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Ahnas el Medineh (Heracleopolis Magna) : with chapters on Mendes, the nome of Thoth, and Leontopolis (Volume 11) online

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the top of the head. Frequently also Khnum,
like the sacred animal of Mendes, has four
horns, those of Amon round the ear, and the
upper horizontal ones. It is quite possible that
this slight difference is meant to show in a
conventional way that the animals were
different ; the horizontal, spiral horns pointing
to the he-goat, while the horns of Amon indi-
cate a ram. Let us remember that we are not
to look for zoological accuracy in religious
representations. There arc certain laws,
certain religious prescriptions which regulate
the conventional forms of the sacred animals,
and which absolutely prohibit others. Neither
picture nor sculpture of a he-goat has ever been
found in an Egyptian temple ; we find only the
so-called ram. Yet in spite of their never
being represented, the testimony of classic
writers is so clear and so positive, that it is
quite impossible not to lielieve that there were
sacred he-goats in Egypt as well as sacred
rams, bulls, crocodiles, and cats. In the same
way we never see swine, but always a hippo-
potamus, though we know that swine Avere
sacrificed at certain festivals. It is quite
possible that, by a similar conventionalism, the
horned ram may be the religious form of two
different animals, the two-horned one being the
ram, and the four-horned the he-goat. An-
other proof, which seems to be very convincing,

3 Lib. ii. 42.

* Zeitscltr., 1877, p. 8.

is afforded by the study of the coins.^ The
coins of Thebes, or of Diospolis Parva in the
Delta, all bear a ram drawn in the most distinct
way, and not to be mistaken for any other
animal ; while the coins of Mendes bear a he-
goat just as clearly and distinctly drawn as the
ram of Thebes.

I cannot enter here into a full and exhaustive
discussion of this subject, which requires atten-
tive consideration. For the present I shall
keep to the old name, given, as I believe, merely
on account of the animal's appearance in the
sculptures, and based on a wrong interpretation
of a conventional form. I shall therefore con-
tinue to speak of the sacred ram of Mendes.
I only wish to point out that the usual opinion
as to the real nature of the animal does not seem
to me to be based on conclusive arguments, and
that the evidence points rather to the he-goat
than to the ram as the chosen embodiment of
the local deity.

The question would be settled immediately had
we found the original contents of the coffins, of
which several are still to be seen, and are known
to have been there since the Middle Ages. But
neither Brugsch's excavations nor mine have
given us an uuriHed specimen. The coffins are of
black granite, and with one exception, they are
uninscribod. That exception is represented by
a lid, which was discovered by Brugsch, and is
now exhibited in the Museum at Ghizeh.^ The
lid was originally five feet two and a half inches
long, and two feet seven inches wide ; thei'e
are only fragments of it left. It did not belong
to one of the largest sarcophagi, for some of
them were as much as six feet long. The
animal which the lid had covered is called in

the inscription ^|j\ -?- Ba anlh, the living soul
or the living spirit. The bird with a human head
^K\ ha, is here a variant of the ram ^^ to be

= Tochon, Medailles d'Erpjpfe, pp. G3, 1G7 ; J. de Rouge,
Mommies des No7nes de I'Egypte, pp. 11, 4G.
« Mariettc, Mon., pi. 42-46.



found on the Ptoloniaic tablet. I think, tlicrc-
foro, that tlic expression ^3i^ T of ^1^^) tablet
must be trauslated /Ac llcimj soul or the tiving
s])irit, rather than the living ram. The cofBn
is ornaraeuted like sarcophagi for human
beings, with representations of the sky, of the
gods of the elements, of night and day, and of
the different hours, and with the name of each
of them. The words sjjoken to the Jla aiikh.
are quite similar to the foruud;e addressed
to men. The sacred ram is supposed to sym-
bolise the productive and generative power of
nature, and he unites in his own person four
different rams, who are sometimes represented
in an abridged form as one single body Avith
four heads. On the Ptolemaic tablet he is
called : the King of Upper and Lower EgijjA,
the liuing spirit of lia, the living spirit of Sim,
the living spirit of Seh, Hie living spirit of Osiris,
the spirit of sjnrits, the lord of lords, the heir in
the city of Tonen (Mendes). In another part of
the same text it is said of him : aiypearing on
the horizon with four heads, illnminating heaven
and eartli, coming as Nile, causing the earth, to
live, and {giolng) the air to manl'ind. From
these two texts it is clear that he is supposed
to unite in himself the four elements, light or
fire, water, earth, and air ; these are the four
heads with which he is often represented, or
the four different rams of the composite deity,
which are sometimes attributed to four different
cities of Egypt.

