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Flooding below the Giza plateau

11 June 2013

At www.newscientist.com/article/mg21829204.200-egypts-city-of-bean-counters… … is a story derived from an excavation which displays evidence of repeated flooding events at a town below the Giza plateau, the city of the pyramid workers, accountants (bean counters) and managers that organised the building work involved in the reigns of Khafre and Menkaure, on the three main pyramids. It is assumed the same flash flooding did not affect the higher ground and the town was built on what we might call a flood plain. However, Egypt is not supposed to have a lot of rain – so where did all the water come from (the Nile inundation? Was it that heavy?)

Whatever, the archaeologists are perplexed because the Egyptians kept rebuilding the town in the same place and made no attempt to shift location. Were they that stubborn? Heit el-Ghurab was a large administrative centre – but was abandoned and buried under tens of metres of sand. When archaeologists did get a whiff of the city they discovered layers of mud and sands and sediment. It was hit by three layers of flood events in 26 years in the reign of Khafre. Under Menkaure the flooding events continued. One huge flooding event caused a torrent of rocks and mud and sand to completely destroy the city, smashing buildings to pieces. Undeterred, the Egyptians rebuilt it even after further floods – ten times in 45 years. The article is published by the Journal of Archaeological Science.

So, what was happening during the pyramid age, around 2500BC? What caused the dramatic flooding sequence?

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