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Map of Lower Egypt
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Map of Lower Egypt; towns with papyrus documents from the Ptolemaic and Roman periods are in red (after Baines and Malek 1988, and Grenfell et al. 1900). 




Lower Egypt includes the Nile Delta, extending from Cairo (near Memphis) to the mouth of the Nile near Alexandria. Around Cairo, Lower Egypt also includes the largest pyramid complexes in Egypt, located at Giza (near Memphis), and Saqqara. These, and numeous tomb complexes around the pyramids, date mainly from the earliest Dynasties (ca. 3000-2400 BC).

Lower Egypt also includes many settlements from the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. These are common in the Nile Delta region, at sites including Tanis, Bubastis, and Naukratis. Further south,
west of the Nile in the Fayum Region between Saqqara and Oxyrhynchus, there were also many towns dating from the same timespan (330 BC-AD 410). Oxyrhynchus and other Fayum sites produced piles of Graeco-Roman papyrus documents discovered in the 1890s, providing a wealth of historical data on everyday life in the towns.

Meanwhile, a famous inscribed tablet from the Ptolemaic era was found by French soldiers in 1799 at the mouth of the Nile. This artifact, known as the Rosetta stone, contained a tri-lingual inscription in Greek, Demotic, and Hieroglyphic scripts. This discovery led to the early 19th century decipherment of the Egyptian hieroglyphs by Young and Champollion, beginning the study of Egyptology.


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