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of 400 yards and more, and an encroachment of the coastline at the rate of 52 yards per annum.
However narrowed be the area over which these changes are now actually in progress, they show the unabated activity of the mighty causes which have won the entire soil of Lower Egypt from the Mediterranean within the historic time that is covered by hieroglyphic inscriptions.
The secular changes in the face of Egypt comprise not only the advance of the shore-line into the Mediterranean, but a more or less imperceptible warping up of all the soil flooded by the Nile. The rise of the river itself, which was measured on a nilometer built into a wall at Elephantina, must be affected by the deposit on the face of the country below that spot. Herodotus states that in the reign of Maris a Nile flood of 8 cubits rise inundated all Egypt below Memphis. The only difficulty in this passage is as to date. Herodotus says the priests told him that the reign in question was 900 years before his own time. That number of years, however, only reaches back to the reign of Ramses Miamoun, of the nineteenth dynasty. The formation of Lake Maris is dated 1,200 years before that reign ; and the name Mæris is that of a monarch of the twelfth dynasty, which reigned from B.C. 2812 to B.C. 2599. The general phenomena of the increase of the delta are far more consistent with the earlier than with the later of the two dates thus intimated; that is to say, with the period of the twelfth rather than that of the nineteenth dynasty, as having witnessed so low a rise of the Nile, especially when we consider that from the time of Herodotus to our own, but little variation has occurred in this respect.
A minimum rise of 15 cubits was required, Herodotus says, to flood the country in his day. The statue of Nilus in the Vatican is encircled by 16 amorini, symbolising the 16 cubits of rise which gave the omen of a fertile season in the time of the thirty-third dynasty. The nilometer at Elephantina gives a cubit of 21 inches, making the 16-cubit flood show a rise of 336 inches. During a period of sixteen years, according to the observations taken under the direction of Mr. Fowler, the average height of the flood was 6•87 metres, or 271.84 inches. The highest flood during this time was in 1874, when it rose 8.48 metres, or 335.25 inches, a very close reproduction of the 16 cubits of the time of the Ptolemies. The lowest was in 1868, being only 5•87 metres, or 232.27 inches, which is yet 64 inches higher than the rise referred to the time of Mæris. It is certain that the less obstruction the flood met in its descent below Memphis, the less would be the height that it would maintain at that spot.
Mr. Horner endeavoured to form a scale of the antiquity of the delta by sinking a shaft beside the statue of Rameses, and measuring the depth of made earth that had accumulated since the erection of that statue. If his conclusions as to the original level, which are quoted by Sir Charles Lyell, are accurate, the rise of soil at the base of the statue has occurred only at the rate of 3 inches per century. But Mr. Horner assumes that the ancient builders erected works of colossal magnitude on a site subject to annual inundation-a most improbable hypothesis. The true deduction to be drawn from the small accumulation above the platform of the statue is, that the low rise of the Nile referred by Herodotus to the time of Mæris had not been exceeded at the date when this sacred work was executed. Sir Charles Lyell estimates the rise at Elephantina at 5.3 inches, at Thebes at 4:9 inches, and at Heliopolis at 4:1 inches, per century. In none of these estimates does there appear to have been due attention given to the fact that the quantity of the matter held in suspension by the Nile during its floods varies in proportion to the depth of water. The nearer the surface, or the shallower the water, the less the deposit. Thus, comparing equal heights of flood, less deposit would annually occur on higher than on lower ground, and less deposit on the same area year after year. Again, any obstructions that interfered with the flow of the flood would have a powerful influence on the depth of deposit. It is thus conceivable, or indeed certain, that while inches were deposited in certain localities, feet would be deposited in others, in the same space of time. It is desirable to exhaust all the means of comparison in a question of this magnitude. But actual experiments as to the deposit made from a given depth of flood water, like those of Mr. Fowler, must yield far more luminous results than casual observations, which estimate the amount of secular change without due consideration of all the conditions that may have affected the exact locality.
A historical inquiry of considerable interest is connected with the physical history of the Egyptian delta. Considerable discussion has arisen as to the track indicated by the book of Exodus as that taken by the Israelites in their flight from Egypt. The choice of route lies within narrower limits than might be assigned from a hasty view of the map. Through the Gulf of Suez itself, from within a short distance of its northern extremity, the channel has a depth of at least 10 fathoms.
The date of the Exodus, according to the most careful comparison of the various indications given in the VOL. CXLY. NO. CCXCVII.
Pentateuch and historic Hebrew books, was in the year 1541 B.C. ; which corresponds to the third year of the reign of King Thothmes IV., seventh king of the eighteenth dynasty. This monarch is spoken of in the inscriptions as the “tamer of the
Syrian shepherds,' an expression which may very well be taken for the Egyptian account of an event which the Jewish historian regarded from so different a point of view. At this time, according to the estimate above given of the growth of the delta, the seaward apex of that formation must have been about 30° 54' of north latitude. The right bank, or shore, (taking the delta as maintaining approximately a series of parallel outlines during its growth,) would have been somewhere near the spot now occupied by Ismailia. The space now covered by Lakes Menzaleh, Ballah and Timnah, and the intervening and neighbouring marshy and sandy districts, must at that time either have been far below the level of the Mediterranean, or have been covered by lagoon and marsh, accessible to the waters of that sea, when driven by a westerly wind. On the right hand of the comparatively narrow isthmus then existing, the depression of the Bitter Lakes was, no doubt, connected with the Arabian Gulf. The main, or even the entire, distance which at that time divided the waters of the Arabian Gulf from those of the Mediterranean may, therefore, be taken to correspond to the Ym Suph, or sea of reeds, of the Pentateuch: a term which was first erroneously translated by Erythian or Red Sea, in the time of Ptolemy II., when the physical change which had gradually occurred in the isthmus had obscured the true meaning of the language of the Book of Exodus, accordant as it is with that used by Herodotus.
