Upper Egypt (Arabic: صعيد مصر Saʿīd Miṣr, shortened to الصعيد es-Ṣeʿīd/es-Ṣaʿīd pronounced [es.sˤe.ˈʕiːd, es.sˤɑ.ˈʕiːd]) is the strip of land, on both sides of the Nile valley, that extends between Nubia, and downriver (northwards) to Lower Egypt.
Upper Egypt is between the Cataracts of the Nile above modern-day Aswan, downriver (northwards) to the area between Dahshur and El-Ayait, which is south of modern-day Cairo. The northern (downriver) part of Upper Egypt, between Sohag and El-Ayait, is also known as Middle Egypt.
In Pharaonic times, Upper Egypt was known as Ta Shemau which means "the land of reeds." It was divided into twenty-two districts called nomes. The first nome was roughly where modern-day Aswan is and the twenty-second was at modern Atfih (Aphroditopolis), just to the south of Cairo.
For most of pharaonic Egypt's history, Thebes was the administrative center of Upper Egypt. After its devastation by the Assyrians, its importance declined. Under the Ptolemies, Ptolemais Hermiou took over the role of Upper Egypt's capital city. Upper Egypt was represented by the tall White Crown Hedjet, and its symbols were the flowering lotus and the sedge.
In the 11th century, large numbers of pastoralists, known as Hilalians, fled Upper Egypt and moved westward into Libya and as far as Tunis. It is believed that degraded grazing conditions in Upper Egypt, associated with the beginning of the Medieval Warm Period, were the root cause of the migration.
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