Page images
PDF
EPUB

In 1905 Mr. J. W. Crowfoot and myself discovered here and excavated a temple which Tirhâşâh built in honour of Usertsen III, the first conqueror of Nubia. The inscribed rectangular altar was in situ. Inside the fortifications at Kummah are the ruins of a larger temple which date from the period of Thothmes II, and Thothmes III. Among recent investigators of these ruins is Mr. Somers Clarke, who has prepared scale plans of them all.

The traveller now finds himself journeying through the mountainous district called the Bațn al-Hagar, i.e., the ‘Stone Belly,' and a more terrible desert it would be difficult to find ; blackened rocks and bright yellow sand meet the eye in every direction, and the heat and glare in the afternoon even in the winter months are very fierce. After passing Atiri, Ambuķôl and Tangûr Rapids, and the hot sulphur spring at Ukma the village of 'Ukâshah is reached at mile 85. Here the railway touches the river. At 'Ukâshah an action was fought between 240 of the Egyptian Cavalry and the Dervishes, on May ist, 1896; the Egyptians routed the Dervish force of 1,300 men, 300 of whom were mounted, and killed 18 and wounded 80. At mile 98 is Dâl Cataract, where the fall is about 5 feet; Gebel Dâl on the east is 1,973 feet high. On an island in the Cataract is a Turkish fortress. At Farķa (Ferket) ä,,, 107 miles from Wâdi Halfa, a famous battle was fought on June 7th, 1896. The Sirdar (Lord Kitchener) attacked the Dervishes at 5 a. m., killed and wounded about 1,000 of them, including 40 amîrs, or chiefs, and took 500 prisoners, his own loss being 20 killed and 80 wounded; the battle was over in two hours. The head of the Second Cataract is at Ferket. At Kôshah, 113 miles from Wâdî Halfa, died Captain Fenwick and Surgeon - Captain Trask, in July, 1896. At Ginnis (mile 113), the Dervishes were defeated on December 30th, 1885. On the Island of Sâi, about 130 miles from Wâdî Halfa, are the remains of a small temple with inscriptions of Thothmes III. and Amenophis II., and a number of gray granite pillars from a Coptic church, on which is cut the Coptic cross. Opposite to the north end of the island, on the east bank, are the ruins of the Temple of Amârah. The foundations are of brick, but the columns, eight in number, are of sandstone, and are 3 feet in diameter. The temple measured about 54 feet by 30 feet, and the doorway, which had a column on each side, was 19 feel wide. It was built by a Meroïtic queen whose pyramidtomb is at Meroë, on the top of the hill behind Bagrawiyah. At mile 142 is Saddênga, where there are the ruins of a temple built by Amenophis III. in honour of his queen Thi, and a broken statue. A little to the north, on the east bank of the Nile, is Suwarda, which became the Sirdar's advanced outpost after the Battle of Ferket. Six miles to the south of Saddênga is Gebel Dûsh (Dôsha), a mass of sandstone in which was hewn a tomb in the reign of Thothmes III.; the spot is extremely picturesque. One mile further south is $ulb, or Soleb, with the remains of a large and magnificent temple which was built by Amenophis III. ; they are the best preserved ruins of a temple and undoubtedly the most interesting of all the ancient Egyptian remains south of Semnah. The Egyptian name of the city of Soleb was Menen-en-kha-em-maāt mundo

nd the temple was built there to commemorate the king's victories over the Nubians, many of the names of the tribes of which are found inscribed on its walls. The temple was approached through two pylons. The court between the two pylons measured about 70 ft. by 45 ft., and contained six columns; the second pylon, 167 ft. wide, was approached by steps. The second court measured about go ft. by 113 st., and a colonnade ran round all four sides ; the columns, 28 in number, are 6 feet in diameter. The sanctuary was approached through two hypostyle halls, the second of which measured 78 ft. by 113 st., and contained 32 columns 5i feet in diameter. Almost opposite the railway triangle'at Dalgo, about 191 miles from Wâdî Halfa, on the west bank of the Nile, lie the ruins of the Temple of Sesebi, which bear inscriptions of Seti I., about B.C. 1370. At mile 203 is the Kaibar (or, Kagbar) Cataract, and at mile 231 the village of Hannek is passed. The village of Abû Fâțma marks the boundary between the Provinces of Halfa and Dongola. On the Island of Tombos, near Kerma, and on the banks of the river, at the head of the Third Cataract, 201 miles from Wâdî Halfa, are gray granite quarries, in one of which the two statues, now lying on the Island of Arķô (Argo), were quarried ; nearly 70 years ago Mr. Hoskins saw lying here a broken statue of the same material 12 feet long. Kerma, at mile 246, was the terminus of the railway.

