The Last Days Of Ancient Egypt

Before we turned from Egypt to summarize the information, afforded by

recent discoveries, upon the history of Western Asia under the kings

of the Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian periods, we noted that the Asiatic

empire of Egypt was regained by the reactionary kings of the XIXth

Dynasty, after its temporary loss owing to the vagaries of Akhunaten.

Palestine remained Egyptian throughout the period of the judges until

the fo
ndation of the kingdom of Judah. With the decline of military

spirit in Egypt and the increasing power of the priesthood, authority

over Asia became less and less a reality. Tribute was no longer paid,

and the tribes wrangled without a restraining hand, during the reigns of

the successors of Ramses III. By the time of the priest-kings of Thebes

(the XXIst Dynasty) the authority of the Pharaohs had ceased to be

exercised in Syria. Egypt was itself divided into two kingdoms, the one

ruled by Northern descendants of the Ramessids at Tanis, the other by

the priestly monarchs at Thebes, who reigned by right of inheritance as

a result of the marriage of the daughter of Ramses with the high

priest Amenhetep, father of Herhor, the first priest-king. The Thebans

fortified Gebelen in the South and el-Hebi in the North against attack,

and evidently their relations with the Tanites were not always friendly.

In Syria nothing of the imperial power remained. The prestige of the god

Amen of Thebes, however, was still very great. We see this clearly from

a very interesting papyrus of the reign of Herhor, published in 1899 by

Mr. Golenischeff, which describes the adventures of Uenuamen, an envoy

sent (about 1050 B.C.) to Phoenicia to bring wood from the mountains of

Lebanon for the construction of a great festival bark of the god Amen

at Thebes. In the course of his mission he was very badly treated

(We cannot well imagine Thothmes III or Amenhetep III tolerating

ill-treatment of their envoy!) and eventually shipwrecked on the coast

of the land of Alashiya or Cyprus. He tells us in the papyrus, which

seems to be the official report of his mission, that, having been given

letters of credence to the Prince of Byblos from the King of Tanis,

"to whom Amen had given charge of his North-land," he at length reached

Phoenicia, and after much discussion and argument was able to prevail

upon the prince to have the wood which he wanted brought down from

Lebanon to the seashore.

Here, however, a difficulty presented itself,--the harbour was filled

with the piratical ships of the Cretan Tjakaray, who refused to allow

Uenuamen to return to Egypt. They said, 'Seize him; let no ship of his

go unto the land of Egypt!' "Then," says Uenuamen in the papyrus, "I sat

down and wept. The scribe of the prince came out unto me; he said unto

me, 'What ail-eth thee?' I replied, 'Seest thou not the birds which fly,

which fly back unto Egypt? Look at them, they go unto the cool canal,

and how long do I remain abandoned here? Seest thou not those who would

prevent my return?' He went away and spoke unto the prince, who began

to weep at the words which were told unto him and which were so sad. He

sent his scribe out unto me, who brought me two measures of wine and a

deer. He sent me Tentnuet, an Egyptian singing-girl who was with him,

saying unto her, 'Sing unto him, that he may not grieve!' He sent word

unto me, 'Eat, drink, and grieve not! To-morrow shalt thou hear all that

I shall say.' On the morrow he had the people of his harbour summoned,

and he stood in the midst of them, and he said unto the Tjakaray, 'What

aileth you?' They answered him, 'We will pursue the piratical ships

which thou sendest unto Egypt with our unhappy companions.' He said unto

them, 'I cannot seize the ambassador of Amen in my land. Let me send him

away and then do ye pursue after him to seize him!' He sent me on board,

and he sent me away... to the haven of the sea. The wind drove me upon

the land of Alashiya. The people of the city came out in order to slay

me. I was dragged by them to the place where Hatiba, the queen of the

city, was. I met her as she was going out of one of her houses into

the other. I greeted her and said unto the people who stood by her, 'Is

there not one among you who understandeth the speech of Egypt?' One

of them replied, 'I understand it.' I said unto him, 'Say unto thy

mistress: even as far as the city in which Amen dwelleth (i. e. Thebes)

have I heard the proverb, "In all cities is injustice done; only in

Alashiya is justice to be found," and now is injustice done here every

day!' She said, 'What is it that thou sayest?' I said unto her, 'Since

the sea raged and the wind drove me upon the land in which thou livest,

therefore thou wilt not allow them to seize my body and to kill me, for

verily I am an ambassador of Amen. Remember that I am one who will be

sought for always. And if these men of the Prince of Byblos whom they

seek to kill (are killed), verily if their chief finds ten men of thine,

will he not kill them also?' She summoned the men, and they were brought

before her. She said unto me, 'Lie down and sleep...'"

