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The Nomes (Proviences) of Ancient Egypt


The Nomes (Provinces) of Ancient Egypt

by Jimmy Dunn

 

A female personifcation of the 18th nome of Upper Egypt depicted at Kom Ombo

 

 

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. Today, Egypt refers to its provinces as governates.

 


Some system of geographic division existed from at least the beginning of the Pharaonic period, though perhaps at first there were far fewer nomes than later on in Egyptian history. 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 River at modern Aswan.

 

These provincial capitals were also religious and economic centers serving the surrounding countryside, where the vast majority of Egyptians lived in small villages. Many had more than local importance, with the state investing in their development, above all by building temples. Some had strategic importance as fortresses defending a frontier or as staging points for invasions of foreign countries.

 

 

The Nomes (Proviences) of Ancient Egypt

 

 

Hence, Nomes, together with their ruling nomarch, played an important role in ancient Egypt. Specifically, when the central power was weak and ineffective, the nomarchs often enlarged and embellished their provincial capitals, from which they supervised the maintenance of irrigation canals and dams, the local distribution of the Nile water and the dispensation of justice. When their powers were elevated in this manner, they also challenged, and sometimes overwhelmed the central power base of the king.

 

It should be clearly pointed out that some nomes shifted over time and that the location of others remains uncertain. The number of provinces in Upper Egypt seems to have been constant from the Old Kingdom onwards, whereas the number and position of the provinces in Lower Egypt varied, growing over time as marshes were converted to cultivated land and as the river branches of the Nile Delta shifted over the centuries.

 

However, for much 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 include 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.

 

 

Lower Egyptian Nomes

Lower Egypt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower Egypt
   

Nome Name:

Nome 1: White fortress (White Wall)

 

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Horus before Inebhedj' (?)

M

ajor Deities

Ptah, Sokar, Apis

City(s):/Tempes:

Inebhedj/Mennefer (Greek Memphis, Arabic Mit Rahina)/Ptah, Hathor

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 2: Cow's thigh (Foreleg)

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Khentykhem ('foremost of Khem')

Major Deities

Horus, Kherty

City(s):/Temples:

Khem (Greek Letopolis, Arabic Ausim)/Horus-foremost-of-Khem

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 3: West

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Hepy of Hut-Ihyt

Major Deities

Hathor

City(s):/Temples:

Imu (Arabic Komel-Hisn)/Hathor-Sekhmet

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 4: Southern shield

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Neith and Sobek

Major Deities

Neith

City(s):/Temples:

 

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 5: Northern shield

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Sau ('of Sais')

Major Deities

Neith

City(s):/Temples:

Sau (Greek Sais, Arabic Sa al-Hagar)/Neit

Notes:

Sais was the capital of Egypt during the Late Dynastic Period and a Greek commercial center.

 

Nome Name:

Nome 6: Mountain bull

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

(entry unclear)

Major Deities

Re

City(s):/Temples:

Khasu (Greek Xois, Arabic Sakha)/Ra
Pe and Dep (Greek Buto, Arabic Tell el-Farain)/Wadjyt

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 7: West harpoon

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

'harpoon with cord'inscribed across provinces 7 and 8

Major Deities

Ha

City(s):/Temples:

 

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 8: East harpoon

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

'harpoon with cord' inscribed across provinces 7 and 8

Major Deities

Atum

City(s):/Temples:

Peratum (Biblical Pithom, Arabic Tell al-Maskhuta)/Atum

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 9: Anezti (Andjti, anD.t,Andjety)

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Osiris of Djedu

Major Deities

Osiris, Andjety

City(s):/Temples:

Djedu (Greek Busiris, Arabic Abu Sir Bana)/Horus-Khentkhety

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 10: Black bull,(km-wr. Black Ox)

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

(block missing or no entry)

Major Deities

Horus

City(s):/Temples:

 

Hutherib (Greek Athribis, Arabic Tell Atrib)/Osiris and Isis

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 11: Heseb bull (Ox count)

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

(block missing or no entry)

Major Deities

Shu, Tefnut, Mihos

City(s):/Temples:

Taremu (Greek Leontopolis, Arabic Tell al-Moqdam)/Maihesa

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 12:Cow with calf(Calf and Cow)

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

(block missing or no entry)

Major Deities

Onuris

City(s):/Temples:

Tjebennetjer (Greek Sebennytus, Arabic Samanud)/Inheret-Shu and Mehyt
Perhebyt (Arabic Behbeit)/Isis of Hebyt

Notes:

From Tjebennetjer comes the monolithic sanctuary shrine Cairo CG 70015, set up by king Nakhthorhebyt of D30 for Shu, Bast and Inheret

 

Nome Name:

Nome 13: Undamaged scepter ? (Prospering Sceptre)

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Isis, Bast (of) Su

Major Deities

Atum, Iusaas, Mnevis

City(s):/Temples:

Iunu (Greek Heliopolis, Arabic Matariya)/Ra-Atum, Hathor
Kheraha (Greek 'Babylon of Egypt', part of Old Cairo?)/Atum

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 14: East or anterior nome , (jm.tj-xntj, Foremost of the East)

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

'[Horus?] (of?) [He]benu' (or '(of) Benu')/

 

Major Deities

Seth

City(s):/Temples:

Tjaru (Greek Sile, Arabic Qantara?)/Horus of Mesen?

Notes:

This is the frontier zone of the 'ways of Horus' leading from Egypt across N Sinai

 

Nome Name:

Nome 15:Ibis

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

(block missing or no entry)

Major Deities

Thoth

City(s):/Temples:

Weprehwy (?) (Greek Hermopolis, Arabic Baqliya)/Thoth

Notes:

 

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 16: Dolphin (Fish)

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

'(of) Djedet'

Major Deities

Banebdjedet, Hatmehyt

City(s):/Temples:

Djedet (Greek Mendes)/Banebdjedet

Notes:

The four sanctuary shrines at Djedet were set up by king Ahmose of Dynasty 26, with one for each of the four 'souls' immanent within Banebdjedet (Ra, Shu, Geb, Osiris)

 

Nome Name:

Nome 17: The throne (zmA-bHd.t, Behdet)

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

(block missing or no entry)

Major Deities

Horus

City(s):/Temples:

Semabehdet (Arabic Balamun?)/Amun

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 18: Royal child upper nome (Prince of the South)

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Bast

Major Deities

Bast

 

City(s):/Temples:

Bast (Greek Bubastis, on edge of modern Zagazig)/Bast

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 19: Royal child lower nome (Prince of the North)

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

(block missing or no entry)

Major Deities

Wadjyt

City(s):/Temples:

Imet (ArabicNebesha)/Wadjyt
Djanet (Greek Tanis)/Amun, Mut and Khonsu

Notes:

 

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 20: East (Plumed Falcon)

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

(block missing or no entry)

Major Deities

Sopdu

City(s):/Temples:

Per-Sopdu (Arabic Saft al-Henna)/Sopdu

Notes:

 
 
   
 

Upper Egypt

   

Nome Name:

Nome 1: Land of the arch or To Khentit:the frontier (Ta-Seti)

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Horus

Major Deities

Khnum, Satis, Anukis, Isis, Horus the Elder, Sobek

City(s):/Temples:

Abu (Greek Elephantine)/Khnum,Satet
Sunet(Greek Syene, Arabic Aswan)/Isis
Nubyt (Arabic Kom Ombo)/Sobek with Horus

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 2: Throne of Horus

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Horus of Behedet

Major Deities

 

Horus

City(s):/Temples:

Djeba (Greek Apollonopolis, Arabic Edfu)/Horus

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 3: The rural (Shrine)

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Nekhbet, Horus of Nekhen, Wenu

Major Deities

Horus, Nekhbet, Khnum, Neith

City(s):/Temples:

Nekhen (Greek Hierakonpolis, Arabic Kom al-Ahmar)/Hous
Nekheb (Greek Eleithyiaspolis, Arabic Elkab)/Nekhbet and Sobek
Nekheb desert valley/Hathor, Shesmetet

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 4: The sceptre

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Montu

Major Deities

Amun, Mut, Khons, Montu, Buchis, Sobek

City(s):/Temples:

Perhathor (Greek Pathyris, Arabic Gebelein)/Hathor
Imiotru (Arabic Rizeiqat)/Mont
Djerty (Arabic Tod)/Mont
Waset (Greek Thebes, Arabic Qurneh for West Bank, Luxor and Karnak for East Bank)/Amun,Mut, Khons and Various
Madu (Arabic Medamud)/Mont

