194 Route 18. EL-HIBEH. From Cairo
the Mudiriyeh. The linen-manufacture for which this place was
celebrated in the middle ages has greatly declined, but there are
several sugar-plantations and a small bazaar. To the left of the
railway is a fine grove of palms.
On the right bank of the Bahr Yusuf, 10 M. to the W. of Benisuef,
lies the village of Henassiyeh el-Medineh (vulgo, Henassiyeh Omm el-Kimdn,
'rubbish-heaps of Henassiyeh'), beside the mounds of debris, covering
an area of ',2 sq. M., which mark the site of the ancient Heracleopolis.
The Egyptian name of the town was Henen-selen, from which are derived
the Coptic Hnes, and the Arabic Ahnds and Henassiyeh. It was the capital
of a nome (the Graeco-Roman Heracleopolites) and the chief seat of the
worship of the ram-headed god Hershef, identified by the Greeks with
Heracles (whence the name of the town). The ichneumon also was re¬
vered here. Among its chief shrines was a temple erected under the Middle
Empire and a new building by Ramses II., but all have practically van¬
ished ; and four columns of a late period, probably dating from a Byzantine
church, are all that projects above the rubbish-heaps. The ancient necro¬
polis lies on the W. side of the Bahr Yusuf.
Another road, traversing the Wddi Baydd, which opens near the vil¬
lage of Baydd, on the E. hank of the Nile, opposite Benisuef, leads through
the desert to the Convents of SS. Anthony and Paul (p. xxkix), a few leagues
from the Red Sea.
As far as Minyeh the space between the E. bank and the hills
remains narrow, the limestone rocks frequently abutting on the river
in unbroken walls or rounded bluffs. Few villages are seen on this
bank, but the fertile alluvial tract on the W. side, 10-12M. in width,
is thickly populated and carefully cultivated, exhibiting in profusion
all the cereals that grow on the Nile, date-palms, and sugar-cane.
The sugar-factories, which are a monopoly of the Khedive, follow
each other in rapid succession. They are connected by the railway,
and short branch-lines, used in harvest-time only, run from them
to the plantations lying farther to the W. Their lofty brick and iron
chimneys impart a very modern-industrial air to the ancient land
of the Pharaohs. Large barges with sugar-canes or with fellahin
'factory-hands' are met on the river. The juice is expressed from
the cane and then refined by being boiled twice in closed vessels.
The boat passes several large islands. On the W. bank lie Ba-
ranka and Bibeh (Beba el-Kobra, p. 189), with large sugar-factories.
The channel now contracts, and numerous islets are passed. 95 M.
Feshn(Fachn; rail, stat, p. 189), on the W.bank, is l'/o M. from the
river. Near the village of El-Hibeh (El-Hebah), on the E. bank,
about 2'/2 M. farther up, are the ruins of an ancient town, con¬
jectured to be Het-benu ('phoenix-castle'), the capital of a province.
The Town Walls, which are in good preservation, were restored under
the 21st Dyn., as is proved by numerous bricks stamped with the names
of Princess Est-em-kheb and her husband Men-kheper-re, or of their son
Pinotem (II.), high-priest of Ammon. — Ruins of a temple, built by
Sheshonk I. and Osorkon I. (22nd Dyn.), have also been discovered here.
On the E. bank rises the Gebel Shekh Embdrak.
108'/2 M. Maghagha (post and telegraph office at the rail, stat.,
p. 189), on the W. bank, with a large sugar-factory, which pas¬
sengers by Cook's tourist steamers are permitted to inspect.