Wadi Tumilat

Wadi Tumilat (Old Egyptian Tjeku/Tscheku/Tju/Tschu) is the 50-kilometre-long (31 mi) dry river valley (wadi) to the east of the Nile Delta. In prehistory, it was a distributary of the Nile. It starts from the area of modern Ismaïlia and continues from there to the west.

In ancient times, this was a major communication artery for caravan trade between Egypt and points to the east. The Canal of the Pharaohs was built there. A little water still flows along the wadi.[1]

The Arabic name 'Wadi Tumilat' is believed to reflect the existence in the area, in ancient times, of an important temple of the god Atum (Old Egyptian pr-itm, 'House of Atum', changed over time into 'Tumilat', as well as into 'Pithom').[2]

Canal des Pharaons
Canal of the Pharaohs, that followed Wadi Tumilat


Wadi Tumilat in hieroglyphs



Wadi Tumilat has the ruins of several ancient settlements. The earliest site excavated is that of Kafr Hassan Dawood, which dates from the Predynastic period to the Early Dynastic Period.[3] Late in the New Kingdom of Egypt period, there was a well fortified site at Tell el-Retabah. But then, in the Saite Dynasty period, the major settlement and fort were moved east to Tell el-Maskhuta, only 12 km (7.5 mi) to the east.[4]

Necho II (610–595 BC) initiated—but may have never completed—the ambitious project of cutting a navigable canal from the Pelusiac branch of the Nile to the Red Sea. Necho's Canal was the earliest precursor of the Suez Canal, and it went through Wadi Tumilat.[5] It was in connection with a new activity that Necho founded a new city of Per-Temu Tjeku which translates as 'The House of Atum of Tjeku' at Tell el-Maskhuta.[6]

Around 1820, Muhammad Ali of Egypt, the Ottoman Governor of Egypt, brought 500 Syrians to the Wadi and equipped them with animals and labor to construct 1,000 sakias for the cultivation of mulberry trees for sericulture. The irrigation system was repaired by cleaning and deepening the existing canals. Labor was provided by forcing peasants to work.[7][8]

Tell Shaqafiya in the Wadi is also associated with the Canal and its operation.

The site of Tell el Gebel is mostly of the Roman period.

In 1930, a team from the German Institute in Cairo conducted a survey of Wadi Tumilat. Later on, some Hyksos tombs were also discovered in the area at Tell es-Sahaba.[9]

The earth and its inhabitants (1886) (21116337912)
Wadi Tumilat

Wadi Tumilat Project

Modern excavations at Tell el-Maskhuta were carried out by the University of Toronto 'Wadi Tumilat Project' under the direction of John Holladay. They worked over five seasons between 1978 and 1985.

As many as 35 sites of archaeological significance have been identified in the Wadi. The three large tells in the Wadi are Tell el-Maskhuta, Tell er-Retabah, and Tell Shaqafiya.

Tell er-Retabah has been investigated by the archaeologist Hans Goedicke of Johns Hopkins University.[10]

Biblical references

William H. Seward's travels around the world (1873) (14598126840)
William H. Seward's travels around the world (1873) (14598126840)

There are several biblical references to the area of Wadi Tumilat. For example, the ancient Pithom is believed to be here.

The western end of the Wadi Tumilat is identified as part of the Land of Goshen.

Wadi Tumilat—an arable strip of land serving as the ancient transit route between Egypt and Canaan across the Sinai Peninsula—is also seen by scholars as the biblical 'Way of Shur'.[11]

Biblical scholar Edouard Naville identified the area of Wadi Tumilat as Sukkot (Tjeku), the 8th Lower Egypt nome. This location is also mentioned in the Bible.


