Page:The Outline of History Vol 1.djvu/223

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
199
THE FIRST CIVILIZATIONS

ness,[1] erected in an age when engineering science had scarcely begun, exhausted the resources of Egypt through three long reigns, and left her wasted as if by a war.

The story of Egypt from the IVth to the XVth Dynasty is a story of conflicts between alternative capitals and competing religions, of separations into several kingdoms and reunions. It is, so to speak, an internal history. Here we can name only one of that long series of Pharaohs, Pepi II, who reigned ninety years, the longest reign in history, and left a great abundance of inscriptions and buildings. At last there happened to Egypt what happened so frequently to the civilizations of Mesopotamia. Egypt was conquered by nomadic Semites, who founded a "shepherd" dynasty, the Hyksos (XVIth), which was finally expelled by native Egyptians. This invasion probably happened while that first Babylonian Empire which Hammurabi founded was flourishing, but the exact correspondences of dates between early Egypt and Babylonia are still very doubtful. Only after a long period of servitude did a popular uprising expel these foreigners again.

After the war of liberation (circa 1600 b.c.) there followed a period of great prosperity in Egypt, the New Empire. Egypt became a great and united military state, and pushed her expeditions at last as far as the Euphrates, and so the age-long struggle between the Egyptian and Babylonian-Assyrian power began.

For a time Egypt was the ascendant power. Thothmes III[2]

  1. The great pyramid is 450 feet high and its side 700 feet long. It is calculated (says Wallis Budge) to weigh 4,883,000 tons. All this stone was lugged into place chiefly by human muscle.
  2. There are variants to these names, and to most Egyptian names, for few self-respecting Egyptologists will tolerate the spelling of their colleagues. One may find, for instance, Thethmosis, Thoutmosis, Tahutmes, Thutmose, or Thethmosis; Amunothph, Amenhotep or Amenothes. A pleasing variation is to break up the name, as, for instance, Amen Hetep. This particular little constellation of variants is given here not only because it is amusing, but because it is desirable that the reader should know such variations exist. For most names the rule of this book has been to follow whatever usage has established itself in English literature, regardless of the possible contemporary pronunciation. Amenophis, for example, has been so written in English books for two centuries. It came into the language by indirect routes, but it is now as fairly established as is Damascus as the English name of a Syrian town. Nevertheless, there are limits to this classicism. The writer, after some vacillation, has abandoned Oliver Goldsmith and Dr. Johnson in the case of "Peisistratus" and "Keltic," which were formerly spelt "Pisistratus" and "Celtic."