An English visitor to Antinoupolis in 1737

Another early visitor to Antinoupolis was Richard Pococke, whose Observations on Egypt, vol. 1, 1743, begin with a picture (before page 73) of one of the gates still then standing at the city.

Gate at Antinoupolis. Pococke, plate 24, between p.72-3.

He describes his visit as follows:

On the fourteenth [of December, 1737] we had a good wind, and passed by Minio [Minya] on the west, a neat town in comparison of the others, and the residence of the Cashis of the province of that name; higher we passed Souadi, a small town to the east.

We came up with the ruined city of Antinoopolis, now called Ensineh; Some say there was anciently a city here called Besa; but Antinous, who accompanied Hadrian into Egypt, being drowned there, that Emperor built this city, and called it after the name of his favourite, to whom he instituted games and divine honours: It was made also the capitalw of a new province of that name, taken out of the last of the seven provinces, called Heptanomis.

It is said the city was three or four miles round. I saw a large pillar with a Corinthian capital, and a square stone or plinth on the top, which was probably to set some statue on; it is said there were four of these.

I had also a view of a very fine gate of the Corinthian order, of exquisite workmanship; a plan and upright of which may be seen in the twenty-fourth plate, marked  A.  B.

Near this place is a village of Christians, called Ebadie, whose greatest security, among such very bad people, seems to be a notion that has prevailed, that no Mahometan can live in that place. Higher is the convent of St. John (Der-Abou-Ennis) where there are several priests; and a little further on is Meloui, near a mile to the west of the river.

w. Ptol. iv. c.15.

The gate is, of course, long since destroyed by the inhabitants of the area.  How interesting to discover that in Pococke’s time the village of Sheikh Ibade was a Coptic village,

The plate 24 also shows part of the now vanished temple at el-Ashmounein, or Hermopolis.


3 thoughts on “An English visitor to Antinoupolis in 1737

  1. I really ought to read more about Hadrian! I just ran into a post by Thomas L. McDonald with “a taste of what the pilgrim to Jordan will see and experience” including, “Jerash [Gerasa] in particular is an extraordinary site, sprawling far beyond Hadrian’s Triumphal arch and including a vast colonnaded forum, temples to Zeus and Artemis, the cardo maximus (the main colonnaded road), a theatre, a hippodrome, and several early churches. It is one of the finest and best preserved Roman sites outside of Rome.”

  2. “How interesting to discover that in Pococke’s time the village of Sheikh Ibade was a Coptic village” yet, according to Father Vansleb, at least the Church with the shrine of Ammonius had already been turned into a mosque some 65 years or more earlier – some interesting local ‘dynamics’, here: I wonder if you’ll run into more information about them as you delve further?

  3. Ha! Well spotted!

    Jerash is wonderful. I imagine it looks now as Antinopolis looked then. Go while you can!

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