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 Snofrui 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-Tih. 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 Feiran, 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-Shuit, the land of Emptiness, the land of Aridity.
[Illustration: 154.jpg MAP SINAITIC PENINSULAR, TIME OF MEMPHITE EMPIRE]
They divided it into various districts -- the upper and lower Tonu, Aia, Kaduma. They called its inhabitants Hiru-Shaitu, the lords of the Sands; Nomiu-Shaitu, 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 Tumilat 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 Kim-Oirit 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 MONITI 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.
Snofrui 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.
[Illustration: 157.jpg TWO REFUGE TOWERS OF THE HIRU-SHAITU, IN THE WADY BIAR]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the vignette by E. H. Palmer, The Desert of the Exodus, p.317.
The expression Kim-Oirit, |the very black,| is applied to the northern part of the Red Sea, in contradistinction to Uaz-Oirit, Uazit-Oirit, |the very green,| the
Mediterranean; a town, probably built at a short distance from the village of Maghfar, had taken its name from the gulf on which it was situated, and was also called Kim- Oirit.
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 |namus,| plur. |nawamis,| 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 |Talayot| 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 Hiru- Shaitu: 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 Shausus and their allies, between the frontier of Egypt and the town of Hebron.
[Illustration: 159.jpg VIEW OF THE OASIS OF WADY FEIKAN IN THE PENINSULA OF SINAI]
Drawn by Boudier, from the water-colour drawing published by Lepsius, Denhn., i.7, No.2.
To the south of Gebel et-Tih, 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 Serbal, 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 Hebran, Wady Baba -- furrows the country and holds it as in a network of unequal meshes. Wady Feiran 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-Tih 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 Monitu 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 Hathor; 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-Tih and the Gulf of Suez. They were collectively called Mafkait, the country of turquoises, a fact which accounts for the application of the local epithet, lady of Mafkait, to Hathor. 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 Baifc, the mine par excellence, or of Bebit, 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 word.
The Monitu 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 Monitu by force of arms. Zosiri had already taken steps to ensure the safety of the turquoise-seekers at their work; Snofrui 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 Monitu. 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 -- Hait-Qait 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 fellahin: 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.
[Illustration: 164.jpg THE HIGH CASTLE OF THE MINERS -- HAIT-QAIT -- AT THE CONFLUENCE OF WADY GENNEH AND WADY MAGHARA]
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 defrise 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 stelae, 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 |Kha,| 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 |Kha risi,| the Southern Rising, appears to be identical with the monument of Medum.
[Illustration: 167.jpg THE PYRAMID OF MEDUM]
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, irupauc, of the compound term |piri-m-uisi,| 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 Saqqara, 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 Snofrui with a pyramid, unless it be Zosiri. The step-pyramid of Saqqara, which is attributed to the latter, belongs to the same type as that of Medum; 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 Snofrui -- for instance, Huni -- the use of pyramids would be merely exceptional for sovereigns anterior to the IVth dynasty.
The motive which determined Snofrui's choice of Medum 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 feet 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. Snofrui 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 Snofrui or his wife Mirisonkhu. Visitors recorded in ink on the walls their enthusiastic, but stereotyped impressions: they compared the |Castle of Snofrui| 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 Snofrui, 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.
[Illustration: 171.jpg THE COURT AND THE TWO STELAE OF THE CHAPEL ADJOINING THE PYRAMID OF MEDUM]
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. Snofrui peopled his city with men from the Libyan tribes living on the borders of the Western desert or Monitu 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. Snofrui 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 Medum finished and occupied sepulchres except that of individuals who had died before or shortly after Snofrui. The mummy of Eanofir, 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 Nofirmait 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 NOFKIT, LADY OF MEDUM]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph taken by Einil Brugsch- Bey.
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 Eahotpu and of the lady Nofrit, 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 Gizeh Museum just as they were when they left the hands of the workman. Eahotpu was the son of a king, perhaps of Snofrui: but in spite of his high origin, I find something humble and retiring in his physiognomy. Nofrit, 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 Nofrit.
The worship of Snofrui 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. Snofrui 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. Khnumu-Khufui,* abbreviated into Khufui, the Kheops** of the Greeks, was probably the son of Snofrui.***
* The existence of the two cartouches Khufui and Khnumu- Khufui 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 Dadufri. Khnumu-Khufui signifies |the god Khnumu protects me.|
** Kheops is the usual form, borrowed from the account of Herodotus; Diodorus writes Khembes or Khemmes, Eratosthenes Saophis, and Manetho Souphis.
