May 7, 2012

History and Science, 1875 | Fayoum - Walking Through Egypt

History and Science, 1875
Bayard Taylor

Fayoum Egypt
Senhoor is raised upon such lofty piles of ruin that there must have been a town there, at least five thousand years ago. A part of it is again falling into decay: we passed through streets where there were empty, roofless walls at one side, and swarming habitations on the other. In Egypt, one might almost say, there is a mud-hut barometer, building up in prosperity, and letting fall in a season of want. The more frequent these fluctuations, the more rapidly the basis, or pedestal, of the village is elevated; and variations from the general average would indicate the particular fortune of each locality. This is a hint that I offer to archaeologists. . . .

At the very edge of the town we came upon mounds of debris loftier than any house in it, and climbed to the summit to enjoy the far, sunny prospects. Below, at the foot of the mound, stood the dismantled gateway of some old Saracenic palace, rich with carvings and horse-shoe arches; away to the west rose the tall, smoking chimney of the Khedive’s sugar refinery at Nezleh. It was a confusing jumble of old history and modem science; but the perfect day united all contradictions in one harmonious blending of form and colour. After all, there is a great deal of humbug in the assumption that old historic associations are disturbed, or put to flight, by the intrusion of modem (and hence, of course, prosaic) features, in a landscape. I rather fancy, that the mind which cannot retain such associations in the presence of steam-engines and stove-pipe hats, is but weakly receptive of them.

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