(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

The Legacy to Modern Egypt               371
The two kingdoms were themselves composed of what had
once been principalities, nomes with their gods, temples, stan-
dards, and processions. Their crowns could be and were fused,
fusing the deities. In time the all-embracing divinity of the
king swallowed up the local gods, reducing a host of princi-
palities to two kingdoms.
Thanks to the protracted labours of those earl7 unifiers,
whoever now takes possession of Egypt receives a ready-made
centralization.
The king's divinity provided them with a theory for gathering
all things into his hand. The land was tributary to him as to
a god, and paid one-fifth of the produce. Like the gods he
owned a considerable domain, so that the land was divided into
royal domain, temple lands, and private tenures. This classifica-
tion is still maintained by the Egyptian code. The proportions
only have fluctuated. In the Pyramid Age it is estimated that
the king owned the greater part of Northern Egypt. By about
1870 Ismail Pasha had built up once more this domain to include
about one-fifth of the arable land; but his extravagance forced
him to cede a great part to the State, thus introducing a new
distinction between the public and the private domain. This
latter has been built up again to a considerable size.
The temple lands are now represented by the religious waqfs
or endowments. They have been estimated at one-twelfth of
the cultivated land. The Minister of Waqfs represents the
ancient 'scribe who establishes the endowments of all the gods'.
The rest of the land, as land conquered from infidels, is con-
sidered to have been either distributed by the conqueror to
Muslims as military fiefs subject to tithe or left to their owners
on payment of tribute. Military fiefs were not an invention of
the Arabs; they were well known to the ancient Egyptians.
As all divinity was concentrated in the king, so was all service,
since godhead is there to be served, that is, to have such things
done to it as will make it beneficiently efficacious to the people.