Why did civilizations develop along the Nile River?

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Greek historian Herodotus called Egypt the “gift of the Nile.”  This references the importance of the Nile River for farming, transportation, and trade. The Nile River was the home of two ancient civilizations:  Egypt and Kush.  The river valley was a perfect place to establish agricultural kingdoms. The river flooded very regularly and did so in a way that did not damage property.  The floods left behind a fertile layer of soil that the ancient Egyptians called Ke’met.  A number of crops including wheat, barley, and pomegranates thrived along the fertile banks of the Nile River.  Both kingdoms used surpluses to create great wealth through trade.  The river also provided fish and waterfowl that Egyptians could eat.  

The Nile River also created a natural boundary to the north and south for the Egyptians.  In the north, the river created a delta when it entered the Mediterranean Sea.  The delta was very marshy and invaders could not anchor their ships.  The southern part of the Nile was difficult to navigate because of the cataracts which also protected the kingdoms from invasion.  

The Nile River was also very useful for transportation and trade.