An Early Project for a Suez Canal: The Aborted Plan of 1847

By Arnold Blumberg, published August 1982


The Red Sea and the Mediterranean were connected by canal, via the Nile, in the 7c BC.  All believed the Red Sea level was higher than the Mediterranean.  During Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt, a French engineer surveyed a direct route but perpetuated the levels myth.  Politically, any commerce-carrying canal would initiate a power struggle. In 1846, the Societe d’Etudes pour le Canal de Suez commissioned a new survey.  When the sea-to-sea survey was completed in 1847, the engineers argued about methods and the Viceroy and his successor withdraw support.  So the canal was not built until thirty years later.

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Filed under: Mediterranean | Nineteenth Century
Subjects include: Science & Exploration

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