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Centers of early "civilization": where humans settled, established agricultural cycles, and built cities. These occurred earliest in river valleys.
The Nile River was central to ancient Egyptian civilization, a static cyclical culture that endured many centuries. Ancient Egypt's civilization, stretched along the Nile, was protected, surrounded by desert and by the great marshy delta of the Nile. The Nile is bordered on either side by rock cliffs, which yielded many kinds of stone for building material, and the quarrying and assembly of the buildings required huge numbers of laborers and many years' work.
Ancient Egyptian culture was rigidly hierarchical, with the pharaoh at the top socially, politically and religiously, with many nobles, workers and slaves below. The architecture reflects this rigid order. The monumental architecture has a strict path, or axis, that organizes the composition. There is always a strong contrast of light/dark, sun/shadow, open/closed, river/desert. The imagery is based on their nature-based religion: gods are representations of nature, the sun, and animals, and the Pharaoh is both human and god.
The axial, repetitive, monumental scale of the architecture reinforces the relationship of the human in this cosmic landscape. The human being is relatively insignificant compared to the enormity of the sun, the desert, and even the river, which records the seasons by its cycles of flood and drought, but is mysterious as to its source and its destination. In the same way, the funerary monuments are huge, permanent, and awe- inspiring, with a linear order and a static composition.