Ramses III.: Manners and Customs -- Population -- The predominance of Amon and his high priests.
Opposite the Thebes of the living, Khafitnibus, the Thebes of the dead, had gone on increasing in a remarkably rapid manner. It continued to extend in the south-western direction from the heroic period of the XVIIIth dynasty onwards, and all the eminence and valleys were gradually appropriated one after the other for burying-places. At the time of which I am speaking, this region formed an actual town, or rather a chain of villages, each of which was grouped round some building constructed by one or other of the Pharaohs as a funerary chapel. Towards the north, opposite Karnak, they clustered at Drah-abu'l-Neggah around pyramids of the first Theban monarchs, at Qurneh around the mausolae of Ramses I. and Seti I., and at Sheikh Abd el-Qurneh they lay near the Amenopheum and the Pamonkaniqimit, or Ramesseum built by Ramses II. Towards the south they diminished in number, tombs and monuments becoming fewer and appearing at wider intervals; the Migdol of Ramses III. formed an isolated suburb, that of Azamit, at Medinet-Habu; the chapel of Isis, constructed by Amenothes, son of Hapu, formed a rallying-point for the huts of the hamlet of Karka;* and in the far distance, in a wild gorge at the extreme limit of human habitations, the queens of the Ramesside line slept their last sleep.
* The village of Karka or Kaka was identified by Brugsch with the hamlet of Deir el-Medineh: the founder of the temple was none other than Amenothes, who was minister under Amenothes III.
[Illustration: 004.jpg THE THEBAN CEMETERIES]
Each of these temples had around it its enclosing wall of dried brick, and the collection of buildings within this boundary formed the Khiru, or retreat of some one of the Theban Pharaohs, which, in the official language of the time, was designated the |august Khiru of millions of years.|
[Illustration: 005.jpg THE NECROPOLIS OF SHEIKH AND EL-QURNEH]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Beato.
A sort of fortified structure, which was built into one of the corners, served as a place of deposit for the treasure and archives, and could be used as a prison if occasion required.*
* This was the hliatmu, the dungeon, frequently mentioned in the documents bearing upon the necropolis.
The remaining buildings consisted of storehouses, stables, and houses for the priests and other officials. In some cases the storehouses were constructed on a regular plan which the architect had fitted in with that of the temple. Their ruins at the back and sides of the Ramesseum form a double row of vaults, extending from the foot of the hills to the border of the cultivated lands. Stone recesses on the roof furnished shelter for the watchmen.* The outermost of the village huts stood among the nearest tombs. The population which had been gathered together there was of a peculiar character, and we can gather but a feeble idea of its nature from the surroundings of the cemeteries in our own great cities. Death required, in fact, far more attendants among the ancient Egyptians than with us. The first service was that of mummification, which necessitated numbers of workers for its accomplishment. Some of the workshops of the embalmers have been discovered from time to time at Sheikh Abd el-Qurneh and Deir el-Bahari, but we are still in ignorance as to their arrangements, and as to the exact nature of the materials which they employed. A considerable superficial space was required, for the manipulations of the embalmers occupied usually from sixty to eighty days, and if we suppose that the average deaths at Thebes amounted to fifteen or twenty in the twenty-four hours, they would have to provide at the same time for the various degrees of saturation of some twelve to fifteen hundred bodies at the least.**
* The discovery of quantities of ostraca in the ruins of these chambers shows that they served partly for cellars.
** I have formed my estimate of fifteen to twenty deaths per day from the mortality of Cairo during the French
occupation. This is given by R. Desgenettes, in the Description de l'Egypte, but only approximately, as many deaths, especially of females, must have been concealed from the authorities; I have, however, made an average from the totals, and applied the rate of mortality thus obtained to ancient Thebes. The same result follows from calculations based on more recent figures, obtained before the great hygienic changes introduced into Cairo by Ismail Pacha, i.e. from August 1, 1858, to July 31, 1859, and from May 24, 1865, to May 16, 1866, and for the two years from April 2, 1869, to March 21, 1870, and from April 2, 1870, to March 21, 1871.
Each of the corpses,moreover, necessitated the employment of at least half a dozen workmen to wash it, cut it open, soak it, dry it, and apply the usual bandages before placing the amulets upon the canonically prescribed places, and using the conventional prayers.
[Illustration: 007.jpg HEAD OF A THEBAN MUMMY]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch-Bey.
There was fastened to the breast, immediately below the neck, a stone or green porcelain scarab, containing an inscription which was to be efficacious in preventing the heart, |his heart which came to him from his mother, his heart from the time he was upon the earth,| from rising up and witnessing against the dead man before the tribunal of Osiris.* There were placed on his fingers gold or enamelled rings, as talismans to secure for him the true voice.**
* The manipulations and prayers were prescribed in the |Book of Embalming.|
** The prescribed gold ring was often replaced by one of blue or green enamel.
The body becomes at last little more than a skeleton, with a covering of yellow skin which accentuates the anatomical, details, but the head, on the other hand, still preserves, where the operations have been properly conducted, its natural form. The cheeks have fallen in slightly, the lips and the fleshy parts of the nose have become thinner and more drawn than during life, but the general expression of the face remains unaltered.
[Illustration: 008.jpg THE MANUFACTURE AND PAINTING OF THE CARTONNAGE]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, after Rosellini.
A mask of pitch was placed over the visage to preserve it, above which was adjusted first a piece of linen and then a series of bands impregnated with resin, which increased the size of the head to twofold its ordinary bulk. The trunk and limbs were bound round with a first covering of some pliable soft stuff, warm to the touch. Coarsely powdered natron was scattered here and there over the body as an additional preservative. Packets placed between the legs, the arms and the hips, and in the eviscerated abdomen, contained the heart, spleen, the dried brain, the hair, and the cuttings of the beard and nails. In those days the hair had a special magical virtue: by burning it while uttering certain incantations, one might acquire an almost limitless power over the person to whom it had belonged. The ernbalmers, therefore, took care to place with the mummy such portions of the hair as they had been obliged to cut off, so as to remove them out of the way of the perverse ingenuity of the sorcerers.
[Illustration: 009.jpg WRAPPING OF THE MUMMY, UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE |MAN OF THE ROLL|]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Rosellini.
Over the first covering of the mummy already alluded to, there was sometimes placed a strip of papyrus or a long piece of linen, upon which the scribe had transcribed selections -- both text and pictures -- from |The Book of the going forth by Day:| in such cases the roll containing the whole work was placed between the legs. The body was further wrapped in several bandages, then in a second piece of stuff, then in more bands, the whole being finally covered with a shroud of coarse canvas and a red linen winding-sheet, sewn together at the back, and kept in place by transverse bands disposed at intervals from head to foot. The son of the deceased and a |man of the roll| were present at this lugubrious toilet, and recited at the application of each piece a prayer, in which its object was defined and its duration secured. Every Egyptian was supposed to be acquainted with the formulas, from having learned them during his lifetime, by which he was to have restored to him the use of his limbs, and be protected from the dangers of the world beyond. These were repeated to the dead person, however, for greater security, during the process of embalming, and the son of the deceased, or the master of the ceremonies, took care to whisper to the mummy the most mysterious parts, which no living ear might hear with impunity. The wrappings having been completed, the deceased person became aware of his equipment, and enjoyed all the privileges of the |instructed and fortified Manes.| He felt himself, both mummy and double, now ready for the tomb.
Egyptian funerals were not like those to which we are accustomed -- mute ceremonies, in which sorrow is barely expressed by a furtive tear: noise, sobbings, and wild gestures were their necessary concomitants. Not only was it customary to hire weeping women, who tore their hair, filled the air with their lamentations, and simulated by skilful actions the depths of despair, but the relatives and friends themselves did not shrink from making an outward show of their grief, nor from disturbing the equanimity of the passers-by by the immoderate expressions of their sorrow. One after another they raised their voices, and uttered some expression appropriate to the occasion: |To the West, the dwelling of Osiris, to the West, thou who wast the best of men, and who always hated guile.| And the hired weepers answered in chorus: |O chief,* as thou goest to the West, the gods themselves lament.| The funeral cortege started in the morning from the house of mourning, and proceeded at a slow pace to the Nile, amid the clamours of the mourners.
* The |chief| is one of the names of Osiris, and is applied naturally to the dead person, who has become an Osiris by virtue of the embalming.
The route was cleared by a number of slaves and retainers. First came those who carried cakes and flowers in their hands, followed by others bearing jars full of water, bottles of liqueurs, and phials of perfumes; then came those who carried painted boxes intended for the provisions of the dead man, and for containing the Ushabtiu, or |Respondents.| The succeeding group bore the usual furniture required by the deceased to set up house again, coffers for linen, folding and arm chairs, state-beds, and sometimes even a caparisoned chariot with its quivers. Then came a groom conducting two of his late master's favourite horses, who, having accompanied the funeral to the tomb, were brought back to their stable. Another detachment, more numerous than the others combined, now filed past, bearing the effects of the mummy; first the vessels for the libations, then the cases for the Canopic jars, then the Canopic jars themselves, the mask of the deceased, coloured half in gold and half in blue, arms, sceptres, military batons, necklaces, scarabs, vultures with encircling wings worn on the breast at festival-times, chains, |Respondents,| and the human-headed sparrow-hawk, the emblem of the soul. Many of these objects were of wood plated with gold, others of the same material simply gilt, and others of solid gold, and thus calculated to excite the cupidity of the crowd. Offerings came next, then a noisy company of female weepers; then a slave, who sprinkled at every instant some milk upon the ground as if to lay the dust; then a master of the ceremonies, who, the panther skin upon his shoulder, asperged the crowd with perfumed water; and behind him comes the hearse.
[Illustration: 012.jpg THE FUNERAL OF HARMHABI]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, after a coloured print in Wilkinson. The cut on the following page joins this on the right.
The latter, according to custom, was made in the form of a boat -- representing the bark of Osiris, with his ark, and two guardians, Isis and Nephthys -- and was placed upon a sledge, which was drawn by a team of oxen and a relay of fellahin. The sides of the ark were, as a rule, formed of movable wooden panels, decorated with pictures and inscriptions; sometimes, however, but more rarely, the panels were replaced by a covering of embroidered stuff or of soft leather. In the latter case the decoration was singularly rich, the figures and hieroglyphs being cut out with a knife, and the spaces thus left filled in with pieces of coloured leather, which gave the whole an appearance of brilliant mosaic-work.*
* One of these coverings was found in the hiding-place at Deir el-Bahari; it had belonged to the Princess Isimkhobiu, whose mummy is now at Gizeh.
[Illustration: 013.jpg THE FUNERAL OF HABMHABI]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the coloured print in
Wilkinson. The left side of this design fits on to the right of the preceding cut.
In place of a boat, a shrine of painted wood, also mounted upon a sledge, was frequently used. When the ceremony was over, this was left, together with the coffin, in the tomb.*
* I found in the tomb of Sonnozmu two of these sledges with the superstructure in the form of a temple. They are now in the Gizeh Museum.
The wife and children walked as close to the bier as possible, and were followed by the friends of the deceased, dressed in long linen garments,* each of them bearing a wand. The ox-driver, while goading his beasts, cried out to them: |To the West, ye oxen who draw the hearse, to the West! Your master comes behind you!| |To the West,| the friends repeated; |the excellent man lives no longer who loved truth so dearly and hated lying!|**
** The whole of this description is taken from the pictures representing the interment of a certain Harmhabi, who died at Thebes in the time of Thfitmosis IV.
* These expressions are taken from the inscriptions on the tomb of Rai
[Illustration: 014.jpg THE BOAT CARRYING THE MUMMY]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from pictures in the tomb of Nofirhotpu at Thebes.
This lamentation is neither remarkable for its originality nor for its depth of feeling. Sorrow was expressed on such occasions in prescribed formulas of always the same import, custom soon enabling each individual to compose for himself a repertory of monotonous exclamations of condolence, of which the prayer, |To the West!| formed the basis, relieved at intervals by some fresh epithet. The nearest relatives of the deceased, however, would find some more sincere expressions of grief, and some more touching appeals with which to break in upon the commonplaces of the conventional theme. On reaching the bank of the Nile the funeral cortege proceeded to embark.*
* The description of this second part of the funeral arrangements is taken from the tomb of Harmhabi, and especially from that of Nofirhotpu.
