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and fabrics of which modern Manchester would not be ashamed. Into this
room a vast collection of Egyptian curiosities is crowded; and, with
patience, the visitor may glean from an examination of its contents a
vivid general idea of the arts and social comforts of the ancient
people who built the Pyramids, and were in the height of their
prosperity centuries before the Christian era. The cases are so
divided and sub-divided that it is only by paying particular attention
to the numbers marked upon them that the visitor can hope to follow
our directions with ease. He will see, however, on first entering the
room, that the mummies are placed in cases occupying the central space
of the room; and that huge and gaudily painted coffins, having a
somewhat ghastly effect, are placed perpendicularly here and there on
the top of the wall cases. But the attention of the visitor on
entering this room is usually rivetted at once upon the human remains
of people that flourished more than two thousand years before our era.
The first thought that rises in the mind of the spectator on beholding
these wrecks of the human form, is, - why all this trouble, these
bandages, these scents, and these ornaments? It is as well, therefore,
to explain that the ancient Egyptians believed that there would be a
resurrection of the body hereafter. They believed that these poor
mummies would issue from these waxen bandages, and once more walk and
talk as of old; hence their gigantic excavations at Thebes for secure
tombs; hence the great Pyramids built to preserve the sacred forms of
their Pharaohs. Some of the ancient Egyptians retained the embalmed
bodies of their relations in their houses, enclosed in coffins, upon
which the face of the deceased was faithfully pourtrayed. Some
specimens of these representations are in the room, and some in the
Egyptian saloon below. The mummies of the poorer classes were not so
well preserved as those of the rich; therefore, remains of the plebs
have crumbled to dust, while those of the sacerdotal class, having
been deprived of the intestines, and the brain having been drawn
through the nose, having been filled with myrrh, cassia, &c., soaked
in natron,[7] and then securely bandaged, have remained in a
comparatively sound state to the present time, and may be found in
every museum of any note.


The first five cases to which the visitor would do well to direct his
attention are those marked from 46 to 50. In the first division is
deposited the mummy of a female, with a gilt mask over the head and an
oskh or collar about the neck; and mummies of children, and fragments
of coffins, with paintings of Egyptian deities upon them. In the
second division of the cases, lies some of the kingly dust of the
builder of the third pyramid, King Mencheres; also, part of his
coffin; the sides of a coffin decorated with drawings of deities;
clumps of mummied hair; and mummies of children. In the third division
are tesserae from Egyptian mummies of the Grecian period, with various
figures, including one of Anubis, the embalmer of the dead; a mummy of
Amounirion covered with a curious network of bugles in blue porcelain;
the upper part of a coffin with dedications to the Egyptian god
Osiris; a small coffin containing the mummy of a child; the mummy of a
female, Auch-sen-nefer, upon which is a scarabaeus, the sacred beetle
of the Egyptians. In the fourth division the principal object is the
coffin of the last-named mummy, with representations of various
deities, including Nutpe, or the Abyss of Heaven, a female figure with
a vase on her head; and linen wrappers from mummies of the Greek
period. Having examined these human relics of remote antiquity, the
visitor should pass at once to cases 63, 64, leaving the intermediate
cases for future examination, where he will find scraps and fragments
of the coffins, wrappers, and ornaments of various mummies. In the
first division are fragments of the mask of mummy coffins; fragments
from the lower end of coffins with the Egyptian bull Apis carrying a
mummy upon it; and hands (one holding a roll) from mummy coffins;
sepulchral sandals, one with a foreign figure bandaged, in token of
the enemies of the deceased being at his feet. In the second division
are a variety of sepulchral tablets to Osiris, Isis, Anubis, and other
Egyptian deities. The next twelve cases are filled with human mummies
and their coffins. In the first case is a mummy (1) of Pefaakhons, an
auditor of the royal palace during the twenty-sixth dynasty. This
mummy is about two thousand two hundred years old. Upon it the visitor
may notice the representation of Egyptian deities Osiris, the Hawk of
Ra, Isis, the embalmer Anubis, and the bull Apis. Mummy number two, in
this case, is that of a priest of Amoun, Penamoun, swathed in its
bandages, and here also is the outer linen case of the mummy of
Harononkh. The next case (66) is devoted to the mummy and coffin of
Tatshbapem: the figures here represented are the deceased praying to
Osiris, the usual figure of the embalmer of the dead, Anubis, and a
scarabaeus, or sacred beetle, made of beads. The next case contains
the coffin and mummy of a priestess of Amoun, named Kotbti. The hair
is attached to the mask of the face, as the visitor will observe, by
two ivory studs: there are wooden models of the hands and arms
decorated with bracelets and rings; each hand upon the coffin holds a
nosegay, and here again the black Anubis with, his golden face appears
in company with Thoth (a figure of a man with the head of an ibis),
the Mercury of the Egyptians, god of the moon and inventor of speech,
Isis, the Egyptian Ceres, and Nutpe, the Abyss of Heaven. The next
case (68) is the highly decorated coffin of the incense-bearer of the
abode of Noumra. Here the judgment scene of the Amenti is pourtrayed;
Osiris, in the shape of a sphinx; and other sacred figures. The
following case (69) contains a mummy (l) of a Theban priest of Amoun,
swathed in its outer linen coverings, which are decorated with various
Egyptian divinities, and with Asiatic captives at the feet: the second
object in this case is the coffin of an incense-bearer of the temple
of Khons, with the usual representations of the sepulchral deities.
Advancing in the regular order in which the cases are numbered, the
visitor will next notice in case 70 the inner coffin of a supposed
Egyptian king, with the bandages with inscriptions at the side. Three
mummies are placed in the next case (71) the first of which is
crumbling rapidly, the feet being already gone: and the bandages of
the second present pictures of Anubis embalming the deceased, and Isis
mourning over the ceremony. The next four cases (72-75) are also
filled with mummies and their appendages, of which the mummy and
coffin of a sacred functionary with a gilded face, and a picture of
the deceased adoring King Amenophis the First, in the 73rd case, and
the mummy and coffin of a musician of the Roman era of Egypt in case
74 are the most remarkable. The last case of mummies (76) contains
three mummies. The first is that of a priestess of Amoun, whose form
is discernible through the bandages, the feet of which are visible,
and the third is that of a woman named Cleopatra, of the family of
Soter, Archon of Thebes, with a comb in the hair, and upon the
bandages the usual sepulchral deities, including the black Anubis, and
in the next case is her coffin.

