ESNA, or Esneh, a town of Upper Egypt on the W. bank of the Nile, 454 m. S.S.E. of Cairo by rail, the railway station being on the opposite side of the river. Pop. (1897) 16,000, mostly Copts. Esna, one of the healthiest towns in Egypt, is noted for its manufactures of pottery and its large grain and live stock markets. It formerly had a large trade with the Sudan. A caravan road to the south goes through the oasis of Kurkur. The trade, almost stopped by the Mahdist Wars, is now largely diverted by railway and steamboat routes. There is, however, considerable traffic with the oasis of Kharga, which lies almost due west of the town. Nearly in the centre of the town is the Ptolemaic and Roman temple of the ram-headed Khnum, almost buried in rubbish and houses. The interior of the pronaos is accessible to tourists, and contains the latest known hieroglyphic inscription, dating from the reign of Decius (A.D. 249-251). With Khnum are associated the goddesses Sati and Neith. In the neighbourhood are remains of Coptic buildings, including a subterranean church (discovered 1895) in the desert half a mile beyond the limits of cultivation. The name Esna is from the Coptic Sne. By the Greeks the place was called Latopolis, from the worship here of the latus fish. In the persecutions under Diocletian A.D. 303, the Christians of Esna, a numerous body, suffered severely. In later times the town frequently served as a place of refuge for political exiles. The so-called Esna barrage across the Nile (built 1906-1908) is 30 m. higher up stream at Edfu.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)