Page images
PDF
EPUB

Khalif 'Omar, A.D. 641; these were declared to be sufficiently numerous to heat the public baths of Alexandria for six months.* There is little doubt however, that this Library was destroyed when the Christians battered the image of Serapis to pieces. The Sôma formed a part of the Cæsareum, and contained the bodies of Alexander the Great and the Ptolemies, his successors. The Theatre, which faced the island of Antirhodus, the Sôma, and the Museum and Library, all stood in the royal buildings in the Bruchium quarter of the town, between Lochias and the Heptastadium.

* “The spirit of Amrou ('Amr ibn el-'Aşi) was more curious and liberal than that of his brethren, and in his leisure hours the Arabian chief was pleased with the conversation of John, the last disciple of Ammonius, who derived the surname of Philoponus from his laborious studies 'of grammar and philosophy. Emboldened by this familiar intercourse, Philoponus presumed to solicit a gift, inestimable in his opinion, contemptible in that of the Barbarians : the royal library, which alone, among the spoils of Alexandria, had not been appropriated by the visit and the seal of the conqueror. Amrou was inclined to gratify the wish of the grammarian, but his rigid integrity refused to alienate the minutest object without the consent of the caliph; and the well-known answer of Omar was inspired by the ignorance of a fanatic. “If these writings of the Greeks agree with the book of God, they are useless and need not be preserved: if they disagree, they are pernicious and ought to be destroyed.' The sentence was executed with blind obedience : the volumes of paper or parch. ment were distributed to the 4,000 baths of the city ; and such was their incredible multitude that six months were barely sufficient for the consumption of this precious fuel.” (Gibbon, Decline and Fall, chap. li.) The chief authority for this statement is Bar-Hebraeus (born A.D. 1226, died at Marâghah in Adhộrbaijan, July 30th, 1286), and it has been repeated by several Arabic writers ; it must, however, have been current in an unwritten form for centuries. Both Gibbon and Renaudot thought the story incredible, and their opinion is shared by some modern scholars. Gibbon appears to have thought, and rightly, that the second Alexandrian library was pillaged or destroyed when Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, destroyed the image of Serapis. On the other hand, it seems difficult to believe that there is not some foundation for the tradition of the burning of the Serapeum Library as reported, by Bar-Hebraeus. See the additional notes in Gibbon, ed. Smith, Vol. III., p. 419, and Vol. VI., p. 338.

The stone sarcophagus (now in the British Museum, No. 10), which was thought to have belonged to Alexander the Great, was made for Nectanebus I., the first king of the XXXth dynasty, B.C. 378. The Paneum, or temple of Pan, is probably represented by the modern Kôm al-Dikk. The Jews' Quarter lay between the sea and the street, to the east of Lochias. The Necropolis was situated at the west of the city. The Gymnasium stood a little to the east of the Paneum, on the south side of the street which ends, on the east, in the Canopic Gate.

Pompey's Pillar was erected by Pompey, a Roman prefect, in honour of Diocletian, about the year 302. * It is made of granite brought from Aswân; the shaft is about 70 feet, and the whole monument, including its pedestal, is rather less than 100 feet high. The fragments of the columns which lie around the base of this pillar are thought to have belonged to the Serapeum.

Some years ago there were to be seen in Alexandria the two famous granite obelisks called Cleopatra's Needles. They were brought from Heliopolis during the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus, and set up before the Temple of Cæsar. Until quite lately one of them remained upright; the other had fallen. They are both made of Aswân granite; one measures 67 feet in height, the other 68 feet; the diameter of each is about 71 feet. The larger obelisk was given by Muḥammad ‘Ali to the English early in this century, but it was not removed until 1877, when it was transported to England at the expense of Sir Erasmus Wilson, and it now stands on the Thames Embankment. The smaller obelisk was taken to New York a few years later. The inscriptions show that both were made during the reign of Thothmes III., about B.C. 1600, and that Rameses II., who lived about 250 years later, added lines of inscriptions recording his titles of honour and greatness.

* The Greek inscription recording this fact is published in Boeckh, Corpus Inscriptionum Gracarum, i. iii., p. 329, where it is also thus restored : Tov (boderatov Aútorpáropa, tòy rollouxov 'Anetavopsiac, Διοκλητιανόν τον ανίκητον πομπή]ος έπαρχος Αιγύπτου. .....

The Catacombs, which were built early in the fourth century of our era, are on the coast near the harbour and on the coast near the new port.

THE RECENTLY DISCOVERED CATA

COMB AT ALEXANDRIA.

In the year 1900 a magnificent tomb of the Roman period was discovered at Kôm ash-Shuķafa, near Pompey's Pillar, in the quarry at this place, by some workmen, and thanks to the exertions of Dr. Botti, the Director of the Museum at Alexandria, this extremely interesting monument has been preserved in the state in which it was found. The tomb is divided into three stages, which descend into the living rock. It is entered by means of a circular staircase (A), which has been more or less restored, and when the visitor has passed through a narrow way with a semi-circular recess (B) on each side, he arrives at a large rotunda (c) with a circular gallery (DDDD), out of which open a series of chambers (EEEE) which appear to have been dedicated to the worship of the dead. On the right the two chambers contain niches and sarcophagi; on the left is a large rectangular chamber, the roof of which is supported by four pillars, and it contains three tables hewn out of the solid rock, which were used for festival purposes by the relatives and friends of the dead who assembled there at certain times during the year. From the circular gallery a staircase leads to the second stage of the tomb, which contains the chief sarcophagus chamber ; but a little way down it forks, and passes round the entrance (G) to the third or lowest stage

[graphic]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

A Circular staircase (entrance 3 Corridor with semi-circular recesses C Rotunda. D Circular gallery. 'F Staircase to second stage. G Entrance to third stage. H. Ante-chamber. I Funeral chamber, Sarcophagas chamber. * Funeral chambers with cavities for dead bodies, 2009

of the tomb. The ante-chamber (1) of the tomb, or pronaos, contains two Egyptian columns which support a cornice ornamented with the winged solar disk, hawks, etc., in relief. In each of the side walls of the chamber is a niche, in the form of an Egyptian pylon; that on the right contains the statue of a man, that on the left the statue of a woman. It has been thought that these niches are ancient openings in the walls which were closed up for the purpose of receiving the statues. The door of the actual funeral chamber (1) is ornamented with the winged solar disk, and a cornice of uræi; on each side of the door, on a pylon-shaped pedestal, is a large serpent wearing the double crown y, and with each are the caduceus of Hermes, and the thyrsus of Dionysos. These serpents are probably intended to represent the goddesses Uatchet and Nekhebet. Above each serpent is a circular shield with a Gorgon's head. The roof of the funeral chamber is vaulted, and the stone is of the colour of old gold; at each corner is a pilaster with a composite capital. In each of the three sides is a niche containing a sarcophagus, which is hewn out of the solid rock; the fronts of the three sarcophagi are ornamented with festoons of vine leaves and bunches of grapes, the heads of bulls, heads of Medusa, etc. Curiously enough no one seems to have been laid in them. In the principal relief of the right niche we see the figure of a king, or prince, wearing the crowns of the South and North, making an offering of a deep collar or breastplate to the Apis Bull, which stands on a pylon-shaped pedestal, and has a disk between its horns; behind Apis stands Isis with a solar disk encircled by a uræus upon her head, and holding in her right hand the feather of Maāt. The walls of the niches are ornamented with figures of Egyptian gods, and in the central niche is a scene in which the mummy of the deceased is represented lying upon its bier.

« PreviousContinue »