Discovery of lost branch of Nile may shed light on location of pyramids – study

pa ready, nile, sahara desert, egypt, arabic, discovery of lost branch of nile may shed light on location of pyramids – study

Giza in Egypt (Alamy/PA)

Thirty-one pyramids in Egypt – including the Giza pyramid complex – may originally have been built along a now buried branch of the River Nile – providing a route for construction materials, new research suggests.

The discovery could help explain how these ancient wonders were built.

It could also explain why these pyramids are concentrated in what is now a narrow, inhospitable desert strip in the harsh Sahara Desert, far from where the Nile is today.

We suggest that The Ahramat Branch played a role in the monuments’ construction...

Study authors

The newly identified 64-kilometre-long branch of the river, named The Ahramat (meaning pyramids in Arabic), would have provided an essential water route for transporting building materials directly to the pyramid sites.

Additionally, the researchers found that many of the pyramids had causeways which ended at the proposed riverbanks of the Ahramat branch, which they suggest is evidence the river was used for transporting construction materials.

Some 4,700 years after construction on these ancient wonders first began, researchers used soil samples and satellite imagery to indicate the pyramid sites may have originally been built along this now buried branch of the river Nile.

Eman Ghoneim, from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, USA, and colleagues studied satellite imagery to find the possible location of a former river branch running along the foothills of the Western Desert Plateau, very near to the pyramid fields.

They then used geophysical surveys and sediment cores to confirm the presence of river sediments and former channels beneath the modern land surface.

The authors suggest that an increased build-up of windblown sand, linked to a major drought which began approximately 4,200 years ago, could be one of the reasons for the branch’s migration east and eventual silting up.

Writing in the journal Communications Earth and Environment, the researchers say: “We identify segments of a major extinct Nile branch, which we name The Ahramat Branch, running at the foothills of the Western Desert Plateau, where the majority of the pyramids lie.

“Many of the pyramids, dating to the Old and Middle Kingdoms, have causeways that lead to the branch and terminate with Valley Temples which may have acted as river harbours along it in the past.

“We suggest that The Ahramat Branch played a role in the monuments’ construction and that it was simultaneously active and used as a transportation waterway for workmen and building materials to the pyramids’ sites.”

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