HISTORY OF EGYPT
CHALDEA, SYRIA, BABYLONIA, AND ASSYRIA
IN THE LIGHT OF RECENT DISCOVERY
BY L. W. KING and H. R. HALL
Department of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities, British Museum
Containing over 1200 colored plates and illustrations.
It should be noted that many of the monuments and sites of excavations in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, and Kurdistan described in this volume have been visited by the authors in connection with their own work in those countries. The greater number of the photographs here published were taken by the authors themselves. Their thanks are due to M. Ernest Leroux, of Paris, for his kind permission to reproduce a certain number of plates from the works of M. de Morgan, illustrating his recent discoveries in Egypt and Persia, and to Messrs. W. A. Mansell & Co., of London, for kindly allowing them to make use of a number of photographs issued by them.
The present volume contains an account of the most important additions which have been made to our knowledge of the ancient history of Egypt and Western Asia during the few years which have elapsed since the publication of Prof. Maspero's Histoire Ancienne des Peuples de l'Orient Classique, and includes short descriptions of the excavations from which these results have been obtained. It is in no sense a connected and continuous history of these countries, for that has already been written by Prof. Maspero, but is rather intended as an appendix or addendum to his work, briefly recapitulating and describing the discoveries made since its appearance. On this account we have followed a geographical rather than a chronological system of arrangement, but at the same time the attempt has been made to suggest to the mind of the reader the historical sequence of events.
At no period have excavations been pursued with more energy and activity, both in Egypt and Western Asia, than at the present time, and every season's work obliges us to modify former theories, and extends our knowledge of periods of history which even ten years ago were unknown to the historian. For instance, a whole chapter has been added to Egyptian history by the discovery of the Neolithic culture of the primitive Egyptians, while the recent excavations at Susa are revealing a hitherto totally unsuspected epoch of proto-Elamite civilization. Further than this, we have discovered the relics of the oldest historical kings of Egypt, and we are now enabled to reconstitute from material as yet unpublished the inter-relations of the early dynasties of Babylon. Important discoveries have also been made with regard to isolated points in the later historical periods. We have therefore attempted to include the most important of these in our survey of recent excavations and their results. We would again remind the reader that Prof. Maspero's great work must be consulted for the complete history of the period, the present volume being, not a connected history of Egypt and Western Asia, but a description and discussion of the manner in which recent discovery and research have added to and modified our conceptions of ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilization.
I. The Discovery of Prehistoric Egypt
II. Abydos and the First Three Dynasties
III. Memphis and the Pyramids
IV. Recent Excavations in Western Asia and the Dawn of Chaldaean History
V. Elam and Babylon, the Country of the Sea and the Kassites
VI. Early Babylonian Life and Customs
VII. Temples and Tombs of Thebes
VIII. The Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian Empires in the Light of Recent Research
IX. The Last Days of Ancient Egypt
EGYPT AND MESOPOTAMIA
In the Light of Recent Excavation and Research
CHAPTER I—THE DISCOVERY OF PREHISTORIC EGYPT
During the last ten years our conception of the beginnings of Egyptian antiquity has profoundly altered. When Prof. Maspero published the first volume of his great Histoire Ancienne des Peuples des l'Orient Classique, in 1895, Egyptian history, properly so called, still began with the Pyramid-builders, Sne-feru, Khufu, and Khafra (Cheops and Chephren), and the legendary lists of earlier kings preserved at Abydos and Sakkara were still quoted as the only source of knowledge of the time before the IVth Dynasty. Of a prehistoric Egypt nothing was known, beyond a few flint flakes gathered here and there upon the desert plateaus, which might or might not tell of an age when the ancestors of the Pyramid-builders knew only the stone tools and weapons of the primeval savage.
Now, however, the veil which has hidden the beginnings of Egyptian civilization from us has been lifted, and we see things, more or less, as they actually were, unobscured by the traditions of a later day. Until the last few years nothing of the real beginnings of history in either Egypt or Mesopotamia had been found; legend supplied the only material for the reconstruction of the earliest history of the oldest civilized nations of the globe. Nor was it seriously supposed that any relics of prehistoric Egypt or Mesopotamia ever would be found. The antiquity of the known history of these countries already appeared so great that nobody took into consideration the possibility of our discovering a prehistoric Egypt or Mesopotamia; the idea was too remote from practical work. And further, civilization in these countries had lasted so long that it seemed more than probable that all traces of their prehistoric age had long since been swept away. Yet the possibility, which seemed hardly worth a moment's consideration in 1895, is in 1905 an assured reality, at least as far as Egypt is concerned. Prehistoric Babylonia has yet to be discovered. It is true, for example, that at Mukay-yar, the site of ancient Ur of the Chaldees, burials in earthenware coffins, in which the skeletons lie in the doubled-up position characteristic of Neolithic interments, have been found; but there is no doubt whatever that these are burials of a much later date, belonging, quite possibly, to the Parthian period. Nothing that may rightfully be termed prehistoric has yet been found in the Euphrates valley, whereas in Egypt prehistoric antiquities are now almost as well known and as well represented in our museums as are the prehistoric antiquities of Europe and America.
With the exception of a few palasoliths from the surface of the Syrian desert, near the Euphrates valley, not a single implement of the Age of Stone has yet been found in Southern Mesopotamia, whereas Egypt has yielded to us the most perfect examples of the flint-knapper's art known, flint tools and weapons more beautiful than the finest that Europe and America can show. The reason is not far to seek. Southern Mesopotamia is an alluvial country, and the ancient cities, which doubtless mark the sites of the oldest settlements in the land, are situated in the alluvial marshy plain between the Tigris and the Euphrates; so that all traces of the Neolithic culture of the country would seem to have disappeared, buried deep beneath city-mounds, clay and marsh. It is the same in the Egyptian Delta, a similar country; and here no traces of the prehistoric culture of Egypt have been found. The attempt to find them was made last year at Buto, which is known to be one of the most antique centres of civilization, and probably was one of the earliest settlements in Egypt, but without success. The infiltration of water had made excavation impossible and had no doubt destroyed everything belonging to the most ancient settlement. It is not going too far to predict that exactly the same thing will be found by any explorer who tries to discover a Neolithic stratum beneath a city-mound of Babylonia. There is little hope that prehistoric Chaldaea will ever be known to us. But in Egypt the conditions are different. The Delta is like Babylonia, it is true; but in the Upper Nile valley the river flows down with but a thin border of alluvial land on either side, through the rocky and hilly desert, the dry Sahara, where rain falls but once in two or three years. Antiquities buried in this soil in the most remote ages are preserved intact as they were first interred, until the modern investigator comes along to look for them. And it is on the desert margin of the valley that the remains of prehistoric Egypt have been found. That is the reason for their perfect preservation till our own day, and why we know prehistoric Egypt so well.
The chief work of Egyptian civilization was the proper irrigation of the alluvial soil, the turning of marsh into cultivated fields, and the reclamation of land from the desert for the purposes of agriculture. Owing to the rainless character of the country, the only means of obtaining water for the crops is by irrigation, and where the fertilizing Nile water cannot be taken by means of canals, there cultivation ends and the desert begins. Before Egyptian civilization, properly so called, began, the valley was a great marsh through which the Nile found its way north to the sea. The half-savage, stone-using ancestors of the civilized Egyptians hunted wild fowl, crocodiles, and hippopotami in the marshy valley; but except in a few isolated settlements on convenient mounds here and there (the forerunners of the later villages), they did not live there. Their settlements were on the dry desert margin, and it was here, upon low tongues of desert hill jutting out into the plain, that they buried their dead. Their simple shallow graves were safe from the flood, and, but for the depredations of jackals and hyenas, here they have remained intact till our own day, and have yielded up to us the facts from which we have derived our knowledge of prehistoric Egypt. Thus it is that we know so much of the Egyptians of the Stone Age, while of their contemporaries in Mesopotamia we know nothing, nor is anything further likely to be discovered.
But these desert cemeteries, with their crowds of oval shallow graves, covered by only a few inches of surface soil, in which the Neolithic Egyptians lie crouched up with their flint implements and polished pottery beside them, are but monuments of the later age of prehistoric Egypt. Long before the Neolithic Egyptian hunted his game in the marshes, and here and there essayed the work of reclamation for the purposes of an incipient agriculture, a far older race inhabited the valley of the Nile. The written records of Egyptian civilization go back four thousand years before Christ, or earlier, and the Neolithic Age of Egypt must go back to a period several thousand years before that. But we can now go back much further still, to the Palaeolithic Age of Egypt. At a time when Europe was still covered by the ice and snows of the Glacial Period, and man fought as an equal, hardly yet as a superior, with cave-bear and mammoth, the Palaeolithic Egyptians lived on the banks of the Nile. Their habitat was doubtless the desert slopes, often, too, the plateaus themselves; but that they lived entirely upon the plateaus, high up above the Nile marsh, is improbable. There, it is true, we find their flint implements, the great pear-shaped weapons of the types of Chelles, St. Acheul, and Le Moustier, types well known to all who are acquainted with the flint implements of the "Drift" in Europe. And it is there that the theory, generally accepted hitherto, has placed the habitat of the makers and users of these implements.
