Southern Illinois has been known as “Egypt” or “Little Egypt” for nearly 200 years. Although Egyptian site names were not unique to Southern Illinois, the regional Egyptian identity which has ebbed and flowed throughout the years has endured. It can be seen in the saluki mascot of Southern Illinois University (SIU) as well as in the names of its student newspaper (The Daily Egyptian) and yearbook (The Obelisk). There are many regional businesses that use a pyramid or the name “Egypt” or “Little Egypt”. This Egyptian connection is something we Southern Illinoisans grow up knowing, but there is little in the way of explanation. Ask 100 residents why the area is called “Little Egypt”, and you will receive so many different replies! The “We Are For Egypt” project developed to provide accessible and engaging resources for the people of Southern Illinois to learn what is so “Egyptian” about the area.
This project was produced by Stacy Davidson and Jenny Pape, supported by a Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies.