Civilization of Ancient Egypt

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Mediterranean Sea

Giza Abusir Sakkara • • Memphis Dahsh� Lake Moeris

Fayum • SINAI

Beni Hasan








Deir el-Bahari • Karnak •• • Thebes Valley of the Kings x Luxor Hierakonpolis •

Island of Elephantine Island of Philae


Second Cataract









t one time scholars believed that the civilization of ancient Egypt was the first in the history of the world and the progenitor of all others. \Ve now know this to be untrue, but the ancient Egyptians retain one unique distinction: they were the fi ·st people on earth to create a nation-state. This state, embodying the spiritual beliefs a11d aspirations of the Egyptian race, was in all its major manifestations a theocracy. It served as the framework of a culture of extraordinary strength, assurance and durability which lasted for 3,000 years and which retained almost to the encl its own unmistakable purity of style . In the Egypt of antiquity, State, religion and culture formed an indisputable unity. They rose together; they fell together. and they must be studied together.



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1'1n lr wild a.sses :md bulk There \\ere, in fact, many hippos in the Nile delta even in Roman times. But, in general, the encroachment of the desert was inexorable, driving the fauna of the plains ever further to the south. and mankind to the desert oases and, above all, to the Nile valley. The i\.'"ile seems to ha\·e begun to assmne its present course about I 0,000 years ago. At the time when the plains were drying up, the rainfall of the African forests and the melting snows of Ethiopia \\'ere creating its annual flood and transforming the great river into a geographical constructor. It drove its way through the granite rocks to the south of the First Cataract, through the sandstone stretching al as far north as ancient Thebes, and then through the limestone plateau to the �Iediterranean Sea. At the sea itsel( it piled up the alluvial delta, and i11 the .se1ie.s of terraces and valley bottom it carved out of the rock'i, spread with the alluvial soil carried down with the flood, it created a continuous oasis 750 miles long from the First Cataract to the sea. As the savannah turned into desert palaeolithic ma11 began to descend to the Nile terraces and then to the valley bottom. Of course the \·alley wa.s initially marsh. For many millenuia, the tract from the First Cataract to Thebes was a lake; a11d 11111ch ofthe delta remained marsh throughout om period . But potentially this was rich ag1icultural


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brn I I :L>O0 s< 1uare miles in the ,·alley itself: and a fiirther 14,.500 square miles in the delta. The ;\Tile supplied not merely reliable water but equally reliable alluvial deposib and fertilization. By .S000 BC the palaeolithic hunters of the plains had transformed themsehcs into the neolithic farmers am! herdsmen of the valley and delta. and the agricultmal economics of historic Eg,)1)1 had taken shape.\Vhat remained to be done was to complete the conquest of the marshland and to begin the harnessing of the river, b�· dyke. barrier. basin and cainl- and therein lies the sto1y of the E g,}ptian State, and the culture it begot. The .L\'ile allmium makes the soil black. From the very earliest times. the E g,1vtiam, di,ided their corn1try into lmlll·. the black- that is, the cultivable, inhabitable part - and dc.1/1 rd. the reel ( ,r desert. Such dualism seems to have been part of the E g)7)tian character. The rnuntI)' itself was seen as di,ided into two distinct hah-es: the Valley or LT pper E g,)l)t. and the Delta. or Lower E g,)l)t: and the Delta in turn into a western, or Libyan. and an eastern. or Asian. ha!L The physical configuration of E g,)'pt was f completed br its external barriers: the cataracts cut if of to the south, the Libyan desert to the west. the Eastern Desert. the Red Sea and the Sinai Desert to the east, and the Delta. which with its marshes and my1iad, ever-shifting channels, constituted as much an obstacle as an exit. to the north. Thus isolated from the world beyond. Egypt was dominated by the seasonal rl1ytluw, (if its ri,·er. :\Tot only the ri,·er but the inundation itself. termed llajJ)'. was worshipped as divine. I lapy was bearded. ,,ith water-plants sprouting from his head, and ,,ith femalt· l>reasts. symbolizing fertility. hanging from his body. The E g,)7)tians believed that he drew his power, that is the waters of the flood, from underground basins aro11ncl the First Cataract and long after this explanation had been shown to be false they worshipped the gods of this region fervently. And so they might, for the Nile is perhaps the ll!()St beneficent and dependable great river Oil earth. The crntiunction of its tm, sources. the \\'hite and the Blue Nile 1 and its long journey through the pbteau, �iw the annual flood the character of a reliable annual system rather than an unpredictable catastrophe. E g,)'ptian civilization was growing up at roughly the same time as that of ,\lesop(1tamia. another alluvial valley-plain. But whereas the Tigris and Euphrates brought savage and irreg,11lar clestrnction, as well as life, and so imparted to the cultural philosophy of the people an element of insecmity and pessimism, the Nile was not a fill)' but a friend. Of course its performance va1iecl, as it still does. Between low water and flood. the volume of water in the Blue Nile, for instance. 1ises from 7.000 cubic feet per second to o\'er 350,000 011 average; and within this a,·erage there is considerable va1iatio11. At Elephantine, near the First Cataract, and at Old Cairo. where the Valley cflectively joins the Delta. the ancient Eg,)7)tians set up stone markers. or Nilometers, by the riverside, to record and to some extent predict the river's behaviour. The evidence of these \'e11erable devices shows that a rise of twenty-one feet was dangerously Im,. twenty-eight or more would L1ing damaging floods, and some twenty­ five to six feet was desirable, or 'normal'. Until the recent construction of high clams. the river behaved much the same as it did in antiquity. It Legan to 1ise between Aswan and the Delta i11June, when green water appeared. The river rose sha1vly in Aug,1.1st and became reddish-coloured. The rising continued until mid-September and then, ,iftl'r a three-week pause. rose again in October; thereafter it fell slowly throughout the i11ttr ;111d spri11�, until the lowest point was again reached the following May.

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This slm,. dclibcrati,·c all(l predictable a1 111ual river-cycle was and is accompanied h� a1 1 cxccptionally regular clima te. The skies in Egypt are sunny and cloudless. Rainfall i11 l 1ppcr E!,!;ypt is ,·irtually nil: it is about two inches a year in the Cairo an�a . and about six, or a little more . i11 the Delta. these rains falling in winter. The co111hi11atio11 of reliable sunshine and adequate water (plus natural fertilizer) makes for highly successful crops . I lerodotus. writing i11 the fifth century BC, asserted that the Egyptian peasant had a11 cas�' :ime ofit. This was not true: at certain times of the year. especially after the flood water subsided. he worked extremely hard. It was when the waters fell that the ag1icultural year began. and planting had to be rapid while the earth \\·as still soft: at the same time all the multitude of ditches and canals had to be cleared out and repaired. The crops ripened under the winter sun and were harvested in the sp1ing while it was still cool; the process had to be completed by the encl of l\ lay, when the \\·aters rose again. Thcre were thus three seasons in the agricultural year: flood, so\\ing and ha1,;est: and it \\·as fortunate for the Eg)1)tians that the flood. "·hen there was least to be done, coincided \\ith the hottest weather. The 1iver prmided not ouly fertility but tra11sp(?rt. The i11hal)ited land of the Valley , ·aried from about five to fifteen miles in width. This was where all the basic crops . emmer wheat. barley and flax . were grown. The Delta, chiefly used for pasture, was bisected by i11muneral)le channels . running, f rom north to south. Every part of Eg) vt where men li,·ed and worked was \\ithin a few miles of 1iver transport. Thus the wheel came late to Eg,)1)L \Ve find it on an early depiction of a siege-ladder, but not on carts. \Vheels had been in use in Mesopotamia for a thousand years before chariots were common in Eg,)1)t. All the same, thanks to the river, Eg,)'pt had the best internal conununications of auy cou11t1y of antiquity. From the moment when they descended fromthe Nile ten-aces the Eg,)1)tians built 1iver-boats, using with considerable ingenuity the unsatisfactory wood of the sycamore, the only tree the country produced in any abundance. Boats steered by stern-oars could descend the river. travelli11).!; with the cur rent . throughout the year, even at times ofl nw water. Rafts and barges could and did travel down-river \\ith colossal weights of stone aboard; and chning the flood, in late summer and autumn. they could easily deliver their burdens to points several miles above the low-water mark. It was the river which made the logistics of Egypt's ponderous stone culture not only possible but comparati,·ely cheap. And transport upstream too was cheap. for the prevailing wind in Eg,)1)t blows throughout the year from the north, another example of the beneficence of nature . Oars needed only to be used du1inl,!; the infrequent periods of total calm, for the Eg)1)tians quickly developed the highly efficient triangular sails still in use today, which catch the slight but persistent north breezes. In Eg)1)tian hierogln)hic sc,ipt, the determinative 'g,o north' is a simple boat. and ·go south· a boat \\ith a sail. Hence, despite the desiccation of Eg)1)t, the Nile made it one of the most desiral)le regions on earth for ancient man. Ye t in prehistoric times. this enormous natural ach-antage was an inducement to improvement rather than lethargy. The Nile never failed . but it was sometimes spa1ing,. The early Biblical stmy ofJoseph and the seven lean years f ollowing, the seven years of plenty, which refers to a elate in the Second lntcrmcdiate Period itself, reflects a much more ancient Egyptian tradition of seven con-;ecuti,·e low Niles. The waywardness of the 1iver was a spur to organization, and lo tlic crpment, and in effect moving directly from the large village to the nation-state cove1i11g a wide area. and unified by a common culture dnd nati< mal economy rather than by a city bounda,y. This process ofleap-frog allowed the Eg,)l)tian.s to achieve national uni ty around 3 1 00 BC, when Mesopotamia was a collection of small city-units. a11cl more than half a millennium before Sargon the Great created the first Asian state. And, in this unification process, it was the Nile, a centralizing factor hy its mere physical existence but still more so by the patterns of u 1mmm1al effort it encouraged, which played the detennining part. It was in the Badarian period, the second half of the fifth millennium. and still more n1 the fourth millem1ium Bf:, divided almost equally, for purposes of archaeological rnrn c11irnce. into the Early Naqada and the Late Naqacla pe1iods* that the cletennining

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cl rarat'teristics of the Eµ,)'ptia11 people emerged. Althrn rµ,h spn111g from ti re sa11re stock as the nomads who still lived in tire deserts. their desce11t into tire Nile ,·alley and delta had turned them into self-co11scious farmers awl sailors. whose lifo-pattenr diwrged from the desert-dwellers. This divergence was a matter of situation, not rat'e: tire nmnads, a11d the people ofLihya to the we.'\l a11d Nubia to the south, remai11ed trapped at an earlier stage of denJopment, while the Nile-dwellers progressed steadily liy meaw; of their exploitation of the river and its hanks. The first social organizations of the Nile valley \\'ere autonomous villages, each with an animal totem-god (very often cows or bulls). In time, during the fourth millennium, more important \'illages. or groups of \'illage.'>. emerged as the fiici of distrids. These \\'ere the precursors of the later 110111n , the admini . .,trativeareas into which dynastic Eg,;l)t continued to he divided after unity had been secured. The local chieftains were ancestors of the future nomarchs. who could often trace their lineage of pmver as far hack as the pharaohs thernselve.s . The district totems became the eml>lem.s of tire

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j1/r1< !'. , I n allnnali1•f' ,_nlrni of1/r111ifimlion f/lr //,I' jl) l'tl\' IJt1an tI 1eoI og,)'. ancI tI 1e IJa s 1c . r-- ,,_ r ,,✓.· -, , j .!l_"t" • • � , . �. ' ,,,' 1 .,1.,.. i, : r,.::� . · . l � "� {J.�t{ I� � -;,> ·"1 -' 4-1 "-y: /p���7; �, - � · d 1 1 cosmogony on w l!C l It reste ;,..•i�,.!J.:{!l/ ;1-, ,· - �l"if V: ·u,��'!�'b1-:'. 'T ' j i r,l! N,if:J_!;/]j,JJ.,'':;;;J;{�/\Y;4i;l,4 --\; �t1i�:;•;·! %1, · \ overs h;iclo""ecl the creation of the ! , ", / -'\,r,:,., td¼ t � �ff).. � ;,r-,, , 'l,"i' f J. i l -. (:,.�,11_ A,.';G, ' ft / r+�: )(J /,;_ , �.:;, JI ,. � ,. L� ., �1,"\ "'"{i:·;,,�"">�c'..,.�"1.;>,ur� ._. i 1 1- ,·· • " �--�,-m ,,¥i-...:.r,;,_.j!-, h:�� l; b_J.,..� II 1 ; � �. " t1 � , �-,- A"'·� , t'r ' active creature s . us uall)' ma ki- n o· • ,__ .a." '•• b . ��+;::� � ; J: � J.tPd5�� .✓I .\' 1}1.t �=--� •' ,.,, . � ,f 1, ,. 1 ( a !ti 10ug·l1 sometimes rf..�j • ' ,,;;-)"-� , :,- ,:,. t l1 1ngs /tJ"t .)-\;!:L· .t ,:r... '1':'s;i,;.: if4tS-.:'-;:"' :l� '%_)�.! . ·1 1 .1 � .oiw ".\, r ff· destroying also). Some were ;1"�91:�Ei' '.� t ·'-'.;�; f ?Y · .::-� ;_( ·;�:1 · · ' f-'-t · -h· :, ·.:.:{ .r; �l "· • : .l ""1 · -71 -r:1r , >>Q, • "�=r � !)otters, other s stonemasons or \ ,i IT ff�· "" < ,, -.-�.�--""· " .-, were others rs; t metalworke " i � - ij'J:f � + . :,;.,- " '- , --,-..Jf 1-c - � ! • l.:..:r • · - .'tl±b _,. I cl procreators. nc 1 ent goc s create A � · ·,g-rts awl to1 11hs - co11traskd with the Sumnian city tcm1 >ks. But E.gypt was accessible, ifo;th difficulty, l'.specially by the coastal land-bridge from .\si;1. :\ lesopota111ia had passed tl1roug;h the 'Neolithic Revolution' 101 1µ; befo re E.gypt. f; ,r her brn1crs \\ ere tilling; tl1 l'. pbi1 1 2.000 years befo re ag1irnlture began in the �ilc \·;ulcy. a11d E1idu. f; ,r example. was a town of sorts , \Vith a substa11ti;J temple. when the Eg,:vtia11s \\ ere still µ;atl1�.ed i 1 1 sndl \�Hages. So Mesopotamia had 1m1cl1 to teach, ;md E g,:vt to learn. i1 1 the f; ,nrth mille1 111ium. The li kelihood th\'e all. \\'riti1 1g. Eg�vtia1 1 hicrogl�vhics \\Tre from the start entirely unique, as was the religious sy..,tem \vhich controlled them. The earliest signs are purely Eg,:vtia11 in form. But it looks as though the principle of writing was a11 i mport. In \ lesopotamia, Wl'. Gil l trace the \\·hole e\·oluti( )J 1 ary process of literacy from surviving samples : pictures. to pictogi-ams. idcograms and phonetic siµ;1 1s. and then the use 0L1 cuneifi ,nn-wedge pen or stylus on \\·et clay, kadi1 1g to thc rapid development of a cursi\·e script. No sta µ;e is missing. But i1 1 Egypt 1w traces at all k1\·e been f< n 1 1 1d of the earlicst staµ;cs. There is no sign of a pre-phonetic script. \Vhat secms to have happened is that Ej!,)7>tia11 priests SJ.\\ specimens of Sumerian \\1iti1 1g. insped the intellectual principle < ifphonctic si g;11s, and promptly devised their own system. They had 011e crncial mate1ial advantage: the papp1.1s plant which grew in abundance i 1 1 Egypt, and from which mate1ial for drawing and \\' riting was made in the second half of the f o urth millennium. Given papyrus paper. \,·hich made the writing 0L1 simplified cursive script in i11k not only feasible but easy and elegant. there was 110 reason for Eg,)7)tia11 intellectuals to adopt cm1eifon11 at ;JI. They seem, in fact. tn have seized eagerly 01 1 the p1i11ciple of rendering sounds by signs. and thcn r�jected the rest of the practice and a1 >paratus. deliberately designing their own w1itte11 lang,1 1age, which combined ideograms and phonograms nf a muqnely Eg:-ptia11 design. The acquisition ofwiiti1 1g, with the < ,rganizatioml possibilities it opened up. as well as its added magical po\\'er. dearly hastened the process of unification - was, perhaps, the most important single fact< >r in it. The other Asian imports \\'ere ofless significa1 1cc. partirnlarly si1 1cc the final dri\·e to unity came from the Nile Valley. not from the Delta. . \II the samc. 1\sian cultural pe1 1etratio11 did coincide with the period of quickening de\-dopmrnt from which unity emerged. What precisely happened? \Ve have two �ves 1 Jf n i dc1 1cc. 1\ rd1aeolog,:· suggests that Upper Eg:1)t was united under a king at 1 1 icrako11polis. i11 latl'. prcdynastic times a town apprnaching 10,000 inhabitants.

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Archaeological finds are 111ud 1 rarer in the Delta. since the Nile has dl'st roycd the e\'idence or hmil'd it undl'r alh 1vi11111. B11t it is possible to ( '( )ltcl11de that Lowl'!' Egypt. too, achieved unity, basl'd arrn 111d a capital at Buto. Then, towards the encl of tltl' f< 1urtl r mille1111 iu111. we find in the Delta the sudden appearance of ol \jl'ds fro111 the I ,ate Naqada culture of Upper Egypt, 011 a scale to suggest a conquest or a d ecisivl' penetration. This was the moment of 1111ity. , \1 1d if there was, indeed, a foreign rnling class of Horus-worshippers in the Delta. it was at this point that they were oustl'd and their cultural apparatus taken over by the rulers f rom ti re south. Sl'condly, \\"e ha\'e some literary e,ide11ce, inarticulate though it may be. Ti 1mb l 00 at 1 -Iierakonpolis contains a frieze dernted to the sul�ject ofleadership. There is 1w trace of foreign influence here. but evidence that a State bureaucracy, under a dominant king, was gro\\ing up in the south in the Late Naqacb period. This king wore the lmlbous . pointed \\'hite Crown of the south. A jar in the .Ashmolean :\ 1 useum, Oxf, 1rd, dating from about 3500 BC. sh< 1\\·s tl1l' smaller Red Crown < if the II< 11th, < 1r Lmver Eµ,)l)L The collision between these two e\'olvi11g States fi r st seems to have occurred under a southern king called Scorpio. l-Ie features 011 a fragment of a cere11w11ial mace-head. also in the Ashmolean, which shows him wearing the white crown, and conquering and hanging various people in the border reµ,ions and the Ddta itself- but he does not yet claim the red crmrn. This final act was evidently the work ofa southern king called Nanner. who is the hero of the finest and most important ofall the voti,·e palettes, f< nmd in I 897 at Hierakonpolis where according to tradition the kings of Eg)1)t came from - and 1 1 0w in the Cairn M useum. The .L\armer Palette shows the king not only completing the conquest but wearing. separately. the red crown of Lower Eg)-pt and the white crown of the south. Pictograms. ideograms and fragmentary phonetic signs tell the stor)'. Sir Alan Gardiner. the g,Teat authority 011 hieroglyphs. arg1.1ed that at the time of the Narmer palette the State priests and the artists they employed could not yet w1ite complete sentences; they produced a series of pictures, ideas and sounds which the spectator then had to translate into words. 1 -k deduced that the palette was clearly composed to commemorate the triumph of unification. The scale ofNarmer·s conquest is confirmed by another Ashmolean mace -head, which shows him with his booty: apparently I 20.000 me1 1. c - 100 .000 oxen, 1 .422.000 goats. and the standard s of the northern nomes. U11ificati< m ,vas an act of religious statesm;mship as well as milit.u} c< 111quest, a11cl ti re organizational and economi< benefits became quickly apparent. Southern kings married northnn princesses. so fusing the royal li11es. Tli l'l'e was a s y11cretizatio11 of the rival gods and goddesses. so ti rat all ti re deities of the kingdoms and the n0111es took their places in one harmonious pantheon. Either 1\armer, or his immediate successor Aha. built l\ l emphis as a joint capital. equipping it with the Palace of the White \V.1lls which ga\'e it its Egyptian name. Thenceforth the coro11atio11s of all the pharaohs included a cm111 11e1 11orative cere1 11011y i11 which the king symlmlically reunited tht> 'two lands' by 11.111ni11g round the \Vhite \Valls in a solemn a11cl solitarJ race - a11 act repeated to display co1 1ti11ui11g vitality at his periodic_juliilees. E�yptia 11 syncrctic skill was \'isual as well as notional: the two crowns were brilliantly co1nhi11ed into a11 impn:ssive piece of headgear which became and remained to the end the most honoured item i11 the pharaoh's regalia. Unity finally ended death feud s between villages and 110111es, bonier raids between the old ki11gdrnns, and bandit,} hy marauding nomads, whose acti,ities in the Nile area

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were now policed hy a centralized State. Pop11latio11 i11creased ra pidly and internal peace made possible for the first time the thorough exploitation of the co1111t1y's mineral resources . Eg,ypt now passed rapidly into the fi,11 Copper Age. Royal expeditions wne mounted to replace the casual collection ofcoppcr ingots, which were then l1a111111cre< I cold into tools and weapons, by the systematic exploita tion of desert mines. The amount of copper available dramatically increased, and hot-metal technology, long practised in Asia, was adopted. Royal hoards of the period show a sudden accumulation of metal wealth: ranges of copper chisels, k11ives, a.-...:eheads, saws, adzes. Such metal tools were still precious; they were weighed before and after issue to workmen to prevent theft and metal crimes fi g,1.ired high in the work of the comts- f or security, some tools were stamped with rnyal names and so can be elated. Metal equipment enonnously enhanced the productivity of royal workshops and estates, and so royal wealth; copper weapons gave the royal armies and police unprecedented advantages and cont1ibuted directly to n ,yal power. 1 Iore \\idespreacl were the benefits conferred by royal centralization on the whole Nilotic economy. In his account of fifth-centrny Eg,1vt. Herodotus recounts an ancient tradition that all Upper Eg,1vt was a marsh until the reign of the first king of the first dynasty, whom he called 1Ienes. Menes and Narmer were almost certainly the same king. and Herodotus's tale probably echoes the belief that the decisive steps for the control or reg,1.1lation of the Nile flood were taken by royal initiative in Ppper Eg,)1)ta parallel caw,e of the southern supremacy, perhaps. Herodotus forther says that dykes were built south of Memphis when the new capital emerged at the start of the First Dynasty. But this was only one instance of royal activity around the 1iver. The ancient regions were reorganized as nomes under central royal control, and a policy of public water-works under 'Canal Builders' or nomarchs was steadily pursued; these officials were of ancient lineage but were rewarded by the burgeoning state in accordance \\ith their constrnction record. Thus the Delta, thanks to innumerable dykes and canals. was drained and opened up as a huge reserve oflancl for internal colonization. Among other services. it maintained vast numbers of oxen for the royaL priestly and private landowners of the Nile vall ey, when their pastures failed in summer. River-control increased the area under crops, too. and in the newly-drained Nile valley as well as the Delta. Eg)vtians ate more grain as well as meat, despite the steady rise in popnlation. The efficient management ofg,nin-storage and the clist1ibution of supplies was another test of the new bureaucratic state. Nomarchs and other officials boasted in the biographical statements carved in their tombs: "I was the computor for the consumption of grain in Lower Eeypt, one who dispensed water in broad daylight: The existence of regional and central food depots made it possible f or the growing population. during the pe1iocl of ag1icultural pause in flood time, to be employed f or three months in the year on public works, living 'from the table of the ruler' as it was called. Thus the State was able to embark on great undertakings - hitherto inconceival)le - to control the river and its waters. These were religious operations: the pharaoh and his officials were cooperating \\ith the gods to bring added prosperity to the land. Prediction of the flood was as important as its physical control. and to Egyptians provided even plainer evidence of royal magic. One < ,f the earliest acts of the united State was the provision and 1 11 < mitoring of Nil< >meters. This enabled the State to keep records oflevels. work out averages and plan accordingly. Royal scribes and pri ests


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:l 1 1' 1 11 I I\ 11 1/ \ I'll l'\ , ll· \'\( IF'\ I H ,\ I' I proceeds. \\'L' can constru ct a seq 1 1c1 1ce ol ' kings which is dq icndable for most of the t i 1 1 1e. and refohlc rcla ti\'c dating for the i1 1f; m11atirn 1 listed above is supplemented hy i 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 11crahlc i ndi,·id1 1al dates in rnyal tmnh-i1 1script ions. stelac and papyri . l 1 1 d; 1rtumtcly. the Egyptians dated e\'Cnts solely in terms ol' each reign : they did 1wt ha\'t· a c11mubtin: chro1 1ology. I l ow. then. to a1 1chor Egyptian dates to our own ;d 1soli1tc c h ro 1 10 logy:' This i s \\'here the Sothic dating comes i n . \Ve have several a ncient Eg;yptian records 1 ,f the I l eliacal risi 1 1g ofSothis. Since we can work 011t when these occu rred in our own B< : dating. we can say, for instance. that the se,-enth year of Sesostris I l l of the Twelfi h Dymsty was in I 872 BC. From this we can work backwards to date the hq!;i1111ing of ' the Twel fth Dynasty to 1 99 1 and of the Eleventh Dynasty to (a pproximately) 2 1 :3:3 -·- L The Turin Canon gives a seemi ngly accurate total of 955 years f or the f-irst eight dynasties: a nd this. together wi th fragments of knowledge about the Ninth. Tenth and Ele\'enth Dynasties, allows 1 1s to give an approximate fig,1.11"e of .'3 1 00 for the uuif-icatio1 1 of the kingdom a11d the hegi1111ing of Eµ,")1)t 's dynastic histrn")'. This i s roughly co11f-in11ed by m uch archaeological e,·i dence and tentat ive carbon­ dating. and is now gent.Tally accepted by E�:1Jtol1 1gists as a starting point. For dates later than the T"·elft h Dynasty we h ave a number of Sothic anchors - we can. for instance. he sun' that the ninth year of Amenoph is I of the Eighteenth Dynasty \\·as between 1 5 -1-1 and 1 5 1 9 B< : (and very likely 1 5.3 7) - and, in due course. a growing number of cross-dates from other cultures. I han: explained in some detail h o\\' ,, e can reconstru ct E�yptian chronolo�T bec1use it gives some i ndication of the f ragmentary nature of our own sou rces. partirnbrly f; ir the earlier dynasties. B u t then, it is not to he expected that we should be able to prm·ide a detailed historical account of s nch a remote period of time. Our f-irst considerable \\Titten treatise is the P_,·rr1111 id 1cxt.1 . l( 1tmd in the tomb of Unas, the last pharaoh of the Fifth Dynasty, who died around 23-15 RC. By that time, dynastic E g,)1)t was already approximately 750 years old. \Ve date the First Dynasty from 3 1 ( )() to :zsqo B< :; the Second Dynasty ended in 2 686; the beginning of the Third Dynasty i11a1 1g,1.irated what is termed the Uld Kingdom ( dynasties 3-6). the first great peak of E g,)l)tian ci,·ilization and in all essentials the matrix of the entire cult ure. Of the f-i r st two dynasties we know little. Cul tural development and economic expansion continued steadily throughout them but the pharaohs did not find it easy to hold the 1 1ew nation together: the emergence of Seth in S)111bolic conflict with Homs indicates ci,·il war between the South and the Delta, or parts of i t . The last Dynasty e1 1ded i n ;marchy and the breakdown of the united kingdom : the Second Dynasty came to power as part of the process of reunificat ion. its f-irst king being called l lotepsekhcm,,;·· sig1 1i�ing ·the Two Powers are Pacifie d'. There was a forther political uphea,·al i11 the Second Dynasty, under King Perihsen , a11d the union was ,igai11 n:- stored by his successor. K.hasekhem. To mark the e,·ent. the latter may have changed his reg11al name to K.hasekhemwy, 'the Appearance of the Two Powers', a nd there a rc two commemorative statues of K.hasekhemwy at I -l ierako11polis. But both names figme 011 king-lists and they may h ave heen diflerent m e n . The memory of these obscure stn1gµ;les was retained in later traditions of thousands of slaughtered men from Lower Eµ,}pt. As the kingdom consolidated its u nity and survived these c1ises, internal changes 1 1 1 , less < ii iscme but equally certain were taking place. The pi iwer of the monarch grew at equal pace with nnity, for local aristocrats were the only elements who stood to gain

