EGYPT UNDER THE PHARAOHS.* Tins is, according to the author,
merely the first part of a work which, beginning with the history of the first native king, Mena, is destined to end with the present reigning Prince of Egypt, the" enlightened " Khedive Ismael Pasha I. Although not the slightest irony is intended, and Dr. Brugsch merely uses the. adulation which comes naturally from the lips of those foreigners who have been employed and rewarded by the Egyptian ruler, the unprejudiced reader will see not a little analogy between the reign of the Khedive and at least some of the Pharaohs. Pyramids may not be built, seeing that the world has outgrown that form of vanity, nor temples and obelisks erected by the enforced labour of subject-.races, but the hardly-earned property of the people is not the less squandered, their misery none the less abject, the luxury, extravagance, and oppression of the ruler and his deputies not one whit the less unendurable. It may be all very well for Ismael Pasha to adopt European improvements, to send out exploring parties into
• A History of Egypt under The Pharaohs, Derived entirely from the Mmuments, By Henry Brow:oh-Bey. Translated from the German by the late Henry Denby Seymour, F.H.G.S. 2 vols. London: John Murray.
remote districts, to carry on excavations which display to the world the ancient grandeur and civilisation of Egypt, and to take rank as a magnificent and far-seeing Prince; but a country loaded with debt, ground down by oppressive taxation, and a starving and neglected people, will hand down his name to posterity branded with well-merited disgrace.
Dr. Brugsch-Bey, however, has undoubtedly accomplished a great work, even in the two volumes now before us, which treat of the history of Egypt from the time of King Mena to that of Alexander the Great, and one which differs from all other histories in this important respect,—that it is derived exclusively from the monuments, the hieroglyphic inscriptions upon which, from long study, the author is able to read and interpret with singular accuracy. As we read it, the dense curtain which has veiled from us the mysteries of so many ages is partially drawn aside, and we discern, often with the distinctness of a photograph, the occurrences and the manners and customs of a time since which decades of centuries have rolled by. Nay, the very speech of these ancient people is in many instances preserved for us, and we listen as in a dream to kings and ministers, to poets, his- torians, and warriors,—nay, even to the poor man pleading that justice may done to him against those who smuggled themselves into his house, and stole his bread and his beer, and spilt his oil on the coronation-day of King Amenhotep III.,—that is to say, in all probability about 1,500 years before Christ. The persons and Court of the great Pharaohs are described in much detail, as also the State hierarchy and the details of its administration. Some of the recorded incidents—such as that of the cheerful taxpayers, who gave more than was required of them, and were rewarded by being presented with necklaces as honorary decora- tions, contrast oddly enough with the ideas of the present day.
We have also the text of official despatches, and the names and works of artists and men of letters. We are enabled to comprehend the relations of Egypt to the neighbouring nations at particular periods. Dr. Brugsch proves, for instance, very clearly that there was a real conquest of Egypt by Naro- math or Nimrod, the son of Sheshank, King of Assyria, and that the latter did visit the country, which was turned into an Assyrian dependency, as is proved by the great inscription at Abydus. He also throws much light upon the influence on Egyptian life and language of the Semitic colonists of the Delta, and the connection of the Hyksos or Shepherd Kings with the Israelite immigration. He shows us, too, what was the precise office of Joseph at the Court of Pharaoh, concluding definitively against the possibility of this prince being Usurta- sen, and claiming to have discovered him in the Hyksos Pharaoh (probably King Nub), who reigned in Anaris or Zoan, the later Ramses town, and of whom Joseph was " Adon (or over- seer) over the whole land," an office of so high an importance as to have been on another occasion, as we find from the Turin monument, bestowed upon Horns or Horemheb, who afterwards filled the position of heir of the throne, and finally wore the royal crown.
