TPOF Tidbit #2 - Cataracts of the Nile

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TPOF Tidbit #2 - Cataracts of the Nile

Unread postby Liz » Wed Jul 06, 2011 10:59 am

Cataracts of the Nile

Pg. 97-98: Ah, yes. I remember. Kerma, the fabled lost island where the children of Kush went, when they departed from their city of old Kerma near the third cataract of the Nile….

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The cataracts of the Nile are shallow lengths of the Nile between Aswan and Khartoum where the surface of the water is broken by many small boulders and stones protruding out of the river bed, as well as many rocky islets. Aswan is also the Southern boundary of Upper Egypt.

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In some places, these stretches are punctuated by whitewater and are perhaps well characterized as rapids, while at others the water flow is smoother, but still shallow.

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Counted upstream (from north to south), the First Cataract is in modern Egypt; the rest are in Sudan.

 The First Cataract cuts through Aswan ( 24.078°N 32.878°E) This is also the only cataract that is in modern-day Egypt; the rest are now in Sudan.

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 The Second Cataract (or Great Cataract) was in Nubia and is now submerged under Lake Nasser ( 21.48°N 30.97°E)




 The Third Cataract is around Tombos/Hannek ( 19.76°N 30.37°E)

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 The Fourth Cataract is in the Manasir Desert and is flooded by the Merowe Dam beginning in the third quarter of 2008 ( 18.91°N 32.36°E)

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 The Fifth Cataract is near the confluence of the Nile and Atbarah Rivers ( 17.677°N 33.970°E)


 The Sixth Cataract is where the Nile cuts through the Sabaluka pluton, close to Bagrawiyah ( 16.288°N 32.671°E)

The word cataract is a Greek word literally "down-rushing", meaning or "floodgate" "waterfall". However, none of the Nile's six primary cataracts could be accurately described as waterfalls, and given a broader definition, this is the same with many of the minor cataracts. Geologists indicate that the region of the northern Sudan is tectonically active and this activity has caused the river to take on "youthful" characteristics. The Nubian Swell has diverted the river's course to the west, while keeping its depth shallow and causing the formation of the cataracts. Even as the river bed is worn down by erosion, the land mass is lifted, keeping parts of the river bed exposed. These distinctive features of the river between Aswan and Khartoum have led to the stretch being often referred to as the Cataract Nile, while the downstream portion is occasionally referred to as the "Egyptian" Nile. The geological distinction between these two portions of the river is considerable. North of Aswan, the river bed is not rocky, but is instead composed of sediment.

Despite these characteristics, some of the cataracts which are normally impassable by boat become navigable during the flood season.
The six primary cataracts of the Nile are described extensively by European colonials, notably by Winston Churchill in The River War (1899), where he recounts the exploits of the British trying to return to Sudan between 1896 and 1898, after they were forced to leave in 1885.

In ancient times, Upper Egypt extended from south of the Nile Delta to the first cataract, while further upstream, the land was controlled by the ancient Kush civilization, that would later take over Egypt.
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Re: TPOF Tidbit #2 - Cataracts of the Nile

Unread postby Jackslady » Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:45 pm

Thank you, Liz.

It looks beautiful - and very interesting. I wish I could afford to take a Nile cruise.
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Re: TPOF Tidbit #2 - Cataracts of the Nile

Unread postby Liz » Wed Jul 06, 2011 8:19 pm

Me too. But I did enjoy my recent trip to the Caribbean. :grin:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

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Re: TPOF Tidbit #2 - Cataracts of the Nile

Unread postby moviemom » Wed Jul 06, 2011 8:37 pm

So very interesting! I mainly just knew of the Nile as a river on a map. So much I never knew. :dunce: That's why I enjoy this book club. :grin:
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Re: TPOF Tidbit #2 - Cataracts of the Nile

Unread postby nebraska » Wed Jul 06, 2011 10:54 pm

moviemom wrote:So very interesting! I mainly just knew of the Nile as a river on a map. So much I never knew. :dunce: That's why I enjoy this book club.

I feel my brain expanding. :grin:

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Re: TPOF Tidbit #2 - Cataracts of the Nile

Unread postby fireflydances » Wed Jul 06, 2011 11:35 pm

nebraska wrote:
moviemom wrote:So very interesting! I mainly just knew of the Nile as a river on a map. So much I never knew. :dunce: That's why I enjoy this book club.

I feel my brain expanding. :grin:


I know exactly what you mean Nebraska. :reader:
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Re: TPOF Tidbit #2 - Cataracts of the Nile

Unread postby ladylinn » Thu Jul 07, 2011 3:54 pm

So interesting - I had never heard of cataracts of the Nile. My brain can certainly use some expanding too Nebraska!!! :lol: Hooray for ONBC! :bounce:

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Re: TPOF Tidbit #2 - Cataracts of the Nile

Unread postby Liz » Thu Jul 07, 2011 7:57 pm

Thanks, you guys.

I had never heard of any of these places before except for the Canary Islands. Or if I have heard of them, I've forgotten it.
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Re: TPOF Tidbit #2 - Cataracts of the Nile

Unread postby Kate_with_a_K » Thu Jul 07, 2011 8:06 pm

I love the tidbits whether or not I've read the book.
I had heard of the Cataracts of the Nile, but didn't know much about them.

Thanks, Liz!
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Re: TPOF Tidbit #2 - Cataracts of the Nile

Unread postby Liz » Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:12 pm

Hi Kate. :wave:

So nice to see you here again. It's been a while.

Hope you can join us for the discussion.
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Re: TPOF Tidbit #2 - Cataracts of the Nile

Unread postby Endora » Fri Jul 08, 2011 1:15 pm

Notes from a geographer here:

I was lucky enough to do a Nile Cruise a few years ago, from Luxor to Aswan and back. It is a most interesting journey, full of unforgettable sights. Anyway, the first cataract is made of black rock which shows through the water. Some websites say this is granite but I'm sure they are wrong and it is basalt, an igneous intrusion. It is the only igneous rock in Egypt, all the rest of the country being sedimentaries, sandstones and similar. All the black ancient Egyptian artefacts you see are made from this source of basalt, the rocks that make first cataract. The boats that do the cruises have to avoid the rapids by using a lock, which limits the size of the cruise boats that can use the upper Nile.
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Re: TPOF Tidbit #2 - Cataracts of the Nile

Unread postby Liz » Sat Jul 09, 2011 7:25 pm

:bigwave: Glad to see you back here, Endora.

Thank you for the extra tidbit. Very interesting about the rocks. That must have been a fascinating cruise.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: TPOF Tidbit #2 - Cataracts of the Nile

Unread postby Buster » Sat Jul 09, 2011 9:36 pm

Endora, what kind of boat did you go on? I've been looking at kayak tours on the Nile, dreaming....

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Re: TPOF Tidbit #2 - Cataracts of the Nile

Unread postby Edward » Tue Nov 15, 2011 5:59 pm

Mirror, mirror on the wall;
do you know where the seventh Cataract is hidden?
I know for sure it is somewhere, but I can't find it.
Doe you know where I must look?

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Re: TPOF Tidbit #2 - Cataracts of the Nile

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Nov 15, 2011 6:42 pm

Not a clue, Edward.
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