The term nome is actually a Greek word used to refer to the forty two traditional provinces of ancient Egypt


The term nome is actually of Greek origin (nomos) used to refer to the forty two traditional provinces of ancient Egypt. The actual ancient Egyptian term for these governmental divisions was sepat.

Some system of geographic division existed from at least the beginning of the Pharaonic period. In the late 3rd Dynasty, perhaps during the reign of Huni, some scholars believe that a set of seven non-sepulchral step pyramids were erected at certain sites, which perhaps corresponded to proto-capitals of the nomes, located at Zawiyet el-Mayitin, Abydos, Naqada, el-Kula, Edfu, Seila and the island of Elephantine in the Nile at modern Aswan.

It should be clearly pointed out that some nomes shifted over time and that the location of others remains uncertain. However, for most of the Dynastic period, there appears to have been twenty-two Upper Egyptian nomes and twenty Lower Egyptian nomes. Each nome was generally governed by its own regional ruler known as a nomarch, and each had its own symbol or sign, though those Lower Egypt appear to date later than those of Upper Egypt. Upper Egyptian nomes were also usually represented in the form of a standard, thus leading to provinces being described by such names as the "hare nome" or the "ibis nome". Lower Egyptian nomes appear to have had no counterpart of these standards.

The reliefs in many temples and shrines icnlude a lower register along which groups of personifications of estates or nomes were record around the temple. At other times, statue groupings and columns might be used to represent the various nomes.