The Nile Valley People
According to the ancient Egyptians and evidence found during excavations, hieroglyphs and stone carvings reveal the ancient Egyptians story of creation begins with a pantheon. The argument has always been where did these people come from who migrated into the Nile Valley. It is believed that during a shift in climate change groups of people began migrating from Central and South Africa into the Sudan, The Nile Delta, Ethiopia, Somalia and Tanzania.
The Nile Valley Civilization refers to the large region of land surrounding Africa’s Nile Valley it is there that the Nile Valley Civilization developed. The Nile Valley and it long, narrow flood plains was a magnet for life, attracting people, animals and plants to its banks and providing ideal conditions for the development of stable communities. Seen as a gift from the gods, the annual flooding of the river deposited nutrient rich silt over the land, creating ideal conditions for growing wheat, flax and other crops.
Evidence suggests that the region was inhabited as far back as 700,000 years ago by Neolithic and Paleolithic Man. The oldest tools to date are found in the lower Nile Valley and have been found in and around the cliffs of Abu Simbel, just across the river from where, millennia later, the descendants of these people would build the temple of Rameses II. Geological evidence suggest that these items are around 700,000 years old, giving a fairly good estimate as to when a Stone Age people was living in the area. It is believed that nomadic hunters known as “Hunters and Gatherers” settled in the valley and over the course of time and began to farm the land by growing crops to supplement their food supply. Evidence suggests that beginning around 5500BCE, hunting ceased to be a major support for existence and the Egyptian diet was made up of domesticated cattle, sheep, pigs and goats, as well as cereal grains such as wheat and barley. Artifacts of stone tools were supplemented by those of metal, and the crafts of basketry, pottery, weaving, and the tanning of animal hides became part of the daily life.
With their eyes set on eternity the Egyptians built a society that ruled for over 3000 years.
The Egyptians began to study the stars very early on their history. They were among the first astronomers, and the temple of the sun god at Heliopolis was an important center for the study of astronomy. Unfortunately, very little original manuscripts have survived today.
The burning of the Great Library in Alexandria during the time of Alexander and then during the reign of the Ptolemies, Cleopatra and Julius Caesar, followed by subsequent burnings in AD 390 and AD 640 resulted in the destruction of thousands of books on Egyptian religion, literature, mathematics, medicine, and astronomy. The burnings were classified as one of the greatest intellectual catastrophes in human history. One can only guess at the Egyptian knowledge of astronomy lost.
What we do know, comes from fragments, tomb paintings, various temple inscriptions, papyrus documents, such as the Rhind Papyrus. The oldest known Pharaonic astronomical text dates back to the ninth Egyptian dynasty (c.2150 BCE). They give the names of thirty-six stars which rise within ten days of each other at the same time as the sun. The oldest example of a sundial is from Egypt around 1500 BCE. The astrological ceiling of Senmut painted around 1460 BCE, includes celestial objects such as Orion, Sirius, and the planets Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn.
The oldest known copies of an almanac date from 1220 BCE during the time of Ramses the Great. In 1100 BCE Amenhope wrote “Catalog of the Universe” in which he identified the major known constellations. Curiously, the catalog does not mention either Sirius or any of the planets previously known to the Egyptians. One of the two lasting contributions of the Egyptians to astronomy is the 24-hour division of the day. The second lasting contribution of the Egyptians is the fixed and constant Year of 365 Days.