Hydrological Science and Its Connection to Religion in Ancient Egypt under the Pharaohs


The history of water management in the Fertile Crescentis closely related to the religion. This is most clear in ancientEgyptin pharaonic time. The class of priests serving under the pharaoh had also many other administrative duties, they had good skill in science, collected hydrological and astronomical data and used it to levy taxes and predict the floods that irrigated the arable land. The special hydrological features of the riverNilemake it rather predictable in behavior compared to other major rivers of the region. In this social position the priests had great influence and could use it to stop the pharaoh Ikhnaton in his attempt to establish a monotheistic religion by ousting Amon-Ra and replacing him with Aton. Social life was very colorful at pharaohs’ court and the various arts and festivals flourished. The most remarkable of these was the Opet festival where pharaoh himself was the leading figure together with the statues of the gods. The festival was to last 10 days and during that time the riverNilewas to change color from grayish to reddish and thereby mark the beginning of the life-giving flood and bear witness to the good relations between the king and the divine powers. This kind of event, an annual prayer by the king to the gods for good harvest was well known in many societies, but it shows the remarkable skills of the Amon-Ra priest that they were ready to predict the onset of theNileflood within ten days and get away with it.

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Eliasson, J. (2013). Hydrological Science and Its Connection to Religion in Ancient Egypt under the Pharaohs. Advances in Historical Studies, 2, 150-155. doi: 10.4236/ahs.2013.23019.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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