Richard Lepsius.

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

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that our new companion, the painter Georgi, had arrived from
Italv, and had already started for Dougola, where he waits
for further orders. I shall wi'ite to him to come as far as
Barkal to meet us.

As we were certain by this letter of finding the Pascha
still in Messelemieh, we started for that place about mid-day ;
and as the town is situated an hour and a half distant from
the Nile, we made the journey by land.

The boat, meanwhile, was to follow us to the harbour of
Messelemieh, that is to say, to the nearest landing-place of
this most important of the commercial towns of the whole
Sudan. Besides Jussuf, we took with us the Kawass and
Grab re Mariam, who sat behind me on the dromedary, where
there is always left a small place for a servant, like a coach-
box behind the carriage ; he sits on the narrow hinder part
of the animal, and holds on to the saddle with both his hands.
It was hot, and the ground was parched up. The few birds
which I saw were difi'erent from those which habitually in-
herit the banks of the river.

Half-way we came to Taiba, a village which is only in-
habited by FuKAEA (plur. of Fakie). These are the sages,
the holy men of the people, a kiud of priest, without however
having priestly functions to perform ; they can read and
write ; they do not permit any music, dancing, or festivals
among them, and therefore have a great reputation for sanc-
tity. The chief of this village is the greatest Fakir of the
whole surrounding neighbourhood. Every one believes in
him like a prophet; whatever he predicts, happens. The
late Achmed Pascha, one month before his death, caused him
to be imprisoned. " God will punish you for this," was his
answer to the order, and one month afterwards the Pascha


died. He is a very rich man, and possesses several villages.
We went in quest of him, and found liim in his house at
dinner ; about twenty people were sitting round a colossal
wooden bowl, which was filled with a gruel of boiled Durra
and milk. The bowl was pushed in front of us, but we could
not eat any of this food. We amused ourselves with the
old Takir, who joined in our conversation with easy, friendly,
and pleasing manners, and then inquired our names, and the
object of our journey. Every one who entered, our servants
among the number, approached him reverently, and touched
his hand with their mouth and forehead. The dignity of
Sheikh is hereditary in his family ; his son is looked up to
almost as much as himself, and in this way we can understand
how a village like this, when the Sheikh has once been himself
a Fakir, can become altogether a priest-village. E' Damer, on
the island of Meroe, was formerly a Fakir place similar to
this. The inhabitants of Taiba, probably of Arabic race, call
themselves Aeakin. There are a number of such local
names here, whose origin it is difficult to make out.

When we had smoked out our pipes, we left the congre-
gation of holy men, and rode away. One half hour before
we reached Messelemieh, we came to a second village called
Hellet e' Soliman, where we dismounted at a house which had
been built by the late Mak, or Melek Kambal, of Halfai,
when he married the daughter of Defalla, to whom the village
belonged; it now belongs to his brother's son, Mahmud
welled Schauisch, who has besides the title of Melek, but is
really only the guardian of Kambal' s little son, Melek Beshir.
It is easy to see what is now thought here of the old re-
verential title of Melek, or King. Mahmut was not at home,
as he had accompanied Ahmed Pascha on his campaign.
Nevertheless, we were entertained in his house according to
the hospitable custom of this country. Coverlets were spread
out, milk and fresh baked Durra bread in thin slices,
which has by no means a bad taste, was brought in ; added
to this, another simple, but refreshing beverage, aht^eq, fer-
mented sourish Durra water. Soon after Asser we reached


Messelemieh. Emin Pasclia received us very kindly, and com-
municated to us the intelligence tliat Mohammed All's first
minister, Boghos Bey, whom I had visited in Alexandria, was
dead, and that Artim Bey, a man of elegant manners, and a
shrewd politician, had been appointed in his place.

