Page images

king who sent expeditions to Punt, and the countries round about, found ķufț most usefully situated for this purpose. A temple dedicated to the ithyphallic god Åmsu, or Menu, Isis and Osiris, stood here. It was nearly destroyed by Diocletian A.D. 292. A copy of a medical papyrus in the British Museum states that the work was originally discovered at Coptos during the time of Cheops, a king of the IVth dynasty; it is certain then that the Egyptians considered this city to be of very old foundation.

Ķûş, 425 miles from Cairo, on the east bank of the Nile, marks the site of the city called Apollinopolis Parva by the Greeks, and Qeset or

by the Egyptians. To the west of the city stood the monastery of Saint Pisentius, who flourished in the VIIth century, and the well of water which is said to have been visited by our Lord and the Virgin Mary and Joseph; the Copts built numbers of churches in the neighbourhood.

Nakada, 428 miles from Cairo, on the west bank of the river, nearly opposite the island of Matarah, was the home of a large number of Copts in early Christian times, and several monasteries were situated there. The four which now remain are dedicated to the Cross, St. Michael, St. Victor, and St. George respectively, and tradition says that they were founded by the Empress Helena; the most important of them is that of St. Michael. The church in this monastery “is one of the most remarkable Christian structures in Egypt, possessing as it does some unique peculiarities. There are four churches, of which three stand side by side in such a manner that they have a single continuous western wall. Two of the four have an apsidal haikal with rectangular side chapels, while the other two are entirely rectangular; but the two apses differ from all other apses in Egyptian churches by projecting ... beyond the

eastern wall and by showing an outward curvature. They form a solitary exception to the rule that the Coptic apse is merely internal, and so far belong rather to Syrian architecture than to Coptic. The principal church shows two other features which do not occur elsewhere in the Christian buildings of Egypt, namely, an external atrium surrounded with a cloister, and a central tower with a clerestory ..... Possibly the same remark may apply to the structure of the iconostasis, which has two side-doors and no central entrance, though this arrangement is not quite unparalleled in the churches of Upper Egypt, and may be a later alteration. It will be noticed that the church has a triple western entrance from the cloisters.” (Butler, Ancient Coptic Churches of Egypt, Vol. I, p. 361.) In 1897 M. de Morgan carried on some important excavations here, and discovered a large number of prehistoric tombs, and the tomb of a king called Aḥā, who has, by some, been identified with Menå, the first king of the Ist dynasty.



LUXOR (AL-UKSUR) AND THEBES. Luxor, 450 miles from Cairo, on the east bank of the river, is a small town with 12,000 inhabitants (in 1897), and owes its importance to the fact that it is situated close to the ruins of the temples of the ancient city of Thebes. The name Luxor is a corruption of the Arabic name of the place, Al-Ukşur, which means “the palaces.” About twenty-five years ago Luxor was nothing more than a cluster of poorly built mud-houses which stood close to the edge of the river bank, and inside the various courts of the Temple of Luxor. The village, as we may call it, was ill-kept and ill-scavenged, its alleys were unlit at nights, and it was not in a prosperous condition. In 1886 a great change came over the place, for owing to the enterprise of Messrs. Thos. Cook and Son, British tourists began to come to Upper Egypt in comparatively large numbers, and prosperity for the town followed in their train. In December of that year Messrs. Thos. Cook and Son inaugurated a new line of steamers, which ran at regular intervals from Cairo to Aswân and back. The advent of these steamers on the Nile marked a new era in the history of river travel in Egypt, and the late Mr. John M. Cook, who superintended their journeys personally, and devoted much time and care to every detail of their management, was the first to undertake the transformation of the dusty village of Luxor into a town suitable for European travellers to live in. He first caused steps to be built up the bank, the convenience of which the natives were not slow to perceive, and he improved the river front, and induced the local authorities to clean the streets and alleys, and to remove the stones which blocked the ways. He then enlarged and afterwards rebuilt the old Luxor Hotel, and inaugurated improvements everywhere. Gradually the streeets were widened, and as the trade which followed in the wake of his steamers grew, the natives began to build better houses for themselves, and European wares began to fill the bazaars. Quite early in the history of the modern development of Luxor, Mr. Cook founded a hospital, and hundreds of the sick and suffering gladly and promptly availed themselves of the medical assistance which he provided gratis. In this, as in many other things too numerous to mention, his sound advice, shrewd business capacity, and ready generosity laid the foundation of the prosperity which has subsequently come to Luxor. He encouraged the natives to learn new methods, and quietly and unostentatiously supported struggling local undertakings until they were established, and the trade which he enabled the natives to do with his steamers literally “made" scores of villages on both banks of the river. The great organizer of the tourist traffic of Egypt was well called the “friend of the poor," and the “father of Luxor. Next came the excavations of the temple of Luxor, begun by Prof. Maspero in 1883, and continued with conspicuous success by M. de Morgan. The houses inside the temple were pulled down, the road along the river front was widened, and the quay built, and several improvements were made at both ends of Luxor. The sacred lake of the temple of Mut, which had degenerated into a mere stagnant pool, was filled up, to the great benefit of the community. The advent of the railway from Cairo led to the introduction of carriages, and these have brought about a great improvement in the roads to Karnak and in those which traverse the town itself. The resultant of the forces of civilization which have been brought to bear on Luxor during the last few years, is a clean, well-kept town, and the waste of time, fatigue, and annoyance which used to accompany a prolonged series of visits to the temples on each side of the river are now things of the past. Nowhere in Egypt can time more profitably or more comfortably be spent than at Luxor. In recent years much has been done to improve the town by the natives themselves, and many of the new houses are substantial and comfortable dwellings. In the year 1906 a new and handsome mosque was built and dedicated to the service of Almighty God by a native of the town, Al-Hâgg Muhammad Muḥassib Mûsa Ash-Shairi, who is descended from one of the Sharîfs or “nobles” of Mekka, who settled at Luxor in the fourteenth century, when Abû Hagâg, the builder of the old mosque, which stood in one of the temple courts, came to the town. The building stands in the heart of Luxor and is 59 feet long, 52 feet wide, and 23 feet high ; the height of the minaret is 122 feet. The roof is supported by six columns of hard stone from Akhmîm, and has six windows, three on the north side, two on the west side, and one on the south side; there are doors on the west, north, and south sides. Within the mosque is a Hanafiya, and the decoration is of a partly Muslim, and partly ancient Egyptian, character. Over the main door is the inscription in Arabic : “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Conipassionate! Say: May God pray for the Apostle of God, and give him peace. He who buildeth for God a house of worship shall the face of God, the Most High, follow, and God shall build for him therein a house of Paradise : Al-Hâgg Muḥammad Muhassib Mûsa Ash-Shairi founded this House of Assembly in the year of the Hijra 1323. Provision has been made for a garden, and when the buildings of the mosque are complete they will include a number of alms-houses.

In connection with the American Mission at Luxor (Rev. Chauncey Murch, D.D.) must be mentioned the Boarding School for Girls. This new and commodious School, which stands on the right hand side of the road to Karnak, is managed by Miss C. M. Buchanan, assisted by

« PreviousContinue »