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important effect in hurrying on the excavations of the temple. The barrage cost a million. It took three years instead of four (the contract time) to build. It was built by Sir John Aird & Co. The foundations and floor are of Assuan granite and cement mortar, and the superstructure is of sandstone set in lime and hornra. The steel and iron-work were supplied and erected by Messrs. Ransoms & Rapier. I have forgotten how many additional acres this barrage guarantees against the ill-effects of a low Nile. Combined with the excavation of the temple and the creature comforts necessary for European engineers, it may make Esna a tourist centre, for the Copts have had å predilection for the neighbourhood since the time of the Empress Helena. It contains one of the convents attributed to that charitable and indefatigable lady.
The Temple of Esna has, I believe, the unusual distinction of having been used as a mosque. The Copts are fairly sure to have used some part of it as a church. If this is discovered to be the case when its excavation is completed it will have housed a triad of religions as well as a private triad of Egyptian deities—the ram-headed god Khnum, IsisNeith, under the special name of Nebwt, and a peculiar form of young Horus called Hirkarenp. The temple had a double dedication to Khnum and the big Nile fish called the latus, about whose dimensions the best Egyptian fish-stories are told. From this the city derived its Greek name of Latopolis -as there might be a Salmonopolis in Oregon. Immense quantities of the latus, sometimes a yard or two long, were mummified in the neighbourhood. In the days when Esna was a provincial capital, the governor used to present a mummy fish to every tourist who made him a sufficiently handsome present. The supply has now run out.
If the rest of the temple were on the same scale as the hypostyle hall, Esna would be one of the finest temples in Egypt. At present one of its most distinguished features is that it seems to have enjoyed the favour of more Roman emperors than any building in the Roman Empire. Tiberius, Vespasian, Titus, Domitian, Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, An
toninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Commodus, Septimius Severus, Caracalla, Geta, Julius Philippus, and Decius have all left their cartouches on this temple. The present portico, however, seems to have been begun by Ptolemy Philometor, and an inscription declares that the original temple was built by Thothmes III., while a stone with Rameses II.'s cartouche is lying about. One cannot help wondering why Rameses II.'s autographs so seldom come under the hammer at Puttick & Simpson's.
The hypostyle hall, which we saw excavated inside, though it was buried up to its eyebrows outside, is of great size. It is a hundred and twenty feet long, and about fifty one feet high and wide. The columns are thirty-seven feet high and about six feet through. The roofing slabs are, some of them, twenty-six feet long and more than six feet wide. The Acropolis at Alatri is child's play compared to this. Every inch of it, within and without, is covered with pictures or inscriptions. All the capitals are different, and the colouring is gorgeous.
It is not easy to imagine anything more extraordinary than the Hall of the Columns in the Temple of Esna under the conditions in which we saw it. We followed our dragoman like sheep under an arch into a narrow alley, and were suddenly conscious that we were walking past the top third of an Egyptian temple. It was like being in the Pope's Gallery at St. Peter's with your eyes almost on a level with the ceiling. It was yet more extraordinary, for you were not only close to the ceiling if you looked over the balustrade, which prevented you from falling into the temple, but huge column-tops crowned by huger capitals, carved with endless varieties of fruit and flower and blossom, and a heavy-corniced architrave, hieroglyphed with the names of the rulers of the earth, towered above you, while you were peering over the balustrade. The only way down into the temple was by a stair as narrow and steep as the pulpit stair in a mosque, at the top of which the dragoman took up his stand, like a mosque sheikh, as soon as we were all safely down in the womb of the temple.
Besides the usual paintings of Nut, the sky goddess, and bastard signs of the Zodiac on the ceiling, he pointed out a calendar on the inner face of the facade which set forth all the festivals and processions held in honour of the triad of Esna. The figure of the Pharaoh catching birds and fish in a net is, as usual there, symbolical of Egyptian prejudices. The unclean fish represent the hated foreign nations, and the captive birds are allegorical representations of evil spirits. The paintings of the Ptolemies were crude. Taken wholesale, they make gorgeous columns, as here ; but the Phønix, which was the soul of Osiris, does not look like a bird at all, immortal or otherwise—it is much more like a tortoise. When we were in that Hall of Columns at Esna I did not feel so inclined to criticise in this vein. As two-thirds of the façade were still buried, it was as if we stood in the crypt of an Egyptian temple designed like the crypts of some of our great cathedrals, which are underground churches, hardly less magnificent than the naves and choirs above them. The sculptures and colours acquired a new significance and richness in the dim, religious light, and breathed with fresh intensity the air of mystery which seems to be Egypt's birthright.
