'Longitudinal Section of the Aswan Dam', Egypt, 1926.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Built between 1898 and 1902, the Aswan Dam was designed to better control the masive annual Nile floods for irrigation as well as providing the posibility of hydro-electric power for industry. The dam was constructed by the British with some of the foremost engineers of the period, including Sir William Willcocks, Sir Benjamin Baker and Sir John Aird involved in the project. After the dam was completed, it became clear that its height and the size of the reservoir behind it were insufficient. As a result, the dam's height was further raised in 1907-1912 and again in 1929-1934. Even after this the dam ultimately proved inadequate for its purpose, leading to the building of the much larger Aswan High Dam between 1960 and 1970.