Richard Lepsius.

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

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Musee Charles X ; or, lastly, they might be simple copies
of genuine Egyptian representations drawn by us, and only
adapted for this particular purpose. With respect to the
first view, I think that a man like Cornelius, if he chose
to enter on such a completely new field, would be capable of
forming a beautiful and great work out of such a task ; but
then, the public would most likely be much more interested
in the master than in the subject of the representation derived
from a history of which they are still so ignorant. The
second method would perhaps deserve a trial it might succeed
once, in a single case, and would certainly then not be devoid
of interest. But I am firmly persuaded that a series of any
length of such bastard representations would not fulfil the


requisite demands, presupposing, as they would, a double
mastery of two artistic languages, and that tliey would also be
decidedly contrary to the taste of the public. All attempts of
this nature that I have occasionally seen have, in my opinion,
been completely unsuccessful, and have appeared ridiculous to
connoisseurs ; although, as I have already said, I do not believe
that such an attempt might not succeed in an individual case,
if the subject were carefully selected. It therefore appears
to me, that the third method is the only one left, although it
has least pretension ; but it unites so many advantages, that
I believe, indeed, it will also meet with your approval.

There can scarcely be any doubt witb respect to the sub-
ject of the representations. They ought to place before us in
characteristic features the highest point of Egyptian history,
civilisation, and art, and I was even astonished at the great
number of most suitable subjects which immediately present
themselves, if we allow all that has been hitherto disclosed of
Egyptian history to pass before us. Merely to give you a
hasty notion of this, I will communicate the individual points,
which I wrote down when I was still doubtful whether one
of the two first modes of representation might not be
executed. A more diffuse commentary than I can now give
ought indeed to be appended to this, but it only refers to
a very preliminary notion. The names within brackets
indicate where materials could be found for single compo-

The elevation of the god Horus upon Osieis' gods' throne.
(Dendera.) To be placed with reference to the last

Old MoirAECHT.
Dyn. I. The removal of Menes from This, the city of Osiris.
Eoundation of Memphis, the town of Phthah by Meues.
Dyn. ly. The Pyramids built by Cheops and Chepheen.
Dyn. YI. The union of the two crowns of Upper and Lower

Egypt during the reign of Apappus, which lasted a

hundred years.


Dyn. XII. The Temple of Ammon in Thebes, the city of
Ammon, founded by Sesuetesen I. in the 12th Dynasty,

Immigrating Hi'KSOs. (Benihassan.)

The Labteinth and Lake M(eeis, the works of Amenemha
lU. of the 12th Dynasty.

Dyn. XIII. The Invasion of the Htksos into Lower
Egypt, occurring shortly after.

Expulsion of the Egyptian rulers to Ethiopia.

The rule of the Hyksos.

New Monaecht.
Dyn. XYII. — XYIII. Amenophis I. and the black Queen

Tuthmosis III. expels the Htksos from Abaris. Jeeu-

SALEM founded by them.
Amenophis III. Memnon and the sounding statue.
Persecution of the Egyptian gods, and introduction of the

worship of the sun, under Bech en Aten. (Amarna.)

King HoEUS, the Eevenger.
Dyn. XIX. Sethos I. (Sethosis, Sesostris.) Conquest of

Canaan. (Karnak.) Joseph and his brethren.
Eamses II. the Great. Miamun. War against the Cheta.

The (brick-making) Israelites (Thebes) build Pithom and

Eamses, under Eamses II.
Colonisation of Geeece from Eg}^t.
Menepthes. Exodus of the Iseaelites to Sinai. Moses

before Pharaoh, Commencement of the new Sieius

peeiod, B.C. 1322.
Dyn. XX. Eamses III. A battle from Medinet Habu.
The king among his daughters. The riches and luxury of

Ehampsinitus. (Medinet Habu.)
Dyn. XXII. Scheschenk I. (Shishak) takes possession of

Jerusalem. (Thebes.)
Dyn. XXV. Sabako, the Ethiopian, rules in Egypt.
Dyn. XXYI. Psammeticus, the friend of the Greeks, ele-
vates art. Eemoval of the warrior caste to Ethiopia.


Dyn. XXYII. Cambtses rages ; he destroys temples and

Dyn. XXX. jS'ectanebus. (Philae.)
Alexandee, tlie son of Ammon, conquers Egypt ; builds

Ptolemy Philadelphus founds the library.
Cleopatea and Cjesaeion. (Dendera.)
Coronation of C^sae Augustus. (Philae.)
Cheist at Heliopolis.

