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TRAVELS IN EGYPT AND NUBIA.
TOUR IN EGYPT AND NUBIA.
and in that case, if it had not suffered too much in the general pillage and destruction which all the sacred edifices underwent at the conquest of Egypt, by Cambyses and other subse quent princes, it was hoped that something interesting to the antiquary might be discovered.
Our Party and its objects-Departure from Philæ-Our Boat's Crew-Saracenic BuildingsSupposed Boundary between Egypt and Nubia - Kalapsche-Its Temple-We are taken for Physicians-Mr. Belzoni bitten by a Water Lizard-Arrival near Koroskoff-Offidena -Arrival at Derry-Nubian Dance - Attempted impositions on the part of our Crew-Pass Ibrim-Researches of former Travellers-Abou-Simbel-The Dongola Caravan-The Mockatem Mountains-Ruins near Farras-Crocodiles-Torpedo - Camelions-Arrival at the second Cataract-Description of the Cataract - Elpha - Further troubles with our Crew-Abou-Simbel-The small Temple-Message from the Cashiefs-Arrival of the Cashiefs-We wait upon them-Presents - Offence taken by Halleel-We engage Labourers-Proceed to the large Temple-Description of the Front-Commence operations→→ Are abandoned by the Natives-We continue our Labours-The Darfur Caravan-Interruption from Mahommed and Ali Cashief-Arrival of a Mameluke-The Natives refuse to supply us with Provisions-We succeed in reaching the Door of the Temple. TOWARDS the end of May, 1817, we joined company at Phil with Messrs. Beechey and Belzoni, who were about to proceed up the Nile. The principal object of this expedition, which was undertaken at the desire of Mr. Salt, was to endeavour to open the great temple at Abou-Simbel, which Mr. Belzoni, who was that gentleman's agent, We considered it a fortunate cirhad attempted the preceding year. cumstance for us to have an opportuThe whole face of the temple, as high nity of joining in so interesting an as the heads of the statues which are undertaking. It is advisable that train front of it, was buried in the sand vellers should be both numerous and which had been blown from the desert. well armed in Nubia: our party was This sand, in the course of time, had now a tolerably strong one, as includaccumulated to such a degree, as not ing Mr. Beechey's Greek servant, an only to fill up the whole of the valley, Arab cook, and a janissary, it conbut also to form a mountain, sloping sisted of seven persons. We could only from the front of the temple for 200 add one solitary musket to a pretty or 300 yards towards the banks of good stock of arms of every descripthe Nile. From all external appear- tion which Mr. Beechey had with him. ance it is probable this temple, which | We hired a boat at a village situated is hewn out of the solid rock, had on a point amidst a cluster of datebeen shut for very many centuries, trees which bounds the view of the perhaps for more than 2000 years; river from Philae to the southward.
The crew consisted of five men, including the reis or captain, and three boys: three of the men and the reis were brothers, and the fifth was their brother-in-law. This latter was dressed in a blue shirt, from which circumstance we nick-named him the "blue devil;" his real name was Hassan; he will be by and by a conspicuous character in this narrative. The boys were sons of some one or other of the crew, and the boat they said belonged to the father of them all, an old man who wore a green turban, as a descendant of the Prophet.
which now gave place to those of calcareous stone, though on the river side, in most instances, their exterior still retains a black colour and a polish. The vein of red granite, which begins below Assuan, and extends beyond Philæ, is supposed to continue in an easterly direction till it reaches the shores of the Red Sea, keeping, nearly throughout, the same breadth; the observations which we made on our trips into the desert from Assuan tended to confirm this opinion.
On the afternoon of the 17th, we came to a place where the mountains close in upon the river in a very abrupt manner, leaving no level land on the banks; the hills at the same time presented some very grand scenery. This by some travellers is termed the boundary between Egypt and Nubia, though I should be inclined to agree with the French, that the first cataract is a more natural limit to the two countries; as, immediately above Assuan, you perceive not only a country quite
natives of a character and colour in no way resembling the Egyptians, differently clothed, and speaking another language.
In the afternoon of the 16th of June, we started with a fine fair wind, having first settled a quarrel between two of our crew, in which one of them was cut through the calf of the leg, to the bone. Our agreement with the reis was for 160 piastres per month, 47. sterling; and at the end of the voyage, if they behaved well, a backsheeish or present was promised, a stipulation | which always forms part of similar bargains in this country. It was different from that below, but even expressly understood that the crew should find their own provisions. As we advanced upwards, the sand hills filling up the cavities between the black granite rocks presented a most remarkable appearance; the surface in many places was quite fine and smooth, reminding one, with the exception of the difference of colour, of some of the scenery in Switzerland, where the snow before it cracks, and after it has been drifted fine, presents just such an appearance. The mountains here close in upon the river, and we looked in vain for that rich plain which, in Egypt, is every where to be seen on the banks of the Nile. On the heights, as we proceeded, we saw several Saracenic buildings placed in most picturesque situations; they tend very much to set off this wild species of scenery; we observed also, throughout Nubia, numerous piles of stones placed on the most elevated and conspicuous parts of the mountains, to indicate the vicinity of the Nile to the caravans from the interior of Africa.