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from hreakdow11 . a11d their tra11s l 1 , rn 1atio1 1, ;1s 11 01 11ard 1s, i11to lllCie ollicials was a co11seque11ce of ti 1e grow ti 1 of a ho111ogc1 101 1s, ce1 1tralized State, i 11 which tltc pha r;1oh a11d his court wne all-pmvcrfi 1I. The evidc11ce of burial arra11geme1 1ts is al)( )llf the 01 ily ki1 1d we have to go 1 1prn 1. l1 1 prcdyuastic times, local 1 1otablcs had been buried i11 their places ofl ,irth a11d stauding. \Vith u11ificatio1 1, their tombs begi11 to duster aro1 1 1 H I the royal necropolis like iron filings ro1 111d a 111ag11et. The Egy ptiau theory of deatl1 a11d eternity. which was now hcgi111 1i11g to 111at11re. presupposed that the exact reproduction, 011 the fi.ll lerary plane, oflifc 011 earth, was the guarantee that it would be perpetuated into eternity. So tomb pattern s are 111 irror­ images of what went Oi l i1 1 real life. The royal tomb emerged from the ground, first in the shape of a house or mas/aha, to use the modern Egyptian ter11 1 , then a many­ roomed palace lmildi11g with doorways all(I recessed walls; finally a pyramid. sy1 11bol of m:ijesty a11d divini ty. The tomb reproduced the royal earthly household, not 01 1ly in terms of goods and supplies. but people. A First Dynasty queen, Merneith, \\·as I n11icd ,,ith l l male and 77 female retai11ers; King Wac\ji, also of the First Dyuasty, took 335 household so1 1ls with him. \Vhere such bodies ca11 be f ound. they sh< m no sigus of \ 'iolence. \Vere they poisoned? I lad they died anyway. i11 the normal course of eYents. and were simply used as surrogates of royal retainers? Ritual human sac1ifice certainly took place in contemporary Asia . as the great death-pits of Early Dynastic Ur testi �•. The story of Abraham shmYs it \Yas still conceivable at the beginning of the second millenn ium B< :. The servants lay in small separate tombs clustered round the monarch. And. as the centralized pharaonic State consolidated itsdC and the royal tombs grew accordingly in size and gra11deur. so the tPmbs of great officials and chieftai ns ,vere pulled into orbit. to constitute a kind of court or State of the dead in hierarchical proximitr- The king by conquest and magic power had cousumed the totems or emblems. and so the souls. of the original clans and their chiefa. He could restore these souls by enabling favoured of I-icials and courtiers to quali�·, through their tombs, I• ,r immortality. Su the satellite tomb became a religious necessity as well as a social priYilege. The excavation of the early dynastic royal tombs. not all of \\'hich ha\'e yet been identified, suggests that all the kings had t\\'o: the actual burial place at the uecropolis of Sakkara. near the new capital � l emphis, and cenotaphs in the ancient necropolis o L-\ bydos. During the f irst two dynasties. the evolution of tl1 e royal necropolis reflects a1 1 irresistible moveme1 1t towards political centralization aud royal theocracy. The take -offitself. when the splendours of the 11ew civilization became manifest and unmistakable, may be precisely dated to the reign of King Qjoser at the beg,i uning of the Third Dynasty in the t,Yenty-seventh century B< :. Here is one of tlwse occasions when the customa1y glacial pace of the ancie11t \\'orld mysteriously accelerates. when enonnous i111 1ovations occur in a single lifetime and when, for once, a solitary indi\'idual of genius stands out fr( > I l l the slow impersonal forces of change. Qjoser was a s< ,n ( ,f the victorious Khasekhemwy, though he may not have been the first king of the Third Dynasty. I Iis reign is specially emphasized in the Turin Canon. 1 ,300 years later, by the use of red ink - so long was his glo1y conm1ernorated. He seerns to have pushed E�ypt's southern boundary to the First Cataract and sent a royal expedition to Sinai in search of turquoise and copper. By finally subduing the Bedouin he opened up the deserts, especially to the east, to systematic exploitation of their stone and metals. He thus added i mmeasurably to the ra nge and quantity of resources available to royal

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co1 1sl rnctio1 1. and the refinements in administration and organizational capacity which are also evident from his rei�n multiplied the manpower at his disposal during the co11slructim 1 season offloodtime. l le also acquired a servant of exceptional capacity, the f-irst trne individual rewaled by huma11 record: lmhotep. This man seems to have come miginally from the temple of Re, the sun-god, at Heliopolis. Djoser made him, in time. the second man in the kingdom, accorded him the status of a member of the royal Lu11ily, and virtually deified him by allowing his titles to be inscribed 011 his own statue in the royal funeral complex at Sakkara. which lmhotep built for him: 'The Chancellor of the King of Lower E g,-ypt, the first after the King of Upper Eg,;1)t, administrator of the great palace , heredita1-y lord, the H igh Priest of Heliopolis, lmhotep the builder, the sculptor. the maker of stone vases.' Can he have been all these things? The memo1-y of lmlwtep handed down to later generations was that of a universal genius-; but in particular of a doctor, who founded the Eg,-yptian system of medicine, for long the leading one in the ancient world. As such he was deified, and the Greeks , in the time of the Ptolemies. equated him with Asdepios, their own god of healing,. \Vhat we can be sure of is that he was an architect of outstanding originality and vision. It is interesti11g that he should have been referred to in his own day as 'the maker of stone vases'. The stone vase was the first great achievement of Egyptian culture. By lmhotep's clay they were being made in formidable quantities, bearing in mind the thousands of man-hours required to chill and polish each o bject; above 40,000 of them have been found in the Djoser complex, though many of these may have been shifted from earlier dynastic tombs by Djoser, to defeat tomb-robbers. Imhotep was the first to make full use of the Eg,;1)tian stonemasons' accumulated skills in the field of monumental architecture. Eg,-yptians had traditionally built in unbaked bricks fashioned fr om a Nile compound of mud, sand and chopped straw in oblong, moulds. No doubt the shape of the bricks first led to the conception of the idea of carving stone and laying it in regular courses. But it was not until after unification, at the beginning of the First D ynasty, that the vasemaker's art was applied to architecture. This was probably because the availability of more copper, and so of copper tools, enabled the Egyptians to quarry sto11es from rock beds especially the limestone Mokatta Hills east of Memphis - and dress large slabs. Stone was first used only for tombs, clomways and stairways, pavements, sealing slabs or portcull ises, and bottom-courses of masonry for buildings. Then lmhotep conceived

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tlie idea 11ot 01 1 l y of creati11g; a11 entire lrn ildi1 1 g; i 1 1 sto11c, the first i 1 1 history. h11t of sur 1 1 wu1 1ti 1 1g it witl 1 a gi µ; a1 1tic pyra 1 1 1 id of strn 1e steps wl 1at we c.ill the Stepped Pyra1 1 1 id - a1 1 d su 1TOlllHli 1 1g; the whole by a 1 1 e1 1onnrn 1s sto1 1c co1 1 1 plex 1 11odcllcd rn 1 the great brick royal palace of Me11 1phis. witl1 its walls a11d l iattll'.111c11ts. \Ve catch om breath at the audacity of l 1 1 1l wtep's crn 1ccptio11 a11d the rutli lcss1 1css with which he carried it out. !\ l 1 1ch ofit has now been recrn1strnctcd usin g; the orig;i1 1al ashlar blocks, so we ca1 1 realize its dimensions a1 1 d size. There is 1w do1 1lit that l11 1hotcp i1 1auguratcd the architectur al glrny which was the outstarnli1 1g charactc1istic of tl 1 l'. Old Kingdo11 1, i1 1deed ofEg,1vtia11 civilizatio1 1 as a whole. But equally startling; is the c ourage and origi1 1ality of the detail. lmhotep invented the sto 1 1e pillar (in strict truth attached pillars. or pilasters. in this first stone buildi1 1g). These were i1 1 1agi1 1ative petrificatirn 1s of the papyru s plants traditionally used i1 1 the constru ction of mud and thatch buildings. But he also used abstract flutings in his colu m1 1 s. \Vhe1 1 the complex was first tl1oroughly excavated i 1 1 the mid- l 9 20s, the archa eologists \\ere stupefi e d to sec what were apparently Creek Doric columns emerge from the sand a11d debris. I-low had they got there. 2J)00 years before the Creeks i nvented them':> But the stones could not lie: lmlwtep. the Leo1 1ardo of Memphis. had ft, reshadowed classical times. The giga1 1tic construct is an exercise in realized theology The whole purpose of the complex was tl 1at it should be built for etern ity. lml)( )tcp was the fi rst to push through the logic ol " the associatio1 1 between strn 1e and immortality. I le not only made Djoser\ tomb a capaciow, emporium of stone vases. but reproduced in sto1 1e cve1y mate1ial element in Eg11>tian daily life in the second quarter of the third millennium. \Vooden doors. copper hinges. metal bolts. mat h,mgings are all faithfully and exactly imitated in stonl'.. In effect, he took a working Egyptian palace of about 2650 B< : and petrified it into a tomb.. so that it would last for ever. and so e1 1sure the immortality of the king a1 1 d his dependants, inclu ding himself. He stocked the tomb-palace \Vith pet1i fied goods too: we find eve1Tday straw baskets reproduced in stone down to the last weave, and metal pots down to their last 1ivet. lmhotep crowned his masteq >iece with the massive abstraction of his Step Pyramid. itself a symbolized pet1ificatio1 1 of everlasting royalty. No men on earth had seen such a building before . I t mm,t have bee 1 1 plainly visible both from the capital, l\Iemphis. and from the desert a1 1 d valley f or many miles around. But it was more than a spectacular landmark: it was the first building in history to express 0 1 1 a large scale carefolly thought out architectural ideas. For thl'. first time huge spaces were organized by a1 1 artist not for some utilita1ian prnvose but i11 the conscious pursuit of a1 1 artistic aim - albeit one inspired by religious notions. The realizatio 1 1 of this scheme, the apotheo.y11.1sty

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dming the ( )Id l\.ingdo111, in most respects at t he very heginni11g of it One cou ld say

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that u 1 1 d cr I 1 1 1 hotcp the st�·k- \\'as already in its 1 1oble adolescence, aml the hill maturity

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was reached i 1 1 the FPm t h Dy nas ty. The essence of Eg1vtian style can be defined i 1 1 tm , \\ords: 111,ijcsty. a n d selrcontide11ce. T h e Egyptians were perhaps t h e most self:

c, ,nfidl'nt pc, ,pie t he \\'odd ! kno\\ 1 1 : the cultural egoce nt ricity of the later 'Celestial Empire' of C : h i 1 1a was less exdusi,·e b�· compa rison. The Egyptians did 1 1 o t regard thc 1 1 1seln·s as a chosen people: they \\'ere. quite simply, people. O t her Im mans fell into another cat egory. The Egyptian m ml for · man', as distinct from gods and animals (m, in a1 1 o t h e r sense. ,rn men) originally applied o n l y to Egyptians. A text called the

.--ld111 011 it/011s of /j) lt71'1T. \\ hich dates f ro m the h reakd n\\'n of the Old Kingdom, Cl ' m1 >bi 1 1s: 'Strangers fr, ,1n , ,utside ha,·e come i 1 1to Egypt . . . f, Heigners ha,·e beC< 11ne people e,·erywhere: This exdusi,·eness \\·as not primarily racial, Ii ,r the Eg11 >tians \\'ere of mi.x ed race and seem to ha,·e accep ted nTryone who adopted t heir cultme wholeheartedly. hut

geographica l . The Eg·yptians were people because they !i,·ed i11 Eg,- y p t . l n fact they

Cl ,ntinued tl > call t heir m 1ited c, n111try 'the tm , b1 1ds· (, nir term ·Egypt' comes frl ,m tl 1e Greek rrndcring oL\ l emphis). But 'land' as a conccpt was identified with Eg,)1>t. The mirld had l >egu 1 1 i11 Eg)-pt. by a nalogy with the Nile flood. as a primcval mound arnse. "·he11 thc fl, H ,dwaters 1 >f d1al ,s rcced ed. I Ienrn 'I i1 ,lis was often cunsidcred 'the moumr. a11d thus the oldest place. t hough other E g,Jptia 1 1 cities e,·e 1 1 tually claimed to be thc oldest i11 the m ,rld . . \ sarL·1 ,phagus in the Ne\\ Yor k � l e tn ,polit,1 1 1 l\ l useum sh, ,\\·s tlie earth ak a circle, \\1th the 1 1omes of E ')l)t 1 ; ,rmi 1 1g an iuner cirdc in the middle; this is g,

a btc ,11 tcfact. but thc L'oncept was as old as Egyptian u ni ty. During the ki ng's corn1 1atio11 ceremony. which goes back to the f ounding of the capital at l\ l emphi�, thc 1 1 e\\ king tir e d ,llTm,·s tm,·ards the four ca rdinal points of tlie compass, and released bird s to tr:n·el t here to a 1 1 1 1o m 1Ce h i s ru l e . E g,)-pt \\·as the cent re of the earth. and its pe< ,pie the only leg-itirnatc i n habitants. All lands helo1 1ged to Eg,)l)t hr di,ine righ t. and if she f; 1u11d it necessa1y to rntcr territol)' not. s trictly speaking. administered by her. she \\ ,1s mcrely said to he 'punishing rebels·. Not until late in t he second mil lennium B< : do the Egyptians appear t, , have equated 1 ,ti 1er pel ,pies with t hemselves. and to the end their bngmge contained many express ions which reflectcd their Eg,11> t-cen tred ,·i e\\ or t h e \\ o rl d . Thus the Nile was ·t he ri,·er': and the fact that it flowed sou t h to nortl 1 \\':ts affixed as a characteristic of 1ivers as such - the Euph rates was ·that im·erted wa tcr which goes clowns tre:1m i n going u p s t ream'. Again, as Egypt ian c rops wcrc watcred l >y a ri, e r rather than rain. the Syrians were said to havc been prn\'ided with ·. \ Xile in the sky · - that is, reg11br rainfall. The notion that e,·e1Tthing in Eg,)l)t was 'normar was fostered by its isolation. and thc cul tures w i t h which Egypt did ha,·c contact, Lib ya . Nubia. Pales tine. were so ma11ifestly p( ,,·eny-st ricken by comparison with her own as to confirm the theory of Eg,)'ptia 1 1 superiority. i ndeed uniqueness. There were no di rect contacts wi t h Sumer in the re1 111 ,te period when it was Eg,1vt's cultural precursor, and the cul tural imp, ,rts of thc im11 1ediatc predynastic pe1iod left 1 10 traces on Eg,)'ptian historiography. By the tin1c Eg)pt began to trade 011 any scale. i t was a united cou n t 1:· and its cultural pre­ cmi1 1encc had ,1lrcady !wen established . Thcse early commercial ve ntures. which date fro111 the f ir st two dynastics. were not so much indi,idual \'< >yages as royal expeditions

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1 1 1a1 1aged 0 1 1 the k i 1 1 is behalf l 1 1 early dy1 1astil' ,1 1 1d ( )Id l\.i1 1gdo1 1 1 t i 1 1 1es tl 1e1e was 1 10 private sector in the 1 1,1 tio 1 1al ec01 101 1 1y a l l( ) t rade was a royal 1 1 10 1 1opol r. Tl1i-; was 0 1 1c respect i 1 1 which Egypt diflcred decisively ti-01 1 1 the l\:ksopot.111 1i,1 1 1 city-states. T« > trade \\'as a11 act of State, aml as part of tl1ei1 theory of'cos111ic s11 p nimity tl1e l�gyptia1 1s did 11ot draw a clear disti11ctio11 l)('tvvl'el l trade a l l() trili 1 1te, or l've 1 1 colo11izatio11. Forcig1 1ns who traded peaceal ily with Eg;y pt were i 1 1 so111e se1 1se hn serva1 1ts: t hose who sl 10wed hostil i ty \\ l're im,nial>ly G1 tegorized as 'vile". Co1 1tacts ol l >o t h ki l l (ls beca me very exte1 1si\'e i11 the Old Ki1 1gdom. Elepha 11ti1 1t:, so called fro111 its tradt: i 1 1 cl'!l tral A frica 1 1 irnry, had bee11 the most southerly tradi11g post i 1 1 prcdy11astic times. S11eferu . f-irst k i 1 1).!; of the Fo urth D y 1 1 ,1s ty. se 1 1 t puniti\'e exped i t i o 1 1 s agai1 1st the Liliya11s. and pushed hnther up the Nile Valley against the N uhia1 1s. He, a 1 1d otl 1er Fourtl I D y 11asty ki ngs, as we k1 1ow from their inscr i ptions. se1 1 t royal exped itions to obtain hardsto1 1es, j ewcls a11d 111i1 1erals from Sinai. the Nubia 1 1 desert and tropical prnducts from .i b 1 1d ki 10w 1 1 a s ·Punt' a l l ( I tenta tiYely identified \\ith So111alib11d. E�!,-Yptia1 1 i1 1fluence eve 1 1 penetrated as far as the Seco11d Cat,1ract under the Old Kingdom. si1 1ce copper was being smelted at i ts north e11(1. The most important trade \\as w i th Byblos, i 1 1 modern Lebanon, bt:c.tuse this 1 1o t only supplied Eµ;ypt with t h e timber s h e co1 1spi cuously bcked ( the p i n e and ceda r forests .i round the Leba1 1ese !\ fo untains were then still vast). hut linked Egn >t to the main trade route of the Fertik Crescent. ·Byl ilm, Ship" was the Eg,")l)tian t:xpression fi ,r a big. ocean-going Yessel. built of cedarwood and owned by the pharaoh; one such. over 100 feet l011µ; and dated about 2 700 B< :, was found in 1 953 near the south side of the Great Pyramid of Cheops - though most Byblos Ships buried with the 1 1 101 1,irch were naturally in sto11e. B yhlos was not an Eg") 7 >tian colony or settlement. Eg")'} )tians avoided livin g abroad si11ce they feared b ur ial there. which would jeopardi ze thei1 cha11ce of eternity. But it had a11 Egypti.1 1 1 tt:rnplt: as t:a rl y as the Old gdom and remained a1 1 enclave of p rcdomina11tly Eµ,1vtian rnltme for owr 2 ,000 years. The 1rdf' r hi m wha t shoul d be c lon e for him·. \Ve have pictrnial accou nts of pharaohs l a)i ng the fi rs t s t o n es of i mpor tant n e w cul t-bu ildin gs, a nd de po s i tin g sets of model tool s i n the fou nd a tio ns . They a l so cu t the fi rs t socl s of 11ew ca n a l s a nd riYe r-wo rks. The chi ef e,e n ts of the l i turgical y ea r d ema nd e d their pre sen ce; and the i r palace s seem to have bee n prmi ded \\i th ·Appea rance \V i ndows' from wh i ch they showed themselves to the Ye t m en ewu of the highes t r an ks had t o k ee p thei r d is t ance from the pharaoh. Rekhmi re, a v izier of t he Eighteent h Dy nast y. cal led him · the god by whose ac tio ns we l iYe. the fa t he r a nd mo ther of all me n , alo ne by him se l f wi thou t a n equ al.' An Old Kingdom poem says: ·H i s l ife span is eternity, the bo rders o f his power are infinity.' Th e uraeus which sa t 011 the ki ng"s brow in all hi s crowns was bel ieve d to s pit -· , poisrnwus fire a t a nyone who a pproache d t oo near. Indee d , the king's own . 1 \ \ ·!� --=:. _ d i, i n i t y, e mbod )i n g the Su n-god Re. was fie ry a n d s corche d anyone g,1-1ilt y '1� � . rCit ! of un a u t horized physical cont ac t . Three inc iden t s i n t he re ig n of 1 Nefe 1 irka re of th� Fifth D 1 1asty ��1gge� t au a t m o sphere ofmajes�y_which 1 : ':'. ' _/f I \ we would fi nd mcon cewable . I he firs t occurred whe n a n official was / ._ 1 acc i den t a l ly t ouche d o r s t ruck by th e ki n g's sc e ptre d uri n g a /· .- ( \ � ?�1 ·- ., . , cere mony. The bl ow m e ant dea th. The i nexo rabl e cons equences to , ) \ (JJ , the m an _we re o nl y av ert �d by tl � e ki ng h i ms el f a polog i zin g, an d 1 ,/� ....;=the episo d e was cons1cl e rec l 1 mpor ta u t eno ugh t o h e n o te d ) _.,., r f L · '�� \(___ �,i-r c l own. Ou two o ther occasions. Nefo rirka re allowed two se nior · }-. o ffici al s, as a special ma rk of farnur, to ki s s his ac t ual foo t , as s opposed t o t he grou nd in fron t of i t . The se ac t s of �'t \\ con d escen s io n were als o recorded , and the ti tle bes tmvec l ' 1 r:. ,,. : _. \ on the two o fficials: 'Sole Compa ni on '. P ri e s t s we re 1-_ .1.(--. .J. 'l//2 /'( _ -fl o ft en empl ?yed t o e nable �he ki n g to avoi d physical . I \ · f__-; · 1/ _ . co nt ac t wi th people o r obj e ct s. They had t o un dergo -- 1 / -(/ /4};/ � _Z, ✓ 1/j.t,V ,); · · , , 1 J_ c01_1s ta1 1 t l us t1:ation ( �as � iin? )_ c� re1 :10nies , �s inde�:l . ,, J _ 1� ' 7 . chc l anyone Ill the king s V1Cll1t ty: pure of I_1ancl s IS -s� 1· . 1 ,,.{ t the phrase constantly us ed abo u t royal pn e st s and . , ;\ 't' , . // , .; ,;,. , · 1 i, . ..,.w,� . atte ncI an ts. �'""· //I ,I • ·. � r /r..: ::tl«:i::,.. . y} :.. . The ki ng was al so the p ossessor o f a royal • - ·� 1 . _.,.-mys t ery o r s e c ret. We a re n o t clear what i t was, bu t i t s d i scovery co u l d p re cipi tat e the overthrow o f the dy nas ty: 'Behold,' wrote t he a u t ho r of t h e Ad111 011 itio11s after the fa ll of th e Oki Kingdom, ·th e s e cr et of

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,.;,?��)'W l l, is divulµ;cd, so tk1t the palace is o\'crtll l'o\\·11 i11 an hour.' l l nder the Fomth Dy11asty the senecy theme appears i 1 1 titles of se11 ior ollicials dose to the ki11µ;: ·l\ bs ter of the Secrets of the Thi1 1µ;s that O11ly O11e l\Lt11 Secs · . There were ma11y tal H H > W< mis col ll 1ccted wit! 1 royalty, i11dudi1 1g the ki 1 1µ;\ nan1e. No 011c spoke 'to' the king but ·i11 the prese11cc of I lis 1\1 ,�jesty'. The kinµ; himself did not s,1y · r as a rnlc hut ' l\ l y l\Lijesty'. The third person indefinite was also employ ed: 'O11e gave c01 m11aml'. not ·the Ki1 1µ; co1111na1 Hled'. Another circumlocutio1 1 was to refer to ·the pa bee'. in the same \\'ay as 'the Porte' was used to repre sent the Turkish Sulta11, or ·tlie \Vhitc I l ouse' the United States President. Tints, under the Eighteenth Dynasty the ki1 1µ; was spoken ofa s · the Great House·. /nr-aa. hence ·pharaoh· . It was the ubiquitous dominance of the pharaonic institution which helped to give the style of E g;yptia11 art its second great characteristic: its supremely ma�;i-.te1ial quality. Or one could put it the other way rnu1 1d: it was the sheer skill of the Egyptian craftsmen. especially in statuary. which ga,·e religion, and s< 1 ti 1c phara< ,h. its tremend< >us impact on the Eg111tian consciousness. Doubtless both wavs of putting it are true. Cert,1i1 1ly Eg")l)tia1 1 art acquired its salie11l character at the s,1me time as the monarchy grew in power a11d strength, that is during; the fi rs t three dynasties. In this sense. the great �,fo rmer palette is pre-Eµ;:vfrm. At one time. indeed. several of the fine early palettes. a1 1d other artefacts of the late predynastic or early dynastic period. were classi fied as ·l\licldle Eastern'. and regarded as imports by Egyptologists. They are i11 fact purely E�vtia11. but the true Egyptian style is missing or embrY,·er its sheer nubiht)· and express it in art. I1 1 this field they not only taught the Creeks but i1 1 some respects srnvassed thc111. Eg)') )tian predynastic art stresses the brute power of arms, 111uscles,jaws, teeth indeed. 01 1e palette shows the king as a lion, tea1ing open an enemy's stomach, another as a rampant bull, goring his fi >es. Prcdynastic females are fat and heavy, with bulging breasts and buttocks. Battle scenes stress the physical carnage, and one is aware of noise. '>Weat. screams. and the smell of bl ood. In Babylonian and later Assyria11 art, these elements remain: in the stupendous �i1 1eveh reliefs i11 the B1itish \ I useum, f< ,r instance. we are always conscious of the tenific calf and thigh muscles of the men. and we can almost hear the thunder of the cha1iots. �la ture Eg')'})tia1 1 art - that is. art from the Third Dynasty onwards - eliminates such things. and much else. Indeed. it is the 0111issio1 1s w hich point to its artistry and ai1 1 1 . Ugliness. savage1y and obscenity are systematically excluded. Barba1ism becomes elegance < >r civilized, law-abiding po\\'er. The .\ssyrians portrayed the lion as a ferocious beast of prey: the Eg,")l)tians as a royal animal . A hunt or a battle, for the Assyiians the epitome of slaughter. becomes for the Eg1vtians a t1iumph of skill and clega1 1ce, even poetry. Eg)vtia.n women are slender, young and delectable with reg,1.t!ar, well-funned breasts, delicate buttocks; rounded and quintessentially feminine, but with not an ounce of spare fat. Schafer compares them to · the profiles of precious vases'. The men are young, too: taU, fit, well-exercised, lean a 1 1d spa re. with broad shoulders., narrow wa ists and hips. and long athlete's legs. \ l usde-pmver is hinted al, not shown. The st)rlized postures of both sexes radiate self­ rn nfidence and vital ity. the hall111arks of the E gy ptian t1iumphalist spirit. Again, the < h.iractcristic postme is one of active repose or arrested motion - the noble Eg1rp tian , 11c ·,er 1 1 p of men are shown nmning, the emphasis i'i on rhythm, reg,1.1.larit)·, deliberation

