Nomes, cities and sites

    Ancient Egypt consisted of two halves, Upper and Lower Egypt, which differed considerably from each other and remained administratively separate for most of its history. Lower Egypt, the wide river delta, had fertile black soil and many waterways, and was divided into 20 regions ( Egyptian sepet, transliterated as spA.t; generally referred to by the Greek term of nome). These nomes are generally numbered from south to north and west to east. Upper Egypt was a thin long strip of reddish land on both shores of the Nile comprising 22 nomes.[1] This division was occasionally altered and by the New Kingdom the nomes were often subdivided into smaller administrative units and lost much of their political significance, some of which they regained under the Ptolemies. The rulers of the nomes are referred to as nomarchs, in Egyptian variously called HA.tj-a , Hr.j-tp-aA, or sSm.w-tA.
    During most of Egypt's history these two parts were held together by the king, heir of the god Horus who was the owner of all the land. But when the central power was weak and ineffective, the nomarchs often enlarged and embellished their provincial capitals, from which they supervised the maintenance of irrigation canals and dams, the local distribution of the Nile water and the dispensation of justice.
    These provincial capitals were also religious and economic centres serving the surrounding countryside, where the vast majority of Egyptians lived in small villages.[4] Many of these cult centres had more than local importance, with the state investing in their development, above all by building temples and endowing them with land. Some had strategic importance as fortresses defending a frontier or as staging points for invasions of foreign countries.
    With the reconsolidation of the Egyptian state after the unsettled times of the First Intermediate Period, the nomes lost their importance as administrative units and the country was divided into regions centering around provincial cities. The nomes, representing an ancient cultural heritage, continued to be referred to in religious and geographical contexts.[3]
 
    The lands beyond the first cataract belonged to Nubia, conquered during the Old Kingdom and administered by a vice-roy.
 
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  • The names in italics are transliterations [2] taken from Beinlich's list.
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Lower Egypt


White fortressFirst Nome: White fortress
  • 1a- Saqqara : Necropolis of Memphis, solar temple at Abusir (Busiris, not to be confounded with the Busiris in the Delta) a few kilometres north of Saqqara, built by Userkaf
  • 1b- Mennefer (mn-nfr, H.t-kA-ptH, jnbw-HD, mxA.t-tA.wj ; Manf, Minf, Manfish, Greek Memphis) : For lengthy periods Memphis was the capital of the united Egypt. It was the main cult centre of Ptah. Temple of Hathor
  • 1c- Giza: The three great pyramids of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure, the Sphinx, necropolis
Cow's thighSecond Nome: Cow's thigh WestThird Nome: West
  • 3a- Timinhor (Behdet (bHd.t) ; Greek Hermopolis Parva, modern Damanhur)
  • 3b- Raqote (Greek Alexandria) : Founded by Alexander the Great, Capital of Ptolemaic Egypt. The greatest cultural centre of the eastern Mediterranean during the Hellenistic period, famous library, light tower
Southern shieldFourth Nome: Southern shield
 
 
Northern shieldFifth Nome: Northern shield
  • 5a- Sai (zAw ; Zau, Greek Sais) : Capital of Egypt during the Late Dynastic Period, Greek commercial centre, temples of Neith, Atem and Osiris Hemag. Capital of the nome.
  • 5b- Per-wadjet (pr-wAD.t, Dba.wt, jm.t ; Buto) : Cult centre of Uat (Greek Leto), important Isis centre during the Late Period, main Mediterranean port during the Early Dynastic Period. Greek commercial centre
Mountain bull Sixth Nome: Mountain bull
  • 6- Xois (modern Sakha): One of the centres of the Amen-Re worship, according to Manetho power base of the 14th dynasty
  • Per-wadjet : See 5th nome above
West harpoonSeventh Nome: West harpoon
  • No known cities in the period of Ramses II
  • 7- (Greek) Naukratis : From the Late Period onwards: Major Ionian colony and port, centre for the production of iron.
East harpoonEighth Nome: East harpoon
  • 8- Tjeku or Per Tem (pr-jtmw ; Biblical Pithom ?, modern Tell el Maskhuta ?) : Founded by Ramses II, lay by the canal connecting the Nile and the Bitter Lakes. Temple of Atem. Capital of the nome.

