תמונות בעמוד
[blocks in formation]

tombs consist of square 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 sheykh, and threatening bin with the inevitable displeasure of Mohammad Alee unless we were instantly supplied—however, we soon spied our sumpter ass creeping slowly towards us. We then retraced our steps to the tombs, which are situate in the great wall of rock to the northwest 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 strewn about in one of the large chambers, 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 travellers ; it had, however, its use, as the very fragments he threw aside as useless, were to me some of the most interesting objects I could have discovered.

The mummy-case itself was one of great beauty and perfection, and evidently belonged to a person of distinction. The head, chest, and arms, having been stripped of their coverings, were flung into a corner of the chamber, and on examination I found that the arms of the body, which appeared to be that of a young man, presented an appearance so truly abnormal, and so different from any thing the effect of disease, or any known congenital malformation, that I carried them away with me, and the draw

the next page represents the left humerus or arm-bone of this most remarkably deformed human subject. The person from whose thorax I removed these


extremities, appeared to be a man of about twenty-five years of age, and from the adornment of the sarcophagus, and the care exhibited

ing upon



in the bandages and mummy-cloths, was evidently a person above the lower class ; the fore-arms were crossed upon the breast; but as the body had been very much mutilated by the Arabs and some Frenchmen, before I saw it, I was unable to discover whether the lower extremities were likewise affected.


The bone is about six inches long, or not quite double the size of the engraving, and so completely different from the natural appearance, that it has a very great resemblance to a corresponding bone in some of the lower animals. The trochlea, or inferior articulating surface, is bent so much forward, that the radius and ulna could not have been brought into the same line when the arm was extended, as in the normal condition ; the radius could have enjoyed but very little flexion or extension, as the articulation surface for it on the humerus is not one-third the natural size—both it and the ulna are much less altered than the humerus, and are also larger. The bones are light, but hard, and it appears to be more the effect of original malformation, than rickets, or any disease subsequent to birth. Both arms, which are precisely similar in every respect, and also the hand of one of them, are in my possession; the latter is small but wellformed. The shaft of this bone is not much altered from its natural line, but around the upper portion of it a number of unusual rugged protuberances are thrown out, and the attachment of the latissimus dorsi muscle is marked by a large projecting elevation. Being an anomalous form of congenital malformation, it may not be uninteresting to the pathologist. Wilkinson gives the figure of a dwarf and a deformed person, from the sculptures at Beni Hassan ; the former is remarkable for the shortness of the arms, and is one of the date of Osirtasen, now more than 3500 years ago

I determined to take up my abode in the outer chamber of

[ocr errors]



one of these sepulchres for the night, and so placed my blanket and provisions in one corner, while the donkey-men provided for themselves and their animals in another, and set about lighting a fire.

Numbers of the Arabs, several of whom are Bedawees, reside in these tombs; their principal livelihood is obtained either in searching for antiquities, raising mummies, or acting as guides. They are the wildest and most ferocious-looking set of people I think I ever saw, and seem to despise the cultivating Egyptians of the neighbouring village with the greatest cordiality.

The moment it was known that a Frank wished to see the tombs and pyramids, I was beset by a whole bevy of them, and although I chose one who appeared the most intelligent and least vociferous of the party, yet the rest were determined to come along with us for the sake of a chance piaster, though warned of their uselessness, and the slight hopes of reward.

The entrance to the catacombs, which extend for near a mile long here, is very close to the top of the ledge of rock which just peeps above the surface of the sand ; this opening is exceedingly narrow, and nearly choked up with rubbish.

