- Travel and Places
How Climate Affected Ancient Egyptian Life
You might think that since Egypt was so big, everyone would have been spread out. Wrong. Because of the dry climate, this was impossible. Almost all of Egypt was a desert with no fertile land, except for a small area around the NileRiver. Because the Egyptians needed the Nile to survive, almost all the people in the country were crowded into three percent of the space. Those that weren't were desert nomads.
The Nile didn't stop the heat from coming, though, and since no individual person was capable of stopping it, either, everybody in Egypt was affected, from the pharaoh to the peasants to the scribes. Even though the heat came, it wasn't for lack of trying that the Egyptians weren't able to stop it. Commonplace houses were made of mud—and truly, the heat and dry air made this possible—to keep the heat out, and all houses had wide windows to catch every possible breeze.
If they had been able to, though, I don't think the Egyptians would have stopped the heat and dryness. Both of these were important factors in drying out mummies, and the preserving of their dead was very important to the Egyptians.
Okay, you know the days were hot (and probably already did), but what about the nights? They were cold. Very cold. Since there was no cloud cover, due to the lack of moisture in the air, a lot of the heat absorbed during the day was lost during the night with no clouds to hold it in, sort of like a clear winter's day in Oregon. Speaking of winter, Egypt had one—barely. The season of winter was slightly cooler than summer, though still hot.
So what's the deal? Why did all the Egyptians crowd into this tiny space when they had a whole country out there? The climate wasn't really any different. What was different was, as I mentioned at the beginning of this paper, the Nile River.
This river was a blessing to the ancient Egyptians. The predictable flooding of the river deposited large amounts of fertile soil near the banks. This soil allowed up to three crops to be harvested each year in some parts of NileRiverValley. Most of the river was great, but the delta in northern Egypt was especially nice for farming. Almost anything would grow there, from grain to guavas to grapes.
That soil was great, but there was one other thing the crops needed : water. Well, it should be no surprise that the Nile, being the liquid in question, provided that too. Since no rain fell in Egypt, the Egyptians had to create irrigation canals from the NileRiver to their crops. The river also provided drinking water for the people and animals of Egypt, and if I had been there in the summer when it's HOT, I would definitely have taken a dip.
Unfortunately, the Nile River was in some ways a curse as well as a blessing to the Egyptians, because it brought deadly diseases such as malaria. This might be part of the reason the average life expectancy in Egypt was only thirty years for women and thirty-five years for men. Another health problem brought by the climate was—unsurprisingly, really—tooth decay. The grain Egyptians ate had dust in it, which, as you can imagine, was not at all good for their teeth.
I think I prefer the rainy climate of western Oregon to the dry climate of Egypt, but it is clear that the Egyptians developed effective ways of surviving in their climate, or else they would not have prospered so long. Whether we like it or not, it is really the dry climate of Egypt that preserved the evidence of this civilization and passed the legacy of the Egyptians down to us.