Faiyum (Arabic: الفيوم Fayyūm, Coptic: 'Ⲫⲓⲟⲙ Phiom) is a city in Middle Egypt. Located 130 km (81 mi) southwest of Cairo, it is the capital of the modern Faiyum Governorate. The town occupies part of the ancient site of Crocodilopolis. Founded in around 4000 BC, it is the oldest city in Egypt and one of the oldest cities in Africa .
Name and etymology 
Its name in English is also spelled as Fayum, Fayoum, Al Fayyum or El Faiyūm. Faiyum was previously officially named Madīnet el Faiyūm (Arabic for The City of Faiyum). The name Faiyum (and its spelling variations) may also refer to the Faiyum Oasis, although it is commonly used by Egyptians today to refer to the city.
The modern name of the city comes from Coptic 'Ⲫⲓⲟⲙ /Ⲡⲉⲓⲟⲙ efiom/peiom (whence the proper name Ⲡⲁⲓⲟⲙ payom), meaning the Sea or the Lake, which in turn comes from late Egyptian pA y-m of the same meaning, a reference to the nearby Lake Moeris.
Ancient city 
Main article: Crocodilopolis
Modern city 
Faiyum has several large bazaars, mosques, baths and a much-frequented weekly market. The canal called Bahr Yussef runs through the city, its banks lined with houses. There are two bridges over the river: one of three arches, which carries the main street and bazaar, and one of two arches, over which is built the Qaitbay mosque, that was a gift from his wife to honor the Mamluk Sultan in Fayoum. Mounds north of the city mark the site of Arsinoe, known to the ancient Greeks as Crocodilopolis, where in ancient times the sacred crocodile kept in Lake Moeris was worshipped.
The center of the city is on the canal, with the four waterwheels, that are adopted by the governorate of Fayoum as its national symbol, their chariots and bazaars are easy to spot.
Faiyum mummy portraits 
Portrait of a man, ca. 125-150 AD. Encaustic
on wood; 37 cm × 20 cm (15 in × 8 in)
Faiyum is the source of some famous death masks or mummy portraits painted during the Roman occupation of the area. The Egyptians continued their practice of burying their dead, despite the Roman preference for cremation. While under the control of the Roman Empire, Egyptian death masks were painted on wood in a pigmented wax technique called encaustic—the Faiyum mummy portraits represent this technique. While commonly believed to represent Greek settlers in Egypt, the Faiyum portraits instead reflect the complex synthesis of the predominant Egyptian culture and that of the elite Greek minority in the city.
Undisputed remains of early anthropoids date from the late Eocene and early Oligocene, about 34 million years ago, in the Fayyum area, southwest of Cairo, Egypt. One of the earliest fossil primates at Fayum is Catopithecus, dating to around 35 million years ago.
Famous Sites 
Notable people 
- Tefta Tashko-Koço, well known Albanian singer was born in Faiyum, where her family lived at that time.
- Saadia Gaon, the influential Jewish teacher of the early 10th century, was originally from Faiyum, and often called al-Fayyumi.
- Sobek, Egyptian crocodile god.
See also 
External links 
Egypt's largest cities by population