  1. ^ Egypt’s Storied Wadi Tumilat GeoCurrents website
  2. ^ James K. Hoffmeier, Ancient Israel in Sinai: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Wilderness Tradition. Oxford University Press, 2005 ISBN 0198035403
  3. ^ F. Hassan and G. J. Tassie, Kafr Hassan Dawood.
  4. ^ Kathryn A. Bard, An Introduction to the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt. Blackwell Pub., 2008
  5. ^ Redmount, Carol A. "The Wadi Tumilat and the "Canal of the Pharaohs"" Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 54, No. 2 (April , 1995), pp. 127-135
  6. ^ Shaw, Ian; and Nicholson, Paul. The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt. The British Museum Press, 1995. p.201
  7. ^ Cuno, M., Kenneth (1980): The Origins of Private Ownership of Land in Egypt: A Reappraisal. Cambridge University Press, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Nov., 1980), pp.245-275
  8. ^ Owen, E.R.J. (1969): Cotton and the Egyptian Economy, Oxford University Press, Oxford 1969
  9. ^ Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, edited by Kathryn A. Bard. Routledge, 1999 ISBN 0203982835
  10. ^ Hans Goedicke - excavations at Tell er-Retaba St. Louis Community College
  11. ^ Israel: Ancient Kingdom Or Late Invention? Daniel Isaac Block, ed. B&H Publishing Group, 2008 ISBN 0805446796


  • Carol A. Redmount, The Wadi Tumilat and the "Canal of the Pharaohs" Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 54, No. 2 (Apr., 1995), pp. 127–135 The University of Chicago Press
  • Ellen-Fowles Morris: The architecture of imperialism - Military bases and the evolution of foreign policy in Egypt's New Kingdom. Brill, Leiden 2005, ISBN 90-04-14036-0.
  • Alan Gardiner: The Delta Residence of the Ramessides, IV In: Journal of Egyptian Archaeology Nr. 5, 1918, S. 242-271.
  • Edouard Naville: The store-city of Pithom and The route of the Exodus. Trübner, London 1903.
  • Herbert Donner: Geschichte des Volkes Israel und seiner Nachbarn in Grundzügen - Teil 1. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2007, ISBN 978-3-525-51679-9, S. 102-103.
  • Jacques-Marie Le Père: Mémoire sur la communication de la mer des Indes à la Méditerranée par la mer Rouge et l'Isthme de Sueys. In Description de l'Égypte, État moderne I. Imprimerie Impériale, Paris 1809, S. 21 - 186, (in Volume 11, État Moderne, 2. Auflage, Digitalisat auf Google Bücher).

External links

Coordinates: 30°32′58″N 31°57′49″E / 30.5494°N 31.9636°E

Canal of the Pharaohs

The Canal of the Pharaohs, also called the Ancient Suez Canal or Necho's Canal, is the forerunner of the Suez Canal, constructed in ancient times. It followed a different course than its modern counterpart, by linking the Nile to the Red Sea via the Wadi Tumilat. Work began under the Pharaohs. According to Suez Inscriptions and Herodotus, the first opening of the canal was under Persian king Darius the Great, but later ancient authors like Aristotle, Strabo, and Pliny the Elder claim that he failed to complete the work. Another possibility is that it was finished in the Ptolemaic period under Ptolemy II, when Greek engineers solved the problem of overcoming the difference in height through canal locks.

Crossing the Red Sea

The Crossing of the Red Sea (Hebrew: קריעת ים סוף Kriat Yam Suph – Crossing of the Red Sea or Sea of Reeds) is part of the biblical narrative of the Exodus, the escape of the Israelites, led by Moses, from the pursuing Egyptians in the Book of Exodus. Moses holds out his staff and the Red Sea is parted by God. The Israelites walk on the dry ground and cross the sea, followed by the Egyptian army. Once the Israelites have safely crossed Moses lifts his arms again, the sea closes, and the Egyptians are drowned.

Darius the Great's Suez Inscriptions

Darius the Great's Suez Inscriptions were texts written in Old Persian, Elamite, Babylonian and Egyptian on five monuments erected in Wadi Tumilat, commemorating the opening of the "Canal of the Pharaohs", between the Nile and the Bitter Lakes.The best preserved of these monuments was a stele of pink granite, which was discovered by Charles de Lesseps, Ferdinand de Lesseps's son, in 1866, 30 kilometers from Suez near Kabret in Egypt. It was erected by Darius the Great, king of the Achaemenid Empire (or Persia), whose reign lasted from 522 BCE to 486 BCE. The monument, also known as the Chalouf stele (alt. Shaluf Stele), records the construction of a forerunner of the modern Suez Canal by the Persians, a canal through Wadi Tumilat, connecting the easternmost, Bubastite, branch of the Nile with Lake Timsah which was connected to the Red Sea by natural waterways. The stated purpose of the canal was the creation of a shipping connection between the Nile and the Red Sea, between Egypt and Persia.

