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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/647

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RECENT YEARS OF EGYPTIAN EXPLORATION.

of Queen Hatshepsut, and lately they found the entry to still unopened royal tombs. The secret passed—for a consideration—to the Department of Antiquities, and two royal tombs were opened. These contained the bodies of several kings of the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties—one undisturbed, the others moved from elsewhere. With these was a crowd of objects of funereal furniture. Unhappily, nothing is published in detail of any official discoveries; with the exception of the first find of the Dahshur jewelry, there has never been any full account issued of the great discoveries in the most important sites, which are reserved to the Government. The great group of kings found at Deir el Bahri, the great necropolis of the priests of Amen, the second find of Dahshur jewelry, the second group of royal mummies, of all these we know nothing but what has appeared in newspapers, or some partial account of one branch of the subject. Hardly any publication has ever appeared, such as the English societies issue every year about the produce of their excavations.

Many of the royal temples of the nineteenth dynasty at Thebes were explored by the English in 1896. The Ramesseum was completely examined, through all the maze of stone chambers around it. But the most important result was the magnificent tablet of black granite, about ten feet high and five wide, covered on one side with an inscription of Amen Hotep III, and on the other side with an inscription of Merenptah. The latter account, of about 1200 B.C., mentions the war with the "People of Israel"; this is the only naming of Israel on Egyptian records, and is several centuries earlier than any Assyrian record of the Hebrews. It has, of course, given rise to much discussion, which is too lengthy to state here.

One of the most important results of historical Egyptian times is the light thrown on prehistoric Greek ages. The pottery known as "Mykenæan" since the discoveries of Schliemann in the Peloponnesus was first dated in Egypt at Gurob in 1889; next were found hundreds of vase fragments at Tell el Amarna in 1892; and since then several Egyptian kings' names have been found on objects in Greece, along with such pottery. The whole of this evidence shows that the grand age of prehistoric Greece, which can well compare with the art of classical Greece, began about 1600 B.C., was at its highest point about 1400 B.C., and became decadent about 1200 B.C., before its overthrow by the Dorian invasion.

Besides this dating, Greece is indebted to Egypt for the preservation of the oldest texts of its classics. Fragments of Plato almost contemporary with his lifetime, pages of Thucydides, whole books of the Iliad, and the celebrated recent publications of Bacchylides