At this point the papyrus breaks off, and we do not know how Uenuamen

returned to Egypt with his wood. The description of his casting-away and

landing on Alashiya is quite Homeric, and gives a vivid picture of the

manners of the time. The natural impulse of the islanders is to kill

the strange castaway, and only the fear of revenge and of the wrath of a

distant foreign deity restrains them. Alashiya is probably Cyprus, which

also bore the name Yantinay from the time of Thothmes III until the

seventh century, when it is called Yatnan by the Assyrians. A king

of Alashiya corresponded with Amenhetep III in cuneiform on terms of

perfect equality, three hundred years before: "Brother," he writes,

"should the small amount of the copper which I have sent thee be

displeasing unto thy heart, it is because in my land the hand of Nergal

my lord slew all the men of my land (i.e. they died of the plague), and

there was no working of copper; and this was, my brother, not pleasing

unto thy heart. Thy messenger with my messenger swiftly will I send, and

whatsoever amount of copper thou hast asked for, O my brother, I,

even I, will send it unto thee." The mention by Herhor's envoy of

Nesibinebdad (Smendes), the King of Tanis, a powerful ruler who in

reality constantly threatened the existence of the priestly monarchy

at Thebes, as "him to whom Amen has committed the wardship of his

North-land," is distinctly amusing. The hard fact of the independence of

Lower Egypt had to be glozed somehow.

The days of Theban power were coming to an end and only the prestige

of the god Amen remained strong for two hundred years more. But the

alliance of Amen and his priests with a band of predatory and destroying

foreign conquerors, the Ethiopians (whose rulers were the descendants

of the priest-kings, who retired to Napata on the succession of the

powerful Bubastite dynasty of Shishak to that of Tanis, abandoning

Thebes to the Northerners), did much to destroy the prestige of Amen

and of everything connected with him. An Ethiopian victory meant only

an Assyrian reconquest, and between them Ethiopians and Assyrians had

well-nigh ruined Egypt. In the Saite period Thebes had declined greatly

in power as well as in influence, and all its traditions were anathema

to the leading people of the time, although not of course in Akhunaten's


With the Saite period we seem almost to have retraced our steps and to

have reentered the age of the Pyramid Builders. All the pomp and glory

of Thothmes, Amenhetep, and Ramses were gone. The days of imperial Egypt

were over, and the minds of men, sickened of foreign war, turned for

peace and quietness to the simpler ideals of the IVth and Vth Dynasties.

We have already seen that an archaistic revival of the styles of the

early dynasties is characteristic of this late period, and that men

were buried at Sakkara and at Thebes in tombs which recall in form and

decoration those of the courtiers of the Pyramid Builders. Everywhere

we see this fashion of archaism. A Theban noble of this period named

Aba was buried at Thebes. Long ago, nearly three thousand years before,

under the VIth Dynasty, there had lived a great noble of the same name,

who was buried in a rock-tomb at Der el-Gebrawi, in Middle Egypt. This

tomb was open and known in the days of the second Aba, who caused to be

copied and reproduced in his tomb in the Asasif at Thebes most of the

scenes from the bas-relief with which it had been decorated. The tomb

of the VIth Dynasty Aba has lately been copied for the Archaeological

Survey of Egypt (Egypt Exploration Fund) by Mr. de Garis Davies, who has

found the reliefs of the XXVIth Dynasty Aba of considerable use to him

in reconstituting destroyed portions of their ancient originals.

During late years important discoveries of objects of this era have been

few. One of the most noteworthy is that of a contemporary inscription

describing the battle of Momemphis, which is mentioned by Herodotus (ii,

163, 169). We now have the official account of this battle, and know

that it took place in the third year of the reign of Amasis--not before

he became king. This was the fight in which the unpatriotic king,

Apries, who had paid for his partiality for the Greeks of Nau-kratis

with the loss of his throne, was finally defeated. As we see from this

inscription, he was probably murdered by the country people during his


The following are the most important passages of the inscription: "His

Majesty (Amasis) was in the Festival-Hall, discussing plans for his

whole land, when one came to say unto him, 'Haa-ab-Ra (Apries) is rowing

up; he hath gone on board the ships which have crossed over. Haunebu

(Greeks), one knows not their number, are traversing the North-land,

which is as if it had no master to rule it; he (Apries) hath summoned

them, they are coming round him. It is he who hath arranged their

settlement in the Peh-an (the An-dropolite name); they infest the whole

breadth of Egypt, those who are on thy waters fly before them!'... His

Majesty mounted his chariot, having taken lance and bow in his hand...

(the enemy) reached Andropolis; the soldiers sang with joy on the

roads... they did their duty in destroying the enemy. His Majesty fought

like a lion; he made victims among them, one knows not how many. The

ships and their warriors were overturned, they saw the depths as do the

fishes. Like a flame he extended, making a feast of fighting. His heart

rejoiced.... The third year, the 8th Athyr, one came to tell Majesty:

'Let their vile-ness be ended! They throng the roads, there are

thousands there ravaging the land; they fill every road. Those who are

in ships bear thy terror in their hearts. But it is not yet finished.'

Said his Majesty unto his soldiers: '...Young men and old men, do this

in the cities and nomes!'... Going upon every road, let not a day pass

without fighting their galleys!'... The land was traversed as by the

blast of a tempest, destroying their ships, which were abandoned by the

crews. The people accomplished their fate, killing the prince (Apries)

on his couch, when he had gone to repose in his cabin. When he saw his

friend overthrown... his Majesty himself buried him (Apries), in order

to establish him as a king possessing virtue, for his Majesty decreed

that the hatred of the gods should be removed from him."

