512 Route 10. SARBUT EL-KHADEM. From Sinai
superior mining officials, who wished to hand down their names
and merits to posterity, mentioning the king in whose reign they
obtained their appointments, the mineral (mafkat and ore) they
worked, the number of miners they employed, the zeal with which
they performed their duties, and the accidents which befell them
during their term of office. Victories over the native mountain
tribes are sometimes also mentioned.
The large heaps of black stone in the vicinity, resembling the
slag from a foundry, are partly of natural form; but artificially
produced slag also occurs in the valleys between Sarbut el-Khadem
and the Wadi Nasb. The old mines were re-discovered by Mr.
Holland, a member of the last English Survey expedition, while
others had already been discovered and described by Riippell in the
Wadi Nasb. It appears from the inscriptions that the mines of
Sarbut el-Khadem, like those of the Wadi Maghara, were first sunk
in the reign of Snefru (p. 481) at an early period of the Primaeval
Monarchy, and that they were worked for a still longer period than
the latter, and certainly down to the 20th Dynasty. The cartouche
of Ramses IV. is also said to have been found here. The mines
of Sarbut el-Khadem must therefore have been worked after the pe¬
riod, of the Exodus, while in those of the Wadi Maghara the name
of Ramses II., the Pharaoh of the oppression, is the last which
occuts in the inscriptions.
About 3/4hr. to the S.E. of the plateau are several tombs of the
18th Dyn. discovered by Sir Gardner Wilkinson, probably those of
overseers of the mines. At a distance of 2 hrs. thence the remains
of miners' dwellings were found by Major Macdonald (p. 480).
A visit to these monuments takes half-a-day. Those who desire
to make a thorough inspection, and to visit the Wadi Nasb, will
require a whole day. They should then walk from Sarbut el-Khadem
along the hills to the Wddi Nasb, at the entrance to which are a
spring, shaded by palms, some ruins, the traces of gold gardens,
and a quantity of slag brought from the mines, l1/^ hr. to the N.W.
'We find here a number of unusually thick layers of earthy oxide of
copper, inserted in wedge-like form between the horizontal strata of sand¬
stone. At many places the metalliferous formation seems to be about
200 ft. in thickness. The ancient natives have driven shafts through these
rocks in many different directions, and excavated them in the form of
labyrinths, whilst (as in the Wadi Maghara) they left pillars here and
there to prevent the roof from falling in. To judge from the extent of the
mines the quantity of ore obtained must have been very considerable.
To this day one of the mines contains a considerable quantity of copper
ore, while another, where chambers 80 ft. in length have been excavated,
seems to have been given up as exhausted'. (Riippell.)
On the hill above the mines stands an ancient Egyptian obelisk
with half-obliterated hieroglyphics.
Descending the Wadi Nasb towards the N. we reach the mouth
of the Wadi Hobuz (see below), where the caravan should be
ordered to await our arrival.
Beyond the Wadi Merattameh the Suez route continues to follow