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Archaeology: The Egyptian pyramids were built along the forgotten branch of the Nile - Akramat

These findings can explain why the pyramids are concentrated in what is now a narrow and hostile strip of desert

The water course of the ancient Akramat branch is bordered by a large number of pyramids from the Old Kingdom period to the Second Intermediate Period, which extends between the Third Dynasty and the Thirteenth Dynasty. Credit: Eman Ghoneim
The water course of the ancient Akramat branch is bordered by a large number of pyramids from the Old Kingdom period to the Second Intermediate Period, which extends between the Third Dynasty and the Thirteenth Dynasty. Credit: Eman Ghoneim

It is possible that 31 pyramids in Egypt, including the pyramid complex at Giza, were originally built along a branch of the Nile River that is 64 km long, which has long since been buried under farmland and desert. The findings, reported in a paper in Communications Earth & Environment, could explain why the pyramids are concentrated in what is now a narrow, hostile strip of desert.

The Egyptian pyramid fields between Giza and Lisht, built over a period of almost 1,000 years beginning about 4,700 years ago, are today at the edge of the hostile Western Desert, part of the Sahara. Sedimentary evidence indicates that the Nile once had a much higher flow, with the river splitting into several branches at different locations. Researchers in the past have speculated that one of these branches might have flowed near the Pyramid Fields, but this has not been confirmed.

Aman Gahonis and her colleagues studied satellite photographs to find the possible location of an ancient river branch that flowed along the foothills of the Western Desert Plateau, very close to the Pyramid Fields. They then used geophysical surveys and sediment cores to confirm the presence of ancient fluvial and channel sediments beneath the modern surface, indicating the presence of an ancient branch, which they propose to name 'Akhram' (the Arabic word for 'pyramids'). The authors suggest that increased accumulation of wind-borne sand, associated with a major drought that began about 4,200 years ago, may be one of the reasons for the eastward migration of the branch and its eventual closure.

The discovery may explain why the pyramid fields were concentrated along this stretch of desert, close to the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis, as they were easily accessible via the river branch at the time they were built. In addition, the authors found that many of the pyramids had roads that ended at the proposed riverbanks of the Akramat Branch, which they believe indicates that the river was used to transport building materials.

The findings highlight the importance of the Nile as a transportation and cultural artery for the ancient Egyptians, and also highlight how human society has historically been affected by environmental changes, according to the authors. Future research to find more branches of the Nile that have dried up may help prioritize archaeological excavations along their banks and protect Egypt's cultural heritage, they add.

for the scientific article

More of the topic in Hayadan:

One response

  1. How many times can you reinvent the wheel?
    Disrupted Nile fan arms are known and recognized
    So where is the revelation?

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