The past season of the British School of Archaeology in Egypt, the work of which has been carried out under the direction of Prof. Flinders Ptrie, has been of unusual value. It resulted not only in bringing to light more evidences of the earliest eras of Egyptian civilization, but it also demonstrated the prevalence of this civilization over a wide tract of country. Hitherto the early kings have only been traced at Abydos in Upper Egypt, but now their works have been found near Cairo. These latest excavations and researches establish conclusively the uniformity of this civilization of Egypt over the country early in the first dynasty5400 B. C. During a period of several thousand years a common government, ideas, habits, and standard of art prevailed. The details of working in stone, of the forms of pottery, and of the chipping of flints are identical in the same reign at points 300 miles apart. The country excavated during the past year lies rather more than a mile south of the pyramids of Gizeh, opposite Cairo. Here a series of fifty-two graves were found surrounding a royal tomb. They extended in longitudinal rows each separated from its neighbor by a thin earthen partition or wall. One-half of these vaults contained relics such as pottery placed in a basket, slate palettes containing red and black paint as used by the painters and scribes, glazed pottery ornaments and vases, ivory carvings, and delicate needles of gold provided with minute eyes. The age of these relics is definitely determined by a clay seal which was unearthed and which bears the name of King Zet, the third monarch of the first dynasty. In another great sepulcher seals of the second dynasty were found, while a third great sepulcher, of the third dynasty, yielded about sixty-five small stone marbles fashioned out of milky quartz, brown quartz, and cornelian, and which were used in some early Egyptian game. This discovery goes to show that the use of marbles for a pastime is of extremely ancient origin. These discoveries through the first three dynasties throw light upon early civilization at Gizeh during the 800 years before the erection of the colossal pyramids in 4700 B. C. At Rifeh, near Asyut in Upper Egypt, so well known for the American College there, other discoveries were made. At this point a large cemetery was excavated which had been buried by gravel washed down from the hills. But the very material which had obliterated the burial ground had served to preserve its most interesting possession from an archaeological point of view. This was a unique series of "soul houses"; little models of residences which were placed upon the grave for the accommodation of the liberated soul. These are the actual dwellings in which the soul was believed to reside, and they are modeled for all classes, from the wealthiest to the poorest. Not only do they afford us an interesting insight into Egyptian relig-ous beliefs and practices, but also in their various forms show the types of dwellings favored in the days about 3500 B. C. The simplest type of "soul house" is a crude affair, comprising in fact a single room with one or two openings with a slight shelter propped up on poles like a Bedawy tent. Curiously enough, the typical residence of the lower classes of society has scarcely altered during the passage of the centuries, for it bears a very striking resemblance to the peasant's home of to-day. Some of the houses were more elaborate. Usually a portico or veranda with raised edges ran around the roof, with generally a small chamber behind it, which was gained by means of a stairway. In other cases a hut was placed beneath the portico while a back chamber was also provided, fitted with a doorway. The closed room performed the office of storeroom and was shut with a mat of maize stalks. The more elaborate soul houses had wind openings similar to those of modern Egyptian residences, and an upper veranda on the roof. In some instances the houses were more imposing, possessing two stories, while others had three divisions on the roofs and several types of closed doors, while in one instance there were serrated walls such as are adopted in the more modern buildings upon the site of this ancient cemetery. In addition to the mere residences, miniature articles of furniture are shown. There is the couch with a headrest, the stool, and a woman making bread under the sloping stairway. The constructive details are of great interest, there being flying brick stairways curved in a quadrant, which show much ability in arching. A side of a house shows a flat-arched roof to the ground floor, where there was plenty of weight on the spring, but a high-arched parabolic skew roof to the upper floor, and a small arch over the front gallery. In some cases hood moldings were placed over some windows, showing that the residences from which the miniatures were copied were situated in a wet climate. The ventilation of some of these soul houses was of an elaborate character. Commissariat for the dead person was not neglected. In some of the houses the roofs carried corn bins. There were also for the soul's sustenance ribs, bulls' heads, haunches, and so forth, together with adequate supplies of water. Apparently each house was designed for one soul. Another discovery was a very fine group of coffins, etc., in an untouched tomb dating back to approximately 3300 B. C. The outer shells are elaborately painted and at first sight, owing to the skill with which the work is carried out, resemble inlay or mosaic work. The coffins themselves were of huge dimensions, of rectangular form, and upon being opened revealed fine examples of mummy cases, covered with intricate and delicate colored patterns of the most exquisite workmanship. Many relics were found, including statuettes ranging from six to eleven inches in height representing the dead persons and their retinue of servants, the latter bearing on their heads and in their arms baskets and vases of offerings. Possibly the quaintest and most interesting finds were two small models of river boats of the period, of beautiful workmanship, and in excellent preservation. In one instance the craft is being rowed down the Nile, the mast being stowed, and the sail packed up, with five of the crew seated on either side at their oars. In the other case the mast is stepped, the boat being before the wind, and the crew are shown in the act of hauling up the yards, the oars being discarded. In the bow is the look-out, while at the stern is the helmsman, both being closely wrapped up to protect them from the bitterness of the north wind, while the members of the crew have donned a kilt in accordance with the usual procedure when the boat was sailing with the wind. On the deck of each boat is a cabin in front of which sits the captain. Both the boats and