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    This module is included inLens: Travelers in the Middle East Archives
    By: Travelers in the Middle East Archive

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Places in Egypt: Middle Egypt

Module by: Lisa Spiro. E-mail the author

Summary: Provides background information to some significant places in Middle Egypt that are represented in the Travelers in the Middle East Archive (TIMEA) collection of digital texts, images and maps. Part 3 of a 4-part course on identifying places in Egypt, including major cities, archaeological sites, and regions.

Abīdūs, Ma’bad

Alternative Names: Abydos

Latitude/Longitude: 26° 10' 50" N/031° 54' 57" E

Figure 1: Map: Heinrich Kiepert, "Abydos." Baedeker, Karl. "Egypt: Handbook For Travellers. Fourth Remodelled Edition". (K. Baedeker: Leipsic, 1898): 208a. From TIMEA
Abydos
Abydos (Abydos.jpg)

This important site is 300 miles south of Cairo, on the western side of the Nile. It is most often referred to as the “home” of Osiris, god of the dead and the underworld, and served as a place of pilgrimage for thousands of years. Egypt’s earliest rulers are buried here, and it is the birthplace of both Egyptian writing and the boat burial cult. One of the temples was begun by Seti I and continued by his son Ramesses II, but the most remarkable aspect of Abydos is the Osireion, the symbolic tomb of Osiris.

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Al-Fayyūm

Alternative Names: Shedit; Medinat Fayum; Médinat el-Fayoum; Madīnet el Faiyūm; Fayyum: Fayyoum; Fayum; Fayoum; Fayoom; El Faiyûm; Crocodilopolis; Arsinoë

Latitude/Longitude: 29° 18' 28" N/030° 50' 24" E

A region situated on the western side of the Nile, south of Cairo, known for its fertile land; it produces cereals, dates, roses, and even olives. In Pharonic times the region was the center for the worship of Sobek, the crocodile god, and the Greeks referred to the region as Crocodilopolis. Later called Arsinoe by the Romans, it was both the seat of the Episcopal see and a large center of early Egyptian Christian life until the Copts surrendered the city to one of Muhammad’s lieutenants in 642. The region features 200 waterwheels built in Ptolemaic times, which are not found in any other region of Egypt, as well as numerous Coptic monasteries.

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Asyūt

Alternative Names: Siut; Lycopolis ; Līkūpūlīs ; Licopolis ; Assuit; Assiut ; Assiout

Latitude/Longitude: 27° 10' 58" N/ 031° 10' 58" E

Figure 2: P. Dittrich, "The Great Coptic Centre in Egypt-Assiout." "Modern Sons of the Pharaohs." (Hodder and Stoughton: London, 1918) p 336. From TIMEA
The Great Coptic Centre in Egypt-Assiout.
The Great Coptic Centre in Egypt-Assiout. (Asyut.jpg)

First settled in Pharaonic times, this city was later renamed Lycopolis by the Greeks because of the local importance of the Jackal gods Wepwawet and Anubis; the mummified remains of many wolves have been found there, and a legend recounts that wolves attacked and repelled an invading army of Ethiopians. As a regional capital, it was the final resting place of numerous governing officials; their tombs are hollowed out of nearby hills, which also served as homes for early Christian hermits.

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Jirjā

Alternative Names: Girga

Latitude/Longitude: 26° 20' 45" N/ 031° 53' 10" E

Figure 3: "Ground Plan of the Grotto of Girgeh." "Egypt, Handbook for Traveling, pt.1 Lower Egypt, with the Fayum and the peninsula of Sinai". (K. Baedeker, Leipsic, 1885) p. 170. From TIMEA
Ground Plan of the Grotto of Girgeh.
Ground Plan of the Grotto of Girgeh. (Girga.jpg)

A city near to the ancient city of Abydos, located on the west bank of the Nile, in lower Middle Egypt. It is named for St. George and is the seat of a Coptic Bishopric; it is also home to the oldest Catholic monastery in Egypt. This town is likely the site of the ancient city of This, ancestral home of the First Egyptian Dynasty, the rulers who united Upper and Lower Egypt.

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Masārah

Alternative Names: Nazlet el Nasâra; Nazlat al Masārah; Masâra

Latitude/Longitude: 27° 29' 30" N/ 030° 50' 15" E

An area just south and across the Nile from Memphis, this area was mostly used as a limestone quarry for building projects. This area is still in use as a quarry.

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Memphis

Latitude/Longitude: 29° 52' 00" N/ 031° 15' 00" E

Figure 4: "The Site of the Ancient Memphis: A Village and Its Cemetery." "Oriental Cairo: the city of the 'Arabian Nights." (J.B. Lippincott Company: Philadelphia and Hurst & Blackett, Ltd.: London, 1911). p 334. From TIMEA
The Site of the Ancient Memphis: A Village and Its Cemetery.
The Site of the Ancient Memphis: A Village and Its Cemetery. (Memphis.jpg)

Founded around 3,100 BCE, and situated at the beginning point of the Nile Delta, this city was the first capital of a united Egypt, though it was likely inhabited long before that. And even though the capital moved to Thebes, the city retained its importance and size; the ancient cemeteries stretch for 19 miles along the bank of the Nile, giving us an indication of the city’s immense population. The most significant ruins and statuary today are a colossus of Ramses II and an alabaster sphinx. A temple to Ptah was excavated by William Flanders Petrie, but there is little left of it. Once surrounded by white walls, they eventually eroded, allowing the city to be covered with silt. Located just south of Cairo, it was in an excellent position to command both Lower and Upper Egypt, as is Cairo today.

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Saqqarah

Alternative Names: Ṣaqqâra; Sakkara

Latitude/Longitude: 29° 51' 00" N/ 031° 13' 00" E

Figure 5: Wagner & Debes "Pyramids and Tombs of Sakkara." "Egypt and the Sudân. Sixth remodelled edition". (K. Baedeker: Leipzig, 1908): 142bc. From TIMEA
Pyramids and Tombs of Sakkara
Pyramids and Tombs of Sakkara (Sakkara.jpg)

Located about two miles southwest of Memphis, and serving as the necropolis for the ancient capital of Egypt, this site houses the first significant Old Kingdom pyramid, the step pyramid tomb of Zoser (Djoser). The architect for the complex, which is the site of at least 16 pyramids, was the highly respected Imhotep, and today there is an Imhotep Museum on the site. Additionally, Saqqarah was the tomb of Apis, the bull who represented Osiris on earth. Many mummified bulls had been pilfered from the temple, but one remained and is now in the Agricultural Museum of Egypt.

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