The Fayoum Oasis is not a true oasis as most of its water comes from the Nile. During prehistory, more people lived in the Fayoum than in the Nile Valley. The land here was lush, and there was an abundance of water. Between 7200 and 6000 BC, people migrated to the area and settled it. However, around 4000 BC, the climate of the Fayoum began to dry up, and over a period of many years, the people left their drought stricken homes and migrated closer to the Nile. Once the Nile Valley became dominant, the Fayoum was all but abandoned, because life along the river was much easier. The Fayoum became a hunting and fishing paradise, as well as a place to be mined for its salts, limestone and chert.
Legend has it that King Menes went on a hunting trip and almost lost his life when his own dogs attacked him near the lake. However, his life was saved by a crocodile which carried him across the water to safety. As a reward, he declared the lake a sanctuary for crocodiles and founded the city of Shedet, known to the Greeks as Crocodilopolis but today called Kiman Faris.
His city became the centre of the crocodile god Sobek, Though the Fayoum was identified with the primeval ocean, the origin of all life in ancient mythology, Sobek remained the chief deity of the region throughout dynastic and Greek times and into the Roman era.
Immediately across the Nile on Luxor’s West Bank, lie the myriad monuments, temples and tombs that comprise The Valley of...