History Of Akhmim
Geographically, Akhmim belongs to the Sohag province in Upper Egypt. The city has had a wide variety of names in the past. The ancient Egyptians referred to it either as Apu, Khent-min, or Ipu. While the ancient Greeks called the town Chemmis, Panopolis, or Khemmis. It is said that Yuya, an official of kings Amenhotep III and Tuthmosis IV was a native of Akhmim.
Inhabitants of Akhmim worshipped Min as “the strong Horus”. Min was an ithyphallic deity identified with pan by the Greeks. The temple in Akhmim was dedicated to Perseus. It was recorded by the Greek philosopher, Herodotus that the citizens of Chemmis stood out in their festivals which commemorated Perseus in a similar pattern to the Greeks’ style of organizing games and giving out prizes to the winners. Some artistic depictions show Nubians as well as occupants of parts of present day Eritrea and Sudan (known then as Punt) worshiping Min and climbing up poles to pay obeisance to the deity.
However, it is possible that Herodotus mistook Coptos for Chemmis. The reason is because Min was a deity revered along the desert routes in eastern Egypt, it is therefore likely that travelers converged at Coptos, rather than Chemmis, both for business purposes and for the pleasurable festivals in honor of Min.
In the Christian Coptic era, Akhmim was written in Sahidic Coptic: Shmin/Kmin/Kmim but was probably pronounced locally something like Khmin or Khmim. Monasteries abounded in this region from a very early date. Shenouda the Archimandrite (348–466) was a monk at Athribis near Akhmim. Some years earlier Nestorius, the exiled ex-patriarch of Constantinople, had died at an old age in the neighborhood of Akhmim.
Nonnus, the Greek poet, was born at Panopolis at the end of the 4th century. The bishopric of Panopolis, a suffragan of Antinoë in Thebais Prima, is included in the Catholic Church’s list of titular sees. Among the bishops of Panopolis, Le Quien mentions Arius, a friend of Saint Pachomius who had built three convents in the city, Sabinus, and Menas.
Excavations at Akhmim have disclosed numerous Christian manuscripts, among them fragments of the Book of Henoch, of the Gospel, and of the Apocalypse of Peter, the Acts of the Council of Ephesus, as well as numerous other Christian inscriptions. In the 13th century AD, a very imposing temple still stood in Akhmim. Today, little of its past glory remains. Nothing is left of the town, the temples were almost completely dismantled, and their material reused in the later Middle Ages.
The extensive cemeteries of ancient Akhmim are yet to be fully explored. The destroyed corner of a Greco-Roman period temple with colossal statues of Ramesses II and Meritamen were discovered in 1981.