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Cataract





Characteristic stone just below the 1st Cataratact. Aswan, Egypt.
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Characteristic stone just below the 1st Cataratact. Aswan, Egypt.

2nd Cataract, photographed in 1957. It is now inundated by the Lake Nasser.
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2nd Cataract, photographed in 1957. It is now inundated by the Lake Nasser. Photo Galen R. Frysinger.

The 4th cataract, in Sudan.
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The 4th cataract, Sudan. Photo David Haberlah

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The 6th and highest Cataract, in Sudan.

Type of waterfall, characterized by rocky rapids.
The term is especially used with the Nile river, which has 6 cataracts to its main section, of which 5 are in modern Sudan and one in Egypt.
Cataracts being a hindrance for boats, and even representing natural fortresses or crossing points of the river, have been of great influence to the creation of states and cultures along the Nile. Borders between cultures and states have been where the cataract divides the Nile.
Egypt proper is downstream from the 1st cataract, right south of this, the area known as Nubia begins. The 2nd cataract (which no longer exists since the creation of the Aswan High Dam) marks the modern border between Egypt and Sudan. At the 3rd cataract, the first Cushite kingdom was established, with Kerma as its capital. At the 4th cataract, the second Cushite kingdom had its centre, with its important temple at Gebel Barkal and the royal palace at Napata. Eventually, the Cushite kings had to draw back from Egypt's expansionism, and established its last capital, Meroë, at the 5th cataract.
The 6th, and last, cataract did not create any historically important borders.




By Tore Kjeilen