Abydos Is the Greek name for the ancient Egyptian town called ꜣbḏw which was the 8th Nome of Upper Egypt. Its modern name today is el Araba and it lies South of Cairo, near the town of el Balyana, Sohag governorate.
The necropolis of Abydos was called tꜣ ḏsr (the sacred land) and was used from the prehistoric period down till the Roma Period.
During the Archaic Period, the necropolis of Abydos gained great importance due to the fact that the Kings of the 1st Dynasty and only two Kings from the second Dynasty; Pri-ib-sn and ḫˁ-sḫm-wy, built two tombs for themselves one at Saqqara and one at Abydos, to satisfy both the people of Upper and Lower Egypt.
During the Old kingdom and after this tradition was abandoned, Abydos lost its importance and it became no longer administratively or economically important. Its local god at that time was Khenty –imenty, “Foremost of the Westerners”, who was a major funerary deity.
During the Middle Kingdom Abydos became the new cult center of Osiris who now occupied a very important position in the ancient Egyptian religion. Osiris moved from his cult center Abusir to Abydos where he was identified with its local god Khenty-imenty.
By then, the pilgrimage to Abydos became an important part of the religious life of the ancient Egyptians which encouraged many kings to make additions to the Temple of Osiris. Therefore, Abydos became one of the national cemeteries of Egypt.
During the New Kingdom, many kings showed great interest in Abydos and they carried out extensive building projects, like kings Seti I and Ramesses II.
During the Ptolemaic Period, the necropolis of Abydos was used on a provincial scale. With the advance of the Roman rule, Abydos was overshadowed by Philae, which became the cult center of Osiris and god Bes replaced Osiris as the chief god of Abydos. Bes continued to be worshipped there until the reign of Costantinnus II when his cult was officially suppressed.
Abydos was neglected during the Arab rule, although it was never completely abandoned.
Abydos was rediscovered in 1718 by Jesuit Sicard, after its location was totally lost.
The Necropolis of Abydos can be divided into three cemeteries:
1. The Southern Cemetery:
It was mainly used during the New kingdom till the Roman period.
2. The Middle Cemetery:
It was used from the prehistoric down to the First Intermediate Period. It was also in constant use during late Period and was used as an animal hypogeum during the Roman period for burying Ibis birds and dogs.
3. The Northern Cemetery:
It was mainly used during the Middle Kingdom. It is the biggest Cemetery at Abydos