This is the event to which we have already referred in a preceding

chapter, as proving the great amelioration of Egyptian ideas with regard

to the treatment of a conquered enemy, as compared with those of other

ancient nations. Amasis refers to the deposed monarch as his "friend,"

and buries him in a manner befitting a king at the charges of Amasis

himself. This act warded off from the spirit of Apries the just anger

of the gods at his partiality for the "foreign devils," and ensured his

reception by Osiris as a king neb menkh, "possessing virtues."

The town of Naukratis, where Apries established himself, had been

granted to the Greek traders by Psametik I a century or more before. Mr.

D. G. Hogarth's recent exploration of the site has led to a considerable

modification of our first ideas of the place, which were obtained

from Prof. Petrie 's excavations. Prof. Petrie was the discoverer of

Naukratis, and his diggings told us what Naukratis was like in the first

instance, but Mr. Hogarth has shown that several of his identifications

were erroneous and that the map of the place must be redrawn. The chief

error was in the placing of the Hellenion (the great meeting-place of

the Greeks), which is now known to be in quite a different position from

that assigned to it by Prof. Petrie. The "Great Temenos" of Prof. Petrie

has now been shown to be non-existent. Mr. Hogarth has also pointed out

that an old Egyptian town existed at Nau-kratis long before the Greeks

came there. This town is mentioned on a very interesting stele of black

basalt (discovered at Tell Gaif, the site of Naukratis, and now in the

Cairo Museum), under the name of "Permerti, which is called Nukrate."

The first is the old Egyptian name, the second the Greek name adapted

to Egyptian hieroglyphs. The stele was erected by Tekhtnebf, the last

native king of Egypt, to commemorate his gifts to the temples of Neith

on the occasion of his accession at Sais. It is beautifully cut, and the

inscription is written in a curious manner, with alphabetic spellings

instead of ideographs, and ideographs instead of alphabetic spellings,

which savours fully of the affectation of the learned pedant who drafted

it; for now, of course, in the fourth century before Christ, nobody but

a priestly antiquarian could read hieroglyphics. Demotic was the only

writing for practical purposes.

We see this fact well illustrated in the inscriptions of the Ptolemaic

temples. The accession of the Ptolemies marked a great increase in the

material wealth of Egypt, and foreign conquest again came in fashion.

Ptolemy Euergetes marched into Asia in the grand style of a Ramses and

brought back the images of gods which had been carried off by Esarhaddon

or Nebuchadnezzar II centuries before. He was received on his return

to Egypt with acclamations as a true successor of the Pharaohs. The

imperial spirit was again in vogue, and the archaistic simplicity and

independence of the Saites gave place to an archaistic imperialism, the

first-fruits of which were the repair and building of temples in the

great Pharaonic style. On these we see the Ptolemies masquerading as

Pharaohs, and the climax of absurdity is reached when Ptolemy Auletes

(the Piper) is seen striking down Asiatic enemies in the manner of

Amen-hetep or Ramses! This scene is directly copied from a Ramesside

temple, and we find imitations of reliefs of Ramses II so slavish that

the name of the earlier king is actually copied, as well as the relief,

and appears above the figure of a Ptolemy. The names of the nations who

were conquered by Thothmes III are repeated on Ptolemaic sculptures to

do duty for the conquered of Euergetes, with all sorts of mistakes

in spelling, naturally, and also with later interpolations. Such an

inscription is that in the temple of Kom Ombo, which Prof. Say ce has

held to contain the names of "Caphtor and Casluhim" and to prove the

knowledge of the latter name in the fourteenth century before Christ.

The name of Caphtor is the old Egyptian Keftiu (Crete); that of Casluhim

is unknown in real Old Egyptian inscriptions, and in this Ptolemaic list

at Kom Ombo it may be quite a late interpolation in the lists, perhaps

no older than the Persian period, since we find the names of Parsa

(Persia) and Susa, which were certainly unknown to Thothmes III,

included in it. We see generally from the Ptolemaic inscriptions that

nobody could read them but a few priests, who often made mistakes. One

of the most serious was the identification of Keftiu with Phoenicia in

the Stele of Canopus. This misled modern archaeologists down to the

time of Dr. Evans's discoveries at Knossos, though how these utterly

un-Semitic looking Keftiu could have been Phoenicians was a puzzle to

everybody. We now know, of course, that they were Mycenaean or

Minoan Cretans, and that the Ptolemaic antiquaries made a mistake in

identifying the land of Keftiu with Phoenicia.

We must not, however, say too much in dispraise of the Ptolemaic

Egyptians and their works. We have to be grateful to them indeed for the

building of the temples of Edfu and Dendera, which, owing to their later

date, are still in good preservation, while the best preserved of the

old Pharaonic fanes, such as Medinet Habu, have suffered considerably

from the ravages of time. Eor these temples show us to-day what an

old Egyptian temple, when perfect, really looked like. They are, so to

speak, perfect mummies of temples, while of the old buildings we have

nothing but the disjointed and damaged skeletons.

