The Importance of the Nile River on Life in Egypt

As you learned from the discussion about the geography and climate of Egypt, the Nile truly was the "lifeline" of the Egyptian Civilization. Without this river, no life could exist in Egypt and it would not have developed into the advanced civilization that it did.

Now, you will read more about the impact of geography on life in Egypt. You will be reading pages 147-151 in your social studies textbook. Please open the following assignment directions so you know what is required of you. You may either print the sheet and fill it out by hand, or save a copy of the sheet and upload the completed version to GoogleDocs and share it with Mrs. Gablaski ( for evaluation.

The Nile River was so important to the ancient Egyptians that they wrote hymns and poems to this river giving thanks for the various ways it benefited their lives. The two primary sources below are two different translations of the same hymn. Historians believe it was originally written during the Middle Kingdom (from around 2050 - 1650 B.C.E.) Read these primary sources below and then complete the tasks that follow.
Document 1

Document 2
Hail to thee, O Nile! Who manifests thyself
over this land, and come to give life to
Egypt! Mysterious is they issuing forth from
the darkness, on this day whereon it is
celebrated! Watering the orchards created
by Re, to cause all cattle to live, you
give the earth to drink, inexhaustible one!
Path that descends from the sky, loving
the bread of Seb and the first-fruits of
Nepera, You cause the workshops of Ptah
to prosper!
O inundation of the Nile, offerings are
made unto you, men are immolated to
you, great festivals are instituted for you.
Birds are sacrificed to you, gazelles are
taken for you in the mountain, pure flames
are prepared for you. Sacrifice is mettle to
every god as it is made to the Nile. The Nile
has made its retreats in Southern Egypt, its
names is not known beyond the Tuau. The
god manifests not his forms, He baffles all
- Oliver Thatcher, ed.

Hail to thee, O Nile!
Thou showest thyself in this land,
Coming in peace, giving life to Egypt:
O Ammon, thou leadest night into day,
A leading that rejoices the heart!
Overflowing the garden created by Ra.
Giving life to all animals;
watering the land without ceasing:
The way of heaven descending:
Lover of food, bestower of corn,
Giving light to every home, O Ptah!

O inundation of Nile, offerings are made
to thee:
Oxen are slain to thee:
Great festivals are kept for thee;
Fowls are sacrificed to thee;
Beasts of the field are caught for thee;
Pure flames are offered to thee;
Offerings are made to every god,
As they are made unto the Nile.
Incense ascends unto heaven,
Oxen, bulls, fowls are burnt!
Nile makes for himself chasms in
the Thebaid;
Unknown is his name in heaven,
He doth not manifest his form!
Vain are all representations!

- Rev F.C. Cook

Take notes on the following questions. You will use your notes to discuss and complete a Document-Based Question.
1. Using both versions of the hymn, summarize in one or two sentences the main point about the Nile made in the first stanza.
2. The second stanza is about the annual Nile flood. Summarize in one or two sentences the main point about the Nile from this stanza.
3. What does the line "coming in peace, giving life to Egypt" tell you about the flooding that takes place in Egypt and how the ancient Egyptians felt about the flooding. Make connections to the flooding that took place in Mesopotamia.
4. What do the people of Egypt do to give the Nile thanks for flooding? Why do you think this is so?

Click on the discussion tab above and participate in the discussion about the importance of the Nile River on life in Egypt.

Finally, open the following assignment and choose one of the options to complete to demonstrate your knowledge of the importance of rivers in ancient society. (adapted from Debating the Documents: Rivers and Civilizations, What's the Link?)