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XXIInd and XXIIIrd dynasties

The order of the succession of the kings of these dynasties is doubtful, and the arrangement here given is that suggested by Daressy and Gauthier, which is tentatively accepted by Hall. See the table facing page 516 of the VIth edition of his Ancient History, London, 1924.

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circa B.C 947

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OUTLINE OF THE HISTORY OF EGYPT

THREE great Periods may be distinguished in Egyptian History: the Palaeolithic Period, the Neolithic Period and the Dynastic Period. The duration of the first is unknown, but competent authorities who have studied palaeolithic sites and remains in Egypt think that it ended about B.C. 10000. If this be so the Neolithic Period and the Dynastic Period must together have lasted nearly 10,000 years, for the latter ended with the submission of Egypt to Alexander the Great. The unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Mena, according to the lowest computation, took place somewhere in the fourth millennium before Christ. But the evidence of the Stele of Palermo (see p. 12) shows that at least 120 kings reigned over Lower Egypt before this event, and we are assuming very little when we say that there were kings reigning in both

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Painted buff-coloured vase of the Predynastic Period with perforated lugs.

B.M. No. 36328.

Upper and Lower Egypt about B.C. 5000. A thousand years later the Egyptians had reached the comparatively high level of civilization that is made known to us by the contents of the graves of the late Neolithic Period. They made reed mats with great skill and were expert potters, although they were unacquainted with the potter's wheel, and their flint tools and weapons prove them to have been masters in the art of flint working. The discovery of copper objects in some graves of the late Neolithic Period shows that they possessed some knowledge of working in metals, and there is abundant proof that they were able to make vessels in stone as well as in earthenware. They were adepts in making flat figures of animals and birds (some with inlaid eyes), which, according to some authorities, they used as slabs on which to rub down a mineral material for use as eye-paint. They buried their dead in shallow oval graves, the bodies having been first sun-dried or even smoked, as is the custom still in many parts of Africa. The body was wrapped in a reed mat or skin of an animal, perhaps a gazelle or a bull, and with it were placed pots containing food of some kind, and flint knives, spear-heads and other weapons to enable the deceased to defend himself against the attacks of foes or savage animals. The neolithic Egyptians worshipped many gods, perhaps totems, and various animals, and each district had its own god and sacred animal. It is clear that they believed in a future existence, perhaps even in immortality as we understand the word. Life in the next world was to them a continuance of life in this; what a man was here that would he be there. Passages in the Pyramid Texts and in the Theban Recension of the Book of the Dead suggest that among some primitive Egyptians the bodies of the dead were sometimes dismembered, sometimes decapitated and sometimes burnt. In pre-dynastic times the dead were buried in the prenatal position on their left sides, with the hands placed before their faces and their chins almost touching their knees.1 Women of quality were buried in the same position. No example of a predynastic Egyptian being buried at full length is known to me. Whether the Egyptians of the late Neolithic Period had discovered the art of writing is doubtful, but their decorated pottery made at that time shows that they had attained very considerable skill in drawing figures of animals and birds, symbols of their gods, palisades, etc. The ability to draw figures of natural and artificial objects accurately appears to be one of the fundamental characteristics of the indigenous Egyptian, and it probably accounts for the persistence of the hieroglyphs in religious and ceremonial inscriptions down to the very end of the Dynastic Period. In any case the system of writing that was in use under the kings of the Ist dynasty was based upon the results of the efforts of their neolithic predecessors.

1 See the authorities mentioned in the paragraphs on the Egyptian Tomb.

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