Geographical sites:

  • Fayum (click here to focus in map) (see also Pleiades #736948)
    Pleiades_icon Krokodilopolis/Ptolemais Euergetis settlement Geocontext: Medinet el-Fayyum
    Description: An ancient city in the Heptanomis and the capital of Arsinoites nome. The ancient Egyptian name of the site was Shedyet and in Pharaonic times it was a major cult center for the god Sobek.
  • Sudan (click here to focus in map) (see also GeoNames #366755)
    Geonames_icon Republic of the Sudan independent political entity Geocontext: Africa/Khartoum


Text #8996

Mandelkehr. The 2300 BC Event. Series: The 2300 BC Event. Vol. 1
[pp. 65--66]

Butzer reports rain levels declining to their modern low level by the end of the Fifth Dynasty, derived from both radiocarbon measurements and a large body of contemporary texts. The Fayum Lake (60 miles to the west of the Nile) level began dropping at that time, eventually reaching a level 11 meters lower than its previous level. Moreover, the decrease in the mean discharge of the Nile at around 2300 BC was found to be approximately 29 percent. With a lower river level, Butzer feels that irrigation was much more difficult, and the Nile floods benefitted a smaller portion of the flood plain.1 A river level that was two meters below average could leave up to three-quarters of some Upper Egyptian provinces totally unirrigated.2 Verner states that whereas the Nile flooding was taken for granted before 2300 BC, the economic life of Egyptian society was heavily dependent on the “whims” of the Nile afterwards.3 Stanley, et al also present geological data from cores collected in the Nile delta that a drying trend and failure of Nile flow played a major role in the demise of the Old Kingdom. … The Yellow Nile, which flowed down the old Wadi Howar in northern Sudan, stopped flowing entirely dated at about 2500 BC.

A number of investigators have found conditions becoming dryer, windier, and more favorable to desert expansion at this time. The accelerated wind activity caused sand dunes to form on the Nile’s west bank starting about 2300 BC. Based on assessments of the desert dune fields, the southwesterly winds were stronger than they are at present; so that blowing sands from the desert covered much of the rich soil.4 […] The present khamsin conditions could be indicative of the more severe conditions first appearing during the Sixth Dynasty. […]

Most Egyptologists place the Admonitions of an Egyptian Sage (contained in the Leiden Papyrus) to the First Intermediate Period, following the end of the Sixth Dynasty. The Prophecy of Neferti (contained in the Papyrus Ermitage) is dated to the reign of Amenemhet I in the Twelfth Dynasty (about 2000 BC). It however describes conditions existing at an earlier time, either during the First Intermediate Period or immediately afterward. 5

Beginning with the Prophecy of Neferti, a key passage is “(IV) … the land is entirely lost, without that a remainder exists, without the black of a nail remains from its dues.” Another related passage is “(VI) The watercourses of the arable land are empty; One can cross the water on foot… Its course has become riparian land; The riparian land will silt up the water-place until what is in the water-place will be riparian land.” The term “riparian” means the sides or banks of the water courses. This passage must then describe the disappearance of water and the silting up of the waterways which had occurred due to the drought, shifting sand and dust storm conditions.6 This desertification is also reflected in the Admonitions passage, “(3.1) Indeed, the desert is throughout the land”.7

  1. K. W. Butzer: “Late Glacial and Postglacial Climatic Variation in the Near East”, Erdkunde Vol. 11 (1957), p. 29. [OF]

  2. B. Fagan: Floods, Famines and Emperors, (Perseus, 1999), p. 104. [OF]

  3. M. Verner: “Periodical Water-Volume Fluctuations of the Nile”, Archiv Orientalni Vol. 40 (1972), p. 114.[OF]

  4. M. R. Talbot: “Holocene Changes in Tropical Wind Intensity and Rainfall: Evidence from Southeast Ghana”, Quarternary Research Vol. 16 (1981), pp. 201, 218. see also Verner, op. cit, p. 106; K. W. Butzer: “Climatic Changes in the Arid Zones of Africa During Early to Mid-Holocene Times”, in J. S. Sawyer (ed): Royal Meteorological Society: World Climate from 8000 to 0 BC, Proceedings of the International Symposium held at Imperial College, London, 18, 19 April, 1966, p. 75; and K. W. Butzer: [same volume as preceding], p. 1624. [OF]

  5. W. K. Simpson: The Literature of Ancient Egypt, (Yale University Press, 1973), p. 234; see also H. Goedicke: The Protocol of Neferyt, (John Hopkins University Press, 1977), p. 14; and A. Erman: The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians, (Methuen, 1927), pp,. 110, 111.[OF]

  6. Goedicke, op. cit., pp. 82, 83.[OF]

  7. Simpson, op. cit., p. 212.[OF]

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