Lake Mareotis (NW Nile delta, Egypt) was a gateway between the Nile valley and the Mediterranean during Greco-Roman times. The hydrological evolution of Lake Mareotis was reconstructed using lake sediments and archaeological archives. The data show both a rise in Nile inputs to the basin during the first millennia BC and AD and a lake-level rise of ca. 1.5 m during the Roman period. A high-energy deposit such as a tsunami also possibly affected Alexandria's lacustrine hinterland.
At Buto, Sais and Bubastis in the Nile delta, temples were built on gentle rising mounds surrounded by canals and lakes, representing a perfect fusion of natural and sacred landscapes. The waters served cultic purposes and played an important role in local mythological traditions. The paper aims to reconstruct those sacred waterways, canals and marshes according to recent geoarchaeological and philological research and to assess their impact on the evolution of key mythological narratives.
Based on a new method, this paper proves the presence of several lakes during Greco-Roman antiquity in the Mariut basin and the digging of a canal network (up to 12 km long) in the Roman period to link them to Lake Mareotis. This challenges a 2-century-long scientific tradition according to which Lake Mareotis naturally linked Taposiris Magna to Alexandria during the Hellenistic and Roman periods. It is thus a starting point for new analyses of regional archaeology and geoarchaeology.
The Butic Canal, a Roman-period artificial waterway transversing the Egyptian Nile Delta, is investigated by means of newly available remote sensing data (the TanDEM-X digital elevation model and Corona satellite imagery). New features of the construction can thus be detected. Adding historical sources, the canal's function(s) and chronology are discussed.