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Title: History of Egypt, Chaldæa, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, Volume 2 (of 12)
Author: Maspero, G. (Gaston)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "History of Egypt, Chaldæa, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, Volume 2 (of 12)" ***

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[Illustration: Spines]

[Illustration: Cover]


By G. MASPERO, Honorable Doctor of Civil Laws, and Fellow of Queen’s
College, Oxford; Member of the Institute and Professor at the College of

Edited by A. H. SAYCE, Professor of Assyriology, Oxford

Translated by M. L. McCLURE, Member of the Committee of the Egypt
Exploration Fund


Volume II., Part A.




[Illustration: Frontispiece]

[Illustration: Titlepage]




_The cemeteries of Gizeh and Saqqâra: the Great Sphinx; the mastabas,
their chapel and its decoration, the statues of the double, the
sepulchral vault--Importance of the wall-paintings and texts of the
mastabas in determining the history of the Memphite dynasties._

_The king and the royal family--Double nature and titles of the
sovereign: his Horus-names, and the progressive formation of the
Pharaonic Protocol--Royal etiquette an actual divine worship; the
insignia and prophetic statues of Pharaoh, Pharaoh the mediator between
the gods and his subjects--Pharaoh in family life; his amusements, his
occupations, his cares--His harem: the women, the queen, her origin, her
duties to the king--His children: their position in the State; rivalry
among them during the old age and at the death of their father;
succession to the throne, consequent revolutions._

_The royal city: the palace and its occupants--The royal household and
its officers: Pharaoh’s jesters, dwarfs, and magicians--The royal domain
and the slaves, the treasury and the establishments which provided for
its service: the buildings and places for the receipt of taxes--The
scribe, his education, his chances of promotion: the career of Amten,
his successive offices, the value of his personal property at his

_Egyptian feudalism: the status of the lords, their rights, their
amusements, their obligations to the sovereign--The influence of the
gods: gifts to the temples, and possessions in mortmain; the priesthood,
its hierarchy, and the method of recruiting its ranks--The military:
foreign mercenaries; native militia, their privileges, their training._

_The people of the towns--The slaves, men without a master--Workmen and
artisans; corporations: misery of handicraftsmen--Aspect of the towns:
houses, furniture, women in family life--Festivals; periodic markets,
bazaars: commerce by barter, the weighing of precious metals._

_The country people--The villages; serfs, free peasantry--Rural domains;
the survey, taxes; the bastinado, the corvée--Administration of justice,
the relations between peasants and their lords; misery of the peasantry;
their resignation and natural cheerfulness; their improvidence; their
indifference to political revolutions._

[Illustration: 003.jpg PAGE IMAGE]


_The king, the queen, and the royal princes--Administration under
the Pharaohs--Feudalism and the Egyptian priesthood, the military--The
citizens and country people._

Between the Fayûm and the apex of the Delta, the Lybian range expands
and forms a vast and slightly undulating table-land, which runs parallel
to the Nile for nearly thirty leagues. The Great Sphinx Harmakhis has
mounted guard over its northern extremity ever since the time of the
Followers of Horus.

     Illustration: Drawn by Boudier, from _La Description de
     l’Egypte,_ A., vol. v. pl. 7. vignette, which is also by
     Boudier, represents a man bewailing the dead, in the
     attitude adopted at funerals by professional mourners of
     both sexes; the right fist resting on the ground, while the
     left hand scatters on the hair the dust which he has just
     gathered up. The statue is in the Gîzeh Museum.

Hewn out of the solid rock at the extreme margin of the
mountain-plateau, he seems to raise his head in order that he may be the
first to behold across the valley the rising of his father the Sun. Only
the general outline of the lion can now be traced in his weather-worn
body. The lower portion of the head-dress has fallen, so that the neck
appears too slender to support the weight of the head. The cannon-shot
of the fanatical Mamelukes has injured both the nose and beard, and
the red colouring which gave animation to his features has now almost
entirely disappeared. But in spite of this, even in its decay, it still
bears a commanding expression of strength and dignity. The eyes look
into the far-off distance with an intensity of deep thought, the lips
still smile, the whole face is pervaded with calmness and power. The
art that could conceive and hew this gigantic statue out of the
mountain-side, was an art in its maturity, master of itself and sure of
its effects. How many centuries were needed to bring it to this degree
of development and perfection!


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by Lepsius. The
     cornerstone at the top of the mastaba, at the extreme left
     of the hieroglyphic frieze, had been loosened and thrown to
     the ground by some explorer; the artist has restored it to
     its original position.

In later times, a chapel of alabaster and rose granite was erected
alongside the god; temples were built here and there in the more
accessible places, and round these were grouped the tombs of the whole
country. The bodies of the common people, usually naked and uncoffined,
were thrust under the sand, at a depth of barely three feet from the
surface. Those of a better class rested in mean rectangular chambers,
hastily built of yellow bricks, and roofed with pointed vaulting.
No ornaments or treasures gladdened the deceased in his miserable
resting-place; a few vessels, however, of coarse pottery contained
the provisions left to nourish him during the period of his second

Some of the wealthy class had their tombs cut out of the mountain-side;
but the majority preferred an isolated tomb, a “mastaba,” * comprising a
chapel above ground, a shaft, and some subterranean vaults.

     * “The Arabic word ‘mastaba,’ plur. ‘masatib,’ denotes the
     stone bench or platform seen in the streets of Egyptian
     towns in front of each shop. A carpet is spread on the
     ‘mastaba,’ and the customer sits upon it to transact his
     business, usually side by side with the seller. In the
     necropolis of Saqqâra, there is a temple of gigantic
     proportions in the shape of a ‘mastaba.’The inhabitants of
     the neighbourhood call it ‘Mastabat-el-Farâoun,’ the seat of
     Pharaoh, in the belief that anciently one of the Pharaohs
     sat there to dispense justice. The Memphite tombs of the
     Ancient Empire, which thickly cover the Saqqâra plateau, are
     more or less miniature copies of the ‘Mastabat-el-
     Farâoun.’Hence the name of mastabas, which has always been
     given to this kind of tomb, in the necropolis of Saqqâra.”

From a distance these chapels have the appearance of truncated pyramids,
varying in size according to the fortune or taste of the owner; there
are some which measure 30 to 40 ft. in height, with a façade 160 ft.
long, and a depth from back to front of some 80 ft., while others attain
only a height of some 10 ft. upon a base of 16 ft. square.*

     * The mastaba of Sabû is 175 ft. 9 in. long, by about 87 ft.
     9 in. deep, but two of its sides have lost their facing;
     that of Ranimait measures 171 ft. 3 in. by 84 ft. 6 in. on
     the south front, and 100 ft. on the north front. On the
     other hand, the mastaba of Papû is only 19 ft. 4 in. by 29
     ft. long, and that of KMbiûphtah 42 ft. 4 in. by 21 ft. 8

The walls slope uniformly towards one another, and usually have a smooth
surface; sometimes, however, their courses are set back one above the
other almost like steps.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Émil Brugsch-Bey,
     taken in the course of the excavations begun in 1886, with
     the funds furnished by a public subscription opened by the
     _Journal des Débats._

The brick mastabas were carefully cemented externally, and the layers
bound together internally by fine sand poured into the interstices.
Stone mastabas, on the contrary, present a regularity in the decoration
of their facings alone; in nine cases out of ten the core is built of
rough stone blocks, rudely cut into squares, cemented with gravel and
dried mud, or thrown together pell-mell without mortar of any kind. The
whole building should have been orientated according to rule, the four
sides to the four cardinal points, the greatest axis directed north and
south; but the masons seldom troubled themselves to find the true north,
and the orientation is usually incorrect.*

     * Thus the axis of the tomb of Pirsenû is 17° east of the
     magnetic north. In some cases the divergence is only 1° or
     2°, more often it is 6°, 7°, 8°, or 9°, as can be easily
     ascertained by consulting the work of Mariette.

The doors face east, sometimes north or south, but never west. One of
these is but the semblance of a door, a high narrow niche, contrived
so as to face east, and decorated with grooves framing a carefully
walled-up entrance; this was for the use of the dead, and it was
believed that the ghost entered or left it at will. The door for the
use of the living, sometimes preceded by a portico, was almost always
characterized by great simplicity. Over it is a cylindrical tympanum,
or a smooth flagstone, bearing sometimes merely the name of the dead
person, sometimes his titles and descent, sometimes a prayer for his
welfare, and an enumeration of the days during which he was entitled to
receive the worship due to ancestors. They invoked on his behalf, and
almost always precisely in the same words, the “Great God,” the Osiris
of Mendes, or else Anubis, dwelling in the Divine Palace, that burial
might be granted to him in Amentît, the land of the West, the very great
and very good, to him the vassal of the Great God; that he might walk
in the ways in which it is good to walk, he the vassal of the Great
God; that he might have offerings of bread, cakes, and drink, at the New
Year’s Feast, at the feast of Thot, on the first day of the year, on the
feast of Ûagaît, at the great fire festival, at the procession of the
god Mînû, at the feast of offerings, at the monthly and half-monthly
festivals, and every day.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph of the original monument
     which is preserved in the Liverpool Museum; cf. Gatty,
     _Catalogue of the Mayer Collection;_ I. Egyptian
     Antiquities, No. 294, p. 45.

The chapel is usually small, and is almost lost in the great extent
of the building.* It generally consists merely of an oblong chamber,
approached by a rather short passage.**

     * Thus the chapel of the mastaba of Sabu is only 14 ft. 4
     in. long, by about 3 ft. 3 in. deep, and that of the tomb of
     Phtahshopsisû, 10 ft. 4 in. by 3 ft. 7 in.

     ** The mastaba of Tinti has four chambers, as has also that
     of Assi-ônkhû; but these are exceptions, as may be
     ascertained by consulting the work of Mariette. Most of
     those which contain several rooms are ancient one-roomed
     mastabas, which have been subsequently altered or enlarged;
     this is the case with the mastabas of Shopsi and of
     Ankhaftûka. A few, however, were constructed from the outset
     with all their apartments--that of Râônkhûmai, with six
     chambers and several niches; that of Khâbiûphtah, with three
     chambers, niches, and doorway ornamented with two pillars;
     that of Ti, with two chambers, a court surrounded with
     pillars, a doorway, and long inscribed passages; and that of
     Phtahhotpû, with seven chambers, besides niches.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Dûhichen.

At the far end, and set back into the western wall, is a huge
quadrangular stele, at the foot of which is seen the table of offerings,
made of alabaster, granite or limestone placed flat upon the ground,
and sometimes two little obelisks or two altars, hollowed at the top to
receive the gifts mentioned in the inscription on the exterior of the
tomb. The general appearance is that of a rather low, narrow doorway,
too small to be a practicable entrance. The recess thus formed is almost
always left empty; sometimes, however, the piety of relatives placed
within it a statue of the deceased. Standing there, with shoulders
thrown back, head erect, and smiling face, the statue seems to step
forth to lead the double from its dark lodging where it lies embalmed,
to those glowing plains where he dwelt in freedom during his earthly
life: another moment, crossing the threshold, he must descend the few
steps leading into the public hall. On festivals and days of offering,
when the priest and family presented the banquet with the customary
rites, this great painted figure, in the act of advancing, and seen
by the light of flickering torches or smoking lamps, might well appear
endued with life. It was as if the dead ancestor himself stepped out of
the wall and mysteriously stood before his descendants to claim their
homage. The inscription on the lintel repeats once more the name and
rank of the dead. Faithful portraits of him and of other members of his
family figure in the bas-reliefs on the door-posts.

[Illustration: 010.jpg STELE IN THE FORM OF A DOOR]

The little scene at the far end represents him seated tranquilly at
table, with the details of the feast carefully recorded at his side,
from the first moment when water is brought to him for ablution, to that
when, all culinary skill being exhausted, he has but to return to his
dwelling, in a state of beatified satisfaction. The stele represented to
the visitor the door leading to the private apartments of the deceased;
the fact of its being walled up for ever showing that no living mortal
might cross its threshold. The inscription which covered its surface was
not a mere epitaph informing future generations who it was that reposed
beneath. It perpetuated the name and genealogy of the deceased, and
gave him a civil status, without which he could not have preserved his
personality in the world beyond; the nameless dead, like a living man
without a name, was reckoned as non-existing. Nor was this the only use
of the stele; the pictures and prayers inscribed upon it acted as so
many talismans for ensuring the continuous existence of the ancestor,
whose memory they recalled. They compelled the god therein invoked,
whether Osiris or the jackal Anubis, to act as mediator between the
living and the departed; they granted to the god the enjoyment of
sacrifices and those good things abundantly offered to the deities, and
by which they live, on condition that a share of them might first be
set aside for the deceased. By the divine favour, the soul or rather the
doubles of the bread, meat, and beverages passed into the other world,
and there refreshed the human double. It was not, however, necessary
that the offering should have a material existence, in order to be
effective; the first comer who should repeat aloud the name and the
formulas inscribed upon the stone, secured for the unknown occupant, by
this means alone, the immediate possession of all the things which he

The stele constitutes the essential part of the chapel and tomb. In many
cases it was the only inscribed portion, it alone being necessary to
ensure the identity and continuous existence of the dead man; often,
however, the sides of the chamber and passage were not left bare. When
time or the wealth of the owner permitted, they were covered with scenes
and writing, expressing at greater length the ideas summarized by the
figures and inscriptions of the stele.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin taken from a “squeeze” taken from the
     tomb of Ti. The domains are represented as women. The name
     is written before each figure with the designation of the

Neither pictorial effect nor the caprice of the moment was permitted
to guide the artist in the choice of his subjects; all that he drew,
pictures or words, bad a magical purpose. Every individual who built for
himself an “eternal house,” either attached to it a staff of priests
of the double, of inspectors, scribes, and slaves, or else made an
agreement with the priests of a neighbouring temple to serve the chapel
in perpetuity. Lands taken from his patrimony, which thus became the
“Domains of the Eternal House,” rewarded them for their trouble, and
supplied them with meats, vegetables, fruits, liquors, linen and vessels
for sacrifice.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Dumichen,
     Besultate, vol. i. pl. 13.

In theory, these “liturgies” were perpetuated from year to year, until
the end of time; but in practice, after three or four generations, the
older ancestors were forsaken for those who had died more recently.
Notwithstanding the imprecations and threats of the donor against the
priests who should neglect their duty, or against those who should usurp
the funeral endowments, sooner or later there came a time when, forsaken
by all, the double was in danger of perishing for want of sustenance. In
order to ensure that the promised gifts, offered in substance on the day
of burial, should be maintained throughout the centuries, the relatives
not only depicted them upon the chapel walls, but represented in
addition the lands which produced them, and the labour which contributed
to their production. On one side we see ploughing, sowing, reaping, the
carrying of the corn, the storing of the grain, the fattening of the
poultry, and the driving of the cattle. A little further on, workmen of
all descriptions are engaged in their several trades: shoemakers ply
the awl, glassmakers blow through their tubes, metal founders watch over
their smelting-pots, carpenters hew down trees and build a ship; groups
of women weave or spin under the eye of a frowning taskmaster, who seems
impatient of their chatter. Did the double in his hunger desire meat? He
might choose from the pictures on the wall the animal that pleased him
best, whether kid, ox, or gazelle; he might follow the course of its
life, from its birth in the meadows to the slaughter-house and the
kitchen, and might satisfy his hunger with its flesh. The double saw
himself represented in the paintings as hunting, and to the hunt he
went; he was painted eating and drinking with his wife, and he ate and
drank with her; the pictured ploughing, harvesting, and gathering into
barns, thus became to him actual realities. In fine, this painted world
of men and things represented upon the wall was quickened by the same
life which animated the double, upon whom it all depended: the _picture_
of a meal or of a slave was perhaps that which best suited the _shade_
of guest or of master.

Even to-day, when we enter one of these decorated chapels, the idea of
death scarcely presents itself: we have rather the impression of being
in some old-world house, to which the master may at any moment return.
We see him portrayed everywhere upon the walls, followed by his
servants, and surrounded by everything which made his earthly life
enjoyable. One or two statues of him stand at the end of the room, in
constant readiness to undergo the “Opening of the Mouth” and to receive
offerings. Should these be accidentally removed, others, secreted in
a little chamber hidden in the thickness of the masonry, are there to
replace them. These inner chambers have rarely any external outlet,
though occasionally they are connected with the chapel by a small
opening, so narrow that it will hardly admit of a hand being passed
through it. Those who came to repeat prayers and burn incense at this
aperture were received by the dead in person. The statues were not mere
images, devoid of consciousness. Just as the double of a god could be
linked to an idol in the temple sanctuary in order to transform it into
a prophetic being, capable of speech and movement, so when the double of
a man was attached to the effigy of his earthly body, whether in stone,
metal, or wood, a real living person was created and was introduced into
the tomb. So strong was this conviction that the belief has lived on
through two changes of religion until the present day. The double still
haunts the statues with which he was associated in the past. As in
former times, he yet strikes with madness or death any who dare to
disturb is repose; and one can only be protected from him by breaking,
at the moment of discovery, the perfect statues which the vault
contains. The double is weakened or killed by the mutilation of these
his sustainers.*

     * The legends still current about the pyramids of Gîzeh
     furnish some good examples of this kind of superstition.
     “The guardian of the Eastern pyramid was an idol... who had
     both eyes open, and was seated on a throne, having a sort of
     halberd near it, on which, if any one fixed his eye, he
     heard a fearful noise, which struck terror to his heart, and
     caused the death of the hearer. There was a spirit appointed
     to wait on each guardian, who departed not from before
     him.” The keeping of the other two pyramids was in like
     manner entrusted to a statue, assisted by a spirit. I have
     collected a certain number of tales resembling that of
     Mourtadi in the _Études de Mythologie et Archéologie
     Égyptiennes,_ vol. i. p. 77, et seq.

The statues furnish in their modelling a more correct idea of the
deceased than his mummy, disfigured as it was by the work of the
embalmers; they were also less easily destroyed, and any number could
be made at will. Hence arose the really incredible number of statues
sometimes hidden away in the same tomb. These sustainers or imperishable
bodies of the double were multiplied so as to insure for him a practical
immortality; and the care with which they were shut into a secure
hiding-place, increased their chances of preservation. All the same, no
precaution was neglected that could save a mummy from destruction. The
shaft leading to it descended to a mean depth of forty to fifty feet,
but sometimes it reached, and even exceeded, a hundred feet. Running
horizontally from it is a passage so low as to prevent a man standing
upright in it, which leads to the sepulchral chamber properly so called,
hewn out of the solid rock and devoid of all ornament; the sarcophagus,
whether of fine limestone, rose-granite, or black basalt, does not
always bear the name and titles of the deceased. The servants who
deposited the body in it placed beside it on the dusty floor the
quarters of the ox, previously slaughtered in the chapel, as well as
phials of perfume, and large vases of red pottery containing muddy
water; after which they walled up the entrance to the passage and filled
the shaft with chips of stone intermingled with earth and gravel. The
whole, being well watered, soon hardened into a compact mass, which
protected the vault and its master from desecration.

During the course of centuries, the ever-increasing number of tombs at
length formed an almost uninterrupted chain of burying-places on the
table-land. At Gîzeh they follow a symmetrical plan, and line the sides
of regular roads; at Saqqâra they are scattered about on the surface
of the ground, in some places sparsely, in others huddled confusedly
together. Everywhere the tombs are rich in inscriptions, statues, and
painted or sculptured scenes, each revealing some characteristic custom,
or some detail of contemporary civilization. From the womb, as it were,
of these cemeteries, the Egypt of the Memphite dynasties gradually takes
new life, and reappears in the full daylight of history. Nobles and
fellahs, soldiers and priests, scribes and craftsmen,--the whole nation
lives anew before us; each with his manners, his dress, his daily round
of occupation and pleasures. It is a perfect picture, and although in
places the drawing is defaced and the colour dimmed, yet these may be
restored with no great difficulty, and with almost absolute certainty.
The king stands out boldly in the foreground, and his tall figure towers
over all else. He so completely transcends his surroundings, that at
first sight one may well ask if he does not represent a god rather than
a man; and, as a matter of fact, he is a god to his subjects. They call
him “the good god,” “the great god,” and connect him with Râ through the
intervening kings, the successors of the gods who ruled the two worlds.
His father before him was “Son of Râ,” as was also his grandfather, and
his great-grandfather, and so through all his ancestors, until from
“son of Râ” to “son of Râ” they at last reached Râ himself. Sometimes
an adventurer of unknown antecedents is abruptly inserted in the series,
and we might imagine that he would interrupt the succession of the solar
line; but on closer examination we always find that either the intruder
is connected with the god by a genealogy hitherto unsuspected, or that
he is even more closely related to him than his predecessors, inasmuch
as Râ, having secretly descended upon the earth, had begotten him by a
mortal mother in order to rejuvenate the race.*

     * A legend, preserved for us in the Westcar Papyrus (Erman’s
     edition, pl. ix. 11. 5-11, pl. x. 1. 5, et seq.), maintains
     that the first three kings of the Vth dynasty, Ûsirkaf,
     Sahûrî, and Kakiû, were children born to Râ, lord of
     Sakhîbû, by Rûdîtdidît, wife of a priest attached to the
     temple of that town.

If things came to the worst, a marriage with some princess would soon
legitimise, if not the usurper himself, at least his descendants, and
thus firmly re-establish the succession.

[Illustration: 021.jpg THE BIRTH OF A KING AND HIS DOUBLE]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Gay et. The
     king is Amenôthes III., whose conception and birth are
     represented in the temple of Luxor, with the same wealth of
     details that we should have expected, had he been a son of
     the god Amon and the goddess Mût.

The Pharaohs, therefore, are blood-relations of the Sun-god, some
through their father, others through their mother, directly begotten
by the God, and their souls as well as their bodies have a supernatural
origin; each soul being a double detached from Horus, the successor of
Osiris, and the first to reign alone over Egypt. This divine double
is infused into the royal infant at birth, in the same manner as the
ordinary double is incarnate in common mortals. It always remained
concealed, and seemed to lie dormant in those princes whom destiny did
not call upon to reign, but it awoke to full self-consciousness in those
who ascended the throne at the moment of their accession. From that time
to the hour of their death, and beyond it, all that they possessed of
ordinary humanity was completely effaced; they were from henceforth
only “the sons of Râ,” the Horus, dwelling upon earth, who, during his
sojourn here below, renews the blessings of Horus, son of Isis. Their
complex nature was revealed at the outset in the form and arrangement of
their names. Among the Egyptians the choice of a name was not a matter
of indifference; not only did men and beasts, but even inanimate
objects, require one or more names, and it may be said that no person or
thing in the world could attain to complete existence until the name
had been conferred. The most ancient names were often only a short word,
which denoted some moral or physical quality, as Titi the Runner, Mini
the Lasting, Qonqeni the Crusher, Sondi the Formidable, Uznasît the
Flowery-tongued. They consisted also of short sentences, by which
the royal child confessed his faith in the power of the gods, and his
participation in the acts of the Sun’s life--“Khâfrî,” his rising is
Râ; “Men-kaûhorû,” the doubles of Horus last for ever; “Usirkerî,” the
double of Râ is omnipotent. Sometimes the sentence is shortened, and the
name of the god is understood: as for instance, “Ûsirkaf,” his double is
omnipotent; “Snofmi,” he has made me good; “Khûfïïi,” he has protected
me, are put for the names “Usirkerî,” “Ptahsnofrûi,” “Khnûmkhûfûi,” with
the suppression of Râ, Phtah, and Khnûrnû.

[Illustration: 023.jpg PAGE IMAGE]

The name having once, as it were, taken possession of a man on his
entrance into life, never leaves him either in this world or the next;
the prince who had been called Unas or Assi at the moment of his birth,
retained this name even after death, so long as his mummy existed, and
his double was not annihilated.

     {Hieroglyphics indicated by [--], see the page images in
     the HTML file}

When the Egyptians wished to denote that a person or thing was in a
certain place, they inserted their names within the picture of the place
in question. Thus the name of Teti is written inside a picture of Teti’s
castle, the result being the compound hieroglyph [--] Again, when the
son of a king became king in his turn, they enclose his ordinary name
in the long flat-bottomed frame [--] which we call a cartouche;
the elliptical part [--] of which is a kind of plan of the world, a
representation of those regions passed over by Râ in his journey, and
over which Pharaoh, because he is a son of Râ, exercises his rule.
When the names of Teti or Snofrûi, following the group [----] which
respectively express sovereignty over the two halves of Egypt, the
South and the North, the whole expression describing exactly the visible
person of Pharaoh during his abode among mortals. But this first name
chosen for the child did not include the whole man; it left without
appropriate designation the double of Horus, which was revealed in
the prince at the moment of accession. The double therefore received a
special title, which is always constructed on a uniform plan: first the
picture [--] hawk-god, who desired to leave to his descendants a portion
of his soul, then a simple or compound epithet, specifying that virtue
of Horus which the Pharaoh wished particularly to possess--“Horû
nîb-mâîfc,” Horus master of Truth; “Horû miri-toûi,” Horus friend of
both lands; “Horû nîbkhâùû,” Horus master of the risings; “Horu mazîti,”
 Horus who crushes his enemies.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from an illustration in Arundale-
     Bonomi-Birch’s _Gallery of Antiquities from the British
     Museum,_ pl. 31. The king thus represented is Thutmosis II.
     of the XVIIIth dynasty; the spear, surmounted by a man’s
     head, which the double holds in his hand, probably recalls
     the human victims formerly sacrificed at the burial of a

The variable part of these terms is usually written in an oblong
rectangle, terminated at the lower end by a number of lines portraying
in a summary way the façade of a monument, in the centre of which a
bolted door may sometimes be distinguished: this is the representation
of the chapel where the double will one day rest, and the closed door is
the portal of the tomb.* The stereotyped part of the names and titles,
which is represented by the figure of the god, is placed outside the
rectangle, sometimes by the side of it, sometimes upon its top: the hawk
is, in fact, free by nature, and could nowhere remain imprisoned against
his will.

     * This is what is usually known as the “Banner Name;”
      indeed, it was for some time believed that this sign
     represented a piece of stuff, ornamented at the bottom by
     embroidery or fringe, and bearing on the upper part the
     title of a king. Wilkinson thought that this “square title,”
      as he called it, represented a house. The real meaning of
     the expression was determined by Professor Flinders Petrie
     and by myself.

This artless preamble was not enough to satisfy the love of precision
which is the essential characteristic of the Egyptians. When they wished
to represent the double in his sepulchral chamber, they left out of
consideration the period in his existence during which he had presided
over the earthly destinies of the sovereign, in order to render them
similar to those of Horus, from whom the double proceeded.

[Illustration: 026.jpg Page Image]

They, therefore, withdrew him from the tomb which should have been his
lot, and there was substituted for the ordinary sparrow-hawk one of
those groups which symbolize sovereignty over the two countries of the
Nile--the coiled urasus of the North, and the vulture of the South,
[--]; there was then finally added a second sparrow-hawk, the golden
sparrow-hawk, [--], the triumphant sparrow-hawk which had delivered
Egypt from Typhon. The soul of Snofrai, which is called, as a surviving
double, [--], “Horus master of Truth,” is, as a living double, entitled
“[--]” “[--]” the Lord of the Vulture and of the “Urous,” master of
Truth, and Horus triumphant.*

     * The Ka, or double name, represented in this illustration
     is that of the Pharaoh Khephren, the builder of the second
     of the great pyramids at Gîzeh; it reads “Horu usir-Hâîti,”
      Horus powerful of heart.

On the other hand, the royal prince, when he put on the diadem,
received, from the moment of his advancement to the highest rank, such
an increase of dignity, that his birth-name--even when framed in a
cartouche and enhanced with brilliant epithets--was no longer able to
fully represent him. This exaltation of his person was therefore marked
by a new designation. As he was the living flesh of the sun, so his
surname always makes allusion to some point in his relations with his
father, and proclaims the love which he felt for the latter, “Mirirî,”
 or that the latter experienced for him, “Mirnirî,” or else it indicates
the stability of the doubles of Râ, “Tatkerî,” their goodness,
“Nofirkerî,” or some other of their sovereign virtues. Several Pharaohs
of the IVth dynasty had already dignified themselves by these surnames;
those of the VIth were the first to incorporate them regularly into the
royal preamble.

[Illustration: 027.jpg PAGE IMAGE]

There was some hesitation at first as to the position the surname ought
to occupy, and it was sometimes placed after the birth-name, as in “Papi
Nofirkerî,” sometimes before it, as in [--] “Nofirkerî Papî.” It was
finally decided to place it at the beginning, preceded by the group [--]
“King of Upper and Lower Egypt,” which expresses in its fullest extent
the power granted by the gods to the Pharaoh alone; the other, or
birth-name, came after it, accompanied by the words [--]. “Son of the
Sun.” There were inscribed, either before or above these two solar names
--which are exclusively applied to the visible and living body of the
master--the two names of the sparrow-hawk, which belonged especially to
the soul; first, that of the double in the tomb, and then that of the
double while still incarnate. Four terms seemed thus necessary to the
Egyptians in order to define accurately the Pharaoh, both in time and in

Long centuries were needed before this subtle analysis of the royal
person, and the learned graduation of the formulas which corresponded to
it, could transform the Nome chief, become by conquest suzerain over all
other chiefs and king of all Egypt, into a living god here below, the
all-powerful son and successor of the gods; but the divine concept of
royalty, once implanted in the mind, quickly produced its inevitable
consequences. From the moment that the Pharaoh became god upon earth,
the gods of heaven, his fathers or his brothers, and the goddesses
recognized him as their son, and, according to the ceremonial imposed
by custom in such cases, consecrated his adoption by offering him the
breast to suck, as they would have done to their own child.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Insinger. The
     original is in the great speos of Silsilis. The king here
     represented is Harmhabît of the XVIIIth dynasty; cf.
     Champollion, _Monuments de l’Egypt et de la Nubie,_ pl.
     cix., No. 3; Rosellini, _Monumenti Storici,_ pl. xliv. 5;
     Lepsius, Denkm., iii. 121 b.

Ordinary mortals spoke of him only in symbolic words, designating him by
some periphrasis: Pharaoh, “Pirûi-Aûi,” the Double Palace, “Prûîti,” the
Sublime Porte, His Majesty,* the Sun of the two lands, Horus master of
the palace, or, less ceremoniously, by the indeterminate pronoun “One.”

     * The title “Honûf” is translated by the same authors,
     sometimes as “His Majesty,” sometimes as “His Holiness.” The
     reasons for translating it “His Majesty,” as was originally
     proposed by Champollion, and afterwards generally adopted,
     have been given last of all by E. de Rougé.

The greater number of these terms is always accompanied by a wish
addressed to the sovereign for his “life,” “health,” and “strength,” the
initial signs of which are written after all his titles. He accepts all
this graciously, and even on his own initiative, swears by his own life,
or by the favour of Râ, but he forbids his subjects to imitate him: for
them it is a sin, punishable in this world and in the next, to adjure
the person of the sovereign, except in the case in which a magistrate
requires from them a judicial oath.

[Illustration: 029.jpg THE CUCUPHA-HEADED SCEPTRE.]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the engraving in Prisse
     d’Avennes, _Recherches sur les légendes royales et l’époque
     du règne de Schai ou Scheraï,_ in the _Revue Archéologique_,
     1st series, vol. ii. p. 467. The original is now preserved
     in the Bibliothèque Nationale, to which it was presented by
     Prisse d’Avennes. It is of glazed earthenware, of very
     delicate and careful workmanship.

He is approached, moreover, as a god is approached, with downcast eyes,
and head or back bent; they “sniff the earth” before him, they veil their
faces with both hands to shut out the splendour of his appearance; they
chant a devout form of adoration before submitting to him a petition.
No one is free from this obligation: his ministers themselves, and the
great ones of his kingdom, cannot deliberate with him on matters of
state, without inaugurating the proceeding by a sort of solemn service
in his honour, and reciting to him at length a eulogy of his divinity.
They did not, indeed, openly exalt him above the other gods, but these
were rather too numerous to share heaven among them, whilst he alone
rules over the “Entire Circuit of the Sun,” and the whole earth, its
mountains and plains, are in subjection under his sandalled feet.
People, no doubt, might be met with who did not obey him, but these
were rebels, adherents of Sît, “Children of Euin,” who, sooner or later,
would be overtaken by punishment.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Insinger. The
     picture represents Khâmhaît presenting the superintendents
     of storehouses to Tûtânkhamon, of the XVIIIth dynasty.

While hoping that his fictitious claim to universal dominion would be
realized, the king adopted, in addition to the simple costume of the old
chiefs, the long or short petticoat, the jackal’s tail, the turned-up
sandals, and the insignia of the supreme gods,--the ankh, the crook, the
flail, and the sceptre tipped with the head of a jerboa or a hare, which
we misname the cucupha-headed sceptre.* He put on the many-coloured
diadems of the gods, the head-dresses covered with feathers, the white
and the red crowns either separately or combined so as to form the
pshent. The viper or uraeus, in metal or gilded wood, which rose from
his forehead, was imbued with a mysterious life, which made it a means
of executing his vengeance and accomplishing his secret purposes. It was
supposed to vomit flames and to destroy those who should dare to attack
its master in battle. The supernatural virtues which it communicated to
the crown, made it an enchanted thing which no one could resist. Lastly,
Pharaoh had his temples where his enthroned statue, animated by one
of his doubles, received worship, prophesied, and fulfilled all the
functions of a Divine Being, both during his life, and after he had
rejoined in the tomb his ancestors the gods, who existed before him and
who now reposed impassively within the depths of their pyramids.**

     * This identification, suggested by Champollion, is, from
     force of custom, still adhered to, in nearly all works on
     Egyptology. But we know from ancient evidence that the
     cucupha was a bird, perhaps a hoopoe; the sceptre of the
     gods, moreover, is really surmounted by the head of a
     quadruped having a pointed snout and long retreating ears,
     and belonging to the greyhound, jackal, or jerboa species.

     ** This method of distinguishing deceased kings is met with
     as far back as the “Song of the Harpist,” which the
     Egyptians of the Ramesside period attributed to the founder
     of the XIth dynasty. The first known instance of a temple
     raised by an Egyptian king to his double is that of
     Amenôthes III.

Man, as far as his body was concerned, and god in virtue of his soul and
its attributes, the Pharaoh, in right of this double nature, acted as a
constant mediator between heaven and earth. He alone was fit to transmit
the prayers of men to his fathers and his brethren the gods. Just as the
head of a family was in his household the priest _par excellence_ of the
gods of that family,--just as the chief of a nome was in his nome the
priest _par excellence_ in regard to the gods of the nome,--so was
Pharaoh the priest _par excellence_ of the gods of all Egypt, who were
his special deities. He accompanied their images in solemn processions;
he poured out before them the wine and mystic milk, recited the formulas
in their hearing, seized the bull who was the victim with a lasso and
slaughtered it according to the rite consecrated by ancient tradition.
Private individuals had recourse to his intercession, when they asked
some favour from on high; as, however, it was impossible for every
sacrifice to pass actually through his hands, the celebrating priest
proclaimed at the beginning of each ceremony that it was the king who
made the offering--_Sûtni di hotpu_--he and none other, to Osiris,
Phtah, and Ka-Harmakhis, so that they might grant to the faithful
who implored the object of their desires, and, the declaration being
accepted in lieu of the act, the king was thus regarded as really
officiating on every occasion for his subjects.*

     *I do not agree with Prof. Ed. Meyer, or with Prof. Erman,
     who imagine that this was the first instance of the
     practice, and that it had been introduced into Nubia before
     its adoption on Egyptian soil. Under the Ancient Empire we
     meet with more than one functionary who styles himself, in
     some cases during his master’s lifetime, in others shortly
     after his death, “Prophet of Horus who lives in the palace,”
      or “Prophet of Kheops,” “Prophet of Sondi,” “Prophet of
     Kheops, of Mykerinos, of Usirkaf,” or “of other sovereigns.”

He thus maintained daily intercourse with the gods, and they, on their
part, did not neglect any occasion of communicating with him. They
appeared to him in dreams to foretell his future, to command him to
restore a monument which was threatened with ruin, to advise him to set
out to war, to forbid him risking his life in the thick of the fight.*

     * Among other examples, the texts mention the dream in which
     Thûtmosis IV., while still a royal prince, received from
     Phrâ-Harmakhis orders to unearth the Great Sphinx, the dream
     in which Phtah forbids Minephtah to take part in the battle
     against the peoples of the sea, that by which Tonûatamon,
     King of Napata, is persuaded to undertake the conquest of
     Egypt. Herodotus had already made us familiar with the
     dreams of Sabaco and of the high priest Sethos.

Communication by prophetic dreams was not, however, the method usually
selected by the gods: they employed as interpreters of their wishes
the priests and the statues in the temples. The king entered the chapel
where the statue was kept, and performed in its presence the invocatory
rites, and questioned it upon the subject which occupied his mind. The
priest replied under direct inspiration from on high, and the dialogue
thus entered upon might last a long time. Interminable discourses,
whose records cover the walls of the Theban temples, inform us what
the Pharaoh said on such occasions, and in what emphatic tones the
gods replied. Sometimes the animated statues raised their voices in
the darkness of the sanctuary and themselves announced their will; more
frequently they were content to indicate it by a gesture. When they were
consulted on some particular subject and returned no sign, it was their
way of signifying their disapprobation. If, on the other hand, they
significantly bowed their head, once or twice, the subject was an
acceptable one, and they approved it. No state affair was settled
without asking their advice, and without their giving it in one way or

The monuments, which throw full light on the supernatural character
of the Pharaohs in general, tell us but little of the individual
disposition of any king in particular, or of their everyday life. When
by chance we come into closer intimacy for a moment with the sovereign,
he is revealed to us as being less divine and majestic than we might
have been led to believe, had we judged him only by his impassive
expression and by the pomp with which he was surrounded in public. Not
that he ever quite laid aside his grandeur; even in his home life,
in his chamber or his garden, during those hours when he felt himself
withdrawn from public gaze, those highest in rank might never forget
when they approached him that he was a god. He showed himself to be a
kind father, a good-natured husband,* ready to dally with his wives and
caress them on the cheek as they offered him a flower, or moved a piece
upon the draught-board.

     * As a literary example of what the conduct of a king was
     like in his family circle, we may quote the description of
     King Minîbphtah, in the story of Satni-Khâmoîs. The pictures
     of the tombs at Tel-el-Amarna show us the intimate terms on
     which King Khuniaton lived with his wife and daughters, both
     big and little.

He took an interest in those who waited on him, allowed them certain
breaches of etiquette when he was pleased with them, and was indulgent
to their little failings. If they had just returned from foreign lands,
a little countrified after a lengthy exile from the court, he would
break out into pleasantries over their embarrassment and their
unfashionable costume,--kingly pleasantries which excited the forced
mirth of the bystanders, but which soon fell flat and had no meaning for
those outside the palace. The Pharaoh was fond of laughing and drinking;
indeed, if we may believe evil tongues, he took so much at times as to
incapacitate him for business. The chase was not always a pleasure
to him, hunting in the desert, at least, where the lions evinced a
provoking tendency to show as little respect for the divinity of the
prince as for his mortal subjects; but, like the chiefs of old, he felt
it a duty to his people to destroy wild beasts, and he ended by counting
the slain in hundreds, however short his reign might be.*

     *Amenôthes III. had killed as many as a hundred and two
     lions during the first ten years of his reign.

A considerable part of his time was taken up in war--in the east,
against the Libyans in the regions of the Oasis; in the Nile Valley to
the south of Aswan against the Nubians; on the Isthmus of Suez and in
the Sinaitic Peninsula against the Bedouin; frequently also in a civil
war against some ambitious noble or some turbulent member of his own
family. He travelled frequently from south to north, and from north to
south, leaving in every possible place marked traces of his visits--on
the rocks of Elephantine and of the first cataract, on those of Silsilis
or of El-Kab, and he appeared to his vassals as Tûmû himself arisen
among them to repress injustice and disorder. He restored or enlarged
the monuments, regulated equitably the assessment of taxes and
charges, settled or dismissed the lawsuits between one town and another
concerning the appropriation of the water, or the possession of certain
territories, distributed fiefs which had fallen vacant, among his
faithful servants, and granted pensions to be paid out of the royal

     * These details are not found on the historical monuments,
     but are furnished to us by the description given in “The
     Book of Knowledge of what there is in the other world” of
     the course of the sun across the domain of the hours of
     night; the god is there described as a Pharaoh passing
     through his kingdom, and all that he does for his vassals,
     the dead, is identical with what Pharaoh was accustomed to
     do for his subjects, the living.

At length he re-entered Memphis, or one of his usual residences, where
fresh labours awaited him. He gave audience daily to all, whether high
or low, who were, or believed that they were, wronged by some official,
and who came to appeal to the justice of the master against the
injustice of his servant. If he quitted the palace when the cause
had been heard, to take boat or to go to the temple, he was not left
undisturbed, but petitions and supplications assailed him by the way.
In addition to this, there were the daily sacrifices, the despatch
of current affairs, the ceremonies which demanded the presence of the
Pharaoh, and the reception of nobles or foreign envoys. One would think
that in the midst of so many occupations he would never feel time hang
heavy on his hands. He was, however, a prey to that profound _ennui_
which most Oriental monarchs feel so keenly, and which neither the cares
nor the pleasures of ordinary life could dispel. Like the Sultans of the
“Arabian Nights,” the Pharaohs were accustomed to have marvellous tales
related to them, or they assembled their councillors to ask them to
suggest some fresh amusement: a happy thought would sometimes strike one
of them, as in the case of him who aroused the interest of Snofrûi by
recommending him to have his boat manned by young girls barely clad in
large-meshed network.

[Illustration: 037.jpg PHARAOH IN HIS HAREM]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin.

All his pastimes were not so playful. The Egyptians by nature were not
cruel, and we have very few records either in history or tradition of
bloodthirsty Pharaohs; but the life of an ordinary individual was of so
little value in their eyes, that they never hesitated to sacrifice it,
even for a caprice. A sorcerer had no sooner boasted before Kheops of
being able to raise the dead, than the king proposed that he should try
the experiment on a prisoner whose head was to be forthwith cut off.
The anger of Pharaoh was quickly excited, and once aroused, became an
all-consuming fire; the Egyptians were wont to say, in describing its
intensity, “His Majesty became as furious as a panther.” The wild beast
often revealed itself in the half-civilized man.

The royal family was very numerous. The women were principally chosen
from the relatives of court officials of high rank, or from the
daughters of the great feudal lords; there were, however, many strangers
among them, daughters or sisters of petty Libyan, Nubian, or Asiatic
kings; they were brought into Pharaoh’s house as hostages for the
submission of their respective peoples. They did not all enjoy the same
treatment or consideration, and their original position decided their
status in the harem, unless the amorous caprice of their master should
otherwise decide. Most of them remained merely concubines for life,
others were raised to the rank of “royal spouses,” and at least one
received the title and privileges of “great spouse,” or queen. This was
rarely accorded to a stranger, but almost always to a princess born in
the purple, a daughter of Râ, if possible a sister of the Pharaoh, and
who, inheriting in the same degree and in equal proportion the flesh and
blood of the Sun-god, had, more than others, the right to share the bed
and throne of her brother.*

     * It would seem that Queen Mirisônkhû, wife of Khephren, was
     the daughter of Kheops, and consequently her husband’s


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, after Lepsius. The king is Amenôthes
     III. (XVIIIth. dynasty).

She had her own house, and a train of servants and followers as large
as those of the king; while the women of inferior rank were more or less
shut up in the parts of the palace assigned to them, she came and went
at pleasure, and appeared in public with or without her husband. The
preamble of official documents in which she is mentioned, solemnly
recognizes her as the living follower of Horus, the associate of
the Lord of the Vulture and the Uraeus, the very gentle, the very
praiseworthy, she who sees her Horus, or Horus and Sit, face to face.
Her union with the god-king rendered her a goddess, and entailed upon
her the fulfilment of all the duties which a goddess owed to a god. They
were varied and important. The woman, indeed, was supposed to combine
in herself more completely than a man the qualities necessary for the
exercise of magic, whether legitimate or otherwise: she saw and heard
that which the eyes and ears of man could not perceive; her voice, being
more flexible and piercing, was heard at greater distances; she was by
nature mistress of the art of summoning or banishing invisible
beings. While Pharaoh was engaged in sacrificing, the queen, by her
incantations, protected him from malignant deities, whose interest it
was to divert the attention of the celebrant from holy things: she put
them to flight by the sound of prayer and sistrum, she poured libations
and offered perfumes and flowers. In processions she walked behind her
husband, gave audience with him, governed for him while he was engaged
in foreign wars, or during his progresses through his kingdom: such
was the work of Isis while her brother Osiris was conquering the world.
Widowhood did not always entirely disqualify her. If she belonged to the
solar race, and the new sovereign was a minor, she acted as regent by
hereditary right, and retained the authority for some years longer.*

     * The best-known of these queen regencies is that which
     occurred during the minority of Thûtmosis III., about the
     middle of the XVIIIth dynasty. Queen Tûaû also appears to
     have acted as regent for her son Ramses II. during his first
     Syrian campaigns.

It occasionally happened that she had no posterity, or that the child
of another woman inherited the crown. In that case there was no law or
custom to prevent a young and beautiful widow from wedding the son, and
thus regaining her rank as Queen by a marriage with the successor of her
deceased husband. It was in this manner that, during the earlier part
of the IVth dynasty, the Princess Mirtîttefsi ingratiated herself
successively in the favour of Snofrûi and Kheops.* Such a case did not
often arise, and a queen who had once quitted the throne had but little
chance of again ascending it. Her titles, her duties, her supremacy over
the rest of the family, passed to a younger rival: formerly she had been
the active companion of the king, she now became only the nominal spouse
of the god,** and her office came to an end when the god, of whom she
had been the goddess, quitting his body, departed heavenward to rejoin
his father the Sun on the far-distant horizon.

Children swarmed in the palace, as in the houses of private individuals:
in spite of the number who died in infancy, they were reckoned by tens,
sometimes by the hundred, and more than one Pharaoh must have been
puzzled to remember exactly the number and names of his offspring.***

     * M. de Rougé was the first to bring this fact to light in
     his _Becherches sur les monuments qu’on peut attribuer aux
     six premières dynasties de Manéthon,_ pp. 36-38. Mirtîttefsi
     also lived in the harem of Khephren, but the title which
     connects her with this king--_Amahhit_, the vassal--proves
     that she was then merely a nominal wife; she was probably by
     that time, as M. de Rougé says, of too advanced an age to
     remain the favourite of a third Pharaoh.

     ** The title of “divine spouse” is not, so far as we know at
     present, met with prior to the XVIIIth dynasty. It was given
     to the wife of a living monarch, and was retained by her
     after his death; the divinity to whom it referred was no
     other than the king himself.

     *** This was probably so in the case of the Pharaoh Ramses
     II., more than one hundred and fifty of whose children, boys
     and girls, are known to us, and who certainly had others
     besides of whom we know nothing.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bas-relief in the temple of
     Ibsambûl: Nofrîtari shakes behind Ramses II. two sistra, on
     which are representations of the head of Hâthor.

The origin and rank of their mothers greatly influenced the condition
of the children. No doubt the divine blood which they took from a common
father raised them all above the vulgar herd but those connected with
the solar line on the maternal side occupied a decidedly much higher
position than the rest: as long as one of these was living, none of his
less nobly-born brothers might aspire to the crown.*

     * Proof of this fact is furnished us, in so far as the
     XVIIIth dynasty is concerned, by the history of the
     immediate successors of Thûtmosis I., the Pharaohs Thûtmosis
     IL, Thûtmosis III., Queen Hâtshopsîtû, Queen Mûtnofrît, and
     Isis, concubine of Thûtmosis IL and mother of Thûtmosis III.

Those princesses who did not attain to the rank of queen by marriage,
were given in early youth to some well-to-do relative, or to some
courtier of high descent whom Pharaoh wished to honour; they filled the
office of priestesses to the goddesses Nît or Hâthor, and bore in their
households titles which they transmitted to their children, with such
rights to the crown as belonged to them. The most favoured of the
princes married an heiress rich in fiefs, settled on her domain, and
founded a race of feudal lords. Most of the royal sons remained at
court, at first in their father’s service and subsequently in that of
their brothers’ or nephews’: the most difficult and best remunerated
functions of the administration were assigned to them, the
superintendence of public works, the important offices of the
priesthood, the command of the army. It could have been no easy matter
to manage without friction this multitude of relations and connections,
past and present queens, sisters, concubines, uncles, brothers, cousins,
nephews, sons and grandsons of kings who crowded the harem and the
palace. The women contended among themselves for the affection of the
master, on behalf of themselves or their children. The children were
jealous of one another, and had often no bond of union except a common
hatred for the son whom the chances of birth had destined to be their
ruler. As long as he was full of vigour and energy, Pharaoh maintained
order in his family; but when his advancing years and failing strength
betokened an approaching change in the succession, competition showed
itself more openly, and intrigue thickened around him or around his
nearest heirs. Sometimes, indeed, he took precautions to prevent an
outbreak and its disastrous consequences, by solemnly associating with
himself in the royal power the son he had chosen to succeed him: Egypt
in this case had to obey two masters, the younger of whom attended
to the more active duties of royalty, such as progresses through the
country, the conducting of military expeditions, the hunting of wild
beasts, and the administration of justice; while the other preferred to
confine himself to the _rôle_ of adviser or benevolent counsellor. Even
this precaution, however, was insufficient to prevent disasters. The
women of the seraglio, encouraged from without by their relations or
friends, plotted secretly for the removal of the irksome sovereign.*
Those princes who had been deprived by their father’s decision of any
legitimate hope of reigning, concealed their discontent to no purpose;
they were arrested on the first suspicion of disloyalty, and were
massacred wholesale; their only chance of escaping summary execution was
either by rebellion** or by taking refuge with some independent tribe of
Libya or of the desert of Sinai.

     * The passage of the Uni inscription, in which mention is
     made of a lawsuit carried on against Queen Amîtsi, probably
     refers to some harem conspiracy. The celebrated lawsuit,
     some details of which are preserved for us in a papyrus of
     Turin, gives us some information in regard to a conspiracy
     which was hatched in the harem against Ramses II.

     ** A passage in the “Instructions of Amenemhâît” describes in
     somewhat obscure terms an attack on the palace by
     conspirators, and the wars which followed their undertaking.

[Illustration: 044.jpg The Island and Temple of Philæ]

Did we but know the details of the internal history of Egypt, it would
appear to us as stormy and as bloody as that of other Oriental
empires: intrigues of the harem, conspiracies in the palace, murders of
heirs-apparent, divisions and rebellions in the royal family, were
the almost inevitable accompaniment of every accession to the Egyptian

The earliest dynasties had their origin in the “White Wall,” but the
Pharaohs hardly ever made this town their residence, and it would be
incorrect to say that they considered it as their capital; each king
chose for himself in the Memphite or Letopolite nome, between the
entrance to the Fayûni and the apex of the Delta, a special residence,
where he dwelt with his court, and from whence he governed Egypt. Such
a multitude as formed his court needed not an ordinary palace, but an
entire city. A brick wall, surmounted by battlements, formed a square
or rectangular enclosure around it, and was of sufficient thickness
and height not only to defy a popular insurrection or the surprises of
marauding Bedouin, but to resist for a long time a regular siege. At the
extreme end of one of its façades, was a single tall and narrow opening,
closed by a wooden door supported on bronze hinges, and surmounted with
a row of pointed metal ornaments; this opened into a long narrow passage
between the external wall and a partition wall of equal strength; at
the end of the passage in the angle was a second door, sometimes leading
into a second passage, but more often opening into a large courtyard,
where the dwelling-houses were somewhat crowded together: assailants ran
the risk of being annihilated in the passage before reaching the centre
of the place.* The royal residence could be immediately distinguished by
the projecting balconies on its façade, from which, as from a tribune,
Pharaoh could watch the evolutions of his guard, the stately approach of
foreign envoys, Egyptian nobles seeking audience, or such officials as
he desired to reward for their services. They advanced from the far
end of the court, stopped before the balcony, and after prostrating
themselves stood up, bowed their heads, wrung and twisted their hands,
now quickly, now slowly, in a rhythmical manner, and rendered worship to
their master, chanting his praises, before receiving the necklaces and
jewels of gold which he presented to them by his chamberlains, or which
he himself deigned to fling to them.**

     * No plan or exact drawing of any of the palaces of the
     Ancient Empire has come down to us, but, as Erman has very
     justly pointed out, the signs found in contemporary
     inscriptions give us a good general idea of them. The doors
     which lead from one of the hours of the night to another, in
     the “Book of the Other World,” show us the double passage
     leading to the courtyard. The hieroglyph [--] gives us the
     name Ûôskhît (literally, _the broad_ [place]) of the
     courtyard on to which the passage opened, at the end of
     which the palace and royal judgment-seat (or, in the other
     world, the tribunal of Osiris, the court of the double
     truth) were situated.

     ** The ceremonial of these receptions is not represented on
     any monuments with which we are at present acquainted, prior
     to the XVIIIth dynasty.

It is difficult for us to catch a glimpse of the detail of the internal
arrangements: we find, however, mention made of large halls “resembling
the hall of Atûmû in the heavens,” whither the king repaired to deal
with state affairs in council, to dispense justice and sometimes also to
preside at state banquets. Long rows of tall columns, carved out of
rare woods and painted with bright colours, supported the roofs of these
chambers, which were entered by doors inlaid with gold and silver, and
incrusted with malachite or lapis-lazuli.*

     * This is the description of the palace of Amon built by
     Ramses III. Ramses II. was seated in one of these halls, on
     a throne of gold, when he deliberated with his councillors
     in regard to the construction of a cistern in the desert for
     the miners who were going to the gold-mines of Akiti. The
     room in which the king stopped, after leaving his
     apartments, for the purpose of putting on his ceremonial
     dress and receiving the homage of his ministers, appears to
     me to have been called during the Ancient Empire “Pi-dait”
      --“The House of Adoration,” the house in which the king was
     worshipped, as in temples of the Ptolemaic epoch, was that
     in which the statue of the god, on leaving the sanctuary,
     was dressed and worshipped by the faithful. Sinûhît, under
     the XIIth dynasty, was granted an audience in the “Hall of

The private apartments, the “âkhonûiti,” were entirely separate, but
they communicated with the queen’s dwelling and with the harem of the
wives of inferior rank. The “royal children” occupied a quarter to
themselves, under the care of their tutors; they had their own houses
and a train of servants proportionate to their rank, age, and the
fortune of their mother’s family. The nobles who had appointments
at court and the royal domestics lived in the palace itself, but the
offices of the different functionaries, the storehouses for their
provisions, the dwellings of their _employés_, formed distinct quarters
outside the palace, grouped around narrow courts, and communicating
with each other by a labyrinth of lanes or covered passages. The entire
building was constructed of wood or bricks, less frequently of roughly
dressed stone, badly built, and wanting in solidity. The ancient
Pharaohs were no more inclined than the Sultans of later days to occupy
palaces in which their predecessors had lived and died. Each king
desired to possess a habitation after his own heart, one which would not
be haunted by the memory, or perchance the double, of another sovereign.
These royal mansions, hastily erected, hastily filled with occupants,
were vacated and fell into ruin with no less rapidity: they grew old
with their master, or even more rapidly than he, and his disappearance
almost always entailed their ruin. In the neighbourhood of Memphis many
of these palaces might be seen, which their short-lived masters had
built for eternity, an eternity which did not last longer than the lives
of their builders.*

Nothing could present a greater variety than the population of these
ephemeral cities in the climax of their splendour. We have first the
people who immediately surrounded the Pharaoh,** the retainers of
the palace and of the harem, whose highly complex degrees of rank are
revealed to us on the monuments.*** His person was, as it were, minutely
subdivided into departments, each requiring its attendants and their
appointed chiefs.

     * The song of the harp-player on the tomb of King Antûf
     contains an allusion to these ruined palaces: “The gods
     [kings] who were of yore, and who repose in their tombs,
     mummies and manes, all buried alike in their pyramids, when
     castles are built they no longer have a place in them; see,
     thus it is done with them! I have heard the poems in praise
     of Imhotpû and of Hardidif which are sung in the songs, and
     yet, see, where are their places to-day? their walls are
     destroyed, their places no more, as though they have never

     ** They are designated by the general terms of Shonîtiû, the
     “people of the circle,” and Qonbîtiû, the “people of the
     corner.” These words are found in religious inscriptions
     referring to the staff of the temples, and denote the
     attendants or court of each god; they are used to
     distinguish the notables of a town or borough, the sheikhs,
     who enjoyed the right to superintend local administration
     and dispense justice.

     *** The Egyptian scribes had endeavoured to draw up an
     hierarchical list of these offices. At present we possess
     the remains of two lists of this description. One of these,
     preserved in the “Hood Papyrus” in the British Museum, has
     been published and translated by Maspero, in _Études
     Égyptiennes,_ vol. ii. pp. 1-66; another and more complete
     copy, discovered in 1890, is in the possession of M.
     Golénischeff. The other list, also in the British Museum,
     was published by Prof. Petrie in a memoir of _The Egypt
     Exploration Fund _; in this latter the names and titles are
     intermingled with various other matter. To these two works
     may be added the lists of professions and trades to be found
     _passim_ on the monuments, and which have been commented on
     by Brugsch.

His toilet alone gave employment to a score of different trades. There
were royal barbers, who had the privilege of shaving his head and chin;
hairdressers who made, curled, and put on his black or blue wigs and
adjusted the diadems to them; there were manicurists who pared and
polished his nails, perfumers who prepared the scented oils and pomades
for the anointing of his body, the kohl for blackening his eyelids, the
_rouge_ for spreading on his lips and cheeks. His wardrobe required a
whole troop of shoemakers, belt-makers, and tailors, some of whom had
the care of stuffs in the piece, others presided over the body-linen,
while others took charge of his garments, comprising long or short,
transparent or thick petticoats, fitting tightly to the hips or cut with
ample fulness, draped mantles and flowing pelisses. Side by side
with these officials, the laundresses plied their trade, which was an
important one among a people devoted to white, and in whose estimation
want of cleanliness in dress entailed religious impurity. Like the
fellahîn of the present time, they took their linen daily to wash in
the river; they rinsed, starched, smoothed, and pleated it without
intermission to supply the incessant demands of Pharaoh and his family.*

     * The “royal laundrymen” and their chiefs are mentioned in
     the Conte des deux frères under the XIXth dynasty, as well
     as their laundries on the banks of the Nile.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin from a squeeze taken at Saqqâra in
     1878 by Mariette

The task of those set over the jewels was no easy one, when we consider
the enormous variety of necklaces, bracelets, rings, earrings, and
sceptres of rich workmanship which ceremonial costume required for
particular times and occasions. The guardianship of the crowns almost
approached to the dignity of the priesthood; for was not the uraeus,
which ornamented each one, a living goddess? The queen required numerous
waiting-women, and the same ample number of attendants were to be
encountered in the establishments of the other ladies of the harem.
Troops of musicians, singers, dancers, and almehs whiled away the
tedious hours, supplemented by buffoons and dwarfs. The great Egyptian
lords evinced a curious liking for these unfortunate beings, and amused
themselves by getting together the ugliest and most deformed creatures.
They are often represented on the tombs beside their masters in company
with his pet dog, or a gazelle, or with a monkey which they sometimes
hold in leash, or sometimes are engaged in teasing. Sometimes the
Pharaoh bestowed his friendship on his dwarfs, and confided to
them occupations in his household. One of them, Khnûmhotpû, died
superintendent of the royal linen. The staff of servants required for
supplying the table exceeded all the others in number. It could scarcely
be otherwise if we consider that the master had to provide food, not
only for his regular servants,* but for all those of his _employés_ and
subjects whose business brought them to the royal residence: even those
poor wretches who came to complain to him of some more or less imaginary
grievance were fed at his expense while awaiting his judicial verdict.
Head-cooks, butlers, pantlers, pastrycooks, fishmongers, game or fruit
dealers--if all enumerated, would be endless. The bakers who baked the
ordinary bread were not to be confounded with those who manufactured
biscuits. The makers of pancakes and dough-nuts took precedence of the
cake-bakers, and those who concocted delicate fruit preserves ranked
higher than the common dryer of dates.

