Egypt Geographical History

Divisions and borders. – Egypt is the country that the Nile bathes below Elephantine (Herodotus, II, 18). Its name, as we have seen, is taken from that of the ancient city of Memphis (Babylonian Ḫ ikuptah, which in Greek became Αἴγυπτος). The natives called it Kême “Black”, in opposition to Ṭ or š re “Red” epithet of the desert, and also Ti – mûre “Land zappata”, conserved name, with the article p -, in the form Ptimyris remembered by Stephen Byzantine. The etymology of “Nile” is doubtful. Ḥ ó ‛ pe, or Jetr – ó ” Great river “(Coptic ier – ó).

For historical and geographical reasons it was divided into two parts: the southern region, high, from Elefantina to around Memphis, called Š em ‛ ew ; the northern region, the Delta, called A ṭḥ ŏ jew “low land” (transcribed N – at ḫ u in Assyrian, Nath ō in Greek), or Me ḥ ew “Land of the swamps”. The subdivision into provinces (or names, as we say with the Greeks) dates back to the first dynasty. The Egyptian word ś ep’e in ancient times it designated only the two great regions indicated above; then it was referred to a metropolis with various hamlets. The number of names is fixed at forty-two, of which twenty-two belong to Upper Egypt, twenty to Lower Egypt. For Egypt 1999, please check

The first province, Ti – zete “Nubia”, owes its name to the finite town. The capital was Jêb “Elefantina” (on the island now called Gezīret Aswān), whose fortress blocked the river’s transit. It formed a system with Ś wêne (Gr. Syene, Coptic Suán, now Aswan), located on the east bank, which was also famous for the granite called syenite. The nearby islands of Sehēl, Bīge, Philae were of no importance in ancient times. About 40 km. further north, Enbôje (Ombos, now Kōm Ombō); in recent time also the capital of a district, the umite. Perhaps the name means “Foundry” and is related to the nearby mines. A little further on, in Jebel Silsila,”Place of rowing, because in prehistoric times a cataract arose there, as evidenced also by the feasts of the Nile in the one celebrated. The second name extends upstream and downstream of E ṣ bó ‘ (Coptic Atbo, Apollinopolis Magna, now Edfu). The third, as the sign shows, first centered N ḫ en “Court” or similar (Hieraconpolis, now Kōm el-Aḥmar), one day capital of the kingdom of Upper Egypt. and gave way to N ḫ ab (Eileithyiaspolis, now el-Kāb), located almost opposite to the other bank, which had been a kind of holy city for the Hieraconpolitans. Then, due to the increasing economic importance of Ś nêje or Jewneje, (Coptic Snê, Latopolis, now Isnā) the capital moved there (nomo latopolite). To the third also belonged Per – ḥ at ḥ or “Temple of Hathor” (Pathyris or Aphroditopolis, now el-Gebelein) which also once formed a pathyrite district. The fourth was around Jewnej, then assimilated to Heliopolis and called “On of Upper Egypt” or “On of the god Mont” (En – mónt >, Hermonthis, now Armant) and also embraced Tuphion on the other bank. When Thebes flourished after 2000, the capital (Diospolis Magna) was brought here. The name that has “Two Gods” as its sign is the fifth, that of Coptos (v.), At the head of the routes to the quarries and to the Red Sea. It included another Enbôje (Naqāda) and Qó ‘ ś e (Apollinopolis Parva, now Qūṣ). In the bend of the river is the sixth noun, of Tentyra (Dendera, v.); to the west extends the seventh, metropolis Ḥ ô (Coptic Hô, now Hū), which became Diospolis Parva when the cult of Ammon Theban spread from nearby Per – ṣ ó ‘ṣ is. On the other bend is the eighth namesake, whose capital was Sîne (Coptic Tin, Greek This, now el-Birbā near Girǵā) seat of the first two dynasties; Abido (v.), Originally a necropolis of its princes, supplanted it. On the east bank is the ninth, from Panopolis (now Akhmīm, v.). The capital of the tenth is Sebew “The city of sandals” at Abū Tīǵ; but in ancient times it must have been Per – wa ‘ ṣ ôje “Temple of the Asp ” (Aphroditopolis, now Kōm Ishqāw). On the opposite bank is Ṣ u – qó’j “The high mountain” (Coptic Tkow, now Qāw el-kebīr). The cult of a pair of “unghiuti” falcons was exchanged with that of Antaeus by the Greeks and earned it the name of Antaeopolis. Together with the twelfth it then formed the anteopolite. The eleventh is around Š e ‘ ḥ ŏ tep (Coptic Šôteb, Gr. Hypselis, now Shuṭb); the twelfth, “Mount of vipers” around Per – ‛ ente ” Tempio dell’Unghiuto “(Hieracon of the Antonino Itinerary). Originally the thirteenth and fourteenth were united; then they split into southern and northern. Of that was metropolis Zjówte “Guard post” (Lycopolis, now Asyūṭ; of this instead, Qó ‘ ś e (Cusae, el-Qūṣīyah). In Greek times it was added to hermopolite. This, fifteenth, is placed astride the river. Sometimes it absorbed also the following. Its head is Š mûn “The Eights ” (Coptic Šmûn, Hermopolis Magna, el-Ashmūnein). The sixteenth also embraces two sides. On the eastern side there is Ḥ ebnew (Zāwiyet el-Meyyitîn), its center, and also Ḥ er – wêr (Antinoë, esh-Sheikh ‛Abādah) and Speos Artemidos (Benī Ḥasan esh-Shurūq). Cynopolis (el-Qeis) is the metropolis of the seventeenth ; near today’s Shārūnah it was that of the eighteenth ; For – em ṣ é ṭ (Gr. Pemptē, Coptic Pemğe, Oxyrhinchus, now el-Bahnasā) is of the nineteenth. Also the twentieth and twenty-first, already united, were then divided into southern and northern. The rich Ḥ enén ś e (Coptic Hnês, Heracleopolis Magna, Ahnāsīyah el-Medīnah) is very ancient capital of the former; of the second, Ś émn ḥ ôr “The Goose of Hor” (Kafr ‛Ammār). The twenty-second, which closes the list, is on the opposite side, in Tep – and ḥ q̂ we (Coptic Petpeh, Aphroditopolis, Aṭfīḥ).

