Archeologists discover ancient gymnasium near Cairo

Archaeologists Egypt antiquities

Fayoum, Egypt, 1008 photo by Hussain92, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license


CAIRO (AP) – Egypt’s antiquities ministry says archaeologists have discovered remnants of an ancient gymnasium dating back about 2,300 years, from the Hellenistic period.

The discovery was made by a German-Egyptian mission at the site of Watfa in Fayoum province, about 80 kilometers, or 50 miles, southwest of the capital, Cairo.

Watfa is the site of the ancient village of Philoteris, founded by King Ptolemy II in the 3rd century BC.

Ayman Ashmawi of the ministry says the gymnasium consists of a large meeting hall, once adorned with statues, a dining hall, a courtyard and a nearly 200-meter-long racetrack.

Cornelia Roemer, head of the mission, says the discovery clearly shows the impact of Greek life in Egypt, not only in Alexandria, but also in the countryside.

In the 10th century, Fayoum became the significant center of the cult of Sobek, the crocodile-god. As a result, the Greeks named it Crocodilopolis, or Crocodile City. Inhabitants of Fayoum worshipped a tamed sacred crocodile which they named Petsuchos. The reptile was revered and adorned with gold and gem pendants. The crocodile lived in a special temple pond and was fed by the priests with food provided by visitors. When Petsuchos died, it was replaced by another crocodile.


Auction Central News contributed to this report.

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