Richard Lepsius.

Letters from Egypt, Ethiopia, and the peninsula of Sinai online

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The first part of this volume consists of Letters from
Eg^'pt, Etliiopia, and tlie Peninsula of Sinai, published in
1852. In addition to the Map of the jS'ile, published in
the G-erman edition, and the view of Blount Earkal, we
have been enabled, through the kindness of Dr. Lepsius, to
give a Map of the Peninsula of Sinai, from an unpub-
lished pamphlet, printed at Berlin in 1S4G {Reisc des Prof^
Lepsius von Tlieben nacli der Halhinsel des Sinai, vom 4 Mdrz
his zum 14 April, 1845), which will be found to contribute
much to the elucidation of the interesting Letter on Mount

In the Appendix we have inserted a geological paper, by
Mr. Homer, from the " Edinburgh Philosophical Journal"
for July, 1850, in which some doubts are thrown upon
the theory of Dr. Lepsius concerning a supposed exca-
vation of the bed of the Xile within the historical period.
We have done this at the request of Dr. Lepsius, who is
desirous to call more particular attention to the subject.

The Letters are succeeded by extracts (chiefly relating to
the Hebrew Chronology) from Dr. Lepsius's larger work (of
which only one volume has yet been published), Die Chro-
nolofjie der jEf^ypter, in which he states his conclusions
respecting the date of the Exodus. "We have also obtained
permission from Chevalier Eunsen to add a note (p. 475),
pointing out how far he diflers from Dr. Lepsius respecting
the period when the Israelites entered Egypt. It has been


thought desirable to omit those sections which enter into
the subject more minutely than would interest the general

The whole of this portion of the translation has been
revised by the author, and throughout the volume, what-
ever alterations or additions have been suggested by him,
are placed between brackets.

A Table of the Egyptian Dynasties, drawn up by Mr.
Horner, has been added, and, at his request, revised by
Dr. Lepsius, who has inserted the results of his latest in-
vestigations concerning the dates of the different Dynasties.

"Wherever measurements by feet are mentioned, French
feet are to be understood, unless it is otherwise specified.

August, 1853.


The object of the Scientific Expedition which the King
OF Prussia sent to Egypt in the year 1842, was to inves-
tigate and collect, with an historical and antiquarian view,
the ancient Egyptian monuments in the Xile valley, and
upon the Peninsula of Sinai. It was fitted out and main-
tained for more than three years by the munificence of the
King, and enjoyed uninterruptedly his gracious favour and
sympathy, as well as the most active and kind attention
from Alexander y. Humboldt, and by a rare union of for-
tunate circumstances, it attained the purposes they had in
view, as completely as could be expected. A " Preliminary
Account of the Expedition, its Kesults, and their Publica-
tion" (Berlin, 1849 ; 4to), was issued at the same time with


the first portion of the great work upon the Monuments,
which will be publislied by desire of his Majesty, in a style
corresponding with the magnificence of the treasures we
brought away with us, and which will contain a concise survey
of the principal results of the Expedition.

In the work upon '■ the Monuments of Egj'pt and Ethi-
opia," here announced, which will comprise more than 800
folio plates, half of which are already completed, and 240
published, these results will be fidly displayed, as far as
regards Sculpture, Topography, and Architecture, and they
will be considered more accurately in the accompanying text.

Independently, however, of our strictly scientific labours,
it appeared right to ofter a picture to a larger circle of inte-
rested readers of the external features of the Expedition, the
;[>ersonal co-operation of the different members belonging to
it, the obstacles, or the fortunate circumstances of the journey,
the condition of the countries that we traversed, and the
influence they exercised on the immediate objects of our
undertaking ; finally, a series of remarks on the individual
sites of the monuments in that most historical of all coun-
tries, with all the meaning and completeness in which they
appear to those travellers who, by their study of tliat most
ancient history, are peculiarly prepared to understand them,
but which may also excite an increased sympathy in others
who have acknowledged the great importance of this newly-
established science. If it should directly further a correct
criticism of the scientific labours which have resulted from
tliis journey, and which are being gradually published, to
consult the circumstances under which the materials were
collected, I believe that no farther justification is necessary
for the publication of the fo^io^ving Letters, however little
pretension they may have on the one side to the completeness
and the literary charm of a regidar account of travels, or, on
the other side, to the value of a strictly scientific work.

a attthor's peeface to the lettees.