The visitor having completed his survey of the human mummies should
return to the series of cases marked from 52 to 58, in which he will
find a curious assortment of


Animal life was venerated by the Egyptians. Certain animals were
sacred in certain parts of the country; but the ibis and the hawk were
generally worshipped. The sacred birds were attended to by the
priests. Seven cases in this room are entirely filled with the mummies
of these sacred birds. Here are mummies of dog-headed baboons,
worshipped at Hermopolis, and sacred to Thoth; a head of the
cynocephalus from Thebes; mummies of jackals, sacred to the sepulchral
Anubis; the head of a dog in bandages, and one with the bandages
unrolled. Mummies of oats, the female being sacred to the goddess
Pasht, or Diana, and the male to the sun; a wooden figure of a cat
containing the mummy of one; and bronze cats from the cat mummy pits
of Abouseir. In the fifty-fourth and fifty-fifth cases are mummies of
parts of bulls; gazelles; unrolled heads of rams; and the mummy of a
lamb. In the two following cases (56, 57) are a variety of mummies of
the ibis, perhaps, the most sacred bird of the Egyptians, and the
emblem of Thoth: these include Sir J. G. Wilkinson's present of the
black ibis and two eggs; and conical pots containing mummies of the
ibis. The last case (58) contains some strange mummies, including
those of crocodiles, emblematic of the Egyptian Sevek, the subduer;
mummies of snakes sacred to Isis, in the shape of circular cakes; and
in case 60, the visitor may notice more specimens of mummy snakes and
fish. The next two cases are filled with the specimens of some dried
birds of ancient Egypt, some stamped with the names of Sesostris,
Amenophis, and Thothmes; and some from the Pyramids of Illahoun,
Howara, and Dashour. The visitor should now direct his attention to
the large collection of


