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and cheered the labours of the latter as, in true old Egyptian style, they went to work to launch the boat by the appliance of physical force alone. The superintendent of their efforts was evidently of opinion that backs were made before levers, and that the true way to launch a boat was, not to allow her to glide into the water stern first, but to push her down the ways sidewise by the sheer force of a united shove. . In order to get her to move at all, however, he commenced operations by rocking her to an extent that made her seams crack and the whole boat bend and creak ominously. When she was sufficiently loosened and weakened generally by this operation, the music struck up, the flags waved, the dancing-girls danced, and the whole two hundred men placing their backs beneath the boat, lifted up their voices in a loud groan of concentrated effort; then she moved an inch, and everybody rested, and collected round the girls, who were dressed in long flowing robes, and not in the usual tight-fitting bodice and loose trousers of the ghazwazie. They were abundantly decorated with jewels in the shape of necklaces, bangles, ear-rings, and nose-rings, and doubtless lightened the labours of the workmen by their entertainment. The launch of the craft, diversified by this “fantasia”— by numerous slips of the stern, which would go down more rapidly than the bows—by sundry hitches, in which neither bows nor stern would . move at all—and then by unexpected slides, when she threatened to topple over prematurely into the river—lasted just ten hours. However, it was accomplished with great triumph and beating of drums at last, and then the procession marched back to the village to reward themselves for the labours of the day by more terpsichorean divertissement.
Meantime I had been gazing with longing eyes at the mounds of the ancient Antinoë, just visible through the date-trees on the opposite side of the river, and decided to make an examination of them the object of my next expedition.
THE mounds that mark the site of the ancient city of Antinoë cover a vast area of ground, with even a greater profusion than usual of the brickbats and potsherds which indicate ruins of a Roman period. There does not seem to have been any certainty until recently that the city founded by the Emperor Hadrian in commemoration of the suicide of his favourite, was built upon the remains of an ancient Egyptian town, and these ruins were consequently supposed to offer but little inducement for examination, as being of comparatively modern date. They were, however, upon a vast and splendid scale : only a few years ago whole streets of columns still remained to bear witness to its ancient magnificence; and we have in books of travel of
comparatively recent date, pictures of triumphal arches, temples, and public buildings, which have all been carried away for building purposes within the last ten years, and scarcely a vestige of which now remains. I counted three columns still erect, one of which was fluted, and many fragments of sculpture lying about; but all the grandest monuments had been broken up and built into the walls of the sugar-factories. The mounds all bear the distinctive characteristics of a later civilisation than that of the Egyptians. There is an absence of rags and mummy-cloth, and a superabundance of broken pottery and glass, which one would expect to find in the capital of the Antinoite Nome. There can be little doubt that these mounds occupy the site of the ancient city of Besa, famed for its oracle; and Aboolfeda tells us that the Nubian geographer Edressee speaks of it as “an ancient city remarkable for the fertility of its land, and said by common report to be the city of the magicians, who were sent from thence by Pharaoh.” It was only last year that the dust-sifters, in their excavations for manure, revealed the existence of O
fourteen pillars of an Egyptian temple of the time of Rameses II., which is, however, with the exception of its upper portion, still completely covered by the mounds. The capitals of ten columns, which form two sides of a square, are now exposed to view, and are formed of lotus - buds, upon which are the ovals of Rameses II. in coloured hieroglyphics, with a blue border above them. Besides the ten columns, four others, just appearing above the débris, evidently formed the peristyle. The columns of the remaining two sides are still buried in the mounds, but it is almost certain that they will be found standing erect. From the proportions of the capitals and upper part of the columns which are visible, it is probable that their total height is about twenty feet. A very little expense will suffice to lay bare the remains of the whole edifice; and it is to be hoped that excavations may ere long be undertaken which may reveal further monuments of ancient art thus buried beneath the mounds of the Roman city. I unearthed here some almost perfect amphorae, and the villagers who live on the edge of the remains flocked round me with coins, beads, &c., which