First This is the well-known Nilometer (1) that faces Aswan, Flight of steps constructed of’ regular-shaped stone leads down from river bank, Formerly it descended from a temple above, which has now been totally destroyed.

Both the stairway and the passageway leading from the river were originally roofed with granite, the remainder of the construction being of sandstone.

The Nilometer

appears to be a Late Period construction, the high water levels being registered in demotic and Greek on the westem wall.

Repairs were carried out in Roman times after the initial reforms of Augustus, who set his army the task of repairing and deepening the irrigation canals.

The Nilometer was rediscovered in 1822, and after centuries of neglect it was brought back into use in 1870 by an eminent astronomer, Mahmud Bey.

The marble slabs date to this time and a new scale was established. Khedive Ismail recorded the repairs
in French and Arabic on the eastern wall of the stairway.


A much more ancient Nilometer (3) than that already described has been discovered south of the temple of Khnum.

It is a great square pit, and although there is no indication of when it was constructed evidence indicates that it was one of the three main Nilometers of Egypt in ancient times.

The other two were at Memphis at the apex of the Delta, and in the Delta itself.

This Nilometer

is unusual in that it has two scales, one of a type common to all the Nilometers in Egypt, recording the height of the flood- above a low-water level, the other with a unique calibration based on the level of the flood waters above the agricultural land.

This Nilometer may be the one mentioned by Strabo, the Roman geographer who came to Egypt in the first century A.D.

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