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boats and barges, and masts are panying their blows with a only erected for towing purposes. sured and not unmusical chant.
It was on a warm lovely morn- Buffaloes, blindfolded in order that ing in February that we spread they may be spared a consciousourselves on the carpet at the stern ness of the monotonous nature of of the boat, and, towed by two their occupation, as they tramp sturdy fellahin, made our way slowly round in a circle, are grindagainst the current at the rate of ing it, after it has been thrashed, about three miles an hour. As in creaking mills, above which there is no regular towing - path, flocks of pigeons flutter round their our progress is constantly imped- quaint conical towers. Water is ed by overhanging trees, by pro- being dipped out of the canal by jecting sakkyas, by the walls of men in pairs working the doublemud - villages, which occasionally lever shadoofs, who laboriously rise straight out of the water; and swing up and down the long our trackers are sometimes wading bars weighted with mud at one waist - deep, sometimes running far end and with a basket - work into the bean - fields to turn the bucket at the other. Naked chilcorners of creeks—sometimes one dren of the tenderest years are side becomes impossible, and we paddling in the mud, or screamhave to take them on board and ing with a virulence and pertinatransfer them to the opposite bank; city peculiar to the Arab infant. but in spite of all this, they push Amid these sights and sounds along with so much energy that we glide gently through the rich we pass rapidly one or two old country; and when we land, it is barges laden to the water's edge to look over an interminable exwith manure-dust, but which are panse of wheat, beans, lentils, and an extremely picturesque feature clover, with here and there dark in the landscape-though, in so far groves of date-trees clustered round as age and shape are concerned, villages on distant mounds. The they might advantageously figure whole country is lulled into a in a museum of Egyptian anti- luxury of repose, which the lowquities. The banks are just too ing of cattle, the wail of the waterhigh to prevent our seeing much wheels, and the hum of distant of the country over them, but they voices seem rather to enhance furnish us with glimpses of peasant than to disturb; and our noiseless life as we glide past the little mud- mode of travel is in keeping with villages on their margin, where the the universal calm. In fact there women are engaged in their per- is a sort of Sunday feeling in the petual occupation of washing and very air of Egypt, which the sleepy filling their water-jars, or, squat- agricultural operations of the peasted opposite the dead wall of a antry are too placid to destroy. house, are jerking to and fro a After we had proceeded thus for goat-skin bag containing milk, with about an hour and a half, we landed a view in this primitive fashion to inspect a massive embankment of converting it into butter, and which had been erected by the where half-naked men are stand- ancients, but had been renewed in ing in rows opposite each other as more modern times to prevent the if they were going to dance Sir Bahr Youssef in seasons of inundaRoger de Coverley, when suddenly tion from bursting into the broad they fall to with ponderous flails, ravine of the Bahr - bela - ma, or and thrash out the corn, accom- “river without water”—most appropriately so called, for it was a forced it into quite a little rapid, the wide dry wady about a hundred tow-rope got entangled with the yards across, with precipitous water-wheel
, and the mast gave way banks thirty feet high – which which and came down with the run,
breakcuts through the whole length of ing the rotten thwarts of the boat the Fayoum, winding away by the as she broached to the current, ragged bed the floods have cut for which swept us down sideways it in the course of the overflows till we struck on a friendly bank. of ages to the north-west, till it There was an immense amount of reaches the village of Tamiyeh, shouting and wading before we where it is dammed up into a small repaired damages and got under lake or reservoir, which discharges way again, but the Bahr Youssef its superfluous waters into the Bir- had become a lively stream, and ket el Kurûn. In ancient times it our progress was slow: we were, in is probable that this ravine, as well fact, ascending to the level of the as another as gigantic, the Bahr highest plateau of the Fayoum, Nazlet, which runs to the south- and before long we came to a worse west, was used to carry off the rapid than the last, where our men, waters of Lake Mæris. These two unwarned by the previous disaster, wadies, with villages perched on allowed the same thing to happen the cliffs which form their banks, to us. Fortunately we were not form à striking feature in the far from the village of Howara, scenery of the Fayoum.
the sheikh of which had been So long as the Bahr Youssef re- notified of our arrival the day mains in the valley of the Nile, before ; and he appeared just at skirting the base of the Libyan this juncture, accompanied by a hills, it inundates the country like large proportion of the male populaits parent stream ; but when it has tion of the village, and the donkeys passed the sluices of Illaboon and upon which we were to ride to the entered the Fayoum, it is brought Pyramid. We therefore determined under control, and only allowed to leave the boat to find its way up to flow into the numerous wadies the next rapid without us, till it which are dry at other seasons. reached the spot nearest the PyraSometimes, however, it bursts its mid, where we intended to rerestraining banks, and rushes into embark, while we started off along a new channel, scooping out the the banks on donkey-back. We mud and forming the bed of a now soon began to observe evidences broad river. This had been the of antiquity; and these were of case with the Bahr-bela-ma, though especial interest when we reached at what date the embankment had the ten-arched bridge of Kanatir been last renewed the boatmen el Agami. This spans a dry cultiwere unable to tell me. At all vated wady, in which is a grove of events, its invasion upon that oc- date-trees; but in ancient times it casion involved a dike of great was the main channel by which the length and solidity, and must have waters of the Bahr Youssef were been a work of great expense.