But whether the sacred animal of Mendes
was a ram or a he-goat, it was, at any rate,
treated as a god, and divine honours were
granted to it. The ram lived in the temple,
and had his priests and his priestesses, who
took care of him. As with the bull AjdIs, there
was only one sacred ram at a time, one having
certain characteristic marks in proof of his
divinity. Like Apis also, he appeared some-
where quite unexpectedly. In the Ptolemaic
tablet it is said that in a year of Ptolemy
Philadelphus, which was probably the twenty-

second, people came to say to His Majesty that
a ram had appeared in a certain locality west of
Mendes, near the pylons, and they asked that
the king himself should enthrone the god, and
establish him in the temple, the repairs of which
had just then been completed. Five experts
were called in to examiuc the animal from cities
where it was worshipped ; and when they had
duly inspected the young ram, and certified that
his marks were correct, according to the divine
regulations, his fourfold title was given him,
the king himself enthroned him, and caused
him to be led in procession into the temple.
A great festival took jjlace ; and the king
availed himself of the occasion to dedicate a
statue of his deceased sister and wife Arsinoc,
which was to be placed near the sacred ram.

As I said before, the city of Thmuis super-
seded Mendes when Egy])t was under Roman
rule. The name of Mendes does not occur in
the list of bishoprics, but only that of Thmuis.
0ja.OYlC'i'R<\Kl©JuiOYl are the names we find in
the Oxford list." The great quantity of Roman
ruins, aqueducts, remains of barracks and of
what I consider to be the palace of the governor,
which had a portico with granite columns, all
show the importance to which the city rose
under the Romans, I dug in several of the
houses without finding anything valuable. I
have elsewhere described the chambers filled
with burnt papyri, which I called the library
of Mendes, but which should more correctly
have been described as the library of Thmuis.
Whether it was a library, or merely held the
archives of the city, it certainly contained a
considerable number of documents. A few
fragments in possession of Daninos Pacha have
been read by Prof. Sayce, who found them to
be accounts. But it is probable that in a
building of such a large extent there must
have been books of another kind. They were
all written in Greek.

' J. Jc Koiigc, I.e., p. loG.


On the same side as the inoumls of Tmei el
Amdid, but nearer to Mansoorali, the traveller
passes another mound close to the present
station of Baklieh. A few years ago he might
there have seen a number of fellaheen actively
engaged in excavations, under cover of getting
"sebakh" manui'e for their fields, but really
looking for antiquities, Now the mine is
exhausted, the mound has been partly levelled
to the ground, and, even for a fellah, there is
no further use in working there.

In traversing the short distance which sepa-
rates the station from the mounds, wo first
reach a space covered with enormous blocks of
black granite (pi. xii. a.) and red limestone.
Among them are two capitals in form of a
lotus flower, only roughly hewn and not yet
polished. One of them has been split in two,
for, as usual, this heap of big stones has served
as a quarry. Evidently a king of Egypt —
whose name we do not know, but who, judo-inr/'
from this building material, which is very like
that of Behbeit, might be a king of the XXXth
Dynasty, or even a Ptolemy — intended building
a temple here. To that end, he brought hither
stones from Upper Egypt, but was afterwards
obliged to give up his project, owing to
circumstances also unknown to us.

This heap of stones stands near the opening
of an enclosure- wall built round an area of
a few acres, containing the remains of the old
city, which could not have been very large. It
probably possessed but a small sanctuary.

which was to bo renewed or enlarofed. At a
short distance from the large mound is a
smaller one, whore the fellaheen have been
digging for yeai's, until parts of the mound
have completely disappeared. It was a necro-
polis of sacred ibises, and the spot has long
supplied the shops of antiquity dealers in Cairo
with bronze heads and figures of the sacred
bird. All over the tell lay heaps of bones of
the bird of Thoth, and the figures were thrown
among them exactly as in the case of the cats
of Bubastis. Some mummified ibises were
found in cases made out of a kind of cement.
Along with the remains of these birds were
found one or two sarcophagi of white limestone,
which were immediately broken up, and also a
few statuettes, one of which is dedicated to
Thoth, and is now in the British Museum.