Ka (pharaoh)

Ka, also (alternatively) Sekhen, was a Predynastic pharaoh of Upper Egypt belonging to Dynasty 0. He probably reigned during the first half of the 32nd century BC. The length of his reign is unknown.

Lake Timsah

Lake Timsah, also known as Crocodile Lake, is a lake in Egypt on the Nile delta. It lies in a basin developed along a fault extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Suez through the Bitter Lakes region. In 1800, a flood filled the Wadi Tumilat, which caused Timsah's banks to overflow and moved water south into the Bitter Lakes about nine miles (14 km) away. In 1862, the lake was filled with waters from the Red Sea.

Land of Goshen

The Land of Goshen (Hebrew: אֶרֶץ גֹּשֶׁן or ארץ גושן Eretz Gošen) is named in the Bible as the place in Egypt given to the Hebrews by the pharaoh of Joseph (Book of Genesis, Genesis 45:9-10), and the land from which they later left Egypt at the time of the Exodus. It was located in the eastern Delta of the Nile, lower Egypt.

Nabataean Aramaic

Nabataean Aramaic was the Western Aramaic variety used in inscriptions by the Nabataeans of the Negev, the east bank of the Jordan River and the Sinai Peninsula.

During the early Islamic Golden Age, Arab historians applied the term "Nabataean" to other, eastern Aramaic languages in the Babylonian alluvial plain of Iraq and the Syrian Desert.

Nebkaure Khety

Nebkaure Khety was an ancient Egyptian pharaoh of the 9th or 10th Dynasty, during the First Intermediate Period.

Nile Delta

The Nile Delta (Arabic: دلتا النيل‎ Delta an-Nīl or simply الدلتا ad-Delta) is the delta formed in Lower Egypt where the Nile River spreads out and drains into the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of the world's largest river deltas—from Alexandria in the west to Port Said in the east, it covers 240 km (150 mi) of Mediterranean coastline and is a rich agricultural region. From north to south the delta is approximately 160 km (99 mi) in length. The Delta begins slightly down-river from Cairo.


Pithom (Hebrew: פיתום‎) also called Per-Atum or Heroöpolis or Heroonopolis (Greek: Ἡρώων πόλις or Ἡρώ) was an ancient city of Egypt. Multiple references in ancient Greek, Roman, and Hebrew Bible sources exist for this city, but its exact location remains somewhat uncertain. A number of scholars identified it as the later archaeological site of Tell El Maskhuta. Others identified it as the earlier archeological site of Tell El Retabeh. The 10th century Jewish scholar, Saadia Gaon, identified the place in his Judeo-Arabic translation of the Pentateuch as Faiyum, 100 kilometres (62 miles) southwest of Cairo.

Saft el-Hinna

Saft el-Hinna (also Saft el-Hinneh, Saft el-Henna, Saft el-Henneh) is a village and an archaeological site in Egypt. It is located in the modern Al Sharqia Governorate, in the Nile Delta, about 7 km southeast of Zagazig.The modern village of Saft el-Hinna lies on the ancient Egyptian town of Per-Sopdu or Pi-Sopt, meaning "House of Sopdu", which was the capital of the 20th nome of Lower Egypt and one of the most important cult centers during the Late Period of ancient Egypt. As the ancient name implies, the town was consecrated to Sopdu, god of the eastern borders of Egypt.During the late Third Intermediate Period, Per-Sopdu – called Pishaptu or Pisapti, in Akkadian, by the Neo-Assyrian invaders – was the seat of one of the four Great chiefdom of the Meshwesh, along with Mendes, Sebennytos and Busiris.

Shur (Bible)

Shur is a location mentioned several times in the Hebrew Bible.

James K. Hoffmeier believes that the 'way of Shur' was located along the Wadi Tumilat — an arable strip of land to the east of the Nile Delta, serving as the ancient transit route between Ancient Egypt and Canaan across the Sinai Peninsula.When Hagar ran away from Sarah (Abram's wife, her owner), "the Angel of the Lord found her ... by the fountain in the way to Shur" (Book of Genesis, Genesis 16:7, KJV).

Shur is also mentioned in 1 Samuel 15:7 — "Then Saul slaughtered the Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur, east of Egypt." According to the Book of Exodus (Exodus 15:22–23), Marah is located in the "wilderness of Shur".

