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that some towns were abandoned, and the memory of the disastrous
time has been preserved, it seems, in the story of Noah's flood and the
corresponding Mesopotamian legends. But more important was its
effect on Egypt. In the centuries before this time, the Nile Valley
seems to have been marshy and largely uninhabitable; the elevation
must have drained it. And the long ribbon of marvellously fertile
land thus provided for the use of man tempted in the agriculturists of
neighbouring countries. This, it appears, was the real beginning of
the civilization of Egypt; but, once started on its career, its geo-
graphical position was such that it soon outstripped its rivals.
Thus, largely as a result of the pressure of changing climate on early
man, hunting gave place to agriculture. Well before 4000 B.C. what
we may call the Archaic Civilization, based on corn and a settled life,
ówith houses and pottery, woven fabrics and metal work, in addi-
tion,ówas fully established, from Egypt round by Syria to the Tigris
and Euphrates. This corner of the globe was predestined to be the
cradle of the modern worldóby its climate, by its great rivers, by the
fact of its being the original home of wheat, by its being a natural
meeting-place for different streams of culture brought by different
migrations of men, east and west as well as north and south.
Before 4000 B.C. there had been added to the achievements of
settled man the art of writing, the framing of a calendar, irrigation,
the wheel, and the making of fermented liquor. Through the whole
of the next millennium this remarkable civilization was free to develop
its own potentialities. It was a time of depression of land, a moist
time over the steppes and the Arabian peninsula, and so a time when
the nomad inhabitants of these regions could thrive and multiply in
their own homes, not driven by drought to irrupt into the lands of
their richer neighbours. To what height the Mesopotamian civiliza-
tion reached is attested by the marvellous workmanship of the objects
from Ur of the Chaldees, which date from about 3500 B.G. The
organization of the State under a priest-king, even the welding of
empires a million strong, stone architecture, the arch, written codes
of law, sea-going shipsóthese were some of the achievements of this
But the available land in this corner of the world was being filled
up by the natural increase of population; and this filling up coincided
with a new elevation of the land and a new period of drought. Be-
tween them, the two caused such a movement in the world of man
that the Archaic Culture, though made to totter in its original home,
was forced to spread its influence far and wide over Europe, Africa,
and Asia.