Dr. Brugsch repudiates in toto, as a dangerous error, the idea, which has hitherto found so much favour, of a Pelasgo-
Italian confederacy of nations in the times of klinepthah I.
and Ramses III. Nor does he believe that Ilium, the Darda- nians, Mysians, and Lycians were known to the Egyptians of the fourteenth century B.C., holding, with more probability, that the peoples corresponding to these names had their abode in the highlands about the upper course of the Euphrates. In the matter of chronology, also, although he holds that to be a matter of minor importance, and one that must await further discoveries in order to be determined with any approach to correctness, Dr. Brugsch differs very materially both from Lepsius and from Bunsen ; but as there is so wide a chasm as 2079 years between the times fixed by the six most celebrated German Egyptologers for the ascent of King Mena to the throne,—Boeck assigning B.C. 5702, Bunsen B.C. 3623, as the date, and Unger differing from
the former by somewhat less than a century ; while Lowth takes B.C. 4157, and Lepsius B.C. 3892, to be the correct period—
it is not surprising that Dr. Brugsch's calculations should not agree with any of them ; and he accordingly, making use of Mr. Lieblein's investigations into the great pedigree of twenty-five Court architects, comes to the conclusion that 4455 B.C. is about the nearest approximation we can at present make to a correct date, thus extending over the vast period of sixty centuries the area of his most wonderful and interesting researches.
It appears that in the old inscriptions Egypt is designated as "the Black Land," a name clearly derived from the dark colour of the soil of its cultivable lands. The neighbouring Arabian desert, on the contrary, was called "the Red Land," and a very common form of title for the King is "the Lord of the Black Country and of the Red Country." The Egyptians called them- selves simply "the people of the Black Land," and this is the only appellation for them discoverable in the inscriptions. Egypt, however, had other names, one of the older being Tamera, or "the country of the inundation," while others are "the land of the syca- more," "the land of the olive," "the land of the Holy Eye," and "the land of the sixth day of the moon" (intercalary day). It is mentioned in a general way as "the double land," consisting as it did of two great divisions, called on the monuments "the land of the South" and "the land of the North," and answering to the Upper and Lower Egypt of the present day, these divisions being then, as now, distinguished by a marked differ- ence in the habits, manners, and customs of their populations, as well as by the dialects in use there. The country was divided into forty-two Nomes or districts, each of which had its own capital, which was the residence of the captain or governor, whose office was hereditary, passing from the father to the eldest grandson on the mother's side. The capital was the central point of the particular worship of the district, which had, of course, its special divinity. "The sacred lists of the Nomes have handed down to us," says Dr. Brugsch, "the names of the temple of the chief deity, of the priests and priestesses, of the holy trees, and also the name of the town- harbour of the holy canal, the cultivated land and the land which was only fruitful during the inundation, and much other information, in such completeness, that we are in a position, from the indications contained in these lists, to form the most exact picture of each Egyptian nome in all its details, almost without any gaps." From the bas-reliefs in the sepulchral chapels, and their explanatory inscriptions, too, it has been possible to gather the most abundant information respecting the labours of the field, the rearing of cattle, navigation, and other matters,—nay, even, according to the author, to read the very character of the ancient Egyptians, whom he declares to have been a gay, simple, childlike people, who loved life with all their hearts, and gave themselves up to its pleasures. The followers of the useful arts were not by any means, it seems, held in honour, the lowest office about a great man being preferred to the life of an artisan. But then servants and followers not only enjoyed ease and luxury during their lives, but after death obtained a place in the sepulchres of their masters. Very interesting is the account given by Dr. Brugsch of the house- hold of the Perao, that is, "of the great house," the Biblical Pharaoh ; and in the course of his work he describes to us indi- vidually many of these great princes, as, for instance, the three Usurtasens, Thutmes I. and Thutmes III., the latter of whom he designates "the Alexander the Great of Egypt," the great Ramses II., and the heretic King Khunaten, or Amenhotep IV., the long-lived prince of Thebes, a capital example of the emancipated Egyptian ruler who declines to follow priestly guidance. But of all the reigns alluded to, the most remarkable is that of the ambitious "woman-king," Hashop, who, clothing herself in man's attire, arrogated to herself the crown and sceptre belonging of right to her younger brother Thutmes, and sought "to be a a source of wonder to men, and a secret to the Gods above," by carrying out glorious undertakings, such as expeditions to the unknown balsam land of Punt, the Ophir of the Egyptians, no doubt, says the author, the coast of the Somauli land in sight of Arabia, but separated from it