The Nile: How One River Helped Build a Civilization – 10 Amazing Facts

The Nile: How One River Helped Build a Civilization – 10 Amazing Facts

The Nile River spans almost 4,175 miles (6,719 km), crosses nine countries throughout Africa, and is widely regarded as the longest river in the world. Here are ten of the most fascinating facts about the Nile River.

Blue Nile Falls, Ethiopia, Africa. ( alekosa /Adobe Stock)

1. Without the Nile, the Ancient Egyptian Civilization May Never Have Existed

The Nile River was considered the source of life by the ancient Egyptians and played a vital role in the country's history and rich culture. The river was also a very important factor in the socioeconomic development and success of ancient Egypt. Without the Nile River, the great ancient civilization may have never existed since rainfall was almost non-existent in Egypt and the Nile River was the only source of moisture to sustain crops.

Burial chamber of Sennedjem, Scene: Plowing farmer.

2. The Real Source of the Nile River Remains Unknown

Some might tell you that Lake Victoria , Africa’s main lake, is the source of the Nile River. Others will say the Kagera River and its tributary the Ruvubu, having its headwaters in Burundi, is the real source. The truth is, however, that the source of the Nile River remains a mystery to this day.

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The Nile river in Uganda. (Rod Waddington/ CC BY SA 2.0 )

3. The Nile “Highway”

The Nile River was the “highway” that joined the country together and was essential for trade and transportation. Up until the 19th century, travel by land was virtually unknown in the region. Ships and boats were the main means of transporting people and goods around the country.

An ancient Egyptian boat.

4. Nile, The Life-Giver

Other than providing water, the Nile offered an excellent soil for growing food , which is the main reason why so many Egyptians lived near it. Locals used spears and nets to catch fish and trap different birds that flew close to the surface of the water.

4th Dynasty of Egypt painting: Trapping (harvesting) birds; Plowing fields.

5. Contributing to the Production of Papyrus

So much of what we know about ancient Egypt comes from the plethora of written records left behind on papyrus. The Nile was responsible for providing this papyrus. It came from the reeds growing on the side of the river.

Egyptian peasants harvesting papyrus, mural painting in Deir el-Medina (early Ramesside Period).

6. The Flooding of the Nile

Melting snow and heavy summer rain within the Ethiopian Mountains sent a torrent of water, causing the banks on the River Nile in Egypt to overflow in this flat desert land, causing massive floods every year. The reason why it does not flood now is because of the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s.

A view of Aswan High Dam. (Frostie 2006/ CC BY SA 2.0 )

7. Akhet: The Inundation

Until the Aswan High Dam was built, the yearly inundation of the Nile happened between June and September, in a season the Egyptians called akhet: the inundation. This was seen by the Egyptians as a yearly coming of the deity Hapi, bringing fertility to the land. The goddess of the flood was the goddess Mehet-Weret, “The Great Flood.”

Hapi, shown as an iconographic pair of genii symbolically tying together upper and lower Egypt. ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

8. Osiris: The Nile’s Most Sacred God

Despite Hapi being the local deity in a way, the god most closely associated historically and culturally with the Nile was Osiris, who was killed by his brother Seth on the riverbank and then became the king of the Underworld. For that reason, the Nile River was an important part of Egyptian spiritual life as well. The Egyptians believed that it was the passageway between life and death. That’s why all Egyptian tombs are built on the west side of the Nile - the west was considered the place of death since the sun god Ra set in the west each day.

Osiris with an Atef-crown made of bronze in the Naturhistorisches Museum (Vienna). ( CC BY SA 3.0 )

9. A Popular Ancient Sport was Played on the Nile’s Waters

Ancient Egyptians practiced a popular river sport - water jousting. Modern knowledge of this sport comes from studying ancient Egyptian tomb reliefs thus it is limited. These depictions show that vessels held a small group of men, each one wielding a long pole. While most of the crew used theirs to maneuver the boat, a few of them would stand upright, wielding their poles to knock opponents off their respective boats.

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Two depictions of ancient Egyptian water jousting. and ( PennState University )

10. The Nile’s Oldest “Residents”

Crocodiles have been living in the Nile Rivers’ waters for thousands of years and they don’t really like it when humans get close to them. They are known to attack humans regularly, usually people washing clothes or fishing at the shore. It’s estimated that there are 200 attacks a year from Nile crocodiles in Africa.

Top Image: Digital reconstruction of the Nile River from Assassin’s Creed Origins. Credit: Ubisoft

By Theodoros Karasavvas

Updated on December 1, 2020.

Cruise on the Nile in style with Ancient Origins Tours in 2021. For more information on the Ancient Origins Egypt Tour click here .


