In ancient times, Egyptian society was dependent upon the Nile River for its existence. The geography of Egypt is deeply important in understanding why the Egyptians centered their lives around the Nile River. The central importance of the river in the ancient Egyptian's daily life is evident in nearly every facet of their existence. The Greek historian Herodotus referred to Egypt as, "the gift of the Nile," and without this river, Egyptian life wouldn"t be where it is today, (Fiero 19). .
In his lecture, Dr. McClain tells us that the Nile in its natural state goes through periods of inundation and relinquishment. The inundation of the Nile was the time of great agricultural fertility for Egypt. As the banks of the river rose, the water would fill man-made canals and canal basins. This flooding would water the crops for the coming year. However, if the inundation was slightly above or below normal, it would have massive consequences upon the Egyptian agricultural economy. Even with the variability of their reservoir, the Egyptians were able to easily grow tree crops and vegetable gardens in the lower part of the Nile Valley, while at higher elevations, usually near the levees, the Nile Valley was sparsely planted. These gardens of food from the flooded soil were what kept the Egyptians fed and healthy.
Ancient Egyptians were very religious people. Two of the earliest religious cults in Egypt were the Sun and the Nature. As an agricultural based society, they relied on the Nile floods to replenish the lands with thriving topsoil. They also depended upon the sun and moderate climate to help produce a bountiful harvest. Witnessing these natural processes of their environment likely influenced their beliefs. The Egyptians perceived both the certainty of death and the assurance of birth through the constant reliability of nature confirmed by the daily rising and setting of the sun, (Fiero 19).