Page images
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

(With a Plate.)
This highly interesting monument Zodiac of Dendera, accompanied with a
of Egyptian learning, at a time long brief historical and descriptive account
antecedent to the Christian era, is the of it, would not be unacceptable to
envied property of the King of France, our readers; our endeavours may pro-
who purchased it of M. Saulnier, for bably gratify curiosity or stimulate re-
the benefit of the French nation. search.
Although it has been for some time ex When the French, who were pursu-
hibited to the public, it still attracts a ing the course of the Nile to penetrate
crowd of curious admirers to the Mu into Upper Egypt, under the command
seum, where it is for the present depo- of General Desaix, arrived at Dende.
sited; it will, however, soon be remov ra, the ancient Tentyris, scattered
ed to the Royal Library, where it is to ruins announced to them the site of an
remain. The most learned of all coun ancient city, but the rubbish they at
tries, who visit Paris, are not less anxi- first perceived did not allow them to
ous to study, than the public in general form an idea of the state of preserva.
are to view, this venerable remain of tion of the edifices they were to be-
antiquity. The elucidation of the Zo- hold. At the sight of the great tem-
diac of Dendera employs the pens of ple of Dendera they were all struck
many of the ablest antiquaries on the with a general sentiment of admira-
Continent of Europe, among whom tion, and the whole army rent the air
may be particularly mentioned M. with applause. A singular homage
Sickler, who has published a disserta- paid by the French to the civilization
tion in the Algemeine Litteratur Zei and genius of men who had preceded
tung; and M. l'abbe Halma, who has them by three thousand years!
published three memoirs, at Paris; M. In surveying the halls of the temple,
Biot also has read at the Academy of General Desaix first discovered the
Sciences, and communicated to the Circular Zodiac which is now in Pa.
Academy of Inscriptions, a very ela- ris; he informed the learned men who
borate work on the same subject. M. attended the Egyptian expedition, and
Fourier is also preparing a memoir; they exhibited the greatest anxiety to
and M. M. Saulnier and Lelorrain, to become acquainted with this wonder
whose enterprizing and indefatiga- of Thebais, the palaces of Louqsor and
ble exertions Europe, and especially Karnac, and a cluster of monuments
France, is indebted for this zodiacal that attested the ancient splendour of
monument, are publishing a new en regions at this period almost a desert.
graving. M. Francoeur has also given M. Depon hastened to Dendera to ad.
to the world a notice of this antiqua 'mire these superb edifices, and to take
rian curiosity in the Revue Encyclo- a copy of the Zodiac. Anong the
pedique.* Although all these disqui- learned, who attended the expedition
sitions are very erudite, they are also into Egypt, were several students under
very different; we have therefore the superintendence of the celebrated
thought that an engraving of the professors M. M. Berthollet, Monge,

* We camot suffer this opportunity to pass without giving our unqualified approbation to this
monthly publication. The Revue Encyclopedique possesses the very rare quality of being devoted
exclusively to Literature, Science, and the Fine Arts. Polities and Religion are alike excluded,
aud it is for that reason as well as others, like the European Maga:ine under its present manage.
ment, an acceptable visitor in all families., The Revue Encyclopedique is divided into four Sec-
tions :--Ist, sienoirs, Notices, and Miscellanies--2nd, analyses of and Extracts from the most
approved Publications-3rd, Bibliographical Bulletin, containing notices of the best works
recently published in all countries-4th, Scientific and Literary intelligence from every part of
the globe.
Eur. Mag. Vol. $2.


and Fourier. Among these young stu ment of attaining the eminence, I rais. dents were, Malus, Lancret, Jomard, ed my eyes and beheld six female Samuel Bernard, Corabæuf, Jollois, De- heads of a colossal size. My imagi. villiers, Dapuis, &c. To the last three nation thus suddenly awakened did not we are indebted for the discovery permit the perception of any otber of another Zodiac at Dendera, which object; I remained for an instant mois on a much grander scale than the tionless with astonishment. I knew former. Scarcely bad M. M. Jollois that I should find a temple in this and Devilliers heard, at Syout, of the place ; this was all I had remembered; discovery that had just been made of 1 bad no anticipation of the dimensions these monuments of Thebais than they and figures that were before me. Wben formed the project of exploring them; I recovered my surprise, I perceived they went to Qene, a modern town, on further advancing, the majestic fatwo leagues from Dendera, situated cade of the temple, and the numerous on the opposite border of the Nile. ornaments that form its decoration. I General Belliard, who commanded cannot describe my feelings; I exclaimthere, approved of the object of their ed aloud, 'How beautiful!' and repeatjourney, and promised them an escorted it to my Qaouas, as if they could every time they should go to Tentyris; understand me.” but these visits became so frequent that After passing a door, the effect of they were unwilling to make such con wbich is grand and imposiog, the porstaut use of this favour. A boatman, tico of the grand temple is discovered, whom they bribed at a high price for The entablature is supported, sixty feet the additional risk in trespassing on high, by the six colossal figures of Isis the General's orders, carried them to before mentioned. The beholder feels the western border of the Nile; whence as if he were suddenly transported io. they proceeded to the examination of to a fairy region, and is struck with the monuments they intended to take admiration: drawings of, in defiance of the heat All the walls, interior as well as ex. and the pestilential vapours of a burn- terior, according to the Egyptian cus ing climate, and the privation of re tom, are ornamented and entirely copose, so desirable near the torrid zone, vered with sculpture; even the columns to which may be added the fear of en are so decorated. These scalptares countering the Arabs.

