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Ahnas el Medineh (Heracleopolis Magna) : with chapters on Mendes, the nome of Thoth, and Leontopolis (Volume 11) online

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Sir Charles Newton, K.C.B., D.C.L.
Prof. R. Stuart Poole, LL.I>. (Hon. ,Sei-.).
E. Maunde TiioMRSON, Esq., C.B., D.C.L., LL.L).
Charles Dudley Waenei;, Esq.,L.II.l)., LL.D.

TuE Rev. W. G. Winslow, J ).])., D.C.L.

(Ron. Trcas. and Hon. Sec, U.S.A.).

The Hon. Edwauh O. Mason (U.S.A.).

TnE Hon. John Geo. Dourinut, D.G.L.

PiiOF. G. :\rAsrEi!0, D.C.L. (France).

Josun Mullens, E.sq. (Australia).

i\L Charles IIkntsch (Switzerland).

n. A, Grueuer, Esq., F.S.A. The Kev. W. C. Winslow, D.D., D.C.L. (Boston, U.S.A.).

Clarence H. Clark, Esq. (Penn. U.S.A.).

1I.ion. Sccrctair.
PuoF. R. Stuaut Poole, LL.J).

/Ilbcnilici'!5 of
The Kt.Hon. Loud Amheust OEnACKNEY,E.S.A.
T. n. Baylis, E.sq., Q.C., M.A.
Miss Bradbury.
J. S. Cotton, Esq., ILA.
M. J. HE Morgan {Dirccteur Gmcral i/cs Anti-

quit^s lie l'E<jiji)te).
Siu John Evans, K.C.B., D.C.L., LL.D.
W. Fowler, Esq.
Major - General Sir Erancis Grenfell,

G.C.M.G., K.C.B.
F. L. Griffith, Esq., B.A., E.S.A.
T. Farmer Hall, Esq.
PnoF. T. Haytek Lewis, F.S.A.
Mrs. McClure.


The Rev. W. ^MacGregor, :\I.A.

J. G. Meiggs, Es(i. (U.S.A.).

Prof. J. H. Miudleton, M.A., Litt.D.

A. S. Murray, Esq., LL.D., F.S.A.

D. Paurisii, Esq. (U.S.A.)

Col. J. C. Ro.ss, R.E., C.M.G.

The Rev. Prof. A. H. Sayce, M.A., LL.D.

H. ViLLiERS Stuart, Esc^.

Mrs. Tiraru.

The Rev. H. G. To.mkins, M.A.

The Rt. Rev. The Lord Bishop of Truro.

Hermann Weber, Esq., M.D.

Major-General Sir Charles Wilson, K.C.B.,
K.C.M.G., F.R.S.









Professor T. HAYTER LEWIS, F.S.A.




J. J. TYLOR, F.S.A. , and F. Ll. GRIFFITH, B.A., F.S.A.




Sold at thk OFFICE OF THE EGYPT EXPLORATION FUND, 37, Gp.e.\t Russrli, Street, W.C.
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The present memoir comprises the result of two campaigns ; and it bears
testimony to what every experienced excavator knows only too well, that
sites Avhich at first sight seem the most promising are often those which
cause the greatest disappointment.

But still, although I did not find at Ahnas remains of the Xth and Xlth
dynasties, as 1 had hoped, and although Tmei el Amdid and Tell Mokdam
yielded only a few monuments, the excavations at those places have by no means
been barren. They have materially contributed to the solution of historical
and geographical (jucstions, and have thus furthered the progress of
Egyptology. Besides, the Byzantine ornaments discovered at Ahnas are quite
unique among the products of Christian art in Egypt.

I have particularly to thank my eminent friend, Prof. Erman, for the
map of Ahnas, which he drew during his visit to the spot with Dr.

As in the former memoirs, the linear plates have been drawn by
Mmc. Naville, and the phototypes have been executed from negatives taken
by the Rev. Wm. MacGrcgor and myself


Malagny, Julij, 1893.


