Leontopolis (Greek: Λεόντων πόλις [1]) or Leonto (Λεοντώ[2]) or Latin: Leontos Oppidum[3] or Egyptian: Taremu, was an ancient Egyptian city that is known as Tell al Muqdam today.


The city is located in the central part of the Nile Delta region. It was the capital of the eleventh nome of Lower Egypt (the Leontopolite nome) and was probably the centre of pharaonic power under the 23rd dynasty. Strabo is the earliest writer who mentions either the nome, or its chief town: and it was probably of comparatively recent origin or importance.

The Greek name of this city means, "City of Lions", given on account of the presence of temples to the lioness goddesses Bastet and Sekhmet, and their son, Maahes, the lion prince. Live lions were kept at the temples during the time of the Greek occupation.

In the reign of Ptolemy VI Philometor (180-145 BCE) a temple, modelled after that of Jerusalem, was founded by the exiled Jewish priest Onias IV.[4] The Hebrew colony, which was attracted by the establishment of their national worship at Leontopolis, and which was increased by the refugees from the oppressions of the Seleucid kings in Palestine, flourished there for more than three centuries afterwards. After the outbreak of the Jewish War, the Leontopolite temple was closed in the first century CE, amid the general backlash against Judaism.[5]

It was a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church.[6]

The site

Antiquarians were long divided as to the real site of the ruins of Leontopolis. According to D'Anville, they were covered by a mound called Tel-Essabè (Tel es-sab`), or the Lion's Hill.[7] Jomard, on the other hand, maintains that some tumuli near the village of El-Mengaleh in the Delta, represent the ancient Leontopolis., And this supposition agrees better with the account of the town given by Xenophon of Ephesus.[8] Smith sites the city at latitude 30° 6′North, which is considerably further south than the actual site.

Most scholars today agree that Leontopolis is located at Tell al Muqdam, at latitude 30° 45′North.


  1. Ptolemy iv. 5. § 51, Strabo xvii. pp. 802, 812
  2. Hieronym. ad Jovian. ii. 6
  3. Pliny the Elder v. 20. s. 17
  4. Josephus Ant. Jud. xiii. 3. § 3; Hieronym. in Daniel. ch. xi.
  5. Joseph. B. Jud. vii. 10. § 4
  6. Wikisource-logo.svg "Leontopolis". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  7. Comp. Champollion, l'Egypte, vol. ii. p. 110, seq
  8. Ephesiaca, iv. p. 280, ed. Bipont


  • This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography by William Smith (1856).
  • Richard Talbert, Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World, (ISBN 0-691-03169-X), p. 74.
  • Manfred Bietak: Tell el-Yahudiya, in: Kathryn A. Bard (Hg.): Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, London/New York 1999, 791-792.
  • Hans Bonnet: Leontopolis (2.), in: Lexikon der ägyptischen Religionsgeschichte, Hamburg 2000 ISBN 3-937872-08-6 S. 423.
  • John S. Holladay Jr.: Yahudiyya, Tell el-, in: D. B. Redford (Hg.): The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt III, Oxford 2001, 527-529.
  • Edouard Naville: The mound of the Jew and the city of Onias, London 1890.
  • W. M. Flinders Petrie: Hyksos and Israelite Cities, London 1906.
  • A.-P. Zivie: Tell el-Jahudija, in: Lexikon der Ägyptologie VI, 331-335.
  • Max Küchler: Leontopolis in: Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Handwörterbuch für Theologie und Religionswissenschaft. (RGG) 4. Auflage, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2002, S. 274.

External links

Coordinates: 30°41′N 31°21′E / 30.683°N 31.35°E / 30.683; 31.35

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

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