Friday, October 14, 2022

Was Ancient Egypt a Desert?

 From Live Science:

Thanks to modern images of Egypt's iconic pyramids towering over a vast sandscape, many people assume this area is, and always has been, a desert. But considering that climates and landscapes can change over time and that humans have been known to alter natural environments, was ancient Egypt a desert? And is Egypt still considered a desert today? 

The simple answer is no. Not all of Egypt, ancient or modern, qualifies as a desert. Areas near the Nile River tend to be lusher, and Egyptians — in both ancient and modern times — have had a thriving system of agriculture. However, the environment has changed over Egypt's history, and the construction of the Aswan High Dam across the Nile between 1960 and 1970 altered the landscape substantially. 

Some areas of Egypt that are now desert were wetter in the past. One famous example is the "Cave of Swimmers" on the Gilf Kebir plateau in southwestern Egypt. Today, the area is very arid, but thousands of years ago, it was moister, and some of the rock art found in caves in the area appears to show people swimming, according to the British Museum (opens in new tab). (Read more.)


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