Sir William Smith William Latham Bevan.

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Sic nbi deseruit madidos septemflnns agros
Nilns, et antiquo sua flnmina reddidit alreo,
^therioqne recens exarsit sidere limns ;
Plnrima cultores versis animalia glebis
Inveninnt, et in his qondam modo ccepta, snb ipsnm
Nascendi spatinm : qnsDdam imperfecta, snisqae
Tranca rident nimieris : et eodem in oorpore seepe
Altera pars Tirit ; mdis est pars altera tellus.— Ot. MtU i. 422.
Virgil specially reflers to the contrast of the black subsoil and the brilliant rer-
dnre of the fields : —

Et ffiridtm JBgyptum nigra feoundat arena." — Owrg. ir. 291.


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264 EGYPT. Book III.

passed up and down the broad stream as on a high road. Add to this,
that the water was deemed so pure that the Persian kings imported it,
and that the supply of fish and fowl formed one of the staples of food,
while the reeds which grew on its banks served for sails, material for
paper, and other useful purposes. AVe can hardly then be surprised
that the Egyptians paid divine honours to this river, and worshipped
it imder the form of a bull.

§ 4. The hills of Egypt are of secondary importance. The ranges
that bound the valley of the Nile were named Arabioi Xontes,
Jebel Mokattem on the E., and Li>j^oi Xtf.. Jehel Silsili on the W.
In addition to these we may notice — Cftiiofl* El Katithj on the
borders of Arabia Petrsea, near the Mediterranean, its summits once
crowned with a temple of Zeus Ammon, — ^Troleus Xoiis. Gehel
Mamrahf wlience the stone for the casing of the Pyramids was
taken : the name was probably the corrnption of some Egyptian
word— Alabastrltet, S. E. of the town of Alabastra — Porphyrltes,
E. of Antaeopolis — and Smaragdni. N. of Berenice : these three last
hills were so named after the geological character of the rocks.

§ 5. Numerous canals intersected the country, and conveyed the
waters of the Nile to the distant parts of the valley. The main-
tenance of these canals was essential to the well-being of the
country, and accordingly Augustus (b.c. 24) ordered a general
repair of them as one of his first measures for the improvement of
the province. In addition to the agricultural canals, there were two
constructed for commercial purposes. The most important one
joined the Nile and the Red Sea, and was named at different
periods " Ptolemy's River" and ** Trajan*8 River." It was com-
menced by Pharoah Necho, b.c. GIO, continued by Darius Hystaspis
about 520, completed by Ptolemy Philadelphus in 274, and re-
stored by Trajan in a.d. lO'J : it originally began in the Pelusiac
branch of the Nile near Bubastus, and terminated at Arsinoe on the
Sinus Heroopolites ; Trajan's began higher up the river at Babylon
opposite Memphis, and entered the Red Sea 20 miles S. of Arsinoe
at Klysmon : this existed for 700 years. The other, named the
Can6i)ic Canal, connected the city of Canopus with Alexandria and
Lake Mareotis.

§ 6. There were several important lakes in the N. of Egypt.
XcBiiSi near Arsinoe, is described by ancient writers as an artificial
lake of wonderful construction. At present there is a natural lake,
named Birhet-el- Rerun, 30 miles long from S.W. to N.E., and 7
broad ; it is connected with the Nile by the canal named Bahr-
Jusuf, ** Joseph's Canal " and until recently it was supposed that
the canal was the artificial work to which the ancients referred ;
traces of a large reservoir have, however, been discovered, which
was probably part of Lake Moeris. Tlie object of the lake was to
irrigate the fertile nome of Arsinoe, the water being conveyed in


