EGYPT, THE GIFT OF THE NILE
EGYPT, THE GIFT OF THE NILE – The Egyptian culture region lies north of Aswan and the First Cataract of the Nile valley northward to the Delta. The valley of the river Nile is 700 km long in this stretch, but on average only about 10 km wide. It is sunk between two deserts. The Delta of the Nile consists of three major distributaries and their numerous branches. The ancient Egyptians distinguished the two regions as Lower Egypt (the Delta) and Upper Egypt south of it.
Since prehistoric times, people exploited a variety of micro-environments not only in the alluvial valley, but also near the hills of the western desert, and along the wadis (seasonal rivers) of the eastern desert. There are a few springs in the western desert, making the growth of vegetation possible. And when it rained there was grazing. The ostrich, oryx and ibex were hunted there. In Egyptian art, the inhabitants of the western desert were portrayed as men with curly hair, wearing feathers on their heads. The eastern desert, with its numerous wadis and occasional grazing, was a source of various metals (copper, gold), building stones (granite, porphyry, sandstone, etc.), and semi-precious stones (amethyst, onyx, carnelian, translucent alabaster, etc.). Fine-grained wood that could be seasoned, was not, however, available in these arid zones, and so for boats, cedar wood was imported from the Lebanon.