The presence of so many ibis relics naturally
led to the idea that this was the site, if not of
the capital, at least of one of the cities of a
nome dedicated to Thoth, Hermes, and which
might have been called Hermopolitan by the
Greeks. In the hope of discovering the name of
the place, I cut extensive trenches all through
the mound, but notwithstanding their number
and their depth, I did not come upon the trace
of any important buildings whatever. Evi-
dently, if there had been a temple, it was a
small building which soon disappeared, and
which was to be replaced by a larger one for
which the necessary material had been brought
from Upper Egypt. Besides, in the heart of



the Delta the people are far from any quarry.
It is not easy to get limestone there, and the
smallest piece found on the tell would speedily
have been carried away. That seems to be the
reason why there are hardly any remains to be
seen there, excepting big blocks of granite, for
which there is no ordinary use.

Such fragments of inscriptions as I found
were discovered in the village of Baklieh ; they
are four in number. The first is a piece of lime-
stone, the lower part of a door-post, on which

are the following signs : ^^ "^::^ ^5= © [] Q

. . . uiorshipper of the great, tlic hml of Bah.
The second is a fragment of hard stone used as
the threshold to the tomb of a sheikh of a neigh-
bouring village (pi. iii. B.). The inscription is
of the time of Nectanebo II., and states that
the king was a worshipper of Thoth. Pro-
bably the name of the city in which Thoth is
said to reside immediately follows upon the
name of the god, and this supposition might
easily have been verified had the Arabs allowed
me to remove a brick of the door-post covering
a few inches of the stone. But after having re-
mained there a long time, after having tried all
kinds of argument, even that which is to them
the most persuasive of all arguments — the
sight of gold, I failed to overcome their
obstinacy. They feared to irritate the deceased
saint, who would deeply resent any damage
done to the door of his tomb, and who
would cause his wrath to be felt. So I was
obliged to go away without the sight of those
few signs. A third fragment is a large piece
of a basalt coffin Avhicli I had taken out of a

mill. The name of the deceased was *
Aahmes. He had several titles, the most impor-
tant of them being ttl j^ 'it. the h<dd-
headed, the title of one of the high-jDriests of
the XV th nome of Lower Egypt, the nome of

^"^ of the ibis, or of Thoth. The names
which I found on these inscriptions all point to

that nome in which the ibis was worshipped,
and this is in good accord with the fact of the
sacred birds' having had their necropolis at

The name of the nome of the ibis (^$;^ would
lead us to think that this was the Hcrmopolitan
nome of the Greeks, and that its capital was
Hormopolis Parva, known to have l)een in the
Delta. But it is not so ; we do not know of
any Bcrmopolitan nome having existed in the
Delta, whereas the city of Hermopolis Parva
in Lower Egypt is spoken of several times.
The name occurs three times in Strabo, and it
is probable that the Greek geographer meant
two different cities.^ Of the first, he says that
it was on the river near Lake Mareotis, and
also that it was on an island near Buto.
Evidently this was the city which Ptolemy had
in view, when he says that Hermopolis was
the metropolis of the nonie of the Alexan-
drians." That city was on the site of the
present town of Damanhoor,^ and by far the
most important city of the name in Lower
Egypt, probably much more important than its
Greek namesake in the eastern part of the
Delta. I believe that the eastern Hermopolis,
which would be far more correctly entitled to
the name of " city of Hermes " than the western
one, is also mentioned by Strabo, who says
that it was situate in the country above the
Sebennytic and the Phatnitic mouths, along
witli Lycopolis and Mendes. It is quoted also
by Stephanus Byzantinus, who speaks of a city
of Hermopolis Kara, ©/xouti/,' near Thmuis, and
lastly by the geographer of Ravenua, who also

' Tp. 803, 803.

^ ' K\(^avZpiu)v i^ojpas I'O/io? Kat fiijTpuwuXi^ EpfJLOV ttoAis

fiLKptl. p. 123, cJ. Bert.

^ D'Anville, Mem. sur VEnypte, p. 70. It is difficult to
unJcrstand why tlio Greeks called Hermopolis a city
dedicated to Horus and not to Thoth.

■• The only edition I have now at hand (15GS) reads Kara
'Pu/iowi', an evident mistake. The article in Pauly, Real.
Enri/el. reads Karu 0/xoDii'.


quotes an Ermopolis immediately following
Theomis/ which is evidently Thmuis.

