of sebakh, the mud walls and hard mud filling of the graves forming a
never-failing and invaluable source of supply.
It was obvious that the big ridges near cultivation had been hopelessly-
ransacked in modern times; but the limits of the cemetery eastwards were
still undetermined, and the presence of shag/ for a very considerable
distance was hopeful evidence of a wide " hinterland" of cemetery still
untouched. The type of the opened graves, moreover, seemed to be in the
main pre-Ptolemaic, and an afternoon spent sitting with the villagers in
the modern town, who talked freely of their finds in the days before the
Government stepped in, convinced me that, although all manner of plunder
had fallen to their lot, the main cartonnage site was still unknown.
I decided, therefore, to test the site thoroughly before proceeding south.
Accordingly on January 19th 1 moved across the Nile with ten picked men
of the old hands, intending to supplement these by local labour in case of
success. Camp was pitched to the northward of the site and to the east of
the plundered areas, where there were one or two indications in fragments
of mummy cloth and coffins of an approximation to Ptolemaic conditions.
Work was commenced at sunrise the following morning, and the first few
minutes augured well by providing some decayed fragments of cloth car-
tonnage. Further excavation, however, mainly brought to light somewhat
earlier graves—direct burials in shallow pits (wooden coffins were found,
but were rare), the bodies finely resined and wrapped, and the paint struck
directly on to the wrappings. Blue glaze spherical beads, both large and
small, were found by the head, and in one case under the feet. The finger-
nails were sometimes gilded. There was no orientation; but, when on a
slope, the grave was cut at right angles to the direction of the hill. In one
of these a figure of Thoueris and two amulets of wood and glazed pottery
were found, also a glazed lid with loop handle and pottery cups, one of
these with demotic inscription. In general the pottery was much like that
of the Ptolemaic cemeteries described below. In this area a pot coffin
and a stone coffin emerged, both much weathered and lying just under the
surface of the ground, but, perhaps pardonably, were not at the time
recognised as belonging to the cartonnage period, since the crumbled frag-
ments of paint might well have belonged to the types of burials which
surrounded them. Actually these were outliers of the large stone and pot
coffin area which we were yet to learn lay some 100 yards further east, and
in fact under the tents and shelters of our camp.
On Sunday the 22nd at mid-day I abruptly broke off all work. A man
had "sickened of a fever while crossing to join me from the Fayum and had
lain sick the two preceding days ; the symptoms now pointed to bubonic