Billeder på siden



Temple of Luxor – The Colossi—Tombs—Cure for the Bite of a

Serpent-Assuan—The Use of Iron known to the Antient Egyptians—The Nilometer-Festival of Rhamadan-Philae—Temple -Boys crossing the River-Ruins and Views of Philae—Cataracts of the Nile.


On Tuesday we went out at sunrise, and saw the columns of the temple of Luxor, on the river side, about two miles before us. The stupendous temple of Carnac still continued to attract the eye to the left, and we felt that we were at Thebes, with the remnants of the most antient glory known to the world lying before us. On ascending the bank we discovered, about half a mile to the left, two Colossi, with the Memnonium to their right, and the temple of Medinet Abou above, a little further on. A lofty mountain shuts in the view, and exhibits along its sides numberless excavated tombs. In some parts, the sands have reached to a great height up the precipices at its base. Between this mountain on the west, and the line of the desert on the opposite side of the river, extends a plain of green fields, the cultivators of which, except those who live among the columns of the temple of Luxor, either from choice or necessity, inhabit tombs. This is the site of Thebes, and these are the modern citizens.

In going, the Colossi were always in view. About four hundred yards from the bank is a temple, with ten pillars in front, various rooms, and ruins of a gateway. It is surrounded by ruins of brick houses. The Memnonium of itself forms a great ruin. The immense statue is twenty-three feet across the shoulder, is broken at the breast, and an attempt has been made to saw the head asunder. Near it are some fine ruins, and at a distance of four hundred yards are the Colossi. The base is thirty-four feet by nineteen ; generally, six feet are above ground, and in one part nine. The height of the Colossi, exclusive of the base, is fortyseven feet, making the whole height fifty-three feet. The breadth of the body is nineteen feet, and the thickness from the back of the seat to the front of the legs, twenty-four feet. The height, from the base to the bend of the arm, is twentyfour feet. There are two of the same size. The faces of both are completely destroyed; the legs of one are nearly broken away; the bodies and arms are much mutilated; but the general form remains. They are most stupendous monuments. A little behind them is the ruin of another, and further on several remains of colossal statues. Near this spot we pitched our tent, and rested for some hours, dined, sketched, &c. &c. The Arab mounted to the shoulder of one of the Colossi. The legs of one (which had been broken, rebuilt, the head replaced, &c.) are all written over with names, many of which are in Greek. This is the statue which gave sounds. We next proceeded to Medinet Abou, which appears a village at the first approach. The temple is immense. We went to see a small temple behind the hill, inclosed by a thick brick wall, and afterwards passed to the tombs of Gournah, where the remaining mouths of the tombs are used as houses, forming in fact the village. The inhabitants are not numerous, and are employed in excavating for antiquities, or in the cultivation of the neighbouring fields. They have but an indifferent character. We visited one of the tombs, which, after a descent of some steps, opened into a large court, perhaps one hundred feet each way. On each side were small chambers, covered with hieroglyphics. As we were going in, at the great entrance in front, we heard moans, which, instead of being those of the genius of the place, displeased at our intrusion, proceeded from some camels kept in an inner chamber, concealed, lest they should be pressed into the service of the governor of the district. We passed into a large hall, covered with hieroglyphics, the door leading from which to the next, where the camels were, was partly closed with stones. Clambering over these, and carrying our lights, we passed through the groaning animals, each of which held out its long neck to us, as we went by. We kept on for half an hour, along passages, turning to the right and to the left. At times we met with figures : two in relief, size four feet, were at one corner, sculptured on crosses. The passages were encumbered with rubbish, &c. When we entered some small rooms at the sides, multitudes of bats flocked out, with a noise like that of carriages rolling over head, or of quick machinery. They flocked in myriads, some against our faces, so that it required precaution to save the light from being extinguished. We next descended a long spacious staircase, at the foot of which was another, leading to deeper excavations. We had before passed one, and, by throwing burning paper down, we saw that at the bottom was a door. After continuing for some time to the right,

[blocks in formation]

we arrived at the last chamber containing a pedestal, like the rest of the excavation, without sarcophagus. All that we saw was the darkness visible' of those regions, their mutilated figures, illegible histories, heaps of dust and rubbish, and here and there straw and ashes, the traces of former travellers, who had for an instant illuminated these long and silent galleries. The air in them is heated and confined, so that we heard with pleasure the moaning of the camels announcing our near return to light. We had no time to descend into the other tombs, visited only by Picinini, an Italian, who has been many years in Egypt. He gave it as his opinion that the Egyptians were acquainted with the use of iron, and he shewed us two implements, one a knife, a foot long, another a crooked blade, found by himself.

Not having met Mr. Wilkinson at Thebes, and as it would be better to take the higher part of the country first, on account of the heat, we had determined only to glance at Thebes, and proceed on our way to Assuan. Accordingly, we passed down to Luxor, intending to finish our inspection on the following day.

On Wednesday, the 13th, we went to the temple of Luxor, which is close to the river, and has very massive columns, terrace, &c. In the temple, and attached to the columns, is a small village. We entered the little courts adjoining to several of the houses, always, however, first asking permission of

« ForrigeFortsæt »