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Why was the Nile River Important for the Rise of Successful States in North Africa - Essay Example

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The earliest stages of human history are lost to the modern world because all that remains of these early humans is their bones, a few buildings, and a few other archaeological details that have survived largely by chance. …
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Why was the Nile River Important for the Rise of Successful States in North Africa
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Why was the Nile River Important for the Rise of Successful States in North Africa

Download file to see previous pages... Scholars from the modern world have to piece together what they can find in order to make educated guesses about what happened before history books started to be written. One factor seems to be significant in several quarters of the world in early human history and that is the existence of particular regions that ideally meet the needs of human society. River deltas have been established as the earliest recorded locations of major civilizations in ancient times, such as the Persians, the Greco-Roman civilization, the Indians, the ancient Egyptians and the Chinese (Sherman, 2003). Archaeologists believe that human beings first shifted from a nomadic, hunter gatherer lifestyle, to a more settled, agriculture based lifestyle in regions that were fed by great river systems. The nutrients from fresh water rivers were gathered over millennia and over time they created fertile plains which were ideal for growing crops. As early humans learned to plant and harvest crops, rather than just gather fruits and seeds that grew in the wild, they soon developed technologies like irrigation and long term storage facilities. The Nile provided a constant the supply of water so that the planted fields were irrigated, and food became plentiful. Cities grew up to store this food, and with increasing food surpluses humans gained the ability to have specialized professions. People were no longer living from hand to mouth, having to hunt or gather the next meal every day, because stored grain provided a certain security. New skills and trades developed in these cities, and the region around the Nile is one of these great early centers of human development. Much of the land in central and northern Africa is marginally habitable, with many areas of mountain and desert. The long river bank of the Nile provides the possibility of regular water supply and the development of trade between towns from the interior right to the edge of the Mediterranean. Land travel was difficult and slow in ancient times, and so the navigable waters of the Nile were like an ancient highway, allowing goods, people and ideas to be transported back and forth. The great Egyptian civilisation was highly dependent on the Nile as a channel of communication as well as a source of water for all human needs. Two great commodities were also available in the Nile region: vast quantities of clay, and also the reeds that could be soaked, fermented, and made into papyrus. So it was that the Nile provided the basics for writing, first using clay tablets that had marks pushed into them with a sharp, wedge-shaped implement, giving mankind the early cuneiform writing format. The tablets could be baked in the sun, making them a more permanent record. The disadvantage of clay is that it is heavy and it breaks easily. The invention of papyrus for writing on was an important technology that facilitated the transfer of ideas through scrolls that were passed along ancient trade routes. In the two millennia before the common era, the people living along the river Nile, and around its delta, were much more advanced than all of Northern Europe, thanks to the way that they learned to make use of the natural commodities that were available in this particular geographical context. It would be impossible to imagine the glorious ancient Egyptian civilization without the impact of the river Nile. The great monuments that exist even today such as the pyramids and the ancient town ruins would not have been possible without the availability of the slave workers, a great many of whom who came from central Africa and were transported in barges down the Nile towards the coastal region. Many of the stone quarries that provided the raw materials for building were also located upstream. It ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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