soil cracked and the river was at its lowest level.

The Nile River was the base of Egyptians economy with crops and would be used as a transportation for goods and people. “The clerics assured him that their land was “the most ancient of mankind.” Certainly, Herodotus’s admiration for the people and the land was unbounded. He described Egypt as a territory that “possesses so many wonders; nor has any [other country] such a number of works which defy description.” To outsiders of the Ancient Egypt civilizations, their kingdom was something that many other people have not seen before with utilization of their natural resources. One of the most influential aspects of this was that the Egyptians were able to store the water from the flood and be able to save it for the dry period, which meant there was a lot less water coming from the river. The use of dams and other embankments were used throughout history and is still used today to control water.

The birth of writing was extremely important to the foundation of Ancient Egypt and is one of the more important factors of why Ancient Egypt led to becoming a regional influence. “At an early date, the need for a system of written notation to record dates and events, calculations, or even good stories was apparent. The hieroglyphic writing system thus began to develop at the same time that pharaonic civilization was born.” The use of hieroglyphics were important to the development of the social aspect of the Egyptian lifestyle. It would be used for telling stories and being able to understand what people have done and plan on doing. It was also used for calculations which would be used for the engineering of the pyramids. Arthur Robert L. Tignor writes,

Hieroglyphs employ three different ways to represent language in a written form. The first –pictogram- shows the object itself. In other words, a picture of a duck refers to the word for duck. The second form is an ideogram, in which a picture stands for an abstract idea, such as love. The third form –the phonogram- stands for a sound. Here, one finds the beginning of the alphabet, and as recent work in the western desert has demonstrated, the ancient Egyptians were probably the first peoples to make the all-important leap from using a sign not to represent a word or an idea or even a sound, which requires a consonant as well as a vowel, but a single letter.

Hieroglyphs were also used for religious and moral purposes. They were found on walls and multiple pieces of stone. They were later used for administrative and note taking. This would help with keeping records and being able to recall an event that happened in the past. Tignor also writes,

Hieroglyphs were inscribed on stones and walls. They conveyed religious and moral messages. In time, a cursive form of hieroglyphs evolved, used for primarily for legal documents, administrative records, and literary compositions. The Greeks called this form of writing hieratic since they believed that priestly classes monopolized it. Finally, an even simpler version of the hieratic appeared around the seventh century before the Common Era. It was called demotic. These three interrelated scripts became increasingly alphabetic, particularly as Egyptians increased their contact with the Greeks, who had adopted an alphabet from the Phoenicians and had demonstrated its utility and ease of use.

Even though its unknown if the Egyptians were one of the first civilizations that came up with writing, it is still an extremely important factor that would lead Egypt rise in influence.

Throughout history religion is an important topic that brings many different kinds of people together to celebrate what they believe in. This is no different with Ancient Egypt. The religious system developed by the Egyptians included many gods who controlled every aspect of their life and their afterlife. Ancient Egypt had one of the most unique religions that would bring together the people from that civilization. “The gods and goddesses of the ancient Egyptians reveal the people’s love of their world, the animals who surrounded them and in whom they took such delight, the sun, which never failed to regenerate the soil, the Nile River, with its bountiful and predictable supply of water and new soil, and the kings, who maintained the social order.” The influence on other religions was also an extreme achievement. Many other religions based many ideas on what the Ancient Egyptians did and what they believed in. Robert L. Tignor writes,

While it is true that the Israelites and their Christian successors used ancient Egyptians beliefs as foils for their own religious tenets, in many ways Egyptian thought penetrated deeply and formatively into Judeo-Christian traditions. The most obvious influence was the belief in human resurrection, but equally important was a belief that godlike figures descended to live among humans and were the offspring of god-fathers and human mothers.

Religion was something that was very important to the Egyptians and it is clear that many other civilizations and other Religions used the same ideas that the Egyptians came up with for their Religion.

There are not many monuments in the world that live up to the Pyramids that were built during the old and middle kingdoms of Ancient Egypt. “No monuments better represent the spirit of the Old Kingdom and the esteem attached to the ruling family than the pyramids that feature so prominently in the architecture of this period and that have so influenced the way that later generations have viewed the ancient Egyptians.” King Djoser of the third dynasty creates an architectural boom and creates the pyramid of Saqqara. Not only were the kings now expected to ascend, after death, to the heavens, where they would join their fellow gods, but the grave sits themselves were designed to serve as temples for the worship of gods and kings. The place chosen for the burial of King Djoser was Saqqara, not far from present-day Cairo, located on high and firm ground capable of supporting a large and heavy mass of stone. The pyramid at Saqqara would stand at “204 feet in height, contain 10,000 stone blocks and would weigh approximately 850,000 tons.” King Djoser would set the standard for pyramids and would be followed up by Sneferu, who was the first ruler of the fourth dynasty. Sneferu was the precursor of the three great pyramid builders at Giza. Arthur Goldschmidt Jr. writes,

It is impressive that these early Egyptians, who lacked iron tools or draft animals, could cut, move, fit together, arrange with both geometrical and astronomical exactitude, and lift such massive granite blocks to shelter and protect the bodies of their pharaohs. They hoped that by preserving, wrapping, and hiding the pharaohs’ corpses, these divine kings might live happily in the next world and assure the people’s prosperity in this one.”

The people of Ancient Egypt believed that the prosperity of their lives and after they die were based on the Kings well-being in the afterlife. The pyramids built during the Old and Middle Kingdoms showed how much of an architecture boom there was and how the use of geometry and writing was able to build some of the most significant temples in the world.

Ancient Egypt is one the influential civilizations that many other civilizations based their ideas from. Egypt revolutionized the ideas of engineering, writing, and Religion. The geographic factors led it to become an agricultural hub and the use of the Nile would be beneficial from the standpoint of trade. This is one of the first times we see a group of people engineer together a dam that would be able to control and most importantly save water for use later, especially with a dry period that would control the agriculture. Religiously the Egyptians believed in multiple gods and goddess that would control the every-day life and most importantly the after-life. Israelites and their Christian successors used ancient Egyptians beliefs as a base as their own tenants. There are not many monuments that are as great as the pyramids that were built during the Old and Middle Kingdoms. The most impressive aspect of the pyramids were that they were built during a time period where iron tools and the use of animals were lacking compared to later pyramids. They were also able to cut, fit, and move blocks that weighed hundreds of pounds and be able to fit them together with precise fitting based off of geometry. Ancient Egypt has many factors that could make its case for why it is one of the most influential civilizations in that specific region. The geographic factors, development of writing, and building some of the most impressive monuments in the world are only some of the factors that show Ancient Egypt was an influence.

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