Littell's Living Age/Volume 141/Issue 1819/Ancient Egypt - Part II

135284Littell's Living AgeVolume 141, Issue 1819 : Ancient Egypt – Part II.Reginald Stuart Poole

II. edit

The Side by side with the fourth dynasty, the twelfth, the great family of the old Theban line, looks insignificant if measured by its monuments. The solitary obelisk which yet stands on the site of ancient Heliopolis, the beautiful sepulchral grottoes of Benee-Hasan, and a few interesting fragments of small temples, are all that are seen in Egypt as monuments of this family. The city of Thebes, which gave its name to the dynasty, shows scarcely a trace of its rule. But if we remember the evident concentration of the whole forces of the nation in the vast sepulchre of each monarch of the fourth dynasty, and the many records that show the diffused activity of the later line, we begin to form a fairer judgment. Still more when we read the memoirs of the great men of this second age, and take note of the activity of its kings in executing works of national usefulness, we reverse our first judgment, and find that Egypt under the old Thebans had made great strides in civilization beyond the highest point reached by the pyramid-builders. The vast artificial lake of Mœris is a startling proof that the kings of the twelfth dynasty had larger views of the true welfare of Egypt than those who went before them, and had the energy to throw the whole force of the people into works that this foresight suggested. Theirs was the golden age of ancient Egypt, probably never before or after as prosperous as under their rule, not even, indeed, in the richest age of its Muslim rulers.

The founder of the twelfth dynasty, Amenemhat I., probably a successful military chief, made his son his colleague with equal royal power. This has often been done by founders of a new house. It was the policy of Ptolemy, Seleucus, and Antigonus thus to secure a doubtful succession. The custom was, however, continued by Amenemhat's successors, and this implies a certain degree of weakness in the royal power. It is however, spoken of in the same terms of awe as before. Saneha, in the well-known story of his life, a most interesting Egyptian text, tells us how he returned after flight from his country and long residence at the court of a foreign king, and coming into the presence of Amenemhat, fell on his face, and with what kindness the terrible Pharaoh restored his courage. The king's last words to his son and colleague give us a better picture of his true power, while they confirm Saneha's evidence of his kindness.

The "Instructions of Amenemhat" form the oldest book of royal advice. Copied out under the nineteenth dynasty, they were then so famous that no less than six texts of the whole or part have come down to our time. The form is that of a dream in which the deceased king counsels his son: the character of the record is so true to the thoughts of a living king, and so beyond the courage of a subject, that it can scarcely be doubted that Amenemhat was himself the author. The writer speaks as one whose life's object was the welfare of all his subjects, especially the poor and unprotected. He reminds his son of how he had raised him from being "an eater of rations" to the throne. He tells him to be better than "the Graces" his predecessors, to maintain concord with his subjects, not to isolate himself, keeping no society but that of the nobles, but to be careful of new associates. He tells him how he owed his own popularity to his protection of the weak and the afflicted, from what plots and bad counsels he had escaped, how they had ruled together, how he had aided his son in the suppression of seditions, in assisting the people in time of famine, how he had protected him against those who would have taken advantage of his youth. He recites what he had done — how he guarded the boundaries, won the love of the people by his care of them, how he hunted the lion and captured the crocodile, how he subdued the nomads around. Then he describes his tomb, "adorned with gold," its roof colored with ultramarine, the "passages " of stone, bound together not unlike the treasure-house at Mycenæ with "metal hooks," "made for eternity, time shrinks before it." Now he is one of the happy dead doing honor to his son, having already begun prayers for him in the celestial boat of the sun.

