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Sarcophagi of the GraecoRoman period.

Such sarcophagi are beautifully sculptured, carefully inscribed,
and the attention given to detail is marvellous.
After the XXVIth dynasty sarcophagi are sometimes
rounded at the head, and the covers have human faces; they
are ornamented with rows of figures of gods, the four
children of Horus, a number of genii of the netherworld, and
inscriptions which state that they have taken the deceased
under their protection. Rectangular sarcophagi which taper
slightly towards the feet, and are narrower at the base than
at the top, are also common.
In the XXXth dynasty massive sarcophagi of granite,
basalt and agglomerate, highly polished and beautifully
sculptured, become very plentiful; they are found chiefly
in Lower Egypt. The inscriptions and scenes upon them
are extracts, more or less complete, from the “Book of being
in the Under-world,” and, in arrangement, they greatly
resemble those of the earlier dynasties; a fine example of
this period is the sarcophagus of Nectanebus I., B.M. No. 10.
Under the rule of the Ptolemies and Romans wooden
sarcophagi became very common ; they consisted of two
parts, viz., the board upon which the deceased in his coffin
was laid, and the rectangular, vaulted cover, which is, at
times, as much as eighteen inches high. The planks from
which the covers are made are rarely more than an inch thick,
and they are let into four rectangular uprights, which are
often made of a hard wood with a fine texture. The vaulted
cover has, at times, a gilded hawk upon the top, and a
cornice running round the four sides; it was fastened to the
board, upon which the coffin stood, by its uprights, one at
each corner, which, projecting slightly below the lower edge
of the sides, fitted into four rectangular cavities cut in the
board. The inside and outside of the vaulted cover are
painted in gaudy colours with figures of the gods, the signs
of the Zodiac, and inscriptions in hieroglyphics; when the
deceased was a Greek, his name and that of his father were
also inscribed in Greek. The mummies which belong to
such coffins are covered over with a linen cloth on which is
painted the god Osiris, with the features of the deceased,
wearing the atef crown, and holding ? and f\; on each

side of him are two of the children of Horus. The scenes and inscriptions on the sarcophagi of this period show that the people of Egypt had ceased to attach any importance to their meaning, and they appear simply as funereal decorations, without which the sarcophagi would have been incomplete.


The extreme care which the Egyptians took to preserve the bodies of their dead would have been all in vain, if they had not provided secure resting places for their mummies. To guard the mummy intact and ready for the return of the soul, it was necessary to provide tombs which should be safe from the attacks of human beings and from the prowlings of wild animals, and also out of the reach of the infiltration of the waters of the Nile, or of the inundation itself. If the preservation of a mummy was regarded as a sacred duty to be performed by the relatives of the deceased, who were morally bound to show all honour to it, and to spend their money freely on whatever was necessary for its adornment, it follows of a necessity that a house or tomb meet for the habitation of the ka, and for the soul after it had been decreed triumphant in the judgment hall of Osiris, must also be provided. The size and beauty of a tomb and its furniture depended, as much as the making of the mummy, upon the means at the disposal of the relatives of a deceased person. Every person in Egypt knew perfectly well that to ensure the resurrection of his body, aster the pure soul had returned to inhabit it, it was necessary that every part of it should be preserved in a fitting state, but nevertheless, every person was not able to afford the costly embalming, and the still more costly furniture and tomb and procession which were, no doubt, held by the wealthy to be absolutely necessary for “living a second time.” The burial of the very poor of Egypt must have been much the same in all times and in all dynasties. The body, having been salted only, was laid in the sand to a depth of three or four feet, without covering, without ornament, and even without a coffin ; sometimes even the salting was

Double purpose of the Egyptian tomb.

Drying dispensed with. The drying up qualities of the sand of qualities of Egyptian Egypt are very remarkable. Some few years ago Sir C. sand. Holled Smith, K.C.B., while making some excavations among

the ruins of a temple at Wady Halfah, on the west bank of the river, dug up a box, which, having been opened, was seen to contain the body of a European ; on making inquiries he found that an English engineer had died there about a dozen years before. The hair and beard and features were unaltered as far as appearance went, but the skin had dried up like parchment, and the body had become much smaller. In tombs of the lower classes of the Ancient

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The mastaba tomb.

Empire, the remains of the dead consist chiefly of light
yellow bones. Sometimes the body of the dead was
protected by walls of poorly made bricks, and a vaulted roof.
The tombs of the wealthy were made in the shape of
mastabas, pyramids, and series of chambers hewn in the
mountains on the eastern and western banks of the Nile.
One of the earliest forms of the building which marks
the site of an Egyptian tomb is the mastaba, the finest
examples of which were built at Sakkārah; it was called

5. Transverse section of the chamber of a Mastaba.

mastaba by the Arabs because its length, in proportion to its height, is great, and reminded them of the long, low seat common in Oriental houses, and familiar to them. The mastaba is a heavy massive building, of rectangular shape, the four sides of which are four walls symmetrically inclined towards their common centre. The exterior surfaces are not

* From the Arabic i. C. ^ . The facts here given on the subject of mastabas

are derived from the excellent articles of M. Mariette in Revue Archéologique, S. 2m", t. xix. p. 8 ft.

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