These are interesting as illustrative of the Egyptian art of remote
period. These fragments occupy no less than twenty-four cases
(77-102). In the first case (77) the visitor should notice the coffin
of the mummy Cleopatra, ornamented on the outside with ordinary
emblematical drawings and on the inside with a Greek zodiac. The three
next cases (78-80) are filled with sepulchral tablets representing
various Egyptian divinities, among which the embalmer of the dead,
Anubis, ever figures prominently. The cases marked 81, 82, are filled
with a collection of rings of ivory, jasper, and cornelian; gold,
silver, and porcelain earrings and bracelets; signets with scarabaei,
or sacred beetles, in gold, silver, bronze, and some of the
Graeco-Egyptian period, in iron; necklaces, ornamented with various
religious symbols, in gold, jasper, amethyst; and in the 83rd case are
some specimens of old Egyptian glass. The next six cases (84-89) are
entirely devoted to sepulchral ornaments, including sepulchral tablets
showing priests adoring the sun, scenes of the embalmment of the dead,
and devotees adoring their favourite deities; pectoral plates; patches
from the network outer coverings of mummies, including the popular
scarabaei, wings, sceptres headed with, the lotus flower, and the
crowns of upper and lower Egypt, all in porcelain - all taken from the
coffins of various mummies. Case 90 contains the coffin of the archon
of Thebes, Soter, with the hawk of the sun on the top, and the
judgment scenes of the Amenti on the sides. The next three cases
(91-93) are filled with more specimens of Egyptian ornaments,
including four sides of a sepulchral box in wood (92), and sepulchral
tablets. The three cases next in succession (94-96) are filled with
amulets of all kinds, chiefly in the form of the scarabaeus, cut in
stone. The scarabaeus of the Egyptians was an emblem of the Divinity,
which the devout wore about their necks, and hung round the necks of
their dead relatives, as in the present day an effigy of the Virgin
rests often upon the cold breast of a Catholic corpse. As the visitor
will perceive, the collection of amulets comprehends representations
of various sacred animals, including the hedgehog. They are, in some
cases, nearly four thousand years old. The collection of scarabaei
includes one recording the marriage of Amenophis III. to Queen Taia,
and several bearing the name of Rameses, or Sesostris, according to
the Greeks. These ornaments are in various substances; the more
valuable being in cornelian, and basalt. The following three cases
(97-99) contain sepulchral tablets in wood, with various sacred
drawings upon them; and in the 100th case are inclosed the sepulchral
scarabaei, usually engraved with a prayer, and found inserted in the
folds of mummy bandages. Several are costly, as for instance that
marked 7875 of green jaspyr, said to have been extracted from the
coffin of King Enantef. The next two cases (101, 102) contain various
interesting fragments from mummies, including plain scarabaei and
other symbolic amulets, and ornaments inscribed with the names of
early Egyptian kings. Having noticed these revelations of Egypt's
sepulchres, the visitor should turn at once to the eastern wall cases
in which he will find a vast collection of