At this time the throne had lost some of its power, but the art of government had been learned in the school of adversity. The memoirs of the great men of the age fill in the picture drawn by the founder of the twelfth dynasty. In the great stele of Mentuhotep, prime minister under the second king of this family, we find how one person was at the same time, as Dr. Brugsch remarks, minister of justice, of the interior, of public works, of worship, and perhaps of foreign affairs and of war, the pharaoh's alter ego. He, too, especially glories in "having protected the poor and defended the powerless." Nothing more marks the change in the relations of the crown to the nobility than the appearance, in place of the royal kinsfolk who compose the aristocracy of the pyramid age, of men raised by royal choice to the first posts, as well as of a class of great landowners, whose succession to local governments seems to have been almost a matter of course, though needing the king's approval.

The series of excavated tombs at Benee-Hasan, in Middle Egypt, give us, in their wall-paintings, the every-day life of these great men, for they are the sepulchres of nomarchs and governors. The state of society is very much that of the pyramid age, with a greater degree of luxury, and we have a hint of the foreign relations of Egypt in the representation of a band of Shemite settlers coming before the nomarch, a subject which illustrates, though it certainly does not represent, the settlement of the Israelites in Egypt.

The interest of the time is, however, in the great public works of the kings, and their endeavors to extend the Egyptian territory. The welfare of Egypt depends on the annual inundation of the Nile. A very low inundation causes famine, a very high one is a disastrous flood, and it is not seldom that the utmost level of the river little exceeds that which portends famine, or falls little short of the scarcely less fatal flood-height. There are, moreover, many tracts in Egypt which the inundation never reaches, unless the water is raised by artificial means, and by such means the inundated lands may again be irrigated so as to produce a second and third harvest. Thus the regulation of the inundation, the construction of canals and reservoirs, are the main methods of benefiting Egypt, naturally an agricultural country. It was to these objects that the kings of the twelfth dynasty turned the force of the nation. Most of all, Amenemhat III. executed the greatest ancient work of engineering skill, the most useful one to the country ever carried out in Egypt, the Lake Mœris. About seventy miles, measured on the course of the river, to the south of Cairo, the low edge of the western desert opens and forms the entrance to an oasis, fertilized by the waters of the Nile, which are conducted into it by a canal having many branches, and which finally empties itself into a great inland lake. As we now see this oasis, the Feiyoom, we observe that much of its soil is unwatered and unproductive, though marked by the signs of ancient plenty. This is because the great hydraulic work of Amenemhat has been allowed, since the Muslim rule of Egypt, to fall into decay and ultimately to disappear. It was only in the present century that its remains were discovered; and its true site fixed, by M. Linant, a French engineer, to whose surveys we also owe the excellent map of Egypt published in Lepsius's "Denkmäler."

The Lake Mœris lay in the south-east of the Feiyoom. It was bounded on the south and east by the natural elevated edge of the oasis, on the other sides by great dykes which may still be traced. Its shape was thus irregular, but some idea may be formed of its size from the fact that had it been square each side would have measured about twelve miles. Evidently the construction of this vast work was aided by the natural shape of the country, and it is possible that it needed but little excavation; yet the construction of the dykes of the strength necessary to keep a vast body of water from falling into the lower level to the north-west must have been a work of prodigious labor. The object of the lake was to receive the waters of the Nile, and convey them as it became desirable over the country around. It was also turned to good account as a fish-preserve.

M. Linant, the discoverer of the Lake Mœris, argued strongly in favor of its restoration. This would involve the destruction of three or four villages, and the loss of about forty thousand feddáns, or some what more than as many acres, while it would immediately render cultivable eight to nine hundred thousand feddáns, a space equal to a quarter of the land in Egypt now under cultivation. Yet more, this vast reservoir would serve as a valuable means of drawing off the waters of the excessive inundations and emptying them into the Lake of El-Karn at the north-western extremity of the Feiyoom. It would thus modify the dangerous effects of the highest inundations, and this much might indeed be effected by existing canals and a sluice, which was used for this purpose after the Lake Mœris had disappeared. The simple work of restoration upon the ancient lines has not the showy pretensions of other modern projects, but it would far more benefit Egypt by producing results which would form a means of measuring the far-sighted policy of the old king Amenemhat, who, we may hope, is actually commemorated by his great work, the name Mœris being possibly derived from his prenomen.

