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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

xvi                            Introduction
with barely any modification; in his art, designs and forms
which took shape under the pyramid-builders are recognizable
on the temple walls of the Ptolemaic and Roman periods; the
most primitive formulae and practices continued to be the
bases of religious ceremonies, which took no account of a slow
but definite spiritual development; the fundamental attitude
to Kingship, by virtue of which Egypt was first united, out-
lasted all political changes and external assaults, and after the
disappearance of the native pharaohs was sustained by the
Macedonian conquerors to further their control of the country;
and it was not until the advent of these last, three centuries
after the invention of coinage, that Egypt was persuaded
to accept stamped money as a medium of exchange in the
markets.
It is thus in two main fields that, thanks to her capacity for
conservation, Egypt displays herself as our benefactor. Firstly,
there is the extraordinary mass of her material remains, which,
including her standing monuments, surpass in bulk, as it is
beginning to be recognized they rival in quality, the similar
contributions of any other single ancient people. These present,
with their artistic, literary, and documentary content, an appeal
to our senses and to our minds which will become more impor-
tant as it is more universally appreciated, and which may already
be regarded as a significant element in the make-up of our
civilization. Secondly, Egypt's changelessness has preserved
for our examination her undoubted right to be considered
as a pioneer in the fields of religion and craftsmanship, art,
letters, and politics. How far we are directly indebted to
these first steps of hers for integral elements in our Western
civilization the chapters of this book will show* But even where
no connexion is evident—as must be the case more often than
not—the revelation of these beginnings is in itself a factor in
any attempt to assess our own way of life.
The logical implication of the last paragraph is that the real