A Celebration of Women Writers

"Chapter 8: Queen Hatasu, and Her Expedition to the Land of Punt." by Amelia Ann Blanford Edwards (1831-1892)
Publication: Pharaohs Fellahs and Explorers. by Amelia Edwards. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1891. (First edition.) pp. 261-300.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

[Page 261]



QUEEN HATASU has been happily described as the Queen Elizabeth of Egyptian history; and she was undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary women in the annals of the ancient East. A daughter of Thothmes I., third Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty, and of his wife, Queen Ahmes Nefertari, she inherited sovereign rights in virtue of her maternal descent from the old Twelfth Dynasty line. (66)

It has pleased historians to rank Thothmes II. as the immediate successor of Thothmes I., and to place the reign of Queen Hatasu between the reigns of her two brothers, Thothmes II. and Thothmes III. By some she is described as Queen Consort during the reign of Thothmes II., and as Queen-regent during the earlier years of the reign of Thothmes III. By others, and most emphatically by Dr. Brugsch, she is stigmatized as a usurper. As a matter of fact, however, Hatasu was actually Queen, and Queen-regnant, during the lifetime of her father. Her accession, therefore, dates from a time long preceding that of her brother, Thothmes II. An important historical inscription sculptured on one of the pylons of the Great Temple of Karnak records this event in eighteen columns of hieroglyphic text, which were copied and translated by the late Vicomte E. de Rougé in 1872. [Page 262]  The inscription is preceded by a bas-relief sculpture representing Thothmes I. in adoration before the Theban triad, Amen, Maut, and Khonsu. The bas-relief and the upper part of the inscription are still in fair preservation, but the lower part of the text is unfortunately much mutilated. When perfect this inscription would seem to have contained a detailed history of the King's life and reign up to the time at which it was executed. It records his birth, and relates that he put down various rebellions which had broken out in Lower Egypt and in the foreign provinces. Suddenly, in the eleventh column of the text, the narrative form is dropped, and Thothmes I. addresses the god Amen face to face.

"Behold," he says, "I make offerings unto thee; I prostrate myself before thee; I bestow the Black Land and the Red Land (67) upon my daughter, the Queen of Lower and Upper Egypt, Makara, living eternally. As thou hast done for me."

Further on, in the seventeenth and eighteenth columns, Thothmes reverts to the throne-name of Hatasu, saying that it is given to her by the decree of Amen himself, to which he adds: "Thou hast transmitted the world into her power; thou hast chosen her as King."

In these passages there is more than meets the eye at first sight. A "throne-name," sometimes called a "solar-name," inasmuch as it affirms the direct descent of the reigning monarch from Ra, the greatest of the solar deities, was never assumed by a mere regent, but marked the actual accession of a sovereign. It was equivalent to the act of coronation, and probably was in general accompanied by some such ceremony. De Rougé, in translating this very significant text, remarks that Thothmes I., actuated, no doubt, by some reason of State policy, had "during his lifetime presented his daughter as Queen to the god Amen, and had given her a solar cartouche or throne-name;" that is to say, he had invested her with all the insignia of actual royalty, not making her a mere regent or coadjutor. Hence it would seem that De Rougé recognized in this act of Thothmes I. a [Page 263]  solemn transfer of the regal power; (68) and this transfer was evidently made before the altar of the god in the Great Temple of Amen. It is not, perhaps, difficult to guess what those "reasons of State policy" may have been by which Thothmes I. was actuated in taking this strange and important step. It may well have been that Queen Ahmes Nefertari, his wife, was dead, and that his own position was therefore less stable, hers being the direct legitimate right in the female line. By placing his and her daughter upon the throne, he thus re-established the continuity of that line and strengthened his own hands, which probably none the less continued to hold the reins of government.

The title assumed by Hatasu on the occasion of her proclamation affords a good example of the principle upon which these throne or solar names were framed. It is composed of three hieroglyphic signs–MA, represented by the sitting figure of the Goddess of Truth, Law, and Justice; KA, represented by the hieroglyph of the uplifted arms, and signifying Life;* and the sun-disk, representing RA, the supreme solar god of the universe. This combination of hieroglyphs, though apparently so simple, is capable of several interpretations. By some it would be translated as "Ma, the Image of Ra;" by others as "Ma, the Soul of Ra;" by others, again, as "Ma, the Double of Ra;" but the interpretation which most commends itself to me is "Ra, the Life of Ma," with the meaning that Truth, Law, and Justice are the vital manifestations of Ra. The main point as regards the solar cartouches is, however, as I have already said, the direct affiliation of the sovereign to the visible source of Light and Life. And this, be it observed, was in no mere symbolic sense. The Pharaohs claimed to be literally and lineally descended from Ra; and, which is yet more strange, their subjects appear to have believed in this amazing dogma.

Whether the marriage of Hatasu took place before or after her proclamation in the Temple of Amen we do not [Page 264]  know; but she was, at all events, wedded while yet quite young to her eldest brother, Prince Thothmes, afterwards Thothmes II. A recent discovery has for the first time revealed the exact relationship which subsisted between this prince and Hatasu. A funerary chapel dedicated to the memory of Prince Uatmes, a deceased son of Thothmes I., as well as to some other members of that king's family, was discovered in 1887 by M. Grébaut, a little to the northward of the Ramesseum at Thebes. (69) Many interesting historical stelæ and other monuments were found in the course of the excavation of this chapel, the most important being a life-sized sitting statue of a certain Queen Mautnefer, hitherto unknown to history. This Mautnefer proves, according to the inscription on her statue, to have been a wife of Thothmes I., and mother of Thothmes II., by whom her effigy was erected in the chapel of Uatmes. It would thus appear that Thothmes I. had two legitimate wives–namely, Ahmes Nefertari, the royally descended mother of Hatasu, and Mautnefer, a lady evidently of inferior lineage, the mother of the elder Prince Thothmes. As for the younger Thothmes, afterwards Thothmes III., he was of quite humble descent maternally, being a son of Thothmes I. by a Lady As-t, whose name was discovered ten years ago upon the inscribed winding-sheet of Thothmes III., now preserved in the Museum of Ghizeh. (70) This lady is therein entitled Suten Maut (Royal Mother), but not also Suten Hem-t (Royal Wife), as would have been the case with an actual queen; thus indicating. that she was merely a lady of the royal hareem. The elucidation of this piece of family genealogy is very valuable, inasmuch as it shows Hatasu to have been but half-sister to her two brothers, while it at the same time emphasizes the inferior rank of the elder prince, and the vastly inferior rank of the younger. Hatasu, in short, was not only "Heiress-Princess" in right of her maternal descent, but she was also the only surviving offspring of Queen Ahmes Nefertari; and this, in any case, would have furnished an important reason for her marriage with Thothmes [Page 265] 

In the Berlin Museum.