It is not in Middle Egypt alone, especially favored by these Theban pharaohs, but also in Nubia, that we must look for the records of their care for the welfare of their country. At the Cataract of Semneh, in Nubia, not far above the Second Cataract, are rock-sculptures of Amenemhat III. and of a later king, carefully registering the annual maximum height of the Nile, which led to the discovery of a curious change in level at a later time. A great barrier at Gebeles-Silsileh, near the ancient Silsilis in Upper Egypt, between Thebes and the First Cataract ,gave way or was cut through, and the level of the Nile between this barrier and Semneh fell to an extent which deprived the valley throughout that space of the full benefit of the inundation. This occurred before the empire.

At Semneh, Usurtesen III., the immediate predecessor of Amenemhat III., was worshipped as the founder of Egyptian power in Ethiopia. Here he built fortresses and set up boundary stones. Their inscriptions tell us that this was the southern limit of Egyptian territory, and one of them is further curious as prescribing the conditions on which negroes could pass this point. The name used for these neighbors of Egypt is always applied in Egyptian texts to pure negroes, and it would thus appear that at this time (two thousand years or more before the Christian era) the Nubian population was not Ethiopian, using that term for the mixed races, but Nigritian. Later we find undoubted Ethiopians of the Somálee country, and perhaps also Arabia Felix, as tributaries of Egypt.

It is characteristic of this bright period that its monuments show an advance in architectural taste. With the abandonment of the massive structures of the pyramid age there arose an instinctive desire for beauty in art. It is now that we first find, at Benee-Hasan, the elegant many-sided columns which have reasonably been called proto-Doric. The general impression all the works of art of the dynasty give us is that of refined elegance. If the tombs of great men are more costly than before, it is because their power and wealth were greater, and therefore private works could bear a larger proportion compared to those of the king.

The twelfth dynasty has left one puzzle for archæologists and critics, the famous Egyptian labyrinth. It was built by the king to whom the Lake Mœris was due, and stood in its immediate neighborhood. Professor Lepsius excavated the site, and found a great number of very small chambers. Unhappily they were in a very dilapidated state. It is quite possible, however, from these remains that Herodotus is right in saying that the labyrinth contained three thousand chambers, half under and half above the ground. There is a general agreement among ancient writers that it was a true labyrinth in the Greek sense, perplexing to the visitor. They also state more or less distinctly that it was connected with the Egyptian provinces or nomes, each of which had its place of meeting here, as Strabo says, not only for religious but for legal purposes. The few fragments of inscriptions discovered by Lepsius throw no light on this subject, nor has anything else been discovered tending to clear up its mystery. We find nothing in Egyptian documents resembling the Greek assemblies of confederate states. If the Egyptians ever had a general assembly of the nature described by Strabo, we should certainly find some native notice of it. It is quite evident that the intention for which the labyrinth was constructed was long maintained, and if so anything so markedly peculiar as a deliberative assembly would have left its record in the memoirs and letters of the ancient Egyptians. It is most probable that the priests met here only for the purposes of sacerdotal law. At the same time, such a general meeting-place may well have been the centre of political action on many occasions like the case of the dodecarchy. Perhaps it was neutral ground. Dr. Brugsch draws attention to the curious circumstance that in the lists of the nomes of Egypt that of the Feiyoom is omitted. These lists belong to an age at which the worship of the crocodile, and the divinity with the head of that animal, Sebak, to whom it was sacred, had fallen into disfavor, almost throughout Egypt. He argues that the exclusion took place on religious grounds, but the Tentyrite nome where the worship of the crocodile also prevailed is not thus excluded. Of course the question will be decided when the earlier lists come to light. In the mean while it is possible that this nome was a neutral territory not reckoned among the provinces, like Columbia in the United States, as holding the meeting-ground of all the nomes where perpetual neutrality prevailed.

