Title: Egypt through the stereoscope : a journey through the land of the Pharaohs [Electronic Edition]

Author: Breasted, James Henry, 1865-1935
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Title: Egypt through the stereoscope : a journey through the land of the Pharaohs

Author: James Henry Breasted
Originally copyrighted 1905.
File size or extent: 360 p. : maps ; 20 cm. + 1 atlas.
Publisher: Underwood & Underwood
Place of publication: New York
Place of publication: London
Place of publication: Ottawa, Kansas
Place of publication: Toronto, Canada
Place of publication: San Francisco, California
Place of publication: Bombay, India
Publication date: 1908
Identifier: From the collection of Dr. Paula Sanders, Rice University.
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Origin/composition of the text: 1905, 1908
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Egypt through the stereoscope : a journey through the land of the Pharaohs [Electronic Edition]



A Journey Through the Land of the Pharaohs


Professor of Egyptology and Oriental History
in the University of Chicago, Director of Haskell
Oriental Museum of the University of Chicago,
Director of the Egyptian Expedition of the
University of Chicago
UNDERWOOD & UNDERWOOD New York London Ottawa, Kansas Toronto, Canada San Francisco, California Bombay, India 1908

Copyright, 1905,
New York and London
All stereographs copyrighted.
Patented in the United States, August 21, 1900
Patented in Great Britain, March 22, 1900
Patented in France, March 26, 1900. S.G.D.G.
Switzerland, + Patent 21,211
All rights reserved
Printed in the United States


Introduction 11
The Story of Egypt 17
The Itinerary 47


1 Pompey's Pillar, the sailors' landmark, and modern Alexandria, N. toward the sea 53
2 Cairo, home of the Arabian Nights, greatest city of Africa, N. W. from Saladin's Citadel to Nile 56
3 Citadel and Mohammed Ali Mosque, beyond Bab el-Wezir cemetery, at feast of Bairam, Cairo 64
4 Cairo, looking S. W. across city to the great Pyramids that furnished stone for its buildings 68
5 A “ship of the Desert” passing tombs of bygone Moslem rulers outside east wall of Cairo 71
6 Tomb Mosque of Sultan Kait Bey from the N. E.—most beautiful of the tombs of Cairo 74
7 The prayer-niche (S. E., towards Mecca), and pulpit in the tomb mosque of Kait Bey, Cairo 76
8 The Holy Carpet Parade with the Mahmal, before the departure of the pilgrims for Mecca, Cairo 78
9 The harem windows in the court of a wealthy Cairene's house 84
10 Diorite statue of King Khafre, builder of the Second Pyramid at Gizeh, Cairo 87
11 The famous wooden statue called the Shekh el-Beled, in the Museum, Cairo 90
12 The body of Sethos I who lived in the middle of the fourteenth century, B. C., Museum of Cairo 94
13 The magnificent jewelry of the Pharaohs (Queen Ahhotep, seventeenth century B. C.); Cairo Museum 97
14 The stela of Amenophis III, raised by Merneptah and bearing the earliest mention of Israel 99
15 The great Nile Bridge at Cairo open for the passage of the daily fleet of cargo boats 102
16 The road to the Pyramids, westward toward Gizeh from near Cairo 104
17 The great Pyramid of Gizeh , a tomb of 5,000 years ago, from the S. E. 109
18 King Khufu's tomb, the great Pyramid of Gizeh , and the sepulchers of his nobles (from N. W.) 111
19 Looking up the N. E. corner of the Great Pyramid where tourists ascend 115
20 View from the summit of the Great Pyramid E. over the Valley of the Nile 118
21 Second Pyramid with crown of original casing, S. W. from summit of Great Pyramid 122
22 Looking down the S. W. corner of the Great Pyramid upon the mastabas of Khufu's lords 125
23 Entrance to the Great Pyramid, the sepulcher of Khufu (in north face), seen from below 128
24 Looking down the main passage leading to Khufu's sepulcher within the Great Pyramid 130
25 Khufu's sarcophagus, broken by robbers, in the sepulcher-chamber of the Great Pyramid 132
26 Ruins of the granite temple by the Sphinx, with the Great Pyramid of Gizeh on the N. W. 137
27 The great Sphinx of Gizeh, the largest royal portrait ever hewn 140
28 Statue of Ramses II, an embellishment of his now vanished temple at Memphis 144
29 The earliest occupation of men and the first attempt at a pyramid, Sakkarah 147
30 Quarry chambers of Masara whence came the blocks for the Great Pyramid 151
31 The sole survivor of a great city, the obelisk of Heliopolis 152
32 The brick store-chambers of Pithom, the city built by Hebrew bondsmen (looking north) 156
33 Dahabiyehs on the river ready for the journey to the upper Nile 158
34 Watching a sand whirlwind from top of Hawara Pyramid (view S. E. to pyramid of Illahun ) 161
35 An Egyptian Shaduf, the oldest of well-sweeps, lifting the Nile waters to the thirsty fields 167
36 An Egyptian Sakieh or ox-driven bucket pump, raising water for irrigation 168
37 “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.” Threshing in modern Egypt 169
38 The winnowing of the grain after threshing—field work of peasant laborers 171
39 Brick-making, the task of the Hebrews as seen today among the ruins of Crocodilopolis 172
40 The tomb of a feudal lord at Benihasan, built about 1900 B. C. 176
41 Cliff-tombs of the lords of Assiut, the King-makers of 4,000 years ago 181
42 Assiut, the largest city of Upper Egypt , seen from the cliffs at the west 184
43 The temple of Sethos I, view S. W. to its dismantled front, Abydos 187
44 Columns of the great hypostyle temple of Sethos I at Abydos 191
45 Sethos I and his son Ramses II worshipping their ancestors, in Sethos' great temple, Abydos 194
46 The beautiful temple of Hathor at Denderah, view S. over remains of a vanished city 197
47 Across the plain of Thebes and past the Memnon statues, from the western cliffs towards Luxor 202
48 Magnificent desolation, the deserted temple of Luxor, S. W. from top of the first pylon 207
49 The Moslem mosque in the court of Ramses II, at Luxor Temple, Thebes 211
50 The most beautiful colonnade in Egypt; S. across court of Amenophis III, Luxor Temple, Thebes 213
51 The obelisk of Ramses II and front of the Luxor Temple (view to S. W.), Thebes 215
52 Grand Avenue of Rams, one of the southern approaches to the temple of Karnak, Thebes 218
53 The entire length of the gigantic temple of Amon at Karnak (view W.), Thebes 220
54 Excavating the famous avenue of rams, E. to temple of Karnak, Thebes 222
55 Avenue of sacred rams, leading from river to W. entrance (after excavation); Karnak, Thebes 224
56 The great court of the Karnak temple seen (S. E.) from the top of the first pylon, Thebes 226
57 The famous colonnade of the great Hypostyle Hall in the temple of Karnak, Thebes 231
58 Looking across the Sacred Lake (N. N. W.) to the great Hypostyle Hall of Karnak, Thebes 233
59 Middle aisle of the great Hypostyle and the obelisk of Thutmosis I, Karnak, Thebes 236
60 The tallest obelisk in Egypt, erected by Queen Makere (N.) in Karnak temple at Thebes 239
(53) (Return) 242
61 Plants and animals brought to Egypt from the Pharaoh's campaigns in Syria, Karnak, Thebes 244
62 War reliefs of Sethos I on N. wall outside the Hypostyle of Karnak temple, Thebes 246
63 Records of the campaign of Shishak, who captured Jerusalem, relief at Karnak, Thebes 248
64 Colossal “Memnon” statues at Thebes; the farther one used to emit a cry at sunrise 251
65 The Ramesseum, mortuary temple of Ramses II, N. W. towards tombs in the cliffs, Thebes 254
66 From roof of the Ramesseum, past the fallen colossus of Ramses II, S. E. over plain of Thebes 258
67 Plain of Thebes and the Colossi of Memnon, seen at the S. from roof of the Ramesseum 261
68 Looking S. over Theban plain and Temples of Medinet Habu from cemetery of Abd el-Kurna 263
69 Painted tomb chamber of Prince Sen-Nofer, hewn in rock of the western cliffs, Thebes 265
70 Buried for ages—colonnaded terraces of Queen Makere's temple, Der el-Bahri (N.), Thebes 268
71 Queen Makere's expedition to E. Africa, sixteenth century B. C., reliefs at Der el-Bahri, Thebes 271
72 From the high cliffs above Der el-Bahri S. E. across the plain to Luxor and the Nile, Thebes 274
73 Down the Nile (N. E.) across the western cliffs of Thebes 277
74 Valley of the Kings' tombs where the great conquerors of Egypt were buried 279
75 Descending gallery in tomb of Sethos I, Valley of the Kings' Tombs, Thebes 282
(65) (Return) 284
76 Looking north to the mortuary temple of Sethos I, at Thebes 287
77 The first pylon of Ramses III's great mortuary temple at Medinet Habu (view N.), Thebes 291
78 The hunting of the wild bull, depicted on temple wall of Ramses III, Medinet Habu, Thebes 294
79 Scenes of battle and the chase on wall of temple of Ramses III, Medinet Habu, Thebes 295
80 Walled city of El Kab, ancient capital of Upper Egypt , S. W. from the door of a cliff-tomb 298
81 The Pylon and Court of the temple of Horus at Edfu (looking E. to the Nile) 301
82 The wonderfully preserved temple of Edfu, seen (N.) from top of first pylon 303
83 The Holy of Holies and granite shrine for the divine image, temple of Edfu 306
84 Assuan and the island of Elephantine (S.) from the western cliffs of the cemetery 308
85 Tomb of Harkhuf, a frontier baron in the days of the pyramid builders, Assuan 310
86 The Nilometer (measurer of inundations), Island of Elephantine, first cataract 313
87 Ninety-two foot obelisk still lying in the Assuan granite quarry at the first cataract 315
88 Remarkable inscription of a Seven Years' Famine, on the Island of Sehel (first cataract) 318
89 The templed island of Philae, the “Pearl of Egypt,” now doomed to destruction (view S.) 321
90 Looking down (N. E.) upon the island of Philae and its temples from the island of Bigeh 323
91 The great Assuan Dam, N. W. from the first pylon of the Philae Temple 326
92 The Nubian temple of Kalabsheh, built in the days of the Roman emperor Augustus (view E.) 328
93 Kasr Ibrim (the fort of Ibrim) and a Nile vista to the N. N. E. in lower Nubia 330
94 The grotto temple of Abu Simbel seen N. W. from a boat on the Nile 333
95 The sixty-five foot portrait statues of Ramses II before rock-hewn temple of Abu Simbel 334
96 Looking up river across the front of Abu Simbel temple, from the sand-drift at north 337
97 Interior of the rock-hewn temple of Abu Simbel —Holy of Holies in rear and statues of gods 340
98 Second cataract of the Nile from the S. W., the first obstruction to navigation for 1,000 miles 342
99 The tomb of the Mahdi at Omdurman. (Kerreri hills at left, scene of Kitchener's victory). Sudan 344
100 Governor's palace, and armored steamer leaving Khartum for Fashoda and the Blue Nile, Sudan 348


All (except the last) bound in booklet at the end of this
  1. Eastern Hemisphere.
  2. General Map of Ancient Egypt.
  3. The Nile from the Mediterranean to Khartum.
  4. Environs of Cairo.
  5. Pyramids of Gizeh.
  6. The Nile from Cairo to Feshn, including the Fayum and the Pyramids.
  7. Temple of Sethos I at Abydos.
  8. District of Thebes.
  9. West Shore, Necropolis of Thebes.
  10. The Temple of Luxor.
  11. Plan of Karnak.
  12. The Great Temple of Ammon at Karnak.
  13. Ramesseum.
  14. Temple of Der el-Bahri.
  15. Medinet Habu.
  16. Temple of Horus at Edfu.
  17. Environs of Assuan.
  18. The Island of Philae.
  19. Abu Simbel.
  20. Omdurman and Khartum.
    Plan of the interior of the Great Pyramid, page 129


In connection with the duties of university teaching
and its modern obligation to carry on constant research,
it has also been my privilege during the last ten years,
to begin the work of making a public wider than that
of the university lecture-room, acquainted with the life,
customs, history, and monuments of the ancient Egyptians.
In this latter attempt I have met with a number
of different plans for private study, for class study, for
lecture courses and the like, among women's clubs, extension
centres, literary societies, and similar organizations.
I have been and am still constantly appealed to
for outline studies and lists of books, which will furnish
the individual student and the reading class or study circle
with the material necessary for their study.
Heretofore I have never been able to find any books or
material which could furnish graphic reproductions of
the remains still surviving in the ancient lands of the
East, or of those lands and their people as they are today,
coupled with an adequate account of their long
history, of their life and customs.
It was, therefore, with peculiar satisfaction that I
made the acquaintance of this system of stay-at-home
travel, the great merits of which are but beginning to
be appreciated. By its use an acquaintance can be
gained, here at home, with the wonders of the Nile

Valley, which is quite comparable with that obtained
by traveling there. In my judgment there is no other
existent means by which this result can be accomplished.
The map system, simple, ingenious, and
pedagogically sound, first furnishes a clear idea of
locality in every case; and with this in mind, these
superb stereographs furnish the traveler, while sitting
in his own room, a vivid prospect as through an open
window, looking out upon scene after scene, from one
hundred carefully selected points of view along the
Nile. By this means, then, the joys of travel can be
extended to that large class of our people, who thirst
for an acquaintance with the distant lands of other
ages, but are prevented by the expense involved, or by
the responsibilities of home, business or profession.
It was with this conviction, that I have undertaken,
in the midst of a heavy burden of numerous other
duties, the task of standing with the traveler at every
point of view, to be his cicerone, and to furnish him
with the indispensable wealth of associations, of historical
incident, or archaeological detail suggested by the
prospect spread out before him. Nowhere in the
ancient world have its great monuments been preserved
in such numbers, or so completely as in the Nile Valley,
and nowhere, therefore, is the visitor carried back into
the remote past so vividly as among the myriad monuments
that rise along the shores of the Nile. Realizing,
then, that this land of monumental marvels, so rich in the
works of men, has in the past been closed to the average

man, and accessible only to him whose means and leisure
permitted him to make the journey of the Nile, I have
here endeavored to work out this system of travel
for Egypt. It enables the great host of those whose
constant dream of travel has heretofore remained unrealized
to stand under the shadow of the greatest architectural
and other monumental works of the ancient
Orient and to feel with the sense of substantial reality
that these venerable structures are actually rising yonder
before the beholder's eye. These experiences in the
presence of all the myriad witnesses of a mighty past,
can not only be a source of untold pleasure and instruction,
but also, can enormously expand the horizon
of daily life, more truly making the beholder a “citizen
of the world” than he can ever hope to be without
actually visiting these distant lands.
In the preparation of the following pages, I have constantly
had my eyes within the hood of the stereoscope,
and I cannot forbear to express here the growing surprise
and delight, with which I observed as the work
proceeded, that it became more and more easy to speak
of the prospect revealed in the instrument, as one actually
spread out before me. The surprising depth and
atmosphere with which the scientifically constructed
instrument interpreted what were actually but bits of
paper and pasteboard, were a revelation; indeed, I constantly
sat by an open window looking out over the
actual ruins of the Nile Valley, which I could study,
one after another, at will. To the believing beholder

there are precious moments, when the mind is perfectly
convinced of the reality of the scene before him, and
such moments, persistently sought and repeated, come
more and more easily as one accustoms himself to the
instrument, until afterward the mind looks back upon
it all, with essentially all the sensations of having seen
the reality; and an actual visit to the place can do little
more. Moreover, by the repeated use of the stereograph,
the scene can be often reimpressed upon the
mind's eye, and herein lies one of the greatest advantages
of this system of stay-at-home travel, that the trip
may be made as often as one likes. Much more might
be said upon this subject of the possibilities of the
stereoscope, but I can only refer the reader to such
opinions as that of Oliver Wendell Holmes,* to the
very useful literature on the subject issued by the publishers,
and to my own remarks in connection with the
Itinerary (pages 49-51).
* Oliver Wendell Holmes contributed two articles on the Stereoscope
and Stereoscopic Photographs to The Atlantic Monthly. These articles
have been republished by Underwood & Underwood, and will be sent on
It should, also, be said here, that the selection of the
stereographed scenes employed, was facilitated by the
dispatch of a special artist in the employ of the publishers,
to make on the spot a large list of stereographs,
indicated by the author, who located the position for each
stereograph on maps and plans, the list being accompanied
by full instructions. Were it possible to eliminate
the element of accident in the production of such

a series of stereographs, there would be no difficulty in
placing in the author's hands by this method, all and
exactly the stereographs wanted. Happily there are in
this series only three cases in which the author would
have made a different selection had accident not prevented.
The selection of the places to be visited and
studied by this system has not been an easy task, and
another familiar with the country and its monuments
might have made a different choice in some cases. The
number of considerations involved in making a representative
selection is not small, and every effort has
been put forth to be fair to all these considerations.
Should this book fall into the hands of an oriental
scholar, let him be assured that the orthography of the
Arabic proper names is as unsatisfying to the author
as to him. It should, however, be remembered that
this book is intended for practical purposes, in the hands
of readers who know nothing about and care less for
the intricacies of Arabic orthography,—readers to
whom the complications of a full and correct system of
transliteration, however carefully explained, would
mean nothing, and cause only vexation and confusion.
In the reproduction of such names, the simplest possible
form has been used, with practically no diacritical
marks. If the reader unfamiliar with Arabic will pronounce
all the vowels as in Italian, or the continental
languages, they will be nearly enough correct for his
purposes. The necessity of maintaining the sense of
location is sufficient reason for the colloquial tone

adopted in these rambles. This also will explain the
insistent repetition of the bearings and orientation of
each position, a repetition which experience has shown
to be essential and useful.
The author wishes here to acknowledge great obligation
to Herr Karl Baedeker for permission to use the
admirable maps and plans from his unsurpassed guidebook
of Egypt. With the exception of the first three,
all the maps and plans in the accompanying series
are reproduced from his “Egypt.” The large map of
Egypt (No. 3) was drawn in Berlin under the author's
supervision, from the atlas of ancient Egypt, issued by
the Egypt Exploration Fund.
James Henry Breasted.
The University of Chicago, April 1, 1905.


There is no people whose career can be followed
through so long a period as that of the people of Egypt.
The civilization of Babylon may be older, though that
question is still under debate, but Babylonia so early
disappeared as a nation, that the length of its career is
shorter by many centuries than that of Egypt. Egypt
still survives with a people of the same mental characteristics
and the same physical peculiarities as we find
in those subjects of the Pharaohs who built the pyramids.
They have changed their language once and
their religion twice, but they are still Egyptians as of
old, pursuing the same arts, following the same occupations,
holding the same superstitions, living in the
same houses, using the same medicines, and employing
the same devices for irrigation and cultivation of the
fields, which the student of the monuments finds among
their ancestors five thousand years ago. The amazing
persistence of the chief elements of their civilization,
the survival of these things into our own times, is due
in large measure, if not solely, to the very unusual
natural conditions under which they lived. We must
therefore note briefly the geography and climate of
the Nile valley, if we would at all understand the marvelous
people who so early found a home there.
The whole northern end of the African continent
is traversed from the Atlantic on the west to the Red
Sea on the east by a vast desert, which is continued
eastward through Arabia and far into the heart of
Asia (Map 1). This desert of two continents is
crossed by two great river valleys: in Africa by that
of the Nile; in Asia by the Euphrates valley, supplemented
by that of the Tigris. These two great river
valleys, one in Africa, the other in Asia, formed the
home of two remarkable peoples, to whom the classic
world of Europe, and through it we ourselves, owe the

fundamentals of civilization, which were there developed
from the most primitive beginnings to a high
degree of perfection, and then transmitted to the European
nations in the basin of the Mediterranean. He
who would know the story of man, and particularly its
first chapter, will find it necessary to delve long and
patiently among the surviving remains in these two
river valleys, for there is the earliest human culture,
which we are able to date with approximate accuracy,
as compared with the vast range of uncertainty in the
date of the remains of early man, found elsewhere by
the anthropologist, like the relics of the cave-dwellers of
prehistoric Europe. We are to journey together
through one of these ancient cradles of civilization,
and I repeat, we must know, before we enter upon the
journey, something about the valley, its climate and
the other natural conditions, among which its people
Rising at a point three degrees south of the equator,
the Nile flows northward through equatorial Africa,
until, fifteen hundred miles after passing the lakes
called Victoria and Albert Nyanza, it is joined from
the east by a great affluent coming out of Abyssinia.
From the color of the water the western river is known
as the White Nile, while the eastern is called the Blue
Nile (Map 2). After their junction, the common
stream is the Nile proper. The territory thus far
traversed by the river is a vast and fertile region known
as the Sudan, which means “blacks” and refers, of
course, to the race inhabiting the region. At the junction
of the two Niles is the frontier town of Khartum;
about one hundred and forty miles north of this place,
the Nile receives another tributary from the east, the
Atbara, which is its last affluent; on all its long journey
to the sea it receives no further contribution to
its waters, but must make its way through the desert
alone. For just below its junction with the Atbara,
the Nile enters the table land of Nubian sandstone,
which there underlies the Sahara; for over a thousand
miles the river must fight its way through the tough
sandstone which forms its bed, and not the countless

ages which have elapsed since it first debouched upon
the Sahara, have sufficed to wear away a perfect
In many places the huge and stubborn rocks are
piled in masses in the stream, dividing the waters into
numerous, tortuous channels, where they descend with
rush and roar, only to meet with similar obstructions
below. These are the so-called cataracts of the Nile,
which break the stream at ten or more points; but they
fall into six main groups, so that it is usually stated,
that the cataracts of the Nile are six in number. They
are not what we generally understand by the term
cataract, as there is no sudden and great fall as in our
cataract at Niagara. Finally the river escapes from
the last obstruction, an outcropping of granite which
thrusts up its rough shoulder at Assuan, where the
stream emerges upon an unobstructed course of some
seven hundred miles to the sea. The reason for this
difference is, that the bed of the Sahara, at a point about
sixty-five miles below Assuan, suddenly changes to
limestone, a less refractory material, through which the
river has worn a wide, deep channel. Something over a
hundred miles before reaching the sea, the river divides
into two branches, the western, called the Rosetta
mouth, and the eastern, known as the Damietta mouth;
but in antiquity there were seven such Delta mouths
of the river. From the source to the mouth it is about
four thousand miles in length and thus ranks with the
longest rivers of the world. The Delta was, of course,
originally a large bay, which has been gradually filled
by silting up from the river.
The valley of the Nile is simply a vast cañon cut
across the eastern end of the Sahara from south to
north by the age-long erosion of the river. This cañon,
in the long, dreary stretch of the sandstone country
above Assuan, is shallow and narrow, so much so that
it can in places hardly be termed a cañon; but below
Assuan, where the limestone begins, the cañon is fourteen
to thirty-two miles wide, and the cliffs or bluffs
on either side are frequently several hundred feet high.
Flanking these cliffs are the desert wastes, less barren

and forbidding on the east. We shall often take our
stand upon the crest of these cliffs and overlook the
valley, so that we need not further describe them here.
Egypt proper extended from the sea only to Assuan,
or the first cataract, as the last cataract obstructing
the river is usually called, because it is the first one met
in the ascent. Egypt was and is, therefore, a vast
trench in the Sahara, to which we must add the Delta,
the scattered oases in the desert on the west, the eastern
desert to the Red Sea, with the greater part of the
Peninsula of Sinai. Of cultivable soil the narrow valley
above the Delta contains less than 5,000 square
miles, the Delta itself somewhat more than that, so
that the entire area of habitable country is under 10,000
square miles. Within such narrow limits as these,
about equal to the area of Vermont and Rhode Island
combined, developed the remarkable civilization which
we are to study. It will be seen that we have here
natural boundaries producing unusual isolation; on
the north the almost harborless coast of the Delta; on
the east and west the desert, and on the south the
cataracts. Here the earliest Egyptians lived in the
greatest security and seclusion, and under such conditions
have not only developed but also preserved many
striking and individual characteristics.
The climate, although not absolutely rainless as often
stated, was and is effectually so, as far as agriculture is
concerned. The people were thus forced to depend
upon the annual inundation from the river for the fertilization
of their lands, as well as their irrigation after
the waters receded. Of all this we shall see many examples
when we have entered the country, and we shall
not wonder that the people early developed mechanical
arts, when forced to the daily use of clever devices
for the utilization of the river, whether in irrigation or
navigation. They enjoyed a climate which was, to be
sure, intensely hot in summer, but in winter equable
and delightful to a degree that is now drawing thousands
of convalescents to Egypt every season. Here,
then, recent excavations enable us to trace the prehistoric
Egyptian, in the fifth or possibly the sixth millennium

before Christ, as he passes from the use of
stone and pottery, to the conquest of metals, the acquisition
of writing and an ordered civilization under a
The earliest Egyptians were probably related to the
Libyans, and at some remote period of their history,
they were invaded by tribes of Semites, as in the
seventh century A. D., the Arabs came in and made
conquest of the country, at the beginning of the spread
of Islam. This prehistoric invasion brought Semitic
elements into the language and gave it a fundamentally
Semitic structure. Doubtless also some things
hitherto unknown there, were imported into the
material culture of the earliest Nile dwellers. The
resulting composite race, of African-Libyan and
Semitic-Asiatic origin, is that which emerges into the
light of history, in the middle of the forty-third century
before Christ, when they had already sufficient
knowledge of astronomy to introduce a calendar with
a year of three hundred and sixty-five days. This is
the earliest fixed date in history (4241 B. C.).
We dimly see at this remote period, two kingdoms on
the Nile: one in the south, occupying the valley
proper; the other in the north, that is, the Delta.
These two kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt
were united some centuries later into one nation,
under one king, and thus Egypt, as a homogeneous
nation, is born. Menes, the king under whom this
union was accomplished, thus heads the long list of
dynasties and the line of Pharaohs begins. This is
called the dynastic period, because from now on we
find successive generations or families of kings, called,
as in European history, dynasties, as numbered and
enumerated by the Egyptian historian, Manetho, who
wrote in the middle of the third century B. C. The
chronology of these dynasties is in the greatest confusion,
but it is probable that the accession of Menes
and the beginning of the dynastic age falls not later
than 3400 B. C., although it may possibly be a hundred
years earlier. Beginning here, then, we look
down the changing panorama of Egyptian history during

nearly 5,400 years to the present. Of this vast
sweep of years, only the first 2,400 or 2,500 were under
native Pharaohs, for since the middle of the tenth
century B. C. Egypt has been under foreign kings,
with but trifling exceptions. We see her then under
her native kings, making the earliest chapter in human
history, of which we are adequately informed.' The
first two dynasties of kings, living on the upper river,
near Abydos, were masters of a civilization, from
which we have, with slight exceptions, only material
remains; but these are of such a character as to arouse
the greatest admiration at the technical skill of these
remote craftsmen on the one hand, and their fine
sense of beauty on the other. But we cannot trace
the political career of these earliest dynasties.

The Old Kingdom
2980—2445 B. C.

With the accession of the 3rd Dynasty we are able
to discern something of the political conditions, as we
see Egypt rising into her first great period of power
and prosperity, which we call the Old Kingdom. It
includes Dynasties 3, 4, 5 and 6, and lasted from the
early decades of the thirtieth century to about 2400
B. C., nearly 600 years. It offers the oldest example
of a developed civilization that is in any adequate
measure known to us. Even granting that Mesopotamian
culture is older, it presents for the period of the
Old Kingdom, only an isolated date or two with here
and there a royal name. But to the existence of the kings
of the Old Kingdom, their pyramids still bear vivid
witness; and often, too, these royal tombs are surrounded
by a silent city of mastabas (masonry tombs),
the walls of whose chapels acquaint us not merely
with the names, but in graphic bas-relief also with the
occupations, pastimes and daily life of whole generations
of grandees, who formed the court of the Pharaoh
in life, and in death now sleep beside him. Hewn
in granite, limestone or diorite, their faces are familiar
to us, and even the flesh and blood features of one of

these antique Pharaohs of the Old Kingdom have survived
to look into our faces across nearly fifty centuries.
In order to view the career of the kings of this
period, we must station ourselves at the southern
apex of the Delta, on the western side of the river,
where the ruins of Memphis lie, for their royal residence
was always in or near this city (Map 3). Here
we might have seen the Pharaoh ruling in absolute
power, sending his officials from end to end of his
kingdom, and dominating a functionary-state, the officials
of which lived at court directly under the monarch's
eyes. It was therefore a closely centralized
state, the power of which was focused in the person
of the Pharaoh. Had we walked the streets of Memphis
we would have found three classes of people
at least: at the top and bottom, the noble and official,
governing class, and the serf; but it is impossible
to think that the magnificent works of the Old
Kingdom in art and mechanics, many of which were
never later surpassed, could have been produced without
a class of free craftsmen. There was, therefore,
a free middle class of artisans and tradesmen. Art
in sculpture, and the crafts attained a marvelous perfection;
literature flourished; and in religion appear
traces of an ethical test applied to every one.
It is far easier to draw a picture of the life of the
Old Kingdom than to trace its history. Purely
monumental materials are often eloquent witnesses of
power and splendor, but give us little of that succession
of conditions and events which forms history.
Imagine an attempt to trace the history of Greece solely
from its surviving monuments; much of the temper
of the Greek people may have found expression there,
but little of the course of events which marked their
political history, and still less of the gradual mental
unfolding, by which a people of rare intellectual powers
developed with unparalleled rapidity, from childish
myths to the profoundest philosophy. So in the 4th
Dynasty, its rapid rise is evident from the enormous size
of the Gizeh pyramids, but of the other deeds of their

builders we know little. Already in the 1st Dynasty,
the Pharaohs had begun mining operations among the
copper veins in the Peninsula of Sinai, and left their
monuments of victory there. Snofru, the last king of
the 3rd Dynasty, continued these enterprises, and sent
fleets on the Mediterranean as far north as the slopes
of Lebanon, where they procured cedar for Snofru's
buildings. After three-quarters of a century of ever-increasing
power and splendor, the 3rd Dynasty was
then succeeded by another family, the builders of the
great pyramids of Gizeh , the 4th Dynasty. The possibly
three centuries or more during which the 4th
and 5th Dynasties ruled, clearly show a steady decline
in power after the first century, if the decreasing size
of the pyramids is any criterion; until in the 6th
Dynasty, it is evident that the central power is slowly
disintegrating. The Pharaoh's governors in the local
administrative districts had gradually gained hereditary
hold upon their offices and the districts they governed.
They thus developed into a class of powerful
landed lords and princes. They no longer build their
tombs alongside that of the Pharaoh, but are buried
on their own ancestral estates, where they have doubtless
resided rather than at court as before. They were
gradually drawing away from the king, who was unable
to prevent them from attaining a greater degree
of independence.
A court favorite of the time, named Una, has left us
in his biography, an account of how he led a body of
troops into the Peninsula of Sinai, where he five times
routed the Beduin enemy. After this he brought his
army by sea, on an expedition, as he says, “north of
the land of the sand-dwellers,” that is, the Beduin of
Sinai. North of them means toward if not into Palestine,
as he speaks of reaching certain “highlands,”
which may be those of Judea; but few details further
than the defeat of the enemy are given. Already at
this remote age, the noblemen of the Pharaoh carried
on for him traffic with the east African coast, near
the mouth of the Red Sea, the region which we now
call the Somali coast (Map 2), These are the earliest

voyages in the open sea known in history. On the
southern frontier similar officials carried on caravan
trade with the Sudan, and subdued the warlike Nubian
tribes in order to keep open the southern trade-routes.
We shall visit the tombs of these aggressive nobles at
the first cataract. There are also evidences of trade
with the Aegean islands in the Old Kingdom.
Having ruled some 150 years, the 6th Dynasty sank
gradually into obscurity; with it fell the Old Kingdom,
leaving as its witnesses the irregular line of pyramids,
which stretch from Abu Roash, opposite the southern
apex of the Delta, southward for sixteen miles
along the margin of the desert to Sakkara, beside the
ruins of ancient Memphis (Map 5).
With the overthrow of the Old Kingdom we see
the seat of power gradually moving up the river from
Memphis. The local barons, who have now gained
their independence, are contending among themselves
for the crown. Of the 7th and 8th Dynasties we know
nothing, but we shall see, in our voyage up the river,
the tombs of the nobles of Assiut, the vassals of the
9th and 10th Dynasty kings who ended Memphite
supremacy and lived at Heracleopolis (Maps 6 and 3).

The Middle Kingdom
2160—1788 B. C.

The Heracleopolitans were unable to maintain themselves
against the nobles of the south, especially the
princes of Thebes, a city which, at this point, for the
first time appears among the contestants, in so far as
we know. You will find it at an important strategic
point upon the river, not far above the bend, where it
approaches most closely to the Red Sea (south of its
northern arm, known as the Gulf of Suez :—see Map
3). Thebes from now on plays a prominent part in
the history of the country; for a Theban family of
nobles succeeds in pushing down the river, overthrowing
the Heracleopolitans, and setting up a new dynasty,
the 11th. This begins Egypt's second great period of
power, which we will call the Middle Kingdom. As

the 11th Dynasty was succeeded by the 12th, also
of Theban origin, the power of Thebes was firmly
established over the whole country, and thus about
2000 B. C. the country entered upon two centuries of
unexampled prosperity and splendor. The organization
of the new government was essentially that of a
feudal state, a fact which shows that during the obscure
period that preceded, the nobles have won a large
degree of independence, the beginnings of which we
have already seen in the 6th Dynasty. Social conditions
have not materially changed since the Old
In order better to govern their new kingdom, the
powerful monarchs of the 12th Dynasty, the Theban
Amenemhets and the Sesostrises, moved down the
river to a point not far from the pyramids of the Old
Kingdom, probably just above Memphis, and there
they ruled with a sagacity and firmness that kept their
family on the throne for over two hundred years. This
is the classic period of Egyptian history; the system of
writing for the first time attains a consistent and fixed
orthography and literature flourishes as never before.
The arts continued to develop with unprecedented
splendor, medicine and elementary science made great
progress; in religion, the ethical element had now
triumphed, and the ethical quality of a man's life determined
his destiny hereafter. The resources of the
country were developed and utilized as at no time
before. The kings executed enormous hydraulic works
for recovering a portion of the flooded Fayum, a large
oasis on the west of the Nile valley, so close to it that
at some probably prehistoric period it was flooded from
the inundation by the river (Map 5), forming the Lake
Moeris of Greek times. Near the same place Amenemhet
III built the vast structure known in classic
days as the labyrinth. Abroad, Sesostris III followed
up the campaigns of his ancestors in Nubia so successfully
that he conquered all the territory above the first
cataract as far as the second (Maps 2 and 3), and made
his permanent frontier at a point above the second
cataract, where he established several strong fortresses

to maintain it, thus adding 200 miles of Nile valley to
the kingdom of Egypt. This province he then connected
with Egypt by a canal at the first cataract.
Trade with the southern Red Sea countries was still
maintained. We hear even of a campaign in Syria,
though its results were evidently not lasting. Traffic
with the Aegean islands was not uncommon. Thus the
Middle Kingdom, the feudal age of Egypt, shows itself
more aggressive both at home and abroad than the
Old Kingdom, the age of the pyramid builders.
The 12th Dynasty kings have also left us their pyramids
extending in a straggling line from Dashur, just
south of Sakkara, to Illahun, in the mouth of the
Fayum (Map 6). Of their temples, next to nothing
has survived, owing to the complete rebuilding under
the Empire. Under their successors of the 13th
Dynasty, the power of the Pharaohs is again on
the decline, resulting finally in the second period of
uncertainty, like that which followed the Old Kingdom.
Passing over the obscurities of the period, all
that we certainly know is, that for a few generations
before its close, we find the country in the power of
foreigners, usually called the Hyksos (after Josephus),
who took possession of the Delta and the valley for an
uncertain distance up the river. They came from the
north—that is, Asia—and were probably Semites.

The Empire
1580—1150 B. C.

Against these usurpers, the Theban princes, the successors
of the Middle Kingdom Pharaohs, finally
waged a war of independence, which was brought to
a successful issue by Ahmosis, the founder and first
king of the 18th Dynasty. He drove the enemy from
their stronghold, Avaris in the Delta, whence they
fled to Palestine, and there Ahmosis besieged them
for six years in the southern Palestinian city of
Sharuhen, mentioned also in the Old Testament
(Joshua xix, 6). After he had expelled them and pursued
them to Phoenicia, he returned to Egypt to wield

a power, up to that time unknown to any Pharaoh.
For in the war for liberty and long-continued internecine
conflicts the local barons have been practically
exterminated, and thus about 1580 B. C. Egypt begins
her third period of power, which we may call the
Empire, with a totally different organization from any
that we have thus far found. It is now a military state,
largely made so by the wars with the Hyksos, who
taught the Egyptians warfare and for the first time
introduced the horse into the Nile valley. What few
nobles have survived are no longer local proprietors, but
simply hold rank in the Pharaoh's service; the Pharaoh
personally owns the land. For the first time there is
a great standing army, into which we see Egyptian
gentlemen entering as professional soldiers, and from
now on the soldier is the most prominent figure in
political life. Side by side with him, and for the first
time also a power in the state, now stands the priest.
Soldier and priest, therefore, replace the barons of the
Middle and the functionaries of the Old Kingdom.
From Thebes, now just beginning its career of
splendor, the great military monarchs of the 18th
Dynasty went forth to cross the isthmus of Suez and
conquer Palestine and Syria, or to pass up the river
into Nubia and push the frontier of Egypt to a point
above the fourth cataract of the Nile (Map 3), the
extreme southern limit of Pharaonic conquest. The
grandson of Ahmosis, Thutmosis I, whose obelisk we
shall see at Thebes, carried Egyptian power to the
upper Euphrates (Maps 1 and 2), but was unable to
organize his conquests into Egyptian dependencies.
The succession of his daughter, Hatshepsut, interrupted
the course of foreign conquest, for this remarkable
queen was not given to war, and neglected the
empire abroad. She devoted herself to the peaceful
development of her empire. Her greatest feat was an
expedition to the Somali coast, on a much larger scale
than anything formerly known, and, when we have
visited Thebes, we will see her expedition trafficking
with the natives of distant Punt, as the Egyptians
called the Somali coast. Meantime the Asiatic conquests

quests fall away. Finally, after much confusion in the
succession to the crown, Thutmosis III, the brother of
the talented queen, succeeds in maneuvering his sister
out of the throne. He immediately began the recovery
of the conquests in Asia. In no less than seventeen
great campaigns he subdued all Palestine and Syria;
he planted a tablet of victory alongside that of his
father on the banks of the Euphrates, he organized
the conquered lands into dependencies of Egypt, built
forts, planted garrisons, appointed governors, or allowed
former princes to rule as vassals of Egypt; and
when he died, after a reign of fifty-four years, he was
regularly receiving tribute from the uttermost parts
of a vast realm, the first organized empire known in
history, extending from the upper waters of the Euphrates
to the fourth cataract of the Nile. All that
honor, which, following current tradition, we have
customarily accorded Ramses II, belongs to Thutmosis
III as the greatest military genius of earlier Oriental
This position of power and splendor, the influx of
untold wealth, the sudden and intimate commingling
with the life and culture of Asiatic peoples, reacted
powerfully upon Egypt, as well in political as in social
and industrial life, producing after the reign of Thutmosis
III the most profound and far-reaching changes.
Before the 18th Dynasty, social conditions were not
radically different from those of the Middle Kingdom,
so that there is more of change in this particular,
in and immediately following his reign, than during
the entire interim from the Middle Kingdom to the
Empire. Among many of these changes, we notice the
vast influx of foreign captives, taken especially in
the Asiatic wars. They were utilized particularly on
the Pharaoh's buildings, in just such a manner as the
Hebrews were employed, or in mediaeval days, the captives
from the ranks of the crusaders forced by Saladin
to build the walls of his citadel at Cairo. It was their
labor, though not their skill, which built the mighty
temples which we shall find up the river, especially at
Thebes. In general, all those changes, which affect

a people of simple habits, when suddenly raised to a
position of great power, are now observable. Asiatic
princesses from Babylonia and the upper Euphrates for
three traceable generations and probably longer, are
given in marriage to the Pharaoh by their royal
fathers. In the industrial and aesthetic arts, in language,
in costume, in religion, in pastimes, in war,
Egypt is now strongly tinctured by Semitic Asia.
Even far off Mycenae, too, is present in pottery and
metal work, and traffic with the whole northern world
is constant and far-reaching.
Under the two immediate successors of Thutmosis
III, his vast conquests in Asia were maintained with
vigilance, followed by some relaxation under Amenophis
III, his great-grandson. The thinking men of the
time now began unconsciously to feel the widening of
the horizon, which Egypt had experienced in the last
hundred and fifty years. Most of their gods had once
been local divinities, worshiped only in restricted districts,
but they now began to extend the jurisdiction of
the great state god Re to the limits of the Egyptian
empire. In other words, political conditions were gradually
leading them to a practical if not to a philosophical
monotheism. Amenophis IV, the son of
Amenophis III, provoked by the rising power of the
old Theban god Amon, with whose priesthood he was
politically at loggerheads, inaugurated a far-reaching
revolution, in the course of which he attempted to
introduce the exclusive worship of Re, the sun-god,
throughout his realm. For this purpose he established
several new cities, one in Egypt, one in Nubia, and
possibly one in Palestine, each devoted to the sole worship
of his sun-god under the name “Aton,” which
is an old Egyptian word, meaning “sun-disk” The
new city in Egypt was located at (Map
), about 320 miles below Thebes; and, forsaking
Thebes, the king made it his royal residence and capital,
at the same time changing his own name from
Amenophis, which contained the name of the hated
Amon, to Ikhnaton, which means “Brightness (or possibly
Spirit) of the Sun-Disk.”
The beliefs of the new faith, developed by Amenophis
IV, are remarkable. The surviving hymns, containing
all that we know of it, express adoration of one
god, ruling all the world of which the Egyptian knew.
They delight in reiterated examples of his creative
power, as seen in plants, animals, men, or the great
world itself, and then of his benevolent sustenance of
all that he has created. But they are not ethical; they
contain no hint that the recognition of a great benevolent
purpose carries with it morality and righteousness
in the character of god, or the demand for these
in the character of men. Nevertheless, the entire movement
was far in advance of the age. After a reign of
seventeen years Ikhnaton died, leaving no son; with
him perished the remarkable movement, which solely
by his own personal power he had sustained against
the tremendous inertia of immemorial custom and
tradition. The Amonite priests wreaked vengeance
upon the body, the tomb, the temple and the city of
the hated idealist, and reestablished the traditional
The Amarna letters, a series of long-continued correspondence
found in the ruins of Ikhnaton's new city
of , a correspondence maintained between
the Pharaohs and their vassal kinglets in Syria
and Palestine, besides also a series of letters between
the kings of the Tigro-Euphrates valley and the Pharaohs
—all this affords us a vivid picture of the provincial
administration of this period, and of the plotting
and counterplotting of the petty, semi-independent
Palestinian and Syrian rulers, each striving to gain the
support of the home government against his fellows.
Here we find Machiavellian politics already ripened to
a degree of cynical perfection, which we should never
have anticipated. But the far-reaching disturbances
accompanying the revolution of Ikhnaton weakened the
foreign administration to such an extent that all the
Asiatic states revolted. The revolt was complicated by
the advance of the Hittites from eastern Asia Minor
into Syria, and the invasion of Palestine and Syria
by Beduin hordes in one of their periodic overflows

from the eastern deserts. With this latter movement
began the Hebrew occupation of Palestine, and among
the Beduin, whose invasion of Palestine is revealed in
the Amarna letters at this time, we must recognize the
Hebrews. The royal house could not withstand the
shock and the 18th Dynasty fell about 1350 B. C.,
having enjoyed two hundred and thirty years of unprecedented
power and splendor.
With the rise of the 19th Dynasty, about 1350
B. C., new conditions confronted the Pharaohs in Asia.
The Hittites, foemen fully equal to the contest with
Egypt for the possession of her former Asiatic conquests,
had meantime, as we have seen, pressed into
Syria from Asia Minor, and, advancing southward,
before the close of the 18th Dynasty, had occupied
the country as far south as the Lebanons. Thus Sethos
I, whose face we shall yet look upon, after receiving
the ready submission of Palestine, was able to advance
no further than a little north of Carmel, thus gaining
the southern coast of Phoenicia. His son, Ramses II,
after continuous war for over seventeen years, failed
to break the power of the stubborn Hittites, or to
wrench from them the northern conquests of Thutmosis
III. He therefore concluded a peace with them on
equal terms, having permanently advanced his northern
boundaries very little beyond those of his father, Sethos
I. One of his famous battles in this war at the city
of Kadesh nearly cost him his life, and he was fond
of having his valiant defence on that occasion depicted
in splendid reliefs in his great temples. These we
shall later see at Thebes. Egypt's territory in Asia is
now essentially within the limits of later Palestine, with
the addition of the Phoenician coast cities as far north
as Beirut (Berytus, Map 2). The enormously long reign
of Ramses II (sixty-seven years) and the astonishing
number of his great buildings made him the ideal
Pharaoh in the eyes of later generations, and even
modern scholars have falsely identified him with Sesostris,
the legendary hero of Egypt in Greek tradition,
about whom clustered all the great deeds of Egypt's

kings of every age. But all the Sesostrises belong in
the Middle Kingdom.
Under the successors of Ramses II, the Empire, hard
beset by Libyan invasion, again sank into weakness
and confusion. Among the Semitic captives who, in
great numbers, have been brought into the country
since the days of Thutmosis III, the Hebrews must
have been toiling on the royal buildings of this age,
as narrated in the Old Testament. They dwelt in the
land of Goshen, in the eastern Delta, which we shall
later visit. In the Cairo Museum we shall see the only
monument referring to Israel by name. The scanty
evidence would indicate that their escape from Egypt
occurred in the decline which followed the death of
Ramses II, but there is no monumental reference to
their flight. On their escape they were able to join
kindred tribes who had been gradually occupying Palestine
since the decline of the 18th Dynasty. (See
With the accession of the 20th Dynasty, about 1200
B. C., the country is so visibly on the decline, that the
rise of this or that family into power is but an incident
in her decay. The advent of the 20th Dynasty under
Ramses III was therefore but a deceptive rally. This
king, who in every way imitated Ramses II, succeeded
in turning back the tide of Libyan invasion, already
serious at the close of the 19th Dynasty. He was
notably successful in maintaining his Asiatic frontier
at essentially the same limits as those of Ramses II,
and this, against an inpouring horde of invaders from
the north, who advanced southward by sea and land,
devastating Syria as they went. We shall see at
Thebes, on the wall of one of his temples, the naval
battle which he fought with them. But his is an empty
prosperity; affairs at home are in the worst possible
condition. The native forces of the Egyptian people
are exhausted; their military enthusiasm is forever
quenched. From the fall of the 19th Dynasty, the
internal history of Egypt is but the story of the overthrow
of the Pharaohs and the usurpation of the throne,

first by the priests of Amon, and then by foreign mercenaries
from the ranks of the Libyans, who now largely
make up the army. The offices of the priest and the
soldier, the strength of the state in the early Empire,
are now perverted to the destruction of the ancient

The Decadence
1150—663 B. C.

Shortly after the death of Ramses III the Asiatic
empire finally collapsed, and the long Decadence
ensued. Ramses XII, the ninth of the feeble
Ramessids, who, one after another, followed Ramses
III, was unable to transmit the crown to his son, or
was quietly set aside by Hir-Hor, the high priest of
Amon at Thebes. The priests did not long succeed
in retaining the royal honors, for the Ramessids, who,
from Ramses II's day, had lived in the Delta, set up
a dynasty in his splendid Delta city of Tanis. They
forced the Amonite priests from the throne and reconciled
the priestly party by themselves assuming the
high priesthood of Amon, and intermarrying with the
women of the old priestly house. They form the
21st Dynasty. The overthrow of the Ramessids of
the 20th Dynasty could hardly have occurred much
later than 1100 B. C. It brought the seat of power
finally to the Delta, already since Ramses II's day the
royal residence, and thus the decline of Thebes began.
It also lost Palestine to Egypt and permitted the rise
of the Israelitish monarchy during the eleventh and
tenth centuries, in a region, which, for about five hundred
years had been an Egyptian province. The great
building period which began with the 18th Dynasty
at Thebes, was now ended, and the vast temples which
we shall find there grew up under the Empire, particularly
the 18th and 19th Dynasties.
From very early times the Egyptians, naturally unwarlike,
had received Libyan mercenaries among their
troops. From the rise of the 19th Dynasty onward,
the native forces were more and more inclined to relinquish
the sword to these foreigners, who increased in

numbers with every subsequent reign. The victories
of Ramses III were for the most part due to them.
About 950 B. C., when the power of the native Pharaohs
was at its lowest ebb, these powerful military
adventurers thrust aside the feeble 21st Dynasty and
assumed the kingship, forming the 22nd Dynasty.
Thus, after some two thousand five hundred years of
native rule, the spent and impoverished nation passed
under foreign masters, and with trifling exceptions she
has had nothing else since. From this time on, there
was “no more a prince out of the land of Egypt.”

The Libyan Period
950—663 B. C.

