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Aswan to Alexandria

December 17, 1892, Evening Times, Monroe, Wisconsin, U.S.A.

Something about the Atmospheric Condition In the Valley of the Nile.

From a study of the climate of Egypt recently made by Dr. J. Hann, says the London Globe, it appears that for three or four days in March or April a hot, dusty wind visits Cairo and destroys the foliage of many of the trees. During summer hot winds the Etesian winds of the ancients, to which Thales ascribed the rise of the Nile blow from the north, but, although dry, they are clean. Toward September a dampness of the air accompanies the rise of the Nile, dew falls occasionally and the heat becomes oppressive, owing to the moisture. October and November bring snow and then a morning fog or a shower of rain; but after that the weather becomes pleasant and steady, snow is unknown, frost is very rare and rain is also infrequent. The highest temperature recorded at Cairo during the seventy-one years ending 1888 was 117 degrees Fahrenheit, in August, 1881; the lowest was 28.4 degrees Fahrenheit, in February, 1880. The mean annual temperature was 70.5 degrees Fahrenheit In 1887 the rainfall was only .87 inch, and in 1888 it was 1.07 inches. Hail and thunderstorms are exceedingly rare.

The Assuan Dam

May 4, 1901, Pacific Rural Press, California, U.S.A.

The Great Work on the Nile.

It will be well to turn for the moment from our local irrigation problems and enterprises to contemplate the great achievements of modern engineering on the very site of one of the oldest civilizations of the world. Consul-General Long of Cairo has furnished the State Department at Washington a very complete account of the work, giving full details. The following is his introductory outline which furnishes the popular information concerning the enterprise:

Of the many monuments of Egypt's past that line the banks of the Nile, none will be more enduring than the Assouan dam. This great work will be a memorial of the British sojourn in Egypt, and in boldness of design and thoroughness of execution will rank with anything that has ever been constructed in this land of Titanic achievements.

Present State of the Work on the Nile

Mystery of the Nile by outdoor adventure traveller, Richard Bangs.

All the low-level sluices have been practically completed. These will let the water through even when the Nile is low, and will be shut or opened, according as water is required. There are altogether 180 sluices and 150 low-level sluices. The lowest level water ever reaches at Assouan is 278.89 feet above the Mediterranean. Bymeans of the dam, the water will be held up to 347.6 feet above the same level. The very lowest sluices are sixty-five in number, and they have been made recently. An idea of the immensity of the labor involved in their construction may be obtained from the fact that the foundation of the deep sluices goes 75 feet below the ordinary rock surface. Each sluice is fitted with steel gates, adjustable at will, so as to enable the water to go in and out. The foundation was the most difficult portion of the whole work; seven-eighths of it is now complete.

Upper Nile and Eastern Sudan: Khartoum, White/Blue Nile, Aswan Low Dam.

Alexander Keith Johnston 1906.Map of Upper Nile and Eastern Sudan. Alexander Keith Johnston. Upper Nile.

One gap has been left to relieve the western channel, but all the foundations have been built in this gap. The most important work now in hand is the construction of the dam across the western channel, the last of the five deep channels of the river which cross the line of the dam and carry the supply of the Nile in winter and summer. Temporary dams for the work have already been constructed, and the excavations for the foundations are in progress. A temporary dam of earth has recently been made on the south of the west channel. Another temporary dam on the north will soon be made, and then the pumps will be set to work to get the intervening water out. All the foundation masonry will be in and should be above water before the beginning of the Nile flood this year. When this has been accomplished, the difficult part of constructing the great dam will be over.

Building of the Aswan Dam.

Pierre Joseph Bazin

The Dam Across the Nile
Building the Aswan Dam

June 8, 1909, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California

Arresting the Tears of Isis

CAIRO, Egypt. ln ancient Egypt it was believed that tears shed by Isis over the tomb of Osiris caused the annuel flooding of the Nile. "Can man arrest the tears of Isis as they flow?", was a question implying the impossible. Today the tears of Isis are stored behind a great dam at Assouan in a lake that contains a billion tons and is 140 miles long. According to a popular superstition, pearls mean tears. In Egypt the tears of Isis mean pearls to agriculturists; and William Willcocks, who made the plans for the dam, wears an order of British knighthood, conferred in recognition of his services.