The excavated Esna will doubtless be incomparably more splendid ; it may be difficult to match even in Egypt; but nevertheless I shall rejoice that I saw it when its Hall of Columns was like the porch of the Kingdom of Pluto.
Besides its temple, Esna has an ancient and beautiful mosque eight hundred years old, once one of the largest in Egypt, which has a charming blue mosaic over the door, but otherwise, even on its antique arches, is disfigured by a mixture of whitewash and dirty Reckitt's blue.
The people of Esna were friendly; they were pleasant people who had seen the advantages of intercourse with the money-spending English, and were anxious that we should take away certain worthless goods and a good opinion of their city. They were persistent in trying to sell us the latest scarabs and the little white skull-caps which you do not allow your servant to wear when he is waiting on you, but only when he is housemaiding the rooms. They were so
persistent that we should have had a difficulty in getting on board our steamer if the police had not courbashed the hawkers away, in the genial Nile-side fashion, as soon as the first snort was given by the engines. Then we steamed off, as fast as we could, for Edfu.
Esna and Edfu are like the Renshaws or the Dohertys to the tourist, who generally sees them both on the same day, and hardly ever mentions one without the other, though they are not in the least alike, except that both are, as we see them, the parvenu creations of the Ptolemies.
The people of Edfu had the reputation of being very bad neighbours. They consequently quarrelled with the people of Komombo on the rather academical matter of the merits of the crocodile as an object of worship. The people of Komombo had a passion for crocodiles. A room in their temple is full of mummy crocodiles still. From the mummymaker's point of view the crocodile, of course, had considerable merits. It kept so well ; its skin needed so little preparation -a coating of seccotine would have done. But the people of Edfu thought otherwise; they had a dislike to the crocodile, partly because Komombo was the nearest city and the Komombo people thought so highly of it, and partly because Sebbek, the god of darkness, confused with Set, who killed Osiris, had a crocodile's head. The people of Edfu sided with Horus against crocodiles. Man has improved but slowly at Edfu ; its inhabitants would not be desirable as neighbours even yet. The inhabitants of Abydos are not greater savages than the filthy, screaming, mutinous crew who live under the shadow of the mighty fane dedicated to Horus at Edfu.
In size and condition Edfu is one of the very finest temples in Egypt. Its decorations anticipate the vulgarities of baroque : they are even comic; but if you are far enough off not to see them, you cannot but acknowledge its majesty.
Long before you near the landing-stage you see the twin giants of its chief pylon towering above the palm groves. Perhaps it had once a further element of grandeur in standing close enough to the Nile for water processions to glide up to
great sweeps of glistening steps. Now you have to ride through a dirty village, whose evil-looking adults glower at you, while their shameless, but not unprosperous-looking children besiege you, only half-seriously, for bakshish.
Edfu is an interesting temple to study; it is so complete ; it still has its lofty, massive precinct-walls of crude brick. It still has its birthhouse or Mammisi, for Horus, I presume. He was always being born, as Osiris was always being dead, in temples. You can see very plainly here where the four great flagstaffs, like Venetian masts, were let into the fronts of the pylons. I think it is here that an inscription informs us that they were used for lightning conductors.
Never does the parallelism between pylons and pigeontowers strike you more forcibly than at Edfu, which has the finest perfect pylons in Egypt. But when you are inside the sacred precincts you do not realise their full majesty—you are too close, and your eye is distracted by the two badly scratched Pharaohs, who looked like athletes starting for a Marathon race, as they sprawl over the entire façade. It is a pity that such distracting decorations are allowed to interfere with the noble massiveness of Edfu—the more so because you are faceto-face here with one of the most perfectly preserved monuments of the ancient world.
Edfu is worth a book to itself-nearly all its parts are there, and a history of Egyptian mythology and a book on Egyptian temple ceremonials might be made out of those coarsely sculptured paintings on its walls. It is best not to vex oneself with indignation at the decadence of their art, but to abandon oneself to the fascinating task of making out the plan of what Baedeker calls “the most complete monument of antiquity." It is of great size ; its whole length is about four hundred and fifty feet, the width of its pro-pylon-that is, of its façade—is about two hundred and fifty feet, and the height of the chief pylons is a hundred and fifteen feet. In other words, it is of the dimensions of a very large cathedral in everything but the height of its towers. It does not give you this impression inside, because one third of it is broken up into small chambers, and more than another third is