Heliopolis (ancient Egypt)
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Heliopolis (I͗wnw, Iunu or 𓉺𓏌𓊖; egy, I͗wnw, 'the Pillars'; cop, ⲱⲛ; gr, Ἡλιούπολις, Hēlioúpοlis, City of the Sun) was a major city of
ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization of Ancient history, ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile, Nile River, situated in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric ...

ancient Egypt
. It was the capital of the 13th or Heliopolite Nome of
Lower Egypt , the Red Crown of Lower Egypt Image:Lower Egypt Nomes 01.png, 350px, Map of Lower Egypt with its historical nomes Lower Egypt ( ar, مصر السفلى '; ''Tsakhet'') is the northernmost region In geography, regions are areas that are ...
and a major religious centre. It is now located in
Ayn Shams Ain Shams (also spelled Ayn or Ein - ar, عين شمس, , cop, ⲱⲛ ⲡⲉⲧ ⲫⲣⲏ) is a suburb The Swedish suburbs of Husby/Kista/Akalla are built according to the typical city planning of the Million Programme. A suburb (or subu ...
, a northeastern suburb of
Cairo Cairo ( ; ar, القاهرة, al-Qāhirah, , Coptic: ⲕⲁϩⲓⲣⲏ) is the capital and largest city of Egypt. The Cairo metropolitan area, with a population of 21.3 million, is the 2nd largest in Africa and in the Arab world, and the ...

Cairo
. Heliopolis was one of the oldest cities of ancient Egypt, occupied since the Predynastic Period.. It greatly expanded under the
Old Old or OLD may refer to: Places *Old, Baranya Old () is a village in Baranya (county), Baranya county, Hungary. Populated places in Baranya County {{Baranya-geo-stub ..., Hungary *Old, Northamptonshire Old (previously Wold and befor ...
and Middle Kingdoms but is today mostly destroyed, its temples and other buildings having been scavenged for the construction of medieval Cairo. Most information about the ancient city comes from surviving records. The major surviving remnant of Heliopolis is the
obelisk , on the Place de la Concorde The Place de la Concorde () is one of the major public squares in Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with a ...
of the Temple of Ra (god), Ra-Atum erected by Senusret I of Dynasty XII. It still stands in its original position, now within Al-Masalla in Al-Matariyyah, Cairo. The high red granite obelisk weighs 120 tons (240,000 lbs) and is believed to be the oldest surviving obelisk in the world. The Romans also took the Obelisk of Montecitorio from the city to Rome, under Augustus, where it remains. The two smaller obelisks called Cleopatra's Needle, in London and New York, also came from the city.


Names

Heliopolis is the Latinisation of names, Latinised form of the Ancient Greek language, Greek name ''Hēlioúpolis'' (), meaning "City of the Sun". Helios (god), Helios, the personification, personified and sun god, deified form of the sun, interpretatio graeca, was identified by the Greeks with the native Egyptian gods Ra (god), Ra and Atum, whose principal cult was located in the city. Its endonym, native name was ("The Pillars"), whose exact pronunciation is uncertain because ancient Egyptian recorded only consonantal values. Its traditional Egyptologist, Egyptological transcription is ''Iunu'' but it appears in Biblical Hebrew language, biblical Hebrew as ''ʔÔn'' (), ''ʔŌwn'' (), and ''ʔĀwen'' () leading some scholars to linguistic reconstruction, reconstruct its pronunciation in earlier Egyptian as ''*ʔa:wnu'', perhaps from older /ja:wunaw/. Variant transcriptions include ''Awnu'' and ''Annu''. The name survived as Coptic ''Ōn''. The city also appears in the Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts as the "House of Ra".