their equipment are intact, the steering oars mounted on a rudder post extending upward from the deck and finely painted with eyes of Horus, lotus flowers, and rosettes. One feature of these models is the striking definition with which the members of the crew are reproduced in the carving. Some excellent specimens of the weapons of the period wrought in copper were also found. The finest example is a dagger fitted with a handsome ebony and silver handle; it has since been placed on view in the Fine Art Museum at Boston, Mass. A seated figure executed in granite, and which is very rare in this period, is now preserved in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, and other objects, all excellent specimens of their character, have been acquired by various other museums. Coming down to a more recent periodabout 1500 B. C.a large quantity of quaint figures or statuettes worked in rough pottery and limestone were found, together with some furniture, the most interesting specimens of which are a folding stool, and the lid of a basket in a splendid state of preservation and of fine workmanship. Valuable discoveries were also made in a Coptic monastery of the seventh century. Here a set of leather workers' needles and knife was found packed in a small leather case or pouch for convenience of transport, together with many stone inscriptions and a great quantity of leaves of manuscripts, one of which, here shown, contains the ninth chapter of the Book of Hebrews. Upon this same site many other fragments of the Bible, apocryphal books, lives of saints, and business transactions were also brought to light. During the coming winter the British School of Archaeology in Egypt will commence the clearing and investigation of the ruins of Memphis, from which many valuable and important results bearing more particularly upon the commerce of the early Egyptians are anticipated. The work will be carried out under the direction of Prof. Flinders Ptrie, to whom we are indebted for the information and photographs accompanying this article, assisted by six students. Memphis was the great capital and commercial center of the life of Egypt throughout a period of 6,000 years. Thanks to the substantial support which has been accorded to this undertaking from this country, principally through the efforts of Dr. Winslow of Boston, a great number of valuable objects of ancient Egyptian civilization, handicraft, and commerce are assured every year for the enrichment of the various American museums. The Sense of Vision in Vertebrates and Cephalopods. IN order to form an idea of the sense of vision in vertebrates and cephalopods, the refraction and accommodation should be considered. The human eye, like a photographic camera, is always adjusted only for a given distance, and the normal human eye in a state of rest for an infinite distance. Those objects which are situated close to the eye cannot be reproduced by a well-defined image in the retina unless the eye be adjusted for or accommodated to a smaller distance. This is performed by the function of a system of angular muscles situated in the eye socket, and which is able to alter the convexity and accordingly the refraction of the eye. Some interesting facts about the question of sight accommodation for varying distances in the case of higher and lower animals were given by Prof. Heine at the last Congress of German Naturalists and Physi- cians. It was pointed out that in all mammalia and birds, as well as in many amphibia, mechanism of accommodation similar to that of the human eye is found with more or less perfection, being specially developed in apes. The bigger the animal and its eye, the less this power of accommodation seems to be developed. In the case of birds a considerable improvement is obtained by the transversely striped muscular system as compared with the smooth muscular system of mammalia. The focus may thus be altered with remarkable rapidity, which is especially important in the case of birds catching their prey while flying. In many reptiles another mechanism of accommodation is found, the lens being displaced instead of being deformed, being protruded or withdrawn. This allows of a very ample accommodation, and in certain species a combination of both mechanisms is found. The eye of fishes is adjusted most actively to a distance by the (rigid) lens being drawn backward. It is interesting to note that in the case of inferior animals such as cephalopods (polyps, sepia, etc.) the most complicated eye mechanism should be found, the eyes of these animals being adjusted from a central position to greater or smaller distance by a forward or backward displacement of a rigid lens under the action of an internal muscular system. While these mollusks are otherwise far below even the lowest vertebrates, their mechanism of adjustment seems to be comparable to that of some highly developed birds, and by no means to the far more elementary accommodation mechanism of man. In fact, comparative physiology shows man to be inferior from the point of view of his senses to many animals, being excelled by dogs as regards his sense of smell, by most animals as to his sense of hearing and even by the lowest mollusks as to his power of vision. Venus as a Luminous Ring. Venus has on many occasions been observed when its phase corresponded to that of the new moon, but recently the excessively rare phenomenon of Venus as a luminous ring was noted by Messrs. Russell and Daniel of Princeton Observatory, using a 5-inch finder. The observation was made on the 29th of November, 1907, at 5h. 7m. (G.M.T.), when Venus was 1 deg. 49 min. away from the center of the sun. At this time the planet was theoretically invisible. However, during moments of atmospheric tranquillity, the planet detached itself clearly on the black of the sky, and showed itself surrounded by a luminous ring, the interior of which seemed darker than the surrounding space. It is believed, however, that this characteristic is a subjective effect. The ring phase may be observed again in 1914, after which it will be necessary to wait until 1972 before a favorable opportunity of studying it will again be provided. The British Admiralty have created a new post of Inspector of Diving. At present the inspector will have his headquarters on the "Excellent," and will have sole charge of the instructional duties and of all questions that may arise in regard to diving, under the general directions of the captain of the "Excellent." The intention is that the officer holding this appointment, while still borne for gunnery duties, shall be looked upon as the diving expert in the navy, to whom all questions may be referred through the usual official channels.
This article was originally published with the title "Recent Archæological Discoveries in Egypt"