Page images

is about 156 feet high, and the length of its sides at the base is about 343 feet.


This pyramid, called by the Arabs El-Haram el-Kaddab, Tombs of

Early and or “the False Pyramid,” is probably so named because it is Middle unlike any of the other pyramids known to them; it is said Empire

identical to have been built by Seneferu (Niko ), the first king in plan. of the IVth dynasty, but there is no indisputable evidence that he was the builder. The pyramid is about 115 feet high, and consists of three stages : the first is 70, the second 20, and the third about 25 feet high. The stone for this building was brought from the Moķațțam hills, but it seems never to have been finished ; as in all other pyramids, the entrance is on the north side. When opened in modern times the sarcophagus chamber was found empty, and it would seem that this pyramid had been entered and rifled in ancient days.


Egyptian tombs belonging to a period subsequent to the mașțabas and pyramids, i.e., about the XIIth dynasty, usually have the three characteristic parts of these forms of tomb, viz., the chapel, the passage to the sarcophagus chamber, and the sarcophagus chamber itself excavated in the solid rock; sometimes, however, the chapel or chamber in which the relatives of the deceased assembled from time to time, is above ground and separate from the tomb, as in the case of the pyramid. Tombs having the chapel separate are the oldest, and the best examples are found at Abydos.' On a brick base about 50 feet by 35 feet, and four or five feet high, rose a pyramid to a height of about 30 feet; theoretically such a tomb was supposed to consist of chapel,

| Abydos étant surtout une nécropole du Moyen Empire, c'est la petite pyramide qui y domine. Des centaines de ces monuments, disposés sans ordre, hérissaient la nécropole et devaient lui donner un aspect pittoresque bien différent de l'aspect des nécropoles d'un autre temps. Mariette, Abydos, tom. II. Paris, 1880, p. 39.


Tombs at passage and pit, but at Abydos, owing to the friable nature of Abydos.

the rock, these do not exist, and the mummy was laid either in the ground between the foundations, or in the masonry itself, or in a chamber which projected from the building and formed a part of it, or in a chamber beneath. This class of tomb is common both at Thebes and Abydos. Tombs hewn entirely out of the solid rock were used at all periods, and the best examples of these are found in the mountains behind

Asyûț, at Beni-Hasân, at Thebes, and at Aswân. The tombs Tombs at at Beni-Hasân are about fifteen in number, and they all Beni.

belong to the XIIth dynasty; they have preserved the chief characteristics of the mastabas at Şakkârah, that is to say, they consist of a chamber and a shaft leading down to a corridor, which ends in the chamber containing the sarcophagus and the mummy. The tombs rise tier above tier, and follow the course of the best layers of stone; the most important here are those of Ameni and Chnemu-hetep, which are remarkable for possessing columns somewhat resembling those subsequently called Doric, hewn out of the solid rock. The columns inside the tomb have sixteen sides.

The bold headland which rises up in the low range of hills which faces the whole of the island of Elephantine, just opposite to the modern town of Aswân, has been found to be literally honeycombed with tombs, tier above tier, of various epochs. In ancient days there was down at the water's edge a massive stone quay, from which a broad, fine double staircase, cut in the living rock, ascended to a layer of firm rock about 150 feet higher. At Thebes and at Beni-Hasân, where such staircases must have existed, they have been destroyed,

and only the traces remain to show that they ever existed. Tombs at At Aswân it is quite different, for the whole of this remarkAswan.

able staircase is intact. It begins at the bottom of the slope, well above the highest point reached by the waters of the Nile during the inundation, and following the outward curve of the hill, ends in a platform in front of the highest tombs. Between each set of steps which form the staircase is a smooth slope, up which the coffins and sarcophagi were drawn to the tomb by the men who walked up the steps at each side. At the bottom of the staircase the steps are only a few inches deep, but towards the top they are more than a foot. On each side of the staircase is a wall which appears to be of later date than the staircase itself, and about one-third of the way up there is a break in cach wall, which appears to be a specially constructed opening leading to passages on the right and left respectively. The walls probably do not belong to the period of the uppermost tier of tombs, and appear to have been made during the rule of the Greeks or Romans. In the hill of the tombs at Aswân there are three distinct Tombs of

the VIth layers of stone which have been chosen by the ancient dynasty at Egyptians for the purpose of excavating tombs. The finest Aswân. and thickest layer is at the top, and this was chosen principally by the architects of the VIth dynasty for the sepulchres of the governors of Elephantine. The tombs here belong to the VIth and XIIth dynasties, and of the former period the most interesting is that of Sabben, which is situated at the top of the staircase. Sabben was an official who lived in the time of Pepi II., whose cartouche

