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by means of these monosyllabic sounds, they represented the names of thoughts, feelings, and actions, which cannot themselves be copied in a picture. The second great step followed upon the writers, or rather carvers, finding that twenty or thirty of these monosyllabic sounds came into use much oftener than the rest. These were vowel sounds, and vowels joined to single consonants, which, from their frequent use, were hereafter undesignedly to form an alphabet. And both these changes, each the slow growth of many centuries, must have taken place before the reign of Osirtesen I., in whose inscriptions we find some characters representing words or objects, others representing syllables, and others again representing single letters. Though the Egyptian priests had not then arrived at the beautiful simplicity of an alphabet, they must have made vast strides indeed before they wrote the word Osiris Inscript. (see Fig. 13), with two characters for the


pl. 86,

87, 88.

syllables Os and Iri; and again, before they spelled the name Amun (see Fig. 14), with a vowel and two consonants. Afterwards, Fig. 13. when easier characters came into use, this ornamental but slow method of writing received the name of hieroglyphics, or sacred carving.

(21) The power of making our thoughts known to Fig. 14. absent friends and after ages by means of a few black marks on the paper, and of thus treasuring up the wisdom of the world, is an art so wonderful in its contrivance and so important in its results that many have thought it must have been taught to the forefathers of the human race directly from heaven. But the wise Ruler of the world seems always to employ natural means to bring about his great ends; and thus in hieroglyphics we trace some of the earliest steps by which the art of writing has risen to its present perfection. And when we think of the kind feelings and the thirst of knowledge that have been both awakened and gratified by letters, and of the power that we now enjoy in our libraries of calling before us the wise of all ages to talk to us and answer our questions, we must not forget the debt which we owe to the priests of Upper Egypt.

(22) No monuments in Egypt are more interesting, and perhaps none more ancient, than the hieroglyphical names

for the months. They divide the year into three parts; the season of vegetation (see Fig. 15); the season of harvest (see Fig. 16); and the season of inundation (see Fig. 17); each of the seasons is divided into the first, second, third, and fourth month; and every month into thirty days. At some unknown time five additional days were added, called by the Greeks the epagomenœ. This civil year of three hundred and sixty-five days was certainly in constant use ever after the year 1322 before Christ, and fourteen hundred and sixtyone of these years were counted in the fourteen hundred and sixty natural years which followed that date. During that time, called a Sothic period, the civil new year's day, for

Fig. 15.

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Fig. 16.

Fig. 17.

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Epiphi. want of a leap-year, wandered through the whole round of the seasons. But even at that early date, B.C. 1322, called the era of Menophra, the year of the calendar, we shall see, was no longer true to the names which the months bore. At that time the months had become a whole season too early for their names; and the month of Thoth, the first month of vegetation, began soon after Midsummer, or at the beginning of the inundation. Hence the question is naturally asked, when was the calendar formed, with the names of the months true to the seasons? This cannot be told, as we do not certainly know what was the length of the civil year before the era of Menophra. If, as Manetho says, the

B.C. 1808.

five additional days had been before added, with the help of astronomical knowledge brought from the east by the Phenician shepherds, and no after correction was made in the calendar, we may fix its date four hundred and eighty-seven years, or a third part of fourteen nundred and sixty-one years, before the era of Menophra. But even if this attempt to fix its origin be wrong, and the calendar had been several times reformed before the era of Menophra, at any rate we know of nothing in Egypt but the Egyptian language which is older than the hieroglyphical names of the months. Besides dividing the year pl. 104, 3. into months, the Egyptians made use of the halfpl. 108, 3. month and the week as smaller divisions of time. The week is mentioned in many of the very oldest of the inscriptions. It is spelt U K, and may even be the original of our own word week (see Fig. 18).

Inscript. pl. 92, 6.

Fig. 18.

