|31||PTOLEMAIS AND OTHER SITES.|
old line ; but even that would be a trifling work compared to the cultivation which would ensue. All along the line of this canal are Roman towns which shew what the populousness of this district must have been. I shall here give notes on this side of the country from Illahun northwards.
On the highest point of the hills N.E. of Illahun, about a couple of hundred feet over the Nile, the ground is composed of rolled blocks (up to three feet long) and washed stuff, which slopes down to the west. And similarly the top of the highest ridge, where the "Mastaba" is marked, on the culmination between the Fayum and the Nile, (some four hundred feet up, I suppose) is all composed of rough pebble beds. These shew that the whole Nile valley has been full of a mass of river gravels up to some hundreds of feet above the present bed; and that all the depth has been cut away by denudation.
59. On the north of tile railway the ground is scattered with Roman pottery up to the Kom, No. I (PL. XXX), which is a village of Roman age. About 1 mile N.E. of this is a massive foundation 8 feet thick of stone and cement, which has lately been mined into. About here are patches of sand deposit six feet thick, lying on the general ground of Nile alluvium. How this accumulated is not clear. The Nile mud doubtless accumulated down to Ptolemaic times, when the Fayum began to be dried up below Nile level. It is possible that shallow water lay here landlocked for two or three centuries during the drying; and that thus the blown sand of the desert accumulated here. When once sand falls into still waters it cannot escape either by wind or currents, but it raises the bottom level. A very striking evidence of the old high level of the Fayum lake is seen at the inside of the province, west of Gurob. There a great shingle bank has been formed by a current about 20 feet above the level of the canal there, which would be about the old high lake and Nile level. Between Kom 1 and Kom 2 the old edge of the lake is very distinct, about 30 feet above the present ground there. Kom 2 is all late Roman, a village of some extent. The Mastaba is a landmark of all this part of the country; and can be seen from Hawara, as a white heap on the hill top. It is formed of rough stone blocks laid with desert clay. It was built cumulatively, with successive finished faces, but not finely coated with casing on each. It is about 90 feet square and 25 feet high. A great gash has been cut into it in a murderous fashion on the North side ; in the same way that the pyramids of Dahshur Kula, and others have been barbarously mangled of late years. Nothing appears to have been found here, the middle being cleared down to three feet below the pavement level This is probably a building of the XIIth dynasty; but who lay beneath it we shall hardly find until it is properly explored. The wild hill on which this stands has been trenched in all directions by rainfall, and rises into sharp crests too narrow to stand on, along the top; sloping down to Medum on one hand, and falling in cliffs down into the Fayum on the other. At the west foot of it 19 a village, perhaps of Cufic date.
60. The Kom 3 is a large town of Roman age; to this belongs the cemetery just behind it in the hill, from whence the collection of portraits was brought which was taken to Vienna a few years ago. This is known as Rubaiyat from the name of the nearest village in the Fayum. The cemetery is about quarter of a mile across. Many chambers are cut in the rock, some with loculi. One square chamber has two ridge roof loculi at each side and the end. Fragments of blue glazed pottery of the IIIrd-IVth. cent. A.D. lie about. Another chamber is circular, with eight loculi around it. The road to Kafr Amar in the Nile valley runs through the cemetery. I met here with an enthusiastic agriculturist, Mr. Hugh Main, who is trying to utilise this land by a small canal which waters enough for a farm. He very kindly escorted me up to the cemetery, as some bad thieves were in the neighbourhood ; afterwards however I went about this desert for two days alone, without meeting anything worse than two needlessly inquisitive men, and a hyaena.
61. About Kom 4 is a chamber near the canal, of baked brick; and thence the ground is covered with pottery up to the Kom. This town is half a mile across, of Roman age. Much pottery of the IVth and Vth cent. A.D., much green glass, and columns of grey marble, and red granite, lie about here. The canal then bends round the foot of a slight rise, at Kom 5 ; the hills being about two miles back here. Just west of this Kom are the stumps of nine old palm trees which shew very plainly in the distance; and further west is a brick wall. About this bend of the canal are some long square blocks of stone upright in the ground. They hardly look ancient, and might be the remains of an allotment of the ground some time when a canal was projected here. But I do not know of any such modern project.
Kom el Akl, No. 6, is a large town, about half a
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