Catalog # SKU0967
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 2.00 lbs
Author Name G. Maspero



Guide to the Study
of Antiquities in Egypt.


With Three Hundred and Nine Illustrations

As regards the practical side of Archaeology, it ought to be unnecessary to point out that its usefulness is strictly parallel with the usefulness of public museums. To collect and exhibit objects of ancient art and industry is worse than idle if we do not also endeavour to disseminate some knowledge of the history of those arts and industries, and of the processes employed by the artists and craftsmen of the past. Archaeology, no less than love, "adds a precious seeing to the eye"; and without that gain of mental sight, the treasures of our public collections are regarded by the general visitor as mere "curiosities"--flat and stale for the most part, and wholly unprofitable.

Notwithstanding the fact that Egyptology is now recognised as a science, an exact and communicable knowledge of whose existence and scope it behoves all modern culture to take cognisance, this work of M. Maspero still remains the Handbook of Egyptian Archaeology. But Egyptology is as yet in its infancy; whatever their age, Egyptologists will long die young. Every year, almost every month, fresh material for the study is found, fresh light is thrown upon it by the progress of excavation, exploration, and research. Hence it follows that, in the course of a few years, the standard text-books require considerable addition and modification if they are to be of the greatest value to students, who must always start from the foremost vantage-ground.


Archaeologists, when visiting Egypt, have so concentrated their attention upon temples and tombs, that not one has devoted himself to a careful examination of the existing remains of private dwellings and military buildings. Few countries, nevertheless, have preserved so many relics of their ancient civil architecture. Setting aside towns of Roman or Byzantine date, such as are found almost intact at Koft (Coptos), at Kom Ombo, and at El Agandiyeh, one-half at least of ancient Thebes still exists on the east and south of Karnak. The site of Memphis is covered with mounds, some of which are from fifty to sixty feet in height, each containing a core of houses in good preservation.

At Kahûn, the ruins and remains of a whole provincial Twelfth Dynasty town have been laid bare; at Tell el Mask-hûtah, the granaries of Pithom are yet standing; at Sãn (Tanis) and Tell Basta (Bubastis), the Ptolemaic and Saïtic cities contain quarters of which plans might be made (Note 1), and in many localities which escape the traveller's notice, there may be seen ruins of private dwellings which date back to the age of the Ramessides, or to a still earlier period. As regards fortresses, there are two in the town of Abydos alone, one of which is at least contemporary with the Sixth Dynasty; while the ramparts of El Kab, of Kom el Ahmar, of El Hibeh, and of Dakkeh, as well as part of the fortifications of Thebes, are still standing, and await the architect who shall deign to make them an object of serious study.

At Thebes, as at Memphis, the royal tombs are those which it is most necessary to study, in order to estimate the high degree of perfection to which the decoration of passages and sepulchral chambers was now carried. The most ancient were situated either in the plain or on the southern slopes of the western mountain; and of these, no remains are extant. The mummies of Amenhotep I., and Thothmes III., of Sekenenra, and Aahhotep have survived the dwellings of solid stone designed for their protection. Towards the middle of the Eighteenth Dynasty, however, all the best places were taken up, and some unoccupied site in which to establish a new royal cemetery had to be sought. At first they went to a considerable distance, namely, to the end of the valley (known as the Western Valley), which opens from near Drah Abû'l Neggeh. Amenhotep III., Aï, and perhaps others, were there buried. Somewhat later, they preferred to draw nearer to the city of the living. Behind the cliff which forms the northern boundary of the plain of Thebes, there lay a kind of rocky hollow closed in on every side, and accessible from the outer world by only a few perilous paths. It divides into two branches, which cross almost at right angles. One branch turns to the south-east, while the other, which again divides into secondary branches, turns to the south-west. Westward rises a mountain which recalls upon a gigantic scale the outline of the great step-pyramid of Sakkarah (fig. 137).

The Egyptian engineers of the time observed that this hollow was separated from the ravine of Amenhotep III. by a mere barrier some 500 cubits in thickness. In this there was nothing to dismay such practised miners. They therefore cut a trench some fifty or sixty cubits deep through the solid rock, at the end of which a narrow passage opens like a gateway into the hidden valley beyond. Was it in the time of Horemheb, or during the reign of Rameses I., that this gigantic work was accomplished? Rameses I. is, at all events, the earliest king whose tomb has as yet been found in this spot. His son, Seti I., then his grandson, Rameses II., came hither to rest beside him. The Ramesside Pharaohs followed one after the other. Herhor may perhaps have been the last of the series. These crowded catacombs caused the place to be called "The Valley of the Tombs of the Kings,"--a name which it retains to this day.

Paperback, 5 x 8, 390+ pages

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