The idea was that in Palaeolithic days, contemporary with the Glacial Age of Northern Europe and America, the climate of Egypt was entirely different from that of later times and of to-day. Instead of dry desert, the mountain plateaus bordering the Nile valley were supposed to have been then covered with forest, through which flowed countless streams to feed the river below. It was suggested that remains of these streams were to be seen in the side ravines, or wadis, of the Nile valley, which run up from the low desert on the river level into the hills on either hand. These wadis undoubtedly show extensive traces of strong water action; they curve and twist as the streams found their easiest way to the level through the softer strata, they are heaped up with great water-worn boulders, they are hollowed out where waterfalls once fell. They have the appearance of dry watercourses, exactly what any mountain burns would be were the water-supply suddenly cut off for ever, the climate altered from rainy to eternal sun-glare, and every plant and tree blasted, never to grow again. Acting on the supposition that this idea was a correct one, most observers have concluded that the climate of Egypt in remote periods was very different from the dry, rainless one now obtaining. To provide the water for the wadi streams, heavy rainfall and forests are desiderated. They were easily supplied, on the hypothesis. Forests clothed the mountain plateaus, heavy rains fell, and the water rushed down to the Nile, carving out the great watercourses which remain to this day, bearing testimony to the truth. And the flints, which the Palaeolithic inhabitants of the plateau-forests made and used, still lie on the now treeless and sun-baked desert surface.
This is certainly a very weak conclusion. In fact, it seriously damages the whole argument, the water-courses to the contrary notwithstanding. The palaeoliths are there. They can be picked up by any visitor. There they lie, great flints of the Drift types, just like those found in the gravel-beds of England and Belgium, on the desert surface where they were made. Undoubtedly where they were made, for the places where they lie are the actual ancient flint workshops, where the flints were chipped. Everywhere around are innumerable flint chips and perfect weapons, burnt black and patinated by ages of sunlight. We are taking one particular spot in the hills of Western Thebes as an example, but there are plenty of others, such as the Wadi esh-Shekh on the right bank of the Nile opposite Maghagha, whence Mr. H. Seton-Karr has brought back specimens of flint tools of all ages from the Palaeolithic to the Neolithic periods.
The Palaeolithic flint workshops on the Theban hills have been visited of late years by Mr. Seton-Karr, by Prof. Schweinfurth, Mr. Allen Sturge, and Dr. Blanckenhorn, by Mr. Portch, Mr. Ayrton, and Mr. Hall. The weapons illustrated here were found by Messrs. Hall and Ayrton, and are now preserved in the British Museum. Among these flints shown we notice two fine specimens of the pear-shaped type of St. Acheul, with curious adze-shaped implements of primitive type to left and right. Below, to the right, is a very primitive instrument of Chellean type, being merely a sharpened pebble. Above, to left and right, are two specimens of the curious half-moon-shaped instruments which are characteristic of the Theban flint field and are hardly known elsewhere. All have the beautiful brown patina, which only ages of sunburn can give. The "poignard" type to the left, at the bottom of the plate, is broken off short.
In the smaller illustration we see some remarkable types: two scrapers or knives with strongly marked "bulb of percussion" (the spot where the flint-knapper struck and from which the flakes flew off), a very regular coup-de-poing which looks almost like a large arrowhead, and on the right a much weathered and patinated scraper which must be of immemorial age.
This came from the top plateau, not from the slopes (or subsidiary plateaus at the head of the wadis), as did the great St. Acheulian weapons. The circular object is very remarkable: it is the half of the ring of a "morpholith "(a round flinty accretion often found in the Theban limestone) which has been split, and the split (flat) side carefully bevelled. Several of these interesting objects have been found in conjunction with Palaeolithic implements at Thebes. No doubt the flints lie on the actual surface where they were made. No later water action has swept them away and covered them with gravel, no later human habitation has hidden them with successive deposits of soil, no gradual deposit of dust and rubbish has buried them deep. They lie as they were left in the far-away Palaeolithic Age, and they have lain there till taken away by the modern explorer.
But this is not the case with all the Palaeolithic flints of Thebes. In the year 1882 Maj.-Gen. Pitt-Rivers discovered Palaeolithic flints in the deposit of diluvial detritus which lies between the cultivation and the mountains on the west bank of the Nile opposite Luxor. Many of these are of the same type as those found on the surface of the mountain plateau which lies at the head of the great wadi of the Tombs of the Kings, while the diluvial deposit is at its mouth. The stuff of which the detritus is composed evidently came originally from the high plateau, and was washed down, with the flints, in ancient times.
This is quite conceivable, but how is it that the flints left behind on the plateau remain on the original ancient surface? How is it conceivable that if (on the old theory) these plateaus were in Palaeolithic days clothed with forest, the Palaeolithic flints could even in a single instance remain undisturbed from Palaeolithic times to the present day, when the forest in which they were made and the forest soil on which they reposed have entirely disappeared? If there were woods and forests On the heights, it would seem impossible that we should find, as we do, Palaeolithic implements lying in situ on the desert surface, around the actual manufactories where they were made. Yet if the constant rainfall and the vegetation of the Libyan desert area in Palaeolithic days is all a myth (as it most probably is), how came the embedded palaeoliths, found by Gen. Pitt-Rivers, in the bed of diluvial detritus which is apparently debris from the plateau brought down by the Palaeolithic wadi streams?
Water erosion has certainly formed the Theban wadis. But this water erosion was probably not that which would be the result of perennial streams flowing down from wooded heights, but of torrents like those of to-day, which fill the wadis once in three years or so after heavy rain, but repeated at much closer intervals. We may in fact suppose just so much difference in meteorological conditions as would make it possible for sudden rain-storms to occur over the desert at far more frequent intervals than at present. That would account for the detritus bed at the mouth of the wadi, and its embedded flints, and at the same time maintain the general probability of the idea that the desert plateaus were desert in Palaeolithic days as now, and that early man only knapped his flints up there because he found the flint there. He himself lived on the slopes and nearer the marsh.
This new view seems to be much sounder and more probable than the old one, maintained by Flinders Petrie and Blanckenhorn, according to which the high plateau was the home of man in Palaeolithic times, when the rainfall, as shown by the valley erosion and waterfalls, must have caused an abundant vegetation on the plateau, where man could live and hunt his game. [*Petrie, Nagada and Ballas, p. 49.] Were this so, it is patent that the Palaeolithic flints could not have been found on the desert surface as they are. Mr. H. J. L. Beadnell, of the Geological Survey of Egypt, to whom we are indebted for the promulgation of the more modern and probable view, says: "Is it certain that the high plateau was then clothed with forests? What evidence is there to show that it differed in any important respect from its present aspect? And if, as I suggest, desert conditions obtained then as now, and man merely worked his flints along the edges of the plateaus overlooking the Nile valley, I see no reason why flint implements, dating even from Palaeolithic times should not in favourable cases still be found in the spots where they were left, surrounded by the flakes struck off in manufacture. On the flat plateaus the occasional rains which fall—once in three or four years—can effect but little transport of material, and merely lower the general level by dissolving the underlying limestone, so that the plateau surface is left with a coating of nodules and blocks of insoluble flint and chert. Flint implements might thus be expected to remain in many localities for indefinite periods, but they would certainly become more or less 'patinated,' pitted on the surface, and rounded at the angles after long exposure to heat, cold, and blown sand." This is exactly the case of the Palaeolithic flint tools from the desert plateau.
We do not know whether Palaeolithic man in Egypt was contemporary with the cave-man of Europe. We have no means of gauging the age of the Palaeolithic Egyptian weapons, as we have for the Neolithic period. The historical (dynastic) period of Egyptian annals began with the unification of the kingdom under one head somewhere about 4500 B.C. At that time copper as well as stone weapons were used, so that we may say that at the beginning of the historical age the Egyptians were living in the "Chalcolithic" period. We can trace the use of copper back for a considerable period anterior to the beginning of the Ist Dynasty, so that we shall probably not be far wrong if we do not bring down the close of the purely Neolithic Age in Egypt—the close of the Age of Stone, properly so called—later than +5000 B.C. How far back in the remote ages the transition period between the Palaeolithic and Neolithic Ages should be placed, it is utterly impossible to say. The use of stone for weapons and implements continued in Egypt as late as the time of the XIIth Dynasty, about 2500-2000 B.C. But these XIIth Dynasty stone implements show by their forms how late they are in the history of the Stone Age. The axe heads, for instance, are in form imitations of the copper and bronze axe heads usual at that period; they are stone imitations of metal, instead of the originals on whose model the metal weapons were formed. The flint implements of the XIIth Dynasty were a curious survival from long past ages. After the time of the XIIth Dynasty stone was no longer used for tools or weapons, except for the sacred rite of making the first incision in the dead bodies before beginning the operations of embalming; for this purpose, as Herodotus tells us, an "Ethiopian stone" was used. This was no doubt a knife of flint or chert, like those of the Neolithic ancestors of the Egyptians, and the continued use of a stone knife for this one purpose only is a very interesting instance of a ceremonial survival. We may compare the wigs of British judges.
We have no specimen of a flint knife which can definitely be asserted to have belonged to an embalmer, but of the archaistic flint weapons of the XIIth Dynasty we have several specimens. They were found by Prof. Petrie at the place named by him "Kahun," the site of a XIIth Dynasty town built near the pyramid of King Usertsen (or Senusret) II at Illahun, at the mouth of the canal leading from the Nile valley into the oasis-province of the Payyum. These Kahun flints, and others of probably the same period found by Mr. Seton-Karr at the very ancient flint works in the Wadi esh-Shekh, are of very coarse and poor workmanship as compared with the stone-knapping triumphs of the late Neolithic and early Chalcolithic periods. The delicacy of the art had all been lost. But the best flint knives of the early period—dating to just a little before the time of the Ist Dynasty, when flint-working had attained its apogee, and copper had just begun to be used—are undoubtedly the most remarkable stone weapons ever made in the world. The grace and utility of the form, the delicacy of the fluted chipping on the side, and the minute care with which the tiny serrations of the cutting edge, serrations so small that often they can hardly be seen with the naked eye, are made, can certainly not be parallelled elsewhere. The art of flint-knapping reached its zenith in Ancient Egypt. The specimen illustrated has a handle covered with gold decorated with incised designs representing animals.
