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Natural river irrigation shaped the early landscape of ancient Egypt.Drainage was not required for the Valley to become livable.It may have constituted a problem in the lower lying parts of the Delta which were often marshy.With the natural flooding and draining of the floodplain, the annual inundation permitted a single crop-season over two-thirds of the alluvial ground.Organized by regional authorities, every Egyptian had to move about thirty cubic metres of soil in about ten days every year.With this relatively small investment of labour, they kept the system in working order.Once the main canals, many of them natural, were in place, they just had to be dredged yearly to prevent their clogging up; the levees had to be raised, and smaller ditches had to be re-excavated.

I was curious to learn why the Nile is flooding for a hundred days from the summer solstice; and when this time is passed, sinks again, and the river is low during the whole winter until the summer solstice again.The building of dams at right angles to the flow of the Nile, separating the Nile Valley into basins, precedes the Old Kingdom.Dikes were built along the banks of the river and the basins which covered between 4 hectares, were carefully levelled.The river water was diverted into canals on either side of the Nile.At the time of the highest flooding (towards the end of September) most of the Nile Valley was covered with water, only villages and cities, built on higher ground and connected by dams, were above water.

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