Easton's Bible Dictionary (1893) says that Shur is "a part, probably, of the Arabian desert, on the north-eastern border of Egypt, giving its name to a wilderness extending from Egypt toward Philistia (Gen. 16:7; 20:1; 25:18; Ex. 15:22). The name was probably given to it from the wall which the Egyptians built to defend their frontier on the north-east from the desert tribes. This wall or line of fortifications extended from Pelusium to Heliopolis."

Story of Wenamun

The Story of Wenamun (alternately known as the Report of Wenamun, The Misadventures of Wenamun, Voyage of Unamūn, or [informally] as just Wenamun) is a literary text written in hieratic in the Late Egyptian language. It is only known from one incomplete copy discovered in 1890 at al-Hibah, Egypt and subsequently purchased in 1891 in Cairo by the Russian Egyptologist Vladimir Goleniščev. It was found in a jar together with the Onomasticon of Amenope and the Tale of Woe.

The papyrus is now in the collection of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, and officially designated as Papyrus Pushkin 120. The hieratic text is published by Korostovcev 1960, and the hieroglyphic text is published by Gardiner 1932 (as well as on-line).


Suez (Arabic: السويس‎ as-Suways ) is a seaport city (population of about 750,000 as of August 2018) in north-eastern Egypt, located on the north coast of the Gulf of Suez (a branch of the Red Sea), near the southern terminus of the Suez Canal, having the same boundaries as Suez Governorate. It has three harbours, Adabiya, Ain Sokhna and Port Tawfiq, and extensive port facilities. Together they form a metropolitan area.

Railway lines and highways connect the city with Cairo, Port Said, and Ismailia. Suez has a petrochemical plant, and its oil refineries have pipelines carrying the finished product to Cairo, in the flag of the governorate: the blue background refer to the sea, the gear refer to the fact that Suez an industrial governorate, and the flame refer to the petroleum firms in it.

Suez Canal

The Suez Canal (Arabic: قناة السويس‎ qanāt as-suwēs) is a sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea through the Isthmus of Suez. Constructed by the Suez Canal Company between 1859 and 1869, it officially opened on 17 November 1869. The canal offers watercraft a more direct route between the North Atlantic and northern Indian oceans via the Mediterranean and Red seas, thus avoiding the South Atlantic and southern Indian oceans and reducing the journey distance from the Arabian Sea to London, for example, by approximately 8,900 kilometres (5,500 mi). It extends from the northern terminus of Port Said to the southern terminus of Port Tewfik at the city of Suez. Its length is 193.30 km (120.11 mi), including its northern and southern access-channels. In 2012, 17,225 vessels traversed the canal (an average of 47 per day).The original canal featured a single-lane waterway with passing locations in the Ballah Bypass and the Great Bitter Lake. It contains no lock system, with seawater flowing freely through it. In general, the canal north of the Bitter Lakes flows north in winter and south in summer. South of the lakes, the current changes with the tide at Suez.The United Kingdom and France owned the canal until July 1956, when the President of Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser, nationalized it - an event which led to the Suez Crisis of October-November 1956. The canal is owned and maintained by the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) of Egypt. Under the Convention of Constantinople, it may be used "in time of war as in time of peace, by every vessel of commerce or of war, without distinction of flag". Nevertheless, the canal has played an important military strategic role as a naval short-cut and choke-point. Navies with coastlines and bases on both the Mediterranean and Red Seas (Egypt and Israel) have a particular interest in the Suez Canal.

In August 2014 the Egyptian government launched construction to expand and widen the Ballah Bypass for 35 km (22 mi) to speed the canal's transit-time. The expansion intended to nearly double the capacity of the Suez Canal - from 49 to 97 ships per day. At a cost of $8.4 billion, this project was funded with interest-bearing investment certificates issued exclusively to Egyptian entities and individuals. The "New Suez Canal", as the expansion was dubbed, was opened with great fanfare in a ceremony on 6 August 2015.On 24 February 2016, the Suez Canal Authority officially opened the new side channel. This side channel, located at the northern side of the east extension of the Suez Canal, serves the East Terminal for berthing and unberthing vessels from the terminal. As the East Container Terminal is located on the Canal itself, before the construction of the new side channel it was not possible to berth or unberth vessels at the terminal while the convoy was running.

