From ancient times to the present century, Egyptian agriculture depended on the annual flooding of the Nile. Crop yields were predicted and taxes were set according to the river’s level in August, as measured by a series of Nilometers from Aswan down the valley to Roda and the Delta. Readings were sent to Egypt’s ruler and provincial governors; the basin-system of irrigation dictated that dikes must be breached at certain levels, making the Nile’s rise essential to the whole nation. A reading of 16 ells (8.6m) foretold the valley’s complete irrigation; significantly more or less meant widespread flooding or drought. Public rejoicing followed the announcement of the Wafa al-Nil (“Abundance of the Nile”), while any other verdict caused gloom and foreboding.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Egypt features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

19 places to get utterly lost

19 places to get utterly lost

One of the great joys of travelling is stumbling across unexpected places, wandering without a single destination in mind and embracing the journey. These place…

12 Sep 2017 • Keith Drew camera_alt Gallery
24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
7 amazing African journeys

7 amazing African journeys

Africa is a continent of wild open savannahs, terracotta sunsets, thousands of vibrant green hills and rugged coastlines. Here, you can be chugging along on …

06 Jul 2016 • Harriet Constable insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right