« PreviousContinue »
in unearthing a veritable “Cave of Treasures," and M. Maspero, the Director of the Bûlâķ Museum, straightway determined to visit Upper Egypt with a view of discovering whence came all these antiquities. Three men were implicated, whose names were learnt by M. Maspero from the inquiries which he made of tourists who purchased antiquities.
In 1881 he proceeded to Thebes, and began his investigations by causing one of the dealers, 'Abd er-Rasûl Ahmad, to be arrested by the police, and an official inquiry into the matter was ordered by the Mudîr of Ķeneh. In spite of threats and persuasion, and many add tortures, the accused denied any knowledge of the place whence the antiquities
The evidence of the witnesses who were called to testify to the character of the accused, tended to show that he was a man of amiable disposition, who would never dream of pillaging a tomb, much less do it. Finally, after two months' imprisonment, he was provisionally set at liberty. The accused then began to discuss with his partners in the secret what plans they should adopt, and how they should act in the future. Some of them thought that all trouble was over when 'Abd er-Rasûl Aḥmad was set at liberty, but others thought, and they were right, that the trial would be recommenced in the winter. Fortunately for students of Egyptology, differences of opinion broke out between the parties soon after, and 'Abd er-Rasûl Aḥmad soon perceived that his brothers were determined to turn King's evidence at a favourable opportunity. To prevent their saving themselves at his expense, he quietly travelled to ķeneh, and there confessed to the Mudîr that he was able to reveal the place where the coffins and papyri were found. Telegrams were sent to Cairo announcing the confession of 'Abd er-Rasûl Aḥmad, and when his statements had been verified, despatches containing fuller particulars were sent to Cairo from Ķeneh. It was decided that a small expedition to Thebes should at once be made to take possession of and bring to Cairo the antiquities which were to be revealed to the world by 'Abd er-Rasûl Aḥmad, and the charge of bringing this work to a successful issue was placed in the hands of M. Émil Brugsch. Although the season was summer, and the heat very great, the start for T'hebes was made on July 1. At Ķeneh M. Brugsch found a number of papyri and other valuable antiquities which 'Abd er-Rasûl had sent there as an earnest of the truth of his promise to reveal the hidden treasures. A week later M. Brugsch and his companions were shown the shaft of the tomb, which was most carefully hidden in the north-west part of the natural circle which opens to the south of the valley of Dêr el-Bahari, in the little row of hills which separates the Bibân el-Mulûk from the Theban plain. According to M. Maspero *, the royal mummies were removed here from their tombs in the Bibân el-Mulûk by Aauputh, the son of Shashanq, about B.C. 966, to prevent them being destroyed by the thieves, who were sufficiently numerous and powerful to defy the government of the day. The pit which led to the tomb was about forty feet deep, and the passage, of irregular level, which led to the tomb was about 220 feet long ; at the end of this passage was a nearly rectangular chamber about twenty-five feet long, which was found to be literally filled with coffins, mummies, funereal furniture, boxes, ushabti figures, Canopic jars, f bronze vases, etc., etc. A large number of men were at once employed to exhume these objects, and for eight and forty hours M. Brugsch and Aḥmad Effendi Kamal stood at the mouth of the pit watching the things brought up. The heavy coffins were carried on the shoulders of men to the river, and in less than two weeks everything had been sent over the river to Luxor. A few days after this the whole collection of mummies of kings and royal personages was placed upon an Egyptian Government steamer and taken to the Museum at Bûlâķ.
* Histoire Ancienne des Peuples de l'Orient, 4ième ed., p. 360.
† The principal intestines of a deceased person were placed in four jars, which were placed in his tomb under the bier ; the jars were dedicated to the four children of Horus, who were called Amset, Hāpi, Tuamāutef and Qebḥsenuf. The name · Canopic” is given to them by those who follow the opinion of some ancient writers that Canopus, the pilot of Menelaus, who is said to have been buried at Canopus in Egypt, was worshipped there under the form of a jar with small feet, a thin neck, a swollen body, and a round back.
When the mummies of the ancient kings of Egypt arrived at Cairo, it was found that the Bûlâķ Museum was too small to contain them, and before they could be exposed to the inspection of the world, it was necessary for additional rooms to be built. Finally, however, M. Maspero had glass cases made, and, with the help of some cabinets borrowed from his private residence attached to the Museum, he succeeded in exhibiting, in a comparatively suitable
the mummies in which such world-wide interest had been taken. Soon after the arrival of the mummies at Balâk M. Brugsch opened the mummy of Thothmes III., when it was found that the Arabs had attacked it and plundered whatever was valuable upon it. In 1883 the mummy of Queen Mes-Hent-Themeņu, MSI M. Maspero's orders it was unrolled. In 1885 the mummy
of Queen Aḥmes Nefertåri, rolled by him, and as it putrified rapidly and stank, it had to be buried. Finally, when M. Maspero found that the mummy of Seqenen-Rā, (o man muid decaying, he decided to unroll the whole collection, and Rameses II. was the first of the great kings whose features were shown again to the world after a lapse of 3,200 years.
Such are the outlines of the history of one of the
greatest discoveries ever made in Egypt. It will ever be regretted by the Egyptologist that this remarkable collection of mummies was not discovered by some person who could have used for the benefit of scholars the precious information which this “find” would have yielded, before so many of its objects were scattered; as it is, however, it would be difficult to over-estimate its historical value.
The following is a list of the names of the principal kings and royal personages which were found on coffins at Dêr el-Bahari and of their mummies :
XVIIth Dynasty, before B.C. 1700. King Seqenen-Rā, coffin and mummy.
Nurse of Queen Nefertari Rāå, coffin only. This coffin contained the mummy of a queen whose name is read Ån-Hāpi.
XVIIIth Dynasty, B.C. 1700-1400.
XIXth Dynasty, B.C. 1400-1200.
XXth Dynasty, B.C. 1200-1100. King Rameses III., mummy found in the coffin of Nefertari.
XXIst Dynasty, B.C. 1100-1000. Royal mother Net'emet. High-priest of Åmen, Masaherthả, coffin and mummy. High-priest of Åmen, Pai-net'em III., coffin and mummy. Priest of Åmen, T'et-Ptah-suf-ānch, coffin and mummy. Scribe Nebseni, coffin and mummy. Queen Māt-ka-Rā, coffin and mummy. Princess Uast-em-chebit, coffin and mummy. Princess Nesi-Chensu.
VIII. The Tombs of the Kings, called in Arabic Bibân el-Mulûk, are hewn out of the living rock in a valley, which is reached by passing the temple at ķúrnah ; it is situated about three or four miles from the river. This valley contains the tombs of the kings of the XIXth and XXth dynasties, and is generally known as the Eastern Valley; a smaller valley, the Western, contains the tombs of the last kings of the XVIIIth dynasty. These tombs consist of long inclined planes with a number of chambers or halls receding into the mountain sometimes to a distance of 500 feet. Strabo gives the number of these royal tombs as 40, 17 of which were open in the time of Ptolemy Lagus; in 1835 21 were known, but the labours of M. Mariette were successful in bringing four more to light. The most important of these tombs are:
No. 17. Tomb of Seti I., B.C. 1366, commonly called 'Belzoni's Tomb,” because it was discovered by that brave traveller in the early part of this century; it had already been rifled, but the beautiful alabaster sarcophagus, which is now preserved in the Soane Museum in London, was still lying in its chamber at the bottom of the tomb. The inscriptions and scenes sculptured on the walls form parts of