[Illustration: 015.jpg THE BOATS CONTAINING THE FEMALE WEEPERS AND THE PEOPLE OF THE HOUSEHOLD]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from paintings on the tomb of Nofirhotpu at Thebes.
They blended with their inarticulate cries, and the usual protestations and formulas, an eulogy upon the deceased and his virtues, allusions to his disposition and deeds, mention of the offices and honours he had obtained, and reflections on the uncertainty of human life -- the whole forming the melancholy dirge which each generation intoned over its predecessor, while waiting itself for the same office to be said over it in its turn.
The bearers of offerings, friends, and slaves passed over on hired barges, whose cabins, covered externally with embroidered stuffs of several colours, or with applique leather, looked like the pedestals of a monument: crammed together on the boats, they stood upright with their faces turned towards the funeral bark. The latter was supposed to represent the Noshemit, the mysterious skiff of Abydos, which had been used in the obsequies of Osiris of yore.
[Illustration: 016.jpg THE BOATS CONTAINING THE FRIENDS AND THE FUNERARY FURNITURE]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from paintings on the tomb of Nofirhotpu at Thebes.
It was elegant, light, and slender in shape, and ornamented at bow and stern with a lotus-flower of metal, which bent back its head gracefully, as if bowed down by its own weight. A temple-shaped shrine stood in the middle of the boat, adorned with bouquets of flowers and with green palm-branches. The female members of the family of the deceased, crouched beside the shrine, poured forth lamentations, while two priestesses, representing respectively Isis and Nephthys, took up positions behind to protect the body. The boat containing the female mourners having taken the funeral barge in tow, the entire flotilla pushed out into the stream. This was the solemn moment of the ceremony -- the moment in which the deceased, torn away from his earthly city, was about to set out upon that voyage from which there is no return. The crowds assembled on the banks of the river hailed the dead with their parting prayers: |Mayest thou reach in peace the West from Thebes! In peace, in peace towards Abydos, mayest thou descend in peace towards Abydos, towards the sea of the West!|
[Illustration: 017.jpg A CORNER OF THE THEBAN NECROPOLIS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a stele in the Gizeh Museum.
This crossing of the Nile was of special significance in regard to the future of the soul of the deceased: it represented his pilgrimage towards Abydos, to the |Mouth of the Cleft| which gave him access to the other world, and it was for this reason that the name of Abydos is associated with that of Thebes in the exclamations of the crowd. The voices of the friends replied frequently and mournfully: |To the West, to the West, the land of the justified! The place which thou lovedst weeps and is desolate!| Then the female mourners took up the refrain, saying: |In peace, in peace, to the West! O honourable one, go in peace! If it please God, when the day of Eternity shall shine, we shall see thee, for behold thou goest to the land which mingles all men together!| The widow then adds her note to the concert of lamentations: |O my brother, O my husband, O my beloved, rest, remain in thy place, do not depart from the terrestrial spot where thou art! Alas, thou goest away to the ferry-boat in order to cross the stream! O sailors, do not hurry, leave him; you, you will return to your homes, but he, he is going away to the land of Eternity! O Osirian bark, why hast thou come to take away from me him who has left me!| The sailors were, of course, deaf to her appeals, and the mummy pursued its undisturbed course towards the last stage of its mysterious voyage.
The majority of the tombs -- those which were distributed over the plain or on the nearest spurs of the hill -- were constructed on the lines of those brick-built pyramids erected on mastabas which were very common during the early Theban dynasties. The relative proportions of the parts alone were modified: the mastaba, which had gradually been reduced to an insignificant base, had now recovered its original height, while the pyramid had correspondingly decreased, and was much reduced in size. The chapel was constructed within the building, and the mummy-pit was sunk to a varying depth below. The tombs ranged along the mountain-side were, on the other hand, rock-cut, and similar to those at el-Bersheh and Beni-Hasan.
[Illustration: 018.jpg PAINTING IN THE FIFTH TOMB OF THE KINGS TO THE RIGHT]
The heads of wealthy families or the nobility naturally did not leave to the last moment the construction of a sepulchre worthy of their rank and fortune. They prided themselves on having |finished their house which is in the funeral valley when the morning for the hiding away of their body should come.| Access to these tombs was by too steep and difficult a path to allow of oxen being employed for the transport of the mummy: the friends or slaves of the deceased were, therefore, obliged to raise the sarcophagus on their shoulders and bear it as best they could to the door of the tomb.
[Illustration: 019.jpg THE FAREWELL TO THE MUMMY, AND THE DOUBLE RECEIVED BY THE GODDESS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from the paintings in the Theban tombs.
The mummy was then placed in an upright position on a heap of sand, with its back to the wall and facing the assistants, like the master of some new villa who, having been accompanied by his friends to see him take possession, turns for a moment on the threshold to take leave of them before entering. A sacrifice, an offering, a prayer, and a fresh outburst of grief ensued; the mourners redoubled their cries and threw themselves upon the ground, the relatives decked the mummy with flowers and pressed it to their bared bosoms, kissing it upon the breast and knees. |I am thy sister, O great one! forsake me not! Is it indeed thy will that I should leave thee? If I go away, thou shalt be here alone, and is there any one who will be with thee to follow thee? O thou who lovedst to jest with me, thou art now silent, thou speakest not!| Whereupon the mourners again broke out in chorus: |Lamentation, lamentation! Make, make, make, make lamentation without ceasing as loud as can be made. O good traveller, who takest thy way towards the land of Eternity, thou hast been torn from us! O thou who hadst so many around thee, thou art now in the land which bringest isolation! Thou who lovedst to stretch thy limbs in walking, art now fettered, bound, swathed! Thou who hadst fine stuffs in abundance, art laid in the linen of yesterday!| Calm in the midst of the tumult, the priest stood and offered the incense and libation with the accustomed words: |To thy double, Osiris Nofirhotpu, whose voice before the great god is true!| This was the signal of departure, and the mummy, carried by two men, disappeared within the tomb: the darkness of the other world had laid hold of it, never to let it go again.
The chapel was usually divided into two chambers: one, which was of greater width than length, ran parallel to the facade; the other, which was longer than it was wide, stood at right angles with the former, exactly opposite to the entrance. The decoration of these chambers took its inspiration from the scheme which prevailed in the time of the Memphite dynasties, but besides the usual scenes of agricultural labour, hunting, and sacrifice, there were introduced episodes from the public life of the deceased, and particularly the minute portrayal of the ceremonies connected with his burial.
[Illustration: 021.jpg NICHE IN THE TOMB OF MENNA]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Insinger.
These pictorial biographies are always accompanied by detailed explanatory inscriptions; every individual endeavoured thus to show to the Osirian judges the rank he had enjoyed here upon earth, and to obtain in the fields of lalu the place which he claimed to be his due.
The stele was to be found at the far end of the second chamber; it was often let in to a niche in the form of a round-headed doorway, or else it was replaced by a group of statues, either detached or sculptured in the rock itself, representing the occupant, his wives and children, who took the place of the supporters of the double, formerly always hidden within the serdab. The ceremony of the |Opening of the Mouth| took place in front of the niche on the day of burial, at the moment when the deceased, having completed his terrestrial course, entered his new home and took possession of it for all eternity. The object of this ceremony was, as we know, to counteract the effects of the embalming, and to restore activity to the organs of the body whose functions had been suspended by death. The |man of the roll| and his assistants, aided by the priests, who represented the |children of Horus,| once more raised the mummy into an upright position upon a heap of sand in the middle of the chapel, and celebrated in his behalf the divine mystery instituted by Horus for Osiris. They purified it both by ordinary and by red water, by the incense of the south and by the alum of the north, in the same manner as that in which the statues of the gods were purified at the beginning of the temple sacrifices; they then set to work to awake the deceased from his sleep: they loosened his shroud and called back the double who had escaped from the body at the moment of the death-agony, and restored to him the use of his arms and legs. As soon as the sacrificial slaughterers had despatched the bull of the south, and cut it in pieces, the priest seized the bleeding haunch, and raised it to the lips of the mask as if to invite it to eat; but the lips still remained closed, and refused to perform their office. The priest then touched them with several iron instruments hafted on wooden handles, which were supposed to possess the power of unsealing them.
[Illustration: 023a.jpg COFFIN-LID]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by M. de Mertens.
[Illustration: 023b.jpg COFFIN-LID]
The |opening| once effected, the double became free, and the tomb-paintings from thenceforward ceasing to depict the mummy, represented the double only. They portrayed it |under the form which he had on this earth,| wearing the civil garb, and fulfilling his ordinary functions. The corpse was regarded as merely the larva, to be maintained in its integrity in order to ensure survival; but it could be relegated without fear to the depths of the bare and naked tomb, there to remain until the end of time, if it pleased the gods to preserve it from robbers or archaeologists. At the period of the first Theban empire the coffins were rectangular wooden chests, made on the models of the limestone and granite sarcophagi, and covered with prayers taken from the various sacred writings, especially from the |Book of the Dead|; during the second Theban empire, they were modified into an actual sheath for the body, following more or less the contour of the human figure. This external model of the deceased covered his remains, and his figure in relief served as a lid to the coffin. The head was covered with the full-dress wig, a tippet of white cambrio half veiled the bosom, the petticoat fell in folds about the limbs, the feet were shod with sandals, the arms were outstretched or were folded over the breast, and the hands clasped various objects -- either the crux ansata, the buckle of the belt, the tat, or a garland of flowers. Sometimes, on the contrary, the coffin was merely a conventional reproduction of the human form. The two feet and legs were joined together, and the modelling of the knee, calf, thigh, and stomach was only slightly indicated in the wood. Towards the close of the XVIIIth dynasty it was the fashion for wealthy persons to have two coffins, one fitting inside the other, painted black or white. From the XXth dynasty onwards they were coated with a yellowish varnish, and so covered with inscriptions and mystic signs that each coffin was a tomb in miniature, and could well have done duty as such, and thus meet all the needs of the soul.*
* The first to summarise the characteristics of the coffins and sarcophagi of the second Theban period was Mariette, but he places the use of the yellow-varnished coffins too late, viz. during the XXIInd dynasty. Examples of them have since been found which incontestably belong to the XXth.
[Illustration: 024.jpg THE MUMMY FACTORY]
Later still, during the XXIst and XXIInd dynasties, these two, or even three coffins, were enclosed in a rectangular sarcophagus of thick wood, which, surmounted by a semicircular lid, was decorated with pictures and hallowed by prayers: four sparrow-hawks, perched on the uprights at the corners, watched at the four cardinal points, and protected the body, enabling the soul at the same time to move freely within the four houses of which the world was composed.
[Illustration: 025.jpg THE PARAPHERNALIA OF A MUMMY OF THE XXth TO THE XXIInd DYNASTIES]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Mariette.
The workmen, after having deposited the mummy in its resting-place, piled upon the floor of the tomb the canopio jars, the caskets, the provisions, the furniture, the bed, and the stools and chairs; the Usha-btiu occupied compartments in their allotted boxes, and sometimes there would be laid beside them the mummy of a favourite animal -- a monkey, a dog of some rare breed, or a pet gazelle, whose coffins were shaped to their respective outlines, the better to place before the deceased the presentment of the living animal.
[Illustration: 026.jpg THE FUNERAL REPAST -- MUSIC AND DANCING]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a fragment in the British Museum. The scene representing the funeral repast and its accompanying dances occurs frequently in the Theban tombs.
A few of the principal objects were broken or damaged, in the belief that, by thus destroying them, their doubles would go forth and accompany the human double, and render him their accustomed services during the whole of his posthumous existence; a charm pronounced over them bound them indissolubly to his person, and constrained them to obey his will. This done, the priest muttered a final prayer, and the masons walled up the doorway.
[Illustration: 027.jpg THE COFFIN OF THE FAVOURITE GAZELLE OF ISIMKHOBIU]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Emil Brugsch- Bey.
