The Geography of the Fertile Crescent

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 11963

Have you ever tried to grow a plant? Did it grow well? What kind of ground and care do plants need? Ancient civilizations grew up in areas that were good for growing. Learn about ancient Egypt's land!


World, World

learning style
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5), Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Where do many scholars believe ancient man first existed? Why?

The term "fertile" describes something that is capable of producing.

We say soil is fertile because it is capable of producing crops or, in a sense, offspring. In ancient times, there was a region of the world that was referred to as fertile. Look at the purple part of the map below. Use the image to answer the following questions:

  • What ancient civilizations make up this fertile area?
  • What do you already know about crops and what they need to grow?
  • Why might a geographical region be referred to as fertile?

Fertile Crescent map

Image by NormanEinstein, via Wikimedia Commons, is licensed under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

This region was known as the Fertile Crescent because it had a crescent shape. It was referred to as fertile because it was an excellent location for farming, and is considered the birthplace of agriculture.

The first documented systems for farming took place in this region. Regular rainfall, the flooding of the Nile River in Egypt, and rich soil provided the right conditions for growing crops in this area. Various types of grains grew particularly well.

The ancient civilizations depicted on the map are Egypt, Palestine, Phoenicia, Assyria, Mesopotamia, and Elam. Most of these civilizations no longer exist today. To compare which present-day countries make up this region, look at the map below. Have your teacher or parent help you find the regions that made up the Fertile Crescent, which was located in north Africa and the Middle East. Discuss which present-day countries make up the Fertile Crescent.

You should have observed that the present-day countries of Egypt, Syria, Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon make up what once was called the Fertile Crescent. The ancient civilizations along the Fertile Crescent are believed to have started 6-10,000 years ago.

One of the best-known ancient civilizations that resided in the Fertile Crescent were the ancient Egyptians. Look at the map of the Fertile Crescent above. Describe the relative location of Egypt compared to the other civilizations that made up the Fertile Crescent. The ancient Egyptians were believed to have originated around 3100 B.C. and lasted until 332 B.C. If you were to travel back in time about 5,100 years, you would arrive at the time of the ancient Egyptians; that's a long time!

The ancient Egyptians were a unique civilization who developed some of the first farming systems, thanks to the geographical features offered by the Fertile Crescent.

  • When you look at the map above of the Fertile Crescent, which geographical features do you think would have helped with ancient Egyptian farming?

Tell your teacher or parent.

Then, move on to the Got It? section to take a closer look at some of these geographical features.

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