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of the line, and connected with flat tract which intervenes between each other by dense groves of date- us and the lake is an expanse of trees. Of these, Nazlet is the most cane-fields, through which radiate picturesquely situated on the Bahr branches of the agricultural railway Nazlet, which in former times was in all directions. one of the outlets of the Lake Unfortunately I was not well Mæris, and is now a ravine 250 enough to encounter the fatigue of yards broad from bank to bank, a ride to the lake and back, and and 100 feet deep, which forms the boating and fishing expedition quite a romantic and imposing on its waters which had been the feature in the landscape. Near main object of my trip. Indeed I Bisheh the line crosses the exten- had hoped to be able to visit the sive mounds of an ancient town, ruins of Kasr Karoon, which are covered, like those at Arsinoë, with situated at its south-western exfragments of pottery, glass, bones, tremity, as well as those of Kasr brickbats, &c.; but, unfortunately, Nimroud just opposite, on the sumthere was no sugar-cane at the spot, mit of the desert cliff, and the ruined so the train did not stop to enable walls of which could be distinme to get out and examine it. In- guished from Aboukser with a spydeed we had picked up all the glass. There are no villages worthy loaded trucks by this time, and the name on the margin of the lake. were rumbling along at the rate of the fishing population are mostly about ten miles an hour, followed by Bedouin Arabs, who live in tents or a racing, scrambling crowd of boys hovels, and whose open undecked and girls, who rush out of the adjoin- boats are of a primitive unwieldy ing villages when the train passes, description, without masts or sails, to pick up the scatterings of sugar- redolent of decayed fish, and affordcane which fall from the trucks. ing, as I was informed, a maximum For at least a couple of miles we of discomfort in every way. I were thus pursued, old men and afterwards met an old resident in women occasionally joining in the Egypt, and a distinguished Egyprace, and in their eagerness to tologist, who had camped for eight clutch the cane, rolling over each days at the ruins of Kasr Nimroud, other on the track. By this time and who described them as consistwe have reached our lowest level: ing of gigantic mud-brick walls, to the left, about five miles distant, evidently those of an ancient fortbeyond a flat, and in places marshy, ress, situated on a high plateau of tract, the blue waters of the lake natural rock, an hour distant from glisten in the afternoon sun, and the margin of the lake, the road rising abruptly from their western leading to which was paved with margin are the Libyan hills, beyond immense flags of stones on which which stretches an unexplored and were visible ruts as of chariotdesolate tract of the Sahara. In wheels. But, curiously enough, strong contrast with the wildness neither he nor any person at Aboukand beauty of the scene, a row of ser of whom I made inquiry, had tall iron funnels or chimneys right ever heard of Dimeh, with its street in front of us indicate our destina- 400 yards long embellished with tion, and we pull up between more lions, and its ruined temple. Leppiles of sugar-cane, in an atmosphere sius says it was marked on his map strongly favoured with the all- as Medinet Nimroud, but he could pervading odour of molasses. On a only hear of it by the name of bluff about a mile to the right is Dimeh, an experience which illusthe village of Aboukser, while the trates how easy it is for travellers in these parts to be misled in village, looking almost like a fortregard to nomenclature: it is sup- ress, is built; in rear of it are cacposed to be the site of the ancient tus-gardens, and the usual waste of Bacchis.
brickbats and pottery, while here The ruins of Kasr Karoon are and there the mud - brick walls much better known than those of of an old house crop out, among Dimeh or Kasr Nimroud; but even which I found a few fragments of they would certainly repay further blue and green glaze, interesting investigation. Five miles beyond enough to carry away. From the Aboukser, on the same side of the highest mound of débris a magnifilake, is the village of Senhur, which cent view is obtained over the lake, is situated on mounds indicating with a rocky island in the midthe site of an ancient city of some dle, and the plain stretching away extent. Indeed there is every rea- north - east and south - west far as son to suppose that in former times the eye can reach. The Birket el the edge of this plateau overlooking Kurun is steadily stealing away the lake was crowned with a series the good land from the country, of towns inhabited by a large popu- either submerging it altogether, or lation. In point of position and impregnating it so abundantly with surroundings, all the modern vil- salt as to destroy its value for all lages have a sort of family resem- purposes of cultivation. This arises blance, and of these Aboukser may from the fact that owing to an abbe taken as a type. At the base of sence of a proper surveillance of the bluff was an extensive grove irrigation in the Fayoum, about of fine palm-trees, beneath which three times more water is allowed sugar-cane had been planted ; and to run into the lake than