This selection would not, indeed, be so great, if we had
only to deal with existing representations. The Old Monarchy
would first commence with the 4th Dynasty, and would en-
tirely omit the Hyksos period, since nothing has been pre-
served before the former period, or from the time of the

On the other hand, the Egjrptian conceptions of art might
be more completely represented, and each single representa-
tion would at the same time have a scientific interest. The
following provisional selection which occurred to me might,
liowever, be increased, and altered in all its parts from the
ample supply of subjects in our drawings, which are 1300 in


1. The great and minor gods ; the 1st and 2nd Dynasty of

the gods. (Karnak.)

2. OsiEis undertakes the government of the lower world.

HoEUS that of the upper. (Dendera.)

3. Triad of the gods from This and Abydos. Osiris, Isis,


4. Triad of the gods from Memphis. Phtha, Pasht, Im-


5 . Triad of the gods from Thebe s . Ammon Ea, Mut, Chensu .

Old Monaechy.

King Chufu (Cheops) beheading his enemies. (Peninsula
of Sinai.)


Scenes from private life of the 4tli and 5tli Dynasties. (Giseh
and Saqara.)

Apappus unites the two crowns. (Kosser road.)

Sesurtesen I., of the 12th Dynasty, beats the Ethiopians.

Scenes from private life of the peaceful flourishing period of
the 12th Dynasty. Asiatic attendants. Precursors of
the Hyksos ; wrestlers, games, a hunt, &c. (Benihassan.)
The Colossus dragged by men. (Berscheh.)

Immigrating Hyksos who seek for protection. (Benihassan.)

New Monaecht.

The working of the stone quarries of Memphis. (Tura.)
Amenophis I. and Aahmesnefruari. (Thebes.)
TuTHMOSis III. and his sister. (Thebes ; Eome.)
TuTHMOSis III. Tribute. Erection of obelisks. (Thebes.)
Amenopkis III. (]Memnon) and his consort Tii before Am-

mou Ea. (Thebes.)
March of an Ethiopian queen to Egypt under Amentuanch.

Amenophis IV. (Bechenaten), the Sun-woeshippee. His
procession with the queen and four princesses drawn in
a chariot to the Temple of the Sun in Amarna. (Grot-
toes of Amarna.)
A favourite is borne on the shoulders of the people before
Amenophis IV. Distribution of wreaths of honour
among the w4iole of the royal family.
HoEUS running to Ammon. (Karnak.)
Sethos I. makes war upon Canaan. (Karnak.)
Eamses II. Battle against the Asiatic Cheta. (Eamesseum.)
The same in the Tree of Life. (Eamesseum.)
The same triumphant. Eoyal procession. (Eamesseum.)
Eamses III. Battle against the Enbu. (Medinet Habu.)
The same among his daughters ; he plays with them. (Me-
dinet Habu.)
Eamses XII. Procession ofgreat pomp to Ammon. (Qurna.)
PiscHEM, the Priest King. (Karnak.)


ScHESCHENK I. (SKishak) brings the prisoners from Pales-
tine before Ammon (Karnak), King of Judajh.
Sabako, the Ethiopian. (Thebes.)
Tahraka, the Ethiopian. (Barkal.)
PsAMMETicus, Amasis. (Thebes.)
Nectanebus. (Thebes.)
Alexakdee. Philip Aetd^tjs. (Thebes.)
Ptolemy Philadelphus. (Thebes.)
Cleopatra and C^esarion. (Dendera.)
Coronation of C^sar Augustus. (Philae.)
Ethiopian subjects from Merge.

This selection of representations, or one similar to this, as
large as the partitions in the walls permit, executed in the
strict Egyptian classic style, with the full, splendid colouring
of the original, would have the great advantage, beyond all
other methods, of giving the spectator some idea on a great
scale of Egyptian art ; the subjects would force themselves
on his criticism, and the study of them, in conjunction with
the smaller and isolated original monuments, would be more
complete. Eor, with the exception of the tombs which we
are now taking to pieces, and which only offer the most
simple subjects, no monument is of sufficient size to give a
notion of Egyptian temples, and of wall decoration in
general, in which grandeur of idea and dexterity of compo-
sition is frequently displayed with a feeling for general
harmony in the distribution and arrangement of the whole,
most astonishing to the attentive observer. Such a selection,
of what is most beautiful and characteristic, in large repre-
sentations, capable of being easily surveyed, would perhaps
be of more service than any other thing in imparting Egyptian
science to a larger proportion of the public, and at the same
time offers the advantage, which is hardly sufficiently con-
sidered at the present day, of averting all invidious criticisms
of the representations regarded as modern works. All hast}-
critics would, by this method, be referred to the original,
which cannot be robbed of its most important position in the