Nefer-ka-Rā is found on the right hand side of the doorway. The entrance to this tomb is made through a rectangular opening, in which is a small doorway about one-third of the height of the opening, that is to say through a door within a door. The walls inside were covered with a thin layer of plaster, and upon them were painted scenes in the life of the man who was buried there. Of the XIIth dynasty tombs, the most interesting Tombs of

the XIIth is that of Se-renput, in the front of which there originally a

y dynasty at stood a portico. The scarped rock was ornamented with Aswân. inscriptions, rows of cattle, etc., etc., and passing through the doorway, a chamber or chapel having four rectangular pillars was reached. A passage, in the sides of which were niches having figures in them, leads to a beautifully painted shrine in which was a black granite scated figure of the deceased ; thus the serdâb and the stele of the mastaba became united. On the right hand side was a tunnel, which, winding as it descended, led to the sarcophagus chamber which was situated exactly under the shrine containing the figure of the deceased. Se-renput lived in the time of Usertsen I., and was an officer in the service of this king when he marched

Cight of

hin lava within


into Ethiopia ; thus the date of the tomb is well known.' Like the tombs of the VIth dynasty the walls inside were covered with a layer of plaster upon which scenes and inscrip

tions were painted. Tombs of During the XVIIIth dynasty tombs on the plan of the the XIIth

a rock-hewn tombs of the XIIth dynasty were commonly built, XVIIIth

but the inscriptions, which in ancient days were brief, now dynasties similar in become very long, and the whole tomb is filled with beautiplan.

fully painted scenes representing every art and trade, every agricultural labour, and every event in the life of the deceased. The biography of the deceased is given at great length; if a soldier, the military expeditions in which he took part are carefully depicted, and appropriate hieroglyphic descriptions are appended; the tribute brought to the king from the various countries is depicted with the most careful attention to the slightest detail of colour and form. The mummy chamber was made exactly under the chapel, but the position of the pit which led to it varied. Under the XVIIIth and XIXth dynasties the tombs of kings and private persons possessed a size and magnificence which they never attained either before or since. The finest specimens of these periods are the famous Tombs of the Kings which are hewn in the living rock in the eastern and western valleys at

Thebes; those in the latter valley belong to the XVIIIth el-Mulûk.

dynasty, and those in the former belong to the XIXth dynasty. The royal tombs here consist of long inclined planes, with chambers at intervals, receding into the mountains ; according to Strabo these tombs were forty in number, but at the time of the death of M. Mariette, only about twenty-five were known. The tomb which we may consider to have been the model during the palmy days of the XVIIIth and XIXth dynasties, is that of Seti I. ; the walls of the staircases and chambers are covered with inscriptions and scenes from the “Book of being in the


1 For a full account of this tomb, see my paper in Proc. Soc. Bib. Arch., November, 1887, p. 33 ff. A tomb of great importance was discovered at Aswân in 1892 by Signor E. Schiaparelli, who published the hieroglyphic text with a commentary in his valuable paper Una Tomba Egiziana Inedita della Vla Dinastia, Roma, 1892.

Underworld,” and their excellence and beauty is such that they cannot be too highly praised. Under this king, Egyptian funercal art seems to have been at its culminating point, for neither sculptor nor painter appears to have produced anything so fine after this date. The tomb is The tomb

of Seti I. entered by means of two flights of steps, at the bottom of which is a passage terminating in a small chamber. Beyond this are two halls having four and two pillars respectively, and to the left are the passages and small chambers which lead to the large six-pillared hall and to the vaulted chamber in which stood the sarcophagus of Seti I. Here also is an inclined plane which descends into the mountain for a considerable distance ; from the level of the ground to the bottom of this incline the depth is about 150 feet; the length of the tomb is nearly 500 feet. The designs on the walls were first sketched in outline in red, and the alterations by the master designer or artist were made in black; this tomb was never finished. Each chamber in this tomb has its peculiar ornamentation, and there is little doubt that each chamber had its peculiar furniture; it is thought that many articles of furniture, pieces of armour, weapons, etc., etc., were broken intentionally when they were placed in the tomb. Of the tombs belonging to the period between the XXth and the XXVIth dynasty, nothing need be said, for they call for no special notice; in the XXVIth dynasty, however, the renaissance of Egyptian Therenaisart naturally showed itself in the tombs of the period, and in so some few instances an attempt was made to reproduce tombs after the plan and with the elegance of those of the XIXth dynasty. It must be noticed that the inscriptions on the walls are of a funereal character, and consist usually of a series of chapters of the Book of the Dead.

That the tombs described above are those of wealthy people goes without saying; it now remains to refer to the tombs of the extremely poor. They were sometimes buried in the crevices of the rocks, and at other times in the desert, either near the great necropolis of the town or in


i On les tuait de la sorte afin que leur âme allât servir l'âme de l'homme dans l'autre monde. Maspero, L'Archéologie Egyptienne, p. 159.

« PreviousContinue »