The Geography of the Nile

The Geography of the Nile River

Class Notes for World Studies book pgs. 68-75, Questions 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, and 2c:

Human settlements had to be within a few miles of the Nile River.

1a. The Nile River begins in the lakes and marshes of Central Africa. Its true source is Lake Victoria (the largest lake in Africa). The Nile starts as two rivers: the Blue Nile and the White Nile. The beginning part of the Nile cuts through a mountainous area.

      The Blue and White Nile come together in modern day Sudan. The city of Khartoum is built where they intersect. The Nile twists and turns through 1,000 miles of desert. In its course, there are six cataracts (steep rapids or waterfalls). As it gets close to the Mediterranean Sea, it breaks into many little streams that empty into the sea. This creates a large triangular area of rich soil called a delta.

1b. The Ancient Egyptians relied on the Nile River for survival. The Nile gave the Egyptians certain “gifts”: water, silt (mud), food animals (birds, fish, etc.), papyrus, and flax. The Nubians and Egyptians used the Nile for trading.

1c. The farmers would have a lot more trouble growing food if the Nile did not flood (making survival a lot less likely). It’s very possible that the Egyptians never would have built the pyramids because the farmers would have spent all their time trying desperately to grow crops.

Imagine all of the danger and excitement you would experience on a journey up the Nile - Not to mention the aggressive hippos!

2a. Many different kinds of goods traveled through Nubia on their way to Egypt. They included: ebony wood, ivory from elephant tusks, ostrich feathers and eggs, panther skins, and a type of boomerang used for hunting called a throwstick.

2b. The cataracts could be quite dangerous and had to be avoided. The Nubians would often take their boats out of the river and drag them around the cataracts. They built a road network to make up for that. The Egyptians used the cataracts to mark their southern boundary.

2c. The Nubians were famous traders because they traveled so far and traded so many unique goods.