town, Sawhaj muhafazah (governorate), Upper Egypt. It is situated on the west bank of the Nile River, which encroached considerably on the town in the 18th and 19th centuries. In pharaonic times it was probably the town of This (Tny), ancestral home of the 1st dynasty (c. 2925-c. 2775 BC), which unified Egypt. Its present name derives from the ancient Coptic monastery of Mar Girgis, dedicated to St. George. In the 14th century AD it became a centre of the Hawwarah, an Arabized Berber tribe; in about 1576 they were conquered by the Ottoman governor of Egypt, who then made Jirja the seat of the governor of Upper Egypt. During the reign of Muhammad 'Ali (1805-48), it was absorbed into a larger territorial unit. In 1859 Sawhaj replaced Jirja as the provincial capital

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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