     * Even after death they remained inscribed on the registers
     of the palace, and had rations served out to them every day
     as funeral offerings.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-
     Bey; the original is at Gizeh

If one had held a post in the royal household, however low the
occupation, it was something to be proud of all one’s life, and after
death to boast of in one’s epitaph. The chiefs to whom this army of
servants rendered obedience at times rose from the ranks; on some
occasion their master had noticed them in the crowd, and had transferred
them, some by a single promotion, others by slow degrees, to the
highest offices of the state. Many among them, however, belonged to
old families, and held positions in the palace which their fathers
and grandfathers had occupied before them, some were members of the
provincial nobility, distant descendants of former royal princes and
princesses, more or less nearly related to the reigning sovereign.*

     * It was the former who, I believe, formed the class of
     _rokhu sûton_ so often mentioned on the monuments. This
     title is generally supposed to have been a mark of
     relationship with the royal family. M. de Rougé proved long
     ago that this was not so, and that functionaries might bear
     this title even though they were not blood relations of the
     Pharaohs. It seems to me to have been used to indicate a
     class of courtiers whom the king condescended to “know”
      (_rokhu_) directly, without the intermediary of a
     chamberlain, the “persons known by the king;” the others
     were only his “friends” (samirû).

They had been sought out to be the companions of his education and of
his pastimes, while he was still living an obscure life in the “House
of the Children;” he had grown up with them and had kept them about his
person as his “sole friends” and counsellors. He lavished titles and
offices upon them by the dozen, according to the confidence he felt in
their capacity or to the amount of faithfulness with which he credited
them. A few of the most favoured were called “Masters of the Secret of
the Royal House;” they knew all the innermost recesses of the palace,
all the passwords needed in going from one part of it to another, the
place where the royal treasures were kept, and the modes of access to
it. Several of them were “Masters of the Secret of all the Royal Words,”
 and had authority over the high courtiers of the palace, which gave
them the power of banishing whom they pleased from the person of the
sovereign. Upon others devolved the task of arranging his amusements;
they rejoiced the heart of his Majesty by pleasant songs, while the
chiefs of the sailors and soldiers kept watch over his safety. To these
active services were attached honorary privileges which were highly
esteemed, such as the right to retain their sandals in the palace, while
the general crowd of courtiers could only enter unshod; that of kissing
the knees and not the feet of the “good god,” and that of wearing the
panther’s skin. Among those who enjoyed these distinctions were the
physicians of the king, chaplains, and men of the roll--“khri-habi.”
 The latter did not confine themselves to the task of guiding Pharaoh
through the intricacies of ritual, nor to that of prompting him with the
necessary formulas needed to make the sacrifice efficacious; they were
styled “Masters of the Secrets of Heaven,” those who see what is in the
firmament, on the earth and in Hades, those who know all the charms
of the soothsayers, prophets, or magicians. The laws relating to the
government of the seasons and the stars presented no mysteries to them,
neither were they ignorant of the months, days, or hours propitious to
the undertakings of everyday life or the starting out on an expedition,
nor of those times during which any action was dangerous. They drew
their inspirations from the books of magic written by Thot, which
taught them the art of interpreting dreams or of curing the sick, or
of invoking and obliging the gods to assist them, and of arresting
or hastening the progress of the sun on the celestial ocean. Some are
mentioned as being able to divide the waters at their will, and to
cause them to return to their natural place, merely by means of a short
formula. An image of a man or animal made by them out of enchanted
wax, was imbued with life at their command, and became an irresistible
instrument of their wrath. Popular stories reveal them to us at work.
“Is it true,” said Kheops to one of them, “that thou canst replace a
head which has been cut off?” On his admitting that he could do so,
Pharaoh immediately desired to test his power. “Bring me a prisoner from
prison and let him be slain.” The magician, at this proposal, exclaimed:
“Nay, nay, not a man, sire my master; do not command that this sin
should be committed; a fine animal will suffice!” A goose was brought,
“its head was cut off and the body was placed on the right side, and
the head of the goose on the left side of the hall: he recited what he
recited from his book of magic, the goose began to hop forward, the head
moved on to it, and, when both were united, the goose began to cackle.
A pelican was produced, and underwent the same process. His Majesty then
caused a bull to be brought forward, and its head was smitten to the
ground: the magician recited what he recited from his book of magic,
the bull at once arose, and he replaced on it what had fallen to the
earth.” The great lords themselves deigned to become initiated into
the occult sciences, and were invested with these formidable powers.
A prince who practised magic would enjoy amongst us nowadays but small
esteem: in Egypt sorcery was not considered incompatible with royalty,
and the magicians of Pharaoh often took Pharaoh himself as their pupil.*

Such were the king’s household, the people about his person, and those
attached to the service of his family. His capital sheltered a still
greater number of officials and functionaries who were charged with
the administration of his fortune--that is to say, what he possessed
in Egypt.** In theory it was always supposed that the whole of the
soil belonged to him, but that he and his predecessors had diverted and
parcelled off such an amount of it for the benefit of their favourites,
or for the hereditary lords, that only half of the actual territory
remained under his immediate control. He governed most of the nomes of
the Delta in person:*** beyond the Fayum, he merely retained isolated
lands, enclosed in the middle of feudal principalities and often at
considerable distance from each other.

     * We know the reputation, extending even to the classical
     writers of antiquity, of the Pharaohs Nechepso and Nectanebo
     for their skill in magic. Arab writers have, moreover,
     collected a number of traditions concerning the marvels
     which the sorcerers of Egypt were in the habit of
     performing; as an instance, I may quote the description
     given by Makrîzî of one of their meetings, which is probably
     taken from some earlier writer.

     ** They were frequently distinguished from their provincial
     or manorial colleagues by the addition of the word _khonû_
     to their titles, a term which indicates, in a general
     manner, the royal residence. They formed what we should
     nowadays call the departmental staff of the public officers,
     and might be deputed to act, at least temporarily, in the
     provinces, or in the service of one of the feudal princes,
     without thereby losing their status as functionaries of the
     _khonû_ or central administration.

     *** This seems, at any rate, an obvious inference from the
     almost total absence of feudal titles on the most ancient
     monuments of the Delta. Erman, who was struck by this fact,
     attributed it to a different degree of civilization in the
     two halves of Egypt; I attribute it to a difference in
     government. Feudal titles naturally predominate in the
     South, royal administrative titles in the North.

The extent of the royal domain varied with different dynasties, and even
from reign to reign: if it sometimes decreased, owing to too frequently
repeated concessions,* its losses were generally amply compensated by
the confiscation of certain fiefs, or by their lapsing to the crown. The
domain was always of sufficient extent to oblige the Pharaoh to confide
the larger portion of it to officials of various kinds, and to farm
merely a small remainder of the “royal slaves:” in the latter case,
he reserved for himself all the profits, but at the expense of all the
annoyance and all the outlay; in the former case, he obtained without
any risk the annual dues, the amount of which was fixed on the spot,
according to the resources of the nome.

     * We find, at different periods, persons who call themselves
     masters of new domains or strongholds--Pahûrnofir, under the
     IIIrd dynasty; several princes of Hermopolis, under the VIth
     and VIIth; Khnûmhotpû at the begining of the XIIth. In
     connection with the last named, we shall have occasion,
     later on, to show in what manner and with what rapidity one
     of these great _new_ fiefs was formed.

In order to understand the manner in which the government of Egypt was
conducted, we should never forget that the world was still ignorant of
the use of money, and that gold, silver, and copper, however abundant we
may suppose them to have been, were mere articles of exchange, like
the most common products of Egyptian soil. Pharaoh was not then, as the
State is with us, a treasurer who calculates the total of his receipts
and expenses in ready money, banks his revenue in specie occupying but
little space, and settles his accounts from the same source. His fiscal
receipts were in kind, and it was in kind that he remunerated his
servants for their labour: cattle, cereals, fermented drinks, oils,
stuffs, common or precious metals,--“all that the heavens give, all
that the earth produces, all that the Nile brings from its mysterious
sources,” * --constituted the coinage in which his subjects paid him their
contributions, and which he passed on to his vassals by way of salary.

     * This was the most usual formula for the offering on the
     funerary stelo, and sums up more completely than any other
     the nature of the tax paid to the gods by the living, and
     consequently the nature of that paid to the king; here, as
     elsewhere, the domain of the gods is modelled on that of the

One room, a few feet square, and, if need be, one safe, would easily
contain the entire revenue of one of our modern empires: the largest
of our emporiums would not always have sufficed to hold the mass of
incongruous objects which represented the returns of a single Egyptian
province. As the products in which the tax was paid took various forms,
it was necessary to have an infinite variety of special agents and
suitable places to receive it; herdsmen and sheds for the oxen,
measurers and granaries for the grain, butlers and cellarers for
the wine, beer, and oils. The product of the tax, while awaiting
redistribution, could only be kept from deteriorating in value by
incessant labour, in which a score of different classes of clerks and
workmen in the service of the treasury all took part, according to their
trades. If the tax were received in oxen, it was led to pasturage, or at
times, when a murrain threatened to destroy it, to the slaughter-house
and the currier; if it were in corn, it was bolted, ground to flour, and
made into bread and pastry; if it were in stuffs, it was washed, ironed,
and folded, to be retailed as garments or in the piece. The royal
treasury partook of the character of the farm, the warehouse, and the

Each of the departments which helped to swell its contents, occupied
within the palace enclosure a building, or group of buildings, which was
called its “house,” or, as we should say, its storehouse.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a chromolithograph in Lepsius,
     _Denhm._, ii. 96.

There was the “White Storehouse,” where the stuffs and jewels were
kept, and at times the wine; the “Storehouse of the Oxen,” the “Gold
Storehouse,” the “Storehouse for Preserved Fruits,” the “Storehouse for
Grain,” the “Storehouse for Liquors,” and ten other storehouses of the
application of which we are not always sure. In the “Storehouse of
Weapons” (or Armoury) were ranged thousands of clubs, maces, pikes,
daggers, bows, and bundles of arrows, which Pharaoh distributed to his
recruits whenever a war forced him to call out his army, and which were
again warehoused after the campaign. The “storehouses” were further
subdivided into rooms or store-chambers,* each reserved for its own
category of objects.

     * Aît, Âî. Lefébure has collected a number of passages in
     which these storehouses are mentioned, in his notes _Sur
     différents mots et noms Égyptiens._ In many of the cases
     which he quotes, and in which he recognizes an office of the
     State, I believe reference to be made to a trade: many of
     the ari âît-afû, “people of the store-chambers for meat,”
      were probably butchers; many of the ari âît-hiqÎtû, “people
     of the store-chamber for beer,” were probably keepers of
     drink-shops, trading on their own account in the town of
     Abydos, and not _employés_ attached to the exchequer of
     Pharaoh or of the ruler of Thinis.

It would be difficult to enumerate the number of store-chambers in
the outbuildings of the “Storehouse of Provisions”--store-chambers for
butcher’s meat, for fruits, for beer, bread, and wine, in which were
deposited as much of each article of food as would be required by the
court for some days, or at most for a few weeks. They were brought there
from the larger storehouses, the wines from vaults, the oxen from their
stalls, the corn from the granaries. The latter were vast brick-built
receptacles, ten or more in a row, circular in shape and surmounted by
cupolas, but having no communication with each other. They had only two
openings, one at the top for pouring in the grain, another on the ground
level for drawing it out; a notice posted up outside, often on the
shutter which closed the chamber, indicated the character and quantity
of the cereals within. For the security and management of these, there
were employed troops of porters, store-keepers, accountants, “primates”
 who superintended the works, record-keepers, and directors. Great nobles
coveted the administration of the “storehouses,” and even the sons
of kings did not think it derogatory to their dignity to be entitled
“Directors of the Granaries,” or “Directors of the Armoury.” There was
no law against pluralists, and more than one of them boasts on his tomb
of having held simultaneously five or six offices. These storehouses
participated like all the other dependencies of the crown, in that
duality which characterized the person of the Pharaoh. They would
be called in common parlance, the Storehouse or the Double White
Storehouse, the Storehouse or the Double Gold Storehouse, the Double
Warehouse, the Double Granary.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a scene on the tomb of Amoni at
     Beni-Hasan. On the right, near the door, is a heap of grain,
     from which the measurer fills his measure in order to empty
     it into the sack which one of the porters holds open. In the
     centre is a train of slaves ascending the stairs which lead
     to the loft above the granaries; one of them empties his
     sack into a hole above the granary in the presence of the
     overseer. The inscriptions in ink on the outer wall of the
     receptacles, which have already been filled, indicate the
     number of measures which each one of them contains.

The large towns, as well as the capital, possessed their double
storehouses and their store-chambers, into which were gathered the
products of the neighbourhood, but where a complete staff of employés
was not always required: in such towns we meet with “localities”
 in which the commodities were housed merely temporarily. The least
perishable part of the provincial dues was forwarded by boat to the
royal residence,* and swelled the central treasury.

     * The boats employed for this purpose formed a flotilla, and
     their commanders constituted a regularly organized transport
     corps, who are frequently to be found represented on the
     monuments of the New Empire, carrying tribute to the
     residence of the king or of the prince, whose retainers they

The remainder was used on the spot for paying workman’s wages, and for
the needs of the Administration. We see from the inscriptions, that
the staffs of officials who administered affairs in the provinces was
similar to that in the royal city. Starting from the top, and going down
to the bottom of the scale, each functionary supervised those beneath
him, while, as a body, they were all responsible for their depot. Any
irregularity in the entries entailed the bastinado; peculators were
punished by imprisonment, mutilation, or death, according to the gravity
of the offence. Those whom illness or old age rendered unfit for work,
were pensioned for the remainder of their life.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Lepsius, _Denkm_., iii. 95. The
     illustration is taken from one of the tombs at Tel el-
     Amarna. The storehouse consists of four blocks, isolated by
     two avenues planted with trees, which intersect each other
     in the form of a cross. Behind the entrance gate, in a small
     courtyard, is a kiosque, in which the master sat for the
     purpose of receiving the stores or of superintending their
     distribution; two arms of the cross are lined by porticoes,
     under which are the entrances to the “chambers” (dît) for
     the stores, which are filled with jars of wine, linen-
     chests, dried fish, and other articles.

The writer, or, as we call him, the scribe, was the mainspring of
all this machinery. We come across him in all grades of the staff: an
insignificant registrar of oxen, a clerk of the Double White Storehouse,
ragged, humble, and badly paid, was a scribe just as much as the noble,
the priest, or the king’s son. Thus the title of scribe was of no value
in itself, and did not designate, as one might naturally think, a savant
educated in a school of high culture, or a man of the world, versed in
the sciences and the literature of his time; El-kab was a scribe who
knew how to read, write, and cipher, was fairly proficient in wording
the administrative formulas, and could easily apply the elementary rules
of book-keeping. There was no public school in which the scribe could be
prepared for his future career; but as soon as a child had acquired the
first rudiments of letters with some old pedagogue, his father took him
with him to his office, or entrusted him to some friend who agreed to
undertake his education. The apprentice observed what went on around
him, imitated the mode of procedure of the _employés_, copied in his
spare time old papers, letters, bills, flowerily-worded petitions,
reports, complimentary addresses to his superiors or to the Pharaoh, all
of which his patron examined and corrected, noting on the margin letters
or words imperfectly written, improving the style, and recasting or
completing the incorrect expressions.* As soon as he could put together
a certain number of sentences or figures without a mistake, he was
allowed to draw up bills, or to have the sole superintendence of some
department of the treasury, his work being gradually increased in amount
and difficulty; when he was considered to be sufficiently _au courant_
with the ordinary business, his education was declared to be finished,
and a situation was found for him either in the place where he had begun
his probation, or in some neighbouring office.**

     * We still possess school exercises of the XIXth and XXth
     dynasties, e.g. the _Papyrus Anastasi n IV_., and the
     _Anastasi Papyrus n V._, in which we find a whole string of
     pieces of every possible style and description--business
     letters, requests for leave of absence, complimentary verses
     addressed to a superior, all probably a collection of
     exercises compiled by some professor, and copied by his
     pupils in order to complete their education as scribes; the
     master’s corrections are made at the top and bottom of the
     pages in a bold and skilful hand, very different from that
     of the pupil, though the writing of the latter is generally
     more legible to our modern eyes (_Select Papyri,_ vol. i.
     pls. lxxxiii.-cxxi.).

     ** Evidence of this state of things seems to be furnished by
     all the biographies of scribes with which we are acquainted,
     e.g. that of Amten; it is, moreover, what took place
     regularly throughout the whole of Egypt, down to the latest
     times, and what probably still occurs in those parts of the
     country where European ideas have not yet made any deep


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a wall-painting on the tomb of
     Khûnas. Two scribes are writing on tablets. Before the
     scribe in the upper part of the picture we see a palette,
     with two saucers, on a vessel which serves as an ink-bottle,
     and a packet of tablets tied together, the whole supported
     by a bundle of archives. The scribe in the lower part rests
     his tablet against an ink-bottle, a box for archives being
     placed before him. Behind them a _nakht-khrôû_ announces the
     delivery of a tablet covered with figures which the third
     scribe is presenting to the master.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a picture in the tomb of
     Shopsisûri. Four registrars of the funerary temple of
     Ûsirnirî advance in a crawling posture towards the master,
     the fifth has just risen and holds himself in a stooping
     attitude, while an usher introduces him and transmits to him
     an order to send in his accounts.

Thus equipped, the young man ended usually by succeeding his father or
his patron: in most of the government administrations, we find whole
dynasties of scribes on a small scale, whose members inherited the same
post for several centuries. The position was an insignificant one, and
the salary poor, but the means of existence were assured, the occupant
was exempted from forced labour and from military service, and he
exercised a certain authority in the narrow world in which he lived; it
sufficed to make him think himself happy, and in fact to be so. “One has
only to be a scribe,” said the wise man, “for the scribe takes the lead
of all.” Sometimes, however, one of these contented officials, more
intelligent or ambitious than his fellows, succeeded in rising above
the common mediocrity: his fine handwriting, the happy choice of his
sentences, his activity, his obliging manner, his honesty--perhaps also
his discreet dishonesty--attracted the attention of his superiors and
were the cause of his promotion. The son of a peasant or of some poor
wretch, who had begun life by keeping a register of the bread and
vegetables in some provincial government office, had been often known
to crown his long and successful career by exercising a kind of
vice-regency over the half of Egypt. His granaries overflowed with corn,
his storehouses were always full of gold, fine stuffs, and precious
vases, his stalls “multiplied the backs” of his oxen; the sons of his
early patrons, having now become in turn his _protégés_, did not venture
to approach him except with bowed head and bended knee.

No doubt the Amten whose tomb was removed to Berlin by Lepsius, and put
together piece by piece in the museum, was a _parvenu_ of this kind. He
was born rather more than four thousand years before our era under one
of the last kings of the IIIrd dynasty, and he lived until the reign of
the first king of the IVth dynasty, Snofrûi. He probably came from the
Nome of the Bull, if not from Xoïs itself, in the heart of the Delta.
His father, the scribe Anûpûmonkhû, held, in addition to his office,
several landed estates, producing large returns; but his mother,
Nibsonît, who appears to have been merely a concubine, had no personal
fortune, and would have been unable even to give her child an education.
Anûpûmonkhû made himself entirely responsible for the necessary
expenses, “giving him all the necessities of life, at a time when he had
not as yet either corn, barley, income, house, men or women servants,
or troops of asses, pigs, or oxen.” As soon as he was in a condition to
provide for himself, his father obtained for him, in his native Nome,
the post of chief scribe attached to one of the “localities” which
belonged to the Administration of Provisions. On behalf of the Pharaoh,
the young man received, registered, and distributed the meat, cakes,
fruits, and fresh vegetables which constituted the taxes, all on his
own responsibility, except that he had to give an account of them to the
“Director of the Storehouse” who was nearest to him. We are not told how
long he remained in this occupation; we see merely that he was
raised successively to posts of an analogous kind, but of increasing
importance. The provincial offices comprised a small staff of _employés,
_ consisting always of the same officials:--a chief, whose ordinary
function was “Director of the Storehouse;” a few scribes to keep the
accounts, one or two of whom added to his ordinary calling that of
keeper of the archives; paid ushers to introduce clients, and, if need
be, to bastinado them summarily at the order of the “director;” lastly,
the “strong of voice,” the criers, who superintended the incomings and
outgoings, and proclaimed the account of them to the scribes to be noted
down forthwith. A vigilant and honest crier was a man of great value.


He obliged the taxpayer not only to deliver the exact number of measures
prescribed as his quota, but also compelled him to deliver good measure
in each case; a dishonest crier, on the contrary, could easily favour
cheating, provided that he shared in the spoil. Amten was at once
“crier” and “taxer of the colonists” to the civil administrator of the
Xoïte nome: he announced the names of the peasants and the payments they
made, then estimated the amount of the local tax which each, according
to his income, had to pay. He distinguished himself so pre-eminently in
these delicate duties, that the civil administrator of Xoïs made him one
of his subordinates. He became “Chief of the Ushers,” afterwards “Master
Crier,” then “Director of all the King’s flax” in the Xoïfce nome--an
office which entailed on him the supervision of the culture, cutting,
and general preparation of flax for the manufacture which was carried
on in Pharaoh’s own domain. It was one of the highest offices in the
Provincial Administration, and Amten must have congratulated himself on
his appointment.

From that moment his career became a great one, and he advanced quickly.
Up to that time he had been confined in offices; he now left them to
perform more active service. The Pharaohs, extremely jealous of their
own authority, usually avoided placing at the head of the nomes in their
domain, a single ruler, who would have appeared too much like a prince;
they preferred having in each centre of civil administration, governors
of the town or province, as well as military commanders who were jealous
of one another, supervised one another, counterbalanced one another, and
did not remain long enough in office to become dangerous. Amten held all
these posts successively in most of the nomes situated in the centre or
to the west of the Delta. His first appointment was to the government
of the village of Pidosû, an unimportant post in itself, but one which
entitled him to a staff of office, and in consequence procured for him
one of the greatest indulgences of vanity that an Egyptian could enjoy.
The staff was, in fact, a symbol of command which only the nobles,
and the officials associated with the nobility, could carry without
transgressing custom; the assumption of it, as that of the sword with
us, showed every one that the bearer was a member of a privileged class.

[Illustration: 072.jpg STATUE OF AMTEN, FOUND IN HIS TOMB]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Lepsius, Denkm., ii. 120 a;
     the original is in the Berlin Museum.

Amten was no sooner ennobled, than his functions began to expand;
villages were rapidly added to villages, then towns to towns, including
such an important one as Bûto, and finally the nomes of the Harpoon, of
the Bull, of the Silurus, the western half of the Saïte nome, the nome
of the Haunch, and a part of the Fayûm came within his jurisdiction. The
western half of the Saïte nome, where he long resided, corresponded with
what was called later the Libyan nome. It reached nearly from the apex
of the Delta to the sea, and was bounded on one side by the Canopic
branch of the Nile, on the other by the Libyan range; a part of the
desert as well as the Oases fell under its rule. It included among
its population, as did many of the provinces of Upper Egypt, regiments
composed of nomad hunters, who were compelled to pay their tribute
in living or dead game. Amten was metamorphosed into Chief Huntsman,
scoured the mountains with his men, and thereupon became one of the most
important personages in the defence of the country. The Pharaohs had
built fortified stations, and had from time to time constructed walls at
certain points where the roads entered the valley--at Syene, at Coptos,
and at the entrance to the Wady Tûmilât. Amten having been proclaimed
“Primate of the Western Gate,” that is, governor of the Libyan marches,
undertook to protect the frontier against the wandering Bedouin from the
other side of Lake Mareotis. His duties as Chief Huntsman had been
the best preparation he could have had for this arduous task. They had
forced him to make incessant expeditions among the mountains, to explore
the gorges and ravines, to be acquainted with the routes marked out by
wells which the marauders were obliged to follow in their incursions,
and the pathways and passes by which they could descend into the plain
of the Delta; in running the game to earth, he had gained all the
knowledge needful for repulsing the enemy. Such a combination of
capabilities made Amten the most important noble in this part of Egypt.
When old age at last prevented him from leading an active life, he
accepted, by way of a pension, the governorship of the nome of
the Haunch: with civil authority, military command, local priestly
functions, and honorary distinctions, he lacked only one thing to make
him the equal of the nobles of ancient family, and that was permission
to bequeath without restriction his towns and offices to his children.

His private fortune was not as great as we might be led to think. He
inherited from his father only one estate, but had acquired twelve
others in the nomes of the Delta whither his successive appointments had
led him--namely, in the Saïte, Xoïte, and Letopolite nomes. He received
subsequently, as a reward for his services, two hundred portions of
cultivated land, with numerous peasants, both male and female, and an
income of one hundred loaves daily, a first charge upon the funeral
provision of Queen Hâpûnimâit. He took advantage of this windfall to
endow his family suitably. His only son was already provided for, thanks
to the munificence of Pharaoh; he had begun his administrative career by
holding the same post of scribe, in addition to the office of provision
registrar, which his father had held, and over and above these he
received by royal grant, four portions of cornland with their population
and stock. Amten gave twelve portions to his other children and fifty to
his mother Nibsonît, by means of which she lived comfortably in her old
age, and left an annuity for maintaining worship at her tomb. He built
upon the remainder of the land a magnificent villa, of which he has
considerately left us the description. The boundary wall formed a square
of 350 feet on each face, and consequently contained a superficies of
122,500 square feet. The well-built dwelling-house, completely furnished
with all the necessities of life, was surrounded by ornamental and
fruit-bearing trees,--the common palm, the nebbek, fig trees, and
acacias; several ponds, neatly bordered with greenery, afforded a
habitat for aquatic birds; trellised vines, according to custom, ran in
front of the house, and two plots of ground, planted with vines in full
bearing, amply supplied the owner with wine every year.


     This plan is taken from a Theban tomb of the XVIIIth
     dynasty; but it corresponds exactly with the description
     which Amten has left us of his villa.

It was there, doubtless, that Amten ended his days in peace and quietude
of mind. The tableland whereon the Sphinx has watched for so many
centuries was then crowned by no pyramids, but mastabas of fine white
stone rose here and there from out of the sand: that in which the mummy
of Amten was to be enclosed was situated not far from the modern village
of Abûsîr, on the confines of the nome of the Haunch, and almost in
sight of the mansion in which his declining years were spent.*

     * The site of Amten’s manorial mansion is nowhere mentioned
     in the inscriptions; but the custom of the Egyptians to
     construct their tombs as near as possible to the places
     where they resided, leads me to consider it as almost
     certain that we ought to look for its site in the Memphite
     plain, in the vicinity of the town of Abûsîr, but in a
     northern direction, so as to keep within the territory of
     the Letopolite nome, where Amten governed in the name of the

The number of persons of obscure origin, who in this manner had risen in
a few years to the highest honours, and died governors of provinces or
ministers of Pharaoh, must have been considerable. Their descendants
followed in their fathers’ footsteps, until the day came when royal
favour or an advantageous marriage secured them the possession of an
hereditary fief, and transformed the son or grandson of a prosperous
scribe into a feudal lord. It was from people of this class, and from
the children of the Pharaoh, that the nobility was mostly recruited.
In the Delta, where the authority of the Pharaoh was almost everywhere
directly felt, the power of the nobility was weakened and much
curtailed; in Middle Egypt it gained ground, and became stronger and
stronger in proportion as one advanced southward. The nobles held the
principalities of the Gazelle, of the Hare, of the Serpent Mountain, of
Akhmîm, of Thinis, of Qasr-es-Sayad, of El-Kab, of Aswan, and doubtless
others of which we shall some day discover the monuments.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Gayet.

They accepted without difficulty the fiction according to which Pharaoh
claimed to be absolute master of the soil, and ceded to his subjects
only the usufruct of their fiefs; but apart from the admission of the
principle, each lord proclaimed himself sovereign in his own domain, and
exercised in it, on a small scale, complete royal authority.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-
     Bey. The tomb of Api was discovered at Saqqâra in 1884. It
     had been pulled down in ancient times, and a new tomb built
     on its ruins, about the time of the XIIth dynasty; all that
     remains of it is now in the museum at Gîzeh.

Everything within the limits of this petty state belonged to him--woods,
canals, fields, even the desert-sand: after the example of the Pharaoh,
he farmed a part himself, and let out the remainder, either in farms or
as fiefs, to those of his followers who had gained his confidence or
his friendship. After the example of Pharaoh, also, he was a priest, and
exercised priestly functions in relation to all the gods--that is,
not of all Egypt, but of all the deities of the nome. He was an
administrator of civil and criminal law, received the complaints of his
vassals and serfs at the gate of his palace, and against his decisions
there was no appeal. He kept up a flotilla, and raised on his estate a
small army, of which he was commander-in-chief by hereditary right. He
inhabited a fortified mansion, situated sometimes within the capital of
the principality itself, sometimes in its neighbourhood, and in which
the arrangements of the royal city were reproduced on a smaller scale.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a chromolithograph in Flinders
     Petrie’s _Medûm,_ pl. xxiv.

Side by side with the reception halls was the harem, where the
legitimate wife, often a princess of solar rank, played the rôle of
queen, surrounded by concubines, dancers, and slaves. The offices of
the various departments were crowded into the enclosure, with their
directors, governors, scribes of all ranks, custodians, and workmen, who
bore the same titles as the corresponding employés in the departments of
the State: their White Storehouse, their Gold Storehouse, their Granary,
were at times called the Double White Storehouse, the Double Gold
Storehouse, the Double Granary, as were those of the Pharaoh. Amusements
at the court of the vassal did not differ from those at that of the
sovereign: hunting in the desert and the marshes, fishing, inspection of
agricultural works, military exercises, games, songs, dancing, doubtless
the recital of long stories, and exhibitions of magic, even down to the
contortions of the court buffoon and the grimaces of the dwarfs.

[Illustration: 080.jpg IN A NILE BOAT]

It amused the prince to see one of these wretched favourites leading to
him by the paw a cynocephalus larger than himself, while a mischievous
monkey slyly pulled a tame and stately ibis by the tail. From time to
time the great lord proceeded to inspect his domain: on these occasions
he travelled in a kind of sedan chair, supported by two mules yoked
together; or he was borne in a palanquin by some thirty men, while
fanned by large flabella; or possibly he went up the Nile and the canals
in his beautiful painted barge. The life of the Egyptian lords may be
aptly described as in every respect an exact reproduction of the life of
the Pharaoh on a smaller scale.

Inheritance in a direct or indirect line was the rule, but in every
case of transmission the new lord had to receive the investiture of
the sovereign either by letter or in person. The duties enforced by the
feudal state do not appear to have been onerous. In the first place,
there was the regular payment of a tribute, proportionate to the
extent and resources of the fief. In the next place, there was military
service: the vassal agreed to supply, when called upon, a fixed number
of armed men, whom he himself commanded, unless he could offer a
reasonable excuse such as illness or senile incapacity.*

     * Prince Amoni, of the Gazelle nome, led a body of four
     hundred men and another body of six hundred, levied in his
     principality, into Ethiopia under these conditions; the
     first that he served in the royal army, was as a substitute
     for his father, who had grown too old. Similarly, under the
     XVIIIth dynasty, Âhmosis of El-Kab commanded the war-ship,
     the Calf, in place of his father. The Uni inscription
     furnishes us with an instance of a general levy of the
     feudal contingents in the time of the VIth dynasty (1. 14,
     et seq.).

Attendance at court was not obligatory: we notice, however, many nobles
about the person of Pharaoh, and there are numerous examples of princes,
with whose lives we are familiar, filling offices which appear to have
demanded at least a temporary residence in the palace, as, for instance,
the charge of the royal wardrobe. When the king travelled, the great
vassals were compelled to entertain him and his suite, and to escort
him to the frontier of their domain. On the occasion of such visits, the
king would often take away with him one of their sons to be brought
up with his own children: an act which they on their part considered a
great honour, while the king on his had a guarantee of their fidelity in
the person of these hostages. Such of these young people as returned to
their fathers’ roof when their education was finished, were usually most
loyal to the reigning dynasty. They often brought back with them
some maiden born in the purple, who consented to share their little
provincial sovereignty, while in exchange one or more of their sisters
entered the harem of the Pharaoh. Marriages made and marred in their
turn the fortunes of the great feudal houses. Whether she were
a princess or not, each woman received as her dowry a portion of
territory, and enlarged by that amount her husband’s little state;
but the property she brought might, in a few years, be taken by her
daughters as portions and enrich other houses. The fief seldom could
bear up against such dismemberment; it fell away piecemeal, and by
the third or fourth generation had disappeared. Sometimes, however,
it gained more than it lost in this matrimonial game, and extended its
borders till they encroached on neighbouring nomes or else completely
absorbed them. There were always in the course of each reign several
great principalities formed, or in the process of formation, whose
chiefs might be said to hold in their hands the destinies of the
country. Pharaoh himself was obliged to treat them with deference,
and he purchased their allegiance by renewed and ever-increasing

Their ambition was never satisfied; when they were loaded with favours,
and did not venture to ask for more for themselves, they impudently
demanded them for such of their children as they thought were poorly
provided for. Their eldest son “knew not the high favours which came
from the king. Other princes were his privy counsellers, his chosen
friends, or foremost among his friends!” he had no share in all this.
Pharaoh took good care not to reject a petition presented so humbly:
he proceeded to lavish appointments, titles, and estates on the son in
question; if necessity required it, he would even seek out a wife for
him, who might give him, together with her hand, a property equal to
that of his father. The majority of these great vassals secretly aspired
to the crown: they frequently had reason to believe that they had some
right to it, either through their mother or one of their ancestors. Had
they combined against the reigning house, they could easily have gained
the upper hand, but their mutual jealousies prevented this, and the
overthrow of a dynasty to which they owed so much would, for the most
part, have profited them but little: as soon as one of them revolted,
the remainder took arms in Pharaoh’s defence, led his armies and
fought his battles. If at times their ambition and greed harassed
their suzerain, at least their power was at his service, and their
self-interested allegiance was often the means of delaying the downfall
of his house.

Two things were specially needful both for them and for Pharaoh in order
to maintain or increase their authority--the protection of the gods,
and a military organization which enabled them to mobilize the whole of
their forces at the first signal. The celestial world was the faithful
image of our own; it had its empires and its feudal organization, the
arrangement of which corresponded to that of the terrestrial world. The
gods who inhabited it were dependent upon the gifts of mortals, and the
resources of each individual deity, and consequently his power, depended
on the wealth and number of his worshippers; anything influencing one
had an immediate effect on the other. The gods dispensed happiness,
health, and vigour;* to those who made them large offerings and
instituted pious foundations, they lent their own weapons, and inspired
them with needful strength to overcome their enemies. They even came
down to assist in battle, and every great encounter of armies involved
an invisible struggle among the immortals. The gods of the side which
was victorious shared with it in the triumph, and received a tithe of
the spoil as the price of their help; the gods of the vanquished were
so much the poorer, their priests and their statues were reduced
to slavery, and the destruction of their people entailed their own

     * I may here remind my readers of the numberless bas-reliefs
     and stelae on which the king is represented as making an
     offering to a god, who replies in some such formula as the
     following: “I give thee health and strength;” or, “I give
     thee joy and life for millions of years.”

It was, therefore, to the special interest of every one in Egypt, from
the Pharaoh to the humblest of his vassals, to maintain the good will
and power of the gods, so that their protection might be effectively
ensured in the hour of danger. Pains were taken to embellish their
temples with obelisks, colossi, altars, and bas-reliefs; new buildings
were added to the old; the parts threatened with ruin were restored or
entirely rebuilt; daily gifts were brought of every kind--animals which
were sacrificed on the spot, bread, flowers, fruit, drinks, as well
as perfumes, stuffs, vases, jewels, bricks or bars of gold, silver,
lapis-lazuli, which were all heaped up in the treasury within the
recesses of the crypts.* If a dignitary of high rank wished to
perpetuate the remembrance of his honours or his services, and at the
same time to procure for his double the benefit of endless prayers and
sacrifices, he placed “by special permission” ** a statue of himself on a
votive stele in the part of the temple reserved for this purpose,--in
a courtyard, chamber, encircling passage, as at Karnak,*** or on
the staircase of Osiris as in that leading up to the terrace in the
sanctuary of Abydos; he then sealed a formal agreement with the priests,
by which the latter engaged to perform a service in his name, in front
of this commemorative monument, a stated number of times in the year, on
the days fixed by universal observance or by local custom.

     * See the “Poem of Pentaûîrît” for the grounds on which
     Ramses II. bases his imperative appeal to Araon for help:
     “Have I not made thee numerous offerings? I have filled thy
     temple with my prisoners. I have built thee an everlasting
     temple, and have not spared my wealth in endowing it for
     thee; I lay the whole world under contribution in order to
     stock thy domain.... I have built thee whole pylons in
     stone, and have myself reared the flagstaffs which adorn
     them; I have brought thee obelisks from Elephantine.”

     ** The majority of the votive statues were lodged in a
     temple “by special favour of a king “--em HOSÎtû nti KUÎr
     sûton--as a recompense for services rendered. Some only of
     the stelae bear an inscription to the above effect, no
     authorization from the king was required for the
     consecration of a stele in a temple.

     *** It was in the encircling passage of the limestone temple
     built by the kings of the XIIth dynasty, and now completely
     destroyed, that all the Karnak votive statues were
     discovered. Some of them still rest on the stone ledge on
     which they were placed by the priests of the god at the
     moment of consecration.

For this purpose he assigned to them annuities in kind, charges on his
patrimonial estates, or in some cases, if he were a great lord, on the
revenues of his fief,--such as a fixed quantity of loaves and drinks
for each of the celebrants, a fourth part of the sacrificial victim,
a garment, frequently also lands with their cattle, serfs, existing
buildings, farming implements and produce, along with the conditions
of service with which the lands were burdened. These gifts to the
god--“notir hotpûû”--were, it appears, effected by agreements analogous
to those dealing with property in mortmain in modern Egypt; in each
nome they constituted, in addition to the original temporalities of the
temple, a considerable domain, constantly enlarged by fresh endowments.
The gods had no daughters for whom to provide, nor sons among whom to
divide their inheritance; all that fell to them remained theirs for
ever, and in the contracts were inserted imprecations threatening with
terrible ills, in this world and the next, those who should abstract the
smallest portion from them. Such menaces did not always prevent the king
or the lords from laying hands on the temple revenues: had this not been
the case, Egypt would soon have become a sacerdotal country from one end
to the other. Even when reduced by periodic usurpations, the domain of
the gods formed, at all periods, about one-third of the whole country.*

     * The tradition handed down by Diodorus tells us that the
     goddess Isis assigned a third of the country to the priests;
     the whole of Egypt is said to have been divided into three
     equal parts, the first of which belonged to the priests, the
     second to the kings, and the third to the warrior class.
     When we read, in the great Harris Papyrus, the list of the
     property possessed by the temple of the Theban Amon alone,
     all over Egypt, under Ramses III., we can readily believe
     that the tradition of the Greek epoch in no way exaggerated

Its administration was not vested in a single body of Priests,
representing the whole of Egypt and recruited or ruled everywhere in
the same fashion. There were as many bodies of priests as there were
temples, and every temple preserved its independent constitution with
which the clergy of the neighbouring temples had nothing to do: the
only master they acknowledged was the lord of the territory on which
the temple was built, either Pharaoh or one of his nobles. The tradition
which made Pharaoh the head of the different worships in Egypt*
prevailed everywhere, but Pharaoh soared too far above this world
to confine himself to the functions of any one particular order of
priests: he officiated before all the gods without being specially
the minister of any, and only exerted his supremacy in order to make
appointments to important sacerdotal posts in his domain.**

     * The only exception to this rule was in the case of the
     Theban kings of the XXIst dynasty, and even here the
     exception is more apparent than real. As a matter of fact,
     these kings, Hrihor and Pinozmû, began by being high priests
     of Amon before ascending the throne; they were pontiffs who
     became Pharaohs, not Pharaohs who created themselves
     pontiffs. Possibly we ought to place Smonkharî of the XIVth
     dynasty in the same category, if, as Brugsch assures us, his
     name, Mîr-mâshâù, is identical with the title of the high
     priest of Osiris at Mendes, thus proving that he was pontiff
     of Osiris in that town before he became king.

     ** Among other instances, we have that of the king of the
     XXIst Tanite dynasty, who appointed Mankhopirrî, high priest
     of the Theban Amon, and that of the last king of the same
     dynasty, Psûsennes IL, who conferred the same office on
     prince Aûpûti, son of Sheshonqû. The king’s right of
     nomination harmonized very well with the hereditary
     transmission of the priestly office through members of the
     same family, as we shall have occasion to show later on.

He reserved the high priesthood of the Memphite Phtah and that of Râ of
Heliopolis either for the princes of his own family or more often for
his most faithful servants; they were the docile instruments of his
will, through whom he exerted the influence of the gods, and disposed
of their property without having the trouble of administrating it. The
feudal lords, less removed from mortal affairs than the Pharaoh, did not
disdain to combine the priesthood of the temples dependent on them with
the general supervision of the different worships practised on their
lands. The princes of the Gazelle nome, for instance, bore the title
of “Directors of the Prophets of all the Gods,” but were, correctly
speaking, prophets of Horus, of Khnûmû master of Haoîrît, and of Pakhît
mistress of the Speos-Artemidos. The religious suzerainty of such
princes was the complement of their civil and military power, and their
ordinary income was augmented by some portion at least of the revenues
which the lands in mortmain furnished annually. The subordinate
sacerdotal functions were filled by professional priests whose status
varied according to the gods they served and the provinces in which they
were located. Although between the mere priest and the chief prophet
there were a number of grades to which the majority never attained,
still the temples attracted many people from divers sources, who, once
established in this calling of life, not only never left it, but never
rested until they had introduced into it the members of their families.
The offices they filled were not necessarily hereditary, but the
children, born and bred in the shelter of the sanctuary, almost always
succeeded to the positions of their fathers, and certain families thus
continuing in the same occupation for generations, at last came to be
established as a sort of sacerdotal nobility.*

     * We possess the coffins of the priests of the Theban Montû
     for nearly thirty generations, viz. from the XXVth dynasty
     to the time of the Ptolemies. The inscriptions give us their
     genealogies, as well as their intermarriages, and show us
     that they belonged almost exclusively to two or three
     important families who intermarried with one another or took
     their wives from the families of the priests of Amon.

The sacrifices supplied them with daily meat and drink; the temple
buildings provided them with their lodging, and its revenues furnished
them with a salary proportionate to their position. They were exempted
from the ordinary taxes, from military service, and from forced labour;
it is not surprising, therefore, that those who were not actually
members of the priestly families strove to have at least a share in
their advantages. The servitors, the workmen and the _employés_ who
congregated about them and constituted the temple corporation, the
scribes attached to the administration of the domains, and to the
receipt of offerings, shared _de facto_ if not _de jure_ in the immunity
of the priesthood; as a body they formed a separate religious society,
side by side, but distinct from, the civil population, and freed from
most of the burdens which weighed so heavily on the latter.

The soldiers were far from possessing the wealth and influence of the
clergy. Military service in Egypt was not universally compulsory, but
rather the profession and privilege of a special class of whose
origin but little is known. Perhaps originally it comprised only the
descendants of the conquering race, but in historic times it was not
exclusively confined to the latter, and recruits were raised everywhere
among the fellahs,* the Bedouin of the neighbourhood, the negroes,**
the Nubians,*** and even from among the prisoners of war, or adventurers
from beyond the sea.****

     * This is shown, _inter alia,_ by the real or supposititious
     letters in which the master-scribe endeavours to deter his
     pupil from adopting a military career, recommending that of
     a scribe in preference.

     ** Uni, under Papi I., recruited his army from among the
     inhabitants of the whole of Egypt, from Elephantine to
     Letopolis at the mouth of the Delta, and as far as the
     Mediterranean, from among the Bedouin of Libya and of the
     Isthmus, and even from the six negro races of Nubia
     _(Inscription d’Ouni, 11. 14-19)_.

     *** The Nubian tribe of the Mâzaiû, afterwards known as the
     Libyan tribe of the Mâshaûasha, furnished troops to the
     Egyptian kings and princes for centuries; indeed, the Mâzaiû
     formed such an integral part of the Egyptian armies that
     their name came to be used in Coptic as a synonym for
     soldier, under the form “matoï.”

     **** Later on we shall come across the Shardana of the Royal
     Guard under Ramses II. (E. de Rougé, _Extrait d’un mémoire
     sur les attaques,_ p. 5); later still, the Ionians, Carians,
     and Greek mercenaries will be found to play a decisive part
     in the history of the Saïte dynasties.

This motley collection of foreign mercenaries composed ordinarily the
body-guard of the king or of his barons, the permanent nucleus round
which in times of war the levies of native recruits were rallied. Every
Egyptian soldier received from the chief to whom he was attached, a
holding of land for the maintenance of himself and his family. In the
fifth century B.C. twelve _aruræ_ of arable land was estimated as ample
pay for each man,* and tradition attributes to the fabulous Sesostris
the law which fixed the pay at this rate. The soldiers were not taxed,
and were exempt from forced labour during the time that they were away
from home on active service; with this exception they were liable to the
same charges as the rest of the population. Many among them possessed
no other income, and lived the precarious life of the fellah,--tilling,
reaping, drawing water, and pasturing their cattle,--in the interval
between two musters. Others possessed of private fortunes let their
holdings out at a moderate rental, which formed an addition to their
patrimonial income.**

     * Herodotus, ii. 168. The arura being equal to 27.82 ares
     [an are = 100 square metres], the military fief contained
     27*82 x 12 = 333.84 ares. [The “arura,” according to F. L.
     Griffith, was a square of 100 Egyptian cubits, making about
     3/5 of an acre, or 2600 square metres.--Trs.] The _chifliks_
     created by Mohammed-Ali, with a view to bringing the
     abandoned districts into cultivation, allotted to each
     labourer who offered to reclaim it, a plot of land varying
     from one to three feddans, i.e. from 4200.83 square metres
     to 12602.49 square metres, according to the nature of the
     soil and the necessities of each family. The military fiefs
     of ancient Egypt were, therefore, nearly three times as
     great in extent as these _abadiyehs_, which were considered,
     in modern Egypt, sufficient to supply the wants of a whole
     family of peasants; they must, therefore, have secured not
     merely a bare subsistence, but ample provision for their

     ** Diodorus Siculus says in so many words (i. 74) that “the
     farmers spent their life in cultivating lands which had been
     let to them at a moderate rent by the king, by the priests,
     and _by the warriors_.”

Lest they should forget the conditions upon which they possessed this
military holding, and should regard themselves as absolute masters
of it, they were seldom left long in possession of the same place:
Herodotus asserts that their allotments were taken away-yearly and
replaced by others of equal extent. It is difficult to say if this law
of perpetual change was always in force; at any rate, it did not prevent
the soldiers from forming themselves in time into a kind of aristocracy,
which even kings and barons of highest rank could not ignore. They were
enrolled in special registers, with the indication of the holding which
was temporarily assigned to them. A military scribe kept this register
in every royal nome or principality.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a scene in the tomb of Amoni-
     Amenemhâît at Beni-Hasan.

He superintended the redistribution of the lands, the registration of
privileges, and in addition to his administrative functions, he had in
time of war the command of the troops furnished by his own district; in
which case he was assisted by a “lieutenant,” who as opportunity offered
acted as his substitute in the office or on the battle-field. Military
service was not hereditary, but its advantages, however trifling they
may appear to us, seemed in the eyes of the fellahs so great, that
for the most part those who were engaged in it had their children also
enrolled. While still young the latter were taken to the barracks, where
they were taught not only the use of the bow, the battle-axe, the mace,
the lance, and the shield, but were all instructed in such exercises as
rendered the body supple, and prepared them for manoeuvring, regimental
marching, running, jumping, and wrestling either with closed or open
hand. They prepared themselves for battle by a regular war-dance,
pirouetting, leaping, and brandishing their bows and quivers in the
air. Their training being finished, they were incorporated into local
companies, and invested with their privileges. When they were required
for service, part or the whole of the class was mustered; arms kept in
the arsenal were distributed among them, and they were conveyed in boats
to the scene of action. The Egyptians were not martial by temperament;
they became soldiers rather from interest than inclination.

The power of Pharaoh and his barons rested entirely upon these two
classes, the priests and the soldiers; the remainder, the commonalty and
the peasantry, were, in their hands, merely an inert mass, to be
taxed and subjected to forced labour at will. The slaves were probably
regarded as of little importance; the bulk of the people consisted of
free families who were at liberty to dispose of themselves and their
goods. Every fellah and townsman in the service of the king, or of
one of his great nobles, could leave his work and his village when
he pleased, could pass from the domain in which he was born into a
different one, and could traverse the country from one end to the other,
as the Egyptians of to-day still do.

His absence entailed neither loss of goods, nor persecution of the
relatives he left behind, and he himself had punishment to fear only
when he left the Nile Valley without permission, to reside for some time
in a foreign land.* But although this independence and liberty were in
accordance with the laws and customs of the land, yet they gave rise to
inconveniences from which it was difficult to escape in practical life.
Every Egyptian, the King excepted, was obliged, in order to get on in
life, to depend on one more powerful than himself, whom he called his
master. The feudal lord was proud to recognize Pharaoh as his master,
and he himself was master of the soldiers and priests in his own petty

     * The treaty between Ramses and the Prince of Khiti contains
     a formal extradition clause in reference to Egyptians or
     Hittites, who had quitted their native country, of course
     without the permission of their sovereign. The two
     contracting parties expressly stipulate that persons
     extradited on one side or the other shall not be punished
     for having emigrated, that their property is not to be
     confiscated, nor are their families to be held responsible
     for their flight. From this clause it follows that in
     ordinary times unauthorized emigration brought upon the
     culprit corporal punishment and the confiscation of his
     goods, as well as various penalties on his family. The way
     in which Sinûhît makes excuses for his flight, the fact of
     his asking pardon before returning to Egypt, the very terms
     of the letter in which the king recalls him and assures him
     of impunity, show us that the laws against emigration were
     in full force under the XIIth dynasty.

     ** The expressions which bear witness to this fact are very
     numerous: Miri nîbûf = “He who loves his master;” Aqû hâîti
     ni nîbûf = “He who enters into the heart of his master,” etc.
     They recur so frequently in the texts in the case of persons
     of all ranks, that it was thought no importance ought to be
     attached to them. But the constant repetition of the word
     NIB, “master,” shows that we must alter this view, and give
     these phrases their full meaning.

From the top to the bottom of the social scale every free man
acknowledged a master, who secured to him justice and protection in
exchange for his obedience and fealty. The moment an Egyptian tried to
withdraw himself from this subjection, the peace of his life was at
an end; he became a man without a master, and therefore without a
recognized protector.*

     * The expression, “a man without a master,” occurs several
     times in the _Berlin Papyrus_, No. ii. For instance, the
     peasant who is the hero of the story, says of the lord
     Mirûitensi, that he is “the rudder of heaven, the guide of
     the earth, the balance which carries the offerings, the
     buttress of tottering walls, the support of that which
     falls, _the great master who takes whoever is without a
     master_ to lavish on him the goods of his house, a jug of
     beer and three loaves” each day.

Any one might stop him on the way, steal his cattle, merchandise, or
property on the most trivial pretext, and if he attempted to protest,
might beat him with almost certain impunity.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the tomb of Khîti at Beni-
     Hasan. These are soldiers of the nome of Gazelle.

The only resource of the victim was to sit at the gate of the palace,
waiting to appeal for justice till the lord or the king should appear.
If by chance, after many rebuffs, his humble petition were granted, it
was only the beginning of fresh troubles. Even if the justice of the
cause were indisputable, the fact that he was a man without home or
master inspired his judges with an obstinate mistrust, and delayed the
satisfaction of his claims. In vain he followed his judges with his
complaints and flatteries, chanting their virtues in every key: “Thou
art the father of the unfortunate, the husband of the widow, the brother
of the orphan, the clothing of the motherless: enable me to proclaim
thy name as a law throughout the land. Good lord, guide without caprice,
great without littleness, thou who destroyest falsehood and causest
truth to be, come at the words of my mouth; I speak, listen and do
justice. O generous one, generous of the generous, destroy the cause of
my trouble; here I am, uplift me; judge me, for behold me a suppliant
before thee.” If he were an eloquent speaker and the judge were inclined
to listen, he was willingly heard, but his cause made no progress, and
delays, counted on by his adversary, effected his ruin. The religious
law, no doubt, prescribed equitable treatment for all devotees of
Osiris, and condemned the slightest departure from justice as one of the
gravest sins, even in the case of a great noble, or in that of the
king himself; but how could impartiality be shown when the one was the
recognized protector, the “master” of the culprit, while the plaintiff
was a vagabond, attached to no one, “a man without a master”!

The population of the towns included many privileged persons other than
the soldiers, priests, or those engaged in the service of the
temples. Those employed in royal or feudal administration, from the
“superintendent of the storehouse” to the humblest scribe, though
perhaps not entirely exempt from forced labour, had but a small part
of it to bear.* These _employés_ constituted a middle class of several
grades, and enjoyed a fixed income and regular employment: they were
fairly well educated, very self-satisfied, and always ready to declare
loudly their superiority over any who were obliged to gain their
living by manual labour. Each class of workmen recognized one or more
chiefs,--the shoemakers, their master-shoemakers, the masons, their
master-masons, the blacksmiths, their master-blacksmiths,--who
looked after their interests and represented them before the local

     * This is a fair inference from the indirect testimony of
     the Letters: the writer, in enumerating the liabilities of
     the various professions, implies by contrast that the scribe
     (i.e. the _employé_ in general) is not subject to them, or
     is subject to a less onerous share of them than others. The
     beginning and end of the instructions of Khîti would in
     themselves be sufficient to show us the advantages which the
     middle classes under the XIIth dynasty believed they could
     derive from adopting the profession of scribe.

     ** The stelæ of Abydos are very useful to those who desire
     to study the populations of a small town. They give us the
     names of the head-men of trades of all kinds; the head-mason
     Didiû, the master-mason Aa, the master-shoemaker Kahikhonti,
     the head-smiths Ûsirtasen-Ûati, Hotpû, Hot-pûrekhsû.

It was said among the Greeks, that even robbers were united in a
corporation like the others, and maintained an accredited superior as
their representative with the police, to discuss the somewhat delicate
questions which the practice of their trade gave occasion to. When the
members of the association had stolen any object of value, it was
to this superior that the person robbed resorted, in order to regain
possession of it: it was he who fixed the amount required for its
redemption, and returned it without fail, upon the payment of this sum.
Most of the workmen who formed a state corporation, lodged, or at least
all of them had their stalls, in the same quarter or street, under the
direction of their chief. Besides the poll and the house tax, they were
subject to a special toll, a trade licence which they paid in products
of their commerce or industry.*

     * The registers (for the most part unpublished), which are
     contained in European museums show us that fishermen paid in
     fish, gardeners in flowers and vegetables, etc., the taxes
     or tribute which they owed to their lords. In the great
     inscription of Abydos the weavers attached to the temple of
     Seti I. are stated to have paid their tribute in stuffs.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Rosellini, Monumenti Civili,
     pl. 2 a.

Their lot was a hard one, if we are to believe the description which
ancient writers have handed down to us: “I have never seen a blacksmith
on an embassy--nor a smelter sent on a mission--but what I have seen
is the metal worker at his toil,--at the mouth of the furnace of his
forge,--his fingers as rugged as the crocodile,--and stinking more than
fish-spawn.--The artisan of any kind who handles the chisel,--does not
employ so much movement as he who handles the hoe;*

     * The literal translation would be, “The artisan of all
     kinds who handles the chisel is more motionless than he who
     handles the hoe.” Both here, and in several other passages
     of this little satiric poem, I have been obliged to
     paraphrase the text in order to render it intelligible to
     the modern reader.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Rosellini, _Monumenti civili_,
     pl. xlviii. 2.

--but for him his fields are the timber, his business is the metal,--and
at night when the other is free,--he, he works with his hands over and
above what he has already done,--for at night, he works at home by the
lamp.--The stone-cutter who seeks his living by working in all kinds of
durable stone,--when at last he has earned something--and his two arms
are worn out, he stops;--but if at sunrise he remain sitting,--his legs
are tied to his back.* --The barber who shaves until the evening,--when
he falls to and eats, it is without sitting down** --while running from
street to street to seek custom;--if he is constant [at work] his two
arms fill his belly--as the bee eats in proportion to its toil.--Shall
I tell thee of the mason--how he endures misery?--Exposed to all the
winds--while he builds without any garment but a belt--and while the
bunch of lotus-flowers [which is fixed] on the [completed] houses--is
still far out of his reach,***

     * This is an allusion to the cruel manner in which the
     Egyptians were accustomed to bind their prisoners, as it
     were in a bundle, with the legs bent backward along the back
     and attached to the arms. The working-day commenced then, as
     now, at sunrise, and lasted till sunset, with a short
     interval of one or two hours at midday for the workmen’s
     dinner and siesta.

     ** Literally, “He places himself on his elbow.” The metaphor
     seems to me to be taken from the practice of the trade
     itself: the barber keeps his elbow raised when shaving and
     lowers it when he is eating.

     *** This passage is conjecturally translated. I suppose the
     Egyptian masons had a custom analogous to that of our own,
     and attached a bunch of lotus to the highest part of a
     building they had just finished: nothing, however, has come
     to light to confirm this conjecture.

--his two arms are worn out with work; his provisions are placed
higgledy piggledy amongst his refuse,--he consumes himself, for he has
no other bread than his fingers--and he becomes wearied all at once.--He
is much and dreadfully exhausted--for there is [always] a block [to be
dragged] in this or that building,--a block of ten cubits by six,--there
is [always] a block [to be dragged] in this or that month [as far as
the] scaffolding poles [to which is fixed] the bunch of lotus-flowers
on the [completed] houses.--When the work is quite finished,--if he has
bread, he returns home,--and his children have been beaten unmercifully
[during his absence].--The weaver within doors is worse off there than
a woman;--squatting, his knees against his chest,--he does not
breathe.--If during the day he slackens weaving,--he is bound fast as
the lotuses of the lake;--and it is by giving bread to the doorkeeper,
that the latter permits him to see the light.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Champollion’s _Monuments de
     l’Êypte et de la Nubie_. This Picture belongs to the XVIIIth
     dynasty; but the sandals in it are, however, quite like
     those to be seen on more ancient monuments.

The dyer, his fingers reeking--and their smell is that of
fish-spawn;--his two eyes are oppressed with fatigue,--his hand does not
stop,--and, as he spends his time in cutting out rags--he has a
hatred of garments.--The shoemaker is very unfortunate;--he moans
ceaselessly,--his health is the health of the spawning fish,--and he
gnaws the leather.--The baker makes dough,--subjects the loaves to the
fire;--while his head is inside the oven,--his son holds him by the
legs;--if he slips from the hands of his son,--he falls there into the
flames.” These are the miseries inherent to the trades themselves: the
levying of the tax added to the catalogue a long sequel of vexations
and annoyances, which were renewed several times in the year at regular


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the painted picture in one of
     the small antechambers of the tomb of Ramses III., at Bab-

Even at the present day, the fellah does not pay his contributions
except under protest and by compulsion, but the determination not to
meet obligations except beneath the stick, was proverbial from ancient
times: whoever paid his dues before he had received a merciless beating
would be overwhelmed with reproaches by his family, and jeered at
without pity by his neighbours. The time when the tax fell due, came
upon the nomes as a terrible crisis which affected the whole population.
For several days there was nothing to be heard but protestations,
threats, beating, cries of pain from the tax-payers, and piercing
lamentations from women and children. The performance over, calm was
re-established, and the good people, binding up their wounds, resumed
their round of daily life until the next tax-gathering.