The Letters have remained almost throughout in their
original form ; some are respectfully addressed to his Ma-
jesty the King, some to his Excellency Eichhorn, at that
time Minister of Public Instruction, or to other distinguished
patrons and honoured men, such as A. r. Humboldt, Bunsen,
v. Olfers, Ehrenberg, and lastly, some to my father, who
constantly preserved the liveliest interest in all tliat con-
cerned me. Several letters, immediately upon their arrival
in Europe, were printed in the newspapers, especially in the
Prussian Gazette, and from that were received into other
papers. The immaterial alterations in some of the details
are, for the most part, only made for publication. All addi-
tions or expansions are put in the form of notes. To this
class belong the more detailed notes and the proofs given
concerning the true position of Sinai, which, I believe,. is
poiated out for the first time by me ; this has since been
criticised from different quarters, and has been condemned
by some, while it has met with approbation from others.
The subject of the 36th Letter on the decoration of the
Egyptian Museum in Berlin is certainly very different from
the rest ; but as an exception it may be justified, since the
point there considered is not only of local interest in Berlin,
but is valuable in all cases of observation, where there are
similar requirements, and where the subject treated about
is a method of adjustment between ancient Egyptian and
modem Art.

Berlin, 2nd Jane, 1852.



Preliminary AccouxT OF THE Expedition AND ITS Rksults . . 12
Letter I. — On hoard the Oriental Steamer, bth September^ ISA'i . 35

Voyage to Alexandria.

Letter II. — Alexandria, 23rd September, \ 842 38

Malta— Gobat — Isenberg — Krapt' — Alexandria — Mohammed Ali.

Letter 111.— Cairo, Uth October, 1842 . 41

Alexandria — Pompey's Pillar — Cleopatra's Needle — Wernc's Collection of
Natural History — Departure from Alexandria — Sais — Naliarich — Cairo
— Heliopolis — The Celebration ot tiie King's Birthday at the Pyramids
— Panoramic View from the Pyramid of Cheops.
Letter IV. — At the foot of the largest Pyramid , 2nd January, 1843 . . 01
Pyramids of Gizeh — Tombs of Private Individuals — Sphinx — A Deluge of
Rain — Celebration of Christmas — Life jn the Camp.

Letter V. — Pyramids of Gizeh, 17th January, 1843 56

The Hieroglyphic Memorial tablet on the Pyramid of Cheops — What we
gained in a Historical point of View.
Letter VI. — Pyramids of Gizeh, 28th January, lS4o . . . .50
The most ancient Royal Dynasties — Tomb of Prince Merhet — Tombs of
Private Individuals — Ravages committed by the Arabs — Most ancient

Letter VIL—Saqara, 18th March, 1843 64

Pyramids of Meidiim— The Structure of Pyramids — Tlie Enigma of the
Sphinx — Locusts — Comet.

Lettkk \m.— Saqdra, 13th April, ISiS .60

Prince Albert of Prussia — Festivities in Cairo — Entrance of Pilgrims —
Mulid e' Nebbi — Doseh — Visit of the Prince to the Pyramids — Most
ancient Application of the Pointed Arch in Cairo — The most ancient
Round Arch in Egvpt — Attack by Night in Saqara — Day of Trial.

Lt^t^kk ]X.— Cairo, 22nd April, 1843 70

Plan of the Site of the Pyramid Fields — Cairo.
Letter X. — Ruins of the' Labyrinth, o\st May, 1843 . . . .81
Departure for the Faium — Camels and Dromedaries — Lischt — Meidum —
Illahun — Labyrinth — Arabic Song — Bedouins — Turkish Kawass.

Lt^tter XI.— The Labyrinth, 2oth Jn7ie, 1843 80

The Ruins of the Labyrinth — Its First Builder— Its Pyramid— Lake
Letter XIL— r^e Labyrinth, 18th July, 1843 . . . . . . 94

Journey round the Faium — The Dams of Moeris — Birket-el-Qorn — Diraeh
— Qasr Qeriin.

Letter XlU.-Cairo, 14tk Aiiyust, 1843 OS

Departure of Frey — Ethiopian Manuscripts.
LErrER XIV.— Thebes, 13th October, 1843 ... . . 100

Voyage on the Nile to Upper Egypt — Rock-Grotto of Surarieh — Tombs of
the Sixth Dynasty, in Central Egypt; of the Twelfth, in Benihassan,
Siut, Berscheh— Arrival in Thebes'— Climate— Journey onwards.

•^Q CO^"TE^"TS.


Letter XV—Kornslv, 10th November, 1843 ....... 105

Greek Inscriptions— Benihassau—Berscheli— Tombs of the Sixth Dynasty
—El Amarna—Siut— Alabaster Quarries of El Bosra— EehmnBCChem-
niis)— Thebes— El Kab (Eileithyia)—Edfu—Ombos— Egyptian Canon
of Proportions— Assuan—Philse— Hieroglyphic-Demotic Inscriptions-
Succession of the Ptolemies— Entrance into Lower Nubia— Debot—Ger-
tassi— Kalabscheh (Talmis) — Dendi'ir- Dakkeh (Pselchis)— Korte—
Hierasykaminos—]\Iehencli—Sebuii—Korusko— Nubian Language.