TI I L TOTA l .l'l A lllA;\i TI I E< 1 a magisterial and self-confident bei ng. l\ lan was also. i11 au artistic sense, eternal. The E g,-y ptia11s. having fixed 011 their archet)1)CS for animals or men, did not \'al)' them in any essentials during the .'3 .000 year'> in which they crcat power by concentrating the eye on the significant variation. All E g)1)tia11 depiction, therefore. wa'> set in a framework of canonized fonns. But it had a physical framework too. for the Eg)1)tian artist had a compulsion towards linear, and e, ·en rectilinear, control. I t is argued that thi'> ma)' have sprung from observation of the fonm of the Eg)1)tian landscape: the flat surfacettom, and the rectilinear cliffs < ,f the escarpments. Always, there are hard. straight ho1izom. clean dividing line'>, al)solute contrasts < ,f colom� light, shade. There may be '>< nnething in this theoI)', though in fact there are plenty of rnrYe'> and gradations in the Eg)1)tian scene also. \Vhat is true is that men, animab. trees and buildings in E g,-y pt tend to be seen more often in silhouette than blurred against a back g,Totllld. They thus appear to stand on a baseline. \\rhen Eg,)1)tian art nw,·ed from it'> archaic to it'> clas. That is one reasuu why the lion. for example, appeared couchant, forepaws stretched out le,· e l. hindpaws tucked in accordingly, tail curled and at rest to complete the linear contact wi th the earth. The lion thu erect forepaw. This device is repeated if 11ecessa1)' so that a complicated Egyptian picture acquires a definite rectilinear struc tur e . The quality of regular structure is enhanced by the fact that virtually all E g,)1)tian art contains . or once contained, a hierogl)1)hic element mingled with the purely visual. \Vorcb had to be arnnged in horizontal or vertical lines and fitted into the composition. All this required a good deal of ordering. and the ordering was conducted on a linear basis. with rectangles predominant diagonals were not unknown, but they too were straight not curved. In a sense. then, an Eg,)vtian picture. whether 011 a huge wall-surface or a scrap of papyrus. tended to resemble a work of architecture. 1-Iere we come across another uni�ring factor in E g,)vtian culture. Art expressed magisterial self-co11fide11ce. the charactnistics of the pharao11ic state and its central institution. Such '>erenity sprang from a sense of right order. a belief that there was a place for evel)rthing, and that in Eg)1Hian life and art e,·erything was in its place. The use of strong baseline'> and registers and rectilinear forms geometrical ordering, i11


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fact ga,-c this necessary as. s ma11 n: tu the Eg-ypti an mind, :1s it contemplated art. Their m ,rd 11 ,1 right order \\ ,ts 111aal, wliicli also stood fi ir_justicc ,1 11d morality. The pharaoh l'lll liodicd 111aol, a11d also dispe11scd it. I )is divin ity e11abled him to determine what ,,·as 11uwl a11d what \\ as 11ot. Tl11 1s E.g,)l)t, u11like the l\ 1esopotamian city-states a11d later the l srad1tcs, had so far as we k11rn, 110 \\'ritten code ofl aw, but (it seems) a11 unwritten customary law deriH'd fi -0111 phara011ic_judgments, a11d altered by the pharaoh as he s.J\\ fit. J lrw l ,, as also the r1 ,r111 ofj usticc dispensed whe1 1 a 111an died a11d appeared at the bstjudgme11t: his soul was the11 ,,cighed in a pair of scales again. st 111aal. There ,,·as. i11 sh01t. a \ el) close association i11 tlie Eg;yptian's mind between moral goodness. 1m11 1da11c ju stice. and ,ll"tistic order. To break a n artistic canon, to infri11ge pharaoh\ bw or to si11 against god were similar activities; all were a denial of 111aal. Since art was ordered by a geometrical sense. it is thercf1ne not smvrisi11g - almost i1 1e,·itable - that its su1ne111e expression, to the Eg,·yptians, should have been that purest of solid


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the concepts unded :, ing the laws of stability. I mlwtep was already building 011 a colossal scale: his Step Pyramid is ➔ I I by 35S feet at base. Surprise is often expressed at the fact that the m�jor pyramids combine huge size with very hi5?;!1 standard'> of workmanship. The answer is that the greater the size the higher the quality of wmkmanship demanded. The blocks had to be beau ti hilly squared to ensure that they touched e,·enly, distributed the weight equally. and prevented cnnnbling: accurate stone-dressing was also required to ensure that the internal weight-forces were properly dist1ibuted. Othen,ise the pyramid might explode outwards and enormous quantities of strn 1e crash down the sides. To combat the outward-acting lateral forces prnduced by the sheer hulk and weight of the building, l ml10tep had to invent inward-inclining ln1ttress walls, which pn ,,ided c1impensati11g inward-acting lateral forces. These walls, invisible from the outside, are an essential feature in ensuring the stability of big py ramids. Qj1 ,ser's successor, Sekhemkhet, did not finish his Step Pyramid at Sakkara. ahnost as big as I�jo.I< >gist wl 1< > first ti 1< >n mghly i1 1vestigated at 1d measmed this p)1a11 1id. \\Tote that mistakes i11 the lengths am! an)_!;les of this eno1111ous pile ca11 he ·covered with one ·s thumb'; and 'neither needle nor hair' can be inserted into the jo ints. To put it another way, 011 the 1 1orth and south sides. the margin 1Jf error in squareness is only 0.09 per cent: and 011 east and west. 0.03 per cent: the whole construct w,1s 011 a pavement which from opposite comers has a de,,iation from the t111e plane of a mere 0.004 per cent. The quality of the stone1 11aso1 1's skills lavished 011 Cheops' Great Pyra1 11id was never again equalled i11 Ei!;ypt"s history; indeed, it is hard to poi11t to any building in su bsequent civilizations. including om own. which exhibits cow,istent workmanship ofthis order. This awesome fact itselfprmicks a due to the spirit in which the py ra1 11id was built, and to the religious fervour of ( )Id Kingdom society, especially duri 1 1g the Fomth Dynasty. Slave labour might pile up pyramids but it cannot endow them with superlative artistiy. 1 1 1 fact there were co111paratively few slaves in the Old Kingdom. a11d certainly not enough to prnvide the workforce ft ,r a11 operation 011 this scale. Herodotus says that I 00,000 men worked f( >r twenty years on the task. and this is plausible, assun1i 1 1g the peasants of the regio1 1 were employed 011 it during the f( >ur­ month pause while the fields were under flood. It is 1 1ot clear whether this labour was

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compnlsory at the time of tl1e ( )Id Kingdom. though it eertaiuly became so later: the E�;-ptia 11 rt1n 1/e (unpaid labour), which s111Yinxl till the end of tl1e nineteenth centu1y, was of great antiquity. R11t the idea of conscript labour building the pyramids under the bsh is prohal,I�- misleading. The Creat Pyramid was a triumph of the stonemason's art: it was also a miracle of la bour -orga1 1iz;1ti01 1, and labour cannot be effectively org:mized mn long periods if it is ill-treated. In fact all tl,e e,idence we ha,·e iudicates that 11011-slave bbonr in Eg 1 vt was usually well-treated a11d that if it was 1101 it refosed to work. \Ve know that the Old Ki11gd01 11 bhom corps used 011 pyramid work consisted largely of trained stonemasons and was organized oi l lllilita1:· lines, di,,ided into named troops, ;md connnanded by ·generals". These skilled men wen: kept 011 per!llanent duty and both they and their families were 1 nm·ided w ith ample supplies of frlOd, clothing ;md other necessities. including housing. by the State. The unskilled labound1ich supplemented them during the flood season was also fed and clothed; they may have been glad of the ,vork. It has been suggested that building the pyramids was a deliberate public wmks programme carried out to comlx1t unemploylllent during a period when population had outstripped the a,·aibhility of bud reclaimed from ;1 swamp and desert by irrigation. This is going too far. hut it is probably true that this programme was made possible by a bbour surplus. In any case. it must he remembered that these \\'Olks were relig,-ious i11 inspiration and intention, and it SLTms to have been a religious duty to treat labour well. Old Kingdom necrnpolis inscriptions are often at pains to show that the material had not bee11 plundered from earlier tombs. and that the lahom used had beeu well rewarded. 011e boasts: 'I made this tomb in return f, ir the bread and beer I ga,·e to all the manual m ,rkers \\fo , made it. I paid thelll well in all things < ,flinen they asked for a11d for which they returned thanks to god." Another: 'They made this f; ,r bread. beer, linen, ointment and qu;mtities oll ,;1rley and emmer.' In the New Kingdom, m1merous pharaohs drew atteu tion oil their com!lle!llorative stele to the care they took of men who worked in their quarries. 011 their In1ilding pn !iects and 011 their stone aud mineral expeditions. Seti H ,s I ,·isitcd the desert gold-lllines himself, a11d reflected: I low wrn t)' is t/11· wafrrle.1.1 road.' flow m11 111r111 walk w/11·11 hi!i th roat is dt)' ? Who will q11n1 d1 the t1m 1tllcr\ thin·t? 7 /it lowland isfit r awa_v, flit high dnat is ,,a.i t. T!tr 111a11 tha t i.\ th inh• 011 the hills lr1 111nd\. I low rn 11 / ordtr 111atft1:1 arigh t ? I willji1ul out flit ,M_l' to 111a!{t tht111 li1 1t a 11d t/11} will tha11il God i11 Ill_)' 1u111u' th ro11gho11t thc_w'a n to ro111t. Fufll rt gt1uTa tio11s will glorij) 111_1· tlll'l"f!,_l' bern11.11· 111_1fo1night 111afl,,_1 Ill< ' ro11.\ida the 11rnls of the tmwlltr. Accordingly he dug a well: 'In my reign the road that has been perilous since the beginning oftime has been made kimlly.' I l is son, Ramesses I I. dug wells to below 200 feet in the Nubian desert. At the µ;reat Gebel el-Altmar quaIT)', he set up a stele in which he desc1-ibed how he looked after the workm en, telling them: 'each one of you "ill be paid montl1ly. l ha,·e filled the storehouse for you \\ith everything. bread, meat, cakes for yom food, sandals and linen, and enough oil for you to anoint yourselves e,ve1y ten days." Tlie balance of our evidence indicates that employment in the royal service was nsually satisfactrny Leading courtiers and nobles also employed men in large numbers, and thou�h there was ne\'er a completely free market in labom, rewards in kind and ;.2;ood conditions were competitive. at any rate for skilled craftsmen.

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The lllassi\'e Fourth Dynasty building prngra111111es couti n11cd :dter ( :ltcops's death. f I is sou a11d i111mcdiatc successor, Rc(\jcdd, reigucd too briefly to create :t mot 1.ster pyramid, hut his other s011 .. Chephre11, built a pyramid at ( : iza whid t is al11 1ost as high as the great 011e. still retains smnc of its Tura finish (tl1ough discoloured) a l t( I has a particularly splendid complex attached, 1 nud 1 of whid 1 survives. Then.: is a fine Valley Chapel and the Funera1y Temple induck-s some of the largest blocks ner used in Egypt. Chephren also took advantage of a rocky outcrop 1 1ear his pyr�t111id to c�trve his giant Sphim, not a mystery-god but simply a liol l, symbol of 111,�jesty. with a ln11na11 head. The word 'sphi nx' derives from the Egyptiau 'living image\ aud there is little doubt that we ha\·e here a stereotyped likeness of Chephren himself. I lis sou. l\ lyceriuus. also built a pyramid at Giza. a mere 35(j feet square at base. But he plauned to give it an outer ski11 of hard red granite, a scheme of great audacity, fi ,r he would have been obliged to hriug the rock 500 miles downstream from the Fir.s t Cataract. B ut l\lyce1iuus died suddenly a11d the pn �ject was ne\·er finished: indeed his causeway was built in crude brick. The Giza Py ramids appear hare. and they were evideutly designed to i111press chiefly by their .sheer size al!d simple, breathtakiug lines. B ut it is calculated that Cheops and Chepliren each provided his pyramid with from 100 to I 20 life- .s ize statues of himself, carYed from hardstones, and ave11ues of sphim,es. Nothing sttP,ives of Cheops. though the treasure ofhis mother. Sueferu\ vvife Hetepheres. was ft nllld near the Great Pyramid in 1925. But there is a magnificent diorite figure of Chephren iu his Valley Temple: and the Boston l\ luseum has an ewn more sple11did double statue of '.\Iycerinus and his \\ife, ca1Yed iu slate . The actual brnial chambers g,11ard 110 secrets. The granite sarcophagu.s of Chephreu was found in I 818, .'Hnashed aud filled with rubble: that of Cheops was e1npty tno. 111 the case of:\1yce1iuus. the 1mm1my had hee11 pitchet manage a feudal society eflecti\·ely. since he can offer only paper rewards . immunities and privileges of diminishing value. At Coptos a series of royal decrees. eight despatched in one da�� to an all-powerfi.J vizier and his family. suggest a panicky attempt on the part of the court to win the support of a powerful magnate in Upper Eg,ypt. \Ve do not k.ttm\· \\·hether they \\'ere effecti\·e. and in a sense we do not need tu be told, for they betray their O\\"l l story. A somewhat later text. from the Lternr dist1ict is equally significant: it describes how a nomarch called Ankhti�· ended a famine and restored la\\. and order i11 his area - the king is barely mentioned. Pepi II died about 2 1 8 1, and we enter what E�:vtolog,ists c.Jl the First Intermediate Pe1iocL a time of actual confi.t sion and clocumentaI')' obscurity, which lasted fur perhaps I 00 years until the emergence < ,f the Miclclle Kingdom under the Eleventh Dynasty of Thebes . This was an early 'Dark Age' of human histt ,ry, by no means confined t< > Eg,')1Jt, \\·hen the precarious civilization of the time collapsed from a combination of internal decay and external assault. In antiquity, these spasms tended to occur when ci,ilized war teclmolog,}- in this case copper weapons, and perhaps some bronze ones- became a\·:tilable to barba,�ans. In Eg,')'pt. the frmner mmH >poly of copper e1tioyed by the king"s tro< >ps and police was broken internally as \\·ell: one factor in the 1ise of feudalism was the ability of pro,�ncial nobles to equip private armies \\ith metal swords. spears and arrmYs. But there was also a foreign i1Nasi< >n < >f the Delta. In the 1Hevious century, General \\'eni says he was obliged to can')' out a punitiYe expedition to Palestine. and it \\·as clearly from this direction that the assault, or at any rate a massive infiltration. came . After the death of Nitocris, says l\lanetho, there succeeded the Seventh Dynasty. consisting of ·Seventy kings who reigned seventy clays · - a literal')' device to indicate anarchy. The rec< ,rds disappear. Building on any scale ceased, and the art of the pe1i< ,d is sparse and usually of poor quality. The collapse of a highly centralized and well­ aclministcrecl kingdom evidently led to a rapid fall in agricultural p roduction and so of incomes� and a \�rtual cessation of f; ,reign trade. The key document of the period, though it survives only in a very tattered copy written in the Nineteenth Dynasty (and now iu Leyden) is the so-called .,ld111011 itiom fffJmwcr, in which a wise man, evidently a traditionalist and conservative, remonstrates with a weak pharaoh of the Sixth Dynasty- perhaps the decrepit Pepi II - or one of the ephemeral rnlers of dynasties seven to eight. It tells of the total breakdown of ciYilized

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society, a11d the n:\·crsal ol " ti 1c proper social mdc1� which was one aspect of uwa I. The doc11111c11ts lacks a bq!;in11ing or end, has ma11y gaps and is writ ten i1 1cohcrc11tly. B11t i ts s tory is plai11 cnot l)!;l1, a11d appears to lie based on historical events a l least it coufi.rms other e\·ide1 1cc f rom the period. lpuwcr says ' Forci µ;1 1crs have become people everywhere . . . There arc really 1 10 people anywhcrc: Therc is I H > trade: 'No 011c really sails 11rnth to Bylilos today. \Vhat shall \\'e do f or cedar fi i r our mummicsil ' No gold is bei11g brought i11 f rom the desert mi11es, aud even a tradi11 µ; carava11 from the wretched oasis-people is regarded as a great e\·e11t. The roads arc uot policed a11d 'Men sit iu the rushes u111il the 1 111f< irtunate traveller t·omes. to take away his pack-goods and rifle his pockets: In Upper Eg;ypt the t�L\'.-system has broken dowu and there is civil war: ·\Vhat is an empty treasury good f< ,r?' At the other end of Eg)1> t, nmd1 of the Delta k1s been occupied by foreigners. \\'ho had taken over E g,)l)t's skilled trades. 'No one plo1 1ghs f or himself because eve1y man says: '·\Ve do not know what may happen throughout the land'": \\;)meu are barren, the dead arc simply buried in the 1i\·er, crocodiles are so bloated with dead me1 1 they sink of their own weight, the desert is creeping up, fine houses and public building ha\·e been burnt down, 110 01 1c has clean clothes, for 'the lau11drymau refoses to carry his load . . . ' I I e ascribes this misery, in which ·laughter has disappeared and wailing perYades the land', as due i n great part to the collapse of a ce ntralized pharaonic statc and a consequent S( ,cial rev( ,lution: Brlwld 1w11\ w11u'f!tiug has hffu dntu' w!tid1 1u·11tr lwjJjJrn('(Ifor a lnug tiwc: !ht king has htm takru awa_v l�v j)()nr llltll [it !tis to111h has hffu mhbNlj . . . tiff la ud i.\ dnj1oiltd nf !ht kiugsl11j1 h_1· afnu irrcsj)()usihlt llffll . . . llffll rd1tl aga inst !hr Urarus . . . w!tir!t wakr. \ the 1iuo Lauds jH'rwful. Brlwld, !hr sarrt nft!tr la ud. limits a ff uukumuahlr, 1'.s laid haff. 17tr JJ/arr ma_)' hr rhstm_vol iu au !war . . . T!tt ladies of unhltwtu 1ww ·u 1nrk iu tlu'firlds, a wl t!ttir ll llsha uds in the 1l'nrldw usr. But hr wlw has 1u·1 1tr n 1ru sic/JI on a Ji/auk uow oww a /,('(/ . . . 17tr nwuN.s nfjiut rohts arr iu rags. But hr wlw un 1t'l' wm1cfnr !t im\t(f is 1ww t!tr owurr nfjiut liutu . . . Sitt who latkrd n 1tu a /)():-,;, 1ww muus a Iru uk, a wl sht wlw lnnkf'll at hrrfarr in !ht wafrr 1ww own\ a mirrnr . . . !ht r!tildffu ofuohlt. \ a rc 1ww dm!tcd ar:,a imt t!tr 1£'alls . . . waidsrn1aufs waktjiff with their fougun . . . There is much more in the same vein. The pharaoh's answer to these complaints i s so confused and fragmentary as to be unintelligible. The purpose of the document is tmclear, and we do 1 1ot kuo\\' \\'he ther lpuwer had any solution to the woes he so graphically described. To the historian, however, these hunenta tio1 1s thrust home the central truth of ancient Eg,)1)tia11 society: the h ealth of the pharao1 1ic throne was the index of pn 1sperity and the only g1-1arantee ( ,f civilization. The throne, in fact. was maaf. anJ without waaf there could be no good and creative life on the Nile.


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he col lapse of civilized l iving and the rule of l aw which followed the encl of the Old Kingdom indicated Egypt " s peril ous dependence 011 the si11gle po litico- religious institution of the pharaoh. And the fact that p haraonic rule was successful ly re-established shows that the Egyptians were well aware ofl their historic needs. Continuity, conservatism, tradition, hierarchy and the subordination of the individual will to the demands of · rel e r were the g reat conceptual custodians of Egyp tian culture. A nd yet, even when the foundation of the Middle Ki11gdom ended t he f}uclal provincialism and near-anarchy of the First Intermediate Period, things were never the same again. The pat riarchal r ule of a god- king , governing by sheer divine authority from a palace which was also the seat of government, was a phenomenon of the Early B ronze Age of the third millennium BC. and could not be resur rected in the se

11Wer. M erikare, wh< > ruled fn ,m I Ieradeo 1 >< ,!is, and was a member of the obscure Tenth Dp1asty, left a set of pol it ical ins tructions by his father. which throw a I mid l ight 0 1 1 the factio1 1-politics of the day: (ifa 111a11} is f!,tariuns in t!te 1 ig!tt uf!ti.1 fwrll.1t111.1 . . . 0 111I /11· 1.1 a dn110J!,UJ!,'llf, o tolluT. ffll/ 01'1' h i111, l1 ill him, wi/H· 011/ !ti.1 110111t. dnt n�v !ti.1fadio11, ba11i1!t f/,f 111/'11101:,· ofh /111 0111I of!ti1Jollow{'l'1 w!to liml' !t i111 . . . T!tt rn11trntio11.1 111011 i.1 11 di.1t11 rlw11ff to flit citizm 1: !tt


7:! 1 1 11 ( l\ l l l/ \ r!( 1, , 1f ,,( IFYr H ,\ l'T jm•z•t prepared fi_) r it. I had not even thought of it. \ l y heart [mind] had not accepted the possibility of the slackness of se1T�mts . . . · �o one was dependable: a king must look after himself: \Ve ha\'e here a very mortal and apprehensi\ 'e mo1 1arch, rather than a di\'i1 1ely self-confident I lorus-ki1 1g. It \\'as .1gainst this background that the l\ Iicldle Ki1 1gdom was estahlishecl. After the collapse of the Sixth Dynasty there seems to haYe been a gap when 1 10 pharaoh rnled the whole of Eg,:vt. or perhaps at all . l\ Ianetho's · SeYenty kings who reigned se\'enty clays· may ha\'e been an ephemeral coalition of barons. \Ve know little more about the Eighth Dynasty. though inscriptions bearing the name� of some of them haYe been found at Coptos i11 Upper Eg,·ypt. Eflecti\'e goYernment dernh-ed 011 the hereditary families of the nomes. Gradually. stronger nomes, or groups of 11ome�. emerged, as in the pre -u11ihcatio1 1 period. The first ofthese, Heracle< >p( ,Ii�, produced the family ( ,f the . \d1tl10es. \\'ho claimed royal �tatus, produced eighteen kings of the Ninth and Tenth Dynasties. succeeded in re-establishing themseh·es at Sakkara. l\.fa11etho. reflecting the tradition of their ruthless road to power, says that Achthoes was ·terrible beyond all bd< Jre him and wrought evil for all Egypt. but afte1warcls went mad and was destroyed by a noc( )( lile.' But a mudi earlier Middle Kingdom document is a short story. set in their court. \\'hich gives a diflerent picture. This Sto1:v of the Eloqumt Pmsaut tell� ofa peasa11t rn1 a journey who was robbed of his donkey and goods by a rapacious Chief Ste\\'ard. I ! is complaints that the law had been bro ken. and that those charged to uphold it were the p1incipal malefactors. were so noisy, protracted and well-arg;ued that e\Tnt1 ially the king ;.i;aw him justice. Like Ipuwer's lament, it provides the unthinkable �pectade of the pha raoh being upbraided - a s ign of the times - but it also suggests that tl1e Ej.!,yptians had )!;rasped the concept of equality before the law, and thus posse�sed ( Ji ll' of tl1e marks ofcivilization even i11 this dark pe1iod.

