The Nile River provided a natural highway for transporting large quantities of goods in Ancient Egypt. The trip from Memphis to Thebes took about two weeks during the flood season, while it could have taken up to two months in the dry season. Travel by boat was done only during the day due to shifting sand deposits in the river. Boats were made with shallow hulls to limit the chances of getting hung up in the shallow parts of the river. To the south of Aswan, sets of impassable rapids forced people to leave the river and travel by land to the other side of the rapids. These impassable rapids were called cataracts. There were six different sets of cataracts one would encounter while traveling south from Aswan. The Nile’s current helped the Egyptians to move downriver, but they had to raise sails to capture the wind as they traveled upriver.
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