Lower Egypt

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Map of Upper Egypt showing important sites that were occupied during the Protodynastic Period of Egypt (clickable map)
Deshret, the Red Crown of Lower Egypt
Map of Lower Egypt with its historical nomes

Lower Egypt (Egyptian Arabic:Maṣr El-sofla) is the northernmost region of Egypt: the fertile Nile Delta, between Upper Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea — from El-Aiyat, south of modern-day Cairo, and Zawyet Dahshur.


In ancient times, Pliny the Elder (N.H. 5.11) said that upon reaching the delta the Nile split into seven branches (from east to west): the Pelusiac, the Tanitic, the Mendesian, the Phatnitic, the Sebennytic, the Bolbitine, and the Canopic. Today there are two principal channels that the Nile takes through the river's delta: one in the west at Rashid and one in the east at Damietta.

The delta region is well watered, crisscrossed by channels and canals.

The climate in Lower Egypt is milder than that of Upper Egypt owing primarily to its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea. Temperatures are less extreme and rainfall is more abundant.


Lower Egypt was known as Ta-Mehu which means "land of papyrus." It was divided into twenty districts called nomes, the first of which was at el-Lisht. Because Lower Egypt was mostly undeveloped scrubland, undeveloped for human life and filled with all types of plant life such as grasses and herbs, the organization of the nomes underwent several changes.

The capital of Lower Egypt was Memphis. Its patron Goddess was the cobra goddess Wadjet. Lower Egypt was represented by the Low Red Crown Deshret, and its symbols were the papyrus and the bee.

By about 3600 BC, neolithic Egyptian societies along the Nile River had based their culture on the raising of crops and the domestication of animals.[1] Shortly after 3600 BC Egyptian society began to grow and advance rapidly toward refined civilization.[2] A new and distinctive pottery, which was related to the pottery in the Southern Levant, appeared during this time. Extensive use of copper became common during this time.[2] The Mesopotamian process of sun-dried bricks, and architectural building principles—including the use of the arch and recessed walls for decorative effect—became popular during this time.[2]

Concurrent with these cultural advances, a process of unification of the societies and towns of the upper Nile River, or Upper Egypt, occurred. At the same time the societies of the Nile Delta, or Lower Egypt also underwent a unification process.[2] Warfare between Upper and Lower Egypt occurred often.[2] During his reign in Upper Egypt, King Narmer defeated his enemies on the Delta and merged both the Kingdom of Upper and Lower Egypt under his single rule.[3]

List of kings of the Predynastic Period of Lower Egypt[edit]

The Palermo stone, a royal annal written in the mid Fifth Dynasty (c. 2490 BC – c. 2350 BC) records a number of kings reigning over Lower Egypt before Narmer. These are completely unattested outside these inscriptions:


In contrast the following kings are attested through archeological finds from Sinai and Lower Egypt: Double Falcon, Crocodile.

List of nomes[edit]

Number Egyptian Name Capital Modern name of capital site Translation
1 Aneb-Hetch Ineb Hedj / Men-nefer / Menfe (Memphis) Mit Rahina White Walls
2 Khensu Khem (Letopolis) Ausim Cow's thigh
3 Ahment Imu (Apis) Kom el-Hisn West
4 Sapi-Res Ptkheka Tanta Southern shield
5 Sap-Meh Zau (Sais) Sa el-Hagar Northern shield
6 Khaset Khasu (Xois) Sakha Mountain bull
7 A-ment (Hermopolis Parva, Metelis) Damanhur West harpoon
8 A-bt Tjeku / Per-Atum (Heroonpolis, Pithom) Tell al-Maskhuta East harpoon
9 Ati Djed (Busiris) Abu Sir Bara Andjeti
10 Ka-khem Hut-hery-ib (Athribis) Banha (Tell Atrib) Black bull
11 Ka-heseb Taremu (Leontopolis) Tell al-Urydam Heseb bull
12 Theb-ka Tjebnutjer (Sebennytos) Samanud Calf and Cow
13 Heq-At Iunu (Heliopolis) Materiya (suburb of Cairo) Prospering Sceptre
14 Khent-abt Tjaru (Sile, Tanis) Tell Abu Sefa Eastmost
15 Tehut Ba'h / Weprehwy (Hermopolis Parva) Baqliya Ibis
16 Kha Djedet (Mendes) Tell al-Rubˁ Fish
17 Semabehdet Semabehdet (Diospolis Inferior) Tell el-Balamun The throne
18 Am-Khent Per-Bastet (Bubastis) Tell Bastah (near Zagazig) Prince of the South
19 Am-Pehu Dja'net (Leontopolis Tanis) Tell Nebesha or San el-Hagar Prince of the North
20 Sopdu Per-Sopdu Saft al-Henna Plumed Falcon

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Carl Roebuck, The World of Ancient Times (Charles Scribner's Sons Publishing: New York, 1966) p. 51.
  2. ^ a b c d e Carl Roebuck, The World of Ancient Times (Charles Scribner's Sons: New York, 1966) p. 52-53.
  3. ^ Carl Roebuck, The World of Ancient Times (Charles Scribner's Sons Publishers: New York, 1966), p. 53.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Breasted (1909) p.36