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l{utl,less or not, the J\d1tl1oes rnuld I H.'.WT cstal ,lish their powe r either i1 1 the Delta or i11 the real sol lth. There the noble family ol " lnyotet: which came from Tliehcs, centre of a riclt plain to ti re east of tlte river. seized the lcadcrslrip oLi rival �roup of umnes, a11d the ki tties that fi ,llmved arc �lin1psed i11 one of the Ad1tl1ocs trn11l1 occupant. who began life as a sea-captain. tells us he was awarded se,·en gold medals by the pharaoh for his part in a series of Asian · (I'

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t. l\l ost of the overseas trade went through there, but the Egyptians also sailed direct to Cyprus, which supplied them with copper. and Crete. whose artistic influence on Eg)'pt has left distiuct traces from the Middle Kiugdom onwards. Eg)1>tia11 ships and traders may also have sailed into the Aegean and along the southern coast of Tur key. \Ve have, too, pictorial records of Cretan rnyages to Egypt. The Eg)·ptians liked to treat these expeditions as embassies and their goods as ·tribute'. 1 11 reality. trade was a matter of barter, acljustments in payment being made in corn, copper bars or sheets, or precious metals like sih-er (now more p lelltiful). gold or electrum. which combined the two. Eg)l)t was the gTeatest gold-mining and gold-exporting power: in fact it was gold rather than military success which sustained her ·empire· ;md which made her the principal world power throughout the third quarter of the second millennium BC. \Ve cal l indeed follow the il lfluence of Egyptian gold i11 the inter-state correspondence which became J feature of the period. written on clay tablets in Akkadian cuneiform, the language of cosnwpolita11 diplomacy, but sometimes annotated in hieratic script by Egyptian officials. The Syrian state of the l\litanni. violent f oes of thr the de\'clopment of a rich · i11tcrnat1011al style' i11 artefacts \\'hich tlourished between about 1500 a1 1d I 200 BC. But there \\'ere also quite substantial IIW\'Cn1e1 1ts of population. I t was the fi rst great age of sbwry. Egypt, :1s the rid 1 u, ( a11d for a long time the most successfiil power in the \ l iddlc East. \\'as a m,1jor recipic11t of slaves. It was the Egyptian custom to turn priso11ers of war. if they \\ ere 1 1ot ,-;laughtercd 011 the spot. i11to o n 1sc1ipt soldiers. She \\·as also hcgim1ing to recruit foreig 1 1 mercenaries. They first make their appeara11ce during the campaig11s against the l l yksos: gradually. as we ca1 1 tell from pictorial c,·idence. they formed whole regimc11ts and often suppl ied pharaoh ' s household !kin,, : Ha t,!/ / /" uf. 11/f/l(l ug!t troops. :'\ubians had been recruited as policemen since Old Kingdom times; rn ,w they II )J t\\'elfrh centm;es B< :. Eg,)1)t o�casi: H 1ally harboured star\'ing g,Toups 1 1r issued :� � 'r them \\'ith grain frn11_1 her s �ores. The1 :e is a mi � l-fifteenth century

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�;i '· f-.,.[,�:; , ;,.. ; l� - rr7 . �-..,:'��•;'\; :./: \ ..}.r;:,.)· .� . �i�,{�-1-;;J4-7�� t; �:/. i ,., /!t ·{;• .."¼! .. • t:,,..·'f�• . ,, ,;-• :•:,.• Y; .,,:• ;,: .... ..-�· • "l '!t.,, ,"V,i .,}1 , : • , �;j'\ .. ; :✓, -:,. ;""'' , " t. it was not his duty to rampage abroad but to raise mom1ment'i to the gods at home and embellish the land with trade. At Thebes, her father and grandfather had finally abandoned the pyramid-tomb as too vulnerable. Their tomb-architect. Ene ne, began the practice. about 1 525 BC, of siting the tombs deep in the western 1nountains of Thebes. i11 what is now called the Valley of the Kings. In his own i11scriptio11, Enene said he was chose n because he had 'a discrete mouth i11 speaking of the affair.'> of the King\ house' and he adds: 'I witnessed the hewing-out of the rock -tomb of H is l\1ajesty in the solita,)· place where nobody could look on and nobody could listen.' I I atshepsut"s architect. Senemnut. was also a discrete confidential sen·ant whom she raised up to become a great po,\'er in the land, i:;1,1ardian of the heiress to the throne, P,incess Nefernre, and the Queen's chief adviser 011 policy. I le was o f humble birth and came to prominence as an army snibe. He had. he said. a long; record of building triumph'> bef ore he came into Hatshepsut's service, but for her he erected his maste1viece, a fonerary temple in the gTeat circular cliff- bay of Deir el-Bahari. It is alongside the earlier temple o f Mentuhotpe, and also in the fonn of a tenace with projecting columned halls, but o >nceived on a mucl1 grander scale and executed with tremendous

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clcga11cc and pt 1rity oflill(_\ i11 tine limcsto11e, unlike the yellow sandstone used i11 most of the other Thcba 1 1 te mples. \ Vithin, the magniti ce11t low-reliefs depict on a mo11umc11tal scale the t,vo e,·e11ts which she evidently cm1sidered the high points of her reign: the transporting hy barge o l ' the two e1mrn1011s obelisks she quarried at . \swan and set up at Karnak, aud a great expedition to Punt in East Africa. It is notable that. i11 depicting the royal Council of State which planned the Punt n ,y age. Sc11c11mut is the 011ly official named, apart from its leader. He seems to have occupied a position i11 the state similar to Imhotep - already revered as a god as well as the pri11cc of architects - and to have helped to detennine the policy oflimited foreign commitments. Having completed one tomb f, ,r himself� he began work on another brger one. But it was 11e,·er finished. I Iis ward. Princess Neferure, died and it proved increasingly difl-icult to deny Tuthmosis III, nmv a man. his rights to the throne. Senemnut seems to have fallen from power even bef< ire the death of his royal mistress and 011 his earlier tomb his name and likenesses were savagely hammered out. Hatshepsut. too, disappears from view, possibly put to death, and in her turn cartouches and images were mutilated. lfTuthmosis III was obliged to claim his throne by ,iolence, this would explain his policy of re,·enge against the works and memory of his aunt. but there was also an ahrnpt change of policy. The king seems to have departed on a campaign of conquest in .\sia only seventy-five days after taking over: 'His Majesty\ says the inscription he set up in the great Temple of Amun at Karnak . 'allowed no delay in proceeding to the laud of Qjahi [Palestine and S yiia] to kill the treacherous ones who were in it and to gi,·e things to those who were loyal to him.' The campaign. conducted in haste in response perhaps to a sudden deterioration in the Egyptian position i11 Asia, produced the greatest of all , \sian ,ictories, at Megiddo in Palestine, which made the Eg-yptians the dominant power in western Asia for three generations. Tuthmosis. his son Amenophis IL his grandson Tuthmosis IV and his great-grandson Amenophis III, were all men of conspicuous virility, athletes who took pride in their skill at rowing. s,,imming and n.11 ming. ferocious waniors. experts with the bow and the cha,iot, and notable big-game hunters who slaughtered lions and elephants m massc. Yet Tuthmosis III does not seem to have been simply a brutal extrovert. He conducted se,·enteen campaigns in Asia, but most of these were annual parades of force in which battle was unnecessary. The Eg)1)tians. with the advantage of a sp1ing harvest, could time their parades to arrive in Syria just as the autumn harvest was 1ipening and most ntlnerable. Tuthmosis relied on good organization, naval power, diplomacy, threats. blackmail and gold as much as skill and courage in battle. He was also long­ sighted: he not only took princely hostages but had them brought up in Egypt and exposed to Eg)1)tian culture. There theyjoined Nubian ptiucelings and chieftains who were brought to court and trained in a secret milita1y organization known as the Kap. preparatot)' to careers as staff officers and commanders in the anny. He seems to have seen education as an essential part of his impe1ialist policy - rather as the B,itish, 3,000 years later. set up the School of Princes in India, to instruct the eldest sons of Moslem, l liudu. Persian .. Burmese . Arab and Malayan potentates in the political culture of their empire. The methods of Tuthmosis were directly related to his Amunite theology. l lahhcpsut appears to have tried to conciliate the priests of Amun at Karnak, but ut1 '>ucccssfully: perhaps she was too deeply imbued with traditional Egyptian

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pa11t heism. She was also as a11 acti\'e wo111,111-rulcr. sometl1iug oLi heretic i11 tlic eyes of the priests. Tutlm1osis was said to have been picked by the A111u11 priestl1ood, a tradition which probably e11shrines the fact that he had their acti \'c s11pport i11 clai1 11i11g his royal rights. Certainly they became enthusiastic imperialists. A111u1 1. as a11 1111sce11 a11d mobile deity - we hear of 'Tr,n·dli11g A11w11' - was well-adapted to imperialist puq)Oses; made f< ,r export. as it were. The rise of empire. not only au10 1 1g the Egyptians but amo1 1g the I l ittitt:s and Assyrians too. \\'as li11ked to the emergence of a form of 111011o theis111 whicl1, while allowing a multiplicity of gods. te11ded to subordinate them to o ne superdcity. It was a mark of the period to ide11ti�· nationalism with god. The question was: could god work eflecti \'cly outside the limits of his territorial orig;ius? The grt:at disrn\'ery of the second millennium BC was that he could; or, rather. some gods could. The god of the I sraelites. Yahweh. followed them around 011 their migrations until he settled in the J erusalem Temple. The god of the Thebans, Amuu. went one better: though resident in his great sh rine at Karnak. he also mo, · e cL i11\ 'isibl�·- with the Eg;yptian host. as the campaigns iu Asia showed. � lergcd ,,ith Re. the sun-god. as Amun-Re. he was also i11 orbit round the earth. Tuthmosis III proclaimed: ·He seeth the whole earth hourly: As R.H. Breasted put it: ·In the a11cieut east, 1110110 theis111 was hut impe1ialis111 in religi011.' Tuthmosis. who of course regarded himself as a god. seems quite deliberately to ha \'e formed a working partnership in impetialism ,,ith his ·brother· . .c\J nu11. The idea of a theological contract was rooted deep in Eg,yptiall conceptions of religion and justice: you · cultivated· the gods. alld they in return rewarded you. Tuthmosis concei \'ed such a contract on a much larger scale: At11u11 promoted his i111pe1ialist schemes. and (being a tra\'elling god) lent his autho1 ity and presence to centres of Egyptiall power in Asia and Nubia. 111 return he received a la,ish share of the commercial profits of conquest. These return s took the f1 mu of mining co1 1cessious. la1lds. immulli ties. monopolies. trading t ights. slaves. as well as the sheer booty ofransackecl cities, all of which were lavished on Amun ·s temples and Oil the s,vanni11g a11d i11creasingly powe rful ptiesthuod which serwd them. Ye t the 'Divine Contract' betweell pharaoh and ,\mun was in a sense a piece of political and religious ach-euturism. ill-suited to a traclitio11alist country like Egypt. which had flourished 011 isolatillg i tself f rom llO \'elty alld alien customs. Neither a totalitarian ruler llor a pries tly caste is wise to embrace cosmopolitallism and the exchanges of ideas it necessarily implies. Ru1111i11g a11 empire meant that Eg,)1Jt became for the first time a member of tl1e internatiollal commtmity and had regular contacts with societies roughly Oil her own cultur,J le\'el but with diflere11t political and religious systems. I n collsequence she was now exposed to the risk of sudden challge - cultural, religious. political . artistic - of a type fr>r which her history and customs had not prepared her. This was the hackgrnullcl to the crnious a11d obscure sto1y of Akhellaten (Amenophis IV). the sun-worshipper. The cul t of the supe rgocl alld of theological imperialism, in which gods left their localities and crossed fron tie rs withou t losing their power, necessarily pre supposed the possibi lity of mo11otheism. of a ulliversal. all-powerful and solitary deity. A drift in this direction is apparent after the elld of Queen Hatshepsut's reign and during the period of stridellt impe rialism illtroducecl by Tuth mosis III. A papyrus in the Cairo �Iuseum co11 tai11s a hymn to Amu11-Re \\'ith the following passage:

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. \nother. from the reig11 oL\mcnophis Ill, rdcrs to the 'J\laker of all mankind, creator a11d maker of all that is.' The beneficiary of such monotheistic tendencies was 11ot always the same. Sometimes it was Amu11 m Amu11-Re; sometimes, especially ch11i11g the reign < if Ame11uphis II I. the sun-disc g( id. the Atm, stretching out his rays with ti 1eir ·many hands ' . Som dimes the idea was ref onnubted i11 a charactc1istic Eg;yptia11 way to embrace the three leading supergods i11 a trinitarian c< incept of three natmcs in the same god. Tim-.; a papyrus 110\\ i11 Leyden dating f r om the Nineteenth Dynasty gives this f; mnulation : ·All gods arc three, Amu11, Re�allCI Ptah, a11d there is no seco11d to them. ··I l idden .. is his name as 1\mw1. I le is Re i11 face and his body is Ptah. Their cities are 011 earth for e\'er: Thebes. I Ieliopolis and � Iemphis to eternity.' If there was one supreme god. 11ot co11fi11cd to a particular place. what was his rclatio11ship to 11011-Egyptia11s? \\'ith the growth of empire. and the parallel te11de11cy f; n lo rei"'.!11ers to settle i11 Eg· ,, · 1 )t, there is evidence that the latter were "granted the protectio11 of the Eg,')l)tia11 pa11theo11. though 11ot exactly equality of status. The tomb docume11t kw i,n1 as the Boo!. of !ht r:atn ere( lits I- lorus \\ith creating all the main races of ma1 1ki11d; Horus or Sekhmet ·protects the souls' of Asians, Negroes and Lihya11s. The illustratio11s i11 the Boo!. of!ht Dmrl certai11ly imply that fi 1reig11ers and inteqn'ders will be present in eternity. Thoth. the god of wisdom and scribes, was credited with inventing all languages, thus gi,·i11g a kind of legitimacy to foreign customs a11d culture. On the other hand, the \'ery process of acqui1ing and hokling down a11 empire brought the Egyptians i11to periodic and violent co11flict with alie11 races. Amenuphis I I boasted that he had killed seven Asiatic p1inces with his mace and hung their bodies from the city wall. The g,1eat low -reliefs the Eighteenth Dynasty kings had car\'ed on their temple walls co11sta11tly emphasized the superiority of Eg,-y pt1a11 anns over the g10\'clli11g foreigner. The same note was strnck under the Nineteenth Dynasty. A hymn on the Battle of Kadesh, i11 which Ramesses II defeated the H ittites, asked: · \Vhat are these Asiatics to thee, Amun - wretches who know not god?' A rnck -tomb insc1iption of his father, Sethos I, calls him ·he who protects Egypt and stamps out foreign peoples.' The Eg)1)tian religion had ineffaceable political and geographical origins which ruled out genuine universalism and to some degTee promoted xenophobia. The Egyptians exported their belie fs as a11 aspect uf conquest and foreigners ,vcre encouraged to worship Amun. But they were prnhibited from entering the 'I-louses of Life\ or sacred libraries. where religious texts were compiled. from entering (for

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instance) the Temple of Kh11u111 011 the eve of its d1ieffcst i\'al, or fio111 a11y pb(e where strict rnks of ritual dea11li11ess applied. Rules of hygiene and diet remained a lJarricr between Egyptia11s and the n:st, as later bctwce11. Je,,·s and ( :entiles. It was a sign of the ti mes that E.gyptia11s seem to have puzzled about these contradictions a11d debated the m. The conf l i ct between religious universalism and partieub1ism was added to the crndlict l,ctwee11 isolationism and empire. Yet here again there was a contradiction. The imperialists were not 11ecessa1ily uni\'ersalists, or vice ,ersa. For. after all, if all men were created by god. how could 011c 11atio11 claim the right to impose itsclf 0 1 1 the others'? 011 the other hand, if all were undt:T one stq iergod i11 lieawn. ought they not to submit to 011c superking (god's cmbodime11t) 011 eall h? The argume11t could run either way. Ofcourse we must be careful rn ,t t( , pnijcct backwards into the minds of Eg,1vtians living in the f ourtcenth centmy BC modern anachrnnistic concepts. \Ve are not even dealing ½ith the type of critical socicty that first developed in sLxth cc11tury BC Greecc, where ideas ,vcre considered on their merits as opposed to their traditional authrnity. Ne,·e1theless, it is certain that a ftrndarnental conflict ofriews. i11rnhing religion, politics a11d art, did de,·dop at the Eg,}ptian court. Cnfortunately, there are \'ery few hard facts al >out the Akhenaten crisis, and ,,hat precisely happened has been. and continues to bc. the sul�ject of wildly rn11flicti11g inte1vretatio11s. Amenophis III reigned f or about forty years in the fourteenth ce1 1tlll} ( the dating < if this entire peri< >d is still arg;ued about). I-le was J H ,t an acti\'e campaigner and seems tu ha,-c re,·erted to the policy of Queen I latshepsut. gaining his ends by trade and diplo111acy rather than war. Three of his Great \Vives were foreign princesses and he conducted an elaborate correspondence aim ,ad in Akkadian-cuneiform. The absence of war-bi ,o�· meant the suspe11si( 111 of the · Di,ine C< rntract' ,,ith the Temple of Amun. an d this may have been a source of g1ievance among the priesthood of Thebes. They 111ay also have beeu a11gered by the king's foreig11 wives and by the fact that his favourite Great \Vife, Tiy. was a commoner f r u111 the far south of Ei!,)l)t. Amenophis may have been half��l itanni. 1-Iis designated heir, Tiy's son. was ofa very peculiar appearance i11deed. l le had an elongated face and neck, sunken chest, narrow waist, broad hips and long, feeble lcgs. Various incondusin: attcmpts havc been made to diagnose his physical condition but they fail fi n· bck of e,·idem e. It has also been argued that hc was a mental defecti,·e, a · natural'. The young man was crow11ed, possibly after a period of c< >-regency ,,�th his father. as Am enophis IV. his name. as always with Egyptian kings. reflecting the rnlt of a particular deity, in this case Amun (·Amu11 is pleased'). But the cult of the sun-disk. m Aten, an aspect < l Re-worship, had flornished under his father, and Amenophis IV had been hrought up to regard it as his p1incipal cult. Shortly after he beca111e king. he made it the official court cult and changed his name to Akhenaten. 'Servant ofthe Aten'. Now the Eg;yptian religion was in a rnnstant state of gradual osmosis; it could easily accommodate itself to change. p rovided it was slow and inclusive. not exclusive. Akhe11aten broke both these rules. Like Henry VI II of England. he tried to carry thrnugh a reli g,ious rev( ,lution at high speed; and lie not < mly elevated a new supergud but persecuted the old one. The style and content uf reli efs in tombs under construction in the Thebes area was abruptly changed. Not only was Amun -worship in the g,Teat State temple at Karnak discou11te11a11ced but in many cases royal officials went around defaci ng statues and battering inscriptions which celebrated the cult. Religious censorship took place not only at Thebes but all over the Eg;l)ti,111 empire.


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T\\ent, n;11 s l.1tn, the · Resto1a tio11 Stele' set 11p 111 1der Ki11 � l11ta11kl 1a111u11 near tlie Temple 0L\ n 1 1 1 n i n Kam;1k. dai111s that. i 1 1 ,\IJ1e11ate11 \; t ime. ·the temples of the µ,()(ls and ��oddcsses fro111 Ekpli.111ti11c to the marshes of the Delta had gn11e to pieces, tlie shrines ,, nc desolate and mcrµ,row11 with weeds . . . ,md the µ,()(ls turned their backs u pon this b11d: 1 11 fact it was pbi11 that .\kl 1c1 1;1ten met with co1 1.s iderable 1esista11ce. not only f r o111 the dcrg,') . 1>111 from most o:· die n1e111be1s of tl1e Eg-y ptia11 estabfod11 11ent. U1 1willi 1 1g to rnle frorn a d i,·ided cit�·- he transferred his capital f rrn11 Thebes to a new site do,m the ri, e r. 1 1 0,, called ,\111a11 1 d . 011 a desolate stretch of the Nile about half way between Thebes and :\ l emphis. There he built a11 entirely n ew city, ,\kl1etaten, 'l l orizon of tl1e ,\ten'. There is fertile b11d oil tlic ,, est hank. but oil the east b,mk. where the city stood. the nwulltai11s ,,·hich hem i t i 1 1 . ,,·i th desert be\'0 11d. create a cbustrnpho l , i c 0

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atmosphere. a11d the whole site has hcc11 comparcd to a co1 1cc11tra liol l ('c\lll)l. Nea rby was a fa111011s alahastcr qua rry, l lat1 1uk worked by cri111inals .. slaves and prisoner s of w;1r, a karful penitentiary. Akhenatc11 rnarkcd out t he new city hi111sdt: a l ld 0 1 1 its bo 1 11 1daries he sci up stelae which pro v ide precious ducu1nelltar)' evidel lce of his illtc11tions. I le says that he was building l,is l lew capital 011 virgi l l la11d which 'hcl01 1gcd to 110 god or goddess a11d no lord or mistress, and 1 10 other person has the right to tread upon it as the owner: There. he says . he desired to build a city to l,is father, Aten. ·i11 the place that he shut in for himself with 11 1ountai1 1s and in its midst set a pbi11 that I might there mah: offerings to him.' He adds that he njected advice to build it elsewhere. even after work had begun a11d tl1e disadvantages of the site became apparent. But the portion of the text where he explains his reasons for leaving Thebes has been damaged, probably deliberately: he says he had beeu 'forced to liste l l to terrible things', worse even than his father a 1 1d his g,Tandfather had been forced to hear. After Akhe11ate1 1's death. possibly under his i111111ediate, ephemeral, successor, Smenkhkare, or the young prince, Tutankhamun, who married his daughter, the cou1t dismantled and abandoned A,narna, and returned to Thebes to resume the worship of Amu11. The new city ,vas only lived in fi ,r a few years. One of the problems which faces students 0L111cient Eg,1vtian history is that, while the stone n10 1 1uments of the dead have been preserved to a great extent, the brick towus and cities in wl,ich anciel lt Eg·yptia1 1s actually lived have vanished almost without trace. One exception is the pyramid-town of EI-Lahun, built in the Fayum during the Middle Kingdom, and e:xcavate in the second millcm1ium B< :, though it does not actually tell us nrnch about 1\khenaten h imself: since he was posthumously degraded as ·the Blasphemer' and his mummified body has never been found. At l,is city. which he took a solemn vow never to leave . he led an isolated existence, closely guarded by Asiatic and .t\uhian mercena1ies. \Vhe11 members of the royal family went in their chariots outside the city limits they were surrounded by running soldiers, and all the countryside around was regularly policed by military patrols. The social structure of Amarna is revealed by the size and layouts uf the h< ,uses, but tomb i1 1sc1iptio11s givi11g the names and origins of promi11e11t inhabitants make it clear that Akhenaten failed totally to can)' \\ith him to Al l larna the leadi11g lig;ures in the Theban estahlislnnent. The rich of Amama were self:.made men with rn, pedi g,Tees, or rather men whom the king had raised f r om nothing;: soldiers, scribes. artists, architects no priests. Most of them admit this in their tombs; in fact they go forther and claim that they were 'taught' tl1eir professions by the king. 111 the case of the painters, sculptors and architects, the admission is of some sig11ilicance. The -Amarna Style' . already prefigured in Thebes. marks an abri.1pt departure from the statues< 1ue immobility and etemalism so characteristic of Eg,ypfrm art at all pe1iuds. I t s origins have been traced hack to the period f( 1llowing Hatshepsut's death, hut it evidently received an enormous impetus as a result of the Akhenaten upheaval. It is hard to escape the conclusion that the king himsell ' laid dow11 the patterns of the new art. Certainly it was Akhenaten-centred. I le is show11 in domestic bliss, emhraci11g his wife. Nefertiti. and playing with his little daughters. in a style which is at 011ce bot! , highly naturalistic i 11 sul�ject and absurdly ma l lnered in treatment. The grotesque rendering of the human body suggests that the king a11d his obsequious artists were



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a11:\.irn1s t( ) ptcM·nt his < >\\' J I dcl< m 11cd fi )!; me as the 11or1 1 1 . The remains of two coloss:1 1 portrait- li )!; mcs oL\khcnatcn, 11m,· i11 thl'. Cairn l\ luseum, l( )ok like lwrriti· i11 )!; c,ricatmcs. ·1\ marna 1\rt'. it is trne, reflects the \\'011de1fol capacity E)!;yptia1 1 artisb at all periods t( ) portray nature: the so­ called · Creen H.< 10m' i11 the palace has a painting of a kingfisher in fli)!;ht which is perhaps the lll( )St exquisite creation to C( )llle dow11 t( ) us '.1 .i111 E�-y ptian a11tiq11ity. But the overwhelming hulk of the 1 m>ducti < J11 rev < >hTs n J1 111d 1\kl1e11aten, a11d in (larticubr n 1w1d the irna)!;e ( )f his body. Nor is this the only evidence of eg( )mania. Akhenaten is ofte1 1 credited with hei11g the first true nHmotheist. O11e o f the tombs at ,\mama contains a ' H ym 11 to the Aten · possibly written and cut, inly inspired by him. l 1 1 its prese11t1tion of grnl as the neator ( )fall things it is similar in spi ,it and even wording t( ) the famous Psalm I 04, a11d may eve1 1 have directly i1ifluenced it. It makes 110 essential disti11ctio11 het,,·ce11 E�:Vt and other lands and peoples. a11d goes fortha i1 1 the direction of fully -tledged m i.iversalism tha11 any ( )ther Egyptian text \\'hich has s urvived. But it concludes with the blunt statcme11t that 'Everything is made tu flourish fur the King . . . Since thou didst f< nmd the earth a11d raise e\'erything up f or thy sou . who came f orth from thy body, the King of Upper and Lower Eg,")l)t . . . ,\khenate1 1 . . . and thl'. Chief \Vifr ( )f the King . . . Nefertiti, living and youthful i< ffe\'er and e\'er.' The tomb i11scriptions of all the notables of Amarna describe thl'.ir occupants ( )nly in tams of the king and his actions, a11d he alone (and his immcdi:,te family) fig;ure i1 1 the illustrations. Images of him seem to have been obligatory in eve1)' h( )use. In short Amarna was a city built fi >r the 11ew rnlt but it w;1s also a city built fi ir one man. The self-centredness of the kin)!; lakes one back to the religi( )us a11d political forms which existl'.d under the Fourth Dvnastv, when the pharaoh overshadowed eve1:'( )ne else in the State to the point ,vhen he seemed the only real personality. Akhenaten could n( )t put hack the dock that far - there were now t( )( ) many substantial forces i1 1 E g,·yptian society capable of balancing the Crown - but at ,\marna he was able to create a kingdom in microcosm, a small 'theatre of the absurd' where he c < 1uld rule as absolute master. , \s it ,,·as, Amarna flmnished f; 1r a mere fifteen years. The inference is that it was abandoned as S( )( )n as Akhenaten died, comparatively young. But it is possible the \\'ayward kin� was deposed and murdered. He might ha\'e canied through his religious IL'. rnlution had he been (like the English King l lenry VIII) an active, bellicose and politically -conscious monarch. but the retreat to Amarna was an escape from reality. . \1 rn H I)!; the rec( )vered treasures ()f A. m ama are nearly 400 letters, mostly from the royal in Akkadian.11chi,c: thev, include 300 letters written from Palestine and Svria. ' l lll lcif< fflll, inti Hrning the c( )urt of de\'elopments in Eg,)llt's satellite empire. Some date 111 1111 the end of 1\menophis IIJ's reig1 1, m f r om Smenkhkare's, but most f rom \kl w, 1atc11 · s. They are not always clear and have been ,·,ni1 1usly inteqneted, but on the ( )r




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foce of it may seem to he picas f,,r help from still bitli fi1I b11l l1elcag11cred e11v( )ys and allies, lieggi11g a supi11e plraraoli to retrieve a fast-deteriorati11g sit11atio11. There is a pa1t ic11la rly striking letter (( )11e ( If ma11y) fr( )m Al>d11-I klia, P1i11ce of.Jcrnsak-111, dcmamliug; troops to protect tire city all(I district li-0111 a coaliti( )11 ofe11emics, indudi11g the l lelircw: ' I Lircl 1ers arc sent this year. the la11ds ortl1c Ki11g, my Lord, will l,c held. I f there arc no archers se11t this year. the lands of ti 1c K_i1 1g, my Lord. will he lost.' There is a postscript: 'To the scribe of the King, my Lord: Ti l lis Ahdu- l f eha, thy servant. Prcse11t eloq11e11t words to the King. my Lord All the la11ds of the Ki11g, my Loni, arc lost!' The broad picture reflected in the letters is of an expanding Hittite Empire, the collapse o f the old Mitam1i State, an inactive Eg)lH, a11d scores of petty princes and kings n11111i11g f< ,r cover. Here, it seems. were the c< 111seque11ces 0L1 return to 'sple11did isolation·. The Egyptian empire was. to a great extent. built ideologically 011 Amun­ worship, and what to I< 1reig11ers must have seemed like the suicide of the imperial god may have heenjust as devastating to the Egyptian position as the failure to send troops and supplies. Nor did it prove easy to restore the situation after Akhenaten died, or was eliminated. One of his wrn nenfolk - Nefertiti, his widow, or one of her many daughters - seems to liave attempted to keep the Amarna cause alive by negutiati11g a marriage \\ith a Hittite prince. A ct111eif< 1r111 document states that he was murdered. while 011 his way to her, hy 'the men and horses of Eg)'J)t'. The return of the court to Thehes was negotiated by the commander of the chariot troops. Ay. ,vlw had some royal blood. Smenkhkare, whose ideological position is unclear. was hastily buried in the Valley of the K.ings . \Vhen Tuta11khamu11 died in turn. aged about eighteen. he got a lll( )re elaborate brnial - there was plainly 1 H 1 shortage ofgold as yet - but he was later regarded f as still tainted with heresy. since his name was taken of his ·Restoration Stele'. Ay succeeded, b1ief ly. Then the throne was seized by a successhiJ general . I foremheb. who had 110 blood connection with the A.mama party. Tutankhamun's 'Restoration Stele · makes clear the heavy price that had to be paid by the Crown to win hack the support of the Amun faction: the yom1g king was obliged to make lavish presents to the temples, 'he has increased their property in gold, sikcr a11d bronze and copper without limit. he has filled their workshops with male and female slaves . . . All the property of the temples has been doubled, tripled. quadn1pk.'d in silver, gold, la pis lazuli, turquoise . . . without limit to any good thing.' \Vhe11 Horemheb took over, he not only appropriated this stele but carried the policy of conciliating the cle1icalists much further. l Iis posture was that of a milita1y dictator the General Franc< , < ,f the day but he ass< ,ciated his p< ,wer with the priests, who fn ,m now 011 shared the admi11istratio1 1 of 111rwl with the Cn 1 \VII. He issued a judicial decree. the nearest we have to anything approaching an Eg,)vtian code ofla \\', which imposed ferocious penalties f or abuses of royal power by officials and attacks 011 public order and decorum. Its spirit is strangely un-E ).!,)'Ptian, much closer to the draconian law­ codes o f the Assyrian Empire. \Ve can surmise tha L after the series o f hrief and disastrous reigns which had undermined the great comforting certitudes of Egyptian society, there had hce11 someth ing like a moral breakdown i11 the State, and the old soldier and colonial administrator found it necessat} to i111pose something like martial law. The policy succeeded: I loremhcb, though a commoner, was the first pharaoh since Amenophis III to be recognized by fiiture generations as a legitimate king. H oremheb h ad 110 heir and he arranged for the succession to pass to another

