Upper Egypt

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Upper Egypt in hieroglyphics
N16 M27

Narrow Land

Upper Egypt with division of the Gaue

Upper Egypt (also Ta-shemau ; Assyrian Uriṣṣu ) is the name for the part of Egypt that stretches on both sides of the Nile from today's Aswan to near today's Atfih south of Cairo . In ancient Egypt it was divided into 22 Gaue , from the top Ta-seti Gau near Aswan to the Messergau near Atfih, the ancient Aphroditopolis. The Arabic name is aṣ-Ṣaʿīd (الصعيد). The delta of the Nile from Cairo to the Mediterranean Sea is called Lower Egypt ( Arabic الدلتا ad-Diltā ).



People have settled in Egypt for about 250,000 years; They have been settled in the fertile floodplain of the Nile for around 25,000 years. The predynastic period in Upper Egypt was preceded by the so-called Naqada culture .

In the predynastic period of Egyptian history (up to approx. 3100 BC), two kingdoms were formed with Upper and Lower Egypt , which were united by Pharaoh Menes to form the Egyptian empire under Upper Egyptian rule, thus creating the dynastic period of Egyptian history ( Old Reich ) began. A symbol for the southern part of Egypt was the lotus plant ; the lower Egyptian counterpart was the papyrus plant . The connection of both plants by the Nile god Hapi or by the gods Horus and Seth is a frequently depicted symbol of the unification of the empire . The symbol of Upper Egypt was the White Crown , which was combined with the Red Crown of Lower Egypt to form the double crown of the pharaohs when the Empire was unified. The goddesses Nechbet and Wadjet , depicted as vultures and cobra, are part of the mistress or nebtin name of the Egyptian kings . They also jointly document the dual state.

Nubian kings from the south ruled Egypt as the 25th dynasty . Upper Egypt was certainly mostly in firm Nubian hands, but this is not so certain for Lower Egypt. Above all, Taharqa developed extensive building activity in Egypt and appears to us as pharaoh in the sources. The capital, however, was Napata in Nubia, where the Nubian rulers were also buried in pyramids. Around 660 BC With Assyrian help , Egypt gained independence from Nubia. The Kushite dynasty was able to hold its own for a while in Upper Egypt. Tanotamun was the last ruling ruler in Egypt.

Upper Egypt shared the history of Egypt from its conquest by Alexander the Great to the time when Egypt became a Roman province (30 BC). The Romans lost the middle of the 3rd century. Chr. Parts of Upper Egypt as the Dodekaschoinos the Blemmyes . After the territorial reform of Egypt under the Roman Emperor Diocletian in 297, Upper Egypt as Thebaïs was one of the three Egyptian provinces alongside Aegyptus and Lybia . The Thebais was later divided into the provinces Thebais Superior and Thebais Inferior.

After the division of the empire in AD 395 , all of Egypt became part of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine empire and initially comprised four and later six provinces. 619 AD Egypt was temporarily lost to the Sassanids . Emperor Herakleios was able to win back the province for Eastern Rome in 629 AD.

White crown of Upper Egypt in hieroglyphics
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The white crown

Middle Ages and Modern Times

From 640 AD the Arabs conquered Egypt ; The Islamic history of Egypt began with the fall of Alexandria in AD 642. The rulers were the Bahri and Burji Mamluks for a long time . The latter were subjugated by the Ottomans in 1517 , but the Mamluk rule in Egypt continued until Napoleon's invasion in 1798. As the local ruling elite, the Mamluks were able to stay in Upper Egypt until 1812 when they were subject to the troops of Muhammad Ali Pasha . In 1821 the neighboring Sudan ( Sultanate of Sannar ) was conquered. Since the construction of the Aswan Dam , the area of Lower Nubia, which belongs to Egypt around Lake Nasser, has often been included in the term Upper Egypt. In and around Luxor and Aswan are some of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt, so that today tourism is one of the most important industries.


  • Elmar Edel : About the inscriptions on the seasonal reliefs of the “World Chamber” from the Niuserre solar sanctuary. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1961.
  • Frank Feder, Angelika Lohwasser (ed.): Egypt and its environment in late antiquity. From Diocletian's assumption of government in 284/285 to the Arab conquest of the Near East around 635-646 (= Philippika. Volume 61). Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 2013, ISBN 3-447-06892-2 .
  • Ulrich Haarmann : The rule of the Mamluks. In: Ulrich Haarmann, Heinz Halm, Monika Gronke u. a .: History of the Arab world. 5th edition, Beck, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-406-47486-1 .

Coordinates: 26 °  N , 33 °  E