A Great Canal.

Besides the vast labor immediately entailed by the dam, another great work directly connected therewith is being undertaken at the first cataract. As the dam will close the Nile to navigation, a canal of about 6540 feet in length is being constructed. There will be four locks, each 10.3 yards broad and 87.2 yards in length, the first gate to be about 21.8 yards behind the center of the dam and the others north of it. The recess for the first lock gate has just been started, and the work of construction is now actively in progress. The gates will be of steel. When shut, they will stand across the opening of the canal, and when open they will slide into a recess prepared for their reception in the western wall. The foundations for the second and third locks are similarly in progress. The east wall of the first lock and the west wall of the second have already been built to the height of something more than 8.7 yards. The foundation of the first lock floor is at 98.1 yards level, the others being respectively at 97, 93 7 and 90.4 yards level. The canal will permit sailing vessels to pass all the year round; heretofore they could only get through the cataract during high Nile. The mail steamers and any stern-wheeler now on the Nile will also be enabled to pass.

Egypt and the Lower Nile. 1897. Bartholomew.

1897. Egypt and the Nile. Bartholomew.

The cost of this canal will be approximately $1,250,000, and would require from $100,000 to $125,000 in lock dues per annum, if it is ever to be a paying investment. But there is very little prospect of any immediate increase in trade; in fact, the reverse is probably the case. Formerly, there was a fair amount of carrying trade from the north, bringing supplies to the armies in the Soudan, and seed and grain has also been brought from the countries now depopulated and ruined by the Mahdi's and Khalifa's followers. This commerce is now gone, and the only carrying trade of any importance in the future will be from the south to the north, as the southern districts become more cultivated. The area, in any event, must necessurily be limited. Although a great volume of trade passes Shellal now, the construction of a railway from Assouan to No. VI station is only a matter of time, and the trade from the north of the dam will consequently be limited to the district between Assouan and Wady-Halfa, which will not be tapped by the railway. The construction of this canal is, in fact, due to what may be styled "moral considerations." The Egyptian Government does not wish to bar the navigation of the oldest waterway in the world, and to cut off the villages between Shellal and the second cataract from all communication with the outer world ; for when the canal is finished the line to Shellal will -no longer be used. It is proposed when the dam is finished to transship goods by the canal to Haifa, at Assouan. At the present time about 150 native boats start from Shellal to WadyHalfa every week.

Work To Be Done

The two chief works that will be undertaken during the next five months are to get the west channel foundation in and to complete to their finished levels those parts of the dam whose foundations are already laid. In 1902 the work will be practically confined to finishing up. The great enterprise has gone too far for even a high Nile to hinder the completion of the dam.

No precise details can be given as to the cost of the work. The original estimate for the construction of the two reservoirs at Assouan and Assiout was $9,886,000. The excess over this estimate will be great, although it cannot be accurately gauged at present, owing to the greatly increased depths which had to be excavated before sufficiently sound granite on which to found the dam was reached. The whole work will be finished at least a year before the time specified in the contract, which was five years. This will save one low Nile, and this early completion of the dam will, therefore, be of great utility and benefit to Egypt. Such is the present status and condition of the work which will mark an epoch in Egyptian history.

A more curious jumble of the ancient and modern would be difficult to find than in this enterprise. The best mechanical appliances of the twentieth century are used amid the very quarries which furnished the materials for the colossal structures of the Pharaonic age. The rocks that are being quarried to-day bear the grooves and notches made by laborers who died thirty centuries ago.

Aswan to Cairo to Alexandria

August 31, 1865, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California, U.S.A.


