Beginnings: Geography

Memphis

Our story occurs in Memphis, the northern capital of Lower Egypt. Because the Nile River is one of those rare major waterways that flow from south to north, the Egyptians considered the north as Lower Egypt.

Memphis was located 12 miles south of the modern city of Cairo, on the West Bank of the Nile. Founded around 3100 B.C. as the first capital of Egypt, it stood slightly off the river to the west. An extremely large city by ancient standards, Memphis was surrounded by towering white walls that were punctuated with massive gates. The city was filled with temples and had an extensive canal system that supplied water from the Nile. In the expanse of ground between the city wall and the Nile River to the east stretched the port of Perunifer, a major shipping destination where goods arrived from all over the known world to be sold in its thriving market.

To the east and west of Memphis and along the banks of the Nile to the north and south of the city, there was fertile farmland, regularly enriched by the yearly inundation that flooded the land and replenished the soil with rich sediment. Egypt was dependent on these annual surges of the sacred river for a good harvest and enough food to maintain its people and its kingdom. Low inundations led to small harvests. Several low inundations in a row would lead to extreme shortages, while large river overflows would give an abundance of crops. Egyptians saw the amount of the river’s rise each year as a sign from the gods, demonstrating to them whether their relationship to their deities was good or ill.

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