[Page 266]  [Page 267]  II., whose succession must otherwise have lacked the prestige of old historic descent.

Hatasu appears to have been the mother of only two children, both daughters–Hatasu-Meri and Neferu-Ra. The latter died in infancy, whereas Hatasu-Meri inherited the legitimate rights of her royal mother and became "Heiress-Princess," thus excluding the younger Thothmes from the order of succession. Hereupon, having regard to the interests of the empire and to the further consolidation of family ties, Hatasu wedded her little daughter to the younger of her two half-brothers. This marriage took place during the lifetime of Thothmes II., and it would even seem as though the juvenile couple were nominally associated with their elders upon the throne of Egypt, since it is not possible otherwise to account for the fact that the cartouches of Thothmes II. and Thothmes III. are found in conjunction upon certain monuments of this period. We thus see how carefully Hatasu protected the interests of that younger brother whose throne she is supposed to have usurped.

After a reign of about a dozen years, Thothmes II. died, and was buried with his fathers. Then, for fifteen years, Hatasu seems to have resumed her full hereditary rights, and to have reigned alone. From this time forth, she assumed the style and title of a Pharaoh; and it is literally as a Pharaoh that we find her represented on monuments of this period. In contemporary wall-paintings and bas-relief sculptures, we see Queen Hatasu in male attire, wearing the short kilt and sandals, and crowned with the Kepersh, or war-helmet, habitually worn by the Pharaohs on the field of battle. Sometimes we see her adorned with a false beard; but this is perhaps a touch of delicate flattery on the part of the artist.

Meanwhile, the Queen's younger brother, who had been brought up in the Great Temple of Amen and dedicated to the service of the Chief God of Thebes, took, apparently, no share in the government of the country. It is not, in fact, till the sixteenth year after the death of Thothmes II. that we find the name of Thothmes III. occurring in conjunction [Page 268]  with that of Hatasu upon a rock-cut tablet in Sinai. Four years later still, in the twentieth year of his nominal reign, when it is probable that the great Queen either died or abdicated–we know not which–Thothmes III. began that extraordinary military career which carried the fame of his arms into the farthest corners of the known world of his time. How long Hatasu continued to hold the reins of government it is impossible to say, as we have no record of the exact length of her reign.

Throughout the years of Hatasu's sole reign the land of Egypt appears to have enjoyed an interval of profound peace, during which she taxed the resources of her empire by repairing those shrines and temples which had gone to ruin during the period of Hyksôs rule; by embellishing and enriching Karnak; and by erecting a sumptuous temple in Western Thebes. In those works she proved herself to be one of the most magnificent builder-sovereigns of Egypt. Of the victories of Thothmes III., there remain only the long lists of conquered nations and captive cities which he caused to be sculptured on the pylons of Karnak; but the Temple of Dayr-el-Bahari and the two great obelisks of Karnak, much as they have suffered at the hands of Time the Destroyer, are to this day permanent records of the tranquil reign of Hatasu.

Numerous and stately as were the obelisks erected in Egypt from the period of the Twelfth Dynasty down to the time of Roman rule, those set up by Hatasu in advance of the fourth pylon of the Great Temple of Karnak are the loftiest, the most admirably engraved and the best proportioned. One has fallen; the other stands alone, one hundred and nine feet high in the shaft, cut from a single flawless block of red granite. An inscription engraved on the plinth of the one yet erect states that:

" Amen Khnum Hatasu, the Golden Horus, Lord of the two Lands, hath dedicated to her father Amen of Thebes, two obelisks of Mahet stone [red granite], hewn from the quarries of the South. Their summits [pyramidions] were [Page 269]  sheathed with pure gold, taken from the chiefs of all nations.

" His Majesty gave these two gilded obelisks to her father Amen, that her name should live forever in this temple.

" Each is one single shaft of red Mahet stone, without joint or rivet. They are seen from both banks of the Nile, and when Ra arises betwixt them as he journeys upward from the heavenly horizon, they flood the two Egypts with the glory of their brightness.

" His Majesty began this work in the fifteenth year of her reign, the first day of the month of Mechir, and finished it on the last day of the month of Mesore, in her sixteenth year." (71)

The shaft of this obelisk bears on its western and southern sides long dedicatory inscriptions in the name of Hatasu only; whereas on the eastern side we find, to the right and left of the central column of hieroglyphs, two outer columns in which Hatasu and Thothmes III. are represented together in adoration before various manifestations of Amen-Ra. The fact that the name of Thothmes III. here appears with that of his sister in the sixteenth year of her reign acquires an especial interest when it is remembered that this is the same date at which we meet with it on the before-mentioned tablet of Sinai. It seems, therefore, to mark the precise time at which he was finally recognized.

With regard to the dates recorded in the inscription on the plinth, they show that these magnificent monoliths were extracted from the quarries of Syene, thence conveyed to Thebes (a journey of one hundred and thirty-three miles), engraved, and placed in position within the amazingly short period of seven months–Mechir being the sixth month of the Egyptian year, and Mesore the twelfth; which is just as though we were to say that some great public work was begun on the first of June, and finished on the thirty-first of December. It is, however, only when we consider the enormous size and weight of these obelisks that the magnitude of that task can be fully appreciated, each of them [Page 270]  measuring one hundred and nine feet in the shaft, without counting the plinth. The one yet standing is, in fact, the highest in the world; the great obelisk brought from Egypt to Rome in the reign of the Emperor Constantine, and now standing in front of the Church of Saint John Lateran, measuring only one hundred and six feet.

One startling peculiarity in the inscriptions of Hatasu, not only upon her obelisks at Karnak, but upon the walls of her temple at Dayr-el-Bahari, consists in the employment of masculine titles with feminine pronouns. As hereditary sovereign of Egypt, she was Pharaoh and King, head alike of the sacerdotal and military castes. Hence, in one and the same sentence, she appears as Hon-f (His Majesty) while the suffixes used in the grammatical construction are feminine.

The broken obelisk differs from its fellow in no longer bearing the name of Hatasu; Thothmes III. having, during his own sole reign, erased her cartouches and substituted his own. Yet, despite his usurpation, these sculptured fragments are still the property of Hatasu. In the bas-relief groups wherein she is represented as performing acts of worship before Amen, her spirited and characteristic profile is preserved. The name may be the name of Thothmes, but the face is the face of Hatasu. If we turn back to the full-face portrait of this queen, given in Lecture IV., and compare it, feature by feature, with this profile, their identity is at once recognizable. Even the little dimple in the chin, which is so strongly marked in the front face, is carefully indicated by a depression in the chin of the outline profile.

