Abydos is one of the most ancient cities of Upper Egypt, and also of the eight Upper Nome, of which it was the capital city. It is located about 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) west of the Nile at latitude 26° 10' N, near the modern Egyptian towns of el-'Araba el Madfuna and al-Balyana. The city was called Abdju in the ancient Egyptian language (3bdw or AbDw as technically transcribed from hieroglyphs) meaning "the hill of the symbol or reliquary", a reference to a reliquary in which the sacred head of Osiris was preserved.
Considered one of the most important archaeological sites of Ancient Egypt, the sacred city of Abydos was the site of many ancient temples, including Umm el-Qa'ab, a royal necropolis where early pharaohs were entombed. These tombs began to be seen as extremely significant burials and in later times it became desirable to be buried in the area, leading to the growth of the town's importance as a cult site.
Today, Abydos is notable for the memorial temple of Seti I, which contains an inscription from the nineteenth dynasty known to the modern world as the Abydos King List. It is a chronological list showing cartouches of most dynastic pharaohs of Egypt from Menes until Ramesses I, Seti's father. The Great Temple and most of the ancient town are buried under the modern buildings to the north of the Seti temple. Many of the original structures and the artifacts within them are considered irretrievable and lost; many may have been destroyed by the new construction.
The English name comes from the Greek Άβυδος, a name borrowed by Greek geographers from the unrelated city of Abydos on the Hellespont