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different directions by subordinate channels. The Aai&ri Laenf
were a cluster of salt lagoons E. of the Delta near Hert)5poli8.
SirbOnis, Sebaket Bardoil, was a vast morass, E. of the Delta, and
near the Mediterranean Sea, with which it was once connected by
a channel. The Persian army under Darius Ochus was partly*
destroyed here in B.C. 350. Nitria, the Natron Lakes, were a group
of six, situated in a valley S.W. of the Delta : the sands about these
lak^ were formerly the bed of the sea ; they are all salt, and some
few contain natron, or sub-carbonate of soda, which was extensively
used by the bleachers and glass-makers of Egypt. Maredtis,
Birket-il'Mariout lay S.W. of the Canopic arm, and ran parallel to
the Mediterranean, from which it was separated by a ridge of sand ;
its breadth was 22 miles, and its length 42, and it was originally
connected by canals with the Canopic arm, and with the harbour of
Alexandria. These canals became gradually choked, and the lake
had almost disappeared, until in 1801 the English army made a
new channel, and let in the waters of the sea. The shores of
Marootis were formerly laid out in olive -yards and vineyards:* a
very fine kind of papyrus also grew there.

§ 7. llie ISgyptians believed themselves to be autochthonous, and
the Greeks considered them to belong to the same stock as the
Indians and Ethiopians. They were, however, a distinct branch of
the great Hamitic family, intermixed indeed, in certain parts of the
country, with the Arabian, Libyan, and Ethiopian races, but essen-
tially separate £rom them. The population was undoubtedly much
larger in ancient than in modem times, but the estimates that have
come down to us are not trustworthy ; Diodorus gives it as seven
millions, while from the statement in Tacitus {Ann, ii. 60), wo may
estimate it at six millions : it is now put at less than two millions.
The inhabitants were divided into castes, the number of which is
variously given : it appears that the possession of the land was
vested in the king, the priests, and the soldiers ; these, therefore,
were the three great estates of the realm : the husbandmen were
included under the soldiers.

§ 8. The earliest division of Egypt was the twofold one, based on

* DiodoroB (i. 80) incorreofly represents the whole of the Army as haTlng been
ffwallowed up in it, and he is followed by Milton, who speaks of
that Serbonian bog
Betwixt Damiata and Monnt Cadns (Ad
Where armies whole hare sunk.— Par. Xo»f, it. S98.
• Sunt ThasisB vites, sunt et Mareotides albe. — Yna. Oeorg, ii. 91.
Mentemque lymphatam Mareotioo.— Hon. Carm, i. S7, 14.
MareoticaB is frequently used for Egyptian generally, as in the fbllowing refsrenee
to the Pyramids :—

Par quota Parrhasin labor est Mareotious auln. — Makt. viiL 86.


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26(5 EGYPT. Book III.

the natural features of the country, of Upper and Lower Egypt, the
latter tting co-extensivo with the Delta. Subsequently, Upper
Egypt was divided into two parts— Thebftis* to which the title of
Upper Egypt was henceforward restricted, and HeFtan&mii or
Middle Egypt. This triple division is still retained by the Arabs,
who denominate the three districts from N. to S. El-Bif^ Wtutafii,
and Said, Egypt was further subdivided into nomes^ or cantons,
the number of which varied at different eras : Herodotus mentions
only 18 ; under the Ptolemies the total number was 36 ; under the
later Roman emperors as many as 58. I'he nomes were subdivided
by the Romans into ioparchiesy and the toparchies into arource.
Under the later Roman emperors the Delta was divided into 4
provinces — Augustamnica Prima and Secunda, and ^gyptus Prima
and Secunda ; and thn Thebaid into two parts — Upper and Ix)wer.