Letter XYl.—Koi^usJco, bth January, 184-4 130

Scarcity of Camels— Excursion to Wadi Haifa— Achmed Pascha Menekle
and the newlv-named Pascha of the Sudan.

Letter XVIL— £"' Darner, '2Uh January, 1844 133

Nubian Desert— Eoft I\Iountain Range— Wadi E' Suft— Wadi Murbad—
Ababde Arabs— Abu Hammed— The Province of Berber — El Mecheref
— :\Io2:i-an or Atbara (Astaboras)— E' Damer — j\Ianderal
Letter XVII L-Ow the Blue River ^ Province of Senndr, 13? N, Lat,

2jid March, 1844 148

The borders of a Tropical Climate— Kawass — ^Ha^ Ibrahim— Meroe —
Begerauieh — Pyramids— Ferlini — The Age of the Sfonuments — Schendi

Ben Naga — Naga in the Desert — Mesaurat e' Sofra — Tamaniat —

Chartum— Bahr el Abiat (the 'White River)— Dinka and Schilluk —
goba — Kamliu — Bauer — Inscription on Marble — Baobab — Abu Harras —
Rahad — Character of the Country — Dender — Dileb Palms — Sennar —
Abdin — Romali — Sero — Return towards the North — Wed Medineh —
goriba — Sultana Nasr — Gabre ^Mariam — Rebabi — Funeral Ceremony —
The Military — Emin Pascha — Taiba — Messelemieh — Kamlin — Soba —
Vase with an Inscription.

Letter XIX.— C/irtr^MWi, 21s'TS. 11


Lettilr XXVlL—PJdlce, 1st September, ISU 241

Wadi Keniis — Bega Language of the Bischari — Talmis — Pliila3 — Meroitic-
Etliiopian Inscriptions.
LE.TrERXXViU.— T/iebes—Quma,'2itk November, ISiA. . . .243
Excavations in tlie Temple and in the Eock-Tombs of Ramses II. — Lan-
guages of the Sudan — History and Civilisation of Ethiopia.
Letter XXIX.— Thebes— Qurna, 8th January, 1845 . . . .245
Monuments and Plaster Casts we took away yn'Ja. us.

Letter XXX.—Thtbes, 2hth February, 1845 246

Description of Thebes — The Temple of Karnac, and its History — Luqsor
— El Asabif — Statue of Memnon — The r^Iemnonium — Temple of
Ramses II. — Medinet Habu — The Royal Tombs — Tombs of Private
Individuals from the Time of Psammeticus — Imperial Time — Coptic
Convents and Churches — Copts of the present Day — Revenge for
bloodshed among the Arabs — Our dwelling in Abd-el-Quruu— Visit
from Travellers.

LETiKYiXXXl.-Onthe Red Sea, 2\st March, WAh 274

Change of abode from Qurna to Karnac — Departure to the Peninsula of
Sinai — Qenneh — Seid Hussen — Stone-Quarries and Inscriptions of
Hamamat— Gebel Fatireh — Losing our Way — Porphyry t>uarries at
Gebel Doclian — Gcbel Zcit.
Letter XXXll.-Convent of Sinai, 2Ath March, 1845 . . . .290
Landing at Tor — Gebel Hammam — Wadi Hebran — Convent — Gebel Alusa
— Gebel Sefsaf.

Letter XXXUL-On the Red Sea, Gth April, 1845 293

Departure from the Convent — AVadi e' Seheikh — Ascent of Serbal — Wadi
Firan — Wadi ]Mokatteb — Copper !Mines of Wadi !Maghdra — Rock-In-
scriptijns of the Fourth Dynasty — Sarbut el Chadem — Mounds of
Dross — Wadi Xasb — Harbour of Abu Zelimeli — The true Position of
Sinai — Tradition of the Monks — Local and Historical Conditions — Elim
at Abu Zelimeh — Mara in Wadi Gharandel — The Desert of Sin — Sinai,
the Mount of Sin — The Mount of God — Subsistence of the Israelites —
Eaphiuim at Pharan — Sinai-Choreb at Eaphidim — Review of the
Question upon Sinai.
Letter XXXIV .—Thebes— Karnac, Ath May, 1845 . . . .321
Return to Thebes — Revenge for bloodshed.

LetterXXXV.— CozVo, 10?/