Alexandria became, in fact, very soon after it was founded, a very great
and busy city. Many things conspired to make it at once a great
commercial emporium. In the first place, it was the depot of export for
all the surplus grain and other agricultural produce which was raised in
such abundance along the Egyptian valley. This produce was brought down
in boats to the upper point of the Delta, where the branches of the
river divided, and thence down the Canopic branch to the city. The city
was not, in fact, situated directly upon this branch, but upon a narrow
tongue of land, at a little distance from it, near the sea. It was not
easy to enter the channel directly, on account of the bars and
sand-banks at its mouth, produced by the eternal conflict between the
waters of the river and the surges of the sea. The water was deep,
however, as Alexander's engineers had discovered, at the place where the
city was built, and, by establishing the port there, and then cutting a
canal across to the Nile, they were enabled to bring the river and the
sea at once into easy communication.

[...]
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