The first ruler of the new family, Sheshonk (Biblical
Shishak), early planned for the recovery of the
ancient province of Palestine. Hence it was that he
received Jeroboam so willingly and seized the opportunity
of a division among the Hebrews (with which
it is not impossible that he had something to do), to
reconquer Palestine and plunder Jerusalem (I Kings
xiv, 25-26). The attempted reconquest, apparently
little more than a plundering expedition, was not enduring
but Sheshonk had a record of it engraved on
the wall of the Karnak temple at Thebes, where we
shall study it. But the power of Sheshonk's successors
in Bubastis, the Osorkons, the Sheshonks, and the
Takelots, rapidly declined, while in the Delta and up
the valley there was, within a hundred years of the
first Sheshonk's death, a similar kinglet in almost every
important city. Hence it was that Egypt was unable
to do anything to check the rapidly rising power of
Assyria, which was now threatening Palestine. Of
these Bubastite or 22nd Dynasty kings after Sheshonk
I, we know almost nothing, so few monuments
have been left us, and so complete is the destruction of
the Delta cities.

The Nubian Period
775—663 B. C.

While the weakling princes of the Delta were doing
all in their power to check Assyria's westward progress,
a new complication arose in the Nile valley itself.
Probably as early as the 21st Dynasty the Nubians
had gained their independence and there grew up an
independent Cushite kingdom on the upper river, with
its capital at Napata, just below the fourth cataract
(Maps 2 and 3). Here, then, with an ever deepening
tinge of barbarism, we find developing a repetition of
the Theban state, with Amon at its head. These Egyptianized
Ethiopians soon pushed northward and gained
control of Thebes, whose priesthood had perhaps
founded the new kingdom at Napata. By 732 B. C.
they were ready for greater things, and the conquest
of all Egypt, with the exception of some of the more
stubborn Delta cities, was successfully achieved by
their first great king, Piankhi. It was, however, but
temporary, and for a hundred years after the invasion
the history of Egypt is made up on the one hand of
attempts of the local kinglets on the lower river at
overthrowing each other, and on the other of invasions
of the Ethiopians, who found it only too easy to subdue
and plunder a nation so disorganized. This situation
was further complicated by continual attempts
against the advance of the Assyrians. But by 670
B. C., after futile efforts on the part of successive
Ethiopian kings to halt Assyria, the dreaded invasion
by that power comes, and Memphis is plundered.
Tanutamon, the last of the Ethiopians to renew the
attempt to hold Egypt, again came down the river
as far as Memphis in 663 B. C., and thus provoked
another invasion of the Assyrians under Ashurbanipal.
The latter advanced a forty days' march up the river
to Thebes, which he sacked and wasted, a ruin from
which the great capital of the monarchs of the Empire
never wholly recovered. Neither Tanutamon nor his
successors ever again ventured into Egypt; the Ethiopian
domination in Egypt had thus lasted, with some

interruptions, from 732 to 663 B. C. Having transferred
the capital from Napata to Meroe (Map 3) far
up toward the junction of the two Niles, the Ethiopian
kingdom endured down into the first Christian

The Restoration
663—525 B. C.

The strife of the local dynasts and petty kings, which
now broke out anew, might have continued indefinitely
had not a new element been suddenly introduced.
Psamtik (Greek Psammetichos), a Delta prince of Sais,
following the traditions of his family, was enabled to
gain the lead by the employment of mercenaries from
a new source; these were Greeks and Carians. By this
means he rapidly subdued his neighbors, threw off the
yoke of Assyria, and by 645 B. C. had gained the
whole valley as far as the first cataract, in addition to
the Delta. Assyria, now nearing her fall, was unable
to prevent the consolidation of his power. Thus, after
centuries of unparalleled confusion and disunion,
Egypt was finally granted peace and stable government,
and Psamtik ushered in a new day. His family
we call the 26th Dynasty. Egypt now prospered as
never before, and in Greek and Phoenician bottoms,
her products were carried to every mart of the known
world. Now began the establishment of her naval
power, which made her so formidable under the Ptolemies.
The Greeks now entered the country in large
numbers, and were allowed to found in the western
Delta their great trading city of Naukratis. This
period was in every sense a restoration; perhaps not of
the glory of the Empire, but in intention at least,
a restoration of the Old Kingdom, which had created
such enduring witnesses of its power, and seen through
the perspective of twenty centuries, seemed to the
Saites an ideal age. Although the hopes of Psamtik's
Dynasty, for the recovery of Syria and Palestine, naturally
excited by the fall of Assyria, were thwarted by

the unexpected rise of Babylonia under Nebuchadrezzar,
nevertheless the family ruled in great power and
prosperity for 138 years from the accession of its
founder. But new forces are at work, the old oriental
world is being gradually broken up and transformed,
Egyptian and Semitic dominance is at an end, and the
western world is soon to touch the east with a mighty
hand, involving it forever in the destinies of the great
nations of Europe. But first came the rise and dominance
of Persia.

The Persian Period
525—338 B. C.

In 525 B. C. Cambyses defeated Psamtik III, the
last representative of the 26th Dynasty, at Pelusium, in
the eastern Delta. By moderation and justice, the Persian
kings came to be recognized as the successors of
the old Pharaohs of Egypt, and, with some interruptions,
they ruled the country from Cambyses's victory
until 338 B. C., almost 200 years. They are called
the 27th Dynasty, and the native princes of the Delta
cities, who rebelled against them from time to time,
succeeded in setting up the ephemeral 28th, 29th and
30th Dynasties, all of which fall within the period of
Persian rule. Of these last dynasties, only one king,
Nektanebos, succeeded in gaining any great power or
the sovereignty of the whole country. This king, under
whom a faint revival of the old glory flickered fitfully
for a few years, built the beautiful temple of Philae.
which we shall visit.

The Greek Period
332—30 B. C.

With the overthrow of the Persians by Alexander
the Great, Egypt was incorporated into his vast kingdom
without resistance in 332 B. C. He founded
Alexandria in the same year, and it soon became the
centre of Mediterranean commerce. On the division

of his kingdom, Egypt fell to Ptolemy, one of Alexander's
generals, who gradually assumed royal prerogatives
and became Ptolemy I, the founder of the Ptolemaic
Dynasty. The family at times developed great
power and ruled the old Asiatic dominions of Egypt
as far as the upper Euphrates. Ptolemy I founded in
Alexandria the Museum, containing a great library and
commanding liberal endowments for the support of
scholars and men of literature and science. Such patronage
was continued by his successors, and Alexandria
thus became the greatest seat of learning in antiquity.
But his later descendants were often guilty
of the grossest misgovernment, cruelty, and neglect,
under which the country gradually declined. But they
were all regarded as the legitimate successors of the
old Pharaohs; they respected the old religion and built
splendid temples, of which we shall find impressive
examples when we ascend the Nile in our tour of the
country. Finally, as Rome rose, she mingled more
and more freely in the affairs of the Ptolemies, until,
after the romantic career and tragic death of Cleopatra,
the last of the Ptolemaic line, Egypt became a Roman
province in 30 B. C.

The Roman Period
30 B. C.—640 A. D.

The Roman emperors were now regarded as the
Pharaohs of the land, which they ruled by means of
governors, called prefects. Egypt, the once powerful
nation, settled down into much the same condition in
which she now is. The fertile valley became the
granary of Europe, and the recognized source of paper,
made from papyrus reeds, which it had begun to export
as early as 1100 B. C.; but the spirit of the old arts, and
the mighty architecture had fallen forever asleep. The
land was now visited by wealthy Greek and Roman
tourists, who ascended the river and admired its marvels,
as Cook's thousands do at the present day.

Christianity spread rapidly, in spite of frequent persecution
by the Roman emperors, until, under Theodosius
I (379-395 A. D.), the magnificent temples of
the Pharaohs were forever closed. The conflicts
among the Christians themselves on questions of doctrine
and the vast number of ascetics in the innumerable
monasteries, involved Alexandria in constant
broils, which, with the persecution of the Jews, her
best merchants, made the continuance of her commercial
supremacy impossible. With the partition of the
Roman Empire in 395 A. D., Egypt became a portion
of the Eastern or Byzantine dominion, with its capital
at Constantinople. Declining steadily in power and initiative,
the Egypt of this period has left very few
monuments, and we shall find little to remind us of
it as we pass through the country.

The Moslem Period
640—1517 A. D.

Eight years after the death of Mohammed, which
occurred in 632 A. D., Amr ibn el- As, the general of
the second caliph, 'Omar, marched against the now
entirely Christianized Egypt, and made complete conquest
of the country. The caliphs governed it with
justice and discretion by means of governors, but as
the caliphate declined and the caliphs of Bagdad became
mere puppets in the hands of their governors
and generals, the governors of Egypt made themselves
independent rulers of the country, and the first dynasty
of such independent monarchs was founded by Ibn
Tulûn, in 868 A. D. We shall later see his mosque,
which is the oldest building in Cairo. Under the
Fatimids, who ruled from 969 to 1171 A. D., Cairo
was founded (969 A. D.), and rapidly grew to be an
important city in the Moslem world. With the overthrow
of the Fatimids by the famous Saladin, a Turk,
in 1171 A. D., Egypt again ruled Syria to the upper
waters of the Euphrates. But Saladin introduced as
his trained body-guard a multitude of white slaves, who
are called Mamlukes in Arabic. Rewarded with lands

by the Sultan and forced to render him a certain quota
of troops each year, these white slaves soon became a
body of rich and powerful feudal nobles, who made
sultans as often as they pleased, and no sooner had
one of their number succeeded in gaining the coveted
crown, than he was assassinated or displaced by
another, unless he was a man of unusual strength and
initiative. They overthrew the Eyyubid Dynasty (as
that of Saladin is called) in 1240 A. D., and they ruled
the country until 1517. Some of them were strong and
able men, who did much for the country and greatly
encouraged art and letters. Under them in the fourteenth
century Cairo became what we shall find it, and
its most beautiful mosques were the work of these
rulers. Christianity, though often tolerated and sometimes
treated with great liberality, was also severely
persecuted. Islam had long since gained a large majority
of the population, and the Christians, now called
Copts, gradually diminished in numbers under persecution.
The old language of the Pharaohs, which had
been slowly yielding to the Arabic for centuries, now
gave way entirely and was spoken only in a few remote
villages, as in modern times the ancient Keltic language
of Ireland is spoken. It had long ceased to be
written, either in hieroglyphic, or its cursive forms,
hieratic and demotic, but for a thousand years the
Egyptians had employed Greek letters in the writing
of their ancient language, as we employ Roman letters
in writing English. In the translations of the
Bible and in the church ritual, this form, written with
Greek letters and called Coptic, continued to be used;
but by the close of the Mamluke domination the old
language of the monuments vanished completely as a
spoken tongue, and Arabic became the language of
Egypt. But Coptic is still used in reading the church
service, and in the Coptic churches you may still hear
the language of the monuments; but the listening congregation
does not understand it any more than a
Roman Catholic congregation in Italy understands the
service of their church in Latin, though that tongue
was once the common language of the country.

The Turkish Period
1517 to the Present

In 1517 the Mamlukes were defeated by the Turks,
and although they long continued powerful in Egyptian
politics, Egypt became a province of Turkey, and
a victim of the misrule to which all Turkish provinces
are so often subject. The Turkish Sultan's grasp upon
the country was often so loose, that his authority was
merely nominal, and after the ephemeral French occupation
under Napoleon (1798-1801), terminated by the
British, a young and obscure Roumelian named Mohammed
Ali, a colonel in the Albanian division of the
Turkish army, succeeded in gaining the upper hand
and founding a new dynasty in Egypt, which is still
on the throne. In 1811 he exterminated the Mamlukes;
and but for the interference of Europe after he
had gained possession of Syria he might have overthrown
the Sultan, whose European territory he was
preparing to invade. His family has since secured
from the Sultan the title of Khedive, or viceroy, which
is now hereditary in the dynasty. Financial extravagance
and hostility to European influence finally forced
the English and French to interfere, and in 1881, the
French having withdrawn, the English bombarded
Alexandria, and, landing, defeated the Egyptian leader
Arabi Pacha at Tell el-Kebir. Since then Egypt has
been under British influence to such an extent that it
amounts to a British protectorate. English rule, however,
received a rude setback in the Sudan rebellion.
The country on the upper Nile, to a frontier some distance
above the two Niles, had been gained for Egypt
by Mohammed Ali and his descendants; but in 1883
a religious enthusiast named Mohammed Ahmed, who
called himself Mahdi (“the Guided”), succeeded in
stirring up a widespread rebellion, in opposing which,
the great Englishman, General Gordon, perished. The
whole Sudan was lost to Egypt, and the southern
frontier was at Wadi Halfa by the second cataract,
until Sir (now Lord) Herbert Kitchener, after completing
the railroad across the desert from Wadi Halfa

to Abu Hammed, defeated the Mahdist forces in 1898,
and recovered the Sudan. British rule has been an
unquestionable blessing for Egypt, and the country is
now enjoying a prosperity, and financial stability which
it has never before possessed.
Look back for one moment through this long line
of foreign conquerors, who have entered Egypt since
the glory of the first great empire under the 18th and
19th Dynasties faded and disappeared. One after
another they have entered and marched across the
Delta for 3,000 years; Libyans, Nubians, Assyrians,
Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Turks, French and
English. Of all these we shall find some remains as we
journey through the country, and in no other land can
we find a succession of kings and dynasties or a series
of monuments embracing such a wide span of centuries
as in the Nile valley.
A chronological table will enable you to follow the
whole period of Egyptian history with greater clearness.

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The Predynastic Kingdoms

4241. Introduction of the Calendar.

The Earliest Dynasties (1 and 2); Supremacy of

3400. Beginning of the dynasties under Menes.

The Old Kingdom (Dynasties 3-6); Supremacy of

2980. Beginning of the Old Kingdom, with the rise of
the 3rd Dynasty.
2445. Fall of the Old Kingdom.

Middle Kingdom (Dynasties 11-13); Supremacy of

2160. Rise of the Middle Kingdom, with the beginning
of the 11th Dynasty.
2000. Accession of the 12th Dynasty, the great dynasty
of the Middle Kingdom.
1788. Close of the 12th Dynasty, bringing in the decline
of the Middle Kingdom, followed by the
Hyksos domination.

The Empire (Dynasties 18-20); Supremacy of Thebes

1580. Rise of the 18th Dynasty, expulsion of the
Hyksos and beginning of the Empire.
1350. Close of the 18th Dynasty and loss of Asiatic
1350. Rise of the 19th Dynasty, followed by recovery
of Palestine and war with the Hittites; Sethos
I, Ramses II.
1205. Fall of the 19th Dynasty, and after an interval
the accession of the 20th; Ramses III.

The Decadence (Dynasties 20-25)

1150. Final loss of Asiatic conquests; beginning of the
1090. Usurpation of the priest-kings at Thebes, and
succession of the 21st Dynasty in the Delta.
945. Fall of the 21st Dynasty, and accession of the
Libyans as the 22nd Dynasty.
732. Invasion of the Nubians and Nubian domination,
continued with interruptions during the
23rd and 24th dynasties of Delta princes; the
Nubians themselves being the 25th Dynasty.
670. First Assyrian invasion under Esarhaddon.
663. Last Assyrian invasion under Ashurbanipal and
overthrow of the Nubians.

The Restoration (26th Dynasty)

663. Accession of the 26th Dynasty, and beginning of
the Restoration.
525. Fall of the 26th Dynasty and close of the
Restoration period.

The Persian Period (27th Dynasty)

525. Accession of Cambyses after the battle of
404 to 343. Native Dynasties (28, 29 and 30) striving
to expel the Persians.
332. Alexander the Great entered and seized Egypt.

The Greek Period, or Dynasty of the Ptolemies

332. Foundation of Alexandria.
323. Death of Alexander the Great, and accession of
Ptolemy I as Satrap.
30. Death of Cleopatra and close of Ptolemaic rule.

The Roman Period

30. The first Roman prefect, Cornelius Gallus, enters,
324. Accession of Constantine; the first Christian
379. Accession of Theodosius I, who declared Christianity
the religion of the empire and closed
the temples of the old religions.
395. Partition of the Roman empire and accession of
the Byzantine emperors at Constantinople.

The Moslem or Mohammedan Period

640. Conquest of Egypt by the Moslems; first Moslem
868. Accession of the Tulunids, the first independent
Moslem rulers of Egypt.
969-1171. The Fatimids.
1171-1250. The Eyyubids, or Dynasty of Saladin.
1240-1517. The Mamlukes.
1517 to the present. Turkish rule.
1798-1801. French occupation.
1805-1848. Mohammed Ali.
1881. Battle of Tell el-Kebir and beginning of British
1883. Rebellion of the Mahdi in the Sudan.
1885. Death of Gordon and fall of Khartum.
1898. Defeat of the Mahdists and recovery of the
The monuments in the country so constantly illustrate
its history that many important events and
periods will be discussed as we stand before these
monuments themselves. This method will render the
great epochs of Egyptian history much clearer, and
many of the greatest events are reserved for discussion
in the presence of such contemporary monuments.

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Together we are about to make the tour of a remarkable
river valley, more thickly strewn with monuments
of early civilization than is any land in all the
world. We are not (actually) to enter the country in
the body, but this will make no difference, if we can
obtain the experiences, the states of consciousness, of
being there. Such experiences are obtainable by the
right use of the stereoscope, the stereographs and the
accompanying maps. Though we do not actually walk
from place to place, still we shall know what it means
to stand in one hundred different places in the valley,
and if you note carefully where we stand in each case,
you will be making the tour of the country with very
many, if not all, of the experiences which you would
gain by an actual visit. We shall view what we are to
see, particularly the monuments, in a number of different
First, Locality. We must in every case study the
particular part of Egypt we are viewing in relation
to its surroundings. With your eyes within the hood
of the instrument (stereoscope) you must consider
carefully the various relations of the prospect before
you, the direction in which you are looking, what lies
beyond a distant horizon, what is to the right, left, or

behind you. On the Nile we are especially blessed
with important and always present elements of the
geography, by means of which we shall be able to
locate ourselves. We must always ask, where is the
river? on which side of it are we? where are the eastern
walls of the cañon? where are the western walls?
where is the desert? for these things are practically
always with us, as soon as we have passed from the
Delta into the valley. Further, when a number of
standpoints are in localities contiguous or partially
identical, we must ask ourselves in every case as we
look out over the new prospect, where did we stand
in our last position? Even when the distance from the
last position is many miles, if you think in what direction
it now lies, you will be able to connect the one
hundred points of view into a coherent whole, and into
a definite progress through the land in a real and connected
Second, History. Having considered place, we must
turn to time, which really means history. In most cases
the part of Egypt before us will contain some great monument
marking an important historical event or period
or a series of these. The main epochs of Egyptian
history can be made so familiar to you in a short time,
that you will be able to place every monument, not
merely in its proper locality in the Nile valley, but be
able to see it also in its great historical perspective.
The conversation which we shall hold together at each
place will be such, that when your memory fails you,
the place of the monument will be suggested and recalled.
Third, Art. Many of the monuments upon which
we shall look are valuable, and sometimes phenomenal
works of art. Let us always think of their value and

meaning as such; let us not imagine that the form of
the object before us has always existed as a matter of
course, but let us remember that many of the things
which we shall see, did not exist until they were conceived
by the mind of the Egyptian, and thus a great
contribution was made to later human culture, which
has profited by the genius of the Egyptian.
Fourth, Mechanics. We shall find in the Nile valley
some of the greatest mechanical achievements of man;
and indeed the greatest in oriental antiquity. Let us
always think of the mighty works which we are to see
in this aspect also, realizing that many of the processes
employed were first evolved and used by the Egyptians.
If we observe these precautions we shall finally
come to see all these things as human documents, the
offspring of the mind of ancient man, and frequently
opening to us the possibilities of that mind, as a literary
document could not do, however superior the literary
documents in most cases may be. Doing this we shall
not be making merely a local progress through the
country, but we shall also follow the career of its people
through the ages and gain a comprehensive conception
of Egypt, not merely as a land and a place, but
also as a great first chapter in the fascinating story
of man.
But the first condition leading up to this mental conquest
is to place ourselves at the point of view, to obtain
a vivid sense of location in the northeastern
part of Africa, with eyes in the hood of the instrument,
forgetting that we are sitting in an armchair
in modern America, as we look out over prospect
after prospect in the Nile valley. If you will but believe
it, you will have experiences of looking through
a window, from which all that might be seen on the

spot will appear in its proper dimensions. In my opinion
there is no other means of obtaining impressions
like those of standing on the actual spot, anywhere
near as perfect as those to be obtained by the right
use of the stereoscope and this map system. Above
all, do not look at a place for a careless few seconds
and throw it down in disappointment, but follow with
me the points which we are to note together and find
them in every case either in the scene or on a map;
and when you have done this, then follow them all
through again, noting each detail as you pass it. You
will be surprised to find after you have done this, how
much each section of the land has come to mean, what
an intelligible story it tells and how much more there
is in it than you supposed beforehand. If you do this
for every one of the outlooks from the one hundred
points of view, you will have become more familiar
with Egypt than most tourists in that country, who
usually read so rapidly on the spot and are hurried
about at such a rate, that they bring home only blurred
and confused impressions of what they have seen.
Furthermore, wherever your memory later fails you,
you have only to return to the spot by means of the
stereoscope and renew your impression, which the tourist
cannot do.
Finally, make constant and repeated use of all the
maps; never take a position without having first found
it on the map, if it is there at all (only two or three
are not marked with red lines on the maps), and then
compare it with the last point of view as to distance,
direction, etc. Frequent references are made to the
maps in the texts, but it has been impossible to refer to
them in every line where they should be used. It is
impossible to use them too much, and it will be found

very useful to have the map open before you on the
table constantly, turning it around as you take each
new position, so that you have the apex of the red V,
marking out the direction and field of your vision,
pointing toward you. You will then be looking across
the map in the same direction in which you are looking,
in that particular view in Egypt; and right and
left, in front and behind, as you find them mentioned
in the book, will exactly correspond on the map; even
though some of the print on the map may often be
upside down.
Let us now open the large map (3), and trace the
route which we are to follow through the country. We
shall land at Alexandria, proceed by rail to Cairo,
where we pass from the Delta into the cañon of the
river. From Cairo, after a short study of the town
and some of the important monuments in the museum,
we shall visit the surrounding points of interest; the
pyramids, Memphis, Heliopolis with its solitary obelisk,
the quarries from which the stone of the pyramids
was taken, and the city of Pithom to the northeast,
built by the Hebrews. Leaving Cairo and beginning
the voyage of the river, we shall visit the Fayum, the
great oasis on the west side of the river; and the south
end of the line of pyramids. Then, passing these monuments
of the Old and Middle Kingdom, we reach the
tombs of Benihasan; then the tombs of Assiut, over
two hundred miles above Cairo, with suggestions of
the coming rise of Thebes; then entering the great
Theban period, we visit our first temple at Abydos,
and, after a brief visit at Dendera, we reach Thebes
itself. Here we shall spend a long time, studying
first the east and then the west side of the river. After

a visit at El-Kab and Edfu, fifty miles or so above
Thebes, we shall reach the first cataract, where we
shall visit Assuan, Elephantine, and beautiful Philae.
We then enter Nubia and shall stop at Kalabesheh and
Kasr Ibrim on our way to Abu Simbel and its great
cliff temple. We shall then have followed the Nile
River from the mouth to the vicinity of the second
cataract. Leaving the Nile at Wadi Halfa, we shall
pass over the desert railway from there to Abu Hammed,
cutting off the great bend of the river, on our
way to Khartum, but shall make no stop until the
last-named place is reached. We shall look at the
tomb of the Mahdi, at Omdurman, opposite Khartum,
and view the palace of the governor of the Sudan in
Khartum itself. Here our voyage will end; or you
can follow it back to the Mediterranean through the
same places if you wish. You will find nearly all the
places which we visit underlined with red on this map,
and this will enable you to find the points without difficulty.
If you notice any slight difference in spelling
on the various maps, this is due to the fact that these
names are all Arabic, and that it is therefore possible
to put them into English in several different forms.
As our maps are from different sources, and made by
different men, uniformity was impossible.
Turn now to Alexandria. There we are to stand
and look north toward the Mediterranean.*
First—Move the slide, or carrier, which holds the stereograph, to the
point on the shaft of the stereoscope where the subjects in the scene can
be seen most distinctly.
Second—Have a strong, steady light on the stereograph. This is often
best obtainable by sitting with the window or lamp at one side, letting
the light fall over the shoulder.
Third—Hold the stereoscope with the hood close against the forehead
and temples, shutting off entirely all immediate surroundings.

Position 1. Pompey's Pillar, the sailors' landmark,
and modern Alexandria, north toward
the sea

We have taken our stand out here on the south of
the city in the quiet sunshine, where we are gradually
to realize that we are actually in the land of the
Pharaohs, and really about to visit the innumerable
marvels of this land of many wonders. Over behind
these houses is the sea across which we have come,
for we are looking almost exactly northward. Yonder,
then, to the northwest, is distant Europe (Map 1),
and behind us is the fan-shaped Delta, gradually
narrowing into the long valley or cañon of the Nile,
which we are to traverse to the union of the two Niles,
1,500 miles south of this city. We stand then with
the whole African continent behind us (Map 1), out
of the heart of which the Nile issues, and we look
toward Europe across this world-famous city, which
was the chief instrument in uniting the civilization of
the two continents. For it was the intention of Alexander
the Great, when he founded this city in 332
B. C., to make it the link, which by commercial and
other activities should weld Egypt into the great
Greek world-empire which he planned. His conquest
of Egypt and his foundation of this city marked a new
epoch for Egypt, and drew her forever into the turmoils
of European history, which she had hitherto
Under the Greek Dynasty founded by Alexander's
general, Ptolemy, son of Lagus, and from him
called the Ptolemaic Dynasty, this city rose rapidly
till it became not merely the most powerful commercial
centre, but also the greatest seat of learning in
the ancient world of that day. The Ptolemies endowed

a great institution here known as the “Museum,” and
made it the home of salaried scholars for the furtherance
of science and literature. In connection with it
was a great library, the first notable library known
in history, which, when it was burned in the time of
Caesar, contained no less than 900,000 rolls. Beside
many magnificent public buildings, and the tomb of
Alexander, who was buried here, there was a temple
to Serapis, which surpassed anything of the kind in the
orient. The city was visited by many Roman emperors,
and maintained its superiority as an intellectual centre
until the rise of Constantinople dimmed its lustre.
The introduction of Christianity resulted in so many
tumults of the turbulent monks, that the city gradually
declined also in material prosperity. Finally the discovery
of a sea route to India diverted all its transit
trade between India and Europe, to the Cape route,
and Alexandria fell on evil days. Under Turkish
sway it went from bad to worse, having not over 5,000
inhabitants at the beginning of the 19th century, but
the progressive and energetic Mohammed Ali then
came to its rescue, and by new canals and docks
brought the long period of decay to an end, and saved
the city from extinction. It has since then continued
to prosper, and with 320,000 inhabitants, of whom
seven-eighths are native and the rest European, it is a
fine monument to the great conqueror who founded it.
The shaft before us was erected as a landmark for
sailors by one of the Roman governors of Egypt, and
in 392 A. D. one of his successors placed a statue of
the emperor Diocletian upon it, which has since disappeared.
In the Middle Ages it was mistakenly connected
with the tomb of Pompey, who was murdered

on this coast, and is therefore called “Pompey's Pillar,”
just as the New York obelisk which once stood
here on the beach north of us was called Cleopatra's
Needle, although Cleopatra never had anything to do
with it. This column is the only surviving monument
of any size from the days of Alexandria's splendor.
It is 89 feet high, while the shaft alone, which is cut
in one piece, is 69 feet high. In the base there have
been used blocks from older buildings, one of which
bears the name of Sethos I, of the 14th century B. C.
We are introduced by this monument to the Graeco-Roman
world, which followed the older Oriental
supremacy; but as we go through Cairo, we shall see
how Islam brought in a revival of Oriental power,
which again eclipsed that of the Graeco-Roman age,
upon which Islam and its prophet Mohammed followed.
For one of the results of the Moslem invasion
was the foundation of Cairo, which we shall now
Follow on Map 3 the railroad southward from Alexandria,
129 miles to Cairo at the southern apex of the
Delta. Turn then to Map 4, “Environs of Cairo,” where
you see, Cairo lies close to the east bank of the Nile.
Find the two red lines, numbered 2, which start from
the citadel on the southeast side of the city, and branch
toward the northwest. We are to stand now at the
point from which these lines diverge and, facing northwest,
look over that portion of Cairo and the country
beyond, which the lines enclose.

Position 2. Cairo, home of the Arabian Nights,
the greatest city of Africa, northwest from
Saladin's citadel to the Nile

[accompanying stereograph, front]

[accompanying stereograph, back]

Here for the first time we feel the charm of the
Orient! Spread out before us is the city of Moslem
song and story, the greatest seat of Saracen art, the
home of the Arabian Nights. For two miles it
stretches out before us, and it is twice as long the
other way. Remember, we are standing at the eastern
side, looking northwestward from the southeastern
corner of the city. Before us is Alexandria, 130 miles
away, where we left the Mediterranean. Our route
hither lay along the western side of the Delta, which
is between us and the Mediterranean. This city which
we overlook is located a short distance above the southern
apex of the Delta, on the eastern bank of the Nile.
We cannot see the river itself from our present standpoint,
but we can locate it precisely. Far out on the
further edge of the city, to the left of the taller minaret
on this nearest mosque, you discern a white building
with a dome in the centre. That is the new museum,
and it is located on this shore of the river, so that the
Nile flows just behind it. Beyond the museum you see
the dark line of palms which fringe the further shore
of the river and form extensive groves there.
The course of the river is here due north; hence,
as we look westward our line of sight is across it at an
oblique angle. Here, too, though you perhaps have not
yet noted it, we may observe how we have entered the
vast valley or cañon which just below us here merges
into the Delta. Do you see that low, gray line that
rises just behind the dark band of palm forest behind
the town on the left? That is the cliff forming the
western wall of the Nile valley (see Map 4), and we

are standing upon the walls of a stronghold that rises
upon the corresponding eastern cliff. Between these
eastern and western walls lies the fertile valley, with
the Nile flowing much nearer the eastern than the
western cliff; for those western bluffs are nearly ten
miles away, while the river is less than two miles
distant from us as we stand on these eastern heights.
Behind those distant cliffs is the vast expanse of the
Sahara stretching on and on across all north Africa
to the far Atlantic, while behind us is the same desert
interrupted by the Red Sea and extending across Arabia
into the heart of Asia. We are looking across the
great fertile trench which the Nile has cut through
this desert of two continents, and at its northern end,
where it merges into the Delta, here at our feet, lies
the city of Cairo. Under the golden sunshine its soft
brown domes and graceful, slender minarets rise
against the masses of whitewashed dwellings or are
confused among the deep shadows and sombre walls
of sun-dried brick houses, the whole forming such an
oriental picture as you may see elsewhere only at
It is a romantic story, that of this ancient town.
Far back in the days of those pyramid-building Pharaohs,
whose marvelous pyramids out yonder on that
distant cliff in the west we shall yet see, there was an
insignificant town, somewhere along the eastern bank
of the river, known as the “Place-of-the-Combat,” because
it was told in mythic story, that Horus and Set
had once done mortal combat here for the supremacy
of the Nile valley. A little later, in the third millennium
before Christ, the great city in this vicinity was
Memphis, on the other side along the distant bluffs a
little further south, where we shall later visit it. North

of us but a few miles was the famous city of the sun,
Heliopolis, to which we shall also pay a visit later on;
but the oldest monument which we can find in the immediate
suburbs of Cairo is out here on our left, where
out of range lies a wretched little settlement known
as “Old Cairo .” (See Map 4.) There in the days of
the Greek domination in Egypt was a town of some
sort which they called Babylon, doubtless from some
fancied resemblance between its old Egyptian name
and Babylon on the Euphrates. There, when Egypt
became a Roman province, was stationed a Roman
garrison in a fortress, which still survives as the oldest
monument in the history of Cairo. In 640 A. D.,
only eight years after Mohammed's death, the Caliph
'Omar with many misgivings, allowed a little band of
fiery Arabs under Amr ibn el-As, to attempt the conquest
of Egypt, and after several victories before
reaching here, they besieged the Romans in the fortress
of Babylon, which they finally took, and the defeated
Romans fled to Alexandria. 'Amr, so the story
goes, had left his tent standing by Babylon, when he
pursued the Romans to Alexandria, and on his return
he began a town there, which, because of this circumstance,
was called Fostat, that is, “the Tent.” The
“town of the tent,” which was the first Moslem town
here, was therefore not on the present site before us,
but by the river south of Cairo, and it is still over a
mile and a half from the southern extension of the city
(on our left). It was also called Misr, the Old Testament
name for Egypt, as well as the usual designation
for Egypt in the Koran, and the name Cairo was then
unknown. Misr flourished, and became a prosperous
commercial town, filled with fine houses and splendid
bazaars. But in 1168 A. D., when Amalric, the Latin

king of Jerusalem, advanced to the conquest of Egypt,
it was burned to save it from his hands. “Twenty
thousand naphtha barrels and ten thousand torches
were lighted. The fire lasted fifty-four days, and its
traces may still be found in the wilderness of sand-heaps
stretching over miles of buried rubbish on the south
side of Cairo.” Thus perished a priceless monument
of mediaeval Moslem life and art.
Cairo had already been founded on the ground
before us. From the beginning the caliph's governors
and commanders had been accustomed to reside here
and on the ground between here and Misr. They
gradually drew some of the town up this way. Finally,
when the new dynasty of the Fatimids came in under
el-Mu'izz, in 969 A. D., he founded here a new town,
which was called el-Kahira (Cairo), because the
planet Mars, known as the “Conqueror” (el-Kahira),
was in the ascendancy at the laying of the first stones.
The people from burning Misr swelled the population
of the already considerable town, and under the wealthy
Fatimids it became a beautiful and prosperous metropolis.
Next to nothing of this early Cairo of the
Fatimids now survives; the city upon which we are
looking is of later date; of this later city we shall have
more to say as we pass on.
This masonry upon which we stand, is part of the
citadel of Cairo, erected by Saladin in 1176 A. D., and
its erection marks the beginning of the later Cairo
which we have before us. You see the obsolete batteries
on the parapets below us on the right. Those
two curved salients beyond the guns, defend an entrance
to the fortress known as the Bab el-Azab, over
which floats the flag of the Turkish Sultan, with its

star and crescent; for the viceroy of Egypt is a vassal
of the Turk. That Bab el-Azab gives access from
the fortress to the park below us. You see one of the
two white sentry boxes below at the door of the fortress
on the right. The circular park with its rows of
trees is the Place Rumêlah, and hither each year the
pilgrims returning from Mecca march in procession
amid great public rejoicing.
The most prominent building before us is the superb
mosque of Sultan Hasan, the finest example of
Saracen architecture in Cairo, and perhaps anywhere.
It was built in 1356 to 1359, and the Sultan was so
delighted with it that he cut off the right hand of the
architect, under the impression that it would then be
impossible for the unfortunate man ever to design
another, which might rival it. The splendid entrance
on the other side is 85 feet high, and the massive walls,
113 feet in height, are built of stone taken from the
pyramids. That dome, the lines of which are not a
success, is a later work, for unhappily the original
dome fell in 1660, and was later restored. Of the four
minarets designed by the architect, but three were
erected, and one of these fell shortly after its completion
and killed three hundred pupils of the school beneath
it. One of the remaining two had to be rebuilt in
1659, owing to an earthquake, and was made too small.
Only the one here on the left is the work of the architect.
It is the tallest minaret in Cairo, being no less
than 270 feet in height. Its exposed position has cost
the building much damage. In the innumerable conflicts
of the Mamlukes, cannon were often posted upon
the roof and trained upon the citadel where we stand.
Of course, the defenders of the citadel responded in
kind, and cannon shot may still be found in the masonry

of the fine old mosque. “In a quieter situation the
mosque might have escaped injury, but even as it is,
scarred with bullets and lopped of its original dome
and minarets, it remains the most superb if not the
most beautiful monument of Saracenic art in the fourteenth
This heavy flat-topped building, with the tall arches
on the right of the Sultan Hasan's mosque, is the
mosque or monastery of the Rifa 'iyeh, an order of
dervishes having several sects, one of which is noted
as furnishing the performers of the most astonishing
prodigies on the occasion of any public procession.
They walk before the procession, thrusting nails into
their eyes, swallowing burning charcoal and pieces of
glass, or they lie down in the street and shatter great
stones against their breasts. To another sect of the
same order belong the remarkable snake charmers,
now very rarely, if ever, seen by Europeans; but their
remarkable feats are vouched for by credible witnesses.
The numerous men and boys you will see
about the streets of Cairo now, with small and harmless
snakes, are not to be confused with these snake
charmers of the Rifa'iyeh. Their mosque is unfinished,
as you see. This striped mosque beyond the
flagstaff on the extreme right is a modern structure of
no architectural value.
You notice that no domes or minarets are visible along
the river, the native town being here on the east, the
nearer side of the city. There was formerly considerable
space between the old native town and the river.
Within fifty years this has been taken up by Europeans,
whose villas now stretch north and south and bring the
town down to the river on the west. He who loves the
picturesque native life will mourn to see it thus closely

crowded by the prosaic life of the west, but fortunately
the Moslem quarters here at our feet keep quite aloof
and the tenacity with which they cling to their old
ways and customs is surprising. Of the 600,000 inhabitants
of the modern city, some 40,000 are Europeans,
and their influence is, of course, very strong,
working great changes in the mediaeval city, which
Cairo still was only fifty years ago. But in spite of
these powerful foreign influences, this old city still
remains the center of orthodox Moslem learning. It
is the great university town of the whole Moslem
world, and although the mosque of el-Azhar, the
building in which the university is located, once had
probably as many as 15,000 students, it still has some
7,000 people in it, including over 200 professors. The
latter still continue teaching by rote the mediaeval learning,
which has always formed the curriculum of the
The mosque of the Sultan Hasan before us will
answer as an index for locating some of the chief
points in the modern city. The peak of the dome just
cuts into the white façade of the luxurious Hotel
Savoy, one of the several magnificent European hotels
now to be found in Cairo. Nearer than this hotel, and
seen between the dome and the shorter minaret, is
the Abdin Palace, in which the present Khedive or
Viceroy of Egypt resides. At the right of the tall
minaret, just under the swell of the lowest balcony,
is another palace, once occupied by the Khedive
Ismail of Suez Canal fame; but it is now used as a
hotel, called the Gezireh Palace Hotel. Gezireh means
“Island,” and the place is so-called because it stands
upon an island in the Nile. We shall later see this

island and the bridge leading to it. The large white-domed
building on the left of the tall minaret we have
already mentioned. It is the National Museum of
Egypt, recently completed and occupied. There we shall
examine some of the treasures which it contains as we
go past on our way out to the great pyramids. To
the left of the museum you may faintly discern the
long, low barracks of the British army of occupation.
Behind the base of the tall minaret, and seen over the
roof of the mosque, is a grove, on the further edge of
which (cut by the minaret) appears the vice-regal
library, rich in oriental manuscripts. Another palace
of the vice-regal family occupies the left end of this
grove. Another patch of grove further to the left, and
nearer the river and the barracks, marks the buildings
of the different Ministries of Justice, Finance and the
Interior, and Public Works and War. Out of range on
the extreme right is the famous Shepheard's Hotel,
the first European hotel established in Cairo. Thus
the world of modern Europe is crowding upon mediaeval
Cairo. Every winter thousands of tourists occupy
the hotels, of which, besides the luxurious places we
have mentioned, there are many of moderate price and
comfortable appointments.
We shall now proceed to a somewhat elevated point
outside the eastern wall of Cairo on our right, but out
of our present field of vision. There we shall look
nearly southward, directly across our present line of
sight. Turn to Map 4 and find the red lines numbered
3, extending from the east side of the city slightly
west of south, which show more definitely what is
to be our next position and our field of vision from it.

Position 3. Citadel and Mohammed Ali Mosque,
beyond the Bab el-Wezir Cemetery, at the
Feast of Bairam, Cairo

[accompanying stereograph, front]

[accompanying stereograph, back]

We have now descended from the citadel, you see,
and, having taken up our position on the north of it,
are looking southward toward it. On our right, but not
included in our field of vision, is the city itself; on
our left is the eastern desert, while behind us is the
eastern half of the Delta. The city of which we see
the eastern edge on our right, did not originally include
the citadel before us, but where those massive walls
now rise were the bare rocks of the eastern cliffs that
bound the valley on this side. But when the great
Saladin, the conqueror of the Crusaders, came to the
city, with his fine military judgment he saw the necessity
of a stronghold commanding the place, and preventing
a besieging enemy from doing the same. In
1176 he therefore began masonry fortifications up yonder
on the height now crowned by that tall mosque,
and planned a great wall around the city below, which
latter was never entirely finished. He employed on
the work hosts of European captives, whom he took
from the ranks of the Crusaders. Little of the old
walls of the crusading days now remains, for the citadel
has often been enlarged, remodeled and strengthened
since Saladin's time.
The place where we stood overlooking the city is
just on the right of the short, thick tower on the
right of the two tall minarets, but further back,
in a line directly away from us. Our line of sight
there was across that along which we look at present,
and, of course, directed toward our right as we now
stand. The white buildings behind the parapets of the
fort on the extreme left are the barracks of the present

garrison. The great mosque which surmounts the
citadel with its tall and graceful minarets, is the most
prominent landmark in Cairo. It was begun by the
founder of the reigning dynasty of viceroys in Egypt,
Mohammed Ali, after the blowing up of an old palace,
which occupied the same place in 1824. His architects,
as the building shows, were Turks. It was not completed
until 1857 under Said Pacha, after the death
of Mohammed Ali, which occurred in 1849. The
great rejuvenator of Egypt is buried in a splendid
tomb under one corner of the large dome.
The citadel marks the rise of a new and vigorous dynasty,
and also the beginning of a new day for Egypt.
The long domination of the Mamlukes, which for 600
years had cursed this fair land, was brought to a bloody
end on yonder heights, when in 1811 on the 1st of
March, they were craftily assembled in the narrow,
high-walled approach to the citadel, which you see
coming up from the town on the right (the Bab el-Azab
in the Place Rumêlah, seen from Position 2),
and there by order of Mohammed Ali, they were shot
down from the surrounding walls without mercy. Of
the 480, only one, Amin Bey, escaped by leaping his
horse down through a gap in the crenellated wall to
the moat below, whence he succeeded in making his
way to the desert. The guides and dragomans of
Cairo will show you a place some 90 feet high, up
yonder on the right, which they affirm with the utmost
gravity is the spot from which Amin Bey leaped his
Nearer us is an animated scene characteristic of
modern Cairo, in the Cemetery of the Bab el-Wezir or
Gate of the Vizier from which the cemetery is named.
It is there in the right-hand corner of the cemetery,

behind the large-domed tomb of Tarabai esh-Sherif on
the right. The city wall does not enclose the cemetery,
but you will see some of its angles there on the
right of the tomb of Tarabai, with the large dome,
after passing which the wall turns to the left, beyond
the last tent at the other end of the cemetery; and you
can see it extended eastward before the citadel, just in
front of the heavy tower that rises below the citadel
wall on the left. At that point there is another gate,
and the streets from both gates pass along in front of
the citadel below the spot where we overlooked the city
for the first time.
You are, without doubt, wondering at these tents
and houses in the cemetery. The townspeople are celebrating
what they call the “Lesser Feast,” a very interesting
festival, which occurs after the fast of
Ramadan. The occasion of the rejoicing evident here
is very natural. These poor people have been fulfilling
the most rigorous obligation imposed by the Mohammedan
religion; that is, in the celebration of the
fast of Ramadan, every orthodox Moslem is forbidden,
during the time between sunrise and sunset for
the entire month, to touch food. Naturally when this
severe requirement has been duly complied with, they
are quite ready to celebrate its termination. The first
three days of the following month, called Shawwal,
are therefore devoted to feasting, rejoicing and congratulations.
The celebration often goes by its Turkish
name, “Bairam.” However incongruous it may
seem, you see that these good people have chosen the
cemetery as the place in which to celebrate their feast;
this is commonly done at this time. Some of them
have permanent dwellings here, which they temporarily
occupy at the time of this feast. These are the houses

which you see scattered through the cemetery; they
are erected over the tombs of the departed members
of the family. Others who have no such dwelling
erect a tent over the tomb. On at least one of the
three days of the celebration, they come to the cemetery
laden with palm branches which they strew upon
the tombs. The house just before us shows how
such dwellings are arranged. The court covered over
with plaited branches contains the tombs of the dead,
while the roofed portion is the dwelling in which the
relatives stay during the sojourn at the cemetery.
The hum of voices reciting the Koran, the shouts and
the gay laughter and the rejoicing of the poor at the
gate of the cemetery, as they receive the food distributed
by the rich, all this, with the citadel and its splendid
mosque outlined against the bluest of skies in the distance,
gives the traveler a typical scene of oriental life,
as it is found only at Cairo. Behind us at the Bab en-Nasr,
which is also on this side of the city, the jubilation
and merry-making are even more marked than
here, and the temporary booths, with piles of sweets,
the merry-go-rounds, the dancers and the rejoicing multitudes
give one the impression of a large country fair.
In a few days these same people will be following the
pieces of the sacred carpet or “kisweh” from the citadel
to the Mosque of Hasanên, in a rejoicing procession
to which all Cairo will turn out. That procession is
one of the most interesting public events at Cairo, and
we shall later have the opportunity of observing it.
Meanwhile, we shall turn half round, at the same
time moving a short distance northward or to our
right, and shall look across the city southwestward.
Find on Map 4 the red lines numbered 4, which start

from the east side of the city and branch southwestward
to the pyramids of Gizeh about ten miles away.

Position 4. Cairo, looking southwest across the
City to the Great Pyramids, that furnished
stone for many of its buildings

[accompanying stereograph, front]

[accompanying stereograph, back]

The cemetery and the citadel are now out of range on
our left; on our right is the northern quarter of the city,
behind us is the eastern desert, while the prospect before
us again is the southern part of the city, but we now
look southwestward, not northwestward as when we
stood on the bastion of the citadel (Position 2). But
we have much the same prospect of domes and minarets
rising on every hand from a confused expanse of
houses showing no perceptible order or arrangement,
because there is none, and they lie on innumerable little
crooked lanes, narrow and tortuous, as if the houses
were dice which had been shaken up in some colossal
hat and thrown down as they happened to fall, only
taking care that every spare inch of ground should be
covered. That high-walled building on the extreme
left, of which we see only one corner, is the mosque of
Rifaiyeh, which we saw by that of the Sultan Hasan
from the citadel (Position 2). Immediately on its right
over the dome with the peak awry, you see the sandhills
and rubbish heaps on the south of the present city,
where the old vanished city of Misr, 'Amr's “city of the
tent” was located. Between the dome just referred
to and the distant sandhills you notice a horizontal
whitish streak, beginning just below the peak of the
dome and extending toward the right. That is the
court of the oldest mosque in Cairo. It was built in
877-879 A. D. by Ibn Tulûn, the first independent Sultan
of Egypt, who freed himself from the weak caliphs

of Bagdad and made Egypt a great power, governing
Syria and Mesopotamia also. In his day Cairo did not
yet exist, but over where you see the sand-hills were the
busy streets, teeming docks and swarming markets of
old Misr. Outside Misr, on its northern and western
outskirts, Ibn Tulûn built yonder ancient mosque,
which has now been standing over a thousand years.
The only mosque in Egypt which is older, is the one
built beside the fortress of Babylon, by its conqueror
Amr ibn el-As, in 640 A. D.; but that is so much
altered by restoration and addition that it is no longer
the mosque which Amr built there. From here, then,
we see how the mosque of Ibn Tulûn forms a link
with the old Cairo on the south, which gradually moved
northward until the present city was founded here at
our feet by the Fatimids in 969 A. D.
Only a very little of the old Fatimid city still remains,
but the city, which we have before us, is mainly a work
of the 14th century and later, the city of the Arabian
Nights. For it was here and in the city as you now
see it from this point that the Arabian Nights, with
their charming pictures of the life of the common people,
the life of the shops, houses and bazaars, were put
into their final form, though as every one knows, they
contain tales of far earlier date, some of them even
dating from an age as remote as the 12th Dynasty, of
the old Pharaohs 4,000 years ago. Think of it! some
of the tales which these Moslems of the Cairo bazaars
love to listen to, are almost as old as those pyramids,
of which we get here our first glimpse, dimly rising
on that western horizon, where the faint line of the
western cliffs mingles with the paler hue of the afternoon
sky (Map 4). And those pyramids, to which we
shall yet pay a long visit, furnished much of the stone

for this city. When Saladin built the citadel, and employed
on the work the Europeans whom he had captured
from the ranks of the Crusaders, the stone which
the wretched captives wrought, was taken from the
smaller pyramids of Gizeh . In mosque architecture,
however, the use of stone did not become extensive
until the 14th century; thus the old mosque of Ibn
Tulûn is of brick plastered over, but the magnificent
mosque of the Sultan Hasan, which we saw from the
citadel, is of stone taken from the pyramids over yonder
on the horizon.
It would take too much of our time to identify all
these minarets before us, date them and connect them
with the great events in the history of Moslem Egypt,
with which many of them were identified in one way
or another. But we must look at these two at our feet
for a moment. Built in the days of the Circassian
Mamlukes, within a generation or two of the Turkish
conquest of Egypt, they are exquisite examples of the
classic age of Saracen architecture. If you could have
entered the mosque of Ibn Tulûn or any of the older
mosques, as they were left by their builders, you would
have found no dome, no minaret, and no ornate façade,
but simply a court surrounded by a colonnaded portico,
dispensing with the slightest trace of architectural
decoration without and severely plain within. It was
the Mamlukes of the 13th century who gradually
brought in these things, although the elements of a
façade were introduced as early as the latest of the
Fatimids, and the tower which preceded the minaret
was already found on the mosque of Ibn Tulûn. Five
times a day the Muezzins appear in the balcony of
these minarets and summon the faithful to prayers.
Of the real purpose of the dome we shall have more to

say when we have visited the so-called tombs of the
What a volume of history this old town is, if time
and patience would but permit us to search for all
the landmarks of great events and imperial epochs,
which swarm around us on every side! From this
point we see more effectively than we shall see again
anywhere in this valley, the monuments which span the
whole mighty sweep of oriental history—yes, even the
whole history of mankind. For out there on the horizon
are the greatest remains of early man surviving anywhere
in the world, and at our feet is the city of
Egypt's latest masters, the home of the Moslem conquerors;
while distributed along the river as we ascend,
we shall find the monuments of all the ages which
fill out the vast epoch lying between these two extremes.
Nowhere else in the world can you overlook
such a metropolis and at the same time see the greatest
monuments of earliest human history, looking down
upon the roofs of the modern city.
Let us now visit one of the best of the works of the
Saracen architect, and when we have done so we
shall descend into the streets of the old city. We will
leave this city of the living and go out into the desert
east of the town, nearly a mile behind us to a city of
the dead. This next position is shown on Map 4 by
the red lines numbered 5 on the east of the city. Evidently
we shall be looking a little west of north.

