The Nile River has certainly played a critical role in the history of ancient Egypt. Famous as the longest river in the world, the river got its name from the Greek word Neilos, which means valley. The Nile floods the lands in Egypt, leaving behind black sediment. That’s why the ancient Egyptians named the river Ar, meaning black.
The story of the Nile River begins not in the lush coastal lagoons of its Mediterranean mouth, nor at its headwaters high in the cloud forests of Rwanda, but in the Western Desert of Egypt. Here, there is no Nile. There is no water. It is a Martian landscape, inhabitable except for a few scattered oases. It is a Saharan playground for dust storms and locusts, where shovel-snouted lizards dance on two feet to avoid the scorching sands of mid-day.
This is Egypt without the Nile.
Small wonder, then, that the Ancient Egyptians prized and venerated the Nile River. It was their umbilical cord. Even today, a common Egyptian blessing is: “May you always drink from the Nile.” From its cooling waters came perch fish bigger than the fisherman. From its loamy riverbanks came mud used for bricks and papyrus for books and boats.
Every year, when the Nile River flooded and saturated the parched land in water and life-giving silt, the Egyptian farmers thanked the god Hapy and began their calendar anew.
Pictures of the Nile River taken during our Luxor-Aswan cruise and tour.