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Pithom (Hebrew: פתם) also called Per-Atum or Heroöpolis or Heroonopolis (Greek: Ἠοώων πόλις or Ἡρώ,[1] is an ancient Egyptian city known from both Biblical and ancient Greek and Roman sources.

The name

The Egyptian name, "Pithom" (Pi-Tum or Pa-Tum), means "house of Tum" [or "Atum,"], i.e., the sun-god of Heliopolis; and the Greek word "Hero" is probably a translation of "Atum."

Biblical Pithom

Pithom is one of the cities which, according to Exodus 1:11, was built for the Pharaoh of the oppression by the forced labor of the Israelites. The other city was Ramses; and the Septuagint adds a third, "On, which is Heliopolis." The meaning of the term, rendered in the Authorized Version "treasure cities" and in the Revised Version "store cities," is not definitely known. The Septuagint renders πόλεις ὀχυραί "strong [or "fortified"] cities." The same term is used of certain cities of King Solomon in I Kings 9:19 (comp. also II Chronicles 16:4).

Graeco-Roman Heroöpolis

Heroöpolis was a large city east of the Nile Delta, situated near the mouth of the Royal Canal which connected the Nile with the Red Sea. Although not immediately upon the coast, but nearly due north of the Bitter Lakes, Heroöpolis was of sufficient importance, as a trading station, to confer its name upon the arm of the Red Sea (Ἡρωοπολίτης κόλπος, Ptol. v. 17. § 1, Latin: Heroopoliticus Sinus) which runs up the Egyptian mainland as far as Arsinoë (near modern Suez) (κόλπος Ἡρώων); the modern Gulf of Suez. (Theophrast. Hist. Plant. iii. 8.) It was the capital of the Heroopolite nome (the 8th nome of Lower Egypt) later renamed the Arsinoite nome. (Orelli, Inscr. Lat. no. 516.)


The location of Pithom has been the subject of much conjecture and debate. In the spring of 1883 Édouard Naville believed he had identified it as the archaeological site Tell-el-Maskhuta. The site of Pithom, as identified by Naville, is to the east of Wadi Tumilat, south-west of Ismaïlia. Here was formerly a group of granite statues representing Ramesses II, two inscriptions naming Pr-Itm, storehouses and bricks made without straw. The excavations carried on by Naville for the Egypt Exploration Fund uncovered a city wall, a ruined temple, and the remains of a series of brick buildings with very thick walls and consisting of rectangular chambers of various sizes, opening only at the top and without any entrances to one another. Naville identified it as being in the region of Tjeku, the capital of the 8th Lower Egypt nome. Excavations carried out over five seasons between 1978 and 1985 have shown that Tell el-Maskhuta dates only to the end of the 7th century, and may have been built by Pharaoh Necho II, possibly as part of his uncompleted canal building project from the Nile to the Gulf of Suez. [2][3]

In the 19th century Allen Gardiner identified Pithom with Tell er-Rebata, an identification which was later accepted by William F. Albright.[4] More recently the Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen endorsed the identification of Pithom with Tell er-Rebata.[5] John Van Seters points out that the archeological excavations mentioned above show Tell er-Rebata to have been unoccupied during the same period when we find monuments relating to a town called Pithom.


  1. Strabo xvi. 759, 768, xvii. 803, 804; Arrian, Exp. Alex. iii. 5, vii. 20; Josephus Ant. Jud. ii. 7. § 5; Pliny the Elder v. 9. § 11, vi. 32. § 33; Mela, iii. 8; Stephanus of Byzantium s. v.; Ptolemy ii. 1. § 6, iv. 15. § 54)
  2. Seters, John Van, "The Geography of the Exodus", in Silberman, Neil Ash (editor), The Land That I Will Show You: Essays in History and Archaeology of the Ancient Near East in Honor of J. Maxwell Miller, Sheffield Academic Press, 1997, P. 261-262, ISBN-978-1850756507,
  3. Long, V. Philips (2000). Israel's past in present research: essays on ancient Israelite historiography. Eisenbrauns. ISBN 978-1575060286. 
  4. Bromiley, Geoffrey W. (1994). International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: K-P. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. 
  5. Kitchen, Kenneth A. (1999). Ramesside Inscriptions, Ramesside Inscriptions, Notes and Comments Volume II: Ramesses II, Royal Inscriptions. Wiley-Blackwell. 

External links

Coordinates: 30°33′7″N 32°5′55″E / 30.55194°N 32.09861°E / 30.55194; 32.09861

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Pithom. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.