Information about Roda Island Nilometer Cairo
Roda Island Nilometer Cairo located on the southern tip of Roda Island. It faces Old Cairo. It has the properties of being one of the oldest structures in Cairo having a link to Egypt’s pharaonic past. Roda Island Nilometer Cairo built after the Arab conquest. In fact, Roda Island Nilometer Cairo and other Nilometers used to measure the flood levels of the Nile River. It is a heritage of Egypt’s distant past. Such structures doted the course of Egypt’s grand river. These types of devices continued to be useful up until the modern era when the Nile tamed by modern dams. Roda Island Nilometer Cairo used to regulate the distribution of water. In fact, it was during August and September.
It also computes the levy of taxes paid as tribute by Egypt to the the Arab Caliph. It was since the generosity of the Nile was in large part a sign of Egypt’s prosperity. There is an evidence that a Nilometer exited in this location since the Pharaonic Period. The Umayyads under Sulayman Abd El Malek had built a simple Nilometer. It was like those of the earlier period in 715 AD. In fact, it restored in 815 by Caliph Al Maamoun. Moreover, it destroyed by an high flood in 850 AD. Roda Island Nilometer Cairo built by order of the Abbasid Caliph Al Mutawakkel (847-861 AD). It was under the direction of Ahmad Al Hasib at the end of his reign in 861 AD. It devised by Abul Abbas Ahmad Ibn Kathir.
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Ibn Tulun restored Roda Island Nilometer Cairo between 872 and 873 AD. It again restored in 1092 by the Fatimid Caliph, Al Mustanser. Moreover, it remains original, except for the wooden painted conical dome roof. It is a modern restoration. This cupola in the shape of today modeled from an earlier example. It built after the Nilometer bombarded by French troops. It was during their occupation of Egypt. The earlier dome destroyed by a nearby factory explosion in 1825. It refitted by using an 18th century painting. It was by the Danish traveler, Fredrik Ludvig Norden as a reference. Roda Island Nilometer is a more sophisticated instrument than the the one on Elephantine Island in the Nile at Aswan. It consists of a pit that extends well below the level of the Nile.
It connects with the Nile through tunnels dug on three levels on its eastern side. These tunnels now blocked off from the Nile. That is why Roda Island Nilometer Cairo no longer functions. The pit lined with stone, circular at the bottom and rectangular at the top. It accessed by a staircase on the interior walls. Its walls have four recesses with pointed arches and thin columns to either side. They adorned with two types of zigzag framing decorations carved on its stone voussoirs. These arches are the same type as those used in Gothic architecture. They proceeded the Gothic arch by some four hundred years. In the center of the pit, there is a marble, octagonal column with a Corinthian capital. It rises from its depths surmounting a millstone. At the top, there is a wooden beam spanning the Nilometer.
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To measure the Nile flood, this column graded and divided into 19 cubits. A cubit is more than half a meter. Hence, it was capable of measuring floods up to about 9.2 meters. The flood which measured by Nilometer was important to the rulers of Egypt. It also was so for the whole population. An ideal flood filed the Nilometer up to the sixteenth mark and less than this could mean drought and famine. If the measurement exceed the 19 cubits, a catastrophic flood was at hand. In the days before to the expected flood, this column would anointed with saffron and musk. It was to help induce a good water level. Plain Kufic inscriptions adorn the walls of Roda Island Nilometer Cairo. They are the earliest surviving examples of architectural epigraphy in Egypt.
In fact, they taken from Quranic texts. They refer to water, vegetation and prosperity. Thus, they have a talisman meaning, but there is also secular text as well. These inscriptions executed in white marble on a blue background. The letters themselves left in the natural stone color. The inscription recording the establishment of the Nileomter by Al Mutawakkel has removed. Creswell is a well known historian of this period. He believes that this done by Ibn Tulun. Ibn Tulun was the one who replaced it with extra verse. It was as part of a campaign to assert his independence from the foreign Caliphate. Roda Island Nilometer Cairo has a big importance in determining the prosperity of Egypt.
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It was the departure point of the greatest of Cairo’s celebrations throughout the medieval period. In fact, it was the Fath al-Khalij. Moreover, it was the festival of the Opening of the Canal. It ceased in 1899. It was when the Khalij (Khalig) filled in. Roda Island Nilometer Cairo continued to used up until the last flood in 1970. The Khalij Canal started opposite Roda Island and bordered the medieval city to the west. It irrigated its outlying gardens and fields. The Khalij canal blocked with an earth dam and cleaned before the flood. It would then opened when the water level reached the sixteenth cubit level. The caliph, later sultans and pashas would inaugurate the celebrations. They lasted for several days. The summer flood from the Nile would then fill this canal.
It was together with many ponds that would have winter beds green with vegetation. During the celebrations, decorated boats would crowed the waters. Among these, the most splendid would be that of the ruler. Those who seen this event refer to it as Cairo’s most spectacular celebration. During the hot summer months, the Khalij and the ponds remained filled with boats. Its shores lined with entertainment. Near Roda Island Nilometer Cairo was a mosque. It was for prayers during the flood celebration. There was also a palace for banquets which held by the various rulers. The grand celebration not guaranteed as an annual event. When the water failed to reach the sixteenth cubic mark, the celebrations canceled. Prayers and fasting held instead to ward off the expected drought and famine.