The towns of this period presented nearly the same confined and
mysterious appearance as those of the present day.*

     * I have had occasion to make “soundings” or excavations at
     various points in very ancient towns and villages, at
     Thebes, Abydos and Mataniyeh, and I give here a _résumé_ of
     my observations. Professor Petrie has brought to light and
     regularly explored several cities of the XIIth and XVIIIth
     dynasties, situated at the entrance to the Fayûm. I have
     borrowed many points in my description from the various
     works which he has published on the subject, _Kahun, Gurob
     and Hawara,_ 1890; and _Illahun, Kahun and Gurob_, 1891.

[Illustration: 103.jpg THE HOUSE OF A GREAT EGYPTIAN LORD]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a water-colour by Boussac, _Le
     Tombeau d’Anna_ in the _Mémoires de la Mission Française_.
     The house was situated at Thebes, and belonged to the
     XVIIIth dynasty. The remains of the houses brought to light
     by Mariette at Abydos belong to the same type, and date back
     to the XIIth dynasty. By means of these, Mariette was
     enabled to reconstruct an ancient Egyptian house at the
     Paris Exhibition of 1877. The picture of the tomb of Anna
     reproduces in most respects, we may therefore assume, the
     appearance of a nobleman’s dwelling at all periods. At the
     side of the main building we see two corn granaries with
     conical roofs, and a great storehouse for provisions.

They were grouped around one or more temples, each of which was
surrounded by its own brick enclosing wall, with its enormous gateways:
the gods dwelt there in real castles, or, if this word appears too
ambitious, redouts, in which the population could take refuge in cases
of sudden attack, and where they could be in safety.


     From a plan made and published by Professor Flinders Petrie,
     _Illahun, Kahun and Gurob_, pl. xiv.

The towns, which had all been built at one period by some king or
prince, were on a tolerably regular ground plan; the streets were paved
and fairly wide; they crossed each other at right angles, and were
bordered with buildings on the same line of frontage. The cities of
ancient origin, which had increased with the chance growth of centuries,
presented a totally different aspect.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-Bey. The
     monument is the stele of Sîtû (IVth dynasty), in the Gîzeh

A network of lanes and blind alleys, narrow, dark, damp, and badly
built, spread itself out between the houses, apparently at random: here
and there was an arm of a canal, all but dried up, or a muddy pool where
the cattle came to drink, and from which the women fetched the water for
their households; then followed an open space of irregular shape, shaded
by acacias or sycamores, where the country-folk of the suburbs held
their market on certain days, twice or thrice a month; then came
waste ground covered with filth and refuse, over which the dogs of
the neighbourhood fought with hawks and vultures. The residence of
the prince or royal governor, and the houses of rich private persons,
covered a considerable area, and generally presented to the street a
long extent of bare walls, crenellated like those of a fortress: the
only ornament admitted on them consisted of angular grooves, each
surmounted by two open lotus flowers having their stems intertwined.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph, taken in 1884, by Emil

Within these walls domestic life was entirely secluded, and as it were
confined to its own resources; the pleasure of watching passers-by was
sacrificed to the advantage of not being seen from outside. The entrance
alone denoted at times the importance of the great man who concealed
himself within the enclosure. Two or three steps led up to the door,
which sometimes had a columned portico, ornamented with statues, lending
an air of importance to the building. The houses of the citizens were
small, and built of brick; they contained, however, some half-dozen
rooms, either vaulted, or having flat roofs, and communicating with each
other usually by arched doorways.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by Professor Petrie,
     _Elahun, Kahun and Gurob_, pl. xvi. 3.

A few houses boasted of two or three stories; all possessed a terrace,
on which the Egyptians of old, like those of to-day, passed most
of their time, attending to household cares or gossiping with their
neighbours over the party wall or across the street. The hearth was
hollowed out in the ground, usually against a wall, and the smoke
escaped through a hole in the ceiling: they made their fires of sticks,
wood charcoal, and the dung of oxen and asses. In the houses of the
rich we meet with state apartments, lighted in the centre by a square
opening, and supported by rows of wooden columns; the shafts, which were
octagonal, measured ten inches in diameter, and were fixed into flat
circular stone bases.

[Illustration: 108a.jpg WOODEN HEAD-REST]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a head-rest in my possession
     obtained at Gebelên (XIth dynasty): the foot of the head-
     rest is usually solid, and cut out of a single piece of

[Illustration: 108b.jpg PIGEON ON WHEELS]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by Petrie, _Hawara,
     Biahmu, and Arsinoe_, pl. xiii. 21. The original, of rough
     wood, is now in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford.

The family crowded themselves together into two or three rooms in
winter, and slept on the roof in the open air in summer, in spite of
risk from affections of the stomach and eyes; the remainder of the
dwelling was used for stables or warehouses. The store-chambers
were often built in pairs; they were of brick, carefully limewashed
internally, and usually assumed the form of an elongated cone, in
imitation of the Government storehouses. For the valuables which
constituted the wealth of each household--wedges of gold or silver,
precious stones, ornaments for men or women--there were places of
concealment, in which the possessors attempted to hide them from robbers
or from the tax-collectors. But the latter, accustomed to the craft of
the citizens, evinced a peculiar aptitude for ferreting out the hoard:
they tapped the walls, lifted and pierced the roofs, dug down into the
soil below the foundations, and often brought to light, not only the
treasure of the owner, but all the surroundings of the grave and human
corruption. It was actually the custom, among the lower and middle
classes, to bury in the middle of the house children who had died at the
breast. The little body was placed in an old tool or linen box, without
any attempt at embalming, and its favourite playthings and amulets were
buried with it: two or three infants are often found occupying the same
coffin. The playthings were of an artless but very varied character;
dolls of limestone, enamelled pottery or wood, with movable arms and
wigs of artificial hair; pigs, crocodiles, ducks, and pigeons on wheels,
pottery boats, miniature sets of household furniture, skin balls filled
with hay, marbles, and stone bowls. However, strange it may appear, we
have to fancy the small boys of ancient Egypt as playing at bowls
like ours, or impudently whipping their tops along the streets without
respect for the legs of the passers-by.

[Illustration: 109.jpg APPARATUS FOR STRIKING A LIGHT]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch published in Fl.
     Petrie, _Illahun, Kdhun and Gurob,_ pl. vii. The bow is
     represented in the centre; on the left, at the top, is the
     nut; below it the fire-stick, which was attached to the end
     of the stock; at the bottom and right, two pieces of wood
     with round carbonized holes, which took fire from the
     friction of the rapidly rotating stick.

Some care was employed upon the decoration of the chambers. The
rough-casting of mud often preserves its original grey colour;
sometimes, however, it was limewashed, and coloured red or yellow, or
decorated with pictures of jars, provisions, and the interiors as well
as the exteriors of houses.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the facsimile in Petrie’s
     _Illahun, Kahun and Gurob_, pl. xvi. 6.

The bed was not on legs, but consisted of a low framework, like the
“angarebs” of the modern Nubians, or of mats which were folded up in the
daytime, but upon which they lay in their clothes during the night, the
head being supported by a head-rest of pottery, limestone, or wood: the
remaining articles of furniture consisted of one or two roughly hewn
seats of stone, a few lion-legged chairs or stools, boxes and trunks
of varying sizes for linen and implements, kohl, or perfume, pots of
ababaster or porcelain, and lastly, the fire-stick with the bow by which
it was set in motion, and some roughly made pots and pans of clay or

[Illustration: 111.jpg WOMAN GRINDING GRAIN]

     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Béchard (cf.
     Mariette, _Alburn photographique du Musée de Boulaq_, pl.
     20; Maspero, _Guide du Visiteur_, P- 220, Nos. 1012, 1013).

Men rarely entered their houses except to eat and sleep; their
employments or handicrafts were such as to require them for the most
part to work out-of-doors. The middle-class families owned, almost
always, one or two slaves--either purchased or born in the house--who
did all the hard work: they looked after the cattle, watched over the
children, acted as cooks, and fetched water from the nearest pool or
well. Among the poor the drudgery of the household fell entirely upon
the woman. She spun, wove, cut out and mended garments, fetched fresh
water and provisions, cooked the dinner, and made the daily bread. She
spread some handfuls of grain upon an oblong slab of stone, slightly
hollowed on its upper surface, and proceeded to crush them with a
smaller stone like a painter’s muller, which she moistened from time to
time. For an hour and more she laboured with her arms, shoulders, loins,
in fact, all her body; but an indifferent result followed from the great
exertion. The flour, made to undergo several grindings in this rustic
mortar, was coarse, uneven, mixed with bran, or whole grains, which had
escaped the pestle, and contaminated with dust and abraded particles
of the stone. She kneaded it with a little water, blended with it, as a
sort of yeast, a piece of stale dough of the day before, and made from
the mass round cakes, about half an inch thick and some four inches in
diameter, which she placed upon a flat flint, covering them with hot
ashes. The bread, imperfectly raised, often badly cooked, borrowed, from
the organic fuel under which it was buried, a special odour, and a taste
to which strangers did not readily accustom themselves. The impurities
which it contained were sufficient in the long run to ruin the strongest
teeth; eating it was an action of grinding rather than chewing, and old
men were not unfrequently met with whose teeth had been gradually worn
away to the level of the gums, like those of an aged ass or ox.*

     * The description of the woman grinding grain and kneading
     dough is founded on statues in the Gîzeh Museum. All the
     European museums possess numerous specimens of the bread in
     question, and the effect which it produces in the long run
     on the teeth of those who habitually used it as an article
     of diet, has been observed in mummies of the most important

Movement and animation were not lacking at certain hours of the day,
particularly during the morning, in the markets and in the neighbourhood
of the temples and government buildings: there was but little traffic
anywhere else; the streets were silent, and the town dull and sleepy. It
woke up completely only three or four times a year, at seasons of solemn
assemblies “of heaven and earth:” the houses were then opened and their
inhabitants streamed forth, the lively crowd thronging the squares and
crossways. To begin with, there was New Year’s Day, quickly followed
by the Festival of the Bead, the “Ûagaît.” On the night of the 17th
of Thot, the priests kindled before the statues in the sanctuaries and
sepulchral chapels, the fire for the use of the gods and doubles during
the twelve ensuing months. Almost at the same moment the whole country
was lit up from one end to the other: there was scarcely a family,
however poor, who did not place in front of their door a new lamp in
which burned an oil saturated with salt, and who did not spend the whole
night in feasting and gossiping.*

     * The night of the 17th Thot--which, according to our
     computation, would be the night of the 16th to the 17th
     --was, as may be seen from the Great Inscription of Siût,
     appointed for the ceremony of “lighting the fire” before the
     statues of the dead and of the gods. As at the “Feast of

The festivals of the living gods attracted considerable crowds, who
came not only from the nearest nomes, but also from great distances in
caravans and in boats laden with merchandise, for religious sentiment
did not exclude commercial interests, and the pilgrimage ended in a


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a picture on the tomb of Khnûm-
     hotpû at Beni-Hasan. This is the loom which was
     reconstructed in 1889 for the Paris Exhibition, and which is
     now to be seen in the galleries of the Trocadero.

For several days the people occupied mentioned by Herodotus, the
religious ceremony was accompanied by a general illumination which
lasted all the night; the object of this, probably, was to facilitate
the visit which the souls of the dead were supposed to pay at this time
to the family residence themselves solely in prayers, sacrifices, and
processions, in which the faithful, clad in white, with palms in their
hands, chanted hymns as they escorted the priests on their way. “The
gods of heaven exclaim ‘Ah! ah! ‘in satisfaction, the inhabitants of
the earth are full of gladness, the Hâthors beat their tabors, the great
ladies wave their mystic whips, all those who are gathered together in
the town are drunk with wine and crowned with flowers; the tradespeople
of the place walk joyously about, their heads scented with perfumed
oils, all the children rejoice in honour of the goddess, from the rising
to the setting of the sun.” *

     * The people of Dendera crudely enough called this the
     “Feast of Drunkenness.” From what we know of the earlier
     epochs, we are justified in making this description a
     general one, and in applying it, as I have done here, to the
     festivals of other towns besides Dendera.

The nights were as noisy as the days: for a few hours, they made up
energetically for long months of torpor and monotonous existence. The
god having re-entered the temple and the pilgrims taken their departure,
the regular routine was resumed and dragged on its tedious course,
interrupted only by the weekly market. At an early hour on that day,
the peasant folk came in from the surrounding country in an interminable
stream, and installed themselves in some open space, reserved from time
immemorial for their use. The sheep, geese, goats, and large-horned
cattle were grouped in the centre, awaiting purchasers.
Market-gardeners, fishermen, fowlers and gazelle-hunters, potters, and
small tradesmen, squatted on the roadsides or against the houses, and
offered their wares for the inspection of their customers, heaped up
in reed baskets, or piled on low round tables: vegetables and fruits,
loaves or cakes baked during the night, meat either raw or cooked in
various ways, stuffs, perfumes, ornaments,--all the necessities and
luxuries of daily life. It was a good opportunity for the workpeople, as
well as for the townsfolk, to lay in a store of provisions at a cheaper
rate than from the ordinary shops; and they took advantage of it, each
according to his means.

Business was mostly carried on by barter. The purchasers brought with
them some product of their toil--a new tool, a pair of shoes, a reed
mat, pots of unguents or cordials; often, too, rows of cowries and
a small box full of rings, each weighing a “tabnû,” made of copper,
silver, or even gold, all destined to be bartered for such things as
they needed. When it came to be a question of some large animal or of
objects of considerable value, the discussions which arose were keen and
stormy: it was necessary to be agreed not only as to the amount, but
as to the nature of the payment to be made, and to draw up a sort of
invoice, or in fact an inventory, in which beds, sticks, honey, oil,
pick-axes, and garments, all figure as equivalents for a bull or
a she-ass. Smaller retail bargains did not demand so many or such
complicated calculations. Two townsfolk stop for a moment in front of
a fellah who offers onions and corn in a basket for sale. The first
appears to possess no other circulating medium than two necklaces
made of glass beads or many-coloured enamelled terra-cotta; the other
flourishes about a circular fan with a wooden handle, and one of those
triangular contrivances used by cooks for blowing up the fire. “Here is
a fine necklace which will suit you,” cries the former, “it is just what
you are wanting;” while the other breaks in with: “Here is a fan and a
ventilator.” The fellah, however, does not let himself be disconcerted
by this double attack, and proceeding methodically, he takes one of the
necklaces to examine it at his leisure: “Give it to me to look at,
that I may fix the price.” The one asks too much, the other offers too
little; after many concessions, they at last come to an agreement,
and settle on the number of onions or the quantity of grain which
corresponds exactly with the value of the necklace or the fan. A little
further on, a customer wishes to get some perfumes in exchange for a
pair of sandals, and conscientiously praises his wares: “Here,” says
he, “is a strong pair of shoes.” But the merchant has no wish to be shod
just then, and demands a row of cowries for his little pots: “You have
merely to take a few drops of this to see how delicious it is,” he urges
in a persuasive tone. A seated customer has two jars thrust under his
nose by a woman--they probably contain some kind of unguent: “Here is
something which smells good enough to tempt you.” Behind this group two
men are discussing the relative merits of a bracelet and a bundle of
fish-hooks; a woman, with a small box in her hand, is having an argument
with a merchant selling necklaces; another woman seeks to obtain a
reduction in the price of a fish which is being scraped in front of her.
Exchanging commodities for metal necessitated two or three operations
not required in ordinary barter. The rings or thin bent strips of metal
which formed the “tabnû” and its multiples,* did not always contain the
regulation amount of gold or silver, and were often of light weight.

     * The rings of gold in the Museum at Leyden, which were used
     as a basis of exchange, are made on the Chaldæo-Babylonian
     pattern, and belong to the Asiatic system.

[Illustration: 118.jpg one of the forms of egyptian scales]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, after a sketch by Rosellini

They had to be weighed at every fresh transaction in order to estimate
their true value, and the interested parties never missed this excellent
opportunity for a heated discussion: after having declared for a quarter
of an hour that the scales were out of order, that the weighing had been
carelessly performed, and that it should be done over again, they at
last came to terms, exhausted with wrangling, and then went their way
fairly satisfied with one another.* It sometimes happened that a clever
and unscrupulous dealer would alloy the rings, and mix with the precious
metal as much of a baser sort as would be possible without danger of
detection. The honest merchant who thought he was receiving in payment
for some article, say eight tabnû of fine gold, and who had handed to
him eight tabnû of some alloy resembling gold, but containing one-third
of silver, lost in a single transaction, without suspecting it, almost
one-third of his goods. The fear of such counterfeits was instrumental
in restraining the use of tabnû for a long time among the people, and
restricted the buying and selling in the markets to exchange in natural
products or manufactured objects.

     * The weighing of rings is often represented on the
     monuments from the XVIIIth dynasty onwards. I am not
     acquainted with any instance of this on the bas-reliefs of
     the Ancient Empire. The giving of false weight is alluded to
     in the paragraph in the “Negative Confession,” in which the
     dead man declares that he has not interfered with the beam
     of the scales (cf. vol. i. p. 271) _civili,_ pl. lii. 1. As
     to the construction of the Egyptian scales, and the working
     of their various parts, see Flinders Petrie’s remarks in _A
     Season in Egypt_, P- 42, and the drawings which he has
     brought together on pl. xx. of the same work.

[Illustration: 118b.jpg SCENES IN A BAZAAR]

We must, perhaps, agree with Fr. Lenormant, in his conclusion that the
only kind of national metal of exchange in use in Egypt was a copper
wire or plate bent thus [--]. this being the sign invariably used in the
hieroglyphics in writing the word _tàbnû_.

The present rural population of Egypt scarcely ever live in isolated
and scattered farms; they are almost all concentrated in hamlets and
villages of considerable extent, divided into quarters often at some
distance from each other. The same state of things existed in ancient
times, and those who would realize what a village in the past was
like, have only to visit any one of the modern market towns scattered
at intervals along the valley of the Nile:--half a dozen fairly built
houses, inhabited by the principal people of the place; groups of brick
or clay cottages thatched with durra stalks, so low that a man standing
upright almost touches the roof with his head; courtyards filled with
tall circular mud-built sheds, in which the corn and durra for the
household is carefully stored, and wherever we turn, pigeons, ducks,
geese, and animals all living higgledly-piggledly with the family. The
majority of the peasantry were of the lower class, but they were not
everywhere subjected to the same degree of servitude. The slaves,
properly so called, came from other countries; they had been bought from
foreign merchants, or they had been seized in a raid and had lost their
liberty by the fortune of war.* Their master removed them from place
to place, sold them, used them as he pleased, pursued them if they
succeeded in escaping, and had the right of recapturing them as soon as
he received information of their whereabouts. They worked for him under
his overseer’s orders, receiving no regular wages, and with no hope of
recovering their liberty.**

     * The first allusion to prisoners of war brought back to
     Egypt, is found in the biography of Uni. The method in which
     they were distributed among the officers and soldiers is
     indicated in several inscriptions of the New Empire, in that
     of Ahmosis Pannekhabît, in that of Ahmosis si-Abîna, where
     one of the inscriptions contains a list of slaves, some of
     whom are foreigners, in that of Amenemhabi. We may form
     some idea of the number of slaves in Egypt from the fact
     that in thirty years Ramses III. presented 113,433 of them
     to the temples alone. The “Directors of the Royal Slaves,”
      at all periods, occupied an important position at the court
     of the Pharaohs.

     ** A scene reproduced by Lepsius shows us, about the time of
     the VIth dynasty, the harvest gathered by the “royal slaves”
      in concert with the tenants of the dead man. One of the
     petty princes defeated by the Ethiopian Piônkhi Miamûn
     proclaims himself to be “one of the royal slaves who pay
     tribute in kind to the royal treasury.” Amten repeatedly
     mentions slaves of this kind, “sûtiû.”

Many chose concubines from their own class, or intermarried with the
natives and had families: at the end of two or three generations their
descendants became assimilated with the indigenous race, and were
neither more nor less than actual serfs attached to the soil, who were
made over or exchanged with it.* The landed proprietors, lords, kings,
or gods, accommodated this population either in the outbuildings
belonging to their residences, or in villages built for the purpose,
where everything belonged to them, both houses and people.

     * This is the status of serfs, or _mirîtiû,_ as shown in the
     texts of every period. They are mentioned along with the
     fields or cattle attached to a temple or belonging to a
     noble. Ramses II. granted to the temple of Abydos “an
     appanage in cultivated lands, in serfs (_mirîtiû_), in
     cattle.” The scribe Anna sees in his tomb “stalls of bulls,
     of oxen, of calves, of milch cows, as well as serfs, in the
     mortmain of Amon.” Ptolemy I. returned to the temple at Bûto
     “the domains, the boroughs, the serfs, the tillage, the
     water supply, the cattle, the geese, the flocks, all the
     things” which Xerxes had taken away from Kabbisha. The
     expression passed into the language, as a word used to
     express the condition of a subject race: “I cause,” said
     Thûtmosis III., “Egypt to be a sovereign (_hirît_) to whom
     all the earth is a slave” (_mirîtû_).


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Beato, taken in 1886.

The condition of the free agricultural labourer was in many respects
analogous to that of the modern fellah. Some of them possessed no other
property than a mud cabin, just large enough for a man and his wife,
and hired themselves out by the day or the year as farm servants. Others
were emboldened to lease land from the lord or from a soldier in the
neighbourhood. The most fortunate acquired some domain of which they
were supposed to receive only the product, the freehold of the property
remaining primarily in the hands of the Pharaoh, and secondarily in
that of lay or religious feudatories who held it of the sovereign: they
could, moreover, bequeath, give, or sell these lands and buy fresh ones
without any opposition. They paid, besides the capitation tax, a ground
rent proportionate to the extent of their property, and to the kind of
land of which it consisted.*

     * The capitation tax, the ground rent, and the house duty of
     the time of the Ptolemies, already existed under the rule of
     the native Pharaohs. Brugsch has shown that these taxes are
     mentioned in an inscription of the time of Ameuôthes III.

It was not without reason that all the ancients attributed the invention
of geometry to the Egyptians. The perpetual encroachments of the Nile
and the displacements it occasioned, the facility with which it effaced
the boundaries of the fields, and in one summer modified the whole face
of a nome, had forced them from early times to measure with the greatest
exactitude the ground to which they owed their sustenance. The territory
belonging to each town and nome was subjected to repeated surveys made
and co-ordinated by the Royal Administration, thus enabling Pharaoh
to know the exact area of his estates. The unit of measurement was the
arura; that is to say, a square of a hundred cubits, comprising in
round numbers twenty-eight ares.* A considerable staff of scribes and
surveyors was continually occupied in verifying the old measurements
or in making fresh ones, and in recording in the State registers any
changes which might have taken place.** Each estate had its boundaries
marked out by a line of stelas which frequently bore the name of the
tenant at the time, and the date when the landmarks were last fixed.***

     * [One “are” equals 100 square metres.--Tr.]

     ** We learn from the expressions employed in the great
     inscription of Beni-Hasan (11. 13--58, 131-148) that the
     cadastral survey had existed from the very earliest times;
     there are references in it to previous surveys. We find a
     surveying scene on the tomb of Zosirkerîsonbû at Thebes,
     under the XVIIIth dynasty. Two persons are measuring a field
     of wheat by means of a cord; a third notes down the result
     of their work.

     *** The great inscription of Beni-Hasan tells us of the
     stelæ which bounded the principality of the Gazelle on the
     North and South, and of those in the plain which marked the
     northern boundary of the nome of the Jackal; we also possess
     three other stelo which were used by Amenôthes IV. to
     indicate the extreme limits of his new city of Khûtniaton.
     In addition to the above stele, we also know of two others
     belonging to the XIIth dynasty which marked the boundaries
     of a private estate, and which are reproduced, one on plate
     106, the other in the text of _Monuments divers_, p. 30;
     also the stele of Bûhani under Thûtmosis IV.

[Illustration: 125.jpg a boundary stele]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph given by Mariette,
     Monuments divers, pl. 47 a. The stele marked the boundary of
     the estate given to a priest of the Theban Amon by Pharaoh
     Thûtmosis IV. of the XVIIIth dynasty. The original is now in
     the Museum at Gizeh.

Once set up, the stele received a name which gave it, as it were, a
living and independent personality. It sometimes recorded the nature
of the soil, its situation, or some characteristic which made it
remarkable--the “Lake of the South,” the “Eastern Meadow,” the “Green
Island,” the “Fisher’s Pool,” the “Willow Plot,” the “Vineyard,” the
“Vine Arbour,” the “Sycamore;” sometimes also it bore the name of
the first master or the Pharaoh under whom it had been erected--the
“Nurse-Phtahhotpû,” the “Verdure-Kheops,” the “Meadow-Didifrî,” the
“Abundance-Sahûri,” “Khafri-Great-among-the Doubles.” Once given, the
name clung to it for centuries, and neither sales, nor redistributions,
nor revolutions, nor changes of dynasty, could cause it to be forgotten.
The officers of the survey inscribed it in their books, together with
the name of the proprietor, those of the owners of adjoining lands,
and the area and nature of the ground. They noted down, to within a
few cubits, the extent of the sand, marshland, pools, canals, groups
of palms, gardens or orchards, vineyards and cornfields,* which it

     * See in the great inscription of Beni-Hasan the passage in
     which are enumerated at full length, in a legal document,
     the constituent parts of the principality of the Gazelle,
     “its watercourses, its fields, its trees, its sands, from
     the river to the mountain of the West” (11. 46-53).

The cornland in its turn was divided into several classes, according to
whether it was regularly inundated, or situated above the highest rise
of the water, and consequently dependent on a more or less costly system
of artificial irrigation. All this was so much information of which the
scribes took advantage in regulating the assessment of the land-tax.

Everything tends to make us believe that this tax represented one-tenth
of the gross produce, but the amount of the latter varied. It depended
on the annual rise of the Nile, and it followed the course of it with
almost mathematical exactitude: if there were too much or too little
water, it was immediately lessened, and might even be reduced to nothing
in extreme cases. The king in his capital and the great lords in their
fiefs had set up nilo-meters, by means of which, in the critical weeks,
the height of the rising or subsiding flood was taken daily. Messengers
carried the news of it over the country: the people, kept regularly
informed of what was happening, soon knew what kind of season to expect,
and they could calculate to within very little what they would have to
pay. In theory, the collecting of the tax was based on the actual amount
of land covered by the water, and the produce of it was constantly
varying. In practice it was regulated by taking the average of preceding
years, and deducting from that a fixed sum, which was never departed
from except in extraordinary circumstances.*

     * We know that this was so, in so far as the Roman period is
     concerned, from a passage in the edict of Tiberius
     Alexander. The practice was such a natural one, that I have
     no hesitation in tracing it back to the time of the Ancient
     Empire; repeatedly condemned as a piece of bad
     administration, it reappeared continually. At Beni-Hasan,
     the nomarch Amoni boasts that, “when there had been abundant
     Niles, and the owners of wheat and barley crops had thriven,
     he had not increased the rate of the land-tax,” which seems
     to indicate that, so far as he was concerned, he had fixed
     the tax to pay his dues without difficulty.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a picture at Beni-Hasan. This
     picture and those which follow it represent a census in the
     principality of the Gazelle under the XIIth dynasty as well
     as the collection of a tax.

The year would have to be a very bad one before the authorities would
lower the ordinary rate: the State in ancient times was not more willing
to deduct anything from its revenue than the modern State would be.*

     * The two decrees of Rosetta and of Canopus, however,
     mention reductions granted by the Ptolemies after an
     insufficient rise of the Nile.

The payment of taxes was exacted in wheat, durra, beans, and field
produce, which were stored in the granaries of the nome. It would seem
that the previous deduction of one-tenth of the gross amount of the
harvest could not be a heavy burden, and that the wretched fellah ought
to have been in a position on land at a permanent figure, based on the
average of good and bad harvests.

It was not so, however, and the same writers who have given us such a
lamentable picture of the condition of the workmen in the towns, have
painted for us in even darker colours the miseries which overwhelmed the
country people. “Dost thou not recall the picture of the farmer, when
the tenth of his grain is levied? Worms have destroyed half of the
wheat, and the hippopotami have eaten the rest; there are swarms of rats
in the fields, the grasshoppers alight there, the cattle devour, the
little birds pilfer, and if the farmer lose sight for an instant of
what remains upon the ground, it is carried off by robbers;* the thongs,
moreover, which bind the iron and the hoe are worn out, and the team has
died at the plough. It is then that the scribe steps out of the boat at
the landing-place to levy the tithe, and there come the keepers of
the doors of the granary with cudgels and the negroes with ribs of
palm-leaves, who come crying: ‘Come now, corn!’ There is none, and they
throw the cultivator full length upon the ground; bound, dragged to the
canal, they fling him in head first;** his wife is bound with him, his
children are put into chains; the neighbours, in the mean time, leave
him and fly to save their grain.”

     * This last danger survives even to the present day. During
     part of the year the fellahîn spend the night in their
     fields; if they did not see to it, their neighbours would
     not hesitate to come and cut their wheat before the harvest,
     or root up their vegetables while still immature.

     ** The same kind of torture is mentioned in the decree of
     Harmhabi, in which the lawless soldiery are represented as
     “running from house to house, dealing blows right and left
     with their sticks, ducking the fellahîn head downwards in
     the water, and not leaving one of them with a whole skin.”
      This treatment was still resorted to in Egypt not long ago,
     in order to extract money from those taxpayers whom beatings
     had failed to bring to reason.

One might be tempted to declare that the picture is too dark a one to be
true, did one not know from other sources of the brutal ways of filling
the treasury which Egypt has retained even to the present day. In the
same way as in the town, the stick facilitated the operations of the
tax-collector in the country: it quickly opened the granaries of the
rich, it revealed resources to the poor of which he had been ignorant,
and it only failed in the case of those who had really nothing to give.
Those who were insolvent were not let off even when they had been more
than half killed: they and their families were sent to prison, and they
had to work out in forced labour the amount which they had failed to pay
in current merchandise.*

     * This is evident from a passage in the _Sallier Papyrus n°
     I_, quoted above, in which we see the taxpayer in fetters,
     dragged out to clean the canals, his whole family, wife and
     children, accompanying him in bonds.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a picture on the tomb of Khîti
     at Beni-Hasan (cf. Champollion, _Monuments de l’Egypte_, pl.
     cccxc. 4; Rosellini, _Monumenti civili_, pl. cxxiv. b).

The collection of the taxes was usually terminated by a rapid revision
of the survey. The scribe once more recorded the dimensions and
character of the domain lands in order to determine afresh the amount
of the tax which should be imposed upon them. It often happened, indeed,
that, owing to some freak of the Nile, a tract of ground which had been
fertile enough the preceding year would be buried under a gravel bed, or
transformed into a marsh. The owners who thus suffered were allowed an
equivalent deduction; as for the farmers, no deductions of the burden
were permitted in their case, but a tract equalling in value that of the
part they had lost was granted to them out of the royal or seignorial
domain, and their property was thus made up to its original worth.

[Illustration: 131.jpg LEVYING THE TAX: THE BASTINADO]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a picture on the tomb of Khîti
     at Beni-Hasan.

What the collection of the taxes had begun was almost always brought
to a climax by the _corvées_. However numerous the royal and seignorial
slaves might have been, they were insufficient for the cultivation of
all the lands of the domains, and a part of Egypt must always have lain
fallow, had not the number of workers been augmented by the addition of
those who were in the position of freemen.

This excess of cultivable land was subdivided into portions of equal
dimensions, which were distributed among the inhabitants of neighbouring
villages by the officers of a “regent” nominated for that purpose. Those
dispensed from agricultural service were--the destitute, soldiers on
service and their families, certain _employés_ of the public works, and
servitors of the temple;* all other country-folk without exception
had to submit to it, and one or more portions were allotted to each,
according to his capabilities.** Orders issued at fixed periods called
them together, themselves, their servants and their beasts of burden, to
dig, sow, keep watch in the fields while the harvest was proceeding, to
cut and carry the crops, the whole work being done at their own expense
and to the detriment of their own interests.***

     * That the scribes, i.e. the employés of the royal or
     princely government, were exempt from enforced labour, is
     manifest from the contrast drawn by the letter-writers of
     the Sallier and Anastasi Papyri between themselves and the
     peasants, or persons belonging to other professions who were
     liable to it. The circular of Dorion defines the classes of
     soldiers who were either temporarily or permanently exempt
     under the Greek kings.

     ** Several fragments of the Turin papyri contain memoranda
     of enforced labour performed on behalf of the temples, and
     of lists of persons liable to be called on for such labour.

     *** All these details are set forth in the Ptolemaic period,
     in the letter to Dorion which refers to a royal edict. As
     Signor Lumbroso has well remarked, the Ptolemies merely
     copied exactly the misdeeds of the old native governments.
     Indeed, we come across frequent allusions to the enforced
     labour of men and beasts in inscriptions of the Middle
     Empire at Beni-Hasan or at Siût; many of the pictures on the
     Memphite tombs show bands of such labourers at work in the
     fields of the great landowners or of the king.

[Illustration: 132.jpg COLLOSAL STATUE OF A KING]

As a sort of indemnity, a few allotments were left uncultivated for
their benefit; to these they sent their flocks after the subsidence of
the inundation, for the pasturage on them was so rich that the sheep
were doubly productive in wool and offspring. This was a mere apology
for a wage: the forced labour for the irrigation brought them no
compensation. The dykes which separate the basins, and the network
of canals for distributing the water and irrigating the land, demand
continual attention: every year some need strengthening, others
re-excavating or cleaning out. The men employed in this work pass whole
days standing in the water, scraping up the mud with both hands in order
to fill the baskets of platted leaves, which boys and girls lift on to
their heads and carry to the top of the bank: the semi-liquid contents
ooze through the basket, trickle over their faces and soon coat their
bodies with a black shining mess, disgusting even to look at. Sheikhs
preside over the work, and urge it on with abuse and blows. When the
gangs of workmen had toiled all day, with only an interval of two hours
about noon for a siesta and a meagre pittance of food, the poor wretches
slept on the spot, in the open air, huddled one against another and but
ill protected by their rags from the chilly nights. The task was so hard
a one, that malefactors, bankrupts, and prisoners of war were condemned
to it; it wore out so many hands that the free peasantry were scarcely
ever exempt. Having returned to their homes, they were not called until
the next year to any established or periodic _corvée_, but many an
irregular one came and surprised them in the midst of their work, and
forced them to abandon all else to attend to the affairs of king or
lord. Was a new chamber to be added to some neighbouring temple, were
materials wanted to strengthen or rebuild some piece of wall which had
been undermined by the inundation, orders were issued to the engineers
to go and fetch a stated quantity of limestone or sandstone, and the
peasants were commanded to assemble at the nearest quarry to cut
the blocks from it, and if needful to ship and convey them to their
destination. Or perhaps the sovereign had caused a gigantic statue of
himself to be carved, and a few hundred men were requisitioned to haul
it to the place where he wished it to be set up. The undertaking ended
in a gala, and doubtless in a distribution of food and drink: the
unfortunate creatures who had been got together to execute the work
could not always have felt fitly compensated for the precious time they
had lost, by one day of drunkenness and rejoicing.


We may ask if all these corvées were equally legal? Even if some of them
were illegal, the peasant on whom they fell could not have found the
means to escape from them, nor could he have demanded legal reparation
for the injury which they caused him. Justice, in Egypt and in the whole
Oriental world, necessarily emanates from political authority, and is
only one branch of the administration amongst others, in the hands
of the lord and his representatives. Professional magistrates were
unknown--men brought up to the study of law, whose duty it was to ensure
the observance of it, apart from any other calling--but the same men
who commanded armies, offered sacrifices, and assessed or received
taxes, investigated the disputes of ordinary citizens, or settled the
differences which arose between them and the representatives of the
lords or of the Pharaoh. In every town and village, those who held by
birth or favour the position of governor were ex-officio invested with
the right of administering justice. For a certain number of days in the
month, they sat at the gate of the town or of the building which served
as their residence, and all those in the town or neighbourhood possessed
of any title, position, or property, the superior priesthood of the
temples, scribes who had advanced or grown old in office, those
in command of the militia or the police, the heads of divisions or
corporations, the “qonbîtiû,” the “people of the angle,” might if
they thought fit take their place beside them, and help them to decide
ordinary lawsuits. The police were mostly recruited from foreigners and
negroes, or Bedouin belonging to the Nubian tribe of the Mâzaiû. The
litigants appeared at the tribunal, and waited under the superintendence
of the police until their turn came to speak: the majority of the
questions were decided in a few minutes by a judgment by which there was
no appeal; only the more serious cases necessitated a cross-examination
and prolonged discussion. All else was carried on before this
patriarchal jury as in our own courts of justice, except that
the inevitable stick too often elucidated the truth and cut short
discussions: the depositions of the witnesses, the speeches on both
sides, the examination of the documents, could not proceed without the
frequent taking of oaths “by the life of the king” or “by the favour of
the gods,” in which the truth often suffered severely. Penalties were
varied somewhat--the bastinado, imprisonment, additional days of work
for the corvée, and, for grave offences, forced labour in the Ethiopian
mines, the loss of nose and ears, and finally, death by strangulation,
by beheading,* by empalement, and at the stake.

     * The only known instance of an execution by hanging is that
     of Pharaoh’s chief baker, in Gen. xl. 19, 22, xli. 13; but
     in a tomb at Thebes we see two human victims executed by
     strangulation. The Egyptian hell contains men who have been
     decapitated, and the block on which the damned were beheaded
     is frequently mentioned in the texts.

Criminals of high rank obtained permission to carry out on themselves
the sentence passed upon them, and thus avoided by suicide the shame of
public execution. Before tribunals thus constituted, the fellah who came
to appeal against the exactions of which he was the victim had little
chance of obtaining a hearing: had not the scribe who had overtaxed him,
or who had imposed a fresh corvée upon him, the right to appear among
the Judges to whom he addressed himself? Nothing, indeed, prevented
him from appealing from the latter to his feudal lord, and from him to
Pharaoh, but such an appeal would be for him a mere delusion. When he
had left his village and presented his petition, he had many delays
to encounter before a solution could be arrived at; and if the adverse
party were at all in favour at court, or could command any influence,
the sovereign decision would confirm, even if it did not aggravate, the
sentence of the previous judges. In the mean while the peasants’
land remained uncultivated, his wife and children bewailed their
wretchedness, and the last resources of the family were consumed in
proceedings and delays: it would have been better for him at the outset
to have made up his mind to submit without resistance to a fate from
which he could not escape.

In spite of taxes, requisitions, and forced labour, the fellahîn came
off fairly well, when the chief to whom they belonged proved a kind
master, and did not add the exactions of his own personal caprice to
those of the State. The inscriptions which princes caused to be devoted
to their own glorification, are so many enthusiastic panegyrics dealing
only with their uprightness and kindness towards the poor and lowly.
Every one of them represents himself as faultless: “the staff of support
to the aged, the foster father of the children, the counsellor of the
unfortunate, the refuge in which those who suffer from the cold in
Thebes may warm themselves, the bread of the afflicted which never
failed in the city of the South.” Their solicitude embraced everybody
and everything: “I have caused no child of tender age to mourn; I have
despoiled no widow; I have driven away no tiller of the soil; I have
taken no workmen away from their foreman for the public works; none
have been unfortunate about me, nor starving in my time. When years of
scarcity arose, as I had cultivated all the lands of the nome of the
Gazelle to its northern and southern boundaries, causing its inhabitants
to live, and creating provisions, none who were hungry were found there,
for I gave to the widow as well as to the woman who had a husband, and I
made no distinction between high and low in all that I gave. If, on the
contrary, there were high Niles, the possessors of lands became rich in
all things, for I did not raise the rate of the tax upon the fields.”
 The canals engrossed all the prince’s attention; he cleaned them out,
enlarged them, and dug fresh ones, which were the means of bringing
fertility and plenty into the most remote corners of his property. His
serfs had a constant supply of clean water at their door, and were no
longer content with such food as durra; they ate wheaten bread daily.
His vigilance and severity were such that the brigands dared no longer
appear within reach of his arm, and his soldiers kept strict discipline:
“When night fell, whoever slept by the roadside blessed me, and was [in
safety] as a man in his own house; the fear of my police protected him,
the cattle remained in the fields as in the stable; the thief was as the
abomination of the god, and he no more fell upon the vassal, so that the
latter no more complained, but paid exactly the dues of his domain, for
love” of the master who had procured for him this freedom from care.
This theme might be pursued at length, for the composers of epitaphs
varied it with remarkable cleverness and versatility of imagination. The
very zeal which they display in describing the lord’s virtues betrays
how precarious was the condition of his subjects. There was nothing to
hinder the unjust prince or the prevaricating officer from ruining and
ill-treating as he chose the people who were under his authority. He
had only to give an order, and the corvée fell upon the proprietors of a
village, carried off their slaves and obliged them to leave their lands
uncultivated; should they declare that they were incapable of paying
the contributions laid on them, the prison opened for them and their
families. If a dyke were cut, or the course of a channel altered, the
nome was deprived of water: prompt and inevitable ruin came upon the
unfortunate inhabitants, and their property, confiscated by the treasury
in payment of the tax, passed for a small consideration into the hands
of the scribe or of the dishonest administrator. Two or three years of
neglect were almost enough to destroy a system of irrigation: the canals
became filled with mud, the banks crumbled, the inundation either failed
to reach the ground, or spread over it too quickly and lay upon it
too long. Famine soon followed with its attendant sicknesses: men and
animals died by the hundred, and it was the work of nearly a whole
generation to restore prosperity to the district.

The lot of the fellah of old was, as we have seen, as hard as that
of the fellah of to-day. He himself felt the bitterness of it, and
complained at times, or rather the scribes complained for him, when with
selfish complacency they contrasted their calling with his. He had to
toil the whole year round,--digging, sowing, working the shadouf from
morning to night for weeks, hastening at the first requisition to the
corvée, paying a heavy and cruel tax,--all without even the certainty
of enjoying what remained to him in peace, or of seeing his wife and
children profit by it. So great, however, was the elasticity of his
temperament that his misery was not sufficient to depress him: those
monuments upon which his life is portrayed in all its minutias,
represent him as animated with inexhaustible cheerfulness. The summer
months ended, the ground again becomes visible, the river retires into
its bed, the time of sowing is at hand: the peasant takes his team and
his implements with him and goes off to the fields. In many places, the
soil, softened by the water, offers no resistance, and the hoe easily
turns it up; elsewhere it is hard, and only yields to the plough. While
one of the farm-servants, almost bent double, leans his whole weight
on the handles to force the ploughshare deep into the soil, his comrade
drives the oxen and encourages them by his songs: these are only two
or three short sentences, set to an unvarying chant, and with the time
beaten on the back of the nearest animal. Now and again he turns round
towards his comrade and encourages him: “Lean hard!”--“Hold fast!”


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph.

The sower follows behind and throws handfuls of grain into the furrow: a
flock of sheep or goats brings up the rear, and as they walk, they tread
the seed into the ground. The herdsmen crack their whips and sing some
country song at the top of their voices,--based on the complaint of some
fellah seized by the corvée to clean out a canal. “The digger is in the
water with the fish,--he talks to the silurus, and exchanges greetings
with the oxyrrhynchus:--West! your digger is a digger from the West!”*

     * The silurus is the electrical fish of the Nile. The text
     ironically hints that the digger, up to his waist in water,
     engaged in dredging the dykes or repairing a bank swept away
     by an inundation, is liable at any moment to salute, i.e. to
     meet with a silurus or an oxyrrhynchus ready to attack him;
     he is doomed to death, and this fact the couplet expresses
     by the words, “West! your digger is a digger from the West.”
      The West was the region of the tombs; and the digger, owing
     to the dangers of his calling, was on his way thither.


All this takes place under the vigilant eye of the master: as soon as
his attention is relaxed, the work slackens, quarrels arise, and
the spirit of idleness and theft gains the ascendency. Two men have
unharnessed their team. One of them quickly milks one of the cows, the
other holds the animal and impatiently awaits his turn: “Be quick, while
the farmer is not there.” They run the risk of a beating for a potful
of milk. The weeks pass, the corn has ripened, the harvest begins. The
fellahîn, armed with a short sickle, cut or rather saw the stalks, a
handful at a time. As they advance in line, a flute-player plays them
captivating tunes, a man joins in with his voice marking the rhythm by
clapping his hands, the foreman throwing in now and then a few words of
exhortation: “What lad among you, when the season is over, can say:
‘It is I who say it, to thee and to my comrades, you are all of you but
idlers!’--Who among you can say: ‘An active lad for the job am I!’” A
servant moves among the gang with a tall jar of beer, offering it to
those who wish for it. “Is it not good!” says he; and the one who drinks
answers politely: “‘Tis true, the master’s beer is better than a cake
of durra!” The sheaves once bound, are carried to the singing of fresh
songs addressed to the donkeys who bear them: “Those who quit the ranks
will be tied, those who roll on the ground will be beaten,--Geeho!
then.” And thus threatened, the ass trots forward. Even when a tragic
element enters the scene, and the bastinado is represented, the
sculptor, catching the bantering spirit of the people among whom he
lives, manages to insinuate a vein of comedy. A peasant, summarily
condemned for some misdeed, lies flat upon the ground with bared back:
two friends take hold of his arms, and two others his legs, to keep him
in the proper position. His wife or his son intercedes for him to the
man with the stick: “For mercy’s sake strike on the ground!” And as a
fact, the bastinado was commonly rather a mere form of chastisement than
an actual punishment: the blows, dealt with apparent ferocity, missed
their aim and fell upon the earth; the culprit howled loudly, but was
let off with only a few bruises.

An Arab writer of the Middle Ages remarks, not without irony, that the
Egyptians were perhaps the only people in the world who never kept any
stores of provisions by them, but each one went daily to the market to
buy the pittance for his family. The improvidence which he laments
over in his contemporaries had been handed down from their most remote
ancestors. Workmen, fellahîn, _employés_, small townsfolk, all lived
from hand to mouth in the Egypt of the Pharaohs. Pay-days were almost
everywhere days of rejoicing and extra eating: no one spared either
the grain, oil, or beer of the treasury, and copious feasting continued
unsparingly, as long as anything was left of their wages. As their
resources were almost always exhausted before the day of distribution
once more came round, beggary succeeded to fulness of living, and a part
of the population was literally starving for several days. This almost
constant alternation of abundance and dearth had a reactionary
influence on daily work: there were scarcely any seignorial workshops or
undertakings which did not come to a standstill every month on account
of the exhaustion of the workmen, and help had to be provided for the
starving in order to avoid popular seditions. Their improvidence,
like their cheerfulness, was perhaps an innate trait in the national
character: it was certainly fostered and developed by the system of
government adopted by Egypt from the earliest times. What incentive was
there for a man of the people to calculate his resources and to lay up
for the future, when he knew that his wife, his children, his cattle,
his goods, all that belonged to him, and himself to boot, might be
carried off at any moment, without his having the right or the power
to resent it? He was born, he lived, and he died in the possession of a


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Émil Brugsch-
     Bey. The picture is taken from the tomb of Ti.

The lands or houses which his father had left him, were his merely on
sufferance, and he enjoyed them only by permission of his lord. Those
which he acquired by his own labour went to swell his master’s domain.
If he married and had sons, they were but servants for the master from
the moment they were brought into the world. Whatever he might enjoy
to-day, would his master allow him possession of it to-morrow? Even life
in the world beyond did not offer him much more security or liberty:
he only entered it in his master’s service and to do his bidding; he
existed in it on tolerance, as he had lived upon this earth, and he
found there no rest or freedom unless he provided himself abundantly
with “respondents” and charmed statuettes. He therefore concentrated his
mind and energies on the present moment, to make the most of it as of
almost the only thing which belonged to him: he left to his master the
task of anticipating and providing for the future. In truth, his masters
were often changed; now the lord of one town, now that of another; now a
Pharaoh of the Memphite or Theban dynasties, now a stranger installed
by chance upon the throne of Horns. The condition of the people never
changed; the burden which crushed them was never lightened, and whatever
hand happened to hold the stick, it never fell the less heavily upon
their backs.

[Illustration: 148.jpg TAILPIECE]

Volume II., Part B.



_Snofrûi--The desert which separates Africa from Asia: its physical
configuration, its inhabitants, their incursions into Egypt, and their
relations with the Egyptians--The peninsula of Sinai: the turquoise
and copper mines, the mining works of the Pharaohs--The two tombs of
Snofrûi: the pyramid and the mastabas of Mêdûm, the statues of Bahotpû
and his wife Nofrît._

_Kheops, Ehephren, and Myherinos--The Great Pyramid: its construction
and internal arrangements--The pyramids of Khephren and Myherinos; the
rifling of them--Legend about the royal pyramid builders: the impiety
of Kheops and Khephren, the piety of Myherinos; the brick pyramid of
Asychis--The materials employed in building, and the quarries of Turah;
the plans, the worship of the royal “double;” the Arab legends about
the guardian genii of the pyramids._

_The kings of the fifth dynasty: Ùsirkaf, Sahûri, Kalciû, and the
romance about their advent--The relations of the Delta to the peoples
of the North: the shipping and maritime commerce of the Egyptians--Nubia
and its tribes: the Ûaûaiû and the Mazaiû, Pûanît, the dwarfs and
the Danga--Egyptian literature: the Proverbs of Phtahhotpû--The arts:
architecture, statuary and its chief examples, bas-reliefs, painting,
industrial art._

_The development of Egyptian feudalism, and the advent of the sixth
dynasty: Ati, Imhotpâ, Teti--Papi I. and his minister Uni: the affair
of Queen Amitsi; the wars against the Hirû-Shâîtû and the country of
Tiba--Metesûphis I. and the second Papi: progress of the Egyptian power
in Nubia--the lords of Elephantine; Hirkhûf, Papinakhîti: the way
for conquest prepared by their explorations, the occupation of the
Oases--The pyramids of Saqqâra: Metesûphis the Second--Nitokris and the
legend concerning her--Preponderance of the feudal lords, and fall of
the Memphite dynasty._

[Illustration: 151.jpg PAGE IMAGE]


_The royal pyramid builders: Kheops, Khephren, Mykerinos--Memphite
literature and art--Extension of Egypt towards the South, and the
conquest of Nubia by the Pharaohs._

At that time “the Majesty of King Huni died, and the Majesty of King
Snofrûi arose to be a sovereign benefactor over this whole earth.” All
that we know of him is contained in one sentence: he fought against the
nomads of Sinai, constructed fortresses to protect the eastern frontier
of the Delta, and made for himself a tomb in the form of a pyramid.

The almost uninhabited country which connects Africa with Asia is
flanked towards the south by two chains of hills which unite at right
angles, and together form the so-called Gebel et-Tîh. This country is
a tableland, gently inclined from south to north, bare, sombre, covered
with flint-shingle, and siliceous rocks, and breaking out at frequent
intervals into long low chalky hills, seamed with wadys, the largest
of which--that of El-Arish--having drained all the others into itself,
opens into the Mediterranean halfway between Pelusiam and Gaza. Torrents
of rain are not infrequent in winter and spring, but the small quantity
of water which they furnish is quickly evaporated, and barely keeps
alive the meagre vegetation in the bottom of the valleys. Sometimes,
after months of absolute drought, a tempest breaks over the more
elevated parts of the desert.*

     * In chap. viii. of the _Account of the Survey_, pp. 226-
     228, Mr. Holland describes a sudden rainstorm or “sell” on
     December 3, 1867, which drowned thirty persons, destroyed
     droves of camels and asses, flocks of sheep and goats, and
     swept away, in the Wady Feîrân, a thousand palm trees and a
     grove of tamarisks, two miles in length. Towards 4.30 in the
     afternoon, a few drops of rain began to fall, but the storm
     did not break till 5 p.m. At 5.15 it was at its height, and
     it was not over till 9.30. The torrent, which at 8 p.m. was
     10 feet deep, and was about 1000 feet in width, was, at 6
     a.m. the next day, reduced to a small streamlet.

The wind rises suddenly in squall-like blasts; thick clouds, borne one
knows not whence, are riven by lightning to the incessant accompaniment
of thunder; it would seem as if the heavens had broken up and were
crashing down upon the mountains. In a few moments streams of muddy
water rushing down the ravines, through the gulleys and along the
slightest depressions, hurry to the low grounds, and meeting there in a
foaming concourse, follow the fall of the land; a few minutes later,
and the space between one hillside and the other is occupied by a deep
river, flowing with terrible velocity and irresistible force. At the end
of eight or ten hours the air becomes clear, the wind falls, the rain
ceases; the hastily formed river dwindles, and for lack of supply is
exhausted; the inundation comes to an end almost as quickly as it began.
In a short time nothing remains of it but some shallow pools scattered
in the hollows, or here and there small streamlets which rapidly dry up.
The flood, however, accelerated by its acquired velocity, continues to
descend towards the sea. The devastated flanks of the hills, their
torn and corroded bases, the accumulated masses of shingle left by
the eddies, the long lines of rocks and sand, mark its route and bear
evidence everywhere of its power. The inhabitants, taught by experience,
avoid a sojourn in places where tempests have once occurred. It is in
vain that the sky is serene above them and the sun shines overhead; they
always fear that at the moment in which danger seems least likely to
threaten them, the torrent, taking its origin some twenty leagues off,
may be on its headlong way to surprise them. And, indeed, it comes so
suddenly and so violently that nothing in its course can escape it:
men and beasts, before there is time to fly, often even before they
are aware of its approach, are swept away and pitilessly destroyed. The
Egyptians applied to the entire country the characteristic epithet of
To-Shûît, the land of Emptiness, the land of Aridity.


They divided it into various districts--the upper and lower Tonû, Aia,
Kadûma. They called its inhabitants Hirû-Shâîtû, the lords of the Sands;
Nomiû-Shâîtû, the rovers of the Sands; and they associated them with the
Amu--that is to say, with a race which we recognize as Semitic. The type
of these barbarians, indeed, reminds one of the Semitic massive
head, aquiline nose, retreating forehead, long beard, thick and not
infrequently crisp hair. They went barefoot, and the monuments represent
them as girt with a short kilt, though they also wore the _abayah_.
Their arms were those commonly used by the Egyptians--the bow, lance,
club, knife, battle-axe, and shield. They possessed great flocks of
goats or sheep, but the horse and camel were unknown to them, as well as
to their African neighbours. They lived chiefly upon the milk of their
flocks, and the fruit of the date-palm. A section of them tilled the
soil: settled around springs or wells, they managed by industrious
labour to cultivate moderately sized but fertile fields, flourishing
orchards, groups of palms, fig and olive trees, and vines. In spite of
all this their resources were insufficient, and their position would
have been precarious if they had not been able to supplement their
stock of provisions from Egypt or Southern Syria. They bartered at the
frontier markets their honey, wool, gums, manna, and small quantities
of charcoal, for the products of local manufacture, but especially for
wheat, or the cereals of which they stood in need. The sight of the
riches gathered together in the eastern plain, from Tanis to Bubastis,
excited their pillaging instincts, and awoke in them an irrepressible
covetousness. The Egyptian annals make mention of their incursions at
the very commencement of history, and they maintained that even the gods
had to take steps to protect themselves from them. The Gulf of Suez and
the mountainous rampart of Gebel Geneffeh in the south, and the marshes
of Pelusium on the north, protected almost completely the eastern
boundary of the Delta; but the Wady Tumilât laid open the heart of the
country to the invaders. The Pharaohs of the divine dynasties in the
first place, and then those of the human dynasties, had fortified this
natural opening, some say by a continuous wall, others by a line of
military posts, flanked on the one side by the waters of the gulf.*

     * The existence of the wall, or of the line of military
     posts, is of very ancient date, for the name Kîm-Oîrît is
     already followed by the hieroglyph of the wall, or by that
     of a fortified enclosure in the texts of the Pyramids.

[Illustration: 156.jpg A BARBARIAN MONÎTI FROM SINAI]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Petrie. The
     original is of the time of Nectanebo, and is at Karnak; I
     have chosen it for reproduction in preference to the heads
     of the time of the Ancient Empire, which are more injured,
     and of which this is only the traditional copy.

Snofrûi restored or constructed several castles in this district, which
perpetuated his name for a long time after his death. These had the
square or rectangular form of the towers, whose ruins are still to
be seen on the banks of the Nile. Standing night and day upon the
battlements, the sentinels kept a strict look-out over the desert, ready
to give alarm at the slightest suspicious movement.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the vignette by E. H. Palmer,
     _The Desert of the Exodus_, p. 317.

     The expression Kîm-Oîrît, “the very black,” is applied to
     the northern part of the Red Sea, in contradistinction to
     Ûaz-Oîrît, Uazît-Oîrît, “the very green,” the
     Mediterranean; a town, probably built at a short distance
     from the village of Maghfâr, had taken its name from the
     gulf on which it was situated, and was also called Kîm-

The marauders took advantage of any inequality in the ground to approach
unperceived, and they were often successful in getting through the
lines; they scattered themselves over the country, surprised a village
or two, bore off such women and children as they could lay their hands
on, took possession of herds of animals, and, without carrying their
depredations further, hastened to regain their solitudes before
information of their exploits could have reached the garrison. If their
expeditions became numerous, the general of the Eastern Marches, or the
Pharaoh himself, at the head of a small army, started on a campaign of
reprisals against them. The marauders did not wait to be attacked, but
betook themselves to refuges constructed by them beforehand at certain
points in their territory. They erected here and there, on the crest of
some steep hill, or at the confluence of several wadys, stone towers put
together without mortar, and rounded at the top like so many beehives,
in unequal groups of three, ten, or thirty; here they massed themselves
as well as they could, and defended the position with the greatest
obstinacy, in the hope that their assailants, from the lack of water and
provisions, would soon be forced to retreat.*

     * The members of the English Commission do not hesitate to
     attribute the construction of these towers to the remotest
     antiquity; the Bedouin call them “namûs,” plur. “nawamîs,”
      mosquito-houses, and they say that the children of Israel
     built them as a shelter during the night from mosquitos at
     the time of the Exodus. The resemblance of these buildings
     to the “Talayôt” of the Balearic Isles, and to the Scotch
     beehive-shaped houses, has struck all travellers.

Elsewhere they possessed fortified “duars,” where not only their
families but also their herds could find a refuge--circular or oval
enclosures, surrounded by low walls of massive rough stones crowned by a
thick rampart made of branches of acacia interlaced with thorny bushes,
the tents or huts being ranged behind, while in the centre was an empty
space for the cattle. These primitive fortresses were strong enough to
overawe nomads; regular troops made short work of them. The Egyptians
took them by assault, overturned them, cut down the fruit trees, burned
the crops, and retreated in security, after having destroyed everything
in their march. Each of their campaigns, which hardly lasted more than a
few days, secured the tranquillity of the frontier for some years.*

     * The inscription of Uni (11. 22-32) furnishes us with the
     invariable type of the Egyptian campaigns against the Hirû-
     Shâîtû: the bas-reliefs of Karnak might serve to illustrate
     it, as they represent the great raid led by Seti I. into the
     territory of the Shaûsûs and their allies, between the
     frontier of Egypt and the town of Hebron.


     Drawn by Boudier, from the water-colour drawing published by
     Lepsius, _Denhn._, i. 7, No. 2.