Fascinating facts about rivers

Rivers only hold a small amount of the Earth’s water, but they have always been vital to human life, carrying freshwater to people and animals all over the world. And they’re super-powerful forces of nature, too – carving out deep valleys and gorges, and shaping the land as they flow to the ocean! Let’s dive in to find out more…

1) The Nile River is widely accepted as the world’s longest river. Found in north Africa, it flows through 11 different countries and stretches a whopping 6,695km – that’s as long as 65,000 football pitches!

2) Most scientists agree that the Amazon River comes in a close second, winding a huge 6,840km through the mountains and rainforests of South America!

3) That’s a verylong distance, wouldn’t you agree? Well, believe it or not, in 2007 a man named Martin Strel swam the entire length of the Amazon river! To complete his amazing jungle journey, Martin swam ten hours a day for 66 days!

4) But what about the world’s deepest river? That’s the Congo River in Central Africa. Whilst its true depth remains a mystery, scientists believe the waters run at least 230m deep in parts – deep enough to submerge London’s famous clocktower, known as Big Ben, 2.5 times on top of each other!

5) As rivers flow their course across the land, they form lots of fascinating geographic features, such as amazing mountain valleys, canyons, lakes and, of course, wonderful waterfalls!

6) Some record-breaking waterfalls formed by our planet’s rivers include…

Angel Falls, Venezuela – the world’s highest waterfall at a staggering 979m tall!

Khone Falls, Laos – the widest waterfall, measuring an incredible 10,783m!

Inga Falls, Democratic Republic of the Congo – the world’s largest waterfall, if we’re talking about the amount of water. Every second, 25,768 cubic metres plunges down the fall – that’s more than ten Olympic swimming pools!

7) Rivers can be all kinds of colours – not just blue, clear or muddy brown as you might expect! In ‘blackwater rivers’, found in swamps and wetlands, the waters look like strong black tea. And in Colombia, the aquatic plants of Caño Cristales – known as the ‘River of Five Colours‘ – make the waters flow with bright blue, red, black, yellow and green!

8) Not all rivers flow overland – ‘subterranean rivers‘ run secretly beneath the surface! This is sometimes because of human engineering. Ever heard of London’s ‘lost rivers‘? These are streams of the River Thames and River Lea that were built over as the city grew.

9) Subterranean rivers can also exist naturally. In the Philippines for example, the Puerto Princesa Underground River flows beneath a mountain for five miles, before finally emptying into the South China Sea. Cool, eh?

10) It’s not just rivers themselves which are fascinating – it’s the wonderful wildlife that lives in them, too! Rivers provide a home for all kinds of creatures, including insects, amphibians, birds, reptiles, mammals and over 10,000 species of fish!

11) Some of the most fascinating river creatures include Amazon river dolphins (which have pink skin!), electric eels (which stun prey and predators with powerful electric shocks!), freshwater stingrays (which can grow to an enormous 5 metres!) and freshwater turtles, which have been around for 200 million years!

12) Rivers and lakes are a vital source of freshwater for life on Earth. But did you know they hold less than 1% of the world’s water? Most (over 99%, in fact) is in the salty ocean or frozen in our polar ice caps. That’s why it’s super important that we protect our rivers and look after the freshwater our planet provides.

13) Sadly, our rivers and waterways are being polluted by chemicals, sewage and household waste, which can cause serious harm to animals – and humans, too. In fact, an estimated 300-400 million tonnes of waste is thought to pollute our rivers and seas every year!

14) The good news is that people around the world are working hard to keep our rivers and fresh water supplies clean and safe. And you can help, too! Be sure to reuse and recycle whenever you can, and bin rubbish responsibly! And you can help save water, too – be sure to turn off the tap when brushing your teeth, and why not opt for a short shower over a long bath?

15) Did you know there’s a day dedicated to our planet’s wonderful waterways? Every September, millions of people from more than 70 countries celebrate World Rivers Day. This global event raises awareness of the importance of rivers and how we can best protect them for years to come!


