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came out in a kodak, which I took. The ascent is quite easy, but oh, so mournful! for each footstep that you take does more damage to the mud bricks than the wind and the wet of four thousand years. The path by which the Arab herds climb to the top has gone back to the dust. The Pyramid is a little over three hundred feet square, and kept its casing up to Roman times. Flinders Petric excavated it in 1890, and found the mummy chamber at the end of a labyrinth of passages. You see the real Labyrinth, the Egyptian Labyrinth (if tradition may be trusted, which is improbable), between it and the angle of the canal, when you stand on the Pyramid top. The Bahr Selah, the swift, river-like canal is, after the Bahr Yûsuf, the principal stream of the Fayum. There is nothing visible of the labyrinth beyond a few granite columns, and fragments of sculptured granite and limestone, and buildings of mud brick like you get in the town of the twenty-second dynasty outside the temple of Karnak. It may have been injured, as the cemetery certainly was, by the natives carting away the dust for manure. According to Herodotus, it was an almost inconceivably vast and elaborate building, for which there hardly seems room between the Pyramid and the Bahr Selah. He says:
“They (the twelve Kings of Egypt) built a labyrinth, a little above the lake of Moeris, situated near that called the City of Crocodiles--this I have myself seen, and found it greater than can be described. For if any one should add together the buildings and public works of the Greeks, they would be found to have cost less labour and expense than this labyrinth, though the temple in Ephesus is deserving of mention, and also that in Samos. The Pyramids likewise were beyond description, and each of them comparable to many of the great Greek structures. Yet the labyrinth surpasses even the Pyramids. For it has twelve courts enclosed with walls, with doors opposite each other, six facing the north, and six the south, contiguous to one another, and the same exterior wall encloses them. It contains two kinds of rooms, some underground and some above-ground
them, to the number of 3,000,
1,500 of each.
The rooms above-ground I myself went through and saw, and relate from personal inspection. But the underground rooms I only know from report, for the Egyptians who have charge of the building would, on no account, show me them, saying that there were the sepulchres of the kings who originally built this labyrinth, and of the sacred crocodiles. I can therefore only relate what I have learnt by hearsay concerning the lower rooms; but the upper ones, which surpass all human works I myself saw: for the passages through the corridors, and the windings through the courts, from their great variety, presented a thousand occasions of wonder, as I passed from a court to the rooms, and from the rooms to halls, and to other corridors from the halls, and to other courts from the rooms. The roofs of all these are of stone, as also are the walls, but the walls are full of sculptured figures. Each court is surrounded with a colonnade of white stone, closely fitted. And adjoining the extremity of the labyrinth is a pyramid, forty orgyiæ in height, on which large figures are carved, and a way to it has been made underground.
Although this labyrinth is such as I have described, yet the lake named from Moeris, near which this labyrinth is built, occasions greater wonder ; its circumference measures three thousand six hundred stades, or sixty schoeni, equal to the sea-coast of Egypt. The lake stretches lengthways, north and south, being in depth in the deepest part fifty orgyiæ. That it is made by hand and dry, this circumstance proves, for about the middle of the lake stand two pyramids, each rising fifty orgyiæ above the surface of the water, and the part built under water extends to an equal depth; on each of these is placed a stone statue, seated on a throne. Thus these pyramids are one hundred orgyiæ in height: and a hundred orgyiæ are equal to a stade of six plethra, the orgyia measuring six feet, or four cubits, the foot being four palms, and the cubit six palms. The water in this lake does not spring from the soil, for these parts are excessively dry, but it is conveyed through a channel from the Nile, and for six months it flows into the lake, and six months out again
into the Nile. And during the six months that it flows out again it yields a talent of silver every day to the king's treasury from the fish; but when the water is flowing into it, twenty minæ.”
Modern criticism inclines to the belief that these pyramids with colossi seated on them are a mistaken inference of Herodotus from seeing the two colossi of Biahmu emerging from the waters of the lake. At present in its deepest part the lake has only one tenth of the depth which he assigns to it. But the immensity he assigns to the labyrinth is borne out, for Breastead writes: "In the gap, on the north bank of the inflowing canal, was a vast building, some eight hundred by a thousand feet, which formed a kind of religious and administrative centre for the whole country. It contained a set of halls for each home, where its gods were enshrined and worshipped, and the councils of its government gathered from time to time, It would seem from the remarks of Strabo that each set of halls was thus the office of the central government pertaining to the administration of the respective nome, and the whole building was therefore the Pharaohs' seat of government for the entire country.”
A building of these dimensions would be about twice the size of the Vatican--nearly as long, more than twice as wide; but the Vatican is said to contain no fewer than 13,000 chambers. The labyrinth, however, had probably only one storey above ground.
As we stood on the windy top of the Pyramid our view was superb; the Illahun Pyramid, not very far away, rose up so majestically : a mirage had surrounded it with a lake of palms. In the distance we could see the Arabian hills across the Nile, and, nearer in, the green oasis lapped all round by the pink sands and hills of the Libyan desert. While I was inspecting the labyrinth I flushed some sandgrouse so close that I could have knocked them down with my stick if I had not been more anxious to kodak them, for when I first came upon them, instead of trying to escape, they tried to hide by flattening themselves in the sand. They were almost the same colour as the semi-transparent
lizard, which tried to escape my notice in the same way, in the next dip. If the lizard had not been so white I should have taken it for the dreaded cerastes or horned viper-the first thought that came into my mind when I saw it. We rode back along the canal, whose banks were quite flowery, for Egypt. But I was more interested to see bulrushes, which the detractors of Mosaic legend say will not grow in Egypt. I did not see them anywhere on the Nile, it is true, but neither did I see any papyrus, which grows in immense quantities up the White Nile. The Sud is mostly composed of papyrus. Nicholas Khouri has all sorts of modern appliances on his thousand-acre estate here. He had a levelling scoop at work on the banks of the canal.
He gave us a very excellent lunch in a room just inside the gate of his farm buildings, which were very cool with their thick mud walls. A mastaba, a broad bench made of mud covered with matting, went round two sides of it.
The luncheon basket came from Harrod's, in South Kensington, and there were a score or two of potted delicacies, beginning with pâté de foie gras and caviare. There were also native viands, such as a bowl of sour milk and of course Turkish coffee. Before we sat down a suffragi brought an ibreek and tisht, a brass jug with a spout like a coffee-pot, and a brass basin with a sort of colander covering its bottom, to pour water over our hands in the Arab fashion.
When that hospitable meal at length came to an end, we sallied out to see the Omdeh, who lived in a fine arcaded house with the most romantic-looking pigeon towers I ever
He was a delightful old gentleman, as the uncorrupted Arab often is, and while we were waiting for the statutory coffee and oranges, had his Arab chargers brought to go through their paces, and took us into a courtyard, where his tame gazelles were gambolling about in their mad fashion, turning their ankles over. He was very hospitable, but he used up the rest of our day in beautiful Eastern compliments as luxuriant as sweet-peas.
That night, and most of our money, we spent at the shop of the grocer, who bought up all the little gods and bits
of mummies which the fellahin found when they were carting away (for manure) the dust of Crocodilopolis, which bore so many notable erections in the days of the Ptolemies. And the next morning very early we had to say good-bye to Nicholas Khouri, the fairy prince who had made our visit to the Fayum one of the most interesting of all our experiences in Egypt. Not only was his hospitality amazing, but he took us to places unspoiled by contact with Europeans, and asked questions and interpreted answers for us about the most outof-the-way subjects.