Tuesday morning. Walk by the lake with our guns our shoulder.

December 11th, 1849, 12am

Tuesday morning. Walk by the lake with our guns on our shoulder. Arrival of Neuville, escorted by a number of gentlemen - pipe and coffee - killing of doves at the edge of a hole where a colossus lies, his stomach in the water. We ride on horseback through cultivated fields, riding a long dusty dirt road, and head towards the pyramids of Sakkara. At the foot on a pyramid we meet these gentlemen again; they have lost Neuville, we hear him shooting in the background. Tremendous amount of scorpions. Arabs come to us offering yellowed skulls and painted boards. The soil seems made of human remains - to mend the bridle of my horse, my servant takes a bone fragment. The earth is made of holes and knolls created by wells, we go up and down, it would be dangerous to gallop in this collapsed plain. Camels pass, led by a black child. To get ibises we go down a well; then it’s a corridor into which we must crawl on our bellies, we crawl on sand and fragments of pottery; at the bottom, the pots with ibises are stored as the sugar loaves at a grocer’s, head to tail.


We tumble down on the sand through a narrow opening: buried square columns, remains of paint and of a beautiful drawing, vaulted rooms with longitudinal convex stones; corbels at the cornices, alcoves for the mummies. It must have been a very beautiful place.

Back from Abousir to Memphis at a gallop.

We read our notes on Memphis, lying on the carpet - the fleas jump onto the paper - walk at sunset in the palm trees, their shadow spreads on the green grass like the columns must have done once on the big missing slab stones. The palm tree, an architectural tree. Everything in Egypt seems made for architecture, plans of the fields, vegetation, human anatomies - line of the horizon.

Cassie and David Wade said thanks.

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Gustave Flaubert

"Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world." [extracts from Flaubert's travel diary written in 1849-1851]

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