Page images

whole originally covered with a casing of stucco. The walls, which are now 15 ft. high, were about 16 in number, of which 12 may be still distinctly seen, and the spaces between them were about 215 feet long and 27 broad, being considerably larger than the second cisterns of Carthage, and only inferior in number and in length (but not in breadth) to the great ones there, which are 110 paces long by 10, and consist of 16 spaces or cisterns. The extremity of each gallery or cistern is rounded off, and we may suppose that they had also the usual arched roofs. A canal or branch of the river appears to have run through the level space, about 750 ft. broad, between them and the town. The distance of Nishoo from Alexandria agrees exactly with that given by Strabo from Schedia to that city, which he calculates at 4 schcenes, or nearly 14 English miles.

Schedia was so called by the Greeks from the barrier, or bridge of boats, that closed the river at this spot, where duties were levied on all merchandise that passed; and the name of Nishoo, applied to the neighbouring mounds and the modern village, may be derived from the Egyptian nishoi, signifying " the boats." The mounds of Nishoo are in four almost parallel lines, the two outer ones about 250, the centre two about 756 ft. apart. They contain no traces of building; they appear to be entirely of earth, though of very great height, and were probably the result of excavations made in deepening the river, or the neighbouring canal, which, from the low space separating the two centre mounds, appears to have passed between them.

Schedia was a bishop's see in the time of Athanasius, as were Menelais and Andropolis.

At Karioon is a manufactory of glass, and a little more than a mile farther is another of pottery. The canal in the vicinity of Kairodn increases in breadth. Chereu, in Coptic Chereus, stood near this: and Antliylla and Archandra in the plain between the Mahmoodeeah and Lake Etko.

About 3J m. from Karioon is the village of Birket Ghuttas, or El Birkeh (" the Lake "); and at Karrawee the road, which has thus far followed the bank of the canal, turns off to Damanhoor.

Near Karrawee are mounds of an old town of some extent, and others are seen in the plain to the S. A few miles farther the canal makes a bend northwards to Atfeh; quitting the bed of an old canal, which joined the Nile farther to the S., just below Bahmaneeah.

Atfeh.—Atfeh stands at the mouth of the canal, upon the Eosetta branch of the Nile. It is a miserable village, abounding in dust and dogs; but the first view of the Nile is striking, and a relief after the canal. In the neighbourhood of Atfeh there is some excellent snipe - shooting, which is much patronised by the sportsmen of Alexandria during the winter. The excursion for this purpose may be made either by hiring a boat at Alexandria and going along the canal, or by rail to Kafr-ez-Zyat (see Ete. 6), and thence taking a boat down the river. The former method is the pleasantest.

Fooah.—Nearly opposite Atfeh is Fooah, conspicuous with its minarets, and a picturesque object from the river, if you pass it during the high Nile. It occupies the site of the ancient Metelis (in Coptic Meleg, or Meledg), but contains no remains beyond a few granite blocks, now used as the thresholds of doors, with hieroglyphic inscriptions, containing the names of Apries and other kings of the 26th or Saite dynasty. Fooah has now only a manufactory of tarbooshes or red caps, and the usual we'rsheh "manufactory" of large towns: but in the time of Leo Africanus it was very flourishing; and though its streets were narrow, it had the character of a large town, teeming with plenty, and noted for the appearance of its bazaars and shops. "The women," he adds, "enjoy so much freedom here, that their husbands permit tlicm to go during the day wherever they please; and the surrounding country abounds in date-trees." But its dates are not superior to others of the neighbourhood; and the best Egyptian dates come from a place on the other side of the Delta, called Korayn, near Salaheeah, which are known at Cairo as the aameree. The Ibre'mee are from Nubia.

Fooah continued to be long a flourishing town; and Belon describes it, in the 15th centy., 50 years after the conquest of Sultan Selim, as second only to Cairo.

During the wars of the Crusaders, the Christians penetrated into Egypt, as far as Fooah, in the reign of Melek Adel; and having plundered and burnt the town, retired with much booty.

Fooah has given its name to the madder, which was first planted there.

Dessook is well known in modern times for the fete clebrated there in honour of Sheikh Ibraheem ed Dessookee, a Moslem saint, who holds the second rank in the Egyptian calendar, next to the Seyyid el Bedawee of Tantah. There is a railway from Dessook to Tantah (see Bte. 6), and one projected to Damanhoor.