Sir Roderick Murchison communicates to the London Times a long letter from Baker, the discoverer of the Albert Nyanza Lake in Central Africa, of equal, if not greater importance as a source of the Nile, than the Victoria Nyanza of Speke. Sir Roderick Murchison infers, from a carefully drawn map sent him by Baker, and also from a passage in his letter, that he substantiates the opinion adopted by Speke, that the Nile flowed into the Luta Nzjge, and then emerged from it it its course to Gondokoro. Sir Roderick also observes that the important additional knowledge obtained by Baker, showing the existence of great cataracts on the Nile between the point where Speke left the river and the place where he next met it, explains that that which has been looked upon as a serious difficulty in the acceptance of the views of that eminent explorer.

Baker's letter is dated Khartum, April 30th, and after some words of thanks to Sir Roderick Murchison, and stating that he will be in England shortly, he goes on to say:

I had the good fortune to meet Captain Speke and Grant at Gondokoro, in February, 1863. The object of my expedition being attained by meeting them, and by their discovery of the Victoria Nyanza Nile-head, 1 should have returned with them had not Captain Speke reported that he had heard of a lake called by the natives Luta Nzige. This, he imagined, might be a second source of the Nile, and I at once determined to attempt the exploration.

Samuel and Lady Baker 
welcomed by natives near Karuma Falls

My boats departed from Gondokoro for Khartum with Captains Speke and Grant, but when I was about to start the whole of my men mutinied and refused to proceed, retaining possession of my arms and ammunition. The ivory traders of the place combined to prevent any European from penetrating the interior, fearing travelers' reports upon the slave trade. The chance of being able to proceed appeared hopeless. Being resolved not to be driven back, and finding it impossible to lead my men south, I at length induced eighteen of my mutineers to accompany me to the camp of one of the traders, E.S.E of Gondokoro about eighty miles, whence I hoped to be able to alter my course. Having loaded my camels and asses, I started at night, without either interpreter or guide, neither of whom were procurable, all the natives being under the influence of the traders. On passing the station of an Arab trader, six days from Gondokoro, my men, who had previously conspired to desert me at that spot, again mutinied; several absconded with arms and ammunition, and joined the trader's party. They, however, with the entire party, were massacred by the Latooka tribe two days after their desertion.

A day's journey in advance of that station I met an Arab trader, whose heart I gained by presents. I persuaded him to supply me with porters and to accompany me to the Unyoro country, where he might commence a trade with King Kamrasi. Then I intended to strike west, in search of the lake.

Gondokoro Homestead. 1862.
A Typical Gondokoro Homestead, 1862

Owing to a succession of difficulties and delays, I did not arrive at Kamrasi's Capital, M'rooli, north latitude 1 degree 37 minutes, until the 10th of February, 1864. The trader's party returned to Gondokoro, leaving me with mv escort of thirteen men to proceed. After eighteen days march I reached the long-wished-for lake, about one hundred miles west of M'rooli, at Vacovia, in north latitude 1 degree 14 minutes: In respect for the memory of our lamented Prince, I named it (subject to her Majesty's permission) the "Albert Nyanza," as the second great source of the Nile second, not in importance, but only in order of discovery to the Victoria -Nile-head. The Victoria and the Albert lakes arc the indubitable parents of the river.

The Capital of Unvoro (M'rooli) is situated at the junction of the Nile and Kafoor rivers, at an altitude of 3,202 feet above the sea level. I followed the Kafoor to latitude 1 degree 12 minutes north, to avoid an impassable morass that runs from north to south; upon rounding this I continued a direct westerly course to the lake. The route throughout is a wooded, interspersed with glades, thinly populated, with no game. My route lay over high ground to the north of a swampy valley running west; the greatest elevation was 3,686 feet. The rocks were all gneiss, granite and masses of iron ore, apparently fused into a conglomerate with rounded quartz pebbles.


EGYPT: The Nile Valley an Delta. South to Assuan. Stanford, 1906 mapThe Nile Valley and Delta Map. Nile Valley Map.