  AneztiNinth Nome: Anezti (Andjti, anD.t)
  • 9- Per Usiri (Dd.t, Dd.w ; Greek Busiris, Taposiris Magna, modern Abusir) : Temple of Horus-Khentkhety, cult centre of Isis, original home of the Osiris worship, animal necropolis

  Black bullTenth Nome: Black bull, (km-wr) Heseb bullEleventh Nome: Heseb bull
  • 11 Shednu, (Greek Pharbaithos, modern Horbeit/Tell Abu Yasin ?) : Capital of the nome, one of the centres of the chiefs of the Libyan Ma (8th and 7th century BCE). Cult centre of Hormerty
  • Taremu, (Greek Leontopolis, modern Tell el Muqdam) : Capital of the nome during the Ptolemaic period. Worship of Horus in the form of a lion. In the Ptolemaic period Mysis (Mihos) was the principal deity. Not to be confounded with Leontopolis (Egyptian Nay-ta-hut, modern Tell el Yahudiye).
Cow with calfTwelfth Nome: Cow with calf
  • 12 Tjebnutjer (Greek Sebennytos) : Temple of Anhuret-Shu, Mehyt. Home of Manetho
  • Per-hebet (Arabic Behbeit) : Temple of Isis of Hebet

  Undamaged scepter ?Thirteenth Nome: Undamaged scepter ?
  • 13- Onu, Iunu (jwn, jwnw, [p.t-n-km.t] ; biblical On, Greek Heliopolis) : Cult centre of Re-harakhty, the bull Mnevis and Hathor. Political and religious power centre, especially during the New Kingdom (Amen-Re worship). Lost much of its influence to Alexandria under the Ptolemies.
  • Kheraha : Temple of Atem, possibly
East or anterior nomeFourteenth Nome: East or anterior nome , (jm.tj-xntj)
  • 14- Senu (Greek Pelusion; Latin Pelusium; Biblical Sin) : The easternmost major Egyptian city, lay by the Pelusian mouth of the Nile. Staging area for the Egyptian army on Asiatic campaigns. Possibly capital of the nome.
  • Tjaru, Tjalu, Tharu (Greek Sile) : Major New Kingdom border fortress. Place of exile for criminals
IbisFifteenth Nome: Ibis
  • Ba'kh (Greek Hermopolis, modern Al Baqlia) : Centre of Thoth (Hermes) worship. Ibis necropolis.

  Tip of the fishSixteenth Nome: Dolphin
  • 16- Per-banebdjedet, Djedet (Greek Mendes) : Capital of the nome. Centre of Osiris worship. Temple of Banebdjedet. Capital of the 29th dynasty
  • Anpet-djedet (Greek Thumis): Capital of the nome during Roman times.
BehdetSeventeenth Nome: The throne (zmA-bHd.t)
  • No known cities in the period of Ramses II
  • Semabehdet : Temple of Amen possibly

  Royal child anterior nome Eighteenth Nome: Royal child upper nome
  • 18- Per-bastet, Bast (pr-bAs.t.t, bAs.t ; Greek Bubastis) : Cult centre of Bastet. Famous for its religious festivals. 3rd IP temples of Maahes, Atem. Power base of the Libyan (22nd) dynasty. During that period capital of the whole of Egypt. Controlled the road to Asia. Capital of nome in the Late Period.
Royal child posterior nomeNineteenth Nome: Royal child lower nome
  • Imet (modern Tell Nabasha)
  • 19a Hawaret (H.t-war.t ; Avaris , modern Tel el Dab'a): Capital of Lower Egypt under the Hyksos
  • 19b- DjanŽnet (Greek Tanis, Biblical Zoan) : Capital of the 21st dynasty and of the Libyan 22nd dynasty. Decline under the Kushites. Temple of Amen, Mut and Khons (from the 21st dynasty onwards). Important port for asiatic trade. Centre of linen manufacture.
  • Per Ramses : Founded by Ramses II as an administrative centre
  • Hurbeit
SopduTwentieth Nome: East
  • Per-sopdu (Greek Soped, modern Saft al Hinna) : Temple of Sopdu

 

