Page images
PDF
EPUB

its passage of the underworld. But the other essential of the mastaba — the chamber where were set forth the meals and incense of the ka — had come to be placed far away in a spot more convenient for the living. I take it there is a direct analogy here to the practice of the pyramid builders, whose mortuary temples were separated from their tombs, with the difference that at Thebes the temples were far away, while at Ghizeh the ka temple lay close by the pyramid and was connected with it by an ascending causeway. At Thebes there is no possible connection of a physical kind between the temple and the grave. Apparently none was thought necessary — a considerable advance, surely, from the time when men felt it essential to provide a little runway for the shade to reach his home, as we saw done at Sakkâra.

There have been unearthed in this whole valley about forty-five royal tombs, seven of which are held sufficiently interesting to be lighted. We visited five of them, the finest in point of decoration being those of Rameses III and Seti I. It would be too bewildering to attempt detailed descriptions of them all, however, and I shall be content with registering here only the impression we received from the grave which is happily still occupied by its regal tenant.

By the way, the wholesale use of the talismanic literature of the Book of the Dead, or the Book of Him Who Is in the Underworld, is a decidedly imposing monument to the growth of priestcraft as it had come to be in the time of Amenhôtep and Thutmosis. No tomb was complete which did not embody on its roof and walls a host of passages from those works. They were engraved on the backs of huge scarabs inserted in the place of the heart. They were conned over and over again by the living that they might be remembered in the realm of the dead - and the surroundings of the body heralded forth the more essential passwords and countersigns in imperishable writing, lest in his long sleep the dead man should forget what he had learned. Added to these were long inscriptions illustrative of the passage of the shade through the kingdom of Isis and Osiris all very illuminating on the score of what Egypt thought of the hereafter in the days of the empire. All these aged paintings, laid on fifteen centuries before Christ, are of a most surprising freshness, though seldom of artistic beauty when judged by our modern standards.

With the mortuary temples — the other essential of the tomb - we had very little to do on to-day's excursion. Those are reserved for to-morrow. For the present we have been concerned chiefly with what lay below ground — the actual burial-places of the monarchs so sedulously concealed from the knowlege of men. I should add, however, before passing from the subject, that all this care proved ineffectual in the end, just as it had done in the case of the pyramids. In nearly every recent excavation clear evidences have been found of previous invasion and robbery. A part of this vandalism was perpetrated ages ago. A part of it was more modern. And at one time, so rapacious had the thieves become that it was apparently found necessary to remove the mummies from their original graves and mobilize them in a single spot for the better prevention of pillage. Out of the tomb of Amenhôtep II, for example, were taken no less than nine royal corpses, including the most august of all, Amenhôtep III, most illustrious of that name. These are now in Cairo. But in a tiny antechamber adjacent to the vault, where the sole remaining Pharaoh lies sleeping, there are still three bodies, presumably members of the monarch's household.

We took our leave of the desolate valley by a mountain path that leads directly over the rocky spur to the plain, thus avoiding the long ride around it and coming in the shortest possible time to the terraced temple of Queen Hatasu. The beasts were led over after us. It was a magnificent walk, made the more enjoyable by the fact that the north wind continued to blow, mitigating what would otherwise have

eur a

[ocr errors]

been intolerable heat. The views increased in grandeur as we ascended, until finally we had spread out at our feet the entire bowl of the valley with its twoscore of open tombs scattered all about — a perfect paradise for excavators. I suppose no similar area on earth has proved more gloriously rewarding — and the end is not yet. Only yesterday we passed the returning steamer of Mr. Theodore M. Davis, an American, whose endeavors in this field have given us some of our chiefest treasures, and who is still actively at work here. In particular we owe to him the magnificent array of articles taken from the tomb of Queen Tii's parents, – that is to say, the parentsin-law of the greatest Amenhotep, — which are displayed together with the mummies in an upper room of the Cairo museum. Even so, with all the riches that this tomb discovered, it afforded ample evidence of having been plundered ages before by marauders, who were seemingly interrupted in their work and who left their projected booty lying all about. It is far and away the most complete collection of tomb accessories we have seen, including, besides a store of golden ornaments, a nearly perfect chariot, a bed, and some chairs. These are relics one seldom sees. The more ordinary accompaniments of the mummy - such as the scarab and the host of “respondent statuettes" designed to do menial labor for the deceased should Osiris require it — are common enough in any well-equipped Egyptian collection.

Our walk over the hills led for a space along the ridge whence one might see both the valley and the plain. The way was enlivened by songs wherein the Professor and I joined our voices to those of the muleteers — to their intense delight. We “Illy-Haleyed” and “Soulless Aliced” with the best of them, and incidentally the Professor was inspired to teach the natives to yodel after the Swiss fashion. Nothing like it had ever been heard before on the banks of the Nile — and I doubt that anything like it was ever heard in Switzerland. But it aroused tremendous enthusiasm in the native mind, and if the art becomes prevalent it will unquestionably revolutionize all Nile traffic.

In half an hour or less we came to the point where we could look directly down on Hatasu's temple, three hundred feet or more below us, at the very foot of the cliff. From that altitude it had the look of a toy — a glittering white toy in a wilderness of naked yellow rock. Its terraced courts blazed hot in the glare of noonday. The shadow of its diminutive arcades was grateful to behold. And hard-by it, nestling in the sands, lay the rest-house where it was appointed we should lunch.

The afternoon we gave up to the terraced temple.

W

« PreviousContinue »