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The building of dams at right angles to the flow of the Nile, separating the Nile Valley into basins, precedes the Old Kingdom.
Dikes were built along the banks of the river and the basins which covered between 4 hectares, were carefully levelled.
During Roman times the country was one of the bread baskets of Rome.
The harvest generally took place shortly before the beginning of the next flooding, about in May or June, at times in April.
The sower walked back and forth over the still moist field, a bag in one hand and spreading the seed with the other, or having a two handled woven basket tied around his neck, both his hands free for sowing. Driving hogs or sheep over the field served the same purpose.
Organized by regional authorities, every Egyptian had to move about thirty cubic metres of soil in about ten days every year.
With this relatively small investment of labour, they kept the system in working order.
It may have constituted a problem in the lower lying parts of the Delta which were often marshy.
With the natural flooding and draining of the floodplain, the annual inundation permitted a single crop-season over two-thirds of the alluvial ground.