Half a day's sail from Philæ brought us to the end of the granite rocks,
This evening we arrived at Kalapsche, and as we had to wait some time while our janissary was buying provisions, we went up to inspect the temple, though we had agreed not to visit the antiquities until we returned from the second cataract. The ruins of this edifice are large and magnificent, but it has never been finished: it consists of a large peristyle hall, (most of the columns of which have fallen, and many are unfinished,) two chambers, and a sanctuary. The exterior walls are smooth, the sculpture not having even been commenced, and in the interior it is not finished, there being in no instance either stucco or painting. There has been first a quay on the river's side, and then a flight of steps as an approach to the temple. The outer hall had several Greek inscriptions in it, some of them in tolerable perfection.
In the evening, before we stopped, we passed two crocodiles; they were
on a shoal in the middle of the Nile, and retired before we got near them: they were the first we had seen since we left Philæ; indeed they are never met with near that island. On the 19th a foul wind obliged us to stop, when an old man came to beg medicine, thinking we were hackim, or physicians, a strange notion which all barbarous nations have respecting Europeans we gave him some advice, though we declined any pretensions to the title he had given us. Bruce, in making himself acquainted with the rudiments of physic, showed how well he judged of the proper mode of travelling in these countries; and his narrative proves how much he benefited by this knowledge. Our denial of all knowledge of physic met with little belief among the natives; and to induce us to give them assistance, they offered us two fowls for any aid we would render to their patients. On the 20th we saw a camel swimming across the river; one man swam before with a halter in his mouth, leading the animal, another followed behind.
June 21.-We this day observed, immediately opposite Duckie, two lads crossing the river which is here tolerably wide, and pushing and towing a laden reed raft.
June 24.-This morning we were opposite Koroskoff; we purchased a sheep for nine piastres, but were obliged to send the money before they would even show the animal; we remonstrated much against this curious method of making a bargain, but nothing would induce them to change their plan. We this day saw the calibash growing wild on creepers up the acacia-trees on the river side. Our crew got three very good ones. The boys also found a sort of wild currant growing close to the water side; we tasted some, and thought them not unlike the bleaberry, though not shaped like them, being round; in size and colour they are alike.
Our custom was always to bathe morning and evening, frequently oftener. This evening, while at this recreation, Mr. Belzoni was bitten in the foot, which caused him to cry out somewhat loudly for assistance. Next morning he was bitten again, in the same place; this last bite fetched blood, taking a piece out of the toe. Mr. Belzoni plainly felt something twisting round his leg; we all agree in thinking it must have been a water lizard. The other day a man hailed us and asked "if we would buy a spyglass;" he said he was a native of Senaar. We thought it must be the property of some European who had been robbed, and therefore told him we would see it first, upon which he came into the boat, that we might carry him to the village where it was (about four hours' sail above); however, on arriving there he walked off, and we never heard again either of him or his glass-the fact is, he wanted a passage, and we gave him credit for so cunning a method of getting one.
On the twenty-second observed the purple acacia; it bears some resemblance to a shrub, and is evidently a dwarf species of the mimosa; never attaining a height beyond a foot or fifteen inches; excepting in colour, the flower is like the yellow acacia. On the twenty-third our crew killed a snake that was basking on the river side; it was gray, with two black marks below its head. It was curious to see the precautions they used before they would surprise this reptile, which they represented as poisonous, though I did not believe it was so. We had this morning a regular wild-goose chase after an old one and four young ones; the crew jumped overboard and caught them all, though with some difficulty. I mention this merely to give some idea how expert these peo-second cataract. The Nile here asple are in the water; they may almost be said to be amphibious.
June 25.-We this day arrived near Koroskoff, at the place where the river reaches the southernmost point, before the beginning of the second cataract ; for the river here turns due north, and continues in that direction between ten and fifteen miles; after which it becomes S. W. and then west to the
sumes a picturesque appearance, having several islands and rocks in the
centre of it. In the evening our janis-chasing a statue; but after much sary shot a wild-goose; its plumage prevarication, we could not even get was beautiful, and its taste exceedingly a look at it. The natives of this place good, though we had not the means of are both handsome and well made, a cooking it in a very savoury manner. June 26.-Observed the Nile to have fallen about 1 foot. It is now twentytwo days since it began to rise. It is already above the cataract of Syene (Assuan).
June 27.-We this day saw two crocodiles; our men requested us to fire some muskets to frighten them away, but were not afraid of towing the bark in the water close to the bank where we observed them. I think, from what we have noticed of these animals, that it is very seldom, if ever, they attack people. This morning a man on horseback came down to the river side, and said he was sent by Halleel Cashief with salam alicams (compliments): he, however, seemed chiefly intent upon getting something for himself; and, in a moment, enumerated several articles which he requested us to give him; such as coffee, snuff, gunpowder, salt, &c. ; we told him we had none to spare, as we reserve those articles for Hassan Cashief, the chief person in this country, and whose favour it is necessary to gain by presents, in order to get permission to open the temple at AbouSimbel. That chief has pledged his word to Mr. Belzoni, that none but the English should be allowed to work there, on condition that he, Hassan, is to have half the gold that was found in it for these people have no idea that our researches for antiquities in this country have any other object than to get treasure; and they laugh when we tell them we are looking for stone statues, and slabs with inscriptions on them. They cannot conceive what motive can induce us to come such a distance, and expend three or four thousand piastres to clear away an accumulated mass of sand, for no other purpose than to find some granite figures.
