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of the children of Ham; and from the Greeks it received the name of Ægyptus, Egypt, or the land of Copts; and these last two names, having once meant the Delta, were afterwards stretched southward to include the whole of the country.
(3) We learn from the book of Genesis that the Egyptians were a tribe from Asia, called the children of Ham; and their physical character, and their habits of life, both show that they were more nearly allied to Asiatics than to the less civilised tribes of the Arabian and Libyan deserts. Like their corn and rice and cattle, they had arrived in the valley from abroad; the natives of the neighbourhood, whether men, animals, or plants, were badly suited for cultivation. From the colour given to the women in their paintings, we learn that their skin was yellow, like that of the Mongol Tartars, who have given their name to the Mongolian variety of the human race; the darker brown of the men may arise from their having been more in the sunshine. The single lock of hair on the young nobles reminds us also of the Tartars; while the religious dread of the sea, the sacred bull, and the refusal to eat flesh, are what we meet with among the Hindoos. Their worship of the bull reminds us also of the Chinese, for whom Confucius wrote: "Thou shalt not slaughter the labouring ox;" and they were like the Chinese in their syllabic writing, and in dutifully setting out food at the graves of their forefathers. Their pious custom of embalming the dead can hardly have had its rise in Egypt, as the mineral pitch which the priests used was brought by foreign traders from the Dead Sea. But the sculptures give us more exact information, and tell us of two races of men, known by the form of skull; one seen in the statues of Lower Egypt, and the other in those of the Thebaid. Of these we find good grounds for believing that the former skull belonged to the original inhabitants of the valley, and the latter, the Theban, to a race of foreigners who afterwards, though at some very early period, gained a settlement there. The older and less intellectual skull we note in the head of the Great Sphinx, the earliest sculpture existing, and in the head of the modern Fellah (see Fig. 1), the present labourer on the soil. Between these, the earliest and latest examples, we also note it in the intermediate time in the heads of the kings
who ruled in Sais when Lower Egypt made itself independent of Thebes, and even in the heads of Theban kings when sculptured in stone belonging to the lower country. This form of skull is distinguished by a retreating forehead, a forward mouth, and an undue length of line from the chin to the back of the head. A race of people with this form of skull, who bear the name of the Galla tribe, yet hold undisturbed possession of the country to the south of Abyssinia. Hence it would seem to have been originally peculiar to the whole of eastern Africa, between the Negroes on the south
and the Arabs on the north. The more intellectual form of skull we note in the statues of Rameses II. (see Fig. 2), and the other great kings of Thebes, and in the statues of the gods of the same district. This is marked by a more upright forehead and a nose almost aquiline; and it seems to have belonged to a race of foreigners who brought into Egypt its language, its civilisation, and its religion. This diversity of race gave rise to a division of the people into castes, as long as they were under one sceptre; thus the nobles who owned the land were the soldiers and priests,
while the common people, the lower caste, were the labourers who tilled the soil and paid the taxes. The skulls of the mummies do not speak so clearly on these points, first because they belong almost exclusively to families of Siculus, the priestly or upper class, lib. i. 28. and secondly because they are too modern to show us the Egyptians free from the mixture of Arabs, Phenicians, and Crania Greeks, who freely settled Egyptiaca. among them. The inhabitants of Lower Egypt were further mixed with a large number of Phenicians, from the neighbouring parts of Syria, and not a few Greek traders on the coast. Indeed the difference of gods that they worshipped shows that the people of the Delta were not wholly the same in race as the Copts of Upper Egypt, while from the same reasons we see that the inhabi
tants of the oases were colonists from Thebes.
(4) The soil and climate of Egypt cannot but have had a large share in moulding the character of the people. It is a country almost without rain and wholly without brooks; in which every spot is barren that is not overflowed in the autumn by the waters of its one river, which scatters blessings along its banks, alike on the grateful and on the ungrateful, from Syene to the Mediterranean. The Pliny, lib. rains from the mountains to the south of Abyssinia, flowing through Meroë, Ethiopia, and Nubia, reach Egypt in the middle of June, when the Nile begins to rise at Syene. The little plains which fringe its banks through the Thebaid to a greater or less width are first overflowed, and, during the months of August, September, and October, the fields in the Delta become a sheet of water, leaving the villages on the raised mounds standing like so many islands in the ocean. The river is then red with Abyssinian soil, and when the fields are again left dry, in the beginning of November, they are found covered with a rich
mud, and need little or no labour from the husbandman. He values his land by the quantity of water upon it, and the sacred stone which bounds his field (see Fig. 3) measures at the same time the height of the overflow. No further manure is wanted, nor a sabbath year in which the ground may lie fallow. The husbandman has only to sow the seed and gather in the harvest; except indeed when his industry leads him to widen the valley and cultivate the borders of the desert, where he then has the more laborious task of watering, by means of trenches and hand pumps, the fields which the overflow would not otherwise reach. As soon as the wheat and barley are gathered, the Indian corn and rice are sown, to grow during the inundation, and to be gathered before the former crops are again put into the ground. Vegetation is rapid in the winter months, when with us all nature is dead and our fields covered with snow; while in the months of our cheerful spring the climate of Egypt is painfully sultry and the fields parched with drought. The necessary clothes and houses are easily supplied in such a warm climate; and herds of cattle are not wanted in a country almost too hot for animal food and animal clothing. The two crops of grain and the supply of fish from the river, and yet cheaper onions and lentils, easily fed twice as many persons as could live in an equal space in Europe; and the same mud that manured the field was baked in the sun to form the hut in which the husbandman slept at night. There are few trees in the country, and wood is but little used; no seaworthy ships could be built till timber was afterwards brought from the forests of Cilicia or of Lebanon, though the Nile was safely navigated in barges built of the large rushes that grow on its banks. Building stone of several kinds is at hand; limestone from both sides of the river from Toora and Memphis up to Silsilis, sandstone from Silsilis and Heliopolis, granite from Syene, and transparent alabaster from Antinoopolis for works of greater delicacy; and such is the dryness of the air, that works of art, though uncovered from the weather, remain for ages untried by changes from hot to cold, or from wet to dry, and uninjured but by the hand of man. The wild birds and beasts are as peculiar as the
climate and the surface of the country. The stunted shrubs and herbage of the desert furnish food to several kinds of deer; the river feeds the crocodile, the river horse, and numerous web-footed swimming birds; while the canals and marshes on its banks are frequented by a great variety of long-legged wading birds. Of the grass-eating animals, the buffalo seems the one most at home; of the grain-eating birds, there are very few beside the quail. The flesh-eaters, such as the eagle, the vulture, the hawk, the hyena, the jackal, and wolf, find their food wherever man or the other animals have been before them. When nations began to trade, the great source of wealth to Egypt was in the Nubian gold mines. By the help of these mines, the city of Thebes, which had the command of them, was for five hundred years the richest city in the world; and when this supply of gold ceased, Upper Egypt took the more natural rank of a province governed by the Delta.
(5) The Nile was not valued by the husbandman only; it was the longest inland navigation known to the ancients, and while the art of managing a vessel at sea was in its infancy, while ships were rowed timidly along the coast, the River of Egypt was a most important route for trade. The art of boatbuilding would be sooner learnt among the canals formed by the Nile's overflow than in the rocky creeks of Greece or among the breakers on the Tyrian shore. The husbandman who every autumn found the ditches round his fields too wide and too deep to be crossed on foot, would soon find out how
to make a bundle of rushes into a raft (see Fig. 4); and the rushes on which he crossed the overflow would afterwards carry him over the deeper river in equal safety. For nine