The location of El Menya
Minya is the capital of Minya Governorate in Upper Egypt. It is located approximately 245 km (152 mi) south of Cairo on the western bank of the Nile River, which flows north through the city, is considered to be one of the most important governorates of Upper Egypt because of its special location in the middle way between Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt, or the Northern and Southern of Egypt. This is besides the variety of monuments that the governorate hosts that go back to different eras from the Pharonic era to the modern times.
Al Menya is stretched over a distance that ranges around 135 kilometers on both banks of the Nile with 18 kilometers wide from the east to the west. The size of the city is approximately 32 thousand kilometers and its populations reach a number of 4 million Egyptians.
The name of the governorate, Al Menya, went through a large process of evolution to reach its modern name today. It was called Men’at Khofu, or the town of the breast feeder of Khufu, as it is shown in the inscriptions in the tombs of Beni Hassan. Afterwards, it was called “Mony” in the ancient Coptic language which means the house or the store. The third name of governorate was Menya Ibn Khaseeb when the army leader Ibn Khaseeb wished to be its governor and eventually, the Caliph of the Abbasids at the time, Harun El Rashid, granted him the governorate and assigned him as its ruler. Then, it was called Menya el Fooly referring to the famous Moslem religious scholar, Ahmed Al Fooly.
Köppen-Geiger climate classification system classifies its climate as hot desert (BWh). Luxor, Minya, Sohag, Qena and Asyut have the widest difference of temperatures between days and nights of any city in Egypt, with almost 16 °C (29 °F) difference. The city of Minya is located tightly between two ranges of about 500 m (1,600 ft)-mountains on both western and eastern sides, and interestingly falls away from the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Hence, these conditions give the city, nearby towns and villages similar properties of continental climate. Meaning that the city has harsh and chilly cold winter weather, and very hot but non-humid summers. During summertime, temperatures could reach 40 °C (104 °F), while winter in Minya sees temperatures drop to below 0 °C (32 °F) levels at night. While hail or snow are extremely rare due to Minya’s low precipitation averages, frost will occasionally form on cold winter nights. The average annual rainfall in Minya is 5.3 mm (0.21 in).
History of Minya
During the Predynastic Period (before 3100 BC), the area encompassing modern day Minya and its surrounding lands formed the 16th nome (district). It remained an autonomous city-state until the ruler Menes unified Egypt around 3200 BC. At the time of its unification, Egypt was divided into 42 nomes. The 16th nome was also called the Oryx nome, probably due to the prevalence of the Oryx, one of the antelope species that inhibited the area.
After the unification of Egypt, the provincial capital of the 16th nome emerged as an important center of trade. It was opposite a trade route to the Red Sea along which the Levantine traders carrying their goods from Sinai and Canaan travelled. During later times of the Old Kingdom, the name of the city was changed to Men’at Khufu, linking it to the Pharaoh Khufu or Cheops (reigning around 2550 BC) founder of the Great Pyramid at Giza as it was believed that he was born there. The city of Men’at Khufu has not been located but it is thought to be located on the west bank of the Nile in the vicinity of the modern day Minya.
With the rise of the 12th Dynasty, the powers of Minya rulers were forcibly reduced by the Pharaoh Amenemhat II (1929–1895 BC). By the end of the 12th dynasty, the role and the power of the rulers of Minya were functionally eliminated.
During the Second Intermediate Period, Minya with the rest of Lower and Middle Egypt fell under the control of the Hyksos. It appears that Minya’s rulers actually supported the Hyksos 15th Dynasty rulers against the native Egyptian pharaohs of the 16th and 17th dynasties. Towards the end of the Second Intermediate Period when the Theban Pharaohs started their struggle to expel the Hyksos out of Egypt, Minya was the site where the first major battle of this conflict took place. In 1552 BC, Kamose, the last Pharaoh of the 17th dynasty marched his Medjay troops north to Nefrusy few miles to the south of Minya and there he defeated the army of a man called Teti son of Pepi, who is said to have transformed Minya into a “nest of the Asiatics”. This was the first major defeat for the Hyksos which later would encourage Ahmose I, the younger brother of Kamose, to march north and expel the Hyksos out of Egypt for good around 1540 BC.