The most magnificent historic monument of the reign of this great queen was, however, the temple which she constructed on the western bank of the Nile, nearly opposite the Great Temple of Karnak. This superb structure is architecturally unlike any other temple in Egypt. It stands at the far end of a deep bay, or natural amphitheatre, formed by the steep limestone cliffs which divide the Valley of the Tombs of the Kings from the Valley of the Nile. Ap- [Page 271]  proached by a pair of obelisks, a pylon gate-way, and a long avenue of two hundred sphinxes, the temple consisted of a succession of terraces and flights of steps, rising one above the other, and ending in a maze of colonnades and courtyards uplifted high against the mountain-side. The Sanctuary, or Holy of Holies, to which all the rest was but as an avenue, is excavated in the face of the cliff, some five hundred feet above the level of the Nile. The novelty of the plan is so great that one cannot help wondering whether it was suggested to the architect by the nature of the ground, or whether it was in any degree a reminiscence of strange edifices seen in far distant lands. It bears, at all events, a certain resemblance to the terraced temples of Chaldæa.

From the pyramidion of her fallen obelisk at Karnak. She wears the Kepersh, or war-helmet worn by the Pharaohs in battle, with the golden "uræus," or so-called "basilisk" on the brow.

As the statue of Bak-en-Khonsu in the Glyptotheca of Munich preserves for us the name of the architect of the Ramesseum, so the obelisks of Hatasu at Karnak immortalize the name of Sen-Maut, the architect of her temple at Dayr-el-Bahari. His tomb has not been discovered, and his personal history is unknown; but enough remains of his work in this unique temple to show that he was not only possessed of consummate taste and ability, but that he also originated a new departure in his art, which, had it been followed, might have revolutionized the architecture of ancient Egypt.

Few of the great buildings erected by the Pharaohs of the later Theban line have suffered more deplorably at the hand of the destroyer than this temple, which is now only known by its Arabic name of "Dayr-el-Bahari." Dayr-el- [Page 272]  Bahari signifies the Convent of the North, and the ruins of the old Coptic monastery which give it this name still encumber part of the site. (72) Of its two hundred sphinxes, though nearly the whole of them were prostrate on the ground when the French Commission visited Egypt in 1798, not one is now left. (73) The long and stately flights of steps are represented by a steep hill strewn with rubble and fragments of limestone. Of the pillared colonnades, only a few columns are yet standing in the shelter of the cliff-side; and the ruin of the whole is so complete that the casual visitor can with difficulty recognize the plan on which it was built. By means, however, of close and patient study on the spot, M. Brune, a distinguished French architect, has succeeded in making a restored elevation of this beautiful temple, as it appeared in the days of its splendor. (74)

(Restoration from a design by M. Brune.)

The dromos of approach, the long avenue of sphinxes, the obelisks, and the pylons, are necessarily omitted from M. [Page 273]  Brune's design. But we here see two great flights of steps leading from terrace to terrace, each step guarded by two couchant sphinxes; the two colossal statues of Hatasu seated on either side of the steps which rise from the second terrace; and the pillared portico in the centre of the third terrace, marking the entrance to the rock-cut sanctuary beyond. The columns which supported that third terrace were surmounted by Hathor-headed capitals, and of these columns only a few shattered shafts and two or three fallen capitals now strew the ground. The color on those capitals is still brilliant. (75) The long wall facing the spectator at the upper end of the temple where it adjoins the mountain-side, and another wall bounding the second terrace on the left of the picture, are covered with bas-relief sculptures, which in the

From one of the fallen columns at Dayr-el-Bahari. (From a photograph by Mr. W. M. Flinders Petrie.)

[Page 274]  illustration are of necessity but slightly indicated. These bas-relief tableaux, or rather what remains of them, are most delicately sculptured and vividly colored; but full two-thirds of the upper part of the walls are gone.

The traveller who now visits the wreck of this temple can with difficulty identify its wide-spread ruins with M. Brune's elegant restoration. That part, however, which is best preserved does not appear at all in our illustration–namely, the rock-cut chamber, commonly called "The Chamber of the Cow," which is entered from the third terrace. Hewn out of the solid cliff-side and lined with blocks of the finest limestone, this little speos contains two bas-relief subjects representing Queen Hatasu, in the costume of a royal prince, kneeling beside the Goddess Hathor, who is represented as a large red cow. The Queen, with a naïveté peculiar to Egyptian art, is shown as in the act of sucking the milk of the Divine Cow, thus signifying that she was the very foster-child of the goddess. One leg and hoof and part of the body of the cow are seen in our next illustration. The figure of the Queen is excellently proportioned, and her face, although it differs from her other portraits in being more conventionally rendered, is historically valuable. On her brow she wears the Uræus of royalty, and on her head the wig of close-laid rows of curls usually worn by youthful princes. Her cartouche is sculptured in the space between her right arm and left knee, but the hieroglyphic characters have been erased, and it is no longer legible.

By some authorities, the Temple of Dayr-el-Bahari is supposed to have been begun during the lifetime of Thothmes II., and by others it is believed to be the work of Hatasu, during her sole reign. The cartouches of Thothmes II. appear, it is true, in some of the inscriptions. Whether Thothmes II. had, or had not, any share in the founding of the temple, it is at all events certain that the bulk of the building, and its decoration, was due to Hatasu. The cartouches of Thothmes III. also appear in many of the inscriptions, and notably on that of the red granite gate-way [Page 275]  leading to the rock-cut chambers on the uppermost terrace. But these are usurpations, and date from some period subsequent to the reign of Hatasu; her successor, Thothmes III., having caused the names of his sister to be obliterated and his own to be engraved in their place. The building is dedicated in part to Amen, the Great God of Thebes, and in part to Hathor, the Lady of the West, the nurse of Horus, and the presiding deity of the far-distant Land of Punt. It was under this last aspect that Hathor was especially reverenced in the Temple of Dayr-el-Bahari.

Bas-relief sculpture representing Hatasu in the costume of a youthful Prince, sucking milk from the Divine Cow (emblematic of Hathor), from the south wall of the rock-cut sanctuary of her temple at Dayr-el-Bahari. (From a photograph by Mr. W. M. Flinders Petrie.)

It is in the sculptured and painted tableaux upon the walls of the two uppermost terraces of Hatasu's temple that we find depicted every incident of the most remarkable event [Page 276]  of her reign. That event was the building of a fleet of seagoing ships, and the despatch of an exploring squadron to the Land of Punt; a region identified by Maspero and Mariette with that part of the Somali country which is situate on the eastern coast of Africa, bordering the Gulf of Aden. This region, rich in incense-bearing trees, in costly gums and resins, in myrrh and amber, gold, lapis-lazuli, ivory, and precious woods, is the Cinnamomifera regio, sometimes called the aromatifera regio of the ancients. (76)

At this time, the province of Yemen, on the south-west coast of Arabia, was the great general meeting-place of Indian and Asiatic commerce. Thence the Phoenicians, the Arabs, and the Arameans carried the merchandise of the great trading nations of the East by sea and land to Mesopotamia, to Syria, to Egypt, and to the coasts of Asia Minor. Here, too, the mysterious products of the Land of Punt found their market; and, being transported from the east coast of Africa to the west coast of Arabia, were brought back to Africa by a circuitous route to the great Egyptian port of Touaou (the modern Kosseir), whence the merchants of Coptos conveyed them to Thebes.

