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ladies. One Assyut tradesman advertised the Devil's Pictures, not addressed, I imagine, to bridge-players. As we passed up to the bazar we were pestered with people who wished to sell us sticks and Ay-switches of ebony inlaid with ivory, and rhinoceros-hide sticks made of hippopotamus hide. People wish to sell you such unreasonable things. What could an Englishman do with dried cucumbers on strings? or pink lumps in vinegar? or celluloid necklaces ? or kohl-bottles in the middle of pink pin-cushions? Compared with these the man who sat cutting his toe-nails with a tailor's shears on a table was a reasonable being. He was very dignified about it, and his feet were as well-kept as a lady's hands. Nor was there anything really odd about the boy who was weaving magenta silk stripes into a cloth with his legs through a hole in the floor. These are the commonplaces of life in Assyut.
I could not find the famous bath of Assyut alluded to by Murray, with antique granite pillars supporting its central dome, and pavements and a fountain of white marble. This bath is of great beauty, and I was anxious to compare it with the bath of the Emir Beshtak in Cairo.
Assyut is nowadays obsessed with shawls, the black-andwhite mosquito nets spotted with tin spangles, which German Venuses film their shoulders when they want to look languishing. When we rode up to the rock tomb, called the Stable of Antar (Antar being the Roland of Arab romances), and the tomb of Kheti, we could hardly get to them for the battalions of little black girls stitching the spangles on to the mosquito nets, who could have made a much better business by picking up the mummy-linen which strewed the hill-side. The whole river-bank by the steamer wharf was fluttering with a display of their wares by shawl-vendors. They could not keep still. They angled with their shawls with as many crafty throws as a fly-fisherman. They made the horizon their footstool for the benefit of kodakers.
Farther down the bank was a long row of stalls, on which people sold indiscreet dressing-gowns, Nile-mud pottery, the inevitable walking sticks, ink-pots for kohl, brass-ware and antiquities from the tombs. Some of the brass-ware was quite
charming; but dearer than in the bazars of Cairo. The pottery sellers were more interesting. They had a larger margin to go upon-nothing on their stall had cost them more than about twopence halfpenny, though they talked about five shillings and seven and a half shillings. "Sir, you buy coffee-service," said one--"coffee-pot, milk-pot, sugar-pot, cups—all made of Nile mud." This was evidently a supreme attraction. When I did not buy these he offered me scratchers to use after my bath, something like a bread rasp. If I had wanted one I could have had it with a crocodile or a kneeling camel on the top. My skin is too healthy to need all this for friction. Some of the vases had a very pleasing hieroglyphic effect. Everybody looked at everything, and finally bought pipe-heads at two a penny. All the little red pipe-bowls they use in Egypt for water-pipes coine from Assyut.
The best stalls were those spread on the ground by two humble antiquity sellers. Assyut is sufficiently far from the Pyramids and Thebes not to have developed the antiquity business. These men had genuine objects, mostly rather broken, which they had picked up in the tombs-little gods, mummy beads, and so on.
But it was almost impossible to attend to any one except the shawl-sellers ; they were so persistent. “This one, one pound and a half.” It was of course the commonest of the common. I turned up my nose at it. "Well, then, I give it to you for one pound ten shillings." " I think you want better one. This one three pounds and a half. Well, then, how much you give? Lady, how much you give it? Laster price. This vera beautiful, lady; this vera handsome one. You not pay here. I meet you Shepherd's Bush." And so they persisted till the police drove them off with whips as a signal that it was time for the ship to start.
Cook's steamers exploit Assyut both going up and coming down, but Tel-el-Amarna and Abydos only on the return journey.
The monuments of Tel-el-Amarna are the records of one of the most interesting incidents in the history of Egypt.
Most tourists only see the remains of Akhnaton's Palace, consisting chiefly of a stucco floor painted with splendidly executed fish in conventionalised water. There are birds in the reeds above with a black-and-white sporting dog, presumably a setter, putting up ducks amid the fan-like clumps of lotus. The paintings remind me of the paintings you get on the walls of tombs, but done on the floor. Besides these, there were the usual prisoners with their elbows tied behind them, and mysterious representations of Akhnaton's sun-disk and rays, about which the dragomans talked so much that I did not understand them at all. I should much rather have ridden over to the site of the town, which is said to be wellexcavated and unusually complete. But the dragoman said there were no donkeys, which also prevented me from seeing the tombs of Tel-el-Amarna. These are highly interesting if nothing else is, for though the tomb of Akhnaton himself was rified in time for his body, like those of the other Pharaohs, to be taken to Der-el-Bahari, there are some large and much decorated tombs of his courtiers, in which the heretic Pharaoh presents a grotesque figure.
