Ancient Egyptians converted Nile course to protect Karnak temples: PhD thesis
Karnak temple - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: A recent Ph.D thesis has revealed that ancient Egyptians have converted the course of the Nile and have built an embankment dam to protect Luxor’s Karnak temples from the annual Nile flooding, Al-Akhbar reported Thursday.

Researcher Mansour Breik, head of the Central Administration of Middle Egypt Antiquities crafted his thesis in the area outside Karnak temples where he identified remains of a stone structure as an “unprecedented successful attempt” to divert the course of the Nile to protect the temple.

“The three sided dam, which was probably used as a harbor for the temple as well, dates back to the New Kingdom Period (1550 B.C – 1352 B.C) and represents a major engineering achievement,” said Berik adding that the stone blocks forming the dam structure represent the only surviving remains of a harbor in ancient Egypt.

Berik said that the dam served also as a harbor where the blocks, used for the reconstruction or extension of the temple, were loaded adding that the dam measured 40.6 meters long, 7 meters high and 3 meters wide.

“There are evidences of docks and sections of walls built in different levels where boats were towed, pulled and fastened in the harbor before they were unloaded,” Berik said.

A harbor would have been an essential structure in the layout of any ancient Egyptian massive stone structure including temples and pyramids, head of the Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Faculty of Archaeology in al-Fayoum University Dr. Shabaan Abdel-Aal told The Cairo Post Thursday.

“Stones were quarried, transported by sailing boats to the harbor where the ancient Egyptian masonry lifted them using levers,” Abdel-Aal said.

The River Nile is the longest in the world, stretching for 10,000 km. It flows from south to north and is formed by three major tributaries: the White Nile, the Blue Nile and the Atbara.

Geological and geomorphologic studies conducted by NASA in 1980s revealed that the course of the Nile has been shifted to the west during the 24th to the 15th centuries B.C, archaeologist and former head of the Supreme Court of Antiquities, Abdel Halem Nour el-Din told The Cairo Post Saturday.

“The strip to the west of the River Nile has been used by the Greeks and Romans to build temples and Roman baths during the period from the third century B.C to the third century A.D,” Nour el-Din added.

Sadd el-Kafara, 10 km southeast of Cairo is the most ancient masonry embankment dam in Egypt dating back to around 2,600 century B.C, said Nour el-Din adding that the dam has never been completed and was under construction for 12 years before it was destroyed by a flood.

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