Inspired, as one of the temple inscriptions states, by the direct command of Amen himself, Hatasu resolved no longer to be dependent upon the uncertain trade of Arabia for the valuable products from which the incense used in the service of the temples was made. She therefore resolved herself to despatch an expedition to the Somali coast; and for this purpose she built and fitted out five ships, the largest and the best equipped yet built on the banks of the Nile.

These ships were built with a narrow keel, the stern and prow rising high above the water. Their length was about seventy feet, and they were evidently without any sort of cabin accommodation. A raised platform with a balustrade, erected at both prow and poop, served for a lookout fore and aft; and under these platforms there was probably some kind of shelter for the officers. These vessels had no decks, the hull being fitted up with seats for the rowers. The ends of [Page 277]  the planks which formed the seats were fixed through the ribs of the ship, as may be seen in our illustration. There was probably some kind of hold for the storage of provisions, ballast, etc., under the feet of the rowers; but this, of course, would be below the water-line. There is but one mast, hewn from a massive palm-trunk, and measuring about twenty-seven feet in height. This is fixed in the middle of the ship, and lashed strongly to the deck. Each vessel mounts but a single sail, and has two spars, the top one straight and the lower one curved. The helm is made of two very large oars, firmly bound to a kind of bracket in front of the rear platform, and worked by a long curved stick. The crew consists of thirty rowers, fifteen on each side, four reefers, two steersmen, a pilot, an overseer of the rowers, and a captain. A small detachment of military, numbering about eight or ten soldiers and an officer, accompanied the expedition. These served as a guard of honor to the envoy sent by Queen Hatasu to the Prince of Punt. Soldiers and sailors all counted, the expedition consisted of about two hundred and ten men to the five ships.

(From Mariette's Deir-el-Bahari, plate 12.)

Our illustration shows the departure of the leader of the [Page 278]  squadron. Each rower is in his place. Their overseer, standing with his back to the platform at the prow, directs the rise and fall of their oars, probably, as at the present day, by leading a chant in which all join. The steersman is stationed at the stern, and holds in his hand the long curved handle by which the helm is worked. The captain, baton in hand, stands on the platform at the prow, looking forward in the direction that the ship is going. A brief hieroglyphic inscription above the carved lotus which decorates the stern states that they "make head for the large"–in other words, for the "open." The great sail is spread, and is evidently filled by a favorable wind, and all promises well for the success of the voyage.

Every part of the vessel shown in our illustration is elaborately rendered, down to the minutest detail. We see how the spars are spliced, and where the reef-bands are tied; and we also see the great cable passing over the heads of the rowers, to which, doubtless, the anchor was attached. Some allowance must, perforce, be made for the conventionalities of Egyptian art. The sail, which here appears as though parallel with the length of the vessel, should, of course, be set at an angle to it; but the naval draughtsman of Hatasu's time was as anxious to display every part of his subject as was his compatriot the figure-painter, who represented a front-wise body in conjunction with profile legs and head. The water through which our gallant vessel is ploughing its way is, as usual, represented by zigzag lines. Those in the original are painted of a light blue, and represent the Nile; blue being the color symbolical of fresh-water. The fishes, too, are the fishes of the Nile. The admirable accuracy with which these fish are drawn compensates for the incongruity of their proportions as compared with those of the crew of the vessel. There is not one of them who could not swallow a couple of sailors whole without the smallest inconvenience.

The original wall-sculpture from which our illustration is taken shows the whole squadron in full sail, and is accom- [Page 279]  panied by a few columns of explanatory text, which read as follows:

" Departure of the soldiers of the Lord of the Two Worlds traversing the Great Sea on the Good Way to the Land of the Gods, in obedience to the will of the King of the Gods, Amen of Thebes. He commanded that there should be brought to him the marvellous products of the Land of Punt, for that he loves the Queen Hatasu above all other kings that have ruled this land."

Before we go farther on our way towards the Land of Punt, it will be well to consider by what route the squadron reached its destination. This is a very interesting question. Many of the upper courses of these sculptured and painted walls are so hopelessly mutilated as to break the continuity of the narrative. Thus, although it is distinctly stated that the ships returned to Thebes and there disembarked their cargo at the close of the expedition, the inscription which should inform us as to the point of their departure is lost. Seeing, however, that they returned to Thebes, it may be taken for granted that they sailed from the same port, and this supposition is confirmed by the blue color of the water and the presence therein of the fishes of the Nile. But what course did they take when they had turned their backs upon "hundred-gated Thebes ?"

That the squadron should have descended the Nile, sailed westward through the Strait of Gibraltar, skirted the west coast of Africa, doubled the Cape of Good Hope, and reached the Somali shores by way of the Mozambique Channel and the coast of Zanzibar is absolutely incredible.

Such an achievement at so early a stage of naval history, [Page 280]  would be far more wonderful than the building of all the pyramids or temples of Egypt. It would, in fact, imply that Queen Hatasu's squadron twice made the almost complete circuit of the African continent. We are compelled to reject this hypothesis. Rejecting it, we must fall back upon the only alternative possibility, which is that they went out by some ancient water-way connecting the Nile with the Red Sea.

Now, the surveys recently made by Lieutenant-colonel Ardagh, Major Spaight, and Lieutenant Burton, of the Royal Engineers, have rendered it certain that the Wady Tûmilât was at some very distant time traversed by a branch of the Nile which discharged its waters into the Red Sea–the majority of geographers being now of opinion that the head of the Gulf of Suez formerly extended as far northward as the modern town of Ismaïlia. Whether that branch of the Nile was ever navigable, we know not; but we do know that it was already canalized in the reign of Seti I, second Pharaoh of the Nineteenth Dynasty, and father of Rameses II.

This ancient canal started, like the present Sweetwater Canal, from the neighborhood of Bubastis, the modern Zagazig; threaded the Wady Tûmilât; and emptied itself into that basin which is now known as Lake Timsah. When M. de Lesseps laid down the line of the Sweetwater Canal, he, in fact, followed the course of the old canal of the Pharaohs, the bed of which is yet traceable. When I last saw it, several blocks of the masonry of the old embankment were yet in situ, among the reeds and weeds by which that ancient water-way is now choked.

