The desert impact ancient Egyptian civilization by protecting its people from invasion. So, the people and civilization of ancient Egypt were safe from external influence. What’s more, the deserts of Egypt helped their unique culture to evolve and spread.

Discover awesome ways ancient Egypt deserts helped to shape Egyptian civilization.

How The Geography of Egypt Benefitted Its People

Two distinct features characterized the geography of Egypt and those were the fertile delta lands and deserts. All these features played a key role in the evolution of Egyptian civilization.

The Advantages of the Deserts to the Egyptians

The deserts were dry and hot lands with many mountains and plateaus. So, it served as a natural fortification against invasion. The deserts provided the Egyptians with many minerals including gold, iron, and copper.

The Benefits of the Delta to the Ancient Egyptians

The Nile delta was a land of fertile soil caused by the receding floodwaters. It was a source of livelihood and the food basket for the entire of Egypt. The farmers grew wheat, barley, and vegetables over there. The Nile delta supported the rearing of animals and the river also provided fish.

The water in the delta provided many valuable resources when mixed with the desert sand like clay. Ancient Egyptians used clay to make very important pots. Later the delta supported the building of ports and trading posts.

It’s worth mentioning that the delta was also a site for constructing the world’s first lighthouse.

How Did Being Surrounded by Deserts Benefit Egypt?

Many deserts were surrounding ancient Egypt. Each desert played an essential role. Either the desert protected the Egyptians or gave them natural minerals. Here are the ways the Egyptian deserts benefitted the Egyptians.

How the Western Desert Benefitted the Egyptians

Egypt’s western desert got its name from its direction to the Nile. It stretched from the west of the Nile to the border of Libya. In the south, it occupied the region between the Mediterranean sea and Sudan’s border.

The 270,271 square miles of Western Desert covered most of Egypt.

The desert near the Nile served as a last resort to the Persian invasion of Egypt in 525 BC. The priests at the temple refused to recognize Cambyses as ruler of Egypt. Thus, King Cambyses II sent his soldiers to destroy the priests and the temple of Amun. And in case you didn’t know, Amun was a principal Egyptian god whose temple was in Siwa.

Egyptian scholars differ on what happened to the 50,000 soldiers sent by King Cambyses. The long-standing story was that a great sandstorm in the desert swallowed them. However, modern scholars believe that the ancient Egyptians ambushed the soldiers. Since they were familiar with the desert’s terrain, they defeated the Persians.

Regardless of the prevailing theories, all scholars agree on one thing: all the 50,000 Persian soldiers disappeared and the Western Desert played a major role. The Western Desert came to aid the Egyptians and helped them to stand against the Persian threat.

How the Eastern Desert of Egypt Benefitted the Citizens of Egypt

The Eastern Desert was so-called because it was eastward of the Nile river. The 86,100 square miles of land had the Red Sea and Gulf of Suez as its eastern border. It was a mountainous region that was rich in minerals. These minerals encouraged mining and contributed to the wealth of ancient Egypt.

The region was mountainous which made navigation almost impossible. The plateaus on both sides of the mountains were dry and hot. These features made it difficult for armies to cross or camp to mount an assault.

The Eastern Desert also served as a mining site for the Egyptians, since it was rich in gold and coal. It also contained various quarries where the Egyptians mined precious stones. Some of these stones include granite, marble, and limestones.

The Egyptians used these stones to build and establish their kingdoms. Later, they discovered other minerals such as iron which helped in sculpting. The Eastern Desert was home to many trade routes in and out of Egypt. All these contributed to the growth and civilization of Egypt.

How the Great Sand Sea Helped the Egyptians

The great sea sand was in the north of Egypt. It spanned over 270,271 square miles and was full of dunes. The Egyptians called it the Great Sand Sea due to the sandy nature of the region. The boundaries of the region stretched from Siwa to the southwest corner of Egypt.

