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Flowing Landscapes, Moving Towns: The Case of Ancient Mendes and Thmuis (Nile Delta, Egypt)

For most of antiquity, the Mendesian nome, located in the north-eastern Nile Delta, was traversed by a branch of the Nile called, like the nome itself, ‘Mendesian’, alluding to Mendes, the nome’s pre-Roman capital. Bordering today’s Menzaleh Lake, this territory was rich in marshy zones and had direct access to the Mediterranean Sea. Such hydrological features and its strategic maritime and fluvial location allowed for diverse agro and industrial activities, making Mendes a very prosperous commercial and religious centre and under the 29th dynasty (399–380 BC), Egypt’s capital. In the Roman period, Mendes was gradually superseded by the nearby urban zone of Thmuis, which became the nome’s metropolis. When and how did this transfer take place? What role did the evolution of the Mendesian river branch play for these fraternal-twin towns? Were other causes involved?


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