Cairo – Nilometer

Cairo – Nilometer

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Now you may think this is a corny name, “Nilometer, sounds like mileometer”. But you must remember, the first Nilometer was in existence in Pharoaic times, possibly before Christ not the other way round.

The Nilometer in it’s current incarnation has been measuring the height of the Nile since 751 and the Arabian conquest, at which point they build a special dome and masonry housing and began measuring regularly the height of the Nile each season.

This records have been kept for 14 centuries and have spawned developments in other areas on science, notably Brownian motion for those physicists out there.

Walk on by

I arrived at the Nilometer after a hefty jaunt from the Raddison, I was greeted by the caretaker who invited me and another English family in to take pictures at which point he told us the various facts.


The Nilometer stands 10.4 meters tall and consists of a cubit, or forearms length x16 measurement units. During the year the water would flow in and out of the chamber rising and falling and being measured.

When the water was particularly high, all the surrounding land would be ruined and the government could take action. Also if the water was low and drought ensued, the government could again, lower taxes to prevent unrest.

There’s a scale:-

which fiscal decisions for the year could be based.

Explore the shaft

Nilometer Shaft

After this, the caretaker allows us to venture into the musty shaft and explore the damp holes. The shaft has been empty since the building of the Aswan dam.

We all come out smiling 🙂

Outside the Nilometer


This trip cost 10 EP or £1.

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