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List of provinces ('nomes') of ancient Egypt

The word 'nome' is used in English-speaking Egyptology for each province of Egypt in ancient Egyptian (including Ptolemaic and Roman) history: it is taken from the Greek word 'nomos', meaning both 'law', 'custom', and a territory under the control of one governor.

The Ancient Egyptian word for 'nome' was 'sepat' (spAt), a word which, like the Greek, has the looser meaning of district.

In the Ptolemaic and Roman Period, the series of provinces amounted to a list of twenty-two for Upper Egypt, numbered from the First Cataract in the south to the region of Tarkhan in the north, and twenty for Lower Egypt.

The number of provinces in Upper Egypt seems to have been constant from the Old Kingdom (about 2686-2181 BC) 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.

Ptolemaic temples include lists of provinces with select religious features such as deities and cult places. An early and well-preserved example of such a list survives on the lower blocks of a chapel constructed for king Senusret I at Karnak (named the 'White Chapel' from its brilliant white limestone). In the New Kingdom (about 1550-1069 BC), Late Period and Ptolemaic Period, the list of provinces formed part of the inscriptions on the segmented sides of votive measuring rods of one cubit (52 cm) in length.

Details of provinces:

Upper Egypt

Lower Egypt

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Reading: Helck 1974



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