§ 9. llie towns of Egypt were exceedingly numerous : Herodotus
states their number at 20,000, Diodorus at 18,000 : in this estimate,
however, must be included walled villages, as well as projjer towns.
Each town was specially devoted to the religious worship of some
deity or animal, and they appear to have l)een generally named
after their tutelary god. The Greeks, who identified the Egyptian
gods with their own, translated these names into the corresponding
terms in their own language, and hence the original names have
been for the most part lost to us. Occasionally, however, both are
recorded ; thus we have the Egyptian Chemmis, and the Greek
Panopolis; Busiris, "the burial-place of Osiris,*'. and Taposiris ;
Atarbechis and Aphroditopolts, Occasionally the Bible gives the
original name, as in the case of On for HeliopoiiSy th9ugh even in
this case we have also the name translated into the Hebrew Beth-
shemeaih ; Ammon for Thebes ; Sin for Pelusium, In cases where
the significance of the name was not so clear, the old Egyptian form
has been retained with but slight variation, as in the case of Thebes
for Tape, "the capital;" Memphis for Menofre^ " the jJace of
good ; " Canopus for Kahi-noub, *' the golden soil." In some
instances the indigenous name still adheres to the site of the place,
as in the case of Sin for Pelusium. We shall describe the towns
under their resi.)cctivc districts : it will be only necessary to remark
here that there were two ancient capitals — Thebes and Memphis ;
and one comparatively modern one — Alexandria. Of the two
former, Memphis appears to have the best claim to be regarded as
the prior capital, but at certain periods of history they were con-
temporaneously capitals of the two kingdoms of Upper and Lower
Egypt. It may further be remarked that the Egyptians were not a
sea-faring people, and that hence their capitals were high up the
valley of the Nile ; the position of the later capital, Alexandria, was
due to the commercial genius of the Greeks, to whom the other


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maritime emporia — Naucratis, Berenice, and Myns Hormos — also
owed their exbtenoe.

§ 10. The Ddta was the most northerly of the three divisions of
E^'pt ; it derived its name from the similarity of its shape to the
Greek letter A, the two sides of the triangle heing formed hy the
outer arms of the Nile, and the base hy the Mediterranean Sea.
The Delta, as a political division^ extended beyond the Canopic and
Pelusiac arms, as far as the alluvial soil extended* 1'he true
boundaries of the Delta were thus the Libyan aDd Arabian deserts :
the apex of the Delta was formerly more to the S. than it is
at present. The soil is not nearly so fertile as that of Upper
Egypt; hence much is devoted to such crops as flax, cotton,
and other plants that succeed on second-rate soils. Th^ nitre
which is abundant in many parts, produces .positive barren-
ness. The Delta contained, according to Strabo, 10, and according
to Ptolemy, 24 nomes.

§ 11. The towns of the Delta are invested with associations of a
varied character, extending over a vast number of centuries. The
proximity of this district to the borders of Asia brought it into
early communication with Syria and Mesopotamia. The Bible
introduces us to various towns in connection partly with the early
sojourn of the Israelites in Goshen, and partly with the later
alliance between Judaea and Egypt during the era of Assyrian
supremacy. From this source we first hear of Heliopolis, the
seat of the most famous college of learned priests in Egypt— of
Pelusium, the most important border-fortress— of Tanis, the seat
of royalty under some of the early dynasties — of Bubastus, also
occasionally the residence of the, kings of Lower Egypt, and of
other less important places. These were all firstrrate towns in the
days of Egyptian greatness, and were highly favoured by the most
renowned monarchs. We may add to the list Sais, the royal
residence of Psammitichus and Amasis, as well as of other earlier
sovereigns — Mendes, the chief seat of the worship of Pan — and
CanSpuR, the early port of Egypt. At a later date, Naucratis
became the most busy place as the emporium of Greek commerce.
But this was in turn superseded by Alexandria, which became the
capital of the whole of Egypt under the Ptolemies : its rise proved
fotal to the prosperity of many of the towns of the Delta. The
Ptolemies restored or adorned many of the towns, as the character
of their remains still testifies. Their final ruin was in some cases
produced by the changes of the river's course ; but the majority

* The term Delta was not peculiar to the lower coarse of the Nile, but was used
in all cases where rivers have formed an allnvial deposit, and have hence divided
before entering the sea, as in the cases of the Rhone, the Indus, and the Achelous.

N 2


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268 EGYPT. Book IU.

probably survived until the latest period of the Boman Empire,
We sh^U describe the towns in order from N. to S., commencing
with those which lay W. of the Delta proper.

