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Egyptian Art                         119
funerary cults which maintained the life and activity of these
traditions. The expansion of the political, military, and com-
mercial power of Egypt placed the outer world, from an early
date, in contact with the technique, the forms, and the subject-
matter of Egyptian art, and familiarized it also with the ex-
pression of Egyptian thought. Thus if we deny that the world
of Egypt was, for some thousands of years, one of the most
active centres in the spread of civilization, we shall have to
admit that in the ancient world all the causes which operated
in more recent periods had not yet begun to produce their
normal effects. It will never be possible to define precisely which
were the elements which, after their first appearance on the
banks of the Nile, were diffused over the whole world, and which
will undoubtedly never again vanish from the memory of man-
kind. (It has been shown that the use of mud-bricks, dried in
the sun, passed to the New World; the name 'adobe' came with
them—a form hardly differing from that which was current in
Pyramid times.)
Egypt gives us the opportunity to study and to follow the
development, over more than forty centuries, of the artistic
manifestations of man's activity in the most varied fields. As
one writer can say: *No known art has been so complex in its
ideas and yet so great in the simplicity of its expression.'1 Our
final conclusion may be that Egypt reveals to us the knowledge
of one of the sources—perhaps the source—from which the
great river of beauty has flowed continuously through the
1 F. H, Taylor, Worcester Art Museum Bulletin^ xxiii, 1932, p. 16.