Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/806

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the time of the fourth dynasty, the ass was as widely diffused in Egypt as it is now. In the tomb of Shafra-Ankh, at Gizeh, is an item of a drove of seven hundred and sixty trained asses among the assets of the deceased, who was a high functionary of the court of the founder of the great pyramid. In other tombs discovered by M. Mariette, but not yet fully described, I have remarked cases of proprietors who boasted the possession of thousands of asses. . . . Furthermore, the facts on this subject derived from the study of the monuments were not peculiar to Egypt only. . . . In the paintings on the tomb of Noumhotep, at Beni-Hassan-el-Kadim, may be seen the arrival of the family of Aamon, that is, of the nomadic shepherds of the Semitic race, who came to establish themselves in Egypt under one of the first reigns of the twelfth dynasty (about 3000 b. c.). Their only beasts of burden are the asses that carry their goods and children."

Although asses are thus frequently figured on the ancient monuments of Egypt, no representation of the mule has been found there, not even on the numerous monuments built after the horse was introduced. The people had already a good stock of camels and asses, and their soil was not of a character to call the work of mules into requisition; and mules are still scarce in Egypt.

On the other hand, the Assyrians have left us but few figures of the ass; but numerous representations of mules appear in their bas-reliefs, where these animals are plainly recognizable by their ears and horse-tails.

The first mules in the East were probably produced in those regions of Asia lying between the Ganges and the Mediterranean littoral of Syria, a short time after the arrival of the first Mongolian immigrants into these countries, where, through their residence, the Asiatic horses and the African or Nilotic asses first met. It is, then, not surprising that the legends carry the existence of mules in Assyria back into fabulous times. The cuneiform inscriptions, moreover, furnish certain and quite numerous facts attesting the antiquity of the existence of mules in that and the neighboring countries.

The use of mules was condemned by the Mosaic law, and was not adopted among the Israelites till after the priestly power had been subordinated to that of the laity by the establishment of royalty. The most ancient mention of these animals among the Israelites refers to the mules on which the people of the tribes of Issachar, Zebulon, and Naphthali brought provisions to Hebron for David, after the death of Saul (1 Chron. xii, 40). After this they are frequently referred to.

The mule is mentioned in the Veda; and Strabo says that the Prasii, on the banks of the Ganges, had them at the time of the voyage of Megasthenes to India.

Herodotus tells of the mules which Cyrus had to draw his water wagons on his march from Persia to the siege of Babylon, and relates a curious story of one of the mules attached to the expedition of