Entering ancient Egypt, letting yourself be guided by the Nile ... such is the adventure offered to you today Science & Life Notebooks in its last issue of the year: The Nile of the Pharaohs An invitation to watch History unfold like a blue thread connecting men, gods, monuments that made the civilization of the pharaohs ...
The thing had not escaped the warned eye of Herodotus: Egypt is a gift from the Nile, wrote the Greek historian 2,500 years ago. In fact, if the mighty river did not immediately allow men to settle on its banks where a vast unhealthy backwater stagnated, it became, from the middle of the fourth millennium BC, the source of all life.
Egypt, a gift from the Nile
But it was much more than that: its nourishing flood which fertilized the land each year favored the emergence and the prosperity of the extraordinary civilization of the pharaohs. From an economic point of view, of course. But a generous flood does not translate only into daily occupations, in financial returns, in well nourished bellies. Society in all its dimensions was imbued with it.
The flood posed a temporal framework: the Egyptian calendar was based on its periodicity. By requiring surveyors a hundred times in the trade to hand over their work, it gave a decisive impetus to geometry. It stimulated civil engineering by throwing challenges to engineers and builders, whether to curb excess or divert its course.
The Nile itself fed the great myths, crept into the sacred, inspired artists and poets. Omnipresent, it got involved in politics, subject to a rigorous and organized governance for the management of its resources, sometimes made and defeated the pharaohs.
Its waters carry many symbols and keys to understanding this culture, its bed still conceals many submerged treasures, which river archaeological exploration is only beginning to discover. And in these turbulent times in Egypt, despite the temporary freeze of excavations, the slowing down of missions, history continues to unfold day by day.
Science & Life Notebooks: The Nile of the Pharaohs. December 2011. Currently on newsstands.