Faiyum Oasis is famous for being the only artificial Oasis in Egypt and one of the most enchanting natural spots in the country. It dates to the ancient Egyptian times where its name was Shedet then the greek called it Koine greek (Crocodile City) while the Roman referred to it as Arsinoe and during biblical times as Joseph's canal. The city holds a number of scattered pyramids around it that were built in Egypt middle kingdom (2040-1782 BC) at Tahun, List, and Hawara and is in very bad condition.
Al Faiyum is located in middle Egypt, just 100 km (62 mi) southeast of Cairo (Memphis). It stretches from the Nile to the lake of brisket Qarun which is a very famous spot for duck hunting as Winston Churchill and King Farouk. Faiyum city started as an arid desert basin that transformed into a lush oasis when one of the Nile branches silted up and diverted the water to it. the cultivated green land of Faiyum Oasis is formed due to the Nile mud brought down by the Bahr Yussef which is a canal 24 km (15 miles) in length that connects Faiyum with the Nile River. One of the most famous destinations in it is the Faiyum Oasis which is located to the west of the Nile on an estimated area of 1,270 km2 (490 mi2) and 1700 km2 (656 mi2), it is been historically known as the garden of Egypt for its abundance of wildlife and production of fruit and vegetables.
Fayoum is known for holding wadi Rayyan which contains the largest waterfalls in Egypt, the lake is first recorded from about 3000 BC, around the time of Menes (Narmer). It is 65 km from Faiyum city which is a desert area surrounded by a small waterfall and a number of natural springs plus a number of different animal species of reptiles, mammals, and birds and some rare endangered species. Within Faiyum is Wadi El Hitan which is on the UNESCO world heritage site for containing hundreds of Archaeoceti which are whale fossils going back several hundred thousand years ago and no place on earth wields this number of concentrated and high-quality fossils and was primarily used to reveal the evolution of whales.
One of the largest Oasis's in Egypt is the Fayum oasis which is closest to the Nile and Cairo. It contains lake Qarun which was formed around 70,000 years ago. The oasis is the host of archaeologist sites like temples dating to the Ptolemaic era like the temple of Sobek the crocodile on the western shore of the lake a number of migration birds.
The city was known as Shedet a.k.a Crocodilopolis, Karanis, and Kahun. In the Old Kingdom (c.2613-2181 BCE) Faiyum was known as Ta-She “Land of the Lakes” or “Land of the Southern Lakes” by the kings of Memphis. In the middle kingdom (2040-1782 BC) it was given the name Pa-Yom which means "The Sea" or "The Lake" as mentioned in the book of Exodus. The city was able to play an important part in shaping the culture of Egypt during the 12th dynasty of the golden age known as the middle kingdom but declined in the new kingdom (1570-1070 BC). The city experienced a source of revival in the Ptolemaic dynasty (323-30 BC) and the Roman period (30 BC-646 CE) and unfortunately declined again. Faiyum was a center of the cult of the crocodile god Sobek.
Faiyum was very popular to the ancient Egyptians as the twenty-first nome of Upper Egypt under the name Atef-Pehu that means ("Northern Sycamore"). In ancient Egyptian times, the capital of Faiyum was "Shedyt"),[and the ancient Greeks called it Crocodilopolis, plus under the rule of Ptolemy II as Arsinoe. Faiyum has the earliest and oldest evidence for farming in Egypt, as it was a center of the royal pyramid and tomb-building in the Twelfth dynasty during the Middle Kingdom and the Ptolemaic dynasty as it became the breadbaskets of the Roman world.
The city is famous today as Faiyum portraits for containing a collection of beautifully enchanting rendered mummy masks created in later time periods. The masks were painted on wood in a pigmented wax which represents the greek settlers in Egypt. It severed as a center for trade during the 7th century in the Islamic periods. Today the city is rich in agriculture and culture center for containing a number of incredible ancient Egyptian ruins.
The city of Faiyum is one of Egypt's most majestic and hidden destinations, so if you ever found yourself in Cairo, don't miss the chance to explore this hidden gem with one of our Egypt tours. Also don't miss the chance to discover the history of the beautiful cities Cairo and Alexandria, and witness the ancient artifacts in Luxor & Aswan while boarding a Nile River Cruise.
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