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MAREA: Etymology

Mediterranean > Egypt > Cities > Marea

The name Mare(i)a is Egyptian, mrjt (meaning “shore” or “quay”), Coptic . In Greek its spelling varies, with Marea (, in Ionic, Herodotos 2.18, 30) normal in the documents of the Roman period but Mareia (or Maria) ( or ) attested as early as Thucydides (1.104), common in late authors, and found in a document of AD 494-500, P.Oxy. 63.4394. The region and lake are called Mareotis, (but also sometimes with an iota added). When the region was detached to form a separate nome, the administrative unit was referred to as the Mareotic nome, . The spellings in -ei or -i may have influenced the Arabic form still in use today, Maryut. There is also a later Coptic name (Niphaiat, “the Libyans”), which generally refers to the larger region west and southwest of Alexandria.

Although Herodotos and Thucydides refer to Marea as a city (polis), there is no indication that it actually held civic status before the Roman period, and Diodoros (1.68) refers to it as a village.

Bagnall, Roger, "Marea." Electronic Encyclopædia of the Ancient World. EEAW, Inc., 2002. (Accessed ).