Nome (Egypt)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Map of the nomes of lower Egypt
Map of the nomes of upper Egypt

A nome (/nm/,[1] from Greek: νομός, nomós, “district”) was a subnational administrative division of ancient Egypt. Today's use of the Greek νομή, nomé rather than the Egyptian term sepat came about during the Ptolemaic period, when use of Greek was widespread in Egypt. The availability of Greek records on Egypt influenced the adoption of Greek terms by later historians.


Dynastic Egypt[edit]

See also: Ancient Egypt

The division of ancient Egypt into nomes can be traced back to the Predynastic Period (before 3100 BC). These nomes originally existed as autonomous city-states[citation needed], but later began to unify. According to ancient tradition, the ruler Menes completed the final unification.[2]

Not only did the division into nomes remain in place for more than three millennia, the areas of the individual nomes and their ordering remained remarkably stable. Some, like Xois in the Delta or Khent in Upper Egypt, were first mentioned on the Palermo stone, which was inscribed in the Fifth Dynasty. The names of a few, like the nome of Bubastis, appeared no earlier than the New Kingdom. Under the system that prevailed for most of pharaonic Egypt's history, the country was divided into 42 nomes.

Lower Egypt, from the Old Kingdom capital Memphis to the Mediterranean Sea, comprised 20 nomes. The first was based around Memphis, Saqqara, and Giza, in the area occupied by modern-day Cairo. The nomes were numbered in a more or less orderly fashion south to north through the Nile delta, first covering the territory on the west before continuing with the higher numbers to the east. Thus, Alexandria was in the Third Nome; Bubastis was in the Eighteenth.

Upper Egypt was divided into 22 nomes. The first of these was centered on Elephantine close to Egypt's border with Nubia at the First Cataract – the area of modern-day Aswan. From there the numbering progressed downriver in an orderly fashion along the narrow fertile strip of land that was the Nile valley. Waset (ancient Thebes or contemporary Luxor) was in the Fourth Nome, Amarna in the Fourteenth, and Meidum in the Twenty-first.

Ptolemaic Egypt[edit]

See also: Ptolemaic Egypt

Some nomes were added or renamed during the Graeco-Roman occupation of Egypt.[3] For example, the Ptolemies renamed the Crocodilopolitan nome to Arsinoe. Hadrian created a new nome, Antinoopolites, for which Antinoopolis was the capital.

Roman Egypt[edit]

See also: Roman Egypt

The nomes survived into Roman times. Under Roman rule, individual nomes minted their own coinage, the so-called "nome coins," which still reflect individual local associations and traditions. The nomes of Egypt retained their primary importance as administrative units until the fundamental rearrangement of the bureaucracy during the reigns of Diocletian and Constantine.

From AD 307/8, their place was taken by smaller units called pagi. Eventually powerful local officials arose who were called pagarchs, through whom all patronage flowed. The pagarch's essential role was as an organizer of tax-collection. Later the pagarch assumed some military functions as well. The pagarchs were often wealthy landowners who reigned over the pagi from which they originated.


For most of the history, each nome was headed by a nomarch. The position of the nomarch was at times hereditary, while at others they were appointed by the pharaoh. Generally, when the national government was stronger, nomarchs were the king's appointed governors. When the central government was weaker, however—such as during foreign invasions or civil wars—individual nomes would assert themselves and establish hereditary lines of succession. Conflicts among these different hereditary nomarchies were common, most notably during the First Intermediate Period, a time that saw a breakdown in central authority lasting from the 7th–11th dynasties which ended when one of the local rulers became strong enough to again assert control over the entire country as pharaoh.

List of nomes[edit]

The nomes are listed in separate tables for Upper and Lower Egypt.

Lower Egypt[edit]

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

Upper Egypt[edit]

Number Egyptian Name Capital Modern Capital Translation
1 𓈶 (Ta-Seti) 𓍋𓃀𓃰𓅱𓎶𓈊 Abu / Yebu (Elephantine) Aswan Land of the bow
2 𓈷 (Wetjes-Hor) 𓌥𓃀𓊖 Djeba (Apollonopolis Magna) Edfu Throne of Horus
3 𓈸 (Nekhen) Nekhen (Hierakonpolis) El Kab Shrine
4 𓈹 (Waset) Niwt-rst / Waset (Thebes) Karnak Sceptre
5 𓈺 (Herui) 𓎤𓃀𓅂𓊖 Gebtu (Coptos) Qift The two falcons
6 𓈻 (Iqer) Iunet / Tantere (Tentyra) Dendera The crocodile
7 𓈼 (Seshesh) Seshesh (Diospolis Parva) Hu Sistrum
8 𓈽 (Abdju) 𓍋𓃀𓈋𓊖 Abdju (Abydos) El Birba Great land
9 𓈾 (Min) Apu / Khen-min (Panopolis) Akhmim Min
10 𓈿/𓉀 (Wadjet) Djew-qa / Tjebu (Antaeopolis) Qaw El Kebir Cobra
11 𓉁/𓉂 (Set) Shashotep (Hypselis) Shutb The creature associated with Set
12 𓉃 (Tu-ph) Viper mountain
13 𓉄 (Atef-Khent) Zawty (z3wj-tj, Lycopolis) Asyut Upper Sycamore and Viper
14 𓉅 (Atef-Pehu) Qesy (Cusae) El Qusiya Lower Sycamore and Viper
15 𓉆 (Wenet) Khemenu (Hermopolis Magna) El Ashmounein Hare[4]
16 𓉇 (Ma-hedj) Herwer? Hur? Oryx[4]
17 𓉈 (Anpu) Saka (Cynopolis) El Qais Anubis
18 𓉉/𓉊 (Sep) Teudjoi / Hutnesut (Alabastronopolis) El Hiba Set
19 𓉋 (Uab) Per-Medjed (Oxyrhynchus) El Bahnasa Two Sceptres
20 𓉌 (Atef-Khent) Henen-nesut (Herakleopolis Magna) Ihnasiya Southern Sycamore
21 𓉍 (Atef-Pehu) Shenakhen / Semenuhor (Crocodilopolis, Arsinoe) Faiyum Northern Sycamore
22 𓉎/𓉏 (Maten) 𓁶𓏤𓃒𓏪𓊖 Tepihu (Aphroditopolis) Atfih Knife



  1. ^ Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition. Merriam-Webster, 2007. p. 841
  2. ^ Herodotus, Euterpe, 2.4.1 and 2.99.1ff.
  3. ^ Bagnall, Roger S. (1996). Egypt in Late Antiquity (Fourth printing ed.). Princeton: Princeton University Press. p. 333. ISBN 0691069867. Retrieved 2 February 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Wolfram Grajetzki, The Middle Kingdom of ancient Egypt: history, archaeology and society. London, Duckworth Egyptology, 2006, pp. 109-111


  • Bagnall, Roger S. (1996), Egypt in Late Antiquity, Princeton: Princeton University Press .
  • Bowman, Alan K. (1990), Egypt after the Pharaohs, Oxford: Oxford University Press .

External links[edit]