The Egyptian cities had each so many names
that there is notliing extraordinary in onr find-
ing various localities with the same name when
it was translated into Greek or Latin. There are
several places called Iseum, Serapenm, Diospolis,
because the}' worshipped the same divinity.
The reverse may also occur in other instances,
considering that the Greeks followed no definite
principle in their rendering of Egyptian names.
For some reason unknown to us, and apparently
quite arbitrary, although two places had the
same god, they might be differently named by
the Greeks, — perhaps in order to avoid confu-
sion. I believe this to have been the case here.
Although the norae of Tlioth is not given by
Ptolemy as Hermopolitan, it was known to
him and its position is indicated in his work. I
quite agree with ]\r. J. do Rouge," that wo must
recognize it as the nome called Neovr, NeoufJ
whose capital was Panephysis, or PanithuAos as
it is called in Ilicrocles.*

This nome of NeouV, Neout (NCCYT on the
coins), must, according to Ptolemy, have been
in the immediate vicinity of the nome of
Mendes." The origin of the name Neour is not
known, but as for that of the capital, if we
adopt the reading of Hierocles, Panithusos, we
may find in it a corruption of the name of
Thoth, ™«« {'^ Pa en Dhntl, ihe house of

Thoih. The Coptic has preserved the tradition
of the worship of Hermes in the name '
rtlJUi«s.rfecxJOYT, the places of Thoih, which is
said to belong to the diocese of Thmuis.

Let us now turn to the hieroglyphic inscrip-
tions and see what information they aiford as

5 Ed. Finder et Parthcy, p. 120, Nos. 11 & 12.
^ Geogr. de la Basse Egypte, p. 105.

' NeoiiT vo/io's, Koi fir^TpoiroXK Ilai'tt^iio-is (p. 121, cd. Bert.).
8 P. 727, ed. Wcsscling.
» D'Anvillo, I.e., p. 92.

' Champollion, L'Efjypta sous les Pharaons, ii. p. 120.
Zoega, Cat. man., p. 18.

to the nome of Thoth. The lists give us three
names which may refer either to the capital, or
to the more important cities of the province :

^7^^ 5 8 P«' Dhvil ail Pchnh, the house

of Thoth the jiKlije nf Ihe Rehvh ; ^O the citij

of Thnfh ; ^' © w-ith many graphic variants.

Ball, which we found at Baklieh. I believe
that we must add to these tliree a fourth,

zz S/imioi, which has alw'ays been inter-

preted as referring to Hermopolis ]\Iagna, in
Upper Egypt, but whichi in my opinion must
also be applied to the Hermopolis near Mendes.
Certain monuments evidently coming from
Lower Egypt bear the name of Thoth of
Shmi;n, as for instance a cynocephalus in black
granite, about one foot high, which I saw in a
farm not far from Baklieh, and which was
doubtless dug out of one of the mounds of the
nome of Thotli. On its base are these words :

^'^.^^^g^'^r^zz© Praise gifcn to Thoth

the lord of Shmnn. It would be extraordinary
if this Shraun applied to the city of Hermopolis
Magna, so far away from the spot. Besides,

we see that Thoth -hzz© vho resides at

Shmnn, occurs among the gods of Lower
Egypt ^ who assembled at the great festival
celebrated by Osorkon II. at Bubastis. Hence
it seems to me probable that the capital of the
nome of Thoth in Lower Egypt was also called

Shmun - z , like Hermopolis Magna, the

— ©

capital of the XVth nome of Upper Egypt.
I consider that another name of the capital of

the nome of Ntovr is ^^ © the citij of Thoth,

find '^ 5^ ^ 1^1^^ ^^^"''' ^^i^ 'rehxLh. Ap
relmh, the judge or the guide of the Behuh, is
also one of the usual titles of the Egyptian
Hermes. We find him called by that name in
the sculptures of the hall of Nectanebo I. at
Bubastis, where are represented many divinities

" The Festival Hall, pi. viii., p. 21.



is shown as staiidiuir

of Egypt, and wlicrc he

next to Jla.mcld, the goddess of Mendes.^

On the othei- hand, I consider that Bali,

^s= © was not the cajiital, but some other city

of the same province, and I have no hesitation
in assigning to it the site of BakHch, from the
temple of which came the fragment bearing
that name, and also the sarcophagus with the
characteristic priestly title.

If Bah is at Baklieh, T believe that the
capital of the iiome, tJio citij of Thoili', the hon^c
of Thoth Aprelb'uh or Shmuii as it was called,
is to be looked for in the mounds of Tannah, a
place often referred to by the natives of Tmei
el Aindid. It is abont seven miles north of
Mendes, and ten miles cast of Mansoorah. The
fellaheen say that monuments have been found
there, and at a short distance from it is the
village called Axhmun er llummdn, which, as
Champollion rightly observes,'* must not be trans-
lated Shmun of the Romans, but Shmun of the
Pomegranates. According to the same ;iuthor,
this place was called also Affltmtt'it, ThannahJ'
It is probable that the cities built on the sites
of Baklieh and Tannah were separated from
Mendes by the Mendesian branch of the Nile,
which bounded the nome of Thoth on the

I have already mentioned that close to the
tell, near the opening in the enclosure wall,
there is a large heap of unworked blocks
intended for the building of a temple to be
erected on that spot, and that these blocks
seem to be of the kind of material which would
have been employed by the XXXth Dynasty.
It is I'emarkable that we should have a record
which may i-efer to this very temple. In the
quarries of Toora, south of Cairo, Brugsch "
discovei'cd an inscription stating that Necta-
uebo II. " opened a good quarry at Toora, in

3 Biihastis, pi. xlv. d.

■• lEijijjjte sous les Pliaraous, ii. p. 124.