We now observed the water to be exceedingly muddy, and of a reddish yellow colour. We stopped a short time at Offidena with a view of pur
circumstance very rare in Nubia; their complexion, however, was unusually dark. In the evening we arrived at Derry, and sent word to Daoud and Halleel Cashief, the two sons of Hassan, (who, most unfortunately for us, was at Dongola, and by whose absence we lost the friendship and assistance of the only honest man in the country,) that we were going up to open the temple at Abou-Simbel, and would thank them to send orders for us to be permitted to work; adding, at the same time, that we would wait on them and pay our respects on our return. While waiting there we had a specimen of Nubian dancing; about twelve lads assisted; the music consisted only in clapping the hands, in the doing of which they kept very good time. I cannot say much for the elegance or gracefulness of the dance, as it was nothing more than lifting up the right foot and stamping it down again, then rising up on the left foot by the spring of the instep, and afterwards letting the feet rest on the flat sole. This was done for a backsheeish which we gave them. We also gave the reis and crew a backsheeish of ten piastres, but they said it was not enough, so we added another five. At night, when we stopped, the reis came to us to say that we were two parties, and therefore should by rights pay double the money we had agreed to give for the boat. They also complained that we had not given sufficient to the crew to eat; that Jacques (an agent of Mr. Drovetti, a Frenchman living in this country, and who hired the boat not long before us,) always gave them one-third of his coffee, meat, bread, and every think that he had; in short, they imagined that up here we were at their mercy. Now, as we had regularly fed them, and given them coffee without stint every day, we thought it time to come to an understanding, and therefore told them that the boat was at our disposal, and that it was no affair of theirs if we had two
or five different parties; and with regard to food, that as they were not contented with what we had given them spontaneously, they should have nothing. We have no doubt but our janissary and the Greek servant put them up to this request, as the soldier took a poor cowardly part, and urged that as we were in a savage country, we had better temporize with them till we were on our return, thus showing of how little use these fellows are to protect travellers.
June 28.-Fassed Ibrim, situated on a rude but picturesque hill of a conical shape, and of barren calcareous stone. There is not now a single inhabitant to be seen, and it presents a sad picture of ruin and desolation. Mr. Legh, in his recent publication, (a few extracts from which we have seen in the Quarterly Review for February last) says "this town was destroyed by the Mamelukes." It was the extent or limit of his voyage in Nubia. He travelled in 1813. Mr. Bankes, it appears, was the first Englishman who ever succeeded in gaining the second cataract: he travelled in 1815. I fancy he took much about the same tour in Syria that we mean to take, though we have not as yet seen his journey traced out. In 1816, Mr. Drovetti, the ci-devant French consul in Egypt, succeeded in reaching the second cataract, together with his two agents, Rifaud and Cail
liaud; these travellers, together with Sheikh Ibrahim (a real friend of ours) and Mr. Belzoni, are the only persons that have reached thus far. Mr. Belzoni had his wife with him in man's clothes. Poor Norden, who travelled eighty years ago, could only reach Derry. His Nubian trip is interesting, though not very instructive. Denon went no higher than Philæe; and Pocock only reached that isle. On the tops of the hills near Ibrim, we remarked many conical hillocks, as marks to direct the Dongola caravans. This evening we saw a crocodile sleeping on the sand a considerable way up. We were within twenty yards of him, but as none of our muskets were loaded with ball we did not fire; we,
river between Ibrim and Abou-Simbel are beautifully spread over with the yellow and purple acacia, forming thick hedges, which have a very pleasing effect; a species of the tamarisk is also common here. This is the plant that produces the gum arabic, which is brought in great quantities from the interior of Africa in the vicinity of Darfur. The seeds of the acacia form also a lucrative branch of trade, being sent in the first instance to Cairo, and then shipped for Europe, where they are used for tanning. The water is now become exceedingly thick, it is not, however, unpleasant to the taste.
June 30.-While we were at AbouSimbel, the Dongola caravan passed; it was preceded by about fifty camels, carrying provisions, &c. The conductors were armed with swords, daggers, and spears. They wore sandals to preserve the soles of their feet from the burning sand, which we now feel most sensibly, being obliged to stop every now and then to pour it out of our shoes. These sandals are much like those worn by the ancient Egyptians, and which are often found on the feet of the mummies.
The range of the Mockatem mountains terminate nearly opposite AbouSimbel in a remarkable manner, in a considerable number of pyramidal hills rising up from the sand, and having the appearance of a gigantic camp; some of the hills are oblong, and in the form of marquees: others are so perfectly pyramidal, that it is difficult to divest one's-self of the idea that they are the work of men's hands. July 1.-Stopped opposite the village of Farras. We here examined the site of a large Nubian city, and amongst the modern stone buildings