- The emergence of civilization in ancient Egypt was nothing more than the outgrowth of the culture that developed along the Nile Valley. It is in the Nile Valley where one can find the greatest primary evidence of the earliest beginnings of agriculture, architecture, engineering, language, writing, philosophy, science and religion, In short, all of the essential components that would lead to the development of a great civilization.
- The Nile Valley extends over 4,000 miles, from the high lands on the east coast of central Africa to the delta region in the extreme north. The origins of the mighty waterway, which courses through the Nile Valley, have been traced to the twin sources of the Nile River, which are called the Blue Nile and the White Nile.
- The Blue Nile begins at Lake Tana, which is located in mountainous region of northern Ethiopia, near the city of Gonder and the Choke Mountains. This river contains, within its flow, extremely rich mineral deposits (called silt), which played a major role in the physical evolution of the lands to the north and the development of agriculture in Egypt. The Nile Valley and the Nile Delta are among the most fertile farming areas in the world because of the silt which was deposited upon their shores during the annual flood season. An estimated 70 percent of the Nile’s water comes from the Blue Nile.
- The second major tributary to the Nile Valley River system is the White Nile, which has its beginnings in the Great Lakes region of central Africa along the equator. Approximately haldf of the water which flows from the White Nile evaporates as it courses through the Sudd, a vast swamp in southern Sudan. The primary source for the White Nile is the body of water originally called “Nyanza” or “Lake” by the indigenous population thousands of years ago.
- Nyanza is surrounded by the countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. It is the largest lake in African, and the second largest in the world, exceeded in size only by Lake Superior in the United States. Nyanza was renamed “Lake Victoria” by the English explorer John Speke, who “discovered” it in 1858 and named it in honor of Queen Victoria, the British monarch.
- There are numerous lakes and rivers feeding into the White Nile. They are primarily the result of the water runoff from Mount Kilimanjaro, which boarders Tanzania and Kenya. Kilimanjara, the tallest mountain in Africa, rises to a height of 19,340 feet. The second major contributor to the waters of the White Nile is the Ruwenzori Mountains, which border the countries of Uganda and Zaire.
- For centuries this area of equatorial Africa has been called “The Mountain of the Moon” by the native inhabitants. As a matter of fact, in the language of Ki-Swahili, Kilimanjaro means “Mountain of the Moon,” as does the Buganda word Rwenzori.
- The term “White Nile” describes the raging waters of the southern branch of this mighty river, and “Blue Nile” is an appropriate description for the body of water which is the noticeably calmer of the two. It is in sudan, in a city called Khartoum, where these two rivers meet and form the singular Nile River, which continues its northerly flow into the delta are of northern Egypt, where it empties into the Mediterranean Sea. The word Khartoum means “elephant’s tusk,” and is a geographic metaphor which describes the coming together of the two branches of the Nile.
- The Nile Valley River system is the world’s longest waterway (4,160miles), and it irrigates approximately 2,800,000 acres of land in sudan and 7,600,000 acres in Egypt. An Interesting fact about the Nile is that it and the Amazon, which is the world’s second longest river, are the only major rivers which flow from south to north. The migratory pattern of the people who navigated the Nile, from “up south” to “down north,” was to later play a major role in the development of civilization in ancient Egypt.
- The Country of Egypt, which lies in the lowlands of the Nile Valley, is nothing more than the extension of the lands that expanded northward from the south. It is generally believed that the delta region of northern Egypt was created by the accumulation of silt from the Blue Nile, which was deposited upon the shore over the course of thousands of years during the annual flood season. The 600 mile narrow strip of fertile land that lies within the boundaries of Egypt (from what is now referred to as the First Cataract to the Mediterranean) exists only because of the water from the south which led to its development.
