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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 9 April, 2003, 13:03 GMT 14:03 UK
Egyptian downfall is researched
The river Nile
Egyptian dynasties thrived on the banks of the Nile
A team of mid Wales scientists aims to discover the cause of the collapse of one of the world's great dynasties.

Dr Henry Lamb of the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, will lead a team to the source of the Blue Nile at Lake Tana in Ethiopia to discover if the collapse of the Egyptian Old Kingdom coincided with drought.

Experts believe the downfall of the kingdom more than 4,000 years ago, was triggered by drought caused by a decrease in the Nile floods over 30 years.

Egyptologists think this led to a period of famine, political crisis and war about 2000BC.

This will be the first study of Lake Tana, whose waters helped provide such a stable and fertile environment for the great Egyptian dynasties which thrived on the banks of the Nile.
Dr Henry Lamb, team leader

The team from the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences team will go to Egypt in October and carry out a seismic survey of the lake to show past changes in lake depth and area.

"Most of the large equatorial lakes that feed the White Nile have been studied in detail," said Dr Lamb.

Historical picture

"This will be the first study of Lake Tana, whose waters helped provide such a stable and fertile environment for the great Egyptian dynasties which thrived on the banks of the Nile.

"Our aim is to build an historical picture of climate change at the lake, which due to its relative shallowness, is particularly sensitive to rainfall."

Once back in Aberystwyth, the cores of the 14- metre deep lake bed will be analysed.

Dr Henry Lamb
The scientists will travel to Ethiopia in October

The team will look for a range of indicators reflecting climate conditions at any given time.

This will include a study of the amount of salt in the water - a drought should show increased salinity.

"The data gathered from this study should reveal a profile of changes in the lake's water levels.

"We will be able to confirm whether the collapse of the Old Kingdom coincided with a drought."

The work is funded by grants totalling 100,000 to the Aberystwyth team.




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