« AnteriorContinuar »
GEOGRAPHY OF EGYPT.
That I may
great misfortune that I have been lamenting in the writings of the preceding learned men, has been their fondness for hypothesis ; by which they have been too easily and too frequently seduced : this too at a time, when their learning gave them great advantages: and had they set out at first upon good principles, it must necessarily have led them to the discoveries they were aiming at. not fall into the same mistakes that I have been complaining of in others, I will give a short account of the history and geography of Egypt; at least of those parts with which I shall be principally concerned, as far as I can collect it from the best authorities. This being fairly stated will afford me good grounds to proceed upon in my subsequent inquiries : that I may not mould and fashion the country to favour my own particular notions and
prejudices ; but make my system accord to the history
and nature of the country. I have mentioned that all to the east of lower Egypt was a desert: no provinces nor cities were there. I have proved it from the best accounts that I could obtain ; and it will now be my business to give the true situation of these places, that have been so mistaken and transposed. It cannot be expected, that the form and limits of the Egyptian provinces are exactly the same at this day, that they were in times past. A land that has been annually overflowed, must in many places have suffered a change, during an interval of so many ages. Many of the antient canals have in process of time been choked
up, and new ones formed ; which has caused some variation : yet the external shape of the country, and original outlines, are nearly the same now that they were of old.
As Egypt was one of the most antient, so was it one of the most extensive kingdoms, that for many ages subsisted in the world. Those of Assyria and Babylonia were for a long time confined within narrow limits, if coinpared with what they were afterwards. But Egypt seems to have been respectable from the beginning; and the most early accounts, that we can arrive at, bear witness of its eminence and power. It is true, the first inhabitants seem to have settled in the upper parts, near the Thebaïs : but they soon got possession of the whole. And though they might not be all under one head; yet
they were of the same family, and constituted á mighty nation. They were esteemed a very wise and learned people ; so that'Moses is said to have been “ learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” They were likewise very powerful and populous : and there are said to have been in the days of Amasis thirty thousand cities in Egypt. The fruitfulness of the country is well known by the large imposts that were laid upon it in after times. Besides the tribute of corn, they paid to the Romans large taxes in specie; which, according to Cicero, as quoted by - Strabo, amounted in the reign of Ptolemy Auletes to ' 12500 talents. But nothing can give one a greater notion of their wealth, than the account of the treasure, that had been heaped up by the first Ptolemy, as it is described by Appian ; who assures us that, at the death of this prince,
1 Acts 7. v. 22.
2,421,8751. Sce Arbuthnot's Tables. p. 192. 3 But this was esteemed trifling; for Auletes was a very indolent and weak prince. “ If he raised so much,” says Strabo, , “ what must have been the revenues of other kings? or what may
we coinpute the advantages made from Egypt to amount to at " this time, when the taxes are collected with so much exactness, " and there is the additional trade of India and the Ethiopians to « contribute ?” “Οσ8.ουν ο κακιςα και ραθυμεταλα την βασιλειαν διοικων τοσαυτα προσωδευετο, το χρη νομισαι τα νυν, δια τοσαυτης επιμελειας οικονομεμενα, και των Ινδικων εμποριων και των Τρωγλοδυτικων επηυξημεwwws@TODETOY ; vol. 2. pag. 1149.
there were found in his treasury • seventy-four myriads of talents. These circumstances, together with the costly structures which they erected, the mighty works they were engaged in, and the economy and establishment of their government, must raise in us a high idea of the affluence and power which this knowing people were possessed of, while they were their own masters. Such were the Egyptians in their better days:
Τα δε πολλα και ολβια ταυτα λελειπται
all these happy circumstances have been a long time at an end. Egypt, in the midst of its prosperity, was doomed to a fatal change. It was to become sa base kingdom : and for above two thousand years
it has been the basest of kingdoms : neither in all that vast, interval of time has there been once a prince of that nation.
The antiquity of this kingdom may be seen by its founders Ham and Mizraim ; by whose names the country was of old called, nor are they obliterated at this day. Plutarch tells us that the priests of Egypt in the mysteries of Isis called their country • Chemia. Hesychius terms it Hermochemia, and
4 191,166,6661. 13s. 4d. See Arbuthnots Tables: p. 192.
Ezekiel. 29. v. 14, 15.-30. v. 13.
ETI TN Aryu@TON-Xnjera xalool. De Is. et Osir. Herodotus says, eso de Xépapers Todos usyann volle te onbaixe. lib. 2. cap.9. He
says it was the antient name: Ερμοχημιoς γη, η Αιγυατος το προτερον έτως εκαλειτο, Steplantis gives it the name of ? Misore or Mysora; the meaning of which is obvious. In respect to its extent; the Greeks describe it under three large and principal divisions, that comprehend lower Egypt, upper Egypt, and a third that was uppermost of all; which extended to Phila and Syene. These were termed » xatw, saw,
speaks of the people called Chemmite, ibid. of a nome of that name, ibid. and of an island called Chemmis near the city Butus in lower Egypt. cap. 156. All which is analogous to the land of Ham in the Scriptures. LXX. Interpretes-Cham transtulerunt, pro eo quod est Ham, a quo et Ægyptus usque hodie Ægyptiorum linguá Ham dicitur. Hieron. Quæst, in Genes.
7 Zonaras. vol. 1. p. 21. Meopeu de Meogalwv TopogtatWP EYEVETO. "Ουτω δε καλενται Αιγυπτιοι, και η της Αιγυπτε χωρα Μεσρην ονομαζεTan. Urbs Fostat est ipsamet Metzr, sic dicta a Mezram filio Cam, filii Noë, cui par. Geograph. Nubiensis. p. 97. "Aujourd'huy " les Juifs l'appellent encore Mizraim : mais les Arabes et les “ Turcs luy donnent de Mitzir ou Mitzri; combien que Leon
asseure, que les Juifs l'appellent Mezraim, et les Arabes “ Mezré ; et les habitans l'appellent El Quiber. Les Syriens “ nomment les Egyptiens Ægophtes, et les Mahometans d'Egypt " les Chrestiens du mesme pays El Hibt, et El Kupti, ou Kupti
sans article, au lieu de Gupti ou Egupti ; et les Ethiopiens ap“pellent les mesme Giptu ou Gibetu.” Davity. p. 256. The same author says of Cairo; “ Les Arabes l'appellent aujourd'huy “ Mazar ou Mezir ; les Armeniens Massar; les Chaldeens Al “ Chabir, et les Hebreux Mithraim, de mesme que l'Egypte.”