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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/648

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and Herondas, all are due to Egypt. Moreover, of Christian times we have a leaf of an early collection of Sayings of Jesus, a leaf of gospel about two centuries older than any other biblical manuscript, and a host of documents bearing on early Christianity, such as the Gospel of Peter and other apocryphal writings which were later banned by the Church.

Now it may be asked how all these discoveries are made—indeed, many people take for granted that some government kindly pays for it all. On the contrary, the only official influences are a severe check on such scientific work. While a native Egyptian can plunder tombs with but little hindrance, any one desiring to preserve objects and promote knowledge must (after obtaining the permission of the Egyptian Government for the exact place he wants to work) be officially inspected at his own expense (a matter of twenty or thirty pounds a season), and then, after all, give up to the Government half of all he finds, without any recompense. The English Government long ago gave up all claim for British subjects to occupy any post in the Cairo Museum, thus putting a decisive bar on the hopes of would-be students and hindering the object very effectually.

In face of all these disadvantages, work has yet been carried on by the Egypt Exploration Fund and by the Egyptian Research Account; both rely on English and American support, and the latter body is intended expressly to help students in training. Besides these, private work has been carried on during several years by two or three other explorers, partly at their own cost, partly helped by friends. The two societies above named have kept to the principles that everything shall be published as soon as possible, and that all the antiquities removed from Egypt shall be divided among public museums as gifts in return for the support from various places, nothing ever being sold publicly or privately. In this way several centers in America send large annual contributions, have representatives on the London Committee of the Exploration Fund, and receive their share for museums every year.

Besides this organizing of ways and means, there is quite as important organization needed in the excavations. At present most of the above-named work is done by a corps of men who have been engaged at it for many years. They leave their homes and assemble as soon as the winter begins; any dealing in antiquities or misconduct since the last season excludes them from rejoining. They each know their work, what to preserve, how to leave everything intact in the ground where found, and how best to manage different kinds of excavating. With such men it is always possible to screw more information out of a site, however much it may