The funeral feast now took place with its customary songs and dances. The almehs addressed the guests and exhorted them to make good use of the passing hour: |Be happy for one day! for when you enter your tombs you will rest there eternally throughout the length of every day!|
Immediately after the repast the friends departed from the tomb, and the last link which connected the dead with our world was then broken. The sacred harper was called upon to raise the farewell hymn:*
* The harper is often represented performing this last office. In the tomb of Nofirhotpu, and in many others, the daughters or the relatives of the deceased accompany or even replace the harper; in this case they belonged to a priestly family, and fulfilled the duties of the |Female Singers| of Amon or some other god.
|O instructed mummies, ennead of the gods of the coffin, who listen to the praises of this dead man, and who daily extol the virtues of this instructed mummy, who is living eternally like a god, ruling in Amentit, ye also who shall live in the memory of posterity, all ye who shall come and read these hymns inscribed, according to the rites, within the tombs, repeat: 'The greatness of the under-world, what is it? The annihilation of the tomb, why is it?' It is to conform to the image of the land of Eternity, the true country where there is no strife and where violence is held in abhorrence, where none attacks his neighbour, and where none among our generations who rest within it is rebellious, from the time when your race first existed, to the moment when it shall become a multitude of multitudes, all going the same way; for instead of remaining in this land of Egypt, there is not one but shall leave it, and there is said to all who are here below, from the moment of their waking to life: 'Go, prosper safe and sound, to reach the tomb at length, a chief among the blessed, and ever mindful in thy heart of the day when thou must lie down on the funeral bed!'| The ancient song of Antuf, modified in the course of centuries, was still that which expressed most forcibly the melancholy thought paramount in the minds of the friends assembled to perform the last rites. |The impassibility of the chief* is, in truth, the best of fates!|
* Osiris is here designated by the word |chief,| as I have already pointed out.
[Illustration: 029.jpg ONE OF THE HARPERS OF THE TOMB OF RAMSES III.]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph taken Byjnsinger in 1881.
|Since the times of the god bodies are created merely to pass away, and young generations take their place: Ra rises in the morning, Tumu lies down to rest in the land of the evening, all males generate, the females conceive, every nose inhales the air from the morning of their birth to the day when they go to their place! Be happy then for one day, O man! -- May there ever be perfumes and scents for thy nostrils, garlands and lotus-flowers for thy shoulders and for the neck of thy beloved sister* who sits beside thee! Let there be singing and music before thee, and, forgetting all thy sorrows, think only of pleasure until the day when thou must enter the country of Maritsakro, the silent goddess, though all the same the heart of the son who loves thee will not cease to beat! Be happy for one day, O man! -- I have heard related what befell our ancestors; their walls are destroyed, their place is no more, they are as those who have ceased to live from the time of the god! The walls of thy tomb are strong, thou hast planted trees at the edge of thy pond, thy soul reposes beneath them and drinks the water; follow that which seemeth good to thee as long as thou art on earth, and give bread to him who is without land, that thou mayest be well spoken of for evermore. Think upon the gods who have lived long ago: their meat offerings fall in pieces as if they had been torn by a panther, their loaves are defiled with dust, their statues no longer stand upright within the temple of Ra, their followers beg for alms! Be happy for one day!|
* Marriages between brothers and sisters in Egypt rendered this word |sister| the most natural appellation.
Those gone before thee |have had their hour of joy,| and they have put off sadness |which shortens the moments until the day when hearts are destroyed! -- Be mindful, therefore, of the day when thou shalt be taken to the country where all men are mingled: none has ever taken thither his goods with him, and no one can ever return from it!| The grave did not, however, mingle all men as impartially as the poet would have us believe. The poor and insignificant had merely a place in the common pit, which was situated in the centre of the Assassif,* one of the richest funerary quarters of Thebes.
* There is really only one complete description of a cemetery of the poor, namely, that given by A. Rhind. Mariette caused extensive excavations to be made by Gabet and Vassalli, 1859-1862, in the Assassif, near the spot worked by Rhind, and the objects found are now in the Gizeh Museum, but the accounts of the work are among his
unpublished papers, vassalli assures me that he sometimes found the mummies piled one on another to the depth of sixty bodies, and even then he did not reach the lowest of the pile. The hurried excavations which I made in 1882 and 1884, appeared to confirm these statements of Rhind and Vassalli.
Yawning trenches stood ever open there, ready to receive their prey; the rites were hurriedly performed, and the grave-diggers covered the mummies of the day's burial with a little sand, out of which we receive them intact, sometimes isolated, sometimes in groups of twos or threes, showing that they had not even been placed in regular layers. Some are wrapped only in bandages of coarse linen, and have been consigned without further covering to the soil, while others have been bound round with palm-leaves laid side by side, so as to form a sort of primitive basket. The class above the poorest people were buried in rough-hewn wooden boxes, smaller at the feet than towards the head, and devoid of any inscription or painting. Many have been placed in any coffin that came to hand, with a total indifference as to suitability of size; others lie in a badly made bier, made up of the fragments of one or more older biers. None of them possessed any funerary furniture, except the tools of his trade, a thin pair of leather shoes, sandals of cardboard or plaited reeds, rings of terra-cotta or bronze, bracelets or necklets of a single row of blue beads, statuettes of divinities, mystic eyes, scarabs, and, above all, cords tied round the neck, arms, limbs, or waist, to keep off, by their mystic knots, all malign influences.
The whole population of the necropolis made their living out of the dead. This was true of all ranks of society, headed by the sacerdotal colleges of the royal chapels,* and followed by the priestly bodies, to whom was entrusted the care of the tombs in the various sections, but the most influential of whom confined their attentions to the old burying-ground, |Isit-mait,| the True Place.**
* We find on several monuments the names of persons belonging to these sacerdotal bodies, priests of Ahmosis I., priests of Thutmosis I., of Thut-mosis II., of Amenothes II., and of Seti I.
** The persons connected with the |True Place| were for a long time considered as magistrates, and the |True Place| as a tribunal.
It was their duty to keep up the monuments of the kings, and also of private individuals, to clean the tombs, to visit the funerary chambers, to note the condition of their occupants, and, if necessary, repair the damage done by time, and to provide on certain days the offerings prescribed by custom, or by clauses in the contract drawn up between the family of the deceased and the religious authorities. The titles of these officials indicated how humble was their position in relation to the deified ancestors in whose service they were employed; they called themselves the |Servants of the True Place,| and their chiefs the |Superiors of the Servants,| but all the while they were people of considerable importance, being rich, well educated, and respected in their own quarter of the town.
[Illustration: 032.jpg PAINTINGS AT THE END OF THE HALL OF THE FIFTH THE TOMB]
They professed to have a special devotion for Amenothes I. and his mother, Nofritari, who, after five or six centuries of continuous homage, had come to be considered as the patrons of Khafitnibus, but this devotion was not to the depreciation of other sovereigns. It is true that the officials were not always clear as to the identity of the royal remains of which they had the care, and they were known to have changed one of their queens or princesses into a king or some royal prince.*
* Thus Queen Ahhotpu I., whom the |servant| Anhurkhau knew to be a woman, is transformed into a King Ahhotpu in the tomb of Khabokhnit.
[Illustration: AMENOTHES III. AT LUXOR]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Gayet.
They were surrounded by a whole host of lesser
functionaries -- bricklayers, masons, labourers, exorcists, scribes (who wrote out pious formulae for poor people, or copied the |Books of the going forth by day| for the mummies), weavers, cabinet-makers, and goldsmiths. The sculptors and the painters were grouped into guilds;* many of them spent their days in the tombs they were decorating, while others had their workshops above-ground, probably very like those of our modern monumental masons.
* We gather this from the inscriptions which give us the various titles of the sculptors, draughtsmen, or workmen, but I have been unable to make out the respective positions held by these different persons.
They kept at the disposal of their needy customers an assortment of ready-made statues and stelae, votive tablets to Osiris, Anubis, and other Theban gods and goddesses, singly or combined. The name of the deceased and the enumeration of the members of his family were left blank, and were inserted after purchase in the spaces reserved for the purpose.*
* I succeeded in collecting at the Boulak Museum a
considerable number of these unfinished statues and stelae, coming from the workshops of the necropolis.
These artisans made the greater part of their livelihood by means of these epitaphs, and the majority thought only of selling as many of them as they could; some few, however, devoted themselves to work of a higher kind. Sculpture had reached a high degree of development under the Thutmoses and the Ramses, and the art of depicting scenes in bas-relief had been brought to a perfection hitherto unknown. This will be easily seen by comparing the pictures in the old mastabas, such as those of Ti or Phtahhotpu, with the finest parts of the temples of Qurneh, Abydos, Karnak, Deir el-Bahari, or with the scenes in the tombs of Seti I. and Ramses II., or those of private individuals such as Hui. The modelling is firm and refined, showing a skill in the use of the chisel and an elegance of outline which have never been surpassed: the Amenothes III. of Luxor and the Khamhait of Sheikh Abd el-Qurneh might serve for models in our own schools of the highest types which Egyptian art could produce at its best in this particular branch. The drawing is freer than in earlier examples, the action is more natural, the composition more studied, and the perspective less wild. We feel that the artist handled his subject con amore. He spared no trouble in sketching out his designs and in making studies from nature, and, as papyrus was expensive, he drew rough drafts, or made notes of his impressions on the flat chips of limestone with which the workshops were strewn.
[Illustration: 035.jpg KHAMHAIT]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by M. de Mertens.
Nothing at that date could rival these sketches for boldness of conception and freedom in execution, whether it were in the portrayal of the majestic gait of a king or the agility of an acrobat. Of the latter we have an example in the Turin Museum. The girl is nude, with the exception of a tightly fitting belt about her hips, and she is throwing herself backwards with so natural a motion, that we are almost tempted to expect her to turn a somersault and fall once more into position with her heels together.
[Illustration: 026.jpg SKETCH OF A FEMALE ACROBAT]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Petrie.
The unfinished figures on the tomb of Seti I. shows with what a steady hand the clever draughtsman could sketch out his subjects. The head from the nape of the neck round to the throat is described by a single line, and the contour of the shoulders is marked by another. The form of the body is traced by two undulating lines, while the arms and legs are respectively outlined by two others. The articles of apparel and ornaments, sketched rapidly at first, had to be gone over again by the sculptor, who worked out the smallest details. One might almost count the tresses of the hair, while the folds of the dress and the enamels of the girdle and bracelets are minutely chiselled.
[Illustration: BAS-RELIEF OF SETI I., SHOWING CORRECTIONS MADE BY THE SCULPTOR]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from photographs by Insinger and Daniel Heron.
When the draughtsman had finished his picture from the sketch which he had made, or when he had enlarged it from a smaller drawing, the master of the studio would go over it again, marking here and there in red the defective points, to which the sculptor gave his attention when working the subject out on the wall. If he happened to make a mistake in executing it, he corrected it as well as he was able by filling up with stucco or hard cement the portions to be remodelled, and by starting to work again upon the fresh surface. This cement has fallen out in some cases, and reveals to our eyes to-day the marks of the underlying chiselling. There are, for example, two profiles of Seti I. on one of the bas-reliefs of the hypostyle hall at Karnak, one faintly outlined, and the other standing fully out from the surface of the stone. The sense of the picturesque was making itself felt, and artists were no longer to be excused for neglecting architectural details, the configuration of the country, the drawing of rare plants, and, in fact, all those accessories which had been previously omitted altogether or merely indicated. The necessity of covering such vast surfaces as the pylons offered had accustomed them to arrange the various scenes of one and the same action in a more natural and intimate connexion than their predecessors could possibly have done. In these scenes the Pharaoh naturally played the chief part, but in place of choosing for treatment merely one or other important action of the monarch calculated to exhibit his courage, the artist endeavoured to portray all the successive incidents in his campaigns, in the same manner as the early Italian painters were accustomed to depict, one after the other, and on the same canvas, all the events of the same legend. The details of these gigantic compositions may sometimes appear childish to us, and we may frequently be at a loss in determining the relations of the parts, yet the whole is full of movement, and, although mutilated, gives us even yet the impression which would have been made upon us by the turmoil of a battle in those distant days.
