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Earthenware vase in the form of a box decorated with figures of oryxes, etc.
Predynastic Period. B.M. No. 32639.
Sumerians-they may even have been Sumerians-found their way into Egypt. They brought with them superior processes in the arts and crafts, and their religion was of a higher character than that of the Egyptians, and their gods were represented in human forms.1 It was their influence that caused the Egyptians of a later date to give human bodies to their bird gods, animal gods, and reptile gods. It seems that these invaders first made their way into Upper Egypt, and that having settled themselves there they invaded other parts of the country, both in the south and in the north, and that wherever they went they imposed their sovereignty on the natives. It is probable that the Followers, or Servants, of Horus, whose exploits are related in the great text at Edfû, are none other than these foreigners. Their success was due entirely to the Mesenu, or workers in metal, who accompanied them, and who were armed with great copper harpoons.2 The copper from which they were made3 may have been mined in the great copper district near Tanganyika. Another set of invaders entered Egypt at a very early period, probably before the union of the South and the North under Mena. These were Semites, and they came into Egypt by the caravan roads through Syria and Palestine, and little by little gained power and influence, especially in the Delta. Many came as traders pure and simple, but there must always have been there a considerable number of Semitic refugees driven thither by famines or by the desire for more favourable conditions of existence. With the Negro the Egyptian is in no way connected. The original physical and mental characteristics of the indigenous Egyptians were modified temporarily as the result of intermarriages with their conquerors, but I am assured by competent authorities that no amount of alien blood has so far succeeded in destroying the fundamental characteristics, both physical and mental, of the "dweller on the Nile mud," i.e., the fallaḥ, or tiller of the ground, who is to-day what he has ever been. Left to himself he would never have conquered the Sûdân and Western Asia, and without the initiative and superior brains of the foreigner he would never have built the pyramids and the temples and tombs which have excited the wonder and admiration of the civilized world for thousands of years. But there is in the indigenous Egyptian a persistence which has made him outlast all the great nations who have subjugated him, and Artîn Pâshâ may have been right when he said that the fallah would still be digging in the mud of Egypt when the British soldier had ceased to be.
1 See Wiedemann, Der Tierkult der alten Aegypter, p. 27 ff., and Muséon, New Series, tom. VI, p. 113 ff.
2 See Maspero, Études de Mythologie, tom. II, p. 313 f.; and Sethe, Aeg. Zeitschrift, Bd. LIV, p. 50 f.
3 See Naville, Archives Suisses, tom. I, p. 54 f.
EGYPTIAN chronology is a subject that is full of difficulty, and in spite of all the elaborate essays that have been written about it by Lepsius, Bunsen, Champollion-Figeac, Brugsch and Meyer, no system of chronology that is generally accepted by Egyptologists in England, France and America has yet been formulated. The truth is that the facts necessary for constructing a correct scheme of chronology are wanting, and the Egyptians themselves afford little help in overcoming the difficulty. It has been assumed that there was a Palaeolithic Period in Egypt, but when it began no man can say; two trustworthy authorities think that it ended about B.C. 10,000, but whether it came to an end abruptly as the result of some natural or artificial calamity, or whether it merged gradually into the Neolithic Period, is not known. It is assumed, and probably correctly, that the succeeding waves of civilization of the Neolithic Period lasted a few thousand years, and then, possibly under the influence of foreign invaders and settlers, the last one merged into the civilization known as "dynastic." But no one knows how long these various waves of pre-dynastic civilization lasted, or when the merging took place. The duration of these civilizations need not trouble us, but the date of the merging is very important, if it can be discovered, especially if it helps us to find out when the unification of Egypt under a king took place.