This canal is represented in one of the most celebrated wall-sculptures of the Great Temple of Karnak, (77) and it is there called Ta-Tena, or "the cutting;" and because King Seti is shown to be returning to Egypt from one of his Syrian campaigns by way of a bridge over this same canal, it has been universally taken for granted that he was the author of that important engineering work. There is, however, no kind of evidence to justify the assumption. As reasonably [Page 281]  might it be supposed that Napoleon the First was the builder of the Pyramids, because in Gérome's great picture he is represented as seated on horseback, and contemplating them from a distance. The canal may have existed, and in all probability did exist, long before the time of Seti I. It would seem, indeed, as if the great woman-Pharaoh who first conceived the daring project of launching her ships upon an unknown sea, was by far the most likely person to canalize that channel by which alone, so far as we can see, it would have been possible for them to go forth. For my own part, I have not the slightest doubt that Queen Hatasu was the scientific ancestress of M. de Lesseps; and that it was to the genius and energy of this extraordinary woman that Egypt owed that great work of canalization which first united the Nile with the Red Sea.

In the sculptured tableau from which our illustration of the ship is taken, four other vessels are shown: the first, as we have seen, leads the way with a swelling sail; the last is not yet fully laden, but lies at anchor, waiting for a small boat into which some sailors are conveying large jars.

In the next tableau, the expedition has reached its destination. The voyage being omitted, the ships are once more seen at anchor, and the ancient draughtsman, in one of the very few known examples of Egyptian landscape art, has carefully depicted for us the characteristic scenery of the unknown country to which the squadron has made its way. The ground is flat and thickly wooded, the conical huts of the inhabitants being built on piles and approached by ladders. A cow reposes peacefully in the shade of a tree to the right, and a bird, known by its characteristic tail-feathers as the Cinnyris metallica, wings its flight towards the left. Of the five trees here represented, two are conventional renderings of the date-palm. The trunks and branches of the other three are most carefully drawn. An enclosing line carried round each indicates the outline of the foliage, the details of which are left to the imagination. It has been supposed that this landscape represented some spot on the [Page 282]  shores of the Red Sea; but M. Maspero has pointed out various reasons to show that we are here on the banks of a river. The three last-named trees, for instance, precisely reproduce the structure of the odoriferous sycamore, which does not grow by the sea-side, but on the borders of rivers; and he concludes that the Egyptian squadron, after sailing down the Red Sea and rounding the headland called Ras-el-Fil, had made its way up the mouth of the Elephant River. The water in the original is painted green, which may be taken to indicate a tidal river; green being the Egyptian color for sea-water, and blue for fresh-water. The fishes, it is to be observed, are not the fishes of Egypt, while among them is seen a fine turtle, a cetacean unknown to the waters of the Nile. (78)

(From Mariette's Deir-el-Bahari, plate 5.) The huts of the natives are built on piles and approached by ladders, and, according to Dümichen, closely resemble the Toquls of the modern Soudanese. The trees are two date-palms in fruit, and three myrrh-trees (odoriferous sycamore), the foliage of the latter being indicated by a line bounding the tops of the branches. The bird flying to left is identified with the Cinnyris metallica, a native of the Somali country, having two long tail-feathers, of which only one has been given by the ancient Egyptian artist.

The royal envoy having landed, accompanied by his military escort, arranges on a table, or stand, the gifts which he has brought for presentation to the Prince of Punt. These gifts consist of bead necklaces, bracelets, collars, a hatchet, and a dagger of state. We may suppose the beads to be of that beautiful variegated glass, in the manufacture of which the [Page 283]  Egyptians of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Dynasties particularly excelled. The collars and bracelets are painted yellow, to represent gold, the former being torque-shaped and closely resembling the "toqs" worn by the Egyptian women of the present day. The envoy is in civil dress, and leans upon his staff of command. The soldiers are armed with spear and hatchet, and carry a large shield rounded at the top–the ordinary equipment of infantry of the line. Their captain carries no shield, but is armed with a bow, in addition to the spear and hatchet of his followers. The inscription states that these are "all the good things of His Majesty, to whom be Life, Health, and Strength, destined for Hathor, Lady of Punt." This is a circuitous manner of stating that the said good things are intended, not for the goddess, but as a means of exchange for the coveted products of Punt.

(From Mariette's Deir-el-Bahari, plate 5.)

We next see the approach of the native chief, accompanied by his family and followers. They advance with uplifted hands, this being the accepted attitude of deprecation and homage. The chief wears a collar of large beads, a small dagger in his belt, and a shenti, or loin-cloth, of the same fashion as that worn by the Egyptians. Unlike them, however, he wears a beard; and this beard is curved slightly upward, like those with which the Egyptians represented their gods and deceased Pharaohs. The inscription engraved in front of his body states that he is "The Great of Punt, Parihu;" a [Page 284]  name apparently derived from an Arabic root. He is followed by his wife, his two sons, and his daughter, to each of whom is attached a short inscription. The two youths are simply described as "his sons," and the young girl as "his daughter." His spouse, a very singular and unbeautiful person, is described as "his wife, Ati." She wears a yellow dress, bracelets on her wrists, anklets on her ankles, and a necklace of alternate bead and chain work round her throat. Her hair, like that of her daughter, is bound with a fillet on the brow. Her features are repulsive, and her cheek is disfigured by two lines of tattooing on either side of the mouth. She is hideously obese, her limbs and body being weighed down by rolls of fat. Her daughter, though evidently quite young, already shows a tendency towards the same kind of deformity.

accompanied by his wife, family, and followers. (From Mariette's Deir-el-Bahari, plate 5.)

This strange portrait of the Princess Ati has been the subject of much discussion, it being a doubtful point whether [Page 285]  she is to be considered as a diseased monstrosity, or as a paragon of beauty. It is the opinion of some authorities that she must have been the living realization of the highest type of female loveliness, according to the taste of the natives of certain parts of Central Africa. Chabas compares her with Speke's description of the favorite wife of the brother of the King of Karagoué, whose fat hung in large puddings about her arms, and whose weight was too great to allow of her standing upright. Beauty of this class was formerly supposed to belong exclusively to the fair ladies of the Hottentot race; but Schweinfurth, in his "Heart of Africa," describes the Bongo women in words that would almost seem to have been suggested by the subject of our illustration. Maspero suggests that the Princess Ati may be suffering from elephantiasis;  but Mariette is of opinion that the Egyptian artist has here represented not merely the wife of the chief, but the most admired type of the women of the Somali race. The complexions of the whole family are painted of a brick red, and their hair black, thus showing that they are not of negro race. The superimposed hieroglyphic inscription, which extends to some length beyond that of our illustration, states that "Hither come the Great [ones] of Punt, their backs bent, their heads bowed, to receive the soldiers of His Majesty." Then follow the words which are supposed to come out of their mouths: "How have you arrived at this land unknown to the men of Egypt? (79) Have you come down from the roads of the Heavens? Or have you navigated the sea of Ta-nuter? * You must have followed the path of the sun. As for the King of Egypt, there is no road which is inaccessible to His Majesty; we live by the breath he grants to us."

