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According to Manetbo, the Egyptian historian, who wrote in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus, no less than thirty dynasties had ruled in Egypt previous to the orerthrow of her last native king. Assuming all these dynasties to have been successive, the duration of the Egyptian monarchy up to that time must have exceeded five thousand years; but acceptiug the received opivion that the first seventeen of them consisted of several contemporary lines, each embracing one or more dynasties, and adopting the order of contemporaneousness established by Lave, the history of Egypt stretches back to the year 2717 B. C. It should be said here that Bünsen and Lepsius, both high authorities, while accepting the theory of the contemporaneousness of the earlier dynasties, assign to Menes, the first king mentioned in Manetho's lists, a date much earlier than the one just given. The preponderance of evidence, however, appears to favor the latter, and accepting that as approximately correct, the time which elapsed between the accession of Menes and the overthrow of Nectanabo by Artaxerxes Ochus, about 350 B. C., was no less than 2,367 years. If to these thirty dynasties be added that of the Ptolemies, which, although of foreign origin, ruled in an Egyptian capital and identified itself more or less closely with Egyptian interests, the history of Egypt as a nation will extend from 2717 to 31 B. C., a period of 2,686 years. But the origin of Egyptian civilization must be assigned to a period even more remote than that of Menes, for in the time of the fourth dynasty, which began about 2440 and ended about 2200 B. C., there were constructed monuments which could only have been the work of a people who had enjoyed the advan. tage of several centuries of progress.*

The early advance of Egypt in civilization, as well as her great material prosperity, had its physical basis iu the rare fertility of the valley of the Nile and the remarkable security of its situation. The former, by attracting the people to a regular agricultural life, induced fixity of residence and the desire for those comforts and embellishments with which men naturally seek to surround themselves when established in permanent homes. The latter, by protecting them from the predatory incursions of nomad tribes, enabled them to accumulate in peace and safety the means by which this desire might be gratified. Hence gradually arose a demand for mechanical and artistic pursuits to supply agricultural implements, dwellings, household furniture and utensils, improved apparel, and ultimately great public buildings and works of art. Hence, also, arose the desire for protection in the pursuit of a regular industry and in the enjoyment of its products, creating a demand for government and social organization, and rendering it possi. ble to unite a large body of people into a single state. Thus were developed in Egypt the needful conditions for an advancing civilization long before the peoples around them bad abandoned the rude and stereotyped usages of an unprogressive pastoral life.

The security of situation above referred to was due to the singular isolation of the country; for the valley of the Lower Nile, which owed its fertility solely to its annual overflow by the great river, and which

"During the joint reign of two kings of this dypasty was erected the great pyramid of Aboo-seer, commonly known as the pyramid of Cheops; and many other works of the same period attest at once the wealth of the Egyptians and the skill in art and industry to which they had attained even at that early day. These two kings were the two Sûphises of Manetho, (the Shufu or Khufu and Num-Sbufu or Num-Khufu of the mouuments,) of whom the former is believed to be identical with the Cheops of the Greeks, after whom the pyramid has been popularly named. The date, 2352 B. C., is believed, upon astronomical evidence, to have fallen within the period during which these two kings reigned.