* Champollion, I.e., ii. p. 152, 351. '' Zeiischr., 18G7, p. 91 .

order to build in good stone a sacred abode to
Thotli Apreliuh, the great god of Bah, and to the
gods of Bah." From Toora he could only got
limestone, and none of the black granite which
comes from Hamamat in Upper Egypt. But we
may conclude from this inscription, tliat since
he intended to build a temple, he would also,
when sending the limestone from Toora, order
the granite blocks and capitals which were to
adorn the halls and the gateways of the build-
ings to be brought from the upper country.
But the gi'ave events of his i-eign, and the
abrupt termination of his rule, prevented
Nectancbo from cariying out his plans.

A monument, Avhich would be interesting if
complete, is the basalt sarcophagus of which we
have only a fragment. The sculpture is clearly
of the Saite style; moreover, the dead man's
name of Aahmes is another indication of the
same period. Aahmes, or as the Greeks would
have called him, Amasis, had different titles.

lie was first ^^ . Whether the second sign is

to be read ^^ via, the river-side, the i^hure,

or ® V tej), the field, it seems that he had in
either case the superintendence of land. The
same office appears to be implied in the predi-
cate added to his priestly title ^ ^ the

fell', the liald-lieaded nn the earth,, or on the laud.

As for the title of 'iJ;^^, we know from the

lists that it belonged to the priests of the nome
of Thotli ; but the word ^ generally means ow

the earth, Uvin//, in opposition to the buried.
Here, however, it is clear that it has another
sense. These words must also refer to land, and
probably mean that the fek Ainasis was speci-
ally entrusted with the supervision of the land
belonging to the temple. A third title, which is

very vague, is ^=iii^ snyerhitendent of the temples.

We do not know what this title really meant,
and whether it gave any authority to the
bearer ; it may have been merely honorary, and



only iiidicativt! of ii corkiiii rank in the hier-
archy. I am inclined to think that if it refers
to a real employment or office, it denotes a
man who has to look after the building itself,
its walls, and everything connected with con-
struction and repairs.

On the upper register of the sarcophagus were
figures of the protecting genii of the deceased
during the hours of night and day. The lower
register gives the names of the hours. On the
side which has been preserved we have the
names of the second, third, fourth, and fifth
hours of the day. The hours of the night were
probably given on the other side. It is to be
observed that these few names completely differ
from those of the lists known up to the present
time,' even from those in the list given by a
Sa'ite coffin of the Leyden Museum. On the
Baklieh sarcophagus, the names seem to have
been engraved with tlie greatest carelessness,
and by an artist who evidently did not understand
what he was inscribing. He had to engrave on
a given space an inscription consisting of the
following parts : the number of the hour of
the day, its name, and these words : protecting
thcc Osiris, etc., with name and title. As the
space was very limited, he nearly sacrificed the

' Brugsch, Thes., [>. 843.

second part, shaping the name of the hour
according to the room which was left, omitting
many signs and jiutting in others which had no

sense. The second hour is called '^ ^^3~ ^

l^arheh, seeing millions. This name is cor-
rectly written, but it generally applies to the

third hour. The third, ^, seems to me

to have no meaning at all. Perhaps the last

signs ic are taken from the usual name of

the second hour, which ends with the word the





are only inserted to

fill up the space. As for the name of the
fourth, II believe that the engraver mistook
for the name of the hour what is nothing but
an unusual way of writing " fourth," 1 '^, found

on the coffin of the sacred I'am from Mendes.*
A good style of sculpture and beautifully
engraved characters are not always the
guarantees of a correct text, especially in later
times. As at Mendes, so too the Saite sove-
reigns built at Baklieh. The only cartouche
which I discovered there is of Psammetichus II.
It is on a piece of limestone (pi. iii. o), which
was also built into the walls of the mill-pond
from which I took the fragment of the coffin.

* Mariette, Mon., pi. xlvi.


One of the most beautiful parts of the Delta
is the region south of the city of Mit Ghamr
on the right side of the Daznietta branch of the

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