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Map of Pyramid sites adjacent to Fayum

Map of Pyramid sites from Cairo south to the Fayum region. Also shown is the ancient extent of Lake Moeris (dark green) compared to today's Lake Qarun (lt. blue).

Both the environment, settlement pattern, and ceremonial architecture in the Fayum contrasts with those along the Nile Valley from the area of Cairo to the south. Pyramid sites were largely confined to the Nile Valley where the earliest concentrated settlements occurred amid seasonal flooding of farmlands along the river.

In the transitional zone between the Nile and the Fayum, several sites with pyramids dating from the 4th through the 12th Dynasties occur on the eastern edges of the  Fayum, including Lisht, Medum, Lahun, and Hawara. Hawara and Lahun are both on the small Bahr Yusif river which flows south to the Nile. Most sites in the Fayum, however, which are not located on river floodplains, lack pyramids.

Settlement in the Fayum
first occurred at swampy, freshwater oases amid dry badland zones.The largest oasis is focused on Lake Quran (anciently called Lake Moeris), with a smaller oasis, Wadi Rayan, to the southwest. Both were considerably larger in Ptolemaic and Roman times (ca 330 BC-AD 410) when many of the sites within the Fayum grew up as the swamplands were drained and canalized. Farming was here controlled by waterworks related to canals and lake access, instead of the seasonal alluviation along the Nile floodplains.

In the Ptolemaic era which combined late Egyptian and Graeco-Roman customs, temples in the Fayum were erected to both Hellenistic deities, and various deities of local importance such as Sobek, the Crocodile god.


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