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AUGUST 21

Fayoum Travel Guide

Fayoum History




The town of Fayoum, sometimes referred to as the Fayoum Oasis, but is not a true Oasis, is located not too far south of the city of Cairo. It takes its name from the Coptic word, Payomj or Phiom, meaning lake or sea. However during very ancient times, The city of Fayoum was actually a sea, and today is well known for the finds of great, ancient whales.

Normally, during prehistory, more people lived in the city of Fayoum than in the Nile Valley. The land here was lush, and there was an abundance of water. Between 7200 & 6000 BC, a time known as the Qarunian period, Southwest Asians, whom we call Epi Paleolithic Qarunians, migrated to the area and settled it, making hunting and fishing their main occupations. At the time, plants and animals were just beginning to be domesticated. All of this took place around a much larger lake than is there now.

Also, during Neolithic times (5500 to 4000 BC) and only 2 distinct groups of people existed around the lake shores. These were the early Neolithic Fayumian and Late Neolithic Moerian. However it was during this period that the first agricultural communities sprang forth. These people dined on gazelle, catfish or hartebeests, cooked in rough faced bowls or cooking pots, and served their friends and family on red polished rectangular earthenware dishes.

During, the 4000 BC, the climate of the city of Fayoum began to dry up, and over a period of several years, the people left their drought stricken homes and migrated closer to the Nile. However by about 3500 BC, some were living east of the Nile in what is now Maadi Digla, a modern suburb south of the town of Cairo. From their ancient sites, we know that they had grain silos, made pottery and used sickles.

Once the Nile Valley became dominant, the city of Fayoum was all but abandoned, because life along the river was much easier. However the town of Fayoum became a hunting and fishing paradise, as well as a place to be mined for its salts, limestone and chert. In pharaonic times the city of Fayoum is known as Shedet, and it remains a centre of the crocodile cult all through the period of Ancient Egypt.





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