He was so heretical that artists in his reign were ordered to paint people as they looked.
The dragoman restrained the indignation and ambitions of the tourists, who wished to see these tombs by giving the Tel-el-Amarna people a very bad character. “ You want Denshawai incident ?" he said. “This the place for it." This was, I suppose, put into his mind by seeing a man with a gun, who was after all only shooting a crow, which he thought the tourists would like to buy. There was nothing else to buy except scarab-moulds, which I bought, not knowing what they were, because they looked so genuine.
But if Tel-el-Amarna is unsatisfactory, Abydos is the most fitting crown to a voyage up the Nile.
If it is to be identified with This it is the most ancient of the known capitals of Egypt, for Menes of the first dynasty, who generally heads the list of the kings of Egypt, went from This to found his city of Memphis. It was also the most sacred city of Egypt, for here the head of Osiris
was buried, and all through Egyptian history, as long as the gods of Egypt were worshipped, the great and the wise and the holy were buried at Abydos, to be as near as possible to the sacred and beloved relic of Osiris. The Osiris sepulchre has not yet been discovered; the Egyptians hid the sepulchres of their great with extraordinary care to protect them from spoliators; and this, the most sacred sepulchre in Egypt, has defied the ancient despoiler and the modern investigator to find its whereabouts. One would imagine it to be in the great temple built by Seti I., which has so many arrangements for the Osiris cult.
Abydos has not been exploited like Karnak or Thebes. Very little was known about it, until Mariette excavated the temple of Seti I. just fifty years ago. Even now, apart from the famous Coptic church, there are only two monuments shown to the ordinary visitor—the superb temple of Seti I. and the temple of Rameses 11., although there are the ruins of another little temple built by Rameses II., of the Temple and Ancient City of Osiris, of a castle which may be a tomb on an unusually large scale, and several groups of tombs of the Ancient, Middle, and New Empires, besides many houses and other indiscriminate ruins.
There are many stone tombs with architectural claims. The tombs of Abydos are now being systematically explored by a syndicate, and are yielding a rich harvest. If there were decent accommodation there, and sufficient police to keep the population in order, Abydos would be a fascinating place to stay at. It is crowded with antiquities; its surroundings are picturesque, and the Temple of Seti by itself would be a never-ending delight. But all these ifs are at present answered in the negative. The people are savages, among the worst in Egypt, and it is eight miles from Baliana, the nearest station by river or rail. The ride from Baliana to Abydos is like the ride from Bedrashen to Sakkara, mostly along high causeways between the inundation basins. In the spring, when these are full of green crops, the ride is charming; it terminates in a lofty and picturesque village (lofty for Egypt) just outside the ruins. We rode through
the ruins to the ancient Coptic convent known as Anba Musås. The church is not to be compared with those of Babylon at Cairo, but is one of the best in the country, though not to my mind so attractive as the humbler and simpler church at Medamut near Karnak. It presents a picturesque appearance outside, with its great courtyard and its twentythree domes; and some of its domes inside, with their cut corners and matrix work, have the elegance of mosque domes. There are various features of interest to the antiquary in its screen and baptistery. But it lacks beauty. Its priests have discovered an ingenious way of making money. They tear leaves out of the antique Coptic religious books in their library and sell them for a piastre each to tourists. I bought two to prove the truth of this allegation.
I was glad to leave Anba Musâs. I shall not describe it, or I shall spoil the interest of the idle public in reading my descriptions of the adorable Coptic churches of old Cairo.
When we left the convent we rode past the fortress and a sandy waste of half-buried, mud-brick tombs and houses of the Middle and New Empires, to the Temple of Rameses II., which has, unfortunately, had the upper parts of its walls and its roofs destroyed. It has, as my Cincinnati friend observed, been scalped, or it would be one of the finest temples in Egypt, for its sculptures and paintings are very fresh and beautiful, and the stones and marbles employed in its construction are more precious than those employed elsewhere by the Pharaohs.
It was clear that our dragoman loved Abydos better than any other place he took us to. He bubbled over with information and high spirits. This is the sort of dialogue to which he treated us. He clapped his hands and began : " This way, this way, ladies, see procession round the wallsmen carrying can-shaped vessels of beer-Mohammed knows the numerals---106 barrels. Each column have a figure of Osiris bearing the name of Rameses the Great."
While I was examining the lovely black granite doorjambs, he began to spell out the cartouches in the way he