World History



Nile River

a major river in Africa that flows from Lake Victoria into the Mediterranean Sea; the river that flows past the pyramids in Egypt.


a country in northeast Africa, famous for the ancient civilization that built the pyramids on the Nile River.

Sahara Desert

a vast desert in northern Africa.


the capital city of Egypt, located in the northeast part of the country on the Nile River.

Not long after the world’s first civilization arose between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in Mesopotamia, civilization spread west to the Nile River valley of Egypt. Egyptians probably learned about irrigation, the plow, writing, and other technologies from Mesopotamia. Egypt is said to be a “gift of the Nile” because the river provided irrigation water, fertile soils due to annual floods, and easy transportation by boat. Boats on the Nile were pulled north by the Nile’s current, and they sailed south with the prevailing winds. Egyptians considered the river sacred; it separated the “land of the living” on the east bank (where the sun rises) from the “land of the dead” on the west bank (where the sun sets).

Egypt’s two main geographic features are the Nile and the Sahara Desert. Ancient Egypt was a long, narrow oasis along the river in the desert. It has been said, “geography is destiny,” and perhaps this was true in Egypt where the Nile was the lifeblood of the country, and the desert provided natural barriers to enemies permitting ancient Egyptian civilization to last for 3,000 years, the longest in history (3100 BC to 30 BC).


Ancient Egyptians had a polytheistic religion; their important gods included Ra, god of the sun and creator of life, and Osiris, god of rebirth. The struggle between Osiris and his evil brother Set represented the eternal struggle between good and evil. Many works of art, literature, and architecture survive from ancient Egypt including huge tombs of the pharaohs, the Sphinx, and the great pyramids near Cairo, which is Egypt’s modern-day capital city. The ancient Egyptians also developed a 365-day calendar based on the solar year. Their calendar was adopted by the Roman Empire and became the calendar we use today.

Instructions for the Quiz

Answer the questions.