El Fayum: Oasis Of Egypt 

The El Fayum Oasis that is located in Egypt is a depression or a basin that is in the desert to the west of the river Nile in the south of Cairo. The basin is estimated to be between  490 mi² (1,270 km²) and 656 mi² (1700 km²). The floor of the basin has a number of fields that are watered by a nearby channel of the Nile called the Bahr Yussef as it drains into the depression of the desert that is located to the west of the Nile Valley. The Bahr Yussef also goes through a narrow neck of land that is located to the north of Ihnasya. Ihnasya is between the archaeological sites of El-Lahun and Gurob near Hawara when it branches out and it also provides rich agricultural land in the Faiyum basin. This in turn drains into the Lake Moeris that is a huge saltwater. The tilapia and other fish can be found here. In the ancient times the Lake Moeris was a freshwater lake and now it is filled with salt. The El Faiyum oasis is different from the other oasis the fertility is bought about by the mud water of the Nile River. This mud has been bought down by the Bahr Yussef that is about 15 miles long or 24 km.  There are many canals that are located between the beginning of the Bahr Yussefat El –Lahun to the end of Faiyum that is a city. There are many canals that are also branched off in order to irrigate the Faiyum Governorate and the drainage water goes into the Lake Moeris.

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El Fayum

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Over the 400 mile² area the Faiyum Oasis is cultivated and the chief crops of the region are cereals and the cotton. The Aswan Low Dam is one that ensures more supply of water that enables 20,000 acres of land that was not previously irritated and not taxed. This was bought under cultivation in the three years 1903-1905. The three crops that are obtained in this region in 20 months and this province is also famous for its grapes and figs that are of exceptional quality. The olives that are cultivated in this region is also very famous and there are many rose trees here too. Most of the attar rose trees in the region are grown here and one will also find an excellent breed of sheep too. It is very hard to believe that this lush and peaceful oasis is the largest in Egypt and it is less than 100 kilometers that is southwest of the dizzying Cairo. The Egyptians have also been vacationing in these areas since the 13th dynasty pharaohs. The above oasis is also famous for its fertility and it measures 70 by 60 square kilometers too. The basin is flooded on a regular basis by the river Nile around thousands of years ago. The scenario has changed now and the area is more stable in the present times. The area remains regularly irrigated by the River Nile and there are two natural lakes that are ideal for both farming and harvesting. It is seen that some of the richest and best quality olives come from this region. This oasis is a very peaceful and clam retreat from the capital and many tourists come to this place every year. The oasis is also home to about 2 million people and archeological discoveries over the years have given us many wonderful discoveries too. They have been perfected by prehistoric people and these goods have been admired and praised by millions all over the world. The notable examples of the above goods are the Al Fayoum pottery that is in the front row and is the center of attraction at the Cairo’s Museum of Islamic Ceramics.

The Mediterranean Sea was at one point of time a hot and dry hollow that was located at the end of the Messinian Salinity Crisis in the late Miocene. The Faiyum oasis was also a dry hollow region and the River Nile flowed past this area beneath a canyon that was about 8000 feet deep. This canyon is now Cairo and after the Mediterranean flooded the region again the Nile Canyon became the arm of the sea that reached inland doem into the Aswan. With the passage of time, silt filled this sea arm and this led to the origin of the Nile Valley.

 

Later the Nile Valley bed silted up and it became high enough to allow the water of the Nile to flow in. This is how the lake was formed and it is first recorded in the year 3000 BC. This was in the time of Menes and most of the part was filled with high flood waters. The lake was bordered by the Neolithic settlements and this led to the growth of the town of Crocodilopolis on the Southern part of the area. The higher ground led to the creation of a ridge.

 

In around 2300 BC the waterway from the Nile to the lake widened and it also deepened to create a canal that is now popular as the Bahr Yussef. This canal flowed into the lake and this was done in order to fulfill the main purposes of regulating and controlling the river Nile during the dry seasons and also to provide the area with the irrigation that was required. There were a number of waterworks that had been taken up by many ancient Egyptian pharaohs of the 12th century to make the lake into a large water reservoir that would give the impression that the lake itself was an artificial excavation. This was reported by the classic travelers and geographers. The lake was also eventually abandoned due to the nearest branch of the Nile that was reducing in size from 230 BC. The Faiyum was also popular among the ancient Egyptians as the 21st nome of the Upper part of Egypt. This region also records the earliest evidence of farming and was the prime center for the building of pyramid and tombs in the region.