1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Akhmim

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

AKHMIM, or Ekhmim, a town of Upper Egypt, on the right bank of the Nile, 67 m. by river S. of Assiut, and 4 m. above Suhag, on the opposite side of the river, whence there is railway communication with Cairo and Assuan. It is the largest town on the east side of the Nile in Upper Egypt, having a population in 1907 of 23,795, of whom about a third were Copts. Akhmim has several mosques and two Coptic churches, maintains a weekly market, and manufactures cotton goods, notably the blue shirts and check shawls with silk fringes worn by the poorer classes of Egypt. Outside the walls are the scanty ruins of two ancient temples. In Abulfeda’s days (13th century A.D.) a very imposing temple still stood here. Akhmim was the Egyptian Apu or Khen-min, in Coptic Shmin, known to the Greeks as Chemmis or Panopolis, capital of the 9th or Chemmite nome of Upper Egypt. The ithyphallic Min (Pan) was here worshipped as “the strong Horns.” Herodotus mentions the temple dedicated to “Perseus” and asserts that Chemmis was remarkable for the celebration of games in honour of that hero, after the manner of the Greeks, at which prizes were given; as a matter of fact some representations are known of Nubians and people of Puoni (Somalic coast) clambering up poles before the god Min. Min was especially a god of the desert routes on the east of Egypt, and the trading tribes are likely to have gathered to his festivals for business and pleasure, at Coptos (which was really near to Neapolis, Kena) even more than at Akhmim. Herodotus perhaps confused Coptos with Chemmis. Strabo mentions linen-weaving as an ancient industry of Panopolis, and it is not altogether a coincidence that the cemetery of Akhmim is one of the chief sources of the beautiful textiles of Roman and Coptic age that are brought from Egypt. Monasteries abounded in this neighbourhood from a very early date; Shenout (Sinuthius), the fiery apostle and prophet of the Coptic national church, was a monk of Atrēpe (now Suhag), and led the populace to the destruction of the pagan edifices. He died in 451; some years earlier Nestorius, the ex-patriarch, had succumbed perhaps to his persecution and to old age, in the neighbourhood of Akhmim. Nonnus, the Greek poet, was born at Panopolis at the end of the 4th century.  (F. Ll. G.)