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Ashmûnên is sometimes called an “ Island” by Arabic writers; this is because it has the Nile on the east, the Bahr Yûsuf or Al-Manhî on the west and south, and a connecting canal on the north. An old legend says that on the highest point of this town there was a cock, and beneath it a row of dromedaries, and that when a stranger approached, the cock crew, and the dromedaries went forth to destroy the stranger. When our Lord entered this town by the eastern gate these creatures worshipped Him and were straightway turned into stone. It is said that there were three hundred villages in the district, and many Christian churches. The most famous was the church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, which contained several allars and marble pillars, on one of which was the mark of the hand of our Lord. Outside it stood a tree bearing fruit of a dark purple colour which resembled a plum, and is called sebestan ; when our Lord passed by it, this tree is said to have bowed its head in adoration before Him. About five miles south of Antinoë, and seven miles from Eshmûnên in a direct line across the Nile, on the north side of the rocky valley behind the modern Dêr Al-Nakhlah, is a very important group of ancient Egyptian tombs at the place called Al-Barsha. The most important of these is the Tomb of Tehuti-hetep
the chief of the XVth nome of Upper Egypt, who flourished during the reigns of Amen-em-hāt II., Usertsen II., and Usertsen III., in the XIIth dynasty. The façade consists of two fine columns with palm leaf capitals, supporting a massive architrave, all coloured pink, and marbled with pale green to represent rose granite ; the ceiling is painted blue and studded with quatrefoils, and the walls were sculptured with hunting and other scenes.
The main chamber measures 25 x 20 X 131 feet, and on the upper part of the left hand wall is the famous painting of the “ Colossus on a sledge,” in which we see a huge alabaster statue of the deceased being dragged along by nearly two hundred men.
This statue, we are told in the inscriptions, was 13 cubits in height, i.e., nearly 21 feet, and it must have weighed about 60 tons ; the work of transporting this inass from the mountain many miles distant, where it was quarried, must have been enormous. Of Tehuti-hetep's career little is known, but the wealth and position of the man are sufficiently indicated by the fact that he was able to undertake such a work. The tomb was discovered by Messrs. Mangles and Irby about August 26, 1817.*
Melawi, 185 miles from Cairo, is situated on the west bank of the river ; it is the learner of Coptic writers, and there were many Christian churches in the town, among others one dedicated to Abatir, one to Mercurius, one to Saint George, one to Gabriel the Archangel, one to Raphael the Archangel, and two to the Virgin and to Michael the Archangel.
Haggi ķandil, or Tall (Tell) al-Amarna, 195 miles from Cairo, lies on the east bank of the river, about five miles from the ruins of the city built by Khut-en-aten, (
or Amenophis IV., the famous "heretic” king of the XVIIIth dynasty, whose pre
o), Nefer-kheperu-Rā uā-en-Ră. Amenophis IV. was the son of Amenophis III., by Thi, the daughter of Iuảa and Thuiu. When the young prince Amenophis IV. grew up, it was found that he had conceived a rooted dislike to the worship of Amen-Rā, the king of the gods and great lord of Thebes, and that he preferred the
* Full descriptions of the tombs at Al-Barsha, with plans, etc., hare been published by the Egypt Exploration Fund in their Memoir, in El-Bersheh, 2 parts, London (no date).
worship of the disk of the sun to that of Amen-Rā; as a sign of his opinions he called himself Khu-en-Åten, or “Spirit of Aten," and "beloved of the sun's disk,” instead of the usual and time-honoured “beloved of Ámen.” The native Egyptian priesthood disliked the foreign queen, and the sight of her son with his protruding chin, thick lips, and other characteristic features of a foreign race, found no favour in their sight; that such a man should openly despise the worship of Amen-Rā was a thing intolerable to the priesthood, and angry words and acts were, on their part, the result. In answer to their objections the king ordered the name of Amen-Rā to be chiselled out of all the monuments, even from his father's
Rebellion then broke out, and Khut-en-aten thought it best to leave Thebes, and to found a new city for himself at a place between Memphis and Thebes, now called Tell al-'Amarna. The famous architect Bek, whose father Men served under Amenophis III., designed the temple buildings, and in a very short time a splendid town with beautiful granite sculptures sprang out of the desert. As an insult to the priests and people of Thebes, he built a sandstone and granite temple at Thebes in honour of the god Harmachis. When Khut-en-åten's new town, Khut-åten, "the spirit of the sun's disk,” was finished, his mother Thi came to live there ; and here the king passed his life quietly with his mother, wife, and seven daughters. He died leaving no male issue, and each of the husbands of his daughters became king.
