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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/219

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THE STONE AGE IN EGYPT.

during the long period that intervened between this primitive age and that of the earliest Egyptians who had metals. He did exist there then, and the evidences of it are found in neolithic remains between Cairo and Thebes, a distance of about eight hundred kilometres along the valley of the Nile, in the Fayum, and in Upper Egypt. Among these are the remarkable tombs at Abydos which have been explored by M. E. Amélineau, and of which he has published descriptions. They belong to a category which I have characterized as tombs of transition and as signalizing the passage from the use of polished stone to that of metals. Their archaic character can not be disputed, and their royal origin is probably certain. They may belong to aboriginal kings or to the earliest dynasties. They reveal a knowledge of brass and of the use of gold for ornament. At the necropolis of El-'Amrah, a few miles south of Abydos, are some archaic tombs, all of the same model, composed of an oval trench from five to six and a half feet deep. The body is laid on the left side, and the legs are doubled up till the knees are even with the sternum; the forearms are drawn out in front and the hands placed one upon the other before the face, while the head is slightly bent forward. Around the skeleton are vases, and large, rudely made urns, often filled with ashes or the bones of animals, and nearer to them are painted or red vessels with black or brown edges, vessels roughly shaped out of stone, and figurines in schist representing fishes or quadrupeds, cut flints, alabaster clubs, and necklaces and bracelets of shells. Bronze is rare, and found always in shape of small implements. Both purely neolithic tombs and burials of the transition period to metals occur at El-'Amrah. The most remarkable feature of the burials is the position of the corpse, totally unlike anything that is found of the Pharaonic ages.

The Egyptian finds of stone implements present the peculiarity as compared with those of Europe, that types are found associated together belonging to what would be regarded in other countries as very different epochs. The time may come when subdivisions can be made of the Egyptian stone age, but the study has not yet been pursued far enough to make this practicable at present. Among these articles are hatchets showing the transitions, examples of which are wanting in Europe, from the rudest stone hammer to the polished neolithic implement; knives of various shape and some of handsome workmanship; scrapers, lance heads, arrowheads, saws, pins, bodkins, maces, beads, bracelets, and combs. The large number of instruments with toothed blades found at some of the stations may be regarded as pointing to a very extensive cultivation of cereals at the time they were in use. The deposits of Tukh, Zarraïdah, Khattarah, Abydos, etc., situated in regions suitable for growing grain,