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ETHNOGRAPHY. THE LAND OF PUNT. NATIONAL
CHARACTER. POPULATION. LANGUAGE. FORMS OF WRITING. DECIPHERMENT OF EGYPTIAN HIEROGLYPHICS. YOUNG AND CHAMPOLLION. HIEROGLYPHIC ALPHABET AND WRITING. WRITING MATERIALS.
The Egyptians.—The evidence of the monuments and the literature of Egypt proves that the Egyptians were of African origin, and that they were akin to the light-skinned peoples who inhabited the north-east portion of the African Continent. Further evidence of this fact is supplied by the “ table of nations " preserved in the tenth chapter of Genesis, where it is stated that Cush and Mizrain were the sons of Ham Now this Cush, or Ethiopia, is not the country which we call Abyssinia, but the Northern Sûdân, or Nubia; therefore the Nubians (Cush) and the Egyptians (Mizraim) were brethren, and they were Hamites, or Africans. The relationship between the Nubians and the Egyptians is also asserted by Diodorus, who declared that the Egyptians were descended from a colony of Ethiopians, i.e., Nubians, who had settled in Egypt. And there is no doubt that from the earliest to the latest times a very close bond existed between the Northern Nubians and the Egyptians, which manifested itself in the religion and religious ceremonies of both peoples. The Cushites were dark in colour, sometimes actually black, but there is no evidence which proves they were negroes; and the Egyptians were red, or brown-red, or reddish yellow in colour. On the west of the Nile Valley lived the fairskinned Libyans ; on the east the remote ancestors of the Blemmyes and the modern Bishârî tribes, who were of a light brownish colour, and on the south, near the Equator, were negro tribes, which formed part of the great belt of black peoples that extended right across Africa, from sea to sea.
The dynastic Egyptians appear to have regarded a country, or district, called Punt e n as their original home, and they certainly preserved down to the latest times some of the peculiarities in dress of the primitive inhabitants of that region. That Punt was situated a considerable distance to the south of Egypt is certain, and that it could be reached by land, and also by water by way of the Red Sea, is clear from the inscriptions, but there is no evidence available which enables the exact limits of the country to be defined. The despatch of several expeditions to l'unt by the Egyptians is recorded, for the purpose of bringing back anti spice,
, or myrrh, which was used freely for embalming purposes. They started from some point on the Red Sea ncar the modern town of Kuşêr, and sailed southwards until they reached the river of the port of Punt which was situated on the east coast of Africa, probably in Somaliland. The expedition despatched by Queen Hātshepet abcut B.C. 1550 brought back boomerangs, a huge pile of myrrh, logs of ebony, elephants' tusks, sweet-smelling woods, eye-paint, various kinds of spices, dog-headed apes, monkey's, leopard (or panther) skins, “green” (i.e., pale) gold, and gold rings which are to this day used as currency in East Africa and are known as “ring money.” Now, all these things are products of the region which lies between the southern end of the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Valley of the Nile, and it is impossible not to conclude that Punt was situated somewhere in it. The Egyptian expeditions probably sailed up a river for a considerable distance, to a point where the products of Punt were brought by trading caravans for export, and there the Egyptians bartered for the myrrh, etc., which they required. The market place must have been inland, for the huts of the natives are represented in the basreliefs as standing close to the river.
The men of Punt wore a pointed beard and a loin cloth, which was kept in position by a kind of belt, from which hung down behind the tail of an animal. The heard of the Egyptian was also pointed, and gods, kings, and priestly officials on solemn, ceremonial occasions, wore tails. Thus in the Papyrus of Ani (Judgment Scene) the gods Thoth and Anubis wear tails, and the priestly official in the same scene wears the leopard's skin, the tail of which is supposed to be hanging behind him. In two statues of Amen-hetep III (Northern Egyptian Gallery, Nos.412, 413), the tail is supposed to be brought forward under the body of the king, and its end is carefully sculptured on the space between his legs. The custom of wearing tails is common in Central Africa at the present day, even the women, in some places, wearing long tails of bast (Schweinfurth, Heart of Africa, I, p. 295); and a recent traveller reports that the Gazuin people wear tails, about six inches long, for which they dig holes in the ground when they sit down (Boyd Alexander, From the Niger, I, p. 78). Many other points of comparison between the Egyptians and the peoples of Central Africa could be mentioned in proof of the views that the indigenous dynastic Egyptians were connected with the people of Punt, and that Punt was situated in the South-Eastern Südân.
As to the succession of peoples in the Nile Valley, or rather of that portion of it which is called Egypt, many theories have been formulated in recent years. Some of the most competent authorities think that the earliest dwellers in Egypt were black folk, who were driven out or killed off by a race of people who possessed many of the characteristics of the Libyans, and who came from the west, or south-west, and took possession of Egypt. It is thought that the next invasions of the country were made by peoples who came from the east, or south-east, and, having settled down on the Nile, mingled with the inhabitants. After these it seems very probable that Egypt was invaded by tribes whose home was some part of Western Asia, probably the country now called Southern Babylonia. Some think that they entered Egypt by the Isthmus of Suez, and others that they crossed from Arabia to Africa by the straits of Bâb al-Mandib at the southern end of the Red Sea. Another view is that the invaders entered Egypt by the Wâdî Hammâ mât, and that they arrived on the Nile at some place near the modern town of Kena. Little by little the invaders conquered the country, and introduced into it the arts of agriculture, brick-making, wiiting, working in metals, etc. Wheat, barley, and the domestic sheep seem to have been brought into Egypt about this time. The manners and customs of the new comers were very different from those of the men they conquered, and their civilization was of a much higher character than that of the primitive Egyptians; but, among the great bulk of the population, the beliefs, religion, and habits continued to preserve unchanged their characteristic African nature.
What the physical form of the primitive, pre-dynastic Egyptiail was cannot be said, but it is probable that he resembled the dynastic Egyptians whose pictures are seen by hundreds in the tombs. If this be so, he was tall, slender of body, with long thin legs, small hands, and long feet. His hair was black and curly, but must not be confounded with
the “ wool” of the negro, his eyes black and slightly almondshaped, his cheek-bones high and often prominent, his nose straight-sometimes aquiline--and inclined to be fleshy ; his mouth wide, with somewhat full lips, his teeth small and regular and his chin prominent, because his under jaw was thrust slightly forward. The women were yellowish in colour, probably because their bodies were not so much exposed to the rays of the sun as those of the men. The general character of the physique of the Egyptian has remained
practically unchanged to the present day, and no admixture of foreign elements has affected it permanently.
The physical features and dress of the primitive dynastic Egyptians are well illustrated by the accompanying drawings and photographs. From Nos. 1-6 (page 23) we see that their hair was short and curly, their noses long and pointed, their eyes almond-shaped, their beards pointed, their arms and legs long, their hands large, and their feet long and flat. They wear in their hair feathers, probably red feathers from the tails of parrots, such as are worn at the present day, and their loin cloths