the evapoas I passed through it, the whole ration can carry off, as, owing to its population were out cutting it. depression below the level of the Men, women, children, camels, and sea, it has no outlet. This water buffaloes were picturesquely grouped might be advantageously employed under the shade of the tall feather- in irrigating land now unproducing trees in the cane-field, all noisily tive for the lack of it. Instead at work; while through it curved of its superabundance being thus a canal abundantly supplied with utilised, it is allowed to submerge water that found its way to the land which would otherwise be lower level by an artificial cascade available for cultivation; and thus, about forty feet high, which foamed so far from being a benefit to the over a high dike that in former country, it becomes an injury to it, times retained its waters in a lake. —besides which, whenever water is After sketching so unusual an allowed to stagnate in Egypt, it inobject in Egypt as a waterfall, I filtrates for some distance beyond made my way to the top of it with its margin, and the effect is to cause the view of examining the ancient the saline qualities in the soil to structure. The lake was now dry, rise to the surface. Owing to this and its bottom served as the vege- double process of submergence and table garden for the village; but infiltration, it is calculated that there was no question as to the about 10,000 acres which would extreme antiquity of the solid ma- otherwise have been available for sonry, which might easily be re- sugar, belonging to the
the Daira paired if it was considered worth Sanieh alone, are practically lost. while to reconstruct the reservoir. There can be no doubt that an Above it to the right rose the high immense tract of land could be mound upon which the modern reclaimed from the lake without very much difficulty, which would idea of a Bedouin sheikh living in the first instance be available for like a civilised being in a large rice, and by degrees become fit whitewashed two-storeyed house for cane. More cane-land is much was entirely new to me. He had wanted; for as it is, the sugar- fortunately not yet adopted a white factory can scarcely be made to pay waistcoat and lavender-coloured its expenses, owing to the want of a gloves, but retained his native garb sufficient quantity of cane, and in in all its picturesqueness, which, some years it works at a loss. At however, was composed of the most Masserah Edouddah, about three costly material. His handsome hours from Aboukser, there is a Arab horse was gorgeously caparilarge sugar-factory which is per- soned, the bridle mounted with manently closed' owing to this solid silver; and his groom carried cause. Altogether, there are 76,000 an old-fashioned rifle richly inlaid. acres of land in the Fayoum belong. Though a man evidently mindful ing to the Daira Sanieh, which of the effect of external show, and might be largely improved by a somewhat of a “buck” in his permore careful rotation of crops, and sonal attire, he retained under all increased by reclaiming land from circumstances an attitude of the the lake, and which no doubt is most calm and dignified politeness; capable of being made a magnifi- and it was impossible to judge cent and profitable property. Be- from the imperturbable repose of sides the sugar-mill already alluded his handsome features what was to at Masserah, there is a fine cotton- passing in his mind. He was a oil mill and gin at Edsa, pot far man about fifty years old, exercised from Medinet el Fayoum, which has a controlling influence over the not worked for two years; and also Arab tribes for many miles round, one at Tamyeh, on the north-east- and was possessed of great wealth, ern margin of the province, which not merely in flocks and herds, but is also standing idle. No doubt, in land. The object of his visit to under the improved system which the factory on the occasion when is being introduced by the Com- I saw him was to be present at a mission that now administers the dispute between some Arabs and Daira Sanieh, the productive ca- some fellahin, the nature of which pacity of the property in the also helps to illustrate how rapidly Fayoum will be largely increased. the introduction of the appliances There are also 46,000 acres belong- of civilisation tends to change the ing to the department of the Dom- habits of the wild sons of the aines; so that altogether there are desert. The whole party came up 122,000 acres of Government land and argued their case in the presin this province alone, the revenues ence of the Moufettish, whose guest of which are hypothecated to for- I had become, for the Governor had eign creditors.
returned to Medinet.
On the one About half a mile from the fac- side were a group of fellahin, the tory, towards the lake, is a grove bloody shirt of one suggesting that of date-trees overshadowing a house he had got the worst of a recent of unusual pretensions for this part scuffle ; on the other, in marked conof the country. I was introduced trast to these, with their haughty to the proprietor of it, and found to and defiant demeanour, stood four my surprise that he was the head minor Arab sheikhs, all strikingly sheikh of all the Bedouin Arabs handsome men, with flowing abeih on both sides of the lake. The and creamy-white herams. VOL. CXXX.-NO. DCCLXXXIX.
