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Upper Egypt

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Map of Lower and Upper Egypt

Upper Egypt is a narrow strip of land on both sides of the Nile that extends from modern-day Aswan to the area south of modern-day Cairo. The northern part of Upper Egypt, between El-Aiyat and Asyut is sometimes called Middle Egypt.

Upper Egypt was known as Ta Shemau [1] which means "the land of reeds."[2] It was divided into twenty-two districts called nomes.[3] The first nome was roughly where modern Aswan is and the twenty-second was at modern Atfih (Aphroditopolis), just to the south of Cairo.

For most of pharaonic Egypt's history Thebes was the administrative centre of Upper Egypt. [4]

Upper Egypt was represented by the tall White Crown Hedjet, and its symbol was the flowering lotus.


  • Ermann, Johann Peter Adolf; Hermann Grapow, eds., Wörterbuch der ägyptischen Sprache
  • The Encyclopedia Americana Grolier Incorporated, 1988
  • Katheryn A. Bard, Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, Routledge 1999
  • Michel Chauveau, Egypt in the Age of Cleopatra: History and Society Under the Ptolemies, Cornell University Press 2000
  • Ann Rosalie David, The Egyptian Kingdoms, Elsevier Phaidon 1975


  1. Ermann & Grapow, op.cit. Wb 5, 227.4-14
  2. Ermann & Grapow, op.cit. Wb 4, 477.9-11
  3. The Encyclopedia Americana, p.34
  4. Under the Ptolemies the city of Ptolemais took over the role of capital of Upper Egypt. See: Chauveau, op.cit., p.68

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