Upper Egypt


First Nome: Land of the arch or To Khentit : the frontier
  • 1a- Pawareq (p-jw-rq ; Coptic Pilak, Greek Philae): Island, Isis temple complex (3rd cent. BCE). Temples of Hathor, and of the Nubian gods Mandulis and Arensnuphis
  • 1b- Swentet (swn.w ; Greek Syene, modern Aswan) : Temple of Isis
  • 1c- Nebeet, Nubyt (Greek Ombi-Kom, modern Ombo): Capital of the nome during the Ptolemaic period. Temples of Sobek and Horus (2nd cent. BCE)
  • 1d- Abu (Abw ; Greek Elephantine): Capital of the nome. Frontier and garrison town, built on an island in the Nile. Temples of Khnum and Satet (since predynastic at least) and of Amenhotep III which was destroyed in the 19th century, Nilometer
  • Kheny (modern Gebel)
Second Nome : Throne of Horus
  • 2a- Djeba, Utes-Hor or Behde (DbA, bHd.t , [jw-nSn], [ns.t-nTr.w], [ns.t-ra], [ns.t-Hr], [nDm-anx], [s.t-wnp] ; Greek,Roman Apollinopolis Magna, modern Edfu) : Old kingdom mastabas, shrine of Middle Kingdom governor Isi, Horus temple (Ptolemaic period)
Third Nome : The rural
  • 3a- Nekheb (Greek Eileithyiaspolis, modern Elkab): Capital of the nome during the New Kingdom. Cult centre of Nekhbet. Temple of Sobek. Original home of the 18th dynasty kings. Tomb of Admiral Ahmose
  • 3b- Iunyt (Greek Latopolis, modern Esna): Capital of the Nome after Nekhen. Neith and Khnum worshiped
  • 3c- Nekhen (nxn, mxn, HD-nxn ; Greek Hierakonpolis modern Kom el Ahmar): During the predynastic period capital of Upper Egypt. First capital of the nome. Centre of worship for the white one of Nekhen, i.e. Nekhbet (personification of the white crown), temple of Horus (since predynastic times)
  • Hefat (modern el-Moalla)
Fourth Nome : The sceptre
  • 4a- Wast (wAs.t; Waset, Biblical No, Greek Diospolis Magna/Thebes) : For much of the New Kingdom capital of Egypt. Cult centre of Amen. Many royal cult temples. - Opet (jp.t, Luxor) - Karnak (jp.t-sw.t) : Temples of Amen, Mut, Khons
  • 4b- Djamet also Jeme (Dsr-s.t ;modern Medinet Habu) : Mortuary temple of Ramses III
  • 4c- Iuny (jwnj, jwn-Sma, jwnw-Sma.w ; Greek Hermonthis, modern Armant) : Capital of the nome until the 18th dynasty. Temple of Montu (in the form of the bull Buchis)
  • 4d- Per-Hathor (jnr.tj ; Greek Pathyris, Aphriditopolis, modern Gebelein) : Temple of Hathor.
  • Djerty (Greek Tuphium, modern Tod) : Temple of Montu
  • Imiotru (Modern Rizeiqat) : Temple of Sobek
  • Madu (Modern Medamud) : Temple of Montu
Fifth Nome: : The two falcons
  • 5a- Gesy (Greek Apollinopolis Parva, modern Qus)
  • 5b- Gebtu (gb.tjw ; Greek Coptos, modern Qift) : Capital of the nome. Principal gods were Min (Manou), Isis and the Horus infant. Commercial centre for the Upper Egyptian Red Sea trade through Wadi Hammamat
  • Nebyet, Nubt (nb.t ; Greek Ombos, modern Tukh), centre of the cult of Seth (also called nubti, i.e. the Ombite)
  • Shenhur : Temple of Isis
Sixth Nome: : The crocodile
  • 6- Iunet (jwn.t, Aw-HAp.t, s.t-wr.t, s.t-msxn.t, tA-n-jtm, tA-rr ; Greek Tentyris, modern Denderah) : Capital of the nome. Temples of Hathor and Isis, temple of Ihy.
Seventh Nome: Sistrum
  • Hut or Hut-Sekhem (Greek Diospolis Parva, modern Hiw) : Cult centre of Bat.
Eighth Nome: : Great land
  • 8a- Abdu ( AbDw ; Abedju, Greek Osiris, modern Abydos): Khentamenthes worship. Royal cult temples. Necropolis of This
  • 8b-Tjeny (Tnj, tn ; Greek Thinis, modern Girga) : Capital of the nome.
Ninth Nome: Minu
  • 9a- Ipu(khent-min) (jpw ; Greek Khemmis Panopolis, modern Akhmim) : Capital of the nome. One of the most important towns in Upper Egypt. Temple of Min.
  • 9b- Hut-Repyt (H.t-tA-Hr.t-jb ; Greek Athribis, modern Wannina)
Tenth Nome: Cobra
  • 10- Djew-qa (Tjebu, Greek Antaeopolis, modern Qaw el-Kebir) : Temple of Nemty
 
Eleventh Nome: The Set animal
  • Shas-hotep (Greek Apotheke, modern Shuth) : Capital of the nome.
 
