, Polyb. Ptol. Joseph.; Ῥινοκόλουρα
, Strab.: Eth.Π̓ινοκουραῖρος
, Eth. Ῥινοκουρουρίτης
), a maritime city on the confines of Egypt and Palestine, and consequently reckoned sometimes to one country, sometimes to the other. Strabo, going south, reckons Gaza, Raphia, Rhinocolura (xvi. p. 759); Polybius, going north, reckons it to Egypt, calling Raphia the first city of Coelesyria (5.80). Ptolemy also reckons it to Egypt, and places it in the district of Cassiotis (4.5.12), between Ostracine and Anthedon. The Itinerarium Antonini (p. 151) places it xxii. M.P. south of Rafia, and the same distance north of Ostracena.
The following curious account of its origin and name is given by Diodorus Siculus. Actisanes, king of Aethiopia, having conquered Egypt, with a view to the suppression of crime in his newly-acquired dominion, collected together all the suspected thieves in the country, and, after judicial conviction, cut off their noses and sent them to colonise a city which he had built for them on the extremity of the desert, called, from their mishap, Rhinocolura (quasi π̔ῖνος κόλουροι
al. π̔. κείρασθαι
), situated on the confines of Egypt and Syria, near the shore; and from its situation destitute of nearly all the necessaries of life.
The soil around it was salt, and the small supply of well water within the walls was bitter. Necessity, the mother of invention, led the inhabitants to adopt the following novel expedient for their sustenance. They collected a quantity of reeds, and, splitting them very fine, they wove them into nets, which they stretched for many stadia along the sea-shore, and so snared large quantities of quails as they came in vast flights from the sea (1.60). Strabo copies this account of its origin (l.c.
); Seneca ascribes the act to a Persian king, and assigns the city to Syria (de Ira,
3.20). Strabo (xvi. p.781
) mentions it as having been the great emporium of Indian and Arabian merchandise, which was discharged at Leuce Come, on the eastern coast of the Red Sea, whence it was conveyed, viâ Petra, to Rhinocolura, and thence dispersed to all quarters.
In his day, however, the tide of commerce flowed chiefly down the Nile to Alexandria.
The name occurs in Josephus, but unconnected with any important event.
It is known to the ancient ecclesiastical writers as the division between the possessions of the sons of Noah. S. Jerome states that the “River of Egypt” flowed between this city and Pelusium (Reland, Palaest.
pp. 285, 286, 969--972); and in one passage the LXX. translate “the River of Egypt” by Rhinocorura. (Isaiah,
It is remarkable that this penal colony, founded for mutilated convicts, should have become fruitful in saints; and its worthy and exemplary bishop Melas, in the time of the Arian persecution, who was succeeded by his brother Solon, became the founder of a succession of religious men, which, according to the testimony of Sozomen, continued to his time. (Hist. Eccles.
7.31.) Rhinocorura is now El-Arish,
as the [p. 2.710]
River of Egypt is Wady-el-Arish.
The village is situated on an eminence about half a mile from the sea, and is for the most part enclosed within a wall of considerable thickness.
There are some Roman ruins, such as marble columns, &c., and a very fine well of good water. (Irby and Mangles, Travels,
p. 174, October 7.)