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But their tombs, and the continuation of work upon other monuments show, that if reasons of state called them to fix their principal residence nearer to the centre of population, both religious feeling, and natural inclination, still gave Thebes a preference in their estimation. It was different, when dynasties of other than Diospolitan origin, ascended the throne; from that period, the glories of Thebes began to fade. Its fall was accelerated by the ravages of Cambyses, but does not appear to have been fully consummated, until the chastisement its inhabitants received for an ill-advised and impotent revolt against the Roman sway. Modern travellers have been successful in identifying the site of Thebes, by reference to the ancient writers who have left us descriptions of its position. Did even no such record exist, the vast extent over which ruins are scattered, and the magnitude of the principal edifices that remain, would point it out as sovereign seat.
“Several villages are distributed over the plain of Thebes. On the western side, and at a distance of two hundred paces from the Nile, is the village of el Aquálteh. Near the huts that compose it, is to be seen a handsome house that the natives call quasr or “the castle.” It served to lodge the governors of the country, at the time of the collection of taxes. Beyond this, lower down the river and nearer the Lybian chain, is seen Naza-Abou-Hamoud, whose earthen houses are in part hidden by a wood of palm trees ; farther still is Koum-el-Bar. yat, built upon the rubbish of ancient Thebes. Close to the mountain, MedinetAbou exhibits the remains of a modern village entirely abandoned. Finally, at the extremity of the plain, to the north, is the small village of Kournah, whose savage inhabitants abandon it, when they wish to escape the payment of taxes. New Troglodytes, they then retire to the numerous grottoes with which the mountain is pierced; or accompanied by all they consider most dear and precious, their wives, their children, and their flocks, they flee to the desert.
“ On the eastern side of the river, and immediately upon the bank, Luxor is distinguished by its low houses, surmounted by dove-cotes covered with an innumerable multitude of pigeons. Luxor is a considerable town, that may con tain two or three thousand souls. Once a week a market is held in it to which the inhabitants of the neighbouring villages resort. Farther to the north, and lower down the stream, are found Caffre-Karnac, and Karnac, both surrounded by palm-trees : these inhabited places occupy but an inconsiderable space in the midst of the vast ruins that surround them. Still farther in the same direction, and near the foot of the Arabian chain, is situated the village of Med-Amoud.
“Such is the small number of scattered villages in the midst of a plain that was once occupied by an immense city. Their miserable huts contrast in the most striking manner with the opulent remains of a superb metropolis."
“ The monuments situated on the left bank of the river, first attracted our at. tention. We established ourselves at el-Aquâlteh ; its vicinity to the Nile, made us choose it for our place of rendezvous. It was thence that we set out daily at sun-rise to engage in labours, that continued through intense heat, would have appeared extremely painful, bad we not been sustained by the enthusiasm pro. duced by the view of the ruins. We felt a pleasure in reflecting that we were about to transport to our country all the products of the ancient science and industry of the Egyptians. It was, in truth, a conquest we were about to effect in the name of the arts. We were about to give to the world for the first time, an exact and complete idea of the monuments, of which so many travellers, both ancient and modern, had been able to speak only in a manner little satisfactory. We were about to realize the desires expressed by the most eloquent of our ora
So far as the art of sculpture was applie buildings, there is a sameness and monoton tudes of the figures. This was no doubt on of them being actually alphabetic characters, Lancret, the member of the commission, w ed in this account of the decorations, was! the discrepancy between the skill of execms tony of form. He attempts to explain it the priests had chosen to prevent the pro since the discoveries of Champollion and yo is obvious, in the necessity of restricting ters to one prescribed and certain form. animals; they are all represented in prom skilfully designed, and the sculptors have predominating characteristic of the species
These invariable rules introduced in the the walls of the principal buildings of Den repetition which their very nature demande application of the division of labour in the gle hand might have been constantly engagu same sort, and hence great numbers may lim the same time, increasing both the rapiche the excellence of each particular sculptures must have been required, but all the rest of been purely mechanical.
