4. Tombs ofthe Kings. THEBES (W. BANK). 24. Route. 263
was frequently supported by pillars, was often adjoined or even pre¬
ceded by other chambers.
The Walls of the tombs, from the entrance to the final chamber,
were covered with sacred pictures and texts, ^a knowledge of which was
essential for the deceased in the future life. The prevailing conception
at Biban el-Muluk was that the deceased king, accompanied by the sun-
god (or rather absorbed in the sun-god), sailed through the underworld
at night in a boat; thus those scenes and texts were preferred which
described this voyage and instructed the deceased as to the exact route.
These texts were taken from two books, closely related to each other.
One was called 'The Book of that which is in the Underworld'. According
to this, the underworld (Twat; p. cxxiv) is divided into 12 regions, cor¬
responding to the 12 hours of night; and the descriptions in the book
were therefore likewise in 12 chapters. In each of these the river with
the boat of the sun floating on it is represented in the middle; in the
boat stands the ram-headed sun-god, surrounded by his retinue, and
bringing for a short time light and life to the regions he traverses. Above
and below are shown the two banks of the river, thronged hy all manner
of spirits, daemons, and monsters, which greet the sun and ward off his
The second book, known as the 'Book of the Portals', reproduces the
same conceptions. The nocturnal journey of the sun through the 12 re¬
gions of the underworld is again represented, and, as in the first hook,
these regions are conceived of as provinces or nomes. Massive gates,
guarded by gigantic serpents, separate one region from another; each gate
bears a name known to the sun-god, and the deceased must know it also.
Two gods and two fire-spitting snakes guard the approach and greet the
A third work, which may be called 'The Sun's Journey in the Under¬
world", contains still more gloomy and unattractive representations. The
sun-god has arrived in the underworld and addresses a speech to the
spirits and monsters, which are carefully depicted in long rows.
Recourse was had to other works also for the decoration of the king's
tombs. The chief of these were the 'Praising of Ri\ and 'The Book of
the Opening of the Mouth'. The former, which was used in the first cor¬
ridors, contains a long-winded hymn to the sun-god, to he recited in the
evening as the sun entered the underworld. In the course of the hymn
the god is invoked under 75 different names and is depicted in as many
forms. — The text and illustrations in the second of these works teach
the multifarious ceremonies which had to be performed before the statue
of the deceased king in order to indue it with life and ensure it the use
of its organs, so as to enable it to eat and drink in the tomb.
Strabo tells of 40 tombs'worthy of a visit', the scholars of the French
Expedition mention 11, while at present 41 are accessible, on the entrances
of which their numbers are inscribed. Pausanias, A?lian, Heliodorus,
Ammianus Marcellinus, and other ancient authors refer to them as the
Syringes (aupirfs?) of Thebes, which name also cccurs in the Greek in¬
scriptions within the tombs. The word 'Syrinx' meant first a shepherd's
pipe formed of longish reeds, then it came to mean a hollow passage,
and thus was applied to the long rock-hewn passages of Biban el-Muluk.
There are two routes from the Temple of Sethos at Kurna to
Biban el-Muluk (a donkey-ride of 3/4 hr.). The lower of these is
described below. The mountain-track via Asasif and Der el-bahri,
more fatiguing though shorter, is better followed on the return
(comp. p. 278).
The lower route passes the spring to the N. of the Temple of
Sethos, leaves the necropolis of Drah Abu'l Negga (p. 262) to the
left, and winds through the valley (wadi), first to the N.W., then to
the W. The gorge gradually contracts, between walls of naked yellow