To the south of Gebel et-Tîh, and cut off from it almost completely by a
moat of wadys, a triangular group of mountains known as Sinai thrusts a
wedge-shaped spur into the Red Sea, forcing back its waters to the right
and left into two narrow gulfs, that of Akabah and that of Suez. Gebel
Katherin stands up from the centre and overlooks the whole peninsula. A
sinuous chain detaches itself from it and ends at Gebel Serbâl, at
some distance to the northwest; another trends to the south, and after
attaining in Gebel Umm-Shomer an elevation equal to that of Gebel
Katherin, gradually diminishes in height, and plunges into the sea at
Ras-Mohammed. A complicated system of gorges and valleys--Wady Nasb,
Wady Kidd, Wady Hebrân, Wady Baba--furrows the country and holds it as
in a network of unequal meshes. Wady Feîrân contains the most fertile
oasis in the peninsula. A never-failing stream waters it for about two
or three miles of its length; quite a little forest of palms enlivens
both banks--somewhat meagre and thin, it is true, but intermingled with
acacias, tamarisks, nabecas, carob trees, and willows. Birds sing amid
their branches, sheep wander in the pastures, while the huts of the
inhabitants peep out at intervals from among the trees. Valleys and
plains, even in some places the slopes of the hills, are sparsely
covered with those delicate aromatic herbs which affect a stony soil.
Their life is a perpetual struggle against the sun: scorched, dried up,
to all appearance dead, and so friable that they crumble to pieces in
the fingers when one attempts to gather them, the spring rains annually
infuse into them new life, and bestow upon them, almost before one’s
eyes, a green and perfumed youth of some days’ duration. The summits of
the hills remain always naked, and no vegetation softens the ruggedness
of their outlines, or the glare of their colouring. The core of the
peninsula is hewn, as it were, out of a block of granite, in which
white, rose-colour, brown, or black predominate, according to the
quantities of felspar, quartz, or oxides of iron which the rocks
contain. Towards the north, the masses of sandstone which join on to
Gebel et-Tîh assume all possible shades of red and grey, from a delicate
lilac neutral tint to dark purple. The tones of colour, although placed
crudely side by side, present nothing jarring nor offensive to the eye;
the sun floods all, and blends them in his light. The Sinaitic peninsula
is at intervals swept, like the desert to the east of Egypt, by terrible
tempests, which denude its mountains and transform its wadys into so
many ephemeral torrents. The Monîtû who frequented this region from the
dawn of history did not differ much from the “Lords of the Sands;” they
were of the same type, had the same costume, the same arms, the same
nomadic instincts, and in districts where the soil permitted it, made
similar brief efforts to cultivate it. They worshipped a god and a
goddess whom the Egyptians identified with Horus and Hâthor; one of
these appeared to represent the light, perhaps the sun, the other the
heavens. They had discovered at an early period in the sides of the
hills rich metalliferous veins, and strata, bearing precious stones;
from these they learned to extract iron, oxides of copper and manganese,
and turquoises, which they exported to the Delta. The fame of their
riches, carried to the banks of the Nile, excited the cupidity of the
Pharaohs; expeditions started from different points of the valley, swept
down upon the peninsula, and established themselves by main force in the
midst of the districts where the mines lay. These were situated to the
north-west, in the region of sandstone, between the western branch
of Gebel et-Tîh and the Gulf of Suez. They were collectively called
Mafkaît, the country of turquoises, a fact which accounts for the
application of the local epithet, lady of Mafkaît, to Hâthor. The
earliest district explored, that which the Egyptians first attacked, was
separated from the coast by a narrow plain and a single range of hills:
the produce of the mines could be thence transported to the sea in a
few hours without difficulty. Pharaoh’s labourers called this region the
district of Baîfc, the mine _par excellence_, or of Bebît, the country
of grottoes, from the numerous tunnels which their predecessors had made
there: the name Wady Maghara, Valley of the Cavern, by which the site
is now designated, is simply an Arabic translation of the old Egyptian

The Monîtû did not accept this usurpation of their rights without a
struggle, and the Egyptians who came to work among them had either to
purchase their forbearance by a tribute, or to hold themselves always in
readiness to repulse the assaults of the Monîtû by force of arms. Zosiri
had already taken steps to ensure the safety of the turquoise-seekers
at their work; Snofrûi was not, therefore, the first Pharaoh who passed
that way, but none of his predecessors had left so many traces of his
presence as he did in this out-of-the-way corner of the empire. There
may still be seen, on the north-west slope of the Wady Maghara, the
bas-relief which one of his lieutenants engraved there in memory of a
victory gained over the Monîtû. A Bedouin sheikh fallen on his knees
prays for mercy with suppliant gesture, but Pharaoh has already seized
him by his long hair, and brandishes above his head a white stone mace
to fell him with a single blow.

[Illustration: 163.jpg THE MINING WORKS OF WADY MAGHARA]

     Plan made by Thuillier, from the sketch by Brugscii,
     _Wanderung nach den Tiirhis Minen_, p. 70.

The workmen, partly recruited from the country itself, partly despatched
from the banks of the Nile, dwelt in an entrenched camp upon an isolated
peak at the confluence of Wady Genneh and Wady Maghara. A zigzag pathway
on its smoothest slope ends, about seventeen feet below the summit, at
the extremity of a small and slightly inclined tableland, upon which are
found the ruins of a large village; this is the High Castle--Hâît-Qaît
of the ancient inscriptions. Two hundred habitations can still be made
out here, some round, some rectangular, constructed of sandstone blocks
without mortar, and not larger than the huts of the fellahîn: in former
times a flat roof of wicker-work and puddled clay extended over each.
The entrance was not so much a door as a narrow opening, through which
a fat man would find it difficult to pass; the interior consisted of
a single chamber, except in the case of the chief of the works, whose
dwelling contained two.


     Drawn by Boudier, from the photograph published in the
     Ordnance Survey of the Peninsula of Sinai, Photographs, vol.
     ii. pls. 59, 60.

A rough stone bench from two to two and a half feet high surrounds the
plateau on which the village stands; a _cheval défrise_ made of thorny
brushwood probably completed the defence, as in the _duars_ of the
desert. The position was very strong and easily defended. Watchmen
scattered over the neighbouring summits kept an outlook over the distant
plain and the defiles of the mountains. Whenever the cries of these
sentinels announced the approach of the foe, the workmen immediately
deserted the mine and took refuge in their citadel, which a handful of
resolute men could successfully hold, as long as hunger and thirst did
not enter into the question. As the ordinary springs and wells would
not have been sufficient to supply the needs of the colony, they had
transformed the bottom of the valley into an artificial lake. A dam
thrown across it prevented the escape of the waters, which filled the
reservoir more or less completely according to the season. It never
became empty, and several species of shellfish flourished in it--among
others, a kind of large mussel which the inhabitants generally used as
food, which with dates, milk, oil, coarse bread, a few vegetables, and
from time to time a fowl or a joint of meat, made up their scanty fare.
Other things were of the same primitive character. The tools found in
the village are all of flint: knives, scrapers, saws, hammers, and heads
of lances and arrows. A few vases brought from Egypt are distinguished
by the fineness of the material and the purity of the design; but the
pottery in common use was made on the spot from coarse clay without
care, and regardless of beauty. As for jewellery, the villagers had
beads of glass or blue enamel, and necklaces of strung cowrie-shells.
In the mines, as in their own houses, the workmen employed stone tools
only, with handles of wood, or of plaited willow twigs, but their
chisels or hammers were more than sufficient to cut the yellow
sandstone, coarse-grained and very friable as it was, in the midst of
which they worked.*

     * E. H. Palmer, however, from his observations, is of
     opinion that the work in the tunnels of the mines was
     executed entirely by means of bronze chisels and tools; the
     flint implements serving only to incise the scenes which
     cover the surfaces of the rocks.

The tunnels running straight into the mountain were low and wide, and
were supported at intervals by pillars of sandstone left _in situ_.
These tunnels led into chambers of various sizes, whence they followed
the lead of the veins of precious mineral. The turquoise sparkled on
every side--on the ceiling and on the walls--and the miners, profiting
by the slightest fissures, cut round it, and then with forcible blows
detached the blocks, and reduced them to small fragments, which they
crushed, and carefully sifted so as not to lose a particle of the gem.
The oxides of copper and of manganese which they met with here and
elsewhere in moderate quantities, were used in the manufacture of those
beautiful blue enamels of various shades which the Egyptians esteemed
so highly. The few hundreds of men of which the permanent population was
composed, provided for the daily exigencies of industry and commerce.
Royal inspectors arrived from time to time to examine into their
condition, to rekindle their zeal, and to collect the product of their
toil. When Pharaoh had need of a greater quantity than usual of minerals
or turquoises, he sent thither one of his officers, with a select body
of carriers, mining experts, and stone-dressers. Sometimes as many
as two or three thousand men poured suddenly into the peninsula, and
remained there one or two months; the work went briskly forward, and
advantage was taken of the occasion to extract and transport to Egypt
beautiful blocks of diorite, serpentine or granite, to be afterwards
manufactured there into sarcophagi or statues. Engraved stelæ, to be
seen on the sides of the mountains, recorded the names of the principal
chiefs, the different bodies of handicraftsmen who had participated in
the campaign, the name of the sovereign who had ordered it and often the
year of his reign.

It was not one tomb only which Snofrui had caused to be built, but two.
He called them “Khâ,” the Rising, the place where the dead Pharaoh,
identified with the sun, is raised above the world for ever. One of
these was probably situated near Dahshur; the other, the “Khâ rîsi,” the
Southern Rising, appears to be identical with the monument of Mêdûm.

[Illustration: 167.jpg THE PYRAMID OF MÊDÛM]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the plans of Flinders Petrie,
     _Medum_, pl. ii.

The pyramid, like the mastaba,* represents a tumulus with four sides,
in which the earthwork is replaced by a structure of stone or brick. It
indicates the place in which lies a prince, chief, or person of rank in
his tribe or province. It was built on a base of varying area, and was
raised to a greater or less elevation according to the fortune of the
deceased or of his family.**

     * No satisfactory etymon for the word _pyramid_, has as yet
     been proposed: the least far-fetched is that put forward by
     Cantor-Eisenlohr, according to which _pyramid_ is the Greek
     form, irupauç, of the compound term “piri-m-ûisi,” which in
     Egyptian mathematical phraseology designates the _salient
     angle_, the ridge or height of the pyramid.

     ** The brick pyramids of Abydos were all built for private
     persons. The word “mirit,” which designates a pyramid in
     the texts, is elsewhere applied to the tombs of nobles and
     commoners as well as to those of kings.

The fashion of burying in a pyramid was not adopted in the environs of
Memphis until tolerably late times, and the Pharaohs of the primitive
dynasties were interred, as their subjects were, in sepulchral chambers
of mastabas. Zosiri was the only exception, if the step-pyramid of
Saqqâra, as is probable, served for his tomb.*

     * It is difficult to admit that a pyramid of considerable
     dimensions could have disappeared without leaving any traces
     behind, especially when we see the enormous masses of
     masonry which still mark the sites of those which have been
     most injured; besides, the inscriptions connect none of the
     predecessors of Snofrûi with a pyramid, unless it be Zosiri.
     The step-pyramid of Saqqâra, which is attributed to the
     latter, belongs to the same type as that of Mêdûm; so does
     also the pyramid of Rigah, whose occupant is unknown. If we
     admit that this last-mentioned pyramid served as a tomb to
     some intermediate Pharaoh between Zosiri and Snofrûi--for
     instance, Hûni--the use of pyramids would be merely
     exceptional for sovereigns anterior to the IVth dynasty.

The motive which determined Snofrûi’s choice of Mêdûm as a site, is
unknown to us: perhaps he dwelt in that city of Heracleopolis, which in
course of time frequently became the favourite residence of the kings;
perhaps he improvised for himself a city in the plain between El-Wastah
and Kafr el-Ayat. His pyramid, at the present time, is composed of three
large unequal cubes with slightly inclined sides, arranged in steps one
above the other. Some centuries ago five could be still determined, and
in ancient times, before ruin had set in, as many as seven. Each block
marked a progressive increase of the total mass, and bad its external
face polished--a fact which we can still determine by examining the
slabs one behind another; a facing of large blocks, of which many of the
courses still exist towards the base, covered the whole, at one angle
from the apex to the foot, and brought it into conformity with the type
of the classic pyramid. The passage had its orifice in the middle of the
north face about sixty feèt above the ground: it is five feet high, and
dips at a tolerably steep angle through the solid masonry. At a depth of
a hundred and ninety-seven feet it becomes level, without increasing
in aperture, runs for forty feet on this plane, traversing two low and
narrow chambers, then making a sharp turn it ascends perpendicularly
until it reaches the floor of the vault. The latter is hewn out of the
mountain rock, and is small, rough, and devoid of ornament: the ceiling
appears to be in three heavy horizontal courses of masonry, which
project one beyond the other corbel-wise, and give the impression of a
sort of acutely pointed arch. Snofrûi slept there for ages; then robbers
found a way to him, despoiled and broke up his mummy, scattered the
fragments of his coffin upon the ground, and carried off the stone
sarcophagus. The apparatus of beams and cords of which they made use for
the descent, hung in their place above the mouth of the shaft until ten
years ago. The rifling of the tomb took place at a remote date, for from
the XXth dynasty onwards the curious were accustomed to penetrate into
the passage: two scribes have scrawled their names in ink on the back
of the framework in which the stone cover was originally inserted.
The sepulchral chapel was built a little in front of the east face; it
consisted of two small-sized rooms with bare surfaces, a court whose
walls abutted on the pyramid, and in the court, facing the door,
a massive table of offerings flanked by two large stelo without
inscriptions, as if the death of the king had put a stop to the
decoration before the period determined on by the architects. It was
still accessible to any one during the XVIIIth dynasty, and people came
there to render homage to the memory of Snofrûi or his wife Mirisônkhû.
Visitors recorded in ink on the walls their enthusiastic, but
stereotyped impressions: they compared the “Castle of Snofrûi” with the
firmament, “when the sun arises in it; the heaven rains incense there
and pours out perfumes on the roof.” Ramses II., who had little respect
for the works of his predecessors, demolished a part of the pyramid in
order to procure cheaply the materials necessary for the buildings which
he restored to Heracleopolis. His workmen threw down the waste stone
and mortar beneath the place where they were working, without troubling
themselves as to what might be beneath; the court became choked up,
the sand borne by the wind gradually invaded the chambers, the chapel
disappeared, and remained buried for more than three thousand years.

The officers of Snofrûi, his servants, and the people of his city
wished, according to custom, to rest beside him, and thus to form a
court for him in the other world as they had done in this. The menials
were buried in roughly made trenches, frequently in the ground merely,
without coffins or sarcophagi. The body was not laid out its whole
length on its back in the attitude of repose: it more frequently rested
on its left side, the head to the north, the face to the east, the legs
bent, the right arm brought up against the breast, the left following
the outline of the chest and legs.*

     * W. Fl. Petrie, _Medum_, pp. 21, 22. Many of these mummies
     were mutilated, some lacking a leg, others an arm or a hand;
     these were probably workmen who had fallen victims to an
     accident during the building of the pyramid. In the majority
     of cases the detached limb had been carefully placed with
     the body, doubtless in order that the double might find it
     in the other world, and complete himself when he pleased for
     the exigencies of his new existence.

The people who were interred in a posture so different from that with
which we are familiar in the case of ordinary mummies, belonged to
a foreign race, who had retained in the treatment of their dead the
customs of their native country.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by Fl. Petrie, _Ten
     Years’ Digging in Egypt_, p. 141.

The Pharaohs often peopled their royal cities with prisoners of war,
captured on the field of battle, or picked up in an expedition through
an enemy’s country. Snofrûi peopled his city with men from the Libyan
tribes living on the borders of the Western desert or Monîtû captives.*

     * Petrie thinks that the people who were interred in a
     contracted position belonged to the aboriginal race of the
     valley, reduced to a condition of servitude by a race who
     had come from Asia, and who had established the kingdom of
     Egypt. The latter were represented by the mummies disposed
     at full length (_Medum_, p. 21).

The body having been placed in the grave, the relatives who had taken
part in the mourning heaped together in a neighbouring hole the funerary
furniture, flint implements, copper needles, miniature pots and pans
made of rough and badly burned clay, bread, dates, and eatables in
dishes wrapped up in linen. The nobles ranged their mastabas in a single
line to the north of the pyramid; these form fine-looking masses of
considerable size, but they are for the most part unfinished and empty.
Snofrûi having disappeared from the scene, Kheops who succeeded him
forsook the place, and his courtiers, abandoning their unfinished tombs,
went off to construct for themselves others around that of the new king.
We rarely find at Mêdûm finished and occupied sepulchres except that of
individuals who had died before or shortly after Snofrûi. The mummy of
Eânofir, found in one of them, shows how far the Egyptians had carried
the art of embalming at this period. His body, though much shrunken,
is well preserved: it had been clothed in some fine stuff, then covered
over with a layer of resin, which a clever sculptor had modelled in such
a manner as to present an image resembling the deceased; it was then
rolled in three or four folds of thin and almost transparent gauze.

Of these tombs the most important belonged to the Prince Nofirmâît
and his wife Atiti: it is decorated with bas-reliefs of a peculiar
composition; the figures have been cut in outline in the limestone, and
the hollows thus made are filled in with a mosaic of tinted pastes which
show the moulding and colour of the parts. Everywhere else the ordinary
methods of sculpture have been employed, the bas-reliefs being enhanced
by brilliant colouring in a simple and delicate manner.

[Illustration: 173.jpg NOFKÎT, LADY OF MÊDÛM]

     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph taken by Éinil Brugsch-

The figures of men and animals are portrayed with a vivacity of manner
which is astonishing; and the other objects, even the hieroglyphs, are
rendered with an accuracy which does not neglect the smallest detail.
The statues of Eâhotpû and of the lady Nofrît, discovered in a
half-ruined mastaba, have fortunately reached us without having suffered
the least damage, almost without losing anything of their original
freshness; they are to be seen in the Gîzeh Museum just as they were
when they left the hands of the workman. Eâhotpû was the son of a king,
perhaps of Snofrûi: but in spite of his high origin, I find something
humble and retiring in his physiognomy. Nofrît, on the contrary, has
an imposing appearance: an indescribable air of resolution and command
invests her whole person, and the sculptor has cleverly given expression
to it. She is represented in a robe with a pointed opening in the front:
the shoulders, the bosom, the waist, and hips, are shown under the
material of the dress with a purity and delicate grace which one does
not always find in more modern works of art. The wig, secured on the
forehead by a richly embroidered band, frames with its somewhat heavy
masses the firm and rather plump face: the eyes are living, the nostrils
breathe, the mouth smiles and is about to speak. The art of Egypt has at
times been as fully inspired; it has never been more so than on the day
in which it produced the statue of Nofrît.

The worship of Snofrûi was perpetuated from century to century.
After the fall of the Memphite empire it passed through periods of
intermittence, during which it ceased to be observed, or was observed
only in an irregular way; it reappeared under the Ptolemies for the last
time before becoming extinct for ever. Snofrûi was probably, therefore,
one of the most popular kings of the good old times; but his fame,
however great it may have been among the Egyptians, has been eclipsed in
our eyes by that of the Pharaohs who immediately followed him--Kheops,
Khephren, and Mykerinos. Not that we are really better acquainted with
their history. All we know of them is made up of two or three series
of facts, always the same, which the contemporaneous monuments teach us
concerning these rulers. Khnûmû-Khûfûi,* abbreviated into Khûfûi, the
Kheops** of the Greeks, was probably the son of Snofrûi.***

     * The existence of the two cartouches Khûfûi and Khnûmû-
     Khûfûi on the same monuments has caused much embarrassment
     to Egyptologists: the majority have been inclined to see
     here two different kings, the second of whom, according to
     M. Robiou, would have been the person who bore the pre-nomen
     of Dadûfri. Khnûmû-Khûfûi signifies “the god Khnûmû protects

     ** Kheops is the usual form, borrowed from the account of
     Herodotus; Diodorus writes Khembes or Khemmes, Eratosthenes
     Saôphis, and Manetho Souphis.

     *** The story in the “Westcar” papyrus speaks of Snofrûi as
     father of Khûfûi; but this is a title of honour, and proves
     nothing. The few records which we have of this period give
     one, however, the impression that Kheops was the son of
     Snofrûi, and, in spite of the hesitation of de Rougé, this
     affiliation is adopted by the majority of modern historians.

[175.jpg alabaster statue of kheops]

     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Émil Brugsch-Bey.

He reigned twenty-three years, and successfully defended the mines of
the Sinaitic peninsula against the Bedouin; he may still be seen on the
face of the rocks in the Wady Maghara sacrificing his Asiatic prisoners,
now before the jackal Anubis, now before the ibis-headed Thot. The gods
reaped advantage from his activity and riches; he restored the temple
of Hâ-thor at Den-dera, embellished that of Bubastis, built a stone
sanctuary to the Isis of the Sphinx, and consecrated there gold, silver,
bronze, and wooden statues of Horus, Nephthys, Selkît, Phtah, Sokhît,
Osiris, Thot, and Hâpis. Scores of other Pharaohs had done as much or
more, on whom no one bestowed a thought a century after their death, and
Kheops would have succumbed to the same indifference had he not forcibly
attracted the continuous attention of posterity by the immensity of his

     * All the details relating to the Isis of the Sphinx are
     furnished by a stele of the daughter of Kheops, discovered
     in the little temple of the XXIst dynasty, situated to the
     west of the Great Pyramid, and preserved in the Gîzeh
     Museum. It was not a work entirely of the XXIst dynasty, as
     Mr. Petrie asserts, but the inscription, barely readable,
     engraved on the face of the plinth, indicates that it was
     remade by a king of the Saïte period, perhaps by Sabaco, in
     order to replace an ancient stele of the same import which
     had fallen into decay.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph published in the
     _Ordnance Survey, Photographs_, vol. iii. pl. 5. On the left
     stands the Pharaoh, and knocks down a Monîti before the
     Ibis-headed Thot; upon the right the picture is destroyed,
     and we see the royal titles only, without figures. The
     statue bears no cartouche, and considerations purely
     artistic cause me to attribute it to Kheops: it may equally
     well represent Dadûfrî, the successor of Kheops, or
     Shopsiskaf, who followed Mykerinos.

[Illustration: 176b.jpg PROFILE OF HEAD OF A MUMMY, (A MAN) THEBES]

[Illustration: 177.jpg PYRAMIDS OF GIZEH]

The Egyptians of the Theban period were compelled to form their opinions
of the Pharaohs of the Memphite dynasties in the same way as we do, less
by the positive evidence of their acts than by the size and number
of their monuments: they measured the magnificence of Kheops by the
dimensions of his pyramid, and all nations having followed this example,
Kheops has continued to be one of the three or four names of former
times which sound familiar to our ears. The hills of Gîzeh in his time
terminated in a bare wind-swept table-land. A few solitary mastabas were
scattered here and there on its surface, similar to those whose ruins
still crown the hill of Dahshur.* The Sphinx, buried even in ancient
times to its shoulders, raised its head half-way down the eastern slope,
at its southern angle;** beside him*** the temple of Osiris, lord of the
Necropolis, was fast disappearing under the sand; and still further back
old abandoned tombs honey-combed the rock.****

     * No one has noticed, I believe, that several of the
     mastabas constructed under Kheops, around the pyramid,
     contain in the masonry fragments of stone belonging to some
     more ancient structures. Those which I saw bore carvings of
     the same style as those on the beautiful mastabas of

     ** The stele of the Sphinx bears, on line 13, the cartouche
     of Khephren in the middle of a blank. We have here, I
     believe, an indication of the clearing of the Sphinx
     effected under this prince, consequently an almost certain
     proof that the Sphinx was already buried in sand in the time
     of Kheops and his predecessors.

     *** Mariette identifies the temple which he discovered to
     the south of the Sphinx with that of Osiris, lord of the
     Necropolis, which is mentioned in the inscription of the
     daughter of Kheops. This temple is so placed that it must
     have been sanded up at the same time as the Sphinx; I
     believe, therefore, that the restoration effected by Kheops,
     according to the inscription, was merely a clearing away of
     the sand from the Sphinx analogous to that accomplished by

     **** These sepulchral chambers are not decorated in the
     majority of instances. The careful scrutiny to which I
     subjected them in 1885-86 causes me to believe that many of
     them must be almost contemporaneous with the Sphinx; that is
     to say, that they had been hollowed out and occupied a
     considerable time before the period of the IVth dynasty.

Kheops chose a site for his Pyramid on the northern edge of the plateau,
whence a view of the city of the White Wall, and at the same time of the
holy city of Heliopolis, could be obtained.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Émil Brugsch-Bey. The
     temple of the Sphinx is in the foreground, covered with sand
     up to the top of the walls. The second of the little
     pyramids below the large one is that whose construction is
     attributed to Honîtsonû, the daughter of Kheops, and with
     regard to which the dragomans of the Saite period told such
     strange stories to Herodotus.

A small mound which commanded this prospect was roughly squared, and
incorporated into the masonry; the rest of the site was levelled to
receive the first course of stones. The pyramid when completed had a
height of 476 feet on a base 764 feet square; but the decaying influence
of time has reduced these dimensions to 450 and 730 feet respectively.
It possessed, up to the Arab conquest, its polished facing, coloured
by age, and so subtily jointed that one would have said that it was a
single slab from top to bottom.* The work of facing the pyramid began
at the top; that of the point was first placed in position, then the
courses were successively covered until the bottom was reached.**

     * The blocks which still exist are of white limestone.
     Letronne, after having asserted in his youth (Recherches sur
     Dicuil, p. 107), on the authority of a fragment attributed
     to Philo of Byzantium, that the facing was formed of
     polychromatic zones of granite, of green breccia and other
     different kinds of stone, renounced this view owing to the
     evidence of Vyse. Perrot and Chipiez have revived it, with
     some hesitation.

     ** Herodotus, ii. 125, the word “point” should not be taken
     literally. The Great Pyramid terminated, like its neighbour,
     in a platform, of which each side measured nine English feet
     (six cubits, according to Diodorus Siculus, i. 63), and
     which has become larger in the process of time, especially
     since the destruction of the facing. The summit viewed from
     below must have appeared as a sharp point. “Having regard
     to the size of the monument, a platform of three metres
     square would have been a more pointed extremity than that
     which terminates the obelisks” (Letronne).

In the interior every device had been employed to conceal the exact
position of the sarcophagus, and to discourage the excavators whom
chance or persistent search might have put upon the right track. Their
first difficulty would be to discover the entrance under the limestone
casing. It lay hidden almost in the middle of the northern face, on
the level of the eighteenth course, at about forty-five feet above the
ground. A movable flagstone, working on a stone pivot, disguised it so
effectively that no one except the priests and custodians could have
distinguished this stone from its neighbours. When it was tilted up, a
yawning passage was revealed,* three and a half feet in height, with a
breadth of four feet.

     * Strabo expressly states that in his time the subterranean
     parts of the Great Pyramid were accessible: “It has on its
     side, at a moderate elevation, a stone which can be moved,
     [--Greek phrase--]”. “When it has been lifted up, a tortuous
     passage is seen which leads to the tomb.” The meaning of
     Strabo’s statement had not been mastered until Mr. Petrie
     showed, what we may still see, at the entrance of one of the
     pyramids of Dahshur, arrangements which bore witness to the
     existence of a movable stone mounted on a pivot to serve as
     a door. It was a method of closing of the same kind as that
     described by Strabo, perhaps after he had seen it himself,
     or had heard of it from the guides, and like that which Mr.
     Petrie had reinstated, with much probability, at the
     entrance of the Great Pyramid.

[Illustration: 181a.jpg THE MOVABLE FLAGSTONE AT THE entrance to the
great pyramid]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Petrie’s The Pyramids and
     Temples of Gîzeh, pl. xi.

The passage is an inclined plane, extending partly through the masonry
and partly through the solid rock for a distance of 318 feet; it passes
through an unfinished chamber and ends in a _cul-de-sac_ 59 feet
further on. The blocks are so nicely adjusted, and the surface so finely
polished, that the joints can be determined only with difficulty. The
corridor which leads to the sepulchral chamber meets the roof at an
angle of 120° to the descending passage, and at a distance of 62 feet
from the entrance. It ascends for 108 feet to a wide landing-place,
where it divides into two branches. One of these penetrates straight
towards the centre, and terminates in a granite chamber with a
high-pitched roof. This is called, but without reason, the “Chamber
of the Queen.” The other passage continues to ascend, but its form and
appearance are altered. It now becomes a gallery 148 feet long and some
28 feet high, constructed of beautiful Mokattam stone. The lower courses
are placed perpendicularly one on the top of the other; each of the
upper courses projects above the one beneath, and the last two, which
support the ceiling, are only about 1 foot 8 inches distant from each
other. The small horizontal passage which separates the upper landing
from the sarcophagus chamber itself, presents features imperfectly
explained. It is intersected almost in the middle by a kind of depressed
hall, whose walls are channelled at equal intervals on each side by four
longitudinal grooves. The first of these still supports a fine flagstone
of granite which seems to hang 3 feet 7 inches above the ground, and the
three others were probably intended to receive similar slabs. The latter
is a kind of rectangular granite box, with a flat roof, 19 feet 10
inches high, 1 foot 5 inches deep, and 17 feet broad. No figures or
hieroglyphs are to be seen, but merely a mutilated granite sarcophagus
without a cover. Such were the precautions taken against man: the result
witnessed to their efficacy, for the pyramid preserved its contents
intact for more than four thousand years.* But a more serious danger
threatened them in the great weight of the materials above. In order
to prevent the vault from being crushed under the burden of the hundred
metres of limestone which surmounted it, they arranged above it five
low chambers placed exactly one above the other in order to relieve the
superincumbent stress. The highest of these was protected by a pointed
roof consisting of enormous blocks made to lean against each other at
the top: this ingenious device served to transfer the perpendicular
thrust almost entirely to the lateral faces of the blocks. Although an
earthquake has to some extent dislocated the mass of masonry, not one
of the stones which encase the chamber of the king has been crushed,
not one has yielded by a hair’s-breadth, since the day when the workmen
fixed it in its place.

     * Professor Petrie thinks that the pyramids of Gîzeh were
     rifled, and the mummies which they contained destroyed
     during the long civil wars which raged in the interval
     between the VIth and XIIth dynasties. If this be true, it
     will be necessary to admit that the kings of one of the
     subsequent dynasties must have restored what had been
     damaged, for the workmen of the Caliph Al-Mamoun brought
     from the sepulchral chamber of the “Horizon” “a stone
     trough, in which lay a stone statue in human form, enclosing
     a man who had on his breast a golden pectoral, adorned with
     precious stones, and a sword of inestimable value, and on
     his head a carbuncle of the size of an egg, brilliant as the
     sun, having characters which no man can read.” All the Arab
     authors, whose accounts have been collected by Jomard,
     relate in general the same story; one can easily recognize
     from this description the sarcophagus still in its place, a
     stone case in human shape, and the mummy of Kheops loaded
     with jewels and arms, like the body of Queen Âhhotpû I.

[Illustration: 181b.jpg the interior of the great pyramid]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from pl. ix., Petrie, The Pyramids
     and Temples of Gîzeh. A is the descending passage, B the
     unfinished chamber, and C the horizontal passage pierced in
     the rock. D is the narrow passage which provides a
     communication between chamber B and the landing where the
     roads divide, and with the passage FG leading to the
     “Chamber of the Queen.” E is the ascending passage, H the
     high gallery, I and J the chamber of barriers, K the
     sepulchral vault, L indicates the chambers for relieving the
     stress; finally, a, are vents which served for the
     aeration of the chambers during construction, and through
     which libations were introduced on certain feast-days in
     honour of Kheops. The draughtsman has endeavoured to render,
     by lines of unequal thickness, the varying height of the
     courses of masonry; the facing, which is now wanting, has
     been reinstated, and the broken line behind it indicates the
     visible ending of the courses which now form the northern
     face of the pyramid.

[Illustration: 183.jpg The ascending passage OF THE great pyramid]

     Facsimile by Boudier of a drawing published in the
     _Description de l’Egypte, Ant._, vol. v. pl. xiii. 2.

Four barriers in all were thus interposed between the external world and
the vault.*

     * This appears to me to follow from the analogous
     arrangements which I met with in the pyramid of Saqqâra. Mr.
     Petrie refuses to recognize here a barrier chamber (cf. the
     notes which he has appended to the English translation of my
     _Archéologie égyptienne_, p. 327, note 27,) but he confesses
     that the arrangement of the grooves and of the flagstone is
     still an enigma to him. Perhaps only one of the four
     intended barriers was inserted in its place--that which
     still remains.

The Great Pyramid was called Khûît, the “Horizon” in which Khûfûî had to
be swallowed up, as his father the Sun was engulfed every evening in
the horizon of the west. It contained only the chambers of the deceased,
without a word of inscription, and we should not know to whom it
belonged, if the masons, during its construction, had not daubed here
and there in red paint among their private marks the name of the king,
and the dates of his reign.*

     * The workmen often drew on the stones the cartouches of the
     Pharaoh under whose reign they had been taken from the
     quarry, with the exact date of their extraction; the
     inscribed blocks of the pyramid of Kheops bear, among
     others, a date of the year XVI.

Worship was rendered to this Pharaoh in a temple constructed a little in
front of the eastern side of the pyramid, but of which nothing remains
but a mass of ruins. Pharaoh had no need to wait until he was mummified
before he became a god; religious rites in his honour were established
on his accession; and many of the individuals who made up his court
attached themselves to his double long before his double had become
disembodied. They served him faithfully during their life, to repose
finally in his shadow in the little pyramids and mastabas which
clustered around him. Of Dadûfri, his immediate successor, we can
probably say that he reigned eight years;* but Khephren, the next son
who succeeded to the throne,** erected temples and a gigantic pyramid,
like his father.

     * According to the arrangement proposed by E. de Rougé for
     the fragments of the Turin Canon. E. de Rougé reads the name
     Râ-tot-ef, and proposes to identify it with the Ratoises of
     the lists of Manetho, which the copyists had erroneously put
     out of its proper place. This identification has been
     generally accepted. Analogy compels us to read Dadûfrî, like
     Khâfrî, Menkaurî, in which case the hypothesis of de Rougé
     falls to the ground. The worship of Dadûfrî was renewed
     towards the Saite period, together with that of Kheops and
     Khephren, according to some tradition which connected his
     reign with that of these two kings. On the general scheme of
     the Manethonian history of these times, see Maspero, _Notes
     sur quelques points de Grammaire et d’Histoire dans le
     Recueil de Travaux_, vol. xvii. pp. 122-138.

     ** The Westcar Papyrus considers Khâfri to be the son of
     Khûfû; this falls in with information given us, in this
     respect, by Diodorus Siculus. The form which this historian
     assigns--I do not know on what authority--to the name of the
     king, Khabryies, is nearer the original than the Khephren of

He placed it some 394 feet to the south-west of that of Kheops; and
called it Ûîrû, the Great. It is, however, smaller than its neighbour,
and attains a height of only 443 feet, but at a distance the difference
in height disappears, and many travellers have thus been led to
attribute the same elevation to the two. The facing, of which about
one-fourth exists from the summit downwards, is of nummulite limestone,
compact, hard, and more homogeneous than that of the courses, with
rusty patches here and there due to masses of a reddish lichen, but
grey elsewhere, and with a low polish which, at a distance, reflects the
sun’s rays. Thick walls of unwrought stone enclose the monument on
three sides, and there may be seen behind the west front, in an oblong
enclosure, a row of stone sheds hastily constructed of limestone and
Nile mud.


     Facsimile by Faucher-Gudin of the sketch in Lepsius, Denkm.,
     ii., 1 c.

Here the labourers employed on the works came every evening to huddle
together, and the refuse of their occupation still encumbers the ruins
of their dwellings, potsherds, chips of various kinds of hard stone
which they had been cutting, granite, alabaster, diorite, fragments of
statues broken in the process of sculpture, and blocks of smooth granite
ready for use. The chapel commands a view of the eastern face of the
pyramid, and communicated by a paved causeway with the temple of the
Sphinx, to which it must have borne a striking resemblance.* The plan of
it can be still clearly traced on the ground, and the rubbish cannot
be disturbed without bringing to light portions of statues, vases, and
tables of offerings, some of them covered with hieroglyphs, like the
mace-head of white stone which belonged in its day to Khephren himself.

     * The connection of the temple of the Sphinx with that of
     the second pyramid was discovered in December, 1880, during
     the last diggings of Mariette. I ought to say that the whole
     of that part of the building into which the passage leads
     shows traces of having been hastily executed, and at a time
     long after the construction of the rest of the edifice; it
     is possible that the present condition of the place does not
     date back further than the time of the Antonines, when the
     Sphinx was cleared for the last time in ancient days.

[Illustration: 188.jpg ALABASTER STATUE OF KHEPHREN]

     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-Bey. See
     on p. 199 the carefully executed drawing of the best
     preserved among the diorite statues which the Gîzeh Museum
     now possesses of this Pharaoh.

The internal arrangements of the pyramid are of the simplest character;
they consist of a granite-built passage carefully concealed in the north
face, running at first at an angle of 25°, and then horizontally, until
stopped by a granite barrier at a point which indicates a change of
direction; a second passage, which begins on the outside, at a distance
of some yards in advance of the base of the pyramid, and proceeds, after
passing through an unfinished chamber, to rejoin the first; finally, a
chamber hollowed in the rock, but surmounted by a pointed roof of fine
limestone slabs.

[Illustration: 188b.jpg THE PYRAMID OF KHEPHREN]

The sarcophagus was of granite, and, like that of Kheops, bore neither
the name of a king nor the representation of a god. The cover was fitted
so firmly to the trough that the Arabs could not succeed in detaching
it when they rifled the tomb in the year 1200 of our era; they were,
therefore, compelled to break through one of the sides with a hammer
before they could reach the coffin and take from it the mummy of the

     * The second pyramid was opened to Europeans in 1816 by
     Belzoni. The exact date of the entrance of the Arabs is
     given us by an inscription, written in ink, on one of the
     walls of the sarcophagus chamber: “Mohammed Ahmed Effendi,
     the quarryman, opened it; Othman Effendi was present, as
     well as the King Ali Mohammed, at the beginning and at the
     closing.” The King Ali Mohammed was the son and successor of

Of Khephren’s sons, Menkaûrî (Mykerinos), who was his successor, could
scarcely dream of excelling his father and grandfather;* his pyramid,
the Supreme--Hirû** --barely attained an elevation of 216 feet, and was
exceeded in height by those which were built at a later date.*** Up to
one-fourth of its height it was faced with syenite, and the remainder,
up to the summit, with limestone.****

     * Classical tradition makes Mykerinos the son of Kheops.
     Egyptian tradition regards him as the son of Khephren, and
     with this agrees a passage in the Westcar Papyrus, in which
     a magician prophesies that after Kheops his son (Khâfrî)
     will yet reign, then the son of the latter (Menkaûrî), then
     a prince of another family.

     ** An inscription, unfortunately much mutilated, from the
     tomb of Tabhûni, gives an account of the construction of the
     pyramid, and of the transport of the sarcophagus.

     *** Professor Petrie reckons the exact height of the pyramid
     at 2564 ±15 or 2580 ± 2 inches; that is to say, 214 or 215
     feet in round numbers.

     **** According to Herodotus, the casing of granite extended
     to half the height. Diodorus states that it did not go
     beyond the fifteenth course. Professor Petrie discovered
     that there were actually sixteen lower courses in red

For lack of time, doubtless, the dressing of the granite was not
completed, but the limestone received all the polish it was capable of
taking. The enclosing wall was extended to the north so as to meet, and
become one with, that of the second pyramid. The temple was connected
with the plain by a long and almost straight causeway, which ran for
the greater part of its course* upon an embankment raised above the
neighbouring ground. This temple was in fair condition in the early
years of the eighteenth century,** and so much of it as has escaped
the ravages of the Mameluks, bears witness to the scrupulous care and
refined art employed in its construction.

     * This causeway should not be confounded, as is frequently
     done, with that which may be seen at some distance to the
     east in the plain: the latter led to limestone quarries in
     the mountain to the south of the plateau on which the
     pyramids stand. These quarries were worked in very ancient

     ** Benoit de Maillet visited this temple between 1692 and
     1708. “It is almost square in form. There are to be found
     inside four pillars which doubtless supported a vaulted roof
     covering the altar of the idol, and one moved around these
     pillars as in an ambulatory. These stones were cased with
     granitic marble. I found some pieces still unbroken which
     had been attached to the stones with mastic. I believe that
     the exterior as well as the interior of the temple was cased
     with this marble” (Le Mascrier, Description de l’Egypte,
     1735, pp. 223, 224).

[Illustration: 192.jpg DIORITE STATUE OF MENRAÛRÏ]

     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph, by Emil Brugsch-Bey, of
     a statue preserved in the Museum of Gîzeh.

Coming from the plain, we first meet with an immense halting-place
measuring 100 feet by 46 feet, and afterwards enter a large court with
an egress on each side: beyond this we can distinguish the ground-plan
only of five chambers, the central one, which is in continuation with
the hall, terminating at a distance of some 42 feet from the pyramid,
exactly opposite the middle point of the eastern face. The whole mass
of the building covers a rectangular area 184 feet long by a little
over 177 feet broad. Its walls, like those of the temple of the Sphinx,
contained a core of lime-stone 7 feet 10 inches thick, of which the
blocks have been so ingeniously put together as to suggest the idea that
the whole is cut out of the rock. This core was covered with a casing
of granite and alabaster, of which the remains preserve no trace of
hieroglyphs or of wall scenes: the founder had caused his name to be
inscribed on the statues, which received, on his behalf, the offerings,
and also on the northern face of the pyramid, where it was still shown
to the curious towards the first century of our era. The arrangement of
the interior of the pyramid is somewhat complicated, and bears witness
to changes brought unexpectedly about in the course of construction. The
original central mass probably did not exceed 180 feet in breadth at the
base, with a vertical height of 154 feet. It contained a sloping passage
cut into the hill itself, and an oblong low-roofed cell devoid of
ornament. The main bulk of the work had been already completed, and the
casing not yet begun, when it was decided to alter the proportions of
the whole.

[Illustration: 194.jpg THE COFFIN OF MYKERINOS]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin. The coffin is in the British Museum.
     The drawing of it was published by Vyse, by Birch-Lenormant,
     and by Lepsius. Herr Sethe has recently revived an ancient
     hypothesis, according to which it had been reworked in the
     Saite period, and he has added to archaeological
     considerations, up to that time alone brought to bear upon
     the question, new philological facts.

Mykerinos was not, it appears, the eldest son and appointed heir of
Khephren; while still a mere prince he was preparing for himself a
pyramid similar to those which lie near the “Horizon,” when the deaths
of his father and brother called him to the throne. What was sufficient
for him as a child, was no longer suitable for him as a Pharaoh; the
mass of the structure was increased to its present dimensions, and a new
inclined passage was effected in it, at the end of which a hall
panelled with granite gave access to a kind of antechamber.* The latter
communicated by a horizontal corridor with the first vault, which was
deepened for the occasion; the old entrance, now no longer of use, was
roughly filled up.**

     * Vyse discovered here fragments of a granite sarcophagus,
     perhaps that of the queen; the legends which Herodotus (ii.
     134, 135), and several Greek authors after him, tell
     concerning this, show clearly that an ancient tradition
     assumed the existence of a female mummy in the third pyramid
     alongside of that of the founder Mykerinos.

     ** Vyse has noticed, in regard to the details of the
     structure, that the passage now filled up is the only one
     driven from the outside to the interior; all the others were
     made from the inside to the outside, and consequently at a
     period when this passage, being the only means of
     penetrating into the interior of the monument, had not yet
     received its present dimensions.

Mykerinos did not find his last resting-place in this upper level of the
interior of the pyramid: a narrow passage, hidden behind the slabbing
of the second chamber, descended into a secret crypt, lined with granite
and covered with a barrel-vaulted roof. The sarcophagus was a single
block of blue-black basalt, polished, and carved into the form of a
house, with a façade having three doors and three openings in the form
of windows, the whole framed in a rounded moulding and surmounted by a
projecting cornice such as we are accustomed to see on the temples.*

     * It was lost off the coast of Spain in the vessel which was
     bringing it to England. We have only the drawing remaining
     which was made at the time of its discovery, and published
     by Vyse. M. Borchardt has attempted to show that it was
     reworked under the XXVIth Saite dynasty as well as the
     wooden coffin of the king.

The mummy-case of cedar-wood had a man’s head, and was shaped to
the form of the human body; it was neither painted nor gilt, but an
inscription in two columns, cut on its front, contained the name of the
Pharaoh, and a prayer on his behalf: “Osiris, King of the two Egypts,
Menkaûrî, living eternally, given birth to by heaven, conceived by Nûît,
flesh of Sibii, thy mother Nûît has spread herself out over thee in
her name of ‘Mystery of the Heavens,’ and she has granted that thou
shouldest be a god, and that thou shouldest repulse thine enemies, O
King of the two Egypts, Menkaûrî, living eternally.” The Arabs opened
the mummy to see if it contained any precious jewels, but found within
it only some leaves of gold, probably a mask or a pectoral covered
with hieroglyphs. When Vyse reopened the vault in 1837, the bones lay
scattered about in confusion on the dusty floor, mingled with bundles of
dirty rags and wrappings of yellowish woollen cloth.

The worship of the three great pyramid-building kings continued in
Memphis down to the time of the Greeks and Romans. Their statues, in
granite, limestone, and alabaster, were preserved also in the buildings
annexed to the temple of Phtah, where visitors could contemplate these
Pharaohs as they were when alive.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a chromolithograph in Prisse
     D’Avennes, _Histoire de l’Art Égyptien_.

Those of Khephren show us the king at different ages, when young,
mature, or already in his decadence. They are in most cases cut out of
a breccia of green diorite, with long irregular yellowish veins, and of
such hardness that it is difficult to determine the tool with which they
were worked. The Pharaoh sits squarely on his royal throne, his hands on
his lap, his body firm and upright, and his head thrown back with a look
of self-satisfaction. A sparrow-hawk perched on the back of his seat
covers his head with its wings--an image of the god Horus protecting
his son. The modelling of the torso and legs of the largest of these
statues, the dignity of its pose, and the animation of its expression,
make of it a unique work of art which may be compared with the most
perfect products of antiquity. Even if the cartouches which tell us the
name of the king had been hammered away and the insignia of his rank
destroyed, we should still be able to determine the Pharaoh by his
bearing: his whole appearance indicates a man accustomed from his
infancy to feel himself invested with limitless authority. Mykerinos
stands out less impassive and haughty: he does not appear so far removed
from humanity as his predecessor, and the expression of his countenance
agrees, somewhat singularly, with the account of his piety and good
nature preserved by the legends. The Egyptians of the Theban dynasties,
when comparing the two great pyramids with the third, imagined that the
disproportion in their size corresponded with a difference of character
between their royal occupants. Accustomed as they were from infancy to
gigantic structures, they did not experience before “the Horizon” and
“the Great” the feeling of wonder and awe which impresses the beholder
of to-day. They were not the less apt on this account to estimate
the amount of labour and effort required to complete them from top to
bottom. This labour seemed to them to surpass the most excessive corvée
which a just ruler had a right to impose upon his subjects, and the
reputation of Kheops and Khephren suffered much in consequence. They
were accused of sacrilege, of cruelty, and profligacy.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Émil Brugsch-Bey. It
     is one of the most complete statues found by Mariette in the
     temple of the Sphinx.

It was urged against them that they had arrested the whole life of their
people for more than a century for the erection of their tombs.
Kheops began by closing the temples and by prohibiting the offering of
sacrifices: he then compelled all the Egyptians to work for him. To some
he assigned the task of dragging the blocks from the quarries of the
Arabian chain to the Nile: once shipped, the duty was incumbent on
others of transporting them as far as the Libyan chain. A hundred
thousand men worked at a time, and were relieved every three months.*

     * Professor Petrie thinks that this detail rests upon an
     authentic tradition. The inundation, he says, lasts three
     months, during which the mass of the people have nothing to
     do; it was during these three months that Kheops raised the
     100,000 men to work at the transport of the stone. The
     explanation is very ingenious, but it is not supported by
     the text: Herodotus does not relate that 100,000 men were
     called by the corvée for three months every year; but from
     three months to three months, possibly four times a year,
     bodies of 100,000 men relieved each other at the work. The
     figures which he quotes are well-known legendary numbers,
     and we must leave the responsibility for them to the popular
     imagination (Wiedemann, Herodots Zweites Buck, p. 465).

The period of the people’s suffering was divided as follows: ten years
in making the causeway along which the blocks were dragged--a work, in
my opinion, very little less onerous than that of erecting the pyramid,
for its length was five _stadia_, its breadth ten _orgyio_, its greatest
height eight, and it was made of cut stone and covered with figures.*
Ten years, therefore, were consumed in constructing this causeway
and the subterranean chambers hollowed out in the hill.... As for the
pyramid itself, twenty years were employed in the making of it.... There
are recorded on it, in Egyptian characters, the value of the sums paid
in turnips, onions, and garlic, for the labourers attached to the works;
if I remember aright, the interpreter who deciphered the inscription
told me that the total amounted to sixteen hundred talents of silver.
If this were the case, how much must have been expended for iron to make
tools, and for provisions and clothing for the workmen?**

     * Diodorus Siculus declares that there were no causeways to
     be seen in his time. The remains of one of them appear to
     have been discovered and restored by Vyse.

     ** Herodotus, ii. 124, 125. The inscriptions which were read
     upon the pyramids were the graffiti of visitors, some of
     them carefully executed. The figures which were shown to
     Herodotus represented, according to the dragoman, the value
     of the sums expended for vegetables for the workmen; we
     ought, probably, to regard them as the thousands which, in
     many of the votive temples, served to mark the quantities of
     different things presented to the god, that they might be
     transmitted to the deceased.

The whole resources of the royal treasure were not sufficient for such
necessaries: a tradition represents Kheops as at the end of his means,
and as selling his daughter to any one that offered, in order to procure
money.* Another legend, less disrespectful to the royal dignity and to
paternal authority, assures us that he repented in his old age, and that
he wrote a sacred book much esteemed by the devout.**

     * Herodotus, ii. 126. She had profited by what she received
     to build a pyramid for herself in the neighbourhood of the
     great one--the middle one of the three small pyramids: it
     would appear in fact, that this pyramid contained the mummy
     of a daughter of Kheops, Honîtsonû.

     ** Manetho, Unger’s edition, p. 91. The ascription of a book
     to Kheops, or rather the account of the discovery of a
     “sacred book” under Kheops, is quite in conformity with
     Egyptian ideas. The British Museum possesses two books,
     which were thus discovered under this king; the one, a
     medical treatise, in a temple at Coptos; the other comes
     from Tanis. Among the works on alchemy published by M.
     Berthelot, there are two small treatises ascribed to Sophé,
     possibly Souphis or Kheops: they are of the same kind as the
     book mentioned by Manetho, and which Syncellus says was
     bought in Egypt.

Khephren had imitated, and thus shared with, him, the hatred of
posterity. The Egyptians avoided naming these wretches: their work was
attributed to a shepherd called Philitis, who in ancient times pastured
his flocks in the mountain; and even those who did not refuse to them
the glory of having built the most enormous sepulchres in the world,
related that they had not the satisfaction of reposing in them after
their death. The people, exasperated at the tyranny to which they had
been subject, swore that they would tear the bodies of these Pharaohs
from their tombs, and scatter their fragments to the winds: they had
to be buried in crypts so securely placed that no one has succeeded in
finding them.

Like the two older pyramids, “the Supreme” had its anecdotal history,
in which the Egyptians gave free rein to their imagination. We know
that its plan had been rearranged in the course of building, that it
contained two sepulchral chambers, two sarcophagi, and two mummies:
these modifications, it was said, belonged to two distinct reigns; for
Mykerinos had left his tomb unfinished, and a woman had finished it at
a later date--according to some, Nitokris, the last queen of the VIth
dynasty; according to others, Rhodopis, the Ionian who was the mistress
of Psammetichus I. or of Ainasis.*

     * Zoega had already recognized that the Rhodopis of the
     Greeks was no other than the Nitokris of Manetho, and his
     opinion was adopted and developed by Bunsen. The legend of
     Rhodopis was completed by the additional ascription to the
     ancient Egyptian queen of the character of a courtesan: this
     repugnant trait seems to have been borrowed from the same
     class of legends as that which concerned itself with the
     daughter of Kheops and her pyramid. The narrative thus
     developed was in a similar manner confounded with another
     popular story, in which occurs the episode of the slipper,
     so well known from the tale of Cinderella. Herodotus
     connects Rhodopis with his Amasis, Ælian with King
     Psammetichus of the XXVIth dynasty.

The beauty and richness of the granite casing dazzled all eyes, and
induced many visitors to prefer the least of the pyramids to its two
imposing sisters; its comparatively small size is excused on the ground
that its founder had returned to that moderation and piety which
ought to characterize a good king. “The actions of his father were not
pleasing to him; he reopened the temples and sent the people, reduced
to the extreme of misery, back to their religious observances and their
occupations; finally, he administered justice more equitably than all
other kings. On this head he is praised above those who have at any time
reigned in Egypt: for not only did he administer good justice, but if
any one complained of his decision he gratified him with some present in
order to appease his wrath.” There was one point, however, which excited
the anxiety of many in a country where the mystic virtue of numbers
was an article of faith: in order that the laws of celestial arithmetic
should be observed in the construction of the pyramids, it was necessary
that three of them should be of the same size. The anomaly of a third
pyramid out of proportion to the two others could be explained only on
the hypothesis that Mykerinos, having broken with paternal usage,
had ignorantly infringed a decree of destiny--a deed for which he was
mercilessly punished. He first lost his only daughter; a short time
after he learned from an oracle that he had only six more years to
remain upon the earth. He enclosed the corpse of his child in a hollow
wooden heifer, which he sent to Sais, where it was honoured with divine

     * Herodotus, ii. 129-133. The manner in which Herodotus
     describes the cow which was shown to him in the temple of
     Sais, proves that he was dealing with Nit, in animal form,
     Mihî-ûîrît, the great celestial heifer who had given birth
     to the Sun. How the people could have attached to this
     statue the legend of a daughter of Mykerinos is now
     difficult to understand. The idea of a mummy or a corpse
     shut up in a statue, or in a coffin, was familiar to the
     Egyptians: two of the queens interred at Déir el-Baharî,
     Nofritari Ahhotpû II., were found hidden in the centre of
     immense Osirian figures of wood, covered with stuccoed
     fabric. Egyptian tradition supposed that the bodies of the
     gods rested upon the earth. The cow Mîhî-ûîrît might,
     therefore, be bodily enclosed in a sarcophagus in the form
     of a heifer, just as the mummified gazelle of Déîr el-Baharî
     is enclosed in a sarcophagus of gazelle form; it is even
     possible that the statue shown to Herodotus really contained
     what was thought to be a mummy of the goddess.

“He then communicated his reproaches to the god, complaining that his
father and his uncle, after having closed the temples, forgotten the
gods and oppressed mankind, had enjoyed a long life, while he, devout as
he was, was so soon about to perish. The oracle answered that it was for
this very reason that his days were shortened, for he had not done that
which he ought to have done. Egypt had to suffer for a hundred and fifty
years, and the two kings his predecessors had known this, while he had
not. On receiving this answer, Mykerinos, feeling himself condemned,
manufactured a number of lamps, lit them every evening at dusk, began to
drink and to lead a life of jollity, without ceasing for a moment night
and day, wandering by the lakes and in the woods wherever he thought to
find an occasion of pleasure. He had planned this in order to convince
the oracle of having spoken falsely, and to live twelve years, the
nights counting as so many days.” Legend places after him Asychis or
Sasychis, a later builder of pyramids, but of a different kind. The
latter preferred brick as a building material, except in one place,
where he introduced a stone bearing the following inscription: “Do not
despise me on account of the stone pyramids: I surpass them as much as
Zeus the other gods. Because, a pole being plunged into a lake and the
clay which stuck to it being collected, the brick out of which I was
constructed was moulded from it.” The virtues of Asychis and Mykerinos
helped to counteract the bad impression which Kheops and Khephren had
left behind them. Among the five legislators of Egypt Asychis stood out
as one of the best. He regulated, to minute details, the ceremonies of
worship. He invented geometry and the art of observing the heavens.*

     * Diodorus, i. 94. It seems probable that Diodorus had
     received knowledge from some Alexandrian writer, now lost,
     of traditions concerning the legislative acts of Shashanqû
     I. of the XXIInd dynasty; but the name of the king, commonly
     written Sesonkhis, had been corrupted by the dragoman into

He put forth a law on lending, in which he authorized the borrower to
pledge in forfeit the mummy of his father, while the creditor had the
right of treating as his own the tomb of the debtor: so that if the
debt was not met, the latter could not obtain a last resting-place for
himself or his family either in his paternal or any other tomb.

History knows nothing either of this judicious sovereign or of many
other Pharaohs of the same type, which the dragomans of the Greek period
assiduously enforced upon the respectful attention of travellers. It
merely affirms that the example given by Kheops, Khephren, and Mykerinos
were by no means lost in later times. From the beginning of the IVth
to the end of the XIVth dynasty--during more than fifteen hundred
years--the construction of pyramids was a common State affair, provided
for by the administration, secured by special services. Not only did
the Pharaohs build them for themselves, but the princes and princesses
belonging to the family of the Pharaohs constructed theirs, each one
according to his resources; three of these secondary mausoleums are
ranged opposite the eastern side of “the Horizon,” three opposite the
southern face of “the Supreme,” and everywhere else--near Abousir, at
Saqqâra, at Dahshur or in the Fayûm--the majority of the royal pyramids
attracted around them a more or less numerous cortège of pyramids of
princely foundation often debased in shape and faulty in proportion. The
materials for them were brought from the Arabian chain. A spur of the
latter, projecting in a straight line towards the Nile, as far as
the village of Troiû, is nothing but a mass of the finest and whitest
limestone. The Egyptians had quarries here from the earliest times. By
cutting off the stone in every direction, they lowered the point of this
spur for a depth of some hundreds of metres. The appearance of these
quarries is almost as astonishing as that of the monuments made out of
their material. The extraction of the stone was carried on with a skill
and regularity which denoted ages of experience. The tunnels were so
made as to exhaust the finest and whitest seams without waste, and the
chambers were of an enormous extent; the walls were dressed, the pillars
and roofs neatly finished, the passages and doorways made of a regular
width, so that the whole presented more the appearance of a subterranean
temple than of a place for the extraction of building materials.*

     * The description of the quarries of Turah, as they were at
     the beginning of the century, was somewhat briefly given by
     Jomard, afterwards more completely by Perring. During the
     last thirty years the Cairo masons have destroyed the
     greater part of the ancient remains formerly existing in
     this district, and have completely changed the appearance of
     the place.

Hastily written graffiti, in red and black ink, preserve the names of
workmen, overseers, and engineers, who had laboured here at certain
dates, calculations of pay or rations, diagrams of interesting details,
as well as capitals and shafts of columns, which were shaped out on the
spot to reduce their weight for transport. Here and there true official
stelas are to be found set apart in a suitable place, recording that
after a long interruption such or such an illustrious sovereign had
resumed the excavations, and opened fresh chambers. Alabaster was met
with not far from here in the Wady Gerrauî. The Pharaohs of very early
times established a regular colony here, in the very middle of the
desert, to cut the material into small blocks for transport: a strongly
built dam, thrown across the valley, served to store up the winter and
spring rains, and formed a pond whence the workers could always supply
themselves with water. Kheops and his successors drew their alabaster
from Hâtnûbû, in the neighbourhood of Hermopolis, their granite from
Syene, their diorite and other hard rocks, the favourite material for
their sarcophagi, from the volcanic valleys which separate the Nile from
the Red Sea--especially from the Wady Hammamât. As these were the only
materials of which the quantity required could not be determined in
advance, and which had to be brought from a distance, every king was
accustomed to send the principal persons of his court to the quarries
of Upper Egypt, and the rapidity with which they brought back the stone
constituted a high claim on the favour of their master. If the building
was to be of brick, the bricks were made on the spot, in the plain
at the foot of the hills. If it was to be a limestone structure, the
neighbouring parts of the plateau furnished the rough material in
abundance. For the construction of chambers and for casing walls, the
rose granite of Elephantine and the limestone of Troiu were commonly
employed, but they were spared the labour of procuring these specially
for the occasion. The city of the White Wall had always at hand a supply
of them in its stores, and they might be drawn upon freely for public
buildings, and consequently for the royal tomb. The blocks chosen from
this reserve, and conveyed in boats close under the mountain-side, were
drawn up slightly inclined causeways by oxen to the place selected by
the architect.