“It may be conceived that the forms of all being determined for ages, they might have object to execute, and thus employ a gr ther, when we consider that in the same all those of the goddesses, have an uni species resemble each other perfect! in the same manner, its proper ch think, even one whole figure was and finish, but that several artin figure was first marked out by who carried in on a little far!
roly it was to finish it. The pa
their tu appropriate colour
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and temples, the widuals. Befor uportance of The je interviews of rove that the chies earlier date, was d probably, therr
oftes, and returning to the road along the
the ruins are speedily reached which are die Memnonium, but in which our travellers tound the tomb of Osymandias. w the same path, an enclosure of unburnt brick is next om it, on the right, a mount of rock detached from the
he Egyptians have excavated one of those syringes so TE is a real labyrinth, into which it is unsafe to enter sons. The great number of passages, of balls, of shafts cents, present the aspect of a place intended for the ce. and the celebration of mysteries. liis syrinx is a long range of small heaps of calcareous vemains of an avenue of sphinges, which lead to build Thear the mountain to an edifice that seems to show, both attempted the construction of vaults, and that they had the road that skirts the desert, and passing the fragments granite, Kourna is soon reached ; the palace of this place * portico formed of a single range of columns, which has esemblance to the buildings of the Greeks ; it has rather been finished, than of having fallen to ruin.” rees extends from the ruins of Kourna to the Nile, and anner, this side of the fine plain of Thebes.
strikes the river below Kourna, are situated numerous as tombs. vid view of the ruins on the Lybian side of the Nile, let its right bank, where wonders await us, not less strik. lready seen. Let us first direct our course to Luxor.
more varied than the scene that offers itself to our Litli vegetation and verdure : a fine river rolling with raand animated by the motion of barks with large trito every part of Egypt the products of this fertile the Nile, and dragging as they swim, nets filled
and tranquil tone of the plains on which are rais. recture ; the broad shadows cast by their colossal lite in a picturesque manner with the most magniovered with palm trees and verdure ; and to close
bian chain. Such is a slight sketch of one of
man can enjoy. nce of the palace of Luxor, it is necessary to w streets, filled with rubbish. What is seen isery, associated recollection of the
side of these we is two superb obeformed each
of k of granite, and I these obeli
tatues, thirty-four lifty feet in
here is not one of ne, would
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sages of rivers, and the
tors, when speaking of Egypt, in these remarkable terms. Quelle puissance, et quel art a fait d'un tel pays la merveille de l' Univers, et quelles bequies ne trouveroit on pas, si on pouvoit aborder la ville royale, puisque si loin d'elle on trouve des choses si merveilleuses." We were, in fact, upon the soil of this royal city, where the partial observations that had been previously made, although of little value, still promised the discovery of the most noble works. And besides, what attrac tions, what secret charms did not the view of the ruins present! This glorious spectacle cannot be sought with temporary, and barren curiosity ; we were drawn to it by an arlent and lively passion, that cannot be understood by those who have not experienced it. How many times, impelled by this passion, have we not traversed the plain of Thebes, at the risk of being assassinated by the Arabs and the savage inhabitants of these countries ! How many times have we not undertaken long and painful expeditions, with the sole view of discover. ing new monuments, and examining distant remains !
« The first remarkable object that presents itself on leaving el-Aquâlteh is a vast enclosure which surrounds a space two thousand metres in length, and one thousand in breadth. It has been a circus, or hippodrome, in which the ancient Egyptians performed their races, on foot, on horseback, or in cars. In the great number of openings that this enclosure presents, one is tempted to imagine he sees the hundred gates celebrated by Homer, and by all the historians and poets of antiquity. This circus appears to have been surrounded with triumphal structures, that would have gloriously announced the approach to the ancient capital of Egypt. Formerly trodden by a vast multitude, it is now restored to cultivation, and fertilized by a canal which brings to it the waters of the inundation.
“ At the northern extremity of the hippodrome are found the ruins of Medinet-Abou. They rise majestically upon an artificial mound, and are surrounded by an enclosure partly built of stone, and partly of brick. A small temple first shows itself at the base of the heap of rubbish ; but what particularly attracts attention is an edifice, which at the first glance may be known to have been the palace of a sovereign. Two stories, with ranges of square windows, wails crowned with battlements, announce an edifice different in its character from those consecrated to Egyptian worship. In the neighbourhood, and farther to the north, are propylæa which form the entrance to a temple of great antiquity."
To the west of these, and near the Lybian chain, are remains of still greater importance, the ruins of the palace of Ramses Meiamoun, a description of which we shall cite in another part
of this paper.
“ The Lybian chain towers over these remains of ancient structures : it is only separated from them by a narrow portion of desert. Its precipitous rocks, bril. liant with the light of the sun, the numerous catacombs with which it is filled, form a picturesque ground on which these magnificent ruins rise in great beauty. The opposition between the grey colour of the rubbish and the stone of the monuments, form contrasts that present beautiful effects to the painter.