Al Menya was the capital of Egypt in (1373 – 1390) BC when Ikhnaton and the beautiful queen, Nefertiti, lived there in the small village of Tel El Amarna in the Markez of Malawi the center of the worship of the God Aten. This was the first time in the Egyptian history when the Egyptians worshiped one god, changing the religion that encouraged worshiping many gods specially the famous god of Amun.
The bride of Upper Egypt had an important role in other stages of theEgyptian history. In the Roman era, it was the center of the worship of the god Thut, the god of wisdom and knowledge, while in the Copts era the church of the Virgin Mary was built in Al Menya in the same time the Church of Al Resurrection was built in Jerusalem. The holy Family has stayed in Al Menya for a while as well during their holy journey.
In the Islamic period Al Menya was proud to be visited by a number of the prophet’s companions and Al el Beit when the two most famous Moslem army leaders, Khaled Ibn El Walid and Amr Ibn Al Aas who built the historical mosque of Al Hassan, the son of Al Saleh, the son of Zein Al Abdeen, the grandson of the prophet Mohamed, peace be upon him.
The governorate even had more pride when the prophet Mohamed, peace be upon him, married a lady from Al Menya, Marya the Copt.
Agriculture plays a major role in the lives of the residents of Al Menya as there is 550,000 acres of cultivated land with qam7, onions, sugar cane that represents around 6% of all the cultivated land of Egypt. Ma7asee; –0 Al Menya is also famous for producing raw materials for glass and ceramic production. Al Menya is famous for the production of different kinds of Egyptian cheese as well.
What to see in El-Minya?
Tell El Amarana
King Akhenaten called his new capital Akhetaten, *Horizon of the Aten* and ordered it to be builit in a broad valley basin on the eastern bank of the Nile. Today, the site lies around 9 miles (15km) south of his reign the king had resided in thebes as Amenophis IV . He soon changed his name to Akhenanten.
Tel Al Amarna hosts two groups of tombs: The first is located to the north of the town and the other is located to the south of the city. These tombs are famous for their wall drawings and inscriptions that represented the life at the time of Ikhnaton and the religious revolution he led.
The royal tomb of Akhenaton is located in a small narrow valley six kilometers away from the wide valley that separates the northern and southern parts of the city.
It is noted that most of the tombs of Tel Al Amarna was not completed and a very small number of tombs were actually used as a burial place for the bodies of the royal family and their acquaints. There are 25 tombs that are numbered 1 to 6 in the north and 6 to 25 in the south.
The Tombs & Places that are Worth Visiting are:
The Tomb of Hoya
he was the watcher of the Harem, or ladies section in for the king Akhenaton. There is an attractive portrait of the king and his family to the right side in the entrance of the tomb.
The Tomb of Ahmos
Ahmos was one of the servants who held the fans marwa7a for the king and there is statue representing him in his tomb.
The tomb of Meriri
Meriri was the grand priest of the worship of Aten and drawings of the Pharo, Akhenaton visiting the city and the temple of the city are present richly all over the tomb.
The Tomb of Maho
This tomb is among the best preserved tombs in Tell Al Amarna and Maho was the leader of the police in the period of Akhenaton
The Tomb of Ay
This is the best and most beautiful tomb in Tell Al Amarana and it includes drawings of the royal life and the common street life of the city as well. There is also a remarkable drawing of the king Akhenaton and his wife Nefertiti presenting gold bracelets to Ay and his wife.
The North palace
Eighteenth Dynasty, c a . 1345 B.C. The large number of palaces in Akhetaten raise the question as to which of them served as a home for Akhenaten and his family. The vast complex of the central palace west of the Royal Road (ca. 1794 sq yds. 1500 m2 ). Which was joined by a bridge to the royal buildings on the other side of the thoroughfare, seems to have been used for purely reprehensive purposes The remain of the North palace are better preserved. They feature two great courtyards and a lake leading on to covered and pillared halls and a throne room all of which lie along a central axis. To the sides of the building are areas which were largely devoted to functional uses. This relatively modest building however has more the character of a ceremonial palace and was therefore probably not the king’s home. The River palace in the far north of the city is more likely to have served this purpose. Although it has never been fully excavated, it was equipped with all the features neces- sary for permanent residence.