An ass, saddled with a thick cushion, and three attendants carrying short staves, bring up the rear of the procession. Over the ears of this beast of heavy burden is engraved in hieroglyphic characters, "The great ass that carries his wife;" [Page 286]  the great ass, if the ancient artist is to be relied upon in his scale of proportion, bearing about the same relation to Princess Ati as Falstaff's half-pennyworth of bread to his "intolerable deal of sack." The men who guide and follow the ass wear the upcurved-beard everywhere characteristic of the natives of Punt in Egyptian art. On the sculptured pylon of Horemheb, at Karnak, we find a Prince of Punt of one hundred and sixty years later, with features closely resembling those of Parihu. He wears the same curved beard, and even the close-fitting cap, which was apparently the distinguishing badge of the chiefdom. (80)

From the Pylon of Horemheb, at Karnak. This fine head of a chief of Punt is photographed from a cast taken by Mr. W. M. F. Petrie from the group of foreign tributaries sculptured on the Pylon of Horemheb, at Karnak.

The gifts sent by Hatasu having been presented by the envoy and accepted by the Prince of Punt, the latter proceeds to offer in return five ship-loads of the special products of his country. The inscription states that the Chief of Punt piles his tribute by the water-side.

From this point, the sculptured tableaux form a continuous scene, those in the lower register being almost perfect, whereas those in the upper register are unfortunately so much broken away that in many places there remain only the feet of the figures and the water lines of the river. In several of the best preserved, we see the Egyptian sailors carrying half-grown saplings which have been taken up with a ball of earth about the roots, and are being transported in baskets slung upon poles, each pole carried by [Page 287]  four men. These, as they wend their way towards the ships, are accompanied by natives of Punt, some carrying large logs of ebony, others leading apes, and one a giraffe. In one place where there is a great gap in the wall, the remains of the inscription show that an elephant and a horse were among the animals embarked from Punt for the gratification of Hatasu. This Queen doubtless shared in that lively interest which, as it is well known, her brother Thothmes III. entertained for all kinds of foreign birds, beasts, and plants. (81) A running commentary of short inscriptions is interspersed here and there between the figures. "Stand steady on your legs, Bohu!" says one of the bearers. "You throw too much weight upon my shoulders," retorts Bohu.

(From Mariette's Deir-el-Bahari, plate 5.)

Over the saplings which are being carried in baskets, is inscribed Nehet Ana; that is to say, the Sycamore of Ana. Elsewhere we see the full-grown trees. The trunk is massive; the leaf is a sharp-pointed oval; and at the junction of the trunk and the larger branches are seen little copper-colored lumps of irregular form, representing the resinous gum which has exuded through the bark. A passage in Pliny, to which Mariette especially refers in his memoir on Deir-el-Bahari, shows that this tree, the odoriferous sycamore, can be none other than the myrrh-tree, whose gum [Page 288]  was brought by the ancients from the so-called "land of the Troglodytes." According to the old naturalist, the myrrh-tree is found

". . . in many quarters of Arabia; also there is very good myrrhe brought out of the Islands; and the Sabeans passe the seas and travell as far as to the Troglodites countrey for it.... The plant groweth ordinarily five cubits high, but not all that length is it smooth and without prickes: the bodie and trunke is hard and wrythen; it is greatest toward the root, and so ariseth smaller and smaller, taper-wise. Some say that the barke is smooth and even, like unto that of the Arbute Tree: others againe affirme that it is prickly, and full of thornes. It hath a leafe like to the Olive, but more crisped and curled, and withall it is in the end sharpe-pointed like a needle.... The myrrhe trees are twice cut and launced in one year; the slit reacheth from the very root up to the boughes, if they may beare and abide it."

Further on, he says that, of all the wild kinds of myrrh-trees,

"the first is that which groweth in the Troglodites countrey;" and this, "the Trogloditike myrrhe, they chuse by the fattinesse thereof, and for that it seemeth to the eie greener.... The best myrrhe is known by little peeces which are not round; and when they grow together, they yeeld a certain whitish liquour which issueth and resolveth from them, and if a man breake them into morsels, it hath white veines resembling men's nails, and in tast is somewhat bitter." (82)

That the Ana was undoubtedly the resinous gum of the myrrh-tree is still further confirmed by the above passage from Pliny, which describes it as of a green color; the "green Ana" being constantly named in Egyptian inscriptions as the most precious and desirable kind.

One very interesting tableau, which is yet happily in good preservation, represents a group of three large trees of this species, i.e., the Nehet Ana, or odoriferous sycamore. On the ground, in the shade of their boughs, are piles of panther-skins and elephant-tusks, logs of ebony in stacks, and [Page 289]  rings and ingots of precious metal. Above the tops of the trees is shown a row of sycamore saplings in tubs, with an inscription stating that "thirty and one growing trees of the Ana were taken as marvels of Punt to the holiness of this God [Amen]. Never was there seen the like since the world began."

(From Mariette's Deir-el-Bahari, plate 5.)

And now, while the Egyptian sailors, assisted by the natives of Punt, are busily engaged in loading the ships, Hatasu's envoy offers an official reception to Prince Parihu, his wife and family. This parting interview is conducted with great ceremony on both sides. A huge heap of myrrh, two trays of massive gold rings, and a pile of elephant-tusks are brought by Parihu, probably as a farewell bakhshish to the envoy himself. The Lady Ati is apparelled as before, but the right leg of Parihu is covered from the ankle to above the knee with a close succession of metal rings resembling the dangabor of the Bongo people, as shown in an illustration to Schweinfurth's Heart of Africa. (83) The sons of Parihu, one of them carrying a bowl of gold-dust; an attendant bearing a large jar on his shoulder; and the ass, which has again enjoyed the unenviable privilege of carrying the Lady Ati, bring up the rear. The pile of Ana is here represented in a very summary fashion by a mere outline, but in some of the other subjects the little irregularly shaped lumps of the precious gum are all elaborately defined. The envoy stands in front of his pavilion–omitted in our illus- [Page 290]  tration–and is apparently in the act of inviting his guests to partake of the banquet which, by order of Hatasu, he has prepared for them. This consisted, according to the accompanying inscription, of "bread, beer, wines, meat, vegetables, and all good things of Egypt, by command of His Majesty, to whom be Life, Health, Strength."

(From Mariette's Deir-el-Bahari, plate 6.)

