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passage and pit, but at Abydos, owing to the friable nature of the rock, these do not exist, and the mummy was laid either in the ground between the foundations, or in the masonry itself, or in a chamber which projected from the building and formed a part of it, or in a chamber beneath. This class of tomb is common both at Thebes and Abydos. Tombs hewn entirely out of the solid rock were used at all periods, and the best examples of these are found in the mountains behind Asyût, at Beni-Hasān, at Thebes, and at Aswän. The tombs at Beni-Hasān are about fifteen in number, and they all belong to the XIIth dynasty; they have preserved the chief characteristics of the mastabas at Sakkârah, that is to say, they consist of a chamber and a shaft leading down to a corridor, which ends in the chamber containing the sarcophagus and the mummy. The tombs rise tier above tier, and follow the course of the best layers of stone; the most important here are those of Ameni and Chnemu-hetep, which are remarkable for possessing columns somewhat resembling those subsequently called Doric, hewn out of the solid rock. The columns inside the tomb have sixteen sides.
The bold headland which rises up in the low range of hills which faces the whole of the island of Elephantine, just opposite to the modern town of Aswān, has been found to be literally honeycombed with tombs, tier above tier, of various epochs. In ancient days there was down at the water's edge a massive stone quay, from which a broad, fine double staircase, cut in the living rock, ascended to a layer of firm rock about 150 feet higher. At Thebes and at Beni-Hasān, where such staircases must have existed, they have been destroyed, and only the traces remain to show that they ever existed. At Aswän it is quite different, for the whole of this remarkable staircase is intact. It begins at the bottom of the slope, well above the highest point reached by the waters of the Nile during the inundation, and following the outward curve of the hill, ends in a platform in front of the highest tombs. Between each set of steps which form the staircase is a smooth slope, up which the coffins and sarcophagi were drawn to the tomb by the men who walked up the steps at each side. At the bottom of the staircase the steps are only a few inches deep, but towards the top they are more than a foot. On each side of the staircase is a wall which appears to be of later date than the staircase itself, and about one-third of the way up there is a break in each wall, which appears to be a specially constructed opening leading to passages on the right and left respectively. The walls probably do not belong to the period of the uppermost tier of tombs, and appear to have been made during the rule of the Greeks or Romans. In the hill of the tombs at Aswän there are three distinct layers of stone which have been chosen by the ancient Egyptians for the purpose of excavating tombs. The finest and thickest layer is at the top, and this was chosen principally by the architects of the VIth dynasty for the sepulchres of the governors of Elephantine. The tombs here belong to the VIth and XIIth dynasties, and of the former period the most interesting is that of Sabben, which is situated at the top of the staircase. Sabben was an official who lived in the
time of Pepi II., whose cartouche | o! U Nefer-ka-Ră is
found on the right hand side of the doorway. The entrance to this tomb is made through a rectangular opening, in which is a small doorway about one-third of the height of the opening, that is to say through a door within a door. The walls inside were covered with a thin layer of plaster, and upon them were painted scenes in the life of the man who was buried there. Of the XIIth dynasty tombs, the most interesting is that of Se-renput, in the front of which there originally stood a portico. The scarped rock was ornamented with inscriptions, rows of cattle, etc., etc., and passing through the doorway, a chamber or chapel having four rectangular pillars was reached. A passage, in the sides of which were niches having figures in them, leads to a beautifully painted shrine in which was a black granite seated figure of the deceased ; thus the serdāb and the stele of the mastaba became united. On the right hand side was a tunnel, which, winding as it descended, led to the sarcophagus chamber which was situated exactly under the shrine containing the figure of the deceased. Se-renput lived in the time of Usertsen I., and was an officer in the service of this king when he marched
Tombs of the XIIth and
into Ethiopia ; thus the date of the tomb is well known.
During the XVIIIth dynasty tombs on the plan of the
1 For a full account of this tomb, see my paper in Proc. Soc. Bib. Arch., November, 1887, p. 33 ff. A tomb of great importance was discovered at Aswân in 1892 by Signor E. Schiaparelli, who published the hieroglyphic text with a commentary in his valuable paper Una Tomba Egiziana Inedita della Vla Dinastia, Roma, 1892.
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solitary places. A cave or hollow in the mountains afforded a place of sepulture unto many, and numerous rock caves exist in the mountains to the west of Thebes and other places, where the mass of decayed mummies and bones is several feet deep, and where skulls and skeletons, some with their skins shrivelled upon them, and others with bare bones, line the sides up to the ceiling. Sometimes pits were dug as common graves for the whole town, and sometimes the pit and passage of a forsaken tomb served to accommodate hundreds of bodies. The absence of valuable furniture and ornaments rendered the bodies of the poor of no account to the pillager of tombs, and the inaccessible situation of the places where they were buried made it unlikely that they would be disturbed that others might be put in their places. The funereal furniture of the poor consisted of very little more than what they wore day by day, and, provided they were protected by a few amulets and figures of the gods in faïence to guard them against the attacks of evil-disposed demons, and by a scarab, the emblem of the resurrection and the new life, they probably laid down the burden of this life with as firm a hope in the mercy of Osiris as did the rich man in the mastaba or pyramid. Under the Ptolemies and the Roman Emperors the arrangement of the tombs changes greatly ; the outer chapel or chamber disappears entirely, and the character of everything appertaining to the service of the tomb shows that a great change has taken place in the religious views of the people, for although ancient forms and observances are kept up, it is clear that the spirit which gave them life has been forgotten. In the early centuries of the Christian era the tombs in the mountains of Egypt formed dwelling-places for a number of monks and ascetics, and it would seem that the statues and other objects in them suffered at their hands. An instance of the use of a rock-hewn tomb by Pisentios, Bishop of Coptos, is made known to us by an encomium on this saint by his disciple John." The tomb in which
The tombs of the poor.
Egyptian tombs used by Christian monks.
* For the Coptic text and a French translation, see Amélineau, Etude sur le Christianisme an Egypte au Septième Siècle, Paris, 1887.