Archaeological sights in Cairo
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Built in AD 861, the Nilometer was designed to measure the rise and fall of the river, and thus predict the fortunes of the annual harvest. If the water rose to 16 cubits (a cubit is about the length of a forearm) the harvest was likely to be good, inspiring one of the greatest celebrations of the medieval era; any higher, though, and the flooding could be disastrous, and lower levels presaged hunger. The Turkish-style pencil-point dome is a Farouk-era reconstruction of an earlier one wrecked by Napoleon’s troops. The measuring device, a graduated column, sits below the level of the Nile at the bottom of a flight of precipitous steps, which the guard will cheerfully let…
Wikala al-Bazara is one of about 20 remaining wikala s (merchants’ inns) in the medieval city, down from about 360 in the 17th century, when this one was built.