Position 5. A “Ship of the Desert” passing the
tombs of by-gone Moslem rulers, outside
the east wall of Cairo

[accompanying stereograph, front]

[accompanying stereograph, back]

These ladies of modern Cairo who are out “smelling
the air,” as they say when out for an airing, do not

seem oppressed by the solemnity of the place. Indeed,
as one of them has removed her veil, there is much
doubt whether they belong to the class of reputable
ladies from the upper ranks of society. However, the
opportunity of meeting and conversing untrammeled
with foreigners is one which does not come every day
to the members of the harem, and this may perhaps
excuse what is considered by a well-bred Cairene an
unpardonable lack of reserve and modesty. What a
romantic carriage! Does it not recall innumerable
scenes from the Arabian Nights in the good old days
when wonders awaited the fortunate hero at every
street corner; and the fair ladies of Cairo were but
waiting for his appearance to bestow upon him happiness,
favor and unbounded wealth?
A generation ago, such a vehicle usually conveyed
the bride at every wedding. With tinkling bells and
gayly caparisoned camels it made a brave show as it
carried to the waiting bridegroom the vision of loveliness,
whose face, as is always the case in Moslem marriages,
he has never seen, and whom he might instantly
divorce with a word, if the fondly anticipated “vision”
turned out to be a disappointment. Such a harsh procedure,
though perfectly legal in this land of the Koran,
is, however, rarely practiced on the bride of an hour,
but she is allowed time to recover from her disappointment
in not having met the expectations of her
husband, and in the course of a week or ten days is
quietly divorced in private; while the fastidious husband
then begins negotiations through a female member
of his family for another unseen bride.
It is easy to see that we are on the border of the
desert. I have often referred to it as on the east of the
city. Cairo is now on our left and we look northward,

with the desert on our right, along the northern end of
that line of royal tombs which extends along the entire
eastern side of the city, except where interrupted by the
citadel, which is now behind us (Map 4). These beautiful
sepulchres were erected from the 13th to the 16th
centuries by the Bahri and Circassian Sultans, the
Mamlukes who followed the age of Saladin. They
are the product of the finest age of Saracen art, and
place us under a heavy debt of gratitude to the splendid
artistic genius which created them. We have but a
portion of them before us, only the northern end indeed.
They were liberally endowed by their builders,
each of whom left a large income from lands and taxes
for the support of a body of sheiks, and keepers attached
to his respective mosque, and these with their
families resided in the mosque enclosure. But Mohammed
Ali confiscated the property of these mosques early
in the 19th century, and since then they have fallen
into sad decay. A commission of Europeans appointed
by the government has in late years devoted much
time and liberal government appropriations to the
preservation and judicious restoration of these monuments,
and their efforts have been crowned with the
greatest success. We may therefore hope that the
life of these priceless heritages from a great past has
been indefinitely extended.
The large one on the right, with the high wall and
those two minarets, was built by the Sultan Barkuk,
and though he died before its completion, it was finished
by his son, the Sultan Farag, in 1410. These
three domes on the left, with their delicate ornamentation,
belong to the extensive foundation of the Sultan
Bursbey, in 1431. The fourth dome in this same row
on the left, belongs to the mosque of the Emir Yusuf,

the son of Bursbey, while the last is that of the Sultan
el-Ashraf. This line of yellow domes on the east
of the city forms one of the loveliest sights in or about
Cairo, and is an architectural display of Saracen genius
which cannot be found anywhere else. Let us now
examine more closely one of the most notable and,
undoubtedly, the most beautiful of this entire group
of tomb-mosques, that of Kait Bey; and while there
we shall explain why we have called these buildings
mosques, although they are also tombs.
The mosque of Kait Bey, to which we now go, is
a short distance to the southwest of us; that is, on our
left and at the same time behind us. We shall therefore
move to the left and backward to reach our next
point of view.

Position 6. Tomb Mosque of Sultan Kait Bey, the
most beautiful of the Tombs of Cairo

[accompanying stereograph, front]

[accompanying stereograph, back]

As we left our last point of view, we turned almost
toward the south, and we are now facing the
southwest. The city is now on our right, the
desert on our left, and also behind us, stretching
away to the Isthmus of Suez and the plains of southern
Palestine. Here before us rises the lovely tomb-mosque
of Kait Bey, built in 1474, by the last of the
really great Mamlukes who preceded the Turkish conquest,
which occurred a generation later. The powerful
and sagacious Kait Bey inaugurated a veritable
Augustan age for Cairo, and brief as it was the city
was adorned with a host of magnificent buildings,
which to-day form its chief architectural beauties. As
we have before remarked, a mosque was originally only
a place of assembly in the open air, a square court

surrounded by a colonnaded portico. When it became
customary to inter the great in a mosque, a dome was
placed over the addition containing the tomb. As an
architectural element the dome was originally and for
a long period the invariable accompaniment of a tomb
in Saracen architecture. This dome, the gradual development
of the minaret, and the addition of a façade
taken from the buildings of the Crusaders, gave the
tomb-mosque a finished architectural unity which the
earlier building did not possess. These important additions
necessitated many supplementary details, which
were new to the mosque. See how skilfully the transition
is made from the square building below to the circular
base of the dome which rests upon it. That exquisite
dome is, like the rest of the building, of stone,
and the rich carving upon it is the perfection of
geometrical design in which the Saracen artist has contributed
so much to decorative art.
Under Saladin the plan of a mosque was modified
and the four porticoed sides of the old court were extended
outward in the form of a cross, a form introduced
from Persia. The court at the same time became
smaller and the four ends of the cross, or the transepts
as we might call them, were used by teachers of the
four great schools of orthodox Moslem theology as
lecture halls. Such a building was and still is called
a “medresa,” or place of teaching, a college. By the
time of Kait Bey, this form had in its turn been subjected
to change, in that three of the four transepts
had gradually been reduced in size and the central
court so contracted that it was roofed over. Various
irregularities also modified the old, fixed plan, so that
you can hardly follow it here. Although in decorative
beauty such buildings as these are unsurpassed in any

art, yet as a whole they do not produce an impression
of unity and repose such as we receive from the classic
or the ancient Egyptian temples. The only building
in Cairo, comparable to the works of ancient Egypt,
which we shall later visit, is the mosque of Sultan
Hasan, which we viewed from the citadel.
We must now examine some of the more important
interior arrangements of Kait Bey's mosque. That wall
which faces toward our left, looks southeast, that is,
toward Mecca, in which direction every Moslem must
look when he prays. Hence if we enter this tall, narrow
door in the front we shall find ourselves in a large hall
of worship, which in the original mosque-form, was
one side of the court, roofed over for the protection of
worshipers. On the inside of that wall, therefore, we
shall find the arrangements by which the Moslem architect
designates the proper direction for prayer in
such a house of worship. There, too, we shall be able
to observe the tracery of those arched windows of
which we see a pair on either side of the small circular
window in the centre.

Position 7. The prayer niche, southeast toward
Mecca, and the pulpit in the Tomb Mosque of
Kait Bey, Cairo

How do you like walking about on a not too clean
oriental floor with your shoes off? Or if the attendant
has been amiable he has allowed you to put on some
old felt slippers over your shoes, or even wrap them
up in some tattered bits of rags which he has at hand
for the purpose. But no Moslem would think of entering
the holy place on such a compromise. He will
remain with bare feet until he steps outside the door
of the sacred building. See how the light filters

through the beautiful tracery of those stained windows
in the upper part of the wall before us, which we saw
from the outside. It is in such designs as this that
the Saracen artist is unexcelled by any other. This
rectangular transept before us was, in the original
court-mosque, that side of the court facing Mecca.
It was then a mere roofed portico on the side of the
court, and its back wall was arranged as you see this
That niche there is called by the Moslems the
“mihrab,” and it marks the proper direction for prayer,
which they term “kibleh,” or “facing” for it is very
important that a Moslem should always pray toward
Mecca. Mohammed first made the kibleh toward Jerusalem,
which is holy alike to Jew, Christian and Moslem,
but when he failed to convert the Jews to Islam,
he changed it to Mecca, and subjected the Jews to the
severest persecution; at least those in Medina, his home
after he forsook Mecca. On the further side of the
prayer niche you observe the “mimbar,” or pulpit, from
which the Friday sermon or “Khutbeh” is delivered
every week. The preacher, who is not specially ordained
for his office, but may be any person of theological
learning, comes in and seats himself on the
steps while the Muezzin enters and proclaims the hour
of prayer. Then the preacher rises and, standing on the
second step, delivers a short sermon, for tradition avers
that the prophet affirmed that “the length of a man's
prayers and the shortness of his sermon are signs of a
man's common sense.” Christianity has quite reversed
this estimate. The wood-carving on some of these pulpits
is among the finest decorative designs produced by
the artists of the Egyptian sultans.
A man need not possess all these appurtenances in
order to be able to pray. Wherever he is, he must pray
five times a day, and consider himself very lucky that
he is not obliged to pray oftener, for tradition has a
curious story that Allah first demanded fifty times a
day, but that Mohammed, on hearing from Moses that
he had failed in attempting to hold the Hebrews to this
number of daily prayers, returned to Allah and asked
a remission, which request being granted, he asked for
another remission, and he continued to ask until the
number was reduced to five, where it remained. Many
Moslems are undoubtedly true to this obligation, and
there is no more impressive sight than to see one of
these great Cairo mosques filled with a vast multitude
zealously engaged in worship, and swaying when they
bow down for the prayers, as if a great wave of the
sea were passing. But there are many whose prayers
are either not performed at all, or only now and again
in the most perfunctory manner.
There is, however, a ceremony in which every Moslem
joins with the utmost fervor, and that is the procession
of the Kisweh, or sacred carpet. In order to
see this we must return to the city and find a good
place for observing the procession as it passes from the
Rumêlah before the citadel (seen from Position 1).

Position 8. The Holy Carpet parade with the
Mahmal, before the departure of the pilgrims
for Mecca, Cairo

[accompanying stereograph, front]

[accompanying stereograph, back]

There is nothing in Cairo which so strikingly reminds
us that we are in a country professing the religion
of Mohammed, as the ceremonies connected with
this pilgrimage to Mecca, the city where he so long
labored and over which, after long exile, he finally

triumphed. It is now two or three days since the feast
of Bairam, which we visited at the cemetery of the
Bab el-Wezir, the gate by the citadel; and here is a
celebration to which the Moslem turns out with even
more delight than to Bairam. Every year at the expense
of the Sultan a fine carpet or huge fabric for
festooning the Kaaba at Mecca is made in this city, and
we are now viewing the procession which is bearing
it from the citadel to the mosque of the Hasanên, where
the pieces will be sewed together and lined, in readiness
for the departure of the pilgrims.
We cannot here see the carpet itself, but the “mahmal”
which accompanies it is even more sacred. We
refer to the curious object which you see at the head of
the long procession. It is a pyramid of woven fabric
richly embroidered, surmounting a roughly cubical
base, of the same material. The whole is stretched on
a wooden frame, and contains nothing. Brazen ornaments
at each corner and a similar adornment crowning
a cylinder at the top complete the strange object. Attached
to the ornament at the top are two copies of the
Koran, the holy scripture of Islam. It is all mounted
upon a magnificent camel, which is here so hidden by
the mahmal and the crowd that you can scarcely see
it at all. In this way the mahmal proceeds to Mecca
with the pilgrims and with them also returns to Cairo.
The origin of the object is interesting. The Sultan
Negm ed-Din, whose son was the last of the dynasty
of Saladin, had a beautiful Turkish slave in his harem,
who eventually became his favorite wife. Her name
was Sheger ed-Durr, which means “Spray of Pearls,”
and on the death of the last of the line of Saladin, she
claimed the throne. Although the Moslems are always
exceedingly averse to having a woman as sovereign,

she ruled successfully for several years and performed
the pilgrimage to Mecca in a haudag or camel saddle of
royal splendor, which she after that regularly sent with
the pilgrims each year as the outward symbol of her
presence, although it was empty. They married her
to a husband as soon as they could, and in a fit of jealousy
she had him murdered in his bath, whereupon she
was taken to the citadel and imprisoned. There she
“vindictively pounded her jewels in a mortar that they
might adorn no other woman,” and then in the presence
of the woman who had occasioned her jealousy,
she was beaten to death and her body flung into the
moat of the citadel. Some one finally gave her decent
burial and her tomb still survives here. But the great
Sultan Bibars continued the custom of sending the
empty haudag, and despatched the first one to Mecca
with the pilgrims in the year 1272 or 1277 A. D., from
which time it has always been a part of the procession.
It is therefore a memorial of the beautiful but ill-fated
“Spray of Pearls,” which here heads this procession
over six hundred years after the unfortunate queen's
But the Moslem sees more in it than a woman's
camel saddle; for him it has become sacred beyond
expression. Lane narrates that in 1834 he followed beside
the mahmal as it was brought into the city at the
return of the pilgrims, and that as he did so he grasped
and held the fringe of one side, uttering a pious exclamation
to soothe the officer in charge of it, who looked
at him with some question as to the propriety of such
a liberty. But Lane was dressed as an Oriental and
was thus mistaken for a Moslem. Having later told
the incident to one of his Moslem friends, the latter
expressed the greatest astonishment, and said, adds

Lane, “that he had never heard of anyone having done
so before; and that the prophet had certainly taken a
love for me, or I could not have been allowed: he
added that I had derived an inestimable blessing; and
that it would be prudent in me not to tell any others of
my Moslem friends of this fact, as it would make them
envy me so great a privilege, and perhaps displease
In a small circle on the front of the pyramidal top of
the mahmal you see the monogram of the present
Sultan of Turkey, who is the head of the Moslem heirarchy,
though the legitimacy of his succession is seriously
questioned by the Moslems themselves. Guarding
the mahmal is a circle of horsemen from the army
of Egypt. It was these men under English leadership
and supported by some English regulars who rescued
the Sudan and regained Khartum, to which we are to
pay a brief visit at the end of our journey. That long
line of camel riders behind the mahmal will in a few
days begin the weary desert journey around the north
end of the Red Sea and southward to Mecca. Those
who can afford it, however, are able to facilitate the
journey in the most prosaic modern fashion. They go
by railway to Suez at the head of the Red Sea, thence
they take a steamer to Giddeh, the port of Mecca, from
which they can reach the holy city in a few hours. At
Mecca the pilgrims undergo a long and wearisome
ceremonial lasting some days, and the sacred carpet is
draped about the Kaaba, which is a rectangular shrine
in the centre of the great mosque court of Mecca. The
old carpet of the year before is taken down, cut up and
divided among the pilgrims. Something over four
months after the procession has left Cairo, its return is
announced by a special messenger, and the pilgrims are

received with great rejoicing, the mahmal being
brought in with much the same ceremony which we
observe here.
It is considered the pious duty of every Moslem to
undertake this arduous pilgrimage at least once in his
life, and its maintenance, involving a military escort,
rich gifts to the city of Mecca and many other expenses,
costs the government annually some $250,000.
Besides the expense the pilgrimage is a fruitful source
of disease. Many die from the hardships incident to
the desert journey, and it is a sad and touching scene
when the caravan returns, to see the wives and sisters
who go out to meet and receive their husbands or
brothers only to learn that they have perished in the
desert. The reception of the returning caravan is
always accompanied by the loud wailing and piercing
shrieks of stricken women, as they learn of their bereavement.
But worse than this is the importation of
epidemics, especially cholera, from the unsanitary
houses of Mecca, in which the pilgrims have lived.
Many a blasting visitation of cholera can be traced directly
to this source.
There is no time when so many gaily dressed Moslems
may be seen in the street as at this celebration
before us, but even on any ordinary day the shifting
panorama of the Cairo streets and bazaars, will afford
the western eye, accustomed to the soberest and most
prosaic of city streets, the keenest enjoyment and delight.
The mass of bright color constantly changing
with kaleidoscopic variety and bewildering rapidity,
is of itself a continual pleasure. We have often mentioned
the Arabian Nights, but you will find things
around every corner here which will make you think
that you have walked into the world of the Arabian

Nights, as Alice stepped into Wonderland through the
looking glass. The barber shaving the heads of the
faithful in an open booth, which is really a part of
the street; the little street restaurant, where the patrons
squat in the mire before the low table and devour a
plentiful repast for a penny; the water carriers bowing
beneath a heavy water skin; the seller of cool sherbet,
jingling together his brass cups; the woman of the
poor classes with a child astride of her shoulder; the
Cairo houris with faces all veiled save the thrilling black
eyes; fine old sheiks with long white beards and massive
turbans; slow plodding camels with swaying neck;
tiny donkeys staggering beneath the garden truck of
some poor peasant; staid merchants sitting on the
bench or mastaba of their bazaars and smoking the
long pipe lazily or sipping their coffee as they indifferently
watch the passing throng; all this framed in
a narrow winding street, with picturesque, grated windows,
from which veiled faces look down upon the
scene, while a thousand varied cries of pedlars, donkey
boys, auctioneers and beggars mingle in bewildering
confusion with the constant hum of conversation from
the bazaars, and the nose is greeted by the strange
aromatic odor which always fills these oriental streets—
all this I say conveys such a jumble of impressions and
appeals to so many senses at once, that the unaccustomed
visitor revels in it all with a delight that must be
experienced to be appreciated. I know Europeans who
have lived in Cairo for a generation, who nevertheless
find as much pleasure in these charming Cairo streets
as they did when they first saw them.
But now we must leave all this and step into one of
the courts that we may see what one of these oriental
houses is like.

Position 9. The harem windows in the court of a
wealthy Cairene's house

The houses of the rich and noble Cairenes give little
indication on the outside, of their interior beauty and
richness. Indeed the streets are too narrow to make
any exterior façade effective, even if it were present.
As we have come in here from the street the porter has
taken us through a passage with at least one turn and
sometimes more, in order to prevent passers in the
street from looking into the court. On two sides of
it are ranged the different rooms and apartments of
the house; the ground floor, the carved doorway to
which you see here on the right behind the tree, is reserved
for the men and is called the “salamlik.” There
the master of the house receives his friends, who, according
to Moslem politeness, must not give the slightest
intimation that they are aware of the existence of
any women in the house. If any of these friends are
taken to the second floor they raise their voices and let
it be known that they are coming, in order to warn the
women and give them time to retire or to veil themselves;
for the harem, the apartment of the women,
is on the upper floor. There is rarely any higher
floor in a Cairo house.
Yonder elaborately and exquisitely carved windows
are those of the harem, and there the ladies of
the house spend their time listlessly lounging, and
rarely going out for an airing. They lead the most
uninteresting of lives, possess no culture or next to
none, and by the men of their own race are given an
exceedingly bad character, probably far worse than
they actually deserve. But the stories of female intrigue
and ingenuity in evading the vigilant husband,
which one hears in Cairo, are legion, and some of them

must be true. It is little wonder that women so penned
up should resort to almost anything as a relief from
the stifling life they lead. But woe to her, whom one
of these lounging servants, who are always about the
court, betrays! She is then taken, or at least formerly
was (even though the Koran requires four eye
witnesses, who are almost never forthcoming), to
the Nile, bound and cast in. Such punishment
is, however, more common among the poor. But
it goes back to hoary antiquity, for a papyrus of the
17th century B. C., now in the museum of Berlin, relates
the intrigue of a priest's wife, who on being betrayed
by the priest's steward, was cast into the Nile.
But the women are not the only sufferers. Said one
of Lane's friends to him: “How many men in Cairo
have lost their lives on account of women? A very
handsome young libertine, who lived in this house
which you now occupy, was beheaded here in the street
before his own door, for an intrigue with the wife of a
Bey, and all the women of Cairo wept for him.”
Those windows up there have probably witnessed
such scenes. What superb works of art they are! It is in
some of these carved windows of Cairo, that the finest
work of the Saracen designer is found, though unfortunately
they are rarely as old as such work in the
mosques. They are too fragile and exposed, as well as
too good conductors of fire to survive long. They are
known as “Mushrabiyeh,” which means “drinking
place,” because the porous jars of drinking water, in
common use in Egypt, are placed here and exposed
to a constant draught that the water which penetrates
from the inside to the outside of the jar, may rapidly
evaporate and thus produce cold, which cools the water

remaining in the jar. Without understanding the principle
of physics involved, the natives thus obtain cool
drinking water without the use of ice. The presence
of these jars in such windows has thus given them
their name; these little projecting oriels, of which you
see three in the middle window, are the receptacles of
such jars. The whole of the front and sides above
the carved plinth at the bottom is a very porous grating
through which the wind circulates freely. Such a
grating is made of carved, globular balls, joined like
beads to each other by connecting pegs of wood, a
construction often exquisitely wrought and involving
infinite labor. Cook's tourists buy quantities of the
crude modern specimens of such work, which mostly
fall to pieces after they have gotten them home. The
hands that wrought yonder windows have long been
dust, and their successors have ceased these many
years to possess the skill and patience to produce such
masterpieces. Neither have they the support and encouragement
of rich and powerful patrons as in the
days of the prodigal Mamlukes, to whom, dissolute
and venal as they were, we owe so much of the beauty
that fills modern Cairo.
But now we must leave the things of this later Egypt
and pass to the long bygone age and the vanished
splendors of the Pharaohs, of which nevertheless
enough remains to furnish us with a faint picture of
what was once here. The treasure house of such
things as have survived and need shelter in a permanent
home, is provided by the Egyptian government in
the splendid new museum of Cairo, which we discovered
from the citadel (Position 1). It was formerly
in an old palace by the suburb of Gizeh, on the road

to the pyramids, and before that at Bulak, where the
museum was founded by Mariette. Repairing to the
new building, we shall glance at a few of the more
important or interesting of the vast host of antiquities
with which it is filled.

Position 10. Diorite portrait statue of King
Khafre, the builder of the Second Pyramid
of Gizeh, Cairo

[accompanying stereograph, front]

[accompanying stereograph, back]

We have stepped in from the busy streets of Cairo,
the distant noise of which is still in our ears, as the
descendants of this man's subjects throng past the
door of the museum. We are standing here in the
National Museum of Egypt, which is but a short distance
from the great Nile bridge that will later lead us
out to the pyramids of Gizeh . Meantime we are to
have an audience with this mighty Pharaoh who built
one of them. Does he not look every inch a king?
Thus he sat in the presence of his assembled court
5,000 years ago, and thanks to the skill of his court
sculptors, we are able to view him to-day almost as
if he were in the flesh before us. The mottled material
somewhat detracts from the fine lines and clearness
of the features; that material is diorite, and although
it is so hard that it turns the edge of a steel
tool to-day, the artist of 5,000 years ago, with his chisel
of copper, has cut the fine lines of the mouth and the
delicate curves of the nose, as firmly as if they were
wrought in wood. For the artist of that ancient day
possessed not merely the conception of such a king,
but also the technical experience and skill to put it
into the hardest of material, which no sculptor of today
would dream of attacking. What was that conception?
It was not an ideal conception; it was but

the king as he saw him; so that the statue before us
is the result of an attempt to put the king into stone
by a process of exactly imitating his every feature,
producing at last an exact counterpart of his person
as he was wont to appear at court on great occasions.
There he sits, in calm and conscious superiority over
the mere human creatures about him, the Pharaoh,
whose ordinary designation was the “good god,” before
whom all men kissed the dust, of whom his son-in-law
and a great favorite relates with pride that he was
not permitted to kiss the ground merely, but by special
grace might also kiss the Pharaoh's toe.
His costume is the simplest; it dates from remote prehistoric
days, and we shall find it 1,500 years later, on
the statues of Ramses II at Abu Simbel (Position 95).
It consists of a linen headdress with folds hanging to
the breast in front, bearing the sacred uræus serpent on
the forehead, the Pharaonic crest, which you can
barely see from here; an artificial beard attached by
straps passing up behind the ears; besides a plaited
linen kilt from the waist to above the knees. Thus the
body is largely exposed, and we can observe how superbly
in such refractory material, the ancient sculptor
has modeled the limbs. While the muscular development
of the upper arm is summarily rendered, the
breast bones a little exaggerated, the hands, feet and
lower limbs are admirably done. It is fortunate
indeed that the nude or semi-nude was a common thing
in Egyptian life; had it not been so, the sculptor would
have been as unfamiliar with the human form as he
shows himself in Babylonian and Assyrian sculpture.
The throne upon which the king sits is a plain stool
without a back, the slab or plinth behind the Pharaoh
being merely a structural device for the protection

and safety of the body, such as is found in all
statues in stone, even where there is no seat. The stool
or chair is conceived by the artist as supported upon
two lions, one at each side. The one on this side is
clearly traceable, though much conventionalized; you
see the head and the fore legs, with the paws resting
on two bases ornamented with rings, while the hind
legs may also be discerned at the back corner on this
side. The space between the fore and the hind legs
of the lion is filled with a symbol of the union of
Upper and Lower Egypt , consisting of a papyrus stem,
the plant of Lower Egypt , and the lily, the flower of
Upper Egypt , intertwined about the hieroglyph for
“union,” thus forming the Pharaoh's coat of arms.
This masterpiece is unsurpassed by any such work in
the Old Kingdom, and it is unfortunate that its age
has been called in question. The evidence adduced for
a later date for the statue is, however, quite insufficient.
We shall be able to appreciate the exalted character
of this work if we now contrast it with one equally
good, but of distinctly different spirit. Let us remember
as we leave it that we shall later see the building
by the Sphinx, in which this and several more
statues of this king were found, just as they were
thrown into the well there by ancient vandals.
There is also one other object visible from here,
which it will be instructive for us to examine, before
we visit the great Gizeh cemetery. Notice that massive
stone tablet against the wall on the right of our
statue. That represents roughly the front of an ancient
Egyptian house, with the tall, narrow door in the middle.
Of course, it is but a model much reduced in size.
Such a house-front carved in stone was put against

the west wall of every tomb chapel, such as we shall
later see; the object being to provide for the deceased
a door, through which he might come back from the
world of the dead in the west, and rejoin the world of
the living in his tomb chapel and there enjoy the offerings
of food, drink, clothing and various other
necessities constantly kept there by his surviving relatives.
We call such a tablet a “false door.”

Position 11. The famous wooden statue called
the Shekh El-Beled, in the Cairo Museum

[accompanying stereograph, front]

This is perhaps a more remarkable work than the
one which we have just studied. You perceive at
once that the softer material has here permitted the
artist greater flexibility and life-likeness. But what
a totally different person! Only a nobleman in that
ancient day could have afforded to employ the court
artists on such a work as this; he is a noble then, but
a good-natured, pudgy-faced, vulgarly self-contented
individual, the very opposite of the divine Pharaoh
looking out upon us with a level glance of calm and
lofty superiority. Here, then, is the comfortable and
self-satisfied Egyptian noble of a distinctly lower class
than the Pharaoh, just as he appeared upon his well-stocked
estate, leaning upon his staff; as he was wont
to do, when the sleek herds and snowy flocks were led
before him for inspection, as we see them so often in
the relief sculptures of the tomb chapels.
This is a work of the Old Empire, and in spite of
the scars of 5,000 years, the whole preserves an air
of vivacity which is surprising. But what must it
have been when it left the hand of the artist! Its surface
was covered with linen deftly glued on; into the

texture of the linen was rubbed a paste or stucco forming
a perfectly smooth surface for the reception of the
colors; for this statue, like almost all Egyptian
sculpture, was colored in the hues of life. Besides
this, the eyes were inlaid of transparent rock crystal,
polished until it shone like glass, in the middle being
an inlaid circle of black crystal representing the iris,
in the center of which is a silver nail, a perfect counterfeit
of the pupil. Such an eye, exquisitely put together
and mounted in a copper socket, was set into the hollow
left for it, and to-day these eyes look out with
a gleam of life that in some cases is fairly uncanny.
The modeling of the face is done with unrivaled skill,
but in that of the body there was little opportunity
for the sculptor, as the contours of the muscular development
were so lost in fat that they have disappeared.
The right foot and most of the left leg have
been restored.
Large numbers of portrait statues, of just this sort,
but wrought in stone, have been found in the tombs
of the Old Kingdom, walled up in secret chambers,
where they were never seen by friends or relatives.
The sculptor therefore did not make them with the
idea that they were to adorn a niche in a villa, or be
erected in a public square; he knew that his work was
to be entombed with the dead, and shrouded forever
in darkness. What then was his object in bestowing
upon these figures such unlimited time and pains to
render them true and vivacious portraits? The Egyptian
believed that the survival of a person in the hereafter
depended upon his connection with a body, such
as he had animated during his earthly life. Without
such a body, the personality is annihilated and disappears.
Hence their embalmment of the body, which

is but an effort to insure to the departed in the future
life the use of the same body which he had possessed
before death. But the Egyptian conceived that the
mummy might be destroyed or perish with age. These
portrait statues then were intended to be more durable
bodies, false bodies, which should take the place of
the real bodies when the latter should have perished.
The statue would then still serve the deceased as his old
body had done, connecting him, as he thought, with the
world of real and substantial existence. Thus it was
that while the sculptor knew that his work was to be
buried forever, he was obliged by the person whose
portrait he executed from life, to make an exact reproduction
of his model's person. In this art the
sculptors of the Old Kingdom have never been surpassed.
This is acknowledged even by classical archaeologists,
for the well-known Charles Perrot says: “It
must be acknowledged that they (the Memphite
artists) produced works which are not to be surpassed
in their way by the greatest portraits of modern
Wherein then does the special superiority of the
Greek consist? In its ideal character; for his rare imagination,
his matchless sense of the beautiful created
for him a conception of the human form, ennobled beyond
reality, and expressing thoughts that are not of
stone alone; and such conceptions when embodied in
marble have something of an ideal beauty, which of necessity
is vastly higher than any imitation of natural
detail, however perfect. But so long as the Greek was
confined to the method of the Egyptian, he was far inferior;
probably no Greek sculptor ever executed a
statue involving such tremendous technical difficulties
as that of Khafre, which we have already seen. At

first, indeed, the Greek imitated the Egyptian and was
influenced by him, as is particularly noticeable in the
matter of the left leg thrust forward as you see it in
this statue. All standing Egyptian statues are thus
represented, but the reason for it is a matter of too
great length for us to enter upon here. Now the
earliest Greek Apollos, or so-called Apollos, like that of
Tenea now, in the Glyptothek at Munich, are thus represented
as standing with the left foot forward, a clear
evidence of Egyptian influence. And we must not forget
either, that these statues which we have been studying
are 2,000 years older than those earliest Apollos.
But when the fine spiritual endowment of the Greek
applied itself fully to sculpture, it took the superb technical
equipment inherited from Egypt, and applied it to
higher ends than those which had developed sculpture
on the Nile. For you see that this statue before us
is purely mortuary; yet even working for these purely
utilitarian ends, the Egyptian sculptor sometimes
caught the spirit of his model, and we observe how he
has put some of the kingliness of the monarch into the
magnificent statue of Khafre, so that after all something
of the soul of the proud Pharaoh has gone into
the stone through the brain and the cunning hand of
the sculptor, producing in some degree an ideal creation.
But traces of this are rare in Egypt, and elsewhere
are found chiefly in those scenes from nature
which he delighted to put into the tomb chapels, where
we sometimes find a loving fidelity to the beautiful
world about him, and a fine sincerity, which appeal
strongly to the modern heart.
Incidentally this statue offers interesting evidence
of the fact that the Egyptian of to-day is physically
just what he was in the days of the Pharaohs. When

Mariette discovered this figure, and it was raised from
the dust and rubbish of five thousand years, the peasants
employed on the excavations noticed such a striking
resemblance between its features and those of the
sheik of their modern village that they all cried out
with one accord: “Shekh el-Beled,” which means
“sheik of the village.” The statue has been commonly
known under this name, even among archaeologists,
ever since.

Position 12. The body of Sethos I, who lived
in the middle of the fourteenth century B. C.,
Museum at Cairo

[accompanying stereograph, front]

What would you say if you might look upon the
face of King David, of Solomon, or of Josiah? But
this king before us, upon whose actual features we
look, almost as if he had died but yesterday, lived and
reigned centuries before the Hebrew monarchy began.
Sethos I was the second king of the 19th Dynasty, and
his reign fell just after the middle of the 14th
century B. C. The Hebrews were toiling in Egypt
then, when the utterance of these very lips was the
supreme decree of the state; for his son, Ramses II,
was probably the Pharaoh of the oppression. Those
arms, now folded in repose, once bore the sword in
triumph through the very land where the Hebrews
afterward gained their home. This tall form once
towered in the speeding chariot, scattering death and
destruction among the Beduin kindred of the Hebrews,
as they sought to invade and possess the land of
Palestine. It is all depicted on the walls of the great
Karnak temple, where we shall see it when we arrive
at Thebes.
The Egyptians believed that such a body as this was
absolutely indispensable to the future existence of the
person, and we have seen that they even wrought false
bodies, portrait statues in stone or wood, to take the
place of this real body, should the latter ever suffer
destruction. The process of preservation was easy in
a country of so dry a climate, where a body buried on
the margin of the desert above the reach of the Nile
but without other precaution, will desiccate and after
thousands of years be exhumed in an astonishingly perfect
condition. When the climate was aided by artificial
means, you see before you what an amazing durability
was imparted to the frail body, which in other
climates perishes in a comparatively short time. There
were various means and processes of embalmment
suited to the purses of the different families seeking
the embalmer's services, and although the process was,
of course, unused and unknown in the earliest times,
it rapidly spread after it was once introduced, and long
before Sethos I's time the practice of it had become a
regular profession, demanding the services of thousands
of men. In course of time, although the custom
ceased in later Roman days, the tombs of Egypt
became glutted with millions of such bodies. When
we remember that three generations of five or six millions
of people died every century, and that a large
proportion of these were embalmed for probably over
3,000 years, we shall not wonder that we find large
cavernous tombs with the mummies piled in like cord
wood to the very ceiling. In the body of this king you
can clearly see the masses of aromatic gums and the
like, that have been used to fill up the interior cavities,
from which the perishable organs have been removed.
These latter were also preserved in four jars, which

in the tomb were placed beside the body. The top of
each jar was carved in the form of a genius, to whose
special protection each was committed.
Such a king was laid away in great state, wearing
the splendid regalia of gold, silver and costly stones,
with which he had been adorned in life. Of these
things he had need in the hereafter, and they were
necessarily placed in the tomb with him or actually
upon his body. The result of this was that the tombs
of the kings, of his nobles and officials, were systematically
robbed from the earliest times, for the rich
booty awaiting the successful plunderer was too tempting
to be resisted. Thus we shall find that the pyramids
and rock-hewn tombs, which we shall later visit,
have all been completely cleared out, and in most cases
the body has disappeared. The tomb of this king
before us was early robbed, but the later kings, seeing
their inability to protect the old royal tombs, took out
many of the bodies of their ancestors and concealed
them in a common hiding place, where they were discovered
by the natives, and in 1881 were taken out,
revealing to the astonished modern world, the faces
of men who had swayed the destinies of a great nation,
and held the dominant power in western Asia
3,500 years ago. When we reach Thebes, we shall see
the place where these royal bodies were concealed
(Position 74). Meantime before we leave the
museum, let us at least glance at the splendid jewelry
worn by these antique kings, in the days of Abraham,
which proved so disastrous an appurtenance of the
royal dead.

Position 13. The magnificent jewelry of the
Pharaohs (Queen Ahhotep, seventeenth century
B. C.), Cairo Museum

[accompanying stereograph, front]

Little wonder that the orientals of Pharaonic times
could not resist such magnificent plunder as this!
These luxurious adornments were found with the body
of Queen Ahhotep at Thebes in 1860. She lived late
in the 17th century B. C., as Egypt was emerging from
her struggle with her foreign lords, the Hyksos, the
mother of whose conqueror, Ahmosis, the queen was;
and although under foreign oppression, and fighting a
long and exhausting war, the royal house possessed
such splendid regalia as these. In the middle is a
golden boat resting upon a wooden carriage with
wheels of bronze. Within it are a crew of silver, while
the figure of the king in the middle, the captain and
steersman are of gold. Just beyond it is another boat
with crew at the oars as in the first; it is all of silver.
On the right of this boat you see a small war hatchet
and then a beautiful mirror of silver bronze with a handle
of wood overlaid with gold. Nearer us is the
magnificent battle axe of King Ahmose, which
he carried only on ceremonial occasions and never
actually used in battle. It is therefore gorgeously
wrought; the cedar handle is overlaid with gold,
the bands of costly stones; the bronze head is likewise
overlaid with gold, through which ornamental
figures are incised. The dagger beside it is one of
the finest pieces in the case; the blade exquisitely
damascened in gold on bronze, a style later taken up
and copied in Mycenaean art. Here in this corner is a
flexible golden chain, 36 inches long, of the finest
workmanship. At each end of it is the head of a
goose in gold, while pendant in the middle is a golden

scarabaeus, inlaid with lapis lazuli. The large breast
ornament at this end of the case is entirely of gold;
at either end is a hawk's head, and the pendant bands
hanging in curves from these are made up of rosettes,
flowers, blossoms and heads of animals. The rectangular
object propped up on a slanting card before the
wheels of the boat, is a superb breast ornament or pectoral,
with a gold frame and inlay of brilliantly colored
costly stones. Besides these; there are bracelets of
gold, beads and rings of the same metal, golden flies
suspended from a chain and used as an order, or
honorable decoration conferred by the king upon deserving
nobles or officials. Even the remains of a fan
are here, the handle being of wood wrought with gold,
in which one may see the holes, where once the ostrich
feathers of which it was composed were inserted. It
must have been a royal spectacle indeed which the
queen and the other wearers of these ornaments made,
when they appeared in all the glory of such a rich
The workmanship of these pieces is such as no
modern goldsmith need be ashamed to own, and yet
they were made in the 17th century B. C. In neighboring
cases are equally splendid regalia belonging to
princesses of the 12th Dynasty, 2000 years B. C., in the
days of Abraham; while near by are four bracelets
found on the arm of a 1st Dynasty princess, whose body
had perished, her arm having been torn off by some
marauder and concealed in a niche in the wall at an
early date. There it was found by Petrie. These
bracelets are the earliest jewelry known and doubtless
date from the middle of the fourth thousand years before
Christ. No wonder that the Hebrews, little skilled
in the arts and crafts, should have sent up to Phoenecia

(which had by that time imported Egyptian arts) for
the necessary craftsmen to make beautiful the temple
at Jerusalem.
And now, as we leave the museum, let us first look
at a monument, which directly refers to the Hebrews
who were in Egypt at the time these splendid royal
jewels before us were made.

Position 14. The Stela of Amenophis III, re-used
by Merneptah, and bearing the earliest
mention of Israel; Cairo

[accompanying stereograph, front]

This remarkable stela or stone tablet is for several
reasons one of the most interesting monuments even
in this great museum, where there is so much of unusual
interest, and when you have heard its history I
think you will agree with me. It is an enormous stela,
hewn out of black granite, ten feet three inches high,
five feet four inches wide, and thirteen inches thick.
On this side it bears a long inscription of King Amenophis
III, who lived at the height of Egypt's greatest
power, before the downfall of the 18th Dynasty, in the
middle of the 14th century B. C. The inscription narrates
the king's extensive temple buildings for the god
Amon, and over the inscription you see the king twice
represented as offering to the god Amon. The two
figures of the king are near the outer edge, and those of
the god, back to back in the middle. Curving over
their heads is the winged sun-disk, and the inscriptions
scattered among the figures contain the names of the
king and the god, with the promises of the latter insuring
the Pharaoh long life, power, health and happiness.
The king erected this splendid monument in his
mortuary temple on the west shore of the Nile at

Thebes, behind the great colossi of the plain, which
we shall visit there (Position 64).
When his son, Amenophis IV, or Ikhnaton, introduced
a new religion and attempted to exterminate
the worship of Amon, he sent his craftsmen all over
the land erasing the name of Amon wherever they
could find it, and destroying all monuments erected in
honor of the hated god. These workmen found this
stela in the temple of the king's father behind the
colossi, and they chiseled away the figures of Amon
in the middle, as well as almost the entire inscription
below, because it recorded the temples built in Amon's
honor by the king's father, whose own figure, however,
they respected. The splendid monument was thus destroyed.
But again, after the fall and death of the Amonhating
Ikhnaton, Sethos I, who followed him after an
interval, sent his craftsmen about the country restoring
the monuments which had been defaced during the
reform. His workmen, therefore, finding this defaced
stela in the temple of Amenophis III, carefully recut
all that had been erased, sufficient traces remaining in
most cases so that they could follow them with the
chisel. That dark lower portion at the bottom was untouched
by Ikhnaton's destroyers, and those are the
hieroglyphs of Amenophis III's original inscription,
but the lighter portions above are the recutting of
Sethos I. Between the two Amon figures, in the middle
at the top, Sethos I has inscribed a short record of his
restoration, in that prominent vertical column of hieroglyphs.
It reads: “Restoration of the monument,
which King Sethos I made, for his father Amon-Re,
king of gods.”
This, then, was the pious work of the king whose
face you have just looked upon. But under his
grandson, Merneptah, the temple which guarded this
stela fell on evil days; for, following the example of
his father, Sethos I's son Ramses II, Merneptah began
demolishing the temples of his great predecessors, in
order to obtain building materials for his own works.
He razed the temple containing this stela to the ground,
and upon discovering the stela immediately appropriated
it for his own mortuary temple but a few hundred
feet away. Placing it with this inscribed face to
the wall, he inscribed upon its unoccupied back a triumphant
inscription of twenty-eight lines, recording
his victory over the Libyans in the fifth year of his
reign. The last three lines of the inscription, his court
flatterers devoted to a song of victory, in which the
singer, sweeping the whole northern horizon from west
to east, exults in the power of the king over the nations,
as he enumerates them one by one. As he reaches
Palestine he says:
“Israel is desolated; his grain is not,
Palestine has become as widows for Egypt.”
This is the earliest mention of the Hebrews (their own
literature being much later), and indicates that at least
part of the people were at this time in Palestine. Thus
we gain from this inscription a swift and uncertain
glimpse of the Israelites suffering from the Pharaoh's
power in Palestine, before they appear as a nation there
in the Old Testament, but it does not settle the vexed
question of the date of the Hebrew exodus.
But we cannot wander further through these halls;
the land about us lies more thickly strewn with mighty
ruins than does any other land in all the world, and to
these we must now devote ourselves, incidentally seeing

as much as we can of the life of the present-day Egyptians.
We had a view of the pyramids across the domes
and minarets of this city (Position 4, page 69), but
we must now visit them and view them at close range.
This will carry us out of the town and across the Nile
bridge, which is but a step from this museum. Let
us therefore proceed to the bridge and enjoy our first
view of the Nile and its shipping, on our way to the
pyramids. Find on Map 4 the red lines numbered 15
on the west side of Cairo, which show our next standpoint
and the direction in which we are to be looking—

Position 15. The great Nile Bridge at Cairo
open for the passage of the daily fleet of
cargo boats

[accompanying stereograph, front]

Every day at noon this long bridge over the river
is opened to permit the passage of the accumulated
fleet, and as they pass, we are here taking our first
view of the life-stream of Egypt. On our right is
the city, now quite out of our field of vision; before
us and on our left is the river, down which we look
northwestward for a long vista, and a still more distant
point may be discerned through the bridge itself, now
turned on the right. As soon as the bridge is opened,
the craft from up river pass quickly through by force
of the current alone, only raising their canvas after
they have cleared the bridge. Then we see the sails
of the fleet from below beating back and forth across
the current, maneuvering for position as at a yacht
race, until, when the right point is reached, they make
a dash for the draw. The picturesque triangular sails
cross and recross like a flock of white-winged gulls at
sea; their firm lines are sharply defined against the

deep green of the palms on the further shore; the
bright sun casts a golden glow over the whole scene,
and the bluest of blue skies smiles overhead. The cargo
of these rude craft is garden produce, grain, pottery,
brick, sugar-cane, sometimes live stock, etc. They once
carried all the produce of Egypt, but since the construction
of the railway, and the introduction of the steamboat,
their traffic has been much diminished. They are,
however, not less picturesque than they were before,
and it is among the chief delights of the visitor to
Egypt, to watch the sails upon the Nile. They stir
the imagination not less than the hoary monuments
distributed along the river, which has done so much
for this land, the child of the Nile. For thousands
of years it has carried the traffic of millions of people
in craft like these, although these are but pigmies compared
with the splendid barges of the Pharaohs. Ramses
III tells of a sacred barge which he built for the
Karnak temple at Thebes, which was no less than 224
feet long, and we shall later see the obelisk of Thutmosis
I, which was brought down from the first cataract
in a boat 200 feet long and one-third as wide. The
first of these craft was built in the 12th century B. C.,
and the second in the 16th.
This long boat moored to the pier of the bridge, is
a floating dock for steamboat passengers, for the steamboat
is now an every-day sight upon this ancient river.
We, however, shall not employ a steamer for our voyage
up the river; we shall go in a sailboat rigged like
these, but with comfortable cabin arrangements, of
which we shall say more when we have seen one.
As soon as this bridge has closed we shall cross to
the further shore, where you see the green palms behind

the sails. They are on the island of Bulak (Map
), and just behind the first sail on the left of the
bridge you may catch a glimpse of the Gezireh Palace
Hotel, which we saw from the citadel. We shall,
however, turn away from the palms before the hotel,
and proceeding to the left, through others just as picturesque,
we shall cross to the west side of the river
and go southward; then westward toward the distant
desert plateau, which we saw from the east side of
Cairo, when we first arrived (Position 4). As we
leave the Nile the pyramids will suddenly loom upon
the western horizon. There we shall stop and study
them from afar. You should trace this route upon
Map 4 to the point where the next stop is to be made.
You will notice that the pyramids are about seven
miles southwest of Cairo. Our next position is shown
by the red lines numbered 16. We shall be looking

Position 16. The road to the Pyramids, westward
toward Gizeh

The gay and motley array of the Cairo streets, with
their thousand cries and the hum of the particolored
bazaars—all this is behind us. We stand far out in
the rich verdure of the Nile bottoms, and with Cairo at
our backs, we look southwestward across the level, and
there boldly breaking the skyline are those venerable
forms of which we have so often dreamed, the pyramids
of Gizeh. We saw them, to be sure, from the
heights east of Cairo; but from there they barely glimmered
above the misty horizon-line. Here they stand
out for the first time in all their proud defiance, bidding
time do his worst. What a rush of memories the
first glimpse of them evokes! But let us disregard

these for a moment; we shall have ample time for them
before we have done with Gizeh, and at this point
much practical information is necessary.
On our right stretches away toward the desert the
high road to the pyramids. It is literally a “high road,”
for were it not so raised upon an embankment, there
would be no communication between Cairo and the
pyramids in the time of the inundation, save by boat;
and the natives would be unable to reach the markets
of the town. The beautiful lebbek trees which
line the road on either hand, planted by Ismail Pacha,
make the ride to the pyramids shaded and delightful,
in a land where shade is a rarity and the sun beats
down with fierce and almost vertical rays. These trees
attain a height of 80 feet in forty years, and spread far
and wide, casting more shade than any other tree.
Beside the road flows one of the innumerable irrigation
canals, which we shall later view from the summit
of the Great Pyramid out yonder, where we shall
command a wide view of the broad Nile flats, which
stretch away from the road on our either hand, and be
able to follow them with our eyes to the dim horizon,
where Cairo lies behind us. You notice how the plain
abruptly terminates out by the foot of the pyramids.
That sandy slope which leads up to their bases, is a
wind-borne invasion from the Sahara desert, known in
classic times as the Libyan Desert, on the margin of
which the pyramids stand. Those sands cover the
limestone cliffs of the Nile cañon; but the cliffs are
here much lower than those which we shall find higher
up the river. They are here dropping gradually to the
level of the one-time shores of that great prehistoric
bay, which the Nile has now filled with soil and transformed
into the Delta, for this richest triangle of soil

in the world begins just here on our right, north of the
road. At the foot of the bluff on our extreme left, you
discern the houses of the modern village of Kafr.
Little do the peasants who dwell in the village dream
of the life which once teemed and swarmed in busy
streets, occupying these very fields before us, which they
now turn with wooden plows. For here lay the residence
city of the 4th Dynasty, the royal residence of the
splendid Pharaohs who built the pyramids before us.
For perhaps two hundred years it was the seat of government
for this great people, and here lived the man
at whose will the mightiest mass of masonry ever
wrought by human hands was reared. Now all that
remains of the city is a scanty remnant of the wall,
rising here and there from the shrouding sands, which
have protected it from the peasant's plow. When that
city was laid out, nearly 3000 years before Christ, the
jutting desert headland yonder, now occupied by the
pyramids, was a bare waste of sand. The Egyptian
always loved to lay his dead where his great sun-god
died and went to rest, shrouded in the glory of the
desert sunset with every closing day. Hence as we
ascend the river, we shall find almost all the cemeteries
on the west side, in the cliffs which formed the
Egyptian's western horizon, behind which the sun
dropped every night. Thus this stretch of desert, upon
which we are looking, being immediately on the west
of the now vanished city, naturally became its cemetery.
But it is not impossible that the first Pharaoh
of the Dynasty, having selected this desert headland
as the site of his pyramid, located his residence city
at this place also, in order that he might always be
able personally to inspect the progress of the mighty
monument, which was to be his eternal resting place.
Thus there grew up here a great cemetery, where
five or six generations of people were laid away, and as
the nucleus of it all, rose the vast pyramids which we
see before us. The first and most prominent of the group
is the earliest, and two others retreating in order of
decreasing size as well as age, extend southwestward
in a line through the diagonal of the first (Map 5).
At the foot of the first there are three small pyramids,
which you are here viewing at such an angle, that they
appear to be at the base of the second pyramid; while
at the foot of the third pyramid there are three more
small ones, of which you can see only one, at the extreme
left of the group. The largest three, called for
convenience, as we have already done, the first, second
and third pyramids, are the tombs of three kings
of the 4th Dynasty, the first being Khufu, the second
Khafre, and the third Menkewre (Map 5). The
Greeks, hearing these names some 2,500 years later,
corrupted them into Kheops, Khefren, and Mykerinos
or Menkheres. The modern successor of these hoary
monarchs of the Nile valley has invaded their ancient
cemetery and erected a vice-regal kiosque, which you
see at the northeast corner (the corner nearest us) of
the first pyramid.
Now note the relative location of these pyramids on
Map 5. If you will turn its upper right-hand corner
toward you and push the map slightly away from you
as you look, you will be occupying to it about the same
relative position which we occupy in this view facing
the west, with the three pyramids retreating in order of
decreasing size and age toward the southwest. Notice
at the extreme north (right) of the map the termination
of the road from Cairo, on which we stood, with the

Mena House Hotel just at the beginning of the bend
toward the first pyramid. That road, the three pyramids
and the Arabian village (Kafr), will locate you
closely. Look also at Map 4 again where the red V
(16) shows exactly the extent of the prospect we have
just viewed. Returning to Map 5, trace our coming
itinerary of the cemetery. Having left the road, we
shall view the first pyramid from a point south-south-east
of it (Position 17); we shall then view it from
the northwest (Position 18); then look up the northeast
corner (Position 19); then climb it for a view
toward Cairo (Position 20), and of the second pyramid
(Position 21); and after a view down the southwest
corner (Position 22), we shall descend and approach
the entrance on the north side (Position 23),
before entering and viewing the grand gallery (Position
24: see plan of the Great Pyramid, page 129).
Finally we shall inspect the granite sarcophagus of
King Khufu (Position 25: see plan of the Great Pyramid,
page 129), the so-called temple by the Sphinx
(Position 26) and the Sphinx itself (Position 27).
But before we leave this road (Position 16) look out
again toward the desert and see how the plateau slopes
to the south (left) above the village of Kafr. That
slope drops into a valley just out of our range of vision
on the left, and it is from that valley that we are now
to view the great pyramid, crossing to reach it, a bridge
over the canal. Note on Map 5 the red lines numbered
17 which give this next position and the range
and direction of our vision.

