Faiyum (Arabic: الفيوم El Fayyūm
pronounced [elfæjˈjuːm]; Coptic: ̀Ⲫⲓⲟⲙ or
Ⲫⲓⲱⲙ Phiom or Phiōm) is a city in Middle Egypt. Located 100
kilometres (62 miles) southwest of Cairo, in the
Faiyum Oasis, it is
the capital of the modern
Faiyum Governorate. Originally called Shedet
in Ancient Egypt, the Greeks called it Crocodilopolis or
Krocodilopolis, the Romans Arsinoë. It is one of Egypt's oldest
cities due to its strategic location.
1 Name and etymology
2 Ancient history
3 Modern city
Faiyum mummy portraits
5 Main sights
7 Notable people
9 See also
11 External links
Name and etymology
Its name in English is also spelled as Fayum,
Faiyum or El Faiyūm.
Faiyum was previously officially named Madīnet El Faiyūm (Arabic for
The City of Faiyum). The name
Faiyum (and its spelling variations) may
also refer to the
Faiyum Oasis, although it is commonly used by
Egyptians today to refer to the city.
The modern name of the city comes from Coptic ̀Ⲫⲓⲟⲙ
/Ⲡⲉⲓⲟⲙ epʰiom/peiom (whence the proper name Ⲡⲁⲓⲟⲙ
payom), meaning the Sea or the Lake, which in turn comes from late
Egyptian pꜣ-ymꜥ of the same meaning, a reference to the nearby
Lake Moeris; the extinct elephant ancestor
Phiomia was named after it.
"Crocodilopolis" redirects here. For the namesake city in Upper Egypt,
Archaeological evidence has found occupations around the Fayum dating
back to at least the Epipalaeolithic period. The middle Holocene
occupations of the area are most widely studied on the north shore of
Lake Qarun, where Caton-Thompson and Gardner did a number of
excavations of Epipalaeolithic and
Neolithic sites, as well as a
general survey of the area. Recently the area has been further
investigated by a team from the UCLA/RUG/UOA Fayum Project.
In the Pharaonic era, the city now called Medinet el Fayum (City of
Faiyum) was called Shedet. The 10th-century Bible exegete, Saadia
Gaon, thought el Fayum to have actually been the biblical city of
Pithom, mentioned in Exodus 1:11. It was the most significant
centre of the cult of Sobek, the crocodile-god. In consequence, the
Greeks named it Crocodilopolis (Greek:
Crocodile City", from the particular
reverence paid by its inhabitants to crocodiles. The city worshipped a
tamed[clarification needed] sacred crocodile, named Petsuchos, that
was adorned with gold and gem pendants. The crocodile lived in a
special temple pond and was fed by the priests with food provided by
visitors. When the
Petsuchos died, it was replaced by another.
Under the Ptolemies, the city was for a while called Ptolemais
Euergetis (Greek: Πτολεμαὶς Εὐεργέτις).
Ptolemy II Philadelphus
Ptolemy II Philadelphus (309–246 BC) renamed the city Arsinoë and
the whole nome after the name of his sister and wife Arsinoë
(316–270 or 268), whom he deified after her death, if not
Under the Roman Empire, Arsinoe became part of the province of Arcadia
Aegypti. To distinguish it from other cities of the same name, it was
called Arsinoë in Arcadia.
With the arrival of Christianity, Arsinoe became the seat of a
bishopric, a suffragan of the Oxyrhynchus, the capital of the province
and the metropolitan see.
Lequien gives the names of several bishops
of Arsinoe, nearly all of them associated with one heresy or
The Catholic Church, considering Arsinoë in Arcadia to be no longer a
residential bishopric, lists it as a titular see.
Fayyum was the seat of Shahralanyozan, governor of the Sasanian Egypt
Climate data for Faiyum
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Source #1: Climate-Data.org
Source #2: Voodoo Skies for record temperatures
Faiyum has several large bazaars, mosques, baths and a
much-frequented weekly market. The canal called
Bahr Yussef runs
through the city, its banks lined with houses. There are two bridges
over the river: one of three arches, which carries the main street and
bazaar, and one of two arches, over which is built the Qaitbay
mosque, that was a gift from his wife to honor the
in Fayoum. Mounds north of the city mark the site of Arsinoe, known to
the ancient Greeks as Crocodilopolis, where in ancient times the
sacred crocodile kept in
Lake Moeris was worshipped. The center of
the city is on the canal, with four waterwheels that were adopted by
the governorate of Fayoum as its symbol; their chariots and bazaars
are easy to spot.
