In 1887 Kiman Faris was a wide archaeological area of about 2.4 × 2.2 km that spread north of Medinet el-Fayoum and contained the ruins of the great temple of Sobek, some late cemeteries and part of the old town (Shedet, Crokodilopolis, Arsinoe).
It was delimited to the south by the modern town and Bahr Yusouf, to the east by the Bahr Tirsa, to the west by the Bahr es-Sauwieh and to the north by cultivated land. After the great expansion of Medinet el-Fayoum during the 1960s and 1970s, the archaeological area almost disappeared under new residential and administrative districts.
In fact, only five areas still survive under the control of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. They are known as
- Area 1 the temple of Ramses II (Location)
- Area 2 Kiman Fares ≫ or ≪ the temple of Ptolemy (Location)
- Area 3 the small bath (Location)
- Area 4 the great bath (Location)
- Area 5 the temple of Amenemhat III (Location)
The last area was situated inside the enclosure of the University of Medinet el-Fayyum, but it is now transferred to Karanis and on display in the open-air museum at the ancient archaeological site of Karanis, Kom Ushim 30 km north of Fayoum city.
The Shedet open – air museum is part of URU Fayum project and was funded by the American embassy in Cairo.
The City of the crocodile:
Some 4.300 years ago, the pyramid texts spoke about the city of Shedet in the Fayoum Oasis, where the crocodile god Sobek was worshipped. About five hundred years later, the city prospered during the Egyptian Middle Kingdom, when the swamps of the Fayoum were drained to develop the oasis for agriculture. It remained a major religious center in which the worship of the sacred crocodiles continued, and in the Greaco-Roman times gave the city its name Crocodilopolis.
The fate of Sobek’s Temple:
For Millennia the columns of the grand temple built approximately 3800 years ago by the Middle Kingdom Pharaoh Amenemhat III for the god Sobek of Shedet were lying in the agriculture fields. Many pieces were broken up in the Greaco-Roman period for reuse of the precious Aswan red granite from which they were made. In the 1980s, these scattered remnants of a once great city were brought to Karanis. In 2014 a selection of pieces were put on display as part of the Beyt Sobek visitor’s center in Karanis.
The Vanished City of Shedet:
The great city of city of Shedet/Crocodilopolis, or Arsinoe (as it was named in the Ptolemaic era) kept changing through the centuries. The Ptolemies dismantled the, monumental middle kingdom temple of Sobek. Earlier buildings were replaced when the city thrived in Roman times and later as seat of Christian bishops. When Medinat Al Fayoum grew under Muslim Rulers, the vestiges of the ancient city at Kiman Faris, just north of it, were reduced to rubble heaps and by now have vanished almost without a trace.
Do you know that the location of Kiman Faris in Fayoum was selected by Hollywood’s legend Cecil B. DeMille to shoot the brick pits sequence of his masterpiece The Ten Commandments 1956!
Paola Davoli · Nahla Mohammed Ahmed, ON SOME MONUMENTS FROM KIMAN FARES (MEDINET EL-FAYYUM)