conducted into Lake Mæris. The Soon after this the current be- ancient buttresses of the bridge came swifter, and the dolce far rest on foundations of massive niente we had enjoyed to such per- stone; and the embankment which fection was rudely interrupted; now prevents the river from flowa sakkya projecting into the river ing into its old channel is very where it was unusually narrow, solid, and bears the marks of ex
age. We rode along it until which we were investigating conwe reached the Katasanta struc- ceal substantial remains, yet to be ture, which consists of a terrace of discovered, of one of the most marsix carefully-jointed steps of large vellous monuments of ancient granand well-hewn blocks, but bears no deur and ingenuity of which we inscription whatever : it no doubt have any record. Herodotus writes : formed part of the artificial limits “I have seen this monument; and of Lake Mæris. Then we crossed I believe that if one were to unite all the Bahr Wardani, a deep stream the buildings and all the works of flowing out of the Bahr Youssef, the Greeks, they would yet be inferior also an ancient channel of the
to this edifice, both in labour and river, into the lake, and called by expense, although the Temples of the Arabs the Bahr es Sherki, or
Ephesus and Samos are justly cele
brated. Even the Pyramids are cer“ River of the East.” We turned tainly monuments which surpass sharply after crossing it, and fol- their expectation, and each one of lowed its left bank; then travers- them may be compared with the ing a hot little bit of desert, we greatest productions of the Greeks. reached our destination, after a
Nevertheless, the Labyrinth is greater journey of three hours and a half still
. We find in its interior twelve
roofed aulæ, the doors of which are from Medinet. The first view of alternately opposite each other. Six the Labyrinth was eminently dis- of these aulæ face to the north, and appointing, and consisted of noth- six to the south: they are contiguous ing but mounds of ruins. How- to one another, and encircled by an ever, in the midst of these we came enceinte, formed by an exterior wall. upon the traces of what probably The chambers that the buildings of was once a temple of some magnif- the Labyrinth contain are all double, cence, though all that now remains above it. They number 3000, 1500
one underground and the other built of it are some large blocks of granite in each level. We traversed those and limestone, and the shaft and that are above ground, and we speak capital of a papyrus column with of what we have seen; but for traces of sculpture. Some blocks those which are below, we can only here have been disinterred, which are say what we were told, for on no acDow covered with sand, bearing the
count whatever would the guardians name of Amenemhat III. Travers
consent to show them to us. They ing this waste of ruin, we reached of the kings who in ancient times
say that they contain the tombs the base of the Pyramid of Howara, built the Labyrinth, and those of the and found a cool spot in its shade sacred crocodiles, so that we can only in which to lunch, prior to a more report on these chambers what we minute examination of the
have heard. As to those of the upper rounding objects. We began al- storey, we have seen nothing greater ready to feel , however, that our
among the works of man. The in
finite variety of the corridors and the imaginations had been unduly ex
galleries which communicate with one cited by the descriptions of the another, and which one traverses bewriters of antiquity by whom they fore arriving at the aulæ, overwhelm had been visited.
with surprise those who visit these I venture to quote the accounts places, and who pass now from one of given by Herodotus and Strabo of the aulæ into the chambers wbich the interesting spot upon which
surround it, now from one of these
chambers into the porticoes, or again we now found ourselves; for al
from the porticoes into the other aulæ. though comparatively so little met
The ceilings are everywhere of stone, the eye, it is impossible not to feel like the walls, and these walls are convinced that the sand - hills covered with numberless figures en
graved in the stone. Each one of that so many palaces were built bethese aula is ornamented with a peri- cause it was the custom for all the style executed in white stone, per- nomes, represented by their magnates, fectly fitted. At the angle where the with their priests and victims, to asLabyrinth terminates there is a pyra- semble here to offer sacrifices and mid 240 feet in height, decorated with gifts to the gods, and to deliberate on large figures sculptured in relief. the most important concerns." There is an underground passage of communication with this pyramid.”