A good deal of repairing has been done to these buildings, especially

to that at Edfu, of late years. But the main archaeological interest of

Ptolemaic and Roman times has been found in the field of epigraphy and

the study of papyri, with which the names of Messrs. Kenyon, Grenfell,

and Hunt are chiefly connected. The treasures which have lately been

obtained by the British Museum in the shape of the manuscripts of

Aristotle's "Constitution of Athens," the lost poems of Bacchylides, and

the Mimes of Herondas, all of which have been published for the trustees

of that institution by Mr. Kenyon, are known to those who are interested

in these subjects. The long series of publications of Messrs.

Grenfell and Hunt, issued at the expense of the Egypt Exploration Fund

(Graeco-Roman branch), with the exception of the volume of discoveries

at Teb-tunis, which was issued by the University of California, is also

well known.

The two places with which Messrs. Grenfell and Hunt's work has been

chiefly connected are the Fayyum and Behnesa, the site of the ancient

Permje or Oxyr-rhynchus. The lake-province of the Fayyum, which attained

such prominence in the days of the XIIth Dynasty, seems to have had

little or no history during the whole period of the New Empire, but in

Ptolemaic times it revived and again became one of the richest and

most important provinces of Egypt. The town of Arsinoe was founded at

Crocodilopolis, where are now the mounds of Kom el-Faris (The Mound of

the Horseman), near Medinet el-Payyum, and became the capital of the

province. At Illahun, just outside the entrance to the Fayyum, was the

great Nile harbour and entrepot of the lake-district, called Ptolemais


The explorations of Messrs. Hogarth, Grenfell, and Hunt in the years

of 1895-6 and 1898-9 resulted in the identification of the sites of the

ancient cities of Karanis (Kom Ushim), Bacchias (Omm el-'Atl), Euhemeria

(Kasr el-Banat), Theadelphia (Harit), and Philoteris (Wadfa). The work

for the University of California in 18991900 at Umm el-Baragat showed

that this place was Tebtunis. Dime, on the northern coast of the Birket

Karun, the modern representative of the ancient Lake Moeris, is now

known to be the ancient Sokno-paiou Nesos (the Isle of Soknopaios), a

local form of Sebek, the crocodile-god of the Fayyum. At Karanis this

god was worshipped under the name of Petesuchos ("He whom Sebek

has given"), in conjunction with Osiris Pnepheros (P-nefer-ho,

"the beautiful of face"); at Tebtunis he became Seknebtunis., i.e.

Sebek-neb-Teb-tunis (Sebek, lord of Tebtunis). This is a typical example

of the portmanteau pronunciations of the latter-day Egyptians.

Many very interesting discoveries were made during the course of the

excavations of these places (besides Mr. Hogarth's find of the temple

of Petesuchos and Pnepheros at Karanis), consisting of Roman pottery

of varied form and Roman agricultural implements, including a perfect

plough.* The main interest of all, however, lies, both here and at

Behnesa, in the papyri. They consist of Greek and Latin documents of

all ages from the early Ptolemaic to the Christian. In fact, Messrs.

Grenfell and Hunt have been unearthing and sifting the contents of the

waste-paper baskets of the ancient Ptolemaic and Roman Egyptians, which

had been thrown out on to dust-heaps near the towns. Nothing perishes

in,, the dry climate and soil of Egypt, so the contents of the ancient

dust-heaps have been preserved intact until our own day, and have been

found by Messrs. Grenfell and Hunt, just as the contents of the houses

of the ancient Indian rulers of Chinese Turkestan, at Niya and Khotan,

with their store of Kha-roshthi documents, have been preserved intact in

the dry Tibetan desert climate and have been found by Dr. Stein.** There

is much analogy between the discoveries of Messrs. Grenfell and Hunt in

Egypt and those of Dr. Stein in Turkestan.

* Illustrated on Plate IX of Fayum Towns and Their Papyri.

** See Dr. Stein's Sand-buried Ruins of Khotan, London,


The Graeco-Egyptian documents are of all kinds, consisting of letters,

lists, deeds, notices, tax-assessments, receipts, accounts, and business

records of every sort and kind, besides new fragments of classical

authors and the important "Sayings of Jesus," discovered at Behnesa,

which have been published in a special popular form by the Egypt

Exploration Fund.*

* Aoyla 'Itjffov, 1897, and New Sayings of Jesus, 1904.

These last fragments of the oldest Christian literature, which are

of such great importance and interest to all Christians, cannot be

described or discussed here. The other documents are no less

important to the student of ancient literature, the historian, and the

sociologist. The classical fragments include many texts of lost authors,

including Menander. We will give a few specimens of the private

letters and documents, which will show how extremely modern the ancient

Egyptians were, and how little difference there actually is between our

civilization and theirs, except in the-matter of mechanical invention.

They had no locomotives and telephones; otherwise they were the same. We

resemble them much more than we resemble our mediaeval ancestors or even

the Elizabethans.