Was the Egyptian labyrinth the parent of that of Crete? Pliny says that it was. The most complete representation of the Cretan wonder on the coins of Cnossus has, as Bunsen has pointed out, a family likeness to what the Egyptian labyrinth must have been. The name was almost certainly adopted from Egypt by the Greeks; why not the form? The Egyptian labyrinth was still kept in repair as late as the end of the monarchy, not long before the subjugation of Egypt by Alexander. We need not go back a thousand years before the Trojan age, to the time of its foundation, for the influence on some early Greek architect. It may be conjectured that such a primitive builder would have caught at the idea of a vast structure of great renown constructed of a multitude of small chambers, thus attaining great dimensions in the easiest manner.

With the builder of the labyrinth and constructor of the Lake Mœris, the twelfth dynasty wanes. Two short reigns, the last that of a queen, brought it to a close, and we find ourselves on the brink of another chasm in Egyptian history. At first there are a few stepping-stones, the scanty records of another Theban line ruling all Egypt; but the marks of decline are manifest. Was Egypt already engaged in a struggle with foreign invaders, or did the labyrinth really mean political innovation, which led to domestic dissension? These questions cannot yet be answered: all we know is that in course of time the later Theban kingdom, whose sovereigns were ephemeral in their reigns, came to an end, and that then or before, scarcely later, a great catastrophe occurred which, though the chief calamity of ancient Egypt, ended in the establishment of the empire. This was the invasion and conquest of Egypt by the Shepherds.

The third great period of Egyptian history which now opens has left its records not at Memphis or Thebes, but at a third great site, Tanis in the Delta, the Zoan of the Bible. Here the excavations of M. Mariette have yielded results as interesting and unexpected as those in the Troad and at Mycenæ. We now know the race of the Shepherds and their place in Egyptian history, not that chronological place which students are still looking for in vain, but the place in the series of influences which form the true history of each country. Much we have now to unlearn, many old theories to discard, but at length there is a sure base on which discovery and inquiry are building up a solid and lasting structure.

The story of the conquest and rule of Egypt by the Shepherds, the great convulsion which overthrew the old kingdom, and by stirring national feeling brought the empire into light, is told in a large fragment of Manetho's history given by Josephus. Until lately it was accepted without question. But the discoveries of M. Mariette, and the researches of other scholars in ancient Egyptian documents, have shown that this story, though no doubt in many respects correct, contains such serious errors, that it is not to be trusted where the monuments and other Egyptian records are silent and cannot be cited to confirm or correct it. We have only to lament the vast erudition that has been diverted from the fruitful study of the earlier documents for the vain attempt to build history of these unsound materials, and to ask how it can be that the Egyptian historian, generally trustworthy, here fails us. Probably the true answer is that Josephus writing controversially, and wishing to make the Shepherds the same as the Iraelites, has wilfully altered his authority. In an age of entire indifference to any but Greek and Roman history, when, moreover, books were only published in manuscript, and it was a serious matter to write, perhaps from Rome to Alexandria, to verify a passage, authors were not as safe as now. Certainly Josephus is not beyond suspicion of dishonesty. His character of Titus is contrary to the general tenor of history; and if Dr. J. Bernays is right in conjecturing that the ecclesiastical historian Sulpicius Severus has preserved in epitome a lost part of the fragmentary fifth book of the "Histories" of Tacitus, we have a direct contradiction of the favorable portrait which Josephus draws of his patron, from the hand of a historian who had a much finer sense. If Josephus were capable of so bold a falsification of contemporary history, when nothing but the protection of the reigning family could save him from confutation, it would not be difficult to understand that he would not have hesitated to tamper with the work of an almost unknown historian dealing with a remote age. But the passage is so self-contradictory, and so contradicted by what follows it, that it may be that Josephus had an inaccurate copy of Manetho before him.