The prehistoric Egyptians may also fairly be said to have attained greater perfection than other peoples in the Neolithic stage of culture, in other arts besides the making of stone tools and weapons. Their pottery is of remarkable perfection. Now that the sites of the Egyptian prehistoric settlements have been so thoroughly explored by competent archaeologists (and, unhappily, as thoroughly pillaged by incompetent natives), this prehistoric Egyptian pottery has become extremely well known. In fact, it is so common that good specimens may be bought anywhere in Egypt for a few piastres. Most museums possess sets of this pottery, of which great quantities have been brought back from Egypt by Prof. Petrie and other explorers. It is of very great interest, artistically as well as historically. The potter's wheel was not yet invented, and all the vases, even those of the most perfect shape, were built up by hand. The perfection of form attained without the aid of the wheel is truly marvellous.
The commonest type of this pottery is a red polished ware vase with black top, due to its having been baked mouth downward in a fire, the ashes of which, according to Prof. Petrie, deoxidized the haematite burnishing, and so turned the red colour to black. "In good examples the haematite has not only been reduced to black magnetic oxide, but the black has the highest polish, as seen on fine Greek vases. This is probably due to the formation of carbonyl gas in the smothered fire. This gas acts as a solvent of magnetic oxide, and hence allows it to assume a new surface, like the glassy surface of some marbles subjected to solution in water." This black and red ware appears to be the most ancient prehistoric Egyptian pottery known. Later in date are a red ware and a black ware with rude geometrical incised designs, imitating basketwork, and with the incised lines filled in with white. Later again is a buff ware, either plain or decorated with wavy lines, concentric circles, and elaborate drawings of boats sailing on the Nile, ostriches, fish, men and women, and so on.
These designs are in deep red. With this elaborate pottery the Neolithic ceramic art of Egypt reached its highest point; in the succeeding period (the beginning of the historic age) there was a decline in workmanship, exhibiting clumsy forms and bad colour, and it is not until the time of the IVth Dynasty that good pottery (a fine polished red) is once more found. Meanwhile the invention of glazed pottery, which was unknown to the prehistoric Egyptians, had been made (before the beginning of the Ist Dynasty). The unglazed ware of the first three dynasties was bad, but the new invention of light blue glazed faience (not porcelain properly so called) seems to have made great progress, and we possess fine specimens at the beginning of the Ist Dynasty. The prehistoric Egyptians were also proficient in other arts. They carved ivory and they worked gold, which is known to have been almost the first metal worked by man; certainly in Egypt it was utilized for ornament even before copper was used for work. We may refer to the illustration of a flint knife with gold handle, already given. [* See illustration.]
The date of the actual introduction of copper for tools and weapons into Egypt is uncertain, but it seems probable that copper was occasionally used at a very early period. Copper weapons have been found in pre-dynastic graves beside the finest buff pottery with elaborate red designs, so that we may say that when the flint-working and pottery of the Neolithic Egyptians had reached its zenith, the use of copper was already known, and copper weapons were occasionally employed. We can thus speak of the "Chalcolithic" period in Egypt as having already begun at that time, no doubt several centuries before the beginning of the historical or dynastic age. Strictly speaking, the Egyptians remained in the "Chalcolithic" period till the end of the XIIth Dynasty, but in practice it is best to speak of this period, when the word is used, as extending from the time of the finest flint weapons and pottery of the prehistoric age (when the "Neolithic" period may be said to close) till about the IId or IIId Dynasty. By that time the "Bronze," or, rather, "Copper," Age of Egypt had well begun, and already stone was not in common use.
The prehistoric pottery is of the greatest value to the archaeologist, for with its help some idea may be obtained of the succession of periods within the late Neolithic-Chalcolithic Age. The enormous number of prehistoric graves which have been examined enables us to make an exhaustive comparison of the different kinds of pottery found in them, so that we can arrange them in order according to pottery they contained. By this means we obtain an idea of the development of different types of pottery, and the sequence of the types. Thus it is that we can say with some degree of confidence that the black and red ware is the most ancient form, and that the buff with red designs is one of the latest forms of prehistoric pottery. Other objects found in the graves can be classified as they occur with different pottery types.
With the help of the pottery we can thus gain a more or less reliable conspectus of the development of the late "Neolithic" culture of Egypt. This system of "sequence-dating" was introduced by Prof. Petrie, and is certainly very useful. It must not, however, be pressed too far or be regarded as an iron-bound system, with which all subsequent discoveries must be made to fit in by force. It is not to be supposed that all prehistoric pottery developed its series of types in an absolutely orderly manner without deviations or throws-back. The work of man's hands is variable and eccentric, and does not develop or evolve in an undeviating course as the work of nature does. It is a mistake, very often made by anthropologists and archaeologists, who forget this elementary fact, to assume "curves of development," and so forth, or semi-savage culture, on absolutely even and regular lines. Human culture has not developed either evenly or regularly, as a matter of fact. Therefore we cannot always be sure that, because the Egyptian black and red pottery does not occur in graves with buff and red, it is for this reason absolutely earlier in date than the latter. Some of the development-sequences may in reality be contemporary with others instead of earlier, and allowance must always be made for aberrations and reversions to earlier types.
This caveat having been entered, however, we may provisionally accept Prof. Petrie's system of sequence-dating as giving the best classification of the prehistoric antiquities according to development. So it may fairly be said that, as far as we know, the black and red pottery ("sequence-date 30—") is the most ancient Neolithic Egyptian ware known; that the buff and red did not begin to be used till about "sequence-date 45;" that bone and ivory carvings were commonest in the earlier period ("sequence-dates 30-50"); that copper was almost unknown till "sequence-date 50," and so on. The arbitrary numbers used range from 30 to 80, in order to allow for possible earlier and later additions, which may be rendered necessary by the progress of discovery. The numbers are of course as purely arbitrary and relative as those of the different thermometrical systems, but they afford a convenient system of arrangement. The products of the prehistoric Egyptians are, so to speak, distributed on a conventional plan over a scale numbered from 30 to 80, 30 representing the beginning and 80 the close of the term, so far as its close has as yet been ascertained. It is probable that "sequence-date 80" more or less accurately marks the beginning of the dynastic or historical period.
This hypothetically chronological classification is, as has been said, due to Prof. Petrie, and has been adopted by Mr. Randall-Maclver and other students of prehistoric Egypt in their work. [*El Amra and Abydos, Egypt Exploration Fund, 1902.] To Prof. Petrie then is due the credit of systematizing the study of Egyptian prehistoric antiquities; but the further credit of having discovered these antiquities themselves and settled their date belongs not to him but to the distinguished French archaeologist, M. J. de Morgan, who was for several years director of the museum at Giza, and is now chief of the French archaeological delegation in Persia, which has made of late years so many important discoveries. The proof of the prehistoric date of this class of antiquities was given, not by Prof. Petrie after his excavations at Dendera in 1897-8, but by M. de Morgan in his volume, Recherches sur les Origines de l'Egypte: l'Age de la Pierre et les Metaux, published in 1895-6. In this book the true chronological position of the prehistoric antiquities was pointed out, and the existence of an Egyptian Stone Age finally decided. M. de Morgan's work was based on careful study of the results of excavations carried on for several years by the Egyptian government in various parts of Egypt, in the course of which a large number of cemeteries of the primitive type had been discovered. It was soon evident to M. de Morgan that these primitive graves, with their unusual pottery and flint implements, could be nothing less than the tombs of the prehistoric Egyptians, the Egyptians of the Stone Age.
Objects of the prehistoric period had been known to the museums for many years previously, but owing to the uncertainty of their provenance and the absence of knowledge of the existence of the primitive cemeteries, no scientific conclusions had been arrived at with regard to them; and it was not till the publication of M. de Morgan's book that they were recognized and classified as prehistoric. The necropoles investigated by M. de Morgan and his assistants extended from Kawamil in the north, about twenty miles north of Abydos, to Edfu in the south. The chief cemeteries between these two points were those of Bat Allam, Saghel el-Baglieh, el-'Amra, Nakada, Tukh, and Gebelen. All the burials were of simple type, analogous to those of the Neolithic races in the rest of the world. In a shallow, oval grave, excavated often but a few inches below the surface of the soil, lay the body, cramped up with the knees to the chin, sometimes in a rough box of pottery, more often with only a mat to cover it. Ready to the hand of the dead man were his flint weapons and tools, and the usual red and black, or buff and red, pots lay beside him; originally, no doubt, they had been filled with the funeral meats, to sustain the ghost in the next world. Occasionally a simple copper weapon was found. With the body were also buried slate palettes for grinding the green eye-paint which the Egyptians loved even at this early period. These are often carved to suggest the forms of animals, such as birds, bats, tortoises, goats, etc.; on others are fantastic creatures with two heads. Combs of bone, too, are found, ornamented in a similar way with birds' or goats' heads, often double. And most interesting of all are the small bone and ivory figures of men and women which are also found. These usually have little blue beads for eyes, and are of the quaintest and naivest appearance conceivable. Here we have an elderly man with a long pointed beard, there two women with inane smiles upon their countenances, here another woman, of better work this time, with a child slung across her shoulder. This figure, which is in the British Museum, must be very late, as prehistoric Egyptian antiquities go. It is almost as good in style as the early Ist Dynasty objects. Such were the objects which the simple piety of the early Egyptian prompted him to bury with the bodies of his dead, in order that they might find solace and contentment in the other world.
