Come to Crocodilopolis! (No, we are not making this up.) (3000 – 30 BC)

By: The Scribe on Monday, July 2, 2007



Crocodilopolis

The city of Crocodilopolis was located on the western bank of the Nile, southwest of Memphis in Egypt. Known to the ancient Egyptians by the somewhat less redundant name of Shedet, this city was the center of worship for the Egyptian god Sobek, the (you guessed it) crocodile god. Ever the subtle geniuses when it came to naming foreign places, the ancient Greeks dubbed it “Crocodile City”, or “Crocodilopolis”, as it is now remembered.

Inhabitants of Crocodilopolis worshiped a manifestation of Sobek through a sacred crocodile kept at the city, named ‘Petsuchos’ – a name that means “son of Sobek”. The crocodile was adorned with gold and jewels, and was kept in a temple with its own pond, sand, and special priests to serve his food. After the residing Petsuchos died, the body would be mummified and given a special burial – and then promptly replaced with another “son of Sobek”.

Crocs on a column base from Crocodilopolis

Crocodilopolis never became a large city, nor developed any major political standing in the area, and in the 3rd century BC the city passed into the hands of the Ptolemies. It was renamed Ptolemais Euergetis for awhile, but was renamed again to Arsinoe only a short time later by Ptolemy Philadephus II to honor his sister and wife, Arsinoe II.

On the plus side, Crocodilopolis was located in the most fertile region in Egypt – part of the current-day Fayum – which meant that the city was a haven for farmers growing corn, vegetables, flowers, and olives. Currently, what remains of Crocodilopolis is quite minimal – there are several mounds of ruins, and a few column bases here and there, but not much has been left behind by the sands of time. There is a modern city near the ancient site, however the modern inhabitants seem to have decided against penning up a crocodile inside the church.

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All Lions Go To Heaven…? Or Maybe Just the Afterlife (ca. 1430 BC) - The Ancient Standard at November 29, 2007

[…] certainly had a history of setting aside specific areas for animals – for example, the city of Crocodilopolis was specifically devoted to crocodiles and contained a sacred pond for the […]

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