History


Ancient

In
ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt was a civilization of Ancient history, ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile, Nile River, situated in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric ...

ancient Egypt
, Heliopolis was a regional center from Predynastic Egypt, predynastic times. It was principally notable as the cult center of the sun god Atum, who syncretism, came to be identified with Ra. and then Ra-harakhty, Horus. The primary Egyptian temple, temple of the city was known as the Great House ( egy, Pr Ꜥꜣt or ''Per Aat'', ''*Par ʻĀʼat'') or House of Atum (' or ''Per Atum'', ''*Par-ʼAtāma''; he, פתם, ''Pithom''). Its priests maintained that Atum or Ra was the first being, rising self-created from the primeval waters. A decline in the importance of Ra's cult during Dynasty V led to the development of the Ennead, a grouping of nine major Egyptian deities that placed the others in subordinate status to Ra–Atum. The High Priest of Re, high priests of Ra are not as well documented as those of other deities, although the high priests of Dynasty VI (BC) have been discovered and excavated. During the Amarna Period of Dynasty XVIII, Pharaoh Akhenaten introduced a kind of henotheism, henotheistic worship of Aten, the deified solar disc. As part of his construction projects, he built a Heliopolitan temple named "Elevating Aten" (' or ''Wetjes Atum''), whose stones can still be seen in some of the gates of Cairo's medieval city wall. The cult of the Mnevis bull, another embodiment of the Sun, had its altar here as well. The bulls' formal burial ground was situated north of the city. The store-city Pithom is mentioned once in the Hebrew people, Hebrew Jewish Bible, Bible (Exodus 1:11), and according to one theory, this was Heliopolis.


Hellenistic

Alexander the Great, on his march from Pelusium to Memphis, Egypt, Memphis, halted at this city. The temple of Ra was said to have been, to a special degree, a depository for royal records, and Herodotus states that the priests of Heliopolis were the best informed in matters of history of all the Egyptians. Heliopolis flourished as a seat of learning during the Greek period; the schools of philosophy and astronomy are claimed to have been frequented by Orpheus, Homer, Pythagoras, Plato, Solon, and other Greek philosophers. Ichonuphys was lecturing there in 308 BC, and the Greek mathematician Eudoxus of Cnidus, Eudoxus, who was one of his pupils, learned from him the true length of the year and month, upon which he formed his octaeterid, or period of 8 years or 99 months. Ptolemy II had Manetho, the chief priest of Heliopolis, collect his history of the ancient kings of Egypt from its archives. The later Ptolemies probably took little interest in their "father" Ra, and Alexandria had eclipsed the learning of Heliopolis; thus with the withdrawal of royal favour Heliopolis quickly dwindled, and the students of native lore deserted it for other temples supported by a wealthy population of pious citizens. By the first century BC, in fact, Strabo found the temples deserted, and the town itself almost uninhabited, although priests were still present. Heliopolis was well known to the Ancient Greece, ancient Greeks and Roman Empire, Romans, being noted by most major geographers of the period, including Ptolemy, Herodotus, and others, down to the Byzantine Empire, Byzantine geographer Stephanus of Byzantium.


Roman

In Roman Egypt, Heliopolis belonged to the list of Roman provinces, province Augustamnica, causing it to appear as when it needed to be distinguished from Heliopolis (Roman Phoenicia), Roman Heliopolis. Its population probably contained a considerable Arabians, Arabian element. Many of the city's obelisks were removed to adorn more northern cities of the Delta and Rome. Two of these eventually became London's Cleopatra's Needle (London), Cleopatra's Needle and its twin in New York City, New York's Central Park.


Islamic

During the Middle Ages, the growth of Fustat and
Cairo Cairo ( ; ar, القاهرة, al-Qāhirah, , Coptic: ⲕⲁϩⲓⲣⲏ) is the capital and largest city of Egypt. The Cairo metropolitan area, with a population of 21.3 million, is the 2nd largest in Africa and in the Arab world, and the ...

Cairo
only a few kilometres away caused its ruins to be massively scavenged for building materials, including for their city walls. The site became known as the "Eye of the Sun" (''Ayn Shams'') and ''ʻArab al-Ḥiṣn''.


