Eth. FONTES AMARI
(αἱ πικραὶ λίμναι
, Strab. xvii. p.804
; Diod. 3.39
; Plin. Nat. 6.29.33
), the Bitter Pools, the modern Scheib,
derived their name from the saline flavour and deposition of their waters.
These were strongly impregnated with alkaline salts, and with muriate of lime, washed from the rocks which separate the Delta from the Red Sea.
As salt entered largely into the culinary art of the Egyptians who preserved in it fish and fowl, as well as the flesh of cattle, and as it was required also in their manufactures of earthenware and glass, and in the composition of dyes and pigments, these pools, as well as the Natron Lakes on the western side of the Nile, were of great value, and were probably, on that account, regarded as the property of the kings. The Bitter Pools began a little to the S. of Aeroöpolis, in lat. 30° 4′ N., and extended nearly as far as Arsinoë at the head of the Heroöpolite bay. Through them passed the great canal which connected the Nile with the Red Sea.
The canal had been planned and begun by Pharaoh Necho II., a monarch of the 18th dynasty; was carried by Darius Hystaspis from Pithoum, or Thaim, as far as the Bitter Pools (Hdt. 2.158
); and was subsequently continued by Ptolemaeus Philadelphus to Arsinoë.