The sculptor of statues for a long time past was not a whit less skilful than the artist who executed bas-reliefs. The sculptor was doubtless often obliged to give enormous proportions to the figure of the king, to prevent his being overshadowed by the mass of buildings among which the statue was to appear; but this necessity of exaggerating the human form did not destroy in the artist that sense of proportion and that skilful handling of the chisel which are so strikingly displayed in the sitting scribe or in the princess at Meidum; it merely trained him to mark out deftly the principal lines, and to calculate the volume and dimensions of these gigantic granite figures of some fifty to sixty-five feet high, with as great confidence and skill as he would have employed upon any statue of ordinary dimensions which might be entrusted to him. The colossal statues at Abu-Simbel and Thebes still witness to the incomparable skill of the Theban sculptors in the difficult art of imagining and executing superhuman types. The decadence of Egyptian art did not begin until the time of Ramses III., but its downward progress was rapid, and the statues of the Ramesside period are of little or no artistic value. The form of these figures is poor, the technique crude, and the expression of the faces mean and commonplace. They betray the hand of a mechanical workman who, while still in the possession of the instruments of his trade, can infuse no new life into the traditions of the schools, nor break away from them altogether.
[Illustration: 040.jpg THE KNEELING SCRIBE AT TURIN]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Petrie; the scribe bears upon his right shoulder, perhaps tattooed, the human image of the god Amon-Ra, whose animal emblem he embraces.
We must look, not to the royal studios, but to the workshops connected with the necropolis, if we want to find statues of half life-size displaying intelligent workmanship, all of which we might be tempted to refer to the XVIIIth dynasty if the inscriptions upon them did not fix their date some two or three centuries later. An example of them may be seen at Turin in the kneeling scribe embracing a ram-headed altar: the face is youthful, and has an expression at once so gentle and intelligent that we are constrained to overlook the imperfections in the bust and legs of the figure. Specimens of this kind are not numerous, and their rarity is easily accounted for. The multitude of priests, soldiers, workmen, and small middle-class people who made up the bulk of the Theban population had aspirations for a luxury little commensurate with their means, and the tombs of such people are, therefore, full of objects which simulate a character they do not possess, and are deceptive to the eye: such were the statuettes made of wood, substituted from economical motives instead of the limestone or sandstone statues usually provided as supporters for the |double.|
[Illustration: 041a.jpg YOUNG GIRL IN THE TURING MUSEUM]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Petrie.
[Illustration: 041b.jpg THE LADY NEHAI]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by M. de Mertens. Enamelled eyes, according to a common custom, were inserted in the sockets, but have disappeared.
The funerary sculptors had acquired a perfect mastery of the kind of art needed for people of small means, and we find among the medley of commonplace objects which encumber the tomb they decorated, examples of artistic works of undoubted excellence, such as the ladies Nai and Tui now in the Louvre, the lady Nehai now at Berlin, and the naked child at Turin. The lady Tui in her lifetime had been one of the singing-women of Amon. She is clad in a tight-fitting robe, which accentuates the contour of the breasts and hips without coarseness: her right arm falls gracefully alongside her body, while her left, bent across her chest, thrusts into her bosom a kind of magic whip, which was the sign of her profession. The artist was not able to avoid a certain heaviness in the treatment of her hair, and the careful execution of the whole work was not without a degree of harshness, but by dint of scraping and polishing the wood he succeeded in softening the outline, and removing from the figure every sharp point. The lady Nehai is smarter and more graceful, in her close-fitting garment and her mantle thrown over the left elbow; and the artist has given her a more alert pose and resolute air than we find in the stiff carriage of her contemporary Tui. The little girl in the Turin Museum is a looser work, but where could one find a better example of the lithe delicacy of the young Egyptian maiden of eight or ten years old? We may see her counterpart to-day among the young Nubian girls of the cataract, before they are obliged to wear clothes; there is the same thin chest, the same undeveloped hips, the same meagre thighs, and the same demeanour, at once innocent and audacious. Other statuettes represent matrons, some in tight garments, and with their hair closely confined, others without any garment whatever.
[Illustration: 043a.jpg a soldier]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by M. de Mertens.
[Illustration: 043b.jpg STATUE IN THE TURIN MUSEUM]
Drawn by Boudier, from a photograph by Petrie.
The Turin example is that of a lady who seems proud of her large ear-rings, and brings one of them into prominence, either to show it off or to satisfy herself that the jewel becomes her: her head is square-shaped, the shoulders narrow, the chest puny, the pose of the arm stiff and awkward, but the eyes have such a joyful openness, and her smile such a self-satisfied expression, that one readily over looks the other defects of the statue. In this collection of miniature figures examples of men are not wanting, and there are instances of old soldiers, officials, guardians of temples, and priests proudly executing their office in their distinctive panther skins. Three individuals in the Gizeh were contemporaries, or almost so, of the young girl of the Turin Museum. They are dressed in rich costumes, to which they have, doubtless, a just claim; for one of them, Hori, surnamed Ra, rejoiced in the favour of the Pharaoh, and must therefore have exercised some court function. They seem to step forth with a measured pace and firm demeanour, the body well thrown back and the head erect, their faces displaying something of cruelty and cunning. An officer, whose retirement from service is now spent in the Louvre, is dressed in a semi-civil costume, with a light wig, a closely fitting smock-frock with shirt-sleeves, and a loin-cloth tied tightly round the hips and descending halfway down the thigh, to which is applied a piece of stuff kilted lengthwise, projecting in front. A colleague of his, now in the Berlin Museum, still maintains possession of his official baton, and is arrayed in his striped petticoat, his bracelets and gorget of gold. A priest in the Louvre holds before him, grasped by both hands, the insignia of Amon-Ra -- a ram's head, surmounted by the solar disk, and inserted on the top of a thick handle; another, who has been relegated to Turin, appears to be placed between two long staves, each surmounted by an idol, and, to judge from his attitude, seems to have no small idea of his own beauty and importance. The Egyptians were an observant people and inclined to satire, and I have a shrewd suspicion that the sculptors, in giving to such statuettes this character of childlike vanity, yielded to the temptation to be merry at the expense of their model.
The smelters and engravers in metal occupied in relation to the sculptors a somewhat exalted position. Bronze had for a long time been employed in funerary furniture, and ushabtiu (respondents),* amulets, and images of the gods, as well as of mortals, were cast in this metal. Many of these tiny figures form charming examples of enamel-work, and are distinguished not only by the gracefulness of the, modelling, but also by the brilliance of the superimposed glaze; but the majority of them were purely commercial articles, manufactured by the hundred from the same models, and possibly cast, for centuries, from the same moulds for the edification of the devout and of pilgrims.
* Bronze respondents are somewhat rare, and most of those which are to be found among the dealers are counterfeit. The Gizeh Museum possesses two examples at least of indisputable authenticity; both of these belong to the XXth dynasty.
[Illustration: 045.jpg FUNERARY CASKET IN THE TURING MUSEUM]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph.
[Illustration: 046.jpg SHRINE IN THE TURIN MUSEUM]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Lanzone.
We ought not, therefore, to be surprised if they are lacking in originality; they are no more to be distinguished from each other than the hundreds of coloured statuettes which one may find on the stalls of modern dealers in religious statuary.
[Illustration: 046b.jpg The Lady Taksuhit]
From a bronze in the Museum at Athens
Here and there among the multitude we may light upon examples showing a marked individuality: the statuette of the lady Takushit, which now forms one of the ornaments of the museum at Athens, is an instance. She stands erect, one foot in advance, her right arm hanging at her side, her left pressed against her bosom; she is arrayed in a short dress embroidered over with religious scenes, and wears upon her ankles and wrists rings of value. A wig with stiff-looking locks, regularly arranged in rows, covers her head. The details of the drapery and the ornaments are incised on the surface of the bronze, and heightened with a thread of silver. The face is evidently a portrait, and is that apparently of a woman of mature age, but the body, according to the tradition of the Egyptian schools of art, is that of a young girl, lithe, firm, and elastic. The alloy contains gold, and the warm and softened lights reflected from it blend most happily and harmoniously with the white lines of the designs. The joiners occupied, after the workers in bronze, an important position in relation to the necropolis, and the greater part of the furniture which they executed for the mummies of persons of high rank was remarkable for its painting and carpentry-work. Some articles of their manufacture were intended for religious use -- such as those shrines, mounted upon sledges, on which the image of the god was placed, to whom prayers were made for the deceased; others served for the household needs of the mummy, and, to distinguish these, there are to be seen upon their sides religious and funereal pictures, offerings to the two deceased parents, sacrifices to a god or goddess, and incidents in the Osirian life. The funerary beds consisted, like those intended for the living, of a rectangular framework, placed upon four feet of equal height, although there are rare examples in which the supports are so arranged as to give a gentle slope to the structure. The fancy which actuated the joiner in making such beds supposed that two benevolent lions had, of their own free will, stretched out their bodies to form the two sides of the couch, the muzzles constituting the pillow, while the tails were curled up under the feet of the sleeper. Many of the heads given to the lions are so noble and expressive, that they will well bear comparison with the granite statues of these animals which Amenothes III. dedicated in his temple at Soleb. The other trades depended upon the proportion of their members to the rest of the community for the estimation in which they were held. The masons, stone-cutters, and common labourers furnished the most important contingent; among these ought also to be reckoned the royal servants -- of whose functions we should have been at a loss to guess the importance, if contemporary documents had not made it clear -- fishermen, hunters, laundresses, wood-cutters, gardeners, and water-carriers.*
* The Cailliaud ostracon, which contains a receipt given to some fishermen, was found near Sheikh Abd el-Qurneh, and consequently belonged to the fishermen of the necropolis. There is a question as to the water-carriers of the Khiru in the hieratic registers of Turin, also as to the washers of clothes, wood-cutters, gardeners and workers in the vineyard.
[Illustration: 048.jpg THE SWALLOW-GODDESS FROM THE THEBAN NECROPOLIS]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Lanzone.
Without reckoning the constant libations needed for the gods and the deceased, the workshops required a large quantity of drinking water for the men engaged in them. In every gang of workmen, even in the present day, two or three men are set apart to provide drinking-water for the rest; in some arid places, indeed, at a distance from the river, such as the Valley of the Kings, as many water-carriers are required as there are workmen. To the trades just mentioned must be added the low-caste crowd depending oh the burials of the rich, the acrobats, female mourners, dancers and musicians. The majority of the female corporations were distinguished by the infamous character of their manners, and prostitution among them had come to be associated with the service of the god.*
* The heroine of the erotic papyrus of Turin bears the title of |Singing-woman of Amon,| and the illustrations indicate her profession so clearly and so expressively, that no details of her sayings and doings are wanting.
[Illustration: 049.jpg THE GODDESS MABITSAKBO]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Lanzone.
There was no education for all this mass of people, and their religion was of a meagre character. They worshipped the official deities, Amon, Mut, Isis, and Hathor, and such deceased Pharaohs as Amenothes I. and Nofritari, but they had also their own Pantheon, in which animals predominated -- such as the goose of Amon, and his ram Pa-rahaninofir, the good player on the horn, the hippopotamus, the cat, the chicken, the swallow, and especially reptiles. Death was personified by a great viper, the queen of the West, known by the name Maritsakro, the friend of silence. Three heads, or the single head of a woman, attached to the one body, were assigned to it. It was supposed to dwell in the mountain opposite Karnak, which fact gave to it, as well as to the necropolis itself, the two epithets of Khafitnibus and Ta-tahnit, that is, The Summit.*
* The abundance of the monuments of Maritsakro found at Sheikh Abd el-Gurneh, inclines me to believe that her sanctuary was situated in the neighbourhood of the temple of Uazmosu, but there was also on the top of the hill another sanctuary which would equally satisfy the name Ta-tahnit.
