- Education and Science
Exploring the Nile River
The Nile River in Antiquity
The Nile River has been the centre of life in Egypt for the last 5000 years.
The River was important because the Seasonal flooding of the Nile River every spring, brought down fertile soil from the mountains and that soil was deposited along the riverbanks. It is this fertile belt all along the river, which has allowed the Egyptian people to grow food and to develop their cities.
In the last century the river has been dammed and the flooding is no longer a natural phenomenon.
The Nile river (including the longer White Nile branch) is the longest river on this planet - at just over 4100 miles in length.
Map Source - Ptolemy's Map of the Nile
The Nile River - Biblical plagues
The Nile River has been famous throughout history. One of the earliest mentions was in the Old Testament when the Israelites supposedly left Egypt and followed Moses to the promised land. Most of us know about the 10 plagues that were sent by God (all of which have now been explained by science) to force the pharoah to allow the Israelites to leave.
One of those plagues was said to be of the Nile river waters changing into blood. That is not likely to have been what actually happened. The most likely explanation is that the red waters came from an algae fungal bloom called a Red Tide.
Image Source - False Colour Satellite map of the Nile River Delta
Red is the Water, Blue refers to Buildings and Built up areas and White is the Desert.
The Black at the top is the Mediterranean Sea. Black at bottom right is what we now call the Red Sea.
Books about the Nile River
James Bruce and the Blue Nile
The source of the Nile River was originally thought to be the Blue River which rose somewhere in Ethiopia. No one ventured to investigate until James Bruce (from Scotland) in 1769 spent 2 years travelling through Ethiopia looking for and finding the Source of the Blue Nile.
The Blue Nile contributes some 75% of the water and most of the fertile soil that is sent downstream in the times of flooding.
The Blue Nile meets the Nile River at the city of Khartoum in the Sudan. The Blue Nile and the lower Nile together are about 3000 miles long.
The Great Lakes of Africa - Searching for the Source of the Nile River
From North to South these lakes are...
The long lake at the very top on the Kenyan border with Ethiopia is Lake Turkana.
Then the next lakes down are - west or left is Lake Albert
East or right (where it says Owen Falls Dam) is Lake Kyoga
The 2 lakes to the west (left) of Lake Victoria are
- top is Lake Edward
- bottom is Lake Kivu
The two lakes either side of Tanganyika are - Mweru on the west/left and Lake Rukwa on the east/right
None of the lakes south west of Lake Malawi (on the Zambezi River) are considered Rift Valley Lakes. Instead they are man made lakes on the Zambezi river when dams were built between 1965 and 1975. The lake on the left, closest to the Victoria Falls is Lake Kariba. The lake on the right is Lake Cahora Bassa.
The first known Westerners to discover the lakes are as follows.
Lake Turkana - Count SÃ¡muel Teleki de SzÃ©k (Hungarian) in 1888
Lake Tanganyika - Richard Burton and John Speke, in 1858
Lake Victoria - John Speke in 1858
Lake Albert - Samuel and Florence Baker in 1864
Lake Malawi - Candido JosÃ© da Costa Cardosa (Portuguese) in 1846, but it was David Livingstone in 1859 who named it Lake Nyasa (still used by the locals)
Lady Florence Baker - (1845 - 1916)
She was born Florenz Barbara Maria SzÃ¡sz or Sass in the Austro-Hungarian Empire (in what is now Romania) in 1845. Her father and brothers were apparently killed in front of her around 1848. She was taken to a refugee camp in Bulgaria, and possibly adopted by an Armenian family. After 1857 (by which time she would have been 12 years old) she was abducted and groomed to be a slave. By this she was taught to speak fluent Arabic and Turkish. By 1859 she was at the Vidin (Bulgaria) slave market waiting to be sold when she was spotted by an Englishman named Samuel Baker who fell in love with her. Samuel Baker purchased her and the two of them left Bulgaria and fled to Romania where they lived in Bucharest.
In 1861 Samuel and Florence left Europe and moved to Khartoum in the Sudan from where they began exploring. There is a story of how in Uganda, the king of Uganda began demanding gifts from Samuel with the intention of eventually obtaining Samuel's wife. He refused as he did not follow African custom and they departed from Uganda that same week. They later met up with John Speke who had traced the source of the Nile to Lake Victoria. Baker was sure there was nothing left for him to discover, but Speke assured him that there was. Samuel and Forence Baker discovered Lake Albert in March 1864.
By the end of 1865 they were back in England where they finally got married, and settled down in his home estate in Devon. Samuel died in 1893 and Florence died 23 years later in 1916.
There at least 2 books written about Florence Baker.
Image source - Wikipedia Commons License
Books about Lady Florence Baker
The Aswan High Dam and Abu Simbel
These statues were originally built around 1200 BCE.
The British had built a dam at Aswan around 1902 but it was already overflowing by 1945. So a new high dam was required. Work on the new High Aswan Dam was started in 1960 and completed in 1970
A plan was eventually worked out to save the Abu Simbel statues. If they had been left in place, they would have ended up permanently under water. So they had to be saved. A plan was devised and out into action at a cost of some $40 billion. Under the control of UNESCO, the statues were cut into large blocks, moved to a higher location and then reassembled. This project began in 1964 and ended in 1968.
This photo was taken in May 2007 and released into the public domain.
Image Source - Wikipedia commons license.
Mystery of the Nile - on IMAX
This is the story of a modern day explorer and expedition leader named Pasquale Scaturro.
In 2004, Pasquale persuaded a team of adventurers to go white water rafting down some 3000 miles of the Nile river lugging several large IMAX cameras with them. This book and the IMAX movie are the result. The official IMAX trailer is posted below. This movie is now also available on Blu-ray DVD from Amazon (see below)
More details about the Nile can be found on the Nile Film website