August 15 – The Flooding of the Nile

Posted on August 15, 2016

The Nile has flooded for thousands of years, and this important natural cycle was crucial to the development of the Ancient Egyptian civilization.

Apparently, the timing of the flooding was so consistent that the Ancient Egyptians timed it with the “helical rising of Sirius” – a yearly event around which the Egyptian calendar is based.

(The helical rising of Sirius is the day on which Sirius rises above the eastern horizon just a moment before sunrise. This occurs after a period of time during which Sirius had not been visible, because it had been washed out by the much stronger light of the Sun.)

Now – back to the Nile!

The Nile River was the only water source in the desert region of Egypt. Every year its floodwaters would dump silt onto the Egyptian's fields. The silt was then left behind as the water soaked downwards or evaporated, and the minerals and organic matter left behind by the receding Nile fertilized the land. The reliable floods enabled the Egyptians to grow crops and eventually to create a mighty empire!

The building of the Aswan Dam is a very
interesting story. Ancient statues had
to be cut up and relocated!
Even though the High Dam at Aswan means that the annual flood no longer occurs in Egypt (south of the dam, which is “above” the dam on the Nile, since it flows from South to North, there is still flooding in modern-day Sudan), Egyptians still celebrate Wafaa El-Nil for two weeks, starting August 15. The holiday name can be translated to “Fidelity of the Nile.”

Wafaa El-Nil celebrations may include flower parades, boat parades, water sports such as rowing, water skiing, windsurfing, and swimming. Sometimes dancers and folkloric troops perform, and sometimes there are portrayals of the ancient legends of the Nile.

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