Preface to the English Edition.
Fifty years ago, the opinion was held by some that we could watch, in the tradition of the most ancient realms of the East, the first awkward steps in the childhood of the human race, while others believed that it was possible to discover there the remnants of an original wisdom, received by mankind at the beginning of their course immediately from the hand of heaven. The monuments of the East, subsequently discovered and investigated by the combined labour of English, German, and French scholars, have added an unexpected abundance of fresh information to the Hebrew Scriptures and the narratives of the Greeks, which, till then, were almost our only resource. No one can any longer be ignorant that Hither Asia at a very remote period was in possession of a rich and many-sided civilisation. The earliest stages of that civilisation in the valley of the Nile, of the Euphrates and the Tigris, on the coasts and in the interior of Syria are, it is true, entirely hidden from our knowledge; even the far more recent culture of the Aryan tribes we can only trace with the help of the Veda and the Avesta back to the point at which they were already acquainted with agriculture, and possessed considerable artistic skill.
Our object in regard to the ancient East is not to retrace the beginning of human civilization, but rather to understand and establish the value and extent of those early phases of civilisation to which the entire development of the human race goes back. The way to this aim is clearly sketched out for us. A minute comparison of tradition with the results of the successful advance of Oriental studies, a conscientious examination of the one by the other, opens out to us the prospect of discerning more precisely the nature of those ancient constitutions and modes of life.
To this purpose I have undertaken to contribute by a descriptive treatment of the subject. Such an attempt appeared to me indicated by the consideration that the fragments of our knowledge--and more than fragments we do not at present possess, and never shall possess, even though we assume that the number of monuments be considerably increased--if conscientiously brought together, would produce the most effective impression by exhibiting the connection of all the various sides of those ancient civilisations--and if to this collection were added the conclusions that can be drawn from it and from the monuments about the political life, the religion, the manners and laws, the art and trade of those nations.
Volume 1 of 5
Preface to the English Edition.
Book 1. Egypt.
Chapter 1. The Land and the People.
Chapter 2. The Antiquity of the Civilisation in the Valley of the Nile.
Chapter 3. The Religion of the Egyptians.
Chapter 4. The Kingdom of Memphis.
Chapter 5. The Hyksos and the Restoration of the Egyptian Kingdom.
Chapter 6. The House of Ramses.
Chapter 7. The Monuments of the House of Ramses.
Chapter 8. Life and Manners of the Egyptians.
Book 2. The Semitic Nations.
Chapter 1. The Ancient Kingdom of Babylon.
Chapter 2. The Religion and Science of the Chaldæans.
Chapter 3. The Art and Trade of Babylonia.
Chapter 4. The Arabs.
Chapter 5. The Canaanites.
Chapter 6. The Religious Rites of the Canaanites.
Chapter 7. The Origin and Descent of the Hebrews.
Chapter 8. The Hebrews in Egypt.
Chapter 9. The Liberation of the Hebrews.
Chapter 10. The Hebrews in the Desert.
Chapter 11. The Hebrew Invasion of Canaan.
Chapter 12. The Nations of Asia Minor.