FAYYUM, CITY OF, the capital of the province of Fayyum. In ancient Egypt the city, then named after the crocodile god Sebek (Greek Suchus), was an island in a lake called Moeris (now Birkat Qarun). The Romans called the city Crocodilopolis, and its name in Coptic was viom (sea), probably because of the size of Lake Moeris, which surrounded the city. In Greek the city was known as Arsinoites, so named after Arsinoë, the wife of Ptolemy II. Arsinoë/Fayyum had a bishop as early as the middle of the third century, when Nepos administered in the city. Monasticism made an early entry into the area. Saint ANTONY visited monks in the Fayyum and John Moschus wrote at the beginning of the seventh century that the place was a thriving monastic center (Pratum Spirituale 44, 71).
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