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What was it like to live in ancient Egypt?

A map of ancient EgyptThousands of years ago, one of the greatest civilizations that ever existed began in the valley of the River Nile in Egypt. A few kilometres to either side of the river lay the Sahara Desert, a vast, dry, barren expanse of sand and gravel. The people who lived by the Nile relied on the river to water their crops. Over time, the Nile valley became a patchwork of kingdoms. Then, in around 3100 BC, the kingdoms became united under a single ruler. The civilization of ancient Egypt lasted for many centuries. During this time, its people created the pyramids, temples, sculptures, paintings and many other treasures that have lasted to this day. They also left behind written records. These tell us much about how the people lived and the events in their history.

 


A bird's-eye view of the Nile valley

River Nile

The River Nile, which flowed through Egypt’s deserts, was vital to the ancient Egyptians. For four months each year it flooded, leaving behind a layer of rich black soil along its banks. The Egyptians called the floodplain kemet, the "black land", after the dark colour of its fertile soil. It was ideal for growing crops, such as barley and emmer, a kind of wheat. 

Near its mouth in the Mediterranean Sea, the Nile divides into seven main channels and hundreds of smaller ones which fan out across the lowlands. This triangular area of land resembles the shape of the Greek letter “delta”, so the region is known as the Nile Delta.

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