At Eahmaneeah was the entrance of an old canal that went to Alexandria; which some suppose to be the ancient Canopic branch, placing Naucratis at this town. Bahmaneeah was a fortified post of the French when in Egypt, and was taken by the English in May, 1801, previous to their march upon Cairo.

SaU.—The lofty mounds of Sais are seen to the N. of the village of Sa-elHagar, " Sa of the Stone," so called from the remains of the old town; which are now confined to a few broken blocks, some ruins of houses, and a large enclosure surrounded by massive crude-brick walls. These last are about 70 ft. thick, and of very solid construction. Between the courses of bricks are layers of reeds, intended to serve as binders; and hieroglyphics are said to have been met with on some of the bricks, which may perhaps contain the name of the place, or of the king by whom the walls were built.

These walls enclose a space measuring 2325 by I960 ft.; the N. side of which is occupied by the lake mentioned by Herodotus, where certain mysterious ceremonies were performed in honour of Osiris. As he says it was of circular form, and it is now long and irregular, we may conclude that it has since encroached on part of the temenos or sacred enclosures, where the temple of Minerva and the tombs of the Sa'ite kings stood. The site of the temple appears to have been in the low open space to the W., and parts of the wall of its temenos may be traced on two sides, which was about 720 ft. in breadth, or a little more than that around the temple of Tanis. To the E. of it are mounds, with remains of crude-brick houses, the walls of which are partially standing, and here and there bear evident signs of having been burnt. This part has received the name of "el Kala," "the Citadel,'' from its being higher than the rest, and from the appearance of two massive buildings at the upper and lower end, which seem to have been intended for defence. It is not impossible that this was the royal palace. Below it to the S. is a low space, now cultivated, and nearly on the same level as the area where probably the temple stood.

The water of the lake is used for irrigating this spot, but it is generally dried up from the end of May until the next inundation fills the canals. On its banks, particularly at the western extremity, grow numerous reeds, and when full of water it is frequented by wild ducks and other water-fowl, now the only inhabitants of ancient Sal's.

Some low mounds, and the ruins of houses about 1000 ft. from the walls of the large enclosure, mark probably the site of the ancient town, the S. extremity of which is occupied by the modem village.

There are no remains of sculpture amidst the modern or ancient houses, except fragments in the two mosks and at the door of a house; which last has the name of King Psammitichus I., the goddess Neith, and the town ot Ssa, or Sal's.

Sai's was a city of great importance, particularly during the reigns of the Saite dynasty, who ruled Egypt about 150 years (is.c. 687 to B.C. 524), until the Persian invasion under Cambyses; and some claim for it the honour of having been the parent of a colony which founded the city of Athens in 1556 B.o., and introduced the worship of Minerva on the shores of Greece.

At Sais were the sepulchres of all the kings of Egypt, natives of the Saite nome. They stood in the temenos, or sacred enclosure, of the temple of Minerva; and it was here that the unfortunate Apries and his rival Amasis were both buried. The tomb of Apries was near the temple, on the 1. entering the temenos; that of Amasis stood farther from the temple than those of Apries and his predecessors, in the vestibule of this enclosure. It consisted of a large stone chamber, adorned with columns in imitation of palm-trees, and other ornaments, within which was an (isolated) stone receptacle, with double doors (at each end), containing the sarcophagus. It was from this tomb that Cambyses is said to have taken the body of Amasis; which, after he had scourged and insulted it, he ordered to be burnt; though the Egyptians assured Herodotus that the body of some other person had been substituted instead of the king's. This last appears to have been added to give a greater air of probability to a story against the Persians, which there is great reason to doubt, from the indulgent conduct of Cambyses to the Egyptians when he first conquered the country, and from the respect paid to kings by the Persians; and Cambyses only had recourse to severity after they had rebelled against him. "They also show," continues the historian, " the sepulchre of him (Osiris) whom I do not think it right here to mention. It stands in the sacred enclosure, behind the temple of Minerva, reaching along the whole extent of its wall. In this temenos are several large stone obelisks; and near it a lake cased with stone, of a circular