The proper mode of dealing with this difficult but most interesting period of Egyptian history, the age, as far as we know, of the first great war, the first inroads of the Easterns into Egypt, is that of M. Chabas, who has collected all the native documentary evidence. His main results may here be given with such additional evidence as may be gleaned from M. Mariette's discoveries. M. Chabas's paper is an admirable criticism of the written data: he does not, however, deal with the not less valuable evidence of art.

We may begin by discarding the time-honored name Hyksos. The etymologies given of it in the fragment of Manetho cannot, as M. Chabas has noticed, have been given by any one acquainted with the ancient language, and the name is not found elsewhere. The appellation in Manetho's list, "Shepherds," is more probable, and leads to the Egyptian Menti-u by which these foreigners seem to be called, and which certainly means "Shepherds," though it is not certain that this is its sense when used ethnically. Unfortunately the word Menti-u is a generic term. It belongs to a class of appellations given to the hereditary enemies of the Egyptians, which usually, if not always, have a wide extent. Thus it occurs with the Amu or Shemites (?) and the negroes (Chabas, "Papyrus Magique Harris," 49). In an inscription by an Egyptian priest who was a partisan of the Persians, Darius Codomannus is called ruler of Menti, and the Greeks and Persians are called the Ionians (the corresponding Egyptian word having a wide extension) and Menti (Brugsch, "Geogr. Inschr." i. 40, 41. Pl. lviii.). Thus, the Menti-u would seem sometimes to mean nothing more definite than Asiatics, as Dr. Brugsch suggests. At present we can go no further in this line of inquiry.

For the race of the Shepherds we must look to other evidence. The great result of M. Mariette's researches at Tanis, or Zoan, is that this was a chief city, probably the capital, of one of the Shepherd dynasties, whose sculptures, though appropriated by later kings, have a distinctive character of their own, which gives us the national type. This type, as M. Mariette remarks, is still preserved in the population of the neighboring country, whose peculiarities had already attracted the notice of ancient travellers, as we may judge from the novelists Heliodorus and Achilles Tatius. The type on the Shepherd monuments is distinctly Shemite, of a character distinguished from that of the Assyrians, as seen on their monuments, by a more marked cast of features. It represents the same vigorous, muscular race, a race with far less refinement but much more energy than the Egyptians.

If there were any doubt that the Shepherds were Shemites, it would be removed by the numerous Semitic geographical names to be found in the east of Lower Egypt, and by the circumstance that under the nineteenth dynasty, between two and three centuries after the expulsion of the foreigners, the Semitic element in Egypt was so strong that it became the fashion not only to use Semitic words in place of Egyptian, but even to give Egyptian words Semitic forms.

Although we thus know the race of these invaders, we cannot tell to what branch of it they belonged, whether they were Phœnicians or Arabs, Manetho suggesting both, or whether they migrated from beyond the Euphrates. The later geographical use of the terms Menti-u and Menti suggests Asia to the exclusion of Arabia, but of course does not forbid the notion that they were Arabs of Syria or Mesopotamia.

It is easy to speculate on a dynastic change which may have caused a migration to Egypt, or to suggest conditions pointing to the possibility of a regular invasion by a powerful Asiatic state, but these are mere conjectures which can produce no trustworthy results. And it may be added that we are equally without a trace of the later history of the Shepherds who left Egypt. It may, however, be that but few really went away in a body. Manetho's account may be exaggerated. All we know from trustworthy sources is that, after the final conquest of the foreigners in Egypt, and apparently while still at war with them, the king of Egypt took the city of Sharuhana or Sharuhen in southern-most Palestine. This gives the direction of the march of the Shepherds out of Egypt, which is that which we should expect they would have taken. We are unable to illustrate this event from the Bible. It is, however, worthy of notice that the group of Rephaite tribes were settled in southern Palestine, and that in the Book of Numbers the Anakite (or Rephaite) city, Hebron, is apparently connected, in its foundation, with that of Zoan.