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general from the Delta, the Vizier of" Lower Egypt, who took the tl1 1onrtice and tenm I joints, with pins of wood and copper, and superb inlay work of ivory. fai"ence and gold. The fi. meraI)' furniture of Cheops's mother, He tepheres. has survived from about 2550 BC: this includes her armchair, heel, carrying chair, headrest (used instead of a pillow) and her portable canopy


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frame. The elq?;a nt li1 1es and restrai1 1ed decorati,·e e ffects of these pieces haYe 1 1en.T bee1 1 surpassed ; they are. of com se, less s 1 1 mp t 1 1 rn 1s tha 1 1 I he .Kew Kingdom furn it ure of Tn tankh a 1 1 1 L 1 1 1 . ( ) n l i 1 1ary people with a11y wea l th at all possessed low chai rs, sometimes with leather 01 basketwork

seats. stools. tahles, wooden-framed beds, with

a . 1 imals a l l ( l texts can eel on them, and good boxes a l l ( I trnnks with metal hi1 1ges - tho ugh t h e Egyp tians h a d 1 1 0 metal locks or keys before Ro man times. These

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u1 1dut tered with fiirni ture. were splendidly decorated wi th stucco m 1 1 rals, and wood e 1 1 pillars in the f< mn of pl a 1 1 ts. cs 1 >ecially 1 ial m-tn111ks. < ,,·erbid with col< nirecl plaster and sometimes. i 1 1 Yery rich hou ses or royal palaces, gi lded. 1 1 1 these decorati\'e schemes. the domi1 1a1 1 t theme was na ture birds, especially tl1e birds of the marshes. animals and hunti1 1g. pla 1 1 ts. flowers and gardens, with trees and pools. 1 1 1 011e of his pab ce ro oms. A khenaten. not normally a m< > 1 1ard 1 0 1 1e associated wi th conquest. had a decora tion of bou 1 1d priso 1 1ers in the centre of the floor, so that he could stamp on them. But such bombast was rare. Eg,)vtians loved nature more tha11 any other ancient peopl e - portrayed i t better too - a 1 1 d they seemed anxious t o bring it right into their houses if they could a ff o rd i t . They loved animals, as their rel igion bears abu1 1dant witness, and kept mul titudes of h< ,useh< ,Id pets, es 1 >ecially dogs. cats, geese a1 1cl monkeys. A kh e 1 1aten had a zoo i 1 1 his palace and a large a,·i a ry aviaries. both indoor and o u tdoor. were common i n Eg)lltian h < ,uses. Abm·e all. t h e Eg)·ptians ofall classes were \ l ,1 1, c :

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den,ted to gard ens a nd \\Tilt to a l l lengths to maintain one n ear their house. t ransporting earth . d igging wells and channels. and excava ting artificial pools, stocked

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\\ith \\'a te1fowl. The houses of the rich had highly ornamen tal gard ens, pools on stone bottoms. set \\i th trees. and elaborate stone kiosks furnished with statues. But many o f t h e poor h a d gardens, too, for gTm,ing \'ege tables: the slwdufwas the most be1 1eYolent ofall Eg:vtian i1ffenti( ))JS. I t was the existence of gardens which kept men alive in years of low Niles. Eg,)l)t was the gra 1 1 aI)' a nd f lesh pot of the antique worl d . Tribes tried to enter Egyp t 'to fil l thl'ir bellies·, a s Ramesses I II put i t . and u nder � l emeptah, Ramesses I I's son, grain­ smvluses were exported to the H i ttite famine areas. But Eg,)vt, too, occasionally k11ew hunger. A woman witness. questio1 1ed dming a tomb-robbe1y investigation dming the later Ramesside period about some money she had possessed, answered: 'We got it sell ing barley during the Ye a r of the Hyl'nas, ,vh en people went hungry.' Gardens p roduced radishes. leeks, garl ic. 011io11s, cucumbers, figs. grapes, dates and perhaps (afic.T the I Iyksos introduced them), apples and oliYes. According to the lustrnrtio11s ,f

of I /I I. dati 1 1g fr om the late Empire and for centuries the most pop ular of Eg,yptian

1 1 1< ,ralistic treatises. planting a garden was a L·o 1 1m1endable ,irtue, along with prepa1ing your tomb, honouri ng the god s, being kind to your wi fe and old people. chasti ty,

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silence. and hq!;etting children. C arden produce was a n1:!jor item of diet. A careful Hd"" : . l ,rn// r, /11 / /l't•111

study of comlition.s in Kerkeosi,·is. a la rge Eg,)vtian village during the Ptolemaic period,

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indicates that D iodorus was accmate in stating that the basic diet of Egyptian peasants

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\\ as ve1:· simple: ·They I i ring their ch ildren up with remarkable ease and very cheaply.

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They feed them ,vith plenty of boiled vegetables \\'hich are in ready and cheap supply.

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They give them those papyrus stl'ms which can be crnshed for flour and the roots and tops of th-..: ma rsh p la 1 1 ts. sometimes raw. someti mes boiled and sometimes roastl'd.' The Eg,)vtiaw, had elaborate dieta1y laws, ( me of their customs (like

ritual l u s trations and circumcision) which distinguished them from other peoples. Pork was f; ,rbidden as unclean. So. smv1isingly enough. \\'as fish. The Eg,}ptian word f«n ·forbidden· had the hierogl)l)h for fish as a determinati,·e. At the great annual fes tival of Edfu, in hono u r of H o rus. fish symbolizing his enemies were trampled into the ground. In fact the river and delta teemed \\ith fish \\'hich were taken and eaten in great quantities. and the del taharboured huge herds of pigs which \\'ere li ke\\ise eaten . The t ruth i s that such dieta ry I a,vs applied chiefly to the upper classes and those \\ith some kind of p1iestly status; a fish­ eater was not pure and was not s upposed to enter a funera ry chapel. There is nu evide nce that the royal fam i l y ever ate pork o r other ftirbidden foods - that would have been scandalous - but the only time we know the rules were severely enforced was under the puri tanical King Pi:1 1 1 khi. a conquero r from Kush in the eigh th century. who was

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·mme Eg)1)tian than the Eg,)1)tiam,' . l le refosed to receive Libyan p1inces ·because they were uncircumcised and ate fish_ '>vhich is an abomination to the palace·. The upper classes ate meat, chiefly beef, in huge quantities, and so did the peasants and ordinary city-dwellers on feast days. The other great source of protein was water­ fowl - innumerable kinds of ducks and geese, millions of ibises, and also pelicans and cranes, herons . flamingos and cormorants . The marshes of the delta and the Nile bred water-birds in prodig,iuus m1mbers, and f; ,,,vling was the most popular of all Eg,:vtian sports and a favornite theme oflandscape decoration. \Vater-fowl were much p1ized for temple offerings and, roasted and stuffed . f o r feasts . The Egyptians loved feasts, for which there is much pictorial e'>idence. For these, flowers and perfumes were prmided for each guest, and pretty young women (occasionally men too) played music and danced . The normal drink was beer. but wine was made in the delta and it became inc :rea .'>ingly popular in the New Kingdom , e.s pecially under the Ramessides, who cultivated splendid vineyards . The Eg,)1)tians had no wooden barrels (and they never used glass bottles for wine) . but they prized vintage wine . for clay stoppers survive. gi'>ing dates and ems. If wine . like water, was usually served and kept in st< me or pottery jars . copper and later brnnze were also used for vessels, cauldrons, ladles and ewers. By compatison with other nations of antiquity, the Egyptians had very large supplies ofgold - under the Oki Kingdom it seems to have been worth less than silver - and they used gold-leaf in

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enormous quantities for cm·ering statues, htrniture, coffins. mummy-masks and e,·en \\·alls. But in general they lacked adequate'. supplies of metal, e,·en copper. The royal annies had little or 110 metal annom until �e\\ Kingdom times. tho1 1gh they had leather shields. The l lykso.1· \ \ l I I· \ I Fl ,Yl'T

,,c1c \\l l rkcd l,y co11snipt labour or nomad tribesmen, treated as public enem ies. l ' ndn the Empire prisoncrs-of-w,1r filled the role. But there \\'ere always convicts in the 111i11l's and quarries. The decrees of l loremhcl> and Sethos I punished infractions \\'ith f; ,recd bhom i 11 the deserts of Kush and Sinai, at Sile and in the Libran oases. Diodo rns q11otes a terrifying; desniptio11 by 1\g;atharchidel'> of CniJus, of conditions ;1mo1 1µ; those da111 1u1li i11 111t!a!l11111, mining gold i11 the Eastern Desert. Relics of these ancient labour camps srn,·;, e in dista11t parts of the desert: guardhouses. prisoners' huts. stalls for donkers. The settlements of the State necropolis workers have also been excavated. But of course they ,, ere in quite a dillere11t category: free, well-paid, even organized in craft guilds. At .\mama they had their special suburb, and from the graves nearby we can learn their names and occupations - stonemasons, painters, foremen . These groups of men ,, ere highly organized. a11d had their own mayors. police and courts. Keeping them ,, ell-fed and contented was a p1ime concern of the State. Hence when !'.Omething \\'ent ,n-ong in the royal necropolis it was a 111,1jor eYent. a sure sign of a breakdown in the State. Around 1 1 6!) B< :. in the t,,·enty-ninth year of Ramesses I I L the workers of Deir el-.\ ledina demonstrated f;>r their par. advancing; as far as the d1 ,or of R,unesseum: · \\'e k1,·e been lnmgry fi >r 1 8 days in this 11111th. \\'e have come here because we are hu11gry and thirsty. \\'e ha\ 'C no clothes, no ointment. 1 10 fish and no ,·egetables: But this ,, as an um1sual. perhaps unique. episode. Usually the royal sen ice \\ as well run. ·The labourer is worthy of his hire·. though a Biblical sentiment, has an E�·yptian 01i g,in. Pa) ing proper \\'ages was a religioul'> duty. and, according to the Book of !ht Dmd. a departing soul had to be able to swear. as part of his ·Negative Confession·: ·I ha,·e not compelled workmen to work harder than they are able: The royal sen'ice p1icled itsclfon feeding its men well. I t \\'as part of' the Eg,;l)tian genius for organizi ng manpo\\'er, perhaps their greatest gift. Yet in many ways this gi ft. and the ,·ast human re!'.ources which made it so cffecti,,e, was a pusi tive obstacle to progress. The E p,)1)tians displayed extraordinary ingenuity in making the best possible use of p rimiti\'e techniques. like expanding woodrn wedges \\ith \\'ater to split rock. or crude tools. like the bo\\'-chill: they \\'ere ,·cry for instance. in pegging together the most unsui tabl e strips of sycamore ,, ood to make perfectly sea\\'orthy boats. But their massi\'e deplorrnen t of mu!-.cle-power acted as a disincenti,·e to developing labour­ sa,ing technolog,-y. There \\ as 110 internal market of any size for manufactured )2;o ods. 1 10 pri\'ate sector. no profit-moti,·e. Craftsmen \\'orked for rich patrons. The bulk of them. including the finest master-craft!'.men. ,, ere employed by a theocratic royalty \\hich had no interest in de,ising ne\\' methods. and a positi,·e preference for follm,ing traditional ones. There was a numbing reverence for the past as the source of all knowledge. The essence of Eg,)l)tian wisdom literature is srnnmecl up in the l\ le1ikare text: ·Truth comes to him folly brewed in accordance ,,ith the sayings of the ancestors. Copy thy father and thy ancestor!'. . . . In this way the skilled man becomes learned.' Egy pt \\ as ncwr in the forefront of new technology, and tended to fall fur ther behi11d as time went on. She clung to the Copper Age. Production of true bronze, by the rnntrnlled ad mixtme of tin and copper. was known at Byblos. Egypt's link with . \sia. as early as the £b,enth Dynasty, bef ore the Middle Kingdom, but the technique \\·a -. not used in Eg,)']H it!-.elf until the New Ki11gdom, 500 years later. Despite the , ii ,,·ious ach-antage of po\\'erful bello\\'s for fi.1rnaces. they were in use in Mesopotamia \\ hole millennium bdi ,re Eg,17)t adopted them . .\ lost of the noYelties which made it

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possible fell' her to become a11 ernpire i11 ti re New Ki1 1 gdrnn were the direct rcs1 1lt of' tl1e 1 l yksos i1 1vasio11, which i11 eflect p1 1lbl Egypt into the fi1II Bronze Aµ;e. Egypt seemed even more reluctant to enter the Iron Age and was, i11 fa ct, the last 111:!jor civilized couutry to do so. Even theu, it was the C reek smiths who settled at tl1c staple-port of Naucratis in the sixth century BC who actually first enµ;a µ;ed in irn11 wo rking m i Eg,)1)tia1 1 soil, though the metal had beeu available i n Egypt i n limited quantities since the Eighteenth Dynasty. more than 700 years before. Of course Eg)1H had 110 irou ore; all the same. her positive lack of enthusiasm for working in or acq 1 1 i ri 1 1g iron is surp1isi11g considering that the l Iittites, for long her mortal enemies, owed their rnilita1y success to irnn \Veapons and for centuries were allowed to retain a mrn1opoly of iro 1 1 working. Equally odd is the Egyptians' failure t o acquire iron tools for stoneworki11g g,ive1 1 their obsessive passion f o r quarrying and carving the hardest stones i11 existence. D oubtless Egypt's technical backwardness was a consequence of intellectual limitation as well as social conservatism. \Vhile the Eg11ltia11s had a superbly developed aesthetic sense a nd a wonderful feeling for style. they despised logic and lacked the capacity (or the d esire . it would seem) to deduce general principles from concrete instances. Coutrary to popula r belief, they had no great mathematical secrets. The were constructed with uotable accuracv; and masonic skill. but the\·I do not ' lwramids solve the riddles of the universe and their measurements have w1 esoteric significance. On the contra ry, at the time of the Fourth Dynasty. Eg,·yptian mathematics were primitive and they largely remained so. \Ve possess two mathematical texts. one in M oscow. aud the Rhiucl Papyrus iu the British Museum. Neither is a theoretical treatise like Euclid; the Eg11)tians were n, it capable of such a treatment. They are handbooks, or aide m/mnil'fs. for scribal accountants: the�· give answers to specific problems but do not explain anything. It is characteristic. too, that the sc1ibe of the Rhind Papyrus. Ahmose. \vho lived under the Hyksos. says he copied it 'from a writing of autiquity". Very likely the system, such as it was, developed ve11• early in the Old Kingdom and there seems to have been no inclination to imprnve it. It was decimal . but with separate signs for I . 10 . 100 . l .000 and so 011: and in the \ivriting of a number. each sign vvas repeated as many times as required. The system, iu short, was based , 1n laborious repetiti, m, as was so much , if Eg,}1>tian life. Thus true multiplication and divisin11 were not understood: instead. repetitiYe additions and subtractions were employed . If an E g,1-ptian scribe wanted to discover the total number of jars of beer in a boatload containing 55 bales, each with seven jars. he had to split the multiplier ·seveu' into elements which could be doubled. Thus: I .\· 55 = 55 2 x 55 = J J O ./ .\ 55 = '1.20

Amwrr lo 7 x 55 = 385

For division, the process was reversed. 111 practice, of course. the sCiibes operated these clumsy methods ve1y quickly, f; H E g,1 vtian s had a wornlcrfol dexterity with even the most eleme1 1t,ny tools. But ve1y likely any sc1ihe much iuvoh-ed iu calculation simply used tables. O f course the 11on-sc1ibal classes did 11 ot possess ti 1e111; the great m:!jority of people could not multiply or divide at all.

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1 1 1 eas 11re 1 1 1 e 1 1 t they f< n rnd the a rea of a ci rcl e fai rly accurately 1 1 1 0 rc sn than the Babylonians. wlro werl'. i 1 1 every respect better matl1e1 11a ticia 1 1 s. lt was their l o 1 1g­ sulleri1 1g patience which formed tire Egyptian·s chiefi11tdlectual handicap: tl 1 l'. y lacked the i 1 11patie 1 1 t chive towards the short-cut which a nimates scie 1 1ce,j ust as tl rey lacked the incentive to sa,·c trr usde-power wh ich a11 i n ratcs tecl rnolo�-y. 0 1 1 the othe r hand. it should he added that t i re exd usi,·e use of unit f ractions persistl'.d into the C reek a11d Roman worlds. and Eg}l ) tia1 1-style prirnit ive r 1 1 athe1 1 1 atics an_. rd lected i n such archaic dit ties as As I was g;oi 1 1g to St I ves I 1 1 1 et a man with seve n wives', etc. Gran ted the teclrnolol!,;' of tire ancient world. and certainly granted tire tecl n rolo�} the E�}ptia ns possessed, there was no demand fi ,r mathematical skills mme l'bhora te than they

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po.ssessed. Therein. ofcourse, by the ,·icious circle of intellectual antiquity, of which E.µ,: pt ,, as the out standi11g ,·ictim. Tlit· Eg�'J)tians made a bigger contribution to general knowledge in devising systems of measurement. \\'hich appealed t( ) their empirical spirit. They were very ohsen a11t people. They ,, ne the first to 11ote the fact that all the parts of the body are (rn1 anTagc) consta11t i11 any individual in terms of their mutual relationships. inespecti,·e of the i11di,·idd,Ss size relative to others. It was this observation of an im ariable canon which lay at the heart of their extraordinary grasp of physical f< mn in their pai11ting and sculpture. But it abo led them, ,·ery likely at an earlier stage in pred�·nastic times. to an anthropometric system of measurement. The basic unit was the armlength fr( ) m elbow to tlnnnb-tip, the cubit. This was divided into (j palms or handbreadths (measured on the back across the knuckles). each made up ( )f . t fingers. The thumb was l 1 1 fingers, which later became standardized as the R( )man 11 11cia or i11ch. ,\ hal ld of-1 fingers plus thumb was 5 1 ; fingers or l I ii lJasic handbreaclths. The distance from the elbow to was ➔ handbreadths or as it was termed in Eg:Vt the ·tm i-thirds' ( of a cubit): in < ,ther � lediterranean systems it was called the /Jolls. or foot. Fom cubits was one fa thom. the height of a standing man up to the hairline. The urdi11a1: or ·short' cubit (6 palms or 2-1 fingers) was supplemented by the ·royal cubit'. equal to 7 palms or 2i'\ fingers and, in our tenns. nearly 21 inches. For longer distances there ,, as the · Ri,·er �1easure' of 20.000 cu.bits ( 10.5 kil( )metres or fi.8 miles). The basic Lmd measure was the sdjat or 100 cubits square. approximately two-thirds of an acre. The same empirical strain led the Eg:vtians to devise a workable calendar. the only ellecti,·e one in antiquit�·. Like all other p1imiti,·e peoples . they started out \\'ith a lunar calendar < ,f 12 months. gi,·ing a total of 35-1 days, 11 short of the natural year. As we ha,·e seen. the heliacal rising of the dog-star Sirius or So this was used hy them as the anch< ,r fi>r their three-seas< l! l;J year < ifahhd (flood). /)( 1 d (sowing) and sho11111 (harvest). The rising of Suthis occurred in the fimrth month of the third season. that is the last T month of the �·ear. \\ hene,·er the rising took place in the last eleven days of this month, the following month was regarded as extra . making that year a ·Great Year· of 13 months or 3S-1 clays: thus this S< lthis -rising was kept safely in its ·proper" month. This ,, as too clumsy a system for the Eg1 1)tia11s, who liked accuracy even if they could n< it think in the al)stract. By a process ofobservati< ,n - the concept of a Nilometer must h;l\·e helped - ther pn iducecl an ·a,·eraged· year of 365 clays, divided, as before, into three seasnns of four months each, but ,,ith the months averaged at :30 days, the extra fo·e cla�·s being called · clays upon the rear · . The Eg1vtians hated to drop anything entire!�· and they characteristically kept their lunar calendar for calculati11g their religious festivals. adding the solar calendar for administrative pmvoses and farming. T \\ hen the two systems cli,·erged too much. a sixth 'extra' day was added eve1y four \'ears. \Vhen Alexandria was I< it111decL and the Greeks made it the scientific centre of the ancient world. they seem to ha,·e ignored Egyptian mathematics entirely - there is 110 reference to Eg1 1)tian methods in any of their treatises, including the voluminous \\'orks of Claudius Ptolemy - but they found the Egyptian solar calendar extremelr useful. especially for astronomy. In -15 Be J ulius Caesar decided to refonn Rome's lunar cak11dar awl called on the Alexandrian astronomer Sosigenes for help. He produced a f J'k in Alexamhia betrays no sign that he learnt anything from the Eg,:vtians. Ou the other hand, in medicine the E g,:vtiaus taught the Greeks a good deal. But here again it was their empi1icism rather than their themy which proved usefol. Their theoretical system of medicine was. of course . religi< ,us. and 110 more use than the Babylonian and Assyrian systems which equated disease with sin and prescribed incantational remedies. B ut they had a parallel system of empi1ical medicine which was ofteu ,·ery effective. They did not derive this from their experience in mummification. which in fact taught them little about anatomy. They believed. for instance. that the heart, rather than the brain, was responsible for thought; study of their anatomical vocabulary. largely derived from animals . reveals that they knew nothing about the circulation of the blood or the nervous system. and not much about muscles. Like other early peoples, they tended to confose the disease with its symptoms and treat the latter. On the other hand . their observational skills enabled them to become the fi rst people to compile a usefol pharmacopoeia. \Ve cannot identify all the substances they used as medicine - castor oil, vaiious salts. opium, hartsll< lrn and tortoise-shell. syrup of figs and alum were among them hut it is clear that their empirical treatment was


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Li rgdy si111plistic. l11 [wt the Eg;y pti;ins were the tirst to 11se certain well-known d rugs \\hid1 han· hec1 1 in use e,-cr since. Their L'xpcric11ce is reflected in I lehrew, Syrian and Pcrsi;1 1 1 1m:dical texts. i11 such classical writers as Theophrast11s, Pliny. Dioscorides, ( ; ;d en ;r11d I l ippocratus. a11d i11 l{oman I mperial, Byzantine and Arabic med ical h.indbooks. which were i11 use tlnoughout the Middle Ages. the Renaissance and beyond. The Egyptians had ;in endur ing reputation as expert poisoners . too spri11gi11g fro111 their skill \\ i1h slcepi11g-potio11s. The world recei,ed the Egyptian k11owledge of medicine second-hand, for even ,1111011g the Creeks only Pythagoras seems to ha,·e troubled to learn to read the Eg;ypti.11 1 language. But Eg,: pt produced i1111umerahle medical texts of her o \\·11 . some of whicl1 h,nc come to light m·cr the last Iri O years. 1\ p,tpyrus now at the New York Academy of ' :\lcdici11e. for inst:1 1 ice. lists surgical treatment fix wounds in the head a11d tlwra.x . There are eight medical papy ri in the British l\luseu111 alone. including another 011 surgical treatment. 1\crnrdi11g to the Christian writer Clement oL\lexandria. the l1 ,1ty­ t,Yo 1-Jnmdic Book\ which co11tai11ed the encyclopaedia of Egyptian knowledge included six medical 1 ,nes. dealing \\ith drugs. ai)atrnny, SUl)!,i cal instruments, diseases, cyc-compbi 11ts and childbirth. But 11one has surviYed in such a form. \\'e do know. howner. that Eg}ptian doctors were in demand thrnughout the tirst millennium BC. a11d the Persian empernrs C)TUS a11d Darius both had Egyptian doctms. The C reeks gradually superseded the Eg:vtians as international medical practitioners. but in medicine as in much else their k11 0 \\'ledge and reputation had an Eg:vtian foundation. The fact that they equated Asclepius, their g( )(I of healing. \\ith tlH: deitied lmlwtep. supposed to ha\'C been the greatest of Eg:-ptian doctors. testifies to their debt. I\' or did they e \'e r in cbssical times supersede the Eg}ptians in certain hclds. The Eg)'l )tia11s were the expert ophthalmologists. They did not operate for catar,1cts (an Eg:ptia11 \\'ord) until the second ccntlll")' ,\D, hut they seelll to have treated lklm, certain eye-complaints successfully throughout the f irst millennium B< :. \ , ., f..1 11;:,d1•111 . .\11, h , hrl/'111 \ Abu,·e all. they Wl're the leading g,Jnaecologists . They circumcised their hoy ;,·, n 1•/ t, 11 /1/a, , ,I i11 ,id1 t/11 children reg1.ilarly their circumcision rites they passed 011 to the I lcbrews - a11d they f,, 111 /, f,, J:_'111/ Ulll fl l j:_(1(1,/ may have perfonned Caes,nians. though in general their surge,:· was ve1: conse1Tative. h, I/Ith I/fl, r ii, oth. They \\'ere judged to be ,·e1:· '"' f �,�- 1:!I . ,. �·s:;clever at detecting pregnancy ,.) f- .�,w,� ... • 1:· � ji, r,,,:,1.�'"' l,..'r �1111 ;::.tllt:'7•.. '�"'1•11 early, judging fertility, I _ became temple singers. da1 1cers aud attendants). Occupations we know they filled, from pictorial aud other e\'ideucc, are manageress of a dining-hall, superintendent of a workshop of weavers. head , >I ' a wig workshop and conductress of the singers iu the royal harem. M ore i rnporta1 1t. perhaps. was thei r c1 1jo�·me1 1t of wide property rights: cve 1 1 whe11 they warried. they could own se rvants, sb\'cs, houses, la1 Ided aud other property, adopt children a 1 1d inherit their husband's or their father's estates. ( I n short they ,,ere in legal ten ns better off than wome 1 1 iu 1 1i11eteeuth-ce1 1tur y Brita i 1 1 . ) They m ight uot in b,,� hut they did in fact, become ruling queens of Eg)l JL There is. of cou rse. a good deal of umesolved academic argument over how the succession to the throne worked i n a ncient Egypt. It looks as though the right to the tl i ro11e normall�· desce1 1ded through females - that is. the child's status was determined by its mother. auother notion the Eg,)·ptians passed 011 to the Hebrews. The heiress, the eldest-born of the existing king. o r of his favourite Great \Vile. com·e�Td the right to rule to her husband. ,,ho was almost certai 1 1ly a half-brother a nd in some cases ma�· e,·en ha,·e b ee n a foll brother. The daughter then heG1 1 1 1 e [l\'( 1ur i te G reat \Vi fc o r Queen. The greater tht: quantity o f blood 01 1 both sides. the surer the title t o t h e throne. but it was the nwther's side which was essential . Of course this system did not always work, but female royal blood usually played a part whene\'er there wa s a peacefol transfer from oue dynasty to another. \Vhe n Nefe rtiti or one o f her daughters (whichever it was) wrote to the Hittite kiug soliciti 1 1g a husband. the assu mption was she would make him phara oh - and that was why he was nrnrdered . A pharaoh, i n bet, to secure his tlm >lie. ( >freu manied , >11e , >fhis uw11 dau�hters as an additi, >ual wife. Such i 1 1 b reedi 1 1g does not seem to haH· harbidden deµ,Tees fi >r '.ZOO years and huasted of their health a 1 1 d physique - though it migh t he argued that A k1 1enate1 1\ peculiar appearance was a consequeuce of tl1is. Outside royal ty there was no llloti\'e fc > r i ncestuous marriage a nd we h a,·e no evidence that i t took place. There is only , me certain case, even i n royal circks, of a b rother man)'ing a full sister. Creek writers treat brother-sister marriages in Eµ,yvt as normal. lmt this was based ou a m isunderstal l(li 1 1g. The words ·sister · a 1 1d ·brnther · could mean 'beloved' i n Eµ,)'ptian. There were many things about the E µ,)vtia ns the Greeks sion for astrology, hut they used the stars as one of many guid es to behaviour. No Egyptian helievecl i11 a free exercise of ";II in important clecisi< Ills: he always 10< ,keel fur an < 1111en < ,r a prophecy < ,r an oracle. The calendar listed 'bad· or inauspicious clays, \\' hen it was inadvisable to have sexual intercourse, go out after dark. cross a 1;,•er, use a boat, S\\;m, kill an ox or goat or speak the names of certain gods (especially Seth. the equivocal). The Eg,)1)tia11s also studied their dreams carefolly f or pointers. The story ofJoseph is significant in this respect. E101Jtia11s did not normally ask the opinions of Asians < 111 matters which had a religious hea1ing. but inte1vreti11g dreams was one field where they e,·iclently acknowledged the Asiaw; their superiors and Joseph. having cli,·inecl correctly, \\'as awarded une of the gold collars which the pharaohs always personally bestowed un men who had re11clerecl important services to the State. Dreams and omens usually played a major, even decisive. role in State decisions. such as the dispatch of an expedition, the elate of a battle or the location of a temple. The 'Dream Stele' near the Giza sphi1Lx tells how the god appeared to Tuthmosis I V ,vhile he slept at the foot of the sphirn.: and instructed him to clear it of sand. Dreams \\'ere i11te1vreted according to whether you were a 'follower of Horus' ( equable) or a Seth-worshipper (short-tempered). I mages we know cropped up in Eg)vtian dreams were breaking stones. drowning in the Xile. teeth falling out. face turning into a leopard. climbing to the t< 1p of a mast at sea. chinking warm beer and being g,i,·en white bread. Dreaming of a deep well meant prison, a face in the mirror meant a second wife, diving into a river signified cleansing sins. and a shining moon forgiveness; a large cat meant a bumper crop. Some of these inte1vretations \\'ere based on verbal connections. by which the E10·ptians were fascinated - for example, the fact that the words for 'harp' and 'bad' \\'ere similar, or that 'donkey' and ·great' were homonyms so a dream ahuut eating donkey-meat signified good luck. The ,·erbal connection, it should be added. was not a game but a defi n ite religious phenomenon, since all words in Eg,)1)tia11 had religious overtones or undertones, indeed the ve1y act of w1iti11g was a reli g,;ous ceremonial in one sense. But then. it is difficult to conceive of any activity in ancient Eg,)1)t which was not an aspect of religion - the long approach-march, as the Eg,)'ptians saw it. to the death \\'hich was the culmination < if life.

