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Apr 9, 2008

English Chinese translation sample-EGYPT-THE RIVER NILE

(Translated by freelance Chinese translator li – English to Chinese translation or Chinese to English translation services- tourism translation)

Aside from the daily and monthly cycles of sun, moon and stars, the annual fluctuation of the Nile, with its immediate impact on agriculture, was the most prominent phenomenon which fashioned the lives of the Ancient Egyptians. The Nile (Iteru in Egyptian) dominated their scenery everywhere. Life away from the river was almost unthinkable to them. Any land away from the river, be it the Eastern or Western Egyptian deserts, or neighboring countries such as Libya or Syro-Palestine, were to them unprivileged Hasut = "Hilly Lands", always written by means of a hieroglyph representing a series of three dry, interconnected hilltops.


All year long, the Nile offered not only sweet water in abundance, but also a means for easy transportation and bountiful provisions of fish and waterfowl. But it was its annual flood that caught the imagination. The seemingly sudden and mysterious change in the river's behavior, so critical for survival, became naturally associated with divine power. A particularly poor inundation signified that water would not reach many back-lying fields, resulting in low recolts and possible hunger. On the other hand, an overabundant flood could produce equally catastrophic results because it would destroy many homes, which were built of Nile mud-bricks, and endanger the temples. Since the Nile flood (Hapi in Egyptian) had, obviously, a will of its own, it could be appeased, offered to and revered. The god Hapi was represented as a bountiful male human being with pendulous breasts, dressed in a mere loin-cloth, and frequently carrying nilotic products. For purposes of symmetry, Hapi was often represented as a double god, Hapi of Upper Egypt and Hapi of Lower Egypt. The two can be distinguished by the type of plant that is represented on top of their heads.

Left: Two symmetrically arranged figures of the god Hapi, representing the inundation of the Nile .
Folds of fat and pendulous breasts symbolise the bounty of the inundation. The Southern Hapi (on the right) and the Northern Hapi (on the left) bind the respective symbolic flowers (lily and papyrus) of Upper and Lower Egypt on an elongated hieroglyphic sign meaning "to unite". On top of the sign is the name of the reigning king, Ramesses II.
Below left: The main temple of his at Philae at the time of inundation. The dams at Aswan caused the water to accumulate. At times only the tip of the high pylons were visible above water level.
Below right: Ramesses 11 in mid-air. Photograph taken during the transportation of the temple of Abu Simbel to its present site. The figure belongs to one of the colossi of the facade.


The dark, fertile soil which covers the Nile Delta and the fields on either side of the River Nile along its course, stands in sharp contrast to the reddish desert sand or sandstone ever present almost everywhere else. Sand is natural to Egypt, which constitutes the easternmost extension of the Sahara desert. The fertile soil, on the other hand, is clearly intrusive. It can be truly regarded as the gift of the Nile, which, from time immemorial, has carried enormous quantities of this earth from the heights of Ethiopia downstream, into the land of Egypt. Around mid-September, following the annual snow-melting in the region of the sources of its main tributary, the Blue Nile, the level of the water rises steadily and dramatically.
Up until the recent erection of the High Dam at Aswan, this tremendous volume of additional water would cause the river to overflow and inundate the low-lying areas of its course. These extend along the Egyptian Nile Valley, all the way north from Gebel el-Silsila. The fields would remain under water for about four months every year (inundation season). When the waters finally receded, and the river regained its original bed, the fertile silt would remain on the fields in the form of a black moist deposit, enabling immediate and intensive cultivation.Only fertile land could sustain living conditions for the Ancient Egyptians. Hence, for all practical purposes, Egypt proper was confined to this fertile strip, which widened considerably in the Delta. No wonder, then, that its inhabitants named their country after the black, life-giving soil, Kemet (later Kemi) = "The Black One", and clearly distinguished it from the outlying inhospitable desert Desheret = "The Red One".


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