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The Faiyum Oasis and the Nile River.©

The Faiyum Oasis is a basin and oasis immediately to the west of the Nile in Middle Egypt. Nehet-Pehut, the twenty-first nome of Upper Egypt, comprises the entire Faiyum Oasis. The largest city and provincial capital was Crocodilopolis (modern: Medinet el-Faiyum).


Differing from typical oases, whose fertility depends on monsoon rainwater, the rich agricultural land in the Faiyum is provided by the Nile river through Bahr Yussef (ancient Egyptian: tm.t), which is a channel that branches off from the Nile through a narrow desert hollow into Lake Moeris. In ancient times Lake Moeris was a large freshwater lake, while it is currently significantly smaller and comprising of saltwater.


In 2300 BC, the waterway from the Nile to the natural Lake Moeris was widened and deepened to make the Bahr Yussef canal, which led Nile water into the lake. This was meant to serve three purposes: control the flooding of the Nile, regulate the water level of the Nile during dry seasons, and serve the surrounding area with irrigation. There is evidence of ancient Egyptian pharaohs of the Twelfth Dynasty using the natural lake of Faiyum as a reservoir to store surpluses of water for use during the dry periods.

Lake Moeris was eventually abandoned due to the nearest branch of the Nile dwindling in size from 230 BC.

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