Page images
PDF
EPUB

that the Kagera is the actual upper course of the Nile, and that before the subsidence took place which formed Lake Victoria, the Kagera fowed between the Sesse Islands and the western shore, then skirted the present northern shore by Rosebery Channel to Napoleon Gulf to join the Nile at the Ripon Falls; a distinct current is also mentioned as setting across from the Kagera to the Ripon Falls. Seeing how small an effect the volume discharged by the Kagera. even in the rainy season, can have on the water of this vast lake, any such current must be an effect of the prevalent winds, and as we have seen that winds blow from lake to shore by day at almost all seasons, it is more than probable that in places a regular drift of the surface water may be caused” (Physiography, p. 58).

Strictly speaking, the Nile is formed by the junction, at 15° 36' N. lat., and 32° 30' E. long., of two great tributaries called respectively the Bahr al-Azrak, i.e., the “lurid” or Blue Nile, and the Bahr al-Abyad, i.e., the “ clear,” or White Nile.

From Lake Victoria (Ripon Falls) to Khartûm the distance by river is about 1,560 miles; from Kharțûm to Aswân is 1,165 miles ; and from Aswân to the sea about 7.48 miles more, i.e., 3,473 miles ; but if we include the length of any of the larger tributaries of Lake Victoria in the length of the Nile, and the length of the lake itself, we may say that this wonderful river is over 4,000 miles long.

The White Nile is so called because of the fine, whitish clay which colours its waters. It is broader and deeper than the eastern arm, and it brings down a much larger volume of water; the ancients appear to have regarded it as the true Nile. There can, however, be no doubt that either the Blue Nile or the Atbara is the true maker of Egypt, for during their rapid courses from the Abyssinian mountains they carry down with them all the rich mud which, during the lapse of ages, has been spread over the land on each side of its course, and which has formed the land of Egypt. In truth, Egypt is the gift of the Blue Nile and the Atbara.

Lake Victoria lies between the parallels of latitude 2' N. and 3° S., and the meridians of 31° 40' and 35° E. of Greenwich, about 4,670 feet above the sea, and is 1,625 feet higher than Lake Albert; it is 160 miles long, 200 miles wide, and its area is 70,000 square kilometres. When the river leaves the lake it is about 1,300 feet wide ; at the Ripon Falls it drops about 13 feet. Between the Victoria and Albert Lakes, a distance of 242 miles, the White Nile, known here as the “Somerset,” passes through a number of swamps, and then flows into the N.E. corner of Lake Albert ; from Lake Albert it flows in a broad, deep, and almost level stream for a distance of 125 miles to the Fola Falls, a little to the north of Dufili, at which point the river is nearly 300 feet wide, and becomes almost a torrent. Flowing on to Làdô, about 125 miles from Dufili, the river becomes only 6 feet deep in the winter at low water, and 15 feet in flood. From Lâdô to Böhr,* a distance of about 102 miles, the river has a rapid fall and keeps to one channel, but from Bôhr, to the mouth of the Bahr al-Ghazal (a distance of about 350 miles), the stream passes through many channels. From Victoria

* The following note on the proposed new channel from Bor (or Löhr) to the Sobat river was communicated to Reuter's Igent at Cairo on March 4 by Sir William Garstin :

"The trial line of levels for the proposed new channel for the Upper Nile between Bor and the Sobat river has been successfully carried across. The total fall between these two points is just under 33 metres.

Is this distance ---supposing a direct line to be followed-is some 355 kilometres, the available water slope for the proposed channel is consequently a little over nine centimetres per kilometre. This result is satisfactory inasmuch as it renders the project a possible one, as far as the actual levels are concerned. That, however, is the utmost that can be said in its favour as yet. Many other considerations are involved,

N'yanza to this point the river is called by the natives “Baḥr al-Gebel,” or “Mountain River," and from Lake Nô, where it joins the Bahr al-Ghazal, to Kharțûm it is known as “Baḥr al-Abyad,” or “White Nile." Here are the large masses of living vegetation which are commonly called “Sudd,” and which form almost insuperable barriers to navigation. The Bahr al-Ghazal flows into the Nile on its west bank, and 60 miles further on the Sobat River flows into it from the east or right bank. From the latter river to Kharțûm, a distance of about 598 miles, the White Nile flows slowly in a stream about 6 feet deep, and considerably more than a mile wide. At Kharțûm, where the Blue Nile from Abyssinia joins the White Nile, the river is about 1,253 feet above sea-level. The Blue Nile, which is about 960 miles long, is almost clear in winter, but from June to October its water is of a reddish-brown colour, and is highly charged with alluvium. The greenish colour which is sometimes observed in the Nile far to the north is due to the decaying vegetation which is brought down by the White Nile.