The internal arrangements, the length of the passages and the height
of the pyramids, varied much: the least of them had a height of some
thirty-three feet merely. As it is difficult to determine the motives
which influenced the Pharaohs in building them of different sizes, some
writers have thought that the mass of each increased in proportion to
the time bestowed upon its construction--that is to say, to the length
of each reign. As soon as a prince mounted the throne, he would probably
begin by roughly sketching out a pyramid sufficiently capacious to
contain the essential elements of the tomb; he would then, from year to
year, have added fresh layers to the original nucleus, until the day of
his death put an end for ever to the growth of the monument.*

     * This was the theory formulated by Lepsius, after the
     researches made by himself, and the work done by Erbkam, and
     the majority of Egyptologists adopted it, and still maintain
     it. It was vigorously attacked by Perrot-Chipiez and by
     Petrie; it was afterwards revived, with amendments, by
     Borchardt whose conclusions have been accepted by Ed. Meyer.
     The examinations which I have had the opportunity of
     bestowing on the pyramids of Saqqâra, Abusir, Dahshur,
     Rîgah, and Lisht have shown me that the theory is not
     applicable to any of these monuments.

This hypothesis is not borne out by facts: such a small pyramid as that
of Saqqâra belonged to a Pharaoh who reigned thirty years, while
“the Horizon” of Gîzeh is the work of Kheops, whose rule lasted only
twenty-three years.

[Illustration: 208.jpg MAP OLEANDER LOWER]

The plan of each pyramid was arranged once for all by the architect,
according to the instructions he had received, and the resources at his
command. Once set on foot, the work was continued until its completion,
without addition or diminution, unless something unforeseen occurred.
The pyramids, like the mastabas, ought to present their faces to the
four cardinal points; but owing to unskilfulness or negligence, the
majority of them are not very accurately orientated, and several of them
vary sensibly from the true north. The great pyramid of Saqqâra does not
describe a perfect square at its base, but is an oblong rectangle, with
its longest sides east and west; it is stepped--that is to say, the six
sloping sided cubes of which it is composed are placed upon one another
so as to form a series of treads and risers, the former being about two
yards wide and the latter of unequal heights. The highest of the stone
pyramids of Dahshur makes at its lower part an angle of 54° 41’ with the
horizon, but at half its height the angle becomes suddenly more acute
and is reduced to 42° 59’. It reminds one of a mastaba with a sort of
huge attic on the top. Each of these monuments had its enclosing wall,
its chapel and its college of priests, who performed there for ages
sacred rites in honour of the deceased prince, while its property in
mortmain was administered by the chief of the “priests of the double.”
 Each one received a name, such as “the Fresh,” “the Beautiful,” “the
Divine in its places,” which conferred upon it a personality and, as it
were, a living soul. These pyramids formed to the west of the White Wall
a long serrated line whose extremities were lost towards the south and
north in the distant horizon: Pharaoh could see them from the terraces
of his palace, from the gardens of his villa, and from every point in
the plain in which he might reside between Heliopolis and Mêdûm--as a
constant reminder of the lot which awaited him in spite of his divine
origin. The people, awed and inspired by the number of them, and by the
variety of their form and appearance, were accustomed to tell stories
of them to one another, in which the supernatural played a predominant
part. They were able to estimate within a few ounces the heaps of gold
and silver, the jewels and precious stones, which adorned the royal
mummies or rilled the sepulchral chambers: they were acquainted with
every precaution taken by the architects to ensure the safety of all
these riches from robbers, and were convinced that magic had added to
such safeguards the more effective protection of talismans and genii.
There was no pyramid so insignificant that it had not its mysterious
protectors, associated with some amulet--in most cases with a statue,
animated by the double of the founder. The Arabs of to-day are still
well acquainted with these protectors, and possess a traditional respect
for them. The great pyramid concealed a black and white image, seated
on a throne and invested with the kingly sceptre. He who looked upon the
statue “heard a terrible noise proceeding from it which almost caused
his heart to stop beating, and he who had heard this noise would die.”
 An image of rose-coloured granite watched over the pyramid of Khephren,
standing upright, a sceptre in its hand and the urous on its brow,
“which serpent threw himself upon him who approached it, coiled
itself around his neck, and killed him.” A sorcerer had invested these
protectors of the ancient Pharaohs with their powers, but another
equally potent magician could elude their vigilance, paralyze their
energies, if not for ever, at least for a sufficient length of time
to ferret out the treasure and rifle the mummy. The cupidity of the
fellahîn, highly inflamed by the stories which they were accustomed to
hear, gained the mastery over their terror, and emboldened them to risk
their lives in these well-guarded tombs. How many pyramids had been
already rifled at the beginning of the second Theban empire!

The IVth dynasty became extinct in the person of Shop-siskaf, the
successor and probably the son of Mykerinos.* The learned of the time of
Ramses II. regarded the family which replaced this dynasty as merely
a secondary branch of the line of Snofrûi, raised to power by the
capricious laws which settled hereditary questions.**

     * The series of kings beginning with Mykerinos was drawn up
     for the first time in an accurate manner by E. de Rougé,
     _recherches sur les Monu-mails qu’on peut attribuer aux six
     premières dynasties_, pp. 66-84, M. de Rouge’s results have
     been since adopted by all Egyptologists. The table of the
     IVTH dynasty, restored as far as possible with the
     approximate dates, is subjoined:--

[Illustration: 211.jpg TABLE OF THE IVTH DYNASTY]

     ** The fragments of the royal Turin Papyrus exhibit, in
     fact, no separation between the kings which Manetho
     attributes to the IVth dynasty and those which he ascribes
     to the Vth, which seems to show that the Egyptian annalist
     considered them all as belonging to one and the same family
     of Pharaohs.

Nothing on the contemporary monuments, it is true, gives indication of a
violent change attended by civil war, or resulting from a revolution at
court: the construction and decoration of the tombs continued without
interruption and without indication of haste, the sons-in-law of
Shopsiskaf and of Mykerinos, their daughters and grandchildren, possess
under the new kings, the same favour, the same property, the same
privileges, which they had enjoyed previously. It was stated, however,
in the time of the Ptolemies, that the Vth dynasty had no connection
with the IVth; it was regarded at Memphis as an intruder, and it was
asserted that it came from Elephantine.* The tradition was a very old
one, and its influence is betrayed in a popular story, which was current
at Thebes in the first years of the New Empire. Kheops, while in search
of the mysterious books of Thot in order to transcribe from them the
text for his sepulchral chamber,** had asked the magician Didi to be
good enough to procure them for him; but the latter refused the perilous
task imposed upon him.

     * Such is the tradition accepted by Manetho. Lepsius thinks
     that the copyists of Manetho were under some distracting
     influence, which made them transfer the record of the origin
     of the VIth dynasty to the Vth: it must have been the VIth
     dynasty which took its origin from Elephantine. I think the
     safest plan is to respect the text of Manetho until we know
     more, and to admit that he knew of a tradition ascribing the
     origin of the Vth dynasty to Elephantine.

     ** The Great Pyramid is mute, but we find in other pyramids
     inscriptions of some hundreds of lines. The author of the
     story, who knew how much certain kings of the VIth dynasty
     had laboured to have extracts of the sacred books engraved
     within their tombs, fancied, no doubt, that his Kheops had
     done the like, but had not succeeded in procuring the texts
     in question, probably on account of the impiety ascribed to
     him by the legends. It was one of the methods of explaining
     the absence of any religious or funereal inscription in the
     Great Pyramid.

“‘Sire, my lord, it is not I who shall bring them to thee.’ His Majesty
asks: ‘Who, then, will bring them to me?’ Didi replies, ‘It is the
eldest of the three children who are in the womb of Rudîtdidît who will
bring them to thee.’ His Majesty says: ‘By the love of Râ! what is this
that thou tellest me; and who is she, this Rudîtdidît?’ Didi says to
him: ‘She is the wife of a priest of Râ, lord of Sakhîbû. She carries in
her womb three children of Râ, lord of Sakhîbû, and the god has promised
to her that they shall fulfil this beneficent office in this whole
earth,* and that the eldest shall be the high priest at Heliopolis.” His
Majesty, his heart was troubled at it, but Didi says to him: “‘What are
these thoughts, sire, my lord? Is it because of these three children?
Then I say to thee: ‘Thy son, his son, then one of these.’”** The good
King Kheops doubtless tried to lay his hands upon this threatening trio
at the moment of their birth; but Râ had anticipated this, and saved his
offspring. When the time for their birth drew near, the Majesty of Râ,
lord of Sakhîbû, gave orders to Isis, Nephthys, Maskhonît, Hiquît,***
and Khnûmû: “Come, make haste and run to deliver Budîtdidît of these
three children which she carries in her womb to fulfil that beneficent
office in this whole earth, and they will build you temples, they will
furnish your altars with offerings, they will supply your tables with
libations, and they will increase your mortmain possessions.”

     * This kind of circumlocution is employed on several
     occasions in the old texts to designate royalty. It was
     contrary to etiquette to mention directly, in common speech,
     the Pharaoh, or anything belonging to his functions or his
     family. Cf. pp. 28, 29 of this History.

     ** This phrase is couched in oracular form, as befitting the
     reply of a magician. It appears to have been intended to
     reassure the king in affirming that the advent of the three
     sons of Râ would not be immediate: his son, then a son of
     this son, would succeed him before destiny would be
     accomplished, and one of these divine children succeed to
     the throne in his turn. The author of the story took no
     notice of Dadufrî or Shopsiskaf, of whose reigns little was
     known in his time.

     *** Hiquît as the frog-goddess, or with a frog’s head, was
     one of the mid-wives who is present at the birth of the sun
     every morning. Her presence is, therefore, natural in the
     case of the spouse about to give birth to royal sons of the

The goddesses disguised themselves as dancers and itinerant musicians:
Khnûmû assumed the character of servant to this band of nautch-girls and
filled the bag with provisions, and they all then proceeded together
to knock at the door of the house in which Budîtdidît was awaiting her
delivery. The earthly husband Baûsîr, unconscious of the honour that the
gods had in store for him, introduced them to the presence of his wife,
and immediately three male children were brought into the world one
after the other. Isis named them, Maskhonît predicted for them their
royal fortune, while Khnûmû. infused into their limbs vigour and health;
the eldest was called Ûsirkaf, the second Sahûrî, the third Kakiû.
Kaûsîr was anxious to discharge his obligation to these unknown persons,
and proposed to do so in wheat, as if they were ordinary mortals: they
had accepted it without compunction, and were already on their way to
the firmament, when Isis recalled them to a sense of their dignity, and
commanded them to store the honorarium bestowed upon them in one of
the chambers of the house, where henceforth prodigies of the strangest
character never ceased to manifest themselves. Every time one entered
the place a murmur was heard of singing, music, and dancing, while
acclamations such as those with which kings are wont to be received gave
sure presage of the destiny which awaited the newly born. The manuscript
is mutilated, and we do not know how the prediction was fulfilled. If we
may trust the romance, the three first princes of the Vth dynasty were
brothers, and of priestly descent, but our experience of similar stories
does not encourage us to take this one very seriously: did not such
tales affirm that Kheops and Khephren were brothers also?

The Vth dynasty manifested itself in every respect as the sequel and
complement of the IVth.* It reckons nine Pharaohs after the three which
tradition made sons of the god Râ himself and of Rudîtdidîfc. They
reigned for a century and a half; the majority of them have left
monuments, and the last four, at least, Ûsirnirî Ânû, Menkaû-horû,
Dadkerî Assi, and Unas, appear to have ruled gloriously. They all built
pyramids,** they repaired temples and founded cities.***

     * A list is appended of the known Pharaohs of the Vth
     dynasty, restored as far as can be, with the closest
     approximate dates of their reigns:--


     ** It is pretty generally admitted, but without convincing
     proofs, that the pyramids of Abûsîr served as tombs for the
     Pharaohs in the Vth dynasty, one for Sahûrî, another to
     Ûsirnirî Anû, although Wiedemann considers that the
     truncated pyramid of Dahshur was the tomb of this king. I am
     inclined to think that one of the pyramids of Saqqâra was
     constructed by Assi; the pyramid of Unas was opened in 1881,
     and the results made known by Maspero, _Études de Mythologie
     et d’Archéologie_, vol. i. p. 150, et seq., and _Recueil de
     Travaux_, vols. iv. and v. The names of the majority of the
     pyramids are known to us from the monuments: that of Ûsirkaf
     was called “Ûâbisîtu”; that of Sahûrî, “Khâbi”; that of
     Nofiririkerî, “Bi”; that of Anû, “Min-isûîtû”; that of
     Menkaûhorû, “Nûtirisûîtû”; that of Assi, “Nutir”; that of
     Unas, “Nofir-isûîtû.”

     *** Pa Sahûrî, near Esneh, for instance, was built by
     Sahûrî. The modern name of the village of Sahoura still
     preserves, on the same spot, without the inhabitants
     suspecting it, the name of the ancient Pharaoh.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-Bey.

The Bedouin of the Sinaitic peninsula gave them much to do. Sahûrî
brought these nomads to reason, and perpetuated the memory of his
victories by a stele, engraved on the face of one of the rocks in the
Wady Magharah; Anû obtained some successes over them, and Assi repulsed
them in the fourth year of his reign. On the whole, they maintained
Egypt in the position of prosperity and splendour to which their
predecessors had raised it.

In one respect they even increased it. Egypt was not so far isolated
from the rest of the world as to prevent her inhabitants from knowing,
either by personal contact or by hearsay, at least some of the peoples
dwelling outside Africa, to the north and east.


     Drawn by Boudier, from the water-colour published in
     Lepsius, _Denhn._, i. pl. 8, No. 2

They knew that beyond the “Very Green,” almost at the foot of the
mountains behind which the sun travelled during the night, stretched
fertile islands or countries and nations without number, some barbarous
or semi-barbarous, others as civilized as they were themselves. They
cared but little by what names they were known, but called them all by
a common epithet, the Peoples beyond the Seas, “Haûi-nîbû.” If they
travelled in person to collect the riches which were offered to them by
these peoples in exchange for the products of the Nile, the Egyptians
could not have been the unadventurous and home-loving people we have
imagined. They willingly left their own towns in pursuit of fortune
or adventure, and the sea did not inspire them with fear or religious
horror. The ships which they launched upon it were built on the model of
the Nile boats, and only differed from the latter in details which would
now pass unnoticed. The hull, which was built on a curved keel, was
narrow, had a sharp stem and stern, was decked from end to end, low
forward and much raised aft, and had a long deck cabin: the steering
apparatus consisted of one or two large stout oars, each supported on
a forked post and managed by a steersman. It had one mast, sometimes
composed of a single tree, sometimes formed of a group of smaller masts
planted at a slight distance from each other, but united at the top by
strong ligatures and strengthened at intervals by crosspieces which made
it look like a ladder; its single sail was bent sometimes to one yard,
sometimes to two; while its complement consisted of some fifty men,
oarsmen, sailors, pilots, and passengers. Such were the vessels for
cruising or pleasure; the merchant ships resembled them, but they were
of heavier build, of greater tonnage, and had a higher freeboard. They
had no hold; the merchandise had to remain piled up on deck, leaving
only just enough room for the working of the vessel. They nevertheless
succeeded in making lengthy voyages, and in transporting troops into the
enemy’s territory from the mouths of the Nile to the southern coast of
Syria. Inveterate prejudice alone could prevent us from admitting that
the Egyptians of the Memphite period went to the ports of Asia and to
the Haûi-nîbû by sea. Some, at all events, of the wood required for
building* and for joiner’s work of a civil or funereal character, such
as pine, cypress or cedar, was brought from the forests of Lebanon or
those of Amanus.

     * Cedar-wood must have been continually imported into Egypt.
     It is mentioned in the Pyramid texts; in the tomb of Ti, and
     in the other tombs of Saqqâra or Gîzeh, workmen are
     represented making furniture of it. Chips of wood from the
     coffins of the VIth dynasty, detached in ancient times and
     found in several mastabas at Saqqâra, have been pronounced
     to be, some cedar of Lebanon, others a species of pine which
     still grows in Cilicia and in the north of Syria.

[Illustration: 219.jpg PASSENGER VESSEL UNDER SAIL]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-
     Bey; the picture is taken from one of the walls of the tomb
     of Api, discovered at Saqqâra, and now preserved in the
     Gîzeh Museum (VIth dynasty). The man standing at the bow is
     the fore-pilot, whose duty it is to take soundings of the
     channel, and to indicate the direction of the vessel to the
     pilot aft, who works the rudder-oars.

Beads of amber are still found near Abydos in the tombs of the oldest
necropolis, and we may well ask how many hands they had passed through
before reaching the banks of the Nile from the shores of the Baltic.*
The tin used to alloy copper for making bronze,** and perhaps bronze
itself, entered doubtless by the same route as the amber.

     * I have picked up in the tombs of the VIth dynasty at Kom-
     es-Sultan, and in the part of the necropolis of Abydos
     containing the tombs of the XIth and XIIth dynasties, a
     number of amber beads, most of which were very small.
     Mariette, who had found some on the same site, and who had
     placed them in the Boulaq Museum, mistook them for corroded
     yellow or brown glass beads. The electric properties which
     they still possess have established their identity.

     ** I may recall the fact that the analysis of some objects
     discovered at Mèdûm by Professor Petrie proved that they
     were made of bronze, and contained 9.l per cent, of tin; the
     Egyptians, therefore, used bronze from the IVth dynasty
     downwards, side by side with pure copper.

The tribes of unknown race who then peopled the coasts of the Ægean Sea,
were amongst the latest to receive these metals, and they transmitted
them either directly to the Egyptians or Asiatic intermediaries, who
carried them to the Nile Valley. Asia Minor had, moreover, its treasures
of metal as well as those of wood--copper, lead, and iron, which
certain tribes of miners and smiths, had worked from the earliest times.
Caravans plied between Egypt and the lands of Chaldæan civilization,
crossing Syria and Mesopotamia, perhaps even by the shortest desert
route, as far as Ur and Babylon. The communications between nation and
nation were frequent from this time forward, and very productive, but
their existence and importance are matters of inference, as we have no
direct evidence of them. The relations with these nations continued to
be pacific, and, with the exception of Sinai, Pharaoh had no desire to
leave the Nile Valley and take long journeys to pillage or subjugate
countries from whence came so much treasure. The desert and the sea
which protected Egypt on the north and east from Asiatic cupidity,
protected Asia with equal security from the greed of Egypt.

On the other hand, towards the south, the Nile afforded an easy means
of access to those who wished to penetrate into the heart of Africa. The
Egyptians had, at the outset, possessed only the northern extremity of
the valley, from the sea to the narrow pass of Silsileh; they had then
advanced as far as the first cataract, and Syene for some time marked
the extreme limit of their empire. At what period did they cross this
second frontier and resume their march southwards, as if again to seek
the cradle of their race? They had approached nearer and nearer to the
great bend described by the river near the present village of Korosko,*
but the territory thus conquered had, under the Vth dynasty, not as yet
either name or separate organization: it was a dependency of the fiefdom
of Elephantine, and was under the immediate authority of its princes.

     * This appears to follow from a passage in the inscription
     of Uni. This minister was raising troops and exacting wood
     for building among the desert tribes whose territories
     adjoined at this part of the valley: the manner in which the
     requisitions were effected shows that it was not a question
     of a new exaction, but a familiar operation, and
     consequently that the peoples mentioned had been under
     regular treaty obligations to the Egyptians, at least for
     some time previously.

Those natives who dwelt on the banks of the river appear to have offered
but a slight resistance to the invaders: the desert tribes proved more
difficult to conquer. The Nile divided them into two distinct bodies. On
the right side, the confederation of the Uaûaiu spread in the direction
of the Bed Sea, from the district around Ombos to the neighbourhood of
Korosko, in the valleys now occupied by the Ababdehs: it was bounded on
the south by the Mâzaiû tribes, from whom our contemporary Mâazeh have
probably descended. The Amamiu were settled on the left bank opposite
to the Mâzaiû, and the country of Iritît lay facing the territory of the
Uaûaiu. None of these barbarous peoples were subject to Egypt, but
they all acknowledged its suzerainty,--a somewhat dubious one, indeed,
analogous to that exercised over their descendants by the Khedives of
to-day. The desert does not furnish them with the means of subsistence:
the scanty pasturages of their wadys support a few flocks of sheep and
asses, and still fewer oxen, but the patches of cultivation which they
attempt in the neighbourhood of springs, yield only a poor produce of
vegetables or dourah. They would literally die of starvation were they
not able to have access to the banks of the Nile for provisions. On
the other hand, it is a great temptation to them to fall unawares on
villages or isolated habitations on the outskirts of the fertile lands,
and to carry off cattle, grain, and male and female slaves; they would
almost always have time to reach the mountains again with their spoil
and to protect themselves there from pursuit, before even the news
of the attack could reach the nearest police station. Under treaties
concluded with the authorities of the country, they are permitted to
descend into the plain in order to exchange peaceably for corn and
dourah, the acacia-wood of their forests, the charcoal that they make,
gums, game, skins of animals, and the gold and precious stones which
they get from their mines: they agree in return to refrain from any
act of plunder, and to constitute a desert police, provided that they
receive a regular pay.


The same arrangement existed in ancient times. The tribes hired
themselves out to Pharaoh. They brought him beams of “sont” at the first
demand, when he was in need of materials to build a fleet beyond the
first cataract. They provided him with bands of men ready armed, when
a campaign against the Libyans or the Asiatic tribes forced him to seek
recruits for his armies: the Mâzaiû entered the Egyptian service in such
numbers, that their name served to designate the soldiery in general,
just as in Cairo porters and night watchmen are all called Berberines.
Among these people respect for their oath of fealty yielded sometimes
to their natural disposition, and they allowed themselves to be carried
away to plunder the principalities which they had agreed to defend: the
colonists in Nubia were often obliged to complain of their exactions.
When these exceeded all limits, and it became impossible to wink at
their misdoings any longer, light-armed troops were sent against
them, who quickly brought them to reason. As at Sinai, these were easy
victories. They recovered in one expedition what the Ûaûaiû had
stolen in ten, both in flocks and fellahîn, and the successful general
perpetuated the memory of his exploits by inscribing, as he returned,
the name of Pharaoh on some rock at Syene or Elephantine: we may surmise
that it was after this fashion that Usirkaf, Nofiririkerî, and Unas
carried on the wars in Nubia. Their armies probably never went beyond
the second cataract, if they even reached so far: further south the
country was only known by the accounts of the natives or by the few
merchants who had made their way into it. Beyond the Mâzaiû, but still
between the Nile and the Red Sea, lay the country of Pûanît, rich in
ivory, ebony, gold, metals, gums, and sweet-smelling resins. When some
Egyptian, bolder than his fellows, ventured to travel thither, he could
choose one of several routes for approaching it by land or sea. The
navigation of the Red Sea was, indeed, far more frequent than is usually
believed, and the same kind of vessels in which the Egyptians coasted
along the Mediterranean, conveyed them, by following the coast of
Africa, as far as the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb. They preferred, however,
to reach it by land, and they returned with caravans of heavily laden
asses and slaves.

[Illustration: 225.jpg HEAD OF AN INHABITANT OF PÛANÎT]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Professor
     Petrie. This head was taken from the bas-relief at Karnak,
     on which the Pharaoh Harmhabi of the XVIIIth dynasty
     recorded his victories over the peoples of the south of

All that lay beyond Pûanît was held to be a fabulous region, a kind
of intermediate boundary land between the world of men and that of the
gods, the “Island of the Double,” “Land of the Shades,” where the living
came into close contact with the souls of the departed. It was inhabited
by the Dangas, tribes of half-savage dwarfs, whose grotesque faces and
wild gestures reminded the Egyptians of the god Bîsû (Bes). The chances
of war or trade brought some of them from time to time to Pûanît, or
among the Amamiû: the merchant who succeeded in acquiring and bringing
them to Egypt had his fortune made. Pharaoh valued the Dangas highly,
and was anxious to have some of them at any price among the dwarfs with
whom he loved to be surrounded; none knew better than they the dance
of the god--that to which Bîsû unrestrainedly gave way in his merry
moments. Towards the end of his reign Assi procured one which a certain
Biûrdidi had purchased in Pûanît. Was this the first which had made its
appearance at court, or had others preceded it in the good graces of
the Pharaohs? His wildness and activity, and the extraordinary positions
which he assumed, made a lively impression upon the courtiers of the
time, and nearly a century later there were still reminiscences of him.

A great official born in the time of Shopsiskaf, and living on to a
great age into the reign of Nofiririkerî, is described on his tomb as
the “Scribe of the House of Books.” This simple designation, occurring
incidentally among two higher titles, would have been sufficient
in itself to indicate the extraordinary development which Egyptian
civilization had attained at this time. The “House of Books” was
doubtless, in the first place, a depository of official documents, such
as the registers of the survey and taxes, the correspondence between
the court and the provincial governors or feudal lords, deeds of gift
to temples or individuals, and all kinds of papers required in the
administration of the State. It contained I also, however, literary
works, many of which even at this early date were already old, prayers
drawn up during the first dynasties, devout poetry belonging to times
prior to the misty personage called Mini--hymns to the gods of light,
formulas of black magic, collections of mystical works, such as the
“Book of the Dead” * and the “Ritual of the Tomb;” scientific treatises
on medicine, geometry, mathematics, and astronomy; manuals of practical
morals; and lastly, romances, or those marvellous stories which preceded
the romance among Oriental peoples.

     * The “Book of the Dead” must have existed from
     prehistoric times, certain chapters excepted, whose
     relatively modern origin has been indicated by those who
     ascribe the editing of the work to the time of the first
     human dynasties.

All these, if we had them, would form “a library much more precious to
us than that of Alexandria;” unfortunately up to the present we have
been able to collect only insignificant remains of such rich stores. In
the tombs have been found here and there fragments of popular songs.
The pyramids have furnished almost intact a ritual of the dead which
is distinguished by its verbosity, its numerous pious platitudes, and
obscure allusions to things of the other world; but, among all this
trash, are certain portions full of movement and savage vigour, in which
poetic glow and religious emotion reveal their presence in a mass of
mythological phraseology. In the Berlin Papyrus we may read the end of
a philosophic dialogue between an Egyptian and his soul, in which the
latter applies himself to show that death has nothing terrifying to man.
“I say to myself every day: As is the convalescence of a sick person,
who goes to the court after his affliction, such is death.... I say to
myself every day: As is the inhaling of the scent of a perfume, as a
seat under the protection of an outstretched curtain, on that day, such
is death.... I say to myself every day: As the inhaling of the odour
of a garden of flowers, as a seat upon the mountain of the Country of
Intoxication, such is death.... I say to myself every day: As a road
which passes over the flood of inundation, as a man who goes as a
soldier whom nothing resists, such is death.... I say to myself every
day: As the clearing again of the sky, as a man who goes out to catch
birds with a net, and suddenly finds himself in an unknown district,
such is death.” Another papyrus, presented by Prisse d’Avennes to the
_Bibliothèque Nationale_, Paris, contains the only complete work of
their primitive wisdom which has come down to us. It was certainly
transcribed before the XVIIIth dynasty, and contains the works of two
classic writers, one of whom is assumed to have lived under the
IIIrd and the other under the Vth dynasty; it is not without reason,
therefore, that it has been called “the oldest book in the world.” The
first leaves are wanting, and the portion preserved has, towards
its end, the beginning of a moral treatise attributed to Qaqimnî, a
contemporary of Hûni. Then followed a work now lost: one of the
ancient possessors of the papyrus having effaced it with the view of
substituting for it another piece, which was never transcribed.

The last fifteen pages are occupied by a kind of pamphlet, which has
had a considerable reputation, under the name of the “Proverbs of

This Phtahhotpû, a king’s son, flourished under Menkaûhorû and Assi: his
tomb is still to be seen in the necropolis of Saqqâra. He had sufficient
reputation to permit the ascription to him, without violence to
probability, of the editing of a collection of political and moral
maxims which indicate a profound knowledge of the court and of men
generally. It is supposed that he presented himself, in his declining
years, before the Pharaoh Assi, exhibited to him the piteous state to
which old age had reduced him, and asked authority to hand down for the
benefit of posterity the treasures of wisdom which he had stored up in
his long career. The nomarch Phtahhotpû says: “‘Sire, my lord, when
age is at that point, and decrepitude has arrived, debility comes and
a second infancy, upon which misery falls heavily every day: the eyes
become smaller, the ears narrower, strength is worn out while the heart
continues to beat; the mouth is silent and speaks no more; the heart
becomes darkened and no longer remembers yesterday; the bones become
painful, everything which was good becomes bad, taste vanishes entirely;
old age renders a man miserable in every respect, for his nostrils close
up, and he breathes no longer, whether he rises up or sits down. If the
humble servant who is in thy presence receives an order to enter on a
discourse befitting an old man, then I will tell to thee the language
of those who know the history of the past, of those who have heard
the gods; for if thou conductest thyself like them, discontent shall
disappear from among men, and the two lands shall work for thee!’ The
majesty of this god says: ‘Instruct me in the language of old times, for
it will work a wonder for the children of the nobles; whosoever enters
and understands it, his heart weighs carefully what it says, and it does
not produce satiety.’” We must not expect to find in this work any great
profundity of thought. Clever analyses, subtle discussions, metaphysical
abstractions, were not in fashion in the time of Phtahhotpû. Actual
facts were preferred to speculative fancies: man himself was the subject
of observation, his passions, his habits, his temptations and his
defects, not for the purpose of constructing a system therefrom, but in
the hope of reforming the imperfections of his nature and of pointing
out to him the road to fortune. Phtahhotpû, therefore, does not show
much invention or make deductions. He writes down his reflections just
as they occur to him, without formulating them or drawing any conclusion
from them as a whole. Knowledge is indispensable to getting on in the
world; hence he recommends knowledge. Gentleness to subordinates is
politic, and shows good education; hence he praises gentleness. He
mingles advice throughout on the behaviour to be observed in the various
circumstances of life, on being introduced into the presence of a
haughty and choleric man, on entering society, on the occasion of dining
with a dignitary, on being married. “If thou art wise, thou wilt go
up into thine house, and love thy wife at home; thou wilt give her
abundance of food, thou wilt clothe her back with garments; all that
covers her limbs, her perfumes, is the joy of her life; as long as thou
lookest to this, she is as a profitable field to her master.” To analyse
such a work in detail is impossible: it is still more impossible to
translate the whole of it. The nature of the subject, the strangeness of
certain precepts, the character of the style, all tend to disconcert the
reader and to mislead him in his interpretations. From the very earliest
times ethics has been considered as a healthy and praiseworthy subject
in itself, but so hackneyed was it, that a change in the mode of
expressing it could alone give it freshness. Phtahhotpû is a victim
to the exigencies of the style he adopted. Others before him had given
utterance to the truths he wished to convey: he was obliged to clothe
them in a startling and interesting form to arrest the attention of his
readers. In some places he has expressed his thought with such subtlety,
that the meaning is lost in the jingle of the words. The art of the
Memphite dynasties has suffered as much as the literature from the
hand of time, but in the case of the former the fragments are at least
numerous and accessible to all. The kings of this period erected temples
in their cities, and, not to speak of the chapel of the Sphinx, we find
in the remains still existing of these buildings chambers of granite,
alabaster and limestone, covered with religious scenes like those of
more recent periods, although in some cases the walls are left bare.
Their public buildings have all, or nearly all, perished; breaches have
been made in them by invading armies or by civil wars, and they have
been altered, enlarged, and restored scores of times in the course of
ages; but the tombs of the old kings remain, and afford proof of the
skill and perseverance exhibited by the architects in devising and
carrying out their plans. Many of the mastabas occurring at intervals
between Gîzeh and Mêdûm have, indeed, been hastily and carelessly built,
as if by those who were anxious to get them finished, or who had an eye
to economy; we may observe in all of them neglect and imperfection,--all
the trade-tricks which an unscrupulous jerry-builder then, as now, could
be guilty of, in order to keep down the net cost and satisfy the natural
parsimony of his patrons without lessening his own profits.* Where,
however, the master-mason has not been hampered by being forced to work
hastily or cheaply, he displays his conscientiousness, and the choice of
materials, the regularity of the courses, and the homogeneousness of the
building leave nothing to be desired; the blocks are adjusted with such
precision that the joints are almost invisible, and the mortar between
them has been spread with such a skilful hand that there is scarcely an
appreciable difference in its uniform thickness.**

     * The similarity of the materials and technicalities of
     construction and decoration seem to me to prove that the
     majority of the tombs were built by a small number of
     contractors or corporations, lay or ecclesiastical, both at
     Memphis, under the Ancient, as well as at Thebes, under the
     New Empire.

     ** Speaking of the Great Pyramid and of its casing,
     Professor Petrie says: “Though the stones were brought as
     close as [--] inch, or, in fact, into contact, and the mean
     opening of the joint was but [--] inch, yet the builders
     managed to fill the joint with cement, despite the great
     area of it, and the weight of the stone to be moved--some 16
     tons. To merely place such stones in exact contact at the
     sides would be careful work; but to do so with cement in the
     joint seems almost impossible.”

The long low flat mass which the finished tomb presented to the eye
is wanting in grace, but it has the characteristics of strength and
indestructibility well suited to an “eternal house.” The façade,
however, was not wanting in a certain graceful severity: the play of
light and shade distributed over its surface by the stelæ, niches, and
deep-set doorways, varied its aspect in the course of the day, without
lessening the impression of its majesty and serenity which nothing
could disturb. The pyramids themselves are not, as we might imagine,
the coarse and ill-considered reproduction of a mathematical figure
disproportionately enlarged. The architect who made an estimate for that
of Kheops, must have carefully thought out the relative value of the
elements contained in the problem which had to be solved--the vertical
height of the summit, the length of the sides on the ground line,
the angle of pitch, the inclination of the lateral faces to one
another--before he discovered the exact proportions and the arrangement
of lines which render his monument a true work of art, and not merely a
costly and mechanical arrangement of stones.*

     * Cf. Borchardt’s article, _Wie wurden die Boschungen der
     Pyramiden bestimmt?_ in which the author--an architect by
     profession as well as an Egyptologist--interprets the
     theories and problems of the _Rhind mathematical Papyrus_ in
     a new manner, comparing the result with his own
     calculations, made from measurements of pyramids still
     standing, and in which he shows, by an examination of the
     diagrams discovered on the wall of a mastaba at Mêdûm, that
     the Egyptian contractors of the Memphite period were, at
     that early date, applying the rules and methods of procedure
     which we find set forth in the Papyri of Theban times.

The impressions which he desired to excite, have been felt by all who
came after him when brought face to face with the pyramids. From a great
distance they appear like mountain-peaks, breaking the monotony of the
Libyan horizon; as we approach them they apparently decrease in size,
and seem to be merely unimportant inequalities of ground on the surface
of the plain. It is not till we reach their bases that we guess their
enormous size. The lower courses then stretch seemingly into infinity to
right and left, while the summit soars up out of our sight into the sky.
“The effect is gained by majesty and simplicity of form, in the contrast
and disproportion between the stature of man and the immensity of his
handiwork: the eye fails to take it in; it is even difficult for the
mind to grasp it. We see, we may touch hundreds of courses formed of
blocks, two hundred cubic feet in size,... and thousands of others
scarcely less in bulk, and wo are at a loss to know what force has
moved, transported, and raised so great a number of colossal stones, how
many men were needed for the work, what amount of time was required
for it, what machinery they used; and in proportion to our inability to
answer these questions, we increasingly admire the power which regarded
such obstacles as trifles.”

We are not acquainted with the names of any of the men who conceived
these prodigious works. The inscriptions mention in detail the princes,
nobles, and scribes who presided over all the works undertaken by the
sovereign, but they have never deigned to record the name of a single

     * The title “mir kaûtû nîbû nîti sûton,” frequently met
     with under the Ancient Empire, does not designate the
     architects, as many Egyptologists have thought: it signifies
     “director of all the king’s works,” and is applicable to
     irrigation, dykes and canals, mines and quarries, and all
     branches of an engineer’s profession, as well as to those of
     the architect’s. The “directors of all the king’s works ”
      were dignitaries deputed by Pharaoh to take the necessary
     measurements for the building of temples, for dredging
     canals, for quarrying stone and minerals; they were
     administrators, and not professionals possessing the
     technical knowledge of an architect or engineer.

[Illustrations: 234a.jpg Avenue of Sphinxes--Karnak]

[Illustrations: 234a-text.jpg]

They were people of humble extraction, living hard lives under fear of
the stick, and their ordinary assistants, the draughtsmen, painters, and
sculptors, were no better off than themselves; they were looked upon
as mechanics of the same social status as the neighbouring shoemaker or
carpenter. The majority of them were, in fact, clever mechanical workers
of varying capability, accustomed to chisel out a bas-relief or set a
statue firmly on its legs, in accordance with invariable rules which
they transmitted unaltered from one generation to another: some were
found among them, however, who displayed unmistakable genius in
their art, and who, rising above the general mediocrity, produced
masterpieces. Their equipment of tools was very simple--iron picks with
wooden handles, mallets of wood, small hammers, and a bow for boring
holes. The sycamore and acacia furnished them with a material of a
delicate grain and soft texture, which they used to good advantage:
Egyptian art has left us nothing which, in purity of Hue and delicacy of
modelling, surpasses the panels of the tomb of Hosi, with their seated
or standing male figures and their vigorously cut hieroglyphs in the
same relief as the picture. Egypt possesses, however, but few trees of
suitable fibre for sculptural purposes, and even those which were
fitted for this use were too small and stunted to furnish blocks of any
considerable size. The sculptor, therefore, turned by preference to the
soft white limestone of Turah.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-Bey. The
     original is now in the Gîzeh Museum.

He quickly detached the general form of his statue from the mass of
stone, fixed the limits of its contour by means of dimension guides
applied horizontally from top to bottom, and then cut away the angles
projecting beyond the guides, and softened off the outline till he made
his modelling correct. This simple and regular method of procedure was
not suited to hard stone: the latter had to be first chiselled, but when
by dint of patience the rough hewing had reached the desired stage, the
work of completion was not entrusted to metal tools. Stone hatchets
were used for smoothing off the superficial roughnesses, and it was
assiduously polished to efface the various tool-marks left upon
its surface. The statues did not present that variety of gesture,
expression, and attitude which we aim at to-day. They were, above
all things, the accessories of a temple or tomb, and their appearance
reflects the particular ideas entertained with regard to their nature.
The artists did not seek to embody in them the ideal type of male
or female beauty: they were representatives made to perpetuate the
existence of the model.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a chromolithograph by Prisse
     d’Avennes, _Histoire de l’Art Égyptien_. The original is in
     the tomb of Rakhmirî, who lived at Thebes under the XVIIIth
     dynasty. The methods which were used did not differ from
     those employed by the sculptors and painters of the Memphite
     period more than two thousand years previously.

The Egyptians wished the double to be able to adapt itself easily to
its image, and in order to compass that end, it was imperative that the
stone presentment should be at least an approximate likeness, and should
reproduce the proportions and peculiarities of the living prototype
for whom it was meant. The head had to be the faithful portrait of the
individual: it was enough for the body to be, so to speak, an average
one, showing him at his fullest development and in the complete
enjoyment of his physical powers. The men were always represented in
their maturity, the women never lost the rounded breast and slight hips
of their girlhood, but a dwarf always preserved his congenital ugliness,
for his salvation in the other world demanded that it should be so. Had
he been given normal stature, the double, accustomed to the deformity of
his members in this world, would have been unable to accommodate himself
to an upright carriage, and would not have been in a fit condition to
resume his course of life.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-Bey. The
     original is now in the Gîzeh Museum.

The particular pose of the statue was dependent on the social position
of the person. The king, the nobleman, and the master are always
standing or sitting: it was in these postures they received the homage
of their vassals or relatives. The wife shares her husband’s seat,
stands upright beside him, or crouches at his feet as in daily life. The
son, if his statue was ordered while he was a child, wears the dress of
childhood; if he had arrived to manhood, he is represented in the dress
and with the attitude suited to his calling. Slaves grind the grain,
cellarers coat their amphoræ with pitch, bakers knead their dough,
mourners make lamentation and tear their hair. The exigencies of rank
clung to the Egyptians in temple and tomb, wherever their statues were
placed, and left the sculptor who represented them scarcely any liberty.
He might be allowed to vary the details and arrange the accessories
to his taste; he might alter nothing in the attitude or the general
likeness without compromising the end and aim of his work. The statues
of the Memphite period may be counted at the present day by hundreds.

[Illustration: 239.jpg BAKER KNEADING HIS DOUGH]

     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Béchard. The original
     is now in the Gîzeh Museum.

Some are in the heavy and barbaric style which has caused them to be
mistaken for primaeval monuments: as, for instance, the statues of Sapi
and his wife, now in the Louvre, which are attributed to the beginning
of the IIIrd dynasty or even earlier. Groups exactly resembling these in
appearance are often found in the tombs of the Vth and VIth dynasties,
which according to this reckoning would be still older than that of
Sapi: they were productions of an inferior studio, and their supposed
archaism is merely the want of skill of an ignorant sculptor. The
majority of the remaining statues are not characterized either by
glaring faults or by striking merits: they constitute an array of
honest good-natured folk, without much individuality of character and
no originality. They may be easily divided into five or six groups, each
having a style in common, and all apparently having been executed on the
lines of a few chosen models; the sculptors who worked for the mastaba
contractors were distributed among a very few studios, in which a
traditional routine was observed for centuries. They did not always
wait for orders, but, like our modern tombstone-makers, kept by them a
tolerable assortment of half-finished statues, from which the purchaser
could choose according to his taste. The hands, feet, and bust lacked
only the colouring and final polish, but the head was merely rough-hewn,
and there were no indications of dress; when the future occupant of
the tomb or his family had made their choice, a few hours of work were
sufficient to transform the rough sketch into a portrait, such as it
was, of the deceased they desired to commemorate, and to arrange his
garment according to the latest fashion. If, however, the relatives or
the sovereign* declined to be satisfied with these commonplace images,
and demanded a less conventional treatment of body for the double of him
whom they had lost, there were always some among the assistants to be
found capable of entering into their wishes, and of seizing the lifelike
expression of limbs and features.

     * It must not be forgotten that the statues were often, like
     the tomb itself, given by the king to the man whose services
     he desired to reward. His burying-place then bore the
     formulary, “By the favour of the king,” as I have mentioned


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Émil Brugsch-Bey.

We possess at the present day, scattered about in museums, some score of
statues of this period, examples of consummate art,--the Khephrens, the
Kheops, the Anû, the Nofrît, the Râhotpû I have already mentioned, the
“Sheîkh-el-Beled” and his wife, the sitting scribe of the Louvre and
that of Gîzeh, and the kneeling scribe. Kaâpirû, the “Sheîkh-el-Beled,”
 was probably one of the directors of the corvée employed to build the
Great Pyramid.* He seems to be coming forward to meet the beholder, with
an acacia staff in his hand. He has the head and shoulders of a bull,
and a common cast of countenance, whose vulgarity is not wanting in
energy. The large, widely open eye has, by a trick of the sculptor, an
almost uncanny reality about it.

     * It was discovered by Mariette at Saqqâra. “The head,
     torso, arms, and even the staff, were intact; but the
     pedestal and legs were hopelessly decayed, and the statue
     was only kept upright by the sand which surrounded it.” The
     staff has since been broken, and is replaced by a more
     recent one exactly like it. In order to set up the figure,
     Mariette was obliged to supply new feet, which retain the
     colour of the fresh wood. By a curious coincidence, Kaâpirû
     was an exact portrait of one of the “Sheikhs el-Beled,” or
     mayors of the village of Saqqâra: the Arab workmen, always
     quick to see a likeness, immediately called it the “Sheikh
     el-Beled,” and the name has been retained ever since.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Émil Brugsch-

     [Illustration: 242b.jpg THE SITTING SCRIBE IN THE GÎZEH MUSEUM]

     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Émil Brugsch-Bey.
     This scribe was discovered at Saqqâra, by M. de Morgan, in
     the beginning of 1893.

The socket which holds it has been hollowed out and filled with an
arrangement of black and white enamel; a rim of bronze marks the outline
of the lids, while a little silver peg, inserted at the back of the
pupil, reflects the light and gives the effect of the sparkle of a
living glance. The statue, which is short in height, is of wood, and one
would be inclined to think that the relative plasticity of the material
counts for something in the boldness of the execution, were it not that
though the sitting scribe of the Louvre is of limestone, the sculptor
has not shown less freedom in its composition. We recognize in this
figure one of those somewhat flabby and heavy subordinate officials of
whom so many examples are to be seen in Oriental courts. He is squatting
cross-legged on the pedestal, pen in hand, with the outstretched leaf of
papyrus conveniently placed on the right: he waits, after an interval
of six thousand years, until Pharaoh or his vizier deigns to resume the
interrupted dictation. His colleague at the Gîzeh Museum awakens in us
no less wonder at his vigour and self-possession; but, being younger,
he exhibits a fuller and firmer figure with a smooth skin, contrasting
strongly with the deeply wrinkled appearance of the other, aggravated as
it is by his flabbiness. The “kneeling scribe” preserves in his pose
and on his countenance that stamp of resigned indecision and monotonous
gentleness which is impressed upon subordinate officials by the
influence of a life spent entirely under the fear of the stick. Banofir,
on the contrary, is a noble lord looking upon his vassals passing in
file before him: his mien is proud, his head disdainful, and he has
that air of haughty indifférence which is befitting a favourite of the
Pharaoh, possessor of generously bestowed sinecures, and lord of a score
of domains. The same haughtiness of attitude distinguishes the
director of the granaries, Nofir. We rarely encounter a small statue
so expressive of vigour and energy. Sometimes there may be found among
these short-garmented people an individual wrapped and almost smothered
in an immense _abayah_; or a naked man, representing a peasant on his
way to market, his bag on his left shoulder, slightly bent under the
weight, carrying his sandals in his other hand, lest they should be
worn out too quickly in walking. Everywhere we observe the traits of
character distinctive of the individual and his position, rendered
with a scrupulous fidelity: nothing is omitted, no detail of the
characteristics of the model is suppressed. Idealisation we must not
expect, but we have here an intelligent and sometimes too realistic
fidelity. Portraits have been conceived among other peoples and in other
periods in a different way: they have never been better executed.

[Illustration: 246.jpg PEASANT GOING TO MARKET]

     * Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Béchard. The
     original is at Gizeh.--Vth dynasty.

The decoration of the sepulchres provided employment for scores of
draughtsmen, sculptors, and painters, whose business it was to multiply
in these tombs scenes of everyday life which were indispensable to the
happiness or comfort of the double. The walls are sometimes decorated
with isolated pictures only, each one of which represents a distinct
operation; more frequently we find traced upon them a single subject
whose episodes are superimposed one upon the other from the ground to
the ceiling, and represent an Egyptian panorama from the Nile to the
desert. In the lower portion, boats pass to and fro, and collide with
each other, while the boatmen come to blows with their boat-hooks within
sight of hippopotami and crocodiles. In the upper portions we see a band
of slaves engaged in fowling among the thickets of the river-bank, or
in the making of small boats, the manufacture of ropes, the scraping and
salting of fish. Under the cornice, hunters and dogs drive the gazelle
across the undulating plains of the desert. Every row represents one of
the features of the country; but the artist, instead of arranging the
pictures in perspective, separated them and depicted them one above the

[Illustration: 247.jpg KOFIR, THE DIRECTOR OF GRANARIES]

     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Émil Brugsch-Bey.
     original is in the Gîzeh Museum.--Vth dynasty.

The groups are repeated in one tomb after another; they are always
the same, but sometimes they are reduced to two or three individuals,
sometimes increased in number, spread out and crowded with figures and
inscriptions. Each chief draughtsman had his book of subjects and texts,
which he combined in various ways, at one time bringing them close
together, at another duplicating or extending them according to the
means put at his disposal or the space he had to cover. The same
men, the same animals, the same features of the landscape, the same
accessories, appear everywhere: it is industrial and mechanical art at
its highest. The whole is, however, harmonious, agreeable to the eye,
and instructive. The conventionalisms of the drawing as well as those
of the composition are very different from ours. Whether it is man or
beast, the subject is invariably presented in outline by the brush, or
by the graving tool in sharp relief upon the background; but the animals
are represented in action, with their usual gait, movement, and play of
limbs distinguishing each species. The slow and measured walk of the ox,
the short step, meditative ears, and ironical mouth of the ass, the calm
strength of the lion at rest, the grimaces of the monkeys, the slender
gracefulness of the gazelle and antelope, are invariably presented with
a consummate skill in drawing and expression. The human figure is the
least perfect: every one is acquainted with those strange figures, whose
heads in profile, with the eye drawn in full face, are attached to a
torso seen from the front and supported by limbs in profile. These are
truly anatomical monsters, and yet the appearance they present to us
is neither laughable nor grotesque. The defective limbs are so deftly
connected with those which are normal, that the whole becomes natural:
the correct and fictitious lines are so ingeniously blent together
that they seem to rise necessarily from each other. The actors in these
dramas are constructed in such a paradoxical fashion that they could not
exist in this world of ours; they live notwithstanding, in spite of the
ordinary laws of physiology, and to any one who will take the trouble to
regard them without prejudice, their strangeness will add a charm which
is lacking in works more conformable to nature. A layer of colour spread
over the whole heightens and completes them. This colouring is never
quite true to nature nor yet entirely false. It approaches reality as
far as possible, but without pretending to copy it in a servile way. The
water is always a uniform blue, or broken up by black zigzag lines; the
skin of the men is invariably brown, that of the women pale yellow.

[Illustration: 249.jpg BAS-RELIEF IN IVORY]

     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Bouriant. The
     original is in private possession.

The shade befitting each being or object was taught in the workshops,
and once the receipt for it was drawn up, it was never varied in
application. The effect produced by these conventional colours, however,
was neither discordant nor jarring. The most brilliant colours were
placed alongside each other with extreme audacity, but with a perfect
knowledge of their mutual relations and combined effect. They do not
jar with, or exaggerate, or kill each other: they enhance each other’s
value, and by their contact give rise to half-shades which harmonize
with them. The sepulchral chapels, in cases where their decoration had
been completed, and where they have reached us intact, appear to us as
chambers hung with beautifully luminous and interesting tapestry, in
which rest ought to be pleasant during the heat of the day to the soul
which dwells within them, and to the friends who come there to hold
intercourse with the dead.

The decoration of palaces and houses was not less sumptuous than that of
the sepulchres, but it has been so completely destroyed that we should
find it difficult to form an idea of the furniture of the living if we
did not see it frequently depicted in the abode of the double. The great
armchairs, folding seats, footstools, and beds of carved wood, painted
and inlaid, the vases of hard stone, metal, or enamelled ware, the
necklaces, bracelets, and ornaments on the walls, even the common
pottery of which we find the remains in the neighbourhood of the
pyramids, are generally distinguished by an elegance and grace
reflecting credit on the workmanship and taste of the makers.* The
squares of ivory which they applied to their linen-chests and their
jewel-cases often contained actual bas-reliefs in miniature of as bold
workmanship and as skilful execution as the most beautiful pictures in
the tombs: on these, moreover, were scenes of private life--dancing or
processions bringing offerings and animals.**

     * The study of the alabaster and diorite vases found near
     the pyramids has furnished Petrie with very ingenious views
     on the methods among the Egyptians of working hard stone.
     Examples of stone toilet or sacrificial bottles are not
     unfrequent in our museums: I may mention those in the Louvre
     which bear the cartouches of Dadkerî Assi (No. 343), of Papi
     I., and of Papi II., the son of Papi I.; not that they are
     to be reckoned among the finest, but because the cartouches
     fix the date of their manufacture. They came from the
     pyramids of these sovereigns, opened by the Arabs at the
     beginning of this century: the vase of the VIth dynasty,
     which is in the Museum at Florence, was brought from Abydos.

     ** M. Grébaut bought at the Great Pyramids, in 1887, a
     series of these ivory sculptures of the Ancient Empire. They
     are now at the Gîzeh Museum. Others belonging to the same
     find are dispersed among private collections: one of them is
     reproduced on p. 249 of this History.

[Illustration: 252.jpg STELE OF THE DAUGHTER OF KHEOPS]

Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Bochard.

One would like to possess some of those copper and golden statues which
the Pharaoh Kheops consecrated to Isis in honour of his daughter: only
the representation of them upon a stele has come down to us; and the
fragments of sceptres or other objects which too rarely have reached us,
have unfortunately no artistic value.

A taste for pretty things was common, at least among the upper classes,
including not only those about the court, but also those in the most
distant nomes of Egypt. The provincial lords, like the courtiers of
the palace, took a pride in collecting around them in the other world
everything of the finest that the art of the architect, sculptor, and
painter could conceive and execute. Their mansions as well as their
temples have disappeared, but we find, here and there on the sides of
the hills, the sepulchres which they had prepared for themselves in
rivalry with those of the courtiers or the members of the reigning
family. They turned the valley into a vast series of catacombs, so that
wherever we look the horizon is bounded by a row of historic tombs.
Thanks to their rock-cut sepulchres, we are beginning to know the
Nomarchs of the Gazelle and the Hare, those of the Serpent-Mountain, of
Akhmîm, Thinis, Qasr-es-Sayad, and Aswan,--all the scions, in fact, of
that feudal government which preceded the royal sovereignty on the
banks of the Nile, and of which royalty was never able to entirely
disembarrass itself. The Pharaohs of the IVth dynasty had kept them in
such check that we can hardly find any indications during their reigns
of the existence of these great barons; the heads of the Pharaonic
administration were not recruited from among the latter, but from the
family and domestic circle of the sovereign. It was in the time of the
kings of the Vth dynasty, it would appear, that the barons again
entered into favour and gradually gained the upper hand; we find them
in increasing numbers about Anû, Menkaûhorû, and Assi. Did Unas, who was
the last ruler of the dynasty of Elephantine, die without issue, or were
his children prevented from succeeding him by force? The Egyptian annals
of the time of the Ramessides bring the direct line of Menés to an end
with this king. A new line of Memphite origin begins after him.

[Illustration: 253.jpg THE PHARAOH MENKAUHORÛ]

     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Faucher-Gudin. The
     original, which came from Mariette’s excavations at the
     Serapeum, is in the Louvre.

It is almost certain that the transmission of power was not accomplished
without contention, and that there were many claimants to the crown. One
of the latter, Imhotpû, whose legitimacy was always disputed, has
left hardly any traces of his accession to power,* but Ati established
himself firmly on the throne for a year at least:** he pushed on
actively the construction of his pyramid, and sent to the valley of
Hammamât for the stone of his sarcophagus.

     * The monuments furnish proof that their contemporaries
     considered these ephemeral rulers as so many illegitimate
     pretenders. Phtahshopsîsû and his son Sabû-Abibi, who
     exercised important functions at the court, mention only
     Unas and Teti III.; Uni, who took office under Teti III.,
     mentions after this king only Papi I. and Mihtimsaûf I. The
     official succession was, therefore, regulated at this epoch
     in the same way as we afterwards find it in the table of
     Saqqâra, Unas, Teti III., Papi I., Mihtimsaûf I., and in the
     Royal Canon of Turin, without the intercalation of any other

     ** Brugsch, in his Histoire d’Egypte, pp. 44, 45, had
     identified this king with the first Metesouphis of Manetho:
     E. de Rougé prefers to transfer him to one of the two
     Memphite series after the VIth dynasty, and his opinion has
     been adopted by Wiedemann. The position occupied by his
     inscription among those of Hamraamât has decided me in
     placing him at the end of the Vth or beginning of the VIth
     dynasty: this E. Meyer has also done.

We know not whether revolution or sudden death put an end to his
activity: the “Mastabat-el-Faraun” of Saqqâra, in which he hoped to
rest, never exceeded the height which it has at present.* His name was,
however, inscribed in certain official lists,** and a tradition of the
Greek period maintained that he had been assassinated by his guards.***
Teti III. was the actual founder of the VIth dynasty,**** historians
representing him as having been the immediate successor of Unas.

     * Ati is known only from the Hammamât, inscription dated in
     the first year of his reign. He was identified by Brugsch
     with the Othoes of Manetho, and this identification has been
     generally adopted. M. de Rougé is inclined to attribute to
     him as _prænomen_ the cartouche Usirkeri, which is given in
     the Table of Abydos between those of Teti III. and Papi I.
     Mariette prefers to recognize in Urikeri an independent
     Pharaoh of short reign. Several blocks of the Mastabat-el-
     Faraun at Saqqâra contain the cartouche of Unas, a fact
     which induced Mariette to regard this as the tomb of the
     Pharaoh. The excavations of 1881 showed that Unas was
     entombed elsewhere, and the indications are in favour of
     attributing the mastaba to Ati. We know, indeed, the
     pyramids of Teti III., of the two Papis, and of Metesouphis
     I.; Ati is the only prince of this period with whose tomb we
     are unacquainted. It is thus by elimination, and not by
     direct evidence, that the identification has been arrived
     at: Ati may have drawn upon the workshops of his predecessor
     Unas, which fact would explain the presence on these blocks
     of the cartouche of the latter.

     ** Upon that of Abydos, if we agree with E. de Rougé that
     the cartouche Usirkeri contains his prænomen; upon that
     from which Manetho borrowed, if we admit his identification
     with Othoes.

     *** Manetho (Unger’s edition, p. 101), where the form of the
     name is Othoes.

     **** He is called Teti Menephtah, with the cartouche
     prænomen of Seti I., on a monument of the early part of the
     XIXth dynasty, in the Museum at Marseilles: we see him in
     his pyramid represented as standing. This pyramid was opened
     in 1881, and its chambers are covered with long funerary
     inscriptions. It is a work of the time of Seti I., and not a
     contemporary production of the time of Menkaûhorû.

He lived long enough to build at Saqqâra a pyramid whose internal
chambers are covered with inscriptions,* and his son succeeded him
without opposition. Papi I. reigned at least twenty years.**

     * The true pronunciation of this name would be Pipi, and of
     the one before it Titi. The two other Tetis are Teti I. of
     the Ist dynasty, and Zosir-Teti, or Teti II., of the IIIrd.

     ** From fragment 59 of the Royal Canon of Turin, An
     inscription in the quarries of Hât-nûbû bears the date of
     the year 24: if it has been correctly copied, the reign must
     have been four years at least longer than the chronologists
     of the time of the Ramessides thought.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Béchard.

He manifested his activity in all corners of his empire, in the nomes
of the Said as well as in those of the Delta, and his authority extended
beyond the frontiers by which the power of his immediate predecessors
had been limited. He owned sufficient territory south of Elephantine to
regard Nubia as a new kingdom added to those which constituted ancient
Egypt: we therefore see him entitled in his preamble “the triple
Golden Horus,” “the triple Conqueror-Horus,” “the Delta-Horus,” “the
Said-Horus,” “the Nubia-Horus.” The tribes of the desert furnished him,
as was customary, with recruits for his army, for which he had need
enough, for the Bedouin of the Sinaitic Peninsula were on the move, and
were even becoming dangerous. Papi, aided by Uni, his prime minister,
undertook against them a series of campaigns, in which he reduced them
to a state of helplessness, and extended the sovereignty of Egypt for
the time over regions hitherto unconquered.

Uni began his career under Teti.* At first a simple page in the
palace,** he succeeded in obtaining a post in the administration of the
treasury, and afterwards that of inspector of the woods of the royal

     * The beginning of the first line is wanting, and I have
     restored it from other inscriptions of the same kind: “I
     was born under Unas.” Uni could not have been born before
     Unas; the first office that he filled under Teti III. was
     while he was a child or youth, while the reign of Unas
     lasted thirty years.

     ** Literally, “crown-bearer.” This was a title applied
     probably to children who served the king in his private
     apartments, and who wore crowns of natural flowers on their
     heads: the crown was doubtless of the same form as those
     which we see upon the brows of women on several tombs of the
     Memphite epoch.

     *** The word “Khoniti” probably indicates lands with
     plantations of palms or acacias, the thinly wooded forests
     of Egypt, and also of the vines which belonged to the
     personal domain of the Pharaoh.