*** The story in the |Westcar| papyrus speaks of Snofrui as father of Khufui; 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 Snofrui, and, in spite of the hesitation of de Rouge, this affiliation is adopted by the majority of modern historians.
[175.jpg alabaster statue of kheops]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Emil 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 Ha-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, Selkit, Phtah, Sokhit, Osiris, Thot, and Hapis. 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 tomb.*
* 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 Gizeh 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 Saite period, perhaps by Sabaco, in order to replace an ancient stele of the same import which had fallen into decay.
[Illustration: 176.jpg THE TRIUMPHAL BAS-RELIEFS OF KHEOPS ON THE ROCKS OF WADY MAGHARA]
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 Moniti 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 Dadufri, 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 Gizeh 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 Dahshur.
** 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 Khephren.
**** 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.
[Illustration: 179.jpg KHUIT, THE GREAT PYRAMID OF GIZEH, THE SPHINX, AND THE TEMPLE OF THE SPHINX]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Emil 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 Honitsonu, 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 Gizeh, 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 deg. 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 Gizeh 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 Ahhotpu I.
[Illustration: 181b.jpg the interior of the great pyramid]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from pl. ix., Petrie, The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh. 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 Saqqara. Mr. Petrie refuses to recognize here a barrier chamber (cf. the notes which he has appended to the English translation of my Archeologie egyptienne, 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 Khuit, the |Horizon| in which Khufui 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 Dadufri, 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 Rouge for the fragments of the Turin Canon. E. de Rouge reads the name Ra-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 Dadufri, like Khafri, Menkauri, in which case the hypothesis of de Rouge falls to the ground. The worship of Dadufri 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 Khafri to be the son of Khufu; 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 Herodotus.
He placed it some 394 feet to the south-west of that of Kheops; and called it Uiru, 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.
[Illustration: 187.jpg THE NAME OF KHEOPS DRAWN IN RED ON SEVERAL BLOCKS OF THE GREAT PYRAMID]
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 Gizeh 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 deg., 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 Pharaoh.*
* 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 Saladin.
Of Khephren's sons, Menkauri (Mykerinos), who was his successor, could scarcely dream of excelling his father and grandfather;* his pyramid, the Supreme -- Hiru** -- 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 (Khafri) will yet reign, then the son of the latter (Menkauri), then a prince of another family.
** An inscription, unfortunately much mutilated, from the tomb of Tabhuni, 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 granite.
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 times.
** 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 MENRAURI]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph, by Emil Brugsch-Bey, of a statue preserved in the Museum of Gizeh.
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 facade 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, Menkauri, living eternally, given birth to by heaven, conceived by Nuit, flesh of Sibii, thy mother Nuit 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, Menkauri, 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.
[Illustration: 196.jpg THE GRANITE SARCOPHAGUS OF MYKERINOS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a chromolithograph in Prisse D'Avennes, Histoire de l'Art Egyptien.
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 corvee 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.
[Illustration: 198.jpg DIORITE STATUE OF KHEPHREN, GIZEU MUSEUM]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Emil 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 corvee 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, Honitsonu.
** 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 Sophe, 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, AElian 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 worship.*
* 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, Mihi-uirit, 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 Deir el-Bahari, Nofritari Ahhotpu 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 Mihi-uirit might, therefore, be bodily enclosed in a sarcophagus in the form of a heifer, just as the mummified gazelle of Deir el-Bahari 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 Shashanqu I. of the XXIInd dynasty; but the name of the king, commonly written Sesonkhis, had been corrupted by the dragoman into Sasykhis.