This is a boy's letter to his father, who would not take him up to town

with him to see the sights: "Theon to his father Theon, greeting. It was

a fine thing of you not to take me with you to the city! If you won't

take me with you to Alexandria, I won't write you a letter, or speak to

you, or say good-bye to you; and if you go to Alexandria I won't take

your hand or ever greet you again. That is what will happen if you

won't take me. Mother said to Archelaus, 'It quite upsets him to be left

behind.' It was good of you to send me presents on the 12th, the day

you sailed. Send me a lyre, I implore you. If you don't, I won't eat, I

won't drink: there now!'" Is not this more like the letter of a spoiled

child of to-day than are the solemnly dutiful epistles of even our

grandfathers and grandmothers when young? The touch about "Mother said

to Archelaus, 'It quite upsets him to be left behind'" is delightfully

like the modern small boy, and the final request and threat are also

eminently characteristic.

Here is a letter asking somebody to redeem the writer's property from

the pawnshop: "Now please redeem my property from Sarapion. It is

pledged for two minas. I have paid the interest up to the month Epeiph,

at the rate of a stater per mina. There is a casket of incense-wood,

and another of onyx, a tunic, a white veil with a real purple border, a

handkerchief, a tunic with a Laconian stripe, a garment of purple linen,

two armlets, a necklace, a coverlet, a figure of Aphrodite, a cup, a big

tin flask, and a wine-jar. From Onetor get the two bracelets. They have

been pledged since the month Tybi of last year for eight... at the

rate of a stater per mina. If the cash is insufficient owing to the

carelessness of Theagenis, if, I say, it is insufficient, sell the

bracelets and make up the money." Here is an affectionate letter of

invitation: "Greeting, my dear Serenia, from Petosiris. Be sure, dear,

to come up on the 20th for the birthday festival of the god, and let me

know whether you are coming by boat or by donkey, that we may send for

you accordingly. Take care not to forget."

Here is an advertisement of a gymnastic display:

"The assault-at-arms by the youths will take place to-morrow, the 24th.

Tradition, no less than the distinguished character of the festival,

requires that they should do their utmost in the gymnastic display. Two

performances." Signed by Dioskourides, magistrate of Oxyrrhynchus.

Here is a report from a public physician to a magistrate: "To

Claudianus, the mayor, from Dionysos, public physician. I was to-day

instructed by you, through Herakleides your assistant, to inspect the

body of a man who had been found hanged, named Hierax, and to report to

you my opinion of it. I therefore inspected the body in the presence

of the aforesaid Herakleides at the house of Epagathus in the Broadway

ward, and found it hanged by a noose, which fact I accordingly report."

Dated in the twelfth year of Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 173).

The above translations are taken, slightly modified, from those in The

Oxyrrhynchus Papyri, vol. i. The next specimen, a quaint letter, is

translated from the text in Mr. Grenfell's Greek Papyri (Oxford, 1896),

p. 69: "To Noumen, police captain and mayor, from Pokas son of Onos,

unpaid policeman. I have been maltreated by Peadius the priest of the

temple of Sebek in Crocodilopolis. On the first epagomenal day of the

eleventh year, after having abused me about... in the aforesaid temple,

the person complained against sprang upon me and in the presence of

witnesses struck me many blows with a stick which he had. And as part of

my body was not covered, he tore my shirt, and this fact I called upon

the bystanders to bear witness to. Wherefore I request that if it seems

proper you will write to Klearchos the headman to send him to you, in

order that, if what I have written is true, I may obtain justice at your


A will of Hadrian's reign, taken from the Oxyrrhynchus Papyri (i, p.

173), may also be of interest: "This is the last will and testament,

made in the street (i.e. at a street notary's stand), of Pekysis, son of

Hermes and Didyme, an inhabitant of Oxyrrhynchus, being sane and in his

right mind. So long as I live, I am to have powers over my property,

to alter my will as I please. But if I die with this will unchanged, I

devise my daughter Ammonous whose mother is Ptolema, if she survive me,

but if not then her children, heir to my shares in the common house,

court, and rooms situate in the Cretan ward. All the furniture,

movables, and household stock and other property whatever that I shall

leave, I bequeath to the mother of my children and my wife Ptolema, the

freedwoman of Demetrius, son of Hermippus, with the condition that

she shall have for her lifetime the right of using, dwelling in, and

building in the said house, court, and rooms. If Ammonous should die

without children and intestate, the share of the fixtures shall belong

to her half-brother on the mother's side, Anatas, if he survive, but if

not, to... No one shall violate the terms of this my will under pain of

paying to my daughter and heir Ammonous a fine of 1,000 drachmae and to

the treasury an equal sum." Here follow the signatures of testator and

witnesses, who are described, as in a passport, one of them as follows:

"I, Dionysios, son of Dionysios of the same city, witness the will of

Pekysis. I am forty-six years of age, have a curl over my right temple,

and this is my seal of Dionysoplaton."

