American researchers have said they discovered the bits and pieces of a massive lake in Egypt as large as one of the Great Lakes. The discovery of the over 100,000 years old lake was long-established from space shuttle imagery.
ScienceNews.org reported that the images revealed a lake wider than Lake Erie that once existed a few miles west of the current Nile River. From the time it first appeared about 250,000 years ago, the lake in Egypt’s Tushka region would have grown and shrunk periodically until finally drying up about 80,000 years ago, researchers say.
Knowing where such ancient bodies of water were located helps archaeologists understand the kind of environment encountered by Homo Sapiens migrating out of Africa, study leader Ted Maxwell, a geologist at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, said in statements to reporters. “You realize that hey, this place was full of really large lakes when people were wandering into the rest of the world,” he says.
Desert winds have eroded and sands have buried much of the region’s landscape, says Maxine Kleindienst, an anthropologist at the University of Toronto, but planned field studies will search for ancient shorelines suggested by the radar images.
Today Egyptians rely almost exclusively on the Nile and its annual floods for their water. The ancient lakes, Maxwell says, suggest that such flooding was already a fixture a quarter million years ago.