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part of the body rendering it very conspicuous, he pounced upon it while on the wing. But neither did this hawk appear to mind the smaller birds, nor did they, as if aware of their security, seem to pay the least attention to him. Although at constant war in other countries, here the swallow and hawk were on the best terms. I dissected several of these kestrils, and found that instead of the usual membraneous stomach, peculiar to rapacious birds, theirs had been altered to meet the exigency of the case, and had become a perfect gizzard, having a detached cuticle stained of a bright red by the colouring matter of the grasshopper, pieces of the hard shells of which, and small pebbles, I invariably found in the digestive apparatus of this insectivorous hawk.
The pratingole is also found in the vicinity of Cairo, and I have one in my possession now, brought from the neighbourhood of old Cairo, but they are rare.
Another animal that particularly called tion, and excited my admiration, was the Scarabeus, or sacred beetle ; these were running about in all directions in the warm sunshine, engaged in rolling their balls over the desert with such industry, and in so curious a manner, that I cannot refrain, although on the path to the pyramids, from stopping to notice the little animal so famed in Egyptian story, and that formed so conspicuous a part in the symbolic language and the mythology of this ancient people. The more I consider the habits and manners of
animals, the more am I convinced that it was an accurate observation of their natural history and instinct that arrested the attention of the ancients, and on which was formed much of their hieroglyphic system. This was not peculiar to the Egyptians, for we find the car of Bacchus drawn by tigers, evidently alluding to his conquest of a country to which those animals were peculiar, and in like manner are represented the conquests of Alexander, not expressed in words or any written character, but shown forth by the representations of the animals peculiar to each region, as depicted in the mosaic
pavement at Præneste. These little creatures, which are possessed of amazing strength and perseverance, form balls of clay and camel's dung, which they mix up into a kind of mortar, very like that used by swallows to construct their nests ; in these they deposit their eggs, and thus it forms a crust or shell to the larvæ within ; they then roll these balls, when sufficiently dried, over the sand in a truly remarkable manner. The male is provided with two projections in the form of horns on the head, and uses them as a lever to raise and push the ball forward from behind, while the female mounting before keeps it revolving onward by drawing it down with her fore feet. Sometimes three or four will get about one ball either for the mere sake of work, or to get it over any impediment. Others again propel them with their hind legs, and will sometimes
assume the most grotesque attitudes, literally standing on their heads and pushing at them with their hind feet; others, as in the annexed cut.
So far as I am able to judge they keep rolling these balls about over the sand for the whole day, and do not merely place them in holes, like other coleopterous insects. I have watched them at evening, and as soon as the sun had set they invariably deserted their charge, and returned to their holes, and what is more remarkable, if the day became suddenly clouded, off they waddled, and left the ball till a gleam of returning sunshine, again called them to work with renewed vigour. It appears to me from the manner they rolled these balls they intended that the sun should act equally on all sides of them, and thus secure the heat in the process of incubation. It may, however, be but for the purpose of drying the surface. The sexes of these beetles are well known to the Arabs, one of whom, who could just speak a word or two of English, pointed out the difference in the forms of the men and the women scarabæi.
THE SACKING OF THE TOMBS.
Scarabæi, in every shape and attitude, and of all sizes, are figured on the Egyptian monuments, are used in the hieroglyphics, and models of them are generally found on the breasts of mummies ; besides many of a smaller size form part of the necklaces worn by such. In these two latter positions they may have been used as amulets. Others are carved in different stones and gems, as signets having the names of the Ptolemies, &c. cut in hieroglyphics on the face. It was the emblem of creative power, of the earth, and of the sun, in which latter case the ball alone is often used.*
I now passed the pyramids of Abouseer, but without time to do more than just look at them. They are apparently less carefully constructed than either those of Geza or Sackara, and are much dilapidated. The whole of the ground I now rode over presented a most extraordinary spectacle ; for miles it is literally strewn over with the sacking of the tombs-remains of human bones and of the inferior animals, which since their exposure to light have become intensely white, but excessively friable, crumbling in the fingers ; quantities of linen, pieces of broken mummy cases, and bits of blue crockery
The whole plain is covered with heaps of rubbish, like mole-hills, thrown up from the tombs, which have been opened by the Arabs for the sake of their contents. These tombs consist of square
* Appendix 0.
THE VILLAGE OF SACKARA.
apertures in the ground faced with stone, or cut in the sand-stone rock, but now nearly choked with rubbish. I was well inclined to spend some time in examining the bones of the different animals on which my donkey trode at every step ; but Paulo hurried me onward, as the day was wearing, and we had yet to make some preparation for our night's sojourn in the tombs.
We arrived at the village of Sackara about three or four o'clock, but could hear nothing of the third donkey which had been sent round by the plain; it was to have met us here, and as it was the bearer of the provender, and the wretched place we were in could afford us little or nothing, our situation was any thing but enviable. Paulo was for applying to the sheik, and threatening him with the inevitable displeasure of Mohammad Alee unless we were instantly supplied—however we soon spied him creeping towards us. We then retraced our steps to the tombs, which are situate in the rock to the north-west of the village. Arrived thither we found some Arab guides whom a Frenchman had the day before employed to raise a mummy for him, and which he had just then deserted, leaving the case and the different broken parts of the body in one of the large chambers, strewn about having had it removed from a pit in the neighbourhood for the mere purpose of seeing it opened, and for the sake of the ornaments it might contain. This wasteful proceeding is one too often resorted to by tra