Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

end of this avenue you see a large wide arch, engraved all over with old Arabic inscriptions. Here we got off, and went first into the small temple and then into the large one. The former is said to have been consecrated to Konso, or the God of the Moon. The latter is certainly the grandest and most imposing sight I ever saw. The effect of the great hall, with its innumerable pillars, like towers in size and height, is, indeed, not to be described. It must be seen in order to form any idea of its grandeur. There are said to be 120 of these columns, the middle row being the largest. In addition to this, there

. are endless courts, or halls, with their high walls in ruin; colonnades, pylons, and also a couple of obelisks. They say this temple was built by Ramesis II., 1300 years before Christ, or more than 3000 years ago -contemporary with Moses !

One might be astonished that any work of man could last so long; but here, on the contrary, when you look at the size and dimensions of the building, you can hardly understand how it has been destroyed!

We had luncheon in the middle of the temple, or, rather, just opposite the leaning column, so called, because it looks as if it was falling, though it rests on its neighbor, and may continue to do so for thou

,

sands of years to come, as it has probably done for thousands of years gone by.

We left Karnak at three, and returned to Luxor, a very curious town, or rather village, with the most miserable little earthen huts or houses, with broken windows, or no windows at all, and surrounded on all sides by ruins of old temples, and also by a large double row of colonnades. These miserable houses greatly spoil what would otherwise be a most imposing sight. Here is also the great obelisk, similar every way to the one in the Place de la Concorde..

We also went into the mosque, which is very ugly and shabby. Returned home at 5.30, very hot and very tired, but much pleased with our day's sight-seeing. There were fire-works at night from the shore, as well as from our own boats.

February 17. Got up at six o'clock this morning, breakfasted at eight, and at nine went in our small steamer to the west side of Thebes, mounted our donkeys on the other side of the river, and started, a large cavalcade of fifty people, for a four miles' ride to the Tombs of the Kings, said to date from the time of Biban el Moluk. But I can not say that this conveys much information to me, though I put it down as I was told. Who was Biban el Moluk?

The sun was very hot, but a nice fresh breeze made

a

Visit to the Tombs of the Kings.

61

the day very pleasant. We saw a tomb, which we were told was that called the tomb of Bruce, from his having been the person to discover it; but I must repeat that I can not answer for being correct as to these names, and still less as to those of Egyptian kings, etc., of whom I never before heard.

We next visited the tomb of Ramesis II., and several others. You enter these tombs through a small door cut in the rock, which takes you into a long passage leading to several small chambers on each side, beyond which is one large room, where the sarcophagus of the king had been placed. That of Ramesis IV. was still there; but most of them had been long taken away. The walls and ceilings are all covered with hieroglyphics, some simply cut in the granite, others cut and then painted blue, red, and yellow, the colors being wonderfully preserved.

We had some torches to light up the large tomb of Ramesis IV., and swarms of bats then began to flutter round our heads-enormous ones. The Prince caught one of them.

Thence we went to the tomb called “Belzoni's tomb,” from the fact of his having excavated and explored it. All I need say of it is that the entrance is

I very difficult, the descent being very slippery. We returned again through the valley, saw another old temple, of the name of which I am not certain, crossed over in the steamer, and got home, as we may now call our dahabeah, by five o'clock. The English mail arrived.

February 18. Again crossed the river at 9 A.M. in small boats. Rode to Dayr el Bachree (the ruins of “the Convent of the North”), and saw a great many open tombs containing mummies. Rode from them to Ramesis II.'s temple and the Memnonium. One can not understand how such blocks could ever have been transported, especially the stupendous statue of one of the kings, which, I was told, had never been erected,* but merely thrown down on the ground, where it had remained ever since. The size is not to be described. It is also quite incomprehensible how they have been able to destroy parts of it, as in these times powder did not exist. It is the largest in Egypt, and people getting up on it looked like small spots. They say it weighs 887 tons. It is composed of red granite, is ninety feet high, and is said to be the statue of Ramesis II.

We then rode to the ruins of the temples of Medenet-Abou, first visiting the small temple founded by Amenophis, who raised the great Karnak obelisk. On arriving at the great temple, we had luncheon in

* I have since been told that this is incorrect.

Tombs of the Queens.— The Colossi. 63

the big court, 130 feet square. It is extremely fine, with columns all round. At 4.30 we mounted again, and rode to the hill to visit the Tombs of the Queens. This I did not at all like. We saw on all sides remnants or pieces of human bodies—a head here, a foot there, and so on—all wrapped up in linen, quite brown and disgusting—some whole skeletons also! I thought the sight both nasty and repulsive. The smell also was quite fearful.

From this we rode down to the plain to see the two colossal statues which, seated here in the middle of the green field, have a most striking appearance. They are immense—fifty-three feet high; said to have been raised by Amenophis, 1600 years B.C. They form, certainly, one of the most curious sights we have seen here.

Rode home slowly before most of the party, in order to avoid the dust. I was so stiff after this long day's ride on a very rough donkey, that I got off, about twenty minutes before we came to the boats, and walked through the deep sand. The Egyptian saddles are certainly most uncomfortable. "Got home at 5.30, and wrote some letters.

Dined at seven, and after dinner the Princess and I again changed our dresses, and put on the not very graceful, but very comfortable and sensible costumes,

« PreviousContinue »