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Egyptian tombs used by Christian monks.
solitary places. A cave or hollow in the mountains afforded a place of sepulture unto many, and numerous rock caves exist in the mountains to the west of Thebes and other places, where the mass of decayed mummies and bones is several feet deep, and where skulls and skeletons, some with their skins shrivelled upon them, and others with bare bones, line the sides up to the ceiling. Sometimes pits were dug as common graves for the whole town, and sometimes the pit and passage of a forsaken tomb served to accommodate hundreds of bodies. The absence of valuable furniture and ornaments rendered the bodies of the poor of no account to the pillager of tombs, and the inaccessible situation of the places where they were buried made it unlikely that they would be disturbed that others might be put in their places. The funereal furniture of the poor consisted of very little more than what they wore day by day, and, provided they were protected by a few amulets and figures of the gods in faience to guard them against the attacks of evil-disposed demons, and by a scarab, the emblem of the resurrection and the new life, they probably laid down the burden of this life with as firm a hope in the mercy of Osiris as did the rich man in the mastabaor pyramid.
Under the Ptolemies and the Roman Emperors the arrangement of the tombs changes greatly; the outer chapel or chamber disappears entirely, and the character of everything appertaining to the service of the tomb shows that a great change has taken place in the religious views of the people, for although ancient forms and observances are kept up, it is clear that the spirit which gave them life has been forgotten.
In the early centuries of the Christian era the tombs in the mountains of Egypt formed dwelling-places for a number of monks and ascetics, and it would seem that the statues and other objects in them suffered at their hands. An instance of the use of a rock-hewn tomb by Pisentios, Bishop of Coptos, is made known to us by an encomium on this saint by his disciple John.1 The tomb in which
1 For the Coptic text and a French translation, see Amllineau, Elude sur le Christianismt en Egyfte au Scptihmc Sihle, Paris, 1887.
Piseritios lived was rectangular in shape, and was fifty-two feet wide; it had six pillars and contained a large number of mummies. The coffins were very large and profusely decorated, and one of the mummies was clothed in silk, and his fingers and toes were mummified separately; the names of those buried there were written on a small parchment roll (it oTrTojm.^.pioit it Xujju. Ju. Ju.eju.ftpA.nort). Pisentios conversed with one of the mummies, who begged the saint to pray for his forgiveness; when Pisentios had promised him that Christ would have mercy upon him, the mummy lay down in his coffin again.
Egyptian Writing Materials.
The writing materials chiefly used by the ancient Egyptians consisted of papyrus, palette, reeds, and colours.
hieraticus, or Cyperus papyrus, which grew in the marshes and pools near the Nile. The height of the plant was from twelve to fifteen feet, and the largest diameter of its triangular stalk was about four or six inches. The roots were used for firewood, parts of the plant were eaten, and other and coarser parts were made into paper, boats, ropes, mats, etc., etc. It will be remembered that the boat in which Isis set out to seek for Osiris was made of papyrus,1 and the "ark of bulrushes"1 in which Moses was laid was probably made of the same material. When it was intended to make paper from the Preparaplant, the outer rind was removed, and the stalk was divided tlon of
r 9 ' papyrus
with a flat needle into layers. These layers, the length of for writing
1 Plutarch, Dc /side et Osiride, Squire's translation, p. 22.
pressed and afterwards dried. It is clear that by joining a number of such sheets of papyrus together, a roll of almost any length could be made. The quality of the papyrus depended entirely upon the class of plant used in its manufacture. The colour of the papyri that have come down to us varies greatly, from a rich brown to a whitish-grey; the texture of some is exceedingly coarse, and of others fine and silky. The width of papyri varies from six to seventeen inches, and the longest papyrus known (Harris, No. I, B.M. 9999) measures 135 feet in length. The finest hieroglyphic papyri of the Book of the Dead are about fifteen inches in width, and when they contain a tolerably full Dimen- number of chapters, are from eighty to ninety feet long. The papyri* papyri upon which contracts in Greek and Demotic are written are of a coarse fibre, and vary from ten to fourteen inches in width; their lengths vary from one to ten feet. The usual width of papyri employed for literary compositions is about eight inches. The common name for a roll of
papyrus was | C * <=*^ -Q- tfama, Copt. XCJUAJL, "a book."
Papyrus letters and legal documents were fastened by being tied round with a piece of papyrus string, and upon this a piece of clay was laid, which, being impressed with a ring or scarab, formed a seal, called in Egyptian 'l—=| J ^ Q febat.
The British Museum possesses among its seals impressions in clay of the seal of Shabaka, found at Kouyunjik (see p. 249); a seal (No. 5585) ascribed to Shashanq by Dr. Birch (in Layard, Babylon and Nineveh, London, 1853, p. 1857), which
reads ° JtTtT JtTtT t~1 A!V; an oval seal (No. 5584) bearing
the name of a private person and the prenomen of Amasis II.
©Q'O' ; and an oval seal (No. 5583), bearing the name of
The palette of the Egyptian scribe, called f^j— \ Q mesthd, was made of basalt (B.M. No. 12,778), calcareous stone inlaid with lapis-lazuli (B.M. No. 24,576), and ivory (B.M. No. 5524), but more commonly of wood. In shape it was rectangular, and its size varied from 10 in. x 2 in. to 16 in. x 2^ in.; its thickness was usually jj of an inch. At one end were circular, or oval, hollows to hold ink, the former being in the shape of and the latter of a cartouche <—> . About a third of the length of the palette from this end a sloping groove was cut, which from about the middle of the palette to the other end had an equal depth, for holding the reeds for writing. These were kept in their place either by a piece of wood gummed into the palette about a third of the way above the groove, or by a piece of wood, forming a bridge, under which the reeds could pass freely, and which was left uncut when the groove was made. A sliding cover over the longer part of the groove protected the ends of the reeds from damage. The hollows in the palette for holding the ink are usually two in number, one for red ink and one for black; these being the colours most commonly used for writing upon papyri. Some palettes have as many as a dozen hollows, and these probably belonged to scribes whose business it was to ornament papyri with scenes painted in many colours. The dates of palettes can often be determined with accuracy because, in addition to the name of the owner, the name of the king in whose reign he lived is given. Thus Royal B.M. No. 12,784 was made in the reign of Amasis I., B.M. 5513 Palettesin that of Amenophis III., and B.M. 5514 in that of Rameses II.; from these three examples we see that the form of the palette changed very little in a whole dynasty. The inscriptions upon palettes were usually in hieroglyphics, but B.M. No. 5524, made of ivory, is inscribed in hieratic, and B.M. No. 5517, made of wood, also has upon it an inscription in hieratic. The palette of a scribe was sometimes placed in the tomb with its owner (see in the Papyrus of Ant, pi. 7, where it lies under the bier), and votive palettes are known, as for example B.M. No. 12,778. This object is made of green basalt, and at the end where the coloured inks were placed is a scene in outline in which the deceased is represented making an offering to Osiris, behind whom stand a goddess and Thoth. The places for the ink are outlined, but not hollowed out, and the groove is only cut a part of the length; the reeds which still remain are fastened in with plaster, and it is perfectly clear that this
palette was never used by a scribe. On each side is an inscription in hieroglyphics, which records the name and titles of the deceased, and which prays that appropriate sepulchral meals may be given to the deceased, and that he may enter in, and come out from the underworld, without repulse, whenever he pleases. Inscriptions on palettes are often dedications to the god Thoth, "lord of divine words." Stone and faYence palettes with eight, ten, or twelve small vases for ink were also used.
Egyp- The reed, in Egyptian 9esA> CoPt- Ki-cy, with
which the Egyptian wrote, was about ten inches long, -rVth or |th of an inch in diameter; the end used for writing was bruised to make the fibres flexible, and not cut. After the XXVIth dynasty an ordinary reed, similar to that which the Arabs and other Oriental nations use for writing at the present day, was employed, and the end was cut like a quill, or steel pen. The average sized palette will hold about ten writing reeds easily.
The ink which the Egyptian used was made of mineral and vegetable substances, mixed with a little gum and water. The substance which coloured the ink, black, red, blue, green, white, or yellow, was carefully rubbed down on a rectangular slab of granite, basalt, or marble, with a hard stone muller, and then thrown into a vessel, where the necessary quantity of water and gum was added to make it the consistency of moderately thin cream. The professional scribe probably carried about with him pieces of colour similar to the specimens in blue, green, and red which are preserved in European museums, and rubbed down a little at a time according to his need. The green and blue colours are preparations from copper, which can, I understand, be successfully imitated at the present time; fine examples are B.M. 5565, SS7lc> and sma11 prepared lumps of colour exhibited in bronze bowl, B.M. 5556. The red and bronze colours were preparations from red ochre mixed with chalk; an interesting example of the former is B.M. No. 18,337, and of the latter B.M. No. 5572.