Story & Trivia
The Nile starts its flow in the Ethiopian highlands. To many Ethiopians “Gihon” as they call the Nile is one of the four rivers that flowed out of Eden at the beginning of the World. It was the river mentioned inthe Bible’s Genesis. In ancient times powerful Ethiopian kingdoms knew not where the river went exactly, just as the Egyptians knew not where it came from. There even was a great and powerful king named Gihon. The Ethiopians said the river had no resting place.
Creation Myths of Egypt
The Egyptians have various creation myths, but all are based on Nu being a primordial ocean of water out of which rose an ancient hill on which was their temple. It is thought that the vast amounts of flood waters that the Nile brought every year from the highlands perhaps sowed the seeds for this myth of everything beginning with Nu. The Egyptians believed that prior to the creation of humankind, the Gods did indeed live on Earth.
Nu was a concept and therefore could be male or female. Naunet was female and Nun was male. Occasionally he was represented as a frog.
From this watery and chaotic Nu arose the god Atum. He along with his shadow created the World. He spat out a son Shu and vomited his daughter Tefnut. Shu was air and life while Tefnut was water and order. They remained in Nu.
The chaos once separated Atum from his children, to his great sorrow. After a long while they were united. Atum was so happy to see his children that he wept in joy. Out of the teardrops which hit the soil, grew humankind. Eventually more gods and goddesses were created.
Gods/Goddesses representing the Nile
Khnum one of the earliest Egyptian Gods was originally considered to be the god of the source of the River Nile. Every year the river carried great amounts of silt and water, which was what made the river so special for this in turn made the land fertile and arable. Because the river brought the clay, Egyptians believed that Khnum created humans at his potter’s wheel and placed them in mother’s uteruses.
Khnum was in fact believed to be a Divine Potter for earlier Egyptians believed he had made the other gods too. In some places like Elephantine island and Nubia, his daughter Anuket was supposed to be Goddess of the Nile. Temples for her were also built. Two tributaries were her arms. She was also called the Embracer for she regularly ‘embraced’ the land during the flooding. The Festival of Anuket signified the beginning of the inundation. People threw in gold, silver and other gifts thanking the river for bringing the swirling waters and silt. As she was on the move, she was represented as a gazelle.
1. The Blue Nile comes from Ethipoa to meet the White Nile from Sudan at Sudan’s capital, and, from there, it becomes the Nile.
2. Lake Victoria is the largest source of the Nile River. It originates in Burundi.
3. The Nile is the longest river in the world, in close competiton with the Amazon.
4. The Nile creates fertile valleys in areas that are otherwise desertland.
5. Some of the most ancient civilizations of the world were built on the banks of this river.
6. The Nile empties into the Mediterranean Sea after flowing all through northeastern Africa.
7. The Nile was a source of transportation, water, food, and plenty of fertile soil for the ancient Egyptians who settled around it. It continues to be very useful to Africa.
8. The Aswan High Dam built in the 1960’s stopped the annual flooding that was caused by melting snow and heavy rains.
9. The huge Nile River Basin includes parts of five countries and provides them with great agricultural land.
10. The increase in sediments in the Nile’s dam systems and the decrease in storage capacity has resulted in problems in other parts of the river. The delta is slowly becoming smaller because of the lack of sediment.
11. In the past, when the Nile flooded every year, a black sediment was left on its banks. This earned the Nile its name of Ar which means “black“ in Egyptian.
12. The Nile Crocodile is a species found up and down the banks of this huge river.