In transcribing the following paragraphs from the Internet Archive online version of The Imperial Gazetteer’s entry on Egypt I have divided the long entry into separate documents, expanded abbreviations for easier reading, and added paragraphing and links to material in the Victorian Web. Unless otherwise noted, illustrations come from the original Gazetteer. — George P. Landow

Decorated initial M

AMIETTA is a town in Lower Egypt, on the right bank of one of the principal branches of the Nile, and about 6 miles from its mouth; 100 miles North Northeast of Cairo; latitude 31˚ 25' N.; longitude 31˚ 5' East. It is irregularly built, but many of the houses are tolerably good, though inferior, generally, to those of Rosetta; while many of them, again, are of the most wretched description. It contains, however, some fine mosques, bazaars, and marble baths. Damietta was at one time a very important place, and carried on an extensive foreign trade, but is now eclipsed by Alexandria. It still, however, enjoys a considerable trade with the interior, in fish and rice the former the produce of the fisheries on Lake Mensaleh, in the neighbourhood and exports some coffee, beans, and linen.

Damietta. — from Forbin. Voyage dans le Levant. Click on image to enlarge it.

A bar at the mouth of the Nile prevents large vessels from reaching the town, compelling them to anchor outside, and to load and unload by means of small craft, of from 30 to 60 tons burthen. Damietta was at one time famous for its manufacture of leather and striped cloths; which last, when imported into Europe, are supposed to have received from it the name of dimity. A military school and cotton factory were established here by Mehemet Ali. The ancient town of Damietta stood about 5 miles nearer the sea, or further North. It was considered the bulwark of Egypt, on this side, in the time of the Crusaders: and its capture was always looked upon as the most important object in their expeditions against that coun try.

The danger to which it was exposed, however, from its position on the shores, induced the Egyptian caliphs to change its position, and to remove it to where the modern town now stands, about the year 1251. The present town contains many antique columns and blocks, supposed to have been brought from the old city. It was taken by the Pasha of Egypt in 1833. Population 28,000. [2.800-01]


Blackie, Walker Graham. The Imperial Gazetteer: A General Dictionary of Geography, Physical, Political, Statistical and Descriptive. 4 vols. London: Blackie & Son, 1856. Internet Archive. Inline version of a copy in the University of California Library. Web. 31 July 2020.

Last modified 3 August 2020