The innumerable little figures scattered throughout the first seven
cases are all Egyptian deities with their appropriate symbols,
including those in porcelain and stone with holes bored in them for
the purpose of attaching them to mummy bandages; those in wood which
were carved generally to decorate tombs, and those in bronze which
were the household gods. It would be impossible for the general
visitor to examine this collection in detail, but he may notice the
chief deities with the extraordinary jumble of human and brute life
which they present. First of all the visitor will remark, in the first
division of the first case, a sandstone figure, seven inches high,
seated upon a throne with lotus sceptres, and attendant deities; this
is Amenra, the Jupiter of the Egyptians; and in the same case Phtah,
the Vulcan of the Egyptians, with a gour, or animal-headed sceptre in
both hands, and an oskh, or semi-circular collar, about his neck; the
Egyptian Saturn, Sabak, with the head of a crocodile, with the shenti
about his loins; and Thoth, the Egyptian Mercury, with an ibis head
surmounted by a crescent moon. In the second division, or case, amid
the strange figures, the visitor should remark the Egyptian Juno,
Mout, or mother, represented in the act of suckling, and wearing the
pschent, or cap, worn only by deities and Pharaohs; the Egyptian
Minerva, Nepth, on a throne, with the teshr, or inferior cap on her
head; a human form with a goat's head, wearing a conical cap
ornamented with two ostrich feathers, and disk on goat's horns,
representing Num, or water, called Jupiter Chnumis by the Greeks;
Khem, the Egyptian Pan, standing on nine bows; a youthful figure with
one lock of hair, and supporting the lunar disk, representing Chons,
or the Egyptian Hercules; an Egyptian Venus, Athor, in gold,
cow-headed; Ra, the sun, seated, and hawk-headed; Nefer Atum, with the
lotus flower and plumes for head ornaments, from Memphis, and
reverenced as the guardian of the sun's nostril; and the Egyptian
Diana, Pasht, or Bubastis, a bronze female figure with the head of a
cat. The third division includes a group, in vitrified earth,
representing Amenra seated on a feathered throne; a triad, in blue
porcelain, of Amoun Mout, the mother, and Chons, or Hercules; a figure
in lapis-lazuli of the Egyptian Minerva, Nepth; Num, ram-headed,
walking; Ptah-Socharis standing upon two crocodiles, and supporting
two hawks on his shoulders; and Pasht, the Egyptian Diana,
lion-headed. The third and fourth cases are filled with more specimens
of ancient Egyptian deities. In the first division the visitor should
remark a stone figure of the Egyptian Pluto, Osiris Pethempamentes,
with the atf, or conical cap, on his head, and the curved sceptre, and
three-thonged whip in his hand; a figure in stone, seated, wearing a
conical cap, and holding the sceptre called a gom, which represents
the Egyptian Bacchus, Osiris Ounophris; and a painted wooden figure,
kneeling, and supporting a building and a basket, representing the
Egyptian Proserpine, Nepththys, mistress of the palace. The second and
third divisions contain some remarkable figures, including bronze
groups of Osiris-ioh, or the moon, with the lunar disk; a walking
figure of Anubis, with a jackal's head; the ibis-headed Thoth, and
Har-si-esi with a hawk's head, each pouring a flood of water upon the
earth; various hawk-headed and other deities, in the beautiful lapis
lazuli, blue porcelain, and green felspar, including Isis suckling her
son Horus, and walking with a throne on her head; Nephthys walking; a
porcelain Horus with the mystic lock; a blue porcelain plate,
representing a procession of female deities; a snake-headed deity,
also in blue porcelain; and a porcelain Thoth carrying a scarabaeus.
In the fourth division the visitor will at once notice a small
monument in calcareous stone, about one foot two inches in height,
with various deities represented upon it; also other monuments, one
decorated with a flying scarabaeus; Horus seated upon a throne flanked
with lions; and Pasht upon a throne supported by two negroes and two
Asiatics. The fifth case is devoted also to deities, which the visitor
will recognise, and here he should notice the terra-cotta figure, with
a buckler and sword, which represents the Mars of the Egyptians, known
as Onouris. The principal object in the sixth case is the mummy-shaped
coffin of a Theban priest, called Penamen, and grouped near it are
offering stands and fragments. The seventh case contains one or two
remarkable groups, including some sacred animals; statues of Horns and
the son of Horus supporting three vases upon goat's horns; various
figures of Khons, one standing on a lotus flower; an extraordinary
figure of Phtah-Socharis upon two crocodiles; Ta-ur, an erect
hippopotamus, with human breasts, and the back covered by a
crocodile's tail; Typhon, ass-headed; and the tortoise-headed guardian
of the third hall of the Amenti, recovered from the tombs of the kings
at Thebes. Having noticed these remarkable combinations and symbols of
the religious idea of ancient Egypt, the visitor should rapidly
examine the extraordinary collection of


which exhibit, in their infinite variety, a confusion of species so
ingenious and astonishing, that the spectator who has the least
zoological enthusiasm is utterly confounded by the strange sights that
are here. These animals are collected into four cases (8-11), the two
first of which are chiefly devoted to the quadrupeds; and the two last
to the birds. Among the former, or quadrupeds, the visitor will
particularly remark the cynocephali, or dog-headed baboons, in bronze
and stone; various lions; cats, with bored ears; jackals; shrew mice
bearing the winged world; bulls; gazelles; a kneeling ibex; a ram
walking with the conical cap on its head; a sow with pigs, in bronze;
a quadruped with a viper's head; sphinxes, one covered with a lotus;
and various models of hares, ram's heads, &c. These animals, that is
to say the sacred animals that actually had life, were waited upon by
the priests, and the pain of death was inflicted upon any person who
killed them. Among the birds are many figures of hawks, some with
human faces, others with the solar disk on the head, or the conical
cap; the ibis, variously decorated; snakes and fishes; uraei; wooden
fragments of vipers; frogs; scorpions; a bronze crocodile; scarabaei,
in lapis-lazuli and other substances; emblems of stability; a wooden
head of the hippopotamus from the Tombs of the Kings at Thebes;
vultures; and snakes.

