432 PLCTURESQUE PALESTINE.
elaborate temple of many halls and chambers, was built on the plain below. The tombs in this
one valley number twenty-five (and there are hundreds in other parts of the mountains), and
from Amenoph III. to the end of the Twentieth Dynasty not a single royal tomb but that of
Horus is missing. The valley is a singularly impressive site for a burying-ground. Steep cliffs
shut it in on every side, not a blade of grass or living thing can be seen, nothing but burning
rock on the right hand and on the left. Here and there a steep slope leads down to a gloomy
cavern's mouth. We enter a long tunnel-like passage, lofty and wide, but growing more intensely
dark at every step. Candles show us that the walls are covered with pictures, and as we enter
the larger chamber or chambers to which the passage leads, the eye grows accustomed to the
partial light, and the design of the artist becomes clear. It is the progress of the soul through
the underworld that we are witnessing in these pictures which line the dimly-lighted walls.
" Immediately on entering the tomb the visitor finds himself transported into a new world.
The almost joyous pictures of Sakkarah and Beny Hasan have altogether disappeared. The
defunct is no more to be seen at home in the midst of his family ; no more making of
furniture, no more building of ships; no more extensive farmyards, with cattle, oxen, antelopes,
wild goats, geese, ducks, demoiselle cranes, marching in procession before the stewards. All
has become, so to speak, fantastic and chimerical. Even the gods themselves assume strange
forms. Long serpents glide hither and thither round the rooms or stand erect against the
doorways. Some convicted malefactors are being decapitated, and others are precipitated into
the flames. Well might a visitor feel a kind of horror creeping over him, if he did not realise
that, after all, underneath all these strange representations lies the most consoling of all dogmas,
that which vouchsafes eternal happiness to the soul after the many trials of this life. It has
been said- that before according to their kings the honour of burial the Egyptians passed
judgment upon them. This legend must of course be understood in an allegorical sense. The
judgment of the soul after being separated from the body, and the many trials which it will be
called upon to overcome by the aid only of such virtues as it has evinced while on earth,
constitute the subject-matter of the almost endless representations which cover the walls of the
tomb, from the entrance to the extreme end of the last chamber. The serpents standing erect
over each portal, darting out venom, are the guardians of the gates of heaven ; the soul cannot
pass unless justified by works of piety and benevolence. The long texts displayed over other
parts of the walls are magnificent hymns to which the soul gives utterance in honour of the
divinity whose glory and greatness it thus celebrates. When once the dead has been adjudged
worthy of life eternal these ordeals are at an end ; he becomes part of the divine essence, and
henceforward a pure spirit, he wanders over the vast regions where the stars for ever shine.
The soul has no sooner left the body than we are called upon, from room to room, to witness its
progress as it appears before the gods and becomes gradually purified, until at last, in the grand
hall at the end of the tomb, we are present at its final admission into that life ' which a second
death shall never reach/"*
* Mariette, ** Monuments of Upper Egypt," English translation, pages 236—238.