Sadd el-Kafara

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The Sadd el-Kafara (also spelled as Sadd al-Kufra - سد الكفرة), literally meaning the Dam of the Infidel, is an ancient Egyptian dam, built around 2560 BCE. The remains of ruined dam are located in Wadi Garawi, 30 km south of Cairo, and 11 km south-east of Heluan in Egypt.

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The dam was built during the 4th dynasty with a probable construction time of 10 to 12 years, but an unusually strong flood caused the erosion of the dam before it was completed. The flood wave destroyed much of the downstream valley. A reconstruction seems not to have taken place.

The sadd el-Kafara Dam would have been the largest in the world, had it been completed, as the historical records state that is was irreparably demaged in a flash flood and construction was abandoned mid-way. The dam was being constructed to protect the lower Wadi Garawi and the Nile valley, situated at the mouth of the wadi, from floods.

It was remarkably intelligent in design, with a very wide dyke like that of the High Dam and, again like the High Dam, with an impervious core containing a large proportion of clay to combat infiltration.

Brief History

circa 555 CE

Two different kinds of materials were used in the construction of the dam, hard, greyish-brown limestone and soft, chalky limestine. The soft limestone was composed of amorphous lime, some fone-structured calcite and some quartz and it had a relatively high salt content. The hard limestone was composed of amorphous and crystalline carbonate material.

Near the last stages of the its construction an exceptional flood occurred just before it was completer, filling the reservoir beyond its capacity; the dam was submerged and its central section destroyed. The unprotected middle portion of the vulnerable core was quickly eroded and the upstream rock-fill collapsed.



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