Greater Ancestors

World Museum

Giant Eqyptian Mummy

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The Discovery of an Ancient Temple Isis and Unknown Methods of Burying the Dead. CAIRO April 15.–Some weeks ago while spending a few days with a friend who was a learned Egyptologist, and who lives on the banks of the Nile, about 100 miles above Cairo, he suggested an expedition to a spot on the eastern shore of the river, which he was desirous of visiting, In order to examine tho ruins and rock tombs which were known to exist there. I gladly Assented to the proposed trip, And we deemed ourselves well rewarded for our pains. The ruins consisted of Immense masses of crude brick work, which covered an area measuring about half a mile long by a quarter of a mile wide, by which the limestone cliffs were faced to the height of fifty or sixty feet, the
solid masonry being In places upward of ten feet thick. Here were the crumbling walls of the ancient houses still existing, and the natives showed us holes nearly filled with sand which, the averred led into rock-cut chambers
containing quantity of mummies and their coffins. All attempts to enter them
at the time proved more or less abortive, as the entrances were too small to admit even a thin man without tho risk of being jammed and suffocated, as we turned our attention to the brick remains and found among them the ruins of what seemed to be an ancient temple built of burnt bricks twenty Inches long by nine wide, and stamped, to our great delight, with heiroglyphics like English, translated as follows: High Priest of Ammon Pinadjem Protector of the Grand Sanctuary of Isis.”
The Inference to be gathered from this inscription was that this wall formed part of a temple dedicated to Isis, which was built by the  Pontiff King Pinadjem, the third of the twenty- first dynasty, who reigned about 1043 before Christ, and was probably that King of Egypt whose daughter we are Informed that Solomon married. This discovery was so Interesting that friend applied to the authorities at Cairo for permission to excavate, and for the last two weeks I have been assisting at the interesting work of exhuming the corpses and the  records of the past. Unfortunately our force which only consisted of ten men, was too small for the extent of ruin to be examined, but our experience may be of Interest to your readers. We began by digging a pit at the base of the masonry faced cliff as it was probable that It was undermined by rock tombs. We had no particular Indication to guide us but our conjectures proved correct and after digging down about three feet we came upon some mummies coffined in cradles of palm stems. This was in itself a discovery as so far as I am aware. It is the only case which has yet occurred in the records of Egyptian Investigation in which the bodies were burled so near the surface of the earth, and In which this primitive method of sepulture had been resorted to.