artistic history of the human race, by a miserable journalist.
They would all learn that before venturing to criticise the
faithful copy, they must first study the original, for if we can
turn the attention of those young artists who have studied
for three years to record these things, I am certain that
the classic purity of their style will not easily be attacked.
The novelty of the idea, and the effect on a large scale, and
as a whole, could not fail to make a considerable impression
on the learned and unlearned public, and the series of sub-
jects mentioned above, independent of their execution, would
afibrd satisfaction to intellectual men, and more especially
to the King. Lastly, in addition to this, it might be exe-
cuted at a comparatively small expense, on account of the
perfect simplicity of the design and colouring, and because
all expenditure on the artistic composition has been pre-
viously borne by the ancient Egyptians themselves.

The representations should only commence at a certain
height, according to the manners of the Egyptians, and as is
most convenient to our own purpose, and should rest on a
deep band below, the colour of which ought to be an imita-
tion of wood or stone. The lofty walls should probably be
partly divided one above the other into several sections, and
perhaps the whole series of the Egyptian Pharaohs, or their
Name- Shields only, might be introduced in the frieze. The
ceilings in the ante-chambers might be blue, with gold stars,
the usual representation of the Egyptian heavens ; and in
the historical saloons there might be the long series of
^'ultures, with outspread wings, the symbol of victory, with
which most of the ceilings of the temples and palaces are
decorated, in an incomparably splendid manner. Finally, a
certain amount of hieroglyphic inscriptions must not be
absent, which are so essentially connected with all Egyptian
representations, and make a splendid impression in variegated
colours. Modern hieroglyphic inscriptions might be easily
composed for the doors, and the central stripes of the ceil-
ings, which would refer in the ancient Egyptian fashion to
the munificence of the king, the locality, the period, and the


purpose of the building. How magnificent the two Egyptian
rows of columns would then look in the centre of all, with
their simplicity and rich colouring !

Finally, another idea might be carried out, perhaps, in the
ante-chambers. Yiews of the Egyptian localities at the
present day might be introduced upon the walls, to give a
notion of the country to a person on first entering, and of
the state of the buildings from which the ancient monu-
ments, by which they are surrounded, are taken. These
views might be also arranged historically, according to the
principal places in the different epochs of time. But here
we must presume that the spectator possesses some of the
historical knowledge which we may hope to see generally
diftused. On that account it would be more useful to
attempt a geographical sequence, and we might embrace the
views of Alexandria, Cairo, the Pyramids of Giseh, Siut,
Benihassan, Abydos, Karnak, Qurna, the Cataracts of As-
suan, Korusko, Wadi Haifa, Sedeinga, Semneh, Dougola,
Barkal, Meroe, Chartum, Sennar, and Sai'but el Chadem, iu
Arabia Petrea.

Besides all this, a most rich, interesting, and at the same
time useful, selection of the subjects and occupations of
private life might be introduced in the lateral chambers, all
of them copied from the original, on a large scale, by which
means we might facilitate and excite botli an inviting and
effective mode of comprehending that portion of the col-
lection of antiquities which refer to private life.


Jaffa, :th October, 1845.

We proceeded rapidly in taking the tombs to pieces ;
nevertheless, as was to be expected, the most manifold ob-
stacles were thrown in the way of the transport and em-
barkation. The export of the whole collection of monuments

jomyEr xnr.ouGn the delta. 333

even then required a special permit from tlie Viceroy ; I
therefore set out on the '29th of August for Alexandria,
in order to take leave of Mohammed Ali, and availed myself
of this opportunity to give an official termination to our