One of these tombs, to which the Arabs gave the name of Bergámi, is one of vast extent, and matchless elegance of design and finish, all carved with the greatest precision out of the solid rock. Its outer hall is of great size, and adorned with massive pillars on either hand. Off the sides of this portion of the tomb are a series of small chambers, their walls covered with hieroglyphics; in form they are for the most part square, and have in general three niches for the bodies-one opposite the door, and one on either side. Two square wells lead down to a great depth into a lower tier of sepulchral chambers, similarly coated with phonetic writing. These characters are not, I find, carved in the actual walls, but on slabs of stone about six or eight inches thick, with which all the minor apartments are coated, and connected with such accuracy, that the joining is with great difficulty discerned. The cement used was lime, which still retains its power of effervescence; it resembles close-ground pumicestone, of a pinkish grey colour, is of excessive hardness, and adheres with the greatest tenacity to the smooth surface of the slabs, which are a kind of sand-stone, not unlike Portland stone, and very easily worked. The hieroglyphics are of two sorts, one cut

[ocr errors]




about one-fourth of an inch in the stone, the other appearing in alto relievo; the former were painted, and the colours of many remain most perfect, although it is acknowledged that these tombs must have been formed 2500 year ago at least. The ascent to the entrance of these tombs is very steep, and formed of the sand, stones, and rubbish leading to the top of the range of rock which here faces the west.

Were the present entrances the original ones ?-And is the under tier of chambers but a story, in one vast hypogea carved in the side of the rock, to which there was an entrance below, several openings to the different sets of apartments ? Analogy of other rock-carved sepulchres, as at Petra and Telmessus, and on a small scale in the side of the valley of Jehoshaphat, would lead me to suppose, that were the sand that now forms the enormous mass of the descent cleared away, the front of this range of rock would be found to present the openings of many hundreds of tombs, equal in extent and beauty to that we now visited. It is to be regretted, that enterprising travellers have not, instead of rushing on to Thebes and Upper Egypt, spent some time, and examined more carefully the catacombs of Sackara, to our knowledge of which little has been added since the days of Pococke and Dr. Shaw. It is even now the great mine or reservoir from whence the Arabs get the quantities of minor antiquities that supply the Cairo market ; but they are fearful of revealing the place of their treasure, as its exposé might deprive them of its profit.




Visit to one of the pyramids of Sackara--Its entrance-Chambers-RoofRemarks upon the

pyramid-Buckshese—Tomb of Beer-dor-etho—The plain of Memphis-Inquiry concerning the probable site of that city-Opinions of authorsReflections on its destruction-Scene in a tomb-Mooslim ablutions—Mummy píts-Difficulty of exploring-Urns of the Ibis-Desert grouse-Hyenas-Approach to the great pyramids—The sphynx-A pic-nic at the pyramidsAscent of that of Chephrenes-Its construction-Difficulties of the ascent-Coating-Description of Herodotus- Dangerous position-View from the summit-Mode of descent-Pyramid of Cheops—The king's chamber-Acoustic tubes—A picture-Upper chamberg-Their use and construction-Crystaline incrustation-Colonel Vyse-Interior of Belzoni's or Chephrenes' pyramid-Return to Alexandria-Inspection of the catacombs-Description of the excavations -Their probable date-Lake Mareotis-Shells.

My next visit was to the neighbouring pyramid, which is about one-fourth of a mile distant; the intervening ground being burrowed like a rabbit warren, similar to that near Aboosier, and the sand and rubbish mixed with the fragments of mummies, bits of blue porcelain, linen, and great quantities of agates.

This pyramid, although formed on the type of those at Geza, is somewhat different in external appearance, being apparently constructed in steps, five of which appear above the sands, each step being upwards of twenty-five feet high. What the real elevation of this pyramid was it is difficult to say, as the entrance, which, like all the rest, is on the north side, and was very likely about the centre of the mass, is now several feet below the level of the surrounding ground. The sand must have covered up the greater part of it, as even in Pocock's time there were six ranges of steps, and that which was above ground in his day is now far below the surface ; either this monument has never been finished, or much more than the coating has been torn off. This pyramid is seldom entered, and the hole to which our Arab guide, Alee, pointed, had very much the look of a fox earth, and was nearly

« הקודםהמשך »