Neanderthals Had Sophisticated Stone Tools

Neanderthals also had a sophisticated stone tool industry . This differs from earlier ‘core tool’ traditions, such as the Acheulean tradition of H. erectus . Acheulean tools are created by removing flakes from the surface to ‘reveal’ a tool. In contrast, the Neanderthal Mousterian stone tool industry is characterized by flake tools that were detached from a prepared stone core. This innovative technique allowed multiple tools to be fashioned from a single suitable stone. Neanderthals used tools for activities such as hunting and sewing. There is evidence for left–right arm asymmetry, which was originally assumed to have developed from the hunting technique of thrusting spears instead of throwing them. This is in contrast to other hominins, such as Homo erectus , H. heidelbergensis , and H. sapiens , that had shoulder adaptations to allow them to throw weapons, and in the case of the later two species there is archaeological evidence for thrown spears.

he Neanderthals’ style of hunting at close quarters has been used to explain why Neanderthal bones have such a high frequency of fractures, as these injuries are similar to those among professional rodeo riders who regularly interact with large, dangerous animals. Colin Shaw from Cambridge University, however, has suggested a less glamorous reason for asymmetry between the arms. He suggests that Neanderthals may have spent hours scraping animal hides for clothing production, using stone tools. This would have been an arduous and repetitive task, but essential in the cold conditions in which they lived. The asymmetry in the arms of Neanderthals has no direct analogy in modern humans but some sports people, such as cricketers and tennis players, do have very pronounced one-sided development.

Neanderthals had a sophisticated stone tool industry. ( Andy Ilmberger / Adobe)


The Egyptians devised the solar calendar by recording the yearly reappearance of Sirius (the Dog Star) in the eastern sky. It was a fixed point which coincided with the yearly flooding of the Nile. Their calendar had 365 days and 12 months with 30 days in each month and an additional five festival days at the end of the year. However, they did not account for the additional fraction of a day and their calendar gradually became incorrect. Eventually Ptolemy III added one day to the 365 days every four years.

In order to tell the time Egyptians invented two types of clock.
Obelisks were used as sun clocks by noting how its shadow moved around its surface throughout the day. From the use of obelisks they identified the longest and shortest days of the year.
An inscription in the tomb of the court official Amenemhet dating to the16th century BC shows a water clock made from a stone vessel with a tiny hole at the bottom which allowed water to dripped at a constant rate. The passage of hours could be measured from marks spaced at different levels. The priest at Karnak temple used a similar instrument at night to determine the correct hour to perform religious rites.


10 Amazing Cities Built Near or Through Rivers

Rivers have been crucial to human settlements, commercialization, and building cities. This opens opportunities for trading goods and establishing international connections.

In ancient times, the cities were built near rivers to have easy and convenient access to water. This helped people in growing crops and raising livestock without much effort. Considering the commercial perspective of ancient civilizations, it was cheaper to build cities near a river for agricultural reasons.

And in modern times, the goods are shipped along rivers from a country to another. The cities situated near rivers also gave them opportunities to trade large volumes of goods rather than transporting them through caravans.

So here are some amazing cities built near or through some major rivers in the world.

1. London - River Thames

Built on the River Thames in the southeast of the island of Great Britain, London has been a major city for settlement for over 2 millennia. The longest river in England and second-longest in the UK, the River Thames is 215 miles long and flows through southern England, most notably through London gushing the entire Greater London.

Having a rise and fall of 7 m, Teddington Lock is where the river’s tidal section reaches up to including most of its London stretch. River Thames has been the “London River” for the merchant seamen. This river is responsible for providing two-thirds of London's drinking water in the total catchment area.

2. Kolkata - Hooghly River

Indian city Kolkata is built near the banks of the Hooghly river. The city stretches north-south along the east bank of the river. Ferry services connect Kolkata with its twin city Howrah that is located along the Hooghly river. The river is the source of potable drinking water for the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.

3. Budapest - Danube River

Hungary’s capital city Budapest has its central area along the Danube River this area is classified as UNESCO World Heritage Site having Gresham Palace, Liberty Statue, Buda Castle among others. It is the largest city on the Danube which unified two parts of banks in 1873- Buda on the west and Pest on the east.

Europe’s second-longest and one of the most known rivers ‘Danube’ is 2872 km long that flows through the capital city of Budapest. It has also been a part of the trans-European waterway beginning at the Black Sea and runs all the way to the North Sea.

4. Cairo - The River Nile

The Egyptian city Cairo lies along the Nile River. Over the years, the river has moved westward and the western bank of the Nile is generally included inside the urban and commercial area of Cairo. Cairo Tower is located in the Zamalek district on Gezira Island in the Nile River.

5. Agra- Yamuna River

Agra, the city in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, stands on the bank of the river Yamuna. The magnificent monument & UNESCO World Heritage Site ‘Taj Mahal’ lies on the south bank of the river. Then there’s Mehtab Bagh or Moonlight, Ram Bagh, Itmad-ud-Daulah’s tomb, or ‘Baby Taj’ also lying on the bank of river Yamuna.

6. Amsterdam - The Amstel River

The capital city of Netherlands ‘Amsterdam’ is situated near the Amstel river. The river ends in the city center and is connected to various canals that eventually terminate in the IJ. The building complex ‘Stopera,’ where the Amsterdam City Hall and Dutch National Opera and Ballet House are located, and the Hermitage Museum are also located on the Amstel River.

