Thursday, June 15, 2006

Rising of the Nile, Egypt

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted
This phenomenon from ancient times usually commences on or about this day, reaching its greatest height at the Autumnal Equinox, with the waters gradually subsiding until the following April.

According to Edward W Lane (An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians, 1836), the night of June 17 is called 'Leylet-en-Nuktah', or 'the Night of the Drop', because "it is believed that a miraculous drop then falls into the Nile and causes it to rise". An interesting ceremony used to be performed at 'the cutting of the dam' in old Cairo. A round pillar of earth was formed; it was called the 'bride', and seeds were sown on the top of it. Lane says that an ancient Arabian historian "was told that the Egyptians were accustomed, at the period when the Nile began to rise, to deck a young virgin in gay apparel, and throw her into the river, as a sacrifice to obtain a plentiful inundation". The caliphs abolished this practice, instead throwing a letter into the water, in which it was commanded to rise if it were the will of God.

Pictured: NASA satellite shot of the Nile River and Red Sea.

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