Heeacleopolis Magna — page

Its Origiu and its Name ......... 1

Divinities of Ileraclcopolis ........ 7

Monuments Discovered ......... 9

The Necropolis . . . . . . . . . . ,11

Mendes 15

TnK Nome op Thotii . . * . . .22

Leontopolis 27

Appendix on Byzantine Scdi.ptures found at Ahnas 32

Indexes 35



About twelve miles north-west of the town of
Beni Siief, the great canal which bounds the
cultivated laud, i.e. the Balir Yusuf, makes a
strong curve towards the east. There it skirts
huge mounds of decayed houses, covered with
masses of broken pottery, and a few granite
monuments scattered here and there amongst
thorn. The mounds extend over an area of
360 acres. They are popularly known as Onnn
el Kemau, the Mother of MonmU, because of
their size. The Copts called the place Almas ;
its official name is Hcnassiet el Medinch, I he,
/iity of Henassieh, and it has long been recog-
nized as the site of Ileracleopolis Magna.

The greater part of these mounds is waste
land, utilized by the inhabitants for sehakh
digging only. This is especially the case with
the mound called Kom el Duu'ir. But sevci'al
hamlets and villages now occupy the site, the
most important of them being the one called
Melaha. Just in front of this village are
four standing columns, called the Kciiisch, or
church, and belonging to a Eomau or Byzantine
edifice. Two abandoned saltpetre pits are also
to be found. They were used at the beginning
of this century in the manufacture of gun-
powder for the Mameluks and Mohammed Ali.
Although this was the occasion of much dig-
ging, it does not seem to have led to the
discovery of any antiquities. The place must
have been important in the time of the Greek

emperors, before tlie ]\loliammedan conquest,
for it contains the ruins of several Coptic
churches — chiefly bases and shafts of columns,
some of them very large. But nothing indi-
cated the site of an ancient Egyptian temple,
and yet there had been more than one. It
was by mei'e guess-work that we discovered
the place where the god Arsnyhes had his
dwelling, and we made many soundings before
we hit upon it in a depression west of the
Kom el Dinar. One may form an idea of the
labour required for discovering and clearing
the remains of this temple, when 1 say that,
to this end, I was obliged to remove more
tlian -to, 000 cubic metres of earth. We do not
know at what date Hcracloopolis was founded,
but very anciently it was one of the important
cities of Egypt. Manetho says that the IXth
and Xth Dynasties were Heracleopolitan, and,
even from the scanty information which has
come down to us, we must conclude that Ilera-
cleopolis played an important part in the
events of that obscure period. The tombs of
Sioot, attributed to the Xth Dynasty by M.
Maspero and Mr. Griffith, describe the wars
waged on behalf of their Heracleopolitan
sovereign by the vassal princes of Sioot, pro-
bably against rebels from Thebes. Hence,
there is frequent mention of the city of Hera-
cleopolis in these inscriptions, and even the
name of one of the kings who is supposed to


have resided tlicre is also given. We might
therefore have reasonably expected that our
excavations would throw some light on those
dark times, and help us to fill up this great
historical gap in our present knowledge.
Mariette entertained great hopes as to excava-
tions in the mounds of Ahnas. He reverts
to the subject several times in his last memoir,
published in 1879, and which has justlj- been
called his Archaeological Will.^ " C'est i"i Ahnas
el Medineh, representee aujourd'hui par des
mines asscz etendues, qui n'ont ete jnsqu'ici
I'objet d'aucune investigation serieuse, que
nous devrons essayer do faire revivi'c des
souvenirs des IX" et X" dynasties." But these
hopes, in which I also shared, have been com-
pletely disappointed ; the oldest remains which
I found in the mounds of Ahnas belong to the
Xllth Dynasty.

