|32||INSCRIPTION OF PTOLEMAIS.|
mile across with high mounds. The surface pottery is of the IlIrd and IVth cent. A.D. and it must have been founded some centuries before that to allow of such accumulation. As it is by the road into the Fayum this might well be an older town of the time before the lake was dried up. I noticed a mass of deep foundation of stone. The tombs east of it are visible for some distance; they are cut in a low cliff facing south; about six or eight chambers; no ornaments or inscriptions.
62. Kom Wezim, No. 7, has been a great town, the most important of all the district. It is about half a mile across, and the top of the mound is about a hundred feet above the plain below, some of which height is artificial accumulation of ruins, about fifteen feet in parts. The most remarkable matter is the number of great weights lying about in the ruins. They are of the round dome-top type of late Egyptian weights. One is 19.8 inches across base, 22.3 across top, sides average 11.9 high, and dome 4.8 high. This will be therefore 5146 cubic inches. The stone is a local shelly limestone; and assuming its specific gravity at 2.3, it would weigh about 2,990,000 grains It has a mark W on the side, which may be M inverted.
A piece of another such weight, now broken up, lies near this. A third weight has the top broken off; 12 across base, and still 9¼ high. If in similar proportion to the other it would weigh .223 of the larger; so it might be either a quarter or a fifth of it. A fourth great weight is about 19 across base, and 22 across top, 12.2 high on side, and dome 4.0 high, or evidently the same as the first one. The standard of this weight can hardly be settled from one example. If the mark is M it would mean 40 if Greek, or 1000 if Roman: 40 leads to no known standard; but divided by 1000 it yields 2990 grains or the unit of the Nusa, or double uten, which was common at Memphis. (See "Season in Egypt" and "Hawara"). Besides these weights I noted tile bases of stone columns, 30 inches across; and a curious slab of stone with a rudely-cut figure of a man in relief on it, arms crossed on breast, but legs not developed. It is quite un-Egyptian, and probably Roman.
Behind Kom Wezim, on the hill to the north, are many tomb chambers and graves, several of which had just been looted before I went there. The meaning of such an important town at this side of the lake seems intelligible on seeing that the present road from the Natron Lakes runs close to this. Before the lake was lowered this would be the port of the road to Nitria, from which boats would sail across the lake and out through the canal into the Nile. Whatever traffic in grain or heavy goods went either way the large weights would be needed for it. In short, Kom Wezim was the port of Nitria in the pre-Roman times.
ln the hills, to the N.E. of this, the ground is most curiously weathered into domes, several feet diameter, which stand crowded together all over the surface ; at a little distance they appear almost like the dome roofs of a village. The white spot marked is a distinguishing point on the range of low hills in the desert. All this side of the country is utter desert; the eye wanders over miles of undulating sand and rock, gradually rising in steps higher and higher to the north.
The restoration of this district of the Fayum to its former fertility would be a very easy and inexpensive matter ; a few miles of new canal, and a clearing of the old bed, is all that is required in order to provide for many thousands of people.
APPENDIX TO CHAPTER VIII.
INSCRIPTION OF PTOLEMAIS.By the Rev. Canon HICKS.
63. (See the facsimile of the original stone, and the restored transcription on PL. XXXII.) This inscription is a dedication in honour of the Emperor Nero, dated A.D. 60, from the town of Ptolemais in Middle Egypt. The dedication is made by the town at large 'in the person of' or 'by the hands of (dia) the 6470,' and ' by the whole body of men who came to the age of 18 in the 2nd year of the Emperor Claudius' (A.D. 42).
The phrasing of the dedication is very brief, and the meaning of the allusions obscure. Who were 'the 6470'? Why are the ephebeukotes of A.D. 42 so prominently mentioned? And why is that year brought so closely into connection with the seventh year of Nero's reign?
To these questions we may hazard a conjectural answer. In the first place Egypt was one of the chief granaries of Rome. One third of the annual corn-supply came to Rome in Alexandrian vessels, Mr. Petrie also discovered, from the large number of corn-mills and other indications, that Ptolemais, standing as it did at the end of the Canal, must have been an important lading-place for the corn-produce of Middle Egypt. But moreover, Egypt had to bear under the Romans, as indeed she has always done
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