(αἱ πικραί λίμναι
, Strab. xvii. p.804
; Plin. Nat. 6.29. s. 33
), were a cluster of saltlagoons east of the Delta, between the city of Heroöpolis and the desertof Etham--the modern Scheib.
The Bitter Lakes had a slight inclination from N. to E., and their general outline resembled the leaf of the sycamore. Until the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus (B.C. 285-247), they were the termination of the royal canal, by which the native monarchs and the Persian kings attempted, but ineffectually, to join the Pelusiac branch of the Nile with the Red Sea. Philadelphus carried the canal through these lagoons to the city of Arsinoë.
The mineral qualities of these lakes were nearly destroyed by the introduction of the Nile-water.
A temple of Serapis stood on the northern extremity of the Bitter Lakes.