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Description of EgyptNotes and Views in Egypt and Nubia$

Edward William Lane

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9789774245251

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774245251.001.0001

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Ibreeʼm, &c.—to Abʼoo Simʼbil.

Ibreeʼm, &c.—to Abʼoo Simʼbil.

(p.489) Chapter XXXVII. Ibreeʼm, &c.—to Abʼoo Simʼbil.
Description of Egypt

Jason Thompson

American University in Cairo Press

Abstract and Keywords

A grove of palm-trees extends along a well-cultivated, though narrow tract on the southern side of the river, immediately above Ed-Dirr. The shore opposite Ed-Dirr is rocky, but not much elevated: a little higher, the rocky barrier on that side diverges from the river, and leaves a wide, cultivated plain. This district is called To'ma's. This chapter gives a striking account of the scenery between Ed-Dir'r and Ibree'm. It talks about the district of Ibree'm, and the ancient grotto there. It describes the Sepulchral grotto on the opposite side of the river and the old town of Ibree'm and other ancient grottoes. It also discusses the voyage of the author thence to Ab'oo Sim'bil.

Keywords:   Ed-Dirr, To'ma's, Ibree'm, ancient grotto, Sepulchral grotto

Scenery, &c, between Ed-Dirʼr and Ibreeʼm—District of Ibreeʼm, and ancient grotto there—Sepulchral grotto on the opposite side of the river—Old town of Ibreeʼm; ancient grottoes, &c.—Voyage thence to Abʼoo Simʼbil.

24th. A grove of palm-trees extends along a well-cultivated, though narrow tract on the southern side of the river, immediately above Ed-Dirr. The shore opposite Ed-Dirr is rocky, but not much elevated: a little higher, the rocky barrier on that side diverges from the river, and leaves a wide, cultivated plain. This district is called Toʼmaʼs Ibreeʼm, &c.—to Abʼoo Simʼbil..

On the side opposite Toʼmaʼs, the low mountains reach to the river, for a short space; leaving no road but over their flat top. They then recede, and again extend to the river at the distance of about five miles. In the intermediate space is a wide, cultivated tract. This is the chief part of Waʼdee Ibreeʼm Ibreeʼm, &c.—to Abʼoo Simʼbil.. Before it lies an island, called Ckitʼteh, or Gitʼteh. The cultivated plain contains several villages, and is rich in palm-trees; the fruit of which, called belʼahh Ibreeʼmee, is much esteemed.

At the base of the mountain-range behind is a small grotto, excavated in the reign of Thothmos 3rd. It has many sculptures; but they are uninteresting, and much defaced. Within it, at the end of a wide recess, are three small, sitting figures. On the exterior are several inscriptions in hieroglyphics; but very indistinct and imperfect. This grotto, which few would think worth visiting, is behind a group of huts, among which is a whited mosque, with a small maʼdʼneh. The place is called Agaïrʼkeh.

The villages of Waʼdee Ibreeʼm are recovering from the pillage which they suffered under the Memlooʼks in 1812; when these refugees were defeated by Ibraheeʼm Bey (now Ibraheeʼm Baʼsha); and forced to fly to Dunʼckalʼah. They are stated (by Burckhardt) to have taken from this district about 1200 cows; and to have exacted upwards of 100,000 Spanish Dollars as ransom for the persons whom they imprisoned. From a dreadful famine, which the Memlooʼk marauders contributed to effect, the people of this part suffered yet more severely, in common with the whole population of Nubia.

The north-western shore, opposite the isle of Ckitʼteh, is a sandy plain, without a spot of verdure, or any object to attract attention, excepting some brick ruins, said to be the tomb of a sheykh. There are several isolated hills at a little distance inland. A little higher there is a small patch of verdure along the bank, with palm-trees, and a group of huts, called Mugʼasirʼkeh. In the desert behind this spot, at the distance of about half an hour's walk, is a small, isolated mountain, in which is (p.490) excavated an ancient sepulchral grotto, facing the river. This grotto has a small, plain door. The interior consists of a narrow chamber, 19 feet by 9, in length and width, and 5 feet and a half in height, having a recess behind, with a bench at the end, on which were to have been sculptured three sitting figures; but these are unfinished. The principal part, or chamber, in which is a sepulchral excavation, is decorated with painted sculptures, coarsely executed, but the colours well preserved. These sculptures are similar to those of many of the smaller grottoes at Thebes and other places in Egypt; representing the ceremonies and mysteries of a funeral, together with agricultural scenes.1