Next to the cases of sacred animals are two (12, 13) devoted to small
statues of various kinds, in various substances. In the first division
of these cases are stone heads of priests, and officers of state with
long hair; and in the second, many curious objects are arranged,
including figures of men seated on thrones; a standing figure of a
Pharaoh; a long haired officer of state carved in ebony; rowers, with
moveable arms, taken from the models of boats. The third division
includes a dark green figure of a royal scribe, kneeling and holding a
tablet on which the prenomen of Rameses is visible; kings in various
attitudes; the bronze figure of a kneeling priest supporting a bowl
containing loaves; an altar of libation, with sacred animals, and
vases, cakes, &c.; various figures of scribes and others; a female
figure with a calf suspended about the neck by its legs, and the hand
resting upon the horns of a gazelle; reclining female figures; parts
of two females supporting monkeys; a seated female with blue hair; and
fragments of figures. The fourth division contains other Egyptian
figures. Having examined these two cases the visitor should approach
those in which the larger


and other curiosities are deposited. These cases are six in number
(14-19). From these cases the visitor will have an opportunity of
gathering a general idea of the domestic comforts of the ancient
Egyptians. Here are arranged their chairs, stools, and head-rests, as
they were used three thousand years ago. In the first division are, an
inlaid stool from Thebes, with a maroon-coloured seat; and a
high-backed chair, inlaid with ivory and dark woods, and a seat of
cordage, also from Thebes; but the most curious objects in this
division are the Egyptian pillows or head-rests, called uls. These are
hollowed clumps of wood or metallic substance, supported upon a
column, and used by the hardy ancients as rests for the head. In the
present day the poorest beggar would think one of these uls a sorry
rest for his weary head: yet some of the specimens have the titles of
men of distinction engraved upon them. Pillows, however, were not
unknown luxuries to the Egyptians, as a pillow of linen, stuffed with
water-fowl feathers, and deposited in the second division of the cases
under notice, testifies. In this second division are fragments of
couches, the decorations chiefly representing animals; fragments, in
calcareous stone, from the propylon of the brick pyramid of Dashour;
cramps, from Thebes and the temple of Berenice; iron keys from Thebes;
bronze hinges; porcelain tiles from the door of a pyramid; an
interesting stone model of a house; a model from Upper Egypt of a
granary, with a covered shed at one corner from which a man apparently
surveyed the operations of the workmen below. A Leghorn mouse, setting
aside the feelings of enthusiastic antiquaries


consumed the grain that lay in the model granaries. From this curious
relic the visitor will turn with some astonishment to an ancient
Egyptian wig: it is curled on the top and plaited at the sides, and is
in all respects a well manufactured article. It is a state wig, worn
only on great occasions - the Egyptians going habitually closely
shaven. In the third division of the cases are assembled various bulky
figures, which the visitor will recognise as various Egyptian deities:
there is Pasht with his lion's head; Num, ram-headed; Thoth,
ibis-headed, and others; also the figure of a Pharaoh, or Egyptian
king, with the teshr, a royal cap, all taken from the tombs of the
kings at Thebes.

In the two next cases (20, 21) the visitor will find various specimens
of the dresses and personal ornaments of the ancient Egyptians. In the
first division are a leather cap, cut into net-work from a single
piece, the ordinary male head-dress; a leather workman's apron: a
palm-leaf basket, and a linen cloth tunic that was found in it at
Thebes. The toilet vessels of various substances and shapes, used to
contain the metallic dye for the eye-lids, called sthem, worn by the
ancient Egyptians, including the cylindrical case, bearing the royal
names, are arranged in the second division, together with ivory,
porcelain, and other hair studs, and a pair of cord sandals from
Memphis. The third division is filled with varieties of Egyptian
mirrors, pins, combs, and sandals. The mirrors of the Egyptians
consisted of circular metallic plates, with variously ornamented
handles. The specimens in this case, which have lost their lustre
under centuries of rust, include one with a lotus handle, ornamented
with the Egyptian goddess of beauty, Athor; one with a tress of hair
as a design for the handle: and others ornamented with the head of the
much reverenced hawk. The pins are in bronze and wood, and were used
by the Egyptian ladies either to bind the hair or to apply the sthem
to the eyelids. The combs show a double row of teeth, and are of wood.
The shoes and sandals are of various kinds, but the greatest variety
of these articles is deposited in the fourth division of the cases.
These are made of palm leaves, wood, and papyrus: those with
high-peaked toes are the most ancient, having been worn in the
eighteenth dynasty, about fourteen centuries before our era.

The nine following cases (22-32) are devoted to the vases and other

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Online LibraryW. Blanchard JerroldHow to See the British Museum in Four Visits → online text (page 7 of 17)