Alexandria stood on a tongue of land between Lake Mareotis and
the Mediterranean Sea. It was founded by Alexander the Great, b.c.
332, on the site of a small town called Rhacotis. Its position was
good : the Isle of Pharos^ shielded it on the N., and the headland of
Lochias on the E., while Lake Mareotis served as a general harbour both
for the town and for the whole of Egypt. The town was of an oblong
shape, about 4 miles in length from E. to W., and about a mile in
breadth. Two grand thoroughfares bisected the city in opposite direc-
tions, communicating at their extremities with the four principal gates.
A mole 7 stadia long, and hence named Heptastadium, connected the
Isle of Pharos " with the mainland. On the E. side of the mole was
the " Greater Harbour," extending as far as the headland of Lochias,
the portion at the innermost angle, which was reserved for the royal
galleys, being separated from the rest, and named the ** Closed Port."
On the W. side of the mole was the haven of Eunostus, ** Happy
Return." The Isle of Pharos contained at its E. extremity the
celebrated lighthouse,* said to have been 400 feet high : it was built by
Sostrates of Cnidus under Ptolemy * Soter and his successor. The city
itself was divided into three districts — ^the Jews' quarter in the N.E.
angle ; the Bruchium or Pyruchium, the royal or Greek quarter, in the
£. and centre ; and the Rhaootis, or Egyptian quarter, in the W. The
second oontained the most remarkable edifices, including th^ Library
with its Museum and Theatre, connected together by marble colon-
nades, the Palace, the Stadium &c. The liibrary is said to have
oontained 700,000 volumes, some of which were deposited in the
Serapeum in the quarter Rhacotis. The collection was begun by
Ptolemy Soter, and was harried on by succeeding sovereigns, especially

Atyihrrov wpowdftoiBt i^dpov ^4 i kucAi^o-kovo-i),
T6<rox>y aMtvft, 6<raw rt wavjifitpai ykei^vp/^ n}v«
'HKiMTcy, ^ Atyv« ofpoc ^iirv«ti7<ni' orwy^ty.

'Ef w6trn¥ piXkn»viy, i^iNnr^MK /UXay {i6mp.~^OU. Od, iv. 854.

* Tunc cUustrum pelmgi cepit Pbmron. Insula quondam
In medio stetit ilia nuri, rab tempore Tatis

Proteoe : at nunc est FellttU proxima murit. — Lvc. z. 909.

* Septima nox, Zephyro nunquam laxante radentea,
Ostendit Phariia .£gyptia littora flamrois.— Luc. ix. 1004.

Claramque serena
Arce Pharon. Val. Flacc. rii. 64.

Telcboamque domoa, trepidis ubi dnlcia nantis

Lamina noctiTags tollit Phanu »mula Lan».— Stat. 8Uv, VL A, 100.
From the celebrity of thia lighthouse Pharos became a synonym fbr Egypt
Itself, as in Stat. SUv. iU. 2, 102, •• reglna Phari;" Lvc. rlii. 44S, "petlmos
Pharon arraquc Lagi." So also Pharius for j£gyptlas in numerous places.

1 Hence the allusion in the following lines : —

£t Ptolemma littora capU Phari.— PmopsET. ii. 1, 80.

Nupta Senatori oomitata est Hippia Ludium

Ad Pharon et Nilum Aunosaque mosaia LofL — Jcv. Sat. vL 83.