were formerly stained with different The last danger was perhaps the colours, and part of them is still in a greatest, and it was to guarantee their good state of preservation. It was safety in this particular, that General thus, undoubtedly, the Egyptians reBelliard ordered them not to leave Qene corded their remarkable events: these without an escort. One of them, descend- impressions were their sacred language, ing into a gloomy and encumbered ball, the walls were their books. On these shuddered with horror at finding his monuments were found two inscriptions, feet resting on a dead body. By the which led several persons to attribute light of his flambeau he discovered them to the Greeks or the Romans. that a man, with his hands bound, had The Gothic architecture, the elevated been strangled about two years since; vaults arched on the outside, and the he was most probably some unfortu shape of the columps, resemble the nate traveller, wbo had been robbed Roman and the Grecian, rather than and assassinated by the Arabs, and the Egyptian edifices. As the Greeks then precipitated into this vault to pre were ugacquainted with hieroglyphical vent all traces of the crime. This man symbols, how could they have covered had perished in this in hospitable clime thousands of square feet of surface at a victim to the admiration he felt on an enormous expense ? The whole of beholding this ancient monument! the edifice is constructed of a fine and

These sorrowful reflections did not compact freestone, and has survived cool the zeal of the young students, the lapse of ages. The Zodiacs, of and it is to their exertions we owe the which we are treating, do not resemble only faithful copies of the Egyptian the modern. Thc Egyptian Virgo has Zodiac.

no wings; it is a female figure, holdWhen they had penetrated through ing an ear of corn in her hand, the prethe rubbish that surrounded the tem- sage of harvest. ple, which did not promise any thing The Sagittarius of the Greeks is not to indemnify them for the trouble of winged, neither has it two faces; and their journey, a new appearance sud the Bull is without the posterior part denly presented itself; which we give of the body, &c. It is not possible to in the words of M. Dubois-Aymé :-“I be deceived; no oue of its parts bears was slowly advancing, when, at the mo the impression of the Grecian chissel.

The whole forms a mass of architec. ous remark, which serves to explain the ture made to triumph over time; and whole scene, which represents the ap-' while these ancient monuments still pearance of ibe heavens at the lieliacal exist, those built since the time of rising of Sirius, the Sun being in the Alexander are buried in the dust. Constellation of Cancer. The symboli. Besides, bow are we to believe in the cal figures are evidently intended to non-existence of these superb edifices, represent the characteristic epoch of which Herodotus represents as very the inundation of the Nile; this pheno ancient even in his time? And is it menon, which occurs annually, shortly possible that, unknown to the universe, after the Suinmer Solstice, is the cause a vanquished nation should receive from of the great fecundity of the soil; in its conquerors, without their having every age, the inhabitants have cele. deigned to speak of them, monuments, brated its return by festivities; and it that in splendour and extent surpass is one of the events represented by the all that is most admirable elsewhere? Zodiac. The two inscriptions do not prove, that On the terrace of the temple is a we are indebted to the Grecians and pavillion, with three divisions: the Romans for these temples; they are, first is without a roof, and leads into simply, the dedications of fattery to the second, which has two windows, formidable enslavers. What would be and thence into the third, which resaid in future ages to the men, who ceives light from the door only; all should affirm against historical evi- the walls are covered with beautifully dence, that Napoleon constructed the carved figures; the painting has yielded Louvre, grounding his belief on the to the influence of time, or has been cyphers that are engraved on every destroyed by the smoke of the flambeaus part of the palace ?

used by travellers in their researches. But this is too seriously discussing It is in the middle division that the an opinion, that does not bear even the Circular Zodiac is situated. The ceilappearance of truth; and which, after ing of this hall is divided into two all, decides nothing, with regard to the equal parts, by a figure, carved in antiquity of the Egyptians. But sup a kind of cylindrical niche, and its feet posing this Zodiac to have been in are in the very finest style of sculpture. vented by them, and afterwards imi- Along each side runs a border of hierotated by the Greeks, of which the glyphics; and in the left space is the spheres of Eudoxus and Eratosthenes Zodiac we are going to describe,-an are examples, still the glory of the Engraving of which we have inserted invention must be conceded to the in the present Number. Egyptians, and the distant period to A medalliou, covered with sculpture, which we are compelled to recur, in is supported by twelve figures, each in order to interpret the astronomical the attitude most appropriate to the facts they represent, is an additional action represented; a circular band or proof of their high antiquity.