Position 17. The Great Pyramid of Gizeh, a
tomb of 5,000 years ago, from the southeast

[accompanying stereograph, front]

With Cairo on our right and Memphis behind us,
we look north-northwestward to the great Pyramid.
We stand for the first time on the desert sands. These
chattering boys, who clamorously offer us the backs
of their camels for a ride over to the Sphinx yonder,
will not contribute greatly to the meditative frame of
mind, which overtakes one in the presence of such impressive
monuments. Behind us, but not within our
prospect is a stretch of the ancient wall of the city
(see Map 5), which was the royal residence of the
king who built yonder gigantic tomb. The three small
pyramids beside it probably belong to members of his
family, for Herodotus says that the middle one was
the tomb of the daughter of Khufu. In a line with
these, but nearer to us, rises the gloomy head of the
Sphinx, gazing into the rising sun and guarding this
city of the dead as he has done these five thousand
years perhaps. At the left are the palm-shaded graves
of the Moslems, the modern descendants of the very
men who inhabited the vanished city that once rose
around us. This contrast between the humble sepulchers
of the men of yesterday and the vast tombs of
their ancestors, is one which is symbolical of the fallen
fortunes of the present-day Egyptians, and one which
will meet us very often in our voyage up the river.
How much lies between these humble tombs of yesterday
and that hoary pyramid! Already to the ancient
Greeks it was one of the marvelous survivors of antiquity,
which they involuntarily placed among the
seven wonders of the world; and although all the others
of the seven have passed away and for the most part
left no trace, this wonder of all ages still stands—

stands as it had stood for some eight hundred years,
when Abraham looked across upon it from his
Delta pastures; stands as it had done for fifteen hundred
years, when the prophet of the Hebrew Exodus
led forth his people. It saw the sword sink from the
impotent hand of decadent Pharaohs, till six hundred
years later it beheld the fierce soldiery of Assyria scattering
ruin and desolation at its feet and plundering
glorious Thebes; two centuries more and it beheld the
Persian host pouring in through the isthmus like a
flood and repeating that desolation; two hundred years
later it saw the triumphant entry of Alexander, as he
marched beyond it to worship at the desert shrine of
Amon; three centuries more and it beheld the legions
of Rome, stationed from end to end of this valley and
bringing in the new order of the imperial city; seven
hundred years more and it saw the wild hordes of
Arabia, surging in across the Delta plain, with the
breath of the desert hot upon their lips as they brought
to the children of the Nile the language and the religion
of Mohammed; nine centuries later it saw the
baleful gleam of the star and crescent rising in the
isthmus and heralding the oppression and misrule that
have ever followed the footprints of the Turk; three
hundred years more and it shadowed Napoleon as he
stood there at its feet, calling upon the soldiers of
France to remember the centuries that looked down
upon them; and within the memory of almost all who
look upon it now, it heard the crack of the British rifles
at Tell-el-Kebir. The whole world-drama from the
dawning of the ages until now, has been enacted at
its feet; the centuries have clustered like little children
around its hoary knees, and it still stands and it is still
the wonder of the world.
These are the thoughts of every one who visits this
monument to-day; they are commonplace, but who
can help renewing them as we stand in the presence of
a structure which has lived through the whole span of
the historic centuries, to tell of the power and civilization,
which prevailed in the days that brought it forth.
It has indeed much to tell us, and we must begin its
study up on the plateau from which it rises, at the
northwest corner, the one diagonally opposite that
which is now nearest to us. We are now about 700
feet from its base; our next position will be little over
100 feet. We shall be near enough to see the courses
of stone.

Position 18. King Khufu's tomb, the Great Pyramid
of Gizeh, and the sepulchers of his nobles,
from the northwest

[accompanying stereograph, front]

Here we are standing at a point of view, the diametrical
opposite of that which we occupied at Position 17
(Map 5). We are looking at the northwest corner of
the great pyramid, with Cairo on our left and Memphis
in our front, behind the pyramid. The mass of the
vast pile begins to grow and we are ready to credit
Herodotus' statement that its erection consumed the
labor of 100,000 men for twenty years. At the other
corner, from which we have just come, we were able to
contrast this tomb of Khufu with those of his modern
descendants; here we may draw a similar contrast between
his and those of his contemporaries, whose low
and unpretentious tombs we see close to the pyramid
on our right. These are but a few of the many masonry
structures erected in this cemetery by the nobles
and officials of Khufu, who lived at his court and carried
on the practical administration of his realm. Here

lie military commanders, mining and building engineers,
architects, chief treasurers and chancellors of
the exchequer, judges and chief justices, viziers and
prime ministers, all of whom lived and flourished in
that vanished world, and never dreamed of the day
when not only their civilization, but even their language
should be extinct and forgotten, only to be revived
again by the labor of whole generations of
In one of these tombs lies, or rather once lay,
Khufu-onekh, the architect who built this great pyramid,
and the massive granite sarcophagus in which
his coffin was deposited is now in the museum, which
we visited in Cairo.
These masonry tombs themselves look like truncated
pyramids, for the exterior of the wall slants
inward, or, as the architect would say, has an inward
batter of about 75°; this is a much steeper slant than
that of the pyramids, which is usually about 52°. They
are rectangular, with the longest dimension in a north
and south line, and with their flat roofs, they so remind
the natives of the benches or terraces in their
own modern courts and bazaars, that they call them by
the same name, that is, “mastaba,” a bench or terrace.
These mastabas are not solid masonry, as you would
suppose in looking at them here; but this solid exterior
is only a revetment of masonry, covering and holding
in place a core of loose sand and rubble. In the east
front there is a door giving access to a chamber, where
the deceased was supposed to live, and to enjoy the
offerings of food, drink and clothing necessary for his
subsistence, which his surviving relatives placed there
for him. The walls of this chamber, which we may
call the chapel, were sculptured with beautiful relief

scenes, representing the deceased and his servants and
slaves, engaged in all those employments which had
occupied them in life: plowing, sowing, reaping, hunting,
fishing, cattle-herding, poultry-raising, the work
of the craftsmen in metal, stone, wood, ivory, leather,
etc. Potent charms were pronounced over these scenes
by the mortuary priests, and it was thought that long
after the relatives of the deceased had passed on to
join him, and could no longer bring offerings to the
chapel, these scenes would be as effective as the realities
which they represent, in producing for him all the
necessities, as well as furnishing him all the pastimes
and diversions, to which an Egyptian gentleman was
accustomed. These relief-scenes now furnish us with
almost all that we know regarding the life of this remote
period, and afford a fuller and more complete
picture than is available for any other people at so remote
an age.
On the west wall of these chapel chambers is
the false door, which we noticed in the Cairo Museum
(Position 10); the entrance through which the dead
passed in gaining access to the chapel. Beside this
chapel chamber, and connected with it or with the
outer world at most by a small tubular orifice, or a mere
slit in the masonry, is a second chamber, intended to
serve as a secret repository for the portrait statue of
the deceased, of which we saw some of the best specimens
at the museum in Cairo (Positions 10 and 11).
Thus only the false body of the dead was concealed
in this superstructure of masonry; the real body, the
mummy, lies far down in a chamber hewn in the heart
of the native rock beneath the superstructure. This
sepulcher chamber is reached by a shaft, which, passing
down through the masonry vertically into the rock beneath,

is sometimes eighty or ninety feet deep, but
usually much less. Down this shaft the mummy was
lowered on the day of burial, to the sepulcher chamber
in which the shaft terminates, and once safely deposited
there, the chamber was walled up and the entire shaft
was filled to the top with sand, rubble and mortar. Yet
nearly all the shafts of this cemetery have been cleared
out and the chambers robbed in antiquity, for the sake
of the ornaments, jewelry and often valuable mortuary
furniture, with which such a departed noble was supplied.
You will see that these tombs embody the beliefs
of the Egyptian regarding the hereafter; while
not all his notions of the future life can thus find expression
in stone and mortar, several of his fundamental
conceptions concerning it are here brought out,
especially the idea that the tomb was the dwelling-place
of the dead, or as the Egyptian called it, his
“eternal house.”
The essential parts which we have described in the
mastaba, we shall expect to find likewise in the pyramid,
though the different form of the pyramid necessitates
some modification in their arrangement. Thus it is impossible
for the shaft leading to the sepulcher-chamber
to pass down through the top of the pyramid; hence
it is there an inclined passage, and if you will look
along the north side of this first pyramid you will discern
on our extreme left a rough depression in the
face of the masonry. There is the entrance to the inclined
passage leading into the pyramid, and there we
shall later enter.
But first we must pass over these heaps of masonry,
along this north face of the pyramid, past the rough
opening, to the northeast corner, where we shall find

many questions to engage us before we make the ascent
of the pyramid, after which we shall enter it. Standing
at the very corner of the pyramid we shall first throw
back our heads and look toward its summit. We shall
be near enough almost to touch the stone. This position
is given on Map 5 by the red lines numbered 19.

Position 19. Looking up the northeast corner of
the Great Pyramid, where the tourists ascend.
(Raise the instrument and look upward)

[accompanying stereograph, front]

Who but the visitor at these pyramids could have
conceived that the hand of man had ever reared such
a mass of masonry as this! Here we stand looking up
the northeast corner; we face southwestward, and our
line of vision coincides with the diagonal which runs
southwestward through the pyramid group. Here
the vast mass has full sway over us; it overpowers and
overwhelms us. It has sometimes been flippantly said
that several modern buildings have surpassed it in
height; yet how puny appear the one or two slender
spires referred to beside this gigantic mass of solid
masonry towering its enormous bulk well-nigh five
hundred feet into the blue. See how the great blocks
dwindle and dwindle as the eye soars upward and follows
them until they merge and melt into the mountainous
bulk of the mass; and still it rises ever higher,
to the distant peak where the Arab waving his black
garment seems like a tiny insect, or a lofty bird, soon
to be enveloped in that fleecy cloud, which floats in
from the west. What an answer to Sir Thomas
Browne's contemptuous remark upon the builder of
this pile: “To be but pyramidally extant is a fallacy of
Here is the very embodiment and potentiality of
that ancient state of which the Pharaoh was the
soul. Think of the organization of men and means,
of force and skilled labor required to quarry these
2,300,000 blocks, each weighing about two and a half
tons, to transport them across the Nile and lift them
to the rising courses of this ever-growing monster,
till the cap-stone is 481 feet from the pavement. The
base of the sea of stone which forms each face is 755
feet long, and the square which it forms on the ground
includes a field of over thirteen acres. When you have
walked around it you have gone over 3,000 feet, some
three-fifths of a mile. And in spite of the fact that
a rise of ground on the spot where the pyramid stands,
did not permit the engineer, who laid out the ground
plan, to see his stakes from one corner to the other,
but forced him to measure up and then down again,
the error in the length of the sides of this square base
is but sixty-five one-hundredths of an inch; and the
error of angle at the corners is but one three-hundredth
part of a degree (00°-00′-12″). This far exceeds the
accuracy of such masses of masonry in modern times,
for although it may be quite within his power, the
modern engineer finds no occasion for producing such
work. It is accurately oriented to the cardinal points.
But the structure before us is not the only witness to
the amount and character of the labor put into it, for
the engineers of the time have shot over the face of the
bluff of the plain below, a mass of waste chips from the
cutting and facing of these blocks, which equals fully
half the bulk of the pyramid itself.
Perhaps you are saying to yourself that this masonry
looks rather rough in exterior finish to be the product
of skilled workmen. Quite true, but as you have

doubtless surmised, this was not originally the final
exterior finish. When completed the pyramid was
sheathed from summit to base in magnificent casing
masonry, so skilfully set that the joints were almost
undiscernible. Vast smooth surfaces then greeted the
eye from base to summit. Later on we shall see a
very striking demonstration of the cunning with which
this work on the casing was executed. It was still in
place when the first Greek visitors beheld the pyramid
and wrote of it. Occasional references through classic
times, and after the Moslem conquest, show that the
casing was still in place until the 13th century A. D.
Then all mention of it ceases until the 16th century,
when an Italian traveler refers to the pyramid in such
a way as to show that the casing has now disappeared.
It was removed then some time between the 13th and
the 16th century by the Moslem builders of Cairo,
who used the blocks thus gained for building the
mosques and tombs and houses there. You viewed
from the citadel the mosque of Sultan Hasan, into
which some of them went, in the 14th century (Page
60). Thus the beautiful Saracen structures of Cairo
grew up at the expense of this older monument of the
country. Some of the casing blocks in the lower
courses were covered up by the accumulations of
detritus from above, and thus escaped the crow-bars
of these Moslem vandals; thus part of the lowermost
course is still in position in the centre of the north side.
But this quarrying has cost this pyramid some 30 feet
of its height, and 15 or 20 feet in the length of its
Perhaps this loss is not so felt by the tourist as
by the archaeologist, for the former finds compensation
in the fact that he may now ascend the pyramid,

which would have been quite impossible had not the
smooth casing masonry been removed and the terraced
courses below revealed. To be sure they do not form
the most comfortable stair-case in the world, for as
you will note by looking at the native nearest us, some
of them are nearly shoulder high; but by dint of sundry
pulling in front and pushing from behind at the
hands of the willing Arabs, we shall be able to make
the ascent with plenty of stopping to rest, within a
half hour.
Our next position then is to be on that lofty summit,
and from it we shall look practically east, that is, to
our left, over the full width of the Nile valley. Find
the red lines numbered 20 marking out the field of
vision on Map 5, but especially on Map 4.

Position 20. View from the summit of the Great
Pyramid, east over the valley of the Nile

[accompanying stereograph, front]

At last we are here! And the first thought is doubt
and questioning. Is it possible that we stand at last
upon the summit of the venerable monument of which
we have so long dreamed? But look out there upon
this fertile valley, green and smiling under the brightest
of blue skies; then drop your eyes upon this dead
stretch of sand at our feet. Nowhere but upon the
summit of this great pyramid is there such a prospect
of the most prodigal and unlimited wealth of life, to be
viewed from the very heart of death. Before us, as far
as the eye can penetrate and distinguish, there is this
wide expanse of fertile bottom, teeming with the thousand
elements of life; while behind us and on either
hand are the silence and death of the desert. What a
land of contrasts!—contrasts between the ancient and

modern condition of the nation; contrasts between natural
conditions side by side. You stand out there almost
anywhere, with one foot in the desert sands and
the other buried in verdure. I have a photograph taken
there, of a donkey standing with forelegs in the grass,
and with hind legs in the desert.
We are looking just a little south of eastward, directly
across the Nile valley, here above the southern
apex of the Delta. The Delta, therefore, stretches
away northward and northeastward on our left (out
of our range of vision at present) till it meets the Mediterranean;
and over on the horizon line are the cliffs
which mark the other side, the east side of the valley.
They rise to the Arabian desert, which extends in
rolling desolate hills to the Red Sea beyond. Just out
of range on our left, at the foot of those distant cliffs,
is Cairo (see the red lines numbered 20 on Map 4),
behind which we stood and looked over to these pyramids.
Leading to the city, but also out of our field
at the moment, is the road shaded with its long double
line of lebbek trees, along which we came out here
from Cairo. On our right the margin of the desert
winds southward in a sinuous line, as you see it beginning
just at our feet by the side of that town, till it
passes Memphis eleven miles south of us. Behind us
the Sahara in a waste of billowy hills rolls on to the
Atlantic two thousand miles away. It is our first
clear and unobstructed view of the valley from cliff to
cliff, and you will find it profitable to stop here and
ponder long and well our exact location and its relation
with other important and main points.
Out there barely visible upon the skyline we have
already noted the cliffs on the eastern side of the Nile;
the river itself is that broad white line just under the

horizon coming into view at about the middle of our
present prospect and running out of range at the left.
It is the river and those cliffs yonder which made possible
the great pyramid. For the cliffs furnished a
limestone of the finest quality and the river at high
water made its transportation possible to the very foot
of the bluff below us, where a huge causeway led up
here to the pyramid, directly through the ground where
this village now stands. Up the causeway, of which
large remains are still surviving, the stone was dragged
to the desert plateau. The village now built over the
causeway is Kafr, which you will remember, we saw
from the road to the pyramids, in our first view of
them (Position 16). Later we shall visit those distant
quarries and see the vast halls and galleries, from
which the great pyramid was taken.
The annual inundation which floated the heavy
barges, laden with the massive blocks, has, as you see
here, fallen, and left pools and patches of water here
and there. Everywhere the retreating waters have left
a deposit of rich mud from the highlands of Abyssinia,
which in large measure explains the marvelous
productivity of these fields. The rise of the waters is
already observable in June at the first cataract, though
not here in Lower Egypt . By the first of August it is
considerable, but the increase continues to the latter
half of September, when, after maintaining a constant
level for twenty or thirty days, the waters again rise,
till by the middle of October they have reached the
maximum level. At this time, the whole country before
us may be flooded; for example, in the autumn of
1894, I saw this district, especially looking northward
and northeastward from our present station, so flooded
that it looked like a vast inland sea. Its glistening surface

was flecked here and there with palm groves,
marking the villages; but these, like Kum el-Aswad
yonder, although surrounded by water, are upon higher
ground. Ordinarily they are beyond the reach of the
water, but in 1894, thousands of natives were driven
from their homes by the flood and forced to seek refuge
on the neighboring highlands, till the subsidence began.
This is already in full course by December; the fields
now gradually dry up, as you see them doing at our
feet, the pools disappear and the peasant is dependent
for irrigation upon the waters stored in reservoirs kept
in repair for the purpose, and the vast network of
canals, which ramify throughout the country, like a
life-giving arterial system. The government supervision
of this system is necessarily close and effective,
as it was in ancient Egypt. At the second cataract
are rock inscriptions of the 12th Dynasty (19th century
B. C.), marking the maximum height of the flood, in
order that comparison might be made from year to
year and the water properly distributed and used. At
present the vertical rise of the waters from lowest to
highest is usually about 49 feet at the first cataract,
at Thebes it is 38 feet, while here at Cairo it is about
25 feet and in the Delta still less.
The husbanding of these waters began in prehistoric
times; and by 2000 B. C. vast government works were
constructed for storing them for future use, as we shall
see when we have visited the Fayum. In modern times,
after much mediaeval neglect by the Moslems, a huge
dam has been built at the southern apex of the Delta,
usually known as the “barrage.” The English have recently
built another at Assiut, and still another at the
first cataract, the last being the largest dam in the
world. Indeed the English are at present developing

these resources of the Nile inundation with unprecedented
success, though not without disregard of the
nation's inheritance in its ancient monuments, as we
shall see, when we have reached Philae. But when we
remember that the only rain which the country can receive
is from those rare cyclonic storms, which force
rain-bearing clouds from the Mediterranean southeastward
across the Sahara into the Nile valley, we shall
understand the necessity for utilizing the life-giving
Nile to the utmost. I have met children in Upper
Egypt, fifteen years of age, who have never seen a
heavy rain; at the same time, slight showers have
been known to fall at Thebes, several years in succession,
and Petrie's mud-brick excavators' quarters were
one season almost washed down by a forty-eight-hour
rain. When we have begun our trip up the river, we
shall see how the natives employ the waters, which are
thus husbanded for them by the government.
Let us now turn about, toward our right, nearly if
not quite one-third of a complete circle. This present
prospect will then be behind us and on our left; while
the second pyramid, now behind us on our right, will
be directly before us. Find the red lines numbered 21
on Map 5.

Position 21. The Second Pyramid with its crown
of original casing masonry, southwest from
the summit of the Great Pyramid

[accompanying stereograph, front]

[accompanying stereograph, back]

We stand looking southwestward toward the heart
of Africa, with Cairo almost behind us and Memphis
on our left. Before us looms the second pyramid, completely
hiding the third and smallest, which lies behind
it. This is probably not the best point of view from

which to be impressed with its size, and yet when you
remember that yonder cap of casing masonry which
still crowns it, extends for 150 feet down its sides, this
may serve as a scale by which to measure the rest; but
lifted as we are upon the shoulders of the great pyramid,
we are taking an unfair advantage in thus looking
down upon its slightly smaller neighbor. But how
splendidly it rises against that background of billowy
desert, which stretches away southward.
Here, and a little to the east (left) of our present
range of vision, is the northern extremity of a line of
pyramids distributed in groups extending some sixty
miles in length, from the pyramid of Illahun in the
south, to the ruinous group of Abu Roâsh just behind
us here on the north of the Gizeh group. This
sixty-mile line of pyramids represents a line of Pharaohs,
who reigned over a thousand years. We shall
view the southern end of this line later on, and stand
as it were, at the other end of that thousand years
(Position 34); for, speaking roughly, it begins at the
north, proceeds southward and ends at the southern
termination of the line.
Peeping out from behind the second pyramid you see
one of those small ones, which stand at the base of the
third pyramid (see Map 5). Further east (left), but
nearer to us, you observe three low sand-covered
walls, two extending eastward, and one at right angles
to these. The nearer of the two parallel walls is part
of the enclosure wall surrounding the second pyramid;
that at right angles to it, is part of a similar wall enclosing
the third pyramid; while the further of the
two parallel walls is really not a wall at all, but
the upper end of the causeway leading from the
plain to the desert plateau and the third pyramid,

up which the material for it was transported,
and by means of which, after the king's death,
access was gained to the temple of the pyramid, where
his mortuary ritual was regularly carried on by an endowed
priesthood. Do you remember the mastaba
tombs which we saw down yonder near the base of
this pyramid on which we stand? Do you recollect
that we called attention to the fact that these mastaba
tombs have on the east side a chapel chamber where
the deceased lived, ate, drank and was clothed?
Follow that causeway out there (what we called the
further parallel wall) westward (to the right), and as
your eye approaches the second pyramid, you notice
just on this side of the tiny pyramid, a small heap of
ruins. Those ruins are all that remains of the chapel
belonging to the third pyramid, now just out of range
behind the second. Like the chapel of the mastaba,
it is on the east side of the pyramid to which it belongs,
but as the king naturally demands a more pretentious
chapel than that of his nobles, it becomes a
temple, detached from the pyramid. You will see this
still more clearly if you look at the ruins here at the
extreme left, more at our feet, over this standing
native's head. These are the remains of the temple of
the second pyramid, and it stands, as you see, on the
east front of the pyramid (see Map 5). There in that
desolate sand-covered ruin, once a splendid sanctuary,
an endowed priesthood carried on the ritual and worship
of the dead Khafre, who lay in the pyramid; and
there from the foundations established by the king
for the purpose, he daily received the offerings of food
and drink, which were to maintain him in the hereafter.
Two thousand years after these kings of the
Old Kingdom have passed away, we still find priests

of their cult, though the fortunes of their temples had
by that time fallen very low.
The pyramid before us lacked nine feet of being as
high as that one on which we stand; it was 472 feet
high, but as it has lost but a trifle at its summit, while
the first pyramid has lost thirty feet, and as it also
stands upon higher ground, we look up to its peak even
from the top of the great pyramid. The length of each
side is 706 feet, yet despite its vast mass, when Belzoni
opened it on March 2nd, 1818, he found that it had been
robbed in antiquity and the body had disappeared.
The futility of all this enormous expense of human
labor and of human skill in the vain attempt to preserve
the body and thus secure immortality for the
spirit, is as depressing as that illimitable sweep of barren
desert, that stretches away from the pyramid at
our feet till it is lost on the distant horizon. It forms
a fitting background for the silent pyramid in which
both the body and the hope of Khafre were entombed.
We must now turn to the right and from the same
point where we now stand look down the southwest
corner of this pyramid to the summit of which we have
climbed. On Map 5 the red lines numbered 22 show
what our field of vision will be.

Position 22. Looking down the southwest corner
of the Great Pyramid upon the mastabas of
Khufu's lords

[accompanying stereograph, front]

We are now looking down the corner diagonally opposite
the corner up which we looked before we ascended
the pyramid. We are not here so impressed
with the size of the pyramid as when we looked up,
for the reason that the converging lines which in perspective

produce the effect of distance, are here inverted
as the great mass of the pyramid swells out beneath
us. And yet if you will (lowering the instrument
until you are looking toward the floor) let your
eyes run down the precipitous sides nearly 500 feet to
the desert below you will be ready to shrink back, I
doubt not, at the suggestion of falling. One shudders
at the thought of that white-robed native plunging from
his dizzy height over the stone beneath. How insignificant
that camel looks far down there on the sand.
However, we are looking down here chiefly to observe
those mastabas on the right. Do you see how the
central core of sand and rubble is held in place by
the retaining wall of surrounding masonry? Does it
occur to you that there was a time when that retaining
wall was just a rude circle of unhewn boulders, gathered
by primitive man around the sand-heap that marked
the resting-place of his departed ancestor, to protect
it from the drifting winds? Such it certainly once
was, and you may see many a sand-heap on the margin
of the desert here, marking the grave of the peasant of
yesterday, with just a rude oval of hastily gathered
stones about it, lest it should vanish in the drifting
sands. Now, as the mastaba has grown out of the
sand-heap, so the pyramid has grown out of the mastaba,
by placing one mastaba upon another and thus
building a terraced pile diminishing as it rose, each
mastaba being smaller than the one beneath it. Finally,
in course of time, these terraced sides were filled out
in one plane slope and thus at last the pyramid form
was attained. When we go to Sakkara we shall see
one of the terraced structures (Position 29), which
form the transitional stage between the mastaba and
the pyramid.
Since we first saw this pyramid we have once paused
to think of all the long course of man's career that
lies between us and its builders—but have we stopped
to think of the long and marvelous development that
lies behind the era of the pyramids? Remote as is
this hoary monument, we may look behind it, down
a still remoter vista of man's past development: at its
hither end is the pyramid upon which we stand, then
the massive mastaba down there, out of which the
pyramid grew; and yet back of this, in the dim ages
of the forgotten world, is the sand-heap grave. Here,
the pyramid, the most tremendous feat of engineering
achieved by ancient man; and yonder as its lineal
ancestor, the lowly sand-heap that covers the body of
the peasant plowman. This is evolution as the archaeologist
sees it—not merely the law of the development
of physiological forms, but also of human arts and
human institutions. For what an evolution is here!
Not alone in the mechanical arts, which, beginning
with the sand-heap, have finally achieved the pyramid;
but also in the organization of society and of government,
which, developing in the thousand years that
lie between the sand-heap and the pyramid, have gradually
passed from the feeble initiative of the individual
to that of a highly organized state, so efficient that
it is able to concentrate all its vast resources of wealth,
of labor and of skill upon one supreme achievement,
never later to be surpassed. Thus a whole stage of
human progress lies behind this pyramid, and is to be
traced in the monuments which are visible from its
But we shall not have learned all that this monument
has to tell us, till we have entered it, and

we must now descend for that purpose. The entrance
to which we now go was seen, you remember, in the
north side from our Position 18. The standpoint we
are about to take before that entrance is given on Map
5 by the red lines numbered 23.

Position 23. The entrance to the Great Pyramid,
the sepulcher of Khufu (in north face), seen
from below

[accompanying stereograph, front]

Mounted upon the accumulated débris in the middle
of the north face of the great pyramid, we are looking
up at the opening. Is it possible, you are asking,
that the Pharaohs thus advertised the entrances to their
tombs and invited the tomb robber in this way to the
place where he might gain access to the treasures of
the interior? The recollection of the now vanished
casing will immediately answer this question. What
we see here is but the wreck of the ancient opening,
which, piercing the casing just fifty-five feet and seven
inches above the pavement, was so cunningly closed by
a single flat slab of stone let into the surface, that it was
invisible from below. Add to this the fact that it was
not in the middle of this face of the pyramid, but
twenty-four feet east of the middle, and we shall understand
how baffling it must have been for the tomb robbers.
Nevertheless, they somehow gained a knowledge
of it, and the entrance was known in the time of Christ.
In any case, Strabo speaks of a movable stone, which
closed the entrance to the pyramid. This shows that
it had already been robbed in antiquity, but it was
later closed again and all knowledge of the entrance
That movable stone gave access to a descending
passage only three and a half feet wide by four

feet high, and protected from the enormous pressure
from above by a superimposed peak of huge blocks of
limestone, which you see in the rough opening above
us. This passage points to the pole-star, and descending,
rapidly passes out of the superstructure of masonry
into the native rock beneath, upon which the
pyramid rests, and after 345 feet terminates in a “subterranean


chamber” hewn out of the rocks below the
pyramid (see above Plan). In the ceiling of this
descending passage, ninety-two feet from the entrance,
there begins an ascending passage, the lower end of
which is cunningly closed by seventeen feet of plug
blocks of granite. After 122 feet this ascending passage

branches into two: one horizontal, leading to a chamber
of limestone in the axis of the pyramid; the other
still continuing to ascend, but expanding into a splendid
hall, at the upper end of which, behind an ante-chamber,
is the chamber in which the king was buried.
We shall presently stand at the upper end of this
hall and look down, but before doing so, notice that
dark hole in the masonry, partly stopped up with
stones, on our extreme right. That hole is one of the
best witnesses we possess to the skill with which the
entrance here was closed, for the caliph el-Mamûn
(813 to 833 A. D.), the son of the famous Harûn er-Rashid,
whom we all know in the Arabian Nights,
forced an entrance into the pyramid for the sake of the
treasure, which it was supposed to contain; and this
hole is his forced passage. As might have been supposed,
his workmen attacked the middle of this side,
and they toiled for months, with the entrance passage
just above their heads and a little to the east, till the
sound of falling stones within the pyramid, led them
toward the sound and they emerged upon the descending
passage. But as the pyramid had been robbed they
found nothing but the king's sarcophagus in the upper
chamber, and to appease his disappointed followers
the caliph was obliged to place some of his own treasure
there, that they might find it and be satisfied.
We are now to take our position at the top of the
“Great Hall” (see plan), and look down its entire length.

Position, 24. Looking down the main passage
leading to Khufu's sepulcher within the Great

[accompanying stereograph, front]

What a gloomy, forbidding place! The bats flitting
silently hither and thither whisk into our faces

draughts of the stifling air, superheated by the suns of
five thousand years, which have shone upon the pyramid
until it glows like a furnace. It is intolerable, and
the perspiration pours down our faces as we rest after
the ascent. We are at the top of the grand hall and
are looking down its slippery slope, congratulating
ourselves that we have reached the level at the top;
for without the ready assistance of the Arabs, the ascent
of the hall is none too easy, and the cumulative
velocity of a slide down that long, steep floor is no
light matter when one reaches the bottom. One hundred
and fifty-seven feet long and twenty-eight feet
high is this wonderful hall, and the four natives with
candles stationed along the descent may indicate its
vast extent, as the last candle at the lower end glimmers
in the distance. But it is very narrow in proportion
to its length, for the side walls are only four cubits
apart, that is, less than seven feet. The ramps on
either side, upon which our natives are sitting, are
each a cubit thick, leaving the width of the floor only
two cubits, less than three and a half feet.
Overhead, beginning with the third course above the
ramps, the courses project, each beyond the next lower
one, for seven courses to the roof, lost in the gloom
above. The projection of each of the seven courses is
just a palm, so that the total projection of seven palms
is exactly a cubit from either side. This makes the distance
between the side walls at the roof two cubits;
that is, the roof, like the floor between the ramps, is
just two cubits wide, a little over forty-one inches.
This gradual narrowing toward the roof is, of course,
for safety, as the roof must support the enormous
weight of the masonry above. Some of the blocks of
the side walls are not accurately dressed on the exposed

surface, but if you will closely examine the joints between
the first and second courses above the ramps,
you will see that the surfaces now in contact are set
together so skilfully that the seam can only with difficulty
be discovered. Indeed there are twenty ton
blocks in this pyramid which are set together with a
contact of one five-hundredth of an inch, an accuracy
which not only surpasses the modern mason's straight
edge, says Petrie, but quite equals that of the modern
manufacturing optician. How many centuries of development
must have been required to attain the skill
to do work on such a grand scale, and at the same time
with such exquisite nicety!
Up this superb hall the body of the king was borne
on the day of burial, and those cuttings in the side
walls just above the ramps, were probably for the reception
of the timbers intended to facilitate the ascent.
The chamber behind us in which the body was to rest
is not less remarkable than the grand hall down which
we look, and there we are now permitted to take up our
station. See the “King's Chamber” in the plan on
page 129.

Position 25. Khufu's sarcophagus, broken by
robbers, in the sepulcher-chamber of the Great

Deep in the heart of the great pyramid! And before
us is the sarcophagus in which the king was entombed.
See how the tomb robbers have broken away the corner
in their mad search for treasure. There his body
was torn from its resting-place and plundered of its
rich regalia and splendid jewelry, such as we have seen
in the Cairo Museum, and then left in dishonor and

confusion among fragments of stone and tattered
mummy cloth lying upon the floor. At least so the
mummy of King Mernere was found in his pyramid
chamber at Sakkara in 1881, and there is no reason
to suppose that the robbers treated the body of Khufu
any differently. But this great pyramid was often visited,
and was the subject of a similar thieving attempt
under el-Mamûn, as we have seen; so that the remains
of his body, those royal limbs, that once sat
upon the throne of the Pharaohs, wielding a power unknown
before in the antique world, were scattered like
rubbish of the street and gradually lost. Does not
Brugsch tell how he carried the body of Mernere from
the Sakkara pyramid to Cairo on a donkey, and after
this treatment had resulted in breaking the desiccated
body into two parts, he took one of them under his
arm, while his companion seized the other in the same
way, and thus they walked into Cairo, bearing the mortal
remains of a great king! If the body of a Pharaoh
could be thus treated by an Egyptologist, who had
every reason to pay it honor and respect, what may we
not expect from ancient tomb plunderers!
We stand in the presence of most graphic evidences
of the futility of the great pyramid and of all the hopes
which inspired its construction. And yet what labor
and wealth and skill went into it! Look around you
here. We have stepped out of the upper end of the
great hall, down which we have been looking, through
a small ante-chamber, once blocked by four portcullises
of granite, through which the tomb robbers were
obliged to force their way; and reaching this burial-chamber,
usually called the “king's chamber,” we have
turned to the right (northward) and are looking west,

and slightly north, with the west wall of the chamber
before us. The whole chamber is of granite, 17 by 34
feet, and 19 feet high. The great hall through which
we came and all the masonry we have thus far examined,
are of limestone like the core and casing of the
pyramid; but for this, the final chamber where the
king's body was to lie, granite from the far cataract
was chosen.
Measure with your eye the huge granite blocks,
as the white raiment of these two natives is outlined
against them; and note the enormous slabs that form
the floor. Over our heads are two hundred and fifty
vertical feet of masonry threatening to crush in the
roof. The great granite beams that form the roof above
us are about twenty-seven feet long, four feet thick
and some six feet high, as they lie on edge, and they
weigh from fifty-two to fifty-four tons each. Yet an
earthquake has so wrenched the masonry that every
one of these beams, nine in number, is now broken
short across, from one end of the chamber to the other;
but the biting grip of the enormous weight above still
holds them in place. In 1763, Mr. Davison, the British
consul at Algiers, while examining the uppermost
corner of the great hall outside, discovered a passage
leading from that hall to a rough chamber over this,
where we now stand. It was very low and was roofed
with granite beams like those of the roof above us.
Col. Howard Vyse, while at work on the pyramid in
1839, was led to believe that there were similar chambers
above that of Davison, and after hewing a passage
upward from Davison's chamber he found no less than
four more, making in all five of these chambers over
us. It is evident that they are construction chambers,

having no other function than to render the roof of the
burial chamber safer by relieving it of some of the vast
weight from above. The fifth or uppermost of them
may be called a great success in this respect. It consists
of a massive peak, like that over the entrance
passage which we saw from the outside, built of limestone
blocks, which receive and by their sideward
thrust transfer from the roof to the side walls, the
colossal weight to be borne. Petrie, however, thinks
that there is no thrust, but that these great limestone
beams extend far down into the masonry on each side
of the chamber, and thus anchored in the masonry they
cannot give way at the peak, but resist like cantilevers.
In any case, it will be seen how effective the crowning
device is in thus supporting that solid mass above
it of some 250 feet in height, so that the roof of the
chamber, shattered as it is, has not fallen in, bringing
down the whole complex above. But Petrie thinks that
the time is coming when the roof beams at least must
give way, and the chamber will then cave in over our
And now we must leave the interior of this stupendous
monument. Can you imagine the fateful day,
when passing up the great hall, with flaming torches
the funeral cortege entered this granite chamber, and
bearing the mighty king in his cedar coffin, they laid
him in the granite sarcophagus at our feet, and hermetically
fastened on with molten metal the massive
granite lid? All about them, as about us now, were
hundreds of feet of solid masonry; in no direction can
we reach the bright Egyptian sunshine, without passing
through several hundred feet of solid blocks. As
they go out through this ante-chamber behind us, they

let down four huge portcullises of granite, to shut in
forever from all violation the sacred dead. Down
through the great hall they go, into the descending
passage below it, at whose lower end, the workmen
drop into the yawning opening, block after block of
granite, filling the lower end of the passage for
seventeen feet; and having thus shut themselves in,
they escape through a secret well cut for the purpose
in the masonry after it was laid. Then ascending to
the entrance where the daylight appears, the cunningly
fitted block, which is to hide all appearance of an opening
is dropped into its place and the great Khufu is
left to his eternal rest.
It is to-day nearly five thousand years since these
walls reverberated to the fall of the last block into
its place; the whole history of the world has been enacted
since that sound died away among these stones,
and here we stand at the empty sarcophagus of King
Khufu. As far as preserving the soul of the great
king is concerned, all the wealth and power of a
kingdom spent in putting his body into this eternal
husk of masonry, have been in vain. But all unconsciously,
by constructing this monument he brought
forward a long stage upon their way, the developing
arts, which were called in to aid in the creation of an
indestructible mausoleum for his body; and for what
Khufu thus accomplished we should remember him,
not only in wonder, but also in gratitude.
Descending the grand gallery, we shall now take a
position to the southeast of the Great Pyramid by the
side of the so-called Granite Temple. On Map 5 find
the red lines numbered 26, which show that we shall
be looking northwest.

Position 26. Ruins of the Granite Temple by the
Sphinx, with, the Great Pyramid of Gizeh on
the northwest

As we stand here looking northwestward across the
granite structure by the Sphinx, we have Memphis behind
us and Cairo on our right. If you will examine
our former point of view in this locality (Position 17),
you will see that we have here merely stepped to the
right and ascended the ridge of sand, which was there
in our front; thus bringing into view this granite
building which lies too deeply embedded in the sands
to be seen from below. The exterior has never been
excavated, but the interior has been almost wholly
cleared of the encumbering sand. It is about 140 feet
square and some forty feet high. The rough wall
which you notice on the further side is but the core of
a wall once splendidly cased with granite. It has been
supplemented at this corner by this rude rubble wall
built by the Service des Antiquités to keep out marauding
native intruders. The ancient wall once surrounded
a court open to the sky, which it enclosed like
a parapet. The pavement of this court formed the
roof of the series of chambers below, these chambers
having been lighted by slits cut obliquely through the
floor of the court. You may see the remains of these
slits on the upper edge of the side wall of the central
hall, just to the left of the native, who stands on the
modern wall directly in front of the camel close to us.
These lower halls are still largely intact. They form
a large T, the perpendicular of which lies pointing
westward toward the second pyramid, out of range on
the left. We are looking obliquely across this perpendicular
as it emerges on the left of the native in the
long black robe, to whom we have referred. It is in

the further wall of this hall that the lighting slits may
be seen. In the corner diagonally opposite us is a descending
entrance passage, of which we may see the
upper edges of the side walls. Directly under the
camel on the further wall is a door piercing that wall;
it terminates a winding stairway, which rises from the
descending entrance passage and formed the connection
between the lower halls and the court above. The
top of the door leading to the lower end of this stairway,
may be seen near the upper end of the descending
entrance passage, just on the left of our black-robed
native's white cap. The roof of these walls,
which, as we have said, was likewise the floor of the
court, was supported on magnificent granite pillars,
each hewn in one block. Those in the stem of the T,
ten in number, are forty-one inches square and weigh
thirteen tons each. Directly over the hollow of the
camel's neck, just before us, is a smaller hall, parallel
with the head of the T, and here, Mariette, who
discovered the building, in 1853, found a well, from
which he took no less than seven portrait statues of
Khafre, the builder of the second pyramid. One of
these statues we have already seen, during our visit
at the museum in Cairo.
The presence of these statues and the fact that
yonder descending entrance passage is built in
obliquely so as to point directly up the causeway
leading to the temple, which we have already seen
on the east side of Khafre's pyramid (Position 21),
would indicate that this building here was erected
by him, and that it therefore belongs to the same
period as the pyramids. Indeed, it is thus clear that
the building begins the causeway leading up from the
plain on our right to the second pyramid, now out of

range on our left. The recent discovery of a similar
structure at Abusir, south of our present station,
further demonstrates, that the building before us is
the massive monumental gateway, forming the entrance
to the masonry causeway, leading up to the pyramid-temple,
on the east front of the second pyramid. We
have retained the term “temple” in the above title, only
to avoid misleading those numerous travelers who only
know the building as a temple, which it has so long
been supposed to be. Up through this monumental
portal passed the white-robed processions in the departed
Pharaoh's honor, to ascend the long causeway
beyond leading to the court of the pyramid temple,
where the periodic feasts of the temple-calendar were
celebrated. Many a problem which now vexes the
student of this remote age, would be solved, if we
could have stood on the now vanished floor of the
roof-court which crowned this great gateway, and
looked down upon such a celebration. It is a structure
worthy of the builder of such a pyramid, and its walls
and floors of polished granite and translucent alabaster
make it one of the most magnificent monuments of
And now as it rises over the head of the silent
Sphinx, we gain our last view of the Great Pyramid,
towering in the background and dominating all this
scene, so rich in monuments of a decadent people's
one-time magnificence, so strewn with landmarks that
determine for us the course of that long road by which
man has journeyed through past ages to attain his
present exalted station.
Our next position is to be out there in front of the

Position 27. The great Sphinx of Gizeh, the
largest royal portrait ever hewn

At last we stand before the silent mystery of the
Sphinx. Its time-scarred, weather-beaten face looks
out upon the plain, and fronts the rising sun, as it has
done these many thousand years, and still we question
its mute lips in vain as to its age and origin. Behind
it, as if under its mysterious guardianship, rises the
second pyramid, before which, on its east front, we
discern the ruins of its temple, which we have already
seen from the summit of the Great Pyramid (Position
21). In the age when that pyramid was being built, or
perhaps earlier, there arose here a promontory of rock,
a jutting headland of the cliff, which one of these
remote kings chose as the site and the material
for his statue. For you must know that the sphinx,
which is a very common form throughout Egypt, is
but a symbolic portrait of the king. The lion's body,
with its forepaws extending as you see beneath the
cliff on which we stand, is the symbol of the king's
might, and the human head is a portrait of the king.
Hence, with the exception of a few sphinx-statues
of the Queen Hatshepsut, the sphinx always portrays
a man, and even the queen's sphinx-portraits
always represent her as a man. The Greeks therefore
misunderstood the character of the sphinx, in representing
it as a female creature. Out of this headland of
rock, then, the royal portrait was hewn, and as it now
stands, it is still a part of Mother Earth. But already
in remote antiquity, as far back as the 15th century
B. C., the wind-swept sands of the desert had driven
in and covered it to the breast, piling up in vast drifts
before it, and spreading in mighty billows which engulfed

both the sphinx and the granite gateway, which
is just behind us on our left.
Right before us is evidence of the age when this sand
inundation had already occurred. Do you see standing
between the forepaws and before the breast of the
monster, that large granite tablet? That is a massive
architrave taken from the granite portal, which we have
just visited, for a monument of King Thutmosis IV of
the 18th Dynasty. By appropriating it there one was
saved the trouble of quarrying it at the first cataract
and transporting it over six hundred miles down the
river to this place. It contains an inscription which
narrates how, while he was still prince only, Thutmosis
IV was hunting in this region, and proceeds: “One of
those days it came to pass that the prince Thutmosis
came coursing (in his chariot) at the time of midday
and he rested in the shadow of this great god (the
sphinx). A vision of sleep seized him at the hour when
the sun was in the zenith and he found the majesty of
this revered god (the sphinx) speaking with his own
mouth, as a father speaks with his son, saying: 'Behold
thou me! See thou me! my son Thutmosis. I am thy
father … who will give to thee my kingdom on
earth. … The land shall be thine in its length and
breadth. … The sand of this desert upon which I
am has reached me. Turn to me, that the desire of
my heart may be accomplished.'” By thus promising
him the kingdom, the god (as the Egyptians of the
time already thought the sphinx to be) furnished the
young prince with a sufficient motive. He evidently
cleared the sphinx of sand, and received the kingdom
in fulfillment of the promise made. Subsequent generations
had the incident recorded, as the story of how
he gained the throne by an oracle of the god.
The monument was restored by Ramses II, by the
Ptolemies and the Romans, but in modern times it was
first excavated by Caviglia, early in the last century;
then by Mariette, and finally by Maspero in 1886.
Enough has been cleared so that we may appreciate
the colossal proportions of the monster. The body is
said to be 140 feet long and the sacred serpent that
once crowned the forehead was seventy feet from the
pavement. And if a man were standing on the
ear, he would not be able to reach the top of the
head with upraised arm. How puny appear these
futile moderns, thus contrasted so sharply with the
work of their great ancestors! For it was thirty feet
from side to side of that massive royal head-dress, the
face is fourteen feet wide and the mouth is seven feet
and seven inches in length. What a misfortune for the
Sphinx that the Moslems are forbidden images of
every sort! For what with their iconoclastic zeal, and
the vandalism of the Mamlukes, who used it for a
rifle target, not to say anything of the winds and
storms of thousands of years, it has lost all its original
comeliness. Yet up to the last century it had still preserved
some of the original red flesh-color on the face;
and portions of the beard were found between the
forepaws; one of these fragments is still lying there
and another is in the British Museum. The face was
once winning and beautiful and is so spoken of by the
Arab chroniclers. The body is also excessively
weathered, so that the statue of some god attached to
the breast between the forepaws is quite unrecognizable.
This weathering is to some extent ancient and
has been repaired with masonry sheathing over the
paws and sides, a work of probably Roman date.