Its chapel was situated at the foot of the hill of Sheikh Abd el-Qurneh, but its sacred serpents crawled and wriggled through the necropolis, working miracles and effecting the cure of the most dangerous maladies. The faithful were accustomed to dedicate to them, in payment of their vows, stelas, or slabs of roughly hewn stone, with inscriptions which witnessed to a deep gratitude. |Hearken! I, from the time of my appearance on earth, I was a 'Servant of the True Place,' Nofirabu, a stupid ignorant person, who knew not good from evil, and I committed sin against The Summit. She punished me, and I was in her hand day and night. I lay groaning on my couch like a woman in childbed, and I made supplication to the air, but it did not come to me, for I was hunted down by The Summit of the West, the brave one among all the gods and all the goddesses of the city; so I would say to all the miserable sinners among the people of the necropolis: 'Give heed to The Summit, for there is a lion in The Summit, and she strikes as strikes a spell-casting Lion, and she pursues him who sins against her! 'I invoked then my mistress, and I felt that she flew to me like a pleasant breeze; she placed herself upon me, and this made me recognise her hand, and appeased she returned to me, and she delivered me from suffering, for she is my life, The Summit of the West, when she is appeased, and she ought to be invoked!'| There were many sinners, we may believe, among that ignorant and superstitious population, but the governors of Thebes did not put their confidence in the local deities alone to keep them within bounds, and to prevent their evil deeds; commissioners, with the help of a detachment of Mazaiu, were an additional means of conducting them into the right way. They had, in this respect, a hard work to accomplish, for every day brought with it its contingent of crimes, which they had to follow up, and secure the punishment of the authors. Nsisuamon came to inform them that the workman Nakhtummaut and his companions had stolen into his house, and robbed him of three large loaves, eight cakes, and some pastry; they had also drunk a jar of beer, and poured out from pure malice the oil which they could not carry away with them. Panibi had met the wife of a comrade alone near an out-of-the-way tomb, and had taken advantage of her notwithstanding her cries; this, moreover, was not the first offence of the culprit, for several young girls had previously been victims of his brutality, and had not ventured up to this time to complain of him on account of the terror with which he inspired the neighbourhood. Crimes against the dead were always common; every penniless fellow knew what quantities of gold and jewels had been entombed with the departed, and these treasures, scattered around them at only a few feet from the surface of the ground, presented to them a constant temptation to which they often succumbed. Some were not disposed to have accomplices, while others associated together, and, having purchased at a serious cost the connivance of the custodians, set boldly to work on tombs both recent and ancient. Not content with stealing the funerary furniture, which they disposed of to the undertakers, they stripped the mummies also, and smashed the bodies in their efforts to secure the jewels; then, putting the remains together again, they rearranged the mummies afresh so cleverly that they can no longer be distinguished by their outward appearance from the originals, and the first wrappings must be removed before the fraud can be discovered. From time to time one of these rogues would allow himself to be taken for the purpose of denouncing his comrades, and avenging himself for the injustice of which he was the victim in the division of the spoil; he was laid hold of by the Mazaiu, and brought before the tribunal of justice. The lands situated on the left bank of the Nile belonged partly to the king and partly to the god Amon, and any infraction of the law in regard to the necropolis was almost certain to come within the jurisdiction of one or other of them. The commission appointed, therefore, to determine the damage done in any case, included in many instances the high priest or his delegates, as well as the officers of the Pharaoh. The office of this commission was to examine into the state of the tombs, to interrogate the witnesses and the accused, applying the torture if necessary: when they had got at the facts, the tribunal of the notables condemned to impalement some half a dozen of the poor wretches, and caused some score of others to be whipped.* But, when two or three months had elapsed, the remembrance of the punishment began to die away, and the depredations began afresh. The low rate of wages occasioned, at fixed periods, outbursts of discontent and trouble which ended in actual disturbances. The rations allowed to each workman, and given to him at the beginning of each month, would possibly have been sufficient for himself and his family, but, owing to the usual lack of foresight in the Egyptian, they were often consumed long before the time fixed, and the pinch soon began to be felt. The workmen, demoralised by their involuntary abstinence, were not slow to turn to the overseer; |We are perishing of hunger, and there are still eighteen days before the next month.| The latter was prodigal of fair speeches, but as his words were rarely accompanied by deeds, the workmen would not listen to him; they stopped work, left the workshop in turbulent crowds, ran with noisy demonstrations to some public place to hold a meeting -- perhaps the nearest monument, at the gate of the temple of Thutmosis III.,** behind the chapel of Minephtah,*** or in the court of that of Seti I.
* This is how I translate a fairly common expression, which means literally, |to be put on the wood.| Spiegelberg sees in this only a method of administering torture.
** Perhaps the chapel of Uazmosu, or possibly the free space before the temple of Deir el-Bahari.
*** The site of this chapel was discovered by Prof. Petrie in the spring of 1896. It had previously been supposed to be a temple of Amenothes III.
Their overseers followed them; the police commissioners of the locality, the Mazaiu, and the scribes mingled with them and addressed themselves to some of the leaders with whom they might be acquainted. But these would not at first give them a hearing. |We will not return,| they would say to the peacemakers; |make it clear to your superiors down below there.| It must have been manifest that from their point of view their complaints were well founded, and the official, who afterwards gave an account of the affair to the authorities, was persuaded of this. |We went to hear them, and they spoke true words to us.| For the most part these strikes had no other consequence than a prolonged stoppage of work, until the distribution of rations at the beginning of the next month gave the malcontents courage to return to their tasks. Attempts were made to prevent the recurrence of these troubles by changing the method and time of payments. These were reduced to an interval of fifteen days, and at length, indeed, to one of eight. The result was very much the same as before: the workman, paid more frequently, did not on that account become more prudent, and the hours of labour lost did not decrease. The individual man, if he had had nobody to consider but himself, might have put up with the hardships of his situation, but there were almost always wife and children or sisters concerned, who clamoured for bread in their hunger, and all the while the storehouses of the temples or those of the state close by were filled to overflowing with durrah, barley, and wheat.*
* Khonsu, for example, excites his comrades to pillage the storehouses of the gate.
The temptation to break open the doors and to help themselves in the present necessity must have been keenly felt. Some bold spirits among the strikers, having set out together, scaled the two or three boundary walls by which the granaries were protected, but having reached this position their hearts, failed them, and they contented themselves with sending to the chief custodian an eloquent pleader, to lay before him their very humble request: |We are come, urged by famine, urged by thirst, having no more linen, no more oil, no more fish, no more vegetables. Send to Pharaoh, our master, send to the king, our lord, that he may provide us with the necessaries of life.| If one of them, with less self-restraint, was so carried away as to let drop an oath, which was a capital offence, saying, |By Amon! by the sovereign, whose anger is death!| if he asked to be taken before a magistrate in order that he might reiterate there his complaint, the others interceded for him, and begged that he might escape the punishment fixed by the law for blasphemy; the scribe, good fellow as he was, closed his ears to the oath, and, if it were in his power, made a beginning of satisfying their demands by drawing upon the excess of past months to such an extent as would pacify them for some days, and by paying them a supplemental wage in the name of the Pharaoh. They cried out loudly: |Shall there not be served out to us corn in excess of that which has been distributed to us; if not we will not stir from this spot?|
At length the end of the month arrived, and they all appeared together before the magistrates, when they said: |Let the scribe, Khamoisit, who is accountable, be sent for!| He was thereupon brought before the notables of the town, and they said to him: |See to the corn which thou hast received, and give some of it to the people of the necropolis.| Pmontuniboisit was then sent for, and |rations of wheat were given to us daily.| Famine was not caused only by the thriftlessness of the multitude: administrators of all ranks did not hesitate to appropriate, each one according to his position, a portion of the means entrusted to them for the maintenance of their subordinates, and the latter often received only instalments of what was due to them. The culprits often escaped from their difficulties by either laying hold of half a dozen of their brawling victims, or by yielding to them a proportion of their ill-gotten gains, before a rumour of the outbreak could reach head-quarters. It happened from time to time, however, when the complaints against them were either too serious or too frequent, that they were deprived of their functions, cited before the tribunals, and condemned. What took place at Thebes was repeated with some variations in each of the other large cities. Corruption, theft, and extortion had prevailed among the officials from time immemorial, and the most active kings alone were able to repress these abuses, or confine them within narrow limits; as soon as discipline became relaxed, however, they began to appear again, and we have no more convincing proof of the state of decadence into which Thebes had fallen towards the middle of the XXth dynasty, than the audacity of the crimes committed in the necropolis during the reigns of the successors of Ramses III.
The priesthood of Amon alone displayed any vigour and enjoyed any prosperity in the general decline. After the victory of the god over the heretic kings no one dared to dispute his supremacy, and the Ramessides displayed a devout humility before him and his ministers. Henceforward he became united to Ra in a definite manner, and his authority not only extended over the whole of the land of Egypt, but over all the countries also which were brought within her influence; so that while Pharaoh continued to be the greatest of kings, Pharaoh's god held a position of undivided supremacy among the deities. He was the chief of the two Bnneads, the Heliopolitan and the Hermopolitan, and displayed for the latter a special affection; for the vague character of its eight secondary deities only served to accentuate the position of the ninth and principal divinity with whose primacy that of Amon was identified. It was more easy to attribute to Amon the entire work of creation when Shu, Sibu, Osiris, and Sit had been excluded -- the deities whom the theologians of Heliopolis had been accustomed to associate with the demiurge; and in the hymns which they sang at his solemn festivals they did not hesitate to ascribe to him all the acts which the priests of former times had assigned to the Ennead collectively. |He made earth, silver, gold, -- the true lapis at his good pleasure. -- He brought forth the herbs for the cattle, the plants upon which men live. -- He made to live the fish of the river, -- the birds which hover in the air, -- giving air to those which are in the egg. -- He animates the insects, -- he makes to live the small birds, the reptiles, and the gnats as well. -- He provides food for the rat in his hole, -- supports the bird upon the branch. -- May he be blessed for all this, he who is alone, but with many hands.| |Men spring from his two eyes,| and quickly do they lose their breath while acclaiming him -- Egyptians and Libyans, Negroes and Asiatics: |Hail to thee!| they all say; |praise to thee because thou dwellest amongst us! -- Obeisances before thee because thou createst us!| -- |Thou art blessed by every living thing, -- thou hast worshippers in every place, -- in the highest of the heavens, in all the breadth of the earth, -- in the depths of the seas. -- The gods bow before thy Majesty, -- magnifying the souls which form them, -- rejoicing at meeting those who have begotten them, -- they say to thee: 'Go in peace, -- father of the fathers of all the gods, -- who suspended the heaven, levelled the earth; -- creator of beings, maker of things, -- sovereign king, chief of the gods, -- we adore thy souls, because thou hast made us, -- we lavish offerings upon thee, because thou hast given us birth, -- we shower benedictions upon thee, because thou dwellest among us.'| We have here the same ideas as those which predominate in the hymns addressed to Atonu,* and in the prayers directed to Phtah, the Nile, Shu, and the Sun-god of Heliopolis at the same period.
* Breasted points out the decisive influence exercised by the solar hymns of Amenothes IV. on the development of the solar ideas contained in the hymns to Amon put forth or re- edited in the XXIIIrd dynasty.
The idea of a single god, lord and maker of all things, continued to prevail more and more throughout Egypt -- not, indeed, among the lower classes who persisted in the worship of their genii and their animals, but among the royal family, the priests, the nobles, and people of culture. The latter believed that the Sun-god had at length absorbed all the various beings who had been manifested in the feudal divinities: these, in fact, had surrendered their original characteristics in order to become forms of the Sun, Amon as well as the others -- and the new belief displayed itself in magnifying the solar deity, but the solar deity united with the Theban Amon, that is, Amon-Ra. The omnipotence of this one god did not, however, exclude a belief in the existence of his compeers; the theologians thought all the while that the beings to whom ancient generations had accorded a complete independence in respect of their rivals were nothing more than emanations from one supreme being. If local pride forced them to apply to this single deity the designation customarily used in their city -- Phtah at Memphis, Anhuri-Shu at Thinis, Khnumu in the neighbourhood of the first cataract -- they were quite willing to allow, at the same time, that these appellations were but various masks for one face. Phtah, Hapi, Khnumu, Ra, -- all the gods, in fact, -- were blended with each other, and formed but one deity -- a unique existence, multiple in his names, and mighty according to the importance of the city in which he was worshipped. Hence Amon, lord of the capital and patron of the dynasty, having more partisans, enjoyed more respect, and, in a word, felt himself possessed of more claims to be the sole god of Egypt than his brethren, who could not claim so many worshippers. He did not at the outset arrogate to himself the same empire over the dead as he exercised over the living; he had delegated his functions in this respect to a goddess, Maritsakro, for whom the poorer inhabitants of the left bank entertained a persistent devotion. She was a kind of Isis or hospitable Hathor, whose subjects in the other world adapted themselves to the nebulous and dreary existence provided for their disembodied |doubles.| The Osirian and solar doctrines were afterwards blended together in this local mythology, and from the XIth dynasty onwards the Theban nobility had adopted, along with the ceremonies in use in the Memphite period, the Heliopolitan beliefs concerning the wanderings of the soul in the west, its embarkation on the solar ship, and its resting-places in the fields of Ialu. The rock-tombs of the XVIIIth dynasty demonstrate that the Thebans had then no different concept of their life beyond the world from that entertained by the inhabitants of the most ancient cities: they ascribed to that existence the same inconsistent medley of contradictory ideas, from which each one might select what pleased him best -- either repose in a well-provisioned tomb, or a dwelling close to Osiris in the middle of a calm and agreeable paradise, or voyages with Ra around the world.*
* The Pyramid texts are found for the most part in the tombs of Nofiru and Harhotpu; the texts of the Book of the Dead are met with on the Theban coffins of the same period.
[Illustration: 060.jpg DECORATED WRAPPINGS OF A MUMMY]
The fusion of Ra and Amon, and the predominance of the solar idea which arose from it, forced the theologians to examine more closely these inconsistent notions, and to eliminate from them anything which might be out of harmony with the new views. The devout servant of Amon, desirous of keeping in constant touch with his god both here and in the other would, could not imagine a happier future for his soul than in its going forth in the fulness of light by day, and taking refuge by night on the very bark which carried the object of his worship through the thick darkness of, Hades. To this end he endeavoured to collect the formulae which would enable him to attain to this supreme happiness, and also inform him concerning the hidden mysteries of that obscure half of the world in which the sun dwelt between daylight and daylight, teaching him also how to make friends and supporters of the benevolent genii, and how to avoid or defeat the monsters whom he would encounter. The best known of the books relating to these mysteries contained a geographical description of the future world as it was described by the Theban priests towards the end of the Ramesside period; it was, in fact, an itinerary in which was depicted each separate region of the underworld, with its gates, buildings, and inhabitants.*
* The monumental text of this book is found sculptured on a certain number of the tombs of the Theban kings. It was first translated into English by Birch, then into French by Deveria, and by Maspero.
The account of it given by the Egyptian theologians did not exhibit much inventive genius. They had started with the theory that the sun, after setting exactly west of Thebes, rose again due east of the city, and they therefore placed in the dark hemisphere all the regions of the universe which lay to the north of those two points of the compass. The first stage of the sun's journey, after disappearing below the horizon, coincided with the period of twilight; the orb travelled along the open sky, diminishing the brightness of his fires as he climbed northward, and did not actually enter the underworld till he reached Abydos, close to the spot where, at the |Mouth of the Cleft,| the souls of the faithful awaited him. As soon as he had received them into his boat, he plunged into the tunnel which there pierces the mountains, and the cities through which he first passed between Abydos and the Fayum were known as the Osirian fiefs. He continued his journey through them for the space of two hours, receiving the homage of the inhabitants, and putting such of the shades on shore as were predestined by their special devotion for the Osiris of Abydos and his associates, Horus and Anubis, to establish themselves in this territory. Beyond Heracleopolis, he entered the domains of the Memphite gods, the |land of Sokaris,| and this probably was the most perilous moment of his journey.
[Illustration: 062.jpg ONE OF THE MYSTERIOUS BOOKS OF AMON]
The feudatories of Phtah were gathered together in grottoes, connected by a labyrinth of narrow passages through which even the most fully initiated were scarcely able to find their way; the luminous boat, instead of venturing within these catacombs, passed above them by mysterious tracks. The crew were unable to catch a glimpse of the sovereign through whose realm they journeyed, and they in like manner were invisible to him; he could only hear the voices of the divine sailors, and he answered them from the depth of the darkness. Two hours were spent in this obscure passage, after which navigation became easier as the vessel entered the nomes subject to the Osirises of the Delta: four consecutive hours of sailing brought the bark from the province in which the four principal bodies of the god slept to that in which his four souls kept watch, and, as it passed, it illuminated the eight circles reserved for men and kings who worshipped the god of Mendes. From the tenth hour onwards it directed its course due south, and passed through the Augarit, the place of fire and abysmal waters to which the Heliopolitans consigned the souls of the impious; then finally quitting the tunnel, it soared up in the east with the first blush of dawn. Each of the ordinary dead was landed at that particular hour of the twelve, which belonged to the god of his choice or of his native town. Left to dwell there they suffered no absolute torment, but languished in the darkness in a kind of painful torpor, from which condition the approach of the bark alone was able to rouse them. They hailed its daily coming with acclamations, and felt new life during the hour in which its rays fell on them, breaking out into lamentations as the bark passed away and the light disappeared with it. The souls who were devotees of the sun escaped this melancholy existence; they escorted the god, reduced though he was to a mummied corpse, on his nightly cruise, and were piloted by him safe and sound to meet the first streaks of the new day. As the boat issued from the mountain in the morning between the two trees which flanked the gate of the east, these souls had their choice of several ways of spending the day on which they were about to enter. They might join their risen god in his course through the hours of light, and assist him in combating Apophis and his accomplices, plunging again at night into Hades without having even for a moment quitted his side.
[Illustration: 066.jpg THE ENTRANCE TO A ROYAL TOMB]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph, by Beato, of the tomb of Ramses IV.
[Illustration: 066b.jpg ONE OF THE HOURS OF THE NIGHT]
They might, on the other hand, leave him and once more enter the world of the living, settling themselves where they would, but always by preference in the tombs where their bodies awaited them, and where they could enjoy the wealth which had been accumulated there: they might walk within their garden, and sit beneath the trees they had planted; they could enjoy the open air beside the pond they had dug, and breathe the gentle north breeze on its banks after the midday heat, until the time when the returning evening obliged them to repair once more to Abydos, and re-embark with the god in order to pass the anxious vigils of the night under his protection. Thus from the earliest period of Egyptian history the life beyond the tomb was an eclectic one, made up of a series of earthly enjoyments combined together.
The Pharaohs had enrolled themselves instinctively among the most ardent votaries of this complex doctrine. Their relationship to the sun made its adoption a duty, and its profession was originally, perhaps, one of the privileges of their position. Ra invited them on board because they were his children, subsequently extending this favour to those whom they should deem worthy to be associated with them, and thus become companions of the ancient deceased kings of Upper and Lower Egypt.*
* This is apparently what we gather from the picture inserted in chapter xvii. of the |Book of the Dead,| where we see the kings of Upper and Lower Egypt guiding the divine bark and the deceased with them.
The idea which the Egyptians thus formed of the other world, and of the life of the initiated within it, reacted gradually on their concept of the tomb and of its befitting decoration. They began to consider the entrances to the pyramid, and its internal passages and chambers, as a conventional representation of the gates, passages, and halls of Hades itself; when the pyramid passed out of fashion, and they had replaced it by a tomb cut in the rock in one or other of the branches of the Bab el-Moluk valley, the plan of construction which they chose was an exact copy of that employed by the Memphites and earlier Thebans, and they hollowed out for themselves in the mountain-side a burying-place on the same lines as those formerly employed within the pyramidal structure. The relative positions of the tunnelled tombs along the valley were not determined by any order of rank or of succession to the throne; each Pharaoh after Ramses I. set to work on that part of the rock where the character of the stone favoured his purpose, and displayed so little respect for his predecessors, that the workmen, after having tunnelled a gallery, were often obliged to abandon it altogether, or to change the direction of their excavations so as to avoid piercing a neighbouring tomb. The architect's design was usually a mere project which could be modified at will, and, which he did not feel bound to carry out with fidelity; the actual measurements of the tomb of Ramses IV. are almost everywhere at variance with the numbers and arrangement of the working drawing of it which has been preserved to us in a papyrus. The general disposition of the royal tombs, however, is far from being complicated; we have at the entrance the rectangular door, usually surmounted by the sun, represented by a yellow disk, before which the sovereign kneels with his hands raised in the posture of adoration; this gave access to a passage sloping gently downwards, and broken here and there by a level landing and steps, leading to a first chamber of varying amplitude, at the further end of which a second passage opened which descended to one or more apartments, the last of which, contained the coffin. The oldest rock-tombs present some noteworthy exceptions to this plan, particularly those of Seti I. and Ramses III.; but from the time of Ramses IV., there is no difference to be remarked in them except in the degree of finish of the wall-paintings or in the length of the passages. The shortest of the latter extends some fifty-two feet into the rock, while the longest never exceeds three hundred and ninety feet. The same artifices which had been used by the pyramid-builders to defeat the designs of robbers -- false mummy-pits, painted and sculptured walls built across passages, stairs concealed under a movable stone in the corner of a chamber -- were also employed by the Theban engineers. The decoration of the walls was suggested, as in earlier times, by the needs of the royal soul, with this difference -- that the Thebans set themselves to render visible to his eyes by paintings that which the Memphites had been content to present to his intelligence in writing, so that the Pharaoh could now see what his ancestors had been able merely to read on the walls of their tombs. Where the inscribed texts in the burial-chamber of Unas state that Unas, incarnate in the Sun, and thus representing Osiris, sails over the waters on high or glides into the Elysian fields, the sculptured or painted scenes in the interior of the Theban catacombs display to the eye Ramses occupying the place of the god in the solar bark and in the fields of laid. Where the walls of Unas bear only the prayers recited over the mummy for the opening of his mouth, for the restoration of the use of his limbs, for his clothing, perfuming, and nourishment, we see depicted on those of Seti I. or Ramses IV. the mummies of these kings and the statues of their doubles in the hands of the priests, who are portrayed in the performance of these various offices. The starry ceilings of the pyramids reproduce the aspect of the sky, but without giving the names of the stars: on the ceilings of some of the Ramesside rock-tombs, on the other hand, the constellations are represented, each with its proper figure, while astronomical tables give the position of the heavenly bodies at intervals of fifteen days, so that the soul could tell at a glance into what region of the firmament the course of the bark would bring him each night. In the earlier Ramesside tombs, under Seti I. and Ramses II., the execution of these subjects shows evidence of a care and skill which are quite marvellous, and both figures and hieroglyphics betray the hand of accomplished artists. But in the tomb of Ramses III. the work has already begun to show signs of inferiority, and the majority of the scenes are coloured in a very summary fashion; a raw yellow predominates, and the tones of the reds and blues remind us of a child's first efforts at painting. This decline is even more marked under the succeeding Ramessides; the drawing has deteriorated, the tints have become more and more crude, and the latest paintings seem but a lamentable caricature of the earlier ones.
The courtiers and all those connected with the worship of Amon-Ra -- priests, prophets, singers, and functionaries connected with the necropolis -- shared the same belief with regard to the future world as their sovereign, and they carried their faith in the sun's power to the point of identifying themselves with him after death, and of substituting the name of Ra for that of Osiris; they either did not venture, however, to go further than this, or were unable to introduce into their tombs all that we find in the Bab el-Moluk. They confined themselves to writing briefly on their own coffins, or confiding to the mummies of their fellow-believers, in addition to the |Book of the Dead,| a copy of the |Book of knowing what there is in Hades,| or of some other mystic writing which was in harmony with their creed. Hastily prepared copies of these were sold by unscrupulous scribes, often badly written and almost always incomplete, in which were hurriedly set down haphazard the episodes of the course of the sun with explanatory illustrations. The representations of the gods in them are but little better than caricatures, the text is full of faults and scarcely decipherable, and it is at times difficult to recognize the correspondence of the scenes and prayers with those in the royal tombs. Although Amon had become the supreme god, at least for this class of the initiated, he was by no means the sole deity worshipped by the Egyptians: the other divinities previously associated with him still held their own beside him, or were further defined and invested with a more decided personality. The goddess regarded as his partner was at first represented as childless, in spite of the name of Maut or Mut -- the mother -- by which she was invoked, and Amon was supposed to have adopted Montu, the god of Hermonthis, in order to complete his triad. Montu, however, formerly the sovereign of the Theban plain, and lord over Amon himself, was of too exalted a rank to play the inferior part of a divine son.
[Illustration: 074.jpg KHONSU* AND TEMPLE OF KHONSU**.]
* Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a bronze statuette in the Gizeh Museum.
** Drawn by Thuillier: A is the pylon, B the court, C the hypostyle hall, E the passage isolating the sanctuary, D the sanctuary, F the opisthodomos with its usual chambers.
The priests were, therefore, obliged to fall back upon a personage of lesser importance, named Khonsu, who up to that period had been relegated to an obscure position in the celestial hierarchy. How they came to identify him with the moon, and subsequently with Osiris and Thot, is as yet unexplained,* but the assimilation had taken place before the XIXth dynasty drew to its close. Khonsu, thus honoured, soon became a favourite deity with both the people and the upper classes, at first merely supplementing Montu, but finally supplanting him in the third place of the Triad. From the time of Sesostris onwards, Theban dogma acknowledged him alone side by side with Amon-Ra and Mut the divine mother.
* It is possible that this assimilation originated in the fact that Khonsu is derived from the verb |khonsu,| to navigate: Khonsu would thus have been he who crossed the heavens in his bark -- that is, the moon-god.
[Illustration: 075.jpg THE TEMPLE OF KHONSU AT KARNAK]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Beato.
It was now incumbent on the Pharaoh to erect to this newly made favourite a temple whose size and magnificence should be worthy of the rank to which his votaries had exalted him. To this end, Ramses III. chose a suitable site to the south of the hypostyle hall of Karnak, close to a corner of the enclosing wall, and there laid the foundations of a temple which his successors took nearly a century to finish.*
* The proof that the temple was founded by Ramses III. is furnished by the inscriptions of the sanctuary and the surrounding chambers.
Its proportions are by no means perfect, the sculpture is wanting in refinement, the painting is coarse, and the masonry was so faulty, that it was found necessary in several places to cover it with a coat of stucco before the bas-reliefs could be carved on the walls; yet, in spite of all this, its general arrangement is so fine, that it may well be regarded, in preference to other more graceful or magnificent buildings, as the typical temple of the Theban period. It is divided into two parts, separated from each other by a solid wall. In the centre of the smaller of these is placed the Holy of Holies, which opens at both ends into a passage ten feet in width, isolating it from the surrounding buildings. To the right and left of the sanctuary are dark chambers, and behind it is a hall supported by four columns, into which open seven small apartments. This formed the dwelling-place of the god and his compeers. The sanctuary communicates, by means of two doors placed in the southern wall, with a hypostyle hall of greater width than depth, divided by its pillars into a nave and two aisles. The four columns of the nave are twenty-three feet in height, and have bell-shaped capitals, while those of the aisles, two on either side, are eighteen feet high, and are crowned with lotiform capitals.
[Illustration: 077.jpg THE COURT OF THE TEMPLE OF KHONSU]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Beato.
The roof of the nave was thus five feet higher than those of the aisles, and in the clear storey thus formed, stone gratings, similar to those in the temple of Amon, admitted light to the building. The courtyard, surrounded by a fine colonnade of two rows of columns, was square, and was entered by four side posterns in addition to the open gateway at the end placed between two quadrangular towers.
[Illustration: 078.jpg THE COLONNADE BUILT BY THUTMOSIS III]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Insinger and Daniel Heron.
This pylon measures 104 feet in length, and is 32 feet 6 inches wide, by 58 feet high. It contains no internal chambers, but merely a narrow staircase which leads to the top of the doorway, and thence to the summit of the towers. Four long angular grooves run up the facade of the towers to a height of about twenty feet from the ground, and are in the same line with a similar number of square holes which pierce the thickness of the building higher up. In these grooves were placed Venetian masts, made of poles spliced together and held in their place by means of hooks and wooden stays which projected from the four holes; these masts were to carry at their tops pennons of various colours. Such was the temple of Khonsu, and the majority of the great Theban buildings -- at Luxor, Qurneh, and Bamesseum, or Medinet-Uabu -- were constructed on similar lines. Even in their half-ruined condition there is something oppressive and uncanny in their appearance. The gods loved to shroud themselves in mystery, and, therefore, the plan of the building was so arranged as to render the transition almost imperceptible from the blinding sunlight outside to the darkness of their retreat within. In the courtyard, we are still surrounded by vast spaces to which air and light have free access. The hypostyle hall, however, is pervaded by an appropriate twilight, the sanctuary is veiled in still deeper darkness, while in the chambers beyond reigns an almost perpetual night. The effect produced by this gradation of obscurity was intensified by constructional artifices. The different parts of the building are not all on the same ground-level, the pavement rising as the sanctuary is approached, and the rise is concealed by a few steps placed at intervals. The difference of level in the temple of Khonsu is not more than five feet three inches, but it is combined with a still more considerable lowering of the height of the roof. From the pylon to the wall at the further end the height decreases as we go on; the peristyle is more lofty than the hypostyle hall, this again is higher than the sanctuary and the hall of columns, and the chamber beyond it drops still further in altitude.*
* This is |the law of progressive diminution of heights| of Perrot-Chipiez.
Karnak is an exception to this rule; this temple had in the course of centuries undergone so many restorations and additions, that it formed a collection of buildings rather than a single edifice. It might have been regarded, as early as the close of the Theban empire, as a kind of museum, in which every century and every period of art, from the XIIth dynasty downwards, had left its distinctive mark.*
* A on the plan denotes the XIIth dynasty temple; B is the great hypostyle hall of Seti I. and Ramses II.; C the temple of Ramses III.
[Illustration: 081.jpg THE TEMPLE OF AMON AT KARNAK]
All the resources of architecture had been brought into requisition during this period to vary, at the will of each sovereign, the arrangement and the general effect of the component parts. Columns with sixteen sides stand in the vicinity of square pillars, and lotiform capitals alternate with those of the bell-shape; attempts were even made to introduce new types altogether. The architect who built at the back of the sanctuary what is now known as the colonnade of Thutmosis III., attempted to invert the bell-shaped capital; the bell was turned downwards, and the neck attached to the plinth, while the mouth rested on the top of the shaft. This awkward arrangement did not meet with favour, for we find it nowhere repeated; other artists, however, with better taste, sought at this time to apply the flowers symbolical of Upper and Lower Egypt to the decorations of the shafts. In front of the sanctuary of Karnak two pillars are still standing which have on them in relief representations respectively of the fullblown lotus and the papyrus. A building composed of so many incongruous elements required frequent restoration -- a wall which had been undermined by water needed strengthening, a pylon displaying cracks claimed attention, some unsafe colonnade, or a colossus which had been injured by the fall of a cornice, required shoring up -- so that no sooner had the corvee for repairs completed their work in one part, than they had to begin again elsewhere.
[Illustration: 082.jpg THE TWO STELE-PILLARS AT KARNAK]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from a photograph by Beato.
The revenues of Amon must, indeed, have been enormous to have borne the continual drain occasioned by restoration, and the resources of the god would soon have been exhausted had not foreign wars continued to furnish him during several centuries with all or more than he needed.
The gods had suffered severely in the troublous times which had followed the reign of Seti II., and it required all the generosity of Ramses III. to compensate them for the losses they had sustained during the anarchy under Arisu. The spoil taken from the Libyans, from the Peoples of the Sea, and from the Hittites had flowed into the sacred treasuries, while the able administration of the sovereign had done the rest, so that on the accession of Ramses IV. the temples were in a more prosperous state than ever.* They held as their own property 169 towns, nine of which were in Syria and Ethiopia; they possessed 113,433 slaves of both sexes, 493,386 head of cattle, 1,071,780 arurse of land, 514 vineyards and orchards, 88 barks and sea-going vessels, 336 kilograms of gold both in ingots and wrought, 2,993,964 grammes of silver, besides quantities of copper and precious stones, and hundreds of storehouses in which they kept corn, oil, wine, honey, and preserved meats -- the produce of their domains. Two examples will suffice to show the extent of this latter item: the live geese reached the number of 680,714, and the salt or smoked fish that of 494,800.** Amon claimed the giant share of this enormous total, and three-fourths of it or more were reserved for his use, namely -- -86,486 slaves, 421,362 head of cattle, 898,168 arurse of cornland, 433 vineyards and orchards, and 56 Egyptian towns. The nine foreign towns all belonged to him, and one of them contained the temple in which he was worshipped by the Syrians whenever they came to pay their tribute to the king's representatives: it was but just that his patrimony should surpass that of his compeers, since the conquering Pharaohs owed their success to him, who, without the co-operation of the other feudal deities, had lavished victories upon them.
* The donations of Ramses III., or rather the total of the donations made to the gods by the predecessors of that Pharaoh, and confirmed and augmented by him, are enumerated at length in the Great Harris Papyrus.
** An abridgement of these donations occupies seven large plates in the Great Harris Papyrus.
His domain was at least five times more considerable than that of Ra of Heliopolis, and ten times greater than that of the Memphite Phtah, and yet of old, in the earlier times of history, Ra and Phtah were reckoned the wealthiest of the Egyptian gods. It is easy to understand the influence which a god thus endowed with the goods of this world exercised over men in an age when the national wars had the same consequences for the immortals as for their worshippers, and when the defeat of a people was regarded as a proof of the inferiority of its patron gods. The most victorious divinity became necessarily the wealthiest, before whom all other deities bowed, and whom they, as well as their subjects, were obliged to serve.
So powerful a god as Amon had but few obstacles to surmount before becoming the national deity; indeed, he was practically the foremost of the gods during the Ramesside period, and was generally acknowledged as Egypt's representative by all foreign nations.* His priests shared in the prestige he enjoyed, and their influence in state affairs increased proportionately with his power.
* From the XVIIIth dynasty, at least, the first prophet of Amon had taken the precedence of the high priests of Heliopolis and Memphis, as is proved by the position he occupies in the Egyptian hierarchy in the Hood Papyrus.
The chief of their hierarchy, however, did not bear the high titles which in ancient times distinguished those of Memphis and Heliopolis; he was content with the humble appellation of first prophet of Amon. He had for several generations been nominated by the sovereign, but he was generally chosen from the families attached hereditarily or otherwise to the temple of Karnak, and must previously have passed through every grade of the priestly hierarchy. Those who aspired to this honour had to graduate as |divine fathers;| this was the first step in the initiation, and one at which many were content to remain, but the more ambitious or favoured advanced by successive stages to the dignity of third, and then of second, prophet before attaining to the highest rank.*
* What we know on this subject has been brought to light mainly by the inscriptions on the statue of Baukuni-Khonsu at Munich, published and commented on by Deveria, and by Lauth. The cursus honorum of Rama shows us that he was first third, then second prophet of Amon, before being raised to the pontificate in the reign of Minephtah.
The Pharaohs of the XIXth dynasty jealously supervised the promotions made in the Theban temples, and saw that none was elected except him who was devoted to their interests -- such as, for example, Baukuni-khonsu and Unnofri under Ramses II. Baukuni-khonsu distinguished himself by his administrative qualities; if he did not actually make the plans for the hypostyle hall at Karnak, he appears at least to have superintended its execution and decoration. He finished the great pylon, erected the obelisks and gateways, built the bari or vessel of the god, and found a further field for his activity on the opposite bank of the Nile, where he helped to complete both the chapel at Qurneh and also the Ramesseum. Ramses II. had always been able to make his authority felt by the high priests who succeeded Baukuni-khonsu, but the Pharaohs who followed him did not hold the reins with such a strong hand. As early as the reigns of Minephtah and Seti II. the first prophets, Rai and Rama, claimed the right of building at Karnak for their own purposes, and inscribed on the walls long inscriptions in which their own panegyrics took precedence of that of the sovereign; they even aspired to a religious hegemony, and declared themselves to be the |chief of all the prophets of the gods of the South and North.| We do not know what became of them during the usurpation of Arisu, but Nakhtu-ramses, son of Miribastit, who filled the office during the reign of Ramses III., revived these ambitious projects as soon as the state of Egypt appeared to favour them. The king, however pious he might be, was not inclined to yield up any of his authority, even though it were to the earthly delegate of the divinity whom he reverenced before all others; the sons of the Pharaoh were, however, more accommodating, and Nakhtu-ramses played his part so well that he succeeded in obtaining from them the reversion of the high priesthood for his son Amenothes. The priestly office, from having been elective, was by this stroke suddenly made hereditary in the family. The kings preserved, it is true, the privilege of confirming the new appointment, and the nominee was not considered properly qualified until he had received his investiture from the sovereign.*
* This is proved by the Maunier stele, now in the Louvre; it is there related how the high priest Manakh-pirri received his investiture from the Tanite king.
Practically the Pharaohs lost the power of choosing one among the sons of the deceased pontiff; they were forced to enthrone the eldest of his survivors, and legalise his accession by their approbation, even when they would have preferred another. It was thus that a dynasty of vassal High Priests came to be established at Thebes side by side with the royal dynasty of the Pharaohs.
The new priestly dynasty was not long in making its power felt in Thebes. Nakhtu-ramses and Amenothes lived to a great age -- from the reign of Ramses III. to that of Ramses X., at the least; they witnessed the accession of nine successive Pharaohs, and the unusual length of their pontificates no doubt increased the already extraordinary prestige which they enjoyed throughout the length and breadth of Egypt. It seemed as if the god delighted to prolong the lives of his representatives beyond the ordinary limits, while shortening those of the temporal sovereigns. When the reigns of the Pharaohs began once more to reach their normal length, the authority of Amenothes had become so firmly established that no human power could withstand it, and the later Ramessides were merely a set of puppet kings who were ruled by him and his successors. Not only was there a cessation of foreign expeditions, but the Delta, Memphis, and Ethiopia were alike neglected, and the only activity displayed by these Pharaohs, as far as we can gather from their monuments, was confined to the service of Amon and Khonsu at Thebes. The lack of energy and independence in these sovereigns may not, however, be altogether attributable to their feebleness of character; it is possible that they would gladly have entered on a career of conquest had they possessed the means. It is always a perilous matter to allow the resources of a country to fall into the hands of a priesthood, and to place its military forces at the same time in the hands of the chief religious authority. The warrior Pharaohs had always had at their disposal the spoils obtained from foreign nations to make up the deficit which their constant gifts to the temples were making in the treasury. The sons of Ramses III., on the other hand, had suspended all military efforts, without, however, lessening their lavish gifts to the gods, and they must, in the absence of the spoils of war, have drawn to a considerable extent upon the ordinary resources of the country; their successors therefore found the treasury impoverished, and they would have been entirely at a loss for money had they attempted to renew the campaigns or continue the architectural work of their forefathers. The priests of Amon had not as yet suffered materially from this diminution of revenue, for they possessed property throughout the length and breadth of Egypt, but they were obliged to restrict their expenditure, and employ the sums formerly used for the enlarging of the temples on the maintenance of their own body. Meanwhile public works had been almost everywhere suspended; administrative discipline became relaxed, and disturbances, with which the police were unable to cope, were increasing in all the important towns. Nothing is more indicative of the state to which Egypt was reduced, under the combined influence of the priesthood and the Ramessides, than the thefts and pillaging of which the Theban necropolis was then the daily scene. The robbers no longer confined themselves to plundering the tombs of private persons; they attacked the royal burying-places, and their depredations were carried on for years before they were discovered. In the reign of Ramses IX., an inquiry, set on foot by Amenothes, revealed the fact that the tomb of Sovkumsauf I. and his wife, Queen Nubk-has, had been rifled, that those of Amenothes I. and of Antuf IV. had been entered by tunnelling, and that some dozen other royal tombs in the cemetery of Drah abu'l Neggah were threatened.*
* The principal part of this inquiry constitutes the Abbott Papyrus, acquired and published by the British Museum, first examined and made the subject of study by Birch, translated simultaneously into French by Maspero and by Chabas, into German by Lauth and by Erman. Other papyri relate to the same or similar occurrences, such as the Salt and Amherst Papyri published by Chabas, and also the Liverpool Papyri, of which we possess merely scattered notices in the writings of Goodwin, and particularly in those of Spiegelberg.
The severe means taken to suppress the evil were not, however, successful; the pillagings soon began afresh, and the reigns of the last three Ramessides between the robbers and the authorities, were marked by a struggle in which the latter did not always come off triumphant.
[Illustration: 089.jpg RAMSES IX.]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Lepsius.
A system of repeated inspections secured the valley of Biban el-Moluk from marauders,* but elsewhere the measures of defence employed were unavailing, and the necropolis was given over to pillage, although both Amenothes and Hrihor had used every effort to protect it.
* Graffiti which are evidences of these inspections have been drawn on the walls of several royal tombs by the inspectors. Others have been found on several of the coffins discovered at Deir el-Bahari, e.g. on those of Seti I. and Ramses II.; the most ancient belong to the pontificate of Hrihor, others belong to the XXIst dynasty.
Hrihor appears to have succeeded immediately after Amenothes, and his accession to the pontificate gave his family a still more exalted position in the country. As his wife Nozmit was of royal blood, he assumed titles and functions to which his father and grandfather had made no claim. He became the |Royal Son| of Ethiopia and commander-in-chief of the national and foreign troops; he engraved his name upon the monuments he decorated, side by side with that of Ramses XII.; in short, he possessed all the characteristics of a Pharaoh except the crown and the royal protocol. A century scarcely had elapsed since the abdication of Ramses III., and now Thebes and the whole of Egypt owned two masters: one the embodiment of the ancient line, but a mere nominal king; the other the representative of Amon, and the actual ruler of the country.
What then happened when the last Ramses who bore the kingly title was gathered to his fathers? The royal lists record the accession after his death of a new dynasty of Tanitic origin, whose founder was Nsbindidi or Smendes; but, on the other hand, we gather from the Theban monuments that the crown was seized by Hrihor, who reigned over the southern provinces contemporaneously with Smendes. Hrihor boldly assumed as prenomen his title of |First Prophet of Amon,| and his authority was acknowledged by Ethiopia, over which he was viceroy, as well as by the nomes forming the temporal domain of the high priests. The latter had acquired gradually, either by marriage or inheritance, fresh territory for the god, in the lands of the princes of Nekhabit, Kop-tos, Akhmim, and Abydos, besides the domains of some half-dozen feudal houses who, from force of circumstances, had become sacerdotal families; the extinction of the direct line of Ramessides now secured the High Priests the possession of Thebes itself, and of all the lands within the southern provinces which were the appanage of the crown.
[Illustration: 091.jpg HRIHOR]
Drawn by Faucher-Gudin, from Champollion.
They thus, in one way or another, became the exclusive masters of the southern half of the Nile valley, from Elephantine to Siut; beyond Siut also they had managed to acquire suzerainty over the town of Khobit, and the territory belonging to it formed an isolated border province in the midst of the independent baronies.*
* The extent of the principality of Thebes under the high priests has been determined by means of the sacerdotal titles of the Theban princesses.
The representative of the dynasty reigning at Tanis held the remainder of Egypt from Shit to the Mediterranean -- the half belonging to the Memphite Phtah and the Helio-politan Ra, as opposed to that assigned to Anion. The origin of this Tanite sovereign is uncertain, but it would appear that he was of more exalted rank than his rival in the south. The official chronicling of events was marked by the years of his reign, and the chief acts of the government were carried out in his name even in the Thebaid.* Repeated inundations had caused the ruin of part of the temple of Karnak, and it was by the order and under the auspices of this prince that all the resources of the country were employed to accomplish the much-needed restoration.**
* I have pointed out that the years of the reign mentioned in the inscriptions of the high priests and the kings of the sacerdotal line must be attributed to their suzerains, the kings of Tanis. Hrihor alone seems to have been an
exception, since to him are attributed the dates inscribed in the name of the King Siamon: M. Daressy, however, will not admit this, and asserts that this Siamon was a Tanite sovereign who must not be identified with Hrihor, and must be placed at least two or three generations later than the last of the Ramessides.
* The real name Nsbindidi and the first monument of the Manethonian Smendes were discovered in the quarries of Dababieh, opposite Gebelen.
It would have been impossible for him to have exercised any authority over so rich and powerful a personage as Hrihor had he not possessed rights to the crown, before which even the high priests of Amon were obliged to bow, and hence it has been supposed that he was a descendant of Ramses II. The descendants of this sovereign were doubtless divided into at least two branches, one of which had just become extinct, leaving no nearer heir than Hrihor, while another, of which there were many ramifications, had settled in the Delta. The majority of these descendants had become mingled with the general population, and had sunk to the condition of private individuals; they had, however, carefully preserved the tradition of their origin, and added proudly to their name the qualification of royal son of Ramses. They were degenerate scions of the Ramessides, and had neither the features nor the energy of their ancestor. One of them, Zodphta-haufonkhi, whose mummy was found at Deir el-Bahari, appears to have been tall and vigorous, but the head lacks the haughty refinement which characterizes those of Seti I. and Ramses II., and the features are heavy and coarse, having a vulgar, commonplace expression.
[Illustration: 093.jpg ZODPHTAHAUFONKHI, ROYAL SON OF RAMSES]
Drawn by Boudier, from the photograph by Insinger.
It seems probable that one branch of the family, endowed with greater capability than the rest, was settled at Tanis, where Sesostris had, as we have seen, resided for many years; Smendes was the first of this branch to ascend the throne. The remembrance of his remote ancestor, Ramses IL, which was still treasured up in the city he had completely rebuilt, as well as in the Delta into which he had infused new life, was doubtless of no small service in securing the crown for his descendant, when, the line of the Theban kings having come to an end, the Tanites put in their claim to the succession. We are unable to discover if war broke out between the two competitors, or if they arrived at an agreement without a struggle; but, at all events, we may assume that, having divided Egypt between them, neither of them felt himself strong enough to overcome his rival, and contented himself with the possession of half the empire, since he could not possess it in its entirety. We may fairly believe that Smendes had the greater right to the throne, and, above all, the more efficient army of the two, since, had it been otherwise, Hrihor would never have consented to yield him the priority.
The unity of Egypt was, to outward appearances, preserved, through the nominal possession by Smendes of the suzerainty; but, as a matter of fact, it had ceased to exist, and the fiction of the two kingdoms had become a reality for the first time within the range of history. Henceforward there were two Egypts, governed by different constitutions and from widely remote centres. Theban Egypt was, before all things, a community recognizing a theocratic government, in which the kingly office was merged in that of the high priest. Separated from Asia by the length of the Delta, it turned its attention, like the Pharaohs of the VIth and XIIth dynasties, to Ethiopia, and owing to its distance from the Mediterranean, and from the new civilization developed on its shores, it became more and more isolated, till at length it was reduced to a purely African state. Northern Egypt, on the contrary, maintained contact with European and Asiatic nations; it took an interest in their future, it borrowed from them to a certain extent whatever struck it as being useful or beautiful, and when the occasion presented itself, it acted in concert with Mediterranean powers. There was an almost constant struggle between these two divisions of the empire, at times breaking out into an open rupture, to end as often in a temporary re-establishment of unity. At one time Ethiopia would succeed in annexing Egypt, and again Egypt would seize some part of Ethiopia; but the settlement of affairs was never final, and the conflicting elements, brought with difficulty into harmony, relapsed into their usual condition at the end of a few years. A kingdom thus divided against itself could never succeed in maintaining its authority over those provinces which, even in the heyday of its power, had proved impatient of its yoke.
Asia was associated henceforward in the minds of the Egyptians with painful memories of thwarted ambitions, rather than as offering a field for present conquest. They were pursued by the memories of their former triumphs, and the very monuments of their cities recalled what they were anxious to forget. Wherever they looked within their towns they encountered the representation of some Asiatic scene; they read the names of the cities of Syria on the walls of their temples; they saw depicted on them its princes and its armies, whose defeat was recorded by the inscriptions as well as the tribute which they had been forced to pay. The sense of their own weakness prevented the Egyptians from passing from useless regrets to action; when, however, one or other of the Pharaohs felt sufficiently secure on the throne to carry his troops far afield, he was always attracted to Syria, and crossed her frontiers, often, alas! merely to encounter defeat.
[Illustration: 095.jpg Tailpiece]