|29||PTOLEMAIS AND OTHER SITES.|
cases were used instead of wood; they were made with a framework of sticks skilfully covered with rushes to form the sides, and with a hinging lid. Also rush canopies, or baldacchinos, were set up over these coffins, gaudily painted in pink and white; but they were too frail to last.
The only substantial coffin in this cemetery was one made of hard wood, well finished ; with figures of Isis and Nebhat, at head and feet, cut in, and filled with green wax, the whole surface was varnished. Inside was a gilt face headpiece, pectoral, Ma, open-work frame, legpiece and sandals. Two other bodies had been thrust into this coffin.
I may note here that the Roman glass (PL. XXXIII) was found together in one tomb at Gurob, excepting Nos. 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, which are later. The main group I suppose to be about the time of Constantine. It is now in the glass department, British Museum. The blue glass vase (13) with white thread on it is probably about the VIIIth cent. A.D. judging by the clothing found with it.
The wood carvings at the foot of PL. XXXll are of about the VIIth cent, A.D. from the cemetery at Illahun. Now at South Kensington.
PTOLEMAIS AND OTHER SITES.54. It has long been a difficulty in the Geography of Ptolemy, that the city of Ptolemais was placed in the Arsinoite nome, some miles south of Arsinoe: and yet it was called a port. The most usual settlement has been by ignoring the connection with Arsinoe and the nome, and placing it on the Nile. It is indeed very possible that such was the original mistake of Ptolemy himself, from supposing that a port must be on the main river, and misunderstanding his materials. Some years ago I pointed out, in "Naukratis", how we must use Ptolemy by extracting from him the original groups of materials, as far as we can ; and that we must ignore the cross-references from one line of measurements to another, between which his errors accumulated. Here it is evident that he had a fact of two cities in the Arsinoite nome, the capital and the port of Ptolemais; and he treats in an entirely different part of the two other towns of the Fayum, Bakkhis and Dionysias, naming them along with Lake Moiris, and apparently on the line from Mareotis down to the oases. The position of Arsinoe is beyond question; and therefore the fact which Ptolemy gives is that Ptolemais was 10' south of Arsinoe, and in the Fayum.
This would lead us to look for it along the canal which skirts the south-east of the Fayum basin. I have walked along all that line; it is impossible for the canal to have followed any other course anciently: the hills rise on the one hand, and the Fayum basin falls on the other. To get water along to the ruined towns and villages about Gharak this present line of canal is the only possible course. It is even now a large canal, which might take boats: and it must have been much larger in Roman times, as a far greater quantity of land was then irrigated than is now under cultivation in this district. It is therefore certain that a navigable canal ran along here in Roman times, and so there is no difficulty in the port of Ptolemais having been on this line. I searched every mound of ruin, but found nothing of any importance, - mostly being Arab sites, - until reaching Talit, the present end of the wide canal, marked as "Ptolemais" on PL. XXX. This position is 12' from Arsinoe, instead of 10'; which is as near as Ptolemy's precision allows, since he only states the nearest 5'. And it is S.S.W. instead of S., which is tolerably close to the position. The port or end of the navigable canal cannot have been further on, as the ground falls away, and necessitates dividing the water into separate courses. Hence taking only Ptolemy's geography and the configuration of the country we should be led to this site.
55. But a totally separate means of identification exists in the inscription (PL. XXXII), recording a dedication to Nero by the Ptolemaians. This slab was found in the fort which protected the town from the desert. The exact translation of it is not quite settled ; and for this point the paper of Canon Hicks, at the close of this chapter, should be considered. This much is clear that the external argument as to the site, is clinched by the internal proof afforded by the inscription.
The ruins of Ptolemais adjoin the side of the canal (PL. XXXI) and cover a space about 1000 feet wide from north to south, and 1300 feet long. This area for a town would contain two to four thousand inhabitants, according to the population of modern Egyptian towns. But the inscription appears to mention 6470 taxpayers, which would imply a population of about thirty thousand. So the persons referred to must have belonged to a much larger area than this town. As the present population of the
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