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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

xviii                             Introduction
any adequate attempt to recover a knowledge of the culture has
been so long delayed. There are traces of two separate lines of
descent for the tradition; a more superficial, which until the
beginning of the last century was the more effective, and a more
penetrating which though often hopelessly astray in its search
for the real Egypt eventually found the clue and made possible
the science of Egyptology. The clue was the decipherment of
hieroglyphic writing, and it is clear that already in Herodotus'
time the two lines were separate and that the former claimed
by far the greater attention from the civilized world. Egypt's
history was already a mystery to her admirers. She was known
almost entirely by her outward forms, and even the major
periods of her artistic development, then more amply witnessed
by standing monuments and by statues in situ than to-day,
were confused in the minds of the contemporary Greeks.
Through succeeding ages we catch glimpses of Ancient Egypt
still courted by the world for her material remains, which soon
became mere curios. Julian emperors removed to Rome pha-
raonic obelisks the names of whose original dedicators they must
still have been able to discover. Flavians, content with the
Egyptian form and material, had shafts quarried at Aswan and
caused them to be inscribed in Latin when they reached the
imperial capital. Most of these monuments survived to be re-
erected 'To the glory of Christ and the Cross' in the sixteenth,
seventeenth, and even eighteenth centuries, by which time their
hieroglyphic inscriptions were of course unintelligible. Under
the early Empire temples were built in Rome to serve Greekish
mystery-cults in honour of Egyptian deities; and down to the
Muslim conquest of Egypt the workshops of Alexandria con-
tinued to advertise Egyptian craftsmanship to the world with
bronzes of hybrid design, whose recovery in the eighteenth
century from the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii revived
Egyptian motifs and gave them a facile popularity with Euro-
pean taste. This process has continued. The French clock