- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
NOTES FOR TRAVELLERS IN EGYPT.
THE history of Egypt is the oldest history known to us. It is true that the earliest of the Babylonian kings whose names are known lived very little later than the earliest kings of Egypt, nevertheless our knowledge of the early Egyptian is greater than of the early Babylonian kings. A large portion of Egyptian history can be constructed from the native records of the Egyptians, and it is now possible to correct and modify many of the statements upon this subject made by Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus and other classical authors. The native and other documents from which Egyptian history is obtained are:—
I. Lists of Kings found in the Turin Papyrus, the Tablet of Abydos, the Tablet of Sakkârah, and the Tablet of Karnak. The Turin papyrus contained a complete list of kings beginning with the god-kings and continuing down to the end of the rule of the Hyksos, about B.C. 1700. The name of each king during this period, together with the length of his reign in years, months and days, was given, and it would have been, beyond all doubt, the most valuable of all documents for the chronology of the oldest period of Egyptian history, if scholars had been able to make use of it in the perfect condition in which it was discovered. When it arrived in Turin, however, it was found to be broken into more than one hundred and fifty fragments. So far back as 1824, Champollion recognized the true value of the fragments, and placed some of them in their chronological order. Its evidence is of the greatest importance for the history of the XIIIth and XIVth dynasties, because in this section the papyrus is tolerably perfect; for the earlier dynasties it is of very little use.
On the monuments each Egyptian king has usually two names, the prenomen and the nomen; each of these is contained in a cartouche. Thus the prenomen of Thothmes III. is [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Ra-men-cheper, and his nomen is [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Tehuti-mes. Ra-men-cheper means something like "R (the Sun-god) establishes becoming or existence;" Tehuti-mes means "born of Thoth," or "Thoth's son." These names are quite distinct from his titles. Before the prenomen comes the title [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] suten net, "King of the North and South," and after it comes [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] se Ra, "son of the Sun," preceding the nomen. Each prenomen has a meaning, but it is at times difficult to render it exactly in English. Every king styled himself king of "the North and South," and "son of the Sun." The first title is sometimes varied by "Beautiful god, lord of the two earths." In the earliest times the kings were named after some attribute possessed by them; thus Mena, the first king of Egypt, is the "firm" or "established." In the Turin papyrus only the prenomens of the kings are given, but its statements are confirmed and amplified by the other lists.
The Tablet of Abydos was discovered by Dümichen in the temple of Osiris at Abydos, during M. Mariette's excavations there in 1864. This list gives us the names of seventy-five kings, beginning with Mena or Menes, and ending with Seti I., the father of Rameses II.; it is not a complete list, and it would seem as if the scribe who drew up the list only inserted such names as he considered worthy of living for ever. The Tablet of Sakkârah was discovered at Saârah by Mariette, in the grave of a dignitary who lived during the reign of Rameses II. In spite of a break in it, and some orthographical errors, it is a valuable list; it gives the names of forty-seven kings, and it agrees very closely with the Abydos list. It is a curious fact that it begins with the name of Mer-ba-pen, the sixth king of the Ist dynasty. The Tablet of Karnak was discovered at Karnak by Burton, and was taken to Paris by Prisse. It was drawn up in the time of Thothmes III., and contains the names of sixty-one of his ancestors. They are not arranged in any chronological order, but the tablet is of the highest historical importance, for it records the names of some of the rulers from the XIIIth to the XVIIth dynasties, and gives the names of those of the XIth dynasty more completely than any other list.
II. Annals of Egyptian Kings inscribed upon the walls of temples, obelisks, and buildings. The narrative of such inscriptions is very simple, and practically such records merely represent itineraries in which the names of conquered and tributary lands and people are given; incidentally facts of interest are noted down. As the day and month and regnal years of the king by whom these expeditions were undertaken are generally given, these inscriptions throw much light on history. The lists of tribute are also useful, for they show what the products of the various countries were. The poetical version of the history of the famous battle of Rameses II. against the Cheta by the poet Pen-ta-urt is a pleasant variety of historical narrative. The inscription on the stele of Pianchi, the Ethiopian conqueror of Egypt, is decidedly remarkable for the minute details of his fights, the speeches made by himself and his conquered foes, and the mention of many facts which are not commonly noticed by Egyptian annalists. The vigour and poetical nature of the narrative are also very striking.
III. Historical Stelæ and Papyri, which briefly relate in chronological order the various expeditions undertaken by the king for whom they were made. Egyptian kings occasionally caused summaries of their principal conquests and of the chief events of their reign to be drawn up; examples of these are (a) the stele of Thothmes III., and (b) the last section of the great Harris Papyrus, in which Rameses III. reviews all the good works which he has brought to a successful issue to the glory of the gods of Egypt and for the benefit of her inhabitants. This wonderful papyrus measures 135 feet by 18 inches, and was found in a box in the temple at Medînet Habu, built by Rameses III.; it is now in the British Museum.
IV. Decrees, Scarabs, Statues of Kings and Private Persons are fruitful sources of information about historical, religious, and chronological subjects.
V. Biblical notices about Egypt and allusions to events of Egyptian history.
VI. The Cuneiform Inscriptions. Within the last two years a number of tablets inscribed in cuneiform have been found at Tell el-Amarna. The inscriptions relate to a period of Egyptian history which falls in the sixteenth century B.C., and they are letters from the kings of Babylon, Nineveh, and other cities of Mesopotamia and of Phnicia relating to marriages, offensive and defensive alliances, military matters, etc., etc., and reports on the rebellions and wars which took place at that time, addressed to Amenophis III. and to his son Chut-en-aten or Amenophis IV. The Babylonian king who writes is called Kurigalzu. Thothmes III. had carried his victorious arms into Mesopotamia, and one of his successors, Amenophis III., delighted to go there and shoot the lions with which the country abounded. During one of these hunting expeditions he fell in love with the daughter of Tushratta, the king of Mitanni, and married her, and he brought her to Egypt, accompanied by 317 of her attendants. It will be some time before these inscriptions are fully made out, but the examination of them has already been carried sufficiently far to show that they will throw some valuable light upon the social condition of Egypt and of the countries which were subject to her at that time. Some of the tablets are written with cuneiform characters in a language which is at present unknown; and some of them have dockets in hieratic which state from what country they were brought. The discovery of these tablets shows that there must have been people at the court of Amenophis III. who understood the cuneiform characters, and that the officers in command over towns in Phnicia subject to the rule of Egypt could, when occasion required, write their despatches in cuneiform. The greater part of these tablets are now in the Museums of London and Berlin, some are at the Gîzeh Museum, and some are in private hands.
The Assyrian kings Sennacherib, Esarhaddon, and Assurbanipal marched against Egypt; Tirhakah defeated Sennacherib at Eltekeh, but was defeated by Esarhaddon, the son of Sennacherib, who drove him back into Ethiopia. Esarhaddon's son, Assurbanipal, also attacked Tirhakah and defeated him. Thebes was captured, and Egypt was divided into twenty-two provinces, over some of which Assyrian viceroys were placed. A fragment of a Babylonian tablet states that Nebuchadnezzar II. marched into Egypt.
VII. The Greek and Roman writers upon Egypt are many; and of these the best known are Herodotus, Manetho, and Diodorus Siculus. Herodotus devotes the whole of the second and the beginning of the third book of his work to a history of Egypt and the Egyptians, and his is the oldest Greek treatise on the subject known to us. In spite of the attacks made upon his work during the last few years, the evidence of the hieroglyphic inscriptions which are being deciphered year after year shows that on the whole his work is trustworthy. A work more valuable than that of Herodotus is the Egyptian history of Manetho (still living in B.C. 271) of Sebennytus, who is said by Plutarch to have been a contemporary of Ptolemy I.; his work, however, was written during the reign of Ptolemy II. Philadelphus (B.C. 286–247). According to words put into his mouth, he was chief priest and scribe in one of the temples of Egypt, and he appears to have been perfectly acquainted with the ancient Egyptian language and literature. He had also had the benefit of a Greek education, and was therefore peculiarly fitted to draw up in Greek for Ptolemy Philadelphus a history of Egypt and her religion. The remains of the great Egyptian history of Manetho are preserved in the polemical treatise of Josephus against Apion, in which a series of passages of Egyptian history from the XVth to the XIXth dynasties is given, and in the list of the dynasties, together with the number of years of the reign of each king, given by Africanus and Eusebius on his authority. At the beginning of his work Manetho gives a list of gods and demi-gods who ruled over Egypt before Menes, the first human king of Egypt; the thirty dynasties known to us he divides into three sections:—I–XI, XII–XIX, and XX–XXX. Diodorus Siculus, who visited Egypt B.C. 57, wrote a history of the country, its people and its religion, based chiefly upon the works of Herodotus and Hekatæus. He was not so able a writer nor so accurate an observer as Herodotus, and his work contains many blunders. Other important ancient writers on Egypt are Strabo, Chaeremon, Josephus, Plutarch and Horapollo.
According to Manetho, there reigned over Egypt before Mena, or Menes, the first human king of that country, a number of beings called Shesu Heru, or "followers of Horus"; of their deeds and history nothing is known. Some have believed that during their rule Egypt was divided into two parts, each ruled by its own king; and others have thought that the whole of Upper and Lower Egypt was divided into a large series of small, independent principalities, which were united under one head in the person of Menes. There is, however, no support to be obtained from the inscriptions for either of these theories. The kings of Egypt following after the mythical period are divided into thirty dynasties. For the sake of convenience, Egyptian history is divided into three periods:—I, the Ancient Empire, which includes the first eleven dynasties; II, the Middle Empire, which includes the next nine dynasties (XIIth–XXth); and, III, the New Empire, which includes the remaining ten dynasties, one of which was of Persian kings. The rule of the Saïte kings was followed by that of the Persians, Ptolemies and Romans. The rule of the Muammedans, which began A.D. 641, ended A.D. 1517, when the country was conquered by the Turks; since this time Egypt has been nominally a pashalik of Turkey.
The date assigned to the first dynasty is variously given by different scholars: by Champollion-Figeac it is B.C. 5867, by Böckh 5702, by Bunsen 3623, by Lepsius 3892, by Lieblein 3893, by Mariette 5004, and by Brugsch 4400. As far as can be seen, there is much to be said in favour of that given by Brugsch, and his dates are adopted throughout in this book.
Excerpted from Budge's Egypt by E.A. Wallis Budge. Copyright © 2014 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.