About 56 miles below Kharțûm is the Sixth Cataract, and 145 miles lower down the river Atbara Aows into the Nile on the east or right bank. The Atbara rises in the Abyssinian mountains, and its waters bring down with them a large quantity of volcanic dust, which is an excellent fertilizing element; after the Atbara the Nile

and much more information is required before any definite pronounce ment can be made. Until the several alternative schemes for remodel. ling the Upper Nile-in its course through the great swamps-have been thoroughly studied, and until reliable estimates of their cost have been prepared, no decision can be arrived at. These studies are in progress, but will require from one to two years to complete.”—(Times, March 5, 1906.)

SEA LEVEL

ASYUT

LUXOR

ASWAN FIRST CATARACTAbout 600 miles from

CA[RO and about 305

WADI HALFA About 930 miles from the sea

SECOND CATARACT and about 416 feet

>THIRD CATARACT

THE NILE

FIFTH CATARACT

on its journey north re- Sketch showing the height of the Nile caiuse no other tributary ceives no other tributary.

above mean sea-level at different

points of its course. The Atbara is 700 miles long. About 32 miles below the Atbara is the Fifth - ROSETTA Cataract, which is cver CAIRO 100 miles in length ; between the southern and the northern end the Vile drops about 205 feet.

feet above mean sea level About 60 miles lower down begins the Fourth Cata

above meansea level ract, which is 66 miles

CONGOLA long ; between the southern <>FOURTH CATARACT and the northern end the

ATBARA RIVER Nile drops 160 feet. About 195 miles lower down begins the Third Cataract,

the sea and about 1270 which is 45 miles long ; between the southern and

FASHODA the northern end the river drops 36 feet. The

BÖR or BÔHR About 2700 miles from Second Cataract begins

LADO about 70 miles lower down; it is 125 miles long, and between its two ends the river drops about 213 feet.

AIPON FALLS At Semnah, which is rather more than 35 miles south

LAKE VICTORIA, about of Wadi Halfa, are the si

$3700 miles from the

Sea, and 3675 feet above rocks where the late Dr.

mean sea level. Lepsius discovered the gauges which were cut by order of the kings of the XIIth dynasty, about E.C. 2300, and these show that the Nile flood recorded there was 26 feet higher than any flood of to-day. Sir W. Willcocks thinks that

SIXTH CATARACT
KHARTUMJunction of white and Blue

Niles about 1800 miles from

SEA LEVEL

feet above mean sea level

WHITE NILE

Sobat River (cast bank).
CAZELLE RIVER (west bank)

måtter(Sudd)
Vegetable
Barriers

the sea

WHITE NILE

FOLA FALLS
DUFFILE

---LAKE ALBERT, about

3330 miles from the sea
and 2250 feet above
mean sea level.

Somerset River
WHITE NILE or

SEA LEVEL

the Nile could very easily he barred by a dam at Semnah, and it is possible that Åmen-em-ḥāt III. tried 10 build one there in the hope of forming a reservoir. The distance between the Second and First Cataract is about 210 miles, and the stream is usually about 1,630 feet wide. The First Cataract is about three miles long, and be tween Philæ at the southern end, and Aswân at the northern end the river drops over 16 feet. From Aswân to the Barrage, a little to the north of Cairo, the length of the river is about 600 miles, and its mean width is 3,000 feet.

The ancient Egyptians kept careful record of the height of the Nile in food, and numbers of ancient Nilometers have been found, e.g., at Philæ, Elephantine, Edsù, Esna, Karnak, etc., from the readings of which it is possible to determine the rate of the rise of the bed of the Nile. According to a calculation quoted by Sir W. Willcocks, between A.D, 200 and A.D. 1800 the banks and bed of the Nile have risen 2'11 metres, or oʻ132 metre per 100 years. When the famous Nilometer on the Island of Röda was constructed, a reading of 16 cubits meant the lowest level at which flood irrigation could be ensured everywhere. The level of to-day is 201 cubits on the Nilometer, and the difference between them is 1922 metre; according to these data the rise is 12 centimetres per 100 years.* A little to the north of Cairo the Nile splits up into the Rosetta and Damietta branches, each of which is about 145 miles long; the mean width of the former branch is 1,630 feet, and that of the latter, 870 feet. In ancient days the Nile emptied its waters into the sea by seven mouths, viz., the Pelusiac, Tanitic, Mendesian, Phatnitic, Sebennytic, Bolbitic, and the Canopic. In flood time the waters of the Nile used to take 50 days to flow from Lake Victoria to the

* Willcocks, Egyptian Irrigation, London, 1899, p. 32.

« PreviousContinue »