Papi took him into his friendship at the beginning of his reign, and
conferred upon him the title of “friend,” and the office of head of
the cabinet, in which position he acquitted himself with credit. Alone,
without other help than that of a subordinate scribe, he transacted all
the business and drew up all the documents connected with the harem and
the privy council. He obtained an ample reward for his services. Pharaoh
granted to him, as a proof of his complete satisfaction, the furniture
of a tomb in choice white limestone; one of the officials of the
necropolis was sent to obtain from the quarries at Troiû the blocks
required, and brought back with him a sarcophagus and its lid, a
door-shaped stele with its setting and a table of offerings. He affirms
with much self-satisfaction that never before had such a thing happened
to any one; moreover, he adds, “my wisdom charmed his Majesty, my zeal
pleased him, and his Majesty’s heart was delighted with me.” All this
is pure hyperbole, but no one was surprised at it in Egypt; etiquette
required that a faithful subject should declare the favours of his
sovereign to be something new and unprecedented, even when they
presented nothing extraordinary or out of the common. Gifts of
sepulchral furniture were of frequent occurrence, and we know of more
than one instance of them previous to the VIth dynasty--for example,
the case of the physician Sokhît-niônkhû, whose tomb still exists at
Saqqâra, and whom Pharaoh Sahurî rewarded by presenting him with a
monumental stele in stone from Turah. Henceforth Uni could face without
apprehension the future which awaited him in the other world; at the
same time, he continued to make his way no less quickly in this, and was
soon afterwards promoted to the rank of “sole friend” and superintendent
of the irrigated lands of the king. The “sole friends” were closely
attached to the person of their master. In all ceremonies, their
appointed place was immediately behind him, a place of the highest
honour and trust, for those who occupied it literally held his life
in their hands. They made all the arrangements for his processions and
journeys, and saw that the proper ceremonial was everywhere observed,
and that no accident was allowed to interrupt the progress of his train.
Lastly, they had to take care that none of the nobles ever departed from
the precise position to which his birth or office entitled him. This was
a task which required a great deal of tact, for questions of precedence
gave rise to nearly as many heart-burnings in Egypt as in modern courts.
Uni acquitted himself so dexterously, that he was called upon to act
in a still more delicate capacity. Queen Amîtsi was the king’s chief
consort. Whether she had dabbled in some intrigue of the palace, or had
been guilty of unfaithfulness in act or in intention, or had been mixed
up in one of those feminine dramas which so frequently disturb the peace
of harems, we do not know. At any rate, Papi considered it necessary to
proceed against her, and appointed Uni to judge the case. Aided only
by his secretary, he drew up the indictment and decided the action so
discreetly, that to this day we do not know of what crime Amîtsi was
accused or how the matter ended. Uni felt great pride at having been
preferred before all others for this affair, and not without reason,
“for,” says he, “my duties were to superintend the royal forests, and
never before me had a man in my position been initiated into the secrets
of the Royal Harem; but his Majesty initiated me into them because my
wisdom pleased his Majesty more than that of any other of his lieges,
more than that of any other of his mamelukes, more than that of any
other of his servants.” These antecedents did not seem calculated to
mark out Uni as a future minister of war; but in the East, when a man
has given proofs of his ability in one branch of administration, there
is a tendency to consider him equally well fitted for service in any
of the others, and the fiat of a prince transforms the clever scribe of
to-day into the general of to-morrow. No one is surprised, not even
the person promoted; he accepts his new duties without flinching, and
frequently distinguishes himself as much in their performance as though
he had been bred to them from his youth up. When Papi had resolved to
give a lesson to the Bedouin of Sinai, he at once thought of Uni, his
“sole friend,” who had so skilfully conducted the case of Queen
Amîtsi. The expedition was not one of those which could be brought to
a successful issue by the troops of the frontier nomes; it required a
considerable force, and the whole military organization of the country
had to be brought into play. “His Majesty raised troops to the number of
several myriads, in the whole of the south from Elephantine to the nome
of the Haunch, in the Delta, in the two halves of the valley, in each
fort of the forts of the desert, in the land of Iritît, among the blacks
of the land of Maza, among the blacks of the land of Amamît, among the
blacks of the land of Ûaûait, among the blacks of the land of Kaaû,
among the blacks of To-Tamû, and his Majesty sent me at the head of this
army. It is true, there were chiefs there, there were mamelukes of the
king there, there were sole friends of the Great House there, there
were princes and governors of castles from the south and from the north,
‘gilded friends,’ directors of the prophets from the south and the
north, directors of districts at the head of troops from the south and
the north, of castles and towns that each one ruled, and also blacks
from the regions which I have mentioned, but it was I who gave them
their orders--although my post was only that of superintendent of the
irrigated lands of Pharaoh,--so much so that every one of them obeyed
me like the others.” It was not without much difficulty that he brought
this motley crowd into order, equipped them, and supplied them with
rations. At length he succeeded in arranging everything satisfactorily;
by dint of patience and perseverance, “each one took his biscuit and
sandals for the march, and each one of them took bread from the towns,
and each one of them took goats from the peasants.” He collected his
forces on the frontier of the Delta, in the “Isle of the North,” between
the “Gate of Imhotpû” and the “Tell of Horû nib-mâît,” and set out into
the desert. He advanced, probably by Gebel Magharah and Gebel Helal,
as far as Wady-el-Arîsh, into the rich and populous country which lay
between the southern slopes of Gebel Tîh and the south of the Dead Sea:
once there he acted with all the rigour permitted by the articles of
war, and paid back with interest the ill usage which the Bedouin had
inflicted on Egypt. “This army came in peace, it completely destroyed
the country of the Lords of the Sands. This army came in peace, it
pulverized the country of the Lords of the Sands. This army came in
peace, it demolished their ‘douars.’ This army came in peace, it cut
down their fig trees and their vines. This army came in peace, it burnt
the houses of all their people. This army came in peace, it slaughtered
their troops to the numbers of many myriads. This army came in peace, it
brought back great numbers of their people as living captives, for which
thing his Majesty praised me more than for aught else.” * As a matter of
fact, these poor wretches were sent off as soon as taken to the quarries
or to the dockyards, thus relieving the king from the necessity of
imposing compulsory labour too frequently on his Egyptian subjects.

     * The locality of the tribes against which Uni waged war
     can, I think, be fixed by certain details of the campaign,
     especially the mention of the oval or circular enclosures
     “ûanît” within which they entrenched themselves. These
     enclosures, or ndars, correspond to the nadami which are
     mentioned by travellers in these regions, and which are
     singularly characteristic. The “Lords of the Sands”
      mentioned by Uni occupied the naûami country, i.e. the Negeb
     regions situated on the edge of the desert of Tih, round
     about Aîn-Qadis, and beyond it as far as Akabah and the Dead
     Sea. Assuming this hypothesis to be correct, the route
     followed by Uni must have been the same as that which was
     discovered and described nearly twenty years ago, by

“His Majesty sent me five times to lead this army in order to penetrate
into the country of the Lords of the Sands, on each occasion of their
revolt against this army, and I bore myself so well that his Majesty
praised me beyond everything.” The Bedouin at length submitted, but
the neighbouring tribes to the north of them, who had no doubt assisted
them, threatened to dispute with Egypt the possession of the territory
which it had just conquered. As these tribes had a seaboard on the
Mediterranean, Uni decided to attack them by sea, and got together a
fleet in which he embarked his army. The troops landed on the coast of
the district of Tiba, to the north of the country of the Lords of the
Sands, thereupon “they set out. I went, I smote all the barbarians, and
I killed all those of them who resisted.” On his return, Uni obtained
the most distinguished marks of favour that a subject could receive,
the right to carry a staff and to wear his sandals in the palace in the
presence of Pharaoh.

These wars had occupied the latter part of the reign; the last of them
took place very shortly before the death of the sovereign. The domestic
administration of Papi I. seems to have been as successful in its
results, as was his activity abroad. He successfully worked the mines
of Sinai, caused them to be regularly inspected, and obtained an unusual
quantity of minerals from them; the expedition he sent thither, in the
eighteenth year of his reign, left behind it a bas-relief in which are
recorded the victories of Uni over the barbarians and the grants
of territory made to the goddess Hâthor. Work was carried on
uninterruptedly at the quarries of Hatnûbû and Kohanû; building
operations were carried on at Memphis, where the pyramid was in course
of erection, at Abydos, whither the oracle of Osiris was already
attracting large numbers of pilgrims, at Tanis, at Bubastis, and
at Heliopolis. The temple of Dendera was falling into ruins; it was
restored on the lines I of the original plans which were accidentally
discovered, and this piety displayed towards one of the most honoured
deities was rewarded, as it deserved to be, by the insertion of the
title of “son of Hâthor” in the royal cartouche. The vassals rivalled
their sovereign in activity, and built new towns on all sides to serve
them as residences, more than one of which was named after the Pharaoh.
The death of Papi I. did nothing to interrupt this movement; the elder
of his two sons by his second wife, Mirirî-ônkhnas, succeeded him
without opposition. Mirnirî Mihtimsaûf I. (Metesouphis) was almost a
child when he ascended the throne. The recently conquered Bedouin gave
him no trouble; the memory of their reverses was still too recent to
encourage them to take advantage of his minority and renew hostilities.
Uni, moreover, was at hand, ready to recommence his campaigns at the
slightest provocation. Metesouphis had retained him in all his offices,
and had even entrusted him with new duties. “Pharaoh appointed me
governor-general of Upper Egypt, from Elephantine in the south to
Letopolis in the north, because my wisdom was pleasing to his Majesty,
because my zeal was pleasing to his Majesty, because the heart of his
Majesty was satisfied with me.... When I was in my place I was above all
his vassals, all his mamelukes, and all his servants, for never had
so great a dignity been previously conferred upon a mere subject. I
fulfilled to the satisfaction of the king my office as superintendent of
the South, so satisfactorily, that it was granted to me to be second in
rank to him, accomplishing all the duties of a superintendent of works,
judging all the cases which the royal administration had to judge in
the south of Egypt as second judge, to render judgment at all hours
determined by the royal administration in this south of Egypt as second
judge, transacting as a governor all the business there was to do in
this south of Egypt.” The honour of fetching the hard stone blocks
intended for the king’s pyramid fell to him by right: he proceeded to
the quarries of Abhaît, opposite Sehel, to select the granite for
the royal sarcophagus and its cover, and to those of Hatnûbû for the
alabaster for the table of offerings. The transport of the table was a
matter of considerable difficulty, for the Nile was low, and the stone
of colossal size: Uni constructed on the spot a raft to carry it, and
brought it promptly to Saqqâra in spite of the sandbanks which obstruct
navigation when the river is low.*

     * Prof. Petrie has tried to prove from the passage which
     relates to the transport, that the date of the reign of Papi
     I. must have been within sixty years of 3240 B.C.; this date
     I believe to be at least four centuries too late. It is,
     perhaps, to this voyage of Uni that the inscription of the
     Vth year of Metesouphis I. refers, given by Blackden-Frazer
     in A Collection of Hieratic Graffiti from the Alabaster
     Quarry of Rat-nub, pl. xv. 2.

This was not the limit of his enterprise: the Pharaohs had not as yet a
fleet in Nubia, and even if they had had, the condition of the channel
was such as to prevent it from making the passage of the cataract.
He demanded acacia-wood from the tribes of the desert, the peoples
of Iritit and Uaûaît, and from the Mâzaiû, laid down his ships on the
stocks, built three galleys and two large lighters in a single year;
during this time the river-side labourers had cleared five channels
through which the flotilla passed and made its way to Memphis with
its ballast of granite. This was Uni’s last exploit; he died shortly
afterwards, and was buried in the cemetery at Abydos, in the sarcophagus
which had been given him by Papi I.

[Illustration: 265.jpg THE ISLAND OF ELEPHANTINE]

     Plan drawn up by Thuillier, from the Map of the _Commission

Was it solely to obtain materials for building the pyramid that he
had re-established communication by water between Egypt and Nubia? The
Egyptians were gaining ground in the south every day, and under their
rule the town of Elephantine was fast becoming a depot for trade with
the Soudan.*

     * The growing importance of Elephantine is shown by the
     dimensions of the tombs which its princes had built for
     themselves, as well as by the number of graffiti
     commemorating the visits of princes and functionaries, and
     still remaining at the present day.

The town occupied only the smaller half of a long narrow island, which
was composed of detached masses of granite, formed gradually into a
compact whole by accumulations of sand, and over which the Nile, from
time immemorial, had deposited a thick coating of its mud. It is now
shaded by acacias, mulberry trees, date trees, and dôm palms, growing in
some places in lines along the pathways, in others distributed in groups
among the fields. Half a dozen saqiyehs, ranged in a line along the
river-bank, raise water day and night, with scarcely any cessation of
their monotonous creaking. The inhabitants do not allow a foot of their
narrow domain to lie idle; they have cultivated wherever it is possible
small plots of durra and barley, bersim and beds of vegetables.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Beato. In the
     foreground are the ruins of the Roman mole built of brick,
     which protected the entrance to the harbour of Syene; in the
     distance is the Libyan range, surmounted by the ruins of
     several mosques and of a Coptic monastery. Cf. the woodcut
     on p. 275 of the present work.

A few scattered buffaloes and cows graze in corners, while fowls and
pigeons without number roam about in flocks on the look-out for what
they can pick up. It is a world in miniature, tranquil and pleasant,
where life is passed without effort, in a perpetually clear atmosphere
and in the shade of trees which never lose their leaf. The ancient city
was crowded into the southern extremity, on a high plateau of granite
beyond the reach of inundations. Its ruins, occupying a space half a
mile in circumference, are heaped around a shattered temple of Khnûrnû,
of which the most ancient parts do not date back beyond the sixteenth
century before our era.

[Illustration: 267.jpg THE FIRST CATARACT]

     Map by Thuillier, from _La Description de l’Egypte, Ant_.,
     vol. i. pl. 30, 1. I have added the ancient names in those
     cases where it has been possible to identify them with the
     modern localities.

It was surrounded with walls, and a fortress of sun-dried brick perched
upon a neighbouring island to the south-west, gave it complete com-mand
over the passages of the cataract. An arm of the river ninety yards wide
separated it from Sûanît, whose closely built habitations were
ranged along the steep bank, and formed, as it were, a suburb. Marshy
pasturages occupied the modern site of Syene; beyond these were gardens,
vines, furnishing wine celebrated throughout the whole of Egypt, and a
forest of date palms running towards the north along the banks of the
stream. The princes of the nome of Nubia encamped here, so to speak,
as frontier-posts of civilization, and maintained frequent but variable
relations with the people of the desert. It gave the former no trouble
to throw, as occasion demanded it, bodies of troops on the right or left
sides of the valley, in the direction of the Red Sea or in that of the
Oasis; however little they might carry away in their raids--of oxen,
slaves, wood, charcoal, gold dust, amethysts, cornelian or green felspar
for the manufacture of ornaments--it was always so much to the good, and
the treasury of the prince profited by it. They never went very far in
their expeditions: if they desired to strike a blow at a distance,
to reach, for example, those regions of Pûanît of whose riches the
barbarians were wont to boast, the aridity of the district around the
second cataract would arrest the advance of their foot-soldiers, while
the rapids of Wady Haifa would offer an almost impassable barrier to
their ships. In such distant operations they did not have recourse to
arms, but disguised themselves as peaceful merchants. An easy road led
almost direct from their capital to Ras Banât, which they called the
“Head of Nekhabît,” on the Red Sea; arrived at the spot where in later
times stood one of the numerous Berenices, and having quickly put
together a boat from the wood of the neighbouring forest, they made
voyages along the coast, as far as the Sinaitic peninsula and the
Hirû-Shâîtû on the north, as well as to the land of Pûânît itself on
the south. The small size of these improvised vessels rendered such
expeditions dangerous, while it limited their gain; they preferred,
therefore, for the most part the land journey.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Golénischeff.

It was fatiguing and interminable: donkeys--the only beast of burden
they were acquainted with, or, at least, employed--could make but short
stages, and they spent months upon months in passing through countries
which a caravan of camels would now traverse in a few weeks.*

     * The _History of the Peasant_, in the Berlin Papyri Nos.
     ii. and iv., affords us a good example of the use made of
     pack-asses; the hero was on his way across the desert, from
     the “Wady Natrûn” to Henasieh, with a quantity of merchandise
     which he intended to sell, when an unscrupulous artisan,
     under cover of a plausible pretext, stole his train of pack-
     asses and their loads. Hirkhûf brought back with him a
     caravan of three hundred asses from one of his journeys; cf.
     p. 278 of the present work.

The roads upon which they ventured were those which, owing to the
necessity for the frequent watering of the donkeys and the impossibility
of carrying with them adequate supplies of water, were marked out at
frequent intervals by wells and springs, and were therefore necessarily
of a tortuous and devious character. Their choice of objects for barter
was determined by the smallness of their bulk and weight in comparison
with their value. The Egyptians on the one side were provided with
stocks of beads, ornaments, coarse cutlery, strong perfumes, and rolls
of white or coloured cloth, which, after the lapse of thirty-five
centuries, are objects still coveted by the peoples of Africa. The
aborigines paid for these articles of small value, in gold, either
in dust or in bars, in ostrich feathers, lions’ and leopards’ skins,
elephants’ tusks, cowrie shells, billets of ebony, incense, and gum
arabic. Considerable value was attached to cynocephali and green
monkeys, with which the kings or the nobles amused themselves, and which
they were accustomed to fasten to the legs of their chairs on days of
solemn reception; but the dwarf, the Danga, was the rare commodity which
was always in demand, but hardly ever attainable.*

     * Domichen, _Geographische Inschriften_, vol. i. xxxi. 1. 1,
     where the dwarfs and pigmies who came to the court of the
     king, in the period of the Ptolemies, to serve in his
     household, are mentioned. Various races of diminutive
     stature, which have since been driven down to the upper
     basin of the Congo, formerly extended further northward, and
     dwelt between Darfûr and the marshes of Bahr-el-Ghazâl. As
     to the Danga, cf. what has been said on p. 226 of the
     present work.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph taken by Dévèria in 1864.

Partly by commerce, and partly by pillage, the lords of Elephantine
became rapidly wealthy, and began to play an important part among the
nobles of the Said: they were soon obliged to take serious precautions
against the cupidity which their wealth excited among the tribes of
Konusît. They entrenched themselves behind a wall of sun-dried brick,
some seven and a half miles long, of which the ruins are still an object
of wonder to the traveller. It was flanked towards the north by the
ramparts of Syene, and followed pretty regularly the lower course of the
valley to its abutment at the port of Mahatta opposite Philas: guards
distributed along it, kept an eye upon the mountain, and uttered a
call to arms, when the enemy came within sight. Behind this bulwark
the population felt quite at ease, and could work without fear at the
granite quarries on behalf of the Pharaoh, or pursue in security their
callings of fishermen and sailors. The inhabitants of the village of
Satît and of the neighbouring islands claimed from earliest times the
privilege of piloting the ships which went up and down the rapids,
and of keeping clear the passages which were used for navigation.
They worked under the protection of their goddesses Anûkît and Satît:
travellers of position were accustomed to sacrifice in the temple of the
goddesses at Sehêl, and to cut on the rock votive inscriptions in their
honour, in gratitude for the prosperous voyage accorded to them. We meet
their scrawls on every side, at the entrance and exit of the cataract,
and on the small islands where they moored their boats at nightfall
during the four or five days required for the passage; the bank of
the stream between Elephantine and Philæ is, as it were, an immense
visitors’ book, in which every generation of Ancient Egypt has in turn
inscribed itself. The markets and streets of the twin cities must have
presented at that time the same motley blending of types and costumes
which we might have found some years back in the bazaars of modern
Syene. Nubians, negroes of the Soudan, perhaps people from Southern
Arabia, jostled there with Libyans and Egyptians of the Delta. What the
princes did to make the sojourn of strangers agreeable, what temples
they consecrated to their god Khnûmû and his companions, in gratitude
for the good things he had bestowed upon them, we have no means of
knowing up to the present. Elephantine and Syene have preserved for us
nothing of their ancient edifices; but the tombs which they have left
tell us their history. They honeycomb in long lines the sides of the
steep hill which looks down upon the whole extent of the left bank of
the Nile opposite the narrow channel of the port of Aswan. A rude flight
of stone steps led from the bank to the level of the sepulchres. The
mummy having been carried slowly on the shoulders of the bearers to the
platform, was deposited for a moment at the entrance cf the chapel.
The decoration of the latter was rather meagre, and was distinguished
neither by the delicacy of its execution nor by the variety of the
subjects. More care was bestowed upon the exterior, and upon the walls
on each side of the door, which could be seen from the river or from the
streets of Elephantine. An inscription borders the recess, and boasts
to every visitor of the character of the occupant: the portrait of the
deceased, and sometimes that of his son, stand to the right and left:
the scenes devoted to the offerings come next, when an artist of
sufficient skill could be found to engrave them.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Insinger. The
     entrance to the tombs are halfway up; the long trench,
     cutting the side of the mountain obliquely, shelters the
     still existing steps which led to the tombs of Pharaonic
     times. On the sky-line may be noted the ruins of several
     mosques and Coptic monasteries.

The expeditions of the lords of Elephantine, crowned as they frequently
were with success, soon attracted the attention of the Pharaohs:
Metesouphis deigned to receive in person at the cataract the homage of
the chiefs of Ûaûaît and Iritît and of the Màzaiû during the early days
of the fifth year of his reign.*

     * The words used in the inscription, “The king himself went
     and returned, ascending the mountain to see what there was
     on the mountain,” prove that Metesouphis inspected the
     quarries in person. Another inscription, discovered in 1893,
     gives the year V. as the date of his journey to Elephantine,
     and adds that he had negotiations with the heads of the four
     great Nubian races.

The most celebrated caravan guide at this time was Hirkhûf, own cousin
to Mikhû, Prince of Elephantine. He had entered upon office under the
auspices of his father Iri, “the sole friend.” A king whose name he does
not mention, but who was perhaps Unas, more probably Papi I., despatched
them both to the country of the Amamît. The voyage occupied seven
months, and was extraordinarily successful: the sovereign, encouraged by
this unexpected good fortune, resolved to send out a fresh expedition.
Hirkhûf had the sole command of it; he made his way through Iritît,
explored the districts of Satir and Darros, and retraced his steps
after an absence of eight months. He brought back with him a quantity
of valuable commodities, “the like of which no one had ever previously
brought back.” He was not inclined to regain his country by the ordinary
route: he pushed boldly into the narrow wadys which furrow the territory
of the people of Iritît, and emerged upon the region of Situ, in the
neighbourhood of the cataract, by paths in which no official traveller
who had visited the Amamît had up to this time dared to travel. A third
expedition which started out a few years later brought him into regions
still less frequented. It set out by the Oasis route, proceeded towards
the Amamît, and found the country in an uproar. The sheikhs had convoked
their tribes, and were making preparations to attack the Timihû “towards
the west corner of the heaven,” in that region where stand the pillars
which support the iron firmament at the setting sun. The Timihû were
probably Berbers by race and language. Their tribes, coming from beyond
the Sahara, wandered across the frightful solitudes which bound the Nile
Valley on the west. The Egyptians had constantly to keep a sharp look
out for them, and to take precautions against their incursions; having
for a long time acted only on the defensive, they at length took the
offensive, and decided, not without religious misgivings, to pursue
them to their retreats. As the inhabitants of Mendes and of Busiris
had relegated the abode of their departed to the recesses of the
impenetrable marshes of the Delta, so those of Siût and Thinis had at
first believed that the souls of the deceased sought a home beyond the
sands: the good jackal Anubis acted as their guide, through the gorge
of the Cleft or through the gate of the Oven, to the green islands
scattered over the desert, where the blessed dwelt in peace at a
convenient distance from their native cities and their tombs. They
constituted, as we know, a singular folk, those _uiti_ whose members
dwelt in coffins, and who had put on the swaddling clothes of the dead;
the Egyptians called the Oasis which they had colonised, the land of the
shrouded, or of mummies, _ûît_, and the name continued to designate
it long after the advance of geographical knowledge had removed this
paradise further towards the west. The Oases fell one after the other
into the hands of frontier princes--that of Bahnesa coming under the
dominion of the lord of Oxyrrhynchus, that of Dakhel under the lords of
Thinis. The Nubians of Amamît had relations, probably, with the Timihû,
who owned the Oasis of Dush--a prolongation of that of Dakhel, on the
parallel of Elephantine. Hirkhûf accompanied the expedition to the
Amamît, succeeded in establishing peace among the rival tribes, and
persuaded them “to worship all the gods of Pharaoh:” he afterwards
reconciled the Iritît, Amamît, and Ûaûaît, who lived in a state of
perpetual hostility to each other, explored their valleys, and collected
from them such quantities of incense, ebony, ivory, and skins that three
hundred asses were required for their transport.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph, taken in 1892, by
     Alexander Gayet.

He was even fortunate enough to acquire a Danga from the land of ghosts,
resembling the one brought from Pûanît by Biûrdidi in the reign of Assi
eighty years before. Metesouphis, in the mean time, had died, and his
young brother and successor, Papi II., had already been a year upon the
throne. The new king, delighted to possess a dwarf who could perform
“the dance of the god,” addressed a rescript to Hirkhuf to express his
satisfaction; at the same time he sent him a special messenger, Uni, a
distant relative to Papi I.’s minister, who was to invite him to come
and give an account of his expedition. The boat in which the explorer
embarked to go down to Memphis, also brought the Danga, and from that
moment the latter became the most important personage of the party. For
him all the royal officials, lords, and sacerdotal colleges hastened to
prepare provisions and means of conveyance; his health was of greater
importance than that of his protector, and he was anxiously watched
lest he should escape. “When he is with thee in the boat, let there be
cautious persons about him, lest he should fall into the water; when he
rests during the night, let careful people sleep beside him, in case of
his escaping quickly in the night-time. For my Majesty desires to see
this dwarf more than all the treasures which are being imported from
the land of Pûanît.” Hirkhûf, on his return to Elephantine, engraved the
royal letter and the detailed account of his journeys to the lands of
the south, on the façade of his tomb.

These repeated expeditions produced in course of time more important
and permanent results than the capture of an accomplished dwarf, or the
acquisition of a fortune by an adventurous nobleman. The nations which
these merchants visited were accustomed to hear so much of Egypt, its
industries, and its military force, that they came at last to entertain
an admiration and respect for her, not unmingled with fear: they learned
to look upon her as a power superior to all others, and upon her king as
a god whom none might resist. They adopted Egyptian worship, yielded to
Egypt their homage, and sent the Egyptians presents: they were won over
by civilization before being subdued by arms. We are not acquainted
with the manner in which Nofirkiri-Papi II. turned these friendly
dispositions to good account in extending his empire to the south. The
expeditions did not all prove so successful as that of Hirkhûf, and one
at least of the princes of Elephantine, Papinakhîti, met with his death
in the course of one of them. Papi II. had sent him on a mission, after
several others, “to make profit out of the Ûaûaiû and the Iritît.” He
killed considerable numbers in this raid, and brought back great spoil,
which he shared with Pharaoh; “for he was at the head of many warriors,
chosen from among the bravest,” which was the cause of his success in
the enterprise with which his Holiness had deigned to entrust him. Once,
however, the king employed him in regions which were not so familiar to
him as those of Nubia, and fate was against him. He had received orders
to visit the Amu, the Asiatic tribes inhabiting the Sinaitic Peninsula,
and to repeat on a smaller scale in the south the expedition which Uni
had led against them in the north; he proceeded thither, and his sojourn
having come to an end, he chose to return by sea. To sail towards
Pûanît, to coast up as far as the “Head of Nekhabît,” to land there
and make straight for Elephantine by the shortest route, presented no
unusual difficulties, and doubtless more than one traveller or general
of those times had safely accomplished it; Papinakhîti failed miserably.
As he was engaged in constructing his vessel, the Hirû-Shâîtû fell
upon him and massacred him, as well as the detachment of troops who
accompanied him: the remaining soldiers brought home his body, which was
buried by the side of the other princes in the mountain opposite Syene.
Papi II. had ample leisure to avenge the death of his vassal and to
send fresh expeditions to Iritît, among the Amamît and even beyond, if,
indeed, as the author of the chronological Canon of Turin asserts,* he
really reigned for more than ninety years; but the monuments are almost
silent with regard to him, and give us no information about his possible
exploits in Nubia. An inscription of his second year proves that he
continued to work the Sinaitic mines, and that he protected them from
the Bedouin.

     * The fragments of Manetho and the Canon of Eratosthenes
     agree in assigning to him a reign of a hundred years--a fact
     which seems to indicate that the missing unit in the Turin
     list was nine: Papi II. would have thus died in the hundreth
     year of his reign. A reign of a hundred years is impossible:
     Mihtimsaûf I. having reigned fourteen years, it would be
     necessary to assume that Papi II., son of Papi I., should
     have lived a hundred and fourteen years at the least, even
     on the supposition that he was a posthumous child. The
     simplest solution is to suppose (1) that Papi II. lived a
     hundred years, as Ramses II. did in later times, and that
     the years of his life were confounded with the years of his
     reign; or (2) that, being the brother of Mihtimsaûf I., he
     was considered as associated with him on the throne, and
     that the hundred years of his reign, including the fourteen
     of the latter prince, were identified with the years of his
     life. We may, moreover, believe that the chronologists, for.
     lack of information on the VIth dynasty, have filled the
     blanks in their annals by lengthening the reign of Papi II.,
     which in any case must have been very long.

On the other hand, the number and beauty of the tombs in which mention
is made of him, bear witness to the fact that Egypt enjoyed continued
prosperity. Recent discoveries have done much to surround this king and
his immediate predecessors with an air of reality which is lacking in
many of the later Pharaohs.

[Illustration: 282.jpg HEAD OF THE MUMMY OF METESOUPHIS I]

     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-Bey. The
     mummy is now in the Gîzeh Museum (cf. Maspero, _Guide au
     Musée de Boulaq_, pp. 347, 348, No. 5250).

Their pyramids, whose familiar designations we have deciphered in the
texts, have been uncovered at Saqqâra, and the inscriptions which they
contain, reveal to us the names of the sovereigns who reposed within.
Unas, Teti III., Papi I., Mete-souphis I., and Papi II. now have as
clearly defined a personality for us as Ramses II. or Seti I.; even the
mummy of Metesouphis has been discovered near his sarcophagus, and can
be seen under glass in the Gîzeh Museum. The body is thin and slender;
the head refined, and ornamented with the thick side-lock of boyhood;
the features can be easily distinguished, although the lower jaw has
disappeared and the pressure of the bandages has flattened the nose.
All the pyramids of the dynasty are of a uniform-type, the model being
furnished by that of Unas. The entrance is in the centre of the northern
façade, underneath the lowest course, and on the ground-level.
An inclined passage, obstructed by enormous stones, leads to an
antechamber, whose walls are partly bare, and partly covered with long
columns of hieroglyphs: a level passage, blocked towards the middle by
three granite barrier, ends in a nearly square chamber; on the left are
three low cells devoid of ornament, and on the right an oblong chamber
containing the sarcophagus.

[Illustration: 283.jpg PLAN OF THE PYRAMID OF UNAS]

     From drawings by Maspero, _La Pyramide d’Ounas_, in the
     _Recueil de Travaux_, vol. iv. p. 177.

These two principal rooms had high-pitched roofs. They were composed of
large slabs of limestone, the upper edges of which leaned one against
the other, while the lower edges rested on a continuous ledge which ran
round the chamber: the first row of slabs was surmounted by a second,
and that again by a third, and the three together effectively protected
the apartments of the dead against the thrust of the superincumbent
mass, or from the attacks of robbers. The wall-surfaces close to the
sarcophagus in the pyramid of Unas are decorated with many-coloured
ornaments and sculptured and painted doors representing the front of
a house: this was, in fact, the dwelling of the double, in which he
resided with the dead body.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph, taken in 1881, by Émil

The inscriptions, like the pictures in the tombs, were meant to furnish
the sovereign with provisions, to dispel serpents and malevolent
divinities, to keep his soul from death, and to lead him into the bark
of the sun or into the Paradise of Osiris. They constitute a portion of
a vast book, whose chapters are found scattered over the monuments of
subsequent periods. They are the means of restoring to us, not only the
religion but the most ancient language of Egypt: the majority of the
formulas contained in them were drawn up in the time of the earliest
human kings, perhaps even before Menés.

The history of the VIth dynasty loses itself in legend and fable.
Two more kings are supposed to have succeeded Papi Nofirkeri, Mirnirî
Mihtimsaût (Metesouphis II.) and Nîtaûqrît (Nitokris). Metesouphis II.
was killed, so runs the tale, in a riot, a year after his accession.*

     * Manetho does not mention this fact, but the legend given
     by Herodotus says that Nitokris wished to avenge the king,
     her brother and predecessor, who was killed in a revolution;
     and it follows from the narrative of the facts that this
     anonymous brother was the Metesouphis of Manetho. The Turin
     Papyrus assigns a reign of a year and a month to Mihtimsaul-
     Metesouphis II.

His sister, Nitokris, the “rosy-cheeked,” to whom, as was the custom, he
was married, succeeded him and avenged his death. She built an immense
subterranean hall; under pretext of inaugurating its completion, but in
reality with a totally different aim, she then invited to a great feast,
and received in this hall, a considerable number of Egyptians from among
those whom she knew to have been instigators of the crime. During the
entertainment, she diverted the waters of the Nile into the hall by means
of a canal which she had kept concealed. This is what is related of her.
They add, that “after this, the queen, of her own will, threw herself
into a great chamber filled with ashes, in order to escape punishment.”
 She completed the pyramid of Mykerinos, by adding to it that costly
casing of Syenite which excited the admiration of travellers; she
reposed in a sarcophagus of blue basalt, in the very centre of the
monument, above the secret chamber where the pious Pharaoh had hidden
his mummy.*

     * The legend which ascribes the building of the third
     pyramid to a woman has been preserved by Herodotus: E. de
     Bunsen, comparing it with the observations of Vyse, was
     inclined to attribute to Nitokris the enlarging of the
     monument, which appears to me to have been the work of
     Mykerinos himself.

The Greeks, who had heard from their dragomans the story of the
“Rosy-cheeked Beauty,” metamorphosed the princess into a courtesan,
and for the name of Nitokris, substituted the more harmonious one of
Rhodopis, which was the exact translation of the characteristic epithet
of the Egyptian queen. One day while she was bathing in the river, an
eagle stole one of her gilded sandals, carried it off in the
direction of Memphis, and let it drop in the lap of the king, who was
administering justice in the open air. The king, astonished at the
singular occurrence, and at the beauty of the tiny shoe, caused a search
to be made throughout the country for the woman to whom it belonged:
Rhodopis thus became Queen of Egypt, and could build herself a pyramid.
Even Christianity and the Arab conquest did not entirely efface the
remembrance of the courtesan-princess.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-Bey.

It is said that the spirit of the Southern Pyramid never appears abroad,
except in the form of a naked woman, who is very beautiful, but whose
manner of acting is such, that when she desires to make people fall
in love with her, and lose their wits, she smiles upon them, and
immediately they draw near to her, and she attracts them towards her,
and makes them infatuated with love; so that they at once lose their
wits, and wander aimlessly about the country. Many have seen her moving
round the pyramid about midday and towards sunset. It is Nitokris still
haunting the monument of her shame and her magnificence.*

     * The lists of the VIth dynasty, with the approximate dates
     of the kings, are as follows:--


After her, even tradition is silent, and the history of Egypt remains
a mere blank for several centuries. Manetho admits the existence of
two other Memphite dynasties, of which the first contains seventy kings
during as many days. Akhthoës, the most cruel of tyrants, followed next,
and oppressed his subjects for a long period: he was at last the victim
of raving madness, and met with his death from the jaws of a crocodile.
It is related that he was of Heracleopolite extraction, and the
two dynasties which succeeded him, the IXth and the Xth, were also
Heracleopolitan. The table of Abydos is incomplete, and the Turin
Papyrus, in the absence of other documents, too mutilated to furnish
us with any exact information; the contemporaries of the Ptolemies were
almost entirely ignorant of what took place between the end of the VIth
and the beginning of the XIIth dynasty; and Egyptologists, not finding
any monuments which they could attribute to this period, thereupon
concluded that Egypt had passed through some formidable crisis out of
which she with difficulty extricated herself.*

     * Marsham (_Canon Chronicus_, edition, of Leipzig, 1676, p.
     29) had already declared in the seventeenth century that he
     felt no hesitation in considering the Heracleopolites as
     identical with the successors of Menes-Misraîm, who reigned
     over the Mestraea, that is, over the Delta only. The idea of
     an Asiatic invasion, analogous to that of the Hyksos, which
     was put forward by Mariette, and accepted by Fr. Lenormant,
     has found its chief supporters in Germany. Bunsen made of
     the Heracleopolitan two subordinate dynasties reigning
     simultaneously in Lower Egypt, and originating at
     Heracleopolis in the Delta: they were supposed to have been
     contemporaries of the last Memphite and first Theban
     dynasties. Lepsius accepted and recognized in the
     Heracleopolitans of the Delta the predecessors of the
     Hyksos, an idea defended by Ebers, and developed by Krall in
     his identification of the unknown invaders with the Hirû-
     Shâîtû: it has been adopted by Ed. Meyer, and by Petrie.

The so-called Heracleopolites of Manetho were assumed to have been the
chiefs of a barbaric people of Asiatic origin, those same “Lords of the
Sands” so roughly handled by Uni, but who are considered to have invaded
the Delta soon after, settled themselves in Heracleopolis Parva as their
capital, and from thence held sway over the whole valley. They appeared
to have destroyed much and built nothing; the state of barbarism into
which they sank, and to which they reduced the vanquished, explaining
the absence of any monuments to mark their occupation. This hypothesis,
however, is unsupported by any direct proof: even the dearth of
monuments which has been cited as an argument in favour of the
theory, is no longer a fact. The sequence of reigns and details of the
revolutions are wanting; but many of the kings and certain facts in
their history are known, and we are able to catch a glimpse of the
general course of events. The VIIth and VIIIth dynasties are Memphite,
and the names of the kings themselves would be evidence in favour of
their genuineness, even if we had not the direct testimony of Manetho:
the one recurring most frequently is that of Nofirkerî, the prenomen of
Papi II., and a third Papi figures in them, who calls himself Papi-Sonbû
to distinguish himself from his namesakes. The little recorded of them
in Ptolemaic times, even the legend of the seventy Pharaohs reigning
seventy days, betrays a troublous period and a rapid change of rulers.*

     * The explanation of Prof. Lauth, according to which Manetho
     is supposed to have made an independent dynasty of the five
     Memphite priests who filled the interregnum of seventy days
     during the embalming of Nitokris, is certainly very
     ingenious, but that is all that can be said for it. The
     legendary source from which Manetho took his information
     distinctly recorded seventy successive kings, who reigned in
     all seventy days, a king a day.

We know as a fact that the successors of Nitokris, in the Royal Turin
Papyrus, scarcely did more than appear upon the throne. Nofirkerî
reigned a year, a month, and a day; Nofîrûs, four years, two months,
and a day; Abu, two years, one month, and a day. Each of them hoped,
no doubt, to enjoy the royal power for a longer period than his
predecessors, and, like the Ati of the VIth dynasty, ordered a pyramid
to be designed for him without delay: not one of them had time to
complete the building, nor even to carry it sufficiently far to leave
any trace behind. As none of them had any tomb to hand his name down to
posterity, the remembrance of them perished with their contemporaries.
By dint of such frequent changes in the succession, the royal authority
became enfeebled, and its weakness favoured the growing influence of the
feudal families and encouraged their ambition. The descendants of those
great lords, who under Papi I. and II. made such magnificent tombs for
themselves, were only nominally subject to the supremacy of the reigning
sovereign; many of them were, indeed, grandchildren of princesses of the
blood, and possessed, or imagined that they possessed, as good a right
to the crown as the family on the throne. Memphis declined, became
impoverished, and dwindled in population. Its inhabitants ceased to
build those immense stone mastabas in which they had proudly displayed
their wealth, and erected them merely of brick, in which the decoration
was almost entirely confined to one narrow niche near the sarcophagus.
Soon the mastaba itself was given up, and the necropolis of the city was
reduced to the meagre proportions of a small provincial cemetery. The
centre of that government, which had weighed so long and so heavily upon
Egypt, was removed to the south, and fixed itself at Heracleopolis the

Volume II., Part .



_The principality of Heracleopolis: Achthoës-Khîti and the
Heracleopolitan dynasties--Supremacy of the great barons: the feudal
fortresses, El-Kab and Abydos; ceaseless warfare, the army--Origin of
the Theban principality: the principality of Sidt, and the struggles of
its lords against the princes of Thebes--The kings of the XIth dynasty
and their buildings: the brick pyramids of Abydos and Thebes, and the
rude character of early Theban art._

_The XIIth dynasty: Amenemdidît I., his accession, his wars; he shares
his throne with his son Usirtasen I., and the practice of a coregnancy
prevails among his immediate successors--The relations of Egypt
with Asia: the Amû in Egypt and the Egyptians among the Bedouin; the
Adventures of Sinûhît--The mining settlements in the Sinaitic peninsula:
Sarbût-el-Khddim and its chapel to Hâthor._

_Egyptian policy in the Nile Valley--Nubia becomes part of Egypt: works
of the Pharaohs, the gold-mines and citadel of Kubân--Defensive
measures at the second cataract: the two fortresses and the Nilometer
of Semnêh--The vile Kush and its inhabitants: the wars against Kûsh
and their consequences; the gold-mines--Expeditions to Pûanît, and
navigation along the coasts of the Bed Sea: the Story of the Shipwrecked

_Public works and new buildings--The restoration of the temples of the
Delta: Tanis and the sphinxes of Amenemhâît III., Bubastis, Heliopolis,
and the temple of Usirtasen I.--The increasing importance of Thebes
and Abydos--Heracleopolis and the Fayûm: the monuments of Begig and of
Biahmil, the fields and water-system of the Fayûm; preference shown by
the Pharaohs for this province--The royal pyramids of Dashdr, Lisht,
Ulahûn, and Haiodra._

_The part played by the feudal lords under the XIIth dynasty--History of
the princes of Mondît-Khûfûi: Khnûmhotpil, Khîti, Amoni-Amenemhâît--The
lords of Thébes, and the accession of the XIIIth dynasty: the Sovkhotpûs
and the Nfirhotpûs--Completion of the conquest of Nubia; the XIVth

[Illustration: 295.jpg PAGE IMAGE]


_The two Heracleopolitan dynasties and the XIIth dynasty--The conquest
of Ethiopia, and the making of Greater Egypt by the Theban kings._

The principality of the Oleander--Nârû--was bounded on the north by the
Memphite nome; the frontier ran from the left bank of the Nile to the
Libyan range, from the neighbourhood of Riqqah to that of Mêdûm. The
principality comprised the territory lying between the Nile and the Bahr
Yûsûf, from the above-mentioned two villages to the Harabshent Canal--a
district known to Greek geographers as the island of Heracleopolis;--it
moreover included the whole basin of the Fâyûm, on the west of the
valley. In very early times it had been divided into three parts: the
Upper Oleander--Nârû Khonîti--the Lower Oleander--Nârû Pahûi--and
the lake land--To-shît; and these divisions, united usually under
the supremacy of one chief, formed a kind of small state, of which
Heracleopolis was always the capital. The soil was fertile, well
watered, and well tilled, but the revenues from this district, confined
between the two arms of the river, were small in comparison with the
wealth which their ruler derived from his hands on the other side of the
mountain range. The Fayûm is approached by a narrow and winding gorge,
more than six miles in length--a depression of natural formation,
deepened by the hand of man to allow a free passage to the waters of the
Nile. The canal which conveys them leaves the Bahr Yûsûf at a point a
little to the north of Heracleopolis, carries them in a swift stream
through the gorge in the Libyan chain, and emerges into an immense
amphitheatre, whose highest side is parallel to the Nile valley, and
whose terraced slopes descend abruptly to about a hundred feet below the
level of the Mediterranean. Two great arms separate themselves from this
canal to the right and left--the Wady Tamieh and the Wady Nazleh; they
wind at first along the foot of the hills, and then again approaching
each other, empty themselves into a great crescent or horn-shaped lake,
lying east and west--the Moeris of Strabo, the Birket-Kerun of the
Arabs. A third branch penetrates the space enclosed by the other two,
passes the town of Shodû, and is then subdivided into numerous canals
and ditches, whose ramifications appear on the map as a network
resembling the reticulations of a skeleton leaf. The lake formerly
extended beyond its present limits, and submerged districts from which
it has since withdrawn.*

     * Most of the specialists who have latterly investigated the
     Fayûm have greatly exaggerated the extent of the Birket-
     Kerûn in historic times. Prof. Petrie states that it covered
     the whole of the present province throughout the time of the
     Memphite kings, and that it was not until the reign of
     Amenemhâît I. that even a very small portion was drained.
     Major Brown adopts this theory, and considers that it was
     under Amenemhâît III. that the great lake of the Fayûm was
     transformed into a kind of artificial reservoir, which was
     the Mceris of Herodotus. The city of Shodû, Shadû, Shadît--
     the capital of the Fayûm--and its god Sovkû are mentioned
     even in the Pyramid texts: and the eastern district of the
     Fayûm is named in the inscription of Amten, under the IIIrd

[Illustration: 297.jpg MAP, THE FAYUM]

In years when the inundation was excessive, the surplus waters were
discharged into the lake; when, however, there was a low Nile, the
storage which had not been absorbed by the soil was poured back into
the valley by the same channels, and carried down by the Bahr-Yûsûf to
augment the inundation of the Western Delta.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the original in the Louvre

The Nile was the source of everything in this principality, and hence
they were gods of the waters who received the homage of the three nomes.
The inhabitants of Heracleopolis worshipped the ram Harshafîtû, with
whom they associated Osiris of Narûdûf as god of the dead; the people
of the Upper Oleander adored a second ram, Khnûmû of Hâsmonîtû, and the
whole Fayûm was devoted to the cult of Sovkû the crocodile. Attracted by
the fertility of the soil, the Pharaohs of the older dynasties had
from time to time taken up their residence in Heracleopolis or its
neighbourhood, and one of them--Snofrûi--had built his pyramid at Mêdûm,
close to the frontier of the nome. In proportion as the power of the
Memphites declined, the princes of the Oleander grew more vigorous and
enterprising; and when the Memphite kings passed away, these princes
succeeded their former masters and sat “upon the throne of Horus.”

The founder of the IXth dynasty was perhaps Khîti I., Miribrî, the
Akhthoës of the Greeks. He ruled over all Egypt, and his name has been
found on rocks at the first cataract. A story dating from the time of
the Ramessides mentions his wars against the Bedouin of the regions east
of the Delta; and what Manetho relates of his death is merely a romance,
in which the author, having painted him as a sacrilegious tyrant like
Kheops and Khephren, states that he was dragged down under the water and
there devoured by a crocodile or hippopotamus, the appointed avengers of
the offended gods. His successors seem to have reigned ingloriously
for more than a century. Their deeds are unknown to history, but it
was under the reign of one of them--Nibkaûrî--that a travelling fellah,
having been robbed of his earnings by an artisan, is said to have
journeyed to Heracleopolis to demand justice from the governor, or
to charm him by the eloquence of his pleadings and the variety of his
metaphors. It would, of course, be idle to look for the record of any
historic event in this story; the common people, moreover, do not long
remember the names of unimportant princes, and the tenacity with
which the Egyptians treasured the memories of several kings of the
Heracleopolitan line amply proves that, whether by their good or evil
qualities, they had at least made a lasting impression upon the popular


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Grébaut. The
     illustration shows a breach where the gate stood, and the
     curves of the brickwork courses can clearly be traced both
     to the right and the left of the opening.

The history of this period, as far as we can discern it through the
mists of the past, appears to be one confused struggle: from north to
south war raged without intermission; the Pharaohs fought against their
rebel vassals, the nobles fought among themselves, and--what scarcely
amounted to warfare--there were the raids on all sides of pillaging
bands, who, although too feeble to constitute any serious danger to
large cities, were strong enough either in numbers or discipline to
render the country districts uninhabitable, and to destroy national
prosperity. The banks of the Nile already bristled with citadels,
where the monarchs lived and kept watch over the lands subject to their
authority: other fortresses were established wherever any commanding
site--such as a narrow part of the river, or the mouth of a defile
leading into the desert--presented itself. All were constructed on
the same plan, varied only by the sizes of the areas enclosed, and the
different thickness of the outer walls. The outline of their ground-plan
formed a parallelogram, whose enclosure wall was often divided into
vertical panels easily distinguished by the different arrangements of
the building material. At El-Kab and other places the courses of crude
brick are slightly concave, somewhat resembling a wide inverted arch
whose outer curve rests on the ground. In other places there was a
regular alternation of lengths of curved courses, with those in which
the courses were strictly horizontal. The object of this method of
structure is still unknown, but it is thought that such building offers
better resistance to shocks of earthquake. The most ancient fortress
at Abydos, whose ruins now lie beneath the mound of Kom-es-Sultân, was
built in this way. Tombs having encroached upon it by the time of the
VIth dynasty, it was shortly afterwards replaced by another and similar
fort, situate rather more than a hundred yards to the south-east;
the latter is still one of the best-preserved specimens of military
architecture dating from the times immediately preceding the first
Theban empire.*

     * My first opinion was that the second fortress had been
     built towards the time of the XVIIIth dynasty at the
     earliest, perhaps even under the XXth. Further consideration
     of the details of its construction and decoration now leads
     me to attribute it to the period between the VIth and XIIth


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-Bey.
     Modern Arabs call it Shûnet-ez-Zébïb, the storehouse of

The exterior is unbroken by towers or projections of any kind, and
consists of four sides, the two longer of which are parallel to each
other and measure 143 yards from east to west: the two shorter sides,
which are also parallel, measure 85 yards from north to south. The outer
wall is solid, built in horizontal courses, with a slight batter, and
decorated by vertical grooves, which at all hours of the day diversify
the surface with an incessant play of light and shade. When perfect it
can hardly have been less than 40 feet in height. The walk round the
ramparts was crowned by a slight, low parapet, with rounded battlements,
and was reached by narrow staircases carefully constructed in the
thickness of the walls. A battlemented covering wall, about five and a
half yards high, encircled the building at a distance of some four feet.
The fortress itself was entered by two gates, and posterns placed at
various points between them provided for sorties of the garrison. The
principal entrance was concealed in a thick block of building at the
southern extremity of the east front. The corresponding entrance in
the covering wall was a narrow opening closed by massive wooden doors;
behind it was a small _place d’armes_, at the further end of which was
a second gate, as narrow as the first, and leading into an oblong court
hemmed in between the outer rampart and two bastions projecting at right
angles from it; and lastly, there was a gate purposely placed at the
furthest and least obvious corner of the court. Such a fortress was
strong enough to resist any modes of attack then at the disposal of the
best-equipped armies, which knew but three ways of taking a place by
force, viz. scaling, sapping, and breaking open the gates. The height
of the walls effectually prevented scaling. The pioneers were kept at
a distance by the brave, but if a breach were made in that, the small
flanking galleries fixed outside the battlements enabled the besieged to
overwhelm the enemy with stones and javelins as they approached, and to
make the work of sapping almost impossible. Should the first gate of
the fortress yield to the assault, the attacking party would be crowded
together in the courtyard as in a pit, few being able to enter together;
they would at once be constrained to attack the second gate under a
shower of missiles, and did they succeed in carrying that also, it was
at the cost of enormous sacrifice. The peoples of the Nile Valley
knew nothing of the swing battering-ram, and no representation of
the hand-worked battering-ram has ever been found in any of their
wall-paintings or sculptures; they forced their way into a stronghold
by breaking down its gates with their axes, or by setting fire to its


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a scene in the tomb of Amoni-
     Amenemhâît at Beni-Hasan.

While the sappers were hard at work, the archers endeavoured, by the
accuracy of their aim, to clear the enemy from the curtain, while
soldiers sheltered behind movable mantelets tried to break down the
defences and dismantle the flanking galleries with huge metal-tipped
lances. In dealing with a resolute garrison none of these methods proved
successful; nothing but close siege, starvation, or treachery could
overcome its resistance.

The equipment of Egyptian troops was lacking in uniformity, and men
armed with slings, or bows and arrows, lances, wooden swords, clubs,
stone or metal axes, all fought side by side. The head was protected
by a padded cap, and the body by shields, which were small for light
infantry, but of great width for soldiers of the line. The issue of a
battle depended upon a succession of single combats between foes armed
with the same weapons; the lancers alone seem to have charged in line
behind their huge bucklers. As a rule, the wounds were trifling, and the
great skill with which the shields were used made the risk of injury to
any vital part very slight. Sometimes, however, a lance might be driven
home into a man’s chest, or a vigorously wielded sword or club might
fracture a combatant’s skull and stretch him unconscious on the ground.
With the exception of those thus wounded and incapacitated for flight,
very few prisoners were taken, and the name given to them, “Those struck
down alive”--_sokirûonkhû_--sufficiently indicates the method of their
capture. The troops were recruited partly from the domains of military
fiefs, partly from tribes of the desert or Nubia, and by their aid
the feudal princes maintained the virtual independence which they had
acquired for themselves under the last kings of the Memphite line.
Here and there, at Hermopolis, Shit, and Thebes, they founded actual
dynasties, closely connected with the Pharaonic dynasty, and even
occasionally on an equality with it, though they assumed neither
the crown nor the double cartouche. Thebes was admirably adapted for
becoming the capital of an important state. It rose on the right bank
of the Nile, at the northern end of the curve made by the river towards
Hermonthis, and in the midst of one of the most fertile plains of Egypt.
Exactly opposite to it, the Libyan range throws out a precipitous spur
broken up by ravines and arid amphitheatres, and separated from the
river-bank by a mere strip of cultivated ground which could be easily
defended. A troop of armed men stationed on this neck of land could
command the navigable arm of the Nile, intercept trade with Nubia at
their pleasure, and completely bar the valley to any army attempting to
pass without having first obtained authority to do so. The advantages
of this site do not seem to have been appreciated during the Memphite
period, when the political life of Upper Egypt was but feeble.
Elephantine, El-Kab, and Koptos were at that period the principal cities
of the country. Elephantine particularly, owing to its trade with the
Soudan, and its constant communication with the peoples bordering the
Red Sea, was daily increasing in importance. Hermonthis, the Aûnû of the
South, occupied much the same position, from a religious point of view,
as was held in the Delta by Heliopolis, the Aûnû of the North, and its
god Montû, a form of the Solar Horus, disputed the supremacy with Mînû,
of Koptos. Thebes long continued to be merely an insignificant village
of the Uisit nome and a dependency of Hermonthis. It was only towards
the end of the VIIIth dynasty that Thebes began to realize its power,
after the triumph of feudalism over the crown had culminated in the
downfall of the Memphite kings.

[Illustration: 306.jpg Denderah--Temple of Tentyra]

[Illustration: 306-text.jpg--Temple of Tentyra]

A family which, to judge from the fact that its members affected the
name of Monthotpû, originally came from Hermonthis, settled in Thebes
and made that town the capital of a small principality, which rapidly
enlarged its borders at the expense of the neighbouring nomes. All the
towns and cities of the plain, Mâdûfc, Hfûîfc, Zorît, Hermonthis,
and towards the south, Aphroditopolis Parva, at the gorge of the Two
Mountains (Gebelên) which formed the frontier of the fief of El-Kab,
Kûsît towards the north, Denderah, and Hû, all fell into the hands of
the Theban princes and enormously increased their territory. After the
lapse of a very few years, their supremacy was accepted more or less
willingly by the adjacent principalities of El-Kab, Elephantine, Koptos,
Qasr-es-Sayad, Thinis, and Ekhmîm. Antûf, the founder of the family,
claimed no other title than that of Lord of Thebes, and still submitted
to the suzerainty of the Heracleopolitan kings. His successors
considered themselves strong enough to cast off this allegiance, if
not to usurp all the insignia of royalty, including the uraeus and the
cartouche. Monthotpû I., Antûf II., and Antûf III. must have occupied a
somewhat remarkable position among the great lords of the south, since
their successors credited them with the possession of a unique preamble.
It is true that the historians of a later date did not venture to
place them on a par with the kings who were actually independent; they
enclosed their names in the cartouche without giving them a prenomen;
but, at the same time, they invested them with a title not met with
elsewhere, that of the first Horus--_Horû tapi_. They exercised
considerable power from the outset. It extended over Southern Egypt,
over Nubia, and over the valleys lying between the Nile and the Red
Sea.* The origin of the family was somewhat obscure, but in support
of their ambitious projects, they did not fail to invoke the memory of
pretended alliances between their ancestors and daughters of the solar
race; they boasted of their descent from the Papis, from Usirnirî Anû,
Sahûri, and Snofrûi, and claimed that the antiquity of their titles did
away with the more recent rights of their rivals.

The revolt of the Theban princes put an end to the IXth dynasty, and,
although supported by the feudal powers of Central and Northern Egypt,
and more especially by the lords of the Terebinth nome, who viewed the
sudden prosperity of the Thebans with a very evil eye, the Xth dynasty
did not succeed in bringing them back to their allegiance.**

     * In the “Hall of Ancestors” the title of “Horus” is
     attributed to several Antûfs and Monthotpûs bearing the
     cartouche. This was probably the compiler’s ingenious device
     for marking the subordinate position of these personages as
     compared with that of the Heracleopolitan Pharaohs, who
     alone among their contemporaries had a right to be placed on
     such official lists, even when those lists were compiled
     under the great Theban dynasties. The place in the XIth
     dynasty of princes bearing the title of “Horus” was first
     determined by E. de Rougé.

     ** The history of the house of Thebes was restored at the
     same time as that of the Heracleopolitan dynasties, by
     Maspero, in the _Revue Critique_, 1889, vol. ii. p. 220. The
     difficulty arising from the number of the Theban kings
     according to Manetho, considered in connection with the
     forty-three years which made the total duration of the
     dynasty, has been solved by Barucchi, _Discord critici
     sojpra la Cronologia Egizia_, pp. 131-134. These forty-three
     years represent the length of time that the Theban dynasty
     reigned alone, and which are ascribed to it in the Royal
     Canon; but the number of its kings includes, besides the
     recognized Pharaohs of the line, those princes who were
     contemporary with the Heracleopolitan rulers and are
     officially reckoned as forming the Xth dynasty.

The family which held the fief of Siût when the war broke out, had
ruled there for three generations. Its first appearance on the scene of
history coincided with the accession of Akhthoës, and its elevation was
probably the reward of services rendered by its chief to the head of the
Heracleopolitan family.*

     * By ascribing to the princes of Siut an average reign equal
     to that of the Pharaohs, and admitting with Lepsius that the
     IXth dynasty consisted of four or five kings, the accession
     of the first of these princes would practically coincide
     with the reign of Akhthoës. The name of Khîti, borne by two
     members of this little local dynasty, may have been given in
     memory of the Pharaoh Khiti Miribrî; there was also a second
     Khîti among the Heracleopolitan sovereigns, and one of the
     Khîtis of Siut may have been his contemporary. The family
     claimed a long descent, and said of itself that it was “an
     ancient litter”; but the higher rank and power of “prince”
      --hiqû--it owed to Khîti I. [Miribri?--Ed.] or some other
     king of the Heracleo-politian line.

[Illustration: 309.jpg MAP, PLAIN OF THEBES]

From this time downwards, the title of “ruler”--_hiqû_--which the
Pharaohs themselves sometimes condescended to take, was hereditary in
the family, who grew in favour from year to year. Khiti I., the fourth
of this line of princes, was brought up in the palace of Heracleopolis,
and had learned to swim with the royal children. On his return home
he remained the personal friend of the king, and governed his domains
wisely, clearing the canals, fostering agriculture, and lightening the
taxes without neglecting the army. His heavy infantry, recruited from
among the flower of the people of the north, and his light infantry,
drawn from the pick of the people of the south, were counted by
thousands. He resisted the Theban pretensions with all his might, and
his son Tefabi followed in his footsteps. “The first time,” said he,
“that my foot-soldiers fought against the nomes of the south which were
gathered together from Elephantine in the south to Gau on the north,
I conquered those nomes, I drove them towards the southern frontier, I
overran the left bank of the Nile in all directions. When I came to a
town I threw down its walls, I seized its chief, I imprisoned him at the
port (landing-place) until he paid me ransom. As soon as I had finished
with the left bank, and there were no longer found any who dared resist,
I passed to the right bank; like a swift hare I set full sail for
another chief.... I sailed by the north wind as by the east, by the
south as by the west, and him whose ship I boarded I vanquished utterly;
he was cast into the water, his boats fled to shore, his soldiers were
as bulls on whom falleth the lion; I compassed his city from end to end,
I seized his goods, I cast them into the fire.” Thanks to his energy and
courage, he “extinguished the rebellion by the counsel and according to
the tactics of the jackal Uapûaîtû, god of Siût.”

