From Nomads to Farmers

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 11964

How far do you travel to get your food? To the refrigetor? A couple miles to the grocery store! Nomads had to travel hundreds of miles to chase food! Learn why the Fertile Crescent became their store!


World, World

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Why did the first civilizations flourish in the Fertile Crescent region?

 map of the Fertile Crescent

Image, via Wikimedia Commons, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

In the previous Related Lesson in The Fertile Crescent, found in the right-hand sidebar, you learned that a few thousand years ago, civilizations grew in the region pictured on the map above.

This region was called "the Fertile Crescent" because it had a crescent shape and the soil throughout the region was good for growing crops.

  • Why did civilizations flourish in this region?

Remember that many people in this region of the world were likely initially nomads. That means they did not have a permanent home. As hunter-gathers — people who hunted and gathered wild plants for food — they had to follow their food supply, which meant constantly moving from one location to another.

The Fertile Crescent region's fertile soil was ideal for growing their own food. Since they were able to grow their own food, they would not have to move around, following their food. With a steady supply of food, these nomads set up permanent homes throughout the region and became farmers.

One of the ancient civilizations that made up the Fertile Crescent was ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptians were known for their innovation and creativity. They invented one of the earliest known written languages, paper, breath mints, toothpaste, bowling, and the calendar. They also invented some of the first farming systems and techniques.

  • What if you were living in Egypt more than 5,000 years ago, long before any modern farming equipment was invented? You have great, fertile lands, but the region's dry climate presents you with the challenge of finding a way to get water to your crops.
  • What would you do?

Despite the lack of tools and dry climate, the ancient Egyptians were successful farmers. They constructed an intricate irrigation system, a way to water their crops. Even though they did not have the heavy machinery we have today, the ancient Egyptians built canal systems that would draw water from the Nile and use it to water their fields.

A canal is a small manmade waterway system. When the Nile would flood, water from the river would spill over into the canals. The canals would then direct the water in the direction of the crops, where it was deposited on the fields.

The ancient Egyptians also built tools out of natural resources that they used for plowing and seeding their crops. Read Ancient Egyptian Irrigation Facts, Egypt Irrigation System on Nile River, Flooding, (Ancient Egyptian Facts), to learn more about ancient Egyptian irrigation and farming.

Consider these questions as you read the article:

  • What occupation did most people in ancient Egypt have?
  • What natural resource was ancient Egypt most dependent on? Why were they so dependent on this resource?
  • How did the ancient Egyptians get water from the Nile to their crops? Use details to describe the system they used.
  • How long would water sit on the crops?

Today, there are four seasons that have to do with the earth's relationship to the sun. In ancient Egypt, farmers created three seasons that centered around the cycle of the Nile River:

The first season was called Akhet, or the flooding season, and lasted from June to September. During this time, the Nile overflowed and flooded the fields.

The next season was Peret, or the growing season. Peret lasted from October to February. During Peret, the soil was moist and rich with nutrients after it had just been flooded. Farmers used the season to plow and seed their crops. Typically, grains were grown first. Then, vegetables, figs, melons, and pomegranates were grown.

The final season was Shemu, also known as the harvesting season. Shemu lasted from March to May. During this time, the farmers cut down and stored the crops before the Nile flooded again. The Egyptians were wise in that they always stored more food than was needed in case the Nile did not flood again the next year.

  • How would having an excess stockpile of food help the ancient Egyptians if the Nile did not flood?

Ancient Egyptian life revolved around the three seasons.

  • Why were these seasons so vital to life in ancient Egypt?

Move on to the Got It? section to take a closer look at the ancient Egyptian farming timetable.

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