Temples of Aten
In a time of religious upheaval, the Great Temple of Aten and the smaller Mansion of the Aten were constructed in the new city of Akhenaten (near modern day Tell el Amarna). The city was hastily built as the new religious and political capital of Egypt during the reign of Akhenaten, a pharaoh that attempted to change religious practices by elevating Aten, the sun god, above all others.
Visiting the temples, you’ll see a difference in the art that adorns the temples; people are portrayed in a highly stylized fashion performing everyday activities under the rays of Aten, the sun god. Not much survived the reign of Akhenaten; after the pharaoh died he was declared a heretic, the city of Akhenaten was destroyed and his name and the names of his family and successors were removed from public buildings.
Boundary stela A Eighteenth Dynasty, ca. 1345 B.C. The decree founding the new capital was recorded on14(15) huge rock steal which encircled the city and also served as boundary stones. Eleven(twelve) often in access. Ible stones mark the sity boundary in the eastern range of hills three others were positioned on the western bank of the Nile at tuna el .gable , including the so .called boundary steal of Akhenaten and Nefertiti (sometimes of their daughters too) were often added to the inscriptions, here they car de seen with outstretched arms bringing offerings.
Boundary stela c Eighteenth Dynasty, ca. 1345 B.C. the use of boundary stones to provide a visual marker for fields or even for prove. Incas (nomes) was known below the Amana period, but the definition of an urban area with rock steal can only be understood in terms of particular cultic and topographical considerations.
Tombs of Beni Hassan
Known as the Tombs of Beni Hassan, this Ancient Egyptian cemetery was used and built for provincial governors during the Middle Kingdom over an older burial site used during the Old Kingdom period. The tombs reflect shifts in political power between the pharaoh and governors. When pharaohs were weak governors became powerful hereditary rulers and when the pharaoh centralized power, they appointed the governors.
In all there are 39 tombs. The most important are the tombs of:
The tomb of Kheity
Kheity was the ruler of the town of Orikes in the era of the 11th dynasty around 2000 years BC. The drawings on the walls of the tomb demonstrate the life of the middle kingdom.
The Tomb of Baqete
Baqete was the father of Kheity and its walls are decorated with strange drawings of wrestlers and dears. There are also drawings of men hunting wild animals.
Tomb of Khenomoheteb
It’s a fine-looking tomb and Khenomoheteb served as a ruler in the period of Amenmehat 1820 years BC. Colored paintings that represent the life of Khenomoheteb decorate the tomb.
Tomb of Amenemhet
Twelfth Dynasty, ca. 1920 B.C. The tombs of Amenemhet is without doubt one of the finest in Beni Hassan. The cult chamber is organized by four rows of 16- sided , finely fluted columns. Its main axis is oriented towards a large statue niche in the eastern wall containing a seated image of Ameni (an abbreviated name of the tomb owner ) with figures of his wife and mother.
These tombs have great reliefs that depict fishing, hunting, weaving, bird trapping, travel and warfare. You’ll also see rare full frontal face illustrations that are outstanding. A visit to the tombs is a full day excursion from Cairo because it takes over 3 hours to get here. The use of the camera flash is strictly prohibited inside the tombs to protect the paintings.
Istabl Antar (Speos Artemidos)
The Speos Artemidos (Grotto of Artemis) is an archaeological site in Egypt. It is located about 2 km south of the Middle Kingdom tombs at Beni Hasan, and about 28 km south of Al Minya. Today, the site is a small village known as Istabl Antar.
There are two temples here, both of which are dedicated to Pakhet. They are cut out of the rock into the cliffs on the eastern side of the Nile. One of the temples, built by Queen Hatshepsut, has an architrave bearing a long dedicatory text with her famous denunciation of the Hyksos.
An earlier temple was probably located here, but no traces older than that of Hatshepsut have been found. The decorations inside have been usurped by Seti I in places, his name replacing that of Hatshepsut.