There are between the paws a chapel and an altar of
late date.
The origin of the sphinx is still a mystery, and as it
has never been entirely excavated and freed from sand,
it is possible that complete clearance around its base
might solve the problem. The tablet between the forepaws
refers to Khafre, the builder of the second pyramid,
but the face of the stone is so broken where the
name occurs that it is not clear in what connection he
is mentioned. But because of this mention of him, and
the proximity of his pyramid, he is often said to have
been the author of the sphinx. You can almost see
from here the mastaba shafts, cut down through the
leviathan's back. There are no shafts here earlier than
the Old Kingdom, so that the king who made the
sphinx must have dismantled some Old Kingdom
mastabas to clear the rock for the creation of his
monster statue, which therefore is not earlier than the
3rd Dynasty, and is not to be attributed to prehistoric
men, as is sometimes done. Latterly some evidence has
been adduced to show that the statue is a portrait of
the 12th Dynasty king, Amenemhet III, but the question
still remains uncertain.
This native who has stationed himself so picturesquely
just before us would be very glad to carry
us to the Mena House upon the rocking back of his
leisurely camel, and if we have a few piasters in our
pocket, and do not fall over the head of the beast as
he awkwardly raises his hind quarters in climbing
to his feet after he has dropped down to let us mount,
I have no doubt the novelty of the ride would be enjoyed.
At the hotel we should find an incongruous
modern tram, which would whisk us back to Cairo,

with a speed quite unprecedented in this ancient land,
giving us little opportunity to marvel as we ruminate
upon the wonders we have seen in the mighty cemetery
of Gizeh, the most wonderful cemetery in the
world. From Cairo we shall go southward to the
site of the famous city of Memphis. The number 28
in red on Map 4 indicates in a general way our next

Position 28. Statue of Ramses II, an embellishment
of a now vanished temple of Memphis

How are the mighty fallen! We stand on the Nile
bottoms, eleven miles south of the cemetery of Gizeh,
and you would not imagine that these palms are now
growing in what was once the streets of mighty Memphis,
the vast city, whose southern extremities reached
to Dashur, and whose northern limits were close upon
Gizeh (see Map 4). Here where now the waving
palms are supreme, was the great capital city, which
grew up in the days of the Old Kingdom, and became
a metropolis of the ancient land. As reign after reign
added to its magnificence and beauty, its fame passed
into other lands; Greek travelers wrote of it, and
Greek poets sang of it, and in the days of the Roman
empire it was the goal of wealthy Roman tourists, as
Thebes is now for the hosts of Cook. As far down
as the 12th century of our own era, the Arab writers
speak of it as filled with an amazing host of marvelous
monuments; but after that it began to serve as
a quarry for building stone, and under the attacks of
the Cairene architects of the Moslem sultans its great
walls and monuments gradually melted away, until as
century after century passed, they disappeared one
after another like those of Rome under a similar process.

But unfortunately this process was not arrested
in its course as at Rome, but ceased only with the total
annihilation of the city.
A vast city, filled with splendid temples, colonnades,
long avenues of sphinxes, colossal obelisks, huge
sculptured statues of the Pharaohs like this lying here,
lovely temple lakes with groves and gardens and vineyards,
gorgeous palaces, luxurious chateaus of the rich,
with fish pools and tempting summer houses, bright
with myriad flowers of all climes and hung with lotus
blossoms; vast quarters set apart for the hosts of
foreigners of every race that frequented the city, from
Mycenae, the upper Euphrates, and the Phoenician
cities on the north, to the dark-skinned Nubians of the
upper Nile on the south; huge market-places and
bazaars where these foreigners traded and offered to
the luxurious Egyptians the products of every clime
and sun; beautiful canals from the river, branching
through the city and furnishing coolness and refreshing
to the thirsty gardens, or bearing in a glittering
Procession a line of temple barges, decked with flowers,
and filled with chanting priests and singing women,
as they conduct the sacred Apis-bull from one great
temple to another—a world metropolis with all these
and a thousand other vanished splendors, sleeps on this
spot under these swaying palms. You may go miles
over the ground which it once occupied, and of all
that once made it famous, you will find, besides a few
mounds, only this colossus and another not far away,
which we shall not have time to visit.
Such statues as this fallen giant here were placed by
the kings of the Empire in front of their temples
on either side of the entrance. Its presence therefore
indicates that we are standing on the site of a

temple in the city. This fact will explain more graphically
than any words why it is that we shall not visit
any of the Delta cities, with one exception. They were
all like Memphis, so near the northern frontier that
the invading armies of century after century for thousands
of years have swept over them, till there is
nothing left but a confused expanse of scattered
blocks. In the vicinity of Cairo, the ruin wrought by
siege and sack has been succeeded by the slow annihilation
which follows the pick of the quarryman.
There are many Delta cities, known to have been
places of great importance and power, of which we do
not even know the site at the present day. Thus all
knowledge of the location of the great commercial
city of Naukratis was lost, until Prof. Petrie,
wandering in the Delta, one lucky day, happened upon
a stone bearing the name of the city. We shall meet
no temple walls still standing, until we reach them far
south in Upper Egypt , where distance from the northern
invader and the Moslem builder has secured them
some measure of immunity and left them to the mercies
of old Father Time.
This statue is a portrait of Ramses II, who reigned
some fifteen hundred years later than the builders of
the Gizeh pyramids. You will remember that we
looked upon the face of his father, Sethos I, in flesh and
blood in the Cairo Museum. The statue as it lies is
some twenty-five feet long, to which we must add the
height of the crown, which stands on the ground at
its head. It is of granite, and was brought from the
quarries, which we shall later see at the first cataract,
some six hundred miles, to this place. Large as it
seems, compared with the native who stands upon it,

it is a pigmy beside the colossi, which we have yet
to see.
We move westward now to view a portion of the
cemetery of ancient Memphis, and as is usual in
Egypt, we shall find the city of the dead in a much
better state of preservation than the city of the living.
The red lines numbered 29 in the lower left-hand portion
of Map 4 show this next position, and that we
shall be looking west with the Nile behind us.

Position 29. The earliest occupation of men and
the first attempt at a pyramid, Sakkara

It is but a limited stretch of the Memphite cemetery
which we have before us; but it includes a remarkable
monument, which we promised you should see, as we
stood on the summit of the Great Pyramid. Gizeh and
that pyramid are now some eleven miles away to our
right, as we look out upon this lineal ancestor of the
Great Pyramid, without which the Great Pyramid never
would have been (see Map 4). This terraced structure
was built by King Zoser, a Pharaoh of the 3rd
Dynasty. Let us remember him, for we shall find a
curious inscription of his at the first cataract (Position
88). He stands at the dawning of the Old Kingdom,
before any pyramid had ever been built.
He first erected here a mastaba, much like those later
built at Gizeh, which you saw there. This mastaba of
Zoser is now in the heart of that strange terraced structure
yonder; for he enlarged his original mastaba upon
the ground and also carried it upward by placing upon
it a second mastaba, smaller than the first. This
process he repeated, producing at last the terraced
structure as you see it now. It is neither pyramid nor

mastaba, but a kind of transitional form between the
two. It is one of the most important links connecting
the mastaba and the pyramid. One of Zoser's successors,
Snofru, the last king of the 3rd Dynasty, completed
the transition, and after building a terraced
monument like this, he filled out the terraces in a
smooth slope at the pyramid angle of 52°. This was
the first pyramid ever built, and it now stands at Medum,
near the south end of our sixty-mile line of
We thus trace the development from the sand
heap through the mastaba; then this terraced structure
before us, and finally the first of all pyramids of Medum.
Strange that so soon after the attainment of the
pyramid form by this process, the erection of the greatest
pyramid ever built should follow! It is like the
appearance of a Shakespeare so early in the history of
the English drama. But we have before us, I repeat,
one of the landmarks in the path of that long development
which led up to and made possible the Great Pyramid.
How fortunate are we when these surviving
footprints of early man are not found scattered and
isolated, but as here, one following upon another, and
all leading upward toward some summit, which we
have already recognized.
This terraced tomb of Zoser is 196 feet high, and
exceeds in height as it does in age all the surrounding
pyramids. Why it should have been dropped in
here at this point, long before neighboring Memphis
was capital, or there were any other royal tombs here,
we do not know. The surrounding pyramids are all
of the 5th and 6th Dynasties, in accordance with what
we said at Gizeh, that in following our sixty-mile line
of pyramids southward, we should be passing from the

older to the younger and moving down the centuries
as we move down the line; but there are individual
exceptions like this tomb of Zoser and the pyramid of
Medum, already referred to.
Let us not forget that most of the tombs in this cemetery
are invisible. The thousand generations that
lived at Memphis now sleep beneath our feet. On
every hand are covered tombs, shrouded in the accumulated
sands of thousands of years. You may sink
a shaft almost anywhere here and find a masonry
tomb or mastaba, and there are literally miles of the
humbler burials of the poor distributed along this
desert margin. Practical considerations alone, if myth
and religion had not led the same way, would have
forced the ancient Egyptians to bury their dead in
these unproductive sands, rather than in the cultivable
soil of the restricted Nile bottoms, for during all these
thousands of years at least ten million of people died
in Egypt every century, and a hundred million every
thousand years, all of whom it was desired to place in
permanent resting-places, and many in enduring masonry
tombs. A portion of this sleeping host therefore
lies beneath our feet, wherever we walk, over
these desolate sands, and yonder swarthy native shepherd
little knows how many generations of his ancestors
he is trampling under foot, as he drives homeward
his little flock. In him and his flock, backed by
the tomb of one of his ancient rulers, we are again
confronted with that ever-present contrast, between the
modern and the ancient condition of this people.
From the creation of such works as yonder tomb, at
the very dawn of human history, they have fallen until
their sole industries are herding and agriculture, the

primitive avocations of their ancestors in the remote
days that lie far behind this tomb of Zoser.
But not merely this man's own ancestors are buried
here; the ancestors of his cattle—at least some of
them—also lie in this vast cemetery! For here was
buried at his death, the sacred Apis-bull, and long
generations of the ever-reincarnated god are here
interred in vast galleries, having a total length of
some 1,150 feet, hewn in the rock beneath these sands.
The embalmed body of the animal was regularly buried
in a huge granite sarcophagus about thirteen feet long
and weighing sixty-five tons. Twenty-four of these
sarcophagi are still in place in the chambers hewn out
for them. The temples built over these galleries have
now disappeared, but in classic times the whole, known
as the Serapeum, was the shrine to which thousands
of pilgrims annually journeyed, walking over these
very sands where we now stand; and a wealthy and
influential priesthood maintained a splendid ritual and
daily service of the god. It was for centuries one of
the most important religious centres of antiquity, especially
when under the Ptolemies, the bull (Osir-)
Apis was identified by misunderstanding, with the
popular foreign god Serapis. Thus among the hosts
of pilgrims were found large numbers of foreigners
from all parts of the classic world. But all its glory is
now departed, and flocks and herds are now driven
over its sand-covered avenues of sphinxes and fallen
sanctuaries. It was utterly forgotten, save by the
learned few who knew of it in the literature of the
Greeks, until it was discovered and excavated by
Mariette in 1851.
We shall not stop to look into the burial vaults; we
must return toward Cairo, and visit the quarries,

whence came the stone for the pyramids. These quarries
you find on Map 4, about seven miles south of
Cairo, not far from the east bank of the Nile.

Position 30. Quarry chambers of Masara whence
came the blocks for the Great Pyramid

[accompanying stereograph, front]

Do you remember those 2,300,000 two and a half
ton blocks in the Great Pyramid? This is where most
of them were taken out. The chambers before us belong
to the great quarry of Masara; there are others
in the vicinity, especially that of Turra, this last having
also doubtless furnished limestone for the great
pyramid. You will remember that as we stood on the
summit of the pyramid, we looked eastward and I
called your attention to the location of the quarries
(page 120). We noted the broad plain of the valley,
across which the stone was transported. As we stand
here and look out you see the glimmer of light from the
opening, far behind that huge central pillar which
supports the roof. Now imagine the long lines of
swarthy workmen tugging at the ropes as they draw
out the massive blocks, the volleying click of innumerable
chisels as the blocks are hewn from the mountain,
and the hoarse shouts of thousands of slaves, mingled
with the sharp call of the task-master and overseers
when there is any sign of lagging. All this these walls
have looked upon as the vast galleries were pierced
deeper and deeper into the mountainous cliff. What
tales of misery they could tell—of foreign captives
lashed to their tasks by the thousand, driven into these
galleries fresh from their Syrian homes, where the
Pharaoh found them on his last victorious campaign.
And now they are forced to furnish the stone to

build the temple which shall commemorate the Pharaoh's
victory and their own captivity, for upon its
walls in triumphant reliefs and swelling songs of praise
to the Pharaoh's prowess, the story of his conquest
shall be recorded, with long lists of the towns from
which the wretched captives were gathered in like
cattle. Such records we shall see when we have
reached Thebes. It is in these places that the Pharaohs
spent much of the wealth gained in Syrian conquests
in order to appease the gods, who gave them
victories, with larger and more splendid temples.
These we shall visit in the cities of the upper river.
There we shall observe how the great builders, whose
names are all about us here, carved on the walls of
these vast galleries, employed the materials which
captive labor furnished them.
From these quarries seven or eight miles south of
Cairo we shall now move to the site of ancient Heliopolis,
some six miles on the other side, or, to speak more
exactly, on the northeast side. Our position is given
by the red lines numbered 31 in the upper portion of
Map 4.

Position 31. The sole survivor of a great city, the
Obelisk of Heliopolis

[accompanying stereograph, front]

This granite shaft is the only considerable monument
on this site to tell us that here once rose a magnificent
temple in the heart of a great city. We might
now repeat almost every word that we have used of
Memphis; indeed, if we substitute the Mnevis bull for
the Apis-bull in that description, it will apply exactly,
except in the matter of the north and south limits of
the city there given. It was the oldest great religious

centre of ancient Egypt. Here the priests of the sun-god
had a sacred school from which went forth most
of the religious compositions which later became authoritative.
The temple was, during the Empire,
second only to that of Amon at Thebes, in wealth and
power. In Greek times it was still famous for the wisdom
of its priesthood. Tradition states that Plato
studied thirteen years here. The city itself was early
destroyed, and Strabo, the geographer, found it in
ruins in 60 B. C.; but his priestly guides pointed out
to him the rooms of Plato and the Greek mathematician,
Eudoxus. But the sacred college in which they
studied no longer existed. Heliopolis is the Greek
name of the city; it was called On by the Egyptians
and in this form it is mentioned a number of times in
the Old Testament. You will remember especially
how the Pharaoh gave to Joseph the daughter of a
priest of On as his wife. That priest ministered under
the shadow of this very obelisk, and it had already
been standing several centuries at that time.
The city is also of interest because the obelisk now in
New York once stood here with its fellow, which is
now in London; for obelisks always stood in pairs at
the entrance of a temple. They were erected to celebrate
the thirtieth anniversary, not of a king's accession,
but of his appointment as heir to the throne. On
all four sides of this obelisk in a column of hieroglyphic
beautifully cut down the middle, are recorded
the full titles and names of King Sesostris I (Egyptian
Senwosret, formerly pronounced Usertesen), with
the added indication that the obelisk was erected
on the occasion of the celebration of the king's
thirty years' jubilee.
The temple before which this obelisk and its fellow
(which stood until the 12th century) were erected, was
built by Amenemhet I; and his son, Sesostris I, besides
erecting these obelisks, made some additions to the
temple. He left a record of these works in a building
inscription, cut upon a large tablet, in one of the courts
of this temple. One day when this tablet had been
standing some five hundred years, in the time of
Amenophis II (18th Dynasty) a certain scribe seeing
this fine example of the official prose current in the
classic days of his 12th Dynasty ancestors, decided to
make a practice copy of it. Seating himself before it,
he produced a roll of leather, on which were some
lumber bills and other memoranda duly dated in the
third year of Amenophis II, and turning it over he
copied the fine old building inscription on the back of
his bills. Sesostris I's great tablet, with its building
inscription, perished centuries ago, but the scribe's
hasty copy in rapid, running hand on the back of the
lumber bills is now in the Berlin Museum, and thus a
rare and fortunate accident has preserved for us
Sesostris I's building inscription. In this record he
makes a prophecy which has been remarkably fulfilled.
He says:
“My beauty shall be remembered in his (the sun-god's) house,
My name is the pyramidion and my name is the lake.”
The “pyramidion” is the small pyramid which surmounts
the obelisk, and the king means that his name
shall be identified with the obelisk and the sacred temple
lake, made by him, and thus immortalized. And
strangely enough his obelisk, with its “pyramidion,”
the only surviving monument of Heliopolis, has

indeed preserved his name, and shall perpetuate it till
the end of time, while all others here have perished.
It is sixty-six feet high, and is wrought from a single
block of granite, quarried and worked at the first cataract
and brought down the river on a huge barge. It
probably weighs some three hundred tons. It and its
now vanished comrade stood here in the very path of
foreign invasion from Asia and Europe, and after
weathering the storms of war, which raged around it
for three thousand years, its comrade fell some seven
hundred years ago, and was broken up and carried
away by the Moslems. But the survivor has seen the
civilization of the western world gradually becoming
dominant in the East, and bringing with it a reverence
for these mute witnesses of a great past, which, we
hope, will secure them an unlimited lease of life. In
this spirit the Service des Antiquités has erected this
protecting paling which you see around the obelisk,
to hold at bay the native, the relic-hunter and all who
may be minded to do it injury.
We here gain a good idea of the rich, level soil of the
great Delta, although as we are looking south toward
Cairo, the great portion of the Delta lies behind us,
stretching away for nearly a hundred miles.
We have already intimated that Heliopolis lay on
the route from Asia into Egypt. If you will look at
the Map (No. 3) and trace the line of railway as it
swings out from the Delta eastward, you will be able
to follow that ancient route to the isthmus and the
Suez Canal. Long before that railway was built, there
was a canal along this line, connecting the Salt Lakes
and the Nile, which is the same as to say the Red Sea
and the Nile. We know that it was in existence in the

days of Necho, before the Persians held Egypt, and
it is probable that already in Ramses II's time (14th
century B. C.), his engineers had completed this canal.
Before the construction of the canal, however, the
route it later followed had been for ages a natural line
of communication between Egypt and Asia; for there
is here a valley, or wadi, as the Arabs say, known as
the Wadi Tumilat, which, leaving the Delta, extends
eastward to the isthmus, like a river of green through
the desert, that bounds it on either hand. The district
around the western end of this wadi was the land of
Goshen, in which the Hebrews were given a home and
pasturage for their flocks and herds; while near its
eastern terminus was the city of Pithom, which they
are said to have built. You will remember that the
Bible story states that they built for the Pharaoh the
store-cities of Ramses and Pithom (Exodus 1: 11).
The location of Ramses is unknown, but that of Pithom
has been settled by the excavations of the Egypt Exploration
Fund under Naville. It is the city of Pithom
which we are now to visit. Find the red lines numbered
32 in the upper part of Map 3.

Position 32. The brick store-chambers of Pithom,
the city built by Hebrew bondsmen—looking

[accompanying stereograph, front]

Standing on the South Side of the Wadi Tamilat, we looked Northward across the desert, and yonder in
the middle distance the line of palms marks for us the
depression of the wadi. The ancient canal, which
once followed the wadi, and of which extensive remains
are still to be traced, has been succeeded by a
modern canal, which supplies the towns along the
Suez Canal with fresh water from the Nile. Here

for ages the traffic and commerce of Egypt and Asia
passed along. Here were the Pharaoh's frontier stations,
controlling all ingress and egress. We have the
hasty memoranda of an officer stationed on this frontier
in the days of the Hebrews, noted on a piece of
papyrus now in the British Museum, in which he records
the passage of messengers and officials for several
days, as they went up to Syria on various official
business of the Pharaoh, a document showing how
active was the communication between the Egypt and
the Syria of that day. Ramses II did much for this
region, in which the Pharaohs of earlier times had
not been interested. They had merely passed through
it on their way to their Syrian wars, but had given it
little attention. Ramses II, however, as we have already
stated, possibly cut the canal through the wadi.
Fifty miles north (directly in our front) he built the
magnificent city of Tanis (see Map 3), and in the
wadi itself, according to the Biblical narrative, he
also built the city of Pithom, where we now stand.
Large portions of such a city are necessarily built
of sun-dried brick, and in making and laying such
brick, the kings of the time employed thousands of
foreign captives. There is in Thebes in one of the
finer tombs there, a scene representing such captives engaged
in brick-making. When we go up the river, we
shall find the same industry still in daily operation
(Position 39). It was quite in accord with the custom
of the Pharaoh, therefore, thus to employ the Hebrews.
The city is called in the Biblical story, a “store-city,”
and it is interesting to know that Naville found extensive
magazines and store-houses among these ruins.
Here before us are the walls of such buildings, and it

is possible that the very bricks before us were made
by captive Hebrews.
Little is known of the history of this city in later
times, but it evidently early fell into ruin, for in its exposed
position at the door of Egypt, it could not have
escaped speedy destruction. The sands of the desert
then blew in upon the wreck, and only these low walls
scattered over a few hundred feet, have survived to
show us where the city lay. As we have already remarked
at our visit to the site of Memphis, it is the
same with all the cities of Lower Egypt . The ruin of
war, the pick of the Moslem quarryman, and the rising
waters of the Nile have annihilated the cities of the
Delta, and with them have perished forever some of the
noblest works ever wrought by man.

Position 33. Dahabiyehs on the river ready for
the journey to the Upper Nile

Who will ever forget that happy day, when the
dahabiyeh, swinging out into the river with head to
south, began her long struggle with the Nile current,
a struggle, that carried one every moment nearer and
nearer to the wonders of the upper river? The sailors
spread the vast triangular sail, the fierce current boils
and roars under the bow as the mighty north wind fills
the huge canvas; slowly the palms and the villages
seem to move northward, till gathering way, the picturesque
craft moves faster and faster mile after mile, and
the towers and minarets of Cairo drop behind a fringe
of intervening palms. At last you are off for Upper
Here you are already in that valley of which we have
so often spoken, and you can see the tall cliffs, which

wall it in on the other shore. Similar cliffs rise behind
us. In mid-river is a dahabiyeh, and you will be interested
to know something of the craft in which the voyage
can be most comfortably made. It is a long, narrow
sail boat of the simple rig so common in the
east. Divided approximately into halves, the forward
half is devoted to the crew and the cook, while the
after half is occupied by the passenger cabin. The
cook presides over a tiny kitchen, perched like a dry
goods box on the bow, just forward of the mast.
Ordinarily there are no other quarters for the crew,
and here on this low forward deck they sleep, eat, loaf
in the sunshine, or tug at the oars as necessity requires.
The passenger cabin in the after half of the boat is
surmounted by an awning-covered deck, furnished
with chairs, settees, hammocks, and a writing table.
Below, the interior is usually divided into four parts.
As you enter from the crew's deck you find yourself in
a narrow passage leading down the middle directly
aft, having on either side the pantries, store-rooms
and servants' rooms; these form the first part. The
narrow passage leads to the second part, the dining-room,
which includes the whole width of the craft.
Behind this a similar passage gives access to the sleeping
rooms of the passengers, bath-room and the like;
while behind this third part, lies the fourth, the drawing
room. This arrangement may be varied somewhat
at will; and limited as that cabin appears for so extended
an arrangement of rooms, it is nevertheless
convenient and comfortable.
He who has at some time in his life made the
voyage of the Nile in such a craft will often sigh for
the dreamy days on that awning deck, lulled asleep by
the lapping of the swift-flowing waters, or the slow

chant of the sailors bending to the heavy sweeps when
the wind is low. There is a certain charm about this
landscape which never leaves the voyager. The eye
wanders languidly out over the far, still landscape,
glowing in vivid green under the golden sunshine; the
verdant plain is dotted here and there with palm-groves,
beneath which nestle picturesque little villages,
looking out in sombre gray against the deep green of
the palms, save where the white of the Moslem
minaret, gleaming through the leaves and rising above
the treetops, proclaims the Egypt of to-day, when one
would fain have pictured it all as it was in the days
of the pyramid-builders.
This boat in mid-stream here, is floating with the
current, with all sails furled, the sailors at the oars
and a strong wind astern, that flutters the stars and
stripes bravely, not to say also the flag of the ubiquitous
Cook, and carries the boat rapidly northward.
Astern is dragging the feluka, or small boat, in which
are the chicken coop and a lamb or two for the larder
of the passengers. The other craft moored to the
bank is a less pretentious affair, and no one would
imagine from looking at it, the origin of the word
“dahabiyeh” as applied to these passenger craft. It
means “golden,” and has descended from the days
when such boats were richly decorated with designs
in gold, and belonged exclusively to the very rich.
The workmen just before us are transporting the
large jars of which we see a long heap on the bank,
awaiting shipment on the river. Such large jars,
are made in great quantities in Upper Egypt , and their
manufacture forms a considerable industry, especially
at Keneh. Nothing is commoner than to see such a
heap as this, only vastly larger, occupying the two

decks of a pair of cargo boats, lashed together for the
purpose and floating in mid-Nile. Such a jar, unglazed,
makes an excellent filter, and forms an indispensable
part of the equipment of a dahabiyeh, for the
yellow Nile water, when filtered and cleansed of the
sand and other foreign substances which it carries,
makes excellent drinking water.
Our first stopping place as we journey south, up the
Nile, will be about fifty miles from Cairo, in the vicinity
of the Fayûm. See Map 6. Our first position,
as the red lines numbered 34 on this map show, will
be fifteen miles or so west of the Nile. We shall look

Position 34. Watching a sand whirlwind, from
the summit of the Hawara Pyramid

[accompanying stereograph, front]

Now Cairo is off to our left fifty miles away. But
what a picture of desolation! And yet we are standing
in the midst of one of the most fertile tracts in
the world. These rough sun-dried brick under our
feet form the summit of the pyramid of Hawara, which
stands in the mouth of the Fayûm, and from this elevated
point of view we are looking southeastward
through the valley which connects the depression of
the Fayûm with the Nile valley (Map 6). Out yonder
on the horizon is the pyramid of Illahun . We
should note it well, for it marks the southern end of
our sixty-mile line of pyramids, to which we have so
often referred; and the 12th Dynasty, to which it belongs,
was the last to construct great pyramids. That
line, then, of which we have here reached the end,
was in course of construction during a period of over
a thousand years; and Lepsius, during his great expedition,
found no less than seventy-six pyramids in the

Nile valley. What a line of noble sepulchers, and
what a line of kings who raised them! Out of our
range of vision, on the left, behind the hills, is the
pyramid of Medum, the first real pyramid; built by
Snofru, the last king of the 3rd Dynasty. With this
exception, the north half of the pyramid line belongs
to the Old Kingdom, and the south half to the Middle
Kingdom, and thus as we have before noted, we have
passed down the dynasties and down the centuries as
we have come south from Gizeh.
The kings who made the 12th Dynasty so famous
took great interest in the Fayûm. Here a depression in
the desert of some thirty by forty miles, not differing
from those which form the oases of the Sahara, had
been flooded by the waters of the Nile inundation,
which found access to the basin through the valley
down which we are looking (Map 6). By enormous
hydraulic works, continued from reign to reign, and
completed by Amenemhet III, the waters were pushed
back, and the completion of a wall or dike twenty-seven
miles long, restored to cultivation some
27,000 acres of very productive land. The body
of water behind the dike was known to the
Greeks as “Lake Moeris,” and its basin in classic
times, as the waters continued to recede, became the
very garden of Egypt. We shall have occasion to
refer to it again, when we visit the ruins of its principal
city (Position 39). Under the 12th Dynasty
kings, it was connected with the Nile by a canal, and
served as a basin for the storage of water for use in irrigation.
It was thus the forerunner of similar modern
works, like that of the great dam at Philae, which we
shall later see. The modern successor of that canal
is visible on our right. It is a natural channel, known

as the “Bahr Yusuf,” that is, “the river of Joseph,”
whose name is thus connected in popular tradition
with one of the most important sources of irrigation
in modern Egypt, as it was with the exploitation of the
country's fertility in ancient days.
The 12th Dynasty kings who thus improved the
region, lived in the vicinity, and a residence city of
theirs, now lost, was located somewhere between here
and Memphis (which is off here on our left). Just
here on our right, between us and the canal, you
observe a few low mounds. These are the edge
of the spot, which extends beyond our range on
the right, where once stood the labyrinth, famous
in the literature of the Greeks as the forerunner
of the Cretan labyrinth. It is stated by them to
have had no less than 3,000 rooms, which is unquestionably
an exaggeration; but it must have been an
enormous building, for the excavation of Petrie on
the spot have shown that it was 800 by 1,000 feet on
the ground plan. From the Roman period on, it was
used as a quarry, and the walls were so completely carried
away down to the ground, that it was very difficult
for Petrie to trace the plan. Modern investigation
has therefore been unable to determine its character
and use with certainty, but judging from Greek descriptions,
it can hardly have been anything else than
a temple. Its builder was Amenemhet III.
You have been struck with the fact that this
pyramid on which we stand is not of stone. It
was, to be sure, once sheathed in a splendid
casing of limestone masonry, which has since been
removed for building material, thus serving as a quarry
like the vast labyrinthine temple at its base. But the
12th Dynasty kings discovered that sun-dried brick

formed very effective core masonry for such a structure
as a pyramid, when properly cased in stone, and
thus they saved themselves enormous labor and expense
in the quarries. When completed this pyramid
was 333 feet and 10 inches square on the base, and
190 feet high.
Finding that the carefully planned pyramids of their
predecessors were being opened and robbed, the kings
of this time introduced the most ingenious devices to
conceal the entrances to their pyramids, and to baffle
the robbers when the entrance was once found. Instead
of making the entrance of his pyramid on the
north, as was customary in the Old Kingdom, the
builder of this one placed the descending passage, which
pierced the rock beneath this pyramid, here on the
south side, on our right, and far to the west of the
middle. The passage, after making four turns, then
approaches the burial chamber from the north, having
gone clear around it! At three of the turns, progress
was completely barred by a huge trap-door block,
weighing, in one case, twenty-two tons; but the dishonest
architects of the Pharaoh had closed only the
first one, certain that the royal family would never
know what they had done with the other two, after
the first was closed. The tomb robbers, therefore,
had to cut their way through the great trap-door block,
but were not troubled by the other two. But they were
completely taken in by one of the architect's devices.
They found the entrance to a certain passage carefully
masoned up, and thinking it must contain something
of value, or certainly lead to the burial chamber, they
removed the masonry, only to find more behind it.
This also they removed, and continually finding more,
their appetites were but sharpened as they saw how

much labor had been expended in making the passage
secure. After they had thus removed a masonry filling
from a passage about 84 feet long they found it
ended in an aimless cul de sac, in nothing, in solid
The burial chamber itself was in the native rock
beneath the pyramid, as it is in all pyramids except
the first pyramid of Gizeh. There was no door,
but it had been entered on the day of burial through
the roof. To make this possible it was necessary to
construct two roofs with a space between them. The
upper roof was constructed of enormous blocks of
limestone weighing fifty-five tons each, and was
assisted in its burden bearing by an arch of sun-dried
brick above it; the lower roof covered the chamber
itself and had a trap-door block of quartzite at one
end, weighing forty-five tons. This was lowered into
place on the day of burial, after the king had been laid
in his sarcophagus. The tomb robbers were unable to
raise it, so they cut away one corner and crawled
through. The chamber to which they had thus gained
entrance is 8 by 22 feet on the floor, and 6 feet high,
and is cut from one single block of “glassy hard”
quartzite weighing
110 tons! Yet in spite of all these
elaborate and costly devices, which must have exhausted
the skill of the best engineers and craftsmen
in that ancient realm, the robbers forced their way into
that chamber deep under our feet and despoiled the
body of the king of his splendid regalia, and pillaged
the sepulcher of its magnificent furniture.
Seeing the futility of such means for protecting his
sacred body, the Pharaoh no longer expended his
wealth in vast sepulchers like these, and thus it is that
we stand here upon the summit of the last pyramid.

When we have arrived at Thebes, we shall see that
after a short interval of modest masonry tombs, built
upon the plain, the Pharaohs followed the example
of their nobles and hewed vast tombs into the mountain
Just one more glance up that connecting valley before
we go down! See that cloud of sand which a
wind-burst is carrying from the desert into the valley.
That process has been going on for ages. For
the archaeologist nothing more fortunate could have
happened than this gradual covering with sand, which
we have seen so often burying fathoms deep the works
of the Pharaohs. Myriads of monuments that rejoice
the heart of the Egyptologist would have perished
forever, had they not been thus covered by the timely
sands and hidden from the destructive hand of the
vandal. Myriads more of just such monuments still
remain, secure beneath the friendly sands, awaiting the
rescuing hand of the excavator. But these invading
sands are anything but a blessing to the peasant.
They do not in the long run gain much upon the Nile
valley as a whole, but there are certain districts where
they have taken complete possession.
Out yonder about midway between us and the tent
of our photographer, you notice a transverse line
running across the valley. That is the pipe-line of
the English engineers, who by thus piping the water
from yonder canal, are rapidly reclaiming the district
between the distant pyramid and that on which we
stand. We see how the government thus utilizes the
Nile inundation in this practically rainless climate, but
we must now observe how the native employs the
water, furnished him by Providence and the authorities,

in the vast network of canals, which we saw
from the top of the great pyramid.
We shall now take time to see something of the
industrial life of the Egyptian of to-day. Because the
manner of doing things has been unchanged for centuries
in this land, we shall be learning of ancient
Egypt in studying the life of to-day.

Position 35. An Egyptian shaduf, the oldest of
well-sweeps, lifting the Nile waters to the
thirsty fields

In a tomb-painting at Thebes, there are depicted
the ancestors of these men, raising the
waters of the ancient Nile, by means of precisely the
same device as that which we find in the hands of these
modern natives here. For many thousands of years
it has been used in this way. It is simply the well-sweep
of our grandfathers. A pole with a weight or
counterpoise at one end, and a bucket hanging from
the other, is suspended at a point not far from the
weight, which then by its simple gravity draws up the
bucket when filled from the waters below. The apparatus
is of the simplest home-construction; the necessary
poles and stakes are furnished by the scanty trees
of the neighborhood, the weight is merely a huge
lump of Nile mud, plastered on and allowed to dry;
the bucket is only a hoop with a pocket of leather
lashed to it, while the ropes are twisted from palm
fibre as they have been in the Nile valley since the
earliest times. With this primitive equipment the
native raises the water from four to eight feet, though
a strong man will lift it much higher; but when the
Nile is low, it is necessary to resort to a series of

“shadufs,” as they are called, one above another, till
the level of the field is reached. In the proper irrigation
of one crop, which continues for about one hundred
days, the native must raise to his field, on the
average, nearly four hundred tons of water to the acre
four or five times during the one hundred days; and
this necessity keeps him at work incessantly during
a large part of the season, raising the indispensable
1,600 to 2,000 tons of water necessary for each acre.
An acre is usually counted as consuming the entire
labor of one man at the shaduf. Wherever the traveler
penetrates, he can hardly escape from its monotonous
creak; day and night it is in his ears, and always
mingled with the weird song of the weary fellah, as
he bends to his heavy and never ending task. His
children, although endowed with remarkable keenness
and intelligence, are so early put to this blighting
task, that they grow up into broken and exhausted
energies, to sink at last into an indifferent lethargy.
The tiny lad, watching his brother at the middle
shaduf, will be forced to take his place by his brother's
side before many years have passed, and when he is
old and wrinkled like the old man at the top, he will
still be found bowed and bent beside the heavy shaduf.

Position 36. An Egyptian sakieh, or ox-driven
bucket pump, raising water for irrigation

A small proportion of the Egyptian peasants are
able to use another device for raising the Nile waters.
This machine, known as a “sakieh,” is again familiar
to us in a less primitive form, as the bucket- or chain-pump.
A wheel which you see out yonder next to
the river, as it revolves over the water, carries an endless
band of palm rope, which hangs in a loop in the

water beneath the wheel. Distributed at intervals
along this band are earthen jars, which, as the wheel
revolves and the band moves, are carried down into
the water, filled and continually raised to the top,
where you may see two of them now, just as they are
turning over and discharging their contents into a
trough concealed behind the masonry. A black,
horned buffalo revolves a rude horizontal wheel, which
is geared with the axle of the band wheel, and as the
animal walks slowly round, the whole ponderous machine
with much creaking and groaning is kept in
operation, and a constant stream of water runs out
into the network of trenches which distribute the
water throughout the fields. The driver is often a
child of tender age, and not infrequently in this land
of epidemic ophthalmia, we find a blind boy seated on
the beam revolving with the machine, and driving the
oxen which furnish the power. Blindness in one eye
is often self-inflicted, and old women who understand
the use of the noxious herbs which will destroy the
eye, are much in demand, for when once the sight of
the right eye is gone, the youth escapes military
service. How necessary such irrigation is, you may
infer from the dried and parched condition of the soil
before us, the clods of which are baked to the hardness
of sun-dried brick, from which they differ almost
only in the matter of form.

Position 37. “Thou shalt not muzzle the ex when
he treadeth out the corn” — Threshing in
modern Egypt

[accompanying stereograph, front]

The rich soil of Egypt, fertilized every year by the
black loam brought down by the inundation from the
highlands of Abyssinia, yields two and sometimes

three crops a year under the system of irrigation of
which we have seen some examples. The chief cereals
are wheat and Indian corn (maize), but large quantities
of rice are also cultivated, and to some extent also
a kind of sorghum, called Kaffir-corn. The soil yields
also an enormous return in leguminous plants and
vegetables, which are largely cultivated. But the
methods employed are the most primitive in the world;
they use the same wooden plow, which we find depicted
upon monuments five thousand years old, and
everything else is equally antiquated. Thus we see
them here driving the threshing sledge, a rude wooden
affair, shod with iron teeth or cutting rollers, by which
the grain is gradually crushed and loosened from the
husks. The straw accumulates in a circle around the
path of the sledge as the work goes on. The driver
lolls lazily upon a rude seat, protected from the blazing
sun by a bower of straw and leaves over his head,
while his incongruous yoke, a camel and an ox, move
slowly around the circle, the dull swish of their feet in
the straw and chaff furnishing a monotonous accompaniment
to his strange minor song. Behind them
in bright green tones, shines the rustling corn field,
and beyond rise the distant palm groves to mark the
pale horizon line. It is such a picture as may be seen
every day in this ancient land, and only adds to one's
wonder that this people which became the mother of
the mechanical arts and bequeathed them to the world,
should have wrought such wonders in stone and metal
and yet has been unable to pass beyond the primitive
stage in the cultivation of the soil.

Position 38. The winnowing of the grain after

[accompanying stereograph, front]

Here is the next step in the process of harvesting in
Egypt. The mixture of broken straw, chaff and grain
is tossed into the air by the laborer, and as the heavier
grain falls again to the threshing floor, the chaff and
straw are carried away by the wind. How it brings
up the symbols in the Old Testament! “The wicked
are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.” But
it is a slow process, as you see here, requiring the tossing
of the mixture over and over again; but, as you
observe, there gradually gathers on the windward side
of the heap (the right side here) a mass of fairly
clean grain. Notice how the shadow of the palm falls
across the brown grain-heap, and as the dust swirls
off to leeward, and the white garment of the winnower
flutters in the breeze, the precious pile that means
bread for the peasant and his little ones slowly grows,
until his comrade, who sits waiting on the ground
with empty basket by his side, may fill it with the winnowed
grain and carry it to the neighboring granary,
built up of Nile mud in the peasant's courtyard.
Beyond, under the clustered palms lie the camels
so largely employed by these peasants in the labor of
the field; and here and there are the black buffaloes,
which in this climate are a great boon to the fellah, as
they endure the high temperature prevalent here, much
better than any of the European or Asiatic breeds of cattle.
They give very rich milk in considerable quantities,
and the cream from it is as thick, and of the same consistency
as butter. It is so rich indeed that most visitors
to the country are unable to eat it. Two other
threshing floors lie out yonder behind the first group
of palms, and beyond these, after an open interval, is

the palm-shaded village where these peasants live.
Here they go through their monotonous round of
homely duties, generation after generation, and although
they have changed their religion twice, from
that of ancient Egypt, through Christianity, to that
of Mohammed; and their language once, from the
ancient tongue now preserved only on the monuments,
to that of the Arabs, yet they are in all essential particulars,
just what they were when they toiled in the
quarries of the pyramid builders. The tombs scattered
up and down the valley contain scenes, which show
them using the same implements, weaving the same
baskets, twisting ropes from the same material, playing
the same instruments, and in a thousand ways
doing the same things which are common among them
now. As we saw in the museum at Cairo, they are
also physically just what they have been for ages. Fit
Only for the life of the herdsman and the tiller of the
soil, they continue these immemorial callings, but the
vitality which once produced the mightiest works in
the ancient world has vanished from their nature, and
this is the great and melancholy change, with which
we have been so often impressed.
Our next position is given on Map 6 by the red lines
numbered 39

Position 39. Brick making, the task of the
Hebrews, as seen to-day among the ruins of

[accompanying stereograph, front]

Just north of the chief ancient city of the Fayûm,
we stand looking nearly eastward, but a trifle northward
also, over the ruins of the ancient city of Crocodilopolis
(Map 6). Behind us stretches the Fayûm,
rising at last to the vast waste of the Sahara, spreading

out to the far Atlantic, while beyond the trees that
mark the skyline before us, the Nile is some twenty-five
miles away. Forty-five miles distant on our left
is Memphis, while on our right are Thebes and the
splendid cities of the upper river. And this is the
fertile Fayûm, you ask—these wastes of dust and dried
mud! Far from it. The fertile levels of the Fayûm
do not differ essentially from those of the rich bottoms
in the Nile valley, which you have already seen; hence
we shall not spend our time on them. The ruins of the
city and the accumulations of débris have raised the
surface here to such a height that irrigation is impossible,
and the ground is furthermore so cumbered
with walls and sub-structures that it is out of the question
to think of employing this immediate region for
agriculture. It lies open to the burning sun, with nothing
to relieve the scorched and parched condition from
year's end to year's end. But like every such ruin, it
has a story to tell us.
Deep down under these ancient, crumbling walls lie
the scanty remains of a town at least as old as the 12th
Dynasty kings, who nearly 2,000 years before Christ
recovered this district from the waters of the lake.
They built a temple here sacred to the crocodile-god
Sebek, after whom the city was called by the Greeks
Crocodilopolis,” the city of the crocodile. Though
rebuilt by Ramses II some six hundred years later,
the temple was not one of the great sanctuaries of the
Pharaohs, and the town never rose under them to
any great power or political significance. But when
the Greek kings, the Ptolemies, came into power, they
used the rich fields of the Fayûm as gift lands with
which to reward their soldiers. The second Ptolemy

(Philadelphus) refounded this town in the 3rd century
B. C., built temples and schools, introduced the
Greek language, and completely Hellenized the place.
He named it after his queen Arsinoe, whom he made
the patron-goddess of the town, and under his protection
it rapidly grew until it contained in later times
some 100,000 inhabitants. To the houses of this age
belong the walls which you see rising almost as far as
the eye can reach. The various vicissitudes which later
overtook the city, combined to preserve in these ruined
houses, just such documents as we should find under
your house, if it should suddenly be razed to the
ground. Being largely above the reach of the inundation,
these documents have lain here undisturbed some
two thousand years. They are written upon papyrus,
which for many centuries before and after Christ, was
the paper not only of Egypt, but also of the whole
classic world. They are chiefly concerned with the
civil and social life of the time. You find deeds, leases,
receipts, bills, wills, transfers, tax-lists and all the
documents of every-day business life. The letters
from one member of a family to another are of especial
interest; a brother writes to his sister, telling of his
safe arrival at Memphis; a son writes to his father
complaining that the fodder for the livestock, which
was to have been sent to him, has not been sent, and
demanding that it be dispatched at once; all the matters
of every-day life are found in these moldy old
bits of papyrus as they are found in our own letters of
But more important than any of the letters
or the business documents are the monuments of
Greek literature which have been discovered in yonder
houses and similar cities near the Fayûm. Some

of the greatest products of Greek thought and literary
genius, supposed to have been irretrievably lost, have
turned up among such house ruins; such as the Constitution
of Aristotle, poems of Sappho, works of
Isocrates and Bacchylides, and innumerable fragments
of Homer. Many a lost work of the early days of
Christianity has also been restored to us from those
sombre walls out there; even traditional sayings of
Jesus, not found in the New Testament, and many a
fragment which throws a flood of light on early Christianity,
have thus been reclaimed. Silent and grim,
these desolate streets have nevertheless a message for
the modern world such as few ancient sites have preserved.
But all this time we have been ignoring a modern
industry here directly before us, which is not less
ancient in its origins than the beginnings of the city.
Almost as far back as we can trace Egyptian civilization,
we meet the sun-dried brick. We find it as the
material for the earlier royal tombs of some 3400 B. C.,
far back of the pyramid builders; we have seen it
in the pyramids of the 12th Dynasty (Position 34);
we have found it in the store-chambers of Pithom,
where the Hebrew bondsmen toiled; the walls of yonder
houses of the centuries just before and after Christ
are built of them; and finally we see here the modern
natives engaged in their manufacture, precisely on the
same methods employed by their fathers five thousand
years ago. At the extreme right across the road along
which the donkey train is passing, the soft mud is being
mixed under the feet of a fellah, while another at
a table molds it into bricks, two at a time. These
are taken while still in the molds and carried to the
yard by a third native, who gently detaches them from

the molds and leaves them to dry in long rows, as you
see them inside the enclosure on the left. Just to the
right of the enclosure are also two pottery kilns, with
numerous newly fired jars, many of them broken in
firing. The smoke beyond these is from the corn-stalk
fuel in another kiln. But to return to the bricks. In
spite of the lack of firing they make a very durable
wall, and in a practically rainless climate they stand
well, as you have already noticed at other places. Here
the roofs of the ancient houses are gone, to be sure,
having long since been taken for the sake of the wood,
but the walls still stand, in places almost to the original
top course, in spite of the fact that the natives, and
not skilled excavators, have dug out this town in their
quest of sebach, as they call the rich dust and débris
of these ancient towns, which contains a large proportion
of potash and ammonia salts of the greatest value
as fertilizer for the fields of the fellahin.
Our next stop is to be nearly a hundred miles
south of the Fayûm, and on the opposite or eastern
side of the Nile, in order to visit the Benihasan tombs.
Find these tombs on our general Map 3. We shall
be looking slightly east of north.

Position 40. The tomb of a feudal lord at Benihasan,
built about 1900 B. C.

[accompanying stereograph, front]

We have now left Lower Egypt far behind; Cairo
is almost in front of us, 167 miles to the north, but a
little to the left as we look east of north, and we are
almost midway between Cairo and Thebes, which is
nearly behind us, 183 miles distant (Map 3). We
stand on ground sacred to the great barons and feudal
lords of the 12th Dynasty, in the Middle Kingdom.

