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History Of Akhmim

Introduction

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.

During the period of Christian, Coptic Akhmim was written in Sahidic Coptic: Shmin/Kmin/Kmim, which was likely pronounced as Khmin or Khmim. Since a very early date, monasteries have lived in this area. The Archimandrite Shenouda (348–466) was a monk in Athribis, near Akhmim. Several years ago, in the neighborhood of Akhmim, Nestorius, Constantinople’s exiled former patriarch, had died in at an elderly age.

At the end of the 4th century, in Panopolis, Nonnus, a Greek poet, was born. The Catholic Church’s list of titular sees contains the bishopric of Panopolis, a suffragan of Antinoë in Thebais Prima. Le Quien mentions among the Panopolis bishops, Sabinus, Menas, and Arius, a friend of Saint Pachomius who had built three sanctuaries in the city.

Archaeological diggings at Akhmim have uncovered various Christian manuscripts, including fragments of the Book of Henoch, the Gospel, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Acts of the Council of Ephesus, and many other Christian inscriptions. A very impressive temple was still standing in Akhmim in the 13th century AD, but today has fewer remains of its former glory. Nothing remains of the city as the temples have been almost destroyed, and their materials have been reused later in the Middle Ages.

The comprehensive ancient Akhmim cemeteries are yet to be extensively researched. The demolished corner of a temple from the Greco-Roman era was discovered in 1981 with monumental statues of Ramesses II and Meritamen.

Updated On May 01, 2020