Faiyum mummy portraits
Portrait of a man, c. 125–150 AD. Encaustic on wood; 37 cm
× 20 cm (15 in × 8 in)
Faiyum mummy portraits
Faiyum is the source of some famous death masks or mummy portraits
painted during the Roman occupation of the area. The Egyptians
continued their practice of burying their dead, despite the Roman
preference for cremation. While under the control of the Roman Empire,
Egyptian death masks were painted on wood in a pigmented wax technique
Faiyum mummy portraits
Faiyum mummy portraits represent this
technique. While previously believed to represent Greek settlers
in Egypt, modern studies conclude that the
instead represent mostly native Egyptians, reflecting the complex
synthesis of the predominant Egyptian culture and that of the elite
Greek minority in the city.
Hanging Mosque, built under the Ottoman Rule over Egypt
Hawara, archeological site 27 km (17 mi) from the city
Lahun Pyramids, 4 km (2 mi) outside the city
Qaitbay Mosque, in the city, and was built by the wife of the Mamluk
Qasr Qarun, 44 km (27 mi) from the city
Wadi Elrayan or Wadi Rayan, the largest waterfalls in Egypt, around
50 km (31 mi) from the city
Wadi Al-Hitan or Valley of whales, a paleontological site in the Al
Fayyum Governorate, some 150 km (93 mi) southwest of Cairo.
It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Köppen-Geiger climate classification system
Köppen-Geiger climate classification system classifies its climate as
hot desert (BWh).
The highest record temperatures was 46 °C (115 °F) on June
13, 1965 and the lowest record temperature was 2 °C
(36 °F) on January 8, 1966.
Tefta Tashko-Koço, well known Albanian singer was born in Faiyum,
where her family lived at that time.
Saadia Gaon, the influential Jewish teacher of the early 10th century,
was originally from Faiyum, and often called al-Fayyumi.
Youssef Wahbi, a notable Egyptian actor, well known for his influence
on the development of Egyptian cinema and theater.
A whale skeleton lies in the sand at
Wadi Al-Hitan (Arabic: وادي
الحيتان, "Whales Valley") near the city of Faiyum
Book of the Faiyum
Faiyum mummy portraits
Phiomia (an extinct relative of the elephant, named after Faiyum)
^ a b c Paola Davoli (2012). "The Archaeology of the Fayum". In Riggs,
Christina. The Oxford Handbook of Roman Egypt. Oxford University
Press. pp. 152–153. ISBN 9780199571451.
^ "The name of the Fayum province. Katholieke Universiteit Leuven".
Trismegistos.org. Retrieved 2013-01-15.
^ "Faiyum. Eternal Egypt". Eternalegypt.org. Archived from the
original on 2012-02-13. Retrieved 2013-01-15.
^ Caton-Thompson, G.; Gardner, E. (1934). The Desert Fayum. London:
Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland.
^ Holdaway, Simon; Phillipps, Rebecca; Emmitt, Joshua; Wendrich,
Willeke (2016-07-29). "The Fayum revisited: Reconsidering the role of
Neolithic package, Fayum north shore, Egypt". Quaternary
Neolithic from the Sahara to the Southern
Mediterranean Coast: A review of the most Recent Research. 410, Part
A: 173–180. doi:10.1016/j.quaint.2015.11.072.
^ Phillipps, Rebecca; Holdaway, Simon; Ramsay, Rebecca; Emmitt,
Joshua; Wendrich, Willeke; Linseele, Veerle (2016-05-18). "Lake Level
Changes, Lake Edge Basins and the Paleoenvironment of the Fayum North
Shore, Egypt, during the Early to Mid-Holocene". Open Quaternary. 2
(0). doi:10.5334/oq.19. ISSN 2055-298X.
^ Saadia Gaon, Tafsir (Judeo-Arabic translation of the Pentateuch),
Exodus 1:11; Rabbi Saadia Gaon's Commentaries on the Torah (ed. Yosef
Qafih), Mossad Harav Kook: Jerusalem 1984, p. 63 (Exodus 1:11)
^ Thomas Joseph Pettigrew, A History of Egyptian Mummies (Longman
1834), pp. 211–213
^ Bunson, Margaret (2009). Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Infobase
Publishing. p. 90. ISBN 978-1-43810997-8.
