Water barrier used to protect Karnak temples from Nile flood found in Egypt

February 4th, 2009 - 2:10 pm ICT by ANI  

Cairo, Feb 4 (ANI): In excavations at the Karnak temple complex in Egypt, archaeologists have discovered a 250-metre-long embankment used to protect Karnak from the Nile flood, along with a quay, baths and a settlement.

According to a report in Al-Ahram Weekly, the findings were made during routine excavation work carried out by an Egyptian archaeological mission in the front courtyard at Karnak, part of the Karnak Temples site management project for the area enclosed between the temples and the Nile.

Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that early studies on the newly-discovered structures revealed that the quay, the first part of which was discovered last year, was constructed as part of the embankment.

The quay consists of two opposite steps leading to a five-metre-long ramp made of sandstone blocks brought from the quarries of the Silsila mountains in Aswan.

This kind of stone can stand against the erosion of Nile water, Hawass explained, adding that because the ramp was very steep towards the Nile, the 25th Dynasty Pharaoh Taharka (690–664 BC) built a small royal quay in the middle of the ramp which on its turn divided the ramp into three sections.

The embankment and the quay were found at the northern gate of the Karnak complex, which was formerly used as the temples main entrance in winter when the Nile level was low, he added.

While examining the embankment structure, archaeologists found a number of holes used to attach the ropes of the boats while docking.

According to Mansour Boreik, director of the mission, further excavation at the site had uncovered remains of two villages on the quay, one Ptolemaic and one Roman, which suggested that the movement of the Nile varied over the span of history and its path had veered slightly towards the western side.

Such changes enabled the ancient Egyptians to build a residential settlement during the Ptolemaic and Roman ages, Boreik said. It also helped to better understand the Nile flood evolution in front of the quay, he added. (ANI)

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