The Albert Lake is a vast basin lying in an abrupt depression, the cliffs, which I descended by a difficult pass, being 1,470 feet above its level. The lake level is 2,070 feet, being 1,132 feet lower than the Nile at M'rooli; accordingly the drainage of the country tends from east to west. From the high ground above the lake no land is visible to the south and southwest; but northwest and west is a large range of mountains, rising to about 7,000 feet above the lake level, forming the western shore, and running southwest parallel to the course of the lake. Both King Kamrasi and the natives assured me that the lake is known to extend into Rumanika's country to the west of Karagwe, but from that point, in about 1degree 30 feet south latitude, it turns suddenly to the west, in which direction its extent is unknown, In north latitude 1 14', where I reached the lake, it is about sixty miles wide, but the width increases southward. The water is deep, sweet and transparent; the shores are generally clean and free from reeds, forming a sandy beach.

I navigated the lake in a canoe formed of a hollow tree for thirteen days from Vacovia, arriving at Magungo, at the junction of the Nile with the lake, in north latitude 2 16'. The voyage was long, owing to the necessity of coasting, and to the heavy sea, which, with a westerly wind, generally rose at one o'clock P. M. daily.

At the Nile junction the lake had contracted to a width of about twenty miles; the shores were no longer clean, but vast masses of reeds, growing in deep water, prevented the canoe from landing. Mountains had ceased on the eastern shore, giving place to hills about five hundred feet high, which, instead of rising abruptly from the lake, like the mountains further south, were five or six miles distant, the ground descending in undulations to the lake. The entrance of the Nile is a broad channel of deep, but dead water, bounded on either side by vast banks of reeds. From this point the lake extends to the northwest about forty miles, and then turns to tho west, contracting gradually extent unknown.

About twenty miles north of the Nile junction at Magungo the river issues from the great reservoir, and continues its course to Gondokoro. [This appears to be the passage referred to by Sir Roderick Murchison as proving that Speke' a Nile flows into the lake, but other statements in the letter confirm this view.]

I went up the Nile in a canoe from the junction: the natives could proceed no further north, owing to the hostile tribes on the lake shores. About ten miles from the junction the Nile channel contracted to about 260 yards in width, with little perceptible stream, very deep, and banked as usual with high reeds, the country on either side undulating and wooded. The course from the junction up the river being cast, at about twenty miles from Magungo, my voyage suddenly terminated a stupendous waterfall of about one hundred and twenty feet perpendicular bight stopped all further progress. Above the great fall the river is suddenly confined between rocky hills, and it races through a gap, contracted from a grand stream of perhaps two hundred yards wide to a channel not exceeding fifty yards. Through this gap it rushes with amazing rapidity, and plunges at one leap into a deep basin below. This magnificent cataract I have taken the liberty of naming the "Murchison Falls.''

From that point I proceeded overland parallel with the river through Chopi, and at length I reached Karuma, having been for some months completely disabled by fever, my quinine long since exhausted.

Lake Albert Nyanza forms an immense basin far below the level of the adjacent country, and receives the entire drainage of extensive mountain ranges on the west, and of the Utumbi, Uganda and Unyoro countries on the east. Eventually reaching the Nile itself it adds its accumulated waters and forms the second source of that mighty river. The voyage down the lake is extremely beautiful, the mountains frequently arising abruptly from the water, while numerous cataracts rush down their furrowed sides. The cliffs on the east shore are granite, frequently mixed with large masses of quartz.

On the eastern borders of the lake much salt is obtained from the soil; this forms the trade of the miserable villages which at long intervals are situated on the Unyoro shore, The natives are extremely inhospitable, in many cases refusing to sell provisions. Mallegga, on the west coast of the lake, is a large and powerful country, governed by a King named Kajoro, who possesses boats sufficiently large to cross the lake. The Mallegga trade largely with Kamrasi, bringing ivory and beautifully prepared skins and mantels in exchange for salt, brass coil bracelets, cowries and beads, all of which articles, excepting salt, come from Zanzibar via Karagwe, there being no communication with the west coast of Africa.


Mark Twain's Egyptian Journey

Egypt.After a pleasant voyage and a good rest, we drew near to Egypt and out of the mellowest of sunsets we saw the domes and minarets of Alexandria rise into view. As soon as the anchor was down, Jack and I got a boat and went ashore. It was night by this time, and the other passengers were content to remain at home and visit ancient Egypt after breakfast. It was the way they did at Constantinople. They took a lively interest in new countries, but their school-boy impatience had worn off, and they had learned that it was wisdom to take things easy and go along comfortably---these old countries do not go away in the night; they stay till after breakfast.