The slope of the mountain extends backward and upward
above the cornice of this façade, for we are before
a tomb hewn out of the solid rock of the cañon cliffs.
It is our first view of a cliff-tomb, of which we
shall see many, especially when we reach Thebes. Already
in the Old Kingdom, the nobles had begun to
hew out such tombs, and we might have seen them
at Gizeh, had not the greater pyramid tombs there
consumed so much of our time; but we shall see some
of them from the days of the Old Kingdom, when we
arrive at the first cataract (Position 85). But it was
only or chiefly the provincial nobles of that time, who
made use of the cliff-tomb. By 2000 B. C., however,
it had become the prevailing method of tomb construction,
and the mastaba, while it had not disappeared,
was no longer so common. Thus we shall meet the
cliff-tomb as the usual form from the beginning of the
Middle Kingdom onward. At this time we find in it
all the elements which we noticed in the mastaba, with
the modifications necessary in view of the change in
the character of the construction, that is, from masonry
on the plain to solid rock in the cliff.
That door before us gives access to the chapel-chamber,
as in the mastaba; but as it was impossible to hew
the secret chamber for the false body, the mortuary
statue, out of the solid rock, without leaving one side
of it open, it was therefore made as we see here; and
the secret chamber thus became an open niche or shrine
in the back wall of the chapel. Sitting in this shrine,
and really a part of it, for it is hewn from the same
rock, is the portrait or mortuary statue of the deceased;
and these sculptured portraits of the Middle
Kingdom, being thus still attached to the native rock,
cannot be removed to enrich our museums like those

which you saw in Cairo, but they have for the most
part suffered defacement and destruction in antiquity.
The sepulcher-chamber, where the mummy was deposited,
is below the chapel, and was reached by a
shaft leading from the floor of the chapel vertically
downward. Thus, as we have said, all the parts of
the mastaba are here present.
This tomb is architecturally interesting. Look at that
architrave timber resting upon the tops of the pillars.
Would you not imagine it were hewn in wood? But
look further at that row of timber ends projecting
under the cornice. They are but the imitation in stone,
of the ends of the wooden timbers which supported
the roof in the wooden structure, unconsciously used
by the architect as his model. That wooden structure
perished four thousand years ago. What it was—a
house, a temple, a storage magazine, we do not know;
but certain it is, that of that vanished wooden building
some of the architectural details are here preserved
to us in this stone tomb. In all probability the pillars,
too, are imitated from the same building. They are
sixteen-sided, and when first seen by the savants of
Napoleon's expedition, they were so struck with their
resemblance to the Doric column, that they called them
“proto-Doric,” thinking that they were certainly the
predecessors of the Doric order. This impression
was enforced by the timber ends above the architrave,
which much resemble a similar detail in Doric architecture
called the “mutule.” But you notice that this
pillar has no capital (and for that reason, I have
called it a pillar and not a column), and that it has a
circular base, whereas the Doric column has a capital,
but no base, springing as it does directly from the
pavement. But nevertheless the purity of line and fine

simplicity of this pillar do strongly suggest the Doric
column, and it is not impossible that examples of it
here and elsewhere in Egypt, may have been seen by
the early Greek architects, and may have given them
hints which affected the general character of the Doric
column. In any case, this colonnade, thrown out before
the tomb chapel, is a very effective piece of architecture.
The impression from it is somewhat marred by
a very necessary modern precaution, the iron grating,
which keeps out the modern native intruder, at whose
hands the tombs at Benihasan have suffered sadly
in past years. For these chambers have been open to
his forefathers for thousands of years, and in this very
one before us, one of his ancestors, a scribe named
Amenmose, who lived some three thousand years ago,
left a record of his visit to the place about seven hundred
years after its occupant had been laid to rest in
it. He took his pen from behind his ear, where he
kept it as modern scribes do, and he wrote upon the
wall in a rapid hand the words: “The scribe Amenmose
came to see the temple of Khufu, and found it
like the heavens, when the sun rises therein.” Because
the name of Khufu incidentally occurs here, he mistook
it for the tomb of Khufu, the builder of the great
pyramid, of whom, of course, as a monarch already
belonging to ancient history, he had little knowledge;
just as an unlettered German of to-day might know
very little of his great ancestor, Frederick Barbarossa.
For Amenmose the scribe was as far in years from
Khufu and his empire, as a modern Italian is from the
Roman emperor Augustus.
But who was the man who slept in this tomb? Here
are his name and pompous titles written all around

the door. He was Khnumhotep, who lived in the
20th century before Christ. He was one of the most
powerful lords of his class; one of those feudal barons
of the 12th Dynasty, whom the Pharaoh was forced
to conciliate (page 26). They were lords of a town
and domain which lay at the foot of these cliffs, but
such was their favor that the Pharaoh often united
with their domain, also that of another district or
nome, opposite this, on the other side of the river.
They built their own temple in this town, they placed
their own statues there, they mustered their own troops,
but placed them at the Pharaoh's service when necessary;
they dated events by the years of their own
reigns, as well as those of the Pharaoh; in short, they
were miniature kings, but under the Pharaoh's more
or less immediate control. Here in this cliff they
hewed out their tombs, generation after generation of
them, and on the chapel walls they depicted, in beautiful
painted reliefs, the scenes and occupations among
which they moved upon their great estates. We know
how they hunted, how they dressed, how they worked
and how they played, how they fought and how they
worshiped, and it is all on the walls of the chapel, to
which this door gives access. Among the scenes in
this chapel is one depicting an incident of which
Khnumhotep was evidently very proud. It shows him
receiving a company of thirty-seven Semitic Asiatics,
countrymen of Abraham, who likewise must have lived
at about this time. They are led by their sheik, whose
name is Absha, a name which occurs in the Old Testament
in the form “Abishai,” which means father of
a gift, so that these people evidently spoke a dialect
closely akin to Hebrew. They came to Khnumhotep,

so the accompanying inscription states, to bring eye-cosmetic,
one of the products of the farther east of
which the Egyptians were very fond, but were obliged
to obtain by trade. Below these scenes which cover the
four walls Khnumhotep has placed a long biography
of himself showing how his line had been favored by
the kings of the ruling dynasty from its beginning on
to the time of his own sons, then grown men. It is
evident that this Benihasan family was a source of
strength to the 12th Dynasty, and that its kings rewarded
the family accordingly. But we cannot trace
them back of the Middle Kingdom.
“We are now to visit Assiut, where we shall find a
similar family, but of still earlier date. You will locate
Assiut on Map 3, about seventy miles south of Benihasan,
but on the western bank of the Nile. Our first
position there is shown by the red lines numbered 41.
We are to stand, you see, with our backs to the modern
town and the river and look southwest to the cliffs.

Position 41. Cliff tombs of the lords of Assiut—the
king-makers of 4,000 years ago

[accompanying stereograph, front]

We are now 235 miles from Cairo, and 68 miles
from Benihasan, where we last stopped. Before us
rise the cliffs of the Nile cañon here at Assiut. We
shall presently climb those cliffs and look down upon
the city now behind us, the largest city of present-day
Upper Egypt . We are looking westward; behind yonder
desolate bluffs lies the Sahara, the sands of which
have drifted down the face of the rocks and closed
many a tomb door. On our right is Cairo, on our left
is Thebes, while behind us are the river and the eastern

cañon-wall, which we are yet to see from yonder summit.
Boldly defined against the distant cliff is the tomb
of a modern sheik in the foreground, and its outlines
conceal some of the cliff-tombs of his ancient ancestors.
But it is those distant tombs that chiefly interest us
now. There they rise in five tiers, the second and the
fourth from the base being almost entirely covered
by sand. The family of nobles who made these cliff-sepulchers,
first emerge upon history in that dark and
obscure period, when the pyramid builders of the Old
Kingdom had passed away, and the country was a
prey of the barons of just such cities as Assiut, each
one seeking to gain the throne against his fellows. When
another noble family at Heracleopolis, just south of the
Fayûm, known to us as the 9th and 10th Dynasties,
assumed the coveted honor, the lords of Assiut supported
their claims. They tell with great pride on
the walls of those tombs yonder how they gathered
their forces and fought the nomes and districts of the
south in defense of their king. They defeated the
southerners both in fleets on the Nile, the earliest naval
battles of which we know, and on both shores of the
river in succession; and although they do not mention
their enemies by name, they show clearly that it
is Thebes which they are fighting. Thus about 2200
B. C., or possibly a little later, Thebes appears for the
first time upon our historical horizon. Let us remember,
then, that these Assiut tombs mark for us the rise
of Thebes. When the earlier chapels up there in the
face of the cliff were hewn, Thebes was but an obscure
little town of the upper river, but from now on we
shall constantly hear of her and her splendid Pharaohs.
When the support of these Assiut barons was no
longer sufficient, the 11th Dynasty of Theban nobles

triumphed, and paved the way for the accession of the
12th Dynasty, who were also of Theban origin, but as
we have noted, lived down the river 175 miles from
here, near the mouth of the Fayûm, where we found
the pyramid of Hawara and the labyrinth (page 163).
Of course, the 12th Dynasty Pharaohs replaced these
Assiut barons, who had fought for the house of Heracleopolis,
by a family friendly to their own dynasty.
One of the largest tombs which you see up there belongs
to a powerful lord of this new family under the
12th Dynasty, named Hepzefi. His tomb is of especial
interest, because he recorded upon the walls of
the chapel, certain contracts which he had made with
the priesthoods of the two temples in the town behind
us, by virtue of which they were to furnish his tomb
and his statue in the temple, with certain supplies,
bread, meat, wicks for illuminations at feasts, and the
like, in perpetuity after his death. He diverted to
them certain revenues due him as lord of the district,
in payment for these things. So fine is the legal sense
shown in these contracts, that we find Hepzefi, as
, making a contract with himself, as priest, in
which Hepzefi, the baron, conveys certain property to
Hepzefi, the priest. Little did he dream of the time
when these contracts should serve as almost our only
source for any knowledge of the legal usages of his
age, nor of the day when his descendants, on the very
ground from which he derived these ancient revenues,
should raise beans and lentils, as you see yonder native
doing here, with no knowledge of their ancient ancestor,
his contracts, or even of the language in which
they are framed. He would have been equally surprised
had he known that the tombs, which he and

his family had hewn out here, should be used as dwellings
by the hermit devotees of a new religion still to
be born in Palestine, of whom the first forefather,
Abraham, was then living in Hepzefi's day. But such
was finally their fate; they were so used for centuries
by the Christian ascetics of the vicinity, who were here
as elsewhere in Egypt, incredibly numerous. Of these
anchorites some became famous, among whom the
most widely known was John of Lycopolis (“wolftown”),
as the Greeks called this town of the jackal,
which was the sacred animal of Assiut.
As we have said, we are now to ascend the cliffs
before us, then turn around and look northeast over
the modern city and the valley. On Map 3 note the
red lines numbered 42, which show what is to be the
direction and field of our vision.

Position 42. Assiut, the largest city of Upper
Egypt, seen from the cliffs at the west

[accompanying stereograph, front]

The tombs in the cliff, which we saw from our previous
station, are now behind us, as we look off over
the town. Beyond the town is the regular white band
that marks the river, and the fine white line between
the town and the river, at an oblique angle with the
latter, is the road from the river harbor to the town,
a distance of some three-quarters of a mile. Beyond
the river you see the valley, spreading eastward to
the distant eastern cliffs, which show in dim gray
upon the horizon. Behind them is the rocky waste of
the Arabian desert, which rises to a range of granite
mountains and then drops to the Red Sea. It is but
the continuation of the great Sahara, which lies behind
us. Just at this point, the valley spread

out before us, which the river has cut through
the desert, is only some ten miles wide. Between
us and the town are the fields, from which the
inundation has just retreated, and you observe the
black Abyssinian soil, which it has deposited. This
valley before us was once a bare trench, floored with
naked rocks, and walled in by the cliffs on which we
stand. As the centuries passed the river gradually
covered the rock floor with mud, until now the soil
deposit is here from 33 to 38 feet deep, while in the
Delta, which was once a bay of the sea, it is 50 feet
and more in depth. On the average it is perhaps
less than 30 feet deep, so it has required over eight
thousand years to enable the river to lay down a deposit
of such a depth, for it rises on the average only
about four inches in a century. All those arts, the development
of which we have seen so strikingly illustrated,
for example, in the pyramids, the organization
of men into society and under ordered government
—all this grew up in this valley since yonder
stratum of soil was deposited, and could not have made
any considerable progress until the soil was deep
enough to support vegetation over an extended area.
The irrigation of these lands in modern times is much
assisted by a great dam, just completed by the English
at this point. It contains no less than sixty arches,
with a sluice at each end of the whole, and the country
between here and the Fayûm greatly profits from
the water thus stored. The canal flowing at our feet
is one of the important irrigation canals of Egypt,
called the Sohagiyeh, because it comes out of the river
above here at the town of Sohag. The road which
crosses it from the town is the ancient road, which has
always led thence to the cemetery where we are.
From the 23rd century B. C, at least, the dead of
Assiut have been borne along that road to be interred
in or near these cliffs. The modern cemetery is on
our left, just around a bend in the cliffs. The ancient
town of the nobles, who hewed these tombs, among
which we stand, lies fathoms deep, buried under the
accumulations of thousands of years beneath the busy
modern town. The lands about the town are owned
by men, whose abstracts of title do not reach back
to the lords of this district, who four thousand years
ago left legally valid contracts assuring to their tombs
after death the use of a certain portion of the income
of these lands.
The ancient Egyptian lords and the peasantry, who
in those remote days here fought and toiled for the
princes of Heracleopolis, are long forgotten. In place
of their massive temples, now rise the slender minarets
of the Moslem mosque, brought into the land by those
desert tribes, which these ancient princes despised as
barbarians; and where the chateaus of the lords who
lived here in Abraham's day once nestled under the
palms, are the busy markets and teeming bazaars of
the modern town. All that the native still preserves
of what was once here, is the name which he applies
to the town. “Assiut,” or “Siut,” as it is also called, is
but the slightly changed form of the ancient name of
the town, which you will find in these tombs behind us,
as “Siyowt” in hieroglyphs four thousand years old.
It is a modern city of over 42,000 inhabitants, with a
number of important industries, especially the manufacture
of a fine red pottery. The tourists from Cook's
steamers are quite willing to expose themselves to the
blazing sun and to walk up that long road from the

harbor, to which I have already called your attention,
in order to buy a few specimens of this beautiful
ware in the interesting bazaars. On market days, this
road at our feet, and all the others converging in the
town, are alive with natives, going up to the town to
dispose of their produce in its markets; and like the
same scene in other lands it is one of the most picturesque
and interesting to be met with on the Nile. You
will discover a group of such people just beyond the
bridge, but if we could see this road on Saturday,
you would be reminded of a trail of ants.
But now we must leave this fine landscape and visit
our first upper Egyptian temple. This we shall find at
Abydos, about one hundred miles above or southeast
of Assiut, on the same side of the river. See Map 3.
The temple at Abydos was built facing the river, that
is, facing northeastward, and we are to look south-westward
across the front. Turn to Plan 7, note the
points of the compass as indicated upon it, and get
clearly in mind the relation of the temple to the river.
This is best done by turning the plan so that its north
corresponds to north on the general Map 3. The red
lines numbered 43 show precisely what portion of the
temple we are to see first.

Position 43. The Temple of Sethos I—view south—
west to its dismantled front—Abydos

As we are looking southwestward here, the river is
on our right. Cairo is about 335 miles away on the
same side (Map 3) and Thebes is less than a hundred
miles distant on our left, if we measure around the great
bend in the Nile, which we are now fast approaching in
our ascent of the river. Now if you have clearly in

mind where you are, I will answer that question,
Why should this temple have been built out here in
this desert waste? We are standing, to be sure, as we
stood at Gizeh, on the margin of the desert, but there
was an ancient town in this valley behind us, though
it was of no political importance and would never
have been the reason for the erection of such a temple
as this. The priests of the modest prehistoric sanctuary
of this place, early affirmed that Osiris, the god
of the dead and great protector of every soul in the
hereafter was buried here, and already at a remote
date, the ground on which you stand was the holiest
spot in Egypt, as the burial place of Osiris. It was
indeed the “holy sepulcher” of Egypt. Every great
man desired to be buried here, or, if that were impossible,
he erected a tablet on the wall of the ancient
Osiris temple, the ruins of which are just out of range
on our right. On this tablet he recorded his name
and titles and a prayer to Osiris for protection and
maintenance in the hereafter. Officials of the court
and government took advantage of every official
journey that brought them to or past Abydos, to
stop and erect here such a tablet for themselves or the
deceased members of their families; for it was
thought that Osiris was sure to give attention to these
petitions erected in the vicinity of his tomb. Thus a
certain official under Sesostris III, about 1900 years
before Christ, whose name was Sisatet, says on
his tablet erected not far from where we stand:
“I came to Abydos together with the chief treasurer,
Ikhernofret, to carve a statue of Osiris, when the King
of Egypt, Sesostris III, journeyed to overthrow Kush
(Ethiopia), in the year 19.” This tablet is now in
Geneva, Switzerland. Now, it is hardly possible that

the chief treasurer, Ikernofret, mentioned by Sisatet,
should have visited Abydos without leaving some record
of his visit, and sure enough an examination discloses
his tablet also, now reposing in the Berlin
Museum; and upon it Sisatet is also referred to. The
two had stopped here to make a statue of Osiris by
command of the king, as he passed here on his way
southward to invade Ethiopia in the nineteenth year
of his reign. This is the only record we possess of
such a campaign in the nineteenth year of this king,
and you will thus see how important for Egyptian history
these memorial tablets are, especially as in course
of centuries they gradually increased in number, until
they crowded the temple enclosure just north of us here,
in hundreds upon hundreds. They were taken away by
Mariette and most of them now rest in the museum at
The temple before us carries us into the great Theban
period, to which the tombs at Assiut introduced us.
It was built by Sethos I, the first great king of the 19th
Dynasty, who ruled in the 14th century B. C.
We have seen his face in the flesh in the museum at
Cairo, and we remember from our study of his history,
his war in Syria. The architecture of this temple
is not as imposing as that which we shall find at
Thebes, but it is justly noted for the exquisite reliefs
which it contains, and these we shall later view. This
is not the front of the temple which we have before
us, but merely the dismantled and altered back wall
of the second court of the temple (see Plan 7). You
see at each end of the row of pillars the side walls of
this second court; its front wall, which would be out
of range on our right, has disappeared, as well as the
entire first court and its front, which once formed the

real facade of the temple. Hence we must not judge
of the architecture of the building from this rear wall
of the second court. When you have seen the temples
of Medinet Habu (Position 77) and Edfu (Position
82), you will know what was the character of the lost
façade of the temple before us; so that we shall not
spend any time upon this point now. Behind that row
of pillars are seven doors which once formed the entrances
to seven aisles, leading through the temple
to seven shrines, of which the middle one was sacred
to Amon, the great god of Egypt in Sethos I's time, and
the other six to Osiris, the deified king himself, and
the other great gods of Egypt. It is therefore a kind of
pantheon, and as such, the names of all the nomes, or
old baronial divisions of Egypt, are engraved in order
by the doors. Thus all Egypt is here recorded as participating
in the service of her great gods.
The temple had also another function as a shrine of
the earliest Pharaohs, in which their worship was practiced;
but of this last particular we shall have more to
say when we have entered the building. Sethos never
lived to see his temple finished, but on that wall facing
us, behind the pillars, is a long inscription of his son,
Ramses II, in which he narrates how he found the
temple unfinished, with its columns lying on the
ground and the blocks intended for the walls, prostrate
in the filth; while the temple income which Sethos
had founded for the support of the temple and its
service, was neglected and disregarded. Ramses tells
how he completed the structure and restored its diverted
income; and one of the things which he did was
to wall up five of the seven doors, which Sethos had
constructed behind the pillars; you can clearly see the
masonry filling of the three on this side of the centre

as we now stand. Ramses left only the central door
and the furthest one of the three on the other side of
the centre (see Plan 7). His long inscription, from
which we have given some few of the facts it contains,
was then engraved upon the wall thus obtained. It
contains no less than 116 lines.
That central door gives access to a wide colonnaded
hall, that is, a hall, the roof of which is supported
upon columns, and usually called a hypostyle hall.
The roofing blocks which rest upon the columns in the
first hall are to be seen from here, above the wall behind
the pillars. There is a second hypostyle hall behind
the first; and in this second hall we are now about
to stand. Turn to the plan and note the location of both
of these halls with their rows of pillars. Then find
the red lines numbered 44, which show the position we
are about to take in the second hall and the direction
in which we are to be looking.

Position 44. Columns of the great Hypostyle
Temple of Sethos I at Abydos

For the first time we stand in an Egyptian temple;
yet its structure is not of the usual type, and you
will find very different arrangements when you visit
the Theban sanctuaries. We are now standing at the
left (southeast) side of the second hypostyle hall, and
looking northwestward between its second and third
rows of columns, which close in our view on the right
and left; the second row on the right, the third row on
the left. Just behind the third row, that is, on our
left, are the seven shrines of Amon, Osiris, the king,
and the great gods of Egypt (see Plan 7). That of the
king is directly opposite your left shoulder, and if you
raise your left arm, it will point directly into the king's

shrine, only ten feet distant. You are therefore looking;
across the seven aisles leading to the seven shrines,
and as the floor before the shrines is higher than that
of the hypostyle hall, you observe a series of inclined
bridges, leading from the floor of the hypostyle to
the higher level. You are standing on the bridge
which leads to the king's shrine, but you can count
the six others with the exception of the fifth
next to the other end, which is destroyed. Eleven
of the twelve columns in the row to our left
can be counted. The twelfth in the row to our
right is almost within our reach. Note the heavy
architraves above us; they furnish support for the
roofing blocks that cover the hall. But on our left
the roof has now fallen in and the fragments have been
removed. Hence you see how the sun shines in from
the left and the broad shadows of the columns are
thrown obliquely across the pavement. It is upon these
columns that the architraves rest, as you note especially
at the other end. The row at our left shows a
very unusual form, each column being a plain cylinder,
resting upon a circular base, and surmounted at the
top by a square block, without any trace of a capital.
On our right, however, the columns are of a very common
type, modeled on the bud of the papyrus plant.
The bud forms the capital, and the stem of the plant
is the shaft, which is not cylindrical, but shows a
marked swelling of the lines as it rises, like the entasis
of the Greek column. But we can study this column
more fully when we arrive at Thebes, where it is
The architect's method of erecting these columns
is very interesting. When the pavement on
which we stand has been laid, the architect, with his

ground plan of the temple in his hand, transfers that
plan in the full scale to the pavement, drawing the
lines which show where the bases of all the columns
are to rest, and thus covering the pavement with long
rows of circles in red paint. These circles may be
found still clearly visible on the pavement, where a
colonnade has been destroyed. Upon the circular
base, the column is built up in huge drums of limestone,
such as you see here in the first column
on our left. The architects did employ columns hewn
from a single stone, and some of these monolithic
columns of granite already made in the Old Kingdom,
are of the greatest beauty. But in building these great
colonnades of the Empire, so large a number of
columns were required that they could not be turned
out fast enough to supply the architect. Hence he
began to build them up in this way, a method which
was more rapid.
The inscriptions and reliefs, with which these columns
are covered, concern the king and the gods.
The column of hieroglyphs on the shaft behind the
native dragoman reads: “Lord of the two lands, Menmare,
Son of Re, emanation of all the gods, Lord of
Diadems, Sethos (I) Merneptah,” which is Sethos'
double name and the titles belonging thereto. On the
farther columns are figures of the gods belonging in
the particular shrine, to which the respective columns,
or the aisles they enclose, lead. Yonder tourist seems
rapt in an endeavor to puzzle out those ancient records,
but like most tourists, he will find it in vain; and if he
turns to the descendant of the men who put these writings
on the columns, as the tourist frequently does,
he will either be imposed upon with extravagant nonsense
or receive only a shake of the head.
But the most important and interesting record in
this temple is in the long, narrow hall immediately
behind us as we now stand, and on the right-hand wall
as we turn directly about and face in the opposite direction.
Turn again to Plan 7 and see what is to be
our next position as we study this record.

Position 45. Sethos I and his son Ramses II
worshiping their ancestors in Sethos' great
Temple, Abydos

We are now standing in the narrow hall, which
opens directly behind our former station. This hall is
part of a great addition to the temple proper, extending
southeastward from the rear of the main building
and forming the short leg of an L (Plan 7). Now,
when we have examined the wall relief before us, and
noted some other facts in connection with this side
building, we shall find that it had a peculiar character
and purpose of its own. This relief shows us the tall
figure of the king, Sethos I (whom we have seen in the
flesh at Cairo), as he stands with extended arm, holding
in the other hand a censer, in which we see the flame
of the burning incense. He wears the royal helmet
with the curling uraeus serpent, the symbol of the
goddess Buto, the Pharaoh's protectress, on its front.
A necklace and a short kilt, worn over a longer transparent
skirt, with a lion's tail attached behind, complete
his costume. His son, the prince, who afterward
became Ramses II, stands before him, reading from
a double roll of papyrus, which he holds in his hands.
The heavily plaited side lock of youth falls over the
right ear, but he wears no head covering. His body
is clothed in a long transparent linen garment, which
hangs over one shoulder and drops to his ankles.
What are these two doing? What is the ceremonial in
which they seem to be engaged? That little column of
hieroglyphs before Ramses just under his hands, reads:
“Recitation of the praises by the king's son, the hereditary
prince, the first born of his body, the beloved,
Ramses.” Whose praises is he reciting? In the ruled
column before him you notice a number of ovals.
These ovals, frequently called cartouches, contain
kings' names wherever you see them on the monuments.
Here there are three long rows of them, of
which the top one is out of our range of vision; the
lowermost one contains only the name of Sethos I over
and over repeated; but the upper two rows contain the
names of the kings of Egypt before his time. Including
his own name, there are seventy-six kings in all!
Sethos and his son are therefore pronouncing a sacrificial
ritual for the benefit of their great predecessors on
the throne. This list which they intended for pious
purposes alone, is now one of the most important documents
known, for the reconstruction of Egyptian history.
It begins with Menes, the first king of the 1st
Dynasty, at least 3400 years B.C., and ends with Sethos
I, in the 14th century B. C. It thus covers some two
thousand years of history, although it stops at a point
over three thousand years behind us. Thus you see
that this part of the temple was added to the main
building as a kind of chapel sacred to the departed
Pharaohs—a chapel which was not different in its
function and purpose from those chapels which you
saw in front of the pyramid and on the east side of
the mastabas. They were intended as places where
the dead should ever receive food and drink and
clothing, and all that they needed for their life in the
hereafter. Now a line of inscription over this list of

kings before us states that Sethos is here presenting to
his great ancestors on the throne, offerings of bread,
beer, oxen, fowl, incense, ointment, fine linen, clothing,
wine and divine offerings from his temple income.
A chapel with a similar intent was attached to the
great temple of Amon at Karnak, and the three walls
bearing a similar list of ancient kings, to whom Thutmosis
III is offering, were removed to Paris, where
they now are, in the National Library. But this chapel,
in which we stand, is of especial propriety at this
place, for behind this temple in the desert the kings of
the earliest dynasties were buried, and behind this
temple there is a pylon or façade, facing their tombs,
and a causeway leading out to them. There they have
lain for five thousand years; and two thousand years
before the Christian era, the tomb of one of them was
mistaken for the tomb of Osiris, so that pilgrimages
and offerings were made to it, and it was covered with
votive jars.
You ought now to give a moment's thought, beyond
the purpose and function of these reliefs which have
just occupied us, to their artistic excellence. The reliefs
in this temple are among the most beautiful in
Egypt. Some of them are unsurpassed by any to be
found elsewhere. These figures before us, while not
the best in the temple, are still beautiful specimens of
Egyptian relief, as such sculpture was practiced by
the court sculptors of Sethos I's time. You notice how
they place a front view of the shoulders upon a side
view of the trunk and lower limbs, producing that appearance
of disproportionately broad shoulders, which
so strikes the visitor on his first acquaintance with
Egyptian reliefs. The faces have been much mutilated;
also the feet of Ramses, but you can plainly see

the beautiful modeling of the knees as the sculptor
brings out their bony formation. The hands are not
very well done from our point of view, and the feet,
while often beautifully sculptured, are in Sethos' figure
modeled from one foot in both cases, giving him two
left feet! But we are dealing with an art which has
inherited certain conventionalities, which the artists
traditionally respected and would not disregard, although
they were the faults of a primitive age then
long since past.
From Abydos we now go to Denderah. On the
general Map 3 you find Denderah, about sixty-five
miles east of Abydos, and on the same side of the
river. The red lines numbered 46 show that we are
to stand with our backs to the river and look south.

Position 46. The beautiful Temple of Hathor at
Denderah—view south over the remains of a
vanished city

[accompanying stereograph, front]

Standing before the Denderah temple and looking
directly southward, we have Abydos now on our right;
Cairo is behind us, Thebes, now but forty miles distant,
is before us, while on our left is the Arabian
desert. We are stationed, as the map indicated, with
our backs to the river, in the hollow of the great bend
(see Map 3), after passing which we shall find the
river valley lying in a generally north and south line,
as it did until just before we reached Assiut. Here
before us is one of the three best-preserved temples
in Egypt; the other two are the Edfu temple and the
temple of Philae. This is, for Egypt, a late temple, as
we shall see, but it is none the less beautiful. Its pure
and simple lines rise with a beauty and dignity that are
felt at the first glance. Let us inquire as to the age

of the building. On the top edge of the cornice which
crowns yonder façade, is a Greek inscription, which
reads: “On behalf of the Emperor Tiberius Caesar,
the young Augustus, son of the divine Augustus, under
the Prefect Aulus Avillius Flaccus, the governor
Aulus Fulvius Crispus, and the local governor Sarapion,
son of Trychambos, the citizens of the capital
and the nome dedicated the pronaos to the great goddess
Aphrodite and her fellow gods, in the year (number lost)
… of Tiberius Caesar.” The part of the
temple which we see, therefore, was built under the
Roman emperor, Tiberius, in the 1st century A. D.,
when Egypt was a Roman province. It is therefore
1,300 years later than the temple of Abydos, which we
have just visited. The halls lying in the rear were the
work of the later Ptolemies just before Rome acquired
Egypt, so that this temple marks for us the transition,
from Greek to Roman domination in the Nile valley.
But, of course, there was here a temple to the great
goddess, Hathor, patroness of love and joy, whom the
Greeks called Aphrodite, long before Greek or Roman
ever saw the spot. The earliest inscriptions we have
refer to her; her temple existed here in the Old Kingdom;
it was rebuilt by the kings of the Middle Kingdom,
and enriched by the conquerors of the Empire.
The building before us, although unfinished, represents
an attempt to create for her a larger sanctuary than she
had enjoyed before. In front of this colonnaded hall
which forms its present façade, there was to have been
an open court, surrounded by a colonnade or portico
such as we shall later see at Thebes. Whether the
means failed or what may have been the reason for its
remaining incomplete, we cannot now say. We cannot
appreciate its beauty fully until we know that this is

not the surface of the ground, which we see before the
temple. These heaps and mounds are the rubbish
which was once part of a town. The sun-dried brick
walls of the houses, which later invaded the temple
enclosure clustering around the very walls of the sanctuary,
have gradually accumulated as dust and mud,
as generation after generation of such houses rose on
the ruins of others, which had tumbled down, burned
or been destroyed in the sack of war. Gradually such
accumulations rose in all ancient towns, until the town
no longer stood upon a plain, but upon a mound,
known as a “tell” in Arabic, and commonly so designated
in many geographical names. You saw such a
tell at the city of Crocodilopolis in the Fayûm, and
we shall find more or less of such rubbish around
every Egyptian temple. It is this rubbish to which
we have already referred as being much employed by
the natives as fertilizer, because of the potash and ammoniacal
ingredients which it contains. As the natives
call it “sebach,” the diggers for it are termed “sebachin.”
They have ruined many a site for excavation
by their promiscuous digging.
But to return to our temple—the pavement and
the base of the walls are far below the surface of
these heaps, and hence the temple should appear much
higher—nearly twice as high as it now seems. The
hall in front, called by the Greek dedication a “pronaos,”
contains eighteen of those peculiar columns,
as you may plainly see by looking through the door.
Each column, formerly known as a “Hathor-column,”
is really a gigantic reproduction of a musical instrument,
known as a sistrum, which was a kind of rattle
used by the women in religious services in the temples.
The shaft of the column is the handle surmounted

by a decorative head of the goddess, Hathor,
above which is a square representation of a chapel,
with a door in front. They are, therefore, now called
“sistrum-columns,” and are to be found only in the
temples of goddesses. You notice that the roof is
much lower behind, dropping in two successive stages,
through a hypostyle to a chapel, and then to the holy of
holies in the rear. You can see the two lion-heads on
the outside wall of the second hall, which serve as
spouts for leading off the water of the rare rains,
which might otherwise streak the once painted reliefs.
For you must imagine this temple as painted in the
gayest colors. The reliefs show us the foreign kings
of Egypt engaged in the ritual of the temple service.
It seems strange indeed to see here in Egyptian style
and costume the Roman emperors Augustus, Tiberius,
Caligula, Claudius and Nero, who thus assume the
functions of the ancient Pharaohs.
In the side and rear walls, built in the thickness of
the wall, are long, narrow crypts, intended for safe
and secret storage of the temple furniture of value.
These crypts are twelve in number, and the painting of
the wall reliefs in them is almost as fresh as when
the work was first done. The massive masonry upon
which we stand belongs to an accessory chapel usually
called a birth-house, because one of its rooms contains
reliefs depicting the birth of the son of the goddess
and her consort, Harsomtous. This son was worshiped
in this chapel, and such a birth-house or chapel
was commonly attached to temples of this period. Behind
its projecting wall here you may see the masonry
wall which surrounds the enclosure of the large
Now, if you can imagine this temple clad in the
brightest hues, surrounded by a lovely garden, in place
of these sombre rubbish heaps, and looking out from
masses of verdure and waving palms, reflected in the
bosom of the sacred lake, you may gain some faint impression
of the beauty of Egyptian architecture. But
you do not find here the element of size which will
meet us so often at Thebes, the temples of which
greatly surpass this one in that respect.
At last we are about to reach the goal of all travelers,
ancient and modern, the plain of Thebes. Turn to our
general Map 3 again, and you see that Thebes was situated
about fifty miles south of Denderah, and on both
banks of the Nile. At this point you note that the
river flows northeast. Now we should turn to Map
8, which gives this district on a much larger scale.
Here you find the Nile interrupted by several islands
on its way northeast toward Denderah. On its east
bank, in the lower right-hand portion of the map, are
the remains of the Karnak and Luxor temples, but the
larger portion of this storied plain lies, you see, on the
west bank. There ruins of many temples are scattered
widely over the plain and along the cliffs which border
upon it. We are to occupy first a point of vantage on
those western cliffs from which we can get a good
general view. Find the number 47 in a circle in the
upper left-hand portion of Map 8 and the red lines
which branch southeast. There at the point indicated
by the apex of those lines, upon the crest of the cliffs,
we are to take our stand now and look down over the
plain and the river.

Position 47. Across the Plain of Thebes and past
the Memnon statues, from the western cliffs
toward Luxor

[accompanying stereograph, front]

This is the plain of Thebes. Can you conceive that
out there on those vacant levels the mighty city
stretched its vast length across the plain? The onetime
mistress of the world, the theme of Homer's
song, the wonder and the admiration of all the nations,
the queen of the Nile; all this she was, and more than
all the wealth of ancient song or modern rhetoric ever
can convey. And yet you sweep the plain with searching
eye and are able to discern only here and there
what may be a mass of ruins like this near us on our
left, or a group of palms sheltering some little village
of mud huts, and dotting the plain with increasing
frequency as the eye rises to the horizon. For of all the
glory of ancient Thebes, there remain only such desolate
ruins as this one which you have noticed, and
over the ground once occupied by its busy streets are
now scattered the villages of the peasants, whose forefather
may have been the citizens of the vanished
metropolis; and yet in spite of this fact there are no
buildings ancient or modern which can compare in size
with the colossal ruins on this marvelous plain. As
you know, we are standing on the western cliffs and
are looking southeast. We see the river as a light gray
band, clearest in the middle of our outlook, some two
miles distant. Its course is obscured for us in our
present station by the islands which nearly fill the
channel (Map 8), and merge with its banks in the
background. See how the noble cliffs sweep away from
the river there on the east side. We shall later take
up our position down there and look up at these western

cliffs upon which we now stand, and we shall then see
how they also retreat from the river in a wide curve.
All the beautiful verdure-clad valley between them is
the site of ancient Thebes. It was a city of two quarters,
or better, it was two cities, a city of the dead on
this western plain and a city of the living on the other,
the eastern plain. We know nothing of Thebes in the
Old Kingdom, when the pyramids of Gizeh were being
built, but the tombs of the local barons who ruled
here as the Old Kingdom was passing away, have been
found within half an hour's walk of this point. Then
you remember how we saw at Assiut the cliff tombs
of the barons there who fought against the Theban
nobles, in defense of the Pharaohs of the 9th and 10th
Dynasties, who lived at Heracleopolis. By the 22nd
century B. C. these Theban barons had beaten the
Heracleopolitans and their Assiut defenders and set
up a new dynasty here, the 11th, which was then
succeeded by the 12th, likewise of Theban birth,
in 2000 B. C. But the Theban Pharaohs of the
12th Dynasty, unfortunately for Thebes, did not
reside here, and the little provincial town, which
it then was, gained but slightly by the prominence
of its lords. Over there where you see those
white buildings, the modern hotels of Luxor, on the
east bank, there was a small town called Southern
Opet, while just out of range on the left was another
named “Opet of the Thrones.” Each had its modest
temple, the nuclei of the great sanctuaries, which were
later to rise there. Southern Opet, as I have intimated,
is now Luxor, and its neighbor on the left, “Opet of
the Thrones,” is now Karnak (Map 8). The old god
of the place was Montu, who later became the war god
of Egypt; but there was another local god, unknown

and obscure in the Old Kingdom, Amon, who now appeared
in the names of the greatest Pharaohs of the
12th Dynasty, the Amenemhets. But with the expulsion
of the Hyksos, about 1580 B. C., it was again a
Theban family which assumed the leading rôle, and the
city which once stood on this plain below us rapidly
rose to a splendor and magnificence unknown before
in the history of any city in this ancient land. Laden
with the spoils of Asia and Nubia, the conquerors of
the 18th and 19th Dynasties returned to this lovely
cliff-encircled plain, to adorn it with the mightiest temples
that have ever risen by human hands. Thus it
became the first great monumental city in the history
of the world. It continued to be embellished by further
buildings or additions to the old ones until Roman
times. In the height of its glory its fame had penetrated
to the remotest peoples. Homer sang of it in the
well-known lines:
“Not all proud Thebes' unrivalled walls contain,
(The world's great empress on the Egyptian plain,
That spreads her conquests o'er a thousand states,
And pours her heroes through a hundred gates,
Two hundred horsemen and two hundred cars
From each wide portal issuing to the wars);
Though bribes were heaped on bribes, in number more
Than dust in fields, or sands along the shore;
Should all these offers for my friendship call.”
(Iliad ix, 500-508.)
Its wealth and splendor had thus become proverbial.
The ancient villages of Southern Opet and “Opet of the
Thrones” had long since been joined by intervening
buildings, and the giant city had spread far and wide.
It must then have been a vast metropolis filling all this

plain before us and wide stretches now out of our range
of vision on the left, on both sides of the river.
As the nation declined and the seat of power passed
to the Delta, the city fell into decay. It was, however,
with the invasion of the Assyrians in the 7th century
B. C. that its colossal temples fell a prey to fire and
sword in a destruction so appalling that it reached
the ears of the Hebrew prophet Nahum, who later
addressed Nineveh, the already doomed city of
the Assyrians, with a warning reminding her of
the fate to which she had consigned Thebes; for he
says to her: “Art thou better than No-Amon
(Thebes), that was situate among the rivers, that had
the waters round about her; whose rampart was the
sea, and her wall was of the sea? Ethiopia and Egypt
were her strength, and it was infinite; Put and Libya
were thy helpers. Yet was she carried away, and she
went into captivity: her young children also were
dashed in pieces at the top of all the streets: and they
cast lots for her honorable men, and all her great men
were bound in chains” (Nahum iii, 8-10). The proud
city was, however, not annihilated, and headed insurrection
after insurrection, until in resisting the institution
of the Roman authority under Augustus, the city
was taken by the Romans, who laid it utterly waste
(30-29 B. C.). It then rapidly degenerated into a
mere group of scattered villages, such you now see
sprinkled over the plain. Of these, the village of
Luxor, already pointed out on the east shore at the
left, is the largest, having about 11,000 inhabitants; but
that of Karnak, which has given its name to the neighboring
temple of Amon, is for this reason the better
In visiting the ruins of this place, we shall go first
to Luxor, then to Karnak, out of range on the left; we
shall then return to this western shore and visit the
two colossal statues of Memnon, which you see out
on the plain on our extreme right. Leaving these, we
shall pass to the temple of Ramses II, known as the
Ramesseum, “which we have had in clear view ever
since we have stood on these western cliffs, down yonder
on the left of the acacia grove, where the cultivated
fields merge into the sand, which has blown over
these cliffs into the valley below. Locate the right
corner of the tall piece of wall at the further end of
this temple, for we shall later stand there and look up
toward our present standpoint on the cliffs. One of
the tombs in this very cliff will then be visited, after
which we shall proceed to the temple of Der el-Bahri,
which is in a bay of the cliffs on our left. Having then
climbed up here again, to reconsider the relation of
all the main points on the plain, and to discuss some
details, which we cannot yet take up, we shall turn
sharp about and look with backs to the river, into the
valley, where the kings of the great Theban period
were buried. After inspecting one of these tombs, we
shall view the temple of Kurna, then return along
the cliffs, where from a point on our right here, but
now out of range, we shall look down upon the temple
of Medinet Habu, and then descend to visit it. Our
itinerary of Thebes will terminate at that point. If
you will trace this itinerary on the maps (Nos. 8 and
9) repeatedly until you are familiar with the entire
route, it will greatly help you to enter into each of
the situations, as you approach them, one after another.
Now glance again across the plain to the white
hotels of modern Luxor. We are to begin with
the temple beside which those modern buildings have
grown up. As it is now much sunken in débris and
rubbish, and is over three miles distant from our present
eyrie on the western bluffs, we are unable to distinguish
it. This next position is given on two maps.
First you should find it on Map 8, which we have been
using. Find Luxor in the lower margin of the map,
on the very bank of the river. The red lines there
numbered 48 enclose the summary black outline of the
temple plan. The plan of this temple is given on a
larger scale on Plan 10. Find there also the red lines
numbered 48, which show our next position, and what
part of the temple we are to see.

Position 48. Magnificent desolation—the deserted
Temple at Luxor, southwest from the top of
the first pylon

[accompanying stereograph, front]

Silent and forsaken, this noble sanctuary of the Pharaohs
lies before us. What would have been the
thought of the proud conquerors of the 18th Dynasty,
could they have foreseen the tower of this Moslem
sanctuary rising in the midst of the temple court, marking
a shrine of that faith which grew up among those
desert barbarians, whom the Pharaohs despised! The
bright Egyptian sun streams through the colonnades
and throws their shadows in long, black rows upon
the pavement; but no worshiper now moves down the
silent aisles, the voice of the chanting priest, the cry
of the singing women, are heard no more, and the
great god who once sat in mysterious power in yonder
secret chamber is forgotten. Of all the natives in
the town about us, whose forefathers once worshiped

in this place, not one now knows the name of the divinity
who presided here, and the language in which
his praise was sung, is forever forgotten among them.
We are standing at the front of the temple, on the
top of the left-hand tower of the “pylon,” as the two
towers are called, which form the front of an Egyptian
temple (Plan 10). We look down the long axis which
extends from the front to the rear, dividing the structure
into two equal parts. We are, however, on the
left or east of that central axis, which is in a northeast
and southwest line. We are looking southwest-ward,
parallel, or nearly so, with the course of the
river, which we see on the right, flowing toward us
from the southwest, its shore distant hardly a stone's
throw. Karnak and its great temple are behind us,
beyond which the Nile winds on to Cairo, while before
us over the palms, we see the next reach of the river
along which we shall pass to the cataracts. We face
so squarely up the Nile canñon, that we can see neither
of its walls, and thus the cliffs on the west side where
we stood looking across to this spot, the southern extension
of which might be visible if we were to turn
slightly to the right, are not to be seen; they lie out of
range exactly in a line with your right shoulder.
Among the palm groves out yonder on the shore are
the towers of a villa built by a European consumptive,
who lives here, to escape the vigor of the northern
winter, which drives so many similar sufferers to this
land of genial winters.
Back yonder where now stand those beautiful colonnades
(in the rear of the temple) there was once a
small sanctuary of the Theban Amon. It was built
by the Pharaohs of the 12th Dynasty in all probability;
but in the height of the power of the 18th Dynasty,

Amenophis III replaced it by a more pretentious temple
than any which his ancestors had anywhere
planned, in so far as we know. On the very spot
where the modest chapel of his forefathers stood, he
raised yonder colonnaded hall, the columns of which
you see massed so thickly in the extreme rear of the
temple. Before it he laid out a court, the pavement of
which you observe as a bare space directly before the
columns of the hall. This court he then surrounded
by a colonnade on three sides, right, left and front, the
hall forming the rear side. You can plainly see the
columns on the left side of the court in two rows, falling
almost into our line of vision. This was the usual
arrangement of an Egyptian temple, viz.: First a
court like that out yonder, followed by a colonnaded
hall or hypostyle. But Amenophis was not satisfied
with this. He planned still greater things. He began
another hall in front, or this side, of the court, the
great columns you see to our right, doubtless intending
to place another court here in front of the new hall.
Had Amenophis finished his great project, we should,
in order to enter the temple, have had to pass through
a vast court, enclosing the place where we now stand,
and then an enormous hall, which would have brought
us to the present court yonder. But death overtook
him when he had erected no more than those
mighty columns, which were to form the centre aisle
or nave of his vast hall, the columns you see just here
on our right, divided into two groups by the white
muezzin tower of the mosque.
Amenophis' son, being a hater of Amon, made no
attempt to continue his father's temple to that god, and
when his anti-Amon movement had passed, the restorers
of the old Amon worship had not the means

to complete the proposed great hall, the largest colonnade
ever planned by a Pharaoh up to that time. (We
shall find a larger one at Karnak.) They therefore
enclosed this central nave with side walls, which have
now fallen down entirely, with the exception of three
or four bottom courses, thus exposing Amenophis
III's giant columns to view. The roof which once
rested upon them has also fallen in, but the huge architraves
are still in position. Thus at the close of the
18th Dynasty, about 1400 B. C., this temple presented
a peculiar appearance indeed, with this long, narrow
aisle standing in isolation as a vestibule leading to the
court beyond. But with the accession of the 19th
Dynasty, Ramses II built a court in front of the great
aisle, the court immediately at our feet, in which this
modern mosque now stands. Before this court he
erected a pylon, or pair of towers, on the left one of
which we now stand; while in front of the pylon he
placed a pair of obelisks, one of which is just behind
us. In order to build this court, Ramses was obliged
to destroy a beautiful little chapel of the 18th Dynasty
which stood in the way, and the bank of the river was
so near, that he was forced to give his building a distinct
twist, diverting its axis eastward, to avoid the
river (see upper part of Plan 10). This court of his
was, as usual, surrounded by a colonnade, of which
you observe several columns down there by the headless
statue of the king. There are rows of these
statues all around the rear of the court, between the
Now if you will look at the plan (Plan 10) of the
temple, you will find that rear hall of Amenophis
III marked D, his court C, his unfinished hall B;

while the court of Ramses II, at our feet, is A. Holding
this plan before you, turn it round till the apex of
the red V (Position 48), which demarks our field of
vision here, points toward you, and compare all that
we have pointed out, carefully with its location on the
Do you see where the ruin-strewn ground extends to
the river beyond the first column on the extreme right?
That is our next point of view. We shall stand there
(Position 49) and look directly toward our present
standpoint and see the copestones, which we now have
beneath our feet, with the outer edges just extending
into view, and likewise the obelisk now behind us.
On our Plan 10 we find this next position given by
the number 49 in the left-hand margin. The lines
showing the direction and limits of our vision extend
toward the northeast.

Position 49. The Moslem mosque in the Court of
Ramses II, at Luxor Temple, Thebes

Now we are down again! Do you see the top of the
pylon tower, on which we have just stood? It is there
on the right of the obelisk, which we so often mentioned
as being then behind us. That tower has lost its cornice
except at the left end; its fellow, the other tower
on the left, is better preserved. Such a pair of towers,
called by the Greeks a pylon, usually formed the entrance
of an Egyptian temple, the great portal being in
the middle between the two towers. Part of the interior
is hollow, with a staircase leading to the top.
The walls are built with an inward incline as you see.
Together the two towers form the front of the court
and the façade of the temple. Notice that row of holes
made by the later dwellers in this court long after it

had ceased to be used as a sanctuary, that they might
insert the ends of the timbers, supporting the roof of
their house, of which the tower formed one wall. The
other walls of the house were built of brick, sun-dried,
and therefore friable. The result we have already
noted at Denderah (Position 46). As the centuries
passed and house after house fell to ruins out there in
Ramses's ancient court, it gradually filled with rubbish
and crumbled brick, until the houses of to-day, like yonder
mosque, stand upon an accumulation thirty feet
deep, reaching almost to the capitals of the columns.
How incongruous it appears with its not ungraceful
little tower, where the muezzin calls five times every
day to the worship of Allah, in the court of the now
forgotten Amon! And all the efforts of the archaeologists
have not yet succeeded in dislodging these obstinate
Moslems. But I am not sure that it would add
to the picturesqueness of the whole if this Moslem
shrine were banished. Who knows, however, what
treasures for the archaeologist the rubbish under it may
conceal! It covers the columns on that side of the
court, corresponding to those which we see here on the
left side. Among these, do you discern one quite small
column with a fluted top? That belongs to the chapel
of Thutmosis III, which Ramses II destroyed and appropriated,
in order to build his court.
On the right are the superb columns of Amenophis
III's unfinished hall, and you can now see the lower
courses of the side wall, with which his successors
closed it in. All about us and under our feet is the
rubbish of fallen houses, in which the ancestors of
these natives before us lived but a generation or two
We now have the river on our left and Karnak before
us nearly two miles beyond that pylon (Map 8), but
we shall in our next view of this temple, stand at a
point on our left as we now face, and, turning about,
with the river on our right, look directly across our
present line of vision, into the court of Amenophis
III. On our Plan 10 we find this next position, and our
field of vision is defined by the red lines numbered 50,
which start from a point in the left-hand margin, directly
above our standpoint 49.

