The Aswan High Dam: History, curiosities

Posted On : 26/02/2023 Kate Clark 50
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Read this article that is about the Aswan High Dam and how it was built and what is its importance in Egyptian history in Aswan. Find out the history and glory of the Egyptians in the construction of the Aswan High Dam!

The Aswan High Dam 

Among the beauties of the Nile , one cannot fail to mention the Aswan dam and the artificial lake it generates: Lake Nasser . Although the dam has caused a non-negligible environmental impact, the view, especially from above, is downright breathtaking. Strongly desired by Nasser to solve the problem of drought, Egypt at the time was one of the driest countries in the world, it made it possible to make kilometers and kilometers of desert cultivable. 

After the start of the works on January 9, 1960, it was finished on July 21, 1970 and officially inaugurated on January 15, 1971. Furthermore, the water that flows through the dam produces hydroelectric energy thanks to the construction of a power plant close to the gigantic engineering work . In addition to using clean and therefore non-polluting energy, it has allowed Egypt to cover more than half of its electricity needs. 

The Aswan High Dam is one of Egypt's most famous constructions, after the much older pyramids of Giza. Its construction made it possible to regulate the flooding of the Nile River, strengthening the previously built barriers.

Geographic location of the Aswan High Dam

The Aswan High Dam is located near the second cataract of the Nile near the city of Aswan, and is the larger and more modern of the two dams on the Nile.

The history of construction .

The construction of the big dam started in 1952, exactly after the Nasser revolution. It was built due to a flood which, in 1946, had raised the water level compared to the height of the original dam. Since the problem was recurring and recurring periodically, it was decided to build a bigger dam instead of increasing the height of the existing dam for the third time. 

The Aswan High Dam has 45 years of history and the construction of the dam

The first dam to control the flooding of the Nile was built south of Aswan , a city on the east bank of the river: completed in 1902, the dam was raised twice - between 1907 and 1912 and then between 1929 and 1933 - but it still didn't prove to be enough.

The new dam is an immense work, 3600 meters long and 980 meters wide at the base and 40 at the top, for a height of 111 meters, with a capacity of 43 million cubic meters. The locks, when fully open, can let out up to 11,000 cubic meters of water per second. 

The reservoir formed by the dam created Lake Nasser, this has an area of about 6000 square kilometers, is 480 km long and up to 16 km wide and contains between 150 and 165 cubic km of water. 

At the time of the creation of the dam, more than 90,000 people had to leave their homes to avoid being submerged by the resulting lake. Although it was a traumatic and sad episode in the history of Nubia, the territory around the current dam, the creation of this helped to mitigate the effects of the dangerous floods of 1964 and 1973 and the famines of 1972-1973 and 1983-1984 i .

The importance of the Great Dam

The dam has 12 power generators each of 175 megawatts and produces more than 2 gigawatts of power. It also manages to generate more than half of the electricity needed by Egypt and in the 1970s it allowed almost all Egyptians to have an electricity connection for the first time.

The consequences

Not only did we have to abandon the houses, mainly of the Nubian community, but we also had to think about the monuments. The monuments that would have been submerged by the artificial lake (later called Lake Nasser) were moved to safer places thanks to a massive international operation. Someone was donated to the countries that contributed to the rescue work: the temple of Ellesija, now preserved in the Egyptian Museum of Turin, was donated to Italy for example. In this regard, the case of Abu Simbel is famous, the international community rallied to find a solution and ensure that this wonder of universal cultural heritage would not be submerged forever. It was therefore decided to move the complex to a hill near the original site to prevent the water level from covering it.

A similar intervention was implemented to preserve the highly refined ancient temple of Philae built on an island in the Nile near Aswan.

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By Kate Clark

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