On this view of the case (the accuracy of which can only be a question of detail), several expressions which have perplexed the students of the Book of Exodus become perfectly clear and intelligible. When the flying bands, descending Wady Tomilat, which most Egyptologers identify with Goshen, arrived at the coast, the intention of their leader being to avoid the well-frequented track by the shore of Philistia, through the dominions of a people apt to arms, and experienced in resisting invasion from Egypt, the line of march was necessarily turned to the right. At night-fall, the people bivouacked on a grassy plain—the Coptic language yet preserves the word Pichairoth with this signification, which is also that of the term used in the Septuagint version—between the Pharos, or watch-tower on the shore (Migdol) and the Temple of Typhon (Baal Zephon), which may readily be identified with the ruin known as the Serapeum. The prevalence during the
night of a strong east wind—the Septuagint calls it a south wind, and St. Jerome, rather uncandidly, uses the participle urens, but all the expressions point to a wind from the south or east, or from the hot quarter, in fact to the commencement of the Khamaseen, for which the exact period had arrived-drove back the water in the lagoons connected with the Mediterranean. Those of the Arabian Gulf, and its connected lakes, must on the contrary have been raised by this wind; so that it is evident from which sea danger was to be apprehended. Through the very district of the Ym Suph, over the edge of or between the lagoons from which the water had been driven back by the force of the wind, the one body fled, and the other pursued. In the morning, the sea returned with a change of wind. The expression used by St. Jerome, primo diluculo, which has been followed in the when the morning appeared' of the authorised version, is more correctly indicated by the Septuagirit as meaning towards the east,' a. phrase which corresponds to the previously described effect of the west wind in reducing the level of the water. Referring only to the physical phenomena indicated by the passage, the whole account is as clear and consistent, according to this view of the nature of the locality, as it is perplexing and unintelligible if referred to a passage over the ten fathom deep channel of the Arabian Gulf, or even over the site of the Bitter Lakes at the head of that gulf, in the whole of which an easterly wind raises, and a westerly wind depresses, the level of the waters.
The map of Egypt by M. Linant de Bellefonds, to which reference was previously made, inserts imaginary stations on the march of the Israelites with no less precision than it indicates the sites of existing structures. It has the misfortune to define the point of the crossing the isthmus by Moses as between the Bitter Lakes and the present head of the Gulf of Suez; a position for the selection of which no distinct reason can be adduced, and which is liable to the fatal objection that a westerly or southerly wind would raise the waters, instead of depressing them, as described in the Pentateuch. If Josephus drew on other sources than his imagination in describing the mountain which shut in the line of march, he may have very well referred to the plateau of El Guisr, in which the ruin of the Serapeum is found. Every expression used with reference to the Exodus is consistent with the idea of a passage through the reedy marshes between the Mediterranean and the Arabian Gulf lagoons, which would have protected either flank of the expedition, and thus made the waters, in the language of the country, a wall to the fugitives on either hand.
The identification of the Ym Suph with the Gulf of Suez, is not only entirely imaginative, but is a leap in the dark which can only throw undue discredit on a venerable record, the true sense of which had become obscured, by the date of the translation in the time of Ptolemy II., by the physical changes of the locality:
Egypt at the present hour is thus far what she was 6,300 years ago. She is at once one of the best practical schools which can be found for the engineer, and one of the localities where the skill of the engineer can most richly augment the products of nature. The first great work of which the oldest tradition embalmed in the pages of Herodotus gives note was one almost identical in its nature with one of the last undertaken by a Mussulman prince. The dam which Menes is related to have built across the Nile cannot have been placed very
different situation from that which was selected by the engineers of Mehemet Ali. The actual distance between the two stations appears to be about 15 miles; and an engineering reason for the change may be found in the higher level now attained by the Nile flood, in consequence of the growth of the delta during a period of 6,300 years. The Nile formerly flowed close to the western suburbs and gardens of Cairo, from which it is now from half a mile to a mile distant. "The plain of Boolak, seven miles long, and at least a mile and a half wide, is said in the notes to Lane’s ‘Modern Egyptians' to have been formed within a period of 200 years. Thus, independently of the general encroachment of Egypt on the sea, local displacements and changes, so easy to be effected in an alluvial soil of 100 feet in depth, have advanced at a rapid pace. It is only by the remains of human work, or by the occurrence of solid rocks, which formerly were islands, that any ancient sites can now be positively identified in Lower Egypt. But between the character of the engineering works of the early Thinite dynasties, and those of the Moslem Viceroy, there is that difference which exists between the labour of men and the petulant toil of children. The former built, if not for eternity, yet for a duration to be measured by millenniums. The latter, by a barbaric impatience, so hurried the work undertaken for barring the Nile, in 1847, that the rise of 15 feet which it was intended thus to secure has never been approached. The utmost difference in level for which the engineers have dared to trust to the strength of the dam is under 6 feet; and no doubt is entertained that the head of water would blow up the dam and destroy all the work of the barrage long before it rose to the moderate height originally