Map of Egypt
By Jimmy Dunn
The map of Egypt has as old and interesting of a history as Egypt itself and an orientation to it is important both to students of ancient Egypt and tourists alike. The ancient map of Egypt has always been divided into a number of political and geographical subdivisions, as it is today.
Map of Egypt
Geographically, the ancient Map of Egypt was divided between north and south, known as Lower and Upper Egypt respectively, and prior to the 1st Dynasty, these two regions were politically separate. Then, around 3100 BC, the country was unified, but the Egyptians continued to think of their country as consisting of these two major sections. Throughout Egyptian history, each was represented by different crowns that could be combined into one, by different plants, the lotus and papyrus, and a tendency towards different gods. However, this tradition did not completely die out during ancient times. Even today, Egyptians make a distinction between Lower and Upper Egypt, though they also frequently refer to Middle Egypt as a region between the north and south. If one thinks about this, it is not uncommon in other countries. For example, in the US, a distinction is often made between the north and south.
A second way that the Egyptians divided up their ancient map of Egypt was between the desert lands and the fertile Nile Valley. The Red Land was the inhospitable desert to either side of the Nile Valley, which to some degree was a mysterious land to those living in the Nile Valley, subject to chaos. On the other hand, the Nile Valley was referred to as the Black Land, which provided the ancient name of Egypt, Kemet. Today, Egyptians are well aware of the difference between the Nile Valley and the deserts, though the terms Black Land and Red Land are no longer used to denote them.
Today, the map of Egypt does not cover as much land as it did during the Empire period of the New Kingdom, or even during the height of the Middle Kingdom, but it does take in more land than during some periods of Egyptian history. For example, in ancient times, Aswan in southern Egypt was typically thought of as the southern boundary of Egypt proper, even when Egypt controlled much of Nubia further south. Today, the map of Egypt includes the upper part of what was once Nubia, while Southern Nubia is a part of the Sudan. To the west, the borders were always somewhat indistinct, as there was not much to control other than sand, but for much of ancient Egypt's history, most of the current Oasis regions were considered a part of Egypt, though they may have enjoyed considerable independence due to their isolation.
To the east, the ancient map of Egypt once took in a considerable amount of land, particularly during the New Kingdom, including a stretch along the Mediterranean Sea through present day Israel and up into Syria. However, even though this land was under Egyptian control, just as in the case of Nubia, Egypt proper was still mostly thought of as ending somewhere along the division between Africa and the Sinai Peninsula, even though Egypt had control of the Sinai through much of its history, as it does today. During much of Egyptian history, the Sinai was a part of Egypt, but the Egyptians were really only interested in specific places in the Sinai for mining purposes.
Politically, in ancient Egypt, Lower and Upper Egypt were sometimes political divisions, while at other times they were not. Of course, prior to the 1st Dynasty, they were completely separate political divisions, but during some periods of Egyptian history, there were two viziers, the most powerful men under the king, for the north and south. At other times, there was only one vizier over all of Egypt. More consistently, the map of ancient Egypt was divided among nomes, much smaller divisions which were mostly laid out along the Nile River and in the northern delta. For the most part, there were few desert nomes. Each of them were under control of a monarch, the term used basically to mean a governor. Today, the map of Egypt is divided politically into 26 governates, which include all the landscape of Egypt including the desert regions and the Sinai.
Overall, the map of Egypt has probably had more changes than that of any other existing country, certainly because Egypt has existed as a country longer