One of the most ancient references to the city
of Heracleopolis exists in a tale, whose origin
may be assigned to the Xllth or XTIIth
Dynasty,- although the events which it relates
are supposed to take place much earlier, under
the reign of Nebkara of the Illrd Dynasty.
It describes a quarrel between a peasant and a
huntsman who had robbed him. The matter
was referred to the head of the officials, the

high stevmrd, Merutensa ^Ul ^ S^^ P fl
at Heracleopolis, who declares himself that he
will have to report the litigation to the king.
If we could rely on the information derived
from this tale, it would appear that at that
remote epoch Runensu was not yet a great
city, but rather a village belonging to the royal
domains, and where the highest authority was
invested in the power of the steward or royal
agent, the Nazir as we should say now. But
we must not forget that this is a tale, a kind of

1 Questions relatives mix nouvelles fouilles it faire en
Egypte, p. ,25.

2 Chabas, Pap. de Berlin, p. 5 ; Td., Melanges, p. 249 ;
Maspero, Contes, p. 35.

romance, and not an historical document. Its
description of the city in no way agrees with
the eminence of Heracleopolis in mythology, a
point which we shall have to consider later, nor
yet with the oldest historical text wherein the
city is mentioned, and which dates from the
Xllth Dynasty.

The Xllth Dynasty, which, as we may judge
from its important work in the Fayoom, had a
special liking for this district, could not well
neglect Ahnas, and we have proof that it did
not, in a stele engraved on the rocks of
Hamamut.^ It belongs to an officer called

° % [j (] '^ Khani, who relates that in the

fourteenth year of his reign, [ U A J A

1 ^ <:^ I h ^ ^^^A^^ _Z1 I I I



•I v




His Blajesfij ordered him io r/o to Roliennu
(Hamamdt), in order to tiring the fine monu-
ments iiiJticJi tris Majesti/ erected, to Tier she f
{Arsaphes) the lord, of Hvncnsntcn. This in-
scription belongs to the reign of Usertesen III.,
but as the king erected statues at Hunensuten
to the god of the locality, it is clear that the
temple in which they were erected must have
existed before them. In fact, the architraves
raised by Rameses II., for the construction of
thevestibule which he added to the temple, bear
the standards of Usertesen TI. I am there-
fore quite unable to share Professor Flinders
Petrie's opinion,* when he says that the blocks
with the name of Usertesen II. at Ahnas came
from the temple of Illahun, which Rameses II.
destroyed in order to build the temple of
Heracleopolis. Whatever changes Rameses II.
may have made in the sanctuary of Arsaphes,
he was not its founder. It is even probable
that for this event we must go much farther
back than the Xllth Dynasty, for if Hunen-

^ Lcpsius, Denk., ii. 136, a.

■• Kaliun, Gurob and Hairara, p. 22.


suten was the capital undci" tho IXth and Xtli
Dynasties, how can wc picture to ourselves an
Egyptian city without its temple, the nucleus
of its foundation', tho central i)oiut around
which the inhabitants gathered and built ?
The name of licraclcopolis iMagna is in

Egyptian 1


Q AriAJ^/\ry





with a great number of graphic variants.
Several readings have been jjroposed. for the
name ; they differ chiefly in the value given to

tho sign % which is polyphonous, and which

in many instances is to be read Khcn.^ The

correct reading seems to me to have been deter-
mined by Professor Brugsch," who quotes a
variant found in a papyrus of the XVIIlth

Dynasty ,'wherethe name is written X ,3^-1- r^©.
Admitting that the two signs .1 ^ have been

inverted, and should bo written ^f) J,, the

reading of the Avhole name would bo Haneii-
siden, or abridged, llunensu, whence we can
easily trace the origin of the gifHC of the
Copts, and the (^Ual of the Arabs.

Are we to recognize in this name the city of
t^.^C which is mentioned once in Scripture by the
profjhet Isaiah (xxx. 4) ? In opposition to
the view of the majority of commentators, I
believe with Professor Brugsch and Professor
Duemichen that the city of Hanes mentioned
by Isaiah is to be looked for in the Delta. Let
us look at the context, at the circumstances
which induced the prophet to speak of Hanes,
and at the passage itself as given in the Revised

" The plan which the Jews had hidden from
the prophet (xxix. 15) had been matured, and
ambassadors had been sent to Egypt with rich

5 Duemichen, Geogr. Inschr., Text, ii. p. 20.

» Zeitschr., 1883, p. 70.