constituted the “land of Egypt,” was situated in the midst of a desert region of vast extent, affording little subsistence for predatory and hostile tribes, and interposing a formidable barrier of trackless sand be. tween the Egyptians and the nearest habitable tracts on which any considerable population could have found a home. Thus carefully did nature guard the tender infancy of Egyptian civilization ; and even in later times, when assailed by rival nations, grown powerful through the arts which they probably owed in great measure to herself, Egypt often found in her surrounding deserts most potent allies, and more than one great army was reduced to impotence through hunger, tbirst, and weari. ness endured in attempting to cross them. In relation to the industry and wealth of the Egyptians, no circumstance connected with their natural situation was equal in importance to the annual inundation, ou which depended the productiveness of the entire area of their cultivable land. In consequence of this regular overflow of the fertilizing waters, there was usually “corn in Egypt" when surrounding nations were consumed with famine. Yet even there the agriculturist was by po means wholly exempt from the vicissitudes which beset his calling elsewhere; for a variation of a few feet either way in the rise of the river was attended with serious loss. In modern times a rise of less than eighteen or twenty feet at the nilometer of El Rodah, near Cairo, is considered scanty, leaving a considerable area of land outside the limits of the inundation. A rise of less than twenty-four feet is not entirely sufficient, while a rise of more than twenty-seven feet ranks as a destructive flood. In the great French work, the Description of Egypt, there is a table of sixty-six inundations, taken from the official records, and comprehending those of the years 1737 to 1800 inclusive, of which eleven were very high, thirty good, sixteen feeble, and nine insufficient. Similar variations must have occurred in ancient times, and occasionally, though it would seem very rarely, the rise was so scanty as to produce famine. That which occurred in the time of Joseph (probably about 1876 B. C.) has been made familiar by the Scripture narrative; another appears to have occurred a century or two earlier, under one of the sovereigns of the twelfth dynasty; and one of seven years' duration is recorded as having happened in the reign of El Mustansir, about the middle of the eleventh century of the Christian era. So great was the distress at this time in certain portions of Egypt that cannibalism was resorted to, and organized bands kiduapped unwary passengers in the streets of El Káhireh, (Cairo.) At this period, however, the evils resulting from the failure of the inundation were aggravated by those of war.

In the prosperous times of ancient Egypt art and industry had done much to extend the benefits of the inundation. The great canal (or, rather, continuous series of canals) now known as the Bahr-Yoosuf, (River of Joseph,) which runs parallel with the Nile from a little below Cairo to Farshoot, a distance of about three hundred and fifty miles, is believed to have been first constructed under the Pharaohs, and it inay even be full as old as the Arab tradition attributing it to the patriarch Joseph would indicate. In a passage heretofore cited Herodotus attributes to Sesostris the construction of a large number of canals by means of the involuntary labors of his captives, and remarks that, in consequence of these works, “ Egypt, which was before conveniently adapted to those who traveled on horseback or iu carriages, became un. fit for both. The canals,” says he, "occur so frequently and in so many winding directions that to journey on horseback is disagreeable; in car. riages impossible. The prince, however, was influenced by a patriotic motive: before his time those who inbabited the inland parts of the country, at a distance from the river, on the ebbing of the Nile suffered great distress from the want of water, of which they had none but from muddy wells." The Sesostris of the Greek and Roman writers is supposed to have been Rameses II, whose reign of sixty-six years appears

have occupied the latter part of the fourteenth and the earlier part of the thirteenth centuries, B. C.; but it is believed that they also confounded under the same name two kings of the twelfth dynasty wbo ruled about seven centuries earlier, namely, Sesertesen land Sesertesen III, the latter of wbom is called Sesostris by Manetho. It is not unlikely that one of these kings, rather than Rameses II, was the author of the system of canals referred to by Herodotus, especially as the celebrated Lake Mæris, one of the greatest of the works connected with the system of irrigation, is satisfactorily shown to have been excavated under Amenemha III, who reigned in the twentieth century before Christ, and is believed to be identical with the Mæris of the Greek historians.*

The importance attached to agriculture by the ancient Egyptians is sufficiently indicated by the construction of such enormous works as those just referred to, for the purpose of facilitating its processes and increasing its products. As early as the days of Abraham their coun. try appears to have been well known to surrounding nations for the regu. larity and abundance of its food-supply; for when pressed by famine in Canaan the patriarch is represented (Genesis xii) as going to Egypt in quest of subsistence for himself, his numerous dependents, and his flocks and herds. According to the Hebrew version of the Old Testament Scriptures his was about 1920 B. C., and, according to the Septuagint, 2551 B. C. About two centuries later, Jacob, with his household, and probably from one thousand to twelve hundred retainers, resorted to the same source of supplies; and it appears from Genesis xxvi, 2, that Isaac, under stress of famine, was once upon the point of going thither, but was directed elsewhere. Under the despotic rule of the Persians, which commenced about 525 B. C., and, with some interruptions, continued about two centuries, agriculture, like all the other interests of the country, was seriously depressed; but it revived again under the Ptolemies, and, under the Romans, Egypt was regarded as the granary of the empire.