On cutting loose the Palm stems which had beon beautifully sown together we took out thn body the wrappages of which still remained a state of extraordinary preservation. The long flax ropes with which it was corded were as strong as the day they had first been used. Then came yards of strong linen wrappages which we carefully unwound: the inner wrappings were of a finer material, but those nearest the body were black and rotten, nnd presented a charred appearance.
This arose from the fact that the
rude method of embalming had been resorted to of plunging the corpse into boiling bitumen which destroys the flesh. The result was that there was nothing but black skin drawn tightly over the bones, and a great quantity of a black material which all crumbled at the touch. It was evident that the pnnplo burled In this rude fashion belonged to the poorer classes who were not able to afford the more expensive process which In some casts has preserved the bodies in a perfect and almost lifelike condition. In one instance we found, nevertheless, an almost perferct preserved foot, and in another
a quantity of long black hair.
After examining several of those superficially
Interred mummies we dug down till we got
below them, and nbnut night rON from tho biirfrSUI
camo upon tliu rock whern them wns annponlnc
beneath it This wo cleaned out and
scrambled down well provided with caiulluh
Investigate for tlm first fmv jnrds tlm passage
was so loir that I wiu obliged to He perfectly
flat upon my face nnd wriggle along but
after a little I could get upon my Hands and
knies This was rather a relief as I wns
crawling among bonus ami flkulle which
wurnstronnnhout In greatt ponfin lon Thorn
was a curious faint odor pervading the pi ice
devoid of all taint of corruption but the rovirsnof
Invigorating As I scrambled nlongthepasengu
went from one low cave Into another and
tlm Dials of sarcophagi which had be n broken
and fragments of thu wooden coffins which
thoy had contained wure lying about It
Will nvldent that at nomn very roniotn period
In llm pint tbu whole snrlis of chambers
I wns traversing had boon broken Into nnd
rifled In the hope possibly of Undine treasure
In no one ease Will n sarcophagi unbroken
Opening out of tlm last cave which I calculated
wns thirtylive yards from tho mouth of the
pit was n small chamber about uovnn feetI
iuain hewn out uf tlm solid rock tlm skksuultu
Binoeth It vvns filled with tho debris ot
mummies Near the entrancn to It was a nor
cophngu5 tlm lid of which had beon cracked
HO that onn could seu thn perfect mummy
Inside beautifully swathed in linen on which
wn a pattern of home sort I put mt hand into
t d irnuU to fuel abuiit but ovurtlhlng Itnuelmd
went to powder and there Is eonmthlinr uncnnny
In groping nbnut In ncnflln vvlthn body
in It In the darn though somehow a corpse
3000 > oars old Is a fur less gruesome object
thnn n fresh one There were not only no objects
of Interest or vnluolu tills pit but nolnscrll
Wu nmv t the men tn work at tlm walls nfthu
building where wo had found tho stnmpedbrioki
Hera wa vrnreoompletely at fault Va
dun down for eight or ten foot but nover cot to tho end of tho bricks Wo opened parallels
but In whatever direction wo wontlt wns nil
solid brick Tha only difference was that
after polng for a cortnln distance wocamo
upon crude brick unstamped but
woenon bocnmo convinced thnt tlio structure
wns solid throushout and wns cither tho commencement
of n pyramid or thn huge pediment
upon which tho temple had tieou pUced Inr
that this was n spot which nt ono tlmu had been
a cnnlro of Isls worship wo had additional
testimony In another Inscription which wo
found on soma of tho bricks On onnnldo was
thn ancient namn of the town Isi mbln b or
The Isls of Hob nnd on tho other llamon-
Cheper tho name of tho fourth pontiff UiiLnftho
twf ntyflrst dynnsty Tlm fnct thnt the town
tnnk Its name from thn goddess nnd nf Grand
Ranctunry of Isls being Btnmpedon tho bricks
rendered It pretty certain thnt If wo could nnlynnd
them the remains of n tompln must bn
burled In thn mounds of potuherds nnd brickbats
with which tho area wan covered This
was thn moro tirobnblo ns tho encelntn of snlld
brick which crowned and faced tho cliffs must
hav been thn wall of tho temple rnclosuro
which at tbu sama time served as a fortlltcatlon
for thn rest of tho town
With tho vlow of seeing whether tho mnsnnry
which crowned the cliff concealed nny chambers
we now determined to go to thn highest
point which wns about n hundred feet abnvotho
level of tlio Nile nnd dig down Heiongnln
wo met with nnthlng but crude bricks
but they had appnrently been cemented
with thrashed oars of barley At
first wo thought we had coma upnnn
granary but tho bricks were all nnlldly pnekodupnn
rmo another merely the Interstices bolng