? Naville, Todt., ii. pi. 293, Pf.

' In the name ^ 1 ^^ Duemichen, Geogr. Inschr., ii.

pi. xxxvi. 13, the sign jM has the valu ■ ^

presents. Isaiah makes of this accomplished
fact a oTound for denouncing the alliance con-
eluded in enmity to God, and which will only
avail to put the Jews to sliamo."" "Therefore,"
says the prophet, " ahall the strength of
Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the
shadow of Egypt your confusion ; for his
princes are at Zoan, and his ambassadors are
come to Ilanes." The sense seems to be very
clear. Pharaoh is willing to side with the
Israelites, he will not turn his back against
them, on the contrary, he will receive them
with every sign of goodwill. His princes, the
chief of his troops are in Tanis, not very far
from the eastern frontier, and his ambassadors
are even farther, waiting for the arrival of the
Israelites who come to beg for his support.
It seems difficult not to understand the word
ambassadors as referring to men sent forward
to meet the Israelites, and in that case they
must be the vanguard of the king and of his
army. If his princes are in Tanis, his am-
bassadors cannot be a long way behind; they
must be in advance, at the eastern border of the
country. Thus we are compelled either to
admit the reading of the Chaldasan version
P'!!'^?U''ii Daphnae, the eastern bulwark of Tanis,
or to suppose that there was in the Delta a city
called Hanes. This latter alternative seems to
me the more probable. If we turn to the great
inscription of Assurbanipal, in which the
Assyrian king relates his wars against Tahraka,
or as he calls him Tarqu, we find that among
the cities to which his father had appointed
governors there is one called Khininsi. Here
again Oppert ' and other Assyrian scholars have
admitted that the name referred to Heracleo-
polis. But as it occurs among the names of
cities which all belong to the Delta, immediately
after Athribis and before Sebennytos, Mendes,

" Dillmann, Jesaia, p. 268.

' Mum. surlesrapporls de I'Egypta et de VAssyrle, p. 91 ;
Haupt, Zeitschr., 1883, p. 80.

B 2


and Busiris, it would be extraordinary if it
applied to a city of Upper Egypt. Therefore
we must conclude tliat there was a Khininsi in
tlie Delta, for which the hieroglyphic equivalent
would be v-^ 7v7/f«.s,which Professor Duomichen

considers as being the hieroglyphic name of
Daplmae. Whcthci- we admit his conclusion
or not, we nnist give up the idea that Hera-
cleopolis is mentioned in Isaiah. Heracleopolis
is not named in the Bible. Hanes is not the
capital of the XXth nome of Upper Egypt, it
is more north, on the frontier of the country.
As for the name Hanes, it is probably the same
as 'Avvcn.?, which is found in Herodotus.', The
Grreek author mentions it twice, once as being
the birthplace of the king of the same name,
and again as being one of the cities of the
Calasirians, all of which, except Thebes, are
cities of the Delta.

It is very difficult to determine the exact
boundaries of the Heracleopolitan nome. The
two authorities on which we must chiefly rely,
Strabo and Ptolemy, agree in stating that the
nome lay in a great island. Ptolemy gives us
the latitudes of the two points where the Nile
divided itself into two branches, and where the
branches reunited. According to him, the river
divided itself at latitude 29° 30', and the two
branches met together at latitude 28° 45'.^
In fact, we must reverse the expressions used
by the Egyptian geographer, who describes the
nomes from north to south like a traveller going
up the Nile.* What seems to him the point
where the two branches separate is, on the
contrary, the place where they again unite,
while farther south, the place where the
branches are said to meet together is really

2 Her., ii. 137, IGG.

3 Ed. Bertius, p. 126.

* tTra Ka6' h jj.ipo<; (r;^ifeTai o TroTajj.b'; ttoluiv I'^trov tw
ilf>aK\(OTro\iT)]v voixuv Kai iv ttJ vrjcro) Nei'Aou ttoAis /xccrdycios

Koi fXrjTpOTToXL^ TTpOf T<o BvTlKWTeptO T/i^/iOTt ToG TTOTa/iOU

HpoKXeovs iroXis ntyaXrj, kol iv rfj vijan) Neiy\ou ird/Vis
p.f.auyuo'S (p. 125).

the point of their separation. According to
Ptolemy, the island had a length of thi'ee-
quarters of a degree. It contained two im-
portant cities, Heracleopolis, situate on the
western branch of the river which embraced the
island, and Nilopolis,^ quite inland.

Strabo," in a somewhat obscure passage, says
that near the island on the right was a canal
running towards Libya and the Arsino'ite nome.
Tt had two openings and cut the island in two.
The French archasologist Jomard,^ who must
be credited with the discovery of the site of
Heracleopolis and the identification of the city,
considers that the canal described by Strabo is
the same as the western branch of the Nile
mentioned by Ptolemy, consequently he gives
the following boundaries : on the east, the
Nile ; on the west, the Bahr Yusuf ; on the
north and on the south, two transversal canals
cut across the valley. He gives the starting-
point of both of them; for the southern, at a
place called Ilarabchent, and for the northern,
at Zaiueh, near the present railway station of

Jomard's argument seems to me to be based
on an erroneous interpretation of Strabo. It is
impossible to suppose that the canal mentioned
by the Greek geographer skirted and limited
the island on the west, since Strabo says that
it cut through the island, and separated part
of it from the rest. Moreover, for Strabo, an
island is not artificial, not a piece of land en-

'" I consider that the site of Nilopolis is that of the place
now called Aboosir.

TrA?;^ c' TTOv Tis ivTpi^ei vvjcros, wv a^ioXoyiDraTi] rj Tov

HpaKXeiiuTLKOf vopLov TTipil^ovcra (p. 789).

tld o Hpa/<\eojT7JS voyuos Iv i'?/cro) fJnydXy Ka6^ i)v rj Stujpi'^
icTiv IV Sf^ia ei9 T-^iy Aij3i't;i' IttI t6i> 'Ap(Ti.voiTrjv vojxuv, <L(7Tt
Kal Ei<jTop.ov (Lvai T7)P' oiuipvya /xcto^u fiipovs Tivoi t^s vijcrov
■jrapifXTriirTOVTO's (p. 809).

Mfra St TOV Ap(nvoi.rqv koX tov 'WpaKXiuiTlKov vojiov 'Hpa-
kAcovs TToAts iv y o i)(ytvno]V Ti/xaraL VTrivavTiw; Tois Apac-
voiVats (p. 812).

' Descr. de VEgypte, Antiquitis, vol. iv,, p. 401, ed.


circled ])y canals ; for him an island must owe
its existence to tlie Nile itself, it must be
natural, and due to a division in the bed of
the river itself. We must therefore admit that,
in the times of Ptolemy and Strabo, the Nile
divided into two branches somewhere between
the present stations of Beni Suef and Feshu.
We cannot consider the description of the two
writers as referring to an island produced by
canals ; it was a more important stream, part
of the river itself, which formed it. The island
was natural and not made by the hand of man.
There are several such islands at the present
day. The island of Heracleopolis was much
larger, but similar to that which is now in front
of the village of Luxor. Traces of a branch
of the Nile are said to exist in the valley
between Beni Suef and the valley ; but we do
not know when water ceased to flow into it.
Variations in the course of the river must
have occurred frequently, as they do to this
day. Branches of the Nile are separated from
the main river, and thus islands are formed
which do not necessarily last for ever. For
instance, the island of Thebes has changed con-
siderably from what it was at the beginning of
this century. The map of the French savants
indicates that in their time by far the most im-
portant branch was the western. Now, on the
contrary, the great mass of water flows in the
eastern branch along the village of Luxor,
whereas after the beginning of March it is
quite easy to wade across the western river.

The island of Heracleopolis was formed by a
division in the river itself, and the city was
built on the western stream. That branch was
not the present Bahr Yusiif. When it reached
the desert of Ssedment, it may have foUowed
what has since become the bed of the Bahr
Yusfif in its lower course ; but it is evident from
Strabo and Ptolemy that, in their time, the
iinportant canal known as the Bahr Yusiif did
not flow as it does now. If, as is pi'obably the
case, its bed is natural and not the work of

man, a great part of it would have been silted
up in the time of these Greek writers, and
according to an Arab tradition it was reopened
by the famous Sultan Saladin, who then gave it
his name of Yusuf. Ptolemy gives us a con-
vincing proof of the truth of this statement.®
Speaking of the nome contiguous to that of
Heracleopolis on the south, the Oxyrynchos
nome, he says that its metropolis was inland,
/xecroyeio?. But the ruins of the city of Oxyryn-
chos, now called Behuesa, are on the bank of the
Bahr Yusiif, exactly like those of Heracleopolis,
which are described by Ptolemy as being on
the western branch of the Nile. Heracleo-
polis was situate on an important stream of
water which did not exist at Oxyrynchos, said
to be /M€crdyeto9. Yet if the Bahr Yusiif had
then followed its present course, the two cities
would have been in absolutely similar situa-
tions, and there would have been no reason for
saying that one was inland, and the other built
on a river. We are thus led to the conclusion
that, according to the Greek writers, the Bahr
Yusuf in its present course cannot be very old.
Ft is probably a work of nature enlarged and
regulated by the hand of man. Possibly the
kings of the Xllth Dynasty may have begun
this system of regulation in connection with
the works of Lake Moeris, which is always
attributed to them. But certainly in the time
of Ptolemy, the Bahr Yusiif was not the large
stream which it is now, or the geographer
would not have described the sites of Hera-
cleopohs and of Oxyrynchos as being so essen-
tially different.

Let us now turn to the hieroglyphic inscrip-
tions, and see what information they afford as
to the geography of the nome. If we consult a
certain monument in the museum of Marseilles,®
dating from the Xlllth Dynasty, we find what
I believe to be one of the oldest names, if not

Ktti ft.ca-oyeio'; /xTjTpoTroXts 'Ofu'pwyx"^ (P- 126).
'■' liecueil des Iravaux, vol. i. p. 107 and 11'.


of the whole noinc, yet at least of the region
around Heracleopolis. The officer for whom
the statuette in Marseilles was sculptured was

loioer of ilie King in. the inner idands of Tesli.
Tesh I consider with Briigsch as meaning the
region of the lake — das Seeland} Tlie sign
cnD reads (j "kx < ' find has as variant 1:^:^^, and
this leads us to an inscription of a much later
epoch, in which are related the high deeds of
Horus in his fabled wars against Set. When
going down the river, the god reaches the
neighbourhood of Heracleopolis, we read this:"

<z:s. rv\^ Q © U <n> r^^'^ il i iiJ / i i i i i i i

He shoxoed his bravery at Seab, protecting Osiris of
Anrudef, in Mesen of the rigid and Mesen. of the
left, wluch are the abodes of His Majesty in the
inner islands. We have a detailed description of
several parts of the nome in the texts ^ which
relate the various episodes of the famous war.
We there see that the locality called in the
later text v," — » Anrudef, was a great sanc-
tuary of Osiris, and that part of the temple
called J] "f ^ the eastern abode, or ^\f^ the

good abode, was dedicated to Isis, who was
considered as protecting Osiris by her enchant-
ments. The goddess kept watch over the god
for fear that enemies might come by night

from tlie western desert, called ^ ^ the

desert or the mountain of Mer. The eastern
abode looked towards the south ; it was to the
south-west of the shrine of Osiris, and near to
it. This shrine of Osiris Hershef, Arsaphes,
is frequently mentioned in mythological and

religious inscriptions ; it is called o o A @

Nar, from the name of a tree which Brugsch

• Zeitschr., 1872, p. 89.

2 Duemichen, Temp. Inschr., i., pi. cii. 22.

^ Naville, Mythe d'Horus, pi. xvii.

considers as being a kind of acacia, and M.
Loret as the oleander.

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

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