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ertheless, left comparatively few remnants in which the non-technical visitors will take an interest.
IV. The “New Empire," Seventeenth to Twentieth dynasties, in which period occurred the expulsion of the invading Hyksos monarchs, or “Shepherd Kings,” who had ruled over the North for a century or so. This is really the "classic" period, the one in which the power of Egypt was actually extended to imperial proportions by the greatest of her Pharaohs. It was the time of the greatness of Thebes, of the oppression and exodus of the Israelites, of the rise of Rameses and his line.
V. The Period of Foreign Domination, which has continued with but few interruptions to the present day. It includes the Twenty-first to the Thirtieth dynasties and merges into the Greco-Roman period wherein flourished the Ptolemies, Cleopatra, and the various Roman governors.
Out of these several epochs a few great names arise to arrest attention. The rest, while essential to the technical student's account, need not, and indeed must not, concern us. As for the great and misty prehistoric time which preceded the rise of Menes, that must be left entirely to the archæologist. Suffice it to say that the earliest fixed date at present known to the students appears to be the year 4241 B.C., when the heliacal rising of Sirius was recorded and the
first definite calendar was introduced. This considerably antedates the accession of Menes, which is now ascribed to the year 3400 B.C.
Of Menes and his immediate successors but little needs to be said, and indeed but little seems to be known. His reputed tomb has been located at Abydos and his capital appears to have been, for at least a portion of the time, at the city called Thinis in that vicinity, of which practically nothing now remains. He also founded, however, the great city of Memphis much farther to the northward, now equally obliterated, to be sure, but definitely located as to its former site. The chief importance of Menes to the casual visitor is found in his having been the first of the historical kings. His name survives in the Mena House. Memphis, a word which at first sight also seems possibly to be a corruption of his name, is in reality the name of a later king identified with the Sixth Dynasty, at which time the city had risen from the low estate of an outlying fortress to the rank of a magnificent capital and residence of the court.
The "Old Kingdom" marks the rise of the builders of the greater pyramids, of whom more will be said in the chapter devoted to those astonishing structures. The important names are those of Zoser, the maker of the Step Pyramid at Sakkâra and originator of the pyramid idea ; Snofru, builder of the first
real pyramid at Medun; Cheops (Khufu), who built the Great Pyramid at Ghizeh : Khephrên, commemorated by the second great pyramid and the Sphinx; Mycerinus (Menkewre), the builder of the Third Pyramid. All these, with the exception of Zoser, belong to the Fourth Dynasty, and form the first really important group of Egyptian sovereigns. With the kings of the other dynasties of this Old Kingdom period we shall have nothing to do, despite the fact that under them Egyptian art attained its highest excellence in many particulars and left us the most magnificent of the tombs at Sakkâra.
The “Middle Kingdom" is the period of the Amenemhets and Sesostrises (Usertesen), of whom Sesostris III was the most famous. Little time need be spent over these here, save to say that they are commemorated by pyramids at Lisht, Dashûr, and Illahûn, in the long line that makes such an impressive showing along the lofty west bank of the Nile for sixty miles as one journeys south from Cairo.
It is with the rise of the full-fledged empire of Egypt, on the successful expulsion of the Shepherd Kings, that the history of the land begins to be genuinely inspiring, presumably because the light thrown by recorded history on the events of that prosperous age is so much more intense than it is in the case of preceding periods. From the rise of
Ahmosis down through the long and imposing line of Amenhôteps and Ramessids, the history of Egypt is fairly well deciphered from a multitude of records in stone and papyrus. It affords us by far the most important group of names since the period of the pyramid builders; and the reading of Egyptian history at this point ceases to be a burden and becomes a positive delight.
The land begins to expand outwardly as well as to develop inwardly. Foreign conquests push the frontier southward and eastward, far into Asia. Countless small principalities become tributaries of the all-conquering Pharaoh, who adds Palestine, Nubia, and a large part of Arabia to his dominions. Meantime enormous works proceed at home, and Thebes, with her hundred gates, becomes a famous city destined to a certain immortality.
By this time the power of the priests of Ammon has increased to such an extent that their ranks appear to furnish the regular recruiting of the royal house. The great monarchs of the classic Eighteenth Dynasty are temple-bred, and their queens appear in the records as priestesses of the shrine. The rich spoils of war go to extend and adorn the already enormous fane of Ammon, which rises at Karnak a scant two miles from the twin temple of Luxor. Between these great monuments to the prevailing faith runs a magnificent street lined with ram-headed sphinxes, and all around spreads the capital city of the ancient world, up and down the steep bank of the Nile. Now, of a truth, is the glorious summer of Egypt's rule.
By one of those rare benefactions that occasionally attend our human race, Egypt was blessed during the years that followed the expulsion of the Hyksos with a succession of extraordinary rulers, practically all of one royal house, - of a family which maintained its strength so consistently that it held the rod of empire in its own hands at Thebes for practically two centuries. It was a remarkable line, and its monument in history is a record of notable achievements. The characteristic names of its rulers were Amenhôtep and Thutmosis, the several kings alternating in those names from father to son for generations. Each name shines resplendent in at least one representative, curiously enough, in the third of each, — and the records of Amenhôtep III and Thutmosis III will not perish from the earth.
The conquests abroad, however, did not long endure after the Thutmosis-Amenhôtep family had fallen into decay. It was an empire based purely and simply on the power of the sword. It had no geographical justification. And with the rise of the fourth Amenhôtep, a man given to dreaming and to religious speculation, the outlying dependencies fell