Al-Hafir, about six miles to the south of Kerma, on the left bank of the river, is famous in Anglo-Egyptian annals as the scene of the action between the Egyptian artillery and gunboats and the Dervishes on September 19, 1896. The Dervishes had made along the river a long line of shelter trenches, with loopholed mud walls, and they had five small guns, which were well worked by ex-gunners of the Egyptian army. The Sirdar's gunboats, Tamaai, Abu Klea, and Metammeh, attacked the forts; the Egyptian artillery kept up a strong fire, but it was the fire from three batteries of artillery and a Maxim battery, which were landed on the Island of Artaghasi, that silenced the Dervish guns. On the Island of Arķô, which is about 20 miles long, are two gray granite statues, which, together with the pedestals, must have stood about 24 feet high ; they seem not to have been finished. One is broken, and the other has lost part of an arm. Lepsius assigned the statues to the Hyksos period, but this is clearly impossible; and there is no reason for doubting that they belong to the period when the Nubian kingdom of Napata or of Meroë was flourishing. From their positions it appears that they were set up in front of the temple, the ruins of which lie close by, after the manner of the colossal statues of kings that were placed before the pylons of temples in Egypt. The temple which stood on this island must have been of considerable size. On the right bank of the Nile, near Arķô, at Karmân, are the ruins of a very large town, and in the necropolis are the remains of two rectangular mud brick tombs which, in Lepsius' day, measured 150 X 66 X 40 feet, and 132 x 66 x 40 feet respectively; they are called Dafùfa and Karmân.

Al-Urdî, or New Donķola, a little over 70 miles from Kerma, on the west bank of the Nile, was re-occupied by Egyptian troops on September 23, 1896. In the western desert, at no great distance from the town, are large quantities of salt deposit. During the revolt of the Mahdi this town, under the rule of Mustafa Yawir, who doubted the divinity of the Mahdî, remained loyal for a long time, and its people actually defeated the Dervishes at ķùrta (Korti); finally, however, it was compelled to submit to the rebel, and the loss of the Donķola Province was a serious blow to Egypt. The town was large and prosperous, but, like every place which fell under Dervish rule, was destroyed. The old town lay 2 miles south of the modern town. Seven miles to the south are the ruins of a small Egyptian temple, which was discovered and partially excavated by Colonel Hon. J. Colborne, in 1885.

At mile 291 is Lebab Island, where the Mahdî was born. Khandak marks the site of an ancient Egyptian town, and the ruins of several churches prove that there was a flourishing Christian community here in the Coptic period. Christian remains are also found at Firgi, Khalêwa, Amentogo, Arab Hag, to the south of Khandak. At Arab Hag an obelisk inscribed with the name of Piānkhi was found.

Old Donkola is situated on the east bank of the Nile, and is 351 miles from Halfa. At the present time it is simply a deserted town, filled with the ruins of mud-brick houses, and containing about 30 able-bodied men. The people belonging to it usually live on a little island in the Nile close by, and on the western bank. It is built on a rocky height overlooking the river and the Eastern Desert, and has always been of great strategic importance, from its commanding position. The current is very strong here, and the steamer in which the writer passed it in September, 1897, with difficulty made one mile in an hour. A fine stele, dated in the 8th year of the Nubian king Nåstasenen (mum A 1977), which was found here some years ago, proves that the town was of considerable size and importance long before the Christian era began, and in the first half of the sixth century A.D. the Christian king Silko, who defeated the Blemmyes, adopted the town as his capital. Abû Salīḥ describes it as a large city, and says that it "contains many churches, and large houses, and wide streets. The king's house is lofty, with several domes of red brick, and resembles the buildings in Al-'Irâķ; and this novelty was introduced by Raphael, who was king of Nubia A.H. 392," i.e., A.D. 1002. The Nubians are said to have been star-worshippers, and the first who was converted to Christianity was Bahriyâ, the son of the king's sister, who built many churches and monasteries in Nubia, some on the river banks, and some in the desert. The northern frontier of Nubia was at Aswân, which was said to be distant a journey of 40 days, and was called Marîs, a name derived from two ancient Egyptian words meaning the south land.' The south wind is commonly called Marîsîyah,' thd wall, as belonging to the south. The

« PreviousContinue »