Wind,Current, and Human Labor
This chapter considers the human practices of navigation on the Egyptian Nile in the pre-modern period. It examines the impact of the Nile flood on current velocity in the main river and its distributaries. It then considers the wind regimes of the Nile valley and Delta, in doing so challenging the simplistic adage that Nile navigation was facilitated by a northerly wind when heading south, and by the river current when heading north. Considering the Nile valley and Delta separately, it compares wind and current data to establish areas and periods of relative ease of navigation, and others where it was more challenging. Drawing on historical traveller accounts, it reveals that Nile navigation involved frequent towing, punting and rowing in order to make progress against contrary winds and currents. It also highlights the impact of occasional storms on river navigation.
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