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by Euergetes. The library of the Museum was destroyed during the
blockade of Julius Csesar : that of the Serapium, though frequently
injured, existed until a d. 640, when it ¥ra8 destroyed by the Khalif
Omar. Alexandria was the seat of a university, and produced a long
roU of illustrious names, among which we may notice Euclid, Ctesibius,
Callimachus, and Ptolemy. The modem town occupies the Hepta-
stadium, the site of the old town being partly covered with modem
villas. The most interesting remains of the ancient town are the two
obelisks, commonly called "Cleopatra's Needles," which bear the
distinctive sign of Thothmes III., and wore brought from Heliopolis by
one of the Csesars — Pompey's Pillar, erected by the eparch Publius in
honour of Diocletiui, and named '' Pompey's " according to one ex-
planation from the Greek word wofiirdios " conducting," inasmuch as it
served as a landmark — and lastly, the Catacoml«s, or remains of the
ancient Necropolis. Alexandria prospered during the reigns of
Ptolemy Soter and Philadelphus, and began to decline under Philo-
pator. In B.C. 80 it was bequeathed to Rome by Ptolemy Alexander:
and from 55 to 30 it occupies a prominent place in the civil wars of
the Roman leaders. Under the emperors it was generally prosperous :
the erection of Nicopolis as a rival town by Augustus — serious com-
motions under Diocletian— and a general massacre by Caracal la, were
the chief adverse events. In a.d. 270 it was subject to Zenobia, and in
297 it was taken by Diocletian after it had joined the side of Achilleus.
It was taken by the Arabs iA 640. Alexandria holds a prominent
place in the history of the Christian religion. From the time of the
Babylonish Captivity the Jews resorted to Egypt in great numbers,
and under the Ptolemies they occupied, as we have seen, one of the
quarters of Alexandria, where they lived under their own ethnarch
and sanhedrim. Here they became versed in the Greek language, and
for the use of the Alexandrian Jews the Greek translation of the Old
Testament, named the Septuagint, was made under the auspices of the
Ptolemies. Violent disputes frequently occun-ed between the Jews
and Greeks, partly on religious, partly on political matters. Alexan-
dria received the Christian faith at an early period, and became the
seat of a patriarchate. A violent persecution occurred here in Diocle-
tian's reign, in which the bishop Peter perished. Nioopolii, which
Augustus founded in B.C 24, as a rival to Alexandria, stood on the
baiULS of the canal which connected Canopus with the . capital, and
about 3^ miles from its eastem gate. It was named in commemoration
of the victory gained on the spot over M. Antonius. The town soon
fell into decay. Candbni or Oandpm was situated about 15 miles E. of
Alexandria, near Abou/tiKf at the mouth of the Canopic branch of the
Nile. Before the rise of the later capital it was the chief port of the
Delta : ^ it was also celebrated for the worship of Zeus-Canobus, under
the form of a pitcher with a hiunan head : the numerous festivals made
it notorious for the profligacy ' of its inhabitants : a scarlet dye for

' Hence the early acquaintance which the Greeks had with it :—
Kal fuiv Kdv*>fiov Kanl Udft^iv wcrro.— -«»CH. Suppl, 311.

Nc4\ov irpbv avT«i! anifian teal irpocrxwMaTi. — Ir>« Prom, Viud, 846.
* Ut strepit assidue Phr>-giain ad Nilotica loton
Memphis Amycl»o panim laDcira Canopo. — 8il. Itai^ xi. 482.


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270 EGYPT. Book III.

staining the nails was prepared here. HifmapSlif Paira, Damanhur,
stood 44 miles S.E. of Alexandria, on a canal connecting Lake
Mareotis with the Canopic arm. AndiopdUs, Chabur, more to the
S.E.. is supposed to have been so called from the worship of the
Shades of the Dead : it was probably the same as Anthylla, which was
assigned to the Egyptian queens for pin-money. Lotopolii, named
after the deity Leto or Athor, stood near the apex of the Delta, a few
miles S.W. of Cercasorum. OereaaQmm, Ei-Ar/cas, stood at the apex
of the Delta, on the Canopic branch, and firom its position was a town
of great military and commercial importance. The Delta now com-
mences about 7 miles N. of it.