-m, and about the size of that at

Delos, called Trocho'ides. On this lake are represented at night the sufferings of him, concerning whom, though much is known to me, I shall preserve strict silence, except as far as it may be right for me to speak. The Egyptians call them mysteries. I shall observe the same caution with regard to the institutions of Ceres, called Thesmophoria, which were brought from Egypt by the daughters of Danaus, and afterwards taught by them to the Pelasgio women." Sais was. the place where the "fete of burning lamps" was particularly " celebrated during a certain night, when every one lighted lamps in the open air around his house. They were small cups full of salt (and water ?) and oil, with a floating wick which lasted all night. Strangers went to Sai's from different parts of Egypt to assist at this ceremony; but those who could not be present lighted lamps at their own homes, so that the festival was kept, not only at Sai's, but throughout the country."

From the accounts given of it the temple of Minerva appears to have been of great splendour. "Amasis added to it some very beautiful propyliea, exceeding all others both in height and extent, as well as in the dimensions of the stones and in other respects. He also placed there several large colossi and androsphinxes, and brought numerous blocks of extraordinary size to repair the temple, some from the quarries near Memphis, and the largest from Elephantine, a distance of 20 days' sail from Sai's."

"But," adds Herodotus, "what I admire most is an edifice of a single block brought from the latter place: 2000 men, all boatmen, were employed three years in its transport to Sai's. It is 21 cubits long externally, 14 broad, 8 high: and its measurements within are 16 cubits 20 digits long, 12 broad, and 5 high. It stands at the entrance of the sacred enclosure; and the reason given by the Egyptians for its not having been admitted is, that Amasis, hearing the architect utter a sigh, as if fatigued by the length of time employed and the labour he had undergone, considered it so bad an omen, that he would not allow it to be taken any further; though others affirm that it was in consequence of a man having been crushed while moving it with levers." At Sais was also a colossus dedicated by Amasis, 75 ft. long, similar in size and proportion to one he placed before the temple of Pthah at Memphis, which was lying on its back; and the grand palace of the kings in the same city, which Apries left to attack Amasis, and to which he afterwards returned a prisoner, is another of the interesting monuments mentioned at Sais.

Recent excavations by M. Mariette at the site of Sais have served only to reveal its utter state of ruin, and it is impossible to fix the position, or ascertain the plan, of any of the splendid monuments mentioned by the historian.

The Egyptian name of this city was written Ssa, which is retained in the modern Sa; and the Sais of ancient authors was the same, with a Greek termination. It is about a mile from the Nile, on the rt. bank, and in order to save time, if the Nile is low, the traveller may land when in a line with the mounds, and send his boat to wait for him at the bend of the river near Kodabeh, about If mile higher up. During the inundation the plain is partly flooded and intersected with canals, which are not forded without inconvenience before November.

Seven or eight miles inland to the W. from Dahreeah, between Nikleh and Shabdor, is Eamse'es, oft tho Damanhoor canal. This Eamse'es, or rather its predecessor, is unnoticed by profane writers, and it is too far from the spot where the Israelites lived to have any claim to the title of one of the two treasure-cities, Pithom and Barneses, mentioned in Exodus. And, indeed, Rameses is expressly stated to have been the place whence the Israelites took their departnre for Succoth and Etham at the edge of the Wilderness, on their way to the Sea.

At a point where the river takes a considerable bend to tho E.,it is crossed by the Alexandria and Cairo Railway,

and immediately on the E. bank are the village and station of Kafr-ez-Zyat. (See Rte. 6.)

Traces of an old canal, running to the N.N.W., by some supposed to be the Canopic branch of the Nile, may be seen above Nige'eleh, which is traditionally called the Bahr Yoosef. Not far from this should be the site of Gynsecopolis and Andropolis, by some supposed to be the same city.

About two or three miles to the westward of Kom-Shere'ek are the mounds of an ancient town, on the canal. The mounds are called Tel el Odameh ("of the bones"), from the bodies found buried amidst them. A little higher up is Tareeh, near which are other mounds and the branch of a canal, which follows the course of the ancient Lycus canalis, that ran towards the lake Marcotis. Some supposed Momemphis to have stood here; but as it was near the road to the Natron Lakes, it is more likely to have been at El Booragat, or Kafr Daoot, near the former of which are the mounds of an old town of considerable size. At Aboo-l-khawee and Shabdor are the shallowest parts of the Bosetta branch, which in summer are barely passable for large boats. About Nader, on tho E. bank, are many wild boars, which are found in many other parts of the Delta, particularly in the low marshlands to the N., and about the lake Menzaleh. They are also found in the Pyodm.

