One of the sections from our readings in week one jumped out at me. Section 3.2 Environmental Setting is about the Nile river and how it floods. What is interesting to me occurs at the end of the section; we read about the High Dam at Aswan built in the 1960s. The dam has been a useful tool to people living along the Nile, as they can now control the flooding and have improved annual food production. This also ensures that villages are not flooded, which is a clear benefit to the population. However, the lack of flooding causes a problem. The salt in the soil is not being flushed out any more. With ground water being so high this is a problem for the ancient monuments there. The salt that remains after the water is evaporated causes the stone to weaken faster.
What caught my attention with this situation is the dilemma that is present for people interested in the historical and archaeological places there. We want these places to remain intact for as long as possible to study them, and make as many discoveries as possible from what little we have remaining.
We also must think of the people currently living there. Obviously we do not wish them harm. Having the dam in place helps to prevent starvation, loss of homes, and possibly the loss of life, so it is something to be desired.
Yet, as a historian I feel a sense of loss and frustration at the destruction of these ancient places. I wish that, when using modern conveniences, we could try to maintain these historical sites as well. When I was young, Egypt seemed like a magical place, with all of the pyramids and mummies. It dismays me to see recent editions, such as the dam at Aswan, accelerating the deterioration of these awe inspiring parts of history. It is difficult to imagine Egypt without its great monuments.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.