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Menouthis was a sacred city in ancient Egypt, devoted to the Egyptian goddess Isis and god Serapis. The city was submerged under water in the 8th century as a result of earthquakes or a Nile flood. Its exact location remained uncertain until 2000 when an archaeological team led by Franck Goddio reported rediscovery of Menouthis underwater a little northeast of Alexandria.
In Roman Egypt, Menouthis was widely renowned as an oracular and healing cult centre of the Ancient Egyptian goddess Isis and it drew devotees from a fairly wide region. The Temple of Isis in the city contained religious statues and was decorated with hieroglyphs. In 413 AD, at a site opposite the temple, Pope Theophilus of Alexandria built a Christian shrine dedicated to the Four Evangelists. The shrine became home to the bones of the saints Cyrus and John, which were moved there from Alexandria by Cyril of Alexandria. Coptic tradition says that the pagan temple remained in use alongside the Christian shrine and the worship of Egyptian gods and their statues continued in the city.
As time went by the traditional healing function of the temple was transferred to the Christian shrine. The temple was demolished in 484 AD and the statues of the classical gods in the city were removed or destroyed in 488–9 AD. By the end of the 5th century the Christian shrine had replaced the temple as a healing centre. At the height of its popularity in the 6th and 7th centuries the shrine was one of the two principal pilgrimage centres of Christian Egypt.
In popular culture
"Menouthis" is also the name of a song by E.S. Posthumus, inspired by the ancient city.
- Frankfurter, David, ed. (1998). Pilgrimage and Holy Space in Late Antique Egypt. BRILL. ISBN 9789004111271.
- McKenzie, Judith (2007). The Architecture of Alexandria and Egypt, C. 300 B.C. to A.D. 700. The Pelican History of Art. Volume 63. Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300115550.
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