All the prehistoric cemeteries are of this type, with the graves pressed closely together, so that they often impinge upon one another. The nearness of the graves to the surface is due to the exposed positions, at the entrances to wadis, in which the primitive cemeteries are usually found. The result is that they are always swept by the winds, which prevent the desert sand from accumulating over them, and so have preserved the original level of the ground. From their proximity to the surface they are often found disturbed, more often by the agency of jackals than that of man.
Contemporaneously with M. de Morgan's explorations, Prof. Flinders Petrie and Mr. J. Quibell had, in the winter of 1894-5, excavated in the districts of Tukh and Nakada, on the west bank of the Nile opposite Koptos, a series of extensive cemeteries of the primitive type, from which they obtained a large number of antiquities, published in their volume Nagada and Dallas. The plates giving representations of the antiquities found were of the highest interest, but the scientific value of the letter-press is vitiated by the fact that the true historical position of the antiquities was not perceived by their discoverers, who came to the conclusion that these remains were those of a "New Pace" of Libyan invaders. This race, they supposed, had entered Egypt after the close of the flourishing period of the "Old Kingdom" at the end of the VIth Dynasty, and had occupied part of the Nile valley from that time till the period of the Xth Dynasty.
This conclusion was proved erroneous by M. de Morgan almost as soon as made, and the French archaeologist's identification of the primitive remains as pre-dynastic was at once generally accepted. It was obvious that a hypothesis of the settlement of a stone-using barbaric race in the midst of Egypt at so late a date as the period immediately preceding the XIIth Dynasty, a race which mixed in no way with the native Egyptians themselves, and left no trace of their influence upon the later Egyptians, was one which demanded greater faith than the simple explanation of M. de Morgan.
The error of the British explorers was at once admitted by Mr. Quibell, in his volume on the excavations of 1897 at el-Kab, published in 1898.* Mr. Quibell at once found full and adequate confirmation of M. de Morgan's discovery in his diggings at el-Kab. Prof. Petrie admitted the correctness of M. de Morgan's views in the preface to his volume Diospolis Parva, published three years later in 1901.** The preface to the first volume of M. de Morgan's book contained a generous recognition of the method and general accuracy of Prof. Petrie's excavations, which contrasted favourably, according to M. de Morgan, with the excavations of others, generally carried on without scientific control, and with the sole aim of obtaining antiquities or literary texts.*** That M. de Morgan's own work was carried out as scientifically and as carefully is evident from the fact that his conclusions as to the chronological position of the prehistoric antiquities have been shown to be correct. To describe M. de Morgan's discovery as a "happy guess," as has been done, is therefore beside the mark.
* El-Kab. Egyptian Research Account, 1897, p. 11.
** Diospolis Parva. Egypt Exploration Fund, 1901, p. 2.
*** Recherches: Age de la Pierre, p. xiii.
Another most important British excavation was that carried on by Messrs. Randall-Maclver and Wilkin at el-'Amra. The imposing lion-headed promontory of el-'Amra stands out into the plain on the west bank of the Nile about five miles south of Abydos. At the foot of this hill M. de Morgan found a very extensive prehistoric necropolis, which he examined, but did not excavate to any great extent, and the work of thoroughly excavating it was performed by Messrs. Randall-MacIver and Wilkin for the Egypt Exploration Fund. The results have thrown very great light upon the prehistoric culture of Egypt, and burials of all prehistoric types, some of them previously unobserved, were found. Among the most interesting are burials in pots, which have also been found by Mr. Garstang in a predynastic necropolis at Ragagna, north of Abydos. One of the more remarkable observations made at el-'Amra was the progressive development of the tombs from the simplest pot-burial to a small brick chamber, the embryo of the brick tombs of the Ist Dynasty. Among the objects recovered from this site may be mentioned a pottery model of oxen, a box in the shape of a model hut, and a slate "palette" with what is perhaps the oldest Egyptian hieroglyph known, a representation of the fetish-sign of the god Min, in relief. All these are preserved in the British Museum. The skulls of the bodies found were carefully preserved for craniometric examination.
In 1901 an extensive prehistoric cemetery was being excavated by Messrs. Reisner and Lythgoe at Nag'ed-Der, opposite Girga, and at el-Ahaiwa, further north, another prehistoric necropolis has been excavated by these gentlemen, working for the University of California.
The cemetery of Nag'ed-Der is of the usual prehistoric type, with its multitudes of small oval graves, excavated just a little way below the surface. Graves of this kind are the most primitive of all. Those at el-'Amra are usually more developed, often, as has been noted, rising to the height of regular brick tombs. They are evidently later, nearer to the time of the Ist Dynasty. The position of the Nag'ed-Der cemetery is also characteristic. It lies on the usual low ridge at the entrance to a desert wadi, which is itself one of the most picturesque in this part of Egypt, with its chaos of great boulders and fallen rocks. An illustration of the camp of Mr. Reisner's expedition at Nag'ed-Der is given above. The excavations of the University of California are carried out with the greatest possible care and are financed with the greatest possible liberality. Mr. Reisner has therefore been able to keep an absolutely complete photographic record of everything, even down to the successive stages in the opening of a tomb, which will be of the greatest use to science when published.
For a detailed study of the antiquities of the prehistoric period the publications of Prof. Petrie, Mr. Quibell, and Mr. Randall-Maclver are more useful than that of M. de Morgan, who does not give enough details. Every atom of evidence is given in the publications of the British explorers, whereas it is a characteristic of French work to give brilliant conclusions, beautifully illustrated, without much of the evidence on which the conclusions are based. This kind of work does not appeal to the Anglo-Saxon mind, which takes nothing on trust, even from the most renowned experts, and always wants to know the why and wherefore. The complete publication of evidence which marks the British work will no doubt be met with, if possible in even more complete detail, in the American work of Messrs. Reisner, Lythgoe, and Mace (the last-named is an Englishman) for the University of California, when published. The question of speedy versus delayed publication is a very vexing one. Prof. Petrie prefers to publish as speedily as possible; six months after the season's work in Egypt is done, the full publication with photographs of everything appears. Mr. Reisner and the French explorers prefer to publish nothing until they have exhaustively studied the whole of the evidence, and can extract nothing more from it. This would be admirable if the French published their discoveries fully, but they do not. Even M. de Morgan has not approached the fulness of detail which characterizes British work and which will characterize Mr. Reisner's publication when it appears. The only drawback to this method is that general interest in the particular excavations described tends to pass away before the full description appears.
Prof. Petrie has explored other prehistoric sites at Abadiya, and Mr. Quibell at el-Kab. M. de Morgan and his assistants have examined a large number of sites, ranging from the Delta to el-Kab. Further research has shown that some of the sites identified by M. de Morgan as prehistoric are in reality of much later date, for example, Kahun, where the late flints of XIIth Dynasty date were found. He notes that "large numbers of Neolithic flint weapons are found in the desert on the borders of the Fayyum, and at Helwan, south of Cairo," and that all the important necropoles and kitchen-middens of the predynastic people are to be found in the districts of Abydos and Thebes, from el-Kawamil in the North to el-Kab in the South. It is of course too soon to assert with confidence that there are no prehistoric remains in any other part of Egypt, especially in the long tract between the Fayyum and the district of Abydos, but up to the present time none have been found in this region.
This geographical distribution of the prehistoric remains fits in curiously with the ancient legend concerning the origin of the ancestors of the Egyptians in Upper Egypt, and supports the much discussed theory that they came originally to the Nile valley from the shores of the Red Sea by way of the Wadi Hammamat, which debouches on to the Nile in the vicinity of Koptos and Kus, opposite Ballas and Tukh. The supposition seems a very probable one, and it may well be that the earliest Egyptians entered the valley of the Nile by the route suggested and then spread northwards and southwards in the valley. The fact that their remains are not found north of el-Kawamil nor south of el-Kab might perhaps be explained by the supposition that, when they had extended thus far north and south from their original place of arrival, they passed from the primitive Neolithic condition to the more highly developed copper-using culture of the period which immediately preceded the establishment of the monarchy. The Neolithic weapons of the Fayyum and Hel-wan would then be the remains of a different people, which inhabited the Delta and Middle Egypt in very early times. This people may have been of Mediterranean stock, akin to the primitive inhabitants of Palestine, Greece, Italy, and Spain; and they no doubt were identical with the inhabitants of Lower Egypt who were overthrown and conquered by Kha-sekhem and the other Southern founders of the monarchy (who belonged to the race which had come from the Red Sea by the Wadi Hammamat), and so were the ancestors of the later natives of Lower Egypt. Whether the Southerners, whose primitive remains we find from el-Kawamil to el-Kab, were of the same race as the Northerners whom they conquered, cannot be decided. The skull-form of the Southerners agrees with that of the Mediterranean races. But we have no necropoles of the Northerners to tell us much of their peculiarities. We have nothing but their flint arrowheads.
