Page:The Religion of Ancient Egypt.djvu/48

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EGYPTIAN CIVILIZATION.

never speak except of contemporary events. There are a few instances in which a temple built by an ancient sovereign is said to have been repaired or rebuilt by another, but the interval between the two sovereigns is unfortunately never stated.


Monuments mentioning the Year of a Reign.

Although Mena is the first of the Egyptian kings, and is repeatedly named, dates are never reckoned from his or from any other era, but are given by the year of the reigning king. This is never so high as to justify a doubt. We can certainly conceive the case of a forged inscription on a tombstone, saying that John Smith died on the 9th September, 1876, or (were such the custom of the country) in the 39th year of Queen Victoria; but unless good reasons for rejecting such a statement are produced, the law of historical evidence compels us to admit it. Most of the documents upon which we rely for Egyptian chronology are of this simple nature, and no one who has seen the tombs or buildings from which they have been taken, can dream for an instant that these inscriptions are less trustworthy than those in an English churchyard.

The manifest defect for chronological purposes of such inscriptions is, that the last monumental year which happens to be preserved to us of a king is not necessarily the last of his reign. An error of several