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Ancient Egypt was divided into two kingdoms, known as Upper and Lower Egypt. The Pharaohs were known as the rulers of the Two Kingdoms, viz. 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.
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 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 Fayyum. This is an area of about 850 mile² (2,200 km²) 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. Taken together, the Two Kingdoms formed Kemet ("the black"), the name for the dark soil deposited by the Nile floodwaters. The desert was called Deshret ("the red"), c.f. Herodotus "Egypt is a land of black soil...We know that Libya is a redder earth." (Histories, 2:12). But Herodotus also says "the Colchians are Egyptians...on the fact that they are black-skinned and have wooly hair." (Histories Book 2:104), and Champollion the Younger (who deciphered the Rossetta stone) in Expressions et Termes Particuliers (Expression of Particular Terms) claims that Kmt does not actually refer to the soil, but to a negroid population in the sense of "Black Nation".
Egyptian history is divided into periods that reflect the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under one king. Intermediate periods of Egyptian history were times when Upper and Lower Egypt were not unified under one king.
Lower Egypt is the northern-most section of Egypt stretching from just south of modern-day Cairo to the Nile Delta at Alexandria. Lower Egypt's landscape is dominated by the Nile delta at Alexandria. The deltal region is well watered, crisscrossed by channels and canals. There are marshy areas and the mosquitoes can be very annoying.
The climate is milder than the climate in Upper Egypt. Temperatures are less extreme and there is more rainfall in this area.
The Lower Egyptians' dialect and customs historically varied from those of the Upper Egyptians. Even in modern times, Lower Egypt is much more industrialized, and influenced by trade and commerce with the rest of the world.
Upper Egypt is a narrow strip of land that extends from the cataract boundaries of modern-day Aswan to the area south of modern-day Cairo. Historically, Upper Egypt's land was more isolated from activities to the north.
There were a number of differences between Upper and Lower Egyptians in the ancient world. They spoke different dialects, and had different customs, needs and interests. Many differences and the tensions they create still exist in modern times.
See also Ancient Egypt
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04