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About 197 km S of Cairo, on the left side of Bahr Yusuf (present El-Bahnasa), halfway between Hermopolis Magna and Arsinoë. The shortest route to the Bahariah Oasis from the Nile Valley starts here. The ancient city was the capital of the Scepter nome, the Oxyrhynchite of the Greeks (Strab. 17.40), which was the nineteenth nome of Upper Egypt. Here they venerated the god Seth, incarnated in the oxyrhyne fish, from which the Greeks derived the name. The city flourished during the Roman and Coptic periods. During the latter period it became a monastic center, with 12 churches and a great number of monasteries. There is still to be seen a small part of a ruined Roman theater with one standing column. The fame of Oxyrhynchus depends entirely on its papyri, a few illustrated. Important Biblical fragments, texts of parts of the works of Homer, Bacchyllides, Pindar, Aristotle, and Callimachus are included. Most of the papyri, however, date from the Roman period.


D. V. Denon, Voyage dans la Basse et la Haute Égypte (1902); W. M. Flinders Petrie, Tombs of the Courtiers at Oxyrhynchus, 12-18I; A. Minto, “Nuovi papiri figurati,” Pap. della Soc. ital. 12 (1951) 213-28; A. Von Salis, “Um Löwenkopf des Herakles,” Museum Helveticum 12 (1955) 173-80; T. Kraus, “Sarapiskopf aus Oxyrhynchus,” JdI 75 (1960) 88-99; E. Brunner-Traut & V. Hell, Aegypten (1966) 499; B. Grenfell & A. Hunt, Oxyrhynchus Papyri (35 volumes published); C. C. Walters, Monastic Archaeology in Egypt (1974) 172-75.


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