As long as the “heretic king” lived the city prospered and grew, and many wealthy people took up their abode in it; sculptors and artists and skilled workmen of every kind found abundant employment, therefore their patrons were determined to be buried in the mountains close by. Beautifully decorated houses and tombs became the order of the day, and the sculpture, and painting, and indeed art generally prove that artists of all kinds who settled there at
that time threw off many of the old trammels and conventionalities of their professions, and indulged themselves in new designs, and new forms, and new treatment of their subjects. Indeed, it is to the buildings of the city of Khut-åten and their decorations that we owe many ideas of the possibilities of Egyptian art. The new styles of sculpture and artistic decoration, however, only flourished as long as the king was alive, and as soon as he died the inhabitants of all classes drifted back to Thebes, and by degrees the city of Khut-åten became deserted ; tradition and obedience to custom proved to be too strong for the would be followers of the heretic king.
The length of the reign of Amen-ḥetep IV. does not seem to have been more than twelve or fifteen years, and certainly long before a century had passed the beautiful city which he built had fallen into ruins. Fortunately, however, the ruins are very instructive, and they allow visitors to follow its plan with success. In 1887 a number of important cuneiform tablets were found by a native woman near the palace, and most of these may be seen in the Museums of London, Berlin, and Cairo. They are inscribed with letters and despatches from kings of countries in and about Mesopotamia and from governors of cities in Palestine and Syria, and those from the last named countries show that, whilst the heretic king was occupying himself with theological problems and artistic developments, his Empire was falling to pieces. In 1892 Prof. Petrie carried on excavations at Tell al-'Amarna, and uncovered several painted plaster pavements of an unusual character.
In the neighbourhood of the town are a number of inscribed tombs of considerable interest, by reason of the religious texts that are found in them. In form and arrangement they have much in common with the tombs of the XIIth dynasty, but their decoration is characteristic of the period of Khut-en-Åten. Among them of
special interest are :-(Northern Group) No. 1. Tomb of Pa-nehsi, which seems to have been used as a church by the Copts ; No. 2. Tomb of Pentu, inscribed with a hymn to Åten ; No. 3. Tomb of Meri-Rā, which is probably the most characteristic of the period, with sacrificial scenes, hymns to Åten, plans of houses, and scenes of the crowning of officials ; No. 4. Tomb of Nāḥmes, with a hymn to Åten ; No. 5. Tomb of an unknown official which was being built when King Rā-seāa-ka came to the throne; and No. 7, a tomb which mentions the receipt of tribute from vassal nations. The scenes and portraits in this tomb are of great interest.
(Southern Group), the Tomb of Tutu, with hymns to Åten ; and the Tomb of Ai, the successor of King Khut-en-Åten. The Tomb of Khut-en-Aten lies at a considerable distance from the river, and it is chiefly interesting on account of the scenes of sun-worship which are depicted in it.
Gebel Abû Fêdah.—Seventeen miles south of Haggi Kandil, 209 miles from Cairo, on the east side of the river, is the range of low mountains about twelve miles long known by this name. Lying a little distance inland is the village of Al-ķusiyah, which marks the site of the Greek City of Cusae, the Qes of the hieroglyphic texts, and the capital of the XIVth nome of Upper Egypt. The name seems to mean,
“the town of the mummy bandages.” According to Ælian (H.A. X. 27), the goddess of the city was worshipped under the form of a white cow. Towards the southern end of this range there are some crocodile mummy pits.
Manfalût, 220 miles from Cairo on the west bank of the Nile, occupies the site of an ancient Egyptian town. Leo Africanus says that the town was destroyed by the Romans, and adds that it was rebuilt under Muhammadan