to Beliâna. AKHMÎM. 17. Route. 229
The next steamboat and railway stations are (46 M.) El-Marâgha
and (5372 M.) Shendawîn (Chandawil), both on the W. bank (comp.
p. 203). A large market is held in the latter every Saturday. On
the E. bank ofthe stream, which hère encloses several islands, are
some grottoes, without inscriptions.
63 M. Sohâg (rail, station, p. 203; Hôtel du Nil, on the river-
bank ; small Greek Inn, near the rail, station), a considérable
town (14,000 inhab.) on the W. bank, is the capital of the province
of Girga (650 sq. M. ; 688,000 inhab.) and contains a very hand¬
some government-building and élégant houses. The Sohâgîyeh
Canal, which leads hence to Assiût, keeps to the W. and is intended
to convey the water of the rising Nile as far as possible towards the
An embanked road (with telegraph-posts) leads to the W. from Sohâg,
via the village of Mazâlweh, to (3 M.) the early-Christian settlement of the
White Convent, or Deir el-Abyad, situated on the edge of the Libyan
mountains. The convent, also nàmed Deir Anba Shenûda after its founder,
in which husbands, wives, and children live in families (220 soûls in ail),
is enclosed by a lofty wall of white limestone blocks, and looks more like
a fortress than a convent. The wall and the entrance-gateway, on the S.
side, are adorned with a concave cornice like an Egyptian temple. The
handsome church dates at latest from the 5th cent, and is a basilica with
nave and aisles. The chancel ends in three vaulted apses. In the court
(formerly the nave of the church) are some ancient columns, probably
taken from the adjacent ruins of the antique Alrtpe (Athribis). The rich
treasures of the library of the convent hâve been sold to European col-
lectors. — About 33/4 M. to the N.W. is the Red Convent, Deir el-Ahmar,
also called Deir Abu Bshai. The old church of the convent, a basilica
with nave and aisles, is a very ancient structure of brick, with elaborate
capitals and a richly articulated apse. Both of thèse famous convents are
now undergoing restoration.
671/2 M. Akhmîm, a steamboat and mail station on the E.
bank, also reached from Sohâg by a shorter land-route (ferry across
the river and then 72 hr.'s donkey-ride), is a thriving little town
with 28,000 inhab., including 8000 Copts. The weekly market on
Wed. is much frequented, and the bazaar is well-stocked. The
numerous cotton-mills produce the cloth for the blue shirts of the
fellahin and for the long shâla (pi. shâlât), or shawls with fringes,
which the poorer classes wear on state occasions and for protection
against cold. Akhmîm stands on the site of Khemmis or Panopolis,
which was the capital of a separate nome. The Egyptians named it
Epu and also Khentë-Min, after its god, the ithyphallic Mn(p.cxxv),
whence proceed the Coptic Shmin and the Arabie Akhmîm.
Herodotus (II, 91) distinguishes the citizens of Khemmis as the only
Egyptians who favoured Greek customs and relates that they erected a
temple to Perseus, worshipped him with Hellenic rites, and held games
in his honour. The citizens claimed Perseus as a native of their town
and told the garrulous Halicamassian that he had visited Khemmis, when
on his way to Libya in pursuit of the Gorgon's head, and had recognized
them as his kinsmen. A statue of him stood in the temple. From time
to time the hero revisited Khemmis, leaving, as a sign of his présence,
a sandal, two ells long; the finding of this was considered a portent of
good fortune. — Strabo mentions the weavers and stone-cutters of Panopolis.
— Khemmis still flourished in the Roman period, and its ancient and