Re­mains of Egypt’s first gym­na­sium dis­cov­ered in Fay­oum

The Daily News Egypt - - News -

Re­mains of the first gym­na­sium ever in Egypt were dis­cov­ered in Fay­oum by the hands of a Ger­man-Egyp­tian ar­chae­o­log­i­cal mis­sion from the Ger­man Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal In­sti­tute (DAI), an­nounced the Min­istry of An­tiq­ui­ties on Sun­day.

The gym­na­sium goes back to the Hel­lenis­tic era and was de­tected in Watfa, an arche­o­log­i­cal site lo­cated 5 km east of Qasr Qaroun in north­west­ern Fay­oum.

Ay­man Ash­mawi, head of the An­cient Egyp­tian An­tiq­ui­ties Sec­tor, de­scribed the dis­cov­ered gym­na­sium, stat­ing that it con­sists of a main build­ing, where a large meet­ing hall dec­o­rated with stat­ues, a din­ing hall, and a court­yard ex­ist. There is also a 200-me­tre track that is be­lieved to have hosted races.

As Ash­mawi stated in a press re­lease, a gar­den sur­rounds the build­ing, “com­plet­ing an ideal lay­out of a cen­tre of Greek learn­ing.”

Watfa is the site of the an­cient vil­lage Philo­teris, founded by King Ptolemy II in the 3rd cen­tury BCE and named af­ter his sec­ond sis­ter, Philotera.

The mis­sion’s head, Cor­nelia Römer, added that the gym­na­sium was founded by rich peo­ple who lived dur­ing that era and wanted their pri­vate gym­na­sium to be more sim­i­lar to their Greek roots in de­sign and as­pect.

“There, the young men of the Greek speak­ing up­per class were trained in sports, learned to read and write, and en­joyed philo­soph­i­cal dis­cus­sions,” the state­ment read.

Römer also added that all of the Hel­lenis­tic cities across the world have the same de­sign of their gym­na­sia. “The gym­na­sia in the Egyp­tian coun­try­side were built af­ter their pat­tern; al­though much smaller, the gym­na­sion of Watfa clearly shows the im­pact of Greek life in Egypt, not only in Alexan­dria, but also in the coun­try­side,” she ex­plained.

Alexan­der the Great, she pointed out, had made Egypt part of the Hel­lenis­tic world, and thou­sands of Greek speak­ing set­tlers flocked to the land on the Nile, at­tracted by the new Ptole­maic em­pire, which promised pros­per­ity and peace.

The Ger­man Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal In­sti­tute has been con­duct­ing sur­veys and ex­ca­va­tion work at the site since 2010, yet this build­ing is the first to be dis­cov­ered at the site so far.

Watfa is the site of the an­cient vil­lage Philo­teris, founded by King Ptolemy II in the 3rd cen­tury BCE and named af­ter his sec­ond sis­ter, Philotera

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Egypt

© PressReader. All rights reserved.