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Lost Branch of Nile River Could Offer Answer to How the Pyramids of Giza Were Built

May 17, 2024
Photo credit: Ancient Origins.

Scientists may have uncovered the secret behind the construction of 31 pyramids, including the iconic Giza complex, in Egypt over 4,000 years ago. A research team from the University of North Carolina Wilmington suggests that these pyramids were likely built along an ancient branch of the River Nile, now buried under desert and farmland.

The research team discovered that the river branch, named the Ahramat branch, meaning pyramids in Arabic, stretched approximately 64 kilometers in length and ranged in width from 200 to 700 meters.

For years, archaeologists speculated that ancient Egyptians used the nearby waterway to transport materials like stone blocks for pyramid construction. However, the precise location, size, and proximity of this waterway to the pyramids remained uncertain until now, as stated by Eman Ghoneim, one of the study’s authors.

In a collaborative effort spanning continents, the research team employed radar satellite imagery, historical maps, geophysical surveys, and sediment coring to map the buried river branch. They believe this branch was covered by a major drought and sandstorms thousands of years ago.

Utilizing radar technology, the team managed to “penetrate the sand surface and produce images of hidden features,” as detailed in their study published in the journal Nature

Among these features were “buried rivers and ancient structures” situated at the foothills of where the “vast majority of the Ancient Egyptian pyramids lie,” Ghoneim told the BBC.

The authors propose that a significant build-up of windblown sand, associated with a major drought that commenced around 4,200 years ago, may have contributed to the eastward migration of the river branch and its subsequent silting up.

The identification of this vanished river branch offers insights into the concentration of pyramids between Giza and Lisht, an area now deemed inhospitable within the Saharan desert.

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