7. Lisbon - Tagus River

Lisbon is situated on the mouth of River Tagus. The longest river in the Iberian Peninsula, the southern bank of 626-mile-long River Tagus has the heavily industrialized Lisbon Metropolitan Area and the monument to Christ the King (Cristo-Rei).

8. Berlin - River Spree

The capital and largest city of Germany ‘Berlin’ is nearly 250 miles in length. The river Spree flows through the city center of Berlin. Berlin's most iconic bridge Oberbaumbrücke crosses the River Spree. The UNESCO World Heritage site ‘Museum Island’ in the river has 5 museums.

9. Shanghai - Yangtze River

Located in the Yangtze River Delta, Shanghai sits on the south edge of the estuary of the Yangtze in the middle portion of the East China coast. The international attention to Shanghai proliferated in the 19th century when Europe recognized its economic and trade potential at the Yangtze River.

10. Varanasi - The River Ganges

Standing on the banks of Indian city Varanasi, the River Ganges is a 1560 mile long river that originates from India’s Western Himalayas and gushes into the Sunderbans delta at the Bay of Bengal. Due to great mythological and historical significance, the Ganges River is regarded as the National River of India.


Top facts about rivers

  • The longest river in the world is the Amazon. For a long time, the first place in this category was held by the Nile, but detailed studies have shown that the Amazon is a little longer.
  • The world’s most full-flowing river is also Amazon. By the way, there’s an underground river under Amazon, at a depth of about 2.5 miles (4 km). It has a similar length, but it’s 100 times wider.
  • The length of the world’s shortest river is only 118 feet (36 meters). It’s called D River and it’s located in Oregon, United States.
  • Saudi Arabia is the only modern state that is not located on the island and at the same time doesn’t have any permanent river on its territory. All local rivers dry out in summer.
  • The most meandering river in the world called Pyana flows through Russia. The distance from the source to the mouth in a straight line does not exceed 16.6 miles (30 km), but thanks to the bends of the river bed the length of Pyana reaches 250 miles (400 km).
  • Another Russian river, the Ural, divides Europe and Asia, and its left and right banks belong to different parts of world.

Amazon, the greatest river

Alternative Uses for the Tower

Like another of Athens’ famous building, the Parthenon, the Tower of the Winds was used for other purposes over time. During the early Christian period, this building was used as the bell-tower of a Byzantine church. When Athens fell under Ottoman rule, the Tower of the Winds was used by the whirling dervishes as a tekke, which was a place of spiritual retreat and character formation. Evidence that the tower was buried up to half its height at that time may be observed in the Turkish inscriptions that have been found on the structure’s interior walls.

Tower of the Winds, "Dance of the Dervishes", Views of Greece (1821). ( Public Domain )


The Nile: How One River Helped Build a Civilization – 10 Amazing Facts - History


The River Nile is in Africa. It originates in Burundi, south of the equator, and flows northward through northeastern Africa, eventually flowing through Egypt and finally draining into the Mediterranean Sea.

Where is the source of the Nile?

The Ruvyironza River of Burundi is regarded as the true and ultimate source of the Nile. The Ruvyironza is one of the upper branches of the Kagera River, which follows the Rwanda-Tanzania and Uganda-Tanzania borders into Lake Victoria.

The source of the Nile is sometimes considered to be Lake Victoria, but the lake itself has feeder rivers of considerable size like the Kagera River.

Interesting Facts about the Nile river:

  • The Nile River is the longest river in the world.
  • The Nile flows into the Mediterranean Sea.
  • The Nile has a length of about 6,695 kilometers (4,160 miles)
  • Its average discharge is 3.1 million litres (680,000 gallons) per second.
  • The Nile basin is huge and includes parts of Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Congo (Kinshasa), Kenya.
  • The Nile receives its name from the Greek Neilos, which means a valley or river valley.

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All the materials on these pages are free for homework and classroom use only. You may not redistribute, sell or place the content of this page on any other website or blog without written permission from the author Mandy Barrow.

According to what it is known by writings and symbols Osiris had left the royalty of the world to his son Horus. This was the father of all the pharaohs of the earth.

For that reason the kings (pharaohs) and their descendants had divine blood.

For this reason the ancient Egyptian pharaohs married between brothers and cousins ​​with the aim of maintaining the purity of the blood.

The first-born of the royal family would be the divine heir, although this had to be approved by the Gods.

The role of the pharaoh was to be a God and govern men on earth. Once a pharaoh died a temple was built for him.


أهمية نهر النيل

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Watch the video: Interesting Nile River Facts