In the very interesting subject now before us, we see the Egyptian sailors, some carrying the saplings in baskets slung from poles, as before; others laden with big jars; and all hurrying on board along inclined planks reaching presumably from the shore, which, however, is not shown in the picture. The decks are already piled high with their precious cargo, among which may be observed three large apes, who make themselves perfectly at home. Slung to the main-mast of the nearest vessel, a harp is depicted, of a shape which may even now be seen in the hands of native musicians in Cairo and other large towns. The captain stands on the platform at the prow, issuing his commands; and, small as is the scale, the very natural action of the man in front of him, who shouts the order with his hand to his mouth, must not be overlooked. The long inscription engraved in vertical columns at either corner of the picture reads as follows [Page 291] 

" Very great lading of the ships with the marvels of the Land of Punt, and with all the good woods of Ta-nuter; with heaps of kami of Ana, with trees producing green ana; with ebony and pure ivory; with gold, and green agates found in the Land of the Amu; with blocks of the wood tascheps; with ahem perfumes; with tasem dogs; and with hides of the panthers of the South; and with natives of the country, their women and children. Never since the beginning of the world have the like wonders been brought by any king." (84)

While these last two vessels are receiving their cargoes, the other three have already weighed anchor, and are seen with their sails set and filled by a favorable wind. A short inscription states that this is "the peaceful and prosperous voyage of the soldiers of his Majesty returning to Thebes, bringing with them the men of Punt. They bring such marvels of the Land of Punt as have never been brought by any King of Egypt, on account of the greatness of the King of the Gods, Amen, Lord of Thebes."

The return voyage, like the outward voyage, is passed over; and the next incidents of this curious panorama in stone take place in Thebes. We are shown nothing of the arrival of the squadron, nor of the unlading of the ships; the rest of the tableaux consisting mainly of processions of priests, soldiers, and sailors. The order in which these processions meet and succeed each other is somewhat confusing. The hieroglyphic inscriptions in this part of the building are also greatly mutilated, so that the subjects in many instances have to be taken as their own interpreters. It seems possible that they do not all represent the return of the expedition from Punt, but that some may have reference to the ceremonies which accompanied the opening of the temple. The unity of the composition as an historic whole is moreover impaired by the introduction of other foreign tributaries besides those brought from Punt; whence it may be concluded that the artist, in order to produce a more brilliant effect, introduced the representatives of various nations who [Page 292]  on other occasions, had laid their tribute at the feet of Hatasu.

In one tableau we see the Sacred Bark of Amen, carried by twenty-five priests and preceded by libation-bearers, divine standard-bearers, and priests carrying bunches of lotus-lilies. In another, the sailors of the expedition march in single file armed with hatchets, and carrying green boughs in their hands–probably of the Ana sycamore. A drummer goes before, and the inscription says that "the sailors of the royal squadron shout for joy. They cry aloud; the heavens rejoice. May Amen grant long life to his daughter, the Builder of his Temple."

Following the sailors, comes the deputation from Punt, the native Somalis distinguished by their curved beards. Some of these bring trays of the Ana gum; others carry large jars, probably filled with gold-dust; others, again, lead apes of the two species indigenous to Punt, i.e., the Cynocephalus Hamadryas, and the Cynocephalus Babuinus, called in the inscription the Ani ape, and the Kafoo monkey. To this part of the procession belong the figures of men leading the horse, the giraffe, and the elephant, which, as before-mentioned, are unfortunately almost destroyed. Last of all come more sailors, carrying the sycamore saplings in baskets as before.

(From Mariette's Deir-el-Bahari )

Marching in the contrary direction, as if coming to meet and welcome the sailors on landing, we are shown a body of young soldiers, representing no less than three different regi- [Page 293]  ments. They are armed with axe, bow, and shield; while some, belonging apparently to a Nubian corps, brandish the boomerang. All carry green boughs in token of festivity. Besides this procession, which may be called the Procession of Welcome, there is another and a very interesting cortege which may be distinguished as the Procession of the Queen.

Her Majesty's fan-bearers, quiver-bearer, sandal-bearer, and grooms with hunting leopards. (From Mariette's Deir-el-Bahari )

Her Majesty's throne-chair carried by twelve bearers. (From Mariette's Deir-el-Bahari )

First come the troops of the royal household, designated in the inscription as the soldiers of the Per-aa, or palace. (85) Next follow the Queen's fan-bearers, carrying long-handled flabellæ of conventionally rendered ostrich-feathers. After these come the Queen's quiver-bearer and sandal-bearer, and two grooms leading her Majesty's hunting leopards. Her throne-chair, carried by twelve bearers, brings up the rear. [Page 294]  The chair, with its footstool, stands on a portable platform, and is evidently used as a chaise-à-porteurs, and not as a mere emblem of royalty. The inscription beneath the chair describes the Queen as "this good God," and enumerates her titles as "Lord of the Two Lands," etc.


Hatasu has presumably been carried to the Temple of Amen, where she is seen in the next tableau standing, staff in hand, in the full costume of a Pharaoh, face to face with Amen enthroned. The inscription which fills the space between these two figures is cast into the form of a dialogue between the god and the Queen. Hatasu, reverting to the origin of the expedition, proclaims her intention of exploring the ways of Punt, that there may be Ana in abundance for the service of the temple. The god, in reply, congratulates her on the success of her expedition, and states that he himself, together with Hathor, the Lady

(From Mariette's Deir-el-Bahari, plate 11.)

[Page 295]  of Punt, and Urtheku, Vice-Regent of the Gods, guided the Egyptian explorers to the land of the myrrh-trees. (86)

An ox is then sacrificed to Amen, the sacrificial act being depicted in a bas-relief, from which, unfortunately, the next block is missing, thus carrying away one corner of the subject. Here we see the altar of the god loaded with offerings, among which may be noted a haunch, a goose, and various kinds of cakes. Four priests uplift their hands in adoration; another carries a small stand; while two more cut the slaughtered ox limb from limb.

After this the tribute of Punt is formally transferred to the treasury of the temple; the Ana gum (specified in the inscription as "green Ana") is measured and registered by the temple servants; while the bags of gold-dust, the bricks of electrum, the ingots of pure gold, and the ivory tusks, are, by a conventional fiction, being weighed in the presence of Horus by no less a sacred scribe than Thoth himself.

(From Mariette's Deir-el-Bahari ) [Page 296] 

The ceremony at the Temple of Amen being concluded, the expedition is rowed across the Nile in a flotilla of State galleys, and proceeds to render homage to Hathor in that part of the temple at Dayr-el-Bahari over which she especially presides. They are accompanied by a detachment of troops composed of the flower of the Egyptian army.

