In transcribing the following paragraphs from the Internet Archive online version of The Imperial Gazetteer’s entry on Egypt I have divided the long entry into separate documents, expanded abbreviations for easier reading, and added paragraphing and links to material in the Victorian Web. Frith took his photograph the year after the publication of the Gazetteer. — George P. Landow


Dom and Date Palms from Rawlinson. Click on images to enlarge them.

The wild plants of a country such as Egypt, are necessarily few; and these being natives of the desert, have no very interesting character. These desert plants are generally dicotyledonous annuals, characterized by a hairy or thorny exterior, long roots, and leaves of pale green colour, and dry texture. The most common wild shrub is the Acacia seyal, which is almost leafless, and armed with long thorns; its crooked stem usually collects round it a heap of fine sand. The palm tree is rarely seen in a perfectly wild state; yet forests of the date palm, of great antiquity, exist on the East borders of the Delta, and on the site of Memphis. This tree attains a height of 60 or 80 feet, and is prolific only when at tended to. The dates of inferior quality serve for distillation. The doum palm (Cucifera thebaica), singular in its bifurcated forms, arrives at perfection in Upper Egypt, and yields a fruit of the size of an orange; but much less esteemed than the date. The sycamore is the largest and most umbrageous of Egyptian trees, often attaining a circumference of 20 or 30 feet, but with moderate height; it bears a kind of fig on its trunk and larger branches. The oranges, figs, and tamarinds of Egypt are excellent; the European fruits grown there are of inferior quality. The chief timber trees are the acacia lebekh, the cypress, and the Aleppo pine. The sarit or acacia nilotica. valuable for its hard wood, and producing gum arable, increases in size as we ascend the Nile. The late Viceroy, Mahommci! Ali, is said to have planted, chiefly in Lower Egypt, above 16,000,000 of trees of various kinds; and his son, Ibrahim Pasha, planted more than 5,000,000.


The list of the wild animals of Egypt is even still more scanty than that of its flora.

Left: Ichneumon. Right: Eygptian hare. From Rawlinson, volume 1.

The wolf, hyaena, and jackal, habitual inhabitants of the desert, occasionally visit singular manner. the valley of the Nile; there the ichneumon or mangouste, which lives chiefly on eggs, and preys on those of the crocodile among others, is still numerous. The jerboa, or kangaroo like rat, burrows in the sands, and frequents, in great numbers, the plains of Gízeh round the pyramids. The crocodile very rarely descends the Nile below Jirjeh.

Left: Ibex, Orxy, and Gazelle on ancient Eygptian monuments. Right: The Smaller monitor. From Rawlinson, volume 1.

The hippopotamus has long since retired to Upper Nubia, and never visits the waters of Egypt, except when forcibly borne down by the flood, which happened in 1836, when these animals rose into view before Damietta. [2.919]

Crocodile on a Sand-Bank by Francis Frith.


Blackie, Walker Graham. The Imperial Gazetteer: A General Dictionary of Geography, Physical, Political, Statistical and Descriptive. 4 vols. London: Blackie & Son, 1856. Internet Archive. Inline version of a copy in the University of California Library. Web. 31 July 2020.

Frith, Francis. Egypt and Palestine. 2 vols. London: James S. Virtue, 1858-1859. Hathi Trust Digital Library online version of a copy at the Getty Research Institute. Web. 3 August 2020.

Rawlinson, George. History of Ancient Egypt. 2 vols. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1880. Online version from the Hathi Trust Digital Library of a copy in the New York Public Library. Web. 4 August 2020.

Last modified 1 August 2020