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away. The fourth Amenhôtep, however, is by no means an unimportant figure in the annals of the time. It was he who led the revolt from the cult of Ammon-Ra and instituted a new religion of his own devising. He removed his capital from Thebes to a new city of his own building - now known as Tell el Amarna. And the whole episode affords one of the most interesting studies in the records of the empire. To be sure, the movement accomplished little in the end. The worship of Ammon refused to die at the monarch's word, even though he so far deferred to the notions of the time as still to deify the sun's disc. Ammon returned to the throne and Thebes once again became the capital. Nevertheless this sporadic foreshadowing of the monotheistic idea will not be overlooked by any thoughtful reader, and it is likely to be concluded that this ill-starred Amenhôtep was very far from being the least important of his illustrious line, despite his conspicuous failure as a potentate.
It was during the reign of this notable royal family that one famous woman succeeded in gaining the chief power and reigned for a time in her own right. This was the great Queen Hatasu — or Hatshepsowet, as the books commonly call her. She had a stormy time of it for a while, because of a constant quarrel with her husband-brother, Thutmosis III, but in the interval managed to snatch a few lively years of power which she shared with no one. Her ability in local and foreign administration was in no wise inferior to that of her brethren, and one may still read in the painted porticoes of her terraced shrine opposite Thebes the tale of her expedition to the Red Sea, to the distant land then known as Punt.
One other very notable woman of the same period is Queen Tii, wife of the great Amenhôtep III, whose tomb, with that of her parents, formed one of the greatest achæological “ finds" of recent years. Whether Queen Tii was a foreigner or native-born need hardly concern us. But it is pleasant to believe that this influential and able woman bore an important part in the affairs of her day, albeit as a consort only, and was mainly instrumental in giving to the mind of her ill-fated son, Amenhôtep IV, that monotheistic bent spoken of a moment ago, which so arrests the attention of modern investigators.
The tombs of nearly all these potent monarchs were built in the bare and desolate valley across the Nile from the city of Thebes, in what we now know as the "Valley of the Kings.” Pyramids they no longer erected; but they had the same solicitude for an enduring and an inviolable resting-place that had actuated Cheops and Khephrên centuries before, and took prodigious pains to keep the location of their dead bodies profoundly secret. With these tombs we shall have much more to do when we consider the environs of the modern Luxor. For the present it is enough to know that several of the actual bodies of these impressive old rulers have survived, and that one of them, Amenhotep II, still lies in his original coffin, in his own tomb, in the desolate vale where modern visitors, aided by the blessing of an electric light, may look down upon his dreamless sleep.
If the Eighteenth Dynasty was illustrious, it was but little more so than the Nineteenth which followed. The interregnum between the last great Amenhôtep and the first great Rameses was not long, and fortunately was not productive of utter ruin. To be sure, the great foreign empire had sadly dwindled, but there was still life in the body of Egypt. Rameses I was not especially notable in himself, save as the founder of a new royal line; nor was Seti, who followed him, save as the father of the last really great monarch of old Egypt — Rameses II, called “the Great." Enough of a hold was still retained upon the outer world to subjugate Israel and hold its people in bondage at Pharaoh's court, and Rameses the Great strove valiantly to extend his boundaries as the great Thebans of the previous dynasty had done. He fought hard battles, the story of which he never wearied of relating in huge carvings on the walls of a score of temples. He positively shone as a politician. He built more monuments of an enduring kind all over Egypt than any other king had done. He reigned for sixty-seven years, -an extraordinary reign for any age, - and when he came to die he left behind him seventeen sons and something like one hundred and thirty daughters! His mummy, with that of Seti, his father, lies in the Cairo museum ; and while many other bodies older than his lie there also, the chief object of interest is always the mummy of the great Rameses, well enough preserved to this day to vouch for the excellence of his many colossal portrait statues.
Visitors used to be told that Rameses was the “Pharaoh of the Oppression” made famous by the Old Testament. This is no longer maintained, the weight of authority now inclining to ascribe that dubious celebrity to Merenptah, his immediate successor, whose mummy was likewise recovered from a tomb in the Valley of the Kings.
Twelve monarchs bearing the name of Rameses made
the Ramessid line, but apart from the first three they have left little behind but a record significant of the decay of Egypt. With fitful periods of renewed energy the line of the Pharaohs declined until at last the land fell a prey to the invader and became, in the time of the Ptolemies, a mere outlying satrapy of the world-compelling Alexander. And while we owe to the Ptolemaic period many of the magnificent temples that still survive in marvelous perfection, - such as those at Dendera, Esneh, Edfû, and Philæ, - it will hardly repay us to spend much time in sketching the decline of Egypt farther. The close of the Ptolemaic line in the age of Cæsar, Antony, and Cleopatra brings us back to the more familiar ground of Roman history.
Such, then, is the briefest possible survey of the history of Egypt, confined to what seems most es• sential to our present need. Our summary is no doubt cavalier. Hundreds of notable names and events are deliberately omitted from our account. Ages are dismissed in paragraphs. Each one of these monarchs, however, we shall have occasion to refer to again as we consider in more detail their surviving works. But enough has been said to provide us with some definite landmarks without which we could hardly, with profit, push our explorations up the Nile.
It would be more satisfactory still if we could identify more closely the chronology of Egypt with that which our other studies have made familiar. Unfortunately, the Bible narrative is somewhat too legendary to admit of many absolute identifications - and those rather late in time. If we assume that Abraham was an historical personage rather than a