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 Saqqara, at Dahshur or in the Fayum -- the majority of the royal pyramids attracted around them a more or less numerous cortege 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 Troiu, 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 Gerraui. 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 Hatnubu, 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 Hammamat. 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 Saqqara, Abusir, Dahshur, Rigah, 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 Saqqara belonged to a Pharaoh who reigned thirty years, while |the Horizon| of Gizeh 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 Saqqara 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 deg.41' with the horizon, but at half its height the angle becomes suddenly more acute and is reduced to 42 deg.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 Medum -- 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 fellahin, 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 Snofrui, 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 Rouge, recherches sur les Monu-mails qu'on peut attribuer aux six premieres 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 Ruditdidit who will bring them to thee.' His Majesty says: 'By the love of Ra! what is this that thou tellest me; and who is she, this Ruditdidit?' Didi says to him: 'She is the wife of a priest of Ra, lord of Sakhibu. She carries in her womb three children of Ra, lord of Sakhibu, 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 Ra had anticipated this, and saved his offspring. When the time for their birth drew near, the Majesty of Ra, lord of Sakhibu, gave orders to Isis, Nephthys, Maskhonit, Hiquit,*** and Khnumu: |Come, make haste and run to deliver Buditdidit 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 Ra 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 Dadufri or Shopsiskaf, of whose reigns little was known in his time.
*** Hiquit 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 sun.
The goddesses disguised themselves as dancers and itinerant musicians: Khnumu 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 Buditdidit was awaiting her delivery. The earthly husband Bausir, 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, Maskhonit predicted for them their royal fortune, while Khnumu. infused into their limbs vigour and health; the eldest was called Usirkaf, the second Sahuri, the third Kakiu. Kausir 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 Ra himself and of Ruditdidifc. They reigned for a century and a half; the majority of them have left monuments, and the last four, at least, Usirniri Anu, Menkau-horu, Dadkeri 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: --
[Illustration: 215.jpg TABLE OF PHARAOHS OF THE VTH DYNASTY]
** It is pretty generally admitted, but without convincing proofs, that the pyramids of Abusir served as tombs for the Pharaohs in the Vth dynasty, one for Sahuri, another to Usirniri Anu, 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 Saqqara was constructed by Assi; the pyramid of Unas was opened in 1881, and the results made known by Maspero, Etudes de Mythologie et d'Archeologie, 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 Usirkaf was called |Uabisitu|; that of Sahuri, |Khabi|; that of Nofiririkeri, |Bi|; that of Anu, |Min-isuitu|; that of Menkauhoru, |Nutirisuitu|; that of Assi, |Nutir|; that of Unas, |Nofir-isuitu.|
*** Pa Sahuri, near Esneh, for instance, was built by Sahuri. 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.
[Illustration: 210.jpg STATUE IN ROSE-COLOURED GRANITE OF THE PHARAOH ANU, IN THE GIZEH MUSEUM]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-Bey.
The Bedouin of the Sinaitic peninsula gave them much to do. Sahuri 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; Anu 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.
[Illustration: 217.jpg TRIUMPHAL BAS-RELIEF OF PHARAOH SAHURU, ON THE ROCKS OF WADY MAGHARAH.]
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, |Haui-nibu.| 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 Haui-nibu 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 Saqqara or Gizeh, 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 Saqqara, 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 Saqqara, and now preserved in the Gizeh 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 Medum 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 AEgean 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 Chaldaean 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 Uauaiu 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 Mazaiu tribes, from whom our contemporary Maazeh have probably descended. The Amamiu were settled on the left bank opposite to the Mazaiu, and the country of Iritit lay facing the territory of the Uauaiu. 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.
[Illustration: 223.jpg MAP OF NUBIA IN THE TIME OF THE MEMPHITE EMPIRE]
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 Mazaiu 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 Uauaiu had stolen in ten, both in flocks and fellahin, 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, Nofiririkeri, 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 Mazaiu, but still between the Nile and the Red Sea, lay the country of Puanit, 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 PUANIT]
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 Egypt.
All that lay beyond Puanit 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 Bisu (Bes). The chances of war or trade brought some of them from time to time to Puanit, or among the Amamiu: 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 Bisu unrestrainedly gave way in his merry moments. Towards the end of his reign Assi procured one which a certain Biurdidi had purchased in Puanit. 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 Nofiririkeri, 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 Bibliotheque 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 Qaqimni, a contemporary of Huni. 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 Phtahhotpu.|
This Phtahhotpu, a king's son, flourished under Menkauhoru and Assi: his tomb is still to be seen in the necropolis of Saqqara. 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 Phtahhotpu 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 Phtahhotpu. 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. Phtahhotpu, 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. Phtahhotpu 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 Gizeh and Medum 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 facade, however, was not wanting in a certain graceful severity: the play of light and shade distributed over its surface by the stelae, 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 Medum, 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 architect.*
* The title |mir kautu nibu niti suton,| 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]
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.
