Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/645

This page has been validated.

Turning now to some of the remains of these kings during their life, we learn that they were occupied with frequent wars—the gradual consolidation of the kingdom of Egypt. One king will record the myriads of slain enemies, another gives a picture of a captive king brought before him with over a million living captives, the regular Egyptian notation for such large numbers being already complete. Another king shows his triumphal entry to the temple, with the slain enemies laid out before him. On other sculptures are shown the peaceful triumphs of canalization and reclamation of land, which are alluded to in the traditions of the early dynasties preserved by Greek historians. All these scenes are given us on the slate carvings and great mace heads covered with sculpture from Hierakonpolis.

Thus in these great discoveries of the last few years we can trace at least three successive peoples, and see the gradual rise of the arts, from the man who was buried in his goat skins, with one plain cup by him, up to the king who built great monuments and was surrounded by most sumptuous handiwork. We see the rise of the art of exquisite flint flaking, and the decline of that as copper came more commonly into use. We see at first the use of signs, later on disused by a second race, and then superseded by the elaborate hieroglyph system of the dynastic race.

The mixture of various races was surmised long ago from the varied portraiture of the early times. It is now shown more plainly than ever on these early monuments. We see represented the king of the dynastic type, a scribe with long, wavy hair, a chief of the dynastic shaven-headed type, another with long, lank hair, and another with a beard, while the enemies are shown with curly hair and narrow beards like Bedouin. Four different peoples are here in union against a fifth. And this diversity of peoples lasts on long into the historic times. After several centuries of a united Egypt, under the pyramid builders, we find that some people buried in the old contracted position, others cut up the body and wrapped every bone separately in cloth, while others embalmed the body whole. Thus great diversity of belief and custom still prevailed for perhaps a thousand years after the unification of Egypt. So useless is it to think of "the ancient Egyptians" as an unmixed race gradually rising into "a consciousness of nationality."

The excavations at Deshasheh in 1897, which first showed me the diversity of burials, also showed that the type of the race had already become unified by intermixture, and that, strange to say, four thousand years later, after untold crossings with many invaders, the type was unchanged. Later work at Dendereh and elsewhere has pointed to the conclusion that a mixture of a new