We cannot yet conjecture the details of the history of the Shepherds in Egypt, or the duration of their dominion, for it is not until about its last century that we have a basis of fact. It is probable that the first conquest and early rule was marked by the violence of which Manetho speaks. There is in this period an absence of monuments which is strong negative evidence of an age of suffering. The dislike with which the Egyptians speak of the Shepherds cannot, however, he said to prove anything. It is their customary tone as to foreigners, and would not be least strong when these were foreign enemies ruling Egypt.

It is probable that the Shepherds ruled all Egypt until a national rising caused the war of independence, which, after many years, ended in the expulsion of the foreigners by Aahmes, or Amosis, the head of the eighteenth dynasty. Manetho's statement as to the extent of the foreign rule and its termination in consequence of a revolt led by a king of the Thebaïs, is confirmed and illustrated by a most interesting Egyptian fragment contained in a papyrus, which probably told how that conflict arose. This document relates how the Shepherd-king Apapi ruled all Egypt, and having determined to worship Set alone, built a temple and instituted festivals. He accordingly sent a message, evidently on the subject of this religious innovation, to Sekenen-ra, prince of Upper Egypt, a Theban dynast, not here designated by the usual titles of the pharaohs. It appears that the foreign chief conceded the admission of the worship of Amen-ra in his new temple. The deliberations caused the greatest anxiety to the tributary Egyptian prince. It may be that much more is meant than the local worship of the territory occupied by the Shepherds, but of this we cannot be certain. The story breaks off, the ancient scribe having begun to copy another document.

In the ruins of the great temple of Tanis M. Mariette found the name of Apapi with the titles of an Egyptian pharaoh. The story of the Egyptian papyrus is confirmed by the circumstance that at this period Set was the chief object of worship here, whereas as late as the time of the thirteenth dynasty, probably not long before the Shepherd invasion, his position was held by Ptah.

The chronological place of Apapi is probably not more than a century before the expulsion of the Shepherds. M. Chabas argues that of the three kings bearing the prenomen or official name Sekenen-ra, the one mentioned in the papyrus was the first, and the last was the immediate predecessor of Aahmes, the conqueror of the strangers. He notices the significant fact that, while each has the same prenomen and the same name Ta, the epithet following the name increases in force with the second and third, the three being called, the great," "the very great," and "the very victorious." [1]

There can be very little doubt that the outline of the war of independence is thus shown. The papyrus relates how a difference on a religious question arose with one of these kings, whom we may reasonably conjecture to be the first of the three bearing the name Ta, and the Shepherd-king Apapi. He raises and maintains the standard of revolt; the next king wins greater successes; the last of his line expels the Shepherds out of all Egypt except the north-east, leaving the completion of the enterprise to Aahmes, or Amosis, head of the eighteenth dynasty.

The story in the papyrus would seem to show that the Shepherds, having adopted Egyptian civilization, selected Set the god of Lower Egypt, who was also supposed by the Egyptians to be the special protector of their eastern enemies, and thus identified with Baal. This was, however, accompanied by an innovation, the attempt to exclude all other worship at the chief temple, perhaps in all Egypt, as though Set had been selected to represent the Baal worshipped by the Shepherd tribe. The institution of new festivals is a proof how thorough the innovation was.

So much we may infer as to the origin of the war of liberation. Another document relates its close. This is one of those memoirs which are the most truly historical and valuable of all Egyptian records, that of Aahmes, son of Abna at EI-Kab, on the site of the city of Eileithyia. Aahmes relates that he was born in this place under the reign of Sekenen-ra, whom M. Chabas decides to be the last of the three kings having that prenomen. He then records his services under Aahmes, head of the eighteenth dynasty, and his successors. He took part in the siege of the stronghold of the Shepherds, Avaris, attacked by water and land, which fell before the fifth year of the king's reign, who then passed into southern Palestine, and captured Sharuhana.