Between these angry disputants We tried, one afternoon, an exwas seated the Moufettish, and at perimental ride on camels, with a his side the chief sheikh, whose view of testing the merits of some rich apparel and impassive demean- saddles from the Soudan, which, our I have already described. The we were assured, were especially villagers, it appeared, had contracted comfortable. The object of our with the Moufettish to cut a certain trip was to examine a prostrate amount of sugar-cane in a given obelisk, distant about three miles. time, and had engaged a number The weather so far had been deof Bedouins to supply camels, and lightful, the thermometer seldom otherwise assist in carrying out the falling below 65°; and the gardens operation,-making, in fact, a sub- beneath our windows were redolent contract with them, to which it with the perfume of roses — for was complained that they had not which the Fayoum was formerly adhered, and had even beaten those so celebrated-in full bloom. On who ventured to expostulate. The this afternoon, however, we had quarrel turned upon the amount scarcely started when the weather and nature of the work which prac- changed, and, before we reached our tically had been divided between destination, a cold wind set in, them, and I failed to follow its accompanied by smart showers of intricacies sufficiently to know who rain, which made the poor camels were in the right-probably the shiver and tremble with anxiety fellahin,—but certainly, when Be- as they staggered slowly over the douin Arabs enter into contracts for smooth slippery mud. The exharvesting cane for a steam sugar- perience was by no means agreefactory, a change is coming over the able to the riders, as the prospect spirit of their dream. To watch of coming down headlong, camel the eager and almost ferocious ex- and all, is quite a different senpression of their countenances as sation from that which one feels they argued their case with “ beast- under like conditions on horseback. ly bellowings," and wild gesticula- It seems scarcely possible to fall tions, it was evident that it would from such a height without the take a long course of peaceful avo- certainty of breaking one's bones. cations before the change went When at last we reached the village beyond the spirit of the dream to of Biggig, we found our camel-men the spirit of the man. I afterwards did not know the way, and we had visited one of their encampments, to ask for a guide—a request which where the usual tents were supple- resulted in the greater proportion mented with huts' and enclosures of the inale population volunteering made of straw and cane-leaves; but their services and accompanying us. they retained, nevertheless, their We had quite a difficult ride across general gipsy and nomadic aspect. fields where there were no paths, and
On my return journey to Medinet numerous ditches had to be crossed, the following day, I had the divaned before we found, half embedded in waggon all to myself, and we re- mud and water, the two huge fragversed the operation of our former ments of this great monolith, one experience. Starting with a long of which measures 264 feet, and train of empty cane-trucks, we the other 16 feet 3 inches long. stopped at intervals and dropped The face of the lower half, which them by twos and threes wherever is covered with hieroglyphics, meathe cane had been piled, to be picked sures 6 feet 9 inches at its lower up when the train went back the end, and the sides are about 4 feet next day.
in width. At the upper part of
the face are five compartments, one there is something solemn and sugover the other, in each of which gestive in the aspect of this great are figures of King Orsitarsen, fractured block of history, traced also known Amenemhat I., with the records of extreme anoffering to two deities. This obe- tiquity, and lying here neglected in lisk, which is of red porphyry, is a bean-field, a mile from any human contemporaneous with the one at habitation, an object of mystery Heliopolis, and was erected by the and awe to the ignorant peasantry, same king, the second of the twelfth and of speculation to ourselves, dynasty, who reigned about 2440 which will probably never be satisyears B.C., and about 140 years, fied. It, at all events, disposes therefore, before Amenemhat III., finally of a popular theory, that all to whom I have already referred the pyramids were on one side of as the creator of the Labyrinth the Nile and all the obelisks on and the lake. It is evident, the other. however, from the existence of this As we were neither of us in a great monument, that the province condition, so far as strength was was highly esteemed before his concerned, to walk back through time; and the historical tradition the mud and rain, our return jouris probably correct which attributes ney on our lofty animals was not a the reclaiming and conversion of little perilous, the more especially the Fayoum to Phiops, the Mæris as darkness came on before we of the Greeks and Romans, who reached home. Our way for the was the fourth king of the sixth most part was along the slippery dynasty, and lived about 3000 B.C. edge of a gully which cut through It is difficult to account for the soft country. Sometimes we took isolated position of this obelisk. refuge in the young wheat-fields, to There is not a vestige of a ruin the intense indignation of the pronearer than Arsinoë; and it must prietors, who shouted angry remoneither have been dropped here on strances; sometimes we scrambled its way to that city, or possibly down into the bed of the wady, was an ornament to gardens which hoping to find safer travellingwere a place of resort. Had there ground. At last, wet and tired, been a temple in the immediate after being four hours in the saddle, vicinity, it could scarcely have dis- instead of two, as we expected, appeared without leaving a trace. we reached the town just as our As it is, the flat surface of the anxious friends had sent out their black soil is unbroken by any servants to look for us. After this mound or tumulus ; nor are there experience we were obliged to give any fragments of granite or stone up our trip to Biahmu, a village about in the neighbourhood. It differs four miles to the north of Medinet, from other obelisks inasmuch as its where the remains of two ancient summit is rounded, and not pointed, monuments exist, the nature of which and in the breadth of its faces and I was anxious to try and verify, as sides being so dissimilar. A groove it is still a matter of dispute. has been cut in its apex, doubtless Linant considers them the remains to hold an ornament like that at of the pyramids upon which were Heliopolis. In the hieroglyphics the statues of King Mæris and his on the sides, the king is said to be consort, which Herodotus indicates beloved of Ptah and Mandoo, who, as being in the middle of the lake. it is supposed, were the principal Lepsius describes them as built out divinities of the place. Whatever of great massive blocks, the nucleus may be its origin and meaning, of each of which is still standing,