BENISUEF. 18. Route. 193
recently hy Prof. Flinders Petrie, who discovered on its E. side the small
Temple of Snofru. This, built of blocks of limestone, consists of two
bare chambers leading to an open court immediately adjoining the pyr¬
amid. The numerous inscriptions on the walls were placed there by
later pilgrims to the shrine.
The Mastabas of Meidum lie to the N. and E. of the pyramid. These
were the tombs of the courtiers and officials of Snofru, and are among
the oldest monuments of the kind in the world. The two most important
(to the N.) are those of the judge and vizier Nefermaat and his wife Yetet,
and of Prince Rahotep and his wife Nofrel. Their inner chambers, which
were inaccessible in antiquity and have been again built up after explor¬
ation, were embellished with admirably executed representations and in¬
scriptions. The tomb of Rahotep is decorated with painted bas-reliefs,
while in that of Nefermaat some of the scenes are painted upon stucco
(e.g. the geese, now in the Museum at Gizeh, p. 79), while others are en¬
graved in outline and the inner surfaces filled up with colours. —
Numerous graves of the humbler ranks of society have also been dis¬
covered at Meidum. In these the bodies were not interred in the usual
manner, at full length, but lying on their left side, facing the E , and
with knees drawn up.
On the right bank, opposite Rikka and about iy2 M. from the
river, lies the hamlet of Atfih, with some mounds of earth and
de'bris representing the ancient Aphroditopolis, named after Hathor-
Aphrodite who was worshipped here.
The Egyptian name of the town was Tep-ye or Per Hathor nebt Tep-ye,
i.e. 'House of Hathor, mistress of Tep-ye', whence the shortened Coptic
Petpeh and Arabic Atfih. Strabo states that a white cow, sacred to Hathor,
was worshipped here.
In the Christian period (ca. 310 A.D.) Aphroditopolis gained some cel¬
ebrity from St. Anthony, who fixed his hermitage in the mountains to the
E. of the town, beside a well and a group of palms. So many pilgrims
of every class, age, and sex sought out the holy man, that a regular post¬
ing route, with relays of camels, was laid out across the desert.. St. An¬
thony, however, fled from his admirers and buried himself deeper in the
mountains. But while he thus shook off his earthly visitants, he could
not so easily escape those extraordinary tempters from spirit-land, at which
Callot has taught us to smile, though to St. Anthony himself, as well as
to St. Hilarion and other similarly persecuted anchorites, the contest was
one of bitter earnest.
Passing a few islands, we reach (W. bank) El-Wasta (rail.
station, see p. 189 ; branch-line to the Fayum, p. 176 ; post-office
and Arab telegraph at the rail, station, 1/4 M. from the Nile).
A small canal (el-Magnun), beginning near the village of Zdwiyeh
(W. bank), runs out of the Nile into the Bahr Yusuf (p. 189).
On the W. bank the mountains recede a little, but on the E. bank
their steep and lofty spurs frequently extend down to the river in
rising picturesque forms. None of the Nile-villages before Benisuef
need be mentioned. On the E. bank stands the Coptic convent of
Mar Antonios. — About 2 M. inland from Zetun (W. bank) lies the
village of Bush (Bouche; rail, stat., p. 189), inhabited by Copts.
711/2 M. Benisuef, on the W. bank (rail, stat., p. 189; stat., 3/4 M.
from the Nile), is a town of 15,000 inhab., pleasantly situated be¬
tween the railway and the river. It contains a post and telegraph
office and is the capital of a province, which contains 171 villages
and about 314,450 inhabitants. To the left of the rail, station is
Baedeker's Egypt. 5th Ed. 13