According to Strabo, it was the largest city in the Thebaid, equal to Memphis in size. It also had its own constitution, an assembly with elected magistrates and judges not unlike a traditional Greek polis. Greek settlers to the city where brought over from the Peloponnese and northern Greece. The city housed temples to Greek and Egyptian gods (Zeus, Dionysus, Isis) as well as a cult for the worship of the Ptolemaic Dynasty. There was also a theater and actor's guild present in the city.
The provincial capital and hence Metropolitan archdiocese of the Late Roman province of Thebais Secunda, which had faded, was nominally restored as a Latin Metropolitan titular archbishopric in the late 19th century as Ptolemais antea Syis, renamed simply Ptolemais in 1025, Ptolemais in Thebaide in 1933.
It is vacant since decades, having had the following incumbents of the highest rank :