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Map of the Fayum Region in Egypt

Fayum sites, most from the Ptolemaic (ca. 330-31 BC) and Roman (31 BC-AD 410) eras After Grenfell et al. 1900).

The Fayum region, located 20-80 km west of the River Nile and 100 km south of the Nile Delta, consists of both swampland and dry, eroded badlands. The largest oasis is focused on Lake Quran (anciently called Lake Moeris).  A smaller oasis, Wadi Rayan, is located to the southwest. A few intermittant streams cross the area.

Many of the known sites within the Fayum date from the Ptolemaic-Roman era (ca 330 BC-AD 410) when the swamplands adjacent to Lake Moeris were drained or canalized, and a number of towns grew up with both Egyptian and Graeco-Roman populations.  Some earlier sites were reoccupied, and others were newly settled as the swampy areas around the lake were extensively drained. Settlement continued into the Byzantine era; a few of the later Fayum towns held Coptic monasteries.

Masses of Graeco-Roman papyrus documents have been found in certain Fayum towns by archaeologists including W. M. Flinders Petrie, Bernard Grenfell, and Arthur Hunt. Large collections have been published since 1895 from Oxyrhynchus, Tebtunis, Hawara, Karanis, and Arsinoe (or Crocodilopolis).

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