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that these colours have reference to the colour of the waters of the Nile after and before the inundation. The ancient Egyptians seem to have had no knowledge of the source of the Nile, and in late times it was thought that the river sprang out of the ground between two mountains which lay between the Island of Elephantine and Philæ. Herodotus tells us that these mountains were called Kpôpi and Mwbi, in which some have sought to identify the Egyptian words Qer-Hāpi o S08
and MuHäni mw 8- 9 all In the temple at Philæ is a very interesting relief in which
an attempt is made to depict the source of the Nile of the South. Here we see a huge mass of rocks piled one upon the other, and standing on the top of them are a vulture and a hawk; beneath the mass of rocks is a serpent, within ihe coil of which kneels the Nile god of the South with a cluster of papyrus plants
upon his head. The Nile gød pouring water over the soul of In his hand he Osiris. (From Rosellini.)
holds two vases, out of which he is pouring water. The reverence paid to the Nile was very great from the earliest period, for the
Egyptians recognized that their health, happiness, and wealth depended upon its waters. The god of the Nile was addressed as the “ Father of the gods,” and we are told in a hymn that if he were to fail, “the gods would fall down headlong, and men would perish”; his majesty was considered to be so great that it is said of him, "he cannot be sculptured in stone; he is not to be seen in the statues on which are set the crowns of the South and of the North ; neither service nor oblations can be offered unto him in person; and he cannot be brought forth from his secret habitations; the place where he dwelieth is unknown ; he is not to be found in the shrines whereon are inscriptions; no habitation is large enough to hold him ; and he cannot be imagined by thee in thy heart.” This extract is sufficient to show that the Egyptians ascribed to the god of the Nile many of the attributes of God.
Among the festivals of the ancient Egyptians that which was celebrated in honour of the Nile was of prime importance. It was believed that unless the prescribed ceremonies were performed at the right season, in the proper manner, by a duly qualified person or persons, the Nile would refuse to rise and water their lands. The festival was celebrated by all classes with the greatest honour and magnificencé when the river began to rise at the summer solstice, and the rejoicings were proportionate to the height of the rise. Statues of the Nile-god were carried about through the towns and villages, so that all men might honour him and pray to him. The ancient Egyptian festival finds its equivalent among the Muḥammadans in that which was formerly celebrated with great care by them on the uth day of the Coptic month Paoni, i.e., June 17, and is called Lêlat al-Nukta, or the “Night of the Drop,” because it is believed that a miraculous drop then falls into the Nile and causes its rise. The astrologers and soothsayers pretend to be able to state the exact moment when the drop is to
fall. Many of the Egyptians spent this night in the open air, usually on the banks of the Nile, and Mr. Lane says (Modern Egyptians, vol. II., p. 224) that the women observe a curious custom. After sunset they place as many lumps of dough on the terrace as there are persons in the house, and each person puts his or her mark upon one of them ; on the following morning each looks at the lump of dough upon which he set his mark the evening before, and if any lump be found to be cracked, it is held to be a sign that the life of the person whom it represents will soon come to an end. About a fortnight later, criers begin to go about in the streets and proclaim the height of the daily rise of the river, each being usually accompanied by a boy; they are listened to with respect, but no one believes the statements they make about the height of the rise. The criers converse with the boys that are with them, and invoke blessings upon the houses of the people before which they stand, the object being, of course, that alms may be given to them. A little before the middle of August, the criers, accompanied by little boys carrying coloured flags, announce the “Completion of the Nile," i.e., that the water reaches to the mark of the 16th cubit on the Nilometer. According to an old law the land tax cannot be exacted until the Nile rises to this height, and it is said that in old days the Government officials used to deceive the people regularly as to the height of the Nile, and demanded the tax when it was not due. The day after this announcement is made, the Cutting of the Dam at Fûm al-Khalîg, in Cairo, takes place. This dam was made yearly near the mouth of the Khalig Canal, and the top of it rose to the height of about 22 or 23 feet above the level of the Nile at its lowest ; a short distance in front of the dam was heaped up a conical mound of earth called the ‘arú sa or “bride,” in allusion to the young virgin who, in ancient days, was cast into the river as a sacrifice, in order to obtain a plentiful inundation. This mound was always washed away before the dam was cut. At sunrise, on the day following the “completion ” of the Nile, the thickness of the dam was thinned by workmen, and at length a boat was rowed against it, and breaking the dam passed through with the current. The ceremony attracted large crowds, and was usually accompanied by singing, dancing and fireworks. The Khalig Canal has been filled up, and the festival has lost most of its picturesqueness.
Between Wâdi Halfa and Cairo there are, on the right bank of the Nile, 312 towns and villages, and the cultivated land amounts to 381,000 feddâns;* between the same limits, on the left bank, are 1,058 towns and villages with 1,638,000 feddâns of cultivated land. The province of the Fayyûm contains 85 towns and villages, with 328,000 feddâns of cultivated land; the whole Delta contains 847 towns and villages, with 1,430,000 feddâns; east of the Delta are 1,017 towns and villages, with 1,271,000 feddâns : west of the Delta are 367 towns and villages, with 601,000 feddâns; the Isthmus of Suez contains 6 towns and villages, with 1,000 feddâns. Egypt contains an amount of land suitable for cultivation which is equal to about 8,000,000 seddâns, or 33,607 square kilomètres, or 12,976 square miles. The cultivated area of Egypt is about 5,650,000 feddâns, or 23,735 square kilomètres, the proportion for Lower and Upper Egypt being 3,303,000 feddâns, with a population of 5,675,109 inhabitants, and 2,347,000 feddâns, with a population of 4,058,296 inhabitants. That is to say, for every 127 inhabitants there are 100 feddâns of cultivated land. According to Sir W. Willcocks (Egyptian
* The faddån or feddân, Arab. V is the amount of land which a pair of oxen can plough in a day. The seddân contains 4,200 square metres, or about 5,082 square yards, and = rather less than one and one-fortieth part of an acre.
Irrigation, p. 17) the summer crops for the whole of Egypt cover 2,046,500 acres, and yield £15,177,500 ; the flood crops cover 1,510,000 acres, and yield £6,870,000; and the winter crops cover 4,260,000 acres, and yield £17,013,000 ; the whole area of 5,750,000 acres has a gross yield of £39,060,500, or £7 per acre.