Egypt, which has scarcely any rainfall, depends entirely on the Nile for its fertility, or rather upon the strange annual rise of the Nile. Once every year, when the snows melt in the Abyssinian mountains, the river rises and overflows its banks, flooding the whole country.
When the waters retire again to their usual channel, they have left a rich deposit of fertile mud, which gives the Egyptian Fellaheen, or farmers, abundant crops.
The annual rise of the Nile is to the Egyptian cultivators what the monsoon is to the Indian Zamindars; and the failure of the Nile to rise high enough is attended with the same disaster as the failure of the monsoon in India, namely famine.
Or rather, it used to be; for the British engineers, by their wonderful dams, preserve the Nile water for lean years, as in India they have saved Punjab from famine by their marvelous irrigation works.
But the chief interest of Egypt lies in its remarkable history and its wonderful archaeological remains. Owing partly to the dry climate, and partly to the ancient Egyptian method of burying their dead, more remains of the ancient civilization of Egypt exist than of any other country.
The ancient tombs, with their walls covered with beautiful pictures and hieroglyphic writing, the enormous and magnificent temples, the wonderful works of art that have been preserved, give us a most vivid idea of the history and the remarkably high civilization of the ancient Egyptians a civilization that was already at a high level 5,000 years before Christ.
To see these ancient tombs’ and temples, and look upon the actual faces of the great Pharaohs of the past, and to realize the greatness of the old Egyptian civilization that has passed away, must be a wonderful experience.
Recently the whole world has wondered at the artistic beauty and fabulous value of the gold ornaments and jewels found in the tomb of Tut-ankh-amen, discovered by Mr. Howard Carter and Lord Carnavoran; and Tut-ankh-amen was by no means one of the great or important Pharaohs of old Egypt.