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The Egyptians, all the kings, and queens, and priests, and nobles, and officials, not to mention the thousands who waited on them and have gone to dust in the desert on the west of the city, could have pictured it more easily, for were not their ka's, their doubles, ghosts with the exact attributes of the dead, living in their tombs? One is almost tempted to think that the imagery of the Resurrection must have been inspired by the reminiscences of Egyptian beliefs about the future state, which the Israelites carried with them out of their first captivity.
If at the last trump the ka's of all the notables of a thousand years of Egypt's greatest age, buried round this plain of Thebes, were to materialise in their earthly splendour, all the terms of pageantry would be beggared.
The tombs of these Theban officials are mightily interesting, for they present the public and domestic life of Egypt at a much later and more interesting period than the Memphite tombs, though they are neither so beautiful nor so wellpreserved as the tombs of Thi and Ptah-hetep at Sakkara. We can read all about their agriculture, their habits, and their luxuries, on the dimly lighted walls of the tombs at the foot of these Theban precipices.
The chief monuments of Thebes, excluding the colossi and the tombs, lie in four groups going from south to north, of which Medinet-Habu, the Ramesseum, Der-el-Bahari, and the House of Seti at Kurna are the centres, They are cut off from each other by agricultural lands full of the narve peasant life, which has changed so little from the days of the Pharaohs.
The Ramesseum' never interested me so much as MedinetHabu, though it shows high art for an Egyptian temple. Rameses the Great, not Rameses the Third, built it; therefore one is not surprised to hear that many of its stones first did duty in the temple of Der-el-Bahari. Tourists remember it chiefly for the remains of its thousand-ton colossus of the King, which ancient Persians, early Christians, and modern
· This is a really admirable picture of the Ramesseum in Tyndale's “Below the Cataracts.”
Arabs have hacked at semi-successfully. The Ramesseum has many fine details ; but one cannot describe all the fine halls of columns, fine osirids, and fine pylons in Thebes.
It was outside here that we had a typical Egyptian teapot storm.
A sakiya and a shadüf were working side by side, and drawing many kodakers, because the sakiya had a camel as self-conscious as a clergyman, and the shadüf was worked by an entirely naked boy, as bronze and graceful as John of Bologna's Mercury. I photographed the camel, giving the boy who sat on the bar a small piastre—a penny farthing of our money ; then I turned my kodak on the shadüf boy, but a man with a full complement of clothes rushed forward and drove him off. I turned my kodak away ; he became very abusive ; he wished to earn a penny farthing, and he thought that the shadûf was the part that interested me. So, as he was stronger than the boy, he insisted upon working it. I said I would photograph the boy or nothing, and our dragoman was quite unable to calm the disturbance. He had to hurry us off, because the man insisted upon being photographed, and I refused to photograph him. It was, “Oh for five minutes of Mohammed, Cook's dragoman, the dictator of the Nile!"
It did not occur to me, or to any one else at the time, to suggest that the boy should be photographed and the man receive the penny farthing, which would have pleased all parties, except the boy.
At the back of the Ramesseum there is a mud Pompeii, a Pharaonic town dating from the nineteenth to the twentieth dynasty, remarkable for the extensive vaulting of some of its warehouses. Wine was found in one of them, bottled in the time of Rameses the Great. I have never met any one who had tasted it: as the bottles are earthenware it is probably moused. I say are and is, because the bottles and their contents must be in some museum.
Even the year of the vintage is hieroglyphed somehow.
The chief temple of the third group-Der-el-Bahari-is one of the most striking monuments of Egypt. It consists of terraces rising up one above the other, hewn out of the
bosom of the rock like the Theatre of Taormina. Though Del-el-Bahari is stripped of everything visible but a few colonnades and remains of pylons, it reminded me of the noble mortuary temples of the Tokugawa shoguns at Shiba and Nikko, Nikko especially, on account of the size. It is with one vast court rising above another in terraces, with each terrace broken in the centre by an inclined stairway, and with each stairway spanned at the top by a stately gateway, that the temples of lyeyasu and Iyemitsu secure their effect. Doubtless Der-el-Bahari was once embosomed in groves, like the temples of Nikko, and far at the back of everything was the actual tomb. A dromos of lanterns is as natural in a Japanese mortuary temple as a dromos of sphinxes was in Egypt; there is even the likeness between the torii and the pylon, both connected with birds in their origin. But there was one striking difference, the shoguns of the Tokugawa had imposed a Pax Romana on their world, so their tombs of bronze, half-gold, stand conspicuous to all, while the graves of the greatest of the Pharaohs had to be hidden, with the ingenuity of a story-teller, from robbers.
The Temple of Der-el-Bahari, like the other temples of the Theban plain, was what the Greeks call a Memnonion and the Egyptians a Mennu. In other words, it was the oratory belonging to a tomb. The oratories of Rameses the Great and the greater Rameses III., were separated by some miles from their tombs in the Valley of the Kings. The oratory of Queen Hatasu lies right against the mountain of coffins, as the Egyptians call these honeycombed cliffs of Thebes ; and it may therefore well be as near the tomb of the great queen and her father, the first Thothmes, as the oratories, which are the opening halls of the tombs of the officials, are to their graves. We do not know. Queen Hatasu gave this crowning proof of her capacity by guarding the secret of her tomb so well that it has not been found yet, though the most celebrated antiquarians have lavished their ingenuity on the site.
The temple of Der-el-Bahari is disappointing as you enter