to Belianeh. GIRGEH. 19. Route. 217
very few houses of a better class. It occupies the site of Ptolema'is
Hermiu, a town founded and endowed with great privileges by
Ptolemy Soter I. Its Egyptian name was Pso'i. Strabo described it
as 'the largest town in the Theba'id and not inferior in size to
Memphis; with a constitution drawn up in the Hellenic manner'.
About 71/2 M. to the W. of Menshiyeh, beside the village of
Kawdmil, are large cemeteries of the most remote period.
Beside the village of El-Ahaiwa, on the E. bank, are other burial-
places of the Ancient and the New Empire. On the hill, close to a
shekh's tomb, are the ruins of an Egyptian brick fortress. — On
the W. bank is the village of El-Ahaiwa el-Gharblyeh.
The Gebel Tukh, on the Arabian bank, approaches close to the
stream, about 3 M. below Menshiyeh. Extensive quarries (with
Greek, Latin, and Demotic inscriptions) exist here, especially
near Shikh Musa; these yielded building material for Ptolema'is.
88 M. Girgeh.(Guerga), on the W. bank, is a railway-station (p.191)
and has post and telegraph offices. It was formerly the capital of
the province of Girgeh (comp. p. 215), and contains over 17,000
inhab., of whom 4800 are Copts. Many of the houses in the town
are built of burnt brick and decorated with glazed tiles. The bazaar
resembles those of other Nile towns. Outside the town lies a Roman
Catholic convent, which is probably the oldest but one in Egypt;
the abbot is a member of the Fraternity of the Holy Sepulchre.
The town looks very picturesque as seen from the river. The Nile
makes a sharp bend here, and the effect is as if the W. bank, on
which the town stands, was at right angles to the E. bank. The
Arabian mountains rise like walls, and the four tall minarets ofthe
town, on the opposite bank of the Nile, seem to vie with them in
height. A picturesque group on the river-brink is formed by an old
and dilapidated mosque and a tall minaret beside it.
At Meshaikh, on the E. bank, opposite Girgeh, scholars will find in¬
teresting remains of a temple built by Ramses II. and restored by Merenptah.
Meshaikh is a village of the Aulad Yahya, on the site of the ancient Lepido-
tonpolis. Above the village are some ancient rock-tombs, the chief of which
belonged to Enher-mose, a high-priest of This in the reign of Merenptah
(19th Dyn.). About 3 M. to the N. is the old Coptic convent of Der el-Meldk,
the large cemetery of which is still used by the Christian inhabitants
of Girgeh. The Arabian mountains, which approach close to the river
beyond the village, contain numerous tombs, four of which, at a con¬
siderable elevation, deserve special attention as being the resting-places
of grandees of the ancient This (see below). Their inscriptions and re¬
presentations are now scarcely visible. — The village El-Birbeh, 3'/2 M.
to the N. of Girgeh, perhaps occupies the site of THs (Egypt. Tine), the
capital of the most ancient Egyptian kings (see p. Ixxv) and of a nome of
the same name.
99 M. Belianeh (Baliana), a town of 7200 inhab. on the W.
bank, is a railway and mail station and the starting-point for the
highly interesting excursion to Abydos (p. 218).