The Canal of the Pharaohs is the forerunner of the Suez Canal. The Canal of the Pharaohs also called the Ancient Suez Canal or Necho's Canal, is constructed in ancient times. The ancient suez canal links the nile to the Red Sea but follows a different course than its modern counterpart as it is done via the Wadi Tumilat. The first opening of the canal was under the Persian king Darius the Great, according to Suez Inscriptions and Herodotus but he failed to complete the work as the later ancient authors like Aristotle, Strabo, and Pliny the Elder claimed. According to another possibility, it was finished in the Ptolemaic period under Ptolemy II because it is when the Greek engineers solved the problem of overcoming the difference in height through canal locks.



Necho II, in the late 6th century BC, probably started or at least first cut the bridge and Darius the Great either re-dug or completed it. The classical sources disagree on the source of its completion therefore it is not known. Five Egyptian monuments comprise the Darius the Great's Suez Inscriptions. These monuments includes the Chalouf Stele which commemorate the construction and completion of the canal linking the Nile River with the Red Sea by Darius I of Persia. These monuments are located along the Darius Canal through the valley of Wadi Tumilat . These were probably also located on the recorded sections of the canal as well. The remnants of the north–south section of Darius Canal past the east side of Lake Timsah and ending near the north end of the Great Bitter Lake were also discovered by French cartographers in the second half of the century.

There has been a suggestion by Aristotle that perhaps Pharaoh Senusret III may have started a canal joining the River Nile with the Red Sea. Aristotle wrote in his Meteorology, “One of their kings tried to make a canal to it (for it would have been of no little advantage to them for the whole region to have become navigable; Sesostris is said to have been the first of the ancient kings to try), but he found that the sea was higher than the land. So he first, and Darius afterward, stopped making the canal, lest the sea should mix with the river water and spoil it.”

Strabo also wrote about this an Pliny the Elder wrote, “165. Next comes the Tyro tribe and, on the Red Sea, the harbor of the Daneoi, from which Sesostris, king of Egypt, intended to carry a ship-canal to where the Nile flows into what is known as the Delta; this is a distance of over 60 miles. Later the Persian king Darius had the same idea, and yet again Ptolemy II, who made a trench 100 feet wide, 30 feet deep and about 35 miles long, as far as the Bitter Lakes.”