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and rearing of cattle, the duties of seedtime and harvest, the moulding and firing of pottery, the building and navigation of boats, the dancing of women and the sports of men - even the building of tombs. Or the deceased himself is shown in some notable exploits of his earthly life, such as the hunt, wherein the rendering of birds and beasts and fishes is marvelously realistic. In other panels may be seen processions advancing with food for the ka. In all, the skill of the Fifth Dynasty artists is abundantly revealed, most of the figures being carved with amazing delicacy in low relief and occasionally giving convincing portrayals of intense action. Never again was such artistry excelled, although in the temple at Abydos it is closely approached on a large scale.
Considered as an art, this process of carving scenes from life developed very early indeed, and the best examples belong to the period between 2750 and 2625 B.C. Nothing could be finer than the spirit shown in the carvings and paintings — for there are paintings as well. The feluccas floating in the Nile are precisely like what one may still see. Every rope is faithfully drawn. The faces and bodies of the sailors are instinct with activity and individuality. No more graphic portrayal of the daily life of any people can well be imagined than that revealed by the sculptured walls of the tombs of Ti and Ptah-hôtep.
Men of their degree might not build pyramids, which were the tombs of royalty — but they did better. They gave us a contribution of knowledge of their times which is vastly greater in value than that of the kings with their colossal piles of masonry, from which the inscriptions, if there ever were any, have perished. And the humble mastaba has long outlasted the proud valley temples which formerly served the majestic pyramids as mortuary chapels. Ti was no ruler — but he was an important man for all that. He was a priest of the Sun, he was overseer of canals, he was chief of royal wigmakers — he was, in brief, a sort of prehistoric Pooh Bah, factotum and royal favorite whom the king delighted to honor. Doubtless Ptah-hôtep was much the same sort of personage. But in neither case was the builder of the tomb so much concerned to celebrate himself as to provide for all eternity a sure repose, sufficient food and abundant security against the incursions of the worm.
Ptah-hôtep's menu demands a plenteous arraysomething like 121,300 geese, for example, as well as beer, wine, and bread enough for the multitude. These magnificent estimates of what constituted proper amounts for an eternal banquet may doubtless be explained as extravagant and pious aspirations -- a sort of figurative way of expressing hopes that food might never fail the ka. But I should not be surprised to find that the carving of a picture of a pot of beer and the writing of a numeral under it — a sufficiently grandiose numeral — were held sufficient to supply the shade with drink for all eternity, even if nothing in the way of actual brew might come nigh his dwelling.
The inscriptions in these Sakkâra tombs are of small historic value save as bearing on the rites of the cult. They do not convey the same sort of message that is borne by the mightier carvings on the kingly temples of the South, as to great deeds of arms and expeditions to the kingdoms beyond the seas. But they do give a splendid idea of the life and customs of the time, and an enlightening view of ancient superstitions which must have incalculable value from the archæological standpoint. The ultimate reflection is bound to be that Egypt has changed but little from what she was in the days when Abraham sojourned in the land of Goshen. We may ourselves see daily enacted just such scenes as are portrayed on the walls of Ti's mortuary chapel. But we should look far to find an artist capable of picturing them with equal facility and fidelity.
By the way, it is interesting to note in the tomb of Ptah-hôtep the oldest signature of any artist known to man, for the designer of the decorations in the chapel has reserved for himself his own little niche and has left his own figure neatly inscribed on the walls of the tomb a little man seated in a boat and drinking happily from a jar. He tells us that this is "Ptah-en-ankh, chief of the engravers" - a sort of prehistoric Velasquez embalming his own memory and visage for all time along with those of his master.
Although many other tombs exist at Sakkâra, the visitor commonly sees no others than these. The stupendous work of the Serapeum is, however, always shown and is interesting in its own peculiar way, although unable because of its comparative youth to command the veneration bestowed on antiquity in Egypt. Its intrinsic impressiveness depends, not on its claim of great age, but rather on its general massiveness and its possession of the huge sarcophagi devoted to the burial of the sacred bull of Ptah. That the bull had always been the animal sacred to the local god of Memphis is undoubted, and the mummified bodies of them were buried at Sakkâra as early as the Eighteenth Dynasty; but it was reserved for the later days — the years around 660 B.C. — to provide the enormous stone coffins which still exist. By that time, Ptah, the artificer god, had seemingly become partially merged in the concept of Osiris, and the Apis bull had come to be known as the Osiris-Apis, whence came the Greek corruption of the name of the sepulchre to “Serapeum.”
Between the Mena House and Sakkâra lie the highly interesting pyramids and temples of Abusir — which most travelers like ourselves are content to take on faith. Doubtless this is a pity, for in connection with the pyramid architecture of old Egypt there is much to be learned on the spot, more especially as there are still extant several temples, of sufficient bulk to make them impressive, which once served as accessories to the pyramid-tombs located there. Indeed, it was from the light shed by the explorations at Abusir that much mystery formerly attending upon the works at Ghizeh was cleared up including the better understanding of the valley temple of Khephrên and the identification of the Sphinx.
Digging at Sakkâra is still going on. It is stated that there is enough material now in sight to insure active prosecution of the work for another generation. Sakkâra was not built in a day, and it will not be exhumed in any short metre. When we were there, the active work was being pushed at a point well to the north of the excavator's (Mr. Quibell's) house, and a most amazing number of old graves were already uncovered, some deep in the rock and others more superficial, but nearly all tenanted by the bones laid there in a forgotten day. Old pots and kettles pre