During the Roman period, which we have now reached in our survey, the

temple building of the Ptolemies was carried on with like energy. One of

the best-known temples of the Roman period is that at Philse, which

is known as the "Kiosk," or "Pharaoh's Bed." Owing to the great

picturesqueness of its situation, this small temple, which was built in

the reign of Trajan, has been a favourite subject for the painters of

the last fifty years, and next to the Pyramids, the Sphinx, and Karnak,

it is probably the most widely known of all Egyptian buildings. Recently

it has come very much to the front for an additional reason. Like all

the other temples of Philse, it had been archaeologically surveyed and

cleared by Col. H. Gr. Lyons and Dr. Borchardt, but further work of a

far-reaching character was rendered necessary by the building of the

great Aswan dam, below the island of Philse, one of the results of

which has been the partial submergence of the island and its temples,

including the picturesque Kiosk. The following account, taken from the

new edition (1906) of Murray's Guide to Egypt and the Sudan, will

suffice better than any other description to explain what the dam is,

how it has affected Philse, and what work has been done to obviate the

possibility of serious damage to the Kiosk and other buildings.

"In 1898 the Egyptian government signed a contract with Messrs. John

Aird & Co. for the construction of the great reservoir and dam at

Shellal, which serves for the storage of water at the time of the flood

Nile. The river is 'held up' here sixty-five feet above its old normal

level. A great masonry dyke, 150 feet high in places, has been carried

across the Bab el-Kebir of the First Cataract, and a canal and four

locks, two hundred feet long and thirty feet wide, allow for the passage

of traffic up and down the river.

Showing Water Rushing Through The Sluices

The dam is 2,185 yards long and over ninety feet thick at the base; in

places it rises one hundred feet above the bed of the river. It is built

of the local red granite, and at each end the granite dam is built into

the granite hillside. Seven hundred and eight thousand cubic yards of

masonry were used. The sluices are 180 in number, and are arranged at

four different levels. The sight of the great volume of water pouring

through them is a very fine one. The Nile begins to rise in July, and at

the end of November it is necessary to begin closing the sluice-gates

to hold up the water. By the end of February the reservoir is usually

filled and Philae partially submerged, so that boats can sail in and out

of the colonnades and Pharaoh's Bed. By the beginning of July the water

has been distributed, and it then falls to its normal level.

"It is of course regrettable that the engineers were unable to find

another site for the dam, as it seemed inevitable that some damage would

result to the temples of Philae from their partial submergence. Korosko

was proposed as a site, but was rejected for cogent reasons, and

apparently Shellal was the only possible place. Further, no serious

person, who places the greatest good of the greatest number above

considerations of the picturesque and the 'interesting,' will deny

that if it is necessary to sacrifice Philae to the good of the people of

Egypt, Philae must go. 'Let the dead bury their dead.' The concern of the

rulers of Egypt must be with the living people of Egypt rather than with

the dead bones of the past; and they would not be doing their duty did

they for a moment allow artistic and archaeological considerations to

outweigh in their minds the practical necessities of the country. This

does not in the least imply that they do not owe a lesser duty to the

monuments of Egypt, which are among the most precious relics of the past

history of mankind. They do owe this lesser duty, and with regard to

Philae it has been conscientiously fulfilled. The whole temple, in order

that its stability may be preserved under the stress of submersion, has

been braced up and underpinned, under the superintendence of Mr. Ball,

of the Survey Department, who has most efficiently carried out this

important work, at a cost of L22,000.


Steel girders have been fixed across the island from quay to quay,

and these have been surrounded by cement masonry, made water-tight

by forcing in cement grout. Pharaoh's Bed and the colonnade have been

firmly underpinned in cement masonry, and there is little doubt that the

actual stability of Philae is now more certain than that of any other

temple in Egypt. The only possible damage that can accrue to it is

the partial discolouration of the lower courses of the stonework of

Pharaoh's Bed, etc., which already bear a distinct high-water mark. Some

surface disintegration from the formation of salt crystals is perhaps

inevitable here, but the effects of this can always be neutralized

by careful washing, which it should be an important charge of the

Antiquities Department to regularly carry out."

This is entirely covered when the reservoir is full, and the

palm-trees are farther submerged.

The photographs accompanying the present chapter show the dam, the Kiosk

in process of conservation and underpinning (1902), and the shores of

the island as they now appear in the month of November, with the water

nearly up to the level of the quays. A view is also given of the island

of Konosso, with its inscriptions, as it is now. The island is simply a

huge granite boulder of the kind characteristic of the neighbourhood of

Shellal (Phila?) and Aswan.

On the island of Elephantine, opposite Aswan, an interesting discovery

has lately been made by Mr. Howard Carter. This is a remarkable well,

which was supposed by the ancients to lie immediately on the tropic. It

formed the basis of Eratosthenes' calculations of the measurement of the

earth. Important finds of documents written in Aramaic have also been

made here; they show that there was on the island in Ptolemaic times a

regular colony of Syrian merchants.

