The New International Encyclopædia/Nome (Egypt)

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NOME (Lat. nomus, from Gk. νόμος, nomos, province, district, from νέμειν, nemein, to pasture, distribute). The name given by the Greeks to the provinces or districts into which Egypt was divided, from the earliest historical period down to the time of the Roman dominion. It is probable that the nomes were the remains of small independent States, which in very early times were united under a single monarchy. Each nome possessed its own god or group of gods, worshiped in the local temple, as also its own myths and religious traditions. The government of the nome was a copy, in miniature, of that of the State. At the head stood the nomarch, or governor, and under him was a regular gradation of officials, each responsible to his immediate superior. In the earlier period, each nome had its own treasury, its own courts of justice, and its own military establishment. Under the feudal system of the Middle Empire, the nomarchs were the heads of ancient noble families, and were prompt to take advantage of any weakness in the Central Government to make themselves practically independent princes. The old nobility was, however, extinguished in the Hyksos wars, and from the time of the New Empire the nomes were purely administrative districts ruled by royal governors, who still bore the title of nomarchs. In the time of the Ptolemies the chief officer of the nome was the strategos, under whom the nomarch was a subordinate official charged with supervising the collection of taxes and other financial matters. In general there were some 42 nomes, 22 in Upper and 20 in Lower Egypt, but the number was not invariable. So far as is at present known, the number of the nomes never fell below 36, nor exceeded 47. Consult: Duemichen, Geschichte des alten Aegyptens (Berlin, 1878); Budge, A History of Egypt (New York, 1902); Brugsch, Geographie des alten Aegyptens (Leipzig, 1857); Dictionnaire geographique de l'ancienne Egypte (Leipzig, 1879-80); Egypt Exploration Fund, An Atlas of Ancient Egypt (2d ed., London, 1894).