. •,,r C H A l'T E R. F I V E



riting a bout th e religion o f ancie 1 t Egypt d e m ands a powe r ful e ffort of i m aginati,·e unclersta1 cling. Ev en for th ose o f us wh o possess a .I

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W I lli l I I"\. drl,m C:= D (I' single conso11ants that is, alphabetic si g;11s. Tims hierog;l)vhics are a11 archaic lang;11age. The S11meria11- Bahylo11ian pi('torial snipt from wh ich they were derived quickly ceased to be 11011-pictograpl1ic and developed into th e cu11ei frm cursive script. Very characteristically, howe \'er, the Egyptians retained hieroglyph ic. wh ile grafting; 011 to it a number of sophisticated concepts. They en>lved a system of unilateral sig11s, making 1 1p a11 alphabet of twenty­ four letters, as well as sig11s represe11ti11g two or three letters . To aw,id the a111big,11ities i11here11t in the dual-system s cript, they developed what are called 'phonetic complements· as well as pictorial determi11atives. And the determi11atives themselves might l>e specific. general or complementary. There \\'ere well ( > \'Cl 700 sig11s. of which \\'e have clear knowledge. The great merit of hieroglyph ics is the sheer visual beauty o f the signs. which received their classic formulation at roughly the same poi11t i11 the Third Dynas ty as Egyptian sculpture and architecture were also setting in their moulds. As in the �cul 1 )ture of the hun1an for111 aud auin1als .. tl1ey reveal in an even 1nore eco1101nic man11er - the wo11derful skill of the Egyptians in driving to the heart of a form a11d rendering it with ;1 combi11ation of brevi ty a11d elega11ce. Once the form was set, the glyphs became astonish ingly consistent f; >r over :3 ,000 years. As a work of art, the Eg)l>tian lang1.iage has had no peer. As a system of c0111mu11icatio11. however. it was and is very unsatisfactory. Of course. in our ig11nrance of the underlying language. which seems to have been a mixture of hamitic and semitic tongues, we approach it as complete outsiders . The Eg1 vtian tongue survived to some extent in Copti c. But this has not been spoken at all ( except i11 the sense that it is used i11 spoken or sung religious services of an archaic kind) since the SL\:.teenth ce11tury. Nevertheless. we ca11 deduce f rom Coptic wmds the vo calization of a number of Eg:vtia11 words. But f;>r most of them. the abse11ce of vowel-signs is an insuperable handicap a11d our renderings are pure guesswork. Except to a very limi ted degree, we cannot jJl'o11011 11a anciellt Eg,1vtian. and this often inhibits us i11 grasping its precise meaning. Then too, in hiero)2;1)vhics there \\'ere 110 spaces between words. It could be mitten from right to left or , · i ce , ·ersa (this is easily detected because the signs face i11 the direction of ti 1e w1iting), or from top to bottom, vertically. By grasping the system of complements and detenni11atives. we get at the wurd meanings and word divisions. Sir Alan Cardiner. the great philological scholar. produced a quarto volume ofG50 pages called Er,_)'/1tia 11 Gra m m r1 1. which takes us an amazing clista11ce. considering the paucity of our knowled g;e, towards understanding the structure of sentences and the

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decknsio11 of n·rhs. But ancient Eµ;yptia1 1 is peculiarly unresponsive to attempt� to set up rules of µ;rammar and synt:L'\.. It is accumulative rather tha1 1 systematic. There are olic11 1; > 1 1r or fin· diflerc 11t ways of writing a word, which may have served diflerent purposes to the Eg;yptians, bu t to us are confosinµ;. In a way their language was like their rdiµ,io1 1 (which is 1 1ot suqH·ising, sinn: the historical connection was so clo�e): old fonnsJikc old gods, were never discarded hut retained along�ide fresh ones. l 11 ti 1ese cirrnmsta1 ice.;, g,1 1essm ,rk and logical deductim I remain a disturbi11gly 1 1igl 1 clement i11 readinµ; a11cie11t E µ,-yptian. By �uch method� we can almost invariably get at the general meaning. But subtleties ( >f the ten�e a,1d mood ofverbs can only be deduced from their su1Tounding context and sometimes these are of absolutely crucial importance. For instance, in the luslrndio11s of King Ammenemes I to his son, one of the most impor ta11 t historical and pol itical texts in all Egyptian literature, it is no t immediately dear whether the ki11g is still alive or is supposed to be alive a� a literary convention, or whether he wa� in fact murdered in a palace con�piracy, the text emanating f rom hi� divine person. Ignorance of grammar and the general lack of precision in our knowledge are a particular harrdicap when we are dealing (as we often are) \\�th fragmentary and damaged texts. Many of the most important Egyptian text� lack beginnings (because the outer section of the scroll i� missing or damaged beyond repair) and some lack ends also. So often the context i� gone, and context i� tremendously important in helping us to get at the meaning. Of cour�e, in the ca�e of hierogl)1)hs on walls (and in many papy1i) we have illustrations as well as worcb, and such pictures are illuminating. But this method in it�elf illu�trate� our weaknes� and ignorance- for the text� were 01iginally carved precisely to illuminate the picture�, not the other way round. All the most important, and a great many of the le�� important, Eg)1)tian hierugl)1)hic text� have been put into English (and other modern lang11age�), sometimes in many ver�ions. But the�e rende1ings are often i11te1vretations rather than st1ict translations, as comparing diflerent version� indicates. Eg)1)tia11 hierogl )1)hs, like the earlie�t Sumerian w1iti1 1gs, were carved 011 �tone for purely religiou� puq)O�e�, funera1y text� being some of the conmwne�t. Once non­ lithographic methods were used, the divergence in �tructure became ve1y fimdamental and rapid. The Sumerians, and later Babylonian�, A�syrians and other Asian literature�, when not ca1vi1 1g for eternity in �tone, u�ed clay tablet� on which they wrote with a stick ending in an arrow-shaped wedge. This cuneiform became the typographical u11it in a script for everyday use which rapidly eliminated the pict( ,g,i-aphic element. Cuneifonn wa� ugly but comparatively easy tu Wlite clearly, even for someone who had not spent a l ifetime training as a scribe. Clay tablets were uni,·ersally available. Hence cuneifonn, an invention of the third millennium, became in the second millennium a ve1y widely-used sc1ipt for a va1iety of western Asian and east Meditena11ean lang11ages, and for a time, u�ing the Akkadian lang11age, the nonnal medium for international diplomatic c01mnuuication�. Egyptian took a different path becau�e of the discovery and u�e of papyru� . '.\'owadays, the papyru� plant can no longer b e found i n the Nile valley north of Khartoum; but in the fourth millennium it grew throughout the valley and the delta, and was used for a vaiiety of puq)o�e�, including food. It almost certainly came into u�c as a pictmial material before Eg,ypt acquired a Wlitten lang,11age. The �tern� of the plant were first cut into pieces al)out a foot long. Then the 1ind wa� peeled off and the pit! 1 cul into 1011µ;, thin slices. These were laid �ide by �ide, and a layer of �imilar thin

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•�i ,.·· I is for demi ty. Tl 1e work done thl'.re bsts as le >ng as mc nmtains." Or agai, 1: · Oc > you 1 1ot can-y a pale tte? That is what constitutes the diflerence bet\vel'.1 1 you and a man who has to pull an oar.' Or yet again: ·Put wri ting in thy heart [i.e. learn to ,Hitl' .), so tk1t thou mayest protect thine m,·11 person from any ki11d of manual labour. and bl'. a respected ofhcial : Some treatises written for copying by apprentice scribes go tl11ough all the occu 1 x1tions. exaggerating the dis;1lk111ta�!p, of each. and stressing the opportunities open to a scribe. This in the Sati,,· 011 1iwln . the scribe boasts: 'I have never Sl'.el l a sculptor sent 011 an embassy. nor a bronze-I« >umler leading a mission. But I haYe seen the metal-smi th \\'orking in the \'Cl} mouth of the h1rnace. l-lis fingers are like croc\'Cr the Ph( )enicia11 alphabet more or les. s as they found it, retai11i 11)',!; e\'cn the names of the letter. s . They rc\'ersed the direction of the script frum right-to-left to left-to-right, but thl' rl'ally important clw1ge tl 1l'y introduced. made essential hy the structure of their own non­ semitic l( )ngue. was the \'m\'el-sign. They switched the sig ns for six Canaa11ite consonants not used in Greek to \'owels . and thu s g.i\'e the \\'< ,rid the structure of the alphabet more or less as we haYe it today. The ultimate source ( )f the \\'estern ,ilphahet. therefi ,re. is ancient Egypt and the measur e of its usefi.il11ess to subsequent ci\'ilizatio11s through its amazi11g simplicity and flexibility is a measure of the ( )pporlunitics l( )st by the Eg,77)tians' failure tu expand the alphabetical element they had intrnclucecl in their script. The l i m itati ons of the Eg,-yptian script must als( ) accou nt f< ,r the com parative pO\crty ( )f Ei;-yptia11 literature. though there were other factors. especially the huge conservati sm of the Egyptians, their unwillin gness to experim e11t with new fonns. and the overwhelmi ng. so111 eti me .s oppressi\'e presence of religion. which made the de\'elop111e11t ofa purely secular literatme out of the question. lr nder the Oki Kingdom. the Eg,yptia1 1 lan?;uage was struggling to find itself: that is� the sentence was e\'olving 1 and sentences were being ana11gecl i11 n ,nsecutive seq uence. More and m ore complicated 11oti( )ns \\'ere hei1 1g set clown in w1itten f onn. Yet the Ad111 011 itio11s of f/J1t11 1 rl', a m�u or document which elates f rom the end of the

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. �� l",_ •t:t �.,. -iu���..,.ihic messages 011 their work. whether on statuary or low-relief; they cl< > 11< 1t seem to have regarded \\'ord-caning as in any way inferior or even different to image-carving. ,:\or. granted their approach to art. was it different. whether the medium were stone or papyrus. l think if we could get inside the mind ofa literate Eg,')1Jtian at any epoch lief, 1re the first millennium B C. \\'e would find that he did not distinguish between words and art. Buth were seen as th e process of conrnnmicating and clarifying. So i11tense \\'as the clarif)·i11g urge that there is hardly a picture. saL"red or profi111e. in the whole corpus ofEg,')l)tian art. \\'ithout a11 accompa11yi1 1g text - often an integral part of

· 1 I I Jtian artist worked \\·ithin tlie restraints of an immensely comprehensi \·e and authoritati\·e code, taught by example and in the studios and so passed on, a11cl occasionally modified, from generation to generation. As an individual, he could not change the rules any more than a scribe could alter the hieroglyphics. First there were the restrictions i mposed by the material. Eg)1>tian sculptors worked in stone as a rule, and by preference in very hard stone. using tools of comparatively soft metal. They eventually coped with this difficulty very successfully. but thei, initial strivings were inevitably reflected lll their traditions, which sought to reconcile treatment of the human fig, \\ith the rectangular solidity of the block. The blackboard and the seat. originally employed (we presume) to help overcome the problem of rendering a fr ee-standing figure. remained part of the artistic idiom long afte, they had ceased to be necessary. Conforming to and expanding this tradition. sculptors during the Middle Kingdom introduced the device of the

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sq 11att i11g, fi )!; lll'C, whicl 1 ,ilig,11cd itself evc11 111ore closely to the I ,lock ol 111Hlresscd sto11c. This 111arryi11g of plastic shapes to the dc111a11ds of t he material was co1 Hl11ctnl with im111c1 1se clcga 11ce a11d an authority which rested Oi l faith. l11dced, it w,1s faith, fi ,r E�)vti,111 art was i11 110 way a1 1tl1ropoce11tric. The ol\ject was 111me importa11t tli.111 the man looking at it. The ol�cct, i11 fact, had rcli�io11s sig11ifica11cc eve11 hcli lrC the srnlptor got to work 011 it. Cold was for the gods. stone for eternity. A pa rticular sto11c was 1 1cvcr selected arbitrarily but according to well k11ow11 religio11s criteria its \'CI)' availability m ight well be the result of di,·ine i11terYc11tio11, as the claims of ma11y strn1c-quarryi11g expeditions testif)-. The sculptor thus had duties toward s his material. t i e had the supreme duty to , i\'if) it, to make it come to life \\'hen he had finished his work: he and the m aterial cooperated in achieving the diviue puq)Ose. This compulsion helps us to understand \\'here Eg)'ptian artists, whene\'er possible. fashioned the objects they made i11 org-a11ic shapes - men ;md wome11 obviously, but animals . flowers . reeds, grasses, woods and trees , fishes a11d insects; 110 aspect of Eg)l lt's fauna and I lora faileot ft ,rward in arrestl'.d motion, arms to the sides in alert repose. \Ve imagine that the pharaoh himself in real life - at any rate when he was on public show - was so burdened with his stiflened linen robes and top-heavy ceremonial headgear that he had 110 alternative but to adopt statuesqut postures and slow, magisterial gestures. 'Laclie.rms " as co11trastcd hy their proportional 1111ity and that it was the harmony of the latter " hid I made humanist art so satis�'ing. The artistic cano11 was very likely worked out at the same time as the system of measnreme11t and was certai11ly in existe11ce by the hegim1in),!; of the Old Kingdom. l ts accuracy a11d strict observation had a religious sanction. since the usual puvose of Eg,)7>tia11 art was to g,-uara11tee the immortality of the body. whose appearance therefore had to be rendered correctly. Fe ,r this pu1vose, the earliest Eg,)'ptia11 sculptors of the dynastic pe1iod used a g,1icl "·hich \\'as a geometrical projection in measured squares of the agreed proportions of the body set out in the metrolo g,ical ca11011. The rough-hewn blocks used for sculptures \\'ere squared 011 at least two sides possibly 011 all four and 011 top as ,veil. The a.,xis ra11 bet\, ee11 the eres. clown the nose. across the 11avel and bet\\'ee11 the feet. Thus, f< ,r sculpture, the body was cfoidecl into identical halves. For the two-dimensional low­ reliefs and paintings. grids were also used stretched over the Slllface (sometimes st1ings clipped in paint). but. except for the shoulders, the figure was turned rou11d 011 its sculptured axis. so that head, trunk and legs were shown in profile. I f these parts in p n ,file are turned back 011 their iL"\:is, the fig-iire then resumes the appearance of a three­ climensio11al sculpture seen from the front. The same canons or p roportio11 a11cl the same basic c n1tli11e applied. theref; ,re. to the re11de1i11g of the human form in both l \vo and three dimensions. 111 either case. the ca11011ical height nf the male sta11cli11g fig,-iire, from the hairline to foot, was the one-fathom metrolog,ical unit, marked i11to eighteen squares 011 the g rids: each squan_. was a foll heaclsbreadth of four fing;ers and thumb. The sea ted figure was measured and set out according to the same ratios. the parts being moved round the axial system as required . 1 11 short, the canon, and its axis, though 11otio11al or merely set out in grid form. acted as a kind of lay-figure. with artirnlatedjoints. which the sculptor or artist could arrange for his puqx,se to discover the exact le11gth and width cif each member he \\ished to paint or sculpt. whate,,er the position of the fig,-i1re as a whole. The combination of canonical ratio plus axis therefore ga,,e the artist a precise and depe11cbble code f< 1r all his re11cle1ings of the human fonn, clown to the smallest gesture. The eighteen-square canonical g1id remained unchanged for 2,000 years, sunivi11g l \vo complete breakdowns in the Eg,}vtian system. After the third breakdown, the Saite Dynasty introduced a modification (as they did in the fimeral texts). which constituted an impurta11t act of State policy. In refonni11g the tax system to increase royal revenues, they replaced the st:a11clarcl cubit of measurement. in use since early dynastic times. with the royal cubit. As result. the grid was marked into twenty-one squares and ,,arious ratios a11. unlocks most of the doors for us. In the late si."Xth and fifth centuries B< : Greek artists invented a new kind ofillusionist art i11 which artists began to adopt a purely visual respo11se tu their sul�jects. purtra) what they saw to be there. rather than what they knew to be there. I n fact. they began to perform, in ma11y respects. as cameras. This iuvoh-ed the use of aerial perspective a nd all kinds of di.',tancing techniques, d1 ia rosrn ro ( treatment of light and shade), shadows and di .stortions. ,vhich are visual rather than actual. �ow this perspectiYe revolution of the Greeks was the product of au intellectual decision, the g,n iwth of a new ofthe mind, whicl1 manifested itself in many other ways. The Greeks did not sec things any diflerently f rmn their artistic predecessors: they simply decided.. in rernlt against the limitations ofthe old codes. to portray what they saw. I t is e'vi.dent from the literary sources that earlier peoples sa,Y with the same perspective vision as we do. A famous and much-quoted Akkadia1 1 poem. which mar well go back to about 1 750 BC: (though the oldest ma nuscript which we have dates from the sewn th century BC:), shows a mythical ng,1.ire called Etana flying up to heaven 0 1 1 the back of an eaµ;le, and looking down: each time he looks the world appears smaller. The poem gives us, as it were. a series , ,f aerial perspective snapsh, ,ts. Yet it is one thing to g,iYe a,Yay a sense of perspective in words almost accidentally: quite another to employ it deliberately in ,i.sual presentation. Among; p1i.mitive people and for this purpose we must include the Egyptians among them - there is no, or little, distinction between a created image and the reality. Indeed, a.'> we have seen it was

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of the very e1-,se1 1ce of" the Eµ,)-pt cult that the i 1 11agt.: was the god , This l iei1 1µ, so, it w,t'> esse1 1tial that the re1 1deri 1 1µ; of tl1e illlaµ;c should appro :-, i 1 1 1all: as dosdy as possible to reality - 1 1o t the illusio1 tary reality seen hy thl' fallilik h u 1 1 1.11 1 cyl', fi-0111 011c vinvpo i 1 1 t 011ly, h u t t h e t rn e reality of tl,e actual a ppeara11ce of t l t l' pcrso1 1 o r ol�jt.:c l. as k1 1ow 1 1 intellectually a n d liy experie1 1ce. Usually t h i s takes t h e f< >nl l o f rc 1 1d c 1 i 1 1g t h e fro1 1tal image. irrespective ( )f the a rt ist's vie,vpoi11t, the fi-011tal illlage hei1 1g d 1osc 1 1 bccaust.: i t i s the 0 1 1 e wh ich most immedia tely crn !jures u p t o tht.: viewt.:r tl1e reality. ( )r, t o p u t i t a uother wa y, it i s most characte1istic of the o l iiect co1 1cerneLL a 1 1d c < l l t\T)'S t o the viewer the most i 1 1 formation about it. ! 1 1 yet anotl 1er se1 1se, it is also the nwst o 4jective way of portrayaL si1 1ce the sul�jective eye of the artist is subordinated to the ol!ject ive characteristics of what he is portraying. l l e11ce, whe11 we look at Egyptian art, we must remernber tl1at the artist is 11ot striving primari ly to p resent. whether in two or th ree dime1 1sions. what he sees i 1 1 his eye. but to giYe tl1e maximum i1tfr ,nnati, lit. in pict< llial 01 plastic shorthamL ab< n1t wl 1at h e k nows intellectually to be there. O nce agai n . we have to see the artist as com m1 micator and his work as closer to h ierogl)vhics tha11 to photography. Hence, when we look at the Egypt i a n re ndering of human figures i n two dimensim1s. we shoul d n ever j u dge them as huma1 1 f; >nns comprehe11 ded in one glance f rom a single vi ewpo i n t . They are in fact composites, _ jigsaw puzzles of fro1 1 ta l images and characteristic i mages. put together wi th right-angle turns in the axis, to provide the archetypal h uman form. ra ther than the one seen i n the artist"s eye. The Egyptians reduced all this to a code which laid down these multiple ,iewpoints and the image .s of reali ty judged to be most characteristic. Every part of the body was shown from the side w h ich re,·ealed it m, ,st characte1istically. Tims the head was shown i, 1 profile, because that t< ,Id us more ab, lllt the nature of the face than the frontal image; but the eye was shown frontally. because it was the only ,·iew gi,ing the complete circle of white. iris a11d pupil. The neck was also shown in profile as part of the head. but it had to be 1 ire1-,e11ted i 1 1 a twisting motion (which was i n fact natural) because the shoulders were m, ,st characte,istic when sh, >\\'l l fi1ll frontally. The legs, feet. hips and bottom were i 1 1 profile. chest and stomach acting as transition between tl1em a 1 1d the fro1 1 tal slwuklers. l lere the code became a l i ttle awkward, the chest being, as i t were, piv, ,ted at forty-five degrees. In the case , if a man, one nipple may be show1 1 f rontally. the other i n profile. \Vith a womau, both are covered by the straps of her dress. which is shown frontally; but 011e 1 1ipple is also. as a rnle. show11 expo.sec! a1 1cl in profile. This is a contradiction and a visual impossibility. but it did not seem \\Tong or absurd to the Eg11)tians, since it conf< mned to the o ,de of µ,iving the rn:Lxi1 nmn information by JH>Itra)ing the characteristic profile shape of the female breast - the fact that it could not be seen under the dress ,vas irrelevant since e,·e,Tone knew it was there. The two-di mensional rendering of the h u man form. with its m u l tiple points of reference, i uvolved the :Lxial shifts in the canon we haw already exarnined. I t re1nai1 1ed abs, ,lutely standard for the Eµ,)vtians fi,r 3,000 years, and all other re11cll'iings o f the h uman form were variations from it. The mort.: irnporta11t the person in the social or Below: A ,dirjof hi.1 .fro111 the g.; ild('(/ /0111b 1 if Pl'i11ff.1.1 1 l111_1• a /111drn_1• 1 //11· d1r11adrl'i.1lir jll'ofi/r f .1 hajn· 1i lh1· ji'lll11ft lm'f/\t.

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di, i11e hin;l l'd1� . the 111mt· dosely thl' re11dcri11g had to co11fon11 to this pattern (wo1kmcn. bein� 1cbtin·h 11nimpmta1 1t. we1e often sho\\'n in st1ict profile or e\'en ,,ith thei1 h;1cb to the ,inn·r). \ \'ith work in three di111rnsio1 1s. the huma11 fo1m. i11 addition to co1 dimni11� to the c11 1011icil proportions. could 011ly mm·e 011 fixed axes. The plane in \\·hich it \\ �,s .... ct was unal terahlc: i t could bend !inwards or backward s. but no t sidcw;n -. at the 11eck or at the hips: a1 1d it cou ld not turn witl 1i11 its axis. Sometimes ,111�les or eight� degrees app10ximately were c011sider'?LI permissible. but a11y drastic , ariatim1 from the righ t-anµJe apprrnch \\'as ruled out. Hence, Eg;yptian sculpture is ba-.icalh composed of frnn ,iews. each at right angles to the other. Schafer calls this ·the Lm of directional straightness· . It c11closed the statue in a11 invisible rectangular box. Seen from the front. as it "·as meant to be seen, it does not, to our eyes, give an impression or depth. The Eg,:vtian \'icwe1 apprehended the frontal image, then ,ie\\·ed the imaµ;e at 1ight angles fr om the side: then. in returning to the fr ont, supe1imposed the t\\ o i ma�es in his mind to acquire depth and reality. l\Iodern photographs which slw"· Eg,·yptian sculptme at an oblique angle. so that both f r ont and side images are rnmhined in distortcd fonn. defeat the puq)()se fo1 which the sculptor wa.-; striving and \\Tench the statue out of the code in ,,hich it was composed. . \ s tudio papyrus. elating from the Graecn-Roma11 period. but used by an artist working in the true Eg:1)tian traclitio11. shows the f r ont. side and top ,iews of a sphim.: outlined \\ithi11 squares on a block p1eparatnry to sculpting. Fi \'e sides of the block (all exccpt the bottom) were .'> qua red. then the complete outline of the sphi1L'\: drawn over them. according to the canon in w;c fo1 .-;phi1L'\:es. The sculptor ·saw' the sphi1L'\: hidden within the block. and a part!�- modelled sphinx. w hich we also possess. shows that ne1:· side of the figu re \\·as ,rnrked at the same time. the artist followi1 1g the outlines 011 all sides togethl' r. so that the creatme · emerged' f r om the block. a11d eventual ly ;1ttaint. applied to all f orms ofEg)l)tian art. A table was sh1 iwn \\ith its legs am! top. inespecti,·e of what could actually he seen fr om the angle of ,ision subjectively chosen: and if thcre \\'ere loa,es and f r uit on the table, these were simply piled up ,·enicalh- 011 top of the table and presented f rontally to bring out their characte1istics. If the artist is painting a pool surrounded by trees. the shape of the pool seen vertically is chosen. because that is the pours characte1istic shape: but the trees surrounding it ;1rl' -;h1 im 1 fr om a hm�zontal angle. because that b,ings out their characteristics. Again, a sturchow,e is shown hy portra)�ng its doors and hmizontal profile of the roof; but the µ;rain \\ ithin is also shown in i ts jars, because the picture woul d otherwise be mc,11 1i1 1µ;less to Eµ,)l)tians. The fact that objects are opaque is not allowed to hinder the 1 m H e ..,.., of inforrnation-com·eying si11ce the artist is uot only allowed to change his it \\point i11 composing his picture but may. as it were, walk through doors and wander • l l l 1d inside. skctd1hook i11 hand. There is no distinction in the Eg)l)tian code of art t\\ L' C J I .11 1 outline dr,I\\ i11g of a building and a topographical sketch, plan or map, or . • t IL " "Lnd1itL· L t s cl nations - all are combined together when and if they exhibit

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characteristic featurcs al l( l co1 1,·ey tlie maximum inf< >rmatio1 1 i11 the space available. To the Eg;-ptia1 1 artist, a picture was closer to an inYentory than to a snapshot. Eg;yptia 1 1 ! ow-relids and pa intings must therefore be ' read', as wel l as looked at. Tlicy \\'ere designed to com-ey inf ormation but they also demanded from the viewer a series of intel lectual reactions or, rather, a co ntinuous process of analysis as his eyes mo\'ed over the surface a11d translated the pictorial code into the realities as he knew them. 1 11 the big rnmpos;t: 011s comb ining l i ierogl)l) hics with strictly pictorial fonrn,, the 1 1 1c11tal process invoh-ed i 1 1 apprehend ing both of them was roughly the sam e. The art of Yie,,i 1 1 g them i n t el l igibly lies i n being able to i solate each point of reference or unit within the picture, a11d its 0Yerridi11g uni ty, i 1 1 mi11cl . This is not easy: it requires a fierce in tel lectual self-co ntrol. But, equally, it was not easy to compose a11d execute the multiple reference pictures. Therciu lay the civilized art of the Egyp tians. As with their ord i nary tools :md tecl i 1 1 ology. they were operating what was essentially a very p ri m i tive me thod uf creating art, but \\itl1 such refinements of skill as to giYe it a1 1 appearance of immew,e sophisticati o n . One cou l d d raw a similar analogy with their theol og;y: a primitive structure with a dazzling \"e1 1eer of sul>tl et;·. 1\t no point were the Eg)1Hia11s prepared to adopt ill usionist art: they we re absolutely committed to t h e frontal image -based

re11cleri1 1g of characte ristics. But within this limit ation they employ e d a number of elegant dari�iug cbices. 0 1 1 e was size: size st< >< >cl for power. autl H >1ity and importa11ce, so artists d rew attention to the pharaoh by size, and to the actual occupant of the tomb, as opposed to relati,·es a1 1cl mourners. A chief wife was 1 1 o t shown smaller tha11 her husband. but in the natural human ratios laid clown by the ca non: lesser wives could be smalln. and servants smaller still. Rela tive sizes were also dictated by rank i11 battle scenes. Gods. however. were 1 1 0 bigger than i mportant human beings, since, in stiict the< Jlogy, tl1e latter c< n1ld l >ce< >me 'like u1 1to gods': the key di,·icliug line, as with artists' attitudes to moveme11t. seems to haYc bee11 drawn on an occupational basis - a man or \\'OIUal l was diminished by being condemned to manual labour. These gradations of size were 1 1 o t arbitra ry; the dimensions o f the subordinate figures in a composition depe1 1decl on the main figu res, being i 1 1scril >ed i n g,Ticls of simple fractions < lf ti 1e scales used for the master-figurl's. 1-l euce, even i 1 1 the great court a11d battle sce nes of the Eighteenth D ynasty and Ramessicle periods, covering euonuous areas and combining multiple incidents. there was a carefully worked out inner harmony of scale, pn ,,iding u n i ty o f rcference, and a f ocal point or points, with a powerful ce nt1ip e tal attraction. the big fig1.1 res magne tizing the smaller 01 1es ra ther as. under the Fourth D ynasty, the royal pyramids attracted the mastabas of the nobl es. All the same, these b ig compositions (and for that matter some of the much smaller ones also) demanded i n ternal o rganization of the kind wliich. in illusionist art, i s provided by a e r i a l perspectiYe. T h e c h i e f form t h i s took w a s t h e use o f very fi rm horizontal basel ines, w-hich d ivided much of the mass of the picture into a series of registers. The registers can be seen as a kind of alternative to perspective, piled u p one on top of each other, as though receding in to space, even though the fi g,1.1res are not of

d i m i u is l i i ng size. They also compe1 1sa te for the Eg,-yp tia11 refusal to portray depth.

There can be no doubt that Eg,")1) tian artists saw the baseline a11d ,·ertical regi ster as dcYices f o r imposing maat, or order. on their pictures - the hierogl)vh for maat, the reader will remember. was the baseline or pedestal of the pharaonic throne. and it is i ntt:resting that the king's feet were w,ually drawn bigger than the st1ict canon allowed,

to pro\'ide him with a fin ner baseline. The bascliuc was strnuger than visual perception and, like the size-pri11ciplc, acted as a magnet, d 1.rwi11g the 111iscelL111eous smaller ligmes iuto 1egi111e11tal array. \Vith ti re mass of ti re figures fi r111ly fixed i11 their \'e1tical registers, the central figme ofki11g or god could thl ls easily he placed iu a domiuating 01 directional relationship to them. co111ma1 1 cli11g the entire picture and giving it a . visml starting point from w hich the \·iewer could begin to 'read it . The rectilinear strnctme of these big reliefa or paintings dra\\'s the analog,)· \Vith reading (and with hierogl)l>hic prescntatiou) / still closer. A famous M iddle Kingdom picture of a colossal statue heing dragged by huge 1m111bers of men shows them in \'ertical regi�ten,. along fixed horizontal baselines. like military f; >rmatious. the immense statue. alread:,· ·li\·e • for the purposes of the picture, directing its o\\'n comTyance. An ,\ssy1ian relief� a millennium later, sho\\'iug a similar group of labourers dragging a huge hull-doorway. scatters them in all directious - it is closer to illu sionist art and cm thercf< >re be more easily taken in at a glance. To\\'ards the end of the second millenn ium. under the New Kingdom. w hen iuternational comparisons with Cretan as well as � Iesopotamian art-f orms are possible and ust:ful. their tendency to\\'ards the ClllTe or even the circk in arranging their material is in striking contrast to the Egyptian preference f< >r rectangular :111d rectilinear presentation an approach suited to an art \\'hich \\'as pictographic rather than sllictly pictorial. \Vi thin this dichtctic structure 0L111 art intended to he read. the Eg)l)tians gaw full play to their intense lm·e of natme and their accuracy i11 observing it. Like the Akkadians. thl' .y were not unaware of ae1ial perspective: a satirical scribal letter from the late Ne\\' Kingdom. dealing \vitl1 Asian geography, descr ibes a11 a\\'kward solclil' .r tryiug to control a chariot plunging across a high pass, with a 1 nountai11 011 one

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side and a sheer drop 0 1 1 t he other. And .. as any visitor to Egypt can sec today. a view from the hi )!;h plateau 0 1 1 either side of' tire Nile shows the rnltivated strip bid out likt ale: of the Creek perspective of revolution was possible - there is abundant evidence

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of strivi1 1g after 1 1ew ways of re1 H l eri11g spa ce , espec ially i 1 1 the hig l a l l ( lscape co 11IJ H >sitio 1 1s of the Ni1 1etec 1 1 t l 1 a11d Tv.c1 1 ticLl 1 Dy1 1astics. So111c sd1obrs a rg11c tl ,at if these tendencies l ia d co1 1 t i 1 1 ued the Egyp t i:l l ls would a ct ually ha,T crossed tl 1c perspcct i,·e t l i res l i old . 1 1 1 fa ct the e 1 1 1 pi rc colbp scd . Egypt reccded into a period of artistic qu iesce1 1ce or stag, 1atirn 1 , aw I wlie1 1 i t e11 1erged the 1 1 mod was I iltra -co1 1scrvati,e we e 1 1 ter the pe riod i11 the f ir st 1 11 i l lern 1 i u 1 1 1 whe 1 1 Egyptian art h eca rne thoro1 1i!,h ly

arcl 1ais tic. and tried to recreate a lost p;1st rather than e1 1 te r the fo t 1 1 re. Fro 1 1 1 the Sa i te Dynasty rn 1\\-,ml'i. Egyptian a rt ists so u�!;l 1 t 1i i!,orously to work \\'i thi1 1 tl 1e old. rci 1 if< , rced codes, a1 1 pecti,·e re\f ilutirn1 had occurred . a n d i ts i 1 1fluence h a d beg1rn t o do1 1 1 i 1 1ate t h e way of seeing thi1 1gs outside C reece. both the artists and their pa trons lost c01 1 fide1 1ce i 1 1 the old. i 1 1 s ti 1 1 c ti,-c portrayal of nature

on the basis of frontal i mages. Tha t ,, as why Plato was figh ting a losi1 1g battle. Objec ti,e truth, 01 1ce regarded as the o nl y fon 1 1 ofreJism in art, began to seern i 1 1 fe1im to the 1 1e,, sul�ectiYe truth of illusio1 1ism. The old realism appeared not 01 1ly false but unspeabbl� bad a11d p ri mi ti, e. So i t seems to us tod ay. To those like ourseh-es. brought up i n the traditio 1 1 of illusionist art. the i 1 1 tdlec tual e fl< > r t needed to rearra 1 1ge our ideas sufficiently to see i mage-based a rt as i t was mea n t to he seen. i s pa i 1 1 ful a 1 1 d d rastic: it is d ou b tful ,, hcther ,,e can e,·cr sharc to tl 1e ful l \\ i t h t l 1 e a ncient Egyptians t h e e1!joyment of t h e i r art. I ndeed , under thc impact of Creek illusiu 1 1ism.. tl1e Eg)·ptians appear to have lost their capacity to enjoy it the mseh-es. The Eg,)'ptia 1 1 s slo\\'ly learned to adopt the 1 1ew tec h 1 1 iques i 1 1 C reek - ru 1 1 studios i 1 1 1\ lexamlria a l l ( I ( )ther Delta c e n t res . Tru e. S( )lllc canied 01 1 in the old man1 1er u n til the coming of Cl 1 1is ti,rnity a11d e\el l beyo11d, but i t was 1 10 longer a livi 1 1g art. 1\ ll(I b y tl 1e1 1 . o f course. tl1c o ther ce1 1 tral pillars of Eg)7J tia1 1 civ iliza ti o n . her rel igio n a 1 1d her rn o1 1 a n. l 1 y. had been b l sif-ied a 1 1d degraded . Tl 1 e arti'>tic pillar c( )uld 1 1 o t .'>l and alo1 1e. e,·en i n a trophied form.

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'ft , a great extent this i11tematio11alis111 was crn dined to crn irt all( I pa bee, b11t t rade was hq�i1111ing to radia te i11to lower lnels of society and, perhaps 111ost illlporta11t of all. t i ll'. 111m'l'.me11t o fgods and goddesses across the fro11tiers gave eve11 the 11111111 ,lest a lii11 t of" wider worlds.The rise of empires produced also, alas, a cosmopolita11 slave cbss, the pitiful victims oflost battles and falle11 cities. Slave1y was the great ca11cer of the a11cie11t world. As sla \·es rose i11 m1111bers. so their (Hice fell a11d the availability ofcheap 111 1 1scle­ power was a cleadeni11g disince11tive to technical innova t i on. Enterprise tended to drow11 in ocea11s of human sweat. Yet the age was not witho11t massive achieveme1 1ts: in Bahylonia. the fou11datio11s of mathematic method and astronomical knowledge were laid; Phoenicia produced the fir st pure alphabet at this time, a11d the smit hs of' the Hittite Empire now f« 1rgecl iron in significant quanti ties. Even Eg)l)t, a la11d where the structure of society most discouraged change, and where the dull work-rhythms of the sweated multitude throbbed most painfi.1lly, there were some advances: notably the first pn ,ducti< m of I 1igh-quality glass. Under the empire . indeed. exposure to foreign inf1ueuce was disturbing rigid Eg,)l)tian patterns in a uumber ofrespects. some of which we have already noted. Might Eg;y pt, which had the advantages of co11siderable wealth and political stabili ty. have achieved the breakthrough into a self-c1itical and innovatory society, as Greece did in the next millen11ium? It was not inconceivable. The immense continuity of Eg;yptia11 culture meant that its roots stretched back into very p1imitive times i11deed (we see this partirnlarly in its reli g,ious mat1ices) and so pe1vetuated elementary patterns of tl10ught, i11hibiting intellectual movement. For example, the Eg)vtians had no sense of history and they did not understaud time as we du. Their art,just as it arrested motion i11 its cl1ief fig,11res, ig,11ored time completely. The first Eg)l ltia11 painti11g which expresses time a brazier indicates 11ight dates. siguificantly. from the Akhenate11 ·rernlution'. Eg,1vtian artistic tradition treated all subjects i11 their eternal aspect. a11d so reflected the religious assumption that existe11ce was an endless se1ies ofcycles. For Egyptians. time did not consist of unique e \·ents, proceeding from an irrec1l \"erable past and prcijecting into a1 1 infinite future. In a se11se \vhich we fi11d difticult to g,Tasp, past present, and fiiture were for them all one. l leuce their records were often as it seems to us. piow, frauds. Pepi II, at the end of the Old Kingdom, decorated his Sakkara mortuary temple with copies of reliefa desc1ibing the victOiies of his predecessor. Sahure. 200 years bef«>re, claimi11g them for himself: 1 ,000 years later, the successors of Tu thmosis I l l \\'ere like \\ise claiming his t1iumphs as their rnvn, and Ramesses Ill asserted he won the battle of Kaclesh fiJught by Ramesses II a whole century before � a battle, morem·er, which may not even have been won in the first place, since official records were Sta te propaganda. Of course, the idea of heredi tary lwnours is contained i11 the notion of sacrosanct monarchy: Queen Elizabeth II of Britain still formally calls herself ' Defender of the Fai th", a title awarded by the Pope to a pre-Reformatio11 l I enry VI I I 150 years ago. But here the title is seen as a histo1ic;J property. owned by descent. To the Eg,1vtians, there was no absolute distinction bern:een the reig,1 1ing pharaoh and a predecessor who had actually done s11cl1 thi11gs, si11Ce botl1 were embodime11ts 1 l tl1e l I orns-god. l-list< ny was not a series of focts, hut the enactme11t of 1itu,J: Ramesses I II re-fough t and re-won his predecessors' battles as part of the pliaraonic cycle. The Eg,1vtians did not date their history from the founding of the united kingdom. They dated it anew at the beg,i1111ing of each I lorns-reign. unification being commemorated at the coro11ation and jubilees. each self-contained reign being a 1itu,J summaI)" of the com1 t1y's entire history.


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It _-,;1ys a great deal for the impact of cos111opolita1 1ism 011 the Eg,)vtia11 mind, and the shift of ft 111damental ideas whicl 1 follo\\'ed , that under the New Kingdom Eg,yptia11 comt circles bega11 to 1 1 1 0\'l' away fro111 cyclical and towards li near time. From this period we date the first king-list, itsdL111 i nnovation i n pharal lltic theology. Eg,)vt began to reco\'l'r her real h istory. and to see it (as we still do) in terms of the successi\'e dy nasties. punctuated hy horrific descents into chaos. The acceptance of histot)' was a powcrfitl dis.'>oh·cnt of 11') J1. So also was the recognition of foreigners as 'people· in their own right. with separate and unique histories of their ow11 . Eg,)1)tians began to look at the world ou tside their own im mediate experience with new eyes. Queen l la tshep . l- '1 1 1 1· 1'1 1 .\ lt \! JI I '> '!. l :J

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1;1r the fleets a11cl armies with which Ramesses Ill cldc1 1dcd Egypt from barbarian attack. The empire was gone. But also dwindling was the massive supply of g< 1lcl fi-< 1 1 1 1 Eg)l)t's own mines. They were cxkmstecl or, in the far south. had passed out of Egypt's control. Egypt had no cmrency as such, but it was gold which, as it were. oiled the wheels of state; and in the late New Kingdom metals were increasingly the medium of exchange. Above all, gold and silver (and to some extent copper) paid the mercenary soldiers on whom Eg,'))t began to depend from the clays the l- 1 yksos were expelled and who, in the late New Kingdom, f ormed the overwhelming bulk of her army and police . If mercenaries were unpaid they instantly mutinied a1 1cl fi mnedYobber-bands - hence the complaints about the •f; 1reigners· i11 Thebes. But other people. civilians and ci\·il sen·ants < if e\·e1J kind - the State was a huge employer oflabom - were not getting paid either. It was a sign of the times that the pharaoh appointed more and more clerics to ---� ... : administrati\·e posts: they could be rewarded with ... "j .' � -=:';\',.:: \i benefi c es, a trick much used by the kings < if �������?�����ctii,i,,!�;.;·"!:,; �- .., '• • ,�------ '� medieval Europe. But a cleric was less easy to ' ���!:�������- -:�•�i . control. discipline or renw\·e than a sala,iecl official \Vholly dependent on the king's bounty. So the throne was increasingly defied by . \] ,"\'t': . I /'IIi,/ /rum t /1 1 lu111 h , / Hun 111/1 1 b \h/111'/IIJ:., a11 insubordination and corruption. \Vith the pharaoh unable to pay, State employees, including high officials . began to grab their wages f rom his entombed preclecessms. , J/11 w l ,,·it h hi\ 1, •i/1 a11 il The pharaoh was, as has been explaiw:< 1, identifiable with his predecessors - they were , !11 ldn11. all < Hie and the same Horus - so this otherwise inexpiable crime could be justified among unpaid officials . at least to th emselves. I lence the uni\·ersal conspiracy to plunder the Theban royal tombs. The gold and other precious metals thus unloosed 011 the market set up an i11flatio11ary movement. It hit the Crmrn particularly hard since its 0\\11 supplies of gold. with which it might have competed f; 1r grain and other commodities. were dwindling. From the death of Ramesses III, at a time when prices had already risen sha1vly, the cost < if a sack of wheat ( emmer) ruse from a 1/t-bru < 1f c< lpper to five -and-a-third dchrn under Ramesses IX. It is significant that, in · the year of the jackal' men were buying \\' heat 1 1ot with copper but with gold. �len without gold went hungry or rioted. They turned against the temples, because the Church had full storehouse� fr om its ample estates. even when the king could 1 1ot pay in food and the market p1�ce had rncketed. That was what the trouble confronting the I Iigh P1iest in Thebes was all about. vVhen the \Ve�t Door of the fortified temple at Mecli11et Halm was broken clown, and the sacred person of the High P1iest insulted, the mob was lnmg1y rather than anticle,ical. The relative increase in clerical wealth was, however. a major cau�e of the trouble and was pro bably seen to be so. There was always the clanger in theocratic Eg)l)I that the wealth and power of the Church might erode the authority of the Crown. \Ve have 4

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hints o f such a process u11der the Fifth a11d Sixth Dy11asties. lcadi11g to tlie rnllapsc of the Old Ki11gdom. U1 1der the · l)ivi11e Contract· of T11tl1111osis I I I , refashio11ed l>y I loremheb a11d his successors, the temples collected a huge proportion of the pillage wo11 by the empire, and held it perpetu:11ly in mortmai1 1. l11 strict lq;al theolog)', the king could get such property back at will, or at auy rate could use it le ,r State p11q>oses. But such forced loans, requisitions or whaten:r they were tenucd m:rc bitterly rese11ted : l loremheh's decree, for instance, was \'el)' likely aimed chiefly at State offi cials who comma 11deered Chmch property. \Ve do not know how much, in total a11d in propm tion, the Church owned . Diodorus put it at one th ird of the la11d. The Great Harris Papyrus in the British f\ [useum, in which Ramesses IV recorded the lavish douatio11s i11 land and sla,·es made by his ,·ictorious father Ramesses I l l to the gods a nd their temples, indicates that they m, ucd. as a result. 450 .000 people and 1 , 1 00 square miles. Professorjolm \Vils01 1 of Chicago calcubted that this represented 011e tenth of the population and one eighth of the cultivable laud. � lorem·er. the i1 l\0e11tory may 1101 ha,·e been complete. The f ull extent of Church property may ha,·e approached Diodorus·s fig;ure ewn in Ramesside times (for pmvoses of comparison . the Church owned roughly one-fi f th of the bud in England on the e,·e of the Reformation). The alienatio11 of royal land to the Church might not haYe mattered so 1rn1ch had the remaining Crown estates been well nm. But the e,·ide1 1ce suggests that they were supen·ised by swarms of bureaucrats who often imposed intolerable burdens on the pe;-i sants who actually worked the soil. A letlt'r f rom the time of �Ierneptah. R:1111esses II's successor in the Nineteenth D ynasty. reports officially: 'Of the cultivators of the estate of pharaoh which is 1111der the authority of my Lord . two ha,·e fled from the stable -master Neferhotpe. as he beat them. Now look ! The fields lie abandoned, a nd there is 110 one there to till them.' \Ve ha,·e other e,·ide11ce of a flight from the land by au oppressed peasa11try. a phe11omeno1 1 \\'hich bccame a feature of the Roman Empire in its dedine . Peasa1 1ts had to be requisitio11ed. f!,lt'1antdwrij,tl - tied to the soil . But 110 one cut dowu the bureaucrats: they wne part of the very fibre of the pharao11ic State eve11 in its dotage . They werc part of its culture. f or young scribes glee lirlly learned to chant: · It is the sc1ibes who c,nler all. No one orders the scribes.' Or: · Put writing in thy heart, so th:lt thou mayest protect thine ow11 perso11 from any kind of '

labour, and be a respected offi cial." The \Vill)( )ur Papyrus. dating from late Rarnesside timcs (alJout 1 150 Be) shows the weighty hand of the central fiscal administration at the villa�e level. \Vhe11 the Greeks tonk over undcr the Ptolemies, 110 mean lrnreaucratic experts tl1emseh · es, they simply adopted the pliaraonic syste111, merely cl1a11gi11� the tenni11olog;y. The royal Ptolemaic scribe. the '1a.s ilorny:,rr1 111 maft'11s. was merely a new name for a very ancient Eg}ptia n

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official - all the classical authors agreed that it was the Egypt ia1 1 kings who had fin,t measured land fo r ad ministrative pmposes. i\ study of rn1e Egyptian village. Kcrkeosivis, by Dorothy.J. Crawford, shows that it crn 1lained Len fi1ll-ti111c bmcaucrats (the estimated total population was l .!>:W) who actually lived there rn1 tlie spot: others anived for lite .">easonal accountings. An Eig!tteentl1 Dy1 1asty text lists the orot1111d titles of these parasites: 'the hokier of ' the measuring cord\ 'two clerks of' the land'. 't he messenger of the steward'. 'the custodian of the book of regulations'. and so forth. \V ith these many and greedy hands at work, the State's disposable income dedinecl. and there can be little doubt that the princi pal cause f. >r the collapse of the New Kingdom was lack of money. The Trt!t of Wmamun. and his expedition to Byblos to buy cedarwoocl. illustrate the point. It seems to date from the ve1y end of the Ramessidc pe1iod, or shortly after, when authority in Eg)l)t was already d ivid ed between two or more centres. \Venamun was an official of the Temple of Amun at Karnak ancl was robbed bef ore he could complete his mission. He. or his supe1iors, apparently helieYed that the mere reputation of Amun, chief of the 'imperial' gods. w, n1ld be sufncient to penmade the Prince of Byblos to provide the timber. which was needed for Annm's ceremonial river-barge . But the Prince. while paying tribute to Egyptian glory and power in the pasL wanted a straightforward cash or barter transaction. The tale. no doubt fanciful but with a clear factual basis. exposes a conflict bet ween Egyptian metaphysics and Phoenician commercialism. I t is also a sha1v little vignette of Eg,11)t as a faded great power. a has-been. s till not quite grasping her impotence. The brutal truth is that. after the death of Ramesses III. Eg,1vt never seems to have had the m011e) to pay a mercenary army. certainly nol for overseas service. or only for ve1y short periods. and it no longer had the internal cohnence or will Lo create an army of Eg,1vtian peasants. The pharaohs still occasionally interfered in Asian. and especially Palestinian politics, as the Bible and other writ ten sources testify: but with only ephemeral success. or none at all. No one any longer believed in the colossus of the Nile. certainly not the rising power of Assyria. a militaristic state in a way Eg,1vt never had bee11, or could be. Eg11Jt had been letting down its allies. from weak.1 1ess or folly, since the days of Akhe11aten. The Oki Testament tells us that the Assyrians taunted the Jeru salemites for ignoring this historical lesson: ·Thou tru s ted upon the staff of this broken reed. even unto Eg,11)t. whereof ifa man lean, it will go into his hand and pierce it; so is Pharaoh, king of Egypt. unto all that trust 011 him.' But who was pharaoh? In the closing decades of the second millenniu m BC the question was increasingly clifhcult to answer. Under the late Ramessides, the power of the p1iests g,Tew, as their income outst1ipped the king's. l Tntil he was thruwn out by the mob. Amenhotep, High Priest of Amrn1 at Karnak, was portrayed by ofli.cial artists always ready to reflect political realities in their work as the same size as the pharaoh, when the latter bes towed gold collars of honou r on him. I Iis successor, the general H e1il10r. combined the High P1iesthood at Thebes with the Cl nnma11d of' the army in Upper Eg,)1 Jt, his real source of power. He used the growing dependence on oracular pronouncements from the temple gods as g11ide to official policy the later Ramessides would not move a step wi thou t such d ivine sanction - to stage a miraculous pronouncement by Amun. no less than a restoration of the d iYine order. marked by a ·miracle· at the great festival ( if Opet: regal a11d priestly power were t( > be reunited, in his person naturally. I le seems to h,n e rnled as an independent potentate even while Ramesses XI was still alive.

