The Essential NileMany features of civilization have evolved over time to become what onecommonly thinks of as “civilized society.” The development of government andwriting in the classical civilization of Egypt can be credited to thereliability of the Nile River. The Nile was a source of unification andcentralization in the Egyptian society, helping in the development of governmentand writing with the growth of surpluses.The Nile River, because of its predictable cycles, “unified andcentered” the Egyptian society.
Because of its predictability , the Nile”created a stable agriculture.”All the Egyptians needed to do was to “putseeds in the mud, have pigs trample the seeds down into the ground, and when thetime came, harvest the crop.” Essentially, the river was important to the well-being of the cities, and was a vital source for irrigation. Not only did theriver provide a steady flow of water, its flooding also provided fertile silt.Planted in this fertile soil, crops grew abundantly and allowed for thefacilitation and development of surpluses.Beginning about 5000 B.C.E.
, farming had already been instituted alongthe banks of the Nile. But it wasn’t until later (3200 B.C.E.) that realagricultural advances occurred.
Encouraged by the stability of their farming,the Egyptians were able to develop surpluses in the area. This abundance (whichallowed for the evolution and advancement of culture because it encouraged morepeople to specialize in crafts other than farming) led to a division of labor,and then to social stratification. The improvement of agricultural methods alsoled to the enlargement of cities. This enlargement then led to the need forbureaucracy and administration, and eventually toward the advent of writing.
Writing, a “very important” aspect of daily life, was a pre-condition for a moreformal government.In brief, the flooding of the Nile river made agriculture easy for theEgyptians who came to depend on its unfailing waters. Many of the greatfeatures of civilization, primarily the development of more formal governmentand the beginnings of writing, can be traced back to the surpluses brought aboutby the Nile.