AVe declined the Pascha's invitation to supper, and offer of
a night's lodging, and soon rode away towards the river,
where we hoped to find our boat. As it had not yet arrived^
we spent the night on anqarebs in the open air. We were
not able to start for Kamlin till the following morning, the
loth March, and reached it towards evening. The next day
we spent agreeably with our countryman, Herr Bauer. On
the 17th, having paid a visit to Nureddin Eftendi, in Wad
Eraue, several hours distant from Kamlin, we arrived on the
following day at Soba, where I immediately sent for one of
the vases which had been found in the ruins of the ancient
city, and which was said to be kept by the brother of the
Sheikh. After waiting a long time, it was brought to us.
It was an ancient vessel for incense, made of bronze in
filigree work. The sides of the vessel, which was of a
roundish form, and about nine inches high, and of similar
width, consisted solely of open-work Arabesques ; the swings
ing chains had been fastened to the upper border by three
little hooks, one of which, however, has broken away, so that
the most interesting part of the whole, an inscription running
round beneath the border, and like the Arabesques carved
a jour, in rather large letters, thereby is unfortunately in-
complete. This is of peculiar importance, as the writing is
again in the Greek, or rather in the. Coptic character, as on
the stone-tablet ; but the language is neither of these, but
doubtless the ancient vernacular tongue of Soba, the capital
of the mighty Kingdom of Aloa. Short as it is, it is distin-
guished from the stone inscription by containing the Coptic
signs ^ (sch) and 'V (ti), which are not to be found in the
latter. I purchased the vessel for a few piastres. This is
now the third monument of Soba which we take away with
us, for I must mention, in addition, that at the house of Seid


HascMm, in "Wed Medineb, we also saw a small Yenus "of
Grreek workmansbip, carved in pure style, and about a foot
bigb, wbicb had likewise been found in Soba, and was pre-
sented to me by its owner. At lengtli, on the 19th March,
we again entered the house of HeiT Hermanovich, in
Chartum, later than our original calculations had led us to
expect, for which reason I had already communicated our
delay to Erbkam, in a letter from Wed Medineh.


Chartum, the 2\st March, 1844.
Heee, for the first time, we received more exact intel-
ligence of the military revolt in Wed Medineh, which was of
a most serious nature, ^nd would have infallibly thrown us
into the greatest danger had we remained two days longer in
that town. All the black soldiers revolted while Emiu Pascha
was residing there. The drill-sergeant and seven white
soldiers were killed immediately ; the Pascha was besieged
in his own house, which was briskly fired into ; his negotiators
were repelled, and the powder magazine seized. All the
arms and ammunition, with the two cannons, fell into the
hands of the negroes, who then selected six leaders for them-
selves, and set out in six divisions on the road to Pazoql to
take refuge in their mountains. The regiment in this place,
which has about 1500 blacks in it, was at once disarmed, and
will be kept within the barracks. The most serious conse-
quences are dreaded, as. Ahmed Pascha Menekle has been so
inconsiderate as to take almost all the white troops along
wir.h him to Taka ; otherwise I should rejoice at the desertion
of the blacks, as they are treated in the most revolting
manner by their Turkish masters. Yet the insurrection may
easily bring the whole country into a state of disorder, and
then, also, have an injurious influence on our expedition.
The blacks will undoubtedly endeavour on their road to
draw over to their own party whatever country people they

CHJLETriT. 191

meet, especially the troops of Soliman Pascha in Sennar, and
of Selim Pascha in Pazoql. The whites are far too few to offer
them effectual resistance. Xews has just arrived that between
five and six hundred slaves of the late Ahmed Pascha, belonsr-
ing to the indigo factory at Tamaniat, a little to the north of
this, have fled with their wives and children to the Sudan,
and intend to join the soldiers ; the same is reported of the
factory at Kamlin, so that we necessarily feel anxious about
our friend Bauer, who was not, indeed, cruel as the Turks
are, but yet was a strict master.

2^tli March. — The news is spread that the troops in
Sennar and the people belonging to Melek Idris Adlaa, have
put the negroes to the sword. It is also said, that the slaves
of Tamaniat have been overtaken by the Arnauts, and mur-
dered or dragged back, and that the revolt in Kamlin has
been suppressed. Still we cannot build much on this, as the
intelligence reached me through our Kawass from the people
belonging to the Pascha, and the desire was also expressed
that I should spread the news still farther, and write about
it to Cairo,

Yesterday, as we were walking in the dusk of the evening,
in the large and beautiful garden belonging to Ibrahim Cher,
in whose cheerful and pleasantly-situated house I write this
letter, we saw tall dark clouds of sand rise like a wall on the
horizon. A ^-iolent east wind has also been blowing to-night
ever since, and still blows, enveloping all the trees and build-
ings in a disagreeable sandy atmosphere, which almost takes
away our breath. I have closed the window-shutters firmly,
and barricaded the door with stones, to be in some measure
secured from the first assault ; nevertheless, I am constantly
obliged to cleanse the sheet of letter paper from the covering
of sand which is incessantly thrown down on it.

