Egypt Exploration Fund   [Hrsg.]
Archaeological report: comprising the work of the Egypt Exploration Fund and the progress of egyptology during the year ... — 1892-1893

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Egypt Exploration Fund.

Above the bead was a little sbrine with a royal asp projecting out of it;
it has the form of the shrines which are on the top of the musical
instrument called the sistrum. The whole column, shaft and capital,
represented in gigantic proportions a sistrum, which is one of the usual
emblems of the goddess Hathor.

Along the enclosure wall, on the north side, were the graves of the
sacred rams, and in some parts the place is strewn with their coffins,
several of which are bean-shaped. (See plate.) Most of them have been
dug out long ago and the lids made use of. Brugsch-Bey, who excavated
them about twenty years ago, succeeded in recovering one of the lids
with religious inscriptions of the time of the Ptolemies. It is now in
the museum of Ghizeh.

In the Roman mound, called by the natives Tell Ibn es Salam, I dug
chiefly in the houses, and cleared many of them. I found only a great
deal of common pottery, large amphoras, and objects of that kind with-
out any historical or artistic interest. The place is constantly worked
by native dealers, and by the inhabitants of the villages, who, under the
pretext of getting " sebakh," go digging for antiquities, and who, being
on the spot and working all the year round, sometimes come across
objects of value, chiefly bronzes. But it is a mere matter of chance.
The place is so extensive that there is no reason to begin at any
particular spot, and it is a kind of work which it is impossible to
recommend to a Society like ours.

The most interesting place in the Roman mound is the library. It
consists of a series of rectangular chambers of different sizes. All these
rooms, a few of which have been cleared, were filled with papyri; it was
either the library or a place for the archives of the city. I should rather
think it was a library, because of the size of the rolls. Unfortunately
they have all been burnt, and you may see in the middle of each room
the remains of the fireplace where these invaluable documents have been
thrown. They are now quite carbonized, like those of Herculaneum, but
even in a worse state. They are most difficult to take out, they crumble
to pieces when they are loosened from the earth which covers them, but by
looking sideways the characters are still discernible ; they generally are
Greek, in good handwriting. As for those which have escaped the fire
they are quite hopeless. The moisture and the salt in the soil have
reduced them to a kind of brownish paste, which seems to be very fertile,
for roots of plants grow in it in abundance. I tried to see whether
some of the carbonized papyri, well packed in cotton, would stand a
journey; but the contents of the five boxes which I sent to London are
loading ...