The dunes served as a natural barrier that kept out invaders. The vast volume of sand also discouraged the setting up of enemy camps. The extreme heat ensured armies could not cross without dying of thirst and hunger.

The Great Sand Sea also contained silica glass and the Pharaohs of Egypt were famous for using these glasses as ornaments. Also known as the Silica Glass Field, it added color to Egyptian royalty and brought them fame. When scholars discovered Tutankhamen’s tomb, they found an amulet of beautiful silica glass.

Finally, the Great Sand Sea served as a water storage site for ancient Egyptians. The people stored water in large ports in an area of the Great Sand Sea known as Abu Ballas. These huge pots ensured travelers or mineral prospectors didn’t die of thirst. The Abu Ballas pots also aided the exploration of Central Africa.

How the Sinai Desert Benefitted the Egyptians

Another desert that influenced the civilization of Egypt was the Sinai Desert. The people called it Sinai because of its closeness to Mount Sinai. The desert was in the northeastern part of the country and it shared a boundary with Israel and the Gaza strip to the east.

Like the Eastern Desert, the Sinai desert was famous for the mining of turquoise. Thus, the ancient Egyptians named the place Mafkat which meant Country of Turquoise.

Ancient Egyptians used turquoise for making beads and amulets. Also, the people used turquoise to make inlays for gold necklaces and bangles. The Egyptians also used turquoise inlays for stones and figurines.

The Sinai desert was also prominent for its abundant supply of copper ores. Copper helped the Egyptians to develop tools to aid their development. Tools that they manufactured included farm implements and work tools. This transformed the agricultural and artisan landscape of ancient Egypt.

Other Benefits of the Egyptian Deserts

Apart from defense against enemies and a source of minerals, the deserts served as burial grounds. The commoners of ancient Egypt buried their dead in the desert after a burial ceremony. Graves for the commoners were simple as compared to that of the royals.

The ancient Egyptians buried their royals in elaborate structures known as pyramids. The pyramids were on the edge of the deserts, close to the fertile lands. Most of the materials used in constructing the pyramids came from the desert. Notably, the pyramid of Giza was among the ancient seven wonders of the world.

How Have the Deserts Benefitted the Modern People Egypt

The deserts still serve the needs of the modern people of Egypt. From tourism to fuel production, the deserts contribute a lot to the economy of Egypt. It is home to a wide array of archaeological sites that gives insight into life in ancient times.

Here are some of the ways the deserts benefit the modern Egyptians.

– The Deserts Are Major Tourist Attraction Sites in Egypt

The deserts are bringing in tourists and foreign exchange to boost the country’s economy. The White Desert, for example, attracts many visitors to its amazing reliefs. It derived its name from the cream color that characterizes it. The White Desert is home to natural chalk rock designs that look like mushrooms, icebergs, etc.

– The Western Desert Is A Reserve of Natural Gas And Oil

Today, the Western Desert is a source of natural gas. There is a pipeline that runs through the desert. The gas pipeline reportedly produces gas up to the tune of 15 million cubic feet per day. The gas from the Western Desert makes up about 30 percent of the country’s total gas production.

The Western Desert is also home to oil. Sources say that the desert contributes about 16 percent of the total oil in the land.


We’ve looked at how the deserts have been of immense benefit to both ancient and modern Egyptians.

To recap, we’ve discussed that:

  • Deserts covered a majority of Egypt’s landscape
  • These deserts benefitted the Egyptians in more ways than one
  • They served as natural walls against invasion from foreign lands
  • The Eastern Desert was rich in mineral deposits which brought the Egyptians wealth
  • The Western Desert was the last defensive resort against the Persian invasion
  • The Sinai desert was rich in precious stones and copper ore
  • The Great Sand Sea was home to silica glass which the Egyptians used to decorate their amulets
  • The deserts still provide immense benefits to the Egyptians today

The deserts have reserves of natural oil and gas which helps the economy of Egypt nowadays. Without these red lands, the history and civilization of Egypt are incomplete.

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