“Setting out from Medinet-Abou, and following the road traced along the edge of the desert, every step rests on pieces of broken statues, on trunks of columns, and fragments of all kinds. On the left of the road, is found a rectangu. lar enclosure of raw bricks, filled with remains of colossi, and members of architecture, loaded with well chiseled hieroglyphics. They are the remains of an edifice destroyed to its very foundation. All the materials have been calcareous rock, drawn from the neighbouring mountain ; they therefore have been used to burn into lime. Positive traces of this ravage still exist in the kilns that have served to burn the stone, and the vitrification produced by the fire."
On the right of the road is the wood of Acacias occupying the site of the true Memnonium, and between the wood and the river are the gigantic statues called Tama and Chama by the natives of the country. They may be perceived at a distance of four leagues, like vast rocks rising in the middle of the plain. Af
ter leaving these statues, and returning to the road along the border of the desert, the ruins are speedily reached which are usually known as the Memnonium, but in which our travellers conceive they have found the tomb of Osymandias.
“Continuing to follow the same path, an enclosure of unburnt brick next met with ; and not far from it, on the right, a mount of rock detached from the Lybian chain, in which the Egyptians have excavated one of those syringes so celebrated in antiquity. It is a real labyrinth, into which it is unsafe to enter without proper precautions. The great number of passages, of balls, of shafts that lead to lower apartments, present the aspect of a place intended for the ceremonies of initiation, and the celebration of mysteries.
“In the vicinity of this syrinx is a long range of small heaps of calcareous fragments ; they are the remains of an avenue of sphinges, which lead to build. ings now in ruins, and near the mountain to an edifice that seems to show, both that the Egyptians had attempted the construction of vaults, and that they had succeeded but ill.
“ Returning again to the road that skirts the desert, and passing the fragments of two statues of black granite, Kourna is soon reached ; the palace of this place furnishes an instance of a portico formed of a single range of columns, which has in consequence some resemblance to the buildings of the Greeks ; it has rather the air of having never been finished, than of having fallen to ruin.”
“A wood of palm trees extends from the ruins of Kourna to the Nile, and closes in an agreeable manner, this side of the fine plain of Thebes.
“In the mountain that strikes the river below Kourna, are situated numerous excavations which served as tombs.
“We have taken a rapid view of the ruins on the Lybian side of the Nile, let us now cross the river to its right bank, where wonders await us, not less striking than those we have already seen. Let us first direct our course to Luxor. What can be more rich or more varied than the scene that offers itself to our view! Islands brilliant with vegetation and verdure : a fine river rolling with ra. pidity its fertilizing waters, and animated by the motion of barks with large triangular sails, which transport to every part of Egypt the products of this fertile country ; Fellahs plunging into the Nile, and dragging as they swim, nets filled with water-melons; the yellow and tranquil tone of the plains on which are raised specimens of a noble architecture ; the broad shadows cast by their colossal masses ; Arab buildings that unite in a picturesque manner with the most magnificent ruins; beyond, a plain covered with palm trees and verdure ; and to close the view, the mountains of the Arabian chain. Such is a slight sketch of one of the most beautiful spectacles which man can enjoy.
“ To arrive at the principal entrance of the palace of Luxor, it is necessary to penetrate the village through narrow streets, filled with rubbish. What is seen gives an idea of the most abject misery, associated with the recollection of the greatest opulence. In fact, by the side of these wretched huts, two superb obe. lisks show themselves suddenly, formed each of a single block of granite, and seventy-five feet in height.* Behind these obelisks are seated statues, thirty-four feet in beight; and then a pylont fifty feet in elevation. There is not one of these monuments, which if seen alone, would not command admiration, and they appear united here in a manner that produces in the spectator the most profound impression. The obelisks offer to the astonished eye, hieroglyphics executed with all the care and precision that is found on the finest gems. The statues are remarkable for the gravity and tranquillity of their attitudes ; the pylon is covered with sculptures representing battles of chariots, passages of rivers, and the capture of fortresses."
“Leaving the village of Luxor, by the street that faces the principal entry of *These obelisks bear upon their sides the royal legend of Sesostris, and on their front that of Ramses I., his great grandfather, by whom they were probably erected. +We shall explain this term, and the reason of its use", hereafter. VOL. V.-xo. 9,