Page images
PDF
EPUB

second time commence, and were blended with those of the Egyptian deities, is evident from a very curious engraving, with which he has favoured the public, of an actual SACRIFICE TO THE SUN, represented in an artificial cavern near the ruins of BABAIN, in Upper Egypt, I thought it so curious a monument of this once almost-universal idolatry, and, at the same time so immediately illustrative of my own assertions of its antient prevalence in 'India, that I have had it engraved, and shall present the reader with two descriptions of it, written at two different periods, a century distant from each other.

The first, from Mountfaucon, is that of the Jesuit Du Bernat, who designed the whole upon the spot, and is as follows: “ We passed the canal of Joseph, an antient aqueduct, and went to the village of Touna, near the ruins of the city Babain, which is in the midst of those of Abousir. We passed over these ruins and a long plain of sand, which brought us to a very singular monument, which my guide would have me see, and which deserves indeed to be seen. It is ' A SACRIFICE OFFERED TO THE SUN, and is sculptured in half-relief on a great rock. The hardness of the rock would have been able to defend this monument from the injuries of time, but not those of the

sword,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

1

[ocr errors]

sword, which we find the Arabians have used to deface that part of the sacrifice which is wanting. I made a design of it as it then appeared. The stupendous cavern is hewn out of a vast rock in the middle of a mountain. It must have taken up a long time and prodigious labour to excavate this rock, between five and six feet deep, and for fifty feet high and fifty wide; for, in this so great superficies, all the figures relating to the sacrifice to the sun are comprehended. The sun appears encircled with a body of rays fifteen or twenty feet in diameter. Two priests of a natural stature, their heads covered, with long caps terminating in POINTS, stretch their hands towards the sun, adoring him. The ends of their fingers touch the ends of the solar rays. Two little boys, covered like the priests, stand by their sides, and reach them two great goblets full of liquor. Below the sun there are three lambs, killed and extended. on piles, consisting of ten pieces of wood. Lower, by the piles, are seven jars, or diotes. On the other side of the sun, opposite to the sacrificers, there are two women and two girls in full relief, joined to the rock by part of their backs only and their feet. We see very plainly marks of the strokes by which their heads were destroyed. Behind the two

boys

)

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]

boys there is a kind of square, charged with several hieroglyphics, but some larger than others are placed up and down in the image.”* So far M. Bernat in the Antiquities of Mountfaucon. The other account is that of M. Savary, who visited this curious monument in 1777.

Through each of the 'descriptions a strong feature of similarity reigns, and it must give pleasure to the reader to find that, in the

space of nearly a century, no fresh injury has been done, through the prejudice and superstition of the tyrants under whose dominion Egypt groans, to so beautiful a fragment of mythologic antiquity.

“ A league to the south, (says M. Savary,) are the ruins of an antient city, which enrich the small town of Babain. Some distance be. yond is a curious monument, a rock smoothed by the chissel, in the body of which a grotto has been cut fifty feet in diameter and six deep; the bottom represents a sacrifice to the sun, which is sculptured in demi-relief; on the right hand, two priests, with pointed caps, raise their arms towards that orb, and touch the end of its rays with their fingers; behind

• See Mountfaucon, L'Antiquité expliquée, in the Supplement on the gods of Egypt, tom. ii. book 7, and plate 50. VOL. II.

0

them,

« PreviousContinue »