(23) The ancient hieroglyphics teach us that the Egyptian language was in its roots the same as the more modern Coptic, a language but slightly related to any other; and the Greek and Hebrew words which we now trace in it seem to have crept in at a later time. But in its manner of forming the tenses and persons of the verbs it is not unlike the Hebrew. As the people were at a very early period closely crowded together and less roving than their neighbours, because hemmed in by the desert, the language received fewer changes in each century than those of nations less fixed to the soil. When it becomes better known to us we find it divided into three dialects, the Thebaic of Upper Egypt, the Memphitic of the western half of the Delta, and the Bashmuric of the eastern half of the Delta. But before those dialects were observed, the kingdom had been in part peopled with foreigners. Arabs of various tribes had overrun Upper Egypt, while Phenicians, Jews, and Greeks had settled in the Delta; hence these dialects may perhaps in part be of modern growth; but of the three, the hieroglyphics teach us that the Thebaic is the most ancient, though afterwards equally corrupted by additions. Like all other early languages, it is full of monosyllables; but, unlike our own, these monosyllables are very much formed



Half- Week. month.

with only one consonant, and thus increase the ease by which consonants came to be represented by characters which at the same time represented syllables. In pronunciation the Egyptian was strongly guttural, as we see by the confusion between Th, Ch, and K. For L, D, B, and G, they used the same letters as for R, T, P, and K, having in each case only one sound where we have two. The language agrees with the religion, and with the earliest buildings, in teaching us that the Thebaid was more closely joined to the eastern than to the western half of the Delta.

(24) Nothing in the art of war is more important than good weapons; and great indeed was the superiority of a nation like the Egyptians that had spears tipped with steel, while their neighbours had no metal harder than brass. In Greece iron was scarce even in the time of Homer, while among the Egyptians it had been common many centuries earlier. They probably imported it from Cyprus. It is not easy to trace its history; because, from the quickness with which this metal is eaten away by rust, few ancient iron or steel tools have been saved to clear up what the writers have left in doubt. The Greeks speak of hard iron from some countries, without knowing from what the hardness arose; like the Cyprian breastplate which Agamemnon wore at the siege of Troy; and, as the smelting furnaces were heated with wood, the iron must often have been made into steel by the mere chance of the air being shut out. But though we have not now the Egyptian tools themselves, we have the stones which were carved with them; and the sharp deep lines of the hieroglyphics on the granite and basalt could have been cut with nothing softer than steel. No faults in the chiselling betray the workman's difficulty. To suppose that the Egyptian tools were made of flint or highly tempered copper, is to run into the greater difficulty to escape the lesser. The metal which was best for the mason's chisel would be used for the soldier's spear.

(25) Memphis, which had been governed for two or three hundred years by a race of kings or priests of its Manetho. own, was strong enough under SUPHIS, or CHOFO, or CHEOPS (Fig. 19), and his successor, SENSUPHIS or NEF-CHOFO (Fig. 20), to conquer and hold Thebes

Iliad, xi. 20.




pl. xii.

a little before the time of Osirtesen I. These two kings conquered the peninsula of Forty Days. Mount Sinai, the Tih or hillBurton's country, as it was called, and Excerpta, have left their hieroglyphical inscriptions in the valley of Wâdy Mugareh on the north-west side of the range. There they worked mines, Fig. 19. Fig. 20. but of what mineral is doubtful. These mines continued to be worked in the reign of the Theban King Amunmai Thori III.

(26) The fruitful rice- and corn-fields made Lower Egypt a place of great wealth, though from its buildings it would seem to be less forward in the arts than Upper Egypt. Industry and earnestness of purpose were equally great in each half of the country. While one race was hollowing its tombs out of the rock near Thebes, the other was building its huge pyramids on the edge of the desert near Memphis. The historian Manetho, who has the best claim to be followed in this part of our history, when so many of our steps are made in doubt, says that Suphis and his successor built the two greatest of these pyramids (see Fig. 21). Each of Pocock's these huge piles stands upon a square plot of about Travels. eleven acres, and its four sides meet at a point about five hundred feet high. The stones were quarried out of the neighbouring hills, and some from the opposite side of

Fig. 21.

the Nile, and are all of a great size, and carefully cut into shape. The chinks between the stones are in some places 1 filled with plaster of Paris and in others with the plaster mixed with mortar. In the limestone quarries of Toora,

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