Faiyum is an ancient oasis located in Upper Egypt, in the Western Desert southwest of Cairo. It is a depression, lower than sea level with dimensions of 50 miles (80 km) east-west and about 35 miles (56 km) north-south. Its ancient Lake Moeris connected to the Nile via a canal (Bahr Yusuf).
Faiyum was a prehistoric agricultural center - one of the earliest areas along the Nile Valley with domesticated barley, wheat, sheep and goats [source: "Epipaleolithic and Neolithic Subsistence and Settlement in the Fayyum Oasis of Egypt," by Robert J. Wenke, Janet E. Long and Paul E. Buck; Journal of Field Archaeology, Vol. 15, No. 1 (Spring, 1988), pp. 29-51.]. During the First Intermediate Period, the central area of Egypt and the Nile Delta were controlled by kings at Herakleopolis on the southern edge of Faiyum. The other districts (nomes) were controlled from Thebes.
Faiyum is also the name given to tempera or encaustic funerary portraits from the area from the early Christian era.
Main Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica and www.chlt.org/sandbox/perseus/pecs/page.1634.a.php "The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites"