The Egyptian pyramids may also have been built thanks to an ancient branch of the Nile that disappeared

Credit: Ian Sewell.

A group of 31 Egyptian pyramidsincluding that of Giza, they may have been built thanks to a 64 km long branch of the Nile which is now extinct. This is confirmed by a study published in the journal Natureconducted a multidisciplinary research team composed of archaeologists, geophysicists, geomorphologists and geologists led by the archaeologist Eman Ghoneim. The location of this paleochannel (a term indicating the ancient disappeared stretches of rivers) would have been particularly advantageous for the transport from the raw material necessary for the construction of pyramids.

In fact, the most important concentration of pyramids in Egypt is located along a thin strip of territory between the Nile valley, on the left bank of the river, and the desert. Until now, the reason for this concentration had no convincing explanation. The research team, led by the Egyptian/American archaeologist Eman Ghoneimtaking advantage of technologies such as satellite mapsthe geophysical prospecting (the detection of anomalies present in the subsoil) and the sediment coring has collected some very interesting data that could finally provide an explanation as to why the majority of ancient Egyptian monuments are concentrated precisely along this thin strip of land.

By cross-referencing what can be deduced from core sampling, prospecting and mapping of the territory, archaeologists and geomorphologists have identified a paleochannel of the Nile which it flowed further west compared to the current course of the river. This ancient branch of the Nile was called “Ahramat“, which in Arabic means “pyramids”. The research group led by Eman Ghoneim precisely mapped the path of this paleochannel, which flowed much closer to the pyramids than the Nile does today.

Supporting this hypothesis would also be theorientation of many of the causeways which branch out from the pyramids, which seems to be linked to the position of the ancient Ahramat. These ceremonial streets they connected the monument with gods temples a short distance away, until today considered places of worship for the pharaoh buried in the relevant pyramid. If the multidisciplinary team theory proves correct, these temples should instead be interpreted as gods river ports destined for the arrival of the pharaoh's body right along the course of the disappeared paleo riverbed. This should not surprise us: according to the estimates of Eman Ghoneim and his collaborators, the ancient branch of the Nile had dimensions And depth (400 m wide and 25 m deep) comparable to the current ones of the riverand that would have made it navigablemaking the waterway an extremely advantageous resource both for the transport of building material and the pharaoh's mummy during the funeral ceremony.

There disappearance of the ancient arm Ahramat of the Nile could be explained by a contingency of events. On the one hand there would have been atectonic activity which would have favored the inclination towards the alluvial plain further east, while on the other the progressive drying up of the desert and the wind coming from this may have moved large masses of sand from west to east, contributing to bury the watercourse and to change the position of the Nile bed to bring it to the easternmost area that we know today.