Flying 250 miles (400 km) above Earth, astronauts on board International Space Station (ISS) looked down at our planet last May and saw a blooming heart-shaped oasis in the Egyptian desert. Today (February 14), our friends in space are sharing this dramatic image of a special Valentine’s Day for the whole planet, with the permission of NASA Earth Observatory website.
Known as the Faiyum Oasis, this lush heart of the desert is actually a vast wetland basin, spanning more than 450 square miles (1,200 square kilometers) – about one and a half times the size of the year. borough of New York City. While it may not have been as densely populated as the Big Apple today, the oasis has sustained human habitation for about 8,000 years, according to NASA, and has been the birthplace of a number of engineering feats. most ambitious in ancient history.
Feeded by a natural channel of the nearby Nile River known as Bahr Yussef, this oasis was once a shimmering lake called Lake Moeris. The lake’s existence depends on seasonal flooding from the Nile, according to University of London (UCL) geography department. When the waters of the Nile were too low, the rulers ancient Egypt sometimes take bold measures. There is evidence that a succession of pharaohs that lived some 4,000 years ago solved a particularly severe water shortage by manually zooming in on Bahr Yussef to manually return water to the area.
“It was one of the earliest major national hydrological projects in the world,” according to the UCL website. “The 12th Dynasty kings responsible were Amenemhat I-III and they acquired the title of ‘technological kings’.”
Today, the ancient lake that exists as Lake Qarun is much smaller (seen below the heart in this NASA image). Thanks to those ancient engineering works, the remains of Moeris’ vast lake bed remain a fertile oasis supporting numerous villages, towns, farms, and orchards – that you (and other astronauts) can be seen in the patchy gray areas that make up the heart oasis in the image above.
And so we thank the ancient pharaohs for this geographical valentine. Let’s hope their hearts are still where they should be.
Originally published on Live Science.
https://www.space.com/ancient-egypt-heart-oasis Astronauts discover an ancient heart-shaped oasis in Egypt just in time for Valentine’s Day