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The Nile in 1904

The Nile in 1904
Title: The Nile in 1904
Release Date: 2018-06-23
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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Please see the Transcriber’s Notes at the end of this text.




E. & F. N. SPON Limited, 57 Haymarket.
SPON & CHAMBERLAIN, 123 Liberty Street.

Price 9s/- net.

Printed at the National Printing Department of Egypt, Cairo



Dedicated to my old Chief and Master in Irrigation,Sir Colin Scott-Moncrieff, K.C.S.I., K.C.M.G., under whom I hadthe privilege of working for 20 years in India and Egypt.



The publication of Sir William Garstin’s monumental work on the“Basin of the Upper Nile” is an event of such importance in thehistory of the Nile that the occasion should not be lost of bringingLombardini’s work on the Nile to date. The information utilised byme in this book as far as the Upper Nile is concerned is obtained fromSir William’s Report; for the Blue Nile and Atbara I am indebted toM. Dupuis’ interesting appendix at the end of Sir William’s Report;and for the river north of Khartum to my own studies and surveys.As Sir William employed Capt. H.G. Lyons, R.E. to collaborate withhim, the references to the works of previous writers and geographicaldetails may be accepted without any misgivings. To M. Chélu Bey,Director of the Government Press, I am indebted for his ever ready aid;to Mr. Hansard of the Survey Department for the plates accompanyingthis work; and to Mr H.G.F. Beadnell, F.G.S, F.R.G.S, for havingkindly written the description of the Egyptian oases and the geologyof Egypt which form the fifth chapter of this book.

W. Willcocks.

Cairo, 12-10, 1904.




Chapter I. The Nile—(Page 11).
3.Description of the course of the Nile.
4.Slopes and velocities of the Nile in its different reaches.
5.Catchment basins of the Nile and its tributaries.
6.The climate of the Nile valley.
7.The geology of the Nile valley.
8.The discharges of the Nile and its tributaries.
Chapter II. The tributaries of theNile—(Page 26).
9.Lake Victoria Nyanza.
10.The Victoria Nile.
11.The Semliki river.
12.Lake Albert Nyanza.
13.The Albert Nile.
14.The Gazelle river.
15.The Zeraf river.
16.The Sobat river.
17.The Sudd region.
18.The White Nile.
19.The Blue Nile.
20.The Atbara.
21.The Nile from Khartoum to Assuân.
22.The Nile from Assuân to the Barrage.
23.The Rosetta and Damietta Branches.
Chapter III. The utilisation of theNile—(Page 56).[8]
24.The Nile in flood.
25.The Nile in low supply.
26.Nile water.
27.The soil of the Nile Valley.
28.Basin irrigation.
29.Perennial irrigation.
30.Flood protection.
Chapter IV. Projects—(Page 73).
32.The raising of the Assuân dam.
33.The Wady Rayan reservoir and escape.
34.The Albert Lake and Nile project.
35.Flood protection for Egypt.
36.Complete project for water storage and flood control.
37.Sir William Garstin’s projects.
38.The conversion of basin to perennial irrigation.
39.Development of the Sudan.
Chapter V. The oases and the geology of Egypt byH.J.L. Beadnell, F.G.S., F.R.G.S.—(Page 107).
40.The oases.
41.Dakhla oasis.
42.Kharga oasis.
43.Baharia oasis.
44.Farafra oasis.
45.The geology of Egypt.
46.Igneous rocks.
47.Sedimentary rocks.
48.Upper cretaceous.
50.Oligocene and Miocene.
51.Pliocene, Pleistocene and Recent.
52.Economic products.
Table of Appendices (Page 117).
Index (Page 221).



I.Plan of the Nile Valley12
II.Longitudinal Section of the Nile Valley14
III.Outlet of Lake Victoria26
IV.Cross sections of the Nile and its tributaries (1)28
V.Gauge diagrams of Lakes Victoria and Albert30
VI.The Sudd region34
VII.Outlet of Tsana Lake44
VIII.Gauge diagrams of the White and Blue Niles at Khartoum46
IX.Cross sections of the Nile and its tributaries (2)42
X.Longitudinal section of the Nile: Wady Halfa to Assuân48
XI.Cross sections of the Nile and its tributaries (3)52
XII.Longitudinal section of the Nile: Assuân to Cairo50
XIII.Typical cross sections of the Nile Valley50
XIV.Plan of typical basin irrigation in Egypt66
XV.Plan of the Fayoum and the Wady Rayan76
XVI.Longitudinal section of the Fayoum and the Wady Rayan80
XVII.Longitudinal section of the Rosetta Branch54
XVIII.Longitudinal section of the Damietta Branch54
XIX.Plan of typical perennial irrigation in Egypt68
XX.Possible tunnel at Lake Tsana103
XXI.The Egyptian oases108



The Nile.

