The Info List - Lake Moeris

--- Advertisement ---

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
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.


1 History 2 Etymology 3 See also 4 Notes 5 References 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

When the Mediterranean Sea
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. Eventually, the Nile
valley bed silted up high enough to let the flooding 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.[1] The lake was eventually abandoned due to the nearest branch of the Nile shrinking from 230 BC.[citation needed] Etymology[edit]

mer-wer (Moeris) in hieroglyphs

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
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 times. See also[edit]

Bahr Yussef Faiyum Faiyum
Governorate Faiyum
Oasis 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 Company. 


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. 

External links[edit]

 "Mœris". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920.   "Mœris". The American Cyclop