While the succession takes place easy in Upper Egypt, in the Delta it is complicated and therefore the order does not always remain the same on all lists. The first name of Lower Egypt is near what was later Memphis. Its designation “White Fortress” (Gr. Leukon teichos) almost certainly refers to the symbolic color of the kings of Hieraconpolis, who built it against their Delta enemies. Just beyond Cairo, to the west, was the metropolis of the secondḪ êm (Letopolis, Coptic Bušêm, now Awsīm). The third stretched in an arc along the edge of the desert and was the center of Je’mew (Momemphis, now Kōm el-Ḥiṣn); the internal limit is uncertain. The fourth and the fifth were already one, then divided into southern and northern. That was perhaps headed by Prosopis (current Ṭūkh Dálakah); this instead to Zá’j (Sais, Coptic Sai, now Ṣā el-Ḥaǵar), the primitive common metropolis. The sixth, capital Ḫ ó ‘ ś ew (Chois, Coptic Sḫôw, now Sakhā) extended along the el-Burullus lagoon, with two appendages: Butô (Tell el-Farā‛īn) and Ṭ îmien ḥ ôr (Coptic Timienhôr, Hermopolis Parva, Damanhūr). The seventh corresponds roughly to the Mareotide; the eighth is near Per – atûm “Temple of the god Atûm” (Pithom, Tell el-Maskhūṭah), on the opposite side therefore, and probably due to the identity of the name they were united. The following provinces are all in the eastern area. The ninthfor – u ¶ IRE “God’s Temple Osiris” (Busiris, Abu Sir), almost in the middle of the Delta, has south the tenthH capable ḥ erjîbe “Castle of the central region” (Athribis Coptic Atrêpe now ruins of Kōm Atrīb). Between this and the twelfthSebennûser (Sebennytos, Coptic Gemnûti, now Mīt Samannūd) should be placed the eleventh. We return again to the apex of the Delta, on the eastern desert, with the thirteenthŌ n (Heliopolis, Coptic Ōn, today el-Maṭariyyah) which includes Babylon to the south, Leontopolis to the north. The fourteenth name, “Principle of the East”, is in Sele on the edge of the el-Ballāḥ lakes, where the road to Syria began. Another Hermopolis Parva (eg. Ba ḥ, now el-Baqliyyah) near el-Manṣūrah was the capital of the fifteenth ; For – ba – neb – ṣ ê ṭ and “Temple of the ram lord of Ṣêṭe” (ass. Pinṭêṭi, Gr. Mendes, now Timayy el-Amdīd), that of sixteenth ; the seventeenth went between lake el-Burullus and the mouth of Damietta. The eighteenth and nineteenth, formerly unique, were divided into southern, capital Per – b’a ś têje “Temple of the goddess Bubaste” (Gr. Bubastis, Coptic Pubasti, now Tell Basṭah); northern, capital Jeme (Tell Nebeshe). The twentieth, called Arabia, in ancient had as its head Per- ś óp ṭ and “Temple of the god Śópṭe” (now Ṣafṭ el-Ḥinnā), in the Roman period Phacussa (now Fāqūs).

Lower Egypt