The Legacy to Modern Egypt 377 ago; but the Egyptian barber still carries on the habits without the reason. Even more attenuated is the washerman of the dead. He appears to be the last vestige of the embalