Suez Canal
[ Issue 38 ]

Suez Canal is a particular interest of Emily Bronto

Bikwil is pleased to present Suez Canal

Suez Canal

Fizzgig today delves into more than one ceremonial opening of the Suez Canal — such as the one in 1869 and another in the fifth century BC.

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From the Back Verandah — Fizzgig


To great acclaim, the Suez Canal was opened for navigation on November 17, 1869, having been completed in the August after ten years of work by 25,000 labourers under the command of Ferdinand de Lesseps. With it came a saving for European shipping to the Indian Ocean of the 6,400-km trip around Africa.

The dream of such a canal had been a long held one (Napoleon was one such dreamer), and dates back to the time of the Pharaohs. In those times the aim was more modest than de Lesseps’ plan to join the Mediterranean and Red Seas — namely to build a water link between the Red Sea and the Nile.

The first such waterway was cut in the 13th century BC, possibly at the behest of Seti I (reigned 1291-1279 BC) or Rameses II (r. 1279-1212 BC). During the next 1,000 years the canal was re-excavated several times, once by the Persian king Darius (522-486 BC), who during his state visit to Egypt gave orders for the building of a canal from the so-called Pelousiac arm of the Nile (which he knew as the River Pirawa) to the Red Sea.

Like the festivities in 1869, Darius’ achievement was celebrated by much pomp and ceremony. More than twenty ships sailed through bearing tribute, and many flattering adulatory speeches were made.

It was also commemorated by a typical Darian inscription:

I am a Persian. From Persis I grabbed Egypt. I commanded to dig this canal from a river by name Pirawa which flows in Egypt to the sea which goes out from Persis. Afterwards this canal was dug out as I commanded, and ships went from Egypt through this canal as was my desire.

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