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d’archéologie orientale du Caire


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AnIsl040_art_10.pdf (4.16 Mb)
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Annales islamologiques 40
2006 IFAO
41 p.
gratuit - free of charge
Géographie historique du canal d’Alexandrie.

From the end of the 4th century BCE, shortly after the foundation of Alexandria, to the dawn of the industrial era in the reign of Mohamed Ali, a canal served the town of Alexandria. Throughout 23 centuries, it allowed for the provision of drinking water as well as the development of the town’s agriculture and industries. Thus it was that Guiseppe Botti could exclaim “faire l’histoire de ce canal, c’est faire l’histoire d’Alexandrie”. To begin this history, the following study endeavours to establish an initial inventory of available sources that can unravel the major phases of the canal’s evolution. We have called it an “ historical geography ” of the canal since, on the ground, the ancient traces have disappeared. The texts of Roman historians and geographers, epigraphic documents, Arab chronicles on which we have depended are dated to between the 1st and 15th centuries of the common era. These documents tell of the work accomplished by the State. However, it is by diving into the body of travellers’ accounts, the largest documentary source, that we can enter into the life of the canal. We can follow the vagaries of its very name and watch its changing course over the centuries while, at the same time, discover the essential elements of which it was composed ; nilometers, quays, locks, bridges and iron grills. Thus, following the flow, we will attempt to present an account of its vitality throughout the eras by looking at the canal’s two principal functions : navigation and the provision of water to Alexandria.