This is what we learn from anStrabo, who visited the Laby- cient sources of the Labyrinth. It rinth hundreds of years later, was will now be interesting to turn to no less struck with the magnifi- the only serious attempt which has cence and design of this wonderful been made in later years to explore structure.
its mysteries. This was undertaken “There is also,” he says, “ the Laby- by the Prussian expedition under rinth here, a work as important as the Lepsius, about forty years ago, Pyramids,adjoining which is the tomb when the identification of its site of the king who built the Labyrinth. had first been made by Linant Bey. After advancing about thirty or forty They had a hundred men at work stadia beyond the first entrance of the for nearly a month, and this was canal, there is a table-shaped surface the result :on which rise a small tower and a vast palace, consisting of as many royal “Where the French expedition had dwellings as there were formerly vainly sought for chambers, we liternomes. There is also an equal num- ally at once found hundreds of them, ber of halls bordered with columns both next to and above one another, and adjoining each other, all being in small, often diminutive ones, besides the same row and forming one build- greater ones, and large ones supported ing, like a long wall having the halls by small columns, with thresholds,and in front of it. The entrances to the niches in the walls, with remains of halls are opposite the wall. In front columns and single casing stones, conof the entrances are long and nu nected bycorridors,so that thedescripmerous passages, which have winding tions of Herodotus and Strabo in this paths running through them, so that respect are fully justified. The whole the ingress and egress to each hall is is so arranged that three immense not practicable to a stranger without masses of buildings 300 feet broad ena guide. It is a marvellous fact that close a square place which is 600 feet each of the ceilings of the chambers long and 500 feet wide. The fourth consists of a single stone, and also that side, one of the narrow ones, is boundthe passages are covered in the same ed by the Pyramid which lies behind it way with single slabs of extraordinary —it is 300 feet square, and therefore size, neither wood nor other building does not quite reach the side wings of material having been employed. On the above-mentioned masses of buildascending the roof,the height of which ings. We found no inscripis inconsiderable, as there is only one tions in the ruins of the great masses storey, we observe a vast plain of stone of chambers which surround the censlabs. Descending again, and looking tral space. It may easily be proved into the halls, we may observe the by future excavations that this whole whole series borne by twenty-seven building, and probably also the dismonolithic columns: the walls also are position of the twelve courts, belong constructed of stone of similar size. only, in fact, to the twenty-sixth At the end of this structure, which is dynasty of Manetho, so that the orimore than a stadium in length, is the ginal temple of Amenemhat formed tomb, consisting of a square pyramid, merely part of this gigantic architeceach side of which is four plethra [400 tural enclosure.” feet) in length, and of equal height. The deceased who is buried here is It is most earnestly to be hoped called Ismandes. It is also asserted that these excavations anticipated by Lepsius will some day be made, were made of the mud, and so I was as, when we compare his account formed.” with those of Herodotus and Strabo, The proximity of the lake may acit falls far short of what we should count for this allusion, and it has have been led to expect; and there been ascertained that the nucleus can be little doubt that these is a natural mass of rock, thirty-nine mounds of sand, which cover the feet high, which may be “the surface of a far greater area than he stone” upon which the inscription dealt with, conceal treasure which was cut.
Its present appearance would richly reward further exam- would certainly disappoint the ination. Unfortunately his exca- king's expectations, for the sides vations have since been buried by have crumbled so much away that the sand.
I have since regretted that I did Our first proceeding after lunch- not achieve the proud distinction of eon was to scramble to the top of riding on my donkey to the top of the Pyramid so as to get a bird's- the oldest pyramid in the world. eye view of the ruins. Strabo ap- It appears originally to have been parently overestimated its dimen- built in stages, and from its sions. When perfect, the base was summit we could obtain an idea fifty feet less each way than he of the shape of the Labyrinth, gives it; and Herodotus, who puts which was of a horse-shoe form, the height at 240 feet, was more and of the position and size of nearly right than Strabo, who esti- the Temple, the remains of which mates it at 400. It is by no means were mapped out at our feet. On an imposing structure, and is one of the opposite side of the Bahr es four built of crude brick mixed with Sherki we overlooked a congeries straw, one being at Illahoon, and of crude brick-built chambers, all two at Sakkara. If it was built, roofless. To the north was a long as Strabo tells us, by Ismandes, line of small chambers, with the who is identical with Semempses, crumbling walls of others scattered the fifth king of the first dynasty, here and there. The form of Lake then it is the oldest pyramid ex- Mæris, on the margin of which isting in Egypt. It has been sug- this pyramid was built, might also gested that it was built by Asy- be detected by the aid of a strong chis, the fourth king of the third imagination; and, about eight miles dynasty; but even in that case it off, the Pyramid of Illahoon stood must rank immediately after Mei- out sharply against the distant line chun and Dashour, which become of the hills beyond the Nile. To the oldest. The ground for this the southward a long grove of datehypothesis is, that Herodotus tells trees marked the limit of the oasis ; us that, according to the priests, a and to the westward the town of king named Asychis, desirous of Medinet, surrounded by gardens eclipsing all his predecessors
, left and palm-trees, formed an attraca pyramid of brick as a monument tive feature in the landscape. To of his reign, with the following in- the eastward, all was desert, boundscription engraved on the stone:— ed by sand-hills.
ed by sand-hills. A closer inspec
tion of the ruins, after we had de“Despise me not in comparison scended from the Pyramid, on the with the stone pyramids, for I surpass left bank of the Bahr es Sherki, them all, as much as Zeus surpasses disclosed little of interest beyond the other gods. A pole was plunged into the lake, and the mud which
a curious sort of double underground clave thereto was gathered, and bricks passage, formed by flags of lime