“...The agricultural richness of the area had long been recognized by Egyptian kings. As early as Dynasty XII (2040-1715 BC) an elaborate system of locks and canals was constructed under the pharaoh Amenemhat III. Lake Moeris, fed by a branch of the Nile, had once filled much of the oasis area...”
The Bahr Youseff, Joseph’s Canal
“...We can imagine that it was a wise viceroy such as Joseph who spent years making a comprehensive study of the geodesy of Egypt. Finally a plan was formulated that transformed the land of Egypt forever. Two hard days journey from the river, resting within a ring of a range of rugged hills, lay the oasis known as el-Fayoum. It was cradled in a depression whose level lay below that of the Nile. On the verdant shores of a small, shimmering lake in the heart of this basin, a tribe lived cooly under the palms, unmindful of the unmerciful, encompassing wastelands.
“A canal was dug. It was an ambitious undertaking, for the canal did not simply go directly to the Nile from the east, which would have been a massive project in itself. No, a much grander vision was launched. A canal was cut through the ridges bordering the Nile from afar in Upper Egypt and was furrowed northward through the hot sands a distance from but parallel to the Nile. A twin to the Nile was created, extending a full third of the Nile’s Egyptian length. 5
“The water of the great canal was fed to the flanking desert through a web of subsidiary canals. Finally it was diverted westward to expand the lake in low-lying el Fayoum and to create a second great lake, a reservoir that maintained the system through seasons of drought.
“Whereas the Nile was hemmed in on the east by rugged cliffs that gave way here and there to a few paltry parcels of flat land, the web of feeder canals on the west fanned through the desert. The network of canals doubled the arable land of Egypt, hitherto almost entirely relegated to the delta. Upper Egypt became more than a mere passageway to Nubian ivory and gold, and was integrated into Egypt’s economy, .
“The legend claims that it was Joseph who named the great new reservoir “Lake Moeris,” after the king for whom he was the viceroy...
Question: could this recent discovery relate to the same period?
Maybe. The Middle Kingdom was the time during which the Fayyum came (back?) into its own, and stayed there. The size of the lake has varied much over the centuries, but during Graeco-Roman times it was a pretty popular place to live. If I had to speculate, okay, okay, quit twisting my arm, I’d say that the Egyptians who eventually produced the Middle Kingdom pharaohs wound up in the Fayyum when they had to regroup after the Old Kingdom fell and Egypt declined into the 1st IP.
If the dating of these new finds holds up, it’ll make sense, since there was Lake Tritonis to the west of Egypt, and other proto-Egyptian finds are found in that direction, rather than upriver or downriver (either of which would make more sense had the climate conditions been the same then as they are now) or along it.
Other oldies but goodies...
Tell Ibrahim Awad:
structure of Khasekhemwy: