Medinat Madi

Al Fayoum

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This ancient city is one of the most isolated in Al Fayoum, but this is part of its appeal, as you’re often alone out in the blowing sand that drifts over the heads of the stone sphinxes. Medinat Madi (Arabic for ‘City of the Past’) is noted for a well-preserved Middle Kingdom temple, few of which have survived in Egypt. It is dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek and the cobra goddess Renenutet, built by Amenemhat III and Amenemhat IV.

Italian excavations in the early 20th century uncovered an archive of Greek texts, that refer to the city as Narmouthis. They also found a separate crocodile-cult temple where the beasts appear to have been bred in captivity – a cache of eggs was found, along with bodies of the creatures in various stages of development. Often they were sacrificed when still quite young.

Visiting requires a 4WD vehicle, as there is no real track to the site.