I returned in such a tattered condition from my hunting
excursion to Sennar, that I was at length obliged to as-
sume the Turkish costume, which I cannot now soon ex-
change again. It has its advantages for the customs of this
country, especially for sitting on coverlets, or low cushions ;


but the Tarbusch, which lies so flat upon the head, is very
ill-adapted to this sunny sky, and the fastening of the innu-
merable buttons and hooks is daily a most wearisome trial
of patience.

30^^ March. — We intend to leave Chartum as soon as this
packet of letters is handed over to the Pascha. The revolu-
tion is now completely suppressed in all parts. It would
doubtless have had a far worse result had it not, from a
particular cause, broken out in Wed Medineh several days
too soon. It had been planned and secretly arranged for
a long time past in the whole of the south, and was
not to have broken out before tlie 19th of this month
simultaneously in Sennar, Wed Medineh, Kamlin, Chartum,
and Tamaniat. The precipitate movement in Wed Medineh
had, however, disarranged the whole plan, and had especially
given time to Emin Pascha to send messengers to Chartum,
by which means the negro soldiers here were consigned and
disarmed before news of the outbreak had reached their ears.
Emin Pascha, however, seems himself to have been totally
helpless. The victory is said to be solely due to the courage
and presence of mind of a certain Eustan Effendi, who with
150 devoted soldiers, chiefly whites, pursued the negroes, who
were 600 strong, overtook them beyond Sennar, and after
attacking them three times, defeated them, with great loss of
life. Above a hundred of the fugitives have surrendered,
and have been taken to Sennar in irons ; the remaining
number were killed in the action, or leapt into the river and
were drowned there.

But the news arrived here at the same time, that an insur-
rection had also broken out on account of the taxes in Lower
JN'ubia, in Kalabsche, and another village, that both villages
had on that account been immediately destroyed by Hassan
Pascha, who is to come to Chartum in place of Emin Pascha,
and that the inhabitants had been killed or driven away.



The Pyramids o/Merue, 22nd April, 1844.

We quitted Chartum on the 30tli March, towards evening,
and proceeded half the night by moonlight.

The following day we arrived at Tamaniat. Almost the
whole of the large village had disappeared, and only one vast
burning plain was to be seen. The slaves in their revolt had
laid everytliiug in ashes, the walls of the factory are alone
left standing. As I had quitted the boat and arrived on foot,
I was unexpectedly startled near the still smoking ruins by
a liorrible spectacle, for I suddenly found myself in an open
piece of garden, which was completely covered by the muti-
lated corpses of blacks. The greatest proportion of the slaves
who had been recaptured were here shot down in masses.

We stopped at sunset in Surie Abu Eamle, before a cata-
ract, which we were unable to pass during the night.

The 1st of April we again started long before daybrealv,
and thought we should make a good step in advance. But
the wind rose with the sun, and as the boat could not be
towed at this point on account of the rocky banks, a few
hours afterwards we were compelled to halt again, and to lie
quiet in the heavy, dense atmosphere of sand. In front of
us lay the insulated range of Qirre, detached from whicli,
Aschtan (the Tliirsty) on our left hand, Eauian (the Thirsty
assuaged) on our right, stand forth from the plain like watch-
posts ; the former, however, at a greater distance from the

Eauian was only about three-quarters of an hour distant
from our boat. I set out with my gun, traversed the bare
stony plain, and climbed the mountain, during the inun-
dation season almost entirely surrounded by water, for
wliich reason we were always told that it stood upon an
island. The rock of which it is composed is granite, of a
mixed coarse and fine grain, w^ith much quartz. On the road
back, I passed the village of Melah, the huts of which lie


IM BEN yxG\.

