The lost city of Antinoupolis in Egypt, as seen by Napoleon’s expedition

The emperor Hadrian founded (or refounded) a city in Egypt which he called Antinoupolis or Antinoe, in memory of his favourite Antinous.  The city was of considerable extent, and existed into the Islamic period.

The ruins were destroyed in the 19th century for building materials to erect a sugar factory.  However they were still visible as late as 1798, and the Napoleonic Description de l’Egypte (list of volumes here) contains plans and drawings which are, frankly, rather impressive.

Book 14 (1809), Volume IV – Planches : Antiquités, online at Heidelberg, gives us the pictures and plans.  Planches 53-61 are the images from Antinoupolis.  Here is a view of the site:

The ruins of Antinoupolis. Description de l'Egypte.
The ruins of Antinoupolis. Description de l’Egypte.

And here is the plan of the city, albeit at low resolution.  Note the Hippodrome at the top, and the Nile and the modern village at the bottom.

Antinoupolis.  Plan of the city ruins.
Antinoupolis. Plan of the city ruins.

I recommend downloading the PDF from Heidelberg – you can zoom into the pictures and see incredible details.

There are still ruins at Antinoupolis, of course.  A Pharonic temple of Ramasses II still stands, sort of.  Modern excavators have been at work.  But I think we must all mourn the loss of the magnificent colonnades still visible to Napoleon’s men.

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