Sukkot (place)

For the Jewish festival, see Sukkot.The name Sukkot (Succoth) appears in a number of places in the Hebrew Bible as a location:

An Egyptian Sukkot is the second of the stations of the Exodus. According to the Hebrew bible, an unnamed Pharaoh ordered the Israelites to leave Egypt, and they journeyed from their starting point at Pi-Rameses to Succoth (Exodus 12:37). Both appear to be towns within the Land of Goshen[ citation needed ], which is generally believed to be in the eastern Delta.A separate Sukkot is a city east of the Jordan River, identified with Tell Deir Άlla, a high mound, a mass of debris, in the plain north of Jabbok and about one mile from it (Joshua 13:27). This is where Jacob, on his return from Padan-aram after his interview with Esau, built a house for himself and made sukkot (booths) for his cattle, (Genesis 33:17). In the book of Judges the princes of Sukkot refused to provide help to Gideon and his men when they followed one of the bands of the fugitive Midianites after the great victory at Gilboa. After routing this band, Gideon on his return visited the rulers of the city with severe punishment. "He took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Sukkot" (Book of Judges 8:13-16). Sukkot is also mentioned in relation to the battles of Saul and David (1 Samuel 17:1). The foundries for casting the metal-work for the temple were erected here (1 Kings 7:46).

Sweet Water Canal

Sweet Water Canal, also known as Fresh Water Canal and currently known as Ismaïlia Canal, is a canal which was dug by thousands of Egyptian fellahin to facilitate the construction of the Suez Canal. The canal travels east-west across Ismailia Governorate.It was dug to provide fresh water to the arid area, from Lake Timsah to Suez and Port Said. The canal facilitated the growth of agriculture settlements along the Suez Canal, and it is particularly important for supplying water to the city of Port Said. Like the Suez Canal, it was designed by French engineers; construction lasted from 1861 until 1863. It runs through the now-dry distributary of the Wadi Tumilat, incorporating portions of an ancient Suez Canal that existed between Old Cairo and the Red Sea.

Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor

The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor is a Middle Kingdom story of an Ancient Egyptian voyage to "the King's mines".

Édouard Naville

Henri Édouard Naville (14 June 1844 – 17 October 1926) was a Swiss archaeologist, Egyptologist and Biblical scholar.

Born in Geneva, he studied at the University of Geneva, King's College, London, and the Universities of Bonn, Paris, and Berlin. He was a student of Karl Richard Lepsius and later his literary executor.

He first visited Egypt in 1865, where he copied the Horus texts in the temple at Edfu. During the Franco-Prussian War he served as a captain in the Swiss army. His early work concerned the solar texts and the Book of the Dead. In 1882 he was invited to work for the newly founded Egypt Exploration Fund. He excavated a number of sites in the Nile Delta including Tell el-Maskhuta (1882), the Wadi Tumilat (1885–86), Bubastis (1886–89), Tell el-Yahudiyeh (1887), Saft el-Hinna (1887), Ahnas (1890–91), Mendes and Tell el-Muqdam (1892). Many of the objects he found in his Delta excavations are preserved in the Cairo Museum, British Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

In the 1890s he excavated at the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri where he was assisted by David George Hogarth, Somers Clarke and Howard Carter. In 1903-06 he returned to Deir el-Bahri to excavate the Mortuary Temple of Mentuhotep II, assisted by Henry Hall. In 1910 he worked in the royal necropolis at Abydos and his last excavation work was in the Osireion at Abydos which was left incomplete at the start of World War I.

Naville was the recipient of numerous international awards and honors and was the author of innumerable publications, both on his excavations and his textual studies. He died at Malagny (near Geneva) in 1926.

Naville was an archaeologist of the old fashioned school that concerned itself with large scale clearance of sites and little regard for the detailed evidence possibly to be found in the course of excavation. In his lifetime he was criticized by W. M. Flinders Petrie for his archaeological methods and D. G. Hogarth was sent by the Egypt Excavation Fund to observe and report on the nature of his work at Deir el-Bahri. His published reports are evidence of the lack of detail, but this is also typical of much of the archaeological practice of the time.

He received an honorary doctorate (LL.D) from the University of Glasgow in June 1901.


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