Egypt Exploration Fund.
plague (always endemic in the Fayum); so that I at once put plague
precautions into force and set the men to build an isolation shelter for them-
selves, while I meantime telephoned to the authorities that we were
suspect. The doctor who arrived in the evening confirmed my suspicions,
and the next two days were spent in the tedious processes of disinfection.
Luckily the desert is its own quarantine, and on Wednesday, January 25th,
we were able to resume work. No further case of plague occurred; on the
31st the patient left for his home cured, and the camp received a letter of
thanks from the Governor of the Province. On our part a great debt of
gratitude was owing to Mustafa Eff. Fahmi, the Mar/caz doctor of Saff,
for the promptitude, efficiency, and tactfulness with which he carried
through the work.
Work now progressed apace ; for two and a half days the parallel ridges
immediately to the north and south of the one first attempted were tested
in the same line, but only with the same result, slightly earlier burials still
prevailing. Work was then transferred further eastwards and the reward
was at once gained; on the wide northern ridge a shaft opening into a
chamber containing two papyrus cartonnage mummies (much decayed) was
disclosed, while eastwards again on the ridge first attempted we had located
the main stone and pot coffin area of the Ptolemaic period.
This latter I shall call cemetery A, as it presents certain features quite
distinct from the cemetery to the north of it; moreover the two sites seem
to synchronise, covering equally the whole period, while they are clearly
separated by one of the rifts described above. It was on this cemetery that,
the first month of the work was spent. Conditions were seemingly ideal:
a fine wide level surface on the desert; the stratum a dry gravel with
tombs deepening only to a metre and a half or two metres ; everything
seemed to conspire to success, and yet in all the graves first opened
and during several days the cartonnage was in various stages of decay.
A close examination of the bodies and the gradual elimination of possible
causes led me to attribute this to the absence or deficiency of resin
and to the inferior technique in the wrapping of the bodies, and at
times to the presence of salt in the limestone of which the coffins were
made. All the care and expense seemed to have been lavished on externals
—the cartonnage, especially the brilliantly gilded masks which had
I resolved therefore to proceed steadily with the digging of the site in
hope of these conditions changing. The event justified this conclusion,
and the proof when it came was curiously complete. There began to
occur graves containing three, four, or five stone coffins with conditions