1. Introduction.

—In the introduction to his brilliant essay on theHydrology of the Nile[1], an essay, which, though written in 1865,foreshadowed much of what we know to day, Lombardini remarked, withmuch truth that, no river in the world lends itself to hydrological studieson so majestic a scale as the Nile. The most interesting river of theancient world, it is still the most interesting river of our time; and, inspite of all that ancient and modern discoveries have unfolded, itsdischarges are to-day more difficult to unravel and weave together thanthose of any other stream in either hemisphere. These discharges arestill a mystery, and it will need years and years of patient observationand study, at the hands of the Sudan Irrigation Department, to enableus to state with exactitude why its floods rise and fall with such regularand stately precision, why they are never sudden and abrupt, and whyits summer supplies can never be completely cut off even in theirtraverse of over 3000 kilometres through the burning and parchedSahara. Though the mystery of the Nile is far from being solved to-day,still an enormous step in advance has been made by the publication ofSir William Garstin’s Report on the Basin of the UpperNile[2]. ThisReport not only contains the results of three years’ observations of theEgyptian Survey Department in the Sudan, of Sir William Garstin’sown observations and studies, but also a mass of information of theNile and its tributaries collected by Capt. H. G. Lyons. R. E., throughfour years of uninterrupted study. Those who know the intelligenceand method with which Capt. Lyons works, will rate this informationat its proper value.

[1]Saggio idrolico sul Nilo, by Elia Lombardini, Milan 1865.

[2]Report on the Basin of the Upper Nile by Sir William Garstin. Blue Book Egypt (2) 1904.

Lombardini gathered together all the information available at thetime that Sir Samuel Baker announced the existence of the AlbertNyanza shortly after Speke and Grant had proclaimed to the worldthat the Victoria Nyanza was the true source of the Nile. From the[12]information then available he deduced the laws and operations of thegreat river. About twenty years later, just before the rebellion in theSudan closed the Nile to the civilized world, a German savant, JosephChavanne[3],in his book on the rivers of Africa, collected and tabulatedon clear and methodical lines much of the information availablein 1883. Though many of his facts are erroneous, his method is clear andhis ideas just. Sir William Garstin, in his Report, has developed theinformation at his disposal on such practical lines as are needed tostudy the question of insuring an abundant supply of water to the Nilein Egypt during the times of low supply.

[3]Afrikas Ströme und Flüsse” by Joseph Chavanne. Wien 1883.

Having myself studied the Nile for fifteen years in order to solve theproblems of water storage and flood control on the Nile, and havingdevoted the whole of my life to this very science of Hydraulics, I havebeen encouraged to attempt the continuation of Lombardini’s work;and, to the utmost of my ability, to bring it to the level of the knowledgeof our day.

2. Nomenclature.

—The nomenclature of the tributaries of the Nileis difficult to follow. In this book I shall call the river the Victoria Nilefrom Lake Victoria to Lake Albert; the Albert Nile from Lake Albert tothe Sobat mouth (this reach is known generally as the Bahr el Gebel);the White Nile from the Sobat mouth to Khartoum; and the Nile fromKhartoum to the sea. The Blue Nile stretches from Lake Tsana inAbyssinia to Khartoum.

3. Description of the course of the Nile.

Chapters II and IIIcontain detailed descriptions of the Nile and its main tributaries, and thisparagraph is a short epitome of what is written there about the course ofthe Nile. The Nile drains nearly the whole of north-eastern Africa, anarea comprising 3 million square kilometres. Its main tributary, the WhiteNile, has its furthest sources in south latitude 4°, near Lake Tanganyika.Known as the Kagera, it is one of the feeders of Lake Victoria, and hasa course of 600 kilometres before it reaches the lake. Lake Victoria,covering 60,000 square kilometres, is the first reservoir of the Nile. TheVictoria Nile leaves Lake Victoria by the Ripon Falls and after a courseof 400 kilometres enters Lake Albert at its northern corner. At itssouthern end Lake Albert is fed by the Semliki river which has its sourcesin Lake Edward. Its own area is 4,500 square kilometres. The Albert Nileleaves Lake Albert at its northern end and has a course of 1280 kilometresto the mouth of the Sobat river. Of this length, the first 200 kilometresup to Dufile have scarcely any slope, the next 150 kilometres are downa series of severe cataracts. From the foot of these cataracts to its tailthe Albert Nile has a gentle slope and traverses the Sudd region wherethe bed of the stream is often barred by blocks of living vegetation.In this latter region the stream divides into two, of which the righthand one is known as the Bahr Zeraf. After a course of 270 kilometresthe Bahr Zeraf joins the Albert Nile again. In the interval the AlbertNile receives as a left-hand feeder the Bahr Gazelle. The Sobat riverhas its sources in Gallaland and joins the Albert Nile at the terminationof the Sudd region. From the junction of the Albert Nile andthe Sobat, the river is known as the White Nile, which, after a courseof 840 kilometres, with an exceedingly gentle slope, joins the Blue Nileat Khartoum.


Lith. Sur. Dep. Cairo.

Larger map (240 kB)



The Blue Nile is the true parent of the land of Egypt. Thedeposits of its muddy waters have made Egypt. The Atbara has addedits quota, but the Blue Nile is incomparably the chief contributor; fedby the timely and plentiful rains of southern and south-eastern Abyssinia,it contributes 65 per cent of the waters which pass Assuân. Thefurthest sources are those of the Abai, which, after a course of 110 kilometresfalls into Lake Tsana. This lake has an area of 3,000 squarekilometres and lies about 1,760 metres above sea level. The Blue Nileleaves it at its south-eastern corner and hurries down to the Sudan, fedby numerous Abyssinian rivers. At Rosaires, after a course of 750 kilometres,it has fallen 1,260 metres; and below the Rosaires cataract entersthe plain country south of Khartoum. For its

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