When we reached the pier we found an army of Egyptian boys with donkeys no larger than themselves, waiting for passengers -- for donkeys are the omnibuses of Egypt. We preferred to walk, but we could not have our own way. The boys crowded about us, clamored around us, and slewed their donkeys exactly across our path, no matter which way we turned. They were good-natured rascals, and so were the donkeys. We mounted, and the boys ran behind us and kept the donkeys in a furious gallop, as is the fashion at Damascus. I believe I would rather ride a donkey than any beast in the world. He goes briskly, he puts on no airs, he is docile, though opinionated. Satan himself could not scare him, and he is convenient---very convenient. When you are tired riding you can rest your feet on the ground and let him gallop from under you.

Palace of the Khedive, Alexandria

We found the hotel and secured rooms, and were happy to know that the Prince of Wales had stopped there once. They had it every where on signs. No other princes had stopped there since, till Jack and I came. We went abroad through the town, then, and found it a city of huge commercial buildings, and broad, handsome streets brilliant with gas-light. By night it was a sort of reminiscence of Paris. But finally Jack found an ice-cream saloon, and that closed investigations for that evening. The weather was very hot, it had been many a day since Jack had seen ice-cream, and so it was useless to talk of leaving the saloon till it shut up.

In the morning the lost tribes of America came ashore and infested the hotels and took possession of all the donkeys and other open barouches that offered. They went in picturesque procession to the American Consul's; to the great gardens; to Cleopatra's Needles; to Pompey's Pillar; to the palace of the Viceroy of Egypt; to the Nile; to the superb groves of date-palms. One of our most inveterate relic-hunters had his hammer with him, and tried to break a fragment off the upright Needle and could not do it; he tried the prostrate one and failed; he borrowed a heavy sledge hammer from a mason and tried again. He tried Pompey's Pillar, and this baffled him. Scattered all about the mighty monolith were sphinxes of noble countenance, carved out of Egyptian granite as hard as blue steel, and whose shapely features the wear of five thousand years had failed to mark or mar. The relic-hunter battered at these persistently, and sweated profusely over his work. He might as well have attempted to deface the moon. They regarded him serenely with the stately smile they had worn so long, and which seemed to say, "Peck away, poor insect; we were not made to fear such as you; in ten-score dragging ages we have seen more of your kind than there are sands at your feet: have they left a blemish upon us?"

New York, New York, July 12, 1882, The New York Times

The Defenses of Alexandria Rendered Almost Useless in Less than Twelve Hours — the Story of the First Day's Fight — No Signs of Surrender — Slight Loss to the English — the Egyptian Loss Probably Large.

LONDON, July 11. The first day's bombardment of the forts in the Harbor of Alexandria ended at 6:50 o'clock this afternoon, and after submitting to a continuous cannonade from the British fleet of 11 hours and 50 minutes Arubl Pasha made no signs of surrender. Admiral Seymour's total loss from the artillery fire of the forts was five British seaman killed and 27 wounded, and the effect of the firmg upon the formidable Ironclads of the fleet, except in one instance, the Inflexible is said to have been almost inappreciable. The order to cease firing was given because of the approach of nightfall, and to give the obtinate Arabi an opportunity to come to terms.

The result of the first day's action has been the total demolition of four of the forts and most of the earth-works, with probably a large loss of life, although no estimate of this can now be made, as communication with the city is entirely shut off for the present . . . The details of the bombardment which have reached London, although comparatively meagre, show conclusively that the engagement was one of the most romarkable which has taken place in modern naval warfare, and that the English iron-clads have proved able to accomplish nearly all that has ever been claimed for them.