Legacy

The importance of the solar cult at Heliopolis is reflected in both ancient pagan and current monotheistic beliefs. Egyptian mythology, Egyptian and Greek mythology, Greco-Roman mythology held that the bennu or phoenix (mythology), phoenix brought the ashes of its predecessor to the altar of the sun god at Heliopolis each time it was reborn. In the Hebrew people, Hebrew's Jewish Bible, scriptures, Heliopolis is referenced directly and obliquely, usually in reference to its prominent pagan cult. In his prophesies against Egypt, Isaiah claimed the "City of the Sun" (''Ir ha Shemesh'') would be one of the five Egyptian cities to follow the Lord of Heaven's army and speak Hebrew language, Hebrew. Jeremiah and Ezekiel mention the "House of the Sun" (''Beth Shemesh'') and Ôn, claiming Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonian Empire, Babylon would shatter its obelisks and burn its temple and that its "young men of Folly" (''Aven'') would "fall by the sword". The "Syrian Heliopolis" Baalbek has been claimed to have gained its solar cult from a priest colony emigrating from Egypt. Heliopolis in Augustamnica remains a titular see of both the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.


Present site

The ancient city is currently located about below the streets of the middle- and lower-class suburbs of Al-Matariyyah, Ain Shams, and Tel Al-Hisn in northern
Cairo Cairo ( ; ar, القاهرة, al-Qāhirah, , Coptic: ⲕⲁϩⲓⲣⲏ) is the capital and largest city of Egypt. The Cairo metropolitan area, with a population of 21.3 million, is the 2nd largest in Africa and in the Arab world, and the ...

Cairo
. The area is about west of the Heliopolis (Cairo Suburb), modern suburb which bears its name. Some ancient city walls of crude brick can be seen in the fields, a few granite blocks bearing the name of Ramesses II remain, and the position of the great Temple of Ra-Atum is marked by the Al-Masalla obelisk. Archaeologists excavated some of its tombs in 2004.. In 2017, parts of a colossal statue of Psamtik I were found and excavated.https://edition.cnn.com/2018/04/20/world/psamtik-colossus-cairo/index.html


See also

*List of ancient Egyptian towns and cities *Other Heliopolises, particularly ** Heliopolis (Cairo Suburb), Heliopolis, the 20th-century suburb of
Cairo Cairo ( ; ar, القاهرة, al-Qāhirah, , Coptic: ⲕⲁϩⲓⲣⲏ) is the capital and largest city of Egypt. The Cairo metropolitan area, with a population of 21.3 million, is the 2nd largest in Africa and in the Arab world, and the ...

Cairo
** Ilioupoli, the 20th-century suburb of Athens settled by Egyptian Greeks *Ancient Egyptian creation myths – in reference to the religious belief system of ''Iunu'' at Heliopolis *List of Egyptian dynasties – in reference to the reigns centered at Heliopolis *Benben


Notes


References


Citations


Bibliography

* Allen, James P. 2001. "Heliopolis". In ''The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt'', edited by Donald Bruce Redford. Vol. 2 of 3 vols. Oxford, New York, and Cairo: Oxford University Press and The American University in Cairo Press. 88–89 * Bilolo, Mubabinge. 1986. ''Les cosmo-théologies philosophiques d'Héliopolis et d'Hermopolis. Essai de thématisation et de systématisation'', (Academy of African Thought, Sect. I, vol. 2), Kinshasa–Munich 1987; new ed., Munich-Paris, 2004. * Reallexikon der Ägyptischen Religionsgeschichte - Hans Bonnet * Collier, Mark and Manley, Bill. ''How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs: Revised Edition''. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. * The Routledge Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, George Hart * Redford, Donald Bruce. 1992. "Heliopolis". In ''The Anchor Bible Dictionary'', edited by David Noel Freedman. Vol. 3 of 6 vols. New York: Doubleday. 122–123 *


External links


Obelisk of Psametik II from Heliopolis, removed and reerected by Augustus in Rome
{{DEFAULTSORT:Heliopolis (Ancient) Cities in ancient Egypt Roman sites in Egypt Archaeological sites in Egypt Former populated places in Egypt Hebrew Bible cities Nile Delta History of Cairo Tells (archaeology)