Humanities › History & Culture The Most Important Rivers of Ancient History Share Flipboard Email Print MaRabelo / Getty Images History & Culture Ancient History and Culture Figures & Events Ancient Languages Greece Egypt Asia Rome Mythology & Religion American History African American History African History Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By N.S. Gill Ancient History and Latin Expert M.A., Linguistics, University of Minnesota B.A., Latin, University of Minnesota N.S. Gill is a Latinist, writer, and teacher of ancient history and Latin. She has been featured by NPR and National Geographic for her ancient history expertise. our editorial process N.S. Gill Updated March 28, 2020 All civilizations depend on available water, and, of course, rivers are a fine source. Rivers also provided ancient societies with access to trade -- not only of products, but ideas, including language, writing, and technology. River-based irrigation permitted communities to specialize and develop, even in areas lacking adequate rainfall. For those cultures that depended on them, rivers were the lifeblood. In "The Early Bronze Age in the Southern Levant," in Near Eastern Archaeology, Suzanne Richards calls ancient societies based on rivers, primary or core, and non-riverine (e.g., Palestine), secondary. You'll see that the societies connected with these essential rivers all qualify as core ancient civilizations. The Euphrates River Joel Carillet / Getty Images Mesopotamia was the area between the two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. The Euphrates is described as the southernmost of the two rivers but also appears on maps to the west of the Tigris. It starts in eastern Turkey, flows through Syria and into Mesopotamia (Iraq) before joining the Tigris to flow into the Persian Gulf. The Nile River Richmatts / Getty Images Whether you call it the River Nile, Neilus, or Egypt's River, the Nile River, located in Africa, is considered the world's longest river. The Nile floods annually because of rains in Ethiopia. Beginning near Lake Victoria, the Nile empties into the Mediterranean at the Nile Delta. The Saraswati River rvimages / Getty Images Saraswati is the name of a holy river named in the Rig Veda that dried up in the Rajasthani desert. It was in Punjab. It is also the name of a Hindu goddess. The Sindhu River Pavel Gospodinov / Getty Images The Sindhu is one of the rivers sacred to Hindus. Fed by the snow of the Himalayas, it flows from Tibet, is joined by Punjab rivers, and flows into the Arabian sea from its delta south-southeast of Karachi. The Tiber River Westend61 / Getty Images The Tiber River is the river along which Rome was formed. The Tiber runs from the Apennine Mountains to the Tyrrhenian Sea near Ostia. The Tigris River rasoul ali / Getty Images The Tigris is the more easterly of the two rivers that defined Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. Starting in the mountains of eastern Turkey, it runs through Iraq to join up with the Euphrates and flow into the Persian Gulf. The Yellow River Frankhuang / Getty Images The Huang He (Huang Ho) or Yellow River in north-central China gets its name from the color of silt flowing into it. It is called the cradle of Chinese civilization. The Yellow River is the second-longest river in China, second to the Yangzi.