[Illustration: 236.jpg ONE OF THE WOODEN PANELS OF HOSI, IN THE GIZEH MUSEUM]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-Bey. The original is now in the Gizeh 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.
[Illustration: 237.jpg A SCULPTOR's STUDIO, AND EGYPTIAN PAINTERS AT WORK]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a chromolithograph by Prisse d'Avennes, Histoire de l'Art Egyptien. The original is in the tomb of Rakhmiri, 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.
[Illustration: 238.jpg CELLARER COATING A JAR WITH PITCH]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-Bey. The original is now in the Gizeh 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 amphorae 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 Bechard. The original is now in the Gizeh 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 previously.
[Illustration: 241.jpg THE SHEIKH-EL BELED IN THE GIZEH MUSEUM]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Emil 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 Anu, the Nofrit, the Rahotpu I have already mentioned, the |Sheikh-el-Beled| and his wife, the sitting scribe of the Louvre and that of Gizeh, and the kneeling scribe. Kaapiru, the |Sheikh-el-Beled,| was probably one of the directors of the corvee 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 Saqqara. |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, Kaapiru was an exact portrait of one of the |Sheikhs el-Beled,| or mayors of the village of Saqqara: the Arab workmen, always quick to see a likeness, immediately called it the |Sheikh el-Beled,| and the name has been retained ever since.
[Illustration: 242.jpg THE KNEELING SCRIBE IN THE GIZEH MUSEUM]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch- Bey.
[Illustration: 242b.jpg THE SITTING SCRIBE IN THE GIZEH MUSEUM]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-Bey. This scribe was discovered at Saqqara, 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 Gizeh 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 indifference 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 Bechard. 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 other.
[Illustration: 247.jpg KOFIR, THE DIRECTOR OF GRANARIES]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-Bey. original is in the Gizeh 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 Dadkeri 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. Grebaut bought at the Great Pyramids, in 1887, a series of these ivory sculptures of the Ancient Empire. They are now at the Gizeh 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 Akhmim, 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 Anu, Menkauhoru, 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 Menes to an end with this king. A new line of Memphite origin begins after him.
[Illustration: 253.jpg THE PHARAOH MENKAUHORU]
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, Imhotpu, 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 Hammamat for the stone of his sarcophagus.
* The monuments furnish proof that their contemporaries considered these ephemeral rulers as so many illegitimate pretenders. Phtahshopsisu and his son Sabu-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 Mihtimsauf I. The official succession was, therefore, regulated at this epoch in the same way as we afterwards find it in the table of Saqqara, Unas, Teti III., Papi I., Mihtimsauf I., and in the Royal Canon of Turin, without the intercalation of any other king.
** Brugsch, in his Histoire d'Egypte, pp.44, 45, had identified this king with the first Metesouphis of Manetho: E. de Rouge 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 Hamraamat 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 Saqqara, 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 Hammamat, 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 Rouge is inclined to attribute to him as praenomen 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 Saqqara 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 Rouge that the cartouche Usirkeri contains his praenomen; 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 praenomen 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 Menkauhoru.
He lived long enough to build at Saqqara 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 Hat-nubu 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.
[Illustration: 255.jpg THE MASTABAT-EL-FARAUN, LOOKING TOWARDS THE WEST FACADE]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Bechard.
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 domain.***
* 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 Troiu 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 Sokhit-nionkhu, whose tomb still exists at Saqqara, and whom Pharaoh Sahuri 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 Amitsi 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 Amitsi 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 Amitsi. 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 Iritit, among the blacks of the land of Maza, among the blacks of the land of Amamit, among the blacks of the land of Uauait, among the blacks of the land of Kaau, among the blacks of To-Tamu, 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 Imhotpu| and the |Tell of Horu nib-mait,| and set out into the desert. He advanced, probably by Gebel Magharah and Gebel Helal, as far as Wady-el-Arish, into the rich and populous country which lay between the southern slopes of Gebel Tih 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 |uanit| 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 nauami country, i.e. the Negeb regions situated on the edge of the desert of Tih, round about Ain-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 Holland.
|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 Hathor. Work was carried on uninterruptedly at the quarries of Hatnubu and Kohanu; 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 Hathor| 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, Miriri-onkhnas, succeeded him without opposition. Mirniri Mihtimsauf 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 Abhait, opposite Sehel, to select the granite for the royal sarcophagus and its cover, and to those of Hatnubu 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 Saqqara 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 Uauait, and from the Mazaiu, 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 d'Egypte.