- Within the singular body of the Nile River are six low-lying areas of rocky waterfalls called cataracts. The cataracts posed the only major impediment to the continued navigation of vessels through the river. Because the Nile flows from the south to the north, to travel “down” the Nile would mean traveling in a “northerly” direction. It was because of the northerly flow of the Nile that southern Egypt was originally referred to as Upper Egypt and the north Lower Egypt.
- The references to the numerical order of the six cataracts plays an important role in determining one’s perspective of Egypt in both ancient and modern times. When traveling “down” the Nile in a northerly direction, from south central Africa to the Mediterranean, the ancient Nilotic people encountered the First Cataract in Sudan, north of Khartoum, and the Sixth Cataract, in Egypt south of Aswan. However, Since the European explorers navigated “up” the Nile, in a southerly direction, they naturally referred to Egypt as the location of the First Cataract and Sudan as the site of the Sixth Cataract. Because of a predilection for a northerly orientation, European explorers coming from the Mediterranean into the Nile Valley literally, and geographically, turned Egypt upside down.
- The Nile has often been referred to as a “cultural highway,” and has been traveled by hundreds of thousands of people, for thousands of year. Traveling northward “down” the river, the earliest Nilotic people brought with them their cultural traditions, which continued to evolve with each successive migration. In the earliest documents of the ancient Egyptians, Their historians often recounted stories of their southern roots. John Jackson, author of Introduction to African civilization, cites a historic reference:
The Edfu Text is an important source document on the early history of the Nile Valley. This famous inscription, found in the Temple of Horus at Edfu, gives an account of the origin of Egyptian civilization. According to this record, civilization was brought from the south by a band of invaders under the leadership of King Horus.
Jacksons’s statements of Egypt’s southern origin have been echoed numerous times by the eminent Egpytologist, Dr Yosef ben-Jochannan. Addressing an audience at a lecture before the Greater London Council, London, England, in 1986 Dr. ben Jochannan stated:
In (the London Museum) you will find a document called the Papyrus of Hunefer…and I quote from the hieratic writing, ‘we came from the beginning of the Nile where God Hapi dwells, at the foothills of The Mountains of the Moon’…Where is “the beginning of the Nile?’ The furthest point of the beginning of the Nils is in Uganda; this is the White Nile. Another point is in Ethiopia. The Blue Nile and White Nile meet in Khartoum; and the other side of Khartoum is the Omdurman republic of Sudan. Then it flows completely through Sudan… into the southern part of what the Romans called ‘Nubia’and parallel on the Nile, part of which the Greeks called ‘Egypticus’; the English called it ‘Egypt’ and the Jews in their mythology called it ‘Mizrain’ which the current Arabs called Mize/Mizrair. Thus it ends in the Sea of Sais, also called the Great Sea, today’s Mediterranean Sea.
Dr. Asa G. Hilliard, III a widely respected educational psychologist and historian, cites additional references for the southern origins of the early Egyptians:
Their legends tell of their origins in the south at the sources of the Hapi. Rose…cites the Edfu text as authority for the legend of a southern origin of the pre dynastic Kemites (Egyptians). The land “up south” was called Ta Ntr, or the land of God. They faced south to get their bearings. The word for “left hand” and the word for “east” are the same, as are the words for “right hand” and “west…”
The only possible way that the left hand could indicate east and the right hand west is if one is oriented to the south and that view served as your point of origin.
Dr.Charles Finch, a distinguished physician and historian, also commented on this interesting aspect of ancient Egyptian cultural and geographical orientation:
Further evidence is found in the Egyptians’ anthropomorphic representations of the passage of sun across the heavens, in which the boat of the sun begins its morning or eastern ascent on the left side of the sky goddess Nut who thus is in a southern heaven despite Egypt’s northern hemispheric location.
Ancient Egypt has often been referred to as the “Gift of the Nile” and it is believed by many scholars, both ancient and modern, that Egypt was nothing more than the extension of the civilization which had its origins in Ethiopia.
The Nile Valley , Kemet , Egypt , Civilization , Africa , Ethiopia