Fayum. DEMEH. 16. Route. 181
where cultivation ceases. Thence the route, still running to the N.,
crosses the ancient bed of the lake, which is now overgrown with
heath and affords pasturage to numerous herds of buffaloes. Various
small water-courses and canals are traversed; and in l'/ohr- more
we reach the banks of the Birket Karun, which are covered with
reeds and tamarisk shrubs.
The Birket Karun, i.e. 'lake of Karun' (the Hebrew-Korah), also,
though erroneously, called Birket el-Kurun, or 'lake of the horns',
from its shape, is the Lake Moeris ofthe Greeks. It measures 34 M.
in length, and, at its broadest part, is about 6!/2 M. wide. It lies
about 130 ft. below the level of the Mediterranean, and its depth
averages 13 ft. The greenish water is slightly brackish (scarcely fit
for drinking). Numerous pelicans, wild ducks, and other water-fowl
frequent the lake. The banks are extremely sterile. The right of
fishing is let by government, and the whole of the fishermen dwelling
on the banks of the lake are in the service of the lessee, who re¬
ceives one-half of the catch.
The boats (merkeb) are very simply constructed, being withont
deck or mast'; the traveller must take up his quarters on the flooring
in the stern. The lake is crossed in I-IV2 hr., according to the wind.
To the E. appears the peninsula of El-Gezireh, with rubbish-heaps,
near which are the scanty ruins of El-Hammdm. In the lake are
two islands of some size; that to the E. is named el-Kenlseh or 'the
church', that to the W. Gezlret el-Kurn, or 'island of the horn'. On
the N. bank of the lake are barren hills of considerable height. "We
land on the N. bank, immediately to the W. of the peninsula of
el-Kurn. Thence a somewhat steep path ascends to the (l3/4 M.)
ruins and temple of —
Demeh (Dimeh or Dimay). The fortified position of this town,
named in antiquity Soknopaiou Nesos, i.e. 'island of (the good)
Soknopaios' (a form of Sobk, thf Fayum deity), provided a secure
point of departure for the caravans trading with the oases in the
Libyan Desert. The ruins cover an area of about 125 acres. A
street, 400 yds. in length, formerly embellished with figures of lions,
leads past well-preserved houses to a platform on which an im¬
portant temple once stood. This temple, built under the Ptolemies,
was dedicated to Soknopaios (see above) and the 'beautifully en¬
throned Isis'. The paved court was surrounded by a brick wall, and
the temple itself contained several apartments, those in the rear
being lined with well-jointed limestone-blocks, and those in front
having walls of roughly hewn stone coated with stucco. Very few
reliefs have been found here; on one appears a Ptolemy praying
before a ram-headed deity (probably Ammon).
At the foot of a steep descent in the Libyan Desert, about 5 M. to
the N.W. of Demeh, Dr. Schweinfurth discovered a small temple of lime¬
stone masonry, perhaps dating from the Early or the Middle Empire. It
contains seven recesses and several other apartments, but no sculptures
or inscriptions. In the vicinity are remains of an ancient quay.