New Discovery – First Hellenistic gymnasium in Egypt

First Hellenistic gymnasium in Egypt discovered at Watfa village in Fayoum
2017-11-06 15:28:34Al


A German-Egyptian archaeological mission has discovered the first Hellenistic gymnasium ever found in Egypt, located at Medinat Watfa, in the northwest of Fayoum Oasis. The mission from the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), headed by Professor Cornelia Römer, made the discovery as part of its ongoing excavations at the Watfa site.

Watfa is the location of the ancient village Philoteris, founded by king Ptolemy II in the 3rd century BCE and named after his second sister Philotera. Aymen Ashmawi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities sector at the Ministry of Antiquities, said that the gymnasium included a large meeting hall, once adorned with statues, a dining hall and a courtyard in the main building.

There is also a racetrack of nearly 200 metres in length, long enough for the typical stadium-length races of 180 metres. Generous gardens surrounded the building, completing the ideal layout for a centre of Greek learning. Römer explains that gymnasia were privately founded by rich people who wanted their villages to become even more Greek in aspect. There, she continued, the young men of the Greek speaking upper-class were trained in sports, learned to read and write, and to enjoy philosophical discussions.

All big cities of the Hellenistic world, like Athens in Greece, Pergamon and Miletus in Asia Minor, and Pompei in Italy, had such gymnasia. “The gymnasia in the Egyptian countryside were built after their pattern. Although much smaller, the gymnasium of Watfa clearly shows the impact of Greek life in Egypt, not only in Alexandria, but also in the countryside,” Römer said.

Alexander the Great, she pointed out, had made Egypt part of the Hellenistic world, and thousands of Greek-speaking settlers flocked to the land by the Nile, attracted by the new Ptolemaic empire, which promised prosperity and peace. In the Delta and Fayoum in particular, new villages were founded, in which the indigenous population lived together with the Greek newcomers. Such villages were equipped not only with Egyptian temples, but also with Greek sanctuaries.

There were also public baths, an institution very popular in the Greek world. The baths soon became places of social encounter in the villages and meeting points for the Egyptian and Greek-speaking inhabitants. Gymnasia as places of Greek culture and lifestyle were part of this Hellenistic cultural setting. Inscriptions and papyri had already witnessed the existence of gymnasia in the countryside of the Ptolemaic period. They tell of of payments for parts of the main buildings being made by rich inhabitants of the villages, and of the men who governed the institutions.

At Watfa, the first building of this kind in Egypt has now been discovered. Watfa, ancient Philoteris, was one of the many villages founded under the first Ptolemies in the middle of the 3rd century BC. In the beginning, it had around 1,200 inhabitants, two thirds of them Egyptians, and one third Greek-speaking settlers. The German Archaeological Institute has been conducting surveys and excavations at Watfa since 2010.

One important aspect of the project‘s work is teaching Egyptian students, in cooperation with a teaching program at Ain Shams University, supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).



Now we know the Egyptians were taking care of their health – just like we do today!

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Photo Of The Week – Can Feet Tell

… tall and big a person is? If the answer is yes this was a really colossal statue. A pity the rest of it got lost.

Karnak Temple in Luxor
















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Egypt – Amazing Facts You Didn’t Know About Ancient Egypt


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Egypt’s Disneyland Castle


When visiting Alexandria a look at the Al-Haramlik Palace should not be missed. It is at the end of the Cornish, next to the Helnan Palestine Hotel which overlooks the Palace and the Montazan Gardens.

It was built in 1932 as a summer residence for King Fuad. In modern times it was a summer home for King Farouk who died 1965.


Since then it has been used for official functions like visits of foreign dignitaries. But since I am not a dignitary and was ignorant of that fact the answer of the receptionist at the Helnan Palestine Hotel, where I stayed, made sense. I asked her, “What are the hours to visit the Palace?” Looking at me with  surprise and indignation, she answered, “It is only for people like Mr. Obama, your President who can stay there or visit.”


Feeling the sting I went walking in the Montazan Gardens instead. They are very beautiful and surround the Palace.









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Photo of the Week – REALLY?

What do you think? Do those little red stones really keep up the granite blocks?

Photo by Brigitte Nioche






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New Discovery of 3,500 Year-Old-Tombe

Please click on the picture to read the article – very interesting and the photos are amazing

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Photo of Week – The Key of Life

In a Wall painting at Hatshepsut’s Temple


…….called ANKH by the Egyptians.


It is one of the most recognized symbols from Ancient Egypt dating c.3150 – 2613 BC -the Early Dynastic Period, symbolizing both mortal existence and the afterlife.













On temples walls, in tomb paintings, on columns in the Great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak, painted or chiseled into stone, the ANKH plays an important part.
















Today it is still a sign of a long life and a lucky charm, sold everywhere in Egypt. And I think most of us who have been to Egypt did not pass up a chance for a long life and came home with an ANKH

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Egypt- Photos Of The Week – McDonalds and Mercedes Benz

Famous Name  Brands have a way of creeping  into the most unexpected corners of the world

The Sign Reads – McDonald behind the Luxor Temple






A Red Mercedes-Benz in Cairo’s Garbage City (Manshiyat Naser)

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Egypt’s Daily Life – Grandmothers


“Thanks Heaven –  not only for little girls – but for Grandmothers too. And Grandmother – I know because I am one myself – are mothers who have turned into a lumps of love. With unconditional devotion they cuddle, hold, kiss, and adore their grandchildren who give them their last love affair in life.

And this is true for every Grandmother anywhere in the world, including Egypt.











































How do I know these women are Grandmothers? Most women in Egypt who wear black are older qualifying them to be Grandmothers – because the young mothers in Egypt today look more like this.

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Egypt – New Discoveries

Archaeologists discover three ancient tombs in Egypt

15 August 2017
From the section
Middle East

Image caption
A sarcophagus from one of the three tombs found at burial grounds south of Cairo

Archaeologists have discovered three tombs that date back around 2,000 years in southern Egypt.
They were found in burial grounds in the Al-Kamin al-Sahrawi area in Minya province, south of Cairo.
The tombs contained a collection of different sarcophagi, or stone coffins, as well as clay fragments.
Egypt’s antiquities ministry said the discovery “suggests that the area was a great cemetery for a long span of time”.
One of the tombs, which was reached through a shaft carved in rock, contained four sarcophagi that had been sculpted to depict a human face.

Image caption in another, excavators found six burial holes, including one for the burial of a small child.

Sarcophagi which were discovered in a cemetery dating back about 2,000 years
Clay fragments found at the site date the tombs between the 27th Dynasty, founded in 525BC, and the Greco-Roman era, which lasted between 332BC and the 4th Century.
Ali al-Bakry, head of the mission, said one of the tombs contained bones believed to be the remains of “men, women and children of different ages”.
“These tombs were part of a large cemetery for a large city and not a military garrison as some suggest,” he said.
In a statement, the antiquities ministry said that “works are under way in order to reveal more secrets”.

This work follows previous excavation at the site, which began in 2015.


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