The various operations of agriculture are represented with consider. able minuteness in the sculptures and paintings on the walls of tombs, on some of which, dating as far back as the fourth and fifth dynasties, appear the plow and various other implements employed in farming. The first essential in connection with agriculture was to secure to the land the full benefits of the inundation, and great pains was taken to accomplish this end by means of ditches and skillful mechanical appliances, as well as by dikes and dams to retain the water upon the land.

The contrivances for irrigating lands lying above the level of the in. undation appear in early times to have been confined to buckets carried by hand, and a simple machine constructed on the principle of the wellsweep, and known in modern Egypt as the shadoof. At a later day a contrivance somewhat similar to the modern chain-pump, though on a larger scale, appears to have been used for the same purpose. After the inundation had subsided the land was plowed, or broken up by the hoe, and sown; goats, and, according to Herodotus, swine, being sometimes driven over the field for the purpose of treading in the seed. The principal

* The prænomen of this king, Ra-en-ma, or Ma-en-ra, is probably the name which the Groeks converted into Mæris.

crop appears to have been wheat,* which, when ripe, was usually cut near the top of the stalk, the ears being carried in nets or baskets, by men or asses, to the thrashing-floor, where the grain was trodden'out by oxen or cows. Sometimes, however, the wheat was bound in sheaves. These several processes of plowing, sowing, harvesting, and thrashing in reference to wheat and other kinds of grain, are portrayed in the tombs, in which are also found curious representations of gardens and vineyards. The former were often extensive, and contained tanks for fish, and for the purpose of irrigation. Those represented are doubtless the gardens of the rich, who alone could have bad their tombs so elaborately decorated. Tbe proprietors of land are represented as constantly supervising the labor of their workmen, and paying the closest attention to the cultivation of their estates; and Diodorus informs us that agriculture had been carried to a higher degree of perfection by the Egyptians than by any other people. The rare productiveness of their country is demonstrated by the large population it supported, which, according to the historian just named, amounted, in his day, about the commencement of the Christian era, to three millions, and had once been as high as seven millions. There is no doubt that at the time of Diodorus the population of Egypt bad, by war and misgovernment, been reduced very far below its ancient limit; and, if we assume that limit to have been the bigher number mentioned above, the number of inhabitants to each square mile of cultivable land averaged upward of 650, a population considerably more dense than that of any country in modern Europe.t

The skill of the Egyptians in the mechanical arts is strikingly attested by the remains

of their magnificent temples and other specimens of their architecture. In connection with the monumental remains of the fourth dynasty (2440 to 2200 B. C.) are found opaque glass and glazed pottery, or porcelain, the potter's wheel, and the kiln, together with evidences of a general knowledge of metallurgy. I

Under the fifth dynasty (which commenced simultaneously with the fourth) appear the saw, adze, chisel, lever, balance, and press, and the blow.pipe, used as a bellows. The sculptures exhibit a great variety of

* It is believed by some writers that the zea mentioned by Herodotus as the principal grain of the Egyptians, although usually translated spelt, was really a species of bearded wheat.

† According to Colonel Jacotin, one of the best authorities on the subject, the space which the Nile does or can water and fertilize, north of the first cataract, including its own bed, is only 9,582.3936 geographical square miles, or about 12,457 English square miles. The space actually under cultivation was found by M. Estève, according to Colonel Jacotin, to be 5,469.8688 geographical square miles; but the latter gentleman calculates that in ancient times 2,735.0784 more may have been coltivable,

making a total of 8,205.9472 geographical, or about 10,666 English square miles, and it is upon this area that the density of population is calculated above.

From a list of all the towns and villages of Egypt, with the extent of cultivated land belonging to each, made about A. D. 1375, Mr. E. W. Lane, in his work on the Modern Egyptians, has calculated the aggregate amouut of cultivated land at that time at 5,000 geographical square mil or about 7,150 English square miles.

