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off a wall in a New England winter. Overhead the sky is blue. On the eastern side of the Nile you can see volleys of sand scurrying up into the deep ravines and wadis of the Arabian cliffs and disappearing over the mountain wall. The water is of a brownness that suggests a rich chocolate sauce.
The nights are cold. Lightly dressed women for of course everybody “dresses for dinner" here – are safe only when provided with warm wraps, for we spend our evenings in the great open space in the upper deck where there are plenty of wicker chairs and a poor old piano that has seen better days. Forward there is a sort of inclosed lounge as wide as the ship, generally stifling, to be sure, but affording a splendid place from which to look at the river as we sail majestically along. Altogether our lines have fallen in pleasant places.
March 2. This morning soon after breakfast we pulled up at the eastern shore, where a huge scow afforded wharfage for Beni Hassan. The customary rabble in charge of a multitude of asses stood behind a rail above on the edge of the steep bank, ready to pounce on us as soon as we should land. By the time the side-saddles had been unloaded, for the ship carries her own, — the pack were in full cry. I shall certainly buy me a rhinoceros-hide whip at Assiut,
for it is rapidly dawning on me that I can find uses for it.
Every one went to the rock-tombs of Beni Hassan to-day, although most of us still bore the scars of the Sakkâra jaunt. The ride was short, — not more than a mile each way, - and a day cramped up on shipboard had made us all keen for a bit of exercise. We made a most imposing company as we rode grandly away from the few huts and houses of the modern village and out into the open sands of the desert, under the protection of a splendid soldier mounted on an Arabian steed. Evidently he pictured himself as captain, or colonel, or knight of arms, for he insisted that we advance in a formation technically known as “company front," the while he led us like an army of invasion. Everybody entered into the spirit of the thing - even the asses; for as we caracoled over the soft sands that intervened between river and cliff, riding in a long and undulating line, every donkey lifted up its voice and brayed - brayed as it never brayed before, as if its whole soul were in the cry. It was impossible not to laugh, and laugh we did, much to the chagrin of our warrior, who hated to have his little hour of pageantry spoiled by the revelation that, after all, we were but sowaheen, mounted on prosaic beasts, instead of the knightly host his fancy painted.
It proved not to be far to the first of the cliff caverns, now known inartistically as the Speos Artemidos, or Cave of Artemis, which of course it is not We found it located in a little wadi between abrupt cliffs. Obviously it was not a tomb, but a temple sacred to some ancient divinity which the later Greeks identified with Artemis - probably Pasht, the pussygoddess of the Egyptians. It is simply a great rockhewn chamber in the face of the mountain, with an imposing portico graced with rude columns, but three of which remain, marked with old cartouches of Thutmosis III and Seti I. The latter monarch, being much later in time, simply carved his signature over the original one of Queen Hatasu (Hatshepsowet), who was the real builder of the shrine in company with Thutmosis III, her husband, and later the great monarch of his line. Within, it had little to interest us. The reliefs which remain intact seemed to have more to do with the cult of Ammon-Ra than with Pasht — but they are probably relics of the Ramessid times rather than of the Eighteenth Dynasty.
Naturally we were not detained long by the Cave of Artemis. It was not the main attraction of the locality — and indeed the natives commonly refer to it now as the “Stable of Antar," a term which seems to be employed all over Egypt to describe such a structure, much as we of New England fill our glens with "Devil's Pulpits” and “Devil's Footprints." We prowled through the dusky caves behind the portico and soon emerged to take the road again.
Once more the soldier marshaled us, but in Indian file, and led us by a dusty path along the foot of the cliff to the northward, cantering blithely, save for occasional halts made necessary by somebody's stumbling and having to be readjusted. I particularly rejoiced to see the fat valet of an Austrian count sadly unhorsed by a stumble and left, like Mahomet's coffin, 'twixt heaven and earth suspended, unable either to rise or fall. With much laughter he was hoisted back to the saddle by all the king's men -- and we proceeded.
To the actual rock-tombs of Beni Hassan it proved necessary to walk. We abandoned the donkeys at the foot of an abrupt slope leading up to some long rows of holes that pierced the face of the cliff high above. It was a hot and dusty scramble, for the sun was well advanced, but the distance was not great and the climb was amply repaid by the view no less than by the tombs. In fact, I think the view was almost the better feature of it all, for the sand-storm had departed and the air was as clear as a bell. Directly across the river we could see the heaving masses of the ruddy western cliffs, and beyond them the yellow sands shimmering in the heat. Below poured the broad flood of the Nile, its muddy color turned for the nonce to azure under that incomparable sky. Down through plains of vivid green it wound in a broad and sinuous ribbon, and on its bosom floated a score of winglike sails. Raschid let us gaze on it for a time unmolested,- then called us to the tombs.
The latter we found all carefully gated to keep out marauders, and duly ticketed in painstaking fashion by the archæologists, who have latterly done so much to make Egypt easy for the uninitiated. Each consisted of a single chamber hewn out of the living rock, with a separate corridor and sunken shaft for the actual burial-place. The main chamber above was undoubtedly for the same general uses as the chamber in the mastaba tombs as seen at Sakkâra - for the service of the ka, or manes of the dead. Thirty-nine tombs of the kind are known at Beni Hassan, all opening from this lofty terrace along the face of the cliff, from which terrace a long, inclined chute once led down to the plain below, opposite each tomb-door, for the better hauling of coffins. In date, let us say, these all belong to the Twelfth Dynasty- the period of Amenemhets and Sesostrises.
Of course these were the graves, not of monarchs, but of persons of high rank or considerable wealth, as was the case at Sakkara. In most of those that we entered there were lively traces of the painted decoration which adorned them when they were new, and