One of the principal objects of every student of Egyptian Chronology is to find out when the first king of the first dynasty began to reign. The native monuments do not help us in any way, and on this point the famous Palermo Stele1 fails us. When complete this Stele was a rectangular diorite slab, measuring about 7 feet by 2 feet, which was inscribed on both sides with the annals of a large number of pre-dynastic kings and of the kings who reigned from the time of the unification of Egypt until about the middle of the Vth dynasty. The names of the pre-dynastic kings were probably about 120 in number, but only nine (two mutilated) are preserved; the length of the period during which they reigned is unknown; some think that the evidence that can be deduced from the Stele justifies them in stating that the reigns of the kings of the first three dynasties occupied a period of 500 years. This would be very important if the date of the first year of the first king of Egypt
1 This fragment of a large slab is preserved in the Museum at Palermo ; hence its name. It was first published by Pellegrini in the Archivio Storico Siciliano, New Series, 20th year, pp. 297-316, with 3 plates, but its real importance was first pointed out by Schäfer in the Abhandlungen der könig. Preus. Akad. for 1902, and the system of dating by years named after events, as was the custom at one time in Babylonia, was first recognized by Maspero (Revue Critique, 1899 and 1901). See also Naville, Recueil des Travaux, tom. XXV, pp. 1-10, and Gauthier, Le Musée Égyptien, tom. III, p. 29 ff.
were known, but this the Stele does not tell us. And none of the other native monuments, viz., the King Lists on the Tablet of Sakkârah,' the Tablets of Abydos,2 the Tablet of Karnak,3 and the King List on papyrus at Turin, gives us any help in this respect. Much useful and quite valuable information on Egyptian Chronology generally we owe to the List of Egyptian Dynasties compiled by the priest Manetho, who flourished in the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphus. He arranged the kings of Egypt in dynasties and gave the names and the number of kings in each dynasty, together with the lengths of their reigns and the sum total of the years of each dynasty. It is the fashion for some to decry the work of Manetho, because his figures have been garbled by generations of copyists, but without it the King Lists of Lepsius and Meyer would have been far less correct and useful than they are. Like all chronographers and historians, both ancient and modern, he could only use such materials as were available; where they were trustworthy his statements are generally correct, where they were not his information is faulty. But Manetho does not help us to fix the date when the first king of the first dynasty began to reign, and the Egyptians themselves did not know it.
The first competent man in modern times to attempt to ascertain this was Lepsius, who set out carefully all the evidence on the subject available to him in his Chronologie der Aegypter, 5 Berlin, 1849. Bunsen discussed the matter tentatively in Aegyptens Stelle, Hamburg, 1845, but being unable to make use of the hieroglyphic texts did nothing to remove its difficulty. He appears to have relied on the chronological scheme which Champollion-Figeac published in his Égypte Ancienne, Paris, 1835, p. 269, and which Lepsius proved to be impossible in his invaluable Königsbuch, which appeared at Berlin in 1858, about the time when Bunsen was publishing further volumes of his work at Hamburg. Champollion-Figeac gave as his date for the Ist dynasty B.C. 5867, for the XIIth B.C. 3703, and for the XVIIIth B.C. 1822, but Lepsius assigned to these dynasties the dates of B.C. 3892, B.C. 2380, and B.C. 1591, respectively, and Bunsen's dates were B.C. 3623, B.C. 2755, and B.C. 1625, respectively.
1 It contains 50 royal names, including that of Rameses II, and 8 are wanting; for an illustration of it see Budge, Hist. Egypt, Vol. I, p. 121 ff.
2 The larger is in the temple of Osiris at Abydos, where it was discovered by Dümichen in 1864; it contains the names of 75 kings arranged in chronological order, the last being the name of Seti I. The Second King List of Abydos, when complete, contained the names of 52 kings; it was found by Bankes at Abydos in 1818 and is now in the British Museum (No. 592). For the remaining names see Budge, B.M. Guide to Sculpture, p. 163.
It gives the names of several kings of the XIth and XIIIth-XVIIth dynasties, but is useless for chronological purposes.
See Lepsius, Auswahl, pll. 3-6, and Meyer, Aeg. Chronologie, Berlin, 1904. 5 It may be mentioned, in passing, that Egyptian hieroglyphic types were used for the first time in this volume.