Skip to main content

Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

See other formats

Ibe Political Abroach to the Classical World 27
split up once more into city units. Occasionally a local prince
was able to bring prosperity and virtual independence to his
state. Such a one was Gudea of Lagash, who embarked on
extensive building projects, and for his temple procured cedar
from Amanus and Taurus, stone from northern Syria, and wood
and diorite from far down the Persian Gulf. The trade routes
were evidently still open and the country not in a state of com-
plete confusion. But records are few and it may be that in that
dark period few city-states fared so well as Lagash.
In Egypt anarchy came a little later and more gradually, and
it came from within rather than from without. The strong
kings of the Fourth Dynasty at the height of their power had
sown the seeds of future disintegration. Their too ambitious
building schemes had exhausted the country financially, their
injudicious marriages had created a split in the royal house. The
Pharaohs of the Fifth Dynasty built smaller tombs, embarked
on fewer enterprises; the Sixth Dynasty witnessed the increas-
ing independence of the nomarchs, the district rulers; and the
long reign of Pepy II, whose ninety years on the throne can
seldom have been exceeded in the whole range of history,
resulted in the enfeeblement and final collapse of the central
authority. By about 2300 B.C. there was complete disorder.
Local princes established their ephemeral dynasties up and down
the country; the Delta, left unguarded, was overrun by tribes
of marauding Bedawin, and it was not until a line of more
competent rulers arose at Heracleopolis that order was restored
in this region and the invaders driven out. Finally a line of
Theban nobles became strong enough to bring the whole country
under their rule, and the latter Mentuhoteps of the Eleventh
Dynasty achieved once again the unification of Egypt.
Under the centralized government of the Middle Kingdom,
Egypt prospered exceedingly. Art revived in a number of
vigorous local schools, trade and agriculture flourished. The
kings of the Twelfth Dynasty moved their capital to the Faiyum,