Teraneh is the successor of Terenuthis. About 1J mile to the W., beyond the canal, are mounds of considerable extent, which probably mark its ancient site: and it is from this place that tho road leads from the Nile to the Natron Lakes. The inhabitants of Teraneh are principally employed in bringing the natron from the desert, whichj often is fanned by some rich merchant; and to this is attributable the prosperous condition of the village. The lakes are distant from Teraneh about 12 hours'journey. (See Ete. 11, Sect. II.)

Near Lekhmas are other mounds, perhaps of the city of Menelaus, so called, not from the Greek hero, but from the brother of the first Ptolemy; and between Aboo-Nishabee and BeniSalumeh is the entrance of the canal, cut by Mohammed Ali in 1820, which, as before stated, carries the water to that of Alexandria.

In going up the river the Pyramids are perceived for the first time from the shore a little above Werdan, when about due W. of Ashmoon; and hereabouts the desert has invaded the soil on the W. bank, and oven poured its drifted sand into the Nile. At Ashmoon or Oshmoun are lofty mounds, but no sculptured remains. A little beyond Aboo-Ghaleb the pyramids are seen from the river, and continue in sight the remainder of the voyage to Cairo. About 2 m. below, or N.W. of Oni-ed deenar, is what is called the Barrage of the Nile; and about the same distance above that village is the southern point or apex of the Delta. Here the Nile divides itself into the two branches of Eosetta and Damietta, though the actual commencement of of the Delta may be placed about two m. further S., a little above the village of Menasheh, at the upper end of the Isle of Skelekan.

The object of the Barrage was to retain the water of the Nile, in order that it might be used for irrigating the lands when the inundation had retired; one dam crossing the Eosetta, another the Damietta branch. After the sacrifice of an enormous sum of money, the project has been definitively abandoned, and the Barrage remains a striking but useless monument of engineering enterprise.

In former times the point of the Delta was much more to the south than at present. Cercasora, in the Letopolite nome, which was just above it on the west bank, stood, according to Strabo, nearly opposite, or west of, Heliopolis, close to the observatory of Kudoxus. In Herodotus's time the river had one channel as far as Cercasora; but below that town it divided itself into three branches, which took different directions, one, the Pelusiac, going to the east; another, the Canopic, turning off to the west; and the third going straight for- j

ward, in the direction of its previous course through Egypt to the point of the Delta, which it divided in twain as it ran to the sea. It was not less considerable in the volume of its water, nor less celebrated, than the other two, and was called the Sebennytic branch: and from it two others, the Sa'itic and Mendesian, were derived, emptying themselves into the sea by two distinct mouths.

This old Sebennytic branch has been renewed in a fine wide canaL which starts from the point of the Delta midway between the two modern branches corresponding to the old Pelusiac and Canopic, and continues as far as Tantah.

After passing the palace of Shoobra, the numerous minarets of Cairo may be seen from the river; and a shady avenue of trees leads from Shoobra to the N.W. entrance of the city.

Embabeh (Ete. 4) is on the right, and on the left are some palaces and country houses in the plain between Shoobra and Boolak.

Boolak may be called the port of Cairo. It formerly stood on an island, where Macrisi says sugar-cane was cultivated; and the old channel which passed between it and Cairo may still be traced in parts, particularly to the northward, about half-way from the Shoobra road. The filling up of this channel removed Cairo farther from the Nile, and gave to Boolak the rank and advantages of a port.

Owing to the improvements that have taken place in the land lying between Boolak and Cairo, and the rapid extension of the city in the direction of the river, the open space formerly existing between the two will soon be covered with houses. The northern extremity of Boolak, at which the traveller's dahabeeah will probably anchor, is called Eamleh. A great collection of these boats for hire will be seen moored to the bank; and the process of building and repairing them is carried on with great vigour and activity.

« PreviousContinue »