In May 2004 a small new exhibit was 'opened' outside Qurna Discovery. In July 2010 the wheel and the display moved to Balady Handicraft Qurna, a purpose-built modern and traditional crafts centre 6km north. See The horizontal wheel of the old saqiya (water wheel) of the Bogdadi family can now be seen together with a small display. The display shows how these machines used to work, and includes a collection of historic photos of different saqiya on the plain of Qurna.

The Bogdadi sāqiya

This is the horizontal wheel of the sāqiya of the Bogdadi family, made from sycamore/tamarix wood. The sāqieh is a machine for lifting water from the lower levels of a well to water channels on the surface. “The horizontal wheel which is turned by a cow or a camel, puts in motion the two vertical wheels, which are both on the same axis. As the front wheel revolves, the pots (being attached to two ropes, the ends of which are joined together) are drawn up by it, after having dropped in the water and filled: each pot, when it has risen to the top of the wheel, empties its contents into a trough, and then descends, with the mouth downwards, to refill. From the trough the water flows along a narrow trench or gutter, across the fields, or garden, which is to be irrigated.” E.W.Lane 1825.

For thousands of years the sāqiya was one of the commonest features of the Nile Valley landscape. They were first known in Egypt in the 5th century BC/2nd century AD. The growth of piped water systems and the use of electric pumps to raise the water, following the opening of the High Dam at Aswan in 1970, led to the disuse of the ancient wooden sāqiyas. This wheel was rescued from under some acacia trees just below the Ramesseum Resthouse, near the house of the Bogdadi family.

The Bogdadi sāqiya, c. 1910, Dawson collection, Cambridgeshire County Library

Diagrams by the Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale, Cairo

Illustration drawn c.1800, Description de l’Egypte, publiée par les orders de Napoléon Bonaparte

A woman working the Daramalli sāqiya– seasonally the men and boys were fully employed working with archaeologists or with tourists

Postcard sent from Egypt to England in 1912

The sāqieh of the Daramalli family, 1924, Qurna History Project

Taken by Miss D.E. Johnston, 1914. Royal Geographical Society, London

Given by Major G.J.P.Geiger to the Royal Geographical Society, London, in 1928

Photo taken c.1914 printed in The Monastery of Epiphanius at Thebes, H E Winlock

Photos of some of the many sāqiya on the Theban plain. These photos also contain probably the only portraits of these local people.