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Esna is built in the area of ancient Latopolis and is the first site of a major surviving temple south (55 Ion 34 miles) of Luxor. Its Egyptian name was Iunyt or Ta-senet (from which the Coptic Sne and Arabic Isna). The temple, which now stands in the middle of the modern town, some 9 m (29 ft 6 in) below the level of the surrounding buildings, dates to Ptolemaic and Roman times and is one of the latest constructed in Egypt. It was dedicated to Chnum and several other deities, the most prominent being Neith and Heka (whose name means 'magic'). Only the hypostyle hall has survived, but this is well preserved. The back wall is the oldest part of the building, being the facade of the old Ptolemaic temple, with reliefs of Ptolemy VI and VIII. To this the Romans added the present structure which has decoration dating all the way to the 3rd century AD. The roof of the hall is supported by tall columns with composite floral capitals of varied design, and the facade of this hypostyle is in the form of an intercolumnar screen wall similar to those of the temples of Dendera and Edfu, which this structure probably resembled in its original complete state.
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