City of Beni Mazar, Egypt
Beni Mazar is a city in Egypt which lies in the Minia governorate and is adjacent to the cities of Mattay and Maghagha on river Nile. The town is famous for the large number of Coptic and Islamic monuments it encloses. Prominent among the monuments are- the Virgin Mary tree, El Sabaa, Sidi Gafaar tomb and the Banaat tombs. Besides these, the city of Beni Mazar also has many agricultural lands and is a producer of many types of vegetables and fruits as well traditional crops like corn, cotton and wheat. The city is also known by the names Beni-Hassan and Bani Hassan in some areas. It was primarily an ancient cemetery site.
The village of El-Qeis which was known as Kais in ancient Egypt is 2.5 km from Beni Mazar. Here the local god was dog headed and called Anubis. Experts believe that this was probably the location of ancient Greek Cynopolis.
Beni Mazar lies 20 km from the modern day Minya, which lies between Memphis and Asyut. The nearest airport to Beni Mazar is Asyut international airport and Cairo international airport which are respectively 203 and 212 km from the city. Depending on one’s travel plans they can choose any of the other international airports as well. A cab can be taken to visit Beni Mazar from these airports or a detailed travel plan can be booked through a travel agent.
History of the city
Beni Mazar is an Egyptian cemetery site where most burial sites are Middle Bronze Age which spanned from 21st to 17th century BC (Middle Kingdom). There are some burials from Old Kingdom as well. Temple constructed by Thutmose, the third and Hatsheput and dedicated to the goddess Pakhet lies to the south of the cemetery. This temple is known by the people as Cave of Artemis as the ancient Greeks identified goddess Pakhet with Artemis and also the temple here is subterranean.
The tombs are dated mostly to the eleventh and twelfth dynasty, though some of the tombs also belong to the fourth dynasty. Here in Beni Mazar one can see the rock cut tombs which have been carved into the rising limestone cliffs. A steep flight of stone stairs lead to the tombs and the magnificent view of the river valley from the top are just magnificent. A blend of history and beauty of the nature captures the imagination of the tourist.
Around Beni Mazar
There are many ancient sites near the town of Beni Mazar and one can easily spend their time exploring the tombs and ancient ruins.
Tal el Amarna
The ancient site of Amarna lies 58 km to the south of Al Minya city. This site has many modern villages, the main among which are El-Hagg Qandil in south and El Till in north. This area has remains of the city built by Pharaoh Akhenaten in 1353 BC (late 18th dynasty). The name of the city in ancient time was Akhetaten which translated to Horizon of the Aten.
This area has more than 25 tombs out of which six are located in Darb El Mailk in north and the remaining 19 are in the south side. The tombs were built in a complicated manner to protect from thieves and each has an open court which further leads to three chambers. Each tomb has been adorned with “Hymn to The Sun” lyrics which had been composed by Akhenaten. A statue of the deceased and papyrus columns have also been used in some tombs. Most of the people visiting the site are suggested to take a local guide along as they could get lost owing to the construction of the tombs.
Tunah el- gebel
To the north of El Minya lies the little visited site of Tunah el-Gebel. In Greco-Roman period site was called Akoris. The Fraser tombs are the best known features of the site which are rock cut tombs of the Old Kingdom. A Gebel along the desert hosts the tombs from the old kingdom. These tombs are 2km to the east side of the town. There is also a tomb of priest of Hathor who was known as Nikaankh. In pharaonic times the town of Tunah-El-Gebel was known as Dehenet and had a temple of Hathor. Another interesting temple is one built by Merenptah and Rameses, the second. This temple has four rock cut chambers.