After 1000 Years, Researchers Have Discovered Why Egypt's Pyramids Were Built in the Same Place

After 1000 Years, Researchers Have Discovered Why Egypt's Pyramids Were Built in the Same Place

Egypt's pyramids have fascinated people for thousands of years, and new discoveries are still being made about them today. It has now been found why the Pyramids were built in this specific location.

A recent discovery that was reported in the scientific journal: Communications Earth & Environment, may explain why 31 pyramids, including those in the Giza and Lisht pyramid complexes are concentrated around a narrow, seemingly inhospitable strip of desert. 

Researchers have found that the Egyptian pyramids were initially built alongside a 64-kilometer-long tributary of the Nile, which they named Ahramat (Arabic for pyramids). The ancient waterway would have been similar in width (0.5km) and depth (25m) to that of the present day Nile. 

These pyramids were built over a period of 1,000 years, starting about 4,700 years ago. During this time, the Nile was much larger than it is today. From sedimentary evidence, it appears that the river had multiple branches, notably a western branch closer to the pyramids. The study suggests that a large accumulation of sand associated with a major drought that began 4,200 years ago, could explain the migration of the Ahramat waterway eastward. 

© Eman Ghoneim et al

Eman Ghoneim, lead researcher at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, United States, and her team closely studied satellite images to discover the possible location of this ancient Nile branch, which flowed at the foot of Egypt's western desert plateau, near the pyramid fields. 

Using geophysical studies and soil analysis, scientists were able to confirm the existence of river sediments and ancient channels beneath the region's current surface, indicating the presence of the ancient Ahramat Nile branch.

The discovery explains why the pyramid fields were concentrated along this portion of the desert, located near the ancient Egyptian capital Memphis. They were much more easily accessible, through the river, at the time they were built.

The study's authors also found that many of the pyramids could also be reached via paved roads, which ended at the banks of the Ahramat branch, indicating that the river was used for transporting construction materials.

These finding reiterate the importance of the Nile as a "highway" for ancient Egyptians, and also highlight how humans have historically been impacted by changes to their surrounding environments. 

Researchers want to continue exploring the region in the hopes of uncovering other lost Nile branches, which could help lead to archaeological excavations and cultural discoveries along the banks of the Nile.