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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 periodicals archive ?
In "The Career of Some Elephantine and Murasfl Scribes and Witnesses," Eleonora Cussini discusses the same marriage contract (TAD B3.
Elephantine sells an array of objects painted in bright colors and organic designs -- and all handmade in Nepal.
Date of the Foundation of the Jewish Colony at Elephantine.
Four bars are also available including The Yasmin Vitamin Bar and Lounge overlooking the pool and gardens, and La Promenade located on the hotel's rose granite walkway with views of Elephantine Island.
The only thing which has the slightest chance of getting through his elephantine skin is to either laugh at his ignorance or, better yet, completely ignore him.
With the weight of a city's expectation upon her shoulders, director Gemma Bodinetz had charged herself with a task of elephantine proportions - to present a play that pays tribute to the theatre's great past while raising the bar for its future.
A recent TV programme asked whether these elephantine over-eaters should be treated on the NHS.
His elephantine memory and good humor continued all the way to the end of his long life, and he would like patient readers of this obituary to know that he has "carefully reviewed and approved this message.
O elephantine Pan in the china shop of the muses behind the veils
A small boat passes Elephantine island in the River Nile, off the southern town of Aswan, 800 kms south of the Egyptian capital Cairo (AFP)
And, of course, Mike's last post was as "mayor of the Pentagon"--where as director of administration and management, he oversaw DoD's elephantine headquarters apparatus.
One should not earn his ENMITY, for he has an elephantine MEMORY; but he may be motivated by MONEY.