dreams of men
drown ancient sacred valley
to better mankind?
What we call the Aswan Dam is actually the second Aswan Dam. The first, a much smaller and lower dam was built by the British in 1889 and soon had to be raised as it was inadequate for its purpose, this happened in 1919 and 1936. In 1946 a second larger dam was deemed necessary and a project made by Greek-Egyptian engineer Adrian Danino way back in 1912 to replace it and it became the second Aswan Dam began to interest the new regime that had ousted King Farouk. Under the King for a period of time it was suggested by a British hydrologist that the water from the old dam should be accumulated and stored down-stream in the cooler regions of Ethiopia and Sudan saving the old dam from topping over, but with the nationalist revolution that overthrew King Farouk, decided to build the second dam and keep the waters in Egypt. Work began in 1960 under Gamal Nasser.
I remember in the 7th grade during a geography class way back in the early 1960s reading an article in class about the “resettlement” of the ponderous monuments that would have gone underwater thanks to the new dam:
“22 monuments and architectural complexes, including the Abu Simbel temples, that were threatened by flooding from Lake Nasser were preserved by moving them to the shores of Lake Nasser under the UNESCO Nubia Campaign. Also moved were Philae, Kalabsha and Amada. Other monuments were granted to countries that helped with the works (such as the Debod temple in Madrid, the Temple of Taffeh in Leiden and the Temple of Dendur in New York). The remaining archeological sites, including the Buhen fort have been flooded by Lake Nasser.”
I remember thinking … and what of all those treasures not discovered yet. Around 90,000 Nubians were also displaced as their land was covered. Being in one of the hottest areas of Africa, there is also much more evaporation of the precious water as there would have been in the cooler regions, perhaps contributing to water displacement and creating the spectre of future droughts.
Many advantages have been derived through the many disadvantages of the dam and consequent lake, the largest artificial lake in the world by the way. One can’t help thinking that for every problem we try to solve 10 new ones pop up. Still it was a ponderous feat and if you think about it, in the character of Egypt itself … and much good has come of it.
© G.s.k. ‘15
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