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with one limb shorter than the other, and curving inwards. The longer limb, or handle, was of uniform thickness, round and smooth, sometimes with a knob at the end; and the lower extremity of the blade was of increased breadth, and either terminated in a sharp point, or was rounded at the end. The blade was frequently inserted into the handle,* and they were bound together, about the centre, with a twisted rope. Being the most common tool, answering for hoe, spade, and pick, it is frequently represented in the sculptures; and several, which have been found in the tombs of Thebes, are preserved in the museums of Europe.
The hoe in hieroglyphics stands for the letter M, though the name of this instrument was in Egyptian, as in Arabic, Tóré. It forms the commencement of the word Mai, "beloved," and enters into numerous other combinations.
There are no instances of hoes with metal blades, except of very late time, nor is there any proof of the ploughshare having been sheathed with metal.
*Woodcut 361, fig. 2.
The axe had a metal blade, either bronze or iron; and the peasants are sometimes represented felling trees with this implement; while others are employed in hoeing the field preparatory to its being sown,-confirming what I before observed, that the ancient, as well as the modern, Egyptians frequently dispensed with the use of the plough.
The admission of swine into the fields, mentioned by Herodotus, should rather have been before than after they had sowed the land, since their habits would do little good to the farmer,
Pigs; rarely seen in the sculptures; and never before the 18th dynasty.
a is a whip, knotted like some of our own. ba gayd, or noose, often used as the emblem of a shepherd.
and other animals would answer as well for "treading in the grain ;" but they may have been used before for clearing the fields of the roots and weeds encouraged by the inundation; and this seems to be confirmed by the herd of pigs with water plants represented in the tombs.
They sometimes used a top dressing of nitrous soil, which was spread over the surface; a custom continued to the present day: but this was confined to certain crops, and principally to those reared late in the year; the fertilising properties of the alluvial deposit answering all the purposes of the richest manure. Its peculiar quality is not merely indicated by its effects, but by the appearance it presents; and when left upon rock, and dried by the sun, it resembles pottery, from its brittleness and consistence. Its component parts, according to the analysis given by Regnault in the "Mémoires sur l'Egypte," are
6 oxide of iron.
4 carbonate of magnesia.
the quantity of silica and alumen varying according to the places whence the mud is taken, which frequently contains a great admixture of sand near the banks, and a larger proportion of argillaceous matter at a distance from the river.
The same quality of soil and alluvial deposit seems to accompany the Nile in its course from Abyssinia to the Mediterranean; and though the White River is the principal stream, being much broader, bringing a larger supply of water, and coming from a greater distance than the Blue (Black) River, or Abyssinian branch, which rises a little beyond the lake Dembea, still this last claims the merit of possessing the real peculiarities of the Nile, and of supplying those fertilising properties which mark its course
to the sea. The White River, or western branch, likewise overflows its banks, but no rich mud accompanies its inundation; and though, from the force of its stream (which brings down numbers of large fish and shells at the commencement of its rise, probably from passing through some large lakes), there is evidence of its being supplied by an abundance of heavy rain, we may conclude that the nature of the soil, along the whole of its course, differs considerably from that of the Abyssinian branch.
And here I may mention that the name Bahr el Azrek, opposed to Bahr el Abiad, or "White River," should be translated Black (not Blue) River; azrek, though signifying "blue," being also used in the sense of our "jet black;" and hossán azrek is a "black (not a blue) horse."
Besides the admixture of nitrous earth, the Egyptians made use of other kinds of dressing; and sought for different productions, the soils best suited to them. They even took advantage of the edge of the desert, for growing the vine and some other plants, which, being composed of clay and sand, was peculiarly adapted to such as required a light soil; and the cultivation of this additional tract, which only stood in need of proper irrigation to become highly productive, had the advantage of increasing considerably the extent of the arable land of Egypt. In many places we still find evidence of its having been tilled by the ancient inhabitants, even to the late time of the Roman empire; and in some parts of the Fyoom, the vestiges of beds and channels for irrigation, as well as the roots of vines, are found in sites lying far above the level of the rest of the country. The occupation of the husbandman produce he had determined on rearing.
depended much on the Those who solely culti
vated corn had little more to do than to await the time of harvest; but many crops required constant attention, and some stood in need of frequent artificial irrigation.
In order to give a general notion of the quality of the crops, and other peculiarities relating to their agriculture, I shall introduce the principal productions of Egypt in the two following tables; of which the first presents those raised after the retirement of the inundation :
Sown in November; reaped in beginning of April,
Sown in October or November; cut in about 4
Sown in the middle of November; ripen in 90 or 100 days.
Sown in the middle or end of November; ripen in 100 or 110 days.
Id. Called Sapuos in Coptic, which is still retained
Sown in beginning of October; first crop after 60
The Helbeh, or Trigonella foenum-græcum, sown
Sown at same time as wheat in November, ripens
* Pliny says in the sixth, and wheat in the seventh, month after sowing, xviii. 7.