The climate in ancient Egypt was harsh and dry throughout the year. The rainfall pattern was very scarce, contributing to the extreme heat.

Ancient Egypt weather played a significant role in the rise and fall of its kingdoms, which is quite interesting to read about.

Read on to discover more about ancient Egyptian climate from our historian experts!

What Was the Climate in Ancient Egypt? What Were The Seasons Like?

Though Ancient Egypt weather was steamy, there were cooler days. The ancient Egyptian calendar had 365 days made up of three seasons. Each season had about 120 days. The seasons were Shemu (Summer), Peret (Winter), and Akhet (Inundation).

Each season came along with its climatic conditions. Summer brought a lot of heat and grain harvest took place around that time. Winter was not as hot as summer but had its fair share of heat. Akhet was the coldest of the three months and it marked the season of floods.

There was a period between each year known as an intercalary month. It was made up of five days. The weather in ancient Egypt was similar to that of modern Egypt. It was hot with a few periods of cold.

– What Was the Climate Like in the Summer of Ancient Egypt?

Ancient Egypts climate in the summer was hot as this was the season when there was little to no rain. It marked the beginning of the grain harvest. Thus, farmers spent a lot of time in the field.

The summer, also known as Shemu, lasted from May to September. This was the period when the level of the Nile was low.

The temperature during Shemu ranged between 86 degrees Fahrenheit and 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The north recorded high temperatures swelling to 122 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime. The nighttime experienced a massive temperature change. It dropped to around 39.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

Those who lived around the Red Sea, Cairo, and the Mediterranean enjoyed humid weather during the summer. So, they did not experience the harsh heat that scorched the rest of the land during the daytime.

– What Was the Winter Climate Like in Ancient Egypt?

Known in ancient Egypt as either Peret or Proyet, the winter months were warm. This was the season that came after Shemu (Summer). The winter season started in January and ended in May. The ancient Egyptians named it the Season of Emergence. This was because the receding waters left behind lots of fertile lands.

The arable lands encouraged farming activities along the Nile and farmers grew wheat, barley, onions, beans, and pomegranates during winter. The deserts had temperatures well in the region of 86 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. Nighttime saw a significant reduction, recording temperatures of around 37.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

The winter season experienced occasional rainfall. It’s also worth mentioning that, during the winter, the tops of the highest mountains had snow. The deserts could go months, sometimes years, without experiencing rain. Whenever the rain fell, it was a deluge.

– What Was the Climate Like in Ancient Egypt During the Rainy Season?

The season of Inundation was the rainy season in Egypt. Egyptians named it Inundation due to the rising levels of the Nile river. Also known as Akhet, Inundation began in September and ended in January. The farmers took to fishing due to the floods and used canoes as means of transport.

The Climate of Ancient Egypt: Wind and Rainfall Patterns

The north of Egypt had more rainfall than the south. According to records, the city of Alexandria received up to 75 inches a year. Cairo recorded about 15 inches of rain per year. Surprisingly enough, in the South of Egypt, the deserts recorded about five inches of rain.

The regions around the Red Sea recorded low rainfall but had high humidity. On the whole, less rainfall did not affect the Egyptians because of the Nile. They also depended on the oases littered across the desert, hence they had enough water even during droughts.

Ancient Egyptian weather also showcased some nasty winds which sometimes generated sandstorms. One wind, called the Khamsin, was notorious for being tropical and dusty. It originated from the south and made its way northwards. The Khamsin could blow for 2 – 3 days.

Some ancient Egyptians regarded the Khamsin as a witch that brought bad luck. So they dreaded its appearance, which occurred in April. The Khamsin was strong enough to cause a sandstorm. These sandstorms could cause low visibility and loss of lives and property.

What Was the Climate Like in Ancient Egypt Before the Pharaohs?

About 8000 BC the global climate became wetter as a result of the melting of the great ice sheets and glaciers. This phenomenon benefitted the Nile River leading to the appearance of farming activities. The Sahara Desert was also not left out as it enjoyed the global shift in climate. People emigrated to these places and engaged in farming and fishing.

People kept large herds of cattle and flocks because of the lush vegetation. However, around 5000 BC the monsoon rains that fed the Nile started dwindling. Parts of North Africa and Egypt experienced dry weather. Thus, they began converging on the Nile.

This made the Nile the center of development of the Ancient Egyptians. However, there was not enough vegetation to support large flocks of animals due to massive emigration. Around 4000 BC, the weather conditions became drier.

Unpredictable Floods in the Nile: What Was the Result of That?

Though the Nile still flooded on occasion it became less predictable. This was due to the fluctuating monsoon rains that fed the Nile. By 3700 BC, people who had migrated to the Nile region, began spreading to other parts of Egypt. They moved to areas like Naqadah and Hierakonpolis to settle and raise their flocks.

The low floods of the Nile, coupled with bad weather, made rivalries out of these settlements. Many scholars believe these rivalries resulted in the proto-kings and later the pharaohs.

Severe Droughts and How They Affected Kingdoms

Around the year 2200 BC, there was a severe drought that ravaged the Northern and Eastern parts of Africa. The drought lasted 200 years according to existing records. This was because the Nile failed to flood for about three to four decades. Consequently, the Egyptians couldn’t farm fish nor crops during that time.

Ancient Egyptian scholars attributed the collapse of the Old Egyptian Kingdom to the drought. The drought made upper Egypt a wasteland. Even parents began feasting on their children, since there was no food, while at the same time women’s hair fell out and sporadic fighting broke out through the land.

That was not the last time Egypt experienced severe famine. In 967 AD, the failure of the Nile to flood caused another famine. About 600,000 people lost their lives to hunger in Fustat, the capital of ancient Egypt. It wasn’t until 971AD when the floods returned and prosperity came back to Egypt.

The Cause of the Low Floods That Led To Severe Droughts

Egyptologists attributed the low flood to the prevalent global cooling at that time. The global cooling resulted in low rainfall in Ethiopia and East Africa. Lake Faiyum, a lake that had a 213-feet depth, dried up. This was due to an evaporation process that took place over a particular period of time.

How the Climate in Ancient Egypt Brought About Civilization

The climate in Egypt played a major role in the civilization of ancient Egypt. As the floods became less predictable, the droughts became frequent. Thus, officials had to come up with ways to store food. They also came up with plans to redistribute food to combat food shortages.

These plans led to the civilization of ancient Egypt. Their innovative ways of storing food made ancient Egypt admirable. For instance, they stored their meat by salting, pemmican, and honey curing. The ancient Egyptians stored the grains in pits known as silo pits.

Many nations, which experienced the droughts, trooped to Egypt. These nations interacted with Egyptian culture and assimilated it. Egypt’s food storage and redistribution system made the country famous throughout the ancient world.

Summary

So far, we have discussed the climate in ancient Egypt and how it affected their society. Here is a recap of what we’ve learned:

  • The climate in Ancient Egypt was dry and hot with little rain.
  •  Ancient Egyptians depended on the Nile for their livelihood.
  • The ancient Egyptian weather had three seasons named Shemu, Peret, and Akhet.
  • The rain fell more in the North than in the South.
  • Ancient Egypt weather became erratic and the Nile floods became less predictable as time passed
  • The erratic weather in ancient Egypt caused the rise and fall of several kingdoms.
  • The climate of Egypt was a major contributor to its civilization.

Though the climate in ancient Egypt was erratic, it led to the formation and destruction of kingdoms. Our article has covered all the relevant information with regards to the formidable weather conditions in ancient Egypt and you are free to peruse it whenever you need to!

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