And thus, to the sound of trumpets and drums, with waving of green boughs and shouts of triumph, the great procession lands on the opposite bank of the Nile, and, followed by an ever-gathering crowd, takes its way between avenues of sphinxes, past obelisks and pylons, and up one magnificent flight of steps after another, till the topmost terrace of the Great Temple is reached, where the Queen herself welcomes them to the presence of Hathor the Beautiful, the Lady of the Western Mountain, the Goddess-Regent of the Land of Punt.

Such is the story told in the sculptured decorations of this most interesting and beautiful ruin. Until it was partially excavated by Mariette, only a few of the less interesting sculptures were visible above the sand and debris in which it was entombed. Even now, a systematically conducted excavation would probably bring to light more inscriptions, and possibly more sculptures, than could be discovered by Mariette with the limited means at his command. In the slight but interesting work in which he has commemorated the results of his labor at Dayr-el-Bahari, he expresses his regret that he never had the opportunity there to conduct any properly organized work, such as his excavations of the temples of Karnak, Denderah, and Edfû.

Beyond the fact that Hatasu rebuilt and restored many ruined shrines and temples in various parts of her kingdom, and that the celebrated Speos Artemidos (87) was her work, and not, as is generally supposed, the work of Thothmes III., we know little or nothing more of the events of her reign. Seventeen years after the death of Thothmes II., her name, as already said, disappears from the monumental rec- [Page 297]  ords, and we may assume that she had either ceased to live or ceased to reign.

However this may be, her successor, Thothmes III., endeavored systematically to efface her memory from the minds of the Egyptians and her cartouches from the public monuments on which they had been emblazoned. It is her name which underlies the names and titles of Thothmes III. not only in the Speos Artemidos, but in hundreds of cases at Dayr-el-Bahari. Only in one single instance has the royal oval containing her family name escaped the chisel of the mason; and her solar name, though traceable under the chipped surface, is almost invariably erased. The mere grammatical construction of the texts bears witness, however, to the wholesale forgery committed by Thothmes III.; for, combined with the Pharaonic style in which the inscriptions are couched, the feminine suffixes which are so curiously appended to masculine nouns everywhere remain to show in whose honor these innumerable columns of hieroglyphs were engraved.

The tomb of Queen Hatasu was discovered by Mr. Rhind, in 1841, excavated in the cliff-side, in the near vicinity of her temple; but its identity appears since then to have been forgotten. (88) Although the mummies of her father, Thothmes I., of her husband and half-brother, Thothmes II., and of her half-brother and successor, Thothmes III., were discovered in 1881, in the famous tomb of the Priest-Kings, within a stone's-throw of her temple at Dayr-el-Bahari, the mortal remains of Hatasu were missing from the ranks of the illustrious dead with which that sepulchre was crowded. A small wooden cabinet, inlaid with ivory and carved with both her cartouches, was found among the minor objects there concealed. It contains, strange to say, a dessicated human liver–probably hers. This would look as if at one time the mummy of Hatasu had there been deposited, in company with the mummies of her kindred.

A few scarabæi dispersed through various public and private collections; a draughtsman of red jasper, in the form of [Page 298]  a lion's head engraved with her two cartouches, which was found at Karnak, and is now in the Museum of Ghizeh; her signet-ring, engraved on turquoise and mounted in gold, in the possession of an English gentleman; and a funerary statuette, or Ushabti, inscribed with her name and titles, in the Museum of the Hague, are, with one exception, the only authentic mementos of Hatasu which have come down to our time.

The exception is a splendid one, and of great historic and archeological value, being an object of no less importance than the throne-chair of this great Queen. It was discovered by some Arabs in 1885 or 1886; brought to England in 1887, and exhibited at the Jubilee Exhibition in Manchester that year. At the close of the exhibition it was presented by Mr. Jesse Haworth to the British Museum, where it now occupies a conspicuous place in the upper Egyptian gallery.

(From a photograph from the original in the British Museum.)

Specimens of ancient Egyptian stools and chairs, some beautifully inlaid with marqueterie of ivory and various woods, may be seen in several European museums; but in none do we find a Pharaonic throne such as this, plated with [Page 299]  gold and silver, and adorned with the emblems of Egyptian sovereignty. It is not absolutely intact. The seat and back (which may have been made of plaited palm-fibre or bands of leather) have perished; but all that remains of the original piece of furniture is magnificent. The wood is very hard and heavy, and of a rich dark color resembling rosewood. The four legs are carved in the shape of the legs of some hoofed animal, probably a bull, the front of each leg being decorated with two royal basilisks in gold. These basilisks are erect, face to face, their tails forming a continuous coil down to the rise of the hoof. Round each fetlock runs a silver band, and under each hoof there was originally a plate of silver, of which only a few fragments remain. The cross-rail in front of the seat is also plated with silver. The arms (or what would be the arms if placed in position) are very curious, consisting of two flat pieces of wood joined at right angles, so as to form an upright affixed to the framework of the back and a horizontal support for the arm of the sitter. These are of the same dark wood as the legs and rails, having a border-line at each side; while down the middle, with head erect at the top of the upright limb, and tail undulating downward to the finish of the arm-rest, is a basilisk carved in some lighter colored wood, and incrusted with hundreds of minute silver annulets, to represent the markings of the reptile. The nails connecting the various parts are round-headed and plated with gold, thus closely resembling the ornamental brass-headed nails in use at the present day. The gold and silver are both of the purest quality.

Of the royal ovals which formerly adorned this beautiful chair of state, only one longitudinal fragment remains. This fragment, which measures some nine or ten inches in length, is carved on both sides, and contains about one-fourth part of what may be called the field of the cartouche. Enough, however, remains to identify on one side the throne-name, and on the other side the family name, of Queen Hatasu. The carving is admirable, every detail–even to the form of the nails and the creases of the finger-joints in part of a hiero- [Page 300]  glyph representing a hand–being rendered with the most perfect truth and delicacy. The throne-name, "Ra-ma-ka," is surrounded by a palm-frond bordering, and the family name, "Amen-Knum Hatasu," by a border of concentric spirals. The wood of this cartouche is the same as that of the basilisks upon the arms, being very hard and close-grained, and of a tawny, yellow hue, like boxwood. Some gorgeously colored throne-chairs depicted on the walls of a side-chamber in the tomb of Rameses III. at Thebes show exactly into what parts of the framework these royal insignia were inserted, and might serve as models for the complete restoration of this most valuable and interesting relic.

It is a significant fact that the dark wood of the chair and the lighter wood of the basilisks are of growths unknown to Egyptian soil; and it may well be that both originally formed part of that very cargo which the exploring squadron of Queen Hatasu brought home to Thebes, some three thousand five hundred years ago, from the far distant shores of the Land of Punt.


[Page 301] 

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


[Page 263]

* See Lecture IV., on "The Origin of Portrait Sculpture."

[Page 285]

* The Land of the Gods.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom