« PreviousContinue »
THE HISTORY OF EGYPT.'
The date of the period when the land of Egypt was taken Antiquity possession of by the race of people which we are accustomed
ich we are accustomed Egyptians. to call Egyptian is unknown. None of the researches which have been carried on by historians, philologists, anthropologists and archæologists has, up to the present, given us any information from which we may reasonably hope to arrive at a decision as to the time when this event took place. And just as we know nothing of the period of the advent of the invaders, so also we know nothing of the aboriginal people whom we may assume they found living there when they arrived. The Egyptian aborigines are thought by some to have been a dark-skinned race, and to have belonged to the negro family. Whatever may be the truth on these points, it is pretty clear that no traces of their works or buildings have come down to us, and as skulls belonging to their time have not been found, any statement as to their race characteristics must be based on pure assumption.
About the race to which the Egyptian known to us from mummies and statues belongs and his characteristics, there is
1 Among the books which derive their information about the history of Egypt from native sources, and are all important for the study of Egyptian History, must be mentioned :--Champollion-Figeac, Egypte Ancienne, Paris, 1839; Rosellini, Monumenti Storici, Pisa, 1832–1844; Bunsen, Acgyptens Stelle in der Weltgeschichte, Gotha, 1844-1857 (English translation with supplementary additions by the late Dr. Birch, Vols. 1-5, London, 1857); Lepsius, Chronologie der Aegypter, Berlin, 1849; Lepsius, Königsbuch, Berlin, 1858; Brugsch, Geschichte Aegyptens, Leipzig, 1859 (English translation by Danby Seymour and Philip Smith, B.A., 2 vols., 2nd ed., London, 1881); Birch, Egypt from the earliest Times to B.C. 300, London, 1880; Wiedemann, Aegyptische Geschichte, Gotha, 1884 ; Meyer, Geschichte des alten Aegyptens, Berlin, 1887, with Einleitung. Geographie des alten Aegyptens, Schrift und Sprache seiner Bewohner, by Dümichen; and Mariette, Aperçu de l'Histoire Ancienne d'Egypte, Paris, 1867. Interesting and popular works on this subject are contained in Maspero, Histoire Ancienne des Peuples de l'Orient, ist ed., 1875, and Lenormant, Histoire Ancienne de l'Orient, Paris, 1882.
Asia the no doubt whatever. He was a Caucasian, and it would seemi original home of
that he came to Egypt from an original home in Asia. He
wandered, or was driven, forth from there, and travelling in a Egyptians.
south-westerly or westerly direction, after a number of years arrived at a place to the north of the Red Sea, probably the Isthmus of Suez, the “bridge of nations.” Of the time occupied by the immigrant in making his way from Asia to Egypt nothing can be said ; it is quite certain, however, that when he arrived he brought a high civilization with him. Following the statement of Diodorus Siculus," it was the fashion some years ago to state in books of history that the ancient Egyptian was a negro, and some distinguished historians still make the statement that "the fundamental character of the Egyptian in respect of physical type, language, and tone of thought, is Nigritic.”? That neither the Egyptian nor his civilization is of Nigritic origin is proved by the inscriptions and by the evidence of an ever-increasing number of statues of kings, and of high officials in their service, who lived during the earliest times of the rule of the invaders over Egypt. Prof.
Owen's opinion on this subject is as follows: "Taking the Evidence sum of the correspondence notable in collections of skulls of skulls
from Egyptian graveyards as a probable indication of the tiquities. hypothetical primitive race originating the civilized conditions
of cranial departure from the skull-character of such race, that race was certainly not of the Australioid type, is more suggestive of a northern Nubian or Berber basis. But such suggestive characters may be due to intercourse or admixture' at periods later than [the] XIIIth dynasty ; they are not present, or in a much less degree, in the skulls, features, and physiognomies of individuals of from the IIIrd to the XIIth dynasties."3 If the pure ancient Egyptian, as found in mummies and represented in paintings upon the tombs, be compared with the negro, we shall find that they are absolutely unlike in every particular. The negro is prognathous, but the Egyptian is orthognathous; the bony structure of the
Bk. iii. 3. 1. (ed. Didot, p. 128).
Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland,
negro is heavier and stronger than that of the Egyptian ; the Features hair of the negro is crisp and woolly, while that of the e
C Egyptian. Egyptian is smooth and fine. The Egyptian was usually of slender build, with broad shoulders, sinewy arms and legs, and long hands and feet. His head was small, with large eyes, full cheeks, broad mouth, lips inclined to be full, and square chin. The nose was short and not aquiline. It will be observed, too, that if we add that the Egyptian was dark complexioned, the above particulars will agree very well with their general description by Ammianus Marcellinus (xxii. 16, 23): “ Homines autem Aegyptii plerique subfusculi sunt et atrati? magis quam maesti oris, gracilenti et aridi, ad singulos motus excandescentes ......." When an Egyptian had an aquiline nose, it indicated that he had Semitic blood in his veins; the aquiline nose was hardly ever met with in Upper Egypt.2 But it is quite as impossible to show that the Egyptian was a Semite, as some have attempted to do, as that he was a negro. The language of the Egyptian as known to us by the Opinions
of scholars inscriptions which he left behind him belongs wholly neither on school to the Indo-European nor to the Semitic family of languages. affinity of
Egyptian. The only known language which it resembles is Coptic, and this is now pretty well understood to be a dialect of the language of the hieroglyphics. Benfey: endeavoured to show that the Egyptian had sprung from a Semitic stock, and De Rougé," Ebers and Brugsch' have followed in his steps.
See also Herodotus, ii. 104. ? Here and elsewhere I have reproduced passages from my Prefatory Remarks on the unrolling the Mummy of Bak-ran, privately printed, London, 1890. See Ebers, Aegypten und die Bücher Moses, i. p. 46 ff. and Wiedemann, Aegyptische Geschichte, p. 25.
3 The whole of the facts which favour the theory that the Egyptian is allied to the Semitic languages are collected in his work Ueber das Verhältniss der Aegyptischen Sprache zum Semitischen Sprachstamme, Leipzig, 1844.
· Mémoire sur l'inscription du tombeau d'Ahmès, p. 195. “...... et presque toujours un fait curieux a été mis en évidence, à savoir, que la grammaire de la langue antique se rapproche bien plus décidément des caractères propres aux idiomes sémitiques."
s Wörterbuch, I. Vorrede, ss. 9-12. “Es steht mir nämlich fest, dass die altägyptische Sprache, d. h. die älteste Gestaltung derselben, im Semitischen wurzelt und dass wir von hieraus alle jene Erscheinungen zu erklären haben, welche sonst ohne jede Ausflösung dastehen wiirden."
Barthélemy, de Guignes, Giorgi, de Rossi and Kopp proclaimed unhesitatingly the identity of Coptic with Hebrew,' but Quatremère in his Recherches critiques et historiques sur la langue et la littérature de l'Egypte, p. 16, declared that Coptic was without affinity with any other language, and that it was a mother tongue. Dr. Lepsius tried to show by the names of the numerals and alphabets that the Indo-European, Semitic and Coptic fainilies of languages were originally identical," and Schwartze : asserted that Coptic was analogous to the Semitic languages in its granımar, and to the Indo-European languages by its roots; but that it was more akin to the Semitic languages in its simple character and lack of logical structure. Bunsen and Paul de Lagarde thought that the Egyptian language represented a pre-historic layer of Semitism, and tried to show that the forms and the roots of the ancient Egyptian could be explained neither by Aryan nor Semitic singly, but by both of these families together, and that they formed in some way the transition from one to the other. Stern in his Koptische Grammatik, p. 4, says :“Es besteht eine alte Verwandtschaft zwischen der aegyptischen, welche dem hamitischen Stamme angehört, und den semitischen Sprachen, wie sich unverkennbar noch in der pronominalbildung und in manchen gemeinsamen Wurzeln zeigt; doch scheint sich das aegyptische von den asiatischen Schwestern früh getrennt zu haben und seinen eigenen Weg gegangen zu sein. .... Die allgemeine Stammverwandtschaft der beiden Sprachen ist durch weitgehende Lautverschiebungen und Veränderungen verdeckt.” Prof. W. Wright thought that “we have not a few structural affinities, which may perhaps be thought sufficient to justify those linguists who hold that Egyptian is a relic of the earliest age of Semitism, or of Semitic speech as it was before it passed into the peculiar form in which we may be said to know it historically.” (Comparative Grammar of the Semitic Languages, p. 34.)
Renan, Histoire Générale des Langues Sémitiques, p. 80. ? Veber den Ursprung und die Verwandtschaft der Zahlwörter in der Indo. Germanischer, Semitischen und Koplischen Sprache, Berlin, 1836.
3 Das alle Aegypten, pp. 976, 1033. 4 Renan, op. cit., p. 82.
Quite recently Dr. Erman has discussed the question of the affinity of the language of the hieroglyphics with the Semitic dialects, and he is of opinion that a relationship undoubtedly exists. To support this view he prints a list of Egyptian words with what he and I believe to be their Semitic equivalents, and he thinks that the number of such words might be considerably increased if we were able to recover the radicals which are hidden in their hieroglyphic forms. His arguments are carefully thought out and his facts ably put together, and he has made an important contribution towards the settlement of a difficult subject.
On the other hand Renan, Max Müller, and others, do not admit the connexion between Egyptian and the Semitic languages in any way whatever. Renan does not seek to deny that the proposed relationships between Coptic and Semitic dictionaries have something seductive about them, but he cannot admit that they form any scientific proof; he considers them to be accidents rather than organic analogies, as shown by the following list :-?
2.D.M.G., Band XLVI. pp. 93-129. ? See however Wright (Comparative Grammar, p. 33), “An examination of the Coptic alone readily suggests several considerations in support of this view [i.e., that Egyptian is descended from the same stock as the Semitic languages). For example, there is the marvellous similarity, almost amounting to identity, of the personal pronouns, both separate and suffixed-a class of words which larguages of radically different families are not apt to borrow from one another"