[Illustration: 310.jpg MAP, THE PRINCIPALITY OF SIÛT]


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Insinger, taken in
     1882. The scene forms part of the decoration of one of the
     walls of the tomb of Khîti III.

From that time “no district of the desert was safe from his terrors,”
 and he “carried flame at his pleasure among the nomes of the south.”
 Even while bringing desolation to his foes, he sought to repair the ills
which the invasion had brought upon his own subjects. He administered
such strict justice that evil-doers disappeared as though by magic.
“When night came, he who slept on the roads blessed me, because he was
as safe as in his own house; for the fear which was shed abroad by my
soldiers protected him; and the cattle in the fields were as safe there
as in the stable; the thief had become an abomination to the god, and he
no longer oppressed the serf, so that the latter ceased to complain, and
paid the exact dues of his land for love of me.” In the time of Khîti
II., the son of Tefabi, the Heracleopolitans were still masters of
Northern Egypt, but their authority was even then menaced by the
turbulence of their own vassals, and Heracleopolis itself drove out the
Pharaoh Mirikarî, who was obliged to take refuge in Siût with that Kkîti
whom he called his father. Khîti gathered together such an extensive
fleet that it encumbered the Nile from Shashhotpû to Gebel-Abufodah,
from one end of the principality of the Terebinth to the other. Vainly
did the rebels unite with the Thebans; Khîti “sowed terror over the
world, and himself alone chastised the nomes of the south.” While he was
descending the river to restore the king to his capital, “the sky grew
serene, and the whole country rallied to him; the commanders of the
south and the archons of Heracleopolis, their legs tremble beneath them
when the royal urous, ruler of the world, comes to suppress crime; the
earth trembles, the South takes ship and flies, all men flee in dismay,
the towns surrender, for fear takes hold on their members.” Mirikarî’s
return was a triumphal progress: “when he came to Heracleopolis the
people ran forth to meet him, rejoicing in their lord; women and men
together, old men as well as children.” But fortune soon changed. Beaten
again and again, the Thebans still returned to the attack; at length
they triumphed, after a struggle of nearly two hundred years, and
brought the two rival divisions of Egypt under their rule.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the original, now in the Museum
     of the Louvre. The palette is of wood, and bears the name of
     a contemporary personage; the outlines of the hieroglyphs
     are inlaid with silver wire. It was probably found in the
     necropolis of Meîr, a little to the north of Siût. The
     sepulchral pyramid of the Pharaoh Mirikarî is mentioned on a
     coffin in the Berlin Museum.

The few glimpses to be obtained of the early history of the first
Theban dynasty give the impression of an energetic and intelligent race.
Confined to the most thinly populated, that is, the least fertile part
of the valley, and engaged on the north in a ceaseless warfare which
exhausted their resources, they still found time for building both at
Thebes and in the most distant parts of their dominions. If their power
made but little progress southwards, at least it did not recede, and
that part of Nubia lying between Aswan and the neighbourhood of Korosko
remained in their possession. The tribes of the desert, the Amamiû, the
Mâzaiû, and the Uaûaiû often disturbed the husbandmen by their sudden
raids; yet, having pillaged a district, they did not take possession of
it as conquerors, but hastily returned to their mountains. The Theban
princes kept them in check by repeated counter-raids, and renewed the
old treaties with them. The inhabitants of the Great Oasis in the west,
and the migratory peoples of the Land of the Gods, recognized the Theban
suzerainty on the traditional terms.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a sketch by Prisse d’Avennes.
     This pyramid is now completely destroyed.

As in the times of Uni, the barbarians made up the complement of the
army with soldiers who were more inured to hardships and more accustomed
to the use of arms than the ordinary fellahîn; and several obscure
Pharaohs--such as Monthotpû I. and Antûf III.--owed their boasted
victories over Libyans and Asiatics* to the energy of their mercenaries.

     * The cartouches of Antûfâa, inscribed on the rocks of
     Elephantine, are the record of a visit which this prince
     paid to Syenê, probably on his return from some raid; many
     similar inscriptions of Pharaohs of the XIIth dynasty were
     inscribed in analogous circumstances. Nûbkhopirrî Antûf
     boasted of having worsted the Amû and the negroes. On one of
     the rocks of the island of Konosso, Monthotpû Nibhotpûrî
     sculptured a scene of offerings in which the gods are
     represented as granting him victory over all peoples. Among
     the ruins of the temple which he built at Gebelên, is a
     scene in which he is presenting files of prisoners from
     different countries to the Theban gods.

But the kings of the XIth dynasty were careful not to wander too far
from the valley of the Nile. Egypt presented a sufficiently wide field
for their activity, and they exerted themselves to the utmost to remedy
the evils from which the country had suffered for hundreds of years.
They repaired the forts, restored or enlarged the temples, and evidences
of their building are found at Koptos, Gebelên, El-Kab, and Abydos.
Thebes itself has been too often overthrown since that time for any
traces of the work of the XIth dynasty kings in the temple of Amon to
be distinguishable; but her necropolis is still full of their “eternal
homes,” stretching in lines across the plain, opposite Karnak, at
Drah abû’l-Neggah, and on the northern slopes of the valley of
Deir-el-Baharî. Some were excavated in the mountain-side, and presented
a square façade of dressed stone, surmounted by a pointed roof in the
shape of a pyramid. Others were true pyramids, sometimes having a pair
of obelisks in front of them, as well as a temple. None of them
attained to the dimensions of the Memphite tombs; for, with only its own
resources at command, the kingdom of the south could not build monuments
to compete with those whose construction had taxed the united efforts of
all Egypt, but it used a crude black brick, made without grit or straw,
where the Egyptians of the north had preferred more costly stone. These
inexpensive pyramids were built on a rectangular base not more than six
and a half feet high; and the whole erection, which was simply faced
with whitewashed stucco, never exceeded thirty-three feet in height. The
sepulchral chamber was generally in the centre; in shape it resembled an
oven, its roof being “vaulted” by the overlapping of the courses.
Often also it was constructed partly in the base, and partly in the
foundations below the base, the empty space above it being intended
merely to lighten the weight of the masonry. There was not always an
external chapel attached to these tombs, but a stele placed on the
substructure, or fixed in one of the outer faces, marked the spot to
which offerings were to be brought for the dead; sometimes, however,
there was the addition of a square vestibule in front of the tomb,
and here, on prescribed days, the memorial ceremonies took place.
The statues of the double were rude and clumsy, the coffins heavy and
massive, and the figures with which they were decorated inelegant and
out of proportion, while the stelæ are very rudely cut. From the time
of the VIth dynasty the lords of the Saïd had been reduced to employing
workmen from Memphis to adorn their monuments; but the rivalry between
the Thebans and the Heracleopolitans, which set the two divisions of
Egypt against each other in constant hostility, obliged the Antufs to
entrust the execution of their orders to the local schools of sculptors
and painters. It is difficult to realize the degree of rudeness to
which the unskilled workmen who made certain of the Akhmîtn and Gebelên
sarcophagi must have sunk; and even at Thebes itself, or at Abydos, the
execution of both bas-reliefs and hieroglyphs shows minute carefulness
rather than any real skill or artistic feeling. Failing to attain to
the beautiful, the Egyptians endeavoured to produce the sumptuous.
Expeditions to the Wady Ham marnât to fetch blocks of granite for
sarcophagi become more and more frequent, and wells were sunk from point
to point along the road leading from Koptos to the mountains. Sometimes
these expeditions were made the occasion for pushing on as far as the
port of Saû and embarking on the Eed Sea. A hastily constructed boat
cruised along by the shore, and gum, incense, gold, and the precious
stones of the country were brought from the land of the Troglodytes. On
the return of the convoy with its block of stone, and various packages
of merchandise, there was no lack of scribes to recount the dangers of
the campaign in exaggerated language, or to congratulate the reigning
Pharaoh on having sown abroad the fame and terror of his name in the
countries of the gods, and as far as the land of Pûanît.

The final overthrow of the Heracleopolitan dynasty, and the union of the
two kingdoms under the rule of the Theban house, are supposed to have
been the work of that Monthotpû whose throne-name was Nibkhrôûrî;
his, at any rate, was the name which the Egyptians of Kamesside times
inscribed in the royal lists as that of the founder and most illustrious
representative of the XIth dynasty. The monuments commemorate his
victories over the Uaûaiû and the barbarous inhabitants of Nubia. Even
after he had conquered the Delta he still continued to reside in Thebes;
there he built his pyramid, and there divine honours were paid him from
the day after his decease. A scene carved on the rocks north of Silsileh
represents him as standing before his son Antûf; he is of gigantic
stature, and one of his wives stands behind him.*

     * Brugsch makes him out to be a descendant of Amenemhâît,
     the prince of Thebes who lived under Monthotpu Nibtûirî, and
     who went to bring the stone for that Pharaoh’s sarcophagus
     from the Wady Hammamât. He had previously supposed him to be
     this prince himself. Either of these hypotheses becomes
     probable, according as Nibtûirî is supposed to have lived
     before or after Nibkhrôûrî.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a sketch by Petrie, _Ten Years’
     Digging in Egypt_, p. 74, No. 2.

Three or four kings followed him in rapid succession; the least
insignificant among them appearing to have been a Monthotpii Nibtouiri.
Nothing but the prenomen--Sonkherî--is known of the last of these latter
princes, who was also the only one of them ever entered on the official
lists. In their hands the sovereignty remained unchanged from what it
had been almost uninterruptedly since the end of the VIth dynasty. They
solemnly proclaimed their supremacy, and their names were inscribed at
the head of public documents; but their power scarcely extended beyond
the limits of their family domain, and the feudal chiefs never concerned
themselves about the sovereign except when he evinced the power or will
to oppose them, allowing him the mere semblance of supremacy over the
greater part of Europe. Such a state of affairs could only be reformed
by revolution. Amenemhâît I., the leader of the new dynasty, was of the
Theban race; whether he had any claim to the throne, or by what means he
had secured the stability of his rule, we do not know. Whether he had
usurped the crown or whether he had inherited it legitimately, he showed
himself worthy of the rank to which fortune had raised him, and the
nobility saw in him a new incarnation of that type of kingship long
known to them by tradition only, namely, that of a Pharaoh convinced of
his own divinity and determined to assert it. He inspected the valley
from one end to another, principality by principality, nome by nome,
“crushing crime, and arising like Tûmû himself; restoring that which he
found in ruins, settling the bounds of the towns, and establishing for
each its frontiers.” The civil wars had disorganized everything; no one
knew what ground belonged to the different nomes, what taxes were due
from them, nor how questions of irrigation could be equitably
decided. Amenemhâît set up again the boundary stelae, and restored its
dependencies to each nome: “He divided the waters among them according
to that which was in the cadastral surveys of former times.” Hostile
nobles, or those whose allegiance was doubtful, lost the whole or part
of their fiefs; those who had welcomed the new order of things received
accessions of territory as the reward of their zeal and devotion.
Depositions and substitutions of princes had begun already in the time
of the XIth dynasty. Antûf V., for instance, finding the lord of Koptos
too lukewarm, had had him removed and promptly replaced. The fief of
Siût accrued to a branch of the family which was less warlike, and above
all less devoted to the old dynasty than that of Khîti had been. Part of
the nome of the Gazelle was added to the dominions of Nûhri, prince of
the Hare nome; the eastern part of the same nome, with Monaît-Khûfûi
as capital, was granted to his father-in-law, Khnûmhotpû I. Expeditions
against the Ûaûaiû, the Mâzaiû, and the nomads of Libya and Arabia
delivered the fellahîn from their ruinous raids and ensured to the
Egyptians safety from foreign attack. Amenemhâît had, moreover, the wit
to recognize that Thebes was not the most suitable place of residence
for the lord of all Egypt; it lay too far to the south, was thinly
populated, ill-built, without monuments, without prestige, and almost
without history. He gave it into the hands of one of his relations to
govern in his name, and proceeded to establish himself in the heart of
the country, in imitation of the glorious Pharaohs from whom he claimed
to be descended. But the ancient royal cities of Kheops and his children
had ceased to exist; Memphis, like Thebes, was now a provincial town,
and its associations were with the VIth and VIIIth dynasties only.
Amenemhâît took up his abode a little to the south of Dahshur, in the
palace of Titoûi, which he enlarged and made the seat of his government.
Conscious of being in the hands of a strong ruler, Egypt breathed freely
after centuries of distress, and her sovereign might in all sincerity
congratulate himself on having restored peace to his country. “I caused
the mourner to mourn no longer, and his lamentation was no longer
heard,--perpetual fighting was no longer witnessed,--while before my
coming they fought together as bulls unmindful of yesterday,--and no
man’s welfare was assured, whether he was ignorant or learned.”--“I
tilled the land as far as Elephantine,--I spread joy throughout the
country, unto the marshes of the Delta.--At my prayer the Nile granted
the inundation to the fields:--no man was an hungered under me, no
man was athirst under me,--for everywhere men acted according to my
commands, and all that I said was a fresh cause of love.”

In the court of Amenemhâît, as about all Oriental sovereigns, there were
doubtless men whose vanity or interests suffered by this revival of
the royal authority; men who had found it to their profit to intervene
between Pharaoh and his subjects, and who were thwarted in their
intrigues or exactions by the presence of a prince determined on keeping
the government in his own hands.

These men devised plots against the new king, and he escaped with
difficulty from their conspiracies. “It was after the evening meal, as
night came on,--I gave myself up to pleasure for a time,--then I
lay down upon the soft coverlets in my palace, I abandoned myself to
repose,--and my heart began to be overtaken by slumber; when, lo! they
gathered together in arms to revolt against me,--and I became weak as
a serpent of the field.--Then I aroused myself to fight with my own
hands,--and I found that I had but to strike the unresisting.--When
I took a foe, weapon in hand, I make the wretch to turn and
flee;--strength forsook him, even in the night; there were none
who contended, and nothing vexatious was effected against me.” The
conspirators were disconcerted by the promptness with which Amenemhâît
had attacked them, and apparently the rebellion was suppressed on the
same night in which it broke out. But the king was growing old, his son
Usirtasen was very young, and the nobles were bestirring themselves in
prospect of a succession which they supposed to be at hand. The best
means of putting a stop to their evil devices and of ensuring the future
of the dynasty was for the king to appoint the heir-presumptive, and at
once associate him with himself in the exercise of his sovereignty. In
the XXth year of his reign, Amenemhâît solemnly conferred the titles and
prerogatives of royalty upon his son Usirtasen: “I raised thee from the
rank of a subject,--I granted thee the free use of thy arm that thou
mightest be feared.--As for me, I apparelled myself in the fine
stuffs of my palace until I appeared to the eye as the flowers of my
garden,--and I perfumed myself with essences as freely as I pour forth
the water from my cisterns.” Usirtasen naturally assumed the active
duties of royalty as his share. “He is a hero who wrought with the
sword, a mighty man of valour without peer: he beholds the barbarians,
he rushes forward and falls upon their predatory hordes. He is the
hurler of javelins who makes feeble the hands of the foe; those whom
he strikes never more lift the lance. Terrible is he, shattering skulls
with the blows of his war-mace, and none resisted him in his time. He is
a swift runner who smites the fugitive with the sword, but none who run
after him can overtake him. He is a heart alert for battle in his time.
He is a lion who strikes with his claws, nor ever lets go his weapon.
He is a heart girded in armour at the sight of the hosts, and who leaves
nothing standing behind him. He is a valiant man rushing forward when
he beholds the fight. He is a soldier rejoicing to fall upon the
barbarians: he seizes his buckler, he leaps forward and kills without
a second blow. None may escape his arrow; before he bends his bow the
barbarians flee from his arms like dogs, for the great goddess has
charged him to fight against all who know not her name, and whom
he strikes he spares not; he leaves nothing alive.” The old Pharaoh
“remained in the palace,” waiting until his son returned to announce
the success of his enterprises, and contributing by his counsel to the
prosperity of their common empire. Such was the reputation for wisdom
which he thus acquired, that a writer who was almost his contemporary
composed a treatise in his name, and in it the king was supposed to
address posthumous instructions to his son on the art of governing. He
appeared to his son in a dream, and thus admonished him: “Hearken unto
my words!--Thou art king over the two worlds, prince over the three
regions. Act still better than did thy predecessors.--Let there be
harmony between thy subjects and thee,--lest they give themselves up to
fear; keep not thyself apart in the midst of them; make not thy brother
solely from the rich and noble, fill not thy heart with them alone;
yet neither do thou admit to thy intimacy chance-comers whose place is
unknown.” The king confirmed his counsels by examples taken from his
own life, and from these we have learned some facts in his history. The
little work was widely disseminated and soon became a classic; in the
time of the XIXth dynasty it was still copied in schools and studied
by young scribes as an exercise in style. Usirfcasen’s share in the
sovereignty had so accustomed the Egyptians to consider this prince
as the king _de facto_, that they had gradually come to write his name
alone upon the monuments. When Amenemhâît died, after a reign of thirty
years, Ûsirtasen was engaged in a war against the Libyans. Dreading an
outbreak of popular feeling, or perhaps an attempted usurpation by
one of the princes of the blood, the high officers of the crown kept
Amenemhâît’s death secret, and despatched a messenger to the camp to
recall the young king. He left his tent by night, unknown to the troops,
returned to the capital before anything had transpired among the
people, and thus the transition from the founder to his immediate
successor--always a delicate crisis for a new dynasty--seemed to
come about quite naturally. The precedent of co-regnancy having been
established, it was scrupulously followed by most of the succeeding
sovereigns. In the XIIIth year of his sovereignty, and after having
reigned alone for thirty-two years, Ûsirtasen I. shared his throne with
Amenemhâît II.; and thirty-two years later Amenemhâît II. acted in a
similar way with regard to Ûsirtasen II. Amenemhâît III. and Amenemhâît
IV. were long co-regnant. The only princes of this house in whose cases
any evidence of co-regnancy is lacking are Ûsirtasen III., and the queen
Sovknofriûrî, with whom the dynasty died out.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a chromolithograph in Lepsius,
     _Denhm._, ii. 133.

It lasted two hundred and thirteen years, one month, and twenty-seven
days,* and its history can be ascertained with greater certainty and
completeness than that of any-other dynasty which ruled over Egypt.

     *This is its total duration, as given in the Turin papyrus.
     Several Egyptologists have thought that Manetho had, in his
     estimate, counted the years of each sovereign as
     consecutive, and have hence proposed to conclude that the
     dynasty only lasted 168 years (Brugscii), or 160 (Lieblein),
     or 194 (Ed. Meyer). It is simpler to admit that the compiler
     of the papyrus was not in error; we do not know the length
     of the reigns of Ûsirtasen II., Ûsirtasen III., and
     Amenemhâît III., and their unknown years may be considered
     as completing the tale of the two hundred and thirteen

We are doubtless far from having any adequate idea of its great
achievements, for the biographies of its eight sovereigns, and the
details of their interminable wars are very imperfectly known to us. The
development of its foreign and domestic policy we can, however, follow
without a break.


Asia had as little attraction for these kings as for their Memphite
predecessors; they seem to have always had a certain dread of its
warlike races, and to have merely contented themselves with repelling
their attacks. Amenemhâît I. had completed the line of fortresses across
the isthmus, and these were carefully maintained by his successors. The
Pharaohs were not ambitious of holding direct sway over the tribes of
the desert, and scrupulously avoided interfering with their affairs
as long as the “Lords of the Sands” agreed to respect the Egyptian
frontier. Commercial relations were none the less frequent and certain
on this account.


Dwellers by the streams of the Delta were accustomed to see the
continuous arrival in their towns of isolated individuals or of whole
bands driven from their homes by want or revolution, and begging for
refuge under the shadow of Pharaoh’s throne, and of caravans offering
the rarest products of the north and of the east for sale. A celebrated
scene in one of the tombs of Beni-Hasan illustrates what usually took
place. We do not know what drove the thirty-seven Asiatics, men, women,
and children, to cross the Red Sea and the Arabian desert and hills in
the VIth year of Usirtasen II.;* they had, however, suddenly appeared in
the Gazelle nome, and were there received by Khîti, the superintendent
of the huntsmen, who, as his duty was, brought them before the prince

     * This bas-relief was first noticed and described by
     Champollion, who took the immigrants for Greeks of the
     archaic period. Others have wished to consider it as
     representing Abraham, the sons of Jacob, or at least a band
     of Jews entering into Egypt, and on the strength of this
     hypothesis it has often been reproduced.

The foreigners presented the prince with green eye-paint, antimony
powder, and two live ibexes, to conciliate his favour; while he, to
preserve the memory of their visit, had them represented in painting
upon the walls of his tomb. The Asiatics carry bows and arrows,
javelins, axes, and clubs, like the Egyptians, and wear long garments or
close-fitting loin-cloths girded on the thigh. One of them plays, as he
goes, on an instrument whose appearance recalls that of the old Greek
lyre. The shape of their arms, the magnificence and good taste of the
fringed and patterned stuffs with which they are clothed, the elegance
of most of the objects which they have brought with them, testify to a
high standard of civilisation, equal at least to that of Egypt. Asia had
for some time provided the Pharaohs with slaves, certain perfumes, cedar
wood and cedar essences, enamelled vases, precious stones, lapis-lazuli,
and the dyed and embroidered woollen fabrics of which Chaldæa kept the
monopoly until the time of the Komans. Merchants of the Delta braved
the perils of wild beasts and of robbers lurking in every valley, while
transporting beyond the isthmus products of Egyptian manufacture, such
as fine linens, chased or _cloisonné_ jewellery, glazed pottery, and
glass paste or metal amulets. Adventurous spirits who found life dull
on the banks of the Nile, men who had committed crimes, or who believed
themselves suspected by their lords on political grounds, conspirators,
deserters, and exiles were well received by the Asiatic tribes, and
sometimes gained the favour of the sheikhs. In the time of the XIIth
dynasty, Southern Syria, the country of the “Lords of the Sands,” and
the kingdom of Kadûma were full of Egyptians whose eventful careers
supplied the scribes and storytellers with the themes of many romances.

Sinûhît, the hero of one of these stories, was a son of Amenemhâît I.,
and had the misfortune involuntarily to overhear a state secret. He
happened to be near the royal tent when news of his father’s sudden
death was brought to Usirtasen. Fearing summary execution, he fled
across the Delta north of Memphis, avoided the frontier-posts, and
struck into the desert. “I pursued my way by night; at dawn I had
reached Pûteni, and set out for the lake of Kîmoîrî. Then thirst fell
upon me, and the death-rattle was in my throat, my throat cleaved
together, and I said, ‘It is the taste of death!’ when suddenly I lifted
up my heart and gathered my strength together: I heard the lowing of the
herds. I perceived some Asiatics; their chief, who had been in Egypt,
knew me; he gave me water, and caused milk to be boiled for me, and
I went with him and joined his tribe.” But still Sinûhît did not feel
himself in safety, and fled into Kadûma, to a prince who had provided an
asylum for other Egyptian exiles, and where he “could hear men speak the
language of Egypt.” Here he soon gained honours and fortune. “The chief
preferred me before his children, giving me his eldest daughter in
marriage, and he granted me that I should choose for myself the best of
his land near the frontier of a neighbouring country. It is an excellent
land, Aîa is its name. Figs are there and grapes; wine is more plentiful
than water; honey abounds in it; numerous are its olives and all the
produce of its trees; there are corn and flour without end, and cattle
of all kinds. Great, indeed, was that which was bestowed upon me when
the prince came to invest me, installing me as prince of a tribe in the
best of his land. I had daily rations of bread and wine, day by day;
cooked meat and roasted fowl, besides the mountain game which I took, or
which was placed before me in addition to that which was brought me by
my hunting dogs. Much butter was made for me, and milk prepared in every
kind of way. There I passed many years, and the children which were born
to me became strong men, each ruling his own tribe. When a messenger was
going to the interior or returning from it, he turned aside from his way
to come to me, for I did kindness to all: I gave water to the thirsty,
I set again upon his way the traveller who had been stopped on it, I
chastised the brigand. The Pitaîtiû, who went on distant campaigns to
fight and repel the princes of foreign lands, I commanded them and
they marched forth; for the prince of Tonû made me the general of his
soldiers for long years. When I went forth to war, all countries towards
which I set out trembled in their pastures by their wells. I seized
their cattle, I took away their vassals and carried off their slaves, I
slew the inhabitants, the land was at the mercy of my sword, of my bow,
of my marches, of my well-conceived plans glorious to the heart of my
prince. Thus, when he knew my valour, he loved me, making me chief among
his children when he saw the strength of my arms.

“A valiant man of Tonu came to defy me in my tent; he was a hero beside
whom there was none other, for he had overthrown all his adversaries. He
said: ‘Let Sinûhît fight with me, for he has not yet conquered me!’ and
he thought to seize my cattle and therewith to enrich his tribe. The
prince talked of the matter with me. I said: ‘I know him not. Verily,
I am not his brother. I keep myself far from his dwelling; have I ever
opened his door, or crossed his enclosures? Doubtless he is some jealous
fellow envious at seeing me, and who believes himself fated to rob me
of my cats, my goats, my kine, and to fall on my bulls, my rams, and my
oxen, to take them.... If he has indeed the courage to fight, let him
declare the intention of his heart! Shall the god forget him whom he has
heretofore favoured? This man who has challenged me to fight is as one
of those who lie upon the funeral couch. I bent my bow, I took out my
arrows, I loosened my poignard, I furbished my arms. At dawn all the
land of Tonu ran forth; its tribes were gathered together, and all the
foreign lands which were its dependencies, for they were impatient to
see this duel. Each heart was on live coals because of me; men and women
cried ‘Ah!’ for every heart was disquieted for my sake, and they said:
‘Is there, indeed, any valiant man who will stand up against him? Lo!
the enemy has buckler, battle-axe, and an armful of javelins.’ When he
had come forth and I appeared, I turned aside his shafts from me. When
not one of them touched me, he fell upon me, and then I drew my bow
against him. When my arrow pierced his neck, he cried out and fell to
the earth upon his nose; I snatched his lance from him, I shouted my cry
of victory upon his back. While the country people rejoiced, I made
his vassals whom he had oppressed to give thanks to Montu. This prince,
Ammiânshi, bestowed upon me all the possessions of the vanquished, and
I took away his goods, I carried off his cattle. All that he had desired
to do unto me that did I unto him; I took possession of all that was in
his tent, I despoiled his dwelling; therewith was the abundance of my
treasure and the number of my cattle increased.” In later times, in
Arab romances such as that of Antar or that of Abû-Zeît, we find the
incidents and customs described in this Egyptian tale; there we have
the exile arriving at the court of a great sheikh whose daughter he
ultimately marries, the challenge, the fight, and the raids of one
people against another. Even in our own day things go on in much the
same way. Seen from afar, these adventures have an air of poetry and of
grandeur which fascinates the reader, and in imagination transports him
into a world more heroic and more noble than our own. He who cares to
preserve this impression would do well not to look too closely at the
men and manners of the desert. Certainly the hero is brave, but he
is still more brutal and treacherous; fighting is one object of his
existence, but pillage is a far more important one. How, indeed, should
it be otherwise? the soil is poor, life hard and precarious, and from
remotest antiquity the conditions of that life have remained unchanged;
apart from firearms and Islam, the Bedouin of to-day are the same as the
Bedouin of the days of Sinûhît.

There are no known documents from which we can derive any certain
information as to what became of the mining colonies in Sinai after the
reign of Papi II. Unless entirely abandoned, they must have lingered
on in comparative idleness; for the last of the Memphites, the
Heracleopohtans, and the early Thebans were compelled to neglect them,
nor was their active life resumed until the accession of the XIIth
dynasty. The veins in the Wady Maghara were much exhausted, but a series
of fortunate explorations revealed the existence of untouched deposits
in the Sarbût-el-Khâdîm, north of the original workings. From the time
of Amenemhâît II. these new veins were worked, and absorbed attention
during several generations. Expeditions to the mines were sent out every
three or four years, sometimes annually, under the command of such
high functionaries as “Acquaintances of the King,” “Chief Lectors,”
 and Captains of the Archers. As each mine was rapidly worked out, the
delegates of the Pharaohs were obliged to find new veins in order
to meet industrial demands. The task was often arduous, and the
commissioners generally took care to inform posterity very fully as to
the anxieties which they had felt, the pains which they had taken, and
the quantities of turquoise or of oxide of copper which they had brought
into Egypt. Thus the Captain Haroëris tells us that, on arriving at
Sarbût in the month Pha-menoth of an unknown year of Amenemhâît III.,
he made a bad beginning in his work of exploration. Wearied of fruitless
efforts, the workmen were quite ready to desert him if he had not put a
good face on the business and stoutly promised them the support of the
local Hâthor.


And, as a matter of fact, fortune did change. When he began to despair,
“the desert burned like summer, the mountain was on fire, and the vein
exhausted; one morning the overseer who was there questioned the miners,
the skilled workers who were used to the mine, and they said: ‘There is
turquoise for eternity in the mountain.’ At that very moment the vein
appeared.” And, indeed, the wealth of the deposit which he found so
completely indemnified Haroëris for his first disappointments, that in
the month Pachons, three months after the opening of these workings, he
had finished his task and prepared to leave the country, carrying his
spoils with him. From time to time Pharaoh sent convoys of cattle and
provisions--corn, sixteen oxen, thirty geese, fresh vegetables, live
poultry--to his vassals at the mines.

[Illustration: 335.jpg THE RUINS OF THE TEMPLE OF HATHOR]

     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph in the _Ordnance Survey,
     Photo-graphs_, vol. iii. pl. 8.

The mining population increased so fast that two chapels were built,
dedicated to Hâthor, and served by volunteer priests. One of these
chapels, presumably the oldest, consists of a single rock-cut chamber,
upheld by one large square pillar, walls and pillar having been covered
with finely sculptured scenes and inscriptions which are now almost
effaced. The second chapel included a beautifully proportioned
rectangular court, once entered by a portico supported on pillars with
Hâthor-head capitals, and beyond the court a narrow building divided
into many small irregular chambers. The edifice was altered and rebuilt,
and half destroyed; it is now nothing by a confused heap of ruins, of
which the original plan cannot be traced. Votive stehe of all shapes and
sizes, in granite, sandstone, or limestone, were erected here and there
at random in the two chambers and in the courts between the columns, and
flush with the walls. Some are still _in situ_, others lie scattered in
the midst of the ruins. Towards the middle of the reign of Amenemhâît
III., the industrial demand for turquoise and for copper ore became so
great that the mines of Sarbût-el-Khâdîm could no longer meet it, and
those in the Wady Maghara were re-opened. The workings of both sets of
mines were carried on with unabated vigour under Amenemhâîfc IV., and
were still in full activity when the XIIIth dynasty succeeded the XIIth
on the Egyptian throne. Tranquillity prevailed in the recesses of the
mountains of Sinai as well as in the valley of the Nile, and a small
garrison sufficed to keep watch over the Bedouin of the neighbourhood.
Sometimes the latter ventured to attack the miners, and then fled in
haste, carrying off their meagre booty; but they were vigorously pursued
under the command of one of the officers on the spot, and generally
caught and compelled to disgorge their plunder before they had reached
the shelter of their “douars.” The old Memphite kings prided themselves
on these armed pursuits as though they were real victories, and had them
recorded in triumphal bas-reliefs; but under the XIIth dynasty they were
treated as unimportant frontier incidents, almost beneath the notice
of the Pharaoh, and the glory of them--such as it was--he left to his
captains then in command of those districts.

Egypt had always kept up extensive commercial relations with certain
northern countries lying beyond the Mediterranean. The reputation for
wealth enjoyed by the Delta sometimes attracted bands of the Haiû-nîbû
to come prowling in piratical excursions along its shores; but their
expeditions seldom turned out successfully, and even if the adventurers
escaped summary execution, they generally ended their days as slaves in
the Fayûm, or in some village of the Said. At first their descendants
preserved the customs, religion, manners, and industries of their
distant home, and went on making rough pottery for daily use, which was
decorated in a style recalling that of vases found in the most ancient
tombs of the Ægean archipelago; but they were gradually assimilated
to their surroundings, and their grandchildren became fellahîn like the
rest, brought up from infancy in the customs and language of Egypt.

The relations with the tribes of the Libyan desert, the Tihûnû and the
Timihû, were almost invariably peaceful; although occasional raids of
one of their bands into Egyptian territory would provoke counter raids
into the valleys in which they took refuge with their flocks and herds.
Thus, in addition to the captive Haiû-nîbû, another heterogeneous
element, soon to be lost in the mass of the Egyptian population, was
supplied by detachments of Berber women and children.

[Illustration: 338.jpg MAP]

The relations Egypt with her northern neighbours during the hundred
years of the XIIth dynasty were chiefly commercial, but occasionally
this peaceful intercourse was broken by sudden incursions or piratical
expeditions which called for active measures of repression, and were
the occasion of certain romantic episodes. The foreign policy of the
Pharaohs in this connexion was to remain strictly on the defensive.
Ethiopia attracted all their attention, and demanded all their strength.
The same instinct which had impelled their predecessors to pass
successively beyond Gebel-Silsileh and Elephantine now drove the XIIth
dynasty beyond the second cataract, and even further. The nature of the
valley compelled them to this course. From the Tacazze, or rather from
the confluence of the two Niles down to the sea, the whole valley forms
as it were a Greater Egypt; for although separated by the cataracts
into different divisions, it is everywhere subject to the same physical
conditions. In the course of centuries it has more than once been
forcibly dismembered by the chances of war, but its various parts have
always tended to reunite, and have coalesced at the first opportunity.
The Amami, the Irittt, and the Sitiu, all those nations which wandered
west of the river, and whom the Pharaohs of the VIth and subsequently of
the XIth dynasty either enlisted into their service or else conquered,
do not seem to have given much trouble to the successors of Amenemhâît
I. The Ûaûaiû and the Mâzaiû were more turbulent, and it was necessary
to subdue them in order to assure the tranquillity of the colonists
scattered along the banks of the river from Philo to Korosko. They were
worsted by Amenemhâît I. in several encounters.

Ûsirtasen I. made repeated campaigns against them, the earlier ones
being undertaken in his father’s lifetime. Afterwards he pressed on, and
straightway “raised his frontiers” at the rapids of Wady Haifa; and the
country was henceforth the undisputed property of his successors. It was
divided into nomes like Egypt itself; the Egyptian language succeeded in
driving out the native dialects, and the local deities, including Didûn,
the principal god, were associated or assimilated with the gods of
Egypt. Khnûmû was the favourite deity of the northern nomes, doubtless
because the first colonists were natives of Elephantine, and subjects
of its princes. In the southern nomes, which had been annexed under the
Theban kings and were peopled with Theban immigrants, the worship of
Khnûmû was carried on side by side with the worship of Amon, or Amon-Ra,
god of Thebes. In accordance with local affinities, now no longer
intelligible, the other gods also were assigned smaller areas in the new
territory--Thot at Pselcis and Pnûbsît, where a gigantic nabk tree was
worshipped, Râ near Derr, and Horus at Miama and Baûka. The Pharaohs
who had civilized the country here received divine honours while still
alive. Ûsirtasen III. was placed in triads along with Didûn, Amon, and
Khnûmû; temples were raised to him at Semneh, Shotaûi, and Doshkeh;
and the anniversary of a decisive victory which he had gained over the
barbarians was still celebrated on the 21st of Pachons, a thousand years
afterwards, under Thutmosis III. The feudal system spread over the land
lying between the two cataracts, where hereditary barons held their
courts, trained their armies, built their castles, and excavated their
superbly decorated tombs in the mountain-sides. The only difference
between Nubian Egypt and Egypt proper lay in the greater heat and
smaller wealth of the former, where the narrower, less fertile, and
less well-watered land supported a smaller population and yielded less
abundant revenues.

The Pharaoh kept the charge of the more important strategical points
in his own hands. Strongholds placed at bends of the river and at
the mouths of ravines leading into the desert, secured freedom of
navigation, and kept off the pillaging nomads. The fortress of Derr
[Kubbân?--Ed.], which was often rebuilt, dates in part at least from
the early days of the conquest of Nubia. Its rectangular boundary--a
dry brick wall--is only broken by easily filled up gaps, and with some
repairs it would still resist an Ababdeh attack.*

     * The most ancient bricks in the fortifications of Derr,
     easily distinguishable from those belonging to the later
     restorations, are identical in shape and size with those of
     the walls at Syene and El-Kab; and the wall at El-Kab was
     certainly built not later than the XIIth dynasty.

The most considerable Nubian works of the XIIth dynasty were in the
three places from which the country can even now be most effectively
commanded, namely, at the two cataracts, and in the districts extending
from Derr to Dakkeh. Elephantine already possessed an entrenched camp
which commanded the rapids and the land route from Syene to Philo.
Usirtasen III. restored its great wall; he also cleared and widened
the passage to Sériel, as did Papi I. to such good effect that easy and
rapid communication between Thebes and the new towns was at all times
practicable. Some little distance from Phihe he established a station
for boats, and an emporium which he called Hirû Khâkerî--“the Ways of
Khâkerî”--after his own throne name--Khâkerî.*

     * The widening of the passage was effected in the VIIIth
     year of his reign, the same year in which he established the
     Egyptian frontier at Semneh. The other constructions are
     mentioned, but not very clearly, in a stele of the same year
     which came from Elephantine, and is now in the British
     Museum. The votive tablet, engraved in honour of Anûkît at
     Sehêl, in which the king boasts of having made for the
     goddess “the excellent channel [called] ‘the Ways of
     Khâkeûrî,’” probably refers to this widening and deepening
     of the passage in the VIIIth year.

Its exact site is unknown, but it appears to have completed on the
south side the system of walls and redoubts which protected the cataract
provinces against either surprise or regular attacks of the barbarians.
Although of no appreciable use for the purposes of general security, the
fortifications of Middle Nubia were of great importance in the eyes of
the Pharaohs. They commanded the desert roads leading to the Eed Sea,
and to Berber and Gebel Barkel on the Upper Nile. The most important
fort occupied the site of the present village of Kuban, opposite Dakkeh,
and commanded the entrance to the Wady Olaki, which leads to the richest
gold deposits known to Ancient Egypt. The valleys which furrow the
mountains of Etbai, the Wady Shauanîb, the Waddy Umm Teyur, Gebel Iswud,
Gebel Umm Kabriteh, all have gold deposits of their own. The gold is
found in nuggets and in pockets in white quartz, mixed with iron oxides
and titanium, for which the ancients had no use. The method of mining
practised from immemorial antiquity by the Uaûaiû of the neighbourhood
was of the simplest, and traces of the workings may be seen all over the
sides of the ravines. Tunnels followed the direction of the lodes to a
depth of fifty-five to sixty-five yards; the masses of quartz procured
from them were broken up in granite mortars, pounded small and
afterwards reduced to a powder in querns, similar to those used for
crushing grain; the residue was sifted on stone tables, and the finely
ground parts afterwards washed in bowls of sycamore wood, until the gold
dust had settled to the bottom.*

     * The gold-mines and the method of working them under the
     Ptolemies have been described by Agatharchides; the
     processes employed were very ancient, and had hardly changed
     since the time of the first Pharaohs, as is shown by a
     comparison of the mining tools found in these districts with
     those which have been collected at Sinai, in the turquoise-
     mines of the Ancient Empire.

This was the Nubian gold which was brought into Egypt by nomad tribes,
and for which the Egyptians themselves, from the time of the XIIth
dynasty onwards, went to seek in the land which produced it. They made
no attempt to establish permanent colonies for working the mines, as at
Sinai; but a detachment of troops was despatched nearly every year to
the spot to receive the amount of precious metal collected since their
previous visit. The king Usirtasen would send at one time the prince of
the nome of the Gazelle on such an expedition, with a contingent of
four hundred men belonging to his fief; at another time, it would be
the faithful Sihâthor who would triumphantly scour the country, obliging
young and old to work with redoubled efforts for his master Amenemhâît
II. On his return the envoy would boast of having brought back more gold
than any of his predecessors, and of having crossed the desert without
losing either a soldier or a baggage animal, not even a donkey.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Insinger, taken in

Sometimes a son of the reigning Pharaoh, even the heir-presumptive,
would condescend to accompany the caravan. Amenemhâît III. repaired or
rebuilt the fortress of Kubbân, the starting-place of the little army,
and the spot to which it returned. It is a square enclosure measuring
328 feet on each side; the ramparts of crude brick are sloped slightly
inwards, and are strengthened at intervals by bastions projecting from
the external face of the wall. The river protected one side; the other
three were defended by ditches communicating with the Nile. There were
four entrances, one in the centre of each façade: that on the east,
which faced the desert, and was exposed to the severest attacks, was
flanked by a tower.

The cataract of Wady Haifa offered a natural barrier to invasion from
the south. Even without fortification, the chain of granite rocks which
crosses the valley at this spot would have been a sufficient obstacle to
prevent any fleet which might attempt the passage from gaining access to
northern Nubia.


The Nile here has not the wild and imposing aspect which it assumes
lower down, between Aswan and Philae. It is bordered by low and receding
hills, devoid of any definite outline. Masses of bare black rock, here
and there covered by scanty herbage, block the course of the river in
some places in such profusion, that its entire bed seems to be taken
up by them. For a distance of seventeen miles the main body of water
is broken up into an infinitude of small channels in its width of
two miles; several of the streams thus formed present, apparently, a
tempting course to the navigator, so calm and safe do they appear, but
they conceal ledges of hidden reefs, and are unexpectedly forced into
narrow passages obstructed by granite boulders. The strongest built and
best piloted boat must be dashed to pieces in such circumstances, and
no effort or skilfulness on the part of the crew would save the vessel
should the owner venture to attempt the descent. The only channel at
all available for transit runs from the village of Aesha on the Arabian
side, winds capriciously from one bank to another, and emerges into calm
water a little above Nakhiet Wady Haifa. During certain days in August
and September the natives trust themselves to this stream, but only with
boats lightly laden; even then their escape is problematical, for they
are in hourly danger of foundering. As soon as the inundation begins to
fall, the passage becomes more difficult: by the middle of October it
is given up, and communication by water between Egypt and the countries
above Wady Haifa is suspended until the return of the inundation. By
degrees, as the level of the water becomes lower, remains of wrecks
jammed between the rocks, or embedded in sandbanks, emerge into view,
as if to warn sailors and discourage them from an undertaking so fraught
with perils. Usirtasen I. realized the importance of the position, and
fortified its approaches.

[Illustration: 346.jpg THE SECOND CATARACT AT LOW NILE]

He selected the little Nubian town of Bohani, which lay exactly opposite
to the present village of Wady Haifa, and transformed it into a strong
frontier fortress. Besides the usual citadel, he built there a temple
dedicated to the Theban god Amon and to the local Horus; he then set
up a stele commemorating his victories over the peoples beyond the


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph of the original in
     the museum at Florence.

Ten of their principal chiefs had passed before Amon as prisoners, their
arms tied behind their backs, and had been sacrificed at the foot of
the altar by the sovereign himself: he represented them on the stele by
enclosing their names in battlemented cartouches, each surmounted by
the bust of a man bound by a long cord which is held by the conqueror.

Nearly a century later Ûsirtasen III. enlarged the fortress, and finding
doubtless that it was not sufficiently strong to protect the passage of
the cataract, he stationed outposts at various points, at Matûga, Fakus,
and Kassa. They served as mooring-places where the vessels which went
up and down stream with merchandise might be made fast to the bank at
sunset. The bands of Bedouin, lurking in the neighbourhood, would
have rejoiced to surprise them, and by their depredations to stop the
commerce between the Said and the Upper Nile, during the few weeks in
which it could be carried on with a minimum of danger. A narrow gorge
crossed by a bed of granite, through which the Nile passes at Semneh,
afforded another most favourable site for the completion of this
system of defence. On cliffs rising sheer above the current, the
king constructed two fortresses, one on each bank of the river, which
completely commanded the approaches by land and water. On the right bank
at Kummeh, where the position was naturally a strong one, the engineers
described an irregular square, measuring about two hundred feet each
side; two projecting bastions flanked the entrance, the one to the
north covering the approaching pathways, the southern one commanding
the river-bank. A road with a ditch runs at about thirteen feet from the
walls round the building, closely following its contour, except at the
north-west and south-east angles, where there are two projections which
formed bastions. The town on the other bank, Samninû-Kharp-Khâkerî,
occupied a less favourable position: its eastern flank was protected by
a zone of rocks and by the river, but the three other sides were of easy
approach. They were provided with ramparts which rose to the height
of eighty-two feet above the plain, and were strengthened at unequal
distances by enormous buttresses. These resembled towers without
parapets, overlooking every part of the encircling road, and from them
the defenders could take the attacking sappers in flank.


     Map drawn up by Thuillier from the somewhat obsolete survey
     of Cailliaud

The intervals between them had been so calculated as to enable the
archers to sweep the intervening space with their arrows. The main
building is of crude brick, with beams laid horizontally between; the
base of the external rampart is nearly vertical, while the upper part
forms an angle of some seventy degrees with the horizon, making the
scaling of it, if not impossible, at least very difficult. Each of the
enclosing walls of the two fortresses surrounded a town complete in
itself, with temples dedicated to their founders and to the Nubian
deities, as well as numerous habitations, now in ruins. The sudden
widening of the river immediately to the south of the rapids made a
kind of natural roadstead, where the Egyptian squadron could lie without
danger on the eve of a campaign against Ethiopia; the galiots of the
negroes there awaited permission to sail below the rapids, and to
enter Egypt with their cargoes. At once a military station and a river
custom-house, Semneh was the necessary bulwark of the new Egypt, and
Usirtasen III. emphatically proclaimed the fact, in two decrees, which
he set up there for the edification of posterity. “Here is,” so runs the
first, “the southern boundary fixed in the year VIII. under his Holiness
of Khâkerî, Usirtasen, who gives life always and for ever, in order that
none of the black peoples may cross it from above, except only for the
transport of animals, oxen, goats, and sheep belonging to them.” The
edict of the year XVI. reiterates the prohibition of the year VIII.,
and adds that “His Majesty caused his own statue to be erected at the
landmarks which he himself had set up.” The beds of the first and second
cataracts were then less worn away than they are now; they are therefore
more efficacious in keeping back the water and forcing it to rise to a
higher level above. The cataracts acted as indicators of the inundation,
and if their daily rise and fall were studied, it was possible to
announce to the dwellers on the banks lower down the river the progress
and probable results of the flood.


     Reproduction by Faucher-Gudin of a sketch published by
     Cailliaud, _Voyage à Méroe, Atlas_, vol. ii. pl. xxx.

As long as the dominion of the Pharaohs reached no further than Philæ,
observations of the Nile were always taken at the first cataract; and
it was from Elephantine that Egypt received the news of the first
appearance and progress of the inundation. Amenemhâît III. set up a
new nilometer at the new frontier, and gave orders to his officers to
observe the course of the flood. They obeyed him scrupulously, and every
time that the inundation appeared to them to differ from the average
of ordinary years, they marked its height on the rocks of Semneh and
Kummeh, engraving side by side with the figure the name of the king and
the date of the year. The custom was continued there under the XIIIth
dynasty; afterwards, when the frontier was pushed further south, the
nilometer accompanied it.

The country beyond Semneh was virgin territory, almost untouched and
quite uninjured by previous wars. Its name now appears for the first
time upon the monuments, in the form of Kaûshû--the humbled Kûsh. It
comprised the districts situated to the south within the immense loop
described by the river between Dongola and Khartoum, those vast plains
intersected by the windings of the White and Blue Niles, known as the
regions of Kordofan and Darfur; it was bounded by the mountains of
Abyssinia, the marshes of Lake Nû, and all those semi-fabulous countries
to which were relegated the “Isles of the Manes” and the “Lands of
Spirits.” It was separated from the Red Sea by the land of Pûanît; and
to the west, between it and the confines of the world, lay the Timihû.
Scores of tribes, white, copper-coloured, and black, bearing strange
names, wrangled over the possession of this vaguely defined territory;
some of them were still savage or emerging from barbarism, while others
had attained to a pitch of material civilization almost comparable with
that of Egypt. The same diversity of types, the same instability and the
same want of intelligence which characterized the tribes of those days,
still distinguish the medley of peoples who now frequent the upper
valley of the Nile. They led the same sort of animal life, guided by
impulse, and disturbed, owing to the caprices of their petty chiefs, by
bloody wars which often issued in slavery or in emigration to distant


     Drawn by Faucher-Guclin, from the water-colour drawing by
     Mr. Blackden.

With such shifting and unstable conditions, it would be difficult to
build up a permanent State. From time to time some kinglet, more daring,
cunning, tenacious, or better fitted to govern than the rest, extended
his dominion over his neighbours, and advanced step by step, till he
united immense tracts under his single rule. As by degrees his kingdom
enlarged, he made no efforts to organize it on any regular system, to
introduce any uniformity in the administration of its affairs, or to
gain the adherence of its incongruous elements by just laws which would
be equally for the good of all: when the massacres which accompanied his
first victories were over, when he had incorporated into his own army
what was left of the vanquished troops, when their children were led
into servitude and he had filled his treasury with their spoil and his
harem with their women, it never occurred to him that there was anything
more to be done. If he had acted otherwise, it would not probably have
been to his advantage. Both his former and present subjects were too
divergent in language and origin, too widely separated by manners and
customs, and too long in a state of hostility to each other, to draw
together and to become easily welded into a single nation. As soon as
the hand which held them together relaxed its hold for a moment, discord
crept in everywhere, among individuals as well as among the tribes, and
the empire of yesterday resolved itself into its original elements
even more rapidly than it had been formed. The clash of arms which had
inaugurated its brief existence died quickly away, the remembrance of
its short-lived glory was lost after two or three generations in the
horrors of a fresh invasion: its name vanished without leaving a trace
behind. The occupation of Nubia brought Egypt into contact with this
horde of incongruous peoples, and the contact soon entailed a struggle.
It is futile for a civilized state to think of dwelling peacefully with
any barbarous nation with which it is in close proximity. Should it
decide to check its own advances, and impose limits upon itself which
it shall not pass over, its moderation is mistaken for feebleness and
impotence; the vanquished again take up the offensive, and either
force the civilized power to retire, or compel it to cross its former
boundary. The Pharaohs did not escape this inevitable consequence of
conquest: their southern frontier advanced continually higher and higher
up the Nile, without ever becoming fixed in a position sufficiently
strong to defy the attacks of the Barbarians. Usirtasen I. had subdued
the countries of Hahû, of Khonthanunofir, and Shaad, and had beaten in
battle the Shemîk, the Khasa, the Sus, the Aqîn, the Anu, the Sabiri,
and the people of Akîti and Makisa. Amenemhâît II., Usirtasen II., and
Usirtasen III. never hesitated to “strike the humbled Kush” whenever
the opportunity presented itself. The last-mentioned king in particular
chastised them severely in his VIIIth, XIIth, XVIth, and XIXth years,
and his victories made him so popular, that the Egyptians of the Greek
period, identifying him with the Sesostris of Herodotus, attributed to
him the possession of the universe. On the base of a colossal statue of
rose granite which he erected in the temple of Tanis, we find preserved
a list of the tribes which he conquered: the names of them appear to
us most outlandish--Alaka, Matakaraû, Tûrasû, Pamaîka, Uarakî,
Paramakâ--and we have no clue as to their position on the map. We know
merely that they lived in the desert, on both sides of the Nile, in the
latitude of Berber or thereabouts. Similar expeditions were sent after
Ûsirtasen’s time, and Amenem-hâît III. regarded both banks of the Nile,
between Semneh and Dongola, as forming part of the territory of Egypt
proper. Little by little, and by the force of circumstances, the making
of Greater Egypt was realized; she approached nearer and nearer towards
the limit which had been prescribed for her by nature, to that point
where the Nile receives its last tributaries, and where its peerless
valley takes its origin in the convergence of many others.

The conquest of Nubia was on the whole an easy one, and so much personal
advantage accrued from these wars, that the troops and generals entered
on them without the least repugnance. A single fragment has come down to
us which contains a detailed account of one of these campaigns, probably
that conducted by Usirtasen III. in the XVIth year of his reign. The
Pharaoh had received information that the tribes of the district of
Hûâ, on the Tacazze, were harassing his vassals, and possibly also
those Egyptians who were attracted by commerce to that neighbourhood.
He resolved to set out and chastise them severely, and embarked with
his fleet. It was an expedition almost entirely devoid of danger:
the invaders landed only at favourable spots, carried off any of the
inhabitants who came in their way, and seized on their cattle--on one
occasion as many as a hundred and twenty-three oxen and eleven asses, on
others less. Two small parties marched along the banks, and foraging to
the right and left, drove the booty down to the river. The tactics of
invasion have scarcely undergone any change in these countries;
the account given by Cailliaud of the first conquest of Fazogl by
Ismail-Pasha, in 1822, might well serve to complete the fragments of
the inscription of Usirtasen III., and restore for us, almost in every
detail, a faithful picture of the campaigns carried on in these regions
by the kings of the XIIth dynasty. The people are hunted down in
the same fashion; the country is similarly ravaged by a handful of
well-armed, fairly disciplined men attacking naked and disconnected
hordes, the young men are massacred after a short resistance or forced
to escape into the woods, the women are carried off as slaves, the huts
pillaged, villages burnt, whole tribes exterminated in a few hours.
Sometimes a detachment, having imprudently ventured into some thorny
thicket to attack a village perched on a rocky summit, would experience
a reverse, and would with great difficulty regain the main body of
troops, after having lost three-fourths of its men. In most cases there
was no prolonged resistance, and the attacking party carried the place
with the loss of merely two or three men killed or wounded. The spoil
was never very considerable in any one locality, but its total amount
increased as the raid was carried afield, and it soon became so bulky
that the party had to stop and retrace their steps, in order to place
it for safety in the nearest fortress. The booty consisted for the most
part of herds of oxen and of cumbrous heaps of grain, as well as wood
for building purposes. But it also comprised objects of small size but
of great value, such as ivory, precious stones, and particularly gold.
The natives collected the latter in the alluvial tracts watered by the
Tacazze, the Blue Nile and its tributaries. The women were employed
in searching for nuggets, which were often of considerable size; they
enclosed them in little leather cases, and offered them to the merchants
in exchange for products of Egyptian industry, or they handed them over
to the goldsmiths to be made into bracelets, ear, nose, or finger rings,
of fairly fine workmanship. Gold was found in combination with several
other metals, from which they did not know how to separate it: the
purest gold had a pale yellow tint, which was valued above all others,
but electrum, that is to say, gold alloyed with silver in the proportion
of eighty per cent., was also much in demand, while greyish-coloured
gold, mixed with platinum, served for making common jewellery.*

     * Cailliaud has briefly described the auriferous sand of the
     Qamâmyl, and the way in which it is worked: it is from him
     that I have borrowed the details given in the text. From
     analyses which I caused to be made at the Bûlaq Museum of
     Egyptian jewellery of the time of the XVIIIth dynasty, which
     had been broken and were without value, from an archeo-
     logical or artistic point of view, I have demonstrated the
     presence of the platinum and silver mentioned by Cailliaud
     as being found in the nuggets from the Blue Nile.

None of these expeditions produced any lasting results, and the Pharaohs
established no colonies in any of these countries. Their Egyptian
subjects could not have lived there for any length of time without
deteriorating by intermarriage with the natives or from the effects of
the climate; they would have degenerated into a half-bred race, having
all the vices and none of the good qualities of the aborigines. The
Pharaohs, therefore, continued their hostilities without further
scruples, and only sought to gain as much as possible from their
victories. They cared little if nothing remained after they had passed
through some district, or if the passage of their armies was marked
only by ruins. They seized upon everything which came across their
path--men, chattels, or animals--and carried them back to Egypt; they
recklessly destroyed everything for which they had no use, and made a
desert of fertile districts which but yesterday had been covered with
crops and studded with populous villages. The neighbouring inhabitants,
realizing their incapacity to resist regular troops, endeavoured to buy
off the invaders by yielding up all they possessed in the way of slaves,
flocks, wood, or precious metals. The generals in command, however, had
to reckon with the approaching low Nile, which forced them to beat a
retreat; they were obliged to halt at the first appearance of it, and
they turned homewards “in peace,” their only anxiety being to lose the
smallest possible number of men or captured animals on their return

As in earlier times, adventurous merchants penetrated into districts not
reached by the troops, and prepared the way for conquest. The princes
of Elephantine still sent caravans to distant parts, and one of them,
Siranpîtû, who lived under Ûsirtasen I. and Amenemhâit II., recorded his
explorations on his tomb, after the fashion of his ancestors: the king
at several different times had sent him on expeditions to the Soudan,
but the inscription in which he gives an account of them is so
mutilated, that we cannot be sure which tribes he visited. We
learn merely that he collected from them skins, ivory, ostrich
feathers--everything, in fact, which Central Africa has furnished as
articles of commerce from time immemorial. It was not, however, by
land only that Egyptian merchants travelled to seek fortune in foreign
countries: the Red Sea attracted them, and served as a quick route for
reaching the land of Pûanît, whose treasures in perfumes and rarities
of all kinds had formed the theme of ancient traditions and navigators’
tales. Relations with it had been infrequent, or had ceased altogether,
during the wars of the Heracleo-politan period: on their renewal it
was necessary to open up afresh routes which had been forgotten for


Traffic was confined almost entirely to two or three out of the
many,--one which ran from Elephantine or from Nekhabît to the “Head of
Nekhabît,” the Berenice of the Greeks; others which started from Thebes
or Koptos, and struck the coast at the same place or at Saû, the present
Kosseir. The latter, which was the shortest as well as the favourite
route, passed through Wady Hammamât, from whence the Pharaohs drew the
blocks of granite for their sarcophagi. The officers who were sent to
quarry the stone often took advantage of the opportunity to visit the
coast, and to penetrate as far as the Spice Regions. As early as the
year VIII. of Sônkherî, the predecessor of Amenemhâît I., the “sole
friend” Hûnû had been sent by this road, “in order to take the command
of a squadron to Pûanît, and to collect a tribute of fresh incense
from the princes of the desert.” He got together three thousand men,
distributed to each one a goatskin bottle, a crook for carrying it, and
ten loaves, and set out from Koptos with this little army. No water was
met with on the way: Hûnû bored several wells and cisterns in the rock,
one at a halting-place called Bait, two in the district of Adahaît, and
finally one in the valleys of Adabehaît. Having reached the seaboard,
he quickly constructed a great barge, freighted it with merchandise for
barter, as well as with provisions, oxen, cows, and goats, and set sail
for a cruise along the coast: it is not known how far he went, but he
came back with a large cargo of all the products of the “Divine Land,”
 especially of incense. On his return, he struck off into the Uagai
valley, and thence reached that of Rohanû, where he chose out splendid
blocks of stone for a temple which the king was building: “Never had
‘Royal Cousin’ sent on an expedition done as much since the time of
the god Râ!” Numbers of royal officers and adventurers followed in his
footsteps, but no record of them has been preserved for us. Two or three
names only have escaped oblivion--that of Khnûmhotpû, who in the first
year of Ûsirtasen I. erected a stele in the Wady Gasûs in the very heart
of the “Divine Land;” and that of Khentkhîtioîrû, who in the XXVIIIth
year of Amenemhâît II. entered the haven of Saû after a fortunate cruise
to Pûanît, without having lost a vessel or even a single man. Navigation
is difficult in the Red Sea. The coast as a rule is precipitous,
bristling with reefs and islets, and almost entirely without strand or
haven. No river or stream runs into it; it is bordered by no fertile or
wooded tract, but by high cliffs, half disintegrated by the burning sun,
or by steep mountains, which appear sometimes a dull red, sometimes
a dingy grey colour, according to the material--granite or
sandstone--which predominates in their composition. The few tribes who
inhabit this desolate region maintain a miserable existence by fishing
and hunting: they were considered, during the Greek period, to be
the most unfortunate of mortals, and if they appeared to be so to the
mariners of the Ptolemies, doubtless they enjoyed the same reputation in
the more remote time of the Pharaohs. A few fishing villages, however,
are mentioned as scattered along the littoral; watering-places, at some
distance apart, frequented on account of their wells of brackish water
by the desert tribes: such were Nahasît, Tap-Nekhabît, Saû, and Tâû:
these the Egyptian merchant-vessels used as victualling stations,
and took away as cargo the products of the country--mother-of-pearl,
amethysts, emeralds, a little lapis-lazuli, a little gold, gums, and
sweet-smelling resins. If the weather was favourable, and the intake
of merchandise had been scanty, the vessel, braving numerous risks of
shipwreck, continued its course as far as the latitude of Sûakîn and
Massowah, which was the beginning of Pûanît properly so called. Here
riches poured down to the coast from the interior, and selection became
a difficulty: it was hard to decide which would make the best cargo,
ivory or ebony, panthers’ skins or rings of gold, myrrh, incense, or a
score of other sweet-smelling gums. So many of these odoriferous resins
were used for religious purposes, that it was always to the advantage of
the merchant to procure as much of them as possible: incense, fresh or
dried, was the staple and characteristic merchandise of the Red Sea, and
the good people of Egypt pictured Pûanît as a land of perfumes, which
attracted the sailor from afar by the delicious odours which were wafted
from it.

