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5 - New Land amongst New Rivers?

Reconstructing the Ancient Waterscape and Settlement History in the Central Northwestern Delta

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 February 2024

Katherine Blouin
University of Toronto
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Edward Lane’s view of the northern Delta, first drafted in 1829, describes a desolate, marginal landscape – difficult to get to and lacking in reasons to do so. This view has remained largely unchallenged by Egyptologists for a long time. This chapter puts the north of Egypt at its centre and discusses in particular when and how this region was used. First, we discuss the landscapes of the northern Delta, their diachronic development and the geographic work investigating this part of Egypt. Second, there is an overview of the state of archaeological research in this region. The reasons for the scientific lack of interest for this region in Egyptology will be addressed. Next, we introduce the historiographical hypothesis, which suggests that under the Ptolemies the northern Delta was an area of land reclamation, comparable to what was achieved in the Faiyum. A case study is presented of a region in the central northwestern Delta, which was investigated in a multidisciplinary combination of archaeological surveys, geophysical work on the ground and analysis of remote sensing data. Based on the preliminary results, a reconstruction of the ancient landscape and settlement history is proposed, and the historiographical hypothesis refuted.

The Nile Delta
Histories from Antiquity to the Modern Period
, pp. 185 - 218
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024

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