border, on which hieroglyphics are The whole of the buildings consist engraved, entirely surrounds the meof several interior halls. A staircase, dallion; on its circumference, is a row that is impassable on account of the of figures, with their heads turned fallen rubbish, leads to the terrace, on towards the centre; they are all of which has been built, by the Arabs, the same height, and form a circular a village, consisting of a few miserable procession, about five feet in diameter. huts; the terrace can only be ascended lu the interior of this circle are a great by means of a steep eminence, com number of symbolical devices, the posed of heaped-up rubbish. The vil- greater portion of which are represenlage was built in this asylum, because tations of the Constellations, the most the horses of the Bedouins cannot climb conspicuous being the twelve signs of the dangerous path.

the Zodiac, with precisely the same One of the Zodiacs is placed beneath forms and attributes as they are reprethe portico. It is carved on the sides sented on the Great Zodiac of the Porof the ceiling; six of the sigos com tico. And as the ranging them in mencing with the Lion, are on a fillet, a circle would prevent the possibility and appear retiring from the temple; of distinguishing which of the signs while the other sis, on a parallel fillet, took the lead, the artist, in order to seem entering; so that these twelve shew that the Lion is the conductor or signs, in the order they are repre- chief of the procession, has turned the sented on the Zodiac, and a crowd of figures of the Twins and of Cancer, that olber emblematic devices that are mixed bring up the rear, so as to draw them with them, form a grand procession. We nearer the centre. Thus, the curve of are indebted to Mr. Fourier for an ingeni. the twelve Constellations is very nearly

spiral, with a single revolution, and the size and distance between upintelligible Cancer and the Lion are placed on the and fantastical figures, and to work only same radius of this circumference. during those hours, that a proper light

It is obvious, that the signs of the was thrown upon the sculpture. We Zodiac in this representation are in- ought not, therefore, to reproach M. M. tended as a fac-simile of those carved Denon and Hamilton with the frequent on the sides of the portico; it is, also, misrepresentations found in their coa procession, in which each figure pies; but we must pay our tribute of faces the back of the preceding; and applause to M. M. Jollois and Devil. this order is equally observed with the liers, whose designs were executed with unknown figures that are on the Zodiac. extreme fidelity, which is the more They are so placed, that the Sun per praiseworthy, because, while they were forms his revolution, commencing with occupied in this dangerous undertaking, the Lion, and terminating with the they could have no idea, that France Cancer.

would one day possess these very 20In the two Zodiacs of Dendera, the diacs, and that their works would be Constellations do not bear any rela- tried by so rigorous a test. tion to the size and distance observed The antiquity of this monument, or in the celestial hemisphere. It is evi. rather of the time to which we must dent, that the astronomical figures, refer to find that state of the heavens here represented, are not intended for represented in these works, is very images of the heavens: the Circular easily ascertained. We know that the Zodiac is not a planisphere, though changes produced in the celestial ap. that name has been frequeutly given to pearances of the heliacal risings of it. But it is not the less certain, that Sirius are the effects of the precession the subjects transmitted to posterity, of the equinoxes. We must go back, by the aid of the chissel, are astrono at least eight hundred years, perbaps mical, and that the Zodiacal Constella. more, before our era, to find the celes. tions are of Egyptian invention : and tial phenomena represented in these that, at Dendera, the Liou is the sign monuments. We are led by these obthat in ancient times presided in the servations to a most remarkable histo heavens at the commencement of the rical fact; that Egypt, thirty centuries inundation of the Nile. Among the ago, was in the very bigbest state of twelve large figures, that appear to prosperity, and that the arts and scisustain the Zodiac on the outside of ences were there cultivated with the the medallion, are two emblems, that greatest success. But the temples of greatly assimilate to the beams of a Esné prove a still greater antiquity. balance. They are placed at the oppo. The circular Zodiac of Dendera is, site extremities of a diameter, that pass as has been before mentioned, carved in from the Scorpion to the Bull. These a kind of compact freestone, the ciel. emblems are evidently intended to in- ing of the hall is composed of three dicate the two sigus of the Equinox, great stones, so admirably cemented In the same contour there are two together, that the places where they hieroglyphical devices, also, opposite were joined were not diseovered until to each other, that (square with a measures were commenced to remove diameter extending from the Lion to them. One of these stones bears althe Water-bearer, which were then the most the whole of the zodiacal medalSolstitical signs. These four emblems lion, besides eight of the twelve large are the only ones carved in the spaces figures which seem to support it: the left between the twelve large figures. whole forms a long square, about twelve The position in which they are placed is feet in length, and six in breadth ; the too remarkable to leave a doubt, as to second stone, which occupies the mid. the intention of the artist, which was dle of the cieling, is of finer and more to indicate the Solstices and the Equi- dense free-stone, it contains the re. noxes. Though the medallion is not mainder of the Zodiac and the four a planisphere, all the signs, that cha- other large figures that sustain that racterise the state of the heavens at part, the grain of the stone being the period it was constructed, are there closer, the sculpture is more delicate assembled.

and better preserved. The same stone, It was exceedingly difficult to copy when it formed part of the cieling, on the spot the niultitude of figures contained also the beautiful figure of represented in these two compart. Isis, that reaches along the small axis ments. To say nothing of the danger of the hall, and a part of the hieroglyof the enterprise, it was necessary to pbical figures of the remainder of the remain in a very irksome position, to cieliog that is covered by the third observe carefully all the proportions of stone. These three stones are of very

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »