National Geographic : 1963 Oct
United States-three dikes will be constructed to protect the monuments. In a decade, visi tors may stroll once more, as perhaps Cleo patra did, under Philae's acacias and palms. I found the roof of the pylon of the Isis temple an ideal place for contemplating this ancient highway that is the Nile. Beside me sat Dr. Francois Daumas, a French Egyptol ogist. We spoke of Nubia's long past; one could imagine the spectacle of Pharaoh's sol diers pressing through the valley. Even in the very early days, Nubia linked the Mediterranean with Africa south of the Sahara. And as with many such corridors, it was a battleground. There is the famous re port of a campaign under the Egyptian King Snefru 4,600 years ago: "The land of Nubia hacked to pieces; 7,000 men and women and 200,000 cattle and sheep led away." In quieter times, Egyptians exploited Nu bia's mines and quarries. In the Turin mu seum, Dr. Daumas and I recalled, is a papyrus with the location of gold mines-believed to 594 be those in the Wadi el 'Allaqi-sketched on it. It is one of the oldest maps in existence. Traders passed on their way south with honey, wheat, and cloth, and returned with ebony, panther skins, ivory-and once, ac cording to an old record, with a pygmy. Eventually, Nubians took power over all Egypt, ruling from 750 to 656 B.C. as the Phar aohs of the XXVth Dynasty. Then Greek and Roman conquerors swept the Nile Valley. In time, the Roman garrisons were pressed by the Blemmyes, a nomadic people of the East ern Desert, and other tribes. For centuries the Romans struggled against them. Tradition has it that Christianity reached Alexandria in the middle of the first century; the new religion gradually replaced the old Egyptian gods. Islam conquered Egypt in the year 641, but Christian kingdoms lingered in southern Nubia for another 800 years. Nubia is a place where great changes have always come slowly; where neither the three Nubian dialects nor the Arab settlements scattered through Nubia have altered their identity; where time-like the Nile-has seemed to have neither beginning nor end. Only now, as the shadow of the High Dam falls on this sunbaked land, have months and days and hours begun to matter. The time left for salvaging operations is short, and the 0 10 20 30 40 STATUTE MILES DRAWN BY LISA BIGANZOLI COMPILED BY DOROTHY A. NICHOLSON © NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY 2d Cataract Mirgissa A Dabnarti/ Stump-armed figurine and foot-long drinking glass exempli fy small but important finds made by scientists of many lands who dig to save Nubia's antiquities. Cairo University team found the pottery image. Nubian Expedi tion of Chicago's Oriental Insti tute, working with Cairo's Swiss Institute, discovered the glass. Akasha KODACHROMES (C N.G.S.