filled with thn umpty enrs nf vvhMi wo speedily
obtained about A bushel Wo also found built
Into tha masonry n log of wood which had been
sijuarnd nnd plercod but It had only buun built
Into tba mass ns a prut nf tho general structure
Ilotweonovory four layers of brickthem
wore also layers of benn straw Whon WH had dug
down about ten feet wenppronehed thn bed rock
without hnvlngsolvodtbn mj story Wo had now
pierced n horizontal tunnel through the brick
ntthabasaof the cliff for ton feet and arrived
at tha ro k wo had done tha sumo vertically on
Its summit with tho same result nnd wu had
run both vertical ncd lateral shafts Into thamassof
stamped bricks on Us shoulder without
over coming to nn end of this solid masonry
As the time at our disposal wns limited wo
did not wish to waste any more of Itnnthisglcsntlo
construction and decided upon clearing
out the entrance to a cavo In tho rock which
we had observed on tho occasion of our first
visit As soon ns this wns big onnuch tn admit
an Arab I decided to follow Almost Immediately
nt the entrance wore two sarcophagi
upon which rested the Bupnrlnoumi ant
rock To cot past these it was necessary
to lie on ones side push ones feet through
between tlm sarcophagi nnd then call tn tlm
Arab to rlrnc ynu through by main forco Hnd Ibeon
a quarter of an Inch thicker I should have
stuck as It was my waistcoat buttons suffered
savoroly I now found myself In n mnzo of
sarcophagi but thoy were piled BO closely together
nnd sonenrthornof of the cnve thnt it
was difficult to move about men on ones hands
tlon but the care was not strewn ns tho other
hnd bonn with mummy bones nnd cloths
Allhnugh holes had been hero nnd there
knocked Into tho snrcophngl tho contents
hnd not been abstracted and I counted six
which worn untouched On some of tho lids
were splendidly sculptured colossal heads Tho
imfBi 01 muse wits BO weugeu in ooyonu tlm
others and BO ncnr tha roof that I could only
examine It by pushing myself over thu Intervening
sarcophagi In a prostrate attitude until
I was It ing right on top of It-
Tliure wns something nt onus solemn and grotesQUu
in thus finding olios self witli ones face
nbout six inches from thu majestic bearded
pluelocnomy of nn nnclont Koiitlan on his
nwn coffin lid Horn hud ho bucu reposing
staring in n calm nnd dlcmlled manner into futurity
for tlm last 3000 tears till I came
with my prying Inqulaltlvonoss and nineteenth
century lrrover nce nnd stretched
myself full length on the top of him I almost
fancied ns I held thecnndle un to examino his
Dkicld almondshnped oyos that thnygavomoa
reproachful wink Wo determined nevertheless
to open Eome nf these snronph igl falling
to Had any other more nccu<shn and Iwns
drngged back again Into tlm light nf dty Inabatbof
perspiration and not n Hula exhausted
by my efforts
Two days niter a cave wis found much moro
oisy ot access and full of untouched snrcophagl
In this wo found three alabaster
Canoplan vnsea Thornshould hava been our
but ono was missing Thet were usually placed
two nn each sldn of the sarcophagus ot a distinguished
parsonage to hold his Imart Intestines
and viscera They wore about a font lilirh
and on tholr covers were carved rispectlvly
the heads of n cod n jackal and n ci noconbnlue
Wo also found n email papyrus
scroll vrhch hnd apparently b° on a charm
worn round the neck of n child We opened
altogether sit sarcophagi heru On one was
sculptured a held even finer than tlmonn I
had made acquaintance with already and
Inside wns thu mummy nf a giant Jin must
have been nearly eleven feet high with a thickness
ot skull greater thnn I supposed pnsslblnin
a human being but curious to relate
bin coffln contained no inscription
to denote Ills personality nnd tank
nor In nny of tlm cofllns th tt wo opcnc 1 wuru
there any Inscriptions on statuettes rings or
ornaments which are Invariably found plaud
with tlm doad 5It friend who was learned Inthuse
matters hns been unable to account for
this peculiarity and wlilln it wts dlnnppilntii g
m uuu BUUBU u wits iiueresting ns nuugestingpoetlbly
a dllTr nt epoch nf sepulture from
nny whloli lias tet beou Investigntud-
We woro obliged to content ourselves with
this discovery with that of tlm pilm cradles
and with the certainty that our n searches hnd
established thnt thu name of thu til ici In old
tlmo hnd been Isrmlihub ana that n temple
must hnvo once Mood hern nf great celebrity
dedicated to Isls ith tlm email fnrcennd
limited tlmn nt our disposal wn rniettulthnt
It wns Impossiblu tn do more but I fol
convinced 111 it thu ruins nf Isemblu L nnd thnonrnful
Investigation of Its mnsslvo masonry
and rockcut tnmbs mat vt rnvetl records
which would throw light upnn an obscure and
little knnwn epoch of ptbin history.

The sun., May 09, 1881, Image 2
About The sun. (New York [N.Y.]) 1833-1916