4i6 PICTURESQUE PALESTINE.
tombs. Over many of the pictures are inscriptions which are positively comic, as when the
slaughterers of an ox comment on the various stages of the operation, or a captain of a ship
calls his crew a set of apes. But the solemn side of existence is not forgotten amidst these
cheerful scenes. Funeral processions and wailing women are engraved on the walls, and
inscriptions are addressed to Anubis of the jackal head, the Hermes of the Egyptian religion,
who guides the souls through the under world.
Nor are men and women alone honoured with these splendid resting-places. Under the
Serapeum at Sakkarah—the Ptolemaic temple, with its various chambers, priests' houses, and
cells for ascetic recluses, which was dedicated to the strange mixed Graeco-Egyptian worship
of Serapis —is the gigantic cemetery of Apis. This sacred bull, who was distinguished from
common cattle by twenty-eight marks, such as a blaze on the forehead, a scarab under the
tongue, a crescent on the flank, and the like, was kept in his lifetime in solemn state, secluded
behind a curtain on a soft bed in the temple of Ptah at Memphis, with his venerated mother
in another stall, and a plentiful harim of cows near by; and hither came those who would obtain
his oracular verdicts : if he ate from their hand it was well; if not, their doom was decreed, as
Eudoxus, the Greek astronomer, and Germanicus proved to their dismay. When after his
luxurious life the bull Apis died, he was buried, with immense pomp and with costly rites,
which sometimes drained the treasury of ,£20,000, in the burying place of his ancestors at
Sakkarah. Here, in long galleries, with vaults on either side, rested the mummies of all the
sacred bulls for nigh two thousand years, in huge sarcophagi of granite or other stone, each
monolith, empty, weighing nearly sixty tons (one hundred and thirty-four thousand pounds).
When Mariette opened this amazing city of dead bulls he found one vault which for some reason
or other had escaped the violating hand of the treasure-seeker, and there in the mortar was
the impress of the fingers of the mason who had set the last stone in the reign of Rameses IL,
before the birth of Moses; there in the dust were the imprints of the feet that had last trod
the floor three thousand and more years ago ; there were the votive offerings dedicated in the
sacred vault by visitors who have been dead since nearly twice as long a period as we are
distant from our Era—among them a tablet of Rameses' own son, high priest of Apis, and one
of the chief dignitaries of the time of the Oppression of Israel. It is not wonderful that when
the great explorer set foot in this tomb, which had remained inviolate for thirty-five eventful
centuries, he was overwhelmed, and burst into tears.
There are no graves like those of Memphis; they belong to the Titanic age of Egyptian
building ; but as we hasten up the Nile to Thebes we see tombs on either side, everywhere,
old and new. Scarcely have we left the modern cupola of a Muslim saint's grave (see page 413)
at Minyeh, when the rocks of Beny Hasan, honeycombed with painted ante-chambers and
deep sepulchral vaults, come in sight (see page 414). The great cemetery of the sacred crocodile
opposite Manfalut presents a counterpart to the vast necropolis of the bulls at Sakkarah.
All along the eastern bank the cliffs that hem in the river are honeycombed with tombs or
grottoes, and it is from the paintings of these tombs that much of our knowledge of ancient