Karanis Greaco Roman town, the extensive ruins of Karanis are situated near the modern village of Kom Oshim to the north east of Qarun Lake and more than 30 km north of Medinet El-Fayoum just on Fayoum – Cairo desert road . The ruins of karanis at kom oshem are among the best preserved, and certainly the most easily accessible, of Ptolemaic / Roman town sites in the Fayoum . Karanis was founded in the third century BC by Ptolemy II to provide lodgings for mercenaries of his army camped in the site. Then it became the largest and most important Greco Roman town in the Fayoum. with an original population of some 3.000 people , Karanis continued to prosper for about seven centuries. It began to decline during the fourth and fifth centuries AD.
In Karanis two temples have been discovered. They were dedicated to forms of sobek. However, about 27 different Egyptian, Greek or Roman deities recorded at the town. Crocodiles were kept in the sacred lakes of these temples and were fed grain, meat and wine mixed with milk and honey they were used in ceremonies, and were mummified up on death. The southern larger temple was built in the 0first century AD on the foundations of an earlier temple and was dedicated to the crocodile gods Pnepheros and Petesuchos.
The temple is preceded by a portal with an inscription dedicated to Nero and subsequently usurped by Claudius (Silliotti, 2003 . The un-decorated temple consists of a quay at the head of a processional way, leading through a paved colonnaded courtyard to the temple interior, which has three rooms.
In one of the walls of the second room there is a deep niche in which a sacred mummified crocodile was buried, which was used in ceremonies. In the sanctuary, a large altar reveals a low hidden chamber which can be entered through a low hole along one side, from which priests probably issued oracles. However, the use of these chambers is not certain. The roof of this temple provides a good view of Karanis and the fertile land to the south.
The Northern Temple
It dates back to the end of the first century AD and was also built on the foundation of earlier temple using mainly gray Limestone (Silliotti, 2003). It was dedicated to Sobek, Serapis, Zeus and Amun. Its layout is similar to the southern one The Temple is completely uninscribed. It was once surrounded by a thick, mud-brick wall, of which a small portion remains to the north of the temple. The four outer corners of the temple are decorated with slender columns and two pylons. A large stone altar with perhaps an oracle niche dominates the sanctuary. This Temple and the Southern one were abandoned around the middle of the third century AD, the reason probably being the introduction of Christianity within the area (Dunn, 2005).
The Greco-Roman Town
The town consisted of two main north-south wide streets, while hundreds of houses were grouped together in small clusters (fig. 38). Within each block, houses shared walls and occasionally a courtyard; otherwise they were independent structures. The more luxurious houses had stone lintels and vaulted ceilings, while most of the houses prepared with a basement used for storage. They were lit by small windows set high in the walls, which also provided ventilation. However, oil burning lamps were also used, sometimes placed into wall niches Dunn, 2005.
The Greaco – Roman bath in Karanis had been excavated, carefully documented and studied, and consolidated in 1975 by the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology (IFAO). Lies to the north of Karanis. The bath consists of ( Disrobing room – Sauna – Hot Bath room – water tank – waste water pit )
Here’s how the Karanis Bath worked:
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Exhibition papyri from karanis 2015
Explore Karanis with Fayoumer!
As to provide the Fayoum visitors with an ultimate Fayoum experience. Explore Fayoum founder, Mahmoud a.k.a Fayoumer, a local guide and a researcher based in Fayoum Governorate will take you on curated tours to explore fabulous Fayoum in different thematic itineraries to ensure an ultimate Fayoum experience. He will share with you his knowledge of the area and his interesting Fayoum stories. More Info here