A little higher, the mountains on the opposite side of the river close upon the stream, and terminate that fertile part of Waʼdee Ibreeʼm which I have already described. Upon the top of an isolated mountain of this range, rising nearly perpendicularly from the water's edge, stands the old, ruined town of Ibreeʼm.2 In the front of the mountain next below this, high up the steep, and quite inaccessible, is a small grotto, with a plain entrance. From below, it appears that the interior is unfinished and rough.—The mountain which is crowned by the old town of Ibreeʼm rises to the height of about 300 feet, or nearly so, above the level of the low Nile.3 Like the adjacent mountains, it is of sandstone. The old town is now entirely deserted. It is surrounded by a wall of rough masses of stone, now, in many parts, thrown down nearly to the base. On entering the place, at the north, the first object that attracted my notice was a small temple, without any inscription or sculpture to prove its age; but evidently one of the latest monuments of the ancient religion of Egypt. This at once informs the traveller that he is on the site of a town anterior to the Christian era; and other monuments shew that this was a town of very high antiquity. Its modern name, and its elevated and strong position, are good reasons for believing it to have been the Primis, or Premnis, of ancient geographers, which Strabo describes as a town fortified by nature. The ruined houses are similar to the mean abodes now seen in the lower parts of Nubia; being merely small enclosures of rustic stone walls. In the midst of the town is a large building, on arches, which appears to have been a church. Small granite columns are found in many parts, placed as the thresholds of doors; and a few granite capitals, in very bad taste, with the cross among their ornaments, are lying near the building just mentioned. The town is very small. It was, for several centuries, the principal fortified town of Nubia. The Memlooʼks sustained a siege in it in 1812, and since their flight to the upper country it has been without inhabitants.—On the side of the mountain which is (p.491) next the river are remains of steps, cut in the rock, which led up to the summit.—Towards the right extremity of this side are four small grottoes, of very remote antiquity.1 The first two are difficult of access; but one of my boatmen succeeded in climbing up to them, and took up a rope, by means of which I ascended. Each consists of one little chamber. The interior of the first is sculptured; but the walls are much injured; and the name, wherever it occurs, is almost entirely effaced.2 At the end are three small, sitting figures. The second grotto has four small, sitting figures at the end; and around them, a few hieroglyphics, with the name of Thothmos 2nd; but it has no other sculptures. The third has three figures at the end, resembling those in the first and second; and bears the name of Rameses 2nd. The fourth is similar to the third; but bears the name of Thothmos 3rd. I should not have thought that these grottoes were places of sepulture; but the difficulty of access to them makes it improbable that they were designed for any other purpose.—In the valley above and below this mountain are seen the tombs of the late Moosʼlim inhabitants. It is a perfectly desolate place; not only without an inhabitant but without the least vegetation. The opposite shore too is a dreary desert, with only a few little patches of cultivated soil, at wide intervals, along the bank, and low acacias skirting the stream.—On the front of the mountain next above that on which the ruined town is situated is sculptured a tablet commemorative of a conquest by Osiree 1st, the father of Rameses 2nd. The king is represented in the act of spearing a captive; and beneath this design is an inscription in hieroglyphics. The whole of this piece of sculpture is much injured.

A little above the old town of Ibreeʼm, the mountains on that side recede a little, and the bank is cultivated, and has a grove of palm-trees. Part of this cultivated strip, along which are several villages, is included in the district of Ibreeʼm. Gʼneyʼneh (or Jʼneyʼneh—“the garden”) is one of the principal villages here; and is prettily situated. The more southern part is called Waʼdee Boostaʼn Ibreeʼm, &c.—to Abʼoo Simʼbil.; which name bears a similar meaning. On the western shore, opposite to the district just mentioned, a small tract of cultivated land, with a village called Moosʼmoos, interrupts the general sterility.—We stopped for the night at a little village of Waʼdee Boostaʼn, called ʼAmʼkeh, where one of my servants (a native of Nubia) went to visit a sheykh who had educated him; that is, taught him to read and write. The sheykh brought me, as a present, a kid and a dish of bread and milk.—The greatest height of the thermometer this day was 110°.

On the 25th, having no wind, and the weather being extremely hot, I would not employ my crew in tracking; and therefore remained the greater part of the day where I had passed the preceding night; my servant's sheykh keeping me company, and amusing me with stories. In the evening, a light breeze sprang up; and we proceeded. The next district (p.492) is Waʼdee Tooshʼkeh Ibreeʼm, &c.—to Abʼoo Simʼbil.; which comprises a small tract of cultivated land on each side of the river: that on the south-eastern bank is backed by low, rugged hills; and here there are some rude excavations, without any sculpture. In this district, the Nile is obstructed by reefs of rock, which, when the river is low, render the navigation rather difficult.—The greatest height of the thermometer this day was 107°.

26th. Favoured by a fresh breeze, we advanced rapidly; passed by the districts of Arminʼneh Ibreeʼm, &c.—to Abʼoo Simʼbil. and Foorckoonʼdee (or Footgoonʼdee) Ibreeʼm, &c.—to Abʼoo Simʼbil., and in three hours arrived at that of Fereyʼck (or Fereyʼg) Ibreeʼm, &c.—to Abʼoo Simʼbil.. Each of these districts consists of a narrow strip of cultivated land on the south-eastern bank only, backed by low mountains, which, in some parts, reach to the river; interrupting the tract of soil. The north-western shore, opposite the first two districts above-mentioned is a sandy plain, without a spot of cultivation, nor any shrubs, excepting a few acacias along the bank.


(1) This grotto I did not see: the situation of it had been incorrectly described to me; and I had not with me Burckhardt's book, in which it is noticed. During my second voyage in Nubia I was very unwell; and could not walk so far from the bank of the river.

(1) Their entrances are seen in plate 28 [fig. 152].

(2) See plate 28 [fig. 152].

(2) According to Champollion, it is Amonoph 2nd.

(3) The river was nearly at the lowest when my view of this mountain was taken.