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Esna  

John Baines

[anc. Egyp. Ta-senet, Gr. Latopolis.]

Egyptian city c. 55 km south of Luxor on the Nile. Inhabited since ancient times, Esna remains important as the terminus of one of the main caravan routes between Egypt and the Sudan, and as a centre of textile production. The only ancient building to survive is part of the Greco-Roman Temple of Khnum, but Deir Manayus wa Shuhada (the ‘Monastery of the Martyrs’), a 4th-century ad Coptic foundation, lies 6 km to the south-west, and the Ottoman mosque of el-Amri in the town centre retains a brick-built minaret of the Fatimid period (ad 969–1171).

The Temple of Khnum, now reduced to its hypostyle hall, formed the core of a complex including a quay (in situ) and a processional approach (untraced); this was related to four further complexes (almost entirely lost) in the region. The earlier, inner part of the temple is represented by its front wall, which was incorporated into the hall and now forms its rear wall. It has carved relief decoration dating to the reigns of Ptolemy VI Philometor (...

Article

Robert S. Bianchi

Artificially preserved human and animal remains. Mummification was practised in Egypt from the Early Dynastic period (c. 2925–c. 2575 bc). It is believed that the development of mummification was stimulated by observation of the natural desiccation that occurred in bodies buried in shallow pits in the hot sand of the desert. Over time, the preservation of the body came to be regarded as a prerequisite for survival in the afterlife, and artificial methods of conservation evolved. These were applied both to humans and to animals, especially those interred in mass burials as part of certain religious cults. The practice of mummification continued into the Greco-Roman period (332 bcad 395) but was gradually abandoned with the advent of Christianity. (See also Egypt, ancient, §XIII.)

In humans, the fully developed mummification technique involved the removal of the brain and viscera, the latter being preserved separately in vessels known as ...