Position 50. The most beautiful colonnade in
Egypt—south across the court of Amenophis
III, Luxor Temple, Thebes

There is not another such group of columns as these
in all Egypt! Look at those fine contours as the shaft
rises to the beautiful capital. Each column is a cluster
of papyrus buds, which form the capital, while the
stems below make up the shaft. The individual stems
stand out clearly, as well as the buds in the capital, with
the broad, smooth surface below it, on which were
painted the bands, conceived as binding the cluster together.
Imagine such a colonnade, painted with all the
bright hues of the tropic verdure which they represent,
all aglow with throbbing color under a tropic sky, and
framed in masses of nature's green, as the tall palms
outside the court bow languidly over the roof of the
porticoes, and you will gain some faint hint of the real
beauty of which an Egyptian architect was master.
On our left are the giant columns of the unfinished
hall. These represent the papyrus flower, its open bell
forming the capital, and its stem the shaft. Such columns,
as we shall later often observe, were regularly
placed on either side of the central aisle of such a hall

as Amenophis III here planned. The side aisles, here
wanting, were then made up of bud columns, not so
high as those of the nave, thus producing a clerestory,
a basilica roof, the forerunner of the cathedral architecture
of Europe. We shall better understand this
form when we have seen the great hall at Karnak
(Position 58).
The river is on our right, the axis of the temple on
our left (see Plan 10 and Map 8); we look almost due
south (with our backs to the lower river and Cairo)
into the noble court, flanked by that forest of columns
in its rear. Their bases are all dark except those of
one row, which are touched by the afternoon sun.
These stand on the left side of the central aisle leading
back through that hall and several ante-chambers
into the holy of holies; and down that aisle the august
image of the god was borne on those rare occasions
when he came forth to celebrate some great feast. Behind
that hall, and around the holy of holies are
grouped a series of chambers for the priests and the
utensils and stores necessary for the temple service.
They are not visible from here, but you can find them
on the plan. The great altar of sacrifice stood in the
court before us in plain view of all; but it has now
perished, and in place of the gorgeous procession of the
god, a native leads a buffalo to pasture across the
sacred precincts of the ancient sanctuary, while another,
sitting lazily astride a tiny donkey with its tinier foal
behind it, converses with a friend.
We return now to the front of the temple, to a position
before the pylon on which we took our first
position here. This standpoint is given on the upper
part of Plan 10.

Position 51. The obelisk of Ramses II, and the
front of the Luxor Temple (view to the southwest),

Again we have the pylon of the temple before us.
“But it is so surprisingly low,” you object. No, only
apparently so; we are standing on 25 or 30 feet of
débris. Look at that colossus on the right, buried to
the breast in rubbish. If we were standing on the temple
pavement, that colossus would be some 40 feet
high. You may look through between the pylon
towers and see the architraves, which bore the roof of
the portico around the court, and the capitals of the
columns which support them are almost on a level
with our heads. It was up yonder on that left-hand
tower that we stood for our first view of the temple
(Position 48). We are now facing almost exactly as
we were then, but the pylon now rises between us and
the temple colonnades beyond. The river is on our
right, as it then was, and Karnak behind us.
It cannot be said that these unlovely modern brick
structures just before us add anything to the impression
made by the pylon, of which they obstruct the
view; the archaeologists, who would be more than
glad to remove them and complete the excavation of
the temple, have not yet succeeded in their purpose;
and these natives, whom we see carrying up water in
the old, old way, not being at all concerned for the
temple of their forefathers, are at the same time very
tenacious of their rights in these mud brick houses
in which they live. The excavator has, of course, no
more right to remove these dwellings than has the surveyor
of the elevated road to remove your house at
home, in order to make way for his road, though you

are vastly more interested in his road, than are these
modern Egyptians in the excavations.
We are now near enough to the pylon to observe
some of the details which we shall also see elsewhere.
Those two openings near the top of the left tower are
not windows, as you might suppose. Look below the
one on the right, at the bottom, on the left of the obelisk,
exactly in a vertical line with the opening, and
you notice a sunken panel in the face of the pylon.
In this panel against the masonry of the tower was set
up a tall flagstaff. It passed up in front of the opening
and was fastened there by a large metal clamp
which projected from the same. This was the purpose
of the opening. These flagstaves, of which there were
at least two on each tower, and sometimes four,
towered high above the pylon and were each crowned
by a tuft of gaily colored pennants. But the flagstaves
were not the only adornment of the pylon towers.
Notice those relief sculptures on the left-hand tower.
All these temples of the Empire are great historical
volumes, richly illustrated, in which the conquerors,
who subdued Nubia and Syria, have recorded
their achievements. These records offer not merely
the inscriptional narrative of the Pharaoh's victories,
but also vast walls filled with graphic pictures in stone,
depicting the various incidents of the battles, sieges,
marches and triumphs, in which the king took part.
Thus we see here Ramses II charging the enemy in
his chariot, and while he draws his mighty bow, he
urges his plunging horses directly into the hostile
ranks. He is alone, or at most accompanied by his
guards and attendants, having been cut off from his
army by a clever maneuver of the enemy; and it is

only with the greatest difficulty that he maintains himself
until he is rescued by the arrival of a portion of
his forces. He was so proud of his own prowess in
this battle, which took place at Kadesh, on the river
Orontes in Syria, that he had it thus depicted upon
the walls of a number of his greater temples; and one
of his court poets wrote a famous composition upon
it, which is considered the epic of ancient Egypt.
Besides these reliefs, colored in the brightest hues,
the flagstaves, with their brilliant pennants, and a row
of massive colossi, of which we can see but one, the
front of such a temple is adorned with two obelisks,
which stand a little removed from the pylons, one on
each side of the entrance. This obelisk before us, like
the temple pylon, was erected by Ramses II. Its
fellow, which should stand just before that colossus
on the right, was removed to Paris in 1832-3, where
it now stands in the Place de la Concorde. It is not
so high as this one before us, being 75 feet in height
and weighing 212 tons. But it gave the French engineers
a task worthy of their skill. As this one has not
yet been excavated, its exact height is not known.
The inscriptions in three columns record the fulsome
names and titles of Ramses II, and the dedication of
the monument by him to Amon, god of Thebes. This
last is in the middle line, and reads thus: “He made
it as his monument to his father, Amon-Re, erecting
for him two great obelisks of granite.” Being of pink
granite, it was brought from the granite quarries of
the first cataract at Assuan, where we shall later see
such an obelisk still attached to the rock of the quarry.
It is not as large as the obelisk of Queen Hatshepsut,
which we shall visit at Karnak.
But now we must turn to the great ruins of Karnak,
which will occupy much of our time at Thebes, and
before we begin our study of the ruins themselves,
we must glance at our maps.
Turn first to the General Map No. 8, of the “District
of Thebes.” Find Luxor and Karnak again in the
lower right-hand corner of the map on the east
bank of the Nile. Note again our first position at
Luxor, as indicated by the lines 48 on this map, that
we were looking up the river, or southwest, and remember
that in our last position at Luxor we were
standing only a short distance behind the first position
and looking in the same direction. Evidently, then, to
go to Karnak we must turn completely around and
move down the river, or northeast. Our first position
at Karnak is given on this Map 8, Position 52, and
shows that we are to be looking northeast, or opposite
to the direction in which we looked from our last position
at Luxor. As the outline plan of Karnak is so
small on this Map 8, we will turn to our Plan 11, which
is on a much larger scale. It might be well to turn this
plan first so that north, its lower left-hand corner, is
away from us, that we may better perceive its relation to
Luxor and the river, as given on Map 8. Our first
position, 52, as marked on this plan shows that we are
to see the “western avenue of sphinxes.”

Position 52. Grand avenue of rams, one of the
southern approaches to the temples of Karnak,

[accompanying stereograph, front]

Up to within a very few years, in standing here you
would have been looking upon the garden patches of
the neighboring villagers, where, rising picturesquely
among beans and lentils, you might have descried

here and there the head of a stone ram. So it had been
for centuries. But now the government has bought
up the necessary ground, and you are able to gain some
impression of what such a monumental approach to
the sanctuaries of Egypt was like. We are looking,
you remember, in a generally northern line (a trifle
east), the river is on our left and Luxor is behind
us, while hidden behind the palms and the buildings
before us, are the vast ruins of the Karnak temple.
Some of those palms have invaded the avenue, contributing
much to its picturesqueness and beauty. If
only all its invaders had been as peaceful and as harmless!
For the soldiers of Assyria in plundering bands
have marched down this avenue, Persian hordes have
swarmed through it, Alexander's phalanxes have
trodden it, the legions of Rome have wrecked it, and
the image-hating Moslems have shattered its sculptures;
until, war-worn and weather-beaten, these
scarred and battered forms show little of their former
semblance, and you can hardly find a single ram of
which the head is still in place. Between the fore-legs
in every case a standing figure of the king is carved;
you can see it clearly before the first ram on our right.
It is often the figure of Amenophis III, the king to
whom these avenues are in large part due. He constructed
them to connect Luxor and Karnak (see Plan
11 and Map 8). There is another such avenue east of
us (on our right), likewise leading to Karnak, and it is
connected with ours by a cross avenue. At the other
end of our avenue rises the stately portal, erected by
Euergetes I (247-222 B. C.). It formed the gateway
to the temple enclosure, for when built, a high wall
abutted upon it on either side, of which it was the
gate. This wall surrounded the whole complex of

temple buildings at Karnak, and we shall later see portions
of it. Beyond that portal the avenue of rams
continues to the door of a small temple; the continuation
of the avenue is not visible from here, but you
can see the door of the temple through the portal of
Euergetes I, and the pylon towers which rise on either
side of it. The tower on the left shows clearly the
channels for the flagstaves, which we saw at Luxor,
and the openings above them for clamping the staves
into place. This little temple was sacred to the god
Khons (see Plan 11), the son of Amon, and his consort
Mut, and formed with them the triad of deities
chiefly worshiped at Thebes. It was begun by
Ramses III early in the 12th century B. C., and
continued by his weak successors, until they were
pushed from the throne by the rising priests of
Amon. The temple of Mut, his mother, is at the south
end of the eastern avenue of rams, already mentioned
as parallel with ours (Plan 11). It is in such a state
of ruin that only a few stones remain to mark the
ground plan, and we shall therefore not spend the
time to visit it, but proceed from here to the great
temple, out yonder behind the palms.
This next position (53) is found in the upper left-hand
portion of Plan 11. From that point, the rear
of the temple, we shall look northwest over the entire
length of the great temple of Amon. This position is
given also on Map 8 and on an enlarged plan of this
portion of the Karnak temple (Plan 12).

Position 53. The entire length of the gigantic Temple
of Amon at Karnak (view northwest),

[accompanying stereograph, front]

As we stand here at the rear of the Karnak temple,
looking north of westward along its entire length, let

us think chiefly of topographical considerations. We
shall be able to return to this point later and examine
the details more closely. Out yonder behind the huge
pylon tower which rises at the other end on the left, is
the Nile, and on the extreme left and right, you may
discern the crest of the cliffs which flank the Theban
plain on the other side of the river (see Map 8).
That is where we stood for our first view of Thebes
(Position 47). Behind us is the Arabian desert
stretching off to the Red Sea.
In general the oldest portions of the temple are nearest
us here in the rear, and the most recent at the other
end. The modest chapel of Amon, built here by the
kings of the 12th Dynasty, stood out in that vacant
space behind yonder native on that fallen block. It
was erected about 2000 B. C., and we do not know of
any earlier building on this spot. It was enlarged both
in front and rear by the great conquerors of the 18th
Dynasty, beginning about 1580 B. C. Their additions
in the rear are the walls immediately before us; while
those in front extend to the smaller obelisk, or rather
to a fallen pylon just behind that obelisk, not visible
from this point. On the other side of that obelisk
begin the enlargements of the 19th Dynasty, being
chiefly the vast hypostyle hall of which you see the
tall columns in the middle, the chief marvel of Egyptian
architecture. A pylon beyond that hall and forming
its front, has fallen into ruin, and is not visible
from here. It is called the “II Pylon” on the plan,
and was likewise the work of the 19th Dynasty. The
pylon which we do see (Pylon I) rising behind the
hall is 275 feet beyond it, and is the latest addition to
the temple. Between it and the hall is a large court
(“great court”), with which structures of an earlier

date are connected. The pylon (I) then, perhaps
erected by the Ptolemies a century of two before
Christ, marks the completion of this vast sanctuary,
some 1,800 years after it was begun. We thus have
three great sections of the temple still surviving; the
buildings of the 18th Dynasty, extending from here
down to, but not including, the “great hypostyle hall”
then the hall itself as the work of the 19th Dynasty,
and finally the court beyond the hall, terminating in the
great pylon (I) as the latest addition to the temple.
There are also four pylons on the south of the temple,
now out of range on our left (Plan 11), which were
likewise the work of the 18th Dynasty; but they are in
such a ruined condition that we shall not spend any
further time on them.
From here we shall proceed to the front of the building,
that is, beyond that distant pylon tower, which
rises on the left, and turning toward our present point
of view we shall look down the approach, and through
the portal between the (I) pylon towers. This next
position is found on the lower left-hand portion of
Plan 11. We shall stand at the apex of the lines numbered
54 and look southeast.

Position 54. Excavating the famous avenue of
rams, southeast to the Temple of Karnak,

We now stand before the greatest pylon in Egypt,
the back of which we saw from the other end of the
temple a moment ago. The river is behind us, Luxor
and the avenue of rams leading thence are on our
right, and we look slightly obliquely down through
the main entrance of the temple and down the main

axis (Plan 11). Behind and to the left of that isolated
column in the court, you see the gate of the second
pylon, through which you may follow the central
aisle between the columns of the great hall behind the
second pylon, although you are hardly able to distinguish
the individual columns which rise on either
side of the aisle. But you may even see beyond the
hall, for if you will look carefully at the other end of
the aisle, just where our further view is cut off by the
left-hand tower of this first pylon, you will discern the
obelisk of Thutmosis I, which was the smaller of the
two which we saw from the other end of the temple
(Position 53). That is the earliest monument visible
from here, and there the buildings of the 18th Dynasty
begin, and extend, as you saw, to the rear, while all on
this side of it (except the tumbled pylon which forms
the rear of the hall, not visible from here) is of the
19th Dynasty or later, that is, from about 1350 B. C.
But this enormous pylon before us is, as we noted
when we saw it from the rear (Position 53), the latest
portion of the building. It was possibly erected by the
Ptolemies, who always favored the old religion of
Egypt, and not merely respected its usages and sanctuaries,
but themselves built splendid temples to the gods
of the land. “We shall see one especially notable example
when we have visited Edfu (Positions 81-83).
This scene furnishes us another good example of the
way in which the rubbish and débris of fallen houses
collect before and around and within the temples of
Egypt. Look at the towers and see again the rows
of holes in which the roofing timbers of such houses
were supported. The rubbish all around us is the
disintegrated mud-brick of their walls. Excavations
have been going on here at Thebes for many years, for

the purpose of clearing all this away, but there is still
much to be done. You see that the methods employed
are thoroughly modern, the rubbish being removed
as fast as it can be taken out, upon a little tramway
leading down to the river behind us. Here for ten
cents a day, the modern native carries away the remains
of the houses of his ancestors, to uncover remains
of his still older forefathers, and the avenue of
rams, once completely covered, begins to take shape
again and emerge from its long concealment.
We have been looking at this place as it was in 1896.
Now we shall be permitted to see it as it is to-day, and
thus gain some idea of the purpose and method of such
excavations. But we should bear in mind that the excavation
of a cemetery is a matter requiring far more
accuracy, careful supervision and skill, than the mere
clearance of a temple front as we see it going on
here. Our next position is to be a few feet to our right
as the red lines numbered 55 on Plan 11 show.

Position 55. Avenue of sacred rams, leading from
the river to the western entrance of the Karnak
Temple (after excavation)

[accompanying stereograph, front]

The tramway now lies piled up in sections beyond
the obelisk on the right and, thanks to its efficiency and
the native laborers, the rubbish in the avenue has vanished,
though it remains in great masses on either
side awaiting a future campaign. This obelisk on our
right, with the native in a snowy garment striving in
vain to puzzle out the writing of his forefathers, was
erected by Sethos II, toward the close of the 19th
Dynasty (Plan 11). It was Ramses II who erected
this splendid avenue of sphinxes, or really of
rams, though they are often called sphinxes. The

row on the right is in an unusually good state of
preservation, and you observe the statues of the king
standing between the protecting forepaws of each ram.
The ram was the sacred animal of Amon, the great
god of Thebes; and hence his use as the exclusive figure
in the sculpture along these Theban avenues, thus
expressing in an oft-repeated symbol the god's protection
of the king. This avenue doubtless once extended
beyond the point now occupied by the first
pylon, which was not yet built in Ramses II's time,
and led up to the entrance between the towers of the
second pylon, which you can see through the first
pylon. Here the splendid festal processions of Amon
passed up from the river to the state temple; but now
it sees nothing more impressive than a straggling line
of Cook's tourists, riding up to the gate on such tiny
donkeys as this one, now in the avenue; while an eloquent
descendant of the Pharaohs, employed for the
purpose, discourses learnedly to the unsuspecting
travelers upon historical incidents connected with the
temple, which never occurred, and of which he knows
very little more than his dupes.
This pylon, thus erected across Ramses II's avenue,
is the largest in Egypt, being 50 feet thick, 142
feet high, and forming a front no less than 376
feet wide. But it was never completed, and portions
of the brick scaffolding used in its erection are
still to be found beneath these heaps of rubbish on
either side. It was the last work done on this temple
so far as we know, and after it was abandoned, the
Romans allowed the temple to fall into ruin. The
gateway of iron, which stands open before us, is the
work of the government for keeping out the natives

and preventing vandalism in the temple. The timbers
across the door in the second pylon are also modern
repairs, of which we shall have more to say later
on. Through these timbers you can see the columns
of the great hypostyle hall, and far beyond appears
the “east gate” (Plan 11), which forms the entrance
to the temple enclosure through the sun-dried brick
wall surrounding the entire sanctuary. We saw another
gate in that same wall in looking down the “western
avenue of rams” (Position 52). That “east gate”
yonder is over a third of a mile away, which is the
distance between the extreme eastern and western
approaches of this enormous temple. We shall presently
be able to see the wall to which it belongs, for
we are about to climb the staircase that leads up
through the interior of the left-hand tower before us,
look down into the court that is beyond, and over the
great hypostyle hall behind the court; when we shall
see the brick enclosure wall (“girdle wall” on Plan
11), far beyond. Find the red lines numbered 56,
which indicate this next standpoint and our field of
vision from it on Plan 11. It is also given on Plan 12,
an enlarged plan of this temple.

Position 56. The great court of the Karnak Temple
seen (southeast) from the top of the first
pylon; Thebes

[accompanying stereograph, front]

What a scene of desolation! Do you wonder that
the destruction of this great city stirred the peoples to
the ends of the earth and called forth from a Hebrew
prophet a stinging warning to Nineveh that a like fate
awaited her? The vengeance of Assyria, Persia and
Rome, and the earthquake of 27 B. C. have wrought
the ruin before us, and brought low a work which was

the pride of the Pharaohs and the greatest architectural
achievement of oriental history, perhaps the
greatest of all time.
We are standing upon the northern tower of the
first pylon, and looking down the length of the temple
toward the east (Plan 11). Behind us is the Nile,
on our right is Luxor, and on our left are the cities of
the lower river, Abydos, Assiut, Benihasan, Memphis,
and the rest, which we passed on our voyage
hither. Under our feet, then, is the latest portion of
the building, before us the “great court” of somewhat
earlier date, leading to the “hypostyle hall” of the 19th
Dynasty, behind which you see the obelisk which marks
the beginning of the works of the 18th Dynasty. Those
two shapeless masses of tumbled stone on either side
of that door, once formed the two towers of the second
pylon, built by the Pharaohs of the 19th Dynasty as
the front of their great hall. They took some of the
material, that is, the stones which you see there,
largely from the temple of the great heretic Amenophis
IV (Ikhnaton), the arch enemy of Amon, who
had attempted to exterminate his worship. (See history,
pages 30-31.) This overthrown pylon is one of
the most eloquent witnesses of the ruin which overtook
the works of Amenophis IV, for you may find on
some of these blocks the name of the great reformer's
successors, who sympathized in his movement. The
last vestiges of their sanctuary to Aton were thus employed
by the 19th Dynasty kings in extending the
temple of the very god whom the reformers had been
trying to exterminate. They turned the hated names
of the heretics inward; but the fall of the towers has
now exposed them in a number of places. This second
pylon, when perfect, formed the front of the state

temple, sacred to the state god Amon. It was nearly
350 feet wide, while the door between the towers was
once crowned by a lintel block 40 feet 10 inches long,
and weighing over a hundred tons. Leading to the
door is a kind of vestibule, before which stand two
colossal statues of Ramses II. The one on the right
is, you see, nearly perfect, but the other has almost
disappeared, only one leg and the base still surviving.
In Ramses II's time, then, none of these columns
before the door had yet been erected, but in all
probability the avenue of rams, which we saw leading
up from the river, was continued to this door. Then
in the days of Solomon's son, Rehoboam, the kings of
the 22nd Dynasty, about 950 B. C., began a vast court
here in front of this pylon. We cannot now sweep its
full width, but it is 338 feet wide, and from the pylon
on which we stand to the other before us it is 275 feet.
The Ethiopians of the beginning of the 7th century
B. C. (25th Dynasty) then erected a double row of five
columns each, in this court before the door. One of
them on the right, is still standing, and you may see the
fragmentary remains of eight others. It is not clear
just what they were intending to make, but it is possible
that they planned an enormous hypostyle hall,
of which these columns were to form the two rows of
the nave; and that they, of course, failed to complete
it. For the column still standing is 69 feet high, and
a hall of such proportions would be quite beyond the
resources of the weak Ethiopian Dynasty.
If you will look over the fallen tower on the right,
beginning over the capital of the standing column, you
may observe the long, horizontal architraves that supported
the roofing blocks of the hall behind the first
pylon. Now those architraves are supported upon

columns; but the columns at the sides of the hall
are not so high as those which you see as you look
down the central aisle or nave. You saw the capitals
of these lower side columns in our first view of the
temple from behind (Position 53). On the left, but
now out of our range of vision, is the other half of the
hall, corresponding to that of which we see the roof
on the right. On the morning of the third of October,
1899, between eight and nine o'clock, two of the watchmen
of the temple were standing outside this hall on
one of the heaps of rubbish to the north of it, now out
of range on our left, when they were startled by a
thunderous fall in the temple, and turning toward it,
they saw the capitals and architraves at the back of
the hall on the north (or left) side toppling over toward
the pylon before us. As the falling columns
struck their fellows, these in turn fell, and the two
watchmen running wildly toward the scene of the
catastrophe, arrived just in time to see the last pair
nearest the pylon crashing against it as they were
hurled down in their turn. In all eleven columns
fell, three were drawn partially over, and seventeen
massive architraves were brought to the ground. You
may gain some idea of the weight of these architraves
if you will look at those still resting upon the tops of
the columns on the opposite side or right of the central
aisle. The cause of the catastrophe was partially
the insecure foundations, and the age of the columns,
but chiefly the mistaken policy of allowing the waters
of the inundation to penetrate into the temple,
a policy due to the French Service des Antiquitiés,
then, as now, in charge of the temple. The débris
from the fall has now been removed from the hall, and

the government is spending large sums of money in replacing
the columns as they were before, an undertaking
which will cost several hundred thousand dollars
before it is completed. The cost of resetting these
eleven columns and raising to their places the seventeen
architraves in modern times, will serve to give you
a hint of what it meant for an Egyptian king to erect
such a hall as this with its 132 columns, of which
twelve in the middle are vastly larger than those which
fell. The shock of these falling columns as they
struck this second pylon was such as to endanger its
already unstable masonry still standing on either side
of the door, and hence the engineers have inserted the
timber braces which you see in the doorway.
The great hall and the middle portions of the second
pylon nearly shut out from view the older works
of the 18th Dynasty beyond, but we have already called
your attention to the obelisk of Thutmosis I, seen
down the middle aisle. The other obelisk, the taller of
the two, may, however, be seen peeping over the top
of the left tower of the pylon. We shall look at these
monoliths more closely later on (Position 59). Back
of the fallen right-hand tower you observe the sundried
brick wall which encloses the entire temple. You
will remember that we saw the “east gate” of this wall
as we looked down the central axis of the temple from
in front of the first pylon, our last position; but
that gate is now hidden by the left tower of the pylon
before us (Plan 11). Outside the wall you see the
fields and groves of the peasants, just as they must
have been in the days of the old Thebes, and behind
them rises that other wall, which we have seen so often,
the distant wall of the cañon, which encloses all
Upper Egypt .
And now we shall take our station in the great hall,
the architectural wonder of Egypt. We shall stand
at the other end of the central aisle or nave, with the
smaller obelisk just behind us and a little to the left,
and look through the nave toward this pylon on which
we stand. This position is given only on Plan 12.
You find our standpoint near the centre of the plan,
the encircled number 57, with the red lines extending
toward the left or northwest.

Position 57. The famous colonnade of the great
Hypostyle Hall in the Temple of Karnak,

Here we stand beneath the greatest columns ever
erected by the hand of man. Look at that pygmy
human form out yonder at the other end of the aisle,
and then set it against these tremendous shafts. What
a feeling of littleness as the eye soars aloft amid
this forest of giant forms, each bearing its mysterious
legend of a forgotten past, of vanished
power and splendor, of which there is now no
whisper in all the great silence round about us.
Through the roofless nave the sunlight streams
in and throws vast black shadows athwart the aisle,
in marked contrast with the bright, serene sky against
which the capitals are so sharply outlined. Do you
know that you could place a hundred men, standing
upon each one of those capitals? Twelve hundred men
upon these twelve capitals! Perhaps this may convey
some idea of their size as the dimensions in figures
cannot do. But you will want the figures. These columns
are 65 feet high, 35 feet in circumference and
over 11 feet through. It is a fortunate thing for the

government treasury that these were not involved in
the catastrophe of October 3, 1899.
We shall not understand this great hall unless we
know just where we are standing. Recall what we
said as we were leaving our last point of view out
there on the top of the first pylon; and look again at
the plan of the temple (Plan 12). You will see that
we are looking westward, down the main aisle of the
great hypostyle hall. Behind us and a little to the
left is the obelisk of Thutmosis I, on our left is Luxor,
before us at the other end of this magnificent nave is
the door which we saw from the top of the first pylon,
beyond it the great first court with just the edge of
the capital of the sole standing column showing at the
left side of the door, through which one of the towers
of the first pylon appears, balancing the other barely
visible at the right side of the aisle. We see the rubbish
still encumbering the door of the first pylon yonder,
to which leads the avenue of rams from the river,
and a lone palm on the river bank is clearly defined
against the cliffs on the other side of the river, where
we stood for our first view of Thebes (Position 47).
These blocks upon which we are standing belong to
the third pylon, which forms the rear wall of the great
hypostyle hall. It is the last work of the 18th Dynasty
in the temple, having been built by Amenophis
III. At his death it formed the front of the temple
and remained such until the beginning of the 19th
Dynasty, when the great hall before us was undertaken.
We shall see more of it later, but as it marks
the transition from the 18th to the 19th Dynasty we
should carefully note its position behind this great hall
(Plan 12).
Now we shall move back behind the sacred lake and
view the hall in its entirety. This next standpoint is
given on Plan 11. We stand as the encircled red number
58 shows, on the south side of the lake, and look
nearly north across it to the great hypostyle hall.

Position 58. Looking across the Sacred Lake
(N.N.W.) to the great Hypostyle Hall of Karnak, Thebes

Here we gain a better idea of the relation of the
gigantic aisle where we have just stood, to the rest
of the building. We were stationed, at our last point
of view, just back of those two columns which stand
out so prominently at the hither end of the aisle (Plan
11). We are now looking obliquely across that
aisle, nearly northward. There are the two obelisks
which we saw from the rear of the temple (Position
53), back of the hall as they should be.
The side aisles of the great hall now spread
out on each side of the central aisle in clear
view before us. Especially on the left you can
see row after row of architraves with the capitals
of the supporting columns beneath them, each capital
crowned by the square abacus block upon which
hidden behind the walls which once enveloped them
the architrave rests. The side columns themselves are
entirely, but have now partially fallen, exposing the
capitals sufficiently so that you can see that they are
bud capitals, contrasting with the broad spreading
flower capitals of the central aisle. We shall notice
both sides often as we proceed, but the arrangement
here, with flower capitals in the middle and bud capitals
at the sides, is the usual one, and should therefore
be particularly remarked. Now these side columns are

43 feet high, 20 feet 8 inches in circumference, and
nearly 7 feet through. Those of the middle aisle are
22 feet higher, and the resulting difference in the height
of the roofs over the middle and side aisles, which we
call a clerestory, is utilized for the insertion of a row
of windows, which you see here on either side of the
middle aisle, above the roof of the side aisles. These
were filled with gratings cut from limestone, but only
one of these gratings is now preserved. It is on the
other side and concealed from us by the tops of the
middle columns. You will immediately recognize in
this arrangement the basilica hall of Roman architecture
and the columned nave and side aisles of the
early European cathedrals. The earliest example of
this form is the central aisle of splendid columns
erected by Amenophis III, which you saw at Luxor;
but you will remember that the side aisles are there
lacking, as it was never finished. If you will turn
back to those Luxor columns you can now better understand
them than before. It is evident, therefore,
that Egypt furnished Europe and the later world with
this beautiful architectural form, and if we owed her
nothing else, this single contribution would be plentiful
cause for gratitude and recognition.
We have spoken of the vast size of the central aisle
and its supporting columns, but what of the entire hall
itself? Its roof is supported upon 134 columns of
which twelve in two rows of six each occupy the middle
aisle, while 122 are equally divided between the
two sides. When we remember that the side columns
are each nearly seven feet through, and the middle ones
nearly twelve, it will be evident that such a host of
colossal shafts must of themselves demand an enormous
amount of room if set at a proper distance apart.

The great hall is therefore 170 feet by 329 feet. It
does not seem possible, as we look upon it from here,
but we could put the whole cathedral of Notre Dame
in Paris into this hall and have plenty of room to
spare. And we should not forget that this is but one
hall of the temple, occupying less than one-seventh
of the entire length of the building. (See Plans 11
and 12.)
Our view is much interfered with by those great
heaps of rubbish which we find here at the side, as we
found them in front of the temple, but they are being
gradually removed, and there will some time be an
unobstructed view of great beauty from this point.
The south wall of the hall, which appears above the
rubbish on the extreme left, is filled with the most interesting
records of Ramses II, especially the poetic
narrative of his brave defense at the battle of Kadesh,
which we found depicted in the reliefs on the pylon
of the Luxor temple. Abutting upon that wall you see
another which is continued out of range of vision on
the left. Parallel with it, between it and the lake, you
can just discern the line of another, a corresponding
wall, which, with the first, forms an enclosure leading
up from the southern pylons (pylons VII to X, Plan
11), which we do not stop to view, owing to their
ruined condition.
This sacred lake, now merely a wallowing pool for
the buffaloes of the neighboring peasantry, has been
the scene of the most gorgeous pageants, when the victorious
conquerors of Syria returned to celebrate their
triumphs in the state temple. In his glittering barge,
resplendent with gold and precious stones, the god was
borne around this lake, followed by a long line of gaily
decorated boats carrying the king, the white-robed

priests and crowds of the royal favorites who had
gained military distinction in the Syrian wars. Great
heaps of costly plunder, the richest wealth of Asia, were
piled upon these shores to delight the eye of the god,
while lines of wretched captives stood waiting to be
led into the temple, there to be sacrificed before him.
In those days this lake was lined with lotus flowers
and other water lilies, rich masses of nodding palms
were mirrored in its crystal surface, while all around
were gardens filled with strange and rare plants,
brought by the conquerors from the extreme limits of
their distant conquests. But now where once floated
the Pharaoh's royal barge, the buffaloes stir up the
muddy pool and dirty little urchins throw stones into
the turbid waters.
But we must now look once more into the great hall,
and then turn our attention to the two obelisks yonder.
Do you see that fragment of wall which cuts off about
half of the smaller obelisk, leaving only the upper half
visible? That piece of wall is part of the fourth pylon.
Glance at its relative position on Plan 12, for we are
about to take position upon it for another view down
the central aisle of the great hall. This position is indicated
by the lines numbered 59 on Plan 12.

Position 59. Middle aisle of the great Hypostyle
and the obelisk of Thutmosis I, from the top
of the fourth pylon, Karnak, Thebes

[accompanying stereograph, front]

Here we gain a more comprehensive view of the nave
of the great hall than we had when we stood down
there on the third pylon (Position 57); for now we can
also see the right-hand row, which is much better
preserved than that on the left, the capitals of which

have been shattered, probably by fire, while the further
four on the right are almost unblemished. The first
two, one on each side, have been repaired at some
period, with rough masonry, which has never been
dressed down. The columns must not be judged by
these two. The four nearly perfect ones on the right
convey very effectively the grandeur and sombre
beauty which an Egyptian architect understood how
to express in his great colonnade. Here you see more
clearly than before, that they are papyrus flower columns,
such as regularly occupy the central aisle of
such a hypostyle. They are in grace and contour perhaps
not equal to the magnificent columns at Luxor,
which Amenophis III erected there, with the purpose
of building a hall similar to this; but their mere size
alone is a potent factor in the tremendous impression
which they convey. See those vast architraves each
supported on the square block, or abacus, resting upon
the capital of the column. These architraves upheld
the now vanished roof, of which a few fragmentary
pieces may be seen lying upon them. This roof
was 75 feet above the pavement, but all has now been
shattered and hurled to the floor below by the successive
destructions of Assyrian, Persian and Roman;
and what the hand of man could not destroy the earthquake
has laid low, until the columns rise in nakedness
to the sky, flooded with sunshine, whereas the architect
intended them to be seen in the sombre half light
that was dimly diffused through the great hall. That
light came through grated stone windows, of which
you notice the row on the left, on a level with the capitals,
but so foreshortened that you may not recognize
them as the ones that you saw across the sacred lake.
The corresponding row on the other side is hidden by

the obelisk, though you may see this end of it projecting
on the right of the obelisk. These windows, as
you observed before, occupy the difference in level
between the higher roof of the central aisle and the
lower roof of the side aisle, and form a clerestory.
Our first point of view in this hall was just on the
other side of this obelisk (Plan 12), on the ruins of
the right-hand tower of the third pylon; but we are
now standing on the left-hand tower of the fourth
pylon. This handsome obelisk of Thutmosis I we
have seen several times before, the first time having
been from the rear of the temple (Position 53). Note
how the falling of the heavy masonry from the
pylon where we stand has split off a corner of the
shaft as it smote the obelisk. You have been struck
by the large and beautiful hieroglyphs of the middle
column. These are the dedication inscription of Thutmosis
I, early in the 18th Dynasty. The side columns
of smaller hieroglyphs are additional inscriptions of
Ramses IV and Ramses VI, which they have inserted
here, upon a monument which did not belong to them.
An obelisk should have but one line of inscription
down the middle of each face like that of Sesostris I,
which you saw at Heliopolis. But the decadent
Ramessids of the 20th Dynasty were unable to erect
obelisks for themselves, and were obliged to appropriate
those of their ancestors. There is no more
graphic evidence of the decline of Egypt under the
20th Dynasty than such monuments as these.
Just behind us as we stand here on the fourth pylon
is a ruinous hall in which stands the tallest obelisk in
Egypt. Our next position is to be a point behind us
and to our left, from which we shall look northeast

across this hall. The red lines numbered 60 in the
middle portion of Plan 12 give this next position.

Position 60. The tallest obelisk in Egypt, erected
by Queen Makere (Hatshepsut) in the Karnak
Temple at Thebes

[accompanying stereograph, front]

We are now looking northward with the sacred lake
behind us, and a little to the right; on our left with
just the northernmost corner showing, is the great hall,
above which rises the smaller obelisk over the intervening
fourth pylon (Plan 12). Those tottering
blocks just on the right of the smaller obelisk formed
our rather precarious footing, as we looked down into
the great hall just now (Position 59), and you see
again the shattered corner of the obelisk, which we had
before us as we stood up there. This fourth pylon
was built by Thutmosis I, and formed the front of
the temple during a large part of the 18th Dynasty,
until Amenophis III erected his pylon, now the back
of the great hall, later built in front of it. At what
was then the front of the temple, Thutmosis I erected
the obelisk we see still standing there, but its fellow
has fallen. It stood at the other side of the survivor,
which is 76 feet high and 6 feet square at the base.
We have the biography of the architect, an official
named Ineni, who raised these obelisks of Thutmosis I,
preserved in his tomb on the other side of the river.
He says of his work: “I superintended the erection of
the two obelisks. … built an august boat of 120
cubits (about 200 feet) in length and 40 cubits (about
67 feet) in width, in order to transport these obelisks.
They arrived in peace, safety and prosperity and landed
at Karnak.” This, of course, refers to the voyage
from the granite quarries at the first cataract, whence

the shaft was brought hither. It will be seen that it
required no mean boat to float such a pair as this down
the river.
The location of the large obelisk to our right is
very unusual, for you see it stands here behind the
fourth pylon. Indeed, as we shall now explain, it
stands in a colonnaded hall. Behind this fourth pylon,
but now just out of our range on the right, is a fifth
pylon, also built by Thutmosis I. This he built first, and
afterward erected the fourth here on our left. In the
space between these two pylons, that is, the space directly
before us, where we now see the great obelisk and its
fallen fellow, he raised a fine colonnaded hall, which
served in his time as the hypostyle hall of the temple.
Fragments of inscriptions on his columns show that
they were originally of cedar, the only reference
to wooden columns in any Egyptian temple. But they
were afterward replaced by stone. In this hall on a certain
solemn feast day, when Amon came forth in gorgeous
procession, the young and obscure prince who
afterward became Thutmosis III, the greatest conqueror
in Egyptian history, was nominated as king
by a special oracle of the god, who stopped before the
young prince as he stood in the ranks of the priests,
and designated him as the future king. Of course,
this was all done by connivance and plotting of the
priesthood. Under Thutmosis I's daughter, Makere
(often called Hatshepsut or Hatasoo!), this hall suffered
strange alteration. She placed her obelisks in it,
although she was obliged to unroof it, and to remove
many of the columns in order to do so. She had them
brought in from this side over the spot where we now
stand, and all the columns on this side of the hall,
some of those on the other side, as well as the side

wall behind us, had to be taken down in order to introduce
and erect the obelisks. She tells with great
pride in an inscription on the base of the standing
obelisk yonder, how she did it all in response to an
oracle of the god Amon, and states that the obelisks
were taken from the quarry in the brief space of seven
months. As it now stands the great obelisk is 97½
feet high and 8½ feet square at the base, being the
largest obelisk in Egypt, but not the largest known;
for the queen's brother and rival for the throne, Thutmosis
III, brought to this temple an obelisk 105½ feet
in height, which was finally erected by his grandson,
Thutmosis IV, but was afterward carried to Rome,
and now stands in front of the church of St. John
Lateran. The obelisk before us is over 20 feet higher
than that of Thutmosis I, and weighs some 350 tons.
Of its fallen companion only this upper part before
us survives, but it gives you an opportunity to examine
the pyramidal point at the top. This pyramid was
covered with electrum, an alloy of gold and silver,
which, glittering in the sun, might be seen from afar
on both sides of the river, as the queen states in her
You will see, then, that the erection of these obelisks
having caused the dismantling of the temple hypostyle,
it was therefore necessary for the kings of the
19th Dynasty to erect a new hypostyle in front of this,
which they did, producing the great colonnaded hall
which we have already visited. Thutmosis I's columns
were not replaced here until the time of his
grandson, Amenophis II, some forty years after the
queen took them down. But they have all fallen again,
and their bases are covered by the rubbish, beneath
our feet. You can distinguish the entrance between

the two towers of the fourth pylon in a line
with the head of that native in the white garment
and between that line and the fallen obelisk.
That entrance was erected by the architect Ineni, of
whom we have before spoken, and he says of it: “I
superintended the erection of the great portal named
'Amon-is-Great-in-Height'; its huge door was of Asiatic
bronze, whereon was the Divine Shadow (the
figure of Amon) inlaid with gold.” All such pylon
entrances as we have seen, were closed with enormous
doors of bronze, or of cedar overlaid with bronze,
inlaid and chased with gold and electrum. That door
looked down a central aisle, the columns of which
were like those of the great hypostyle, but, of course,
smaller. You must imagine it as leading directly
across our line of vision between the standing and the
fallen obelisk. The aisle then led through a smaller,
now totally ruined hypostyle, out of range on our
right, then through a smaller pylon (the sixth), and
some small ante-chambers, to the holy of holies. (See
Plan 12.)
We shall now be able to return to our first view of
the temple and notice more intelligently some of the
facts and details connected with the various parts. See
the red lines numbered 53, starting near the right-hand
end of Plan 12.

Position 53. (Return.) The entire length of the
gigantic Temple of Amon at Karnak, Thebes

We have stood here before, but we shall now be
able to understand the relation of the various parts as
we could not do at first (Plan 12). That pylon tower
on the left in the distance, is over 1,200 feet away;

that is, this gigantic temple is nearly a quarter of a
mile long. Between it and our present point of view
are the additions and enlargements of 1,800 years.
What would you think of a European building which
had been 1,800 years in course of construction? Why,
the whole span of European history is scarcely more
than 2,500 years. Here in these expanding halls we
see embodied the career of the Egyptian nation, dynasty
after dynasty, till it closes with the Ptolemies in
that vast pylon nearly a quarter of a mile distant. If
you will look beyond the queen's obelisk you will
notice that none of the columns of the side aisles on
that side is visible. That is where they fell in
October, 1899, but on the left over the top of the
queen's fallen obelisk, you can see them in rank on rank.
Just behind this vacant space, behind the turbaned
native, where the original chapel of Amon stood, is
the Holy of Holies, exactly in a line with the queen's
obelisk, where you see one of the roofing blocks lying
aslant ready to fall to the floor. Those few blocks that
rise just this side of the queen's obelisk are a part of
the fifth pylon, which formed the rear of Thutmosis
I's hypostyle hall, in which the queen erected her
obelisks. After she had thus defaced her father's hall,
Thutmosis III would not attempt to restore it, nor
was he willing to build a new hypostyle in front of
his father's obelisks, as the 19th Dynasty later did.
He therefore built a great hall here in the rear of the
temple, with many adjacent chambers, and a holy of
holies of his own, thus really bringing the front of the
temple to this end and inverting it. He has left extensive
records of his conquests in this temple, especially
a long series of annals, occupying the walls of a
gallery around yonder holy of holies. On our extreme

left in the middle distance are some of his small chapels,
of which now only the bottom courses remain.
They belonged to the main temple, and one of them
was devoted to the service of his ancestors, and contained
a long list of the earlier Pharaohs, which has
since been removed to Paris, where, as already mentioned,
it now is in the National Library.
We shall now visit one or two of the more important
records in this sanctuary, which will show us what a
great historical volume such a temple is. We shall go
first to some inscriptions not far away to our right.
See the lines numbered 61 in the right-hand portion of
Plan 12.

Position 61. Plants and animals brought to
Egypt from the Pharaoh's campaigns in
Syria, Karnak, Thebes

[accompanying stereograph, front]

This is one of the most interesting records which
Thutmosis III has left us in this temple. We are in
a chamber just north of the new Holy of Holies built
by Thutmosis III in the rear of the temple (Plan 12).
Here he has had his artists depict upon the wall the
plants and animals of Palestine and Syria, which he
brought back with him from his campaigns there. This
is the oldest collection of the flora and fauna of these
countries in the world. If they could be properly collected,
published and studied by specialists, doubtless
many of them could be identified with the life still
surviving in those countries at the present day. For
here they are, just as they were found among the hills
and valleys of Palestine nearly 3,500 years ago. At
the other end, now out of our range, is Thutmosis
III's inscription about them; he says: “Year 25, under

the majesty of the king of Egypt, Thutmosis III, living
forever. Plants which his majesty found in the
land of Syria. All plants that grow, all flowers that
are in the Divine Land (which were found by) his
majesty, when his majesty proceeded to Syria to subdue
the countries according to the command of his
father, Amon, who put them beneath his feet. …
His majesty said: 'I swear as Re loves me, as my
father Amon favors me, all these things happened in
truth. I have not written fiction as that which really
happened to my majesty. … My majesty hath
done this from desire to put them before my father,
Amon, in this great temple of Amon, as a memorial
forever.'” And they are still a memorial of the remarkable
king who put them there. How the men,
women and children, urchins exactly like these lads
who bring us our drinking water, must have crowded
the streets of the old city, now lying buried all around
us, to see these strange and wonderful products of
distant lands, which their king had now conquered.
And with what interest they must have crept into the
temple gardens, to enjoy them there around the now
desolate sacred lake. The king tells us that on his
return from his first campaign he celebrated no less
than three great feasts of victory in this temple, and it
was with such things as these that he made those feasts
splendid and marvelous in the eyes of the Theban
multitudes. Imagine how he must have enriched this
temple with the plunder and tribute collected during
seventeen campaigns in Asia.
But there are other records which await us in this
great building, and to these we now go. Find the
lines numbered 62 on the north side of the great hypostyle
hall on Plan 12, which give our next position.

Position 62. War reliefs of Sethos I, on the north
wall, outside the Hypostyle of the Karnak
Temple, Thebes

[accompanying stereograph, front]

What splendid action the ancient sculptor has
caught and put upon this wall! We can almost see
these battles of forgotten wars as they are thus depicted
before us. We are standing outside of the
great hypostyle of Karnak, looking southward, or
nearly so, against the outside of the north wall, as you
know from Plan 12. Behind this wall is that vast
forest of columns, which we have already viewed.
The wall has suffered much, and several blocks are
cut out, as you see. In three rows, one above the
other, Sethos I, whom we saw in the flesh at Cairo, the
father of Ramses II, has here depicted the victories
which he won in the first years of his reign, in the
middle of the 14th century B. C. The top row is almost
out of our range of vision, and is also
very fragmentary. It contained his war in Syria.
This is also the theme of the lowest row,
where we see the Pharaoh with drawn bow,
standing erect in his chariot, as he charges the
fleeing Hittites. We shall be able to follow best the
middle row, in which Sethos is doing battle with the
Libyans, who have crossed the northwestern border
and invaded the Delta. On the right we see him with
the reins of his plumed war-horses tied tightly about
his waist, as he urges them in wild career, full into
the ranks of the enemy. He has exhausted his arrows,
and holds his now useless bow in his left hand,
while in his uplifted right, he grasps the heavy bronze
sword, with which he is beating down the Libyan
chief, who has dared to face him. The Libyan may
be recognized by the two feather plumes which he

wears on his head. On the left in the same row is
another incident in the battle, where Sethos, now dismounted
from his chariot, raises on high the javelin,
with which he is about to transfix the Libyan chief,
whom he hurls back helpless before him. This is one
of the most spirited compositions in Egyptian art,
and is unsurpassed by anything of this class to be found
before the sculpture of the Greeks. According to the
canons of Egyptian art, the king must be represented
of heroic stature, towering like a giant above his
Beneath his feet in this last scene he tramples
an enemy whom he has just overthrown, and behind
him you may discern the figure of a young prince,
standing between Sethos' leg as it is planted upon the
head of his fallen enemy and the half chariot wheel
behind him. This young prince is Sethos' son, who
afterward became Ramses II. But a close examination
shows that the prince's figure is not original, and
a minute study, though you may not be able to make
it out from here, demonstrates that Ramses's figure
is carved over that of another prince, which is also
not original. We thus have a most interesting bit of
oriental romance and court intrigue, otherwise long
since forgotten, which has left its traces on this wall.
For it is evident that after Sethos had finished these relief,
his eldest son and heir to the throne, desired to
have it made public that he had taken part in this battle.
He therefore caused his figure to be inserted
here behind his father. Whether he had really been
present in the battle or not, is, of course, uncertain.
Then there arose a conflict between this crown prince
and the prince Ramses, each plotting against the other
to obtain the throne. Ramses was successful, and at

the first opportunity he had the figure, name and titles
of his rival erased here, and inserted his own. But the
erasure was carelessly done, and sufficient traces remain
to betray the whole affair. We thus see how
much these walls have to tell us of the days when
Egypt was master of the land which Israel, just at
this very time, was going up to possess. But Egypt's
hold upon Palestine in Sethos' time was no longer as
firm as in the days two centuries earlier, when Thutmosis
III brought back from there those plants and
animals which we saw but a moment since.
We are now going to view a monument of the days
when Egypt had long since lost her possessions in
Palestine. It is found on the south side of this great
hall. Find the lines numbered 63 on the lower left-hand
portion of Plan 12.

Position 63. Records of the campaign of Shishak,
who captured Jerusalem; relief at Karnak,

[accompanying stereograph, front]

We are now on the side of the great hypostyle, opposite
that on which we found the reliefs of Sethos I; that
is, we are south of it and looking northward, and the
wall just before us is at the south end of the second
pylon, which forms the front of the great hall (Plan
12). Just here begins the huge first court and extends
westward, that is, toward our left, with all the additions
that followed after the 19th Dynasty. Thus these reliefs
before us belong to a period long after that of the
builders of the great hall. They were put here by Bang
Sheshonk, who is called Shishak in the Old Testament,
the first king of the 22nd Dynasty, who began
to reign about 945 B. C., that is, at about the time of
the reign of Solomon. He desired to recover Egypt's

conquests in Palestine, which had been lost by his
predecessors, and the Old Testament tells us how he
went up and captured Jerusalem in the days of Solomon's
son, Rehoboam. It says: “And it came to pass
in the fifth year of King Rehoboam, that Shishak
king of Egypt came up against Jerusalem: And
he took away the treasures of the house of the
Lord, and the treasures of the king's house; he
even took away all: and he took away all the
shields of gold which Solomon had made” (I Kings
xiv, 25-26). In Chronicles it is stated that he also
“took the fenced cities which pertained to Judah” (II
Chron. xii, 4). Now you have before you on this
wall a list of those very cities. Do you see the tall
figure to which the native in the white garment is
pointing? That is the god Amon, the great god of
this state temple. He wears two tall plumes on his
head, carries a sword in his extended right hand, while
with his left he grasps a number of cords which you
see extending backward toward his body. You must
think of those cords as extending across his body
and beyond to the lines of captives whom you see
behind him in long rows, beginning at about the level
of the god's waist. Each captive is the symbol of a
city; he has no legs, but is merely a head and a pair
of pinioned arms attached to an oval containing the
name of the city. These long rows of ovals, then,
form a list of the cities of Palestine which Shishak
captured on the campaign of which we have just read,
and you may find among them many cities spelled out
in hieroglyphs, which are also mentioned in different
places in the Old Testament. The most interesting
among them is the name “The Field of Abram,” being
the earliest known occurrence of the patriarch's name.

