Omowale Jabali : A Survey of Major Religious Sites in Ancient Egypt and Nubia

Omowale Jabali

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Kom Abu Billo is located on the western edge of the Delta, approximately 70 km northwest of Cairo, along the route where the Wadi el Natrun [an ancient source of natron] approaches the Rosetta branch of the Nile. In pharaonic times it was known as Mefkat, which is the Kemetic word for both turquoise and an epithet of Het-Hert as Nebet Mefkat, or "Mistress of Turquoise." During the Greco-Roman period the site was called "Terenuthis," deriving from the Kemetic ta rennouti ("Land of the Netjert Renenutet.") In Coptic it was known as "Terenouti," and its modern name of Tarrana derives from this. Kom Abu Billo refers specifically to the part of the site where the Greco-Roman cemetery is found, and this name probably derives from the Greek god Apollo, who had a temple at the northern edge of the site.
Hethert_Kom_Abu_Bilo2.jpg

Ptolemy I Offering to Het-Hert, relief from Kom Abu Billo


The Temple of Het-Hert was discovered in 1897 by F.L. Griffith, but most of the excavation work was done from 1969 to 1974, when the construction of the Nasser Canal necessitated a salvage project of the site. It has not been possible to determine the complete plan of the temple, but some blocks with beautifully executed low raised relief have been found. These were produced during the reign of Ptolemy I Soter (305-282 C.E.) and completed by Ptolemy II Philadephus (285-246 C.E.). A cattle cemetery associated with the worship of Het-Hert has been found in the vicinity. Faience statues and statuettes inscribed with hieroglyphs have also been found of Yinepu (Anubis), Aset (Isis), Taweret and Bes at this site.
The large cemetery of Kom Abu Bilo contains tombs dating from the 6th Dynasty of the Old Kingdom to the 4th century C.E. of the Coptic Period. The mud-brick tombs have superstructures which are rectangular or square and with barrel vaulted roofs or truncated pyramid shapes. New Kingdom ceramic coffins with large, often grosteque, faces modeled on the lids have been found there, in addition to a special type of stela made during the first four centuries of the Common Era. These un-Egyptian style stela, called "Terenuthis stelae," depict the deceased standing with upraised arms between two columns with Greek pediments or reclining on a couch, and have a text in demotic or Greek below. Offerings consisting of lettuce, grapes, and wine were placed on offering tables in the tombs, and lamps were lit and music was played. Hunting and fishing were common occupations of the people who lived here, but there were also many vintners, potters, jewelers, and other craftsmen.
Many ceramic lamps have been found with designs of olive branches, Nile fish, and the frog goddess Heket. In addition, gold and silver rings, bracelets, gold earrings, necklaces, hair clips, ivory combs, and amulets have also been discovered. Pottery painted in different colors and dating from the end of the pharaonic period through the Coptic period, plus amphorae, have also been excavated from the area.
http://www.hethert.org/komabu.html
 

Omowale Jabali

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Kom el-Hisn is one of the most ancient and important towns in the western Delta region of the Nile. In antiquity it was situated near a branch of the Nile which has since shifted eastward, and it was also near the desert edge on the route to the Libyan frontier. The name in Arabic means "Hill of the Fort," and this probably refers to the rectangular mudbrick temple enclosure of the ancient temple of Het-Hert, much of which still remained a century ago. Sadly, a great deal of the site has been converted to agricultural fields, with local farmers having removed most of the large earthen temple walls. The little which is left of the Old Kingdom and Middle Kingdom community there is also falling prey to agricultural expansion.
Kom_el-Hisn.jpg

The remains of the temple of Het-Hert/Sekhmet at Imau

The ancient site was called Imu, or "imAw," meaning the plural of a type of tree in the Kemetic language, and in texts we find it mentioned since the 5th dynasty. From the Late Period, it is referred to as "pr-nbt-imau" or Domain of the Mistress of Imau. Inscriptions from the Middle Kingdom note that Het-Hert (as well as Her other side, Sekhmet) was the principal deity worshipped here, and the head of a statue of King Amenemhet II contains an inscription denoting him as "beloved of Het-Hert, Mistress of Imau." Both Het-Hert and Sekhmet were denoted as "Mistress of Imau." More information about Het-Hert's worship here comes from the grave of Khesuwer, also from the Middle Kingdom. He was a priest of Het-Hert and Supervisor of the Priests and of the temple precinct. His designation as Chief of the Harim and Chief of the Maidens probably denotes a position as supervisor of the women who were in the service of Het-Hert. During the 19th Dynasty, Ramesses II renovated the temple of Het-Hert, and in the 22nd Dynasty, Sheshonq III expanded it.