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 dom 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.
[Illustration: 266.jpg THE ISLAND OF ELAPHANTINE SEEN FROM THE RUINS OF SYENNE]
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 Khnurnu, 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 Suanit, 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 Puanit 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 Banat, which they called the |Head of Nekhabit,| 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 Hiru-Shaitu on the north, as well as to the land of Puanit 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.
[Illustration: 269.jpg SMALL WADY, FIVE HOURS BEYOND ED-DOUEIG, ON THE ROAD TO THE RED SEA]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Golenischeff.
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 Natrun| 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. Hirkhuf 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 Darfur and the marshes of Bahr-el-Ghazal. As to the Danga, cf. what has been said on p.226 of the present work.
[Illustration: 270.jpg THE ROCKS OF THE ISLAND OF SEHEL, WITH SOME OF THE VOTIVE INSCRIPTIONS]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph taken by Deveria 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 Konusit. 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 Satit 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 Anukit and Satit: travellers of position were accustomed to sacrifice in the temple of the goddesses at Sehel, 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 Philae 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 Khnumu 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.
[Illustration: 275.jpg THE MOUNTAIN OF ASWAN AND THE TOMBS OF THE PRINCES OF ELEPHANTINE]
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 Uauait and Iritit and of the Mazaiu 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 Hirkhuf, own cousin to Mikhu, 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 Amamit. The voyage occupied seven months, and was extraordinarily successful: the sovereign, encouraged by this unexpected good fortune, resolved to send out a fresh expedition. Hirkhuf had the sole command of it; he made his way through Iritit, 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 Iritit, and emerged upon the region of Situ, in the neighbourhood of the cataract, by paths in which no official traveller who had visited the Amamit 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 Amamit, and found the country in an uproar. The sheikhs had convoked their tribes, and were making preparations to attack the Timihu |towards the west corner of the heaven,| in that region where stand the pillars which support the iron firmament at the setting sun. The Timihu 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 Siut 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, uit, 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 Amamit had relations, probably, with the Timihu, who owned the Oasis of Dush -- a prolongation of that of Dakhel, on the parallel of Elephantine. Hirkhuf accompanied the expedition to the Amamit, succeeded in establishing peace among the rival tribes, and persuaded them |to worship all the gods of Pharaoh:| he afterwards reconciled the Iritit, Amamit, and Uauait, 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.
[Illustration: 278.jpg HIRKHUF RECEIVING POSTHUMOUS HOMAGE AT THE DOOR OF HIS TOMB FROM HIS SON]
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 Puanit by Biurdidi 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 Puanit.| Hirkhuf, on his return to Elephantine, engraved the royal letter and the detailed account of his journeys to the lands of the south, on the facade 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 Hirkhuf, and one at least of the princes of Elephantine, Papinakhiti, 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 Uauaiu and the Iritit.| 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 Puanit, to coast up as far as the |Head of Nekhabit,| 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; Papinakhiti failed miserably. As he was engaged in constructing his vessel, the Hiru-Shaitu 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 Iritit, among the Amamit 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: Mihtimsauf 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 Mihtimsauf 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 Gizeh Museum (cf. Maspero, Guide au Musee de Boulaq, pp.347, 348, No.5250).
Their pyramids, whose familiar designations we have deciphered in the texts, have been uncovered at Saqqara, 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 Gizeh 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 facade, 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.
[Illustration: 284.jpg THE SEPULCHRAL CHAMBER IN THE PYRAMID OF UNAS, AND HIS SARCOPHAOUS]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph, taken in 1881, by Emil Brugsch-Bey.
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 Menes.
The history of the VIth dynasty loses itself in legend and fable. Two more kings are supposed to have succeeded Papi Nofirkeri, Mirniri Mihtimsaut (Metesouphis II.) and Nitauqrit (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.
[Illustration: 286.jpg THE ENTRANCE TO THE PYRAMID OF UNAS AT SAQQARA]
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: --
[Illustration: 289.jpg TABLE OF THE DATES OF THE KINGS VITH DYNASTY]
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. Akhthoes, 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-Misraim, 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 Hiru- Shaitu: 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 Nofirkeri, the prenomen of Papi II., and a third Papi figures in them, who calls himself Papi-Sonbu 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. Nofirkeri reigned a year, a month, and a day; Nofirus, 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 Great.