From the simple recital of Aahmes we learn that the last effort of the Shepherds was not so important as Josephus states it to have been in his citation of Manetho. The king's rewards were given for the capture of a few prisoners. Nor do we hear anything of an honorable capitulation being granted to the Shepherds: on the contrary, the city is taken, and the war is carried on into Palestine, evidently in the form of a pursuit.

This is all we as yet know of the events of the Shepherd dominion. The happy discovery of a new memoir, or another historical papyrus, may add to these facts. As yet there is no other point that may be discussed without risk of confutation from new documents, the constant fate of speculation in Egyptology; but it must be added that to have proved the high civilization of the Shepherds towards the close of their rule, and their influence in Egyptian history, is a gain far more valuable than any amount of detail.

In nothing has Manetho, as reported, been so signally contradicted as in the proofs the monuments of the Shepherds afford that latterly the foreigners accepted Egyptian civilization. The result was of the greatest consequence to Egypt, for it firmly planted there a strong Shemite population, which was vigorous enough in quality, although assimilated to the nation in manners, to give back to the Egyptians, as a kind of return for the evils of conquest, a new element of thought and language. For a time after the subjugation of the Shepherds we have no trace of them; probably the early pharaohs of the empire, those of the eighteenth dynasty, repressed the strangers from a natural fear of their reasserting their power. The next line, the house of the Ramessides, comprising the nineteenth and twentieth dynasties, had no such policy. It has even been suspected that their worship of Set, the divinity of Lower Egypt and especially also of the Shepherds, and the tendency to a Semitic rather than an Ethiopian type in their portraits, indicate that they came of a stock partly of Shepherd origin. They rebuilt Tanis, the foreign capital, and greatly beautified its chief temple. Connected with this policy is the fashion already noticed prevalent among the scribes of this time of Semiticizing Egyptian. Curiously enough this influence and sympathy is connected with a great literary activity. In no age do the Egyptian scribes seem to have been so prolific. The Egyptians were always literary for the sake of preserving history; at this time they appear to have been literary for the mere pleasure of writing. In our present state of knowledge, the contrast between this and other times is most remarkable; and if later discoveries do not modify the facts, we may consider the literature of the Ramses period as having been fertilized by Semitic literature, as the Latin in the last days of the republic and the beginning of the empire owed its development to Greek. Of course it might be said that the foreign writers or speakers who changed for a time the Egyptian style, and probably influenced it permanently, were dwellers beyond Egypt, but it is far more likely that they were settled in that country. It is, indeed, not probable that they were either enemies or newly-conquered subjects. It is far more likely that they were fellow-countrymen speaking another language and with a literature perhaps unwritten of their own. No race has been more literary but less monumental than the Shemite. The most destructive criticism must allow a great antiquity to Hebrew literature. The Arabs must have cultivated poetry for ages before they wrote out their intricately measured odes. If the Shepherds in Egypt had this true Shemite faculty, the problem before us receives its solution.

The Shepherd period has another remarkable characteristic in its influence on the Egyptians. It was the real cause of the empire. A national war of independence formed the military qualities that, when the country was free, could no longer resist the desire to carry the national arms into the enemy's land. The Egypt of the empire is no longer the Egypt of the old Memphite and Theban kings: extension of territory is desired, not only for purposes of commerce, but also for the gratification of ambition. A material aid to these designs was afforded by the introduction of the horse and the war-chariot. Both are unknown in Egypt before the eighteenth dynasty; both are used by its first king, at least in the final campaigns against the Shepherds, and thenceforward became common. There can be little doubt that the Shepherds brought the horse into Egypt, and so afforded the Egyptians a means without which they could never have made distant conquests.

Notes edit

  1. According to Manetho Apophis was either the last or last but one of the Shepherd Kings of either the fifteenth or the seventeenth dynasty. Thus it is not impossible that he placed Apapi immediately or two reigns before the eighteenth dynasty.