A New English Version
Stephen Mitchell
Gilgamesh is considered one of the masterpieces of world literature; this version translator by the acclaimed author of the Tao Te Ching and the Bhagavad Gita. Inscribed on stone tablets a thousand years before the Iliad and the Bible and found in fragments, Gilgamesh describes the journey of the king of the city of Uruk in what is now Iraq. At the start, Gilgamesh is a young giant with gigantic wealth, power and beauty—and a boundless arrogance that leads him to oppress his people. As an answer to their pleas, the gods create Enkidu to be a double for Gilgamesh, a second self. Learning of this huge, wild man who runs with the animals, Gilgamesh dispatches a priestess to find him and tame him by seducing him. Making love with the priestess awakens Enkidu's consciousness of his true identity as a human being rather than as an animal. Enkidu is taken to the city and to Gilgamesh, who falls in love with him as a soul mate.

The Pyramid Builder
Cheops, the Pharaoh Behind the Great Pyramid
Author Christine El-Mahdy is a widely renowned Egyptologist whose interest in the subject started as a child (she taught herself to read hieroglyphics aged nine). She has worked in the Egyptian departments of Bolton Museum and Liverpool University Museum and, in 1988, she founded the British Centre for Egyptian Studies which she now runs. She has previously written three internationally bestselling books on ancient Egypt.

Encyclopedia of Goddesses and HeroinesGoddesses and Heroines.
Patricia Monaghan
Goddesses and Heroines.
Previously published as a two-volume set in 2009, this revised paperback edition contains more than 1,000 entries on goddesses and heroines from around the world. The material is divided into geographic sections: “Africa,” “Eastern Mediterranean,” “Asia and Oceania,” “Europe,” and “The Americas.” Europe is treated with the most granularity, with roughly 140 pages divided into eight subsections. The sections and subsections open with a few pages of introduction, followed by entries for each individual goddess or heroine, arranged alphabetically within each region. Entries range from a scant paragraph to nearly a page in length. Each entry has at least one source text, but a significant portion have several (more than 10 in some cases). These sources are listed in a bibliography, which lists for each region both primary sources (indicating “in translation” and “oral” when applicable) and “other sources.” Author Monaghan was a pioneer in contemporary women’s spirituality, and her perspective here has the flavor of radical feminism, where goddesses have been lost to the repressive patriarchy. ~ Booklist

Literary Fiction

Gospel According to Yeshuas Cat.
The Gospel According to Yeshua's Cat
C. L. Francisco, PhD
From the Author: Although nothing can compare with the excitement of diving into a new research project, I've always chosen fiction for my downtime reading. My favorites are fantasy, science fiction, and mystery, although I have an inexplicable weakness for several books by Elizabeth Goudge. Fiction sneaks up on me, gets under my guard, and touches my heart in a way that non-fiction just can't. It opens up new possibilities and sets me dreaming. Books that have been life-changing for me have always been fiction, most noticeably books by C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams. That's probably why I chose to write a book like Yeshua's Cat.

Amelia Peabody's Egypt.
Amelia Peabody's Egypt: A CompendiumAmelia Peabodys Egypt.
Elizabeth Peters

Crocodile on the Sandbank.
Crocodile on the Sandbank
(Amelia Peabody, Book 1)
A Mystery Novel set along the Nile.
Author Elizabeth PetersEgypt. is a New York Times best-selling novelist. She also earned a Ph.D. in Egyptology at the University of Chicago, thus the setting of much of this 19-book series: Egypt and the antiquities along the River Nile. Set during the late 1800s the tales start when British Amelia Peabody travels to Egypt to quench her thirst for history.

Tomb of the Golden Bird.
Later works, such as Tomb of the Golden BirdTomb of the Golden Bird., have Amelia travelling to Palestine where an English adventurer is planning to excavate Jerusalem's Temple Mount in search of the Ark of the Covenant. Her writing is brilliant and hysterically, ascerbically humorous, which seems somewhat unusual in books including tomb robbers and murderers.

Palace Walk: The Cairo Trilogy, Naguib Mahfouz.Egypt.
Palace Walk
The Cairo Trilogy, Volume 1
The Cairo Trilogy..
Written by the Noble Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz, Palace Walk is the first book in his Cairo Trilogy. Palace Walk is about a merchant living in Cairo, who makes his family follow strict religious social rules while he breaks all of them himself. If you are planning on visiting Egypt, start here.


The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

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