But it should be observed that, in spite of the present absence of all primitive remains (whether mere flints, or actual graves with bodies and relics) of the primeval population between the Fayyum and el-Kawamil, there is no proof that the primitive race of Upper Egypt was not coterminous and identical with that of the lower country. It might therefore be urged that the whole Neolithic population was "Mediterranean" by its skull-form and body-structure, and specifically "Nilotic" (indigenous Egyptian) in its culture-type. This is quite possible, but we have again to account for the legends of distant origin on the Red Sea coast, the probability that one element of the Egyptian population was of extraneous origin and came from the east into the Nile valley near Koptos, and finally the historical fact of an advance of the early dynastic Egyptians from the South to the conquest of the North. The latter fact might of course be explained as a civil war analogous to that between Thebes and Asyut in the time of the IXth Dynasty, but against this explanation is to be set the fact that the contemporary monuments of the Southerners exhibit the men of the North as of foreign and non-Egyptian ethnic type, resembling Libyans. It is possible that they were akin to the Libyans; and this would square very well with the first theory, but it may also be made to fit in with a development of the second, which has been generally accepted.
According to this view, the whole primitive Neolithic population of North and South was Miotic, indigenous in origin, and akin to the "Mediterraneans "of Prof. Sergi and the other ethnologists. It was not this population, the stone-users whose necropoles have been found by Messrs. de Morgan, Petrie, and Maclver, that entered the Nile valley by the Wadi Hammamat. This was another race of different ethnic origin, which came from the Red Sea toward the end of the Neolithic period, and, being of higher civilization than the native Nilotes, assumed the lordship over them, gave a great impetus to the development of their culture, and started at once the institution of monarchy, the knowledge of letters, and the use of metals. The chiefs of this superior tribe founded the monarchy, conquered the North, unified the kingdom, and began Egyptian history. From many indications it would seem probable that these conquerors were of Babylonian origin, or that the culture they brought with them (possibly from Arabia) was ultimately of Babylonian origin. They themselves would seem to have been Semites, or rather proto-Semites, who came from Arabia to Africa by way of the straits of Bab el-Mandeb, and proceeded up the coast to about the neighbourhood of Kuser, whence the Wadi Hammamat offered them an open road to the valley of the Nile. By this route they may have entered Egypt, bringing with them a civilization, which, like that of the other Semites, had been profoundly influenced and modified by that of the Sumerian inhabitants of Babylonia. This Semitic-Sumerian culture, mingling with that of the Nilotes themselves, produced the civilization of Ancient Egypt as we know it.
This is a very plausible hypothesis, and has a great deal of evidence in its favour. It seems certain that in the early dynastic period two races lived in Egypt, which differed considerably in type, and also, apparently, in burial customs. The later Egyptians always buried the dead lying on their backs, extended at full length. During the period of the Middle Kingdom (XIth-XIIIth Dynasties) the head was usually turned over on to the left side, in order that the dead man might look through the two great eyes painted on that side of the coffin. Afterward the rigidly extended position was always adopted. The Neolithic Egyptians, however, buried the dead lying wholly on the left side and in a contracted position, with the knees drawn up to the chin. The bodies were not embalmed, and the extended position and mummification were never used. Under the IVth Dynasty we find in the necropolis of Medum (north of the Payyum) the two positions used simultaneously, and the extended bodies are mummified. The contracted bodies are skeletons, as in the case of most of the predynastic bodies. When these are found with flesh, skin, and hair intact, their preservation is due to the dryness of the soil and the preservative salts it contains, not to intentional embalming, which was evidently introduced by those who employed the extended position in burial. The contracted position is found as late as the Vth Dynasty at Dashasha, south of the Eayyum, but after that date it is no longer found.
The conclusion is obvious that the contracted position without mummification, which the Neolithic people used, was supplanted in the early dynastic period by the extended position with mummification, and by the time of the VIth Dynasty it was entirely superseded. This points to the supersession of the burial customs of the indigenous Neolithic race by those of another race which conquered and dominated the indigenes. And, since the extended burials of the IVth Dynasty are evidently those of the higher nobles, while the contracted ones are those of inferior people, it is probable that the customs of extended burial and embalming were introduced by a foreign race which founded the Egyptian monarchical state, with its hierarchy of nobles and officials, and in fact started Egyptian civilization on its way. The conquerors of the North were thus not the descendants of the Neolithic people of the South, but their conquerors; in fact, they dominated the indigenes both of North and South, who will then appear (since we find the custom of contracted burial in the North at Dashasha and Medum) to have originally belonged to the same race.
The conquering race is that which is supposed to have been of Semitic or proto-Semitic origin, and to have brought elements of Sumerian culture to savage Egypt. The reasons advanced for this supposition are the following:—
(1) Just as the Egyptian race was evidently compounded of two elements, of conquered "Mediterraneans" and conquering x, so the Egyptian language is evidently compounded of two elements, the one Nilotic, perhaps related in some degree to the Berber dialects of North Africa, the other not x, but evidently Semitic.
(2) Certain elements of the early dynastic civilization, which do not appear in that of the earlier pre-dynastic period, resemble well-known elements of the civilization of Babylonia. We may instance the use of the cylinder-seal, which died out in Egypt in the time of the XVIIIth Dynasty, but was always used in Babylonia from the earliest to the latest times. The early Egyptian mace-head is of exactly the same type as the early Babylonian one. In the British Museum is an Egyptian mace-head of red breccia, which is identical in shape and size with one from Babylonia (also in the museum) bearing the name of Shargani-shar-ali (i.e. Sargon, King of Agade), one of the earliest Chaldaean monarchs, who must have lived about the same time as the Egyptian kings of the IId-IIId Dynasties, to which period the Egyptian mace-head may also be approximately assigned. The Egyptian art of the earliest dynasties bears again a remarkable resemblance to that of early Babylonia. It is not till the time of the IId Dynasty that Egyptian art begins to take upon itself the regular form which we know so well, and not till that of the IVth that this form was finally crystallized. Under the 1st Dynasty we find the figure of man or, to take other instances, that of a lion, or a hawk, or a snake, often treated in a style very different from that in which we are accustomed to see a man, a lion, a hawk, or a snake depicted in works of the later period. And the striking thing is that these early representations, which differ so much from what we find in later Egyptian art, curiously resemble the works of early Babylonian art, of the time of the patesis of Shirpurla or the Kings Shargani-shar-ali and Naram-Sin. One of the best known relics of the early art of Babylonia is the famous "Stele of Vultures" now in Paris. On this we see the enemies of Eannadu, one of the early rulers of Shirpurla, cast out to be devoured by the vultures. On an Egyptian relief of slate, evidently originally dedicated in a temple record of some historical event, and dating from the beginning of the Ist Dynasty (practically contemporary, according to our latest knowledge, with Eannadu), we have an almost exactly similar scene of captives being cast out into the desert, and devoured by lions and vultures. The two reliefs are curiously alike in their clumsy, naive style of art. A further point is that the official represented on the stele, who appears to be thrusting one of the bound captives out to die, wears a long fringed garment of Babylonish cut, quite different from the clothes of the later Egyptians.
(3) There are evidently two distinct and different main strata in the fabric of Egyptian religion. On the one hand we find a mass of myth and religious belief of very primitive, almost savage, cast, combining a worship of the actual dead in their tombs—which were supposed to communicate and thus form a veritable "underworld," or, rather, "under-Egypt"—with veneration of magic animals, such as jackals, cats, hawks, and crocodiles. On the other hand, we have a sun and sky worship of a more elevated nature, which does not seem to have amalgamated with the earlier fetishism and corpse-worship until a comparatively late period. The main seats of the sun-worship were at Heliopolis in the Delta and at Edfu in Upper Egypt. Heliopolis seems always to have been a centre of light and leading in Egypt, and it is, as is well known, the On of the Bible, at whose university the Jewish lawgiver Moses is related to have been educated "in all the wisdom of the Egyptians." The philosophical theories of the priests of the Sun-gods, Ra-Harmachis and Turn, at Heliopolis seem to have been the source from which sprang the monotheistic heresy of the Disk-Worshippers (in the time of the XVIIIth Dynasty), who, under the guidance of the reforming King Akhunaten, worshipped only the disk of the sun as the source of all life, the door in heaven, so to speak, through which the hidden One Deity poured forth heat and light, the origin of life upon the earth. Very early in Egyptian history the Heliopolitans gained the upper hand, and the Ra-worship (under the Vth Dynasty, the apogee of the Old Kingdom) came to the front, and for the first time the kings took the afterwards time-honoured royal title of "Son of the Sun." It appears then as a more or less foreign importation into the Nile valley, and bears most undoubtedly a Semitic impress. Its two chief seats were situated, the one, Heliopolis, in the North on the eastern edge of the Delta,—just where an early Semitic settlement from over the desert might be expected to be found,—the other, Edfu, in the Upper Egyptian territory south of the Thebaid, Koptos, and the Wadi Ham-mamat, and close to the chief settlement of the earliest kings and the most ancient capital of Upper Egypt.
(4) The custom of burying at full length was evidently introduced into Egypt by the second, or x race. The Neolithic Egyptians buried in the cramped position. The early Babylonians buried at full length, as far as we know. On the same "Stele of Vultures," which has already been mentioned, we see the burying at full length of dead warriors. [* See illustration.] There is no trace of any early burial in Babylonia in the cramped position. The tombs at Warka (Erech) with cramped bodies in pottery coffins are of very late date. A further point arises with regard to embalming. The Neolithic Egyptians did not embalm the dead. Usually their cramped bodies are found as skeletons. When they are mummified, it is merely owing to the preservative action of the salt in the soil, not to any process of embalming. The second, or x race, however, evidently introduced the custom of embalming as well as that of burial at full length and the use of coffins. The Neolithic Egyptian used no box or coffin, the nearest approach to this being a pot, which was inverted over the coiled up body. Usually only a mat was put over the body.
Now it is evident that Babylonians and Assyrians, who buried the dead at full length in chests, had some knowledge of embalming. An Assyrian king tells us how he buried his royal father:—
"Within the grave, the secret place, In kingly oil, I gently laid him. The grave-stone marketh his resting-place. With mighty bronze I sealed its entrance, And I protected it with an incantation."
The "kingly oil" was evidently used with the idea of preserving the body from decay. Salt also was used to preserve the dead, and Herodotus says that the Babylonians buried in honey, which was also used by the Egyptians. No doubt the Babylonian method was less perfect than the Egyptian, but the comparison is an interesting one, when taken in connection with the other points of resemblance mentioned above.
We find, then, that an analysis of the Egyptian language reveals a Semitic element in it; that the early dynastic culture had certain characteristics which were unknown to the Neolithic Egyptians but are closely parallelled in early Babylonia; that there were two elements in the Egyptian religion, one of which seems to have originally belonged to the Neolithic people, while the other has a Semitic appearance; and that there were two sets of burial customs in early Egypt, one, that of the Neolithic people, the other evidently that of a conquering race, which eventually prevailed over the former; these later rites were analogous to those of the Babylonians and Assyrians, though differing from them in points of detail. The conclusion is that the x or conquering race was Semitic and brought to Egypt the Semitic elements in the Egyptian religion and a culture originally derived from that of the Sumerian inhabitants of Babylonia, the non-Semitic parent of all Semitic civilizations.
The question now arises, how did this Semitic people reach Egypt? We have the choice of two points of entry: First, Heliopolis in the North, where the Semitic sun-worship took root, and, second, the Wadi Hamma-mat in the South, north of Edfu, the southern centre of sun-worship, and Hierakonpolis (Nekheb-Nekhen), the capital of the Upper Egyptian kingdom which existed before the foundation of the monarchy. The legends which seem to bring the ancestors of the Egyptians from the Red Sea coast have already been mentioned. They are closely connected with the worship of the Sky and Sun god Horus of Edfu. Hathor, his nurse, the "House of Horus," the centre of whose worship was at Dendera, immediately opposite the mouth of the Wadi Hammamat, was said to have come from Ta-neter, "The Holy Land," i.e. Abyssinia or the Red Sea coast, with the company or paut of the gods. Now the Egyptians always seem to have had some idea that they were connected racially with the inhabitants of the Land of Punt or Puenet, the modern Abyssinia and Somaliland. In the time of the XVIIIth Dynasty they depicted the inhabitants of Punt as greatly resembling themselves in form, feature, and dress, and as wearing the little turned-up beard which was worn by the Egyptians of the earliest times, but even as early as the IVth Dynasty was reserved for the gods. Further, the word Punt is always written without the hieroglyph determinative of a foreign country, thus showing that the Egyptians did not regard the Punites as foreigners. This certainly looks as if the Punites were a portion of the great migration from Arabia, left behind on the African shore when the rest of the wandering people pressed on northwards to the Wadi Hammamat and the Nile. It may be that the modern Gallas and Abyssinians are descendants of these Punites.
Now the Sky-god of Edfu is in legend a conquering hero who advances down the Nile valley, with his Mesniu, or "Smiths," to overthrow the people of the North, whom he defeats in a great battle near Dendera. This may be a reminiscence of the first fights of the invaders with the Neolithic inhabitants. The other form of Horus, "Horus, son of Isis," has also a body of retainers, the Shemsu-Heru, or "Followers of Horns," who are spoken of in late texts as the rulers of Egypt before the monarchy. They evidently correspond to the dynasties of Manes,
or "Ghosts," of Manetho, and are probably intended for the early kings of Hierakonpolis.
The mention of the Followers of Horus as "Smiths" is very interesting, for it would appear to show that the Semitic conquerors were notable as metal-users, that, in fact, their conquest was that old story in the dawn of the world's history, the utter overthrow and subjection of the stone-users by the metal-users, the primeval tragedy of the supersession of flint by copper. This may be, but if the "Smiths" were the Semitic conquerors who founded the kingdom, it would appear that the use of copper was known in Egypt to some extent before their arrival, for we find it in the graves of the late Neolithic Egyptians, very sparsely from "sequence-date 30" to "45," but afterwards more commonly. It was evidently becoming known. The supposition, however, that the "Smiths" were the Semitic conquerors, and that they won their way by the aid of their superior weapons of metal, may be provisionally accepted.
In favour of the view which would bring the conquerors by way of the Wadi Hammamat, an interesting discovery may be quoted. Immediately opposite Den-dera, where, according to the legend, the battle between the Mesniu and the aborigines took place, lies Koptos, at the mouth of the Wadi Hammamat. Here, in 1894, underneath the pavement of the ancient temple, Prof. Petrie found remains which he then diagnosed as belonging to the most ancient epoch of Egyptian history. Among them were some extremely archaic statues of the god Min, on which were curious scratched drawings of bears, crioceras-shells, elephants walking over hills, etc., of the most primitive description. With them were lions' heads and birds of a style then unknown, but which we now know to belong to the period of the beginning of the Ist Dynasty. But the statues of Min are older. The crioceras-shells belong to the Red Sea. Are we to see in these statues the holy images of the conquerors from the Red Sea who reached the Nile valley by way of the Wadi Hammamat, and set up the first memorials of their presence at Koptos? It may be so, or the Min statues may be older than the conquerors, and belong to the Neolithic race, since Min and his fetish (which we find on the slate palette from el-'Amra, already mentioned) seem to belong to the indigenous Nilotes. In any case we have in these statues, two of which are in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, probably the most ancient cult-images in the world:
This theory, which would make all the Neolithic inhabitants of Egypt one people, who were conquered by a Semitic race, bringing a culture of Sumerian origin to Egypt by way of the Wadi Hammamat, is that generally accepted at the present time. It may, however, eventually prove necessary to modify it. For reasons given above, it may well be that the Neolithic population was itself not indigenous, and that it reached the Nile valley by way of the Wadi Hammamat, spreading north and south from the mouth of the wadi. It may also be considered probable that a Semitic wave invaded Egypt by way of the Isthmus of Suez, where the early sun-cultus of Heliopolis probably marks a primeval Semitic settlement. In that case it would seem that the Mesniu or "Smiths," who introduced the use of metal, would have to be referred to the originally Neolithic pre-Semitic people, who certainly were acquainted with the use of copper, though not to any great extent. But this is not a necessary supposition. The Mesniu are closely connected with the Sky-god Horus, who was possibly of Semitic origin, and another Semitic wave, quite distinct from that which entered Egypt by way of the Isthmus, may very well also have reached Egypt by the Wadi Hammamat, or, equally possibly, from the far south, coming down to the Nile from the Abyssinian mountains. The legend of the coming of Hathor from Ta-neter may refer to some such wandering, and we know that the Egyptians of the Old Kingdom communicated with the Land of Punt, not by way of the Red Sea coast as Hatshepsut did, but by way of the Upper Nile. This would tally well with the march of the Mesniu northwards from Edfu to their battle with the forces of Set at Dendera.
In any case, at the dawn of connected Egyptian history, we find two main centres of civilization in Egypt, Heliopolis and Buto in the Delta in the North, and Edfu and Hierakonpolis in the South. Here were established at the beginning of the Chalcolithic stage of culture, we may say, two kingdoms, of Lower and Upper Egypt, which were eventually united by the superior arms of the kings of Upper Egypt, who imposed their rule upon the North but at the same time removed their capital thither. The dualism of Buto and Hierakonpolis really lasted throughout Egyptian history. The king was always called "Lord of the Two Lands," and wore the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt; the snakes of Buto and Nekhebet (the goddess of Nekheb, opposite Nekhen or Hierakonpolis) always typified the united kingdom. This dualism of course often led to actual division and reversion to the predynastic order of things, as, for instance, in the time of the XXIst Dynasty.
It might well seem that both the impulses to culture development in the North and South came from Semitic inspiration, and that it was to the Semitic invaders in North and South that the founding of the two kingdoms was due. This may be true to some extent, but it is at the same time very probable that the first development of political culture at Hierakonpolis was really of pre-Semitic origin. The kingdom of Buto, since its capital is situated so near to the seacoast, may have owed its origin to oversea Mediterranean connections. There is much in the political constitution of later Egypt which seems to have been of indigenous and pre-Semitic origin. Especially does this seem to be so in the case of the division and organization of the country into nomes. It is obvious that so soon as agriculture began to be practised on a large scale, boundaries would be formed, and in the unique conditions of Egypt, where all boundaries disappear beneath the inundation every year, it is evident that the fixing of division-lines as permanently as possible by means of landmarks was early essayed. We can therefore with confidence assign the formation of the nomes to very early times. Now the names of the nomes and the symbols or emblems by which they were distinguished are of very great interest in this connection. They are nearly all figures of the magic animals of the primitive religion, and fetish-emblems of the older deities. The names are, in fact, those of the territories of the Neolithic Egyptian tribes, and their emblems are those of the protecting tribal demons. The political divisions of the country seem, then, to be of extremely ancient origin, and if the nomes go back to a time before the Semitic invasions, so may also the kingdoms of the South and North.
Of these predynastic kingdoms we know very little, except from legendary sources. The Northerners who were conquered by Aha, Narmer, and Khasekhehiui do not look very much like Egyptians, but rather resemble Semites or Libyans. On the "Stele of Palermo," a chronicle of early kings inscribed in the period of the Vth Dynasty, we have a list of early kings of the North,—Seka, Desau, Tiu, Tesh, Nihab, Uatjantj, Mekhe. The names are primitive in form. We know nothing more about them. Last year Mr. C. T. Currelly attempted to excavate at Buto, in order to find traces of the predynastic kingdom, but owing to the infiltration of water his efforts were unsuccessful. It is improbable that anything is now left of the most ancient period at that site, as the conditions in the Delta are so very different from those obtaining in Upper Egypt. There, at Hierakonpolis, and at el-Kab on the opposite bank of the Nile, the sites of the ancient cities Nekhen and Nekheb, the excavators have been very successful. The work was carried out by Messrs. Quibell and Green, in the years 1891-9. Prehistoric burials were found on the hills near by, but the larger portion of the antiquities were recovered from the temple-ruins, and date back to the beginning of the 1st Dynasty, exactly the time when the kings of Hierakonpolis first conquered the kingdom of Buto and founded the united Egyptian monarchy.
The ancient temple, which was probably one of the earliest seats of Egyptian civilization, was situated on a mound, now known as el-Kom el-ahmar, "the Red Hill," from its colour. The chief feature of the most ancient temple seems to have been a circular mound, revetted by a wall of sandstone blocks, which was apparently erected about the end of the predynastic period. Upon this a shrine was probably erected. This was the ancient shrine of Nekhen, the cradle of the Egyptian monarchy. Close by it were found some of the most valuable relics of the earliest Pharaonic age, the great ceremonial mace-heads and vases of Narmer and "the Scorpion," the shields or "palettes" of the same Narmer, the vases and stelas of Khasekhemui, and, of later date, the splendid copper colossal group of King Pepi I and his son, which is now at Cairo. Most of the 1st Dynasty objects are preserved in the Ashmo-lean Museum at Oxford, which is one of the best centres for the study of early Egyptian antiquities. Narmer and Khasekhemui are, as we shall see, two of the first monarchs of all Egypt. These sculptured and inscribed mace-heads, shields, etc., are monuments dedicated by them in the ancestral shrine at Hierakonpolis as records of their deeds. Both kings seem to have waged war against the Northerners, the Anu of Heliopolis and the Delta, and on these votive monuments from Hierakonpolis we find hieroglyphed records of the defeat of the Anu, who have very definitely Semitic physiognomies.
On one shield or palette we see Narmer clubbing a man of Semitic appearance, who is called the "Only One of the Marsh" (Delta), while below two other Semites fly, seeking "fortress-protection." Above is a figure of a hawk, symbolizing the Upper Egyptian king, holding a rope which is passed through the nose of a Semitic head, while behind is a sign which may be read as "the North," so that the whole symbolizes the leading away of the North into captivity by the king of the South. It is significant, in view of what has been said above with regard to the probable Semitic origin of the Heliopolitan Northerners, to find the people typical of the North-land represented by the Southerners as Semites. Equally Semitic is the overthrown Northerner on the other side of this well-known monument which we are describing; he is being trampled under the hoofs and gored by the horns of a bull, who, like the hawk, symbolizes the king. The royal bull has broken down the wall of a fortified enclosure, in which is the hut or tent of the Semite, and the bricks lie about promiscuously.
In connection with the Semitic origin of the Northerners, the form of the fortified enclosures on both sides of this monument (that to whose protection the two Semites on one side fly, and that out of which the kingly bull has dragged the chief on the other) is noticeable. As usual in Egyptian writing, the hieroglyph of these buildings takes the form of a plan. The plan shows a crenelated enclosure, resembling the walls of a great Babylonian palace or temple, such as have been found at Telloh, Warka, or Mukayyar. The same design is found in Egypt at the Shuret ez-Zebib, an Old Kingdom fortress at Abydos, in the tomb of King Aha at Nakada, and in many walls of mastaba-tombs of the early time. This is another argument in favour of an early connection between Egypt and Babylonia. We illustrate a fragment of another votive shield or palette of the same kind, now in the museum of the Louvre, which probably came originally from Hierakonpolis. It is of exactly similar workmanship to that of Narmer, and is no doubt a fragment of another monument of that king. On it we see the same subject of the overthrowing of a Northerner (of Semitic aspect) by the royal bull. On one side, below, is a fortified enclosure with crenelated walls of the type we have described, and within it a lion and a vase; below this another fort, and a bird within it. These signs may express the names of the two forts, but, owing to the fact that at this early period Egyptian orthography was not yet fixed, we cannot read them. On the other side we see a row of animated nome-standards of Upper Egypt, with the symbols of the god Min of Koptos, the hawk of Horus of Edfu, the ibis of Thot of Eshmunen, and the jackals of Anubis of Abydos, which drag a rope; had we the rest of the monument, we should see, bound at the end of the rope, some prisoner, king, or animal symbolic of the North. On another slate shield, which we also reproduce, we see a symbolical representation of the capture of seven Northern cities, whose names seem to mean the "Two Men," the "Heron," the "Owl," the "Palm," and the "Ghost" Cities.
"Ghost City" is attacked by a lion, "Owl City" by a hawk, "Palm City" by two hawk nome-standards, and another, whose name we cannot guess at, is being opened up by a scorpion.
The operating animals evidently represent nomes and tribes of the Upper Egyptians. Here again we see the same crenelated walls of the Northern towns, and there is no doubt that this slate fragment also, which is preserved in the Cairo Museum, is a monument of the conquests of Narmer. It is executed in the same archaic style as those from Hierakonpolis. The animals on the other side no doubt represent part of the spoil of the North.
Returning to the great shield or palette found by Mr. Quibell, we see the king coming out, followed by his sandal-bearer, the Hen-neter or "God's Servant,"* to view the dead bodies of the slain Northerners which lie arranged in rows, decapitated, and with their heads between their feet. The king is preceded by a procession of nome-standards.
Above the dead men are symbolic representations of a hawk perched on a harpoon over a boat, and a hawk and a door, which doubtless again refer to the fights of the royal hawk of Upper Egypt on the Nile and at the gate of the North. The designs on the mace-heads refer to the same conquest of the North.
* In his commentary (Hierakonpolis, i. p. 9) on this scene, Prof. Petrie supposes that the seven-pointed star sign means "king," and compares the eight-pointed star "used for king in Babylonia." The eight-pointed star of the cuneiform script does not mean "king," but "god." The star then ought to mean "god," and the title "servant of a god," and this supposition may be correct. Hen-neter, "god's servant," was the appellation of a peculiar kind of priest in later days, and was then spelt with the ordinary sign for a god, the picture of an axe. But in the archaic period, with which we are dealing, a star like the Babylonian sign may very well have been used for "god," and the title of Narmer's sandal-bearer may read Hen-neter. He was the slave of the living god Narmer. All Egyptian kings were regarded as deities, more or less.
The monuments Khasekhemui, a king, show us that he conquered the North also and slew 47,209 "Northern Enemies." The contorted attitudes of the dead Northerners were greatly admired and sketched at the time, and were reproduced on the pedestal of the king's statue found by Mr. Quibell, which is now at Oxford. It was an age of cheerful savage energy, like most times when kingdoms and peoples are in the making. About 4000 B.C. is the date of these various monuments.
Khasekhemui probably lived later than Narmer, and we may suppose that his conquest was in reality a re-conquest. He may have lived as late as the time of the IId Dynasty, whereas Narmer must be placed at the beginning of the Ist, and his conquest was probably that which first united the two kingdoms of the South and North. As we shall see in the next chapter, he is probably one of the originals of the legendary "Mena," who was regarded from the time of the XVIIIth Dynasty onwards as the founder of the kingdom, and was first made known to Europe by Herodotus, under the name of "Menes."
Narmer is therefore the last of the ancient kings of Hierakonpolis, the last of Manetho's "Spirits." We may possibly have recovered the names of one or two of the kings anterior to Narmer in the excavations at Abydos (see Chapter II), but this is uncertain. To all intents and purposes we have only legendary knowledge of the Southern kingdom until its close, when Narmer the mighty went forth to strike down the Anu of the North, an exploit which he recorded in votive monuments at Hierakonpolis, and which was commemorated henceforward throughout Egyptian history in the yearly "Feast of the Smiting of the Anu." Then was Egypt for the first time united, and the fortress of the "White Wall," the "Good Abode" of Memphis, was built to dominate the lower country. The Ist Dynasty was founded and Egyptian history began.
CHAPTER II—ABYDOS AND THE FIRST THREE DYNASTIES
Until the recent discoveries had been made, which have thrown so much light upon the early history of Egypt, the traditional order and names of the kings of the first three Egyptian dynasties were, in default of more accurate information, retained by all writers on the history of the period. The names were taken from the official lists of kings at Abydos and elsewhere, and were divided into dynasties according to the system of Manetho, whose names agree more or less with those of the lists and were evidently derived from them ultimately. With regard to the fourth and later dynasties it was clear that the king-lists were correct, as their evidence agreed entirely with that of the contemporary monuments. But no means existed of checking the lists of the first three dynasties, as no contemporary monuments other than a IVth Dynasty mention of a IId Dynasty king, Send, had been found. The lists dated from the time of the XVIIIth and XIXth Dynasties, so that it was very possible that with regard to the earliest dynasties they might not be very correct. This conclusion gained additional weight from the fact that no monuments of these earliest kings were ever discovered; it therefore seemed probable that they were purely legendary figures, in whose time (if they ever did exist) Egypt was still a semi-barbarous nation. The jejune stories told about them by Manetho seemed to confirm this idea. Mena, the reputed founder of the monarchy, was generally regarded as a historical figure, owing to the persistence of his name in all ancient literary accounts of the beginnings of Egyptian history; for it was but natural to suppose that the name of the man who unified Egypt and founded Memphis would endure in the mouths of the people. But with regard to his successors no such supposition seemed probable, until the time of Sneferu and the pyramid-builders.
This was the critical view. Another school of historians accepted all the kings of the lists as historical en bloc, simply because the Egyptians had registered their names as kings. To them Teta, Ateth, and Ata were as historical as Mena.
Modern discovery has altered our view, and truth is seen to lie between the opposing schools, as usual. The kings after Mena do not seem to be such entirely unhistorical figures as the extreme critics thought; the names of several of them, e.g. Merpeba, of the Ist Dynasty, are correctly given in the later lists, and those of others were simply misread, e. g. that of Semti of the same dynasty, misread "Hesepti" by the list-makers. On the other hand, Mena himself has become a somewhat doubtful quantity. The real names of most of the early monarchs of Egypt have been recovered for us by the latest excavations, and we can now see when the list-makers of the XIXth Dynasty were right and when they were wrong, and can distinguish what is legendary in their work from what is really historical. It is true that they very often appear to have been wrong, but, on the other hand, they were sometimes unexpectedly near the mark, and the general number and arrangement of their kings seems correct; so that we can still go to them for assistance in the arrangement of the names which are communicated to us by the newly discovered monuments. Manetho's help, too, need never be despised because he was a copyist of copyists; we can still use him to direct our investigations, and his arrangement of dynasties must still remain the framework of our chronological scheme, though he does not seem to have been always correct as to the places in which the dynasties originated.
More than the names of the kings have the new discoveries communicated to us. They have shed a flood of light on the beginnings of Egyptian civilization and art, supplementing the recently ascertained facts concerning the prehistoric age which have been described in the preceding chapter. The impulse to these discoveries was given by the work of M. de Morgan, who excavated sites of the early dynastic as well as of the predynastic age. Among these was a great mastaba-tomb at Nakada, which proved to be that of a very early king who bore the name of Aha, "the Fighter." The walls of this tomb are crenelated like those of the early Babylonian palaces and the forts of the Northerners, already referred to. M. de Morgan early perceived the difference between the Neolithic antiquities and those of the later archaic period of Egyptian civilization, to which the tomb at Nakada belonged. In the second volume of his great work on the primitive antiquities of Egypt (L'Age des Metaux et le Tombeau Royale de Negadeh), he described the antiquities of the Ist Dynasty which had been found at the time he wrote. Antiquities of the same primitive period and even of an earlier date had been discovered by Prof. Flinders Petrie, as has already been said, at Koptos, at the mouth of the Wadi Hammamat. But though Prof. Petrie correctly diagnosed the age of the great statues of the god Min which he found, he was led, by his misdating of the "New Race" antiquities from Ballas and Tukh, also to misdate several of the primitive antiquities,—the lions and hawks, for instance, found at Koptos, he placed in the period between the VIIth and Xth Dynasties; whereas they can now, in the light of further discoveries at Abydos, be seen to date to the earlier part of the Ist Dynasty, the time of Narmer and Aha.
It is these discoveries at Abydos, coupled with those (already described) of Mr. Quibell at Hierakonpolis, which have told us most of what we know with regard to the history of the first three dynasties. At Abydos Prof. Petrie was not himself the first in the field, the site having already been partially explored by a French Egyptologist, M. Amelineau. The excavations of M. Amelineau were, however, perhaps not conducted strictly on scientific lines, and his results have been insufficiently published with very few photographs, so that with the best will in the world we are unable to give M. Amelineau the full credit which is, no doubt, due to him for his work. The system of Prof. Petrie's publications has been often, and with justice, criticized, but he at least tells us every year what he has been doing, and gives us photographs of everything he has found. For this reason the epoch-making discoveries at Abydos have been coupled chiefly with the name of Prof. Petrie, while that of M. Amelineau is rarely heard in connection with them. As a matter of fact, however, M. Amelineau first excavated the necropolis of the early kings at Abydos, and discovered most of the tombs afterwards worked over by Prof. Petrie and Mr. Mace. Yet most of the important scientific results are due to the later explorers, who were the first to attempt a classification of them, though we must add that this classification has not been entirely accepted by the scientific world.
The necropolis of the earliest kings of Egypt is situated in the great bay in the hills which lies behind Abydos, to the southwest of the main necropolis. Here, at holy Abydos, where every pious Egyptian wished to rest after death, the bodies of the most ancient kings were buried. It is said by Manetho that the original seat of their dominion was This, a town in the vicinity of Abydos, now represented by the modern Grirga, which lies a few miles distant from its site (el-Birba). This may be a fact, but we have as yet obtained no confirmation of it. It may well be that the attribution of a Thinite origin to the Ist and IId Dynasties was due simply to the fact that the kings of these dynasties were buried at Abydos, which lay within the Thinite nome. Manetho knew that they were buried at Abydos, and so jumped to the conclusion that they lived there also, and called them "Thinites."
Their real place of origin must have been Hierakonpolis, where the pre-dynastic kingdom of the South had its seat. The Hid Dynasty was no doubt of Memphite origin, as Manetho says. It is certain that the seat of the government of the IVth Dynasty was at Memphis, where the pyramid-building kings were buried, and we know that the sepulchres of two Hid Dynasty kings, at least, were situated in the necropolis of Memphis (Sakkara-Medum). So that probably the seat of government was transferred from Hierakonpolis to Memphis by the first king of the Hid Dynasty. Thenceforward the kings were buried in the Memphite necropolis.
The two great necropoles of Memphis and Abydos were originally the seats of the worship of the two Egyptian gods of the dead, Seker and Khentamenti, both of whom were afterwards identified with the Busirite god Osiris. Abydos was also the centre of the worship of Anubis, an animal-deity of the dead, the jackal who prowls round the tombs at night. Anubis and Osiris-Khentamenti, "He who is in the West," were associated in the minds of the Egyptians as the protecting deities of Abydos. The worship of these gods as the chief Southern deities of the dead, and the preeminence of the necropolis of Abydos in the South, no doubt date back before the time of the Ist Dynasty, so that it would not surprise us were burials of kings of the predynastic Hierakonpolite kingdom discovered at Abydos. Prof. Petrie indeed claims to have discovered actual royal relics of that period at Abydos, but this seems to be one of the least certain of his conclusions. We cannot definitely state that the names "Ro," "Ka," and "Sma" (if they are names at all, which is doubtful) belong to early kings of Hierakonpolis who were buried at Abydos. It may be so, but further confirmation is desirable before we accept it as a fact; and as yet such confirmation has not been forthcoming. The oldest kings, who were certainly buried at Abydos, seem to have been the first rulers of the united kingdom of the North and South, Aha and his successors. N'armer is not represented. It may be that he was not buried at Abydos, but in the necropolis of Hierakonpolis. This would point to the kings of the South not having been buried at Abydos until after the unification of the kingdom.
That Aha possessed a tomb at Abydos as well as another at Nakada seems peculiar, but it is a phenomenon not unknown in Egypt. Several kings, whose bodies were actually buried elsewhere, had second tombs at Abydos, in order that they might possess last resting-places near the tomb of Osiris, although they might not prefer to use them. Usertsen (or Senusret) III is a case in point. He was really buried in a pyramid at Illahun, up in the North, but he had a great rock tomb cut for him in the cliffs at Abydos, which he never occupied, and probably had never intended to occupy. We find exactly the same thing far back at the beginning of Egyptian history, when Aha possessed not only a great mastaba-tomb at Nakada, but also a tomb-chamber in the great necropolis of Abydos. It may be that other kings of the earliest period also had second sepulchres elsewhere. It is noteworthy that in none of the early tombs at Abydos were found any bodies which might be considered those of the kings themselves. M. Amelineau discovered bodies of attendants or slaves (who were in all probability purposely strangled and buried around the royal chamber in order that they should attend the king in the next world), but no royalties. Prof. Petrie found the arm of a female mummy, who may have been of royal blood, though there is nothing to show that she was. And the quaint plait and fringe of false hair, which were also found, need not have belonged to a royal mummy. It is therefore quite possible that these tombs at Abydos were not the actual last resting-places of the earliest kings, who may really have been buried at Hierakonpolis or elsewhere, as Aha was. Messrs. Newberry and Gtarstang, in their Short History of Egypt, suppose that Aha was actually buried at Abydos, and that the great tomb with objects bearing his name, found by M. de Morgan at Nakada, is really not his, but belonged to a royal princess named Neit-hetep, whose name is found in conjunction with his at Abydos and Nakada. But the argument is equally valid turned round the other way: the Nakada tomb might just as well be Aha's and the Abydos one Neit-hetep's. Neit-hetep, who is supposed by Messrs. Newberry and Garstang to have been Narmer's daughter and Aha's wife, was evidently closely connected with Aha, and she may have been buried with him at Nakada and commemorated with him at Abydos.* It is probable that the XIXth Dynasty list-makers and Manetho considered the Abydos tombs to have been the real graves of the kings, but it is by no means impossible that they were wrong.