Lecture 2. The Cult of the Nile: Hydrological Engineering and Architecture in Pharaonic Egypt, 3500-1000 BCE

This lecture examines how the Nile laid the sociocultural, political, and economic foundations of the Egyptian civilization. The ancient Egyptians didn’t know the source of the Nile River. They thought that this “mysterious” river came to the earth from heaven. For them, it was a deific force of the universe, “the Great River,” itr-âa, or “the Sea,” iumâ. They called it Hapi, a god in human form. As recorded by the Greek historian Herodotus, the Egyptian priests considered Egypt “a gift of the river.” The cult of the Nile defined the lives of early Egyptians.

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