Museum, in accordance with the understanding arrived at with M. de
Morgan. Unhappily, they cannot be said to have added materially to
its treasures !
Before the different quarters are considered in detail, let me state an
obvious consideration which-affects the question of excavating in Alex-
andria, as compared with other possible sites.
Natural conditions—the sea, the desert, and the Lake Marootis—con-
fine the inhabitants of modern Alexandria to much the same area as they
occupied in the days of the Roman Empire. It is true that the present
port-town stands mainly on ground which has been gained from the sea
since the construction of Soter's great mole, the Heptastadium, but such
gain is balanced by the loss of the old coast strip round the east of the
Great Harbour, which, together with the island of Antirrhodus and most
of that of Pharos, has subsided beneath the waves. The modern city
has also a population considerably less numerous than the ancient,1 and
on the eastern side fails to fill out its old limits; but on the western it-
extends out to or even beyond the former confines; and has made suffi-
cient progress eastwards in the last twenty years to have covered more
than the centre of the Ptolemaic city. So far as we can fix the topo-
graphy of the latter, all its greatest buildings and monuments stood within
the area covered now either by the inhabited quarters of Alexandria, or
by the encroaching waves. It is true that much of the modern city is
of very recent growth and not yet closely built, and, like all Oriental
towns, includes a good deal of garden ground, but its open spaces are
not really large; they are private property; they have an ever-increasing
value, being situated within an ever-growing city; they are destined in
many instances for building lots, and their ultimate fitness to fulfil their
destiny is not increased by the disturbance of the soil or the extraction
of the stones.
In my project of sinking experimental shafts within the inhabited area,
I was met more than half way (as I have said already) by several owners
of land; but naturally the latter stipulated for the refilling of my
soundings ; the proximity of houses rendered it generally impossible to
continue far in any direction, and one had to work in a general atmo-
sphere of confinement and sufferance, which felt irksome indeed after
the freedom of the desert.
1 Diodorua (xvii. 52) gives over 300,000 as the population in his day, i.e. end of
the 1st century B.C. TSTow it is under 250,000.