http://www.hethert.org/kom.html
 

Omowale Jabali

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Naucratis or Naukratis, (Greek: Ναύκρατις), loosely translated as "(the city that wields) power over ships" (Piemro in Egyptian, now Kom Gieif), was a city of Ancient Egypt, on the Canopic branch of the Nile river, 45 mi (72 km) SE of the open sea and the later capital of Ptolemaic Egypt, Alexandria. It was the first and, for much of its early history, the only permanent Greek colony in Egypt; acting as a symbiotic nexus for the interchange of Greek and Egyptian art and culture.
The modern site of the city has become an archaeological find of the highest significance and the source of not only many beautiful objects of art now gracing the museums of the world but also an important source of some of the earliest Greek writing in existence, provided by the inscriptions on its pottery.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naucratis
 

Omowale Jabali

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Alexandria (Arabic: الإسكندرية‎ Al Iskandariyya, Coptic: Ⲣⲁⲕⲟⲧⲉ Rakotə, Greek: Αλεξάνδρεια Alexándria, Koine Greek: Ἀλεξάνδρεια ἡ κατ' Αἴγυπτον IPA: [ɑlɛˈksɑndɾiɑ e kɑt ˈɛʝypton] "Alexandria in Egypt", Egyptian Arabic: اسكندريه [eskendeˈrejːæ]) is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about 32 km (20 mi) along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving approximately 80% of Egypt's imports and exports. Alexandria is also an important tourist resort. It is home to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (the new Library of Alexandria). It is an important industrial centre because of its natural gas and oil pipelines from Suez.
Alexandria was founded around a small pharaonic town c. 331 BC by Alexander the Great. It remained Egypt's capital for nearly a thousand years, until the Muslim conquest of Egypt in AD 641, when a new capital was founded at Fustat (Fustat was later absorbed into Cairo). Alexandria was known because of its Lighthouse of Alexandria (Pharos), one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; its library (the largest library in the ancient world); and the Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, one of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages. Ongoing maritime archaeology in the harbor of Alexandria, which began in 1994, is revealing details of Alexandria both before the arrival of Alexander, when a city named Rhacotis existed there, and during the Ptolemaic dynasty.
From the late 19th century, Alexandria became a major centre of the international shipping industry and one of the most important trading centres in the world, both because it profited from the easy overland connection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, and the lucrative trade in Egyptian cotton.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandria
 

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Tanis (San El-Hagar)
by Jimmy Dunn


tanis1.jpg

Whether Tanis is considered to be the most important archaeological site in Egypt's northern Delta or not, it is almost certainly one of the largest and most impressive. Nevertheless, it is characterized by an eclectic reuse of materials that were usurped from other locations and earlier reigns. Tanis was actually its Greek name. We are told that its ancient Egyptian name was Djanet. Tanis was built upon the Nile distributary known as Bahr Saft, which is now only a small silted up stream that dispatches into Lake Manzalla.

tanis11.jpg

Napoleon Bonaparte had the site surveyed in the late 1700s, but afterwards, in the early 1800s, most of the work at Tanis was concerned with the collection of statuary. Jean-Jacques Rifaud took two large pink granite sphinxes to Paris, where they became a part of the Louvre collection. Other statues were taken to Saint Petersburg and Berlin. Henry Salt and Bernardino Drovetti found eleven statues, some of which were also sent to the Louvre, but also to Berlin and Alexandria, though those sent to Alexandria are now lost.

tanis2.jpg

Auguste Mariette was the first to really excavate the site between1860 and 1864. It was he who discovered the famous Four Hundred Year Stela, as well as several royal statues, many of which were dated to the Middle Kingdom. However, he mistakenly identified it as the ancient Hyksos capital of Avaris (Tell el-Dab'a). He also thought that it might have been Ramesses II's residence city of Piramesse (Pi-Ramesses).

Mariette was followed by Flinders Petrie, who excavated here between 1883-86. Petrie made a detailed plan of the temple precinct, copied inscriptions and excavated exploratory trenches. Roman era papyrus discovered by Petrie are now in the British Museum.

tanis12.jpg

Pierre Montet, excavated at Tanis between 1921 and 1951, and the site is still being excavated by the French today. It was Montet who conclusively proved that Tanis could not have been Avaris (Tell el-Dab'a) or Piramesse. Montet also discovered royal tombs of the 21st and 22nd Dynasties at Tanis in 1939, but his discovery resulted in little recognition because of the outbreak of World War II. The tombs were all subterranean and built from mud-brick and reused stone blocks, many of which were inscribed. Four of the tombs belonged to Psusennes I (1039-991 BC), Amenemope (993-984 BC), Osorkon II (874-850 BC) and Sheshonq III (825-733 BC). The occupants of the other two tombs are unknown. However, the hawk-headed silver coffin of Sheshonq II was also found in Psusennes' tomb, as well as the coffin and sarcophagus of Amenemope. The sarcophagus of Takelot II (850-825 BC) was found in the tomb of Osorkon II. The artifacts from the Tanis necropolis are the most important source of knowledge covering royal funerary goods of the Third Intermediate Period.
http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/tanis.htm
 

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