Conquering Groundwater to Protect Egypt’s Antiquities
Egypt’s Pharaonic monuments in the Nile River Valley hold some of ancient civilisation’s most respected treasures. However, many were deteriorating from rising groundwater caused by urbanisation and agricultural practices. Also, the porous sandstone blocks from which Egyptian monuments are constructed absorb water. Corrosive salts concentrate as water evaporates, causing mechanical and chemical destruction of the stone blocks over a relatively short period of time.
The goal of this programme was to preserve significant archaeological sites for the benefit of Egypt and the world’s heritage, increase the potential for archaeological discoveries, and enhance the economic development value of tourism in Egypt. Determined to mitigate the water’s corrosive effects at the prominent Temple of Edfu, CDM Smith applied 3D numerical hydrogeological modelling to design dewatering systems.
Leveraging our earlier work at Luxor West and an exceptional understanding of the region’s unique geology, we could minimise invasive work, maintain the project schedule during Ramadan and Egypt’s recent revolution, and build trust with the Ministry. To ensure long-term success, we conducted community outreach to identify and incorporate benefits for local residents, simplified operations and maintenance, drained entire sites efficiently and built local human capacity to maintain the programme into the future.
To ensure long-term success, we conducted community outreach to identify and incorporate benefits for local residents.
The award-winning protective systems have successfully achieved targeted water levels, enabling exploration and conservation work to continue unhampered by high groundwater, improving public health, providing immediate and long-term job opportunities, and supporting Egypt’s vital tourism economy. Fulfilling our pledge to protect Egypt’s antiquities, we secured contracts for two more groundwater lowering assignments at Kom El Shokafa and the Temple of Kom Ombo.