by the sea. The royal ambassador, on his arrival, makes a condition that the country of Punt should be subjected to the supremacy of the Queen of Egypt, and that a tribute should be sent to her of the choicest productions of the country, incense being especially demanded. And one of the inscriptions records how the tents of the -Am. bassa.dor and his warriors were pitched on the shore of the great sea to receive the Princes of Punt, who came with loaded asses, bringing rich treasures in stones, plants, or animals,—dog- headed asses, long-tailed monkeys and greyhounds, and what is still more singular, thirty-one incense-trees, well packed in tubs ready for embarkation, probably the earliest instance on record of the transplantation of a tree to a foreign soil. In another picture is seen the woman-king receiving all these treas- ures, and making thank-offerings to the Gods ; and, as Dr. Brugsch remarks, we are able to comprehend the extent to which Egyptian civilisation had reached, when we find warriors taking care to bring home as booty such articles as they were
either unacquainted with, or the acquisition of which was attended with peculiar difficulty. So early as the days of Mena, we find his son and heir, Athothis, writing a book on anatomy, for, says the record, "he was a physician," and the great medi- cal papyrus found at Memphis and other writings attest that the Pharaohs of the most distant times made a study of medical subjects. The artist was, according to Dr. Brugsch, the most honoured man in the empire ; in fact, the artists themselves reveal this to us, telling of their works and the means of creat- ing them. Thus Martisen, who lived forty-four centuries ago, calls himself "a master among those who understand art, and a plastic artist," and describes his mode of making statues in every position, bringing forward also as his particular invention a method of etching with colours, "which can neither be injured by fire nor washed off byasvater," and claims to be able to do "masterly works in all sorts of precious stones, from gold and silver, to ivory and ebony." We have indeed abundant proof that art had arrived at a high degree of perfection, although we are still ignorant of the methods employed to effect much of what we now see, as, for instance, what manner of tools were used for quarrying the vast blocks of syenite and granite, and bringing them to such a wonderful polish, and how they were transported, raised into their places, and fitted to a hair's-breadth against each other. Dr. Brugsch is very interesting when he speaks of the building of the Pyramids and temples, and we may notice in particular his account of a certain picture in a tomb at Abd- el-Qurnah, which illustrates in a singular manner the Biblical accounts of the oppression of the Israelites in Egypt. In this picture are seen the prisoners employed by Thutmes III. in building the temple of his father Amon, carrying water in jugs from the tank, kneading and cutting up the earth, moulding it and making it into bricks, which are placed by others in rows to dry, while others are actually building the walls, the overseer (Bois) calling out to the labourers, "The stick is in my hand,—be not idle ;" all this, and much more, being found upon one of those "eloquent walls" which reveal to us, after the lapse of ages, so much of the history of ancient Egypt. The picture in the tomb of Khnumhotep, at Beni Hassan, which represents a party of travellers with laden asses, &c., arriving before the Egyptians, and which may be considered an apt illustration of the history of the sons of Jacob, has been often noticed ; but Dr. Brugsch remarks that it would be a singular error to suppose it to be really connected with that event, for,. as we have already remarked, he, with much apparent reason,. connects the history of Joseph with the reign of the Hyksos in Lower Egypt, the part of his learned work which treats of that matter and of the Phcenician Char being especially worthy of' study.
It is impossible, within the limits of a short notice, even to. glance at a great number of the subjects of interest which these volumes contain ; we can merely express a general opinion con- cerning them, and direct attention to some of their leading features. We must not, however, pass over the curious fact that we learn from inscriptions the very names of the employes who were sent to examine into the state of the Nile at its rising, and to attend to the regulation of the inundation, which was done by the admission of the waters into artificial canals, and the storage of the superfluous waters in the great basin in the Fayoona, the so-called Lake Moeris, the work of King Amenemhat
and who actually assert that forty-three centuries before our day the greatest height of the river was 8.17 metres above that which it has ever reached in our own time.
But what will perhaps have special interest for those who may not previously have met with it is the paper on the exodus of the Children of Israel, which was delivered in London in 1874, to the International Congress of Orientalists, and which is appended to the last volume. In this paper, Dr. Brugsch sets forth an entirely new reading of that event, not, however,. in the least degree discordant with the sacred narrative, which he accepts with the utmost reverence, but merely the fruit of that amended comprehension of Biblical geography which is the result of a flood of light poured in upon it from the monu- mental records.