Twelfth Nome: Viper mountain
  • Per-Nemty (Greek Hierakon, modern al Atawla) : Temple of Nemty
Thirteenth Nome: Upper sycamore and viper
  • 13- Sauty (Syut, Zawty, Greek Lykopolis, modern Asyut) : Capital of the nome. Apart from the role it played during the 11th dynasty conflicts, of little importance. Centre of worship of Upuaut. Centre of the caravan trade into the eastern and western deserts. 12th dynasty rock tombs
Fourteenth Nome: Lower sycamore and viper
  • 14a- Qis (qjs ; Greek/Roman Cusae, modern el-Qusiya) : Cult centre of Hathor
  • 14b- Akhet-aten (Ax.t-jtn ; modern el-Amarna) : Capital during the reigns of Akhenaten and Thutankhamen:
Fifteenth Nome: Hare
  • Antinoopolis (modern el Sheik Ibada) : Temple built by Ramses II
  • 15a- Khmunu (wnw ; Hermopolis Magna, modern Al Ashmunein) : Capital of the nome. Foremost cult centre of Thoth (Hermes)
  • 15b- Herwer (Greek Hur)
Sixteenth Nome: Oryx
  • 16a-Menat-Khufu (modern el-Minya), during the MK capital of Horizon of Horus
  • 16b- Hebenu (Hbnw ; modern Kom el-Ahmar): Capital of the nome. Temple of Horus possibly
  • Tadehnet (Greek Akoris, modern Tehna) : Temple of Amen and Sobek
Seventeenth Nome: The black dog
  • Hardai, (Greek Kynopolis or Cynopolis): Temple of Anubis possibly
  • Saka : Temple of Bata possibly
Eighteenth Nome: Falcon with spread wings
  • 18- Teudjai (Teudjoi, Greek Ankyrononpolis, modern el-Hiba): Sekhmet temple built by Sheshonq
  • Hutnesut (modern Sharuna) : Temple of Horus
Nineteenth Nome: The pure sceptre
  • 19- Per-medjed (Greek Oxyrhynchus, modern el-Bahnasa) : Capital of the nome. Had a certain importance during the Ptolemaic period.
Twentieth Nome:Upper laurel
  • 20- Henen-nesut (Very near the Greek Herakleopolis, modern Ihnasya el-Medina) : Residence of the kings of the 9th and 10th dynasties. Harsafes (Greek Herakles) temple
Twenty-First Nome: Lower laurel
  • 21a- (modern Meidum)
  • She-resy, Merwer (Greek Crocodilopolis, Arsinoe, modern Medinet al Fayum) : Capital of the nome. Cult centre of Sobek. Nilometer.
  • Shenakhen, Semenuhor (Greek Akanthon, modern Kafr Ammar) : settlement not found, texts speaking of Khnum and Osiris cults
Twenty-Second Nome: Knife (wAD.t)
  • 22- Itjtawy, Tep-ihet (tp-jHw, tpj-jH ; Greek Aphroditopolis, modern Atfih (?) or Lisht (?)) : Capital during the Middle Kingdom, Cult centre of Aphrodite (Hathor) during the Greek period
 

[1] The number of nomes varied between 37 and 47 (according to Pliny the Elder, 1st century CE. This number included three oases.). In the time of Strabo who visited Egypt in c.25 BCE, the country was divided into 37 nomes: 10 in the Delta, 17 in Middle Egypt and a further 10 in the Thebaid.
[2] A few words concerning transliteration and pronunciation
[3] Kathryn A. Bard, Steven Blake Shubert, Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, Routledge, 1999, p.693
[4] On the level of urbanization during the Roman period see Cities and Citizens.

 
  -The geography of Egypt through the eyes of Herodotus
-Pliny the Elder: The Geography of Egypt
 
-Index of Topics
-Main Index and Search Page
 
Links(Opening in a new window)
These are just suggestions for further reading. I do not assume any responsibility for the availability or content of these websites.
 
-Excavations at Mendes Or Tell El Rubee
CitiesCities
Les nomes, les nomarquesLes nomes, les nomarques
Egyptian monumentsEgyptian monuments
List of provinces of EgyptList of provinces of Egypt (Petrie Museum website)
 

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