Skip to main content

Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

See other formats

30 ^he Political Abroach to the Classical World
Mediterranean in their ships. They certainly visited Egypt, for
these same handsome wares are found on Twelfth-Dynasty sites
in the Nile valley, while small Egyptian objects such as scarabs
and statuettes in faience and stone, which they brought home
in exchange, have been unearthed in Crete. Egypt and Baby-
lonia may have traded indirectly through the Syrian ports. A
recent discovery of an Asiatic treasure deposited in chests
beneath a temple in Upper Egypt contained just such a mis-
cellaneous hoardólapis-lazuli seals of Mesopotamian type, gold
bars, silver cups from the Aegeanóas one might expect to form
the gift or tribute of some Syrian prince whose city was a
meeting-place of trade-routes.
The organization of Egyptian society was now very different
from the authoritarian aristocracy of the Old Kingdom. The
Middle Kingdom saw the rise of a new class in society, the crafts-
men and artists, the scribes and government officials. Hitherto
these had been virtually serfs, working for the noble masters;
now, as order was restored after the civil wars, the csmall man*
emerged as a being with a definite status in society, and it was
a part of the policy of the Pharaohs to encourage this new
middle class in order to counteract the almost feudal power of
the nomarchs in their local spheres of jurisdiction. A similar
development can be seen in the organization of Babylonian
society; between the ruling caste and the slaves an intermediate
class is now recognized, the cpoor men5 who are free but have
not the privileges of the nobles. In the elaborate legal code
which is to us the chief glory of Hammurabi's reign a graded
scale of punishments is prescribed for the three social classes.
A crime committed against a member of the aristocracy is more
serious than the same injury to a man of lesser rank; on the other
hand, fines are lightened for those less able to pay. This code
of laws must have been in force over a large area of the Near
East, wherever the Babylonian civilization had taken root. It
reflects a highly organized society in which the rights of the