No, far from it. The ancient Egyptians, while using tremendous amounts of rock, gold and precious stones in their buildings, artwork and daily lives, generally had a pretty symbiotic relationship with their natural resources, largely because they understood that their entire civilization depended on them. Civilization in Egypt depended entirely on the Nile. The very predictable cycle of flooding along the banks of the Nile, and the relative ease with which large amounts of crops could be irrigated from it, gave the Egyptians a bounty of food and population that enabled them to build such a large and long-lasting civilization. The heart of ancient Egypt was not its pyramids or tombs, but its farmland along the banks of the Nile. As ingenious and brilliant as they were, however, without modern industrial processes the Egyptians couldn’t have had a chance of depleting natural resources as quickly or completely as we can today. Modern mining, oil drilling, deforestation and other processes far outstrip the Egyptians’ capacity to use resources. Our modern civilization could learn a thing or two from the Egyptians with regard to judicious use of such resources, as was demonstrated in the 20th century by the unintended consequences of large-scale projects to divert the Nile (such as the Aswan Dam) for drinking water purposes.
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