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Hermopolis

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Ancient Egypt, from The Atlas of Ancient and Classical Geography by Samuel Butler.

Hermopolis on map of ancient Egypt, from The Atlas of Ancient and Classical Geography, by Samuel Butler, Ernest Rhys, editor (Suffolk, 1907, repr. 1908).

Public Domain. Courtesy of Maps of Asia Minor, the Caucasus, and Neighboring Lands
Definition:

Hermopolis (or Hermopolis Megale) is the Greek name for an ancient Egyptian city that was known as Khemenu ("the City of the Eight") and Wenu ("the City of Hares"). Its Coptic name was Shmun and its modern name is El-Ashmunein.

Located in a fertile area of Egypt, from the New Kingdom period, Hermopolis was connected to the Nile via a canal.

Located in Middle Egypt (in the middle of Egypt), Hermopolis was the administrative center of Upper Egypt's 15th nome.

The chief god of Hermopolis was Thoth, whom the Greeks associated with their god Hermes; hence, the name. There was an important temple of Thoth there, which made it a religious center. At Hermopolis, Greco-Roman and Egyptian culture mixed, resulting in temples to a variety of gods, and some of Hadrian's thermae.

Egyptian Terms Glossary | Egyptian Terms for Beginners

Also Known As: Hermopolis Magna
Examples:
  • Hermopolis in the 4th century A.D. was home to one of the few ancient women whose signatures we have. Her name was Aurelia Charite. She was daughter of a local councilor and gymnasiarch named Amazonios and his wife, Demetria aka Ammonia, who was also literate.
  • Hermopolis is renowned for the Hermopolitan Ogdoad.
  • Hermopolis was a substantial metropolis, with a very roughly estimated population of 20,000 at its height, according to Bowman.
  • Hermopolis is a source for papyrus documents that help date events in the Roman-Byzantine world.
  • The desert to the east of Tel-el-Amarna lay in the nome of Hermopolis. The city of Antinopolis, which Hadrian named to commemorate his deified late friend, Antinous, was nearby, basically, across the Nile from Hermopolis.

References:

  • Dieter Kessler, Robert E. Shillenn "Hermopolis" The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. Ed. Donald B. Redford, Oxford University Press, Inc., 2001.
  • "Not at a Loss for Words: The Economic Power of Literate Women in Late Antique Egypt"
    Jennifer A. Sheridan
    Transactions of the American Philological Association (1998) pp. 189-203.

  • "A Propos of a Greek Inscription from Hermopolis Magna"
    Zaki Aly
    The Annual of the British School at Athens (1951) pp. 219-231.

  • "Landholding in the Hermopolite Nome in the Fourth Century A.D."
    Alan K. Bowman
    The Journal of Roman Studies (1985) pp. 137-163.

  • The Consular Date of P.Bodl. I 52"
    Nikolaos Gonis
    Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik (2002) p. 140.

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