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The bst kin)!; of tl1e Twentieth Dynasty died without presentable heirs, where11po1 1 I l eril10r look f ormal power at Thebes: and i1 1 Tu ris, Smendes. ti re Vizier of Lower Eg)'j )t, fi >1mded his ow1 1 dynasty, the Twenty-first, by virtue of the royal blood of his wife. Tau utam11n. These two dynasties, secular kinµ;s in Tanis. priest kings iu Thebes , coexisted for I 00 yea rs, marrying, hegetti11g, handing 011 to their successors, occasionally exchauging sons and daughters in marriage, aud as a rule on amicable terms with each other. Neither could honestly claim the double crown and rule owr the ·Two Lands·: the p1iest-kings often did 11ot place their proper names in a cartouche, thus doubtiug their mvn titles. The Tanite kings were weak ;rnd reigned in a feudal atmosphere. by tolerance of the Libya n tribes to the west, and various groups of migrants such as the sea marauders who still patrolled the eastern l\1editerranean . It was very likely a coalition of these t1ihal groups who eventual!)' about 9.'35 B< :, · while the Tanites still reigned, installed a Libyan, Seshonq I . who ruled f rom Bubastis, also in the Delta. as the f r>under of the Twen tv-seco11d Dynasty. These Bubastite kings occasionally campaigued in Palestine - they < mce canied < >ff the Temple treasure from Jerusalem and aided pretenders to thejewish throne - but few could fairly claim to be undisputed kings of all Egypt. Sheshonq himself made his eldest son I- I igli Priest at Thebes. But Thebes continued to be semi-independent. if not wholly so - oue High Priest. I l arsiese. definitely encartouched himself - and the Bubastites were not even supreme in the Delta, for in the reign ofSheslwnq I I I (822 7 70) Petubastis set up a rival Delta line. which reigned cn11curreutly and is known as the 'H,·enty-third Dynastr Yet a third Delta dynasty. the Twenty-f ourth, produced two kings. No doubt the feudal divisious of the country, the rival lines and dynasties, and the inrnlvement of the Theba11 priests i1 1 poli tics and warfare. led to the prostitution of religion aud the neglect of tl1e proper ceremonies. It ,, as in defence of religirn1, and in the name of pharaonic orthodoxy, that Piankhi, Prince of Napata near the Fourth Cataract. invaded Eg)1Jt from the south a11d set up the Twenty-fifth Dynasty. He left behind him a frank biographical stele. so we know more about him than about most pharaohs: he emerges as a definite and rnbnst perso nality, a religious crn sader, puritanical and fierce. \Vhether we should see these Kushite princes as blacks or Nubians is a matter ofarg,11111e1 1t. They had long; lineag;es and were veI)' aristocratic and proud. U 11der the empire, their ancestors had been trained i1 1 the ka/1, ti re elite school for princes attached to the pharaoh 's palace. and they tended to he more rcgilllental­ minded, ritualistic and conservative than the Eg;yptia11s themselYes. Round about I 050

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Below : . I rd1urtl1 century B< :. These Eg;)l)tian kings - Amyrteos. Nepherites. Achoris. Necta11elm and so 011 - were the last native rulers of Eg11)t, but it is I I( ,t dear I H >W completely ti 1ey o >11tn >lied the u nu 1try. They may be seen as insurgent leaders. or e \en guerr illas. or Creek puppets. rebelling against a continuous Persian presence with Greek as .s ista1 1ce. l 1 1 3-l.'3 Persian supremacy was definitely re­ established, but the subsequent Alexamlri11e victories disll lembered the rntire Persian empire, and in :3.'3 2 BC Alexander resolved all u11certaintie.s by turnin).; Eg;ypt into a sul�ject-kingdom of his own. Alexander and his Ptolemaic succe.ssors treated Eg,1vtian se11sihilities with much )!,Teater consideration than the Persians had done. Alexander's body was hrou).;ht back to Egypt for bl! lial, he .sacrificed to E g,)l)tian deities and observed many of ti 1e forms of pharaonic beha \iour. The Ptolemies did not alter the basic structme ( >fthe Egyptian State and in soll le ways they actually behaved like pharaohs, certainly to the point of st1ivi11g to keep their blood pme by i1 1termaniage. But they were Greek. Their la11g11age

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224 TIIE C :l\' I LIZ \TIO:\ OF .\:\CIE:\T E< ;YPT

and culture were Greek; their ideas were fonned by the Greek polis. Their only major administrative change was to impose Greek as the lang;uage of government: but it was a decisive one- the Egyptian script, in its original form, went right back to the creation of the kingdom, and was identified with it. The Ptolemies used it for burials and formalities, but the real business of the count1y was clone in Greek. The contrast in cultures was s tark: Gree\ life revolved round cities, iu which a palace was an alien appendage; the Egyptians were !'.emi-rnral people for whom the palace was a substitute for the city as a focus. VVhat is more, the Greek court could no longer sustain the priesthood, which remained huge in numbers but of dwindling cultural and social consequence . The Ptolemies. as we have seen, a ttempted a religious synthesis, to serve both commmiities; but hyb,id gods like Serapis proved much more popular with the Greeks and other cosmopolitan communities along the :t\1editerranean shore than with the Egyptians themselves. The Ptolemies actually spent more on the Egyptian religious cults than any rulers since the early Ramessides: the temples and sl11ines they founded on the banks of the Nile. at Dendera, Edfo, Kom Ombo and elsewhere are among the most corn,picuous antiquities left to us, and in some cases are exceptionally well preserved. But the vital element in Eg)1)t under the P tolemies lay in the cities, except in the Fayum, which became a Greek-speaking agTicultural colony, settled largely with retired mercena,ies. The cities were Greek, above all Alexauchia. which took over the trade of Naucratis and rapidly became the largest and 1ichest city in the Greek world. It had its lavish royal endowments, the largest library of antiquity. a universi ty which took over from Athens it!> intellectual leadership. But its culture was predominantly Greek - the Alexandrines did not even 1mm1mify their dead - and the Eg)'J)tians themselves were excluded from any part ofit. The Jewish connnunity e1uoyed a liigher social, matvrial and intellectual status than they did. The scribes and priests, once Egyvt's cultural elite. degenerated into touts for the horde!> of cosmopolitan tourists who flocked to the Nile to see its crumbling wonders and to gawp at its bizarre religious customs. Agaimt this background, Egyptian religion, the very core ofits culture. stratified itself along lines of class and education - it was a tendency, as we ha\'e noted, already apparent under the New Kingdom. Among educated, literate Egyptians, private religious cults flou,ished. The stress was on personal piety, resignation and quietism, the religion of a defea ted people. Silence was accounted a virtue; the blessings of poverty recommended. Men were exhorted to show compassion for each other. One of the e thical tracts much read at the time counsels: 'Do not laugh at a blind man or mock a dwarf; help the lame. Do not tauut a madman or shout at him when he does something foolish. For every man is clay and straw. created by God the Builder.' This upper-class relig,ious mood was not exactly new but it tended to replace the intricate theolog;y in which cultured Eg)'J)tians once delighted. Tomb-religion declined, and once the Egyptians began to doubt the certainty of life after death, their theological strncture was finished. Services in the temples continued: the formalities were kept up; the great Temple ofA.mun at Karnak was restored. But the statues from the courts and in front of its pylons were cleared away and dumped into a nearby pit - they were not unearthed until 1 903, the greatest find ofEgyp tiau statuary ever. We do not know who ordered this demolition, a positive assault on the central cultic doctrine ofimage as reality.

THE DECLI N E A :s/ D FA LL OF Tl I I·. l'I I A llA< JI IS 22.'i

In the classical world, the Egyptians were celebrated for their piety: Herodotus calls them ·god-lo,·ers\ They were praised by Cicero, who saw religion as an aid to social decomm. and by Celsw,. who prefened pagan traditionalism to Christian innovation. Tacitus agreed the Egyptians were pious, but thought them absurdly superstitious also. They paid inordinate attention to ritual fonns, solemn lustrations, omens, prophecies, oracles and srmbols. S tatues were hollow a nd ·talked·. Public men would not stir without some kind of religious advice or sign, and the re was a n accumulation of religious . .A man follo\\ing his natural instincts fell into error, it was argued; only by follo,\ing the commands of ritual was one safe. So. says D iodorus, 'every hour of tians: the Coptic cln11 ch dates its origi11 from .\D 28-1, Diocletian's accession. for it attributed its eventual triumph to his tielle persecutions. I 11 a few short decades. the creation of the Greek-based Coptic script. and its use to translate the New Test;uncnt (and later the Old) into the native Egyptia11 tong,-ue, dealt a mortal blow to the hieroµ;lyvhs and the hierati c s cripts. D emotic, once the language of commerce. had already been ousted by Creek. The ancie11t Eg,)ptian religion transmuted itself into Cluistiau practices in a number of ways. aml the birth of monas ticism in the desert cast of the Nile enabled ancient religious institutions to survive in a new f orm. Many of the fi r st cenobiti c monks 'v\'ere p robably Eg)'ptian priests or their childre11. But Copti c religious art reveals few traces of earlier Eg,}ptia11 f� mllS. which seem to haw died with the hierogl)vhs. 'f omb-religirn 1 \\ as finished by ahout .\D :300, the beginning of the first · Christian centu1y'. :\ Iummification. embalming. linen bindings. pai1 1ted wooden coffins. plaster death-masks and portraits. fi. 1 11erary stebe and stone memorials oLill kind s disappeared together. The dead we1e bu1ied without ceremony, wrapped in rags,jnst below the surface of the earth. Christianity tra\· e lled rapidly up the Nile. lea\·ing temple-worship. already m01ibund. st1icken to death. At Thebes. where the cult oflml}()tep and "\menhotep as healing deities had lingered on and where, at Deir el-Bahari, the upper b els of the great mortuary temples had been used as sanatoria for miracle-cures as at Epidaurus - the old p1iests were chased away. and little Cluistian basilicas were set up in the courts and halls of the temples. Philae, the sacred island much patronized by Ptolemaic kings and Roman emperors, was the last stronghold of the ancient religion to fall. Nearby was another island. Bigga. with 365 otlering t,J)les. 011e f; ir each clay of the year. Only priests were all, iwed on Bigga: they went there , i11ce a month to put milk on each oflering t,J)le. These cataract sluines resembled the Creek island of Delos holy and neutral gTmmd. supposedly respected by men of all races and religions. Sa\ ages came from the heart of Africa to \\ orship I sis at Philae. and it \\'elcomed pious men (and women) o Lt!l persuasi< n1s. Stral)< > says that, ,J)m·e the imp< ising main d, H ir < if the Temple < if I sis, there lived a huge. multi-culourecl falcon, the li\·ing representative of Horus himsel[ whi ch squawked phrases in the old Eg:7ltian tongue. The Roman autl}( )tities respected the religious truce of Philae, e\·en after the emperors became Christians. But towards the end surviYed. Even Philae was not spared. and the sacred falcon was slaughtered.Justinian gave the zealous his official approval and f< lllnally dosed cluw11 the shrine, the last of its kind. The p1iests were dispersed and 110 more h ieroglyphs were carved. Thus the last link wi th the ancient culture ofEg,,1 > t was severed. All li \·i11g contact was inernverahly lost. especially after the Coptic trn 1!2;ue ceased to be spoken or mitten i11 the late �liddle Ages. Happily, ! towe\·er, the cl,,, sands and the protective climate of Eg:vt rncoo11ecl the relics of the past against the ravages of time and preserved them f; ir the modern world to rediscover.


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a11d culture, a11d ew11 there we1 e often ill-i11f< inned. No 011e is likely to form a high opi11io11 of tl1e sagacity or industry of the classical i11tellige11tsia from their handling of Ei!;yptia11 topics. But ig11ma1 1ce is forgivable: less so is the viev,· propagated by classical 111tellectuals, at a time whe11 the truth was available to them, that the Eg1 vtia11s possessed a 101fm1 of secret knowledge. which the hierogl)vhs e11shri11ed. The belief appears to have sprung from the undoubted fact that the Eg1vtia11s had d clearer escl1atolog} tkrn a11y other a11cie11t people. a11d i 11 particular oflered the rnad to eternal life. Early i 1 1 the first m illennium BC knowledge of Eg)'ptia11 religious f teachi11).!;s and of tl1l'.ir sah-ation-texts, painted 011 cofli1 1 lids or w1 itten i n the Booll tit,, /)1 ad. circubtl'.d \T ry widely in the Mediterranean area. By comparison, the Greek

ythagoras and later Plato. l lcrodot11s co11sta11tly refers to ki1mdedgc he is not in a position to reveal. These authors knew ti rat writing lrad co111c to ti re G reeks through the Pl!( )e11icia11s, aml they belic,·ed ti rat Phoerrician writing was an adaptation ofEg)1>tia11 scripts as in a sense it was. They thought the Eg)'ptia1 1s \\'tre the f-i.rst to use \'vTiting - they knew nothing of the earliest Mesopota111ia11 scripts and . belie,·ed it to be a gift of the gods. In his P!t ildJ11s. Plato says ·Theuth i11, ·c11ted writing f o r the Eg)'ptians: he id e11tifi e d 'Theuth" in ti re P/ul('(/rn.1 with ti re god of wisdo111 (Thoth to the Eg1vtians, l lennes to the C reeks, J\:1 ercur:' to the Romans). The belief� echoed by Cicero. was that ·l\Icrcur ius . . . was said to ha\"e provided the Eg)'ptia11s with laws and letters·, and muclr other i 1 1tdlectu;tl knowledge. Unfortunately, classical writers also believed this ki wwlcdge was locked ir tto the hiero glyphs i11 symbolic 1« >1111. They thought the Egyptians used demotic for o rdinary purposes, and hiero,z;lyphs to p rotect their arcana. They did not knm, that hieroglyphic \\'as a perfect!�· ordinar: script of alphabetic signs and phonograrns. plus pictogra111s. On ti r e co11tra1)', they i magined it was a deliberate code of allegorical sy111l)( )ls. Diod< H'llS \\'rote: ·Their writing does not express tire intended concept by means of syllables joined to 011c another. but through the signif-i.ca11ce of the objects ,,·hich ha\"e been copied and by its fig'lrrative meaning which is learnt by heart·. 1 11 short. they read the script as though it were still at ti re stage of its pre-alphabetic and pictographic origi11s, a 1 1d since (as such) it made 110 se11se. they in\"csted the pictograms with allegorical meani11µ; . Tlris fallacious and highly imagi11ati\ "e ,ie,\· of ti re Egyptian script should. of course, he seen agai nst ;11 1 i11tenr atio1 1al background of wildly co1 11peti 1 1g religious a11d metaphysical cults, i11 which ti re Eg)'ptiaus were tire outstanding mass-purveyors of magical texts, charms a11d spells. Ma11y i11terpretatio11s of tire hiero�lyphs, written along these lines. were produced i11 classical tim es. All have perished, except tire first ce1 1tUI)' BC Chacremon, fra)!,l llents of whose

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work sun·in: i11 Byz:1 1 1ti1 1e ll'Xts. :illd the Ii H irth l'e11tury .\D I Iorapollo, which has come dmn1 to 1 1s. ,\ fi1rtl1n element i11 the collfosio11 \\ "as the re \'ival of Platonist metaphysics betweell ahollt .\D I .SO a11d the age 01J usti11ia11. The Neopb to11ists. like Plato himself� were really looki11g 1; ,r met:iphysical short-c11h to the tedious husilless of acquiring k11owledge by e:\.ad obscr \'atio1 1 ;1 1 1d logical proof wh:it we call science. They thought they could fathom the secrets of the u11i, · e rse i11 their own 111i11ds pnl \'ickd they had the right key a11d 111etl1odolog,-y. Ploti11us, the most influential of the Neoplatol lists. believed and taught that the Eg;yptialls had discovered (or perhaps been giwn hy 'Theuth' or I lermes) this 111ethodolog,)� and put it i11to hieroglyphs. Thus they \\'rote with separate pictures of i11di,idual ol?jects 11ot only letters expressi11g sm1ll(ls :ind syllables - and these pictures did 1101 directly port ray the ol�jects they apparelltly represented hut penetrated to the \'l'I")' essence of things aml e11capsulated ki1mdedge possessed only hy the gods. The Eg,)1)tialls had thus discovered ·1 n11e' philosophy, tmrnmplicated al ld u11douded by the harrier or all :ilphabetic am! phonetic bnguage. This material was embodied il l a collection called the Co 1f/ll .t !/trn1tllrn 111 . reputedly hy ·Hennes Trismegistus" compiled in bte :1 11tiquity but supposed. even then. to go back to prehistoric times. The medic ,·al Christia lls in the \\'e st knew nothing of these texts at first hand. lsad1 ,re 1 ,fSeYille. the great el lc�·clopaedist or the Dark Ages. thought that l krmes was the Creek pri1ll(:Y:il lawgiver, the equivalent of l\loses (some Christialls believed Hermes to be mud1 older). l\l edieval scholars k1 1t:w Eg,)·pt only through the Bible, but much of Christia11 symbolism. open a11d secrd. ,,·as ultimately deri, ·ed from hierngl�vhic f; ,rms. a1 1d there was a ge11cral assump tion a111011g sch olars that a , · a st qualltity of secret kllowledge had dis:ippeared ,,ith the collapse or the Rom:il l Empire. In 1 ! 1 4. fragmel lts oL \mmial lus, the last great historiall 0L111tiquity. turned up ill a Gt:nnal l mrn 1:iste1:·· He rel erred to the hien ,glyphs 011 the ol>elisks Im ,ught to impe1ial Rome a11d summarized the view that tl1rnuglmut al lcie11t times scholars had drawll rn1 the :111cie11t . god-gi,·e11 knowledge of the E g,}JHia11 sens :1 11d priests. His text ,,·as circulated in Flore11ce a11d prepared the i11telligt:ntsia 1; ,r the visit ofCemisto Plcthol l. the Byz:rntine scholar. il l l 4.'38. which bega11 the re,i,·:J of Plato. a11d m turn illtroduced the \\'est to :\'eopla to11ist ideas and books. A ma11uscript of tl1c Jliffog(v/Jh iro , by l l orapollo. also came to light a11d \\'a s circula ted in ma1 1uscript. along ,,·itl1 \'arim1s H ermetic \\'ritings. 111 the dosing decades of the fifteenth centlll)". these, a11d similar esoteric text s. \\'ere among the first to be priuted at Florence, Venice and elsewhere, and e1�jo�·ecl au t:11onnous \'og,1 Je among scholars. tg)-ptiau knmvlecl�e, or pseudo-k11owlt:clge. operated at a number of levels si111ulta11eously. Until the seventeenth century� whel l a11 unbridgeable fissure opened between empirical scit:nce. 011 the 011e hand, alld metaphysics, astrology a11d esoteric kno \\'ledge 011 the other. men saw 11a tural philosophy as a m11I in 1111 111 . EYen as la te a hgurt: as Isaac _0;ewton thought the fissure could he crossed . Hellce in the sixteenth ce11tu1y a great 111athe111aticia11 aud physicist likejolm Dee studied tht: Hermetic texts with fcrn.:nt l 1 ope: until the Thirty Years \Yar. imperial Prague was both the leacli11g -;cie11tific centre i11 Europe and the place where the Egyptian hie roglyphics alld the yramids, tom t if witl1tia1 1 villagers. who stole millions ( )f li111esto11e blocks - painted low­ reliefs a11d all for burni11g in the limepits, a11d who consumed tl1e ancient mud-brick

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pabcc . s liir ;1gricultm;d fert ilizer: thns the wealth of the pharaohs \\ent back to the peasants ,,ho migi 1 1all�· created it. a nd that was how e1 1onnous monuments like the L,h�-rinth 0L\111111cneme . s I l l. which astonished the ;mcients, literally vanished from tlie face of the earth. But Egy pt al .s o numbered amo11g its native inhabitants men whose hereditary profcs.sion was the pillagin� of tombs. \Vhat was evidently a well-organized racket as 1011g ago as the twelfth ce1 1tury BC - as thejndicial records of the reign of Ramesses IX re,-eal nner really died out. Thieves were the first archaeologists. In Coptic times they .shared tomb-pas.sages and caves of the Theban hills with anchorites and hermits. TheY ,,·ere still there ,, hen the Arabs a11d. later. tlie Turks came. Two eighteenth­ century Yisitors to Thebes, Richard Pococke in I 7-13 andjames B ruce in 1 769, both reported the existence of violent and very proprietary thie,·es in the necropolis area. and their clescend:mts audaciously attacked the Napoleonic expedition at the tum

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of the century. Tomb robbery undoubtedly increased during the 11i11etee11th century, when the market prices even of antiquities with 1 10 i11tri11sic value i11 metal or sto11es rose steadily. The last great outrages occurred duri11g the 1 8 70s: an investigation in 1 8 8 1 showed that Kurna. near Luxo1� had been a village of professional and hereditary th ieves since the th irteenth century. Such thefts continue to th is day, tl1ough 011 a reduced sc,Je. The European collectors and antiquity-traders who follovved in the wake of Napoleon\ expedition were not, like the thi e \·es. primarily interested in jewellery a11d bullion. b11t i11 carved sto11e. In their eflrts to find it they initially did far more damage. Gi0 \·a11ni-Battista Belzoni. the Italian cirrns stro11g111a11 who hecame the greatest of the tomb-plunderers. actually smashed i11to sealed tomhs with battering rams. Tims he stocked his exhibition in Piccadilly. the 'Eg)1)tian I Jail', and. working \vith the British consul-ge11eral Herny Salt. supplied the British J\ l 11se11111 with 111a11y of its treasures. including the \ast granite head of Ramesses II from the K11nesseu111 i11 The hes. its dramatic statue of Sekhmet, th e lio11-headed fire-goddess. its statue of Sethos II, holding the sl11ine he built, and the hlack gra11ite statue of Ame11oph is III. in perfect condition, 011e of a pair. Belzoni also removed the obelisk at Philae.. 11mv at Ki11gsto11 Lacey in Dorsetshire, a11d di scovered tl1e tomb of Setl10s I, whose great alabaster

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\ l l< l\ t ll- \\l H \ 1 1· < ,Yl'T sarcophagus is i11 the Soane i\luse11m i u Lo11clo11. He car\'ecl his name 011 the H.amesseu111. and lirihcd and sul,ornecl Eg,)1)tia11 officials to assist his activities . . \II the same. it is a matter of debate whether the vandalism of a Belzoni. who was merely looking for tra nsportable stone loot. was more seriow, than that of the early profc.:ssional archaeologists. \\· lwse interests were altruistic but whose pertinacity rn111bincd ,,itl1 defccti\'e nwtlwds. fills moclern archaeologists with hopeless rage. The Freuch Eg,1·ptologist 1\ugust i\ la riette came to Egypt from the Louvre in 1 850 and eflecti,·ely brough t to an encl u ncontrolled a11d unsuper\'isecl archaeological exploratio n . I 11 I 858 he was made heacl of the newly f ounded Eg·yptian SerYice of . \ntiqnities: he laid down a11cl enforced the principle that. while professional foreign expeclitio us sul�ject to supen · ision, might continue to work in Egypt. the Eg;yptian go\'ernment must haYe the first oiler of their finels: thus the ma1vellom collection which 1w\\· fills the Cairo :\ l useu m was fo rmed. i\l ariette exca,·ated oyer thirty sites and cleared from sand ancl rubbish the great temples of Dei r el-Bahari, Meclinet Habu and Edn.1. I-le began work 011 the early dynastic rqyal tombs at 1\bydm,. the earliest great royal necropolis. a ncl i ts Olcl K.i11gdom succe;sor. Sakkara - th e first of the notable French excavations there which conti nue to this clay. But in many ways his work was no more scientific than Belzoni" s. At Ahrclos. one of the most important sites in the \\·hole of Eg,1vt. which contains tombs of the First ancl Seconcl Dynasty kings, about ,,·horn ,n· know practically nothing. he rummagecl arouncl like a tomb-rob ber. He remm·ecl stele wi thout recording the circt1111 I ',< C > \ l•.1('1 c , 1

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abuse a nd institutional mean s to suppo rt sci e 1 1 ti fically sound a n d ."> ocially respo1 1 sihle work < > I I the sites. I le canicd arcl 1ae< ,I< >).!,} in Eg)l)t successf-i.illy into tht was a gTeat Bn 11 1ze Age pt 1wer hut it was already technically backward even during the glmy of its :\i1 1etee11th Dynasty, and hy the middle of the Twentieth it was a culture in rapid and ma11ikst dedi1 1e. Its ruling class might haYe restored its old energy and in11ovat01)' spi1 it

' J ' l l l·. IU·.l > l 'i< .< 1\ l· Ir the first ti1 1 1e offered a dy1 1a111ic al terna tive to the repressive divisio 1 1 of ti 1e archaic class struc ture - into the rulers a11d the ruled. Egypt 1 1 1 iµ; h t have takc11 tl1is way. I nstead. it retreated into its p,1st and rei11fi ,rced the regulated col lectivis1 1 1 of"its society. Only the Cret.'.k 1 1 1t.'.rcl 1a1 1t c01 1 11m11 1i ties \Vere granted the frecd01 11 to conduct their ow 11 a ffoi rs, and i n ti1 1 1 e it was they, the 1 1 1in01ities, who took over the country. Eg)l 'I finally en tered the Iron Age 11ot by i ts mrn etl, ,1ts and as an independent state but as a helpless and leaderless col o 1 1\ '. It is a so11 1bre tale. But ,ill civi l i zatirn 1s are born to die. Those f1 ,rtu 1 1ate e110U�!;l 1 to live in 011e should study the past to learn from its errors, and with the wisdom of h i ndsigh t stri\·e to keep at bay for a w hile the drifting sands of 11.1 1 11 //11· !iriti.,h .ll11.1t11111 ( L011�lo11 1 97:i). .111d I'. R . S . \ l oorlc\': . ·l 111 it 11f },j;r/1! (. \ , \ l mrnm. ( ) x fi l l d I il 7()). ( lthl'I good );l'lll' l',11 ,ut'\'c\·, ,ll't.: \ l .11 g;11l't . \ . \ ! t 1 11.iy : '/ ht \j,!t 111/,,,a that ,,•a., t-:grf,t ( Londo1 1. reprinted 1 9 7:2) . .Jolrn lltttlle: //, r1fa/:..t ,,f t/11 l'ha m"h , : a11 i11tn •tl11rti"11 t,, f.p;_r/1tia11 frc l1a, t>'11.�1 (I hti ,rd 1 97 7 ) . ,md ( ',yril . \ ldred: 'l hr h.'r!;_1'j1lia11., ( Londo11 I % I ).J lt I I.m i , ( ed . ) : '/ ht /,1J!..m:r /If Eg1'j1/ (( Jxh ll d :.!ml ed .. I �l7 ] ) co11t,1 i 1 1 s \',tl1 1;1hk l',sa\'s h\' n.pnts 011 .ispl'ds of Eg, pti.m hi,ton .md n 1 lt111e. The }r•11mal "/ f..'r!;_1'fJ/ia11 . In /111" 1 /1•.�1 . p11hl i�hnl .1 1 1 1 1 11;1II\' h�· the Eg,·pt Explor.itio11 ""cict, in Lo11do11. co11t,1i11, the re,ult., of rel·e11t resea rch ,111d rn in, , .,II matn i.11 i11 tlH· fi eld. For term,. ( ; , l'o�e11cr ;111d otl1n,; I !)11 f11•11111·r of Egr/1tia11 !.' i1•ili:atio11 ( Lornlo1 1 } (l!i:2). BJ h.emp: . l 11 11 rn t }��1/J/: . l 11at,,111_r /If d/1rn >1 1. 1 9 2. 20:J , 201 J. :.! 2 1 2 S..ikL1 1 a a 1 1 i111,il \\·mship I .'i:3 e:--ca,· atio11 2 --1 --1 . 2--15 necropolis :J.'i . .'i I pHamid of Pepi II !i ii, 207 Step Pyramid . ,f Djose1 :rn, :37, . 'i .'l --1, l :3s S tep Pyr..imid of ,S ekhe m khet 'i. :J , S--1 Salt. He1 1 ry 2--l'l Sa1 1derson,Jol111 2:37 ,carahs I TJ , 1 --1 --1 . 1 --1 7 . 2 2 7 sn: n ts 1 1 0 Schafer. Hei nrich --17. -I S. J < J.'l. 1 ()6 Scorpio 27 scribes 1 67 S. l ,