Coordinates: 29°27′13″N 30°34′51″E / 29.45361°N
30.58083°E / 29.45361; 30.58083
Survey of the Moeris Basin from the late nineteenth century
Lake Moeris (Ancient Greek: Μοῖρις, genitive Μοίριδος)
is an ancient lake in the northwest of the
Faiyum Oasis, 80 km
(50 mi) southwest of Cairo, Egypt. In prehistory, it was a
freshwater lake, with an area estimated to vary between
1,270 km² (490 mi²) and 1,700 km² (656 mi²).
It persists today as a smaller saltwater lake called Birket Qarun. The
lake's surface is 43 m (140 ft) below sea-level, and covers
about 202 square kilometres (78 sq mi).
It is a source for tilapia and other fish from the local area.
The prehistoric mammal
Moeritherium was found in this area.
3 See also
6 External links
Map of ancient lake Moeris, the shaded part shows the land reclaimed
by the kings of the Twelfth Dynasty
Boats at the Lake Qarun, 2003
Mediterranean Sea was a hot dry hollow near the end of the
Messinian Salinity Crisis
Messinian Salinity Crisis in the late Miocene,
Faiyum was a dry
hollow, and the
Nile flowed past it at the bottom of a canyon (2,400 m
deep or more where
Cairo is now). After the Mediterranean reflooded at
the end of the Miocene, the
Nile canyon became an arm of the sea
reaching inland farther than Aswan. Over geological time that sea arm
gradually filled with silt and became the
Nile valley bed silted up high enough to let the
Nile overflow into the
Faiyum hollow, making a lake in it.
The lake is first recorded from about 3000 BC, around the time of
Menes (Narmer), however, for the most part it would only be filled
with high flood waters. The lake was bordered by neolithic
settlements, and the town of Shedet grew up on the south where the
higher ground created a ridge.
In 2300 BC, the waterway from the
Nile to the natural lake was widened
and deepened to make a canal that now is known as the Bahr Yussef.
This project was started by Amenemhat III, or perhaps, by his father
Senusret III. This canal fed 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.
The immense waterworks undertaken by the ancient Egyptian pharaohs of
the twelfth dynasty to transform the lake into a huge water reservoir
gave the impression that the lake was an artificial excavation, as
reported by geographers and travellers during classical times. The
lake was eventually abandoned due to the nearest branch of the Nile
shrinking from 230 BC.
The name Moeris is a Greek version (reformed as if from Greek
Μοῖραι "the Fates") from Egyptian mer-wer ‘great canal’.
Amenemhat III, who started this project was also known as Moeris. In
ancient Egypt, the lake was also variously called ‘the lake’,
‘pure lake’, and ‘Osiris’ lake’. During the Middle Kingdom,
the whole area around the lake was often referred to as mer-wer as
well. Similarly, the
Late Egyptian word Piom ‘sea’, originally
restricted to Lake Moeris, came to be used to refer to the city of
Crocodilopolis (mod. Faiyum), then to the entire region in later
Moeritherium - an ancient relative of elephants whose fossils were
found in the region.
^ Hyvernat, Eugène Xavier Louis Henri (1913). "Egypt". In
Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton
Fayum Project, University of Leuven
The Hydraulics of Open Channel Flow: An Introduction
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Griffith, Francis Llewellyn (1911). "Moeris,
Lake of". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.).
Cambridge University Press.
"Mœris". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920.
"Mœris". The American Cyclop