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 5: The two falcons

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Min of Coptos

Major Deities/

 

Min, Seth

City(s):/Temples:

Shenhur (retains name in Arabic)/Isis
Gis (Greek Apollonopolis mikra, Arabic Qus)/Horus and Heqet, divine child Khons-Thoth
Gebtyu(Greek Coptos, Arabic Qift)/Min and Isis
Nubt (Greek Ombos, Arabic Naqada)/Seth

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 6: The crocodile

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Hathor of Iunet, and Iq

Major Deities

Hathor

City(s):/Temples:

Iunet (Greek Aphroditipolis, Arabic Dendera)/Hathor, Ihy/

 

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 7: Sistrum

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Bat

Major Deities

Bat

City(s):/Temples:

Hut-Sekhem-Senusret (Arabic Hu)/

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 8: Great land

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Khentamentiu

Major Deities

Khentamentiu, Osiris, Onuris

City(s):/Temples:

Abdju (Greek Abydos, Arabic al-Arabah)/Osiris Khentamentiu

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 9: Minu (Min)

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Min

Major Deities

Min

City(s):/Temples:

Khentmin (Greek Panopolis, Arabic Akhmim)/Min

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 10: Cobra

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Bau (or Seru?)

Major Deities

Seth, Mihos, Nemty

City(s):/Temples:

Tjebu (Greek Antaeopolis, Arabic Qau al-Kabir)/Nemty

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 11: The Set animal (Seth)

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Horus, also Seth

Major Deities

Seth

City(s):/Temples:

Shashotep (Greek Apotheke, Arabic Shutb)/

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:/p>

Nome 12: Viper mountain

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Bat

Major Deities

Nemty

City(s):/Temples:

Hut-Sekhem-Senusret (Arabic Hu)/

Notes:

 

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 13: Upper pomegranate tree (Upper Sycamore and Viper)

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Wepwawet

Major Deities

Wepwawet, Anubis

City(s):/Temples:

Saut (Greek Lycopolis, Arabic Asyut)/Wepwawet

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 14: Lower pomegranate tree (Lower Sycamore and Viper)

Nome Symbol:

 

White Chapel Deity:

Possibly Hathor

Major Deities

Hathor

City(s):/Temples:

Qesy (Greek Cusae, Arabic al-Qusiya)/Hathor

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 15: Hare

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Aha (early name for Bes), also Wenut

Major Deities

 

Thoth, Ogdoad, Aten

City(s):/Temples:

Khemenu (Greek Hermopolis, Arabic Ashmunein)/Thoth

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 16: Oryx

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Horus of Hebenu

Major Deities

Pakhet, Khnum

City(s):/Temples:

Hebenu (Arabic Kom al-Ahmar?)/Horus?
Tadehnet (Greek Akoris, Arabic Tehna)/Amun and Sobek?

Notes:

 

Note that Khnum is the deity of a town Herwer named in the Beni Hasan tomb inscriptions, in this district

 

Nome Name:

Nome 17: The black dog (Jackal)

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Anubis of Henu

Major Deities

Anubis

City(s):/Temples:

Saka (Arabic al-Qes?)/Bata?
Hardai/Anubis?

 

 
   

Nome Name:

Nome 18: Falcon with spread wings (Nemty)

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Nemty

Major Deities

Nemty

City(s):/Temples:

Hutnesut (Arabic Sharuna)/Horus-Dunanwy?

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 19: The pure sceptre (Two Sceptres)

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Igay

Major Deities

Seth,Mormyrus fish

City(s):/Temples:

 

Permedjed? (Greek Oxyrhynchus, Arabic Bahnasa)/

 

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 20: Upper laurel(Southern Sycamore)

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Empty

Major Deities

Heryshef

City(s):/Temples:

Henennesut (Greek Heracleopolis, Arabic Ihnasya)/Heryshef

Notes:

 

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 21: Lower laurel (Northern Sycamore)

 

Nome Symbol:

White Chapel Deity:

Khnum

Major Deities

Khnum, Seneferu

City(s):/Temples:

Shenakhen/Semenuhor (Greek Akanthon, perhaps near Arabic Kafr Ammar and Kafr Tarkhan?)/

Notes:

 
 

Nome Name:

Nome 22: Knife (wAD.t)

Nome Symbol:

 

White Chapel Deity:

Neith, also Sobek of the Southern Lake

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