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Long Lost Nile river bed

18 May 2024
Archaeology, Catastrophism

The big story of the last week was the publication of a research paper that claims a former bed of the Nile passed very close to the pyramids. See for example https://www.livescience.com/archaeology/ancient-egyptians/long-lost-branch-of-the-nile-was-indispensable-for-building-the-pyramids-research-shows …. definitely a story for ancient history buffs – and we have lots of them at SIS. It seems a branch of the Nile that no longer exists passed fairly close to 31 of the pyramids – and allowed building materials to be brought right up close. The Ahramat branch was just 40 miles in length. Actually this is the section that was investigated, close to the pyramids and reaching as far north as Memphis, the most important OK city. The research teazm used LiDAR satellite imaging [ground penetrating radar] and deep soil cores [most of the area is now farmland], and  geophysical technology in order to trace the former river bed. It seems for some reason the Ahramat branch drifted eastwards, particularly during the droughts of the First Intermediate Period. The Ahramat branch had a different location during the MK period and during the Second Intermediate the branch seems to have dried up altogether. No actual date for the drying up of the  branch is offered – but the inference is obvious. It is interesting to note that similar problems beset the Tigris Euphrates at the same points in time.

The full paper is available at https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-024-01379-7 … and I recommend downloading and printing it out as it is quite something. Genuine field research. See also https://phys.org/news/2024-05-discovery-egyptian-pyramids-built-lost.html … Here we learn the largest pyramid complex in Egypt is clustered along a narrow desert strip. No acceptable explanation has been given for that. Until now. The branch of the Nile ran below a line of foothills belonging to the Western Desert Plateau – Old Kingdom as well as Middle Kingdom. However, there were two different locations of the branch. For example, the Bent Pyramid of Djoser was constructed at the margins of the flood plain – and the Nile discharge at this time was somewhat higher than it has been recently, even before construction of the Aswan Dam. This enabled the river to run in multiple branches as it meandered – particularly in the ealry part of the Old Kingdom[OK]. The river enabled Egyptian civilisation and it is a fact most of its key cities and settlements were situated in proximity to the river. This included its monuments – such as temples and pyramids. Over time many of the branches silted up – leaving ancient site abandoned. Later, we learn that the Ahramat branch continued in use up to the Second Intermediate Period [end of MK], from dynasty 3 to 13. However, we are later informed the Ahramat branch did drift eastwards during the First Intermediate – and before. It again moved eastwards in the Second Intemediate – but lost all its water by the time of the New Kingdom [LB period]. It was noticeably shifting even during the OK kingdom – and this was down to the amount of flow. The Bent Pyramid is now located in a desert environment – far away from the Nile. Dynasty 4 had a high water mark but this declined during dynasty 5 – and in dynasty 6. In fact Nile flow levels decreased deeply at the end of dynasty 4. Something worth investigating. Does this correspond with end of EBII in the Levant? Nile flow levels were especially affected by the droughts of the First Intermediate – but it is thought Nile levels returned to normal during dynasty 12. This is shown not to be true as the MK pyramids were built further eastwards at lower altitudes and in close proximity to the flood plain. This  is in direct comparison to the OK period. One explanation offered is that tectonic events led to a tilting of the Nile delta  and the flood plain itself, towards the NE. This acceleratied river movement eastwards. On top of that windblown sand from the desert also played a role – accelerating the silting up process and stopping river flow in its track. OK settlements were engulfed and drought was a distinct feature of the First Intermediate – just as it was a distinct feature of the end of EB period in what is now Iraq. Logically, aligning Ur III with dynasty 11 makes sense. Altogether an excellent read  and highly recommended.

Velikovsky claimed the Nile delta came into being in the interval between the Pre-dynastic and the Old Kingdom. We now know that was around 3000BC. What occurred at this time  to set in motion the delta formation? One of life’s mysteries. It coincides with the last visitation to earth of Krishna – around 3100BC [which is also an important Maya date]. Likewise, in western Europe, most of its peat bogs were formed at this time – suggesting an extremely wet environment. These wet periods* returned towards the end of the second millennium BC [contemprary end of OK Egypt] and at other conspicuous dates [coreesponding with end of MK and LB in the Levant]. Ancioent history still has a lot of mysteries to solve. This is one down but there are  lots to go.

  • wet episodes in NW Europe coincide with drought cycles in the Near and Middle East, including Egypt. HH Lamb, Britain’s first climate scientist, explained the reason for this. In Britain’s case it was a preponderence of Iceland Lows but in the Near East it was a movement of the monsoon track southwards. In other words, an expansion of the polar zone [a drop in global temperatures], led to a contraction not just of the temperate zone but also the tropical zone. Lamb is mostly ignored by modern climate scientists – but that is a different story.
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