South of Aswan and Philse begins Nubia. The Nubian language, which is

quite different from Arabic, is spoken by everybody on the island of

Elephantine, and its various dialects are used as far south as Dongola,

where Arabic again is generally spoken till we reach the land of the

negroes, south of Khartum. In Ptolemaic and Roman days the Nubians were

a powerful people, and the whole of Nubia and the modern North Sudan

formed an independent kingdom, ruled by queens who bore the title or

name of Candace. It was the eunuch of a Candace who was converted to

Christianity as he was returning from a mission to Jerusalem to salute

Jehovah. "Go and join thyself unto his chariot" was the command to

Philip, and when the Ethiopian had heard the gospel from his lips he

went on his way rejoicing. The capital of this Candace was at Meroe, the

modern Bagarawiya, near Shendi. Here, and at Naga not far off, are

the remains of the temples of the Can-daces, great buildings of

semi-barbaric Egyptian style. For the civilization of the Nubians, such

as it was, was of Egyptian origin. Ever since Egyptian rule had been

extended southwards to Jebel Barkal, beyond Dongola, in the time of

Amenhetep II, Egyptian culture had influenced the Nubians. Amenhetep III

built a temple to Amen at Napata, the capital of Nubia, which lay

under the shadow of Mount Barkal; Akhunaten erected a sanctuary of the

Sun-Disk there; and Ramses II also built there.


The place in fact was a sort of appanage of the priests of Amen at

Thebes, and when the last priest-king evacuated Thebes, leaving it to

the Bubastites of the XXIId Dynasty, it was to distant Napata that he

retired. Here a priestly dynasty continued to reign until, two centuries

later, the troubles and misfortunes of Egypt seemed to afford an

opportunity for the reassertion of the exiled Theban power. Piankhi

Mera-men returned to Egypt in triumph as its rightful sovereign, but his

successors, Shabak, Shabatak, and Tirha-kah, had to contend constantly

with the Assyrians. Finally ITrdamaneh, Tirhakah's successor, returned

to Nubia, leaving Egypt, in the decadence of the Assyrian might, free to

lead a quiet existence under Psametik I and the succeeding monarchs of

the XXVIth Dynasty. When Cambyses conquered Egypt he aspired to conquer

Nubia also, but his army was routed and destroyed by the Napatan king,

who tells us in an inscription how he defeated "the man Kambasauden,"

who had attacked him. At Napata the Nubian monarchs, one of the greatest

of whom in Ptolemaic times was Ergam-enes, a contemporary of Ptolemy

Philopator, continued to reign. But the first Roman governor of Egypt,

AElius Gallus, destroyed Napata, and the Nubians removed their capital

to Meroe, where the Candaces reigned.

The monuments of this Nubian kingdom, the temples of Jebel Barkal, the

pyramids of Nure close by, the pyramids of Bagarawiya, the temples of

Wadi Ben Naga, Mesawwarat en-Naga, and Mesawwarat es-Sufra ("Mesawwarat"

proper), were originally investigated by Cailliaud and afterwards by

Lepsius. During the last few years they and the pyramids excavated by

Dr. E. A. Wallis-Budge, of the British Museum, for the Sudan government,

have been again explored. As the results of his work are not yet

fully published, it is possible at present only to quote the following

description from Cook's Handbook for Egypt and the Sudan (by Dr.

Budge), p. 6, of work on the pyramids of Jebel Barkal: "the writer

excavated the shafts of one of the pyramids here in 1897, and at the

depth of about twenty-five cubits found a group of three chambers, in

one of which were a number of bones of the sheep which was sacrificed

there about two thousand years ago, and also portions of a broken

amphora which had held Rho-dian wine. A second shaft, which led to the

mummy-chamber, was partly emptied, but at a further depth of twenty

cubits water was found. The high-water mark of the reservoir when full

is ------ and, as there were no visible means for pumping it out, the

mummy-chamber could not be entered." With regard to the Bagarawiya

pyramids, Dr. Budge writes, on p. 700 of the same work, a propos of the

story of the Italian Ferlini that he found Roman jewelry in one of these

pyramids: "In 1903 the writer excavated a number of the pyramids of

Meroe for the Governor-General of the Sudan, Sir F. R. Wingate, and

he is convinced that the statements made by Ferlini are the result of

misapprehension on his part. The pyramids are solid throughout, and the

bodies are buried under them. When the details are complete the proofs

for this will be published." Dr. Budge has also written upon the subject

of the orientation of the Jebel Barkal and Nure pyramids.

It is very curious to find the pyramids reappearing in Egyptian

tomb-architecture in the very latest period of Egyptian history. We

find them when Egyptian civilization was just entering upon its vigorous

manhood, then they gradually disappear, only to revive in its decadent

and exiled old age. The Ethiopian pyramids are all of much more

elongated form than the old Egyptian ones. It is possible that they may

be a survival of the archaistic movement of the XXVIth Dynasty, to which

we have already referred.

These are not the latest Egyptian monuments in the Sudan, nor are the

temples of Naga and Mesawwarat the most ancient, though they belong

to the Roman period and are decidedly barbarian as to their style and,

especially, as to their decoration. The southernmost as well as latest

relic of Egypt in the Sudan is the Christian church of Soba, on the Blue

Mie, a few miles above Khartum. In it was found a stone ram, an emblem

of Amen-Ra, which had formerly stood in the temple of Naga and had been

brought to Soba perhaps under the impression that it was the Christian

Lamb. It was removed to the garden of the governor-general's palace at

Khartum, where it now stands.

