The Nile River was crucial to the development of ancient Egypt. In addition to Egypt, the Nile runs through or along the border of 10 other African countries. On the banks of the River Nile dwelled people who were among the first to cultivate agriculture for the purpose of economic forecasting.

The Nile swells in the summer. The annual inundation is a result of the heavy tropical rains in Ethiopia. In South Sudan, the flood can begin as early as April, but the effect is not felt in Egypt till July. The water then starts to rise and continues to do so throughout August and September, with the maximum occurring in mid-September.

The Nile was such a strong focal point for the ancient Egyptians that their calendar began the year with the first month of the flooding.

In addition to paving the way for agricultural abundance, the Nile provided ancient Egyptians with a vital transportation route. As a result, the Egyptians became skilled boat and ship builders. They created large wooden craft with sails and oars that were capable of traveling longer distances; as well as smaller skiffs made of papyrus reeds attached to wooden frames.

The skiffs were used for travelling short distances as well as fishing and hunting game in the marshes. Longer journeys were taken on large wooden ships. The ships were used to transport the massive blocks of stone that were used to build the pyramids, temples and cities along the river.

When the pyramids were constructed in 2490 BCE, the Nile River had an arm—one that has long since vanished—with high water levels that helped workers ship materials to the construction site. The pyramids, the royal tombs for the pharaohs Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, rose to monumental heights in part thanks to the Nile’s now vanished Khufu branch.

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