History, 1838–1856, volume B-1 [1 September 1834–2 November 1838]

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction
Page 675
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<December 31 Mummies.> of last July. It has been said that the purchasers of these antiquities pretend they have the body of Abraham, Abimelech, The king of the Philistines. Joseph who was sold into Egypt, &c, &c, for the purpose of attracting the attention of the multitude, and gulling the unwarry; which is utterly false. Who these ancient inhabitants of Egypts were I do not, at present, say. Abraham was buried on his own possession “in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron, the Son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre,” which he purchased of the sons of Heth; Abimelech lived in the same country and for ought we know died there; and the children of Israel carried Joseph’s bones from Egypt, when they went out under Moses. Consequently could not have been found in Egypt in the <Egyptian Records.> nineteenth century. The record of Abraham and Joseph, found with the Mummies, is beautifully written on papyrus with black, and a small part, red ink or paint, in perfect preservation. The characters are such as you find upon the coffins of Mummies; hieroglyphics, &c. with many characters or letters like the present (though probably not quite so square,) form of the Hebrew without points. “These records were obtained from one of the Catacombs, or in Egypt, near the place where once stood the renowned city of Thebes, by the celebrated French traveller Antonio Lebolo. in the year 1831. He procured license from Mehemet Ali, then Viceroy of Egypt, under the protection of Chevalier Drovetti, the French consul, in the 1828; employed 433 men, four months and two days, (if I understood correctly,) Egyptian or Turkish soldiers, at from four to 6 cents per Diem, each man: entered the catacomb June 7th 1831. and obtained eleven mummies. There were several hun[HC 2:348]dred mummies in the same catacomb; about one hundred embalmed after the first order, and deposited and placed in niches; and two or three hundred after the second and third order; and laid upon the floor or bottom of the grand cavity; The two last orders of Embalmed were so decayed that they could not be removed, and only eleven of the first found in the niches. On his way from Alexandria to Paris he put in at Trieste, and after ten days illness expired. This was in the year 1832. Previous to his decease, he made a will of the whole to Mr , (then in . Pa, <Pennsylvania.>) his nephew, whom he supposed to have been in Ireland. Accordingly the whole were sent to Dublin, and ’s friends ordered them to , where they were received at the Custom house in the winter or Spring of 1833. In April of the same year, paid the duties, and took possession of his mummies. Up to this time, they had not been taken out of the coffins nor the coffins opened. On opening the coffins he discovered that in connection with two of the bodies, were something rolled up with the same kind of linen, saturated with the same bitumen, which when examined, proved to be two rolls of papyrus [p. 675]
December 31 Mummies. of last July. It has been said that the purchasers of these antiquities pretend they have the body of Abraham, Abimelech, The king of the Philistines. Joseph who was sold into Egypt, &c, &c, for the purpose of attracting the attention of the multitude, and gulling the unwarry; which is utterly false. Who these ancient inhabitants of Egypts were I do not, at present, say. Abraham was buried on his own possession “in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron, the Son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre,” which he purchased of the sons of Heth; Abimelech lived in the same country and for ought we know died there; and the children of Israel carried Joseph’s bones from Egypt, when they went out under Moses. Consequently could not have been found in Egypt in the Egyptian Records. nineteenth century. The record of Abraham and Joseph, found with the Mummies, is beautifully written on papyrus with black, and a small part, red ink or paint, in perfect preservation. The characters are such as you find upon the coffins of Mummies; hieroglyphics, &c. with many characters or letters like the present (though probably not quite so square,) form of the Hebrew without points. “These records were obtained from one of the Catacombs, in Egypt, near the place where once stood the renowned city of Thebes, by the celebrated French traveller Antonio Lebolo. in the year 1831. He procured license from Mehemet Ali, then Viceroy of Egypt, under the protection of Chevalier Drovetti, the French consul, in the 1828; employed 433 men, four months and two days, (if I understood correctly,) Egyptian or Turkish soldiers, at from four to 6 cents per Diem, each man: entered the catacomb June 7th 1831. and obtained eleven mummies. There were several hun[HC 2:348]dred mummies in the same catacomb; about one hundred embalmed after the first order, and deposited and placed in niches; and two or three hundred after the second and third order; and laid upon the floor or bottom of the grand cavity; The two last orders of Embalmed were so decayed that they could not be removed, and only eleven of the first found in the niches. On his way from Alexandria to Paris he put in at Trieste, and after ten days illness expired. This was in the year 1832. Previous to his decease, he made a will of the whole to Mr , (then in . , Pennsylvania.) his nephew, whom he supposed to have been in Ireland. Accordingly the whole were sent to Dublin, and ’s friends ordered them to , where they were received at the Custom house in the winter or Spring of 1833. In April of the same year, paid the duties, and took possession of his mummies. Up to this time, they had not been taken out of the coffins nor the coffins opened. On opening the coffins he discovered that in connection with two of the bodies, were something rolled up with the same kind of linen, saturated with the same bitumen, which when examined, proved to be two rolls of papyrus [p. 675]
Page 675