German and Egyptian archaeologists have discovered an ancient gymnasium dating back around 2,300 years at a site in Cairo, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities said on Monday.
The archaeologists "discovered remains of the first Hellenistic gymnasium ever found in Egypt on the site of Watfa, 5 km east of Qasr Qaroun in the north-western Fayoum," said the ministry.
The discovery was made by a German-Egyptian mission at the site of Watfa in Fayoum province, about 80 kilometers southwest of the capital, Cairo.
The remains showed that the Greek-style gymnasium had a large hall for meetings, a dining hall and a courtyard in the main building, in addition to an almost 200-meter-long outdoor racetrack, said Ayman Ashmawi, head of Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector.
"The gymnasium of Watfa clearly shows the impact of Greek life in Egypt, not only in Alexandria, but also in the countryside," said Roemer, the head of the mission.
She explained that gymnasiums were private properties of rich people who wanted their villages to become even more Greek in aspect.
The German Archaeological Institute has been carrying out surveys and excavations at the Watfa site since 2010.