It is there just where the left shoulder of the native in
the white garment cuts into the list. Amon is leading
and presenting them all to the king, who, in having the
relief this made, wishes to acknowledge his god as the
source of his victory. The figure of the king should
occupy that vacant space which you see on the extreme
right. For some reason the sculptor was unable
to finish his work, and the figure of the king was never
inserted. But you can see the group of captives
before the god, kneeling with uplifted hands beseeching
mercy. The king should be represented as
slaying these unfortunate prisoners in the presence of
his god. Such representations are common in these
Theban temples, so that we know just how this one
should appear. You must imagine the outstretched
hand of the king as occupying that vacant space just
over the heads of the kneeling victims, and grasping
them by the hair, as he brandishes a huge war mace
or sword, with which he is about to dispatch them.
The inscriptions above this group before the god contain
the names and fulsome titles of King Shishak,
while those immediately before the god's face and
behind him over the list of cities contain the words
of the god as he presents the cities to Shishak and
promises him victory over his enemies.
We have read but a few pages in this great historical
volume preserved on the walls of the temple of
Karnak, and if we should attempt to read them all,
it would require many volumes of the size of this one.
But these examples will suffice to indicate the character,
at least of some of them; and we must now leave
the east of the river and go back to the west
shore, from the cliffs of which you will remember

we enjoyed our first view of Thebes (Position 47).
First we shall go to the colossi of Memnon, which
we saw from Position 47. This next position is
given on Map 9, which you will see is a portion of
Map 8 on a larger scale. Find the lines numbered
64, which start near the middle of the lower margin
and extend toward the north.

Position 64. Colossal “Memnon” statues at Thebes—the
farther one used to utter a cry at sunrise

[accompanying stereograph, front]

Thebes was the goal of many an idle tourist in the
days of Roman power, as she is now, and we have
before us one of her chief attractions both then and
now—the vocal statue of Memnon. We have now
crossed the river and are looking nearly due north,
with Luxor on our right, the western cliffs on our
left, but sweeping out into view in our front and
flanking the Ramesseum, the columns of which are just
within our range in the distance, on the right (Maps
8 and 9). Here once stood a noble temple, erected by
Amenophis III, and the two colossal statues before
us adorned its front, as we have seen them before
the pylons at Luxor and Karnak. Of that temple
there have survived only a few blocks some hundreds
of feet behind these statues. It was wrecked by
Merneptah (or Merenptah), the son of Ramses II, in
order to secure material for his own temple a quarter
of a mile behind the colossi. The temple built with
the materials secured in this contemptible manner
has likewise perished. Among other things which
Merneptah removed from this temple for his own
building was the magnificent stela which you saw
in the museum at Cairo, containing a record of

Amenophis III's buildings for the gods. You will
remember that Merneptah turned its face to the
wall and inscribed upon the back the record of
his victory over the Libyans, in which he incidentally
mentions Israel (Position 14). This, then,
is the spot where that remarkable stela stood, before
it was appropriated by Merneptah. These great
statues, which have made this place famous since the
Romans first occupied Egypt, are of red sandstone,
a very hard conglomerate, often called gritstone, which
is found in a hill on the northeast of Cairo, called by
the Arabs “Gebel el-Ahmar,” that is, “the red mountain.”
From this quarry these huge masses of stone
were towed up the river to Thebes. With the pedestal
they are now about 65 feet high, but they have lost
their crowns, which would have made them nearly
70 feet high. Each statue proper is of one block, the
base upon which it rests being a separate piece. You
are objecting to this remark and calling attention to
the blocks of which the upper part of the further
statue is built. That is true, but that work was done
by the Roman emperor Septimius Severus (193-211
A. D.), a restoration which was a misfortune for the
Thebans, as we shall see. When Amenophis III set up
these giants in the 14th century B. C., they were intended
as portraits of himself, as all such colossi are
royal portraits. Over three thousand years of storm and
weather have passed over them, until the features
have utterly vanished, and their artistic value is gone.
Meanwhile, the soil of the plain around them has risen
over six feet by gradual accumulation, which, with
the loss of the crowns, much reduces the height of the
statues. Then the earthquake in 27 B. C. overthrew
the upper portion of the further colossus, and shortly

after that it was noticed that this statue emitted a cry
every morning at sunrise, or shortly after. The Greek
residents of Egypt immediately averred that the figure
must be that of Memnon, the famous son of Eos, the
dawn. He had fallen in the Trojan war, and now,
said they, he here greets his mother with every returning
morning. Visitors came in great numbers
to hear the sound, and scores of foreigners have left
records of the fact in inscriptions on the great statue.
Men of the highest rank have thus left memorials of
such a visit, including the emperor Hadrian, who traveled
in Egypt in 130 A. D. In his reign no less than
twenty-seven people left inscriptions here. With one
exception these inscriptions are in Greek and Latin,
and they run from the 11th year of Nero (54-68
A. D.) to the restoration under Septimius Severus,
when the noises ceased. There can be no doubt that
the statue actually emitted a sound, as these numerous
witnesses testify, and it has been proven that stone
such as this conglomerate, when expanding rapidly,
does give forth a ringing, metallic sound. As the increasing
heat of the morning sun beat upon the statue
it rapidly expanded, after having cooled all night, and
in so doing the sounds which so many visitors heard
were produced.
At high Nile the plain all around us is flooded, and
you see that these peasants plow and cultivate their
fields to the very bases of the colossi. They consider
it a great misfortune that the statues are here, for as
the winter advances and the crowds of modern tourists
increase, a broad pathway is trampled through their
fields all the way from the river to this spot, and they
complain bitterly as they see their crops crushed under
the feet of a host of visitors all around the statues.
See how impressively the western cliffs rise between
the two giants. Those long rows of tomb doors mark
the resting-places of the great Thebans, who lived in
the days when these statues were set up; and among
them is the tomb of the very architect who erected
them. The sands of the desert that lie behind have
drifted in athwart the face of the cliffs in vast masses
like great drifts of snow, and scores of tombs are thus
covered awaiting the excavator.
Now we shall wend our way across this plain to that
mass of ruins in the distance to our extreme right,
the Ramesseum. This position is given by the lines
numbered 65, which start in the lower center of Map
9 and extend north. This position is also given on
a detailed plan of the Ramesseum (Plan 13).

Position 65. The Ramessem, mortuary temple of
Ramses II—northwest toward the tombs in the
cliffs, Thebes

Here we look upon the remains of our first temple
on the west side of Thebes. The Memnon colossi are
now upon our left and a little behind us, Luxor is
directly behind us, while before us rise the cliffs that
flank the western plain of Thebes (Map 8). We are
looking nearly down the axis of the temple, which, as
you will see by reference to Plan 13, is almost in a
northwest-southeast line; but we usually treat these
temples on the west side of the river as if they faced
exactly east, which makes reference to the compass
much easier. We are therefore standing at the east
end of the temple and looking toward its western end,
that is, the rear of the building. What a sad ruin!
For centuries it served as a quarry and was still so

used far down into the 19th century; and this, following
upon the ruin of earthquake and the havoc
of war, has almost wrecked the noble temple. You
find difficulty in tracing any plan at all, or any relation
of the parts because it is so fragmentary and scattered.
We are standing upon the southern tower of the first
pylon (see Plan 13); the central aisle leading from
front to rear is here on our right, and that vast colossus
on the extreme right, with a native in a snow-white
garment mounted upon it, is lying obliquely
across the aisle. Just behind it and extending out of
range on the right, you may see the tower of the second
pylon on the other side of the aisle; the other
tower of the same pylon, on this side of the aisle, has
been quarried away, and only the lower courses of
the base remain, against which the figure of this lower
native is outlined. If that tower were still standing it
would cut off all our present view of the rear of the
building. Again you can locate the central aisle by
the base of the overturned colossus; for the colossus
once stood upon that huge rectangular block near us,
on our extreme right, with half a dozen rough fragments
scattered over its top. Passing down the aisle
toward the rear, one has that block on his left (see
plan), and you see how the fallen giant bars all further
progress in that direction. In the rear it is much
easier to determine the aisle, for you find there a colonnaded
hall, a hypostyle like that at Karnak, and
under that higher section of roof in the middle we
must of course locate the central aisle, between a
double row of taller columns, crowned by flower capitals
on either side, which is exactly what you observe
there. You can discern also the shorter columns,
with bud capitals on the right and left of the central

aisle, precisely as we found them at Karnak. Now I
think you can easily trace the aisle from front to rear.
Yonder hypostyle was preceded by two successive
courts, which you can best place by examining the
plan (No. 13). There was a colonnade at the left
side of the “first court,” and you see the bases of the
columns belonging to it down at our feet on the left.
If you attempt to follow the middle aisle, the entrance
to the “second court” is, as we have seen, barred by
the fallen colossus; but the destruction of the left
tower of the second pylon enables us to gain a full
view of this court. It was surrounded by a colonnaded
portico, but in front and rear, next to the court,
we find a row of Osiris pillars, each pillar having
carved on its front a statue of Osiris, standing with
crossed arms and holding the scourge and crookstaff
as the symbols of his dominion. Four of the Osiris
figures off there to our right serve to mark the rear
of the court for us, and immediately to the right of
the native on the colossus you note the shoulder of one
of the Osiris columns, behind the second pylon, forming
the front of the court. The corresponding figures
on the left of the second court have been entirely destroyed.
But you can see where they should be, if
you will note upon Plan 13, the three low flights of
steps which lead from the second court, through the
portico to the hypostyle hall. Turning again to the
temple, you will observe in the second court the left-hand
flight, which should pass between the last two
Osiris pillars on the left. The middle flight you must
place just on the left of the group of four Osiris figures
still standing on the right, while the right-hand
flight passes between the further two of these, but is
hidden from our view by the fallen colossus. When

we have viewed all this from the rear also, it will come
out more clearly, and you can return here and pick out
the parts again.
The purpose of this temple, like that now vanished
building behind the Memnon colossi, was different
from that of the temples which we have seen on the
east side of the river. Do you remember that chapel
in the east front of the mastaba? And again, the temple
on the east side of each of the pyramids? Well,
these temples on the west side at Thebes are for precisely
the same purpose and occupy the same position
with relation to the tombs of the dead. The Pharaohs
of the Empire, as we shall see, no longer built
pyramids, but hewed out vast tombs in a valley behind
yonder cliffs, and here to the east of those cliff tombs,
as once they were east of the pyramids, are the royal
mortuary temples. But they have now developed
from a chapel of rather modest dimensions, to a magnificent
sanctuary comparable to the great state temple
on the other side of the river. This now desolate
and forsaken temple was maintained by splendid endowments
established by the king for that purpose.
Those low mounds which you see just beyond the
temple, on the left of the hypostyle hall and on the
right of the four Osiris columns, cover great storehouses
in which the temple income in wine, oil, honey,
grain, vegetables, textiles, gold, silver and costly
stones was stored, and there you may pick up to this
day, the seals from the wine, oil or honey jars, bearing
the name of Ramses II, just as they were broken
from the jars by the temple steward in the days when
the Hebrews were sojourning in the land. All this
was intended to ensure the Pharaoh just such food,
drink and clothing after death as he had enjoyed while

King of Egypt. Thus he was here long worshiped as a god.
You have already noticed the roof of the central
aisle, out yonder over the hypostyle. We shall now
stand out there upon that roof and look this way toward
our present position on the first pylon. But
before we go, glance once more at the cliff behind the
temple, for when we have finished our inspection of
this building we shall go up yonder among those
tombs and examine the interior of one of the best preserved,
of which you see so many openings. As we
are now looking somewhat west of north, with the
Nile to our right and behind us, we shall next be
looking southeast toward the river. Find the lines
numbered 66, which start near the centre of Map 8,
and extend southeast, and you will see that we are to
be looking over the river to Luxor on the southeast
bank. See Plan 13 also.

Position 66. From the roof of the Ramesseum past
the fallen Colossus of Ramses II, southeast
over the Plain of Thebes

[accompanying stereograph, front]

Here, you see, we are practically reversing our position
of a moment ago, when we stood on yonder
pylon at the extreme right end and looked up here
toward the hypostyle that is now beneath our feet
(Plan 13). This is an admirable point for locating
the temple with reference to the other shore, for as
we look up the axis of the building we see that the
white front of the hotel at Luxor, on the other side of
the river, is almost in a line with it. The river flows,
as you know, directly in front of that hotel, off to our
left or the northeast, but we cannot see it from here,

as our point of view is not sufficiently elevated. Out
of range on the left is Karnak, and behind us are, of
course, the cliffs, which we have so often seen forming
our western sky-line. Under our feet is that central
aisle, which we saw from the first pylon, and this native
here on the right is sitting on an extending architrave
which supports the roof beneath us. He is
swinging his feet over the lower roof, which covers
the side aisles immediately behind us. The vacant
space before us is the second court, with its Osiris
columns in front and rear (see Plan 13); those in front
now face us, and of the four in the rear, which we
saw from the pylon, you can discern only the arm or
elbow of one, projecting from behind the pillar down
here on our left. The first court now becomes more
clear, as we see the first pylon which forms its front.
Through the door, half choked with fallen masonry,
appears a peasant just riding past on a donkey, as he
goes to superintend one of those numerous threshing
floors scattered over the plain between us and the
buildings of Luxor. This face of the pylon, though
you cannot distinguish them from here, is occupied
by enormous reliefs, depicting Ramses II at the famous
battle of Kadesh, the same scene which we found
also at Luxor. And there, with his giant head reposing
directly in the middle aisle, is that colossal
statue of the same king, the builder of this temple. In
the year 1300 B. C. it towered grandly above the
pylons, and might have been seen far across the
plain, but it has long lain as you see it now, a prey to
the neighboring peasants who have broken it up for
mill-stones. You will recognize its parts, in so far as
they have survived, if you note that the native is standing
on the forehead. The rest of the face is obliterated,

but you can clearly see the band around the forehead
in front of the native's feet. The projection on the
right of the head is the heavy head-dress of linen,
worn so commonly by the kings, and hanging down
upon the right shoulder, which is still well preserved.
You saw the same head-dress on the statue of Khafre
in the Cairo Museum (Position 10). On the right
arm just below the shoulder you discern the royal
cartouche or oval containing the name of the king;
but you are not able to follow the arm down to the
elbow, as the whole figure, arms and all, is broken off
just below the breast. But you can discern the elbow
on the great mass of the trunk, beyond the huge fracture,
and even trace the beginning of the forearm.
The figure was seated like the Memnon colossi, with
both hands on the knees, and as it here lies on its back
the vast legs should rise to the front of the throne
block, as its front would now be the upper side; but
both legs and throne are now missing. It is 21½ feet
across those gigantic shoulders, the arm above the
elbow is 4 feet 9 inches thick, and judging from the
dimensions, the figure must have been about 57½ feet
high, which makes it the largest statue in Egypt, as
we must deduct the bases from the height of the
Memnon colossi.
We have seen (Position 60) the obelisks of Queen
Makere, weighing some 350 tons, but here we have
a figure cut from a single block, and weighing when
finished over 800 tons. Yet that figure, being of
Assuan granite, was brought down the Nile from the
first cataract; and this same king accomplished a still
more remarkable feat. For Petrie found in the ruins
of the Delta city of Tanis the scanty fragments of a
red granite colossus, almost certainly belonging to

Ramses II, which must have been about 92 feet high
and weighed some 900 tons. The French expedition of
Napoleon I found no less than eighteen of these
colossi on this west side of the river alone, although,
of course, they were not all as large as this of Ramses
or those of Amenophis III, the Memnon colossi.
Let us now turn around more to the right and look
from this fallen giant to its fellows out yonder on
the plain. See the lines numbered 67, starting near
the centre of Map 8. Comparison with the lines numbered
66, starting from the same point, shows more
definitely how much more toward the south we are
about to look. This position is given also on Map 9.

Position 67. Plain of Thebes and the Colossi of
Memnon seen at the south from the roof of
the Ramesseum, Thebes

[accompanying stereograph, front]

We have stepped back a little from our former position,
and turned toward the south (the right), and
we are now looking directly southward toward the
colossi of Amenophis III (Map 9). The trees which
form that broken line against the faint background of
the distant eastern cliffs mark the course of the river,
whose shores they fringe. Hence Luxor is now out
of range of vision on the left, while the western cliffs
are on our right outside of our prospect. The level
fields are dotted here and there with threshing floors,
and in the grove of acacias before us is the favorite
well of all the neighboring herdsmen. Yonder in
the midst of the broad plain are the solitary colossi,
looking out upon the Nile as they have done for nearly
3,500 years. At a considerable distance behind them,
you notice a low, dark mass, just in line with a heap

of white straw from one of the threshing floors. That
dark pile is all that remains of the temple that once
stood behind the colossi, where now you see the level
fields. There lies a huge slab with an inscription describing
the temple and dedicating it to Amon, and
marking, as it states, the place where the king stood
in the performance of the temple ritual. The foundations
of the building are undoubtedly still there under
the accumulated Nile deposits at least six feet deep;
but they have never been excavated. There is no
doubt but that excavations on this spot would bring
many inscriptions and other important monuments to
light. The territory between us and the colossi was
excavated by Petrie, resulting in the discovery of the
remains of the temples of Thutmosis IV, Queen
Tewosret, and Merneptah, who destroyed the temple
of Amenophis III behind the colossi for his building
materials, as we have before noted. They stood out
here on ground just out of range on our right, but
they have now vanished, so that Petrie was able only to
follow the ground plan.
Here at our feet, as we stand upon the higher roof
of the central aisle of the Ramesseum, are the roofing
blocks of the side aisles on the south side of the hypostyle.
Our native servant has thrown himself down
full length upon them, regardless of the broiling sun
and the fact that the roof is heated through and
through by the suns of countless tropical days, until
it glows like a furnace, and the hand shrinks from
touching it. With myriads of flies swarming into
his eyes and ears he slumbers peacefully while we
make our observations from the roof of the temple.
Incidentally he makes a very good standard for measuring
these roofing blocks; disregarding his outstretched

arms, the block on which he lies is nearly
four times his length, so that we may call it some 18
to 19 feet in length. If we return to Position 65 to
look at this hall from the first pylon again, bear this
fact in mind and it will much increase your appreciation
of the size of the building as a whole. And as
you do so look up again at the cliffs behind the temple,
for among the tombs and in one of the tomb
chambers up there we shall now make a short visit.
Our next position and field of vision are determined
by the lines numbered 68, which start near the centre of
Map 9, and branch toward the lower left-hand corner
or toward the south.

Position 68. Looking south over the Theban Plain
and the temples of Medinet Habu, from the
cemetery of Abd el-Kurna

[accompanying stereograph, front]

We have climbed the western cliffs and stand in
the midst of the innumerable tomb openings which we
saw from the Ramesseum below. This particular
locality is known to the natives as Shekh Abd el-Kurna,
and you will find it so called near the centre of
Map 9. We look almost due south, but a little west
of south, and just over the head of the native sitting
on the spur of rock you see the mass of buildings
making up the group of Medinet Habu, which we are
to visit soon. We shall later return to this spot and
examine the details of this beautiful landscape; now
we shall merely locate ourselves and the tomb which
we are to visit. Behind us is Der el-Bahri, which we
have not yet visited, on our left Karnak and the river,
flanking the plain over which we have come (Map 8).
The southern extension of that plain is before us.

Here at our feet are a few of the tombs with which
this cemetery is filled. You observe that the face of
the cliff has been smoothed and so cut in as to produce
a perpendicular wall, with a court in front. In
the middle of the perpendicular wall is a door leading
to the chapel chamber of the tomb, which is excavated
in the solid rock. It was these doors which you saw
in long rows from the Ramesseum pylon a little while
ago. In front of the forecourt, Theban gentlemen of
wealth were accustomed to lay out a garden in which
the deceased was supposed to divert himself, lying
about under the trees and enjoying himself as he had
been accustomed to do in his garden down in the city.
There was not always room for such an addition, but
in some cases it must have been of considerable size,
for the architect who put up those obelisks of Thutmosis
I tells us how many trees he had in his tomb
garden, and all the various kinds; and they were so
numerous that they must have formed a fine grove.
Here all around us, then, sleep the great of ancient
Thebes; or we should more fittingly say slept, for
these tombs have all, with rare exceptions, been
robbed in antiquity.
The particular tomb which we shall next visit is
yonder over this spur of rock on which these natives
are perched; its entrance at present, owing to the débris
gathered about it, is a mere hole in the ground,
like that one which you see over the head of the standing
Egyptian. Our tomb opening is very close to
that one, but is not quite in range from our present
standpoint. We shall presently stand in the tomb
chapel which has so long served as the abode of an
Egyptian officer, who lived in the 16th century B. C.

Position 69. Painted tomb chamber of Prince
Sennofer, hewn in the rock of the western
cliffs, Thebes

[accompanying stereograph, front]

Could you not believe that these colors were laid on
yesterday? Yet it is 3,500 years since the artist who
painted this chamber stood where you and I stand now
and looked over his work for the last time before turning
it over to its owner. We are stationed at one side
of a nearly square chamber, the ceiling of which is
supported by four massive pillars, two of which are
just out of range on the right. The whole is hewn
out of the western cliffs, like the tombs which we saw
at Benihasan and Assiut. Its purpose and function
are the same as we have found before in the mastaba
chapels, the pyramid chapels, and the rock-hewn chambers
at Assiut or Benihasan. This is the room where
the deceased lives and receives food and drink from his
surviving relatives and descendants. Hence the character
of these paintings. The owner is everywhere
depicted, receiving, from a lady standing before him,
such offerings as the Egyptian delighted in. Let us
see if we can ascertain who the couple are. On the
first pillar at our left you see the noble owner, seated
in a wooden chair, the legs of which represent those
of a lion. He is receiving from the lady a necklace
which she presents upon a little tray or shallow dish.
Now the ancient artist has not left us in doubt regarding
the person for whom this gift is intended. He did
not do this for our benefit, for his mind was as far
from thinking about us as we are from any thought of
the distant people who may some day excavate our
capital at Washington, and speculate upon the probable
height of the fallen Washington monument. He put
that inscription over the man's figure, in order that

this scene might be for the benefit of this man alone.
The magical charms pronounced over this painting,
as well as all the others, have lent it a subtle virtue, by
force of which, in the belief of the Egyptian, the deceased
was continually, daily and repeatedly, actually
receiving the gift here depicted. If his name were
not there the virtue and value of the scene might not
be enjoyed by him alone. Hence we are able to read
his name and titles over every one of these paintings,
and over his figure on this first pillar we read: “The
hereditary prince, enduring in favor, great in love,
favorite of the excellent heart of the king, prince in
the Southern City (Thebes), overseer of the garden
of Amon, Sen-nofer, deceased.” The lady before him
is likewise designated in the inscription above her figure:
“His beloved sister, the musician of Amon,
Meryt, deceased.” This lady, called his sister, was
also his wife, as the Egyptians commonly married
their sisters. On the other pillar, where Sen-nofer sits
upon a camp-stool under the two sacred eyes, she is
presenting him with a bolt of fine linen and a lotus
flower, which she holds to his nose for his enjoyment.
On the right side of the same pillar the two are conversing
together, and on the side wall which you see
between the two pillars they appear again in an arbor,
praying to Osiris and Anubis, who are concealed by
the intervening pillar on the left. Finally on the wall
at the right of the further pillar you observe a priest
with a panther skin hanging from his shoulders, pouring
out a libation of water from a jar in his right
hand, while he extends a censer of burning incense
with his left. Thus our friend Sen-nofer, who had
charge of the gardens of the state temple, which we
have seen at Karnak, nearly 1,600 years before Christ,

in the days of King Amenophis I, was supplied with
all possible necessities for his long sojourn in that
uncertain country, toward which the Egyptian looked
with such dread. Similar scenes depicting all the
various activities of life, from the grand vizier receiving
the envoys of Syria, to the artisan at work upon
the king's buildings, restore to us the life of Egypt
and to some extent of Syria, centuries before the
Hebrew exodus. Thus while the cities of the living
have perished, the life that surged through their
streets and houses and bazaars has been preserved to
us in the city of the dead, in this vast Theban cemetery,
where the tombs are so numerous that the face
of the cliff has been not inaptly compared with a
huge sponge. Could we now push up a few feet
through this ceiling, we should emerge upon a similar
tomb chamber above; if we should pierce a shaft
through the floor, we should presently fall through
into a chamber below, and we should have the same
experience if we should penetrate through either side
wall. All around us as we stand in this silent dwelling
of the dead are the houses of other dead. The Egyptians
themselves had great difficulty in this respect,
for they were often unable to put down the necessary
vertical shaft, at the lower end of which they desired
to excavate the sepulcher chamber for the mummy;
hence it was frequently necessary to push a horizontal
passage further into the cliff, to a point where it would
be safe to descend without penetrating a chamber
There are many larger chambers of finer workmanship
than this in the Theban cemetery around us, but
there is none so fresh and well preserved, and hence
we have visited this one. When we remember that

these are all simple water-colors, with which the artist
worked, and that all oil colors were unknown in
ancient Egypt, we shall appreciate the marvelous possibilities
for the preservation of the works of men
inherent in the climate and other conditions of the
Nile valley. Such conditions are found nowhere else,
and hence we can nowhere else study early man as we
can here.
You will find our next position marked near the
centre of Map 9 by the lines numbered 70. There
we are to look north over the ruins of the temple Der
el-Bahri. See also Plan 14, an enlarged plan of the
temple, where lines marked 70 cut out the portion of
the temple that we are to see.

Position 70. Buried for ages—colonnaded terraces
of Queen Makere's magnificent temple, Der el-Bahri, Thebes (looking north)

[accompanying stereograph, front]

What temple in all the world is so superbly situated
as this beautiful sanctuary of the great queen? The
snow-white colonnades are flanked by the naked, desolate
cliffs with their fine play of light and shadow,
bringing out rich masses of brown and yellow against
which the clear lines of the temple are sharply defined,
producing an effect of the whole, not to be found in
any other temple of Egypt or of any land. For no
such terraced structure as this is known anywhere
else, and you are struck from the first with its peculiar
arrangement, unlike any temple that we have
visited. It is an imitation, on a much larger scale, of
a terraced temple recently unearthed here on our left
just beside the larger temple. This prototype was

erected by one of the Mentuhoteps of the 11th Dynasty.
The temple faces southeast, and we are looking
obliquely across the main central axis, nearly due
north (Map 9 and Plan 14). On our right are Karnak
and the river, behind us are the Ramesseum and the
colossi in the plain, on our left the western cliffs and
the desert behind them. You have already seen that
Queen Makere was a great builder, for you remember
her giant obelisk, which we found at Karnak. But we
have before us a still greater work of hers. The Holy
of Holies, in this remarkable temple, is hewn in the
rock of the cliff, and you can see its entrance at the
foot of the cliff on the upper terrace. It is that dark
rectangular doorway directly in a line over the head
of this nearer native; not the one farthest to the left
and lower down, which is the entrance to the side
chapel (Plan 14). In the axis of the temple before that
door to the Holy of Holies you see a detached stone
doorway, out toward the edge of the “upper court.”
That is marked as the “Granite Door” on the plan
(14). This will locate for you the upper court. The
“middle court” is directly before us with a colonnade
both above and below it. Communication between
the upper and the “middle court” is maintained by an
“ascent” or causeway. A similar causeway which
you notice at the extreme right connects the middle
and a “lower court,” of which you can see only one
corner just behind this house on the right. That is
the house of the excavators, who freed this temple
from the accumulated débris and rubbish of many
centuries, which completely covered it. The work was
done by the Egypt Exploration Fund, under the direction
of M. Naville, of Geneva, and when they began, if
you had viewed the temple from this place you could

have distinguished little more than heaps of rubbish
and detritus from the cliffs above Up yonder in the
upper court rose the tower of a Coptic convent, built
with brick from neighboring late tombs. It was this
building which gave to the temple its modern name
“Der el-Bahri,” which means Northern Church or
Convent; but it was removed in clearing the temple
by M. Naville.
The builder, Queen Makere herself, called her temple
“The Most Splendid,” and it fully deserved the name.
Out here on the right, but now totally destroyed, so
that we miss nothing by their being out of range,
were a pair of pylon towers, to which an avenue of
sphinxes led up from the river. As there is no soil
here, the trees and plants, that used to beautify the
terraces, were planted in holes excavated in the stone
and filled with Nile mud. The rock forming the
middle court before us was not of exactly the proper
shape for it and it had therefore to be built out on
this side with limestone masonry, adorned with large
panels. The sculptures in this temple are among the
finest in Egypt, and their subject matter is of the greatest
interest. The wall behind the colonnade on the other
side of the ascent is covered with scenes depicting
the divine birth of the queen, while that on this side of
the same causeway is devoted to a most interesting
series of reliefs showing the queen's expedition to the
lands on the Somali coast of Africa, at the southern
end of the Red Sea. We shall later look at one of these
scenes in the last series. In the further corner of the
upper court is another small court with a large altar
of sacrifice in a fine state of preservation, and of the
greatest interest, because such altars have all perished

in the temples of Egypt, though one other has since
been discovered.
Throughout this magnificent temple the name and
figure of the queen have been carefully erased, especially
by her great brother, who was also her husband
and successor, Thutmosis III, but also by her other
brother, Thutmosis II. Thus its walls have become
for us the evidence of political factions like that which
we found on the wall at Karnak. As we enjoy the
peaceful beauty of this lovely temple, we would never
have imagined the family feuds, the feverish hate,
the plots and counterplots among which its walls rose,
until at last when the enemies of the queen were successful,
she was thrust aside by her great brother, Thutmosis
III, and the temple was left unfinished.
After we have inspected one of her reliefs, we shall
climb up the narrow path that leads to the top of those
cliffs and from there look down along the line of cliffs
at present on our right. The lines marked 71 on our
Plan 14 show in what part of the temple we shall find
the relief we are now to study.

Position 71. Queen Makere's expedition to East
Africa in the sixteenth century before Christ
—reliefs at Der el-Bahri, Thebes

[accompanying stereograph, front]

We are now at the left end of the colonnade on the
left side of the “ascent” leading from the middle to the
upper court, and we are looking at the end wall (Plan
14). What a pity that it is so damaged! Time and
space do not permit us to follow every step of this
expedition; the five vessels composing it have reached
their destination, having sailed from some unknown
port near the north end of the Red Sea, and having

now anchored in some harbor along that strip of coast at
the south end of the Red Sea, known as the Somali coast
(Map 2) . The Egyptians called this country the “land
of Punt,” and they had traded with it in expeditions
by sea as far back as 2600 or 2700 B. C., being the
earliest sea voyages known in history. Solomon traded
along the same route, but that was six hundred years
later than this expedition of Queen Makere in the 16th
century B. C. The expedition has now landed and
the wall before us shows the first intercourse with the
natives of the land of Punt. The scenes are arranged
in rows one above another, and we shall begin with
the lowermost. Under this lowest row is a band of
wavy lines representing the sea. You notice the fish
in the waters. Those fish are so accurately done by
the “staff artist” who accompanied the expedition that
they have been identified with fish still surviving in
the Red Sea. On the right is a file of soldiers with
large shields, preceded by their commander leaning
upon his staff. At the extreme left where the wall
is broken off, you see the prince of the land of Punt,
standing with uplifted hands in salutation of the Egyptians.
Before the Egyptian officer is a low table loaded
with necklaces and strings of beads, brought, of
course, for purposes of traffic. Let us now read the
inscriptions which the ancient artist has considerately
inserted as an explanation of the scene. Over the
table and the Egyptians are the words: “(The arrival)
of the king's messenger in the Divine Land (Punt),
together with the army which is behind him, before
the chiefs of Punt. They have been dispatched with
every good thing from the court (of Egypt).” Over
the prince of Punt we find: “The coming of the chiefs
of Punt, doing obeisance, with bowed head, to receive

the army of the king.” You see the queen regularly
refers to herself as the “king.” The name of the
Puntite prince is also written before his figure under
his uplifted arms, thus: “Parohu.” In the next higher
row over the line of soldiers with large shields, you
see a large rectangular space with a curved top. That
is the Egyptian officer's tent, in front of which he now
stands, while the natives of Punt bring before him
the products of their country. The figures of these
men have now disappeared, but the products which
they have brought are piled up before the Egyptian
commander. You see a round-topped heap of myrrh
and other fragrant gums, and just where the surface
of the wall is broken away two flat baskets filled with
gold in commercial rings. Just in front of the Egyptian
officer is a short inscription with these words:
“Reception of the tribute of the chief of Punt, by the
king's messenger.” The tent of the officer also contains
an inscription of great interest; it states: “The
tent of the king's messenger and his army is pitched
in the myrrh-terraces of Punt on the side of the sea,
in order to receive the chiefs of this country. There
is offered to them bread, beer, wine, meat, fruit and
everything found in Egypt, according to the command
of the (Egyptian) court.” In the top row, which is
much destroyed, we see that the queen was not content
to bring only the myrrh of Punt to Egypt; she
must have also the trees themselves which produce
the aromatic gum; so that you see up there a tree
slung in a basket, suspended from a pole, and carried on
the shoulders of four men to the neighboring ships.
Large numbers of these trees are thus carried on
board, and together with the myrrh itself, monkeys,
dogs, apes, gold, ivory, ebony, panther skins, all sorts

of aromatic woods, fragrant gums, and even natives
of Punt and their children, are loaded into the waiting
ships and sail away for Egypt. Those trees were intended
for this very temple in which we stand, and here
they were planted. For, as the queen elsewhere explains,
she desired to make a “Punt in Egypt.” Now, as we
know from many inscriptions, and as you have already
noticed in one of these before us, the myrrh trees grew
on the terraced slopes of the hills above the sea in
Punt, which the Egyptians called “Myrrh-terraces,”
and the resemblance of these terraces to her terraced
temple may have occurred to the queen, as she attempted
to reconstruct a “Punt in Egypt.” We might
follow the expedition on these walls until it reached
Egypt, and we might watch the queen presenting the
wealth of this distant land to this splendid temple, we
might see her officials weighing up the gold, measuring
the myrrh and counting the ivory tusks, as they receive
them all in the temple treasury; but there are many
other marvels that await us here in Thebes, and we
must pass all this and ascend the cliffs which flank this
This next standpoint is given on both Maps 8 and
9. Note particularly the red lines numbered 72, which
start in the upper middle portion of Map 8 and branch
southeast across the river.

Position 72. From the high cliffs above Der el-Bahri,
southeast across the plain to Luxor
and the Nile, Thebes

[accompanying stereograph, front]

We have looked across this plain before, but that was
from a point further south (the right), where we had
in range the colossi in the plain and the Ramesseum

(Position 47). They are now out of our field of vision
on the right. We are looking southeastward, our line
of sight being at right angles with the river, which
you descry as a white streak, behind which, on the
right, is Luxor plainly marked by the white front of
the hotel (Map 8). On both sides of the river the
fields stretch away far and wide, but our range of
vision does not include Karnak, which is, of course,
some distance to the left (north) of Luxor. Below
us, hidden by the rocks at our feet, is the terraced
temple of Der el-Bahri at the foot of the cliffs, and
if our native attendant here should step incautiously
out over these jagged points of rock, he would be
dashed to instant death on the pavement of the upper
court several hundred feet below us. Out beyond the
lower court where the pylons once stood, we see the
sands of the desert covering many an ancient tomb.
That rectangular brick building is a tomb of the 26th
Dynasty, and the whole group of burials out there
is known among the natives as El-Assasif. Beyond it
you see the sands merging into the vegetation of the
plain, but the line of transition is still very clearly
All along this desert margin, formerly stretched in
an imposing array that line of noble temples, of which
now there are standing only the temple of Kurna, on
the north (our left), the Ramesseum, now just outside
our field on the right, and Medinet Habu on the extreme
south. If you will look at the Map (No. 9),
you will find the ground plans of those that have been
located, but of which the superstructure has now disappeared.
The temple of the great conqueror, Thutmosis
III, stood out yonder on the plain, beyond and
to the right of the large brick tomb, where now you see

nothing but the level fields of the peasant. There Thutmosis
III celebrated one of his magnificent feasts of
victory on his return from his first victorious campaign;
but like all the others in that splendid line, it has
utterly vanished. No city of the orient ever possessed
such a group of buildings as these, and seen from
below against the fine mass of these gaunt cliffs upon
which we now stand, they must have made a spectacle
such as the modern world has never looked upon.
Having as their pendants on the east shore the
mighty mass of the Karnak group and the fine colonnades
of Luxor, the whole set in the deep green of
temple gardens, surrounded by splendid palaces and
gorgeous chateaus of the nobles, about which were
grouped the immense quarters of the vast city with
miles of busy streets, markets and bazaars, the whole
formed such a prospect from these heights as we have
perhaps painted in fancy as we read the Arabian
Nights, but no modern eye shall ever see.
For centuries the inhabitants of the city buried their
dead in these cliffs at our feet, so that there grew up
on this side of the river the quarters of the under-takers
and embalmers, who here practiced their grewsome
craft by thousands. Had we stood here on any day
whatever, before the disappearance of the great city,
we might have seen the sombre line of Nile boats leaving
the other shore and pushing across the river.
Landing on this side we should have traced the long
procession slowly winding on foot across the plain
below us, while as they approached the sounds of
mourning and lamentation, at first almost inaudible,
would gradually rise until they seemed to fill all the
plain, as the mourning cortege grew near one of those
innumerable doors, which we have seen in the face

of the cliff. All day long we might have seen such
processions, longer or shorter, as beseemed the rank
and wealth of the departed, leaving the city yonder
and entering these dread chambers beneath us; and
every day for many centuries this continued, until
these cliffs for miles above and below us here are
honeycombed with such chambers as that of Sen-nofer,
which we visited. And the vanished city, which once
filled the broad plain yonder, tells its story to-day
only in the paintings, inscriptions, and mortuary furniture
still preserved in this city of the dead.
These tombs in the face of the cliffs are only those of
the Thebans, not those of their kings. The tombs of
the kings are now behind us, in a secluded valley, into
which we shall presently look. There is, however, a fine
view down the river from this point, and after we have
enjoyed it, we shall look down into the valley where
the kings were buried. First, then, we turn to the
left, with our line of sight at right angles to that
along which we are now looking.
See the red lines numbered 73, starting from the
upper middle portion of Map 8 and extending northeast.
The more extended range of vision which we are
about to enjoy is marked out more fully on our large
map of Egypt (Map 3).

Position 73. Down the Nile (northeast) across the
western cliffs of Thebes

[accompanying stereograph, front]

Here is the rugged crest of the rocks which flank
the temple of Der el-Bahri, as we saw them from below
when we visited the temple (Position 70). We
have now turned to the left from our former direction,
and whereas we then looked directly across the

river, we are now looking down the river (Maps 8
and 3). On our right, but out of our field of vision
is Karnak, on the left the desert, and behind us the
upper river. Far down the valley, making a wide
sweep westward, and in the distance turning again
eastward till it is lost on the horizon, is the river, which
cut out this remarkable valley and made of it a habitable
land. You can see this curve better on the large
Map 3. So it winds on past Cairo, nearly five hundred
miles to the sea. Here sailed forth the fleets of
the Theban princes against those of Assiut, back in
the days when the supremacy of the north or the south
depended upon the long civil conflict, till by the 22nd
century B. C. Thebes won, and established the 11th
Dynasty in the south to succeed the 10th in the north.
Who would have supposed that this comparatively
narrow stream should be the sole source of fertility
in this valley? As we see the river here it is but 2,000
feet wide, and at its widest it is but 3,300, while at its
narrowest point, at Silsileh, it is but a little over 1,100
feet. These cliffs before us, and all that we have thus
far seen, are of limestone, but as we proceed up the
river and pass Edfu, which is sixty-eight miles from
the first cataract, we shall find them changing to sand-stone,
which continues throughout Nubia. With such
excellent building material awaiting him on both sides
of his narrow valley, it was, of course, a foregone
conclusion that the Egyptian must become a master
of masonry, and thus it is, that we find the earliest
known stone masonry in this valley, while in Babylonia,
where there is no stone to be had, the people only
learned brick masonry, and the art of cutting and laying
stone was almost unknown. Thus this river, with its
requirements for irrigation devices of many kinds, and

the cliffs, with their unrivaled building materials,
made Egypt the mother of the mechanical arts, from
which the later civilization of the Mediterranean basin
largely profited, and bequeathed them to us of this
modern world. As the Nile is the real maker of
these cliffs, we see what a benefactor to all mankind
this ancient river is and has been.
But now we must turn about to the left, with our
right side toward our present outlook and our backs
to Karnak, and we shall see where the kings were
laid. This next outlook is given in the upper middle
portion of Map 9. That particular section to be looked
over is also given on a larger scale in the upper left-hand
corner of Map 9.

Position 74. The Valley of the Kings' Tombs at
Thebes, where the great conquerors of Egypt
were buried

[accompanying stereograph, front]

Is not this a fit burial place for the great kings of
Egypt? What splendid desolation, what a noble valley
of death encompassed, by these silent mountains,
without a hint of life in all its circuit, save these chattering
natives who prattle on like the children that
they are, untouched by the wild impressiveness of the
place. We are now standing with Karnak and the
river behind us (Map 8); its lower course, which we
have just seen, is now on our right, and out yonder
behind that battlemented mountain are the trackless
wastes of the Sahara. The valley at our feet is a depression
behind the western cliffs, which we have seen
so often from the plain of Thebes behind us. When
the kings found that the pyramids no longer sufficed
to protect the body of the royal occupant, they began

to follow the example of their nobles and hew out
tombs in the rock of the cliffs. The place they chose
was this valley, and you can see the doors that form
the entrances to their tombs. The custom began,
when the kings of the Empire took up their
residence at Thebes, and the city entered upon its imperial
career. The earliest king whose tomb has been
found here is Thutmosis I. You remember his obelisks
at Karnak. The same architect who erected those
obelisks, Ineni, also made the king's tomb in this valley.
He tells us with great pride how it was done:
“I superintended the excavation of the cliff-tomb of
his majesty, alone, no one seeing, no one hearing.”
This, of course, refers to the great secrecy with which
it was done with the purpose of keeping the location
from becoming known, and thus making robbery impossible.
From the time of Thutmosis I, early in the
18th Dynasty, after 1550 B. C., to the priest kings of
the 21st Dynasty, or about 1000 B. C., this valley continued
to be the royal cemetery of Egypt. During
these 550 years, not less than forty-two tombs
were excavated here, at least that is the number now
known. But new ones are being discovered every
season or two, and there are probably many more yet
to be found, as the detritus from the cliffs above
slides down and completely covers the openings.
The last tomb discovered was found by an American,
Mr. Theodore M. Davis. It was that of the family
of Amenophis III. Mr. Davis also penetrated to the
tomb of the great Queen Makere, as well as to that
of Thutmosis IV. Among all these tombs, only one
has preserved the body of the king in its sarcophagus.
In the winter of 1898, M. Loret discovered the tomb
of Amenophis II, the son of the conqueror Thutmosis

III, with the mummy lying in its wooden coffin, which
again was enclosed in a large stone sarcophagus, such
as is regularly used in these royal tombs. Although the
tomb had been robbed, the funeral garlands still lay
upon the breast of the mummy. By order of the government
the body was left lying in the tomb, undisturbed
in its sarcophagus. The modern descendants
of the tomb robbers of ancient Thebes, then forced
their way into the tomb and rifled the body of their
ancient ruler, but for nothing.
Those three on the left of the path, this side of No.
9, belong (beginning with the furthermost) to Ramses
I, the first king of the 19th Dynasty; to his son, Sethos
I; and to Ramses XI, of the end of the 20th Dynasty,
the predecessor of Ramses XII, the last of the long
line of Ramessids. There are thus some 350 years

between the farthest and the nearest of those three
tombs. We will now take one of these native
watchmen with us and enter the tomb of Sethos I, the
middle one of the three just mentioned. We shall
find the watchman necessary, for these tombs are
now all closed with grated iron doors to keep out
marauders, and he must unlock the tomb for us before
we can enter. The tomb is No. 17 on the small
sectional map in the upper left-hand corner of Map 9.

Position 75. Descending gallery in the tomb of
Sethos I, Valley of the Kings' Tombs, Thebes

[accompanying stereograph, front]

How different from the tomb chambers which we
have seen before! Yes, but this gallery is not a tomb
chapel, nor are any of the halls to which it leads. The
rock tombs, which we have thus far seen, are all
chapels, where the dead lived and received his food,
drink and clothing. King Sethos I's chapel is not here,
but we shall see it later, on the western plain, where
we found the Ramesseum and the colossi marking the
chapel of Amenophis III. All those temples out there
on the western plain were the mortuary chapels of the
kings; this excavation in the mountain is only the
sepulchral chamber for the mummy, and the long corridor
leading in from the face of the cliff to that
chamber. But this place of deposit for the mummy
has developed far beyond the simple descending passage
which served the purpose in the pyramid. It has
now become a long gallery descending into the mountain
through hall after hall, until that one is reached
in which the mummy was laid. This gallery before us
goes down through the successive halls 330 feet into
the mountain. At the end, in the last chamber, was

a vast stone sarcophagus, in which the king was interred.
The sarcophagus in this tomb, a magnificent
work cut from one block of alabaster, is now in Sir
John Soane's museum in London; and the body of King
Sethos I, which was here interred in it, you have already
seen in the Cairo Museum (Position 12). All about us
on the door-posts and lintels is the name of Sethos I,
and the walls are covered with inscriptions describing
the career of the dead in the hereafter, and furnishing
him with the magical formularies which shall deliver
him from the hideous and grotesque monsters that beset
his path as he leaves this world. Many of these
monsters are depicted by the artists on the walls of the
galleries and chambers. To enable the tourists to see
these things without the use of smoky torches, which
damage the colors, the government has put in electric
lights, and you can see the wire leading along the ceiling
of this gallery.
Here, we stand immediately within the entrance,
which is just behind us. It is like the entrance to
tomb No. 9, which we saw from the top of the cliff.
A flight of steps behind us leads down to the descending
gallery in which we are, and another similar flight
at the lower end where that native sits, conducts to a
second descending gallery exactly like this one, below
which, after a small ante-chamber, the first hall is
found. There were elaborate devices for concealing
the entrance and for misleading the tomb robbers
when they had once discovered the entrance. Nevertheless,
these tombs have all been rifled in remote
antiquity, and already at the end of the 18th Dynasty,
about 1350 B. C., it was found difficult to protect them.
By the time of the last Ramessids, at the close of the
20th Dynasty (about 1100 B. C.), the robberies were

common, and we have the court records of the prosecution
of certain tomb robbers under Ramses IX, now
preserved in the British Museum. Finally the priest-king's
of the 21st Dynasty, unable to protect the bodies
of their great ancestors, were forced to bring them together
in a place of concealment, where they lay until
modern times.
Let us now return to one of our former standpoints
at the Ramesseum, from which we can see the place
where the royal mummies were hidden.

Return to Position 65. The Ramesseum, mortuary
Temple of Ramses II—northwest toward
tombs in the cliffs, Thebes

[accompanying stereograph, front]

Here we are again, on the top of the first pylon at
the Ramesseum (Map 9). Yonder behind those
cliffs is the valley which we have just visited, the
cemetery of the Theban Pharaohs, and this temple, as
we have now several times noted, is but a chapel belonging
to one of the tombs in that cemetery. When
the priest-kings of the 21st Dynasty could no longer
protect the royal mummies they found a secret shaft
in the face of the cliffs before us, just beside the temple
of Der el-Bahri. That temple is now hidden by that
promontory of cliff on the right. If you will look at
the base of the cliffs on the right, just in a line with that
native in the white garment standing on the giant
colossus, you will see some low brick buildings, and
behind them a bay in the cliffs. High up in that bay
on the right, at the upper edge of the sands, drifted in
at the base, the priest-kings made or found their secret
shaft. It was only about 40 feet deep, but at its lower
end there was a passage extending some distance into

the mountain horizontally, and at its termination a large
chamber. In this chamber, doubtless on some dark
night, the mummies of Egypt's greatest kings were
assembled, and before any one had discovered the
shaft, it was filled up with stones and sand, and the
top was covered with sand like the rest of the slope
which you see there. For over 3,000 years the Pharaohs
slept undisturbed in their hiding-place. Then
in the early seventies of the last century, the mortuary
furniture of several royal tombs was found in the
hands of various dealers in antiquities, and it was
known that the Theban natives must have discovered
the material in this cemetery. For years these things
mysteriously appeared and were offered for sale in
various places. Finally, through fear, and hope of
reward, one of the brothers who had been plundering
the ancient hiding-place of the royal mummies betrayed
its location to the Mudir of Keneh. Emil
Brugsch Bey was the first European to see the bodies,
and he thus describes his experience on first entering
the long-hidden chamber up there in the mountain:
“Every inch of the subterranean passage was covered
with coffins and antiquities of all kinds. My astonishment
was so overpowering that I scarcely knew
whether I was awake or whether it was only a mocking
dream. Resting on a coffin, in order to recover
from my intense excitement, I mechanically cast my
eyes over the coffin-