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NEWS: Water rise imperils pharaohs' temples
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Stewart
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 1:09 pm    Post subject: NEWS: Water rise imperils pharaohs' temples Reply with quote

Water rise imperils pharaohs' temples (Sydney Morning Herald) * requires registration

Egypt has launched a rescue plan to drain off water from the Nile threatening two pharaonic temples in the Luxor region in the south of the country.

The river's water table had risen due to extensive irrigation of nearby fields, placing the Karnak and Luxor temples in imminent danger, said the Supreme Council of Antiquities, which is responsible for Egypt's historical monuments.

In recent decades, the encroaching salty water has already done extensive damage to the 5000-year-old complexes, two of the country's biggest tourist attractions.

In certain areas, the waters have risen by 1.5 metres, submersing the base of the columns and jeopardising their foundations. Meanwhile the salt has faded the brilliant colour of the temples and the exquisite statues flanking the columns.

Authorities initially recommended that farmers change their irrigation methods to spare the two temples but the measures did little to help.

The current operation is expected to last 18 months and calls for the construction of several drainage trenches next to the temples to redirect the flow of excess water and then pump it into a canal.

It also revives an old drainage system which had been filled in by farmers, according to Sabri Abdelaziz, the Supreme Council's chief archaeologist in Upper Egypt, who said the aim was "to resolve the problem once and for all".
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh dear...that's why i want to visit Egypt asap...before it's too late!

But why's the water salty? That's puzzling because the Nile is fresh water, isn't it? Confused
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anneke
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

After they built the Aswan dam the flow of the river has diminished. This has had a measurable effect on the salt content in the soil.

The yearly inundations seem to have had the effect of "rinsing out" the soil so to say.
I'm not sure where the salt comes from (lower layers of the soil??).
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Osiris II
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The building of the high dam at Aswan is, indeed, a mixed blessing to Egypt.
On the one hand, it supplies much needed power, controls the flooding that has been experienced in Egypt for years, opens up new livable land by supplying much-needed water. Most areas, including remote villages, now have electrical power.
One the other hand, the flooding of the Nile that has been Egypt's place in history for millenia has been stopped. The Nile does not flood the valley any longer. Because the Nile no longer deposits its rejuvinating silt, heavy use of commerical fertilizers is now common. The use of these agents are partly responsible for the slow deterioration of the ancient buildings, along with the increase in the water-tables. The water is so close to the buildings that it "wicks" up through the stone, salts percolate to the serface of the stone, and carving and paintings are destroyed.
I'm not sure either where the salts come from. Partially, the salts are from the stone itself, but there is some action between the ground water, the natural salts in the soil and the increased use of fertilizers that have helped create the salts. Much work needs to be done to protect the monuments from the salts. In the temple in Luxor, the bases of the columns have been re-built, and a waterproofing element has been added, hopefully to stop the "wicking". Projects through-out the country are trying various methods to prevent this desruction. If it continues, whithin a hundred years there will be no carvings or paintings on any monuments or statues.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2005 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

*shudders* this is too scary! I must visit Egypt nooooow! I must get a job to pary the trip there and persuade my mum to take me on holiday there, like, soon!

Apparently, I've heard that the Colorado river is now saltier than the sea because of all the irrigation done with it...I hope the Nile doesn't go the same way!
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2005 7:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Salt takes many forms. Its common and natural for people to assume when they hear the word salt to associate it with salt water i.e. sea water.

However many compounds are salts Calcium carbonate is a salt and are famiiar with this as limestone on which a lot of Egypt sits I believe. Also Sodium carbonate is another salt which you know as Natron - the mineral they use in mummification. I heard somehwere - cant remember where - that natron was gather on the shores of the Nile. Even if it wasnt from the shores of the Nile then it must be around because I dont think it was something they imported.

I found this quote from http://nefertiti.iwebland.com/timelines/topics/mining.htm

Salts and other minerals

Cooking salt (Sodium chloride) was procured by the evaporation of seawater in shallow lagoons on the Mediterranean coast. There were also salt deposits in the Western and Eastern Deserts [4].
Natron [5], a naturally occurring sodium carbonate (Netjeri in ancient Egyptian), was found in a deposit 20 metres below sea level in the Wadi al-Natrun halfway between Cairo and Alexandria and as 'southern natron' at el Kab. It was used mainly for mummification.
Sal ammoniac was said to have been made from camels' dung in the oasis of Siwah, where there was a temple of Amen.
Alum, a mordant for dying cloth, was found in the oases of Dakla and Kharga in the Western Desert.
Galena (Lead sulphide) used in cosmetics, was mined at Gebel Rasas.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[ ] Source of the partial map of a gold mine: Petrie A History of Egypt Part 3
[2] Ancient peoples also seem to have used fleeces for capturing gold particles, as appears to be implied in the Myth of Jason and the Argonauts[3]
[4]
King Ptolemaes discovered salt also in the vicinity of Pelusium, when he encamped there; a circumstance which induced other persons to seek and discover it in the scorched tracts that lie between Egypt and Arabia, beneath the sand.
.....
On the shores of Egypt, salt is formed by the overflow of the sea upon the land, already prepared for its reception, in my opinion, by the emanations of the river Nilus. It is made here, also, from the water of certain wells, discharged into salt-pans.
Pliny, Natural History, Book XXXI, chapter 39 - (eds. John Bostock, H.T. Riley)
[5] Pliny refers to Egyptian nitrum, which is possibly potash or soda, its production and uses, at some length in his Natural History.

