Herakleopolis Magna

Herakleopolis Magna

Herakleopolis Magna

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Heracleopolis or Herakleopolis Magna (Ancient Greek: Ἡρακλεόπολις) is the Greek name of the capital of the Twentieth nome (administrative division) of ancient Egypt. It was called Henen-nesut, Nen-nesu, or Hwt-nen-nesu in ancient Egyptian, meaning 'house of the royal child.' Later, it was called Hnas () in Coptic, and Ahnas in medieval Arabic writings. Today it is known as Ihnasiya Umm al-Kimam ("mother of the shards") and Ihnasiyyah al-Madinah.

It was the capital of Lower Egypt of the ninth and tenth dynasties, which ruled during the First Intermediate Period. After the re-unification of Egypt, Henen-nesut faded in importance. Today the ruins are a tourist attraction.

In ancient times the city was the cult center of Heryshaf, whom the Greeks identified with Herakles. (See interpretatio graeca.)

Legend held that there was a vast labyrinth at Herakleopolis. A British archaeological team in the 1940s is rumoured to have discovered the labyrinth but were unable to complete the excavation due to illness amongst team members and the disappearance of one of the team leaders. The exact location of the labyrinth still remains a mystery.

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