THE LEGACY TO MODERN EGYPT1
'EGYPT', says Lady Duff-Gordon, cis a palimpsest in which the
Bible is written over Herodotos and the Koran over that.'
Herodotus himself was written over the Pyramid Age which
overlay the predynastic, and so on even perhaps to the Palaeo-
lithic and beyond. It is still the custom to make prints of hands
with blood on doors and on Saints' tombs. Red hand-prints are
found in Europe in the Upper Palaeolithic.
The new is not always written over the old, but often beside
it. Thus the ancient Egyptian water-lift was supplemented, not
superseded by the water-wheel, and in Hellenistic times by the
water-screw. The reason is that the earlier can sometimes work
where the new cannot. The water-screw, for instance, is only
suitable for small differences of level. Even the water-wheel has
its limits, and when the Nile is low has to be eked out with the
lift. As for the latest comer, the engine pump, it requires a
capital which the smallholder never possesses, or he would not
be a smallholder. It is no doubt partly for the same reason that
the adze which we can see in use on the reliefs of Saqqara can
still be watched at work in streets traversed by the latest type
of car. It is an all-round tool, armed with which a competent
carpenter can achieve much with next to no capital.
New conceptions are continually arising which form the
kernel of new systems of thought. Backed by the enthusiasm
of newness, these attack and break up the older cultures, as a
small keen army strikes at the heart of a large inert host, destroys
1 If I have ventured at all on this study it is because I could count on
Prof. H. Junker to place at my disposal both his vast knowledge of Egypt
ancient and modern, and the excellent library of the German Archaeological
Institute in Cairo. I have also been helped by the kindness of Prof. Sami
Gabra, 'Ali Ahmed elsa Effendi, Mahmud Gamal ed Din Hamdi Efiendi,
'Abdallah Hasan Effendi, and other friends.