Elephantine

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Elephantine

(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.

Elephantine

 

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.

REFERENCES

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

elephantine

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.