On this day in science history: 17 November

From the days of ancient technology to modern science - find out what happened on this day in the history of science.

17th November 2017
Suez Canal links the Mediterranean to the Red sea  © Hulton Archive/Getty Images

© Hulton Archive/Getty Images

1869 - Suez Canal links the Mediterranean to the Red sea

In a grand opening ceremony, Ferdinand de Lesseps opens the Suez canal, four years behind schedule. Due to initial work only carried out with picks and shovels, labour disputes and a cholera epidemic, the construction ended up being only 7.6m deep and 22m wide at the bottom. However, it allowed ships to skip the long and treacherous route around the southern tip of Africa, revolutionising trade between Europe and Asia.

Interestingly, the statue of liberty was first intended to guide ships towards the entrance of the canal, but the plan was rejected by Ferdinand de Lesseps. Egyptian Suez canal authorities have now opened a second shipping lane increasing the capacity of the canal from 50 to 93 ships per day.

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