^ Hornblower, Simon; Spawforth, Antony; Eidenow, Esther, eds. (2012).
The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Oxford University Press. p. 171.
^ Guillaume, Philippe (2008).
Ptolemy the second Philadelphus and his
world. Brill. p. 299. ISBN 978-90-0417089-6.
^ Michel Lequien, Oriens christianus in quatuor Patriarchatus
digestus, Paris 1740, Vol. II, coll. 581-584
^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013
ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 840
^ * Jalalipour, Saeid (2014). Persian Occupation of
Politics and Administration of Sasanians (PDF). Sasanika.
Faiyum - Climate graph, Temperature graph, Climate table".
Climate-Data.org. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
^ a b "El Fayoum, Egypt". Voodoo Skies. Archived from the original on
24 February 2014. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
Mosque of Qaitbey in the Fayoum of
Egypt by Seif Kamel
^ One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text
from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed.
(1911). "Fayum". Encyclopædia Britannica. 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge
University Press. p. 219.
^ "The Temple and the Gods, The Cult of the Crocodile". Umich.edu.
^ "History of Encaustic Art". Encaustic.ca. 2012-06-10. Archived from
the original on 2012-12-23. Retrieved 2013-01-15.
Egyptology Online: Fayoum mummy portraits". Archived from the
original on August 8, 2007. Retrieved January 16, 2007.
^ Encyclopædia Britannica Online - Egyptian art and architecture -
Egypt accessed on January 16, 2007
^ Bagnall, R.S. in Susan Walker, ed. Ancient Faces : Mummy
Portraits in Roman
Egypt (Metropolitan Museum of Art Publications).
New York: Routledge, 2000, p. 27
^ Riggs, C. The Beautiful Burial in Roman Egypt: Art, Identity, and
Funerary Religion Oxford University Press (2005).
^ Victor J. Katz (1998). A History of Mathematics: An Introduction, p.
184. Addison Wesley, ISBN 0-321-01618-1: "But what we really want
to know is to what extent the Alexandrian mathematicians of the period
from the first to the fifth centuries C.E. were Greek. Certainly, all
of them wrote in Greek and were part of the Greek intellectual
community of Alexandria. And most modern studies conclude that the
Greek community coexisted [...] So should we assume that
Diophantus, Pappus and
Hypatia were ethnically Greek, that their
ancestors had come from Greece at some point in the past but had
remained effectively isolated from the Egyptians? It is, of course,
impossible to answer this question definitively. But research in
papyri dating from the early centuries of the common era demonstrates
that a significant amount of intermarriage took place between the
Greek and Egyptian communities [...] And it is known that Greek
marriage contracts increasingly came to resemble Egyptian ones. In
addition, even from the founding of Alexandria, small numbers of
Egyptians were admitted to the privileged classes in the city to
fulfill numerous civic roles. Of course, it was essential in such
cases for the
Egyptians to become "Hellenized," to adopt Greek habits
and the Greek language. Given that the Alexandrian mathematicians
mentioned here were active several hundred years after the founding of
the city, it would seem at least equally possible that they were
ethnically Egyptian as that they remained ethnically Greek. In any
case, it is unreasonable to portray them with purely European features
when no physical descriptions exist."
Wikinews has related news: 30 brightly coloured mummies discovered in
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Faiyum.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Faiyum.
"Photo Gallery: Water Issues in Fayoum Villages". Archived from the
original on 2009-09-06.
Falling Rain Genomics, Inc. "Geographical information on Al Fayyum,
Egypt". Retrieved 2011-03-22.
Fayum towns and their papyri, edited with translations and notes by
Bernard P. Grenfell and Arthur S. Hunt at the Internet Archive
Vincent L. Morgan; Spencer G. Lucas (2002). "Notes From
Diary––Fayum Trip, 1907" (PDF). Bulletin 22. Albuquerque, New
Mexico: New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science.
ISSN 1524-4156. . 148 pages, public domain.
Fayoum Photo Gallery
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6th of October
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New Borg El Arab
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Glossary of artifacts
Architecture (Egyptian Revival architecture)
Great Royal Wives