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Coordinates: 30°28′00″N 31°11′00″E / 30.46667°N 31.18333°E / 30.46667; 31.18333

This article is about the ancient city called Athribis in Lower Egypt; for the ancient city called Athribis in Upper Egypt, see Athribis (Upper Egypt)

Athribis or Athlibis (Greek: Ἄθλιβις or Ἀθάρραβις[1] was the Greek name for two cities of ancient Egypt: this article concerns the chief town of the Athribite, the Tenth nome, in Lower Egypt. The ancient city of Hut-Repyt in Upper Egypt, also called Athribis by the Greeks, is discussed at Athribis (Upper Egypt).


Bronze sculpture of a youth, found at Ziphteh, near Athribis, Roman, first century BC (British Museum)

A small hill, Tell Atrib, northeast of the modern town of Banha, north of Cairo, now marks its former site. Athribis stood upon the eastern bank of the Tanitic branch of the Nile, now silted up, near the angle where that branch diverges from the main stream. Ammianus Marcellinus reckons Athribis among the most considerable cities of the Nile Delta, in the fourth century AD.[2] It seems to have been of sufficient importance to give the name Athribiticus Fluvius, the "Athribitic river", to the upper portion of the Tanitic arm of the Nile. Athribis was one of the military nomes assigned to the Calasirian militia under the Pharaohs. Under the Christian Emperors, Athribis belonged to the province of Augustamnica Secunda.

The Athribite name and its capital derived their name from the goddess Thriphis, whom inscriptions both at Athribis and Panopolis denominate the most great goddess. Thriphis is associated in worship with Amun Khem, one of the first quaternion of deities in Egyptian mythology, but no representation of her has been at present identified. John Gardner Wilkinson[3] supposes Athribis to have been one of the lion-headed goddesses, whose special names have not been ascertained.

The ruins of Atrib (Atrieb or Trieb), at the point where the modern canal of Moueys turns off from the Nile, represent the ancient Athribis. Until modern times, annual flooding of the Nile helped reduce the ruins to extensive mounds and basements, besides which are the remains of a temple, 200 feet (61 m) long, and 175 broad, dedicated to the goddess Thriphis (Coptic: Athrébi). Most of the structures here can be associated with the 25th through 30th Dynasties. There is also an extensive Greek and Roman necropolis.

The monks of the White Monastery, about half a mile to the north of these ruins, are traditionally acquainted with the name for them of Attrib, although their usual designation of these ruins is Medeenet Ashaysh. An inscription on one of the fallen architraves of the temple bears the date of the ninth year of Tiberius, and contains also the name of his wife Julia, the daughter of Augustus. On the opposite face of the same block are found oval cartouches including the names of Tiberius Claudius and Caesar Germanicus: and in another part of the temple is a cartouche of Ptolemy XII, the eldest son of Ptolemy Auletes (51-48 BC).

About half a mile from Athribis are the quarries from which the stone used in building the temple was brought; and below the quarries are some small grotto tombs, the lintels of whose doors are partially preserved. Upon one of these lintels is a Greek inscription, ideentifying it as the sepulchre of Hermeius, son of Archibius. He had not, however, been interred after the Egyptian fashion, since his tomb contained the deposit of calcined bones. Vestiges also are found in two broad paved causeways of the two main streets of Athribis, which crossed each other at right angles, and probably divided the town into four main quarters. The causeways and the ruins generally indicate that the town was greatly enlarged and beautified under the Ptolemies.[4]

Athribis became the seat of a Christian bishopric, a suffragan of the metropolitan see of Leontopolis, the capital of the Roman province of Augustamnica Secunda. The names of a dozen of its bishops are known because of their participation ecumenical councils and for other reasons.[5][6][7] No longer a residential bishopric, Athribis is today listed by the Catholic Church as a titular see.[8]


  1. ^ Athribis is noted in Herodotus ii. 166, Ptolemy iv. 5. § § 41, 51, Pliny's Natural History 9.11; Stephanus of Byzantium sv.
  2. ^ Ammianus, xxii. 16.6.
  3. ^ Wilkinson, Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, vol. iv. p. 265
  4. ^ Champollion, L'Egypte, vol. ii. p. 48; Wilkinson, Egypt and Thebes, p. 393.
  5. ^ Michel Lequien, Oriens christianus in quatuor Patriarchatus digestus, Paris 1740, Vol. II, coll. 553-556
  6. ^ "Athribis" in Dictionnaire d'Histoire et de Géographie ecclésiastiques, vol. V, Paris 1931, coll. 124-125
  7. ^ Klaas A. Worp, A Checklist of Bishops in Byzantine Egypt (A.D. 325 - c. 750), in Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 100 (1994) 283-318
  8. ^ Annuario Pontificio 2013 (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2013 ISBN 978-88-209-9070-1), p. 841