Great Inventions of the 19th Century
Water: The fount of all life
Water management was always a crucial issue in the arid and semi-arid zones. Dams were essential for intensive agriculture and power generation.
Dams represented some of the most innovative works in the Arab and Ottoman world. The building of these new gigantic works attracted workers from around the region and even from Europe. They reshaped the geography of these territories and affected the life of people both in the countryside and in the cities. From the beginning of the 19th century, dams were built to improve agricultural production as part of the reforms aimed at transforming the territories of the Arab and Ottoman world into “modern” countries, capable of exporting large quantities of agricultural products or commodities such as cotton.
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Water: The fount of all life

Water distribution
The Barrage or Nile dam


The British Library, London, United Kingdom

The building of dams on the Nile to provide continuous irrigation, independent from floods, continued through the 19th and 20th centuries. The Delta Barrage, one of the most famous dams, was commissioned by Muhammad ‘Ali Pasha from the French explorer Linant de Bellefonds and the French engineer Eugène Mougel. Muhammad ‘Ali was the first to deal with old needs (like irrigation) with new technical tools.

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Water: The fount of all life