When many contemplate the name "Nile", the first thing that comes to mind is Egypt, which is easy to explain, given the great importance of this river to Egypt throughout history.
The famous Greek historian Herodotus summarized the importance of the river to the Egyptians by saying "Egypt is the gift of the Nile".
The Nile (Arabic: النيل, Romanized: an-Nīl, Arabic pronunciation: [an'niːl],
In the ancient Egyptian language, the Nile is called Ḥ'pī (Hapy) or Iteru, meaning "river".
With a total length of about 6,650 km (4,130 mi) between the region of Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean Sea, the Nile is the longest river on Earth.
The Nile has been the lifeline of civilization in Egypt since the Stone Age, with most of the population and all of the cities of Egypt resting along those parts of the Nile Valley lying north of Aswan.
The ancient Egyptians considered the Nile to be a gift of the Gods. They equated it with life itself, and they organized their daily lives according to the high and low levels of its water. The Egyptian calendar was based on the three seasons of the Nile: flood, agriculture and harvest.
Herodotus' sayings and recordings show that the flooding of the Nile was coincident with the Summer Solstice phenomenon that takes place on June 22/23 of every year.
Because the Nile means life, when it overflows it brings prosperity and fertility to the soil and people around it, but if its water level rises too much, people lose their mud houses, and if the level does not rise enough, drought and famine occur.
Thus it was important for the Gods to control the river. According to legend, the two main deities involved in organizing this process were Khnum and Hapy.
Khnum, the Nile God with a ram's head, was the God of water, who brought life to the banks of the river, where plants grow and animals reproduce, and since silt forms after the flood, Khnum was also thought to create humans.
Elephantine Island, in Aswan, was home to worshipping Khnum, while his temple is located in the city of Esna, located 60 km south of Luxor Governorate in Upper Egypt.
As for the God Hapy, he was the one in control of the floods of the Nile. Usually, this God appears in both genders, having male features and a female upper body, which reflects both the personality of the father and mother of the Nile, and so he/she is able to achieve fertility. Surprisingly, the word “Hapy” means "happy" in the ancient Egyptian language.
In multiple scenes in different temples, such as Karnak and Luxor temples, Hapy can be seen with lotus and papyrus. This indicates the union of Upper and Lower Egypt represented in its logo: the lotus flowers (Upper Egypt) and the papyrus (Lower Egypt).
In addition, the God Osiris played a role in one of the famous legends of the Nile, and this legend says that Osiris was killed out of jealousy by his brother Set. His body was placed in a coffin and thrown into the Nile, which in turn guided the coffin into the Mediterranean Sea to Byblos (Lebanon).
However, his wife, Isis, succeeded in finding the coffin. This time Set cut the body of Osiris into 14 pieces and scattered them over Egypt. Isis again found, collected and reconstructed the body, and thanks to the magic powers she possessed, Isis managed to revive Osiris and conceive a child. She gave birth to Horus who grew up in the papyrus fields in the Nile Delta, far from his malevolent uncle Set.
Later, the God Horus succeeded in avenging his father, Osiris, by killing his uncle Set, and from here the death and resurrection of Osiris became associated with the flood of the Nile and the decline of its water level.
Some sources say that the ancient Egyptians believed that the floods of the Nile were the tears of Isis, mourning the death of her husband Osiris. This is now called in Egypt “Wafaa el-Nile” [Loyalty of the Nile] and is celebrated by Egyptians for two weeks starting from August 15.
Furthermore, many Nile animals played a major role in ancient myths indicating that the ancient Egyptians' fear of crocodiles and hippos pushed them to worship them, so as to ensure their protection from attacks and from evil in general.
The crocodile "Sobek" was a God worshiped in Fayoum and Kom Ombo. Some fish and birds of the Nile were seen as a sign of abundance, livelihood and resurrection in the afterlife.
In 1954, the Egyptian leader at the time, Gamal Abdel Nasser, decided to build the High Dam in Aswan on the banks of the Nile to better control the flooding, provide increased water storage for irrigation and generate hydroelectricity.