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Why was the Nile River so important to the Egyptians?

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Quick Answer

The Nile has been at the heart of Egypt for 5,000 years due to its role in recharging the desert soil, watering crops and transporting goods along the length of the country. The Nile is so important to Egyptians that the first name of the country, Kemet, was a reference to the black silt that the Nile annually deposited along its banks when it flooded.

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Why was the Nile River so important to the Egyptians?
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Full Answer

Agriculture is possible in Egypt only because of the 4,000-mile-long river Nile. Every year, from ancient prehistory to 1964, when the Aswan Dam was sealed, the Nile flooded in a stable, predictable pattern. This watered the land and deposited vast quantities of nutrient-rich silt that could be used to grow abundant crops. The river also served as a transport system for Egyptians. Transporting people and foodstuffs upriver could be done simply by unfurling the sails on a barge. The steady current was adequate to transport stone and other goods downriver.

The Nile occupied a place at the center of Egyptian religion. The source of the river was referred to as "the beginning of the world," and its broad delta has always been the most densely populated part of the country. Herodotus referred to Egypt as "the gift of the Nile."

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