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CHAP. chamber was without ornament; the entrance
to it being from the north-west. Opposite to
It is to this hieroglyphical sign that allusion was before made ; for this seems evidently to represent the subterraneous Sun, or Sor infeRUS, as mentioned by Macrobius“; and if the latter be Serapis, as it is maintained to be by Jablonskis, we have almost a proof that the cir
(1) In one of Colonel Squire's Letters to his brother, dated Alex-
(2) Saturnalia, lib. i. c. 19.
cular shrine was the antient Serapéum of Racolis, CHAP. alluded to by Tacitus*. All the rest of the history of these Catacombs seems to be involved in darkness, impervious as that which pervades every avenue of the excavated chambers. We endeavoured to penetrate farther towards the south-west and south, and found that another complete wing of the vast fabric extended in those directions ; but the labour of the research was excessive. The cryptæ upon the south-west side corresponded with those which we have described towards the north-east. In the middle between the two, a long range of chambers extended from the central and circular shrine, towards the north-west; and in this direction appears to have been the principal and original entrance. Proceeding towards it, we came to a large room in the middle of the fabric, between the supposed Serapéum and the main outlet, or portal towards the sea. Here the workmanship was very elaborate ; and to the right and left were chambers, with receptacles ranged parallel to each other. Farther on, in the same direction, is a passage with galleries and spacious apartments on either side ; perhaps the ΚΑΤΑΓΩΓΑI mentioned by Strabo for embalming
(4) Tacit. Histor. lib. iv. c, 84.
CHAP. the dead; or the chambers belonging to the mi priests, who constantly officiated in the Sera
péum. In the front is a kind of vestibulum, porch; but it is exceedingly difficult to ascertain precisely the nature of the excavation towards the main entrance, from the manner in which it is now choked with earth and rubbish. If this part were laid open, it is possible that something further would be known as to the design of the undertaking; and, at all events, one of the most curious of the antiquities of Egypt would then be exposed to the investigation it merits. Having passed about six hours in exploring, to the best of our ability, these gloomy mansions, we regained, by means of our clue, the aperture by which we had entered, and quitted them for ever.
We have now concluded almost all that relates to our residence in Alexandria, and to our observations in Egypt. A journey to the Oasis would have been a desirable completion of the African part of our travels; but our friend Mr. Hammer, in whose company we hoped to have made it, had left the country; and neither our health nor the disposition of the Arabs were favourable to the undertaking. We forbear noticing many interesting objects of curiosity in
Alexandria, particularly its prodigious cisterns, which are coëval with the city, because they have so often been described. The difficulty of “knowiug when to have done,” is perhaps never more sensibly felt, than in a territory so fertile of resources as that we are now leaving. The time is perhaps not distant, when Alexandria alone, a city once so vain of its great reputation and the rank it held among the Pagan states, shall again become the resort, if not the residence, of learned men, who will dedicate their time and their talents to a better investi. gation of its interesting antiquities'. So little are we acquainted with its valuable remains, that not a single excavation for purposes of discovery has yet been begun; nor is there any thing published with regard to its modern history, excepting the observations that have resulted from the hasty survey made of its forlorn and desolated havens, by a few travellers whose transitory visits ended almost with the days of their arrival. Scarcely had we felt
(1) A local work of this kind, restricted entirely to the Antiquities of Alexandria, might complete one of the most splendid and valuable pnblications which have yet been added to the archives of taste and of literature.
(2) A very curious instance is afforded by Bruce, who wrote an account of Alerandria, and, literally, did not spend one entire day in the city. He was at sea on the morning of the twentieth of June, 1768,
CHAP. the importance of more accurate and careful
inquiry, than, like our predecessors, we also
He had promised us a passage, on
previously to bis landing at ALEXANDRIA; (See Bruce's Travels,