Ancient Egypt Wiki

An aerial view of modern irrigation from the Nile River supporting agriculture in Luxor, Egypt.©

The Nile (ancient Egyptian: ḥꜣpy) is the sole river and the primary water source of Egypt. It flows from south to north and splits into various branches (the so called Nile Delta), which all lead into the Mediterranean Sea.

Nile (Hapy)

The Greek historian Herodotus wrote that "Egypt was the gift of the Nile". An unending source of sustenance, it played a crucial role in the development of Egyptian civilization. Because the river overflowed its banks annually and deposited new layers of silt, the surrounding land was very fertile. The Ancient Egyptians cultivated and traded wheat, flax, papyrus and other crops around the Nile. Wheat was a crucial crop in the famine-plagued Middle East. This trading system secured Egypt's diplomatic relationships with other countries and contributed to economic stability. Far-reaching trade has been carried on along the Nile since ancient times.


Nile Delta[]

Main article: Nile Delta

Nile Delta

Nile River and Delta.©

The Nile Delta is formed in Lower Egypt where the Nile spreads out into seperate branches, each flowing into the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the world's largest river deltas covering 240 km (150 mi) of Mediterranean coastline. From north to south the delta is approximately 160 km (100 mi) in length. The Delta begins slightly up-river from ancient Letopolis and Heliopolis.

White Nile[]

Main article: White Nile

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Blue Nile[]

Main article: Blue Nile

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Black Nile[]

Main article: Black Nile
Below the confluence with the Blue Nile the only major tributary is the Atbarah River, also known as the Black Nile, roughly halfway to the sea, which originates in Ethiopia north of Lake Tana, possibly at some point within the Kingdom of Punt. The Atbarah is around 800 kilometers (500 mi) long and flows only while there is rain in Ethiopia and dries very rapidly.

Yellow Nile[]

Main article: Yellow Nile
The Yellow Nile is a former tributary that connected the Ouaddaï highlands of eastern Chad to the Nile River Valley c. 8000 to c. 1000 BCE.[1] Its remains are known as the Wadi Howar. The wadi passes through Gharb Darfur near the northern border with Chad and meets up with the Nile near the southern point of the Great Bend.


  1. Keding 2000, p. 89–104.


  • Keding, B., 2000: New Data on the Holocene Occupation of the Wadi Howar Region (Eastern Sahara/Sudan). Studies in African Archaeology. Vol. 7.