Nile during Inundation.
Bathing was important to the ancient Egyptians, and according to Herodotus
intolerably important for their priests. When the Nubian pharaoh Piye
was preparing to enter the temple complex at Karnak, the king instructed
"When you arrive in Thebes, in front of Karnak, enter into the water
and purify yourselves in the river (Nile) . . . "
This photo appears to have been taken during the time of the Nile's
annual inundation. Rains in the highlands of Abysinnia swelled the Blue
Nile, which met the White Nile at Khartoum and sent the rising, silt-laden
waters north to cover the fields of Egypt. During the summer months
Egypt disappeared beneath the brown waters, the whole of the land a
vast sheet of water stretching from desert to desert, with the villages
protruding like islands from the flood. In antiquity this was a time
of increased navigation, festivals in honor of the inundation, booths
and bowers on the edge of the swollen river, and festooned boats upon
the waters. Since the building of the High Dam, the inundation no longer
occurs in the Nile valley north of Aswan.
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