Hermopolis and Tuna El-Gabel
Capital of the 15th Egyptian *Hare* nome, the city of Hermopolis lies some 186 miles (300 KM) south of cairo on the west bank of the Nile. While the Arabic nameAshmunein is reflected in the ancient Egyptian place name of*chemenu,* the word Hermopolis refers to the Greek god Hermes, who was believed to be the equiv- alent of local deity, thoth, Hermopolis was an important religious center and home to the eight primeval gods of the Egyptian pantheon.
it was a very important section in the Roman period and it served as a burial site for the town. Tuna Al Jebel contains burial homes with wall paintings that are very unique because it was created as a mixture between the roman and ancient Egyptian art. Excavation work is still going on in this area and the scientists discover new findings every now and then. The area has many worth visiting tombs like the tomb of Petozeris, the tomb of Azadora, and the tomb of the god Tehot.
Tomb Chapel of petosiris
Late 4th century B.C. The history of the tuna al-Gebel nercrop- oils begins in the New kingdom, although the character of the Area is determined by its Greek and Romanbuildings. The most splendid of the tombs was built by the High priest of Thoth in Hermopolis, petosiris, shortly before the beginning of Ptolemaic rule in Egypt.
Designed as a typical family tomb both the occupant’s father, Nes-shu, and brother, Djed-Djehuti-iuef0ankh, were interred here.
The tomb’s superstructure is in the from of a small temple with a columned façade; the scenes carved on the partitions depict petosiris making sacri- fices.
. The tomb is famed for the mixed Greek and Egyptian styles of its images Reliefs in the portico featuring agricultural scens and depictions of artisans empha- size the Greek component, while the relig- ious motifs of the adjoining chapel with its four pillars are entirely derived from the Egyptian tradition. Although the tomb was already plundered in antiquity, the French archeologisits who excavated the tomb in 1920 were still able to make an astonishing find by unearthing petosiri’s wooden inner coffin which is remarkable for its glass-inlaid hieroglyphic text.
The lbis Catacombs
Lateperiod/Ptolemaic period, 6th-1st century B.C.
A short distance from the tomb of petosiris the visitor can descend, through an unre- mark able entrance, to the subterranean galleries of the animal cemetery. This complicated network of corridors and chambers once served as a place of both veneration and burial for hamadryad baboons and ibis—animals sacred to thoth, the god of wisdom.
The roman water wheel
It goes back to the roman period and was built out of red rocks and it is 200 feet deep.
Baboon Figure of Thoth
Eighteenth Dynasty, ca.1380 B.C.
Fragments from originally eight colossal boboon figures made of brown quartzite were salvaged from the foundations of the Ptolemaic thoth temple; they had benn donated to the court temple during the reign of Amenophis III. Reflecting the epithet of thoth as * Lord of the Ogdoad.* Each of the figures weighs over 35 tons and has a height of some 15 feet (4.5 m). in spite of their huge size, the charactereristtics of these sacred animals have been perfectly rendered.
The monuments of Sheikh Abada
In the year 130 BC the Roman emperor, hardian built this city which was also an important city in the Pharonic ear where the ruins of a huge temple of Ramses ll was discovered. In the Islamic era, Sheikh Abada Ibn Al Samet chose this area to build his mosque that was named after him. Maria, the wife of the prophet Mohamed also used to live in this area.
The The monastery of Abu Al Barsha
Located on the east bank of the Nile opposite of the town of Malawi and it can be reached by car. The monastery contains a number of drawings and portraits of the Christian life.
Coptic,5th century The gigantic basilica of Hermopolis which gave its name to nearby kom el-kenisa (Hill of the Church) is among the largest (around 213 feet; 65 m long ) of the churches built in early Christian Egypt. Constructed between 410 and 440 A.D., it was dedicated to the virgin mary. Although the walls have largely been destroyed, a number of red granite columns have been re-erected. These section and lined the apses at the sider.
The necropolis known as the Fraser Tombs is located about 10 km northeast of Al Minya, and about 2 km south of Tihna el-Gebel, in Middle Egypt.
The rock-cut tombs date back to the fourth and fifth dynasties of the Old Kingdom.
These tombs were first discovered in fall of 1853 by the German Egyptologist Heinrich Brugsch and first described by the British civil engineer George Willoughby Fraser, whose name was given to these tombs.
Zawyet el-Maiyitin or Zawyet Sultan or Zawyet el-Amwat is a small village in Egypt, located in the Minya Governorate.
The site has a small step-pyramid of the late 3rd Dynasty, remarkable for being the only pyramid built on the east bank of the Nile. It also comprises rock-cut tombs of the late Old Kingdom.