The Pascha received me with his former kindness, and im-
mediately issued the most distinct commands with respect to
the export of the collection, which he presented to H.M. our
King in a special letter, which was handed to me. As soon as
all the preparations were accomplished I returned to Cairo,
and there made tlie last arrangements respecting the trans-
port of the stone-boat to Alexandria, and then, on the
25th September, started ^^'ith Bethmann for Damietta. On
the road thither I visited several ruins of towns in the eastern
part of the Delta, such as those of Ateib (Athribis), Sajia-
NTJD (Sebennytos), Behcet el hager (Iseum), but except
the high mounds of rubbish, composed of Nile mud and pots-
herds, which generally indicate liistorical sites, we everywhere
found only a few blocks, all that remained of the ancient
temples. In San, the ancient renowned Tanis, whither I
made a last excursion from Damietta across Lake Menzaleh,
the foundation of a temple of Ramses II. alone remains, and
about twelve or fourteen small granite obelisks, belonging to
the same king, are preserved, some entire and some in frag-

On the 1st of October we went from Damietta, and em-
barking in the roads of Ezbc, the following morning set sail
for the Syrian coast. We had an almost incessant contrary
wind, and cruised for a wliole day in front of Ascalon, situated
picturesquely on lofty sea clijSs ; we only landed yesterday in
the Holy Land, on the beach of Joppa.


Nazareth, 9th November, 1845.
You will not, I am sorry to say, receive my last letter of
the 26th October from Jerusalem, as the courier of our consul,


Dr. Schulz, Iq whose cTiarge I gave it, with five other letters,
was attacked by robbers at Caesarea, on the road to Berut,
maltreated, and robbed of all the despatches, as well as of a
small amount of money which he had on his person. There
is great disorganisation in this country. The Turkish autho-
rities, to whom the land has been again handed over by
Christian valour, are both lazy, malevolent, and impotent,
while Ibrahim Pascha knew at least how to preserve order
and security, so far as his own government extended.

"We spent nearly three weeks in Jerusalem, part of which
time I passed in becoming better acquainted with the state
of religious matters at the present day, a subject daily be-
coming of greater importance ; partly in makiug some antiqua-
rian and topographical researches. These delightful days
were rendered peculiarly valuable and instructive by the ex-
treme amiability of Bishop Alexander, who overtook us with
Abeken from Jaffa, and was willing to impart all that he
knew ; and by tlie scientific abihty of Dr. Schulz, with whom
I had been on terms of friendship since our mutual re-
sidence in Paris, in the years 1834 and 1835. An excur-
sion to Jericho, the Jordan, and the Dead Sea, and back by
San Saba, formed an interesting episode. My journal of this
expedition, which I wrote very fully, was, however, contained
in that letter, and will probably never reappear, so that I can
but imperfectly restore it now.

The of November we left the Holy City. We had
some difficulty in procuring horses or mules on account
of the war the Pascha of Jerusalem was carrying on with
Hebron, which was assuming a more serious aspect. We
spent the first night after leaving Jerusalem in a tent in
BiKEH. The second day we proceeded byBEXHiN (Bethel),
'AiN EL HAEAMIEH (the Eobbers' spring), and Selun
(Silo) to jN'ablus (Sichem, Neapolis), and the same evening
ascended Gtaeizim, the holy mount of the Samaritans, whose
remaining population (about 70 men, or 150 souls) we be-
came somewhat better acquainted with the following morn-
ing. They still continue to be shunned by the Jews, and

XAZiJlETH. 335

have as little communication with the Christians and Moham-

On Garizim we saw the bare rocky surface, surrounded by
some remains of an ancient wall, where these Samaei still,
as in past ages, annually offer up the sacrifice of sheep to
their God. The following morning, after we had visited the
Samaritan place of worship, in which we were shown the
old Samaritan manuscript of the Pentateuch, and had seen
Jacob's well, and Joseph's tomb surrounded by vine branches,
we rode on farther, with an armed attendant of Soliman Bey's,
in whose house we were lodging, and proceeded first to Se-
BASTiEH (Sebaste, the ancient Samaria), where we saw the
ruins of the beautiful old church from the period of the Cru-
saders, said to be built over the tomb of John the Baptist.
We spent the night in the woody Gennin (Egennin).
Tlience our road led through the wide and fertile, but never-
theless barren, plain of Jesreel (Esdraelon), the great bloody
plain of Palestine, to Zekin and the beautiful spring (Ain
GuLUT, Goliath's spring), where Naboth's vineyard was
situated, and where the whole house of Ahab was murdered ;
then to Gebel Dah'i, little Heemox, beyond which Taboe
(Gebel e' Tub), distinguished by its cupola-like form and
isolated position, rose up and arrested our attention, until we
once more rode into the mountains to Nazaeeth, beautifully

Online LibraryRichard LepsiusLetters from Egypt, Ethiopia, and the peninsula of Sinai → online text (page 29 of 54)