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The Medieval NileRoute, Navigation, and Landscape in Islamic Egypt$
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John Cooper

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9789774166143

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774166143.001.0001

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The Western Delta in the Islamic Era

The Western Delta in the Islamic Era

(p.43) 4 The Western Delta in the Islamic Era
The Medieval Nile

John P. Cooper

American University in Cairo Press

This chapter examines the changing waterway geography of the western Delta from the beginning of Egypt’s Islamic era through to the early modern period. It examines the contributions of medieval texts, particularly the geographers Ibn Hawqal and al-Idrisi, to our understanding of western Delta geography. While the nomenclatures of their era are quite different, the topological approach of these authors allows us to identify the Rosetta branch in much its modern form by the 10th century A.D. The chapter considers the apparent demise of the Canopic branch as a natural distributary, possibly in the 8th century A.D. and identifies the subsequent struggle to keep Alexandria connected to the Nile, by various artificial canals, as a key preoccupation of the medieval period. It also looks at the coastal lagoons of the western Delta, and their openings to the Mediterranean Sea. The chapter is to be read in conjunction with Appendices 1–3 of the book.

Keywords:   Egypt, Nile, western Delta, Geography, canals, Ibn Hawqal, al-Idrisi, Alexandria, Rosetta, Canopic branch

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