What Role Did the Nile River Play in the Development of Civilization in Ancient Egypt?

The Nile provided Egyptians with easy transportation, extremely fertile soil for farming, a regular, predictable pattern of rising and falling and a rich hunting ground for fish, birds and a variety of mammals. These rich resources enabled settlers to build farms and create food surpluses, encouraging a concentration of people that over time grew into villages and then cities.

Because the Nile made it so easy to build up surpluses of food but still had poor growing seasons, it forced farmers and hunters to plan ahead. This necessitated a government structure. The leaders had to build and maintain storehouses, predict good and bad years and defend against inevitable invasions. A system of writing sprang up in order to keep good records, and a priestly class started working to predict the regular rise and fall of the Nile.

As Egypt grew and developed complexity, the placid Nile made an ideal thoroughfare for travelers. Food was shuttled to places that had a bad year, and trade and building materials sailed up the river on flat-bottomed barges. The many dangers of the Nile encouraged the development of a rich religion designed to appease and control forces of nature: crocodiles, hippopotamuses, floods and famine. Egypt's wealth allowed specialists to develop, such as soldiers, scribes and artists. Ultimately, a civilization and culture centered around the Nile developed and lasted for over 3,000 years.