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right|Bust of Ptolemy II in the Louvre Museum, Paris]]The desire to create a bridge – both tangibly and metaphorically – between the East and the West has existed since the dawn of human civilization. People have always wanted to trade goods and ideas with others on the furthest ends of the earth, but the prospect always presented logistical problems. The problem was rectified at various points in human history by creating overland routes known as the Silk Roads, then developing sea routes around Africa, until finally building the Suez Canal in the nineteenth century. Long before the modern Suez Canal was built, though, several successful attempts were made to connect the West with the East via a canal. The first Suez Canal was probably built by Senusret III, with his New Kingdom successors following suit, but it was during the Late Period when activity became more pronounced. In an approximately 350 year period, three different kings – Nekau I, Darius I, and Ptolemy II – from three different cultures and dynasties, dug, re-dug, and improved on the existing Suez Canal. The ancient attempts to build the first Suez Canals prove that the ability to connect the East with the West is as old as the dream itself.
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