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Pyramids UPSC NOTE

 Pyramids & Nile

  • The largest field of pyramids in Egypt – consisting of 31 pyramids built over a millennium, including the famous Great Pyramid at Gizalies along a narrow strip of land in the desert several kilometres west of the Nile River.

  • The Nile was at the heart of ancient Egyptian civilisation, and the location of so many pyramids some distance away from the river has until now not been fully explained.

  • The Nile served as a vital lifeline for ancient Egyptians, providing water and fertile soil for agriculture.

Nile

  • The Nile is a major north-flowing river in northeastern Africa

  • It flows into the Mediterranean Sea. 

  • The Nile is the longest river in Africa and has historically been considered the longest river in the world

  • About 6,650 km long, its drainage basin covers eleven countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt.

  • In particular, the Nile is the primary water source of Egypt, Sudan and South Sudan.

  • The Nile has two major tributaries: the White Nile and the Blue Nile. 

  • The White Nile is traditionally considered to be the headwaters stream

  • However, the Blue Nile is the source of most of the water of the Nile downstream, containing 80% of the water and silt

  • The White Nile is longer and rises in the Great Lakes region

  • It begins at Lake Victoria and flows through Uganda and South Sudan. 

  • The Blue Nile begins at Lake Tana in Ethiopia and flows into Sudan from the southeast

  • The two rivers meet at the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.

  • During the pyramid construction period, the Nile flowed much closer to the pyramid sites than it does today, providing easy access to water and transportation.


The Ahramat Branch

  • Using satellite imagery, high-resolution digital elevation data and historical maps, scientists identified and traced the long path of a previously unknown channel of the Nile. 

  • Which is called the Ahramat Branch once flowed along the Western Desert margin of the Nile floodplain, close to the ancient pyramids.

  • Many of the pyramids, built during the Old Kingdom (roughly 2700–2200 BCE) and the Middle Kingdom (2050–1650 BCE), have causeways that lead to the branch

  • Many of these paths terminate in temples that may have acted as river docks in the past.

  • This suggests the Ahramat Branch was active during multiple phases of pyramid construction and was probably used as a transportation waterway for workmen and building materials to the sites.

  • Some pyramids have longer or differently angled causeways than others, indicating the builders adapted their construction approaches to the changing riverscape and local conditions at the desert margin.

  • Other pyramids were connected to inlets associated with tributaries of the Ahramat Branch on the edge of the Western Desert. 

  • In all, analysis of the ground elevation of 31 pyramids and their proximity to the floodplain helped explain the position and relative water level of the Ahramat Branch during the time between the Old Kingdom and the Second Intermediate Period (roughly 2649–1540 BCE).

  • Over time, the Ahramat Branch moved eastward and eventually water stopped flowing along it

  • The river may have gradually moved to the lower-lying floodplain, towards the current location of the Nile

  • It is also possible that tectonic activity tilted the whole floodplain to the northeast.

  • A third possibility is that an increase in windblown sand may have filled up the river’s channel

  • Increases in sand deposition are most likely related to periods of desertification in the Sahara desert in North Africa.

  • The movement and diminishing of the Ahramat Branch might also be explained by an overall reduction in water flow due to reduced rainfall and greater aridity in the region, particularly during the end of the Old Kingdom

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Pyramids UPSC NOTE
Pyramids UPSC NOTE
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