The following paragraph bearing on this subject is copied from a recent article in an English scientific journal, contributed by Mr. Charles Vincent:

“In the sepulchers of Thebes may be found delineations of butchers sharpening their knives on round bars of iron attached to their aprons. The blades of the knives are painted blue, which fact proves that they were of steel, for in the tomb of Rameses III this color is used to indicate steel, bronze being represented by red. An English gentleman bas recently discovered near the wells of Moses, by the Red Sea, the ra mains of iron-works so vast that they must have employed thousands of workmen. Near the works are to be found the ruins of a temple and a barrack for the soldiers protecting or keeping in order the workmen. The works are supposed to be at least 3,000 years old.”

musical instruments, elegant vases, and articles of household furniture; vessels of metal, alabaster, and other materials; arms and domestic implements, the production of which gives evidence of equal taste and skill; wbile in weaving, and in the various processes of the manufac ture of linen, the Egyptians are said to have excelled.

Diodorus Siculus divided the ancient Egyptians into three classes, as follows: 1. Persons of rank, and priests, who shared between them the chief honors and powers of the state. 2. Soldiers, who were also hus bandmen. 3. Artisans and laborers. Herodotus enumerates seven classes, namely, priests, soldiers, herdsmen (of sheep and cattle,) swine-berds, tradesmen,' interpreters, and pilots. Plato mentions bunters as a separate class, and some have added fishermen and boatmen. These various occupations are but subdivisions of the third class mentioned by Diodorus, and are comprebended under the general terms "artisans” and “laborers." The impression has commonly prevailed that these classes were castes like those of India, separated from each other, from one generation to another, by a barrier which law and custom forbade any of their members to cross; but the testimony of the monuments, as first pointed out by M. Ampère, shows that this opinion was incorrect. Members of the priestly and military classes not only intermarried, but in some instances performed indifferently the functions of the priest or soldier. That intermarriages between members of the privileged classes and the common people were extremely rare, may Daturally be supposed, for this is the case in all countries where privi. leged classes exist; but there can be no doubt that between most of the different classes of working people intermarriages were common. Indeed, this is implied in the statement of Herodotus (ii, 47) in reference to swine-herds, whose case be mentions as if it were entirely exceptional. Nor does le say that even they were forbidden to intermarry with mein. bers of other classes, but that marriage with them was “studiously avoid. ed," and that they were thus reduced to the necessity of intermarrying among those of their own profession." This prejudice arose from their connection with an animal regarded as unclean, and for the same reason tbey were excluded from the temples. But although there were among the Egyptians no castes, properly so called, it was probably the common practice in most occupations for the son to be brought up to the employ. ment pursued by his father, and it also appears that different occupations were held in different degrees of esteem. The swine-herds, as already indicated, stood lowest in the social scale. The herdsmen of sheep and cattle were regarded with dislike, if not with contempt, a fact which Joseph adroitly turned to the advantage of his kinsmen, by using it as a means of securing for them a residence by themselves in the land of Goshen, (Genesis xlvi, 33 and 34.)*

The antipathy to persons engaged in pastoral pursuits, implied in the statement of Joseph, that every sbepherd was “an abomination unto the Egyptians," probably grow out of the invasion of Egypt by a pastoral people, and the establishment therein of the “shepherd-kings." Of these, according to Africanus's version of Manetho, there were ibree dynasties, the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth, whose rule commenced about 2080 B. C., and lasted somewhat more than five hundred years, during which period, however, there were some contemporary dynasties of native kings. According to Manetho, the first of these three foreign dynasties was Phænician, while the other two are believed to have included Arabs and Assyrians; and there is reason to believe that between some of those and the kings of the fifteenth dynasty there existed a bitter hostility. The Pharaoh who elevated Joseph to the post of primo minister is believed to have been Assis (or Assa) of the fifteenth dynasty, and being himself one of the shepherd-kings, be naturally would not share, though from policy be might respect, the prejudices of the Egyptians. The later Pharaoh, “ who knew not Josepb," and oppressed the Israelites, is supposed to have been of Assyrian Origin, and was probably of the sixteenth dynasty.

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