to Beliâna. BELIÂNA. 17. Route. 231
convent, which is probably the oldest but one in Egypt; the abbot is
a member of the Fraternity of the Holy Sepulchre. The town looks
very picturesque as seen from the river. The Nile makes a sharp
bend hère, and the effect is as if the W. bank, on which the town
stands, was at right angles to the E. bank. The Arabian mountains
rise like walls, and the four tall minarets of the town, on the oppo¬
site bank of the Nile, seem to vie with them in height. A pictur¬
esque group on the river-brink is formed by an old and dilapidated
mosque and a tall minaret beside it.
About 3V2 M. to the W. of Girga, near Beit Khallâf (Khèlâf), is a
large brick Mastaba of the time of King Zoser (3rd Dyn.), excavated by
the English Egyptologist Garstang. — The village of El-Birbeh, 31/2 M. to
the N. of Girga, perhaps occupies the site of This (Egypt. Tin), the capital
of the two first dynasties (see p. Ixxvii) and of a nome of the same name.
Upon the E. bank opposite Girga, near Nag'ed-Deir, lie several cem-
eteries, some of them of the prehistoric period, which hâve been excavated
by Dr. Reisner at the cost of the University of California (p. 93). — Farther
to the S. is the old Coptic convent of Deir el-Melâk, the large cemetery of
which is still used by the Christian inhabitants of Girga. The Arabian
mountains, which approach close to the river beyond the village, contain
numerous tombs, four of which, at a considérable élévation, deserve spécial
attention as being the resting-places of grandees of the ancient This (see
below). Their inscriptions and représentations are now scarcely visible.
— At Mesheikh, about 3 M. farther to the S., are remains of a temple built
by Bamses II. and restored by Merenptah. Mesheikh is a village of the
Awlâd Yahya, on the site of the ancient Lepidotonpolis. Above the village
are some ancient rock-tombs, the chief of which belonged to Enher-mosë,
a high-priest of This in the reign of Merenptah (19th Dyn.).
99 M. Beliâna (Baliana; Hôtel Bar Abydos, on the river 72 M.
from the railway-station, kept by a Greek), a town of 7200 inhab.
on the W. bank, is a railway and mail station (p. 204) and the
starting-point for the highly interesting excursion to Abydos.
The ordinary traveller, especially when he has at his disposai only
the 8 hrs. allowed by the steamer, will confine himself to the Temple of
Sethos I. and the sadly dilapidated Temple of Ramses II., with possibly a
visit to the old fortress of Shûnet ez-Zebîb. The other antiquities are
less interesting. — Fair donkeys, with European saddles, may be obtained
at the railway-station of Beliâna (p. 204; 3-4»., with bakshish of lj.-ls. Gd. ; a
bargain should be made with the sheikh of the donkey-boys).
Abydos lies about 872 M. from Beliâna, a ride of 172-2 hrs. The
track crosses several canals, passes through the hamlet of El-Hegs,
then runs along a new embankment skirting a canal, traverses a fer¬
tile district dotted with numerous villages, and reaches the village
of El-'Arâba or 'Arâba el-Madfûneh (i.e. 'buried'Arâba'). The view
of the well-cultivated and populous plain, and of the mountains to
the E., is very fine. On the verge of the arable land lay the ancient
Abydos, which extended from 'Arâba to El-Kherbeh (p. 238).
Abydos (Egypt. Abotu) was one of the most ancient cities in
Egypt and played an important rôle under the first dynasty as the
burial-place of the kings and grandees. The town and its necropolis