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Upper and Lower Egypt

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In ancient times the country of Egypt was generally divided into two sections, known as Upper and Lower Egypt.

Lower Egypt is to the north and is that part where the Nile delta flows into the Mediterranean Sea. Upper Egypt is to the south from the Libyan desert down to just past Abu Simbel[?].

The reason for this apparent upside-down naming is that Egypt was considered the "Gift of the Nile" and as such everything was measured in relation to it. The Nile enters Egypt at the top, winding its way down until exiting via the fertile delta into the Mediterranean Sea under Lower Egypt.

Today there are two principal channels that the Nile takes through the river's delta. In pharonic times there were three and these were known as "the water of Pre[?]", "the water of Ptah" and "the water of Amun".

Upper Egypt was known to the Pharaohs as Shemau and was divided into twenty-two areas called "nomes". The first nome was roughly where modern Aswan is and the twenty-second was at modern Atfih[?], just to the south of Cairo.

The capital of the Middle Kingdom[?] was at a place known as The Faiyum[?]. This is an area of about 850 square miles of land that are wartered by an offshoot of the Nile called the Bahr Yusuf[?].

Lower Egypt was known to the Pharaohs as To-Mehu. This part of the country was also divided into nomes; however, as the place was mostly undeveloped scrubland, the organisation of the nomes underwent several changes. Ultimately there were twenty nomes and the first of these was at Memphis.

The deserts were not seen as part of the country really. They were just the wastelands that surrounded them and kept the foreigners out. They were considered to be areas that were there to be exploited (like other lands) but should not be considered as a part of the administrative kingdom. Therefore, the nomes were restricted to Kemet ("the black"), their name for the dark soil deposited by the Nile floodwaters.

The desert was called Deshret ("the red").

See also History of Egypt



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