The district has been divided into two departments (nomes), Lacedaemon and Laconia, with their capitals at Sparta and Gythium respectively.
Anubis was the principal god in the capitals of the XVIIth and XVIIIth nomes of Upper Egypt, and secondary god in the XIIIth and probably in the XIIth nome; but his cult was universal.
Theoretically, as its name Heptanomis implies, this division contained seven nomes, actually from the Hermopolite on the south to the Memphite on the north (excluding the Arsinoite according to the papyri).
If Upper and Lower Egypt represented ancient kingdoms, the nomes have been thought to carry on the traditions of tribal settlements.
They are found in inscriptions as early as the end of ~he IIIrd Dynasty, and the very name of Thth, and that of another very ancient god, are derived from those of two contiguous nomes in Lower Egypt.
Some nomes having a common badge but distinguished as nearer or further, i.e northern or southern, have simply been split, as they are contiguous: in one case, however, corresponding eastern and western Harpoon nomes are widely separated on opposite sides of the Delta.
The number and nomenclature of the nomes were never absolutely fixed.
The normal number of the nomes in the sacred lists appears to be 42, of which 22 belonged to Upper Egypt and 20 to Lower Egypt.
During the New Empire, except at the beginning, the nomes seem to have been almost entirely ignored: under the Deltaic dynasties (except of course in the traditions of the sacred writing) they were named after the metropolis, as the province (tosh) of Busiris, the province of Sais, &c.: hence the Greek names Bownptr,ls vojs~, &c. The Arsinoite nome was added by the Ptolemies after the draining of the Lake of Moeris (qv.), and in the later Ptolemaic and the Roman times many changes and additions to the list must have been made.
Brugsch, Geographische Inschriflen altagyptischer Denkmater (3 vols., Leipzig, I 8571860), and for the nomes on monuments of the Old Kingdom, N.
As early as the Middle Kingdom, papyri are found containing classified lists of words, titles, names of cities, &c., and of nomes with their capitals, festivals, deities and sacred things, calendars, &c.
Hence it came about that the provincial districts or nomes, as they were called, often derived their pames from the gods of tribes that settled in them, these names being hieroglyphically written with the sign for district surmounted by standards of the type above described, e.g.
Forty-two was the number of divine assessors at the judgment of the dead before Osiris, and was the standard number of the nomes or counties in Egypt.
According to Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus (who calls him Sesoosis) and Strabo, he conquered the whole world, even Scythia and Ethiopia, divided Egypt into administrative districts or nomes, was a great law-giver, and introduced a system of caste and the worship of Serapis.
Other ancient authorities considered that it was built as a place of meeting for the Egyptian nomes or political divisions; but it is more likely that it was intended for sepulchral purposes.