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(ĕl'əfăntī`nē), island, SE Egypt, in the Nile below the First Cataract, near Aswan. In ancient times it was a military post guarding the southern frontier of Egypt. The Elephantine papyruses, which date from the 5th cent. B.C. and describe a colony of Jewish mercenaries, were found there. Surviving ruins are extensive. The ancient nilometer, built to gauge the water level of the Nile, was restored in 1870.



the ancient Greek name of an island on the Nile opposite Aswan and of the ancient settlement on it. Elephantine was the center for Egypt’s trade in ivory and other goods with the South; it was also the capital of a nome. Notable structures include the remains of temples from the Old and Middle kingdoms, a granite triumphal arch from the fourth century B.C., and a nilometer described by Strabo, with marks of the highest water levels. Tombs of nomarchs have been preserved, as well as a necropolis with the mummies of sacred rams entombed in stone sarcophagi. Papyri from the 25th century B.C. and archives of local nomarchs and a Judaic military colony have been found on Elephantine.


Meyer, E. Der Papyrusfund von Elephantine. Leipzig, 1912.
Müller, H. W. Die Felsengräber der Fürsten von Elephantine. Hamburg-New York, 1940.


Used of programs or systems that are both conspicuous hogs (owing perhaps to poor design founded on brute force and ignorance) and exceedingly hairy in source form. An elephantine program may be functional and even friendly, but (as in the old joke about being in bed with an elephant) it's tough to have around all the same (and, like a pachyderm, difficult to maintain). In extreme cases, hackers have been known to make trumpeting sounds or perform expressive proboscatory mime at the mention of the offending program. Usage: semi-humorous. Compare "has the elephant nature" and the somewhat more pejorative monstrosity. See also second-system effect and baroque.
References in classic literature ?
In place of his former somewhat elephantine method of progression he adopted a species of shuffle which had excellent results, for it enabled him to brush twigs away instead of stepping flatfootedly on them.
Upon this Mr Casby rose up in his list shoes, and with a slow, heavy step (he was of an elephantine build), made for the door.
The fat boy, with elephantine playfulness, stretched out his arms to ravish a kiss; but as it required no great agility to elude him, his fair enslaver had vanished before he closed them again; upon which the apathetic youth ate a pound or so of steak with a sentimental countenance, and fell fast asleep.
Donat miss Aga Khanas mausoleum, the Monastery of San Simeon, the Abu Simbel Temple, and Elephantine Island.
Yes, we have development works in many hotels owned by EGOTH, whether in the Marriott, or the Elephantine in Aswan, or in the Montazah land in Sharm El-Sheikh.
Objective: The aim of this project is to write a cultural history of 4000 years, localized on Elephantine Island in Egypt.
Thiruvananthapuram: An elephantine problem has visited this year's Thrissur Pooram, the biggest temple festival in Kerala, with Hollywood actress Pamela Anderson batting for the cause of elephants, demanding that they be kept off the festivities.
Lemaire analyzes ostraca from Elephantine and concludes that identity was primarily evident through language of ritual and religion.
His principal sources are the Bible, including the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, Josephus, the Elephantine archive (fifth century), the Zeno Papyri (third century), the Dead Sea Scrolls, and archaeology.
It moves at an elephantine pace" - Sir David Attenborough on the BBC's commissioning process.
I believe our brains can manifest into visual things" Actress Kate Hudson, in philosophical mood "It moves at an elephantine pace" Sir David Attenborough on the BBC's commissioning process "Crickets jump in my house.
Instead of beginning the Jewish story with Abraham or Moses, or even the importance of those legendary figures despite their dubious histo-ricity--or with the Israelite kingdoms, whose archaeological evidence he later probes quite deeply--he opens his book on Egypt's Elephantine Island, where a 5th-century letter arrives from "a father and mother .