The modern village of el-Bahnasa, in the governorate of el-Minya, is the location for the destroyed site of the capital of the 19th Upper Egyptian nome. Little is known of the pharaonic history of the town of Per-Medjed, except that a species of mormyrus fish was worshipped there in a local cult. The ‘sharp-nosed fish’ is reputed to have been one of the three species of Nile fish who, according to legend, ate the phallus of Osiris when the god’s body was cut into pieces by his brother Seth. Plutarch tells of a dispute which broke out between this town and its neighbour, Cynopolis, who worshipped a dog – each community being accused of killing and eating each other’s sacred emblems. Per-Medjed was called Oxyrhynchus (or Oxyrhynchonpolis) by the Greeks who named their town after the sacred fish.
The town began to gain in importance during Ptolemaic times when it…
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