hidden behind large mounds of upturned earth, formed bj
the inhabitants when they dig for salt (malh). A great deal
of it is found in the surrounding countr}' (thus Melah is the
Arabic translation of salt-work, or Suiza). Towards eveiiing
we sailed on a little farther, in the midst of the range, and
lay to, in a little rocky creek. The following day, also, we
made but little progress. We saw some black slaves wander-
ing about like chamois, on the eastern summits of the wild
granitic rocks, who have perhaps escaped from Tamaniat, but
their miserable life will not probably be much longer prolonged.
They disappeared immediately again behind the jagged sum-
mits, our Kawass having indulged in the brutal jest of firing
at them in the air. I climbed up the western mountains with
Abeken ; they rise precipitously for about 200 or 300 feet
from the bank. It is evident here, by the natural waUs of
rock, to what height the river rises and deposits its mud at
high- water. I measured nearly 8 metres (26 feet English)
from that point to the surface of the water at the present
moment, and the river will continue to sink about 2 feet

From the summit of the mountain we saw the wide desert
extending behind the farthest eminences, and soon after pass-
ing Meraui, we shall be wandering across it. We quitted
the picturesque range of mountains with regret, which form
such an agreeable interruption to the flat banks of this far
and wide level country.

On the morning of the 4th April, we at length reached
our group of palm-trees at Ben Naga, and immediately
went to the ruins in the Wadi el Kirbegan, where we found
a portion of a pillar, and several altars in the south-eastern
temple which had been newly- excavated by Erbkam; the
same Eoyal Shields were upon them as upon the principal
temples of Naga in the desert, besides several others which
had not previously appeared. Of the three altars that had
been excavated, the central one, of very hard sandstone, was
in excellent preservation. On the western side there was a
representation of the King, on the eastern, of the Queen, with


their names, and on both the other sides were two goddesses.
On the northern side the hieroglyphic group of the North
was also inscribed, and on the southern that of the South.
Both the other altars exhibited the same figures. All three
were still standing on their original site, and w^re let into a
smooth floor, which was composed of square slabs of stone
covered with plaster. Unfortunately I had not then the means
of carrying away the best of these altars, which weighed at
least 50 cwt., and I had, therefore, to plan a special excursion
from Meroe for the purpose.

On G-ood Friday, the 5th April, we arrived at Schendi.
We entered the widely- scattered but depopulated town,
saw the ruins of the palace of King Nimr, in which
he had burnt Ismael Pascha, after a nocturnal festival
which he had prepared for him, and many houses which
still bore traces of the balls of Defterdar Bey, who was
sent by Mohammed Ali to revenge the death of his son.
The dwelling of King Nimr, which now also lay in ruins,
used to stand in the centre of the town on an artificial emi-
nence. The suburb, built for the present military garrison,
is at a little distance up the river, and separated from the
town. We then returned to the boat, which had put in near
the fortress-like house of Churshid Pascha, where the mili-
tary commander now resides.

On the same day we arrived, shortly before sunset, at Beg'e-
rameh, and immediately rode to the Pyramids, where we once
more found Erbkam and the remainder of the party safe and
sound. They have been diligently drawing in Naga and Wadi
Sofra, and the rich costume of the kings and gods, as well as
the representations belonging to these Ethiopian temples in
general, devoid of style indeed, but ornamental, look very
well on paper, and will make a splendid show in our sketch-
books. Much had been done in this spot also, and many
new things had come to light in clearing out the ante-
chambers, which had been full of rubbish. Abeken thought,
even during our first visit, that he had found the name of




the Queen Kentaki (Candace).
tlie Shield is not written

Xow, indeed, we see that



whicli would read Kentahebi ; nevertheless it seems to nie
to have meant that famous name, and that the question-
able sign merely has been changed by the ignorant scribes.
The determinative signs ^'^ prove, at least, that it is
the name of a Queen. The name of Candace was known
even at an earlier period as that of a private person. The
name of Eegamenes is likewise found, and this also written
sometimes correctly, sometimes with mistaken variation.

We kindled Easter bonfires on the evenings of the suc-
ceeding holidays. Our tents are situated between two
groups of Pyramids in a small hollow of the vallej^, which is
everywhere covered with dry tufts of a woody grass. "We
lighted this all about us ; it blazed up high, and flung the
whirling flames upwards into the dark starry night. The
spectacle of fifty or sixty such fires burning at once in the
valley was beautiful ; they threw a ghost-like light on the
half-crumbled Pyramids of the old kings ranged on the emi-
nences round, and on our airy tent-pyramids rising in the