Toums of the Delta proper. -^Saig, at one time the capital of the Delta,
stood on the right beoik of the Canopic branch, on an artificially elevated
Bite, now partly occupied by Sa-ei-Iladjar, It was famous for the worship
both of Neith (Minerva), and of Isis : the great annual festival, entitled
" the Mysteries of Isis," was celebrated on a lake near the town: it was
also one of the supposed burial-places of Osiris. Sais was a royal city
under the 17th, 24th, 26th and 28th dynasties, and attained its nighest
prosperity under the 26th, from B.C. 697 to 524 ; Psammitichus and
Amasis were its most illustrious kings. It was still more famous as a
seat of learning, and was visited by Pythagoras and Solon. The ruins
of Sais consist of a boundary wall 70 feet thick, enclosing a large area,
vast heaps of bricks, and traces of the lake. Navor&tii stood on the E.
bank of the Canopic arm, about 30 miles from the sea, and was
originally an emporium founded by Milesian colonists at the invitation
of Amasis, b.c. 550, and endowed by him with various privileges. It
possessed a monopoly of the Mediterranean trade probably down to
the foundation of Alexandria, after which it sunk. Its cmef n^anu-
factures were porcelain and flower-vrreaths. It was visited by Solon,
and probably by Herodotus. The exact site is uncertain, but is
supposed to have been at Salhadschar, Mendei was situated at the
point where the Mendesian arm flows into the lake of Tanis. Under
the Pharoahs it was a place of importance; but it declined early,
probably through an encroachment of the river. It was &med for the
worship of Mendes, or Pan, and for a species of ointment. Tanii was
seated on the Tanitic arm, and was one of the chief cities of the Delta,
and even the capital under various kings from the 15th to the 24th
dynasties. It is the Scriptural Zoan, said to have been founded only 7
years after Hebron, and was regarded as the capital of Lower Egypt in
Isaiah's time. Its position near the coast and near the E. m>ntier
made it an important military post, and the marshes which surrounded
it rendered it inaccessible to an enemy. It was the stronghold of the
Memphite kings during their struggle with the Shepherds. The
vestiges of the old town at San consist of an enclosure, 1000 feet long,
and 700 wide, with a gateway on the N. side, numerous obelisks and
sculptures belonging to the temple of Pthah, two granite columns,
and lofty mounds. The name of Rameees the Qreat occurs frequently
on the sculptures. Thmvii stood on a canal between the Tanitic and

Prodigia et mores Urbis damnante Canopo.— Juv. Sat. vi. 84.

Sed luzuria, qoantam ipse notavi,
Barbara ftunoao non oedit torba Canopo. — Id. xt. 45.
Canopnt Is used by Lncan as n synonym for BgVTpt —
Et KcMoana pettt imbelli signs Canopo.— x. 64.


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MeDdeman branchee, at Tei-etmni, It was, like its neighbour Mendes,
d6Yot«d to the service of Thmu, or Pan. It retained its importance
down to a late period, and was an episcopa] see. Sebeimj^tiiSi^ Semen-
hood, WAS favourably situated between a lake and the Sebennytic arm,
and was a place of commercial importance. About 6 miles above
Sebennytus, on the course of the river, was Bntfris, considerable re-
mains of which exist at Abousir, It possessed a very celebrated temple
of Isis, which stood at Debayt, and of which there are most extensive
ruins of the Ptolemaic era. The temple of Isis stood on a platform
1500 ft. by 1000, surrounded by an enclosure, and was itself 600 ft. by
200, built of the finest granite, and adorned profusely with sculp-
tures. It was erected by Ptolemy Philadelphus. Xolt stood nearly in
the centre of the Delta, and was the residence of the 14th dynasty,
who probably held out against the Hyksos here. It is supposed to be
identical with the PaprSmis of Herodotus. Leontopolii stood S.E^ of
Xois, and appears to have been a comparatively modem town. In the
reign of Ptolemy Philometor the Jews built a temple here similar to
that of Jerusalem, which remained the head-quarters of a large Jewish
community until the time of Vespasian. Its site is supposed to be at
£l-Jfengaieh, ' Bubftftni, the Scriptural Pi-beseth. was situated on the
£. bide of the Pelusiac arm, S.W. of Tanis. It was sacred to Pasht,^
who was worshipped under the form of a cat, and hence it became a
depository for the mummies of that animal. Some monarchs of the
22nd dynasty reigned here. The great canal left the Nile just N. of
the town. ^Bubastus was captured by the Persians B.C. 352, and
thenceforth declined. Its rums at Tel-Basta are very extensive, and
consist of an enclosure three miles in circiunference, large mounds
intended to restrain the Nile, and heaps of granite blocks. Athribii
stood on the E. bonk of the Tanitic branch, and was sacred to the

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