So there are many differents types of salts in the area and as has been rightly pointed out the lowering of the water level not only increase the concentration of whatever salts are there but as also rightly pointed out you end up with the 'wick effect' caused by the pourous building materials used.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2005 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very Happy Just curious about end of message:
ghobbit wrote:
Anneke and

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2005 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The topic about salts possibly damaging antiquities came up in
http://forum.egyptiandreams.co.uk/viewtopic.php?t=157

Sesen provided a link to a report about a lecture given by Kent Weeks about KV5. He mentioned the deterioration of sites due to water, salt and people.

I have seen some pictures of the difference wrought by this. Comparing old photographs to new ones of ancient sites shows inscriptions flaking off.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2005 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just got carried away Smile

I got distracted by my kids and got called away whilst I was writing. I was going to write something to the effect that I agree with what you said regarding lowering of the water levels but then realised I had already said something about it in the paragraph above.

Got distracted yet again as my son had done something that my daughter didnt approve of and then came back and forgot to delete the last couple of words.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2005 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sorry I didnt mean lowering of water levels - I meant to say lower RIVER flows Embarassed

Interesting read from yours and Sesens links.

But again the question that was originally put is where does the salt come from and also that a question was asked relating fresh water Nile and salt. All I was trying to point out from a chemists point of view is that salt is a loosly used term and that when used in this context it MIGHT mean that theres a combination of all the salts (and more) mentioned above and not neccessarily talking about 'salt water'.

I would think if you took a bucket of water from the Nile and did an analysis on it, you would find a relatively high concentration of dissolved salts perhaps such as those mentioned above. As the water seeps through the groud it'll be dissolving even more compounds (including sodium chloride) all making for a fairly destructive soup of salts.

I was intersted to read in the link you provided that it seems part of the problem was more to do with poor underlying sewerage drainage Shocked and when you think about the wick effect...........

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2005 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The salts in the water seem to come from a combination of effects, rather than just a solution of salts from the ground. It is the heavy use of fertilizers, the poor control of drainage, including sewage, the lowering of the Nile, the absence of flooding and rejunvination of the top-soil--all these contribute to the damage on the monuments. With the rising of the ground-water levels and the wick effect, this "soup" of salts work up into the monuments and have an extremely damaging effect on the stone, not only causing the carvings and painting to disappear, but, ultimately, making the stone itself to flake apart. As I've said above, the building of the High Dam brought many things to Egypt. Good things, certainly. Bad things, in damage to the attraction that are the reason for tourism, which is a predominate industry in Egypt. Efforts are being made to control this effect, and with success, which is very encouraging. This damage MUST be controlled to preserve the monuments for future generations. That, and the return of ancient works that have been illegally purchased by collectors must be a primary goal of the SCA.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2005 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well put Very Happy
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2005 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting...but I suppose the majority of salts are naturally occuring, and come from rocks? I know that's one way that minerals from rocks are transported through rivers, they dissolve in the water-I suppose that's the 'salt'.

But all this talk of destruction of monuments is worrying me, since I probably will never go to Egypt to see them and when i do, it'll probably be in 20 years time (although if I get a job maybe it'll be sooner) and too late, by what is implied here...they all said Egypt's monuments were eternal and timeless, but in this day and age, it seems that isn't so any more.
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Osiris II
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2005 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, ghobbit... Very Happy

As you can tell, it's a big thing with me. I've been to Egypt several times, and even within the past 20 years, there has been notable changes in the monuments.

isisinacrisis, I wouldn't be really concerned at the present about being able to go and see the monuments. All the agencies are working at top speed to find a "cure" for this problem.
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anneke
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2005 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Osiris II wrote:
Thanks, ghobbit... Very Happy
As you can tell, it's a big thing with me. I've been to Egypt several times, and even within the past 20 years, there has been notable changes in the monuments.
isisinacrisis, I wouldn't be really concerned at the present about being able to go and see the monuments. All the agencies are working at top speed to find a "cure" for this problem.


Do they have the financial means to do it though?
I'm not questioning your statement, I'm just curious how they would achieve something like that and be able to pay for it.
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