Egyptian Nomes > Iqer


Egypt History - Egyptian Chapter Decoration


The ancient Egyptian nome of Iqer, known as the "Great Green" nome, was the 18th nome of Upper Egypt. This nome was significant for its strategic location, economic activities, and religious importance.

Key Features of the Nome of Iqer (Great Green):

  1. Geographical Location:

    • The nome of Iqer was located in Upper Egypt, with its capital at Gebtu, known in Greek as Coptos (modern-day Qift).
    • This region was situated along the Nile River, benefiting from its fertile lands and serving as a key point of connection between the Nile Valley and the Eastern Desert.
  2. Capital City (Gebtu/Coptos):

    • Gebtu (Coptos) was the capital of Iqer and a major center for trade and religious activities. Its strategic position made it an important hub for commerce and expeditions to the Eastern Desert and the Red Sea.
    • The city played a crucial role in the trade routes that connected the Nile Valley with the Red Sea, facilitating trade with regions as far as Punt and the Arabian Peninsula.
  3. Religious Significance:

    • The primary deity worshipped in Gebtu was Min, the god of fertility, harvest, and the Eastern Desert. Min was often depicted as a mummified figure with an erect phallus, symbolizing fertility and procreation.
    • Gebtu had significant temples and shrines dedicated to Min, where various religious rituals and festivals were held to honor the god and ensure agricultural fertility.
    • The city was also associated with Isis and Horus, reflecting its deep religious connections.
  4. Economic Importance:

    • The fertile lands along the Nile in Iqer supported extensive agricultural activities, including the cultivation of grains, fruits, and vegetables. This agricultural productivity contributed to the region's economic stability.
    • Gebtu's strategic location made it a crucial trade and transport hub. The city facilitated trade between Upper Egypt and the Eastern Desert, including mining expeditions for gold, copper, and precious stones.
  5. Historical Development:

    • Gebtu's importance dates back to the Predynastic period and continued throughout ancient Egyptian history, including the Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms.
    • The city was a starting point for many mining and trading expeditions, particularly during the Middle Kingdom (c. 2055-1650 BCE) and New Kingdom (c. 1550-1070 BCE), when Egypt's trade and mining activities were at their peak.
  6. Cultural Contributions:

    • Gebtu was known for its contributions to Egyptian culture, particularly in terms of trade and exploration. The city's involvement in long-distance trade routes helped introduce new goods, ideas, and cultural influences to Egypt.
    • The city's temples and religious practices influenced the broader religious landscape of ancient Egypt, especially the worship of Min.
  7. Archaeological Discoveries:

    • Excavations in Gebtu have uncovered numerous artifacts, including statues, stelae, temple remains, and inscriptions. These findings provide valuable insights into the city's religious practices, daily life, and historical development.
    • The city's archaeological sites reveal layers of settlement from different periods, highlighting its long and continuous occupation and its evolving role in Egyptian history.
  8. Strategic and Military Importance:

    • Due to its strategic location near the Eastern Desert, Gebtu was an important military outpost. It served as a staging point for expeditions into the desert and for the defense of trade routes.
    • The control of Iqer was vital for maintaining access to valuable resources such as minerals and precious stones from the desert regions.

The nome of Iqer, with its capital at Gebtu (Coptos), played a pivotal role in the economic, religious, and strategic landscape of ancient Egypt. Its association with important deities, strategic location, and contributions to trade and exploration underscore its significance throughout Egyptian history.


Wolfgang Helck, Die altägyptischen Gaue, Wiesbaden, 1974, ISBN 3920153278, pp. 86-88

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