The Nile: Histories, Cultures, Myths

The Nile: Histories, Cultures, Myths

The Nile: Histories, Cultures, Myths

The Nile: Histories, Cultures, Myths

Synopsis

Egyptians, Ethiopians and Sudanese have often been enemies due to their mutual reliance on the River Nile. Over the centuries their relations have been based on myth and distorted images. This book aims to trace these relations from early medieval times to today.

Excerpt

The Nile River is one water system, but it is not a homogenous geographical, climatic, or ecological unit. It originates in the broken highlands of Ethiopia, land of the Blue Nile, and in the vast areas of great lakes and huge swamps of central Africa and southern Sudan, the lands of the White Nile. The two rivers unite, then flow into the narrow valley of Egypt, bringing life to humankind and society from their very incipience. The Nile's geographical versatility has always been the theater of human diversity. Over centuries, the peoples living along the river shaped various cultures, practiced different religions, spoke many languages, and made the Nile basin a vast symbolic space of countless experiences and identities. The Nile was not only a reality of geography and waters but an arena of multiple human concepts, myths, and discourses. It was the environment of intercultural dialogues, of the continuous interplay between mutual recognition and denial, assimilation and rejection. The river was one of the first human cognitive maps that interpreted the symbiosis of ecology and life by molding it into concepts and images. It was one of the earliest cradles in which humans coped with nature, a space in which experiences were organized and translated into ideas, practices, beliefs, and orientations.

The Nile, as both the site of early beginnings as well as the space of mysterious diversity, has captured the human imagination since the earliest civilizations have resided along its banks. The enigma of its sources, the life it gave to barren areas, and the capricious nature of its vital flow have produced endless speculation and legends. The realities and myths of the river personified have been retold and reproduced from early ancient times to the present.

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