We were surprised on the 8th of April by seeing a mag-
nificent cavalcade of horses and camels, which appeared
within our camp. It was Osman Bet, who, as the chief in
command, is leading back the army of 5000 men from Taka.
The French military surgeon, Peney, was in his suite, besides
the Chief Sheikh Ahmed welled 'Auad. The troops had
encamped near Gabuschie, one hour farther up the river, and
were to pass through Beg'erauieh in the evening. The visit


to our camp had, however, another object, which was soon
disclosed in the course of conversation. Osman Bey was
desirous of making treasure-diggers out of his pioneers, and
of ordering some battalions to come hither, to pull down a
number of Pyramids. The discovery of Terlim is still re-
membered by most people, and has since that time caused
the ruin of many Pyramids. They were also full of it at
Chartum, and more than one European, besides the Pascha
himself, imagined they might still find treasures there. I
constantly endeavoured to prove to them all, that the dis-
covery of Ferlini was pure chance, that he had not found
tlie gold rings in the sepulchral chambers with the mummies,
where they alone might reasonably have been searched for
with any hope of success, but walled up in the stone, in which
place they had been concealed by a whim of the owner. I
endeavoured to convince Osman Bey of this also, who even
offered me the aid of his companies of soldiers to conduct
the work of destruction. I naturally declined this, though
perhaps I should have accepted it for the sake of laying
open to view the sepulchral chambers, which necessarily must
have their entrance in front of the P3'ramids in the natural
rock, had I not feared that here also we might not arrive at
any brilliant result, and even if our own expectations were
not so, yet those of the credulous general might be bitterly
disappointed. I succeeded in diverting him from his idea,
and thus for the present, at least, the existing Pyramids have
been saved. The soldiers have departed without having
made war on the Pyramids.

I invited the three gentlemen to dine with us, which
placed the old Sheikh in some embarrassment, for he was
always trying to cut the meat with the back of his knife, till
at length I myself laid aside the European implements, and
began to eat in good Turkish fashion ; my example was soon
followed willingly by the rest of the company, especially by
our excellent dark-skinned guest, who did not foil to observe
my polite attention. After dinner they again mounted


their sumptuously-caparisoned animals, and the procession
hastened towards the river.

On the 9th of April, I sent Franke and Ibrahim Aga to
Ben Naga, with stone-saws, hammers, and ropes, to trans-
port the great altar to this spot. I myself rode with Jussuf
to Gabuschie, partly to return the visit of Osman Bey, who
had intended to give the soldiers a day of rest in our neigh-
bourhood, partly to take advantage of the presence of the dis-
tinguished Sheikh Ahmed, through whose interest I hoped
to procure boats to carry us across the river, and camels for
the desert journey that we had in prospect. The army had,
however, already decamped, and had passed the first places
on the road. I therefore rode after them with Jussuf in a
brisk trot, and soon overtook the 400 Aruauts who formed
the rear. They were not, however, able to inform us how
far Osman Bey was in advance. The Arnauts are the
soldiers most dreaded in the whole country for brutality
and cruelty, who at the same time are treated with most
indulgence by their leaders, because they are the only
troops who serve voluntarily, and the only foreigners taken
into pay. It is but a few months ago since they were sent
to the late Ahmed Pascha by Mohammed Ali, under an
ofiicer who was peculiarly feared, with the order, as it is
said, to bring the Pascha, dead or alive, to Cairo. The sud-
den death of the Pascha at all events released him from his
commission. The name of that officer is Omar Aga, but he is
kno 7^n througli the whole country by the not very flattering
appellation of Tomus Aga (Commandant Cochon) which
was once given him by Ibrahim Pascha, and which, since
that time, he liimself thinks it an honour to bear. His own
attendants, w^hen we overtook his horses and baggage, and
inquired after their master, called him by this name. After
riding briskly for about five or six hours in the most op-
pressive heat, we at length reached the camp at the village
of Beida.

We had by degrees gone more than half-way to Schendi,


and were rejoiced at the near prospect of finding some re-
freshment, after the exhaustion of the hot ride ; for we had
iibeady made up our minds to fast, till our return in the
evening, as there was absolutely nothing that we could eat
in the villages between ; there was not even milk to be had.

Osman Bey and Hakim Peney were as much surprised a&
delighted at my visit ; some bowls of Suri were immediately
brought for our refreshment — a beverage which undergoes a
slow and troublesome process of preparation, from half-