These voyages were dangerous and trying: popular imagination seized upon
them and made material out of them for marvellous tales. The hero chosen
was always a daring adventurer sent by his master to collect gold from
the mines of Nubia; by sailing further and further up the river, he
reached the mysterious sea which forms the southern boundary of the
world. “I set sail in a vessel one hundred and fifty cubits long, forty
wide, with one hundred and fifty of the best sailors in the land
of Egypt, who had seen heaven and earth, and whose hearts were more
resolute than those of lions. They had foretold that the wind would not
be contrary, or that there would be even none at all; but a squall came
upon us unexpectedly while we were in the open, and as we approached
the land, the wind freshened and raised the waves to the height of eight
cubits. As for me, I clung to a beam, but those who were on the vessel
perished without one escaping. A wave of the sea cast me on to an
island, after having spent three days alone with no other companion than
my own heart. I slept there in the shade of a thicket; then I set my
legs in motion in quest of something for my mouth.” The island produced
a quantity of delicious fruit: he satisfied his hunger with it, lighted
a fire to offer a sacrifice to the gods, and immediately, by the magical
power of the sacred rites, the inhabitants, who up to this time had
been invisible, were revealed to his eyes. “I heard a sound like that of
thunder, which I at first took to be the noise of the flood-tide in the
open sea; but the trees quivered, the earth trembled. I uncovered my
face, and I perceived that it was a serpent which was approaching. He
was thirty cubits in length, and his wattles exceeded two cubits; his
body was incrusted with gold, and his colour appeared like that of
real lapis. He raised himself before me and opened his mouth; while I
prostrated myself before him, he said to me: ‘Who hath brought thee, who
hath brought thee, little one, who hath brought thee? If thou dost not
tell me immediately who brought thee to this island, I will cause thee
to know thy littleness: either thou shalt faint like a woman, or thou
shalt tell me something which I have not yet heard, and which I knew
not before thee.’ Then he took me into his mouth and carried me to
his dwelling-place, and put me down without hurting me; I was safe and
sound, and nothing had been taken from me.” Our hero tells the serpent
the story of his shipwreck, which moves him to pity and induces him to
reciprocate his confidence. “Fear nothing, fear nothing, little one, let
not thy countenance be sad! If thou hast come to me, it is the god who
has spared thy life; it is he who has brought thee into this ‘Isle of
the Double,’ where nothing is lacking, and which is filled with all
good things. Here thou shalt pass one month after another till thou hast
remained four months in this island, then shall come a vessel from thy
country with mariners; thou canst depart with them to thy country,
and thou shalt die in thy city. To converse rejoices the heart, he who
enjoys conversation bears misfortune better; I will therefore relate
to thee the history of this island.” The population consisted of
seventy-five serpents, all of one family: it formerly comprised also a
young girl, whom a succession of misfortunes had cast on the island, and
who was killed by lightning. The hero, charmed with such good nature,
overwhelmed the hospitable dragon with thanks, and promised to send him
numerous presents on his return home. “I will slay asses for thee in
sacrifice, I will pluck birds for thee, I will send to thee vessels
filled with all the riches of Egypt, meet for a god, the friend of man
in a distant country unknown to men.” The monster smiled, and replied
that it was needless to think of sending presents to one who was the
ruler of Pûanît; besides, “as soon as thou hast quitted this place,
thou wilt never again see this island, for it will be changed into
waves.”--“And then, when the vessel appeared, according as he had
predicted to me, I went and perched upon a high tree and sought to
distinguish those who manned it. I next ran to tell him the news, but I
found that he was already informed of its arrival, and he said to me: ‘A
pleasant journey home, little one; mayst thou behold thy children again,
and may thy name be well spoken of in thy town; such are my wishes for
thee!’ He added gifts to these obliging words. I placed all these on
board the vessel which had come, and prostrating myself, I adored him.
He said to me: ‘After two months thou shalt reach thy country, thou wilt
press thy children to thy bosom, and thou shalt rest in thy sepulchre.’
After that I descended the shore to the vessel, and I hailed the sailors
who were in it. I gave thanks on the shore to the master of the island,
as well as to those who dwelt in it.” This might almost be an episode
in the voyages of Sindbad the Sailor; except that the monsters which
Sindbad met with in the course of his travels were not of such a kindly
disposition as the Egyptian serpent: it did not occur to them to console
the shipwrecked with the charm of a lengthy gossip, but they swallowed
them with a healthy appetite. Putting aside entirely the marvellous
element in the story, what strikes us is the frequency of the relations
which it points to between Egypt and Pûanît. The appearance of an
Egyptian vessel excites no astonishment on its coasts: the inhabitants
have already seen many such, and at such regular intervals, that they
are able to predict the exact date of their arrival. The distance
between the two countries, it is true, was not considerable, and a
voyage of two months was sufficient to accomplish it. While the new
Egypt was expanding outwards in all directions, the old country did not
cease to add to its riches. The two centuries during which the XIIth
dynasty continued to rule were a period of profound peace; the monuments
show us the country in full possession of all its resources and its
arts, and its inhabitants both cheerful and contented. More than ever do
the great lords and royal officers expatiate in their epitaphs upon
the strict justice which they have rendered to their vassals and
subordinates, upon the kindness which they have shown to the fellahîn,
on the paternal solicitude with which, in the years of insufficient
inundations or of bad harvests, they have striven to come forward and
assist them, and upon the unheard-of disinterestedness which kept them
from raising the taxes during the times of average Niles, or of unusual
plenty. Gifts to the gods poured in from one end of the country to the
other, and the great building works, which had been at a standstill
since the end of the VIth dynasty, were recommenced simultaneously on
all sides. There was much to be done in the way of repairing the ruins,
of which the number had accumulated during the two preceding centuries.
Not that the most audacious kings had ventured to lay their hands on
the sanctuaries: they emptied the sacred treasuries, and partially
confiscated their revenues, but when once their cupidity was satisfied,
they respected the fabrics, and even went so far as to restore a
few inscriptions, or, when needed, to replace a few stones. These
magnificent buildings required careful supervision: in spite of their
being constructed of the most durable materials--sand-stone, granite,
limestone,--in spite of their enormous size, or of the strengthening
of their foundations by a bed of sand and by three or four courses of
carefully adjusted blocks to form a substructure, the Nile was ever
threatening them, and secretly working at their destruction. Its waters,
filtering through the soil, were perpetually in contact with the lower
courses of these buildings, and kept the foundations of the walls and
the bases of the columns constantly damp: the saltpetre which the waters
had dissolved in their passage, crystallising on the limestone, would
corrode and undermine everything, if precautions were not taken. When
the inundation was over, the subsidence of the water which impregnated
the subsoil caused in course of time settlements in the most solid
foundations: the walls, disturbed by the unequal sinking of the ground,
got out of the perpendicular and cracked; this shifting displaced the
architraves which held the columns together, and the stone slabs which
formed the roof. These disturbances, aggravated from year to year, were
sufficient, if not at once remedied, to entail the fall of the portions
attacked; in addition to this, the Nile, having threatened the part
below with destruction, often hastened by direct attacks the work of
ruin, which otherwise proceeded slowly. A breach in the embankments
protecting the town or the temple allowed its waters to rush violently
through, and thus to effect large gaps in the decaying walls, completing
the overthrow of the columns and wrecking the entrance halls and secret
chambers by the fall of the roofs. At the time when Egypt came under
the rule of the XIIth dynasty there were but few cities which did not
contain some ruined or dilapidated sanctuary. Amenemhâît I., although
fully occupied in reducing the power of the feudal lords, restored; the
temples as far as he was able, and his successors pushed forward the
work vigorously for nearly two centuries.

The Delta profited greatly by this activity in building. The monuments
there had suffered more than anywhere else: fated to bear the first
shock of foreign invasion, and transformed into fortresses while the
towns in which they were situated were besieged, they have been captured
again and again by assault, broken down by attacking engines, and
dismantled by all the conquerors of Egypt, from the Assyrians to the
Arabs and the Turks. The fellahîn in their neighbourhood have for
centuries come to them to obtain limestone to burn in their kilns, or to
use them as a quarry for sandstone or granite for the doorways of their
houses, or for the thresholds of their mosques. Not only have they been
ruined, but the remains of their ruins have, as it were, melted away
and almost entirely disappeared in the course of ages. And yet, wherever
excavations have been made among these remains which have suffered such
deplorable ill-treatment, colossi and inscriptions commemorating the
Pharaohs of the XIIth dynasty have been brought to light. Amenemhâît I.
founded a great temple at Tanis in honour of the gods of Memphis: the
vestiges of the columns still scattered on all sides show that the
main body of the building was of rose granite, and a statue of the same
material has preserved for us a portrait of the king. He is seated, and
wears the tall head-dress of Osiris. He has a large smiling face, thick
lips, a short nose, and big staring eyes: the expression is one of
benevolence and gentleness, rather than of the energy and firmness which
one would expect in the founder of a dynasty. The kings who were his
successors all considered it a privilege to embellish the temple and to
place in it some memorial of their veneration for the god. Ûsirtasen I.,
following the example of his father, set up a statue of himself in the
form of Osiris: he is sitting on his throne of grey granite, and his
placid face unmistakably recalls that of Amenemhâît I. Amenemhâît II.,
Usirtasen II., and his wife Nofrît have also dedicated their images
within the sanctuary.

Nofrît’s is of black granite: her head is almost eclipsed by the heavy
Hâthor wig, consisting of two enormous tresses of hair which surround
the cheeks, and lie with an outward curve upon the breast; her eyes,
which were formerly inlaid, have fallen out, the bronze eyelids are
lost, her arms have almost disappeared. What remains of her, however,
gives us none the less the impression of a young and graceful woman,
with a lithe and well-proportioned body, whose outlines are delicately
modelled under the tight-fitting smock worn by Egyptian women; the small
and rounded breasts curve outward between the extremities of her curls
and the embroidered hem of her garment; and a pectoral bearing the name
of her husband lies flat upon her chest, just below the column of her

[Illustration: 372.jpg THE STATUE OF NOFRIT]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Insinger. In
     addition to the complete statue, the Museum at Gîzeh
     possesses a torso from the same source. I believe I can
     recognize another portrait of the same queen in a beautiful
     statue in black granite, which has been in the Museum at
     Marseilles since the beginning of the present century.

These various statues have all an evident artistic relationship to
the beautiful granite figures of the Ancient Empire. The sculptors who
executed them belonged to the same school as those who carved Khephren
out of the solid diorite: there is the same facile use of the chisel,
the same indifference to the difficulties presented by the material
chosen, the same finish in the detail, the same knowledge of the human
form. One is almost tempted to believe that Egyptian art remained
unchanged all through those long centuries, and yet as soon as a
statue of the early period is placed side by side with one of the XIIth
dynasty, we immediately perceive something in the one which is lacking
in the other. It is a difference in feeling, even if the technique
remains unmodified. It was the man himself that the sculptors desired
to represent in the older Pharaohs, and however haughty may be the
countenance which we admire in the Khephren, it is the human element
which predominates in him. The statues of Amenemhâît I. and his
successors appear, on the contrary, to represent a superior race: at the
time when these were produced, the Pharaoh had long been regarded as
a god, and the divine nature in him had almost eliminated the human.
Whether intentionally or otherwise, the sculptors idealized their model,
and made him more and more resemble the type of the divinities. The head
always appears to be a good likeness, but smoothed down and sometimes
lacking in expression.

Not only are the marks of age rendered less apparent, and the features
made to bear the stamp of perpetual youth, but the characteristics
of the individual, such as the accentuation of the eyebrows, the
protuberance of the cheek-bones, the projection of the under lip, are
all softened down as if intentionally, and made to give way to a uniform
expression of majestic tranquillity. One king only, Amenemhâît III.,
refused to go down to posterity thus effaced, and caused his portrait
to be taken as he really was. He has certainly the round full face
of Amenemhâît or of Usirtasen I., and there is an undeniable family
likeness between him and his ancestors; but at the first glance we
feel sure that the artist has not in any way flattered his model. The
forehead is low and slightly retreating, narrow across the temples; his
nose is aquiline, pronounced in form, and large at the tip; the thick
lips are slightly closed; his mouth has a disdainful curve, and its
corners are turned down as if to repress the inevitable smile common to
most Egyptian statues; the chin is full and heavy, and turns up in front
in spite of the weight of the false beard dependent from it; he has
small narrow eyes, with full lids; his cheekbones are accentuated and
projecting, the cheeks hollow, and the muscles about the nose and mouth
strongly defined. The whole presents so strange an aspect, that for a
long time statues of this type have been persistently looked upon as
productions of an art which was only partially Egyptian. It is, indeed,
possible that the Tanis sphinxes were turned out of workshops where the
principles and practice of the sculptor’s art had previously undergone
some Asiatic influence; the bushy mane which surrounds the face, and
the lion’s ears emerging from it, are exclusively characteristic of the
latter. The purely human statues in which we meet with the same type of
countenance have no peculiarity of workmanship which could be attributed
to the imitation of a foreign art. If the nameless masters to whom
we owe their existence desired to bring about a reaction against the
conventional technique of their contemporaries, they at least introduced
no foreign innovations; the monuments of the Memphite period furnished
them with all the models they could possibly wish for.

Bubastis had no less occasion than Tanis to boast of the generosity of
the Theban Pharaohs. The temple of Bastît, which had been decorated by
Kheops and Khephren, was still in existence: Amenemhâît I., Usirtasen
I., and their immediate successors confined themselves to the
restoration of several chambers, and to the erection of their own
statues, but Usirtasen III. added to it a new structure which must have
made it rival the finest monuments in Egypt. He believed, no doubt, that
he was under particular obligations to the lioness goddess of the city,
and attributed to her aid, for unknown reasons, some of his successes in
Nubia; it would appear that it was with the spoil of a campaign against
the country of the Hûâ that he endowed a part of the new sanctuary.*

     * The fragment found by Naville formed part of an
     inscription engraved on a wall: the wars which it was
     customary to commemorate in a temple were always selected
     from those in which the whole or a part of the booty had
     been consecrated to the use of the local divinity.

Nothing now remains of it except fragments of the architraves and
granite columns, which have been used over again by Pharaohs of a later
period when restoring or altering the fabric.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Émil Brugsch-
     Bey, taken in 1881. The sphinx bears on its breast the
     cartouche of Psiûkhânû, a Tanite Pharaoh of the XXIst

A few of the columns belong to the lotiform type. The shaft is composed
of eight triangular stalks rising from a bunch of leaves, symmetrically
arranged, and bound together at the top by a riband, twisted thrice
round the bundle; the capital is formed by the union of the eight lotus
buds, surmounted by a square member on which rests the architrave. Other
columns have Hâthor-headed capitals, the heads being set back to back,
and bearing the flat head-dress ornamented with the urous. The face
of the goddess, which is somewhat flattened when seen closely on the
eye-level, stands out and becomes more lifelike in proportion as the
spectator recedes from it; the projection of the features has been
calculated so as to produce the desired effect at the right height
when seen from below. The district lying between Tanis and Bubastis is
thickly studded with monuments built or embellished by the Amenemhâîts
and Usirtasens: wherever the pickaxe is applied, whether at Fakus or
Tell-Nebêsheh, remains of them are brought to light--statues, stelæ,
tables of offerings, and fragments of dedicatory or historical
inscriptions. While carrying on works in the temple of Phtah at Memphis,
the attention of these Pharaohs was attracted to Heliopolis. The temple
of Râ there was either insufficient for the exigencies of worship, or
had been allowed to fall into decay. Usirtasen III. resolved, in the
third year of his reign, to undertake its restoration. The occasion
appears to have been celebrated as a festival by all Egypt, and the
remembrance of it lasted long after the event: the somewhat detailed
account of the ceremonies which then took place was copied out again at
Thebes, towards the end of the XVIIIth dynasty. It describes the king
mounting his throne at the meeting of his council, and receiving, as was
customary, the eulogies of his “sole friends” and of the courtiers
who surrounded him: “Here,” says he, addressing them, “has my Majesty
ordained the works which shall recall my worthy and noble acts to
posterity. I raise a monument, I establish lasting decrees in favour
of Harmakhis, for he has brought me into the world to do as he did, to
accomplish that which he decreed should be done; he has appointed me to
guide this earth, he has known it, he has called it together and he has
granted me his help; I have caused the Eye which is in him to become
serene, in all things acting as he would have me to do, and I have
sought out that which he had resolved should be known. I am a king by
birth, a suzerain not of my own making; I have governed from childhood,
petitions have been presented to me when I was in the egg, I have ruled
over the ways of Anubis, and he raised me up to be master of the two
halves of the world, from the time when I was a nursling; I had not yet
escaped from the swaddling-bands when he enthroned me as master of men;
creating me himself in the sight of mortals, he made me to find favour
with the Dweller in the Palace, when I was a youth.... I came forth as
Horus the eloquent, and I have instituted divine oblations; I accomplish
the works in the palace of my father Atûmû, I supply his altar on earth
with offerings, I lay the foundations of my palace in his neighbourhood,
in order that the memorial of my goodness may remain in his dwelling;
for this palace is my name, this lake is my monument, all that is famous
or useful that I have made for the gods is eternity.” The great lords
testified their approbation of the king’s piety; the latter summoned his
chancellor and commanded him to draw up the deeds of gift and all the
documents necessary for the carrying out of his wishes. “He arose,
adorned with the royal circlet and with the double feather, followed by
all his nobles; the chief lector of the divine book stretched the cord
and fixed the stake in the ground.” *

     * Stehn, _Urkunde uber den Bau des Sonnentempels zu On_, pl.
     i. 11. 13--15. The priest here performed with the king the
     more important of the ceremonies necessary in measuring the
     area of the temple, by “inserting the measuring stakes,”
      and marking out the four sides of the building with the

This temple has ceased to exist; but one of the granite obelisks raised
by Usirtasen I. on each side of the principal gateway is still standing.
The whole of Heliopolis has disappeared: the site where it formerly
stood is now marked only by a few almost imperceptible inequalities
in the soil, some crumbling lengths of walls, and here and there some
scattered blocks of limestone, containing a few lines of mutilated
inscriptions which can with difficulty be deciphered; the obelisk has
survived even the destruction of the ruins, and to all who understand
its language it still speaks of the Pharaoh who erected it.

The undertaking and successful completion of so many great structures
had necessitated a renewal of the working of the ancient quarries, and
the opening of fresh ones. Amenemhâît I. sent Antuf, a great dignitary,
chief of the prophets of Mînû and prince of Koptos, to the valley
of Rohanû, to seek out fine granite for making the royal sarcophagi.
Amenemhâît III. had, in the XLIIIrd year of his reign, been present at
the opening of several fine veins of white limestone in the quarries of
Turah, which probably furnished material for the buildings proceeding at
Heliopolis and Memphis. Thebes had also its share of both limestone and
granite, and Amon, whose sanctuary up to this time had only attained
the modest proportions suited to a provincial god, at last possessed a
temple which raised him to the rank of the highest feudal divinities.
Amon’s career had begun under difficulties: he had been merely a
vassal-god of Montû, lord of Hermonthis (the Aûnû of the south), who
had granted to him the ownership of the village of Karnak only. The
unforeseen good fortune of the Antufs was the occasion of his emerging
from his obscurity: he did not dethrone Montû, but shared with him the
homage of all the neighbouring villages--Luxor, Medamut, Bayadîyeh; and,
on the other side of the Nile, Gurneh and Medînet-Habu. The accession of
the XIIth dynasty completed his triumph, and made him the most powerful
authority in Southern Egypt. He was an earth-god, a form of Mînû who
reigned at Koptos, at Akhmîm and in the desert, but he soon became
allied to the sun, and from thenceforth he assumed the name of Amon-Râ.
The title of “sûton nûtîrû” which he added to it would alone have
sufficed to prove the comparatively recent origin of his notoriety; as
the latest arrival among the great gods, he employed, to express his
sovereignty, this word “sûton,” king, which had designated the rulers
of the valley ever since the union of the two Egypts under the shadowy
Menés. Reigning at first alone, he became associated by marriage with a
vague indefinite goddess, called Maût, or Mût, the “mother,” who never
adopted any more distinctive name: the divine son who completed
this triad was, in early times, Montû; but in later times a being of
secondary rank, chosen from among the genii appointed to watch over the
days of the month or the stars, was added, under the name of Khonsû.
Amenemhâît laid the foundations of the temple, in which the cultus of
Amon was carried on down to the latest times of paganism. The building
was supported by polygonal columns of sixteen sides, some fragments of
which are still existing.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Insinger.

The temple was at first of only moderate dimensions, but it was built
of the choicest sandstone and limestone, and decorated with exquisite
bas-reliefs. Ûsirtasen I. enlarged it, and built a beautiful house for
the high priest on the west side of the sacred lake. Luxor, Zorit, Edfu,
Hierakonpolis, El-Kab, Elephantine, and Dendera,* shared between them
the favour of the Pharaohs; the venerable town of Abydos became the
object of their special predilection.

     * Dümichen pointed out, in the masonry of the great eastern
     staircase of the present temple of Hâthor, a stone obtained
     from the earlier temple, which bears the name of Amenemhâît;
     another fragment, discovered and published by Mariette,
     shows that Amenemhâît I. is here again referred to. The
     buildings erected by this monarch at Dondera must have been
     on a somewhat large scale, if we may judge from the size of
     this last fragment, which is the lintel of a door.

Its reputation for sanctity had been steadily growing from the time of
the Papis: its god, Khontamentît, who was identified with Osiris, had
obtained in the south a rank as high as that of the Mendesian Osiris in
the north of Egypt. He was worshipped as the sovereign of the sovereigns
of the dead--he who gathered around him and welcomed in his domains
the majority of the faithful of other cults. His sepulchre, or, more
correctly speaking, the chapel representing his sepulchre, in which
one of his relics was preserved, was here, as elsewhere, built upon the
roof. Access to it was gained by a staircase leading up on the left side
of the sanctuary: on the days of the passion and resurrection of Osiris
solemn processions of priests and devotees slowly mounted its steps, to
the chanting of funeral hymns, and above, on the terrace, away from
the world of the living, and with no other witnesses than the stars of
heaven, the faithful celebrated mysteriously the rites of the divine
death and embalming. The “vassals of Osiris” flocked in crowds to these
festivals, and took a delight in visiting, at least once during their
lifetime, the city whither their souls would proceed after death, in
order to present themselves at the “Mouth of the Cleft,” there to embark
in the “bari” of their divine master or in that of the Sun. They
left behind them, “under the staircase of the great god,” a sort of
fictitious tomb, near the representation of the tomb of Osiris, in the
shape of a stele, which immortalized the memory of their piety, and
which served as a kind of hostelry for their soul, when the latter
should, in course of time, repair to this rallying-place of all
Osirian souls. The concourse of pilgrims was a source of wealth to
the population, the priestly coffers were filled, and every year the
original temple was felt to be more and more inadequate to meet the
requirements of worship. Usirtasen I. desired to come to the rescue:
he despatched Monthotpû, one of his great vassals, to superintend the
works. The ground-plan of the portico of white limestone which preceded
the entrance court may still be distinguished; this portico was
supported by square pillars, and, standing against the remains of these,
we see the colossi of rose granite, crowned with the Osirian head-dress,
and with their feet planted on the “Nine Bows,” the symbol of vanquished
enemies. The best preserved of these figures represents the founder, but
several others are likenesses of those of his successors who interested
themselves in the temple. Monthotpû dug a well which was kept fully
supplied by the infiltrations from the Nile. He enlarged and cleaned
out the sacred lake upon which the priests launched the Holy Ark, on the
nights of the great mysteries. The alluvial deposits of fifty centuries
have not as yet wholly filled it up: it is still an irregularly shaped
pond, which dries up in winter, but is again filled as soon as the
inundation reaches the village of El-Kharbeh.

[Illustration: 384.jpg USIRTASEN I. OF ABYDOS]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by M. de Banville.

A few stones, corroded with saltpetre, mark here and there the lines
of the landing stages, a thick grove of palms fringes its northern and
southern banks, but to the west the prospect is open, and extends as
far as the entrance to the gorge, through which the souls set forth in
search of Paradise and the solar bark. Buffaloes now come to drink and
wallow at midday where once floated the gilded “bari” of Osiris, and the
murmur of bees from the neighbouring orchards alone breaks the silence
of the spot which of old resounded with the rhythmical lamentations of
the pilgrims.

Heracleopolis the Great, the town preferred by the earlier Theban
Pharaohs as their residence in times of peace, must have been one of
those which they proceeded to decorate _con amore_ with magnificent


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Émil Brugsch-Bey,
     taken in 1884.

Unfortunately it has suffered more than any of the rest, and nothing
of it is now to be seen but a few wretched remains of buildings of the
Roman period, and the ruins of a barbaric colonnade on the site of a
Byzantine basilica almost contemporary with the Arab conquest. Perhaps
the enormous mounds which cover its site may still conceal the remains
of its ancient temples. We can merely estimate their magnificence by
casual allusions to them in the inscriptions.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Golénischeff

We know, for instance, that Usirtasen III. rebuilt the sanctuary of
Harshâfîtû, and that he sent expeditions to the Wady Hammamât to quarry
blocks of granite worthy of his god: but the work of this king and his
successors has perished in the total ruin of the ancient town. Something
at least has remained of what they did in that traditional dependency
of Heracleopolis, the Fayum: the temple which they rebuilt to the god
Sobkû in Shodît retained its celebrity down to the time of the Cæsars,
not so much, perhaps, on account of the beauty of its architecture as
for the unique character of the religious rites which took place there
daily. The sacred lake contained a family of tame crocodiles, the
image and incarnation of the god, whom the faithful fed with their
offerings--cakes, fried fish, and drinks sweetened with honey. Advantage
was taken of the moment when one of these creatures, wallowing on the
bank, basked contentedly in the sun: two priests opened his jaws, and a
third threw in the cakes, the fried morsels, and finally the liquid.
The crocodile bore all this without even winking; he swallowed down his
provender, plunged into the lake, and lazily reached the opposite bank,
hoping to escape for a few moments from the oppressive liberality of his


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Émil Brugsch-
     Bey, taken in 1885. The original in black granite is now in
     the Berlin Museum. It represents one of the sacred
     crocodiles mentioned by Strabo; we read on the base a Greek
     inscription in honour of Ptolemy Neos Dionysos, in which the
     name of the divine reptile “Petesûkhos, the great god,” is

As soon, however, as another of these approached, he was again beset
at his new post and stuffed in a similar manner. These animals were in
their own way great dandies: rings of gold or enamelled terra-cotta
were hung from their ears, and bracelets were soldered on to their front
paws. The monuments of Shodît, if any still exist, are buried under the
mounds of Medinet el-Fayûm, but in the neighbourhood we meet with more
than one authentic relic of the XIIth dynasty. It was Usirtasen I. who
erected that curious thin granite obelisk, with a circular top, whose
fragments lie forgotten on the ground near the village of Begig: a
sort of basin has been hollowed out around it, which fills during the
inundation, so that the monument lies in a pool of muddy water during
the greater part of the year. Owing to this treatment, most of the
inscriptions on it have almost disappeared, though we can still make
out a series of five scenes in which the king hands offerings to several
divinities. Near to Biahmû there was an old temple which had become
ruinous: Amenemhâît III. repaired it, and erected in front of it two
of those colossal statues which the Egyptians were wont to place like
sentinels at their gates, to ward off baleful influences and evil


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Golûnischeff.

The colossi at Biahmû were of red sandstone, and were seated on high
limestone pedestals, placed at the end of a rectangular court; the
temple walls hid the lower part of the pedestals, so that the colossi
appeared to tower above a great platform which sloped gently away from
them on all sides. Herodotus, who saw them from a distance at the
time of the inundation, believed that they crowned the summits of
two pyramids rising out of the middle of a lake. Near Illahun, Queen
Sovkûnofriûri herself has left a few traces of her short reign.

The Fayum, by its fertility and pleasant climate, justified the
preference which the Pharaohs of the XIIth dynasty bestowed upon it.
On emerging from the gorges of Illahun, it opens out like a vast
amphitheatre of cultivation, whose slopes descend towards the north till
they reach the desolate waters of the Birket-Kerun.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, after Major Brown.

On the right and left, the amphitheatre is isolated from the surrounding
mountains by two deep ravines, filled with willows, tamarisks, mimosas,
and thorny acacias. Upon the high ground, lands devoted to the
culture of corn, durra, and flax, alternate with groves of palms and
pomegranates, vineyards and gardens of olives, the latter being almost
unknown elsewhere in Egypt.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Golenischeff.

The slopes are covered with cultivated fields, irregularly terraced
woods, and meadows enclosed by hedges, while lofty trees, clustered in
some places and thinly scattered in others, rise in billowy masses
of verdure one behind the other. Shodît [Shâdû] stood on a peninsula
stretching out into a kind of natural reservoir, and was connected with
the mainland by merely a narrow dyke; the water of the inundation flowed
into this reservoir and was stored here during the autumn. Countless
little rivulets escaped from it, not merely such canals and ditches as
we meet with in the Nile Valley, but actual running brooks, coursing and
babbling between the trees, spreading out here and there into pools
of water, and in places forming little cascades like those of our own
streams, but dwindling in volume as they proceeded, owing to constant
drains made on them, until they were for the most part absorbed by the
soil before finally reaching the lake.

[Illustration: 391.jpg THE COURT OF THE SMALL TEMPLE]

     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Major Brown.

They brought down in their course part of the fertilizing earth
accumulated by the inundation, and were thus instrumental in raising the
level of the soil. The water of the Birkeh rose or fell according to the
season of the year. It formerly occupied a much larger area than it does
at present, and half of the surrounding districts was covered by it.
Its northern shores, now deserted and uncultivated, then shared in the
benefits of the inundation, and supplied the means of existence for
a civilized population. In many places we still find the remains of
villages, and walls of uncemented stone; a small temple even has
escaped the general ruin, and remains almost intact in the midst of the
desolation, as if to point out the furthest limit of Egyptian territory.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Golénischeff.

It bears no inscriptions, but the beauty of the materials of which it
is composed, and the perfection of the work, lead us to attribute its
construction to some prince of the XIIth dynasty. An ancient causeway
runs from its entrance to what was probably at one time the original
margin of the lake. The continual sinking of the level of the Birkeh
has left this temple isolated on the edge of the Libyan plateau, and
all life has retired from the surrounding district, and has concentrated
itself on the southern shores of the lake.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-Bey.

Here the banks are low and the bottom deepens almost imperceptibly. In
winter the retreating waters leave exposed long patches of the shore,
upon which a thin crust of snow-white salt is deposited, concealing the
depths of mud and quicksands beneath. Immediately after the inundation,
the lake regains in a few days the ground it had lost: it encroaches
on the tamarisk bushes which fringe its banks, and the district is soon
surrounded by a belt of marshy vegetation, affording cover for ducks,
pelicans, wild geese, and a score of different kinds of birds which
disport themselves there by the thousand. The Pharaohs, when tired of
residing in cities, here found varied and refreshing scenery, an equable
climate, gardens always gay with flowers, and in the thickets of the
Kerun they could pursue their favourite pastimes of interminable fishing
and of hunting with the boomerang.

They desired to repose after death among the scenes in which they had
lived. Their tombs stretch from Heracleo-polis till they nearly meet the
last pyramids of the Memphites: at Dahshur there are still two of them
standing. The northern one is an immense erection of brick, placed in
close proximity to the truncated pyramid, but nearer than it to the edge
of the plateau, so as to overlook the valley. We might be tempted to
believe that the Theban kings, in choosing a site immediately to the
south of the spot where Papi II. slept in his glory, were prompted by
the desire to renew the traditions of the older dynasties prior to
those of the Heracleopolitans, and thus proclaim to all beholders the
antiquity of their lineage. One of their residences was situated at no
great distance, near Miniet Dahshur, the city of Titoui, the favourite
residence of Amenemhâîfc I. It was here that those royal princesses,
Nofirhonît, Sonît-Sonbît, Sîthâthor, and Monît, his sisters, wives, and
daughters, whose tombs lie opposite the northern face of the pyramid,
flourished side by side with Amenemhâît III.


There, as of old in their harem, they slept side by side, and, in spite
of robbers, their mummies have preserved the ornaments with which they
were adorned, on the eve of burial, by the pious act of their lords.
The art of the ancient jewellers, which we have hitherto known only
from pictures on the walls of tombs or on the boards of coffins, is here
exhibited in all its cunning. The ornaments comprise a wealth of
gold gorgets, necklaces of agate beads or of enamelled lotus-flowers,
cornelian, amethyst, and onyx scarabs. Pectorals of pierced gold-work,
inlaid with flakes of vitreous paste or precious stones, bear the
cartouches of Usirtasen III. and of Amenemhâît II., and every one of
these gems of art reveals a perfection of taste and a skilfulness of
handling which are perfectly wonderful.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Émil Brugsch-

Their delicacy, and their freshness in spite of their antiquity, make it
hard for us to realize that fifty centuries have elapsed since they
were made. We are tempted to imagine that the royal ladies to whom they
belonged must still be waiting within earshot, ready to reply to our
summons as soon as we deign to call them; we may even anticipate the joy
they will evince when these sumptuous ornaments are restored to them,
and we need to glance at the worm-eaten coffins which contain their
stiff and disfigured mummies to recall our imagination to the stern
reality of fact. Two other pyramids, but in this case of stone, still
exist further south, to the left of the village of Lisht: their casing,
torn off by the fellahîn, has entirely disappeared, and from a distance
they appear to be merely two mounds which break the desert horizon line,
rather than two buildings raised by the hand of man.


     Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Golénischeff.

The sepulchral chambers, excavated at a great depth in the sand, are now
filled with water which has infiltrated through the soil, and they have
not as yet been sufficiently emptied to permit of an entrance being
effected: one of them contained the body of Usirtasen I.; does
Amenemhâît I. or Amenemhâît II. repose in the other? We know, at all
events, that Usirtasen II. built for himself the pyramid of Illahun,
and Amenemhâît III. that of Hawâra. “Hotpû,” the tomb of Usirtasen II.,
stood upon a rocky hill at a distance of some two thousand feet from
the cultivated lands. To the east of it lay a temple, and close to
the temple a town, Haît-Usirtasen-Hotpû--“the Castle of the Repose of
Usirtasen”--which was inhabited by the workmen employed in building
the pyramid, who resided there with their families. The remains of the
temple consist of scarcely anything more than the enclosing wall, whose
sides were originally faced with fine white limestone covered with
hieroglyphs and sculptured scenes. It adjoined the wall of the town, and
the neighbouring quarters are almost intact: the streets were straight,
and crossed each other at right angles, while the houses on each side
were so regularly built that a single policeman could keep his eye on
each thoroughfare from one end to the other. The structures were of
rough material hastily put together, and among the _débris_ are to be
found portions of older buildings, stehe, and fragments of statues.
The town began to dwindle after the Pharaoh had taken possession of his
sepulchre; it was abandoned during the XIIIth dynasty, and its ruins
were entombed in the sand which the wind heaped over them. The city
which Amenemhâît III. had connected with his tomb maintained, on the
contrary, a long existence in the course of the centuries. The king’s
last resting-place consisted of a large sarcophagus of quartzose
sandstone, while his favourite consort, Nofriuphtah, reposed beside
him in a smaller coffin. The sepulchral chapel was very large, and its
arrangements were of a somewhat complicated character. It consisted of
a considerable number of chambers, some tolerably large, and others
of moderate dimensions, while all of them were difficult of access and
plunged in perpetual darkness: this was the Egyptian Labyrinth, to
which the Greeks, by a misconception, have given a world-wide renown.
Amenemhâît III. or his architects had no intention of building such a
childish structure as that in which classical tradition so fervently
believed. He had richly endowed the attendant priests, and bestowed upon
the cult of his double considerable revenues, and the chambers above
mentioned were so many storehouses for the safekeeping of the treasure
and provisions for the dead, and the arrangement of them was not more
singular than that of ordinary storage depots. As his cult persisted
for a long period, the temple was maintained in good condition during a
considerable time: it had not, perhaps, been abandoned when the Greeks
first visited it.*

     * The identity of the ruins at Hawâra with the remains of
     the Labyrinth, admitted by Jomard-Caristie and by Lepsius,
     disputed by Vassali, has been definitely proved by Pétrie,
     who found remains of the buildings erected by Amenemhâît
     III. under the ruins of a village and some Græco-Roman

The other sovereigns of the XIIth dynasty must have been interred not
far from the tombs of Amenemhâît III. and Usirtasen II.: they also had
their pyramids, of which we may one day discover the site. The outline
of these was almost the same as that of the Memphite pyramids, but the
interior arrangements were different. As at Illahun and Dahshur, the
mass of the work consisted of crude bricks of large size, between which
fine sand was introduced to bind them solidly together, and the whole
was covered with a facing of polished limestone. The passages and
chambers are not arranged on the simple plan which we meet with in
the pyramids of earlier date. Experience had taught the Pharaohs that
neither granite walls nor the multiplication of barriers could preserve
their mummies from profanation: no sooner was vigilance relaxed, either
in the time of civil war or under a feeble administration, than robbers
appeared on the scene, and boring passages through the masonry with
the ingenuity of moles, they at length, after indefatigable patience,
succeeded in reaching the sepulchral vault and despoiling the mummy of
its valuables.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Émil Brugsch-Bey,
     taken in 1884.

With a view to further protection, the builders multiplied blind
passages and chambers without apparent exit, but in which a portion of
the ceiling was movable, and gave access to other equally mysterious
rooms and corridors. Shafts sunk in the corners of the chambers and
again carefully closed put the sacrilegious intruder on a false scent,
for, after causing him a great loss of time and labour, they only led
down to the solid rock. At the present day the water of the Nile fills
the central chamber of the Hawâra pyramid and covers the sarcophagus; it
is possible that this was foreseen, and that the builders counted on the
infiltration as an additional obstacle to depredations from without.*

     * Indeed, it should be noted that in the Græco-Roman period
     the presence of water in a certain number of the pyramids
     was a matter of common knowledge, and so frequently was it
     met with, that it was even supposed to exist in a pyramid
     into which water had never penetrated, viz. that of Kheops.
     Herodotus relates that, according to the testimony of the
     interpreters who acted as his guides, the waters of the Nile
     were carried to the sepulchral cavern of the Pharaoh by a
     subterranean channel, and shut it in on all sides, like an

The hardness of the cement, which fastens the lid of the stone coffin
to the lower part, protects the body from damp, and the Pharaoh, lying
beneath several feet of water, still defies the greed of the robber or
the zeal of the archaeologist.

The absolute power of the kings kept their feudal vassals in check: far
from being suppressed, however, the seignorial families continued
not only to exist, but to enjoy continued prosperity. Everywhere, at
Elephantine, Koptos, Thinis, in Aphroditopolis, and in most of the
cities of the Said and of the Delta, there were ruling princes who
were descended from the old feudal lords or even from Pharaohs of the
Memphite period, and who were of equal, if not superior rank, to the
members of the reigning family. The princes of Siut no longer en-joyed
an authority equal to that exercised by their ancestors under the
Heracleopolitan dynasties, but they still possessed considerable
influence. One of them, Hapizaûfi I., excavated for himself, in the
reign of Ûsirtasen I., nor far from the burying-place of Khîti and
Tefabi, that beautiful tomb, which, though partially destroyed by Coptic
monks or Arabs, still attracts visitors and excites their astonishment.


The lords of Shashotpu in the south, and those of Hermopolis in the
north, had acquired to some extent the ascendency which their neighbours
of Siût had lost. The Hermopolitan princes dated at least from the time
of the VIth dynasty, and they had passed safely through the troublous
times which followed the death of Papi II. A branch of their family
possessed the nome of the Hare, while another governed that of the
Gazelle. The lords of the nome of the Hare espoused the Theban cause,
and were reckoned among the most faithful vassals of the sovereigns of
the south: one of them, Thothotpû, caused a statue of himself, worthy
of a Pharaoh, to be erected in his loyal town of Hermopolis, and their
burying-places at el-Bersheh bear witness to their power no less than
to their taste in art. During the troubles which put an end to the XIth
dynasty, a certain Khnûmhotpû, who was connected in some unknown manner
with the lords of the nome of the Gazelle, entered the Theban service
and accompanied Amenemhâît I. on his campaigns into Nubia. He obtained,
as a reward of faithfulness, Monâît-Khûfûi and the district of
Khûît-Horû,--“the Horizon of Horus,”--on the east bank of the Nile. On
becoming possessed of the western bank also, he entrusted the government
of the district which he was giving up to his eldest son, Nakhîti I.;
but, the latter having died without heirs, Usirtasen I. granted to
Biqît, the sister of Nakhîti, the rank and prerogative of a reigning
princess. Biqît married Nûhri, one of the princes of Hermopolis, and
brought with her as her dowry the fiefdom of the Gazelle, thus doubling
the possessions of her husband’s house. Khnûmhotpû II., the eldest
of the children born of this union, was, while still young, appointed
Governor of Monâît-Khûfuî, and this title appears to have become an
appanage of his heir-apparent, just as the title of “Prince of Kaûshû”
 was, from the XIXth dynasty onwards, the special designation of the heir
to the throne. The marriage of Khnûmhotpû II. with the youthful Khîti,
the heiress of the nome of the Jackal, rendered him master of one of
the most fertile provinces of Middle Egypt. The power of this family was
further augmented under Nakhîti II., son of Khnûmhotpû II. and Khîti:
Nakhîti, prince of the nome of the Jackal in right of his mother, and
lord of that of the Gazelle after the death of his father, received
from Usirtasen II. the administration of fifteen southern nomes, from
Aphroditopolis to Thebes. This is all we know of his history, but it is
probable that his descendants retained the same power and position for
several generations. The career of these dignitaries depended greatly
on the Pharaohs with whom they were contemporary: they accompanied the
royal troops on their campaigns, and with the spoil which they collected
on such occasions they built temples or erected tombs for themselves.
The tombs of the princes of the nome of the Gazelle are disposed along
the right bank of the Nile, and the most ancient are exactly opposite
Minieh. It is at Zawyet el-Meiyetîn and at Kom-el-Ahmar, nearly facing
Hibonu, their capital, that we find the burying-places of those who
lived under the VIth dynasty. The custom of taking the dead across the
Nile had existed for centuries, from the time when the Egyptians first
cut their tombs in the eastern range; it still continues to the present
day, and part of the population of Minieh are now buried, year after
year, in the places which their remote ancestors had chosen as the site
of their “eternal houses.” The cemetery lies peacefully in the centre
of the sandy plain at the foot of the hills; a grove of palms, like
a curtain drawn along the river-side, partially conceals it; a Coptic
convent and a few Mahommedan hermits attract around them the tombs of
their respective followers, Christian or Mussulman. The rock-hewn tombs
of the XIIth dynasty succeed each other in one long irregular line
along the cliffs of Beni-Hasan, and the traveller on the Nile sees their
entrances continuously coming into sight and disappearing as he goes
up or descends the river. These tombs are entered by a square aperture,
varying in height and width according to the size of the chapel. Two
only, those of Amoni-Amenemhâît and of Khnûm-hotpû II., have a columned
façade, of which all the members--pillars, bases, entablatures--have
been cut in the solid rock: the polygonal shafts of the façade look like
a bad imitation of ancient Doric. Inclined planes or nights of steps,
like those at Elephantine, formerly led from the plain up to the
terrace. Only a few traces of these exist at the present day, and the
visitor has to climb the sandy slope as best he can: wherever he enters,
the walls present to his view inscriptions of immense extent, as well
as civil, sepulchral, military, and historical scenes. These are not
incised like those of the Memphite mastabas, but are painted in fresco
on the stone itself. The technical skill here exhibited is not a whit
behind that of the older periods, and the general conception of the
subjects has not altered since the time of the pyramid-building kings.
The object is always the same, namely, to ensure wealth to the double in
the other world, and to enable him to preserve the same rank among
the departed as he enjoyed among the living: hence sowing, reaping,
cattle-rearing, the exercise of different trades, the preparation and
bringing of offerings, are all represented with the same minuteness as
formerly. But a new element has been added to the ancient themes.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Insinger.

We know, and the experience of the past is continually reiterating the
lesson, that the most careful precautions and the most conscientious
observation of customs were not sufficient to perpetuate the worship of
ancestors. The day was bound to come when not only the descendants of
Khnûmhotpû, but a crowd of curious or indifferent strangers, would visit
his tomb: he desired that they should know his genealogy, his private
and public virtues, his famous deeds, his court titles and dignities,
the extent of his wealth; and in order that no detail should be omitted,
he relates all that he did, or he gives the representation of it upon
the wall. In a long account of two hundred and twenty-two lines, he
gives a _résumé_ of his family history, introducing extracts from his
archives, to show the favours received by his ancestors from the hands
of their sovereigns. Amoni and Khîti, who were, it appears, the warriors
of their race, have everywhere recounted the episodes of their military
career, the movements of their troops, their hand-to-hand fights, and
the fortresses to which they laid siege. These scions of the house
of the Gazelle and of the Hare, who shared with Pharaoh himself the
possession of the soil of Egypt, were no mere princely ciphers: they
had a tenacious spirit, a warlike disposition, an insatiable desire for
enlarging their borders, together with sufficient ability to realize
their aims by court intrigues or advantageous marriage alliances. We can
easily picture from their history what Egyptian feudalism really was,
what were its component elements, what were the resources it had at its
disposal, and we may well be astonished when we consider the power and
tact which the Pharaohs must have displayed in keeping such vassals in
check during two centuries.

Amenemhâît I. had abandoned Thebes as a residence in favour of
Heracleopolis and Memphis, and had made it over to some personage who
probably belonged to the royal household. The nome of Ûisît had relapsed
into the condition of a simple fief, and if we are as yet unable to
establish the series of the princes who there succeeded each other
contemporaneously with the Pharaohs, we at least know that all those
whose names have come down to us played an important part in the history
of their times. Montûnsîsû, whose stele was engraved in the XXIVth year
of Amenemhâît I., and who died in the joint reign of this Pharaoh and
his son Usirtasen I., had taken his share in most of the wars conducted
against neighbouring peoples,--the Anîtiû of Nubia, the Monîtû of Sinai,
and the “Lords of the Sands:” he had dismantled their cities and razed
their fortresses. The principality retained no doubt the same boundaries
which it had acquired under the first Antûfs, but Thebes itself grew
daily larger, and gained in importance in proportion as its frontiers
extended southward. It had become, after the conquests of Usirtasen
III., the very centre of the Egyptian world--a centre from which the
power of the Pharaoh could equally well extend in a northerly direction
towards the Sinaitic Peninsula and Libya, or towards the Red Sea and
the “humiliated Kûsh” in the south. The influence of its lords increased
accordingly: under Amenemhâît III. and Amenemhâît IV. they were perhaps
the most powerful of the great vassals, and when the crown slipped from
the grasp of the XIIth dynasty, it fell into the hands of one of these
feudatories. It is not known how the transition was brought about which
transferred the sovereignty from the elder to the younger branch of the
family of Amenemhâît I. When Amenemhâît IV. died, his nearest heir was a
woman, his sister Sovkûnofriûrî: she retained the supreme authority
for not quite four years,* and then resigned her position to a certain

     * She reigned exactly three years, ten months, and eighteen
     days, according to the fragments of the “Royal Canon of
     Turin” (Lepsius, Auswahl der wichtigten Urkunden, pl. v.
     col. vii. 1. 2).

     ** Sovkhotpû Khûtoûirî, according to the present published
     versions of the Turin Papyrus, an identification which led
     Lieblein (Recherches sur la Chronologie Égyptienne, pp. 102,
     103) and Wiedemann to reject the generally accepted
     assumption that this first king of the XIIIth dynasty was
     Sovkhotpû Sakhemkhûtoûirî. Still, the way in which the
     monuments of Sovkhotpû Sakhemkhûtoûirî and his papyri are
     intermingled with the monuments of Amenemhâît III. at Semneh
     and in the Fayûm, show that it is difficult to separate him
     from this monarch. Moreover, an examination of the original
     Turin Papyrus shows that there is a tear before the word
     Khûtoûirî on the first cartouche, no indication of which
     appears in the facsimile, but which has, none the less,
     slightly damaged the initial solar disk and removed almost
     the whole of one sign. We are, therefore, inclined to
     believe that _Sakhemkhûtoûirî_ was written instead of
     _Khûtoûirî_, and that, therefore, all the authorities are in
     the right, from their different points of view, and that the
     founder of the XIIIth dynasty was a Sakhemkhûtoûirî I.,
     while the Savkhotpû Sakhemkhûtoûirî, who occupies the
     fifteenth place in the dynasty, was a Sakhemkhûtoûirî II.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a chromolithograph in Lepsius,
     Denkm., i. pl. 61. The first tomb on the left, of which the
     portico is shown, is that of Khnûmhotpû II.

Was there a revolution in the palace, or a popular rising, or a civil
war? Did the queen become the wife of the new sovereign, and thus bring
about the change without a struggle? Sovkhotpû was probably lord
of Ûisît, and the dynasty which he founded is given by the native
historians as of Theban origin. His accession entailed no change in the
Egyptian constitution; it merely consolidated the Theban supremacy, and
gave it a recognized position. Thebes became henceforth the head of
the entire country: doubtless the kings did not at once forsake
Heracleopolis and the Fayûm, but they made merely passing visits to
these royal residences at considerable intervals, and after a few
generations even these were given up. Most of these sovereigns resided
and built their Pyramids at Thebes, and the administration of the
kingdom became centralized there. The actual capital of a king was
determined not so much by the locality from whence he ruled, as by the
place where he reposed after death. Thebes was the virtual capital
of Egypt from the moment that its masters fixed on it as their

Uncertainty again shrouds the history of the country after Sovkhotpû I.:
not that monuments are lacking or names of kings, but the records of the
many Sovkhotpûs and Nonrhotpûs found in a dozen places in the valley,
furnish as yet no authentic means of ascertaining in what order to
classify them. The XIIIth dynasty contained, so it is said, sixty kings,
who reigned for a period of over 453 years.*

     * This is the number given in one of the lists of Manetho,
     in Muller-Didot, _Fragmenta Historicorum Græcorum_, vol. ii.
     p. 565. Lepsius’s theory, according to which the shepherds
     overran Egypt from the end of the XIIth dynasty and
     tolerated the existence of two vassal dynasties, the XIIIth
     and XIVth, was disputed and refuted by E. de Rougé as soon
     as it appeared; we find the theory again in the works of
     some contemporary Egyptologists, but the majority of those
     who continued to support it have since abandoned their

The succession did not always take place in the direct line from father
to son: several times, when interrupted by default of male heirs, it
was renewed without any disturbance, thanks to the transmission of royal
rights to their children by princesses, even when their husbands did not
belong to the reigning family. Monthotpû, the father of Sovkhotpu III.,
was an ordinary priest, and his name is constantly quoted by his son;
but solar blood flowed in the veins of his mother, and procured for him
the crown. The father of his successor, Nofirhotpû IL, did not belong
to the reigning branch, or was only distantly connected with it, but his
mother Kamâît was the daughter of Pharaoh, and that was sufficient
to make her son of royal rank. With careful investigation, we should
probably find traces of several revolutions which changed the legitimate
order of succession without, however, entailing a change of dynasty. The
Nofirhotpûs and Sovkhotpûs continued both at home and abroad the work so
ably begun by the Amenemhâîts and the Usirtasens.


They devoted all their efforts to beautifying the principal towns of
Egypt, and caused important works to be carried on in most of them--at
Karnak, in the great temple of Amon, at Luxor, at Bubastis, at Tanis,
at Tell-Mokhdam, and in the sanctuary of Abydos. At the latter
place, Khâsoshûshrî Nofirhotpû restored to Khontamentit considerable
possessions which the god had lost; Nozirri sent thither one of his
officers to restore the edifice built by Usirtasen I.; Sovkûmsaûf
II. dedicated his own statue in this temple, and private individuals,
following the example set them by their sovereigns, vied with each other
in their gifts of votive stehe. The pyramids of this period were of
moderate size, and those princes who abandoned the custom of building
them were content like Aûtûabrî I. Horû with a modest tomb, close to the
gigantic pyramids of their ancestors. In style the statues of this epoch
show a certain inferiority when compared with the beautiful work of the
XIIth dynasty: the proportions of the human figure are not so good, the
modelling of the limbs is not so vigorous, the rendering of the features
lacks individuality; the sculptors exhibit a tendency, which had been
growing since the time of the Usirtasens, to represent all their sitters
with the same smiling, commonplace type of countenance. There are,
however, among the statues of kings and private individuals which have
come down to us, a few examples of really fine treatment. The colossal
statue of Sovkhotpû IV., which is now in the Louvre side by side with an
ordinary-sized figure of the same Pharaoh, must have had a good effect
when placed at the entrance to the temple at Tanis: his chest is thrown
well forward, his head is erect, and we feel impressed by that noble
dignity which the Memphite sculptors knew how to give to the bearing
and features of the diorite Khephren enthroned at Gîzeh. The sitting
Mirmâshaû of Tanis lacks neither energy nor majesty, and the Sovkûmsaûf
of Abydos, in spite of the roughness of its execution, decidedly holds
its own among the other Pharaohs.


     Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Ernest de Bergmann.
     From Dahshur, now at Gîzeh; it has been published in
     Morgan’s Dahshur.

The statuettes found in the tombs, and the smaller objects discovered in
the ruins, are neither less carefully nor less successfully treated. The
little scribe at Gîzeh, in the attitude of walking, is a _chef d’oeuvre_
of delicacy and grace, and might be attributed to one of the best
schools of the XIIth dynasty, did not the inscriptions oblige us to
relegate it to the Theban art of the XIIIth. The heavy and commonplace
figure of the magnate now in the Vienna Museum is treated with a rather
coarse realism, but exhibits nevertheless most skilful tooling. It is
not exclusively at Thebes, or at Tanis, or in any of the other great
cities of Egypt, that we meet with excellent examples of work, or that
we can prove that flourishing schools of sculpture existed at this
period; probably there is scarcely any small town which would not
furnish us at the present day, if careful excavation were carried out,
with some monument or object worthy of being placed in a museum. During
the XIIIth dynasty both art and everything else in Egypt were fairly
prosperous. Nothing attained a very high standard, but, on the other
hand, nothing fell below a certain level of respectable mediocrity.
Wealth exercised, however, an injurious influence upon artistic taste.
The funerary statue, for instance, which Aûtûabrî I. Horû ordered for
himself was of ebony, and seems to have been inlaid originally with
gold, whereas Kheops and Khephren were content to have theirs of
alabaster and diorite.

[Illustration: 415.jpg STATUE OF SOVKHOTPÛ III.]

     Drawn by Boudier, from the sketch by Lepsius; the head was
     “quite mutilated and separated from the bust.”

During this dynasty we hear nothing of the inhabitants of the Sinaitic
Peninsula to the east, or of the Libyans to the west: it was in the
south, in Ethiopia, that the Pharaohs expended all their surplus energy.
The most important of them, Sovkhotpu I., had continued to register the
height of the Nile on the rocks of Semneh, but after his time we
are unable to say where the Nilometer was moved to, nor, indeed, who
displaced it. The middle basin of the river as far as Gebel-Barkal
was soon incorporated with Egypt, and the population became quickly
assimilated. The colonization of the larger islands of Say and Argo
took place first, as their isolation protected them from sudden attacks:
certain princes of the XIIIth dynasty built temples there, and erected
their statues within them, just as they would have done in any of the
most peaceful districts of the Said or the Delta. Argo is still at the
present day one of the largest of these Nubian islands:* it is said to
be 12 miles in length, and about 2 1/2 in width towards the middle.

     * The description of Argo and its ruins is borrowed from
     Caillaud, Voyage à Méroé, vol. ii. pp. 1-7.

It is partly wooded, and vegetation grows there with tropical
luxuriance; creeping plants climb from tree to tree, and form an
almost impenetrable undergrowth, which swarms with game secure from the
sportsman. A score of villages are dotted about in the clearings,
and are surrounded by carefully cultivated fields, in which durra
predominates. An unknown Pharaoh of the XIIIth dynasty built, near to
the principal village, a temple of considerable size; it covered an
area, whose limits may still easily be traced, of 174 feet wide by 292
long from east to west. The main body of the building was of sandstone,
probably brought from the quarries of Tombos: it has been pitilessly
destroyed piecemeal by the inhabitants, and only a few insignificant
fragments, on which some lines of hieroglyphs may still be deciphered,
remain _in situ_. A small statue of black granite of good workmanship is
still standing in the midst of the ruins. It represents Sovkhotpû III.
sitting, with his hands resting on his knees; the head, which has been
mutilated, lies beside the body.


     Drawn by Boudier, from the photograph in Rougé-Banville’s
     _Album photographique de la Mission de M. de Bougé_, No.

The same king erected colossal statues of himself at Tanis, Bubastis,
and at Thebes: he was undisputed master of the whole Nile Valley, from
near the spot where the river receives its last tributary to where
it empties itself into the sea. The making of Egypt was finally
accomplished in his time, and if all its component parts were not as yet
equally prosperous, the bond which connected them was strong enough
to resist any attempt to break it, whether by civil discord within or
invasions from without. The country was not free from revolutions, and
if we have no authority for stating that they were the cause of the
downfall of the XIIIth dynasty, the lists of Manetho at least show that
after that event the centre of Egyptian power was again shifted. Thebes
lost its supremacy, and the preponderating influence passed into the
hands of sovereigns who were natives of the Delta. Xoïs, situated in the
midst of the marshes, between the Phatnitic and Sebennytic branches of
the Nile, was one of those very ancient cities which had played but
an insignificant part in shaping the destinies of the country. By what
combination of circumstances its princes succeeded in raising themselves
to the throne of the Pharaohs, we know not: they numbered, so it was
said, seventy-five kings, who reigned four hundred and eighty-four
years, and whose mutilated names darken the pages of the Turin Papyrus.
The majority of them did little more than appear upon the throne, some
reigning three years, others two, others a year or scarcely more than a
few months: far from being a regularly constituted line of sovereigns,
they appear rather to have been a series of Pretenders, mutually jealous
of and deposing one another.

The feudal lords who had been so powerful under the Usirtasens had
lost none of their prestige under the Sovkhotpûs: and the rivalries of
usurpers of this kind, who seized the crown without being strong enough
to keep it, may perhaps explain the long sequence of shadowy Pharaohs
with curtailed reigns who constitute the XIVth dynasty. They did not
withdraw from Nubia, of that fact we are certain: but what did they
achieve in the north and north-east of the empire? The nomad tribes were
showing signs of restlessness on the frontier, the peoples of the Tigris
and Euphrates were already pushing the vanguards of their armies into
Central Syria. While Egypt had been bringing the valley of the Nile and
the eastern corner of Africa into subjection, Chaldæa had imposed both
her language and her laws upon the whole of that part of Western Asia
which separated her from Egypt: the time was approaching when these two
great civilized powers of the ancient world would meet each other face
to face and come into fierce collision.


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