The church at Soba is a relic of the Christian kingdom of Alua, which

succeeded the realm of the Candaces. One of its chief seats was at

Dongola, and all Nubia is covered with the ruins of its churches. It

was, of course, an offshoot of the Christianity of Egypt, but a late

one, since Isis was still worshipped at Philse in the sixth century,

long after the Edict of Theodosius had officially abolished paganism

throughout the Roman world, and the Nubians were at first zealous

votaries of the goddess of Philo. So also when Egypt fell beneath the

sway of the Moslem in the seventh century, Nubia remained an independent

Christian state, and continued so down to the twelfth century, when the

soldiers of Islam conquered the country.

Of late pagan and early Christian Egypt very much that is new has been

discovered during the last few years. The period of the Lower Empire

has yielded much to the explorers of Oxyrrhynchus, and many papyri of

interest belonging to this period have been published by Mr. Kenyon in

his Catalogue of the Greek Papyri in the British Museum, especially

the letters of Flavius Abinaeus, a military officer of the fourth

century. The papyri of this period are full of the high-flown titles

and affected phraseology which was so beloved of Byzantine scribes.

"Glorious Dukes of the Thebaid," "most magnificent counts and

lieutenants," "all-praiseworthy secretaries," and the like strut across

the pages of the letters and documents which begin "In the name of Our

Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, the God and Saviour of us all, in

the year x of the reign of the most divine and praised, great, and

beneficent Lord Flavius Heraclius (or other) the eternal Augustus and

Auto-krator, month x, year x of the In diction." It is an extraordinary

period, this of the sixth and seventh centuries, which we have now

entered, with its bizarre combination of the official titulary of

the divine and eternal Caesars Imperatores Augusti with the initial

invocation of Christ and the Trinity. It is the transition from the

ancient to the modern world, and as such has an interest all its own.

In Egypt the struggle between the adherents of Chalcedon, the "Melkites"

or Imperialists of the orthodox Greek rite, and the Eutychians or

Mono-physites, the followers of the patriarch Dioskoros, who rejected

Chalcedon, was going on with unabated fury, and was hardly stopped even

by the invasion of the pagan Persians. The last effort of the party of

Constantinople to stamp out the Monophysite heresy was made when Cyril

was patriarch and governor of Egypt. According to an ingenious theory

put forward by Mr. Butler, in his Arab Conquest of Egypt, it is Cyril

the patriarch who was the mysterious Mukaukas, the [Greek word], or

"Great and Magnificent One," who played so doubtful a part in the

epoch-making events of the Arab conquest by Amr in A.D. 639-41. Usually

this Mukaukas has been regarded as a "noble Copt," and the Copts have

generally been credited with having assisted the Islamites against

the power of Constantinople. This was a very natural and probable

conclusion, but Mr. Butler will have it that the Copts resisted the

Arabs valiantly, and that the treacherous Mukaukas was none other than

the Constantinopolitan patriarch himself.

In the papyri it is interesting to note the gradual increase of Arab

names after the conquest, more especially in those of the Archduke

Rainer 's collection from the Fayyum, which was so near the new capital

city, Fustat. In Upper Egypt the change was not noticeable for a long

time, and in the great collection of Coptic ostraka (inscriptions on

slips of limestone and sherds of pottery, used as a substitute for paper

or parchment), found in the ruins of the Coptic monastery established,

on the temple site of Der el-Bahari, we find no Arab names. These

documents, part of which have been published by Mr. W. E. Crum for the

Egypt Exploration Fund, while another part will shortly be issued for

the trustees of the British Museum by Mr. Hall, date to the seventh and

eighth centuries. Their contents resemble those of the earlier papyri

from Oxyrrhynchus, though they are not of so varied a nature and are

generally written by persons of less intelligence, i.e. the monks and

peasants of the monasteries and villages of Tjeme, or Western Thebes.

During the late excavation of the XIth Dynasty temple of Der el-Bahari,

more of these ostraka were found, which will be published for the

Egypt Exploration Fund by Messrs. Naville and Hall. Of actual buildings

of the Coptic period the most important excavations have been those of

the French School of Cairo at Bawit, north of Asyut. This work, which

was carried on by M. Jean Cledat, has resulted in the discovery of very

important frescoes and funerary inscriptions, belonging to the monastery

of a famous martyr, St. Apollo. With these new discoveries of Christian

Egypt our work reaches its fitting close. The frontier which divides the

ancient from the modern world has almost been crossed. We look back from

the monastery of Bawit down a long vista of new discoveries until, four

thousand years before, we see again the Great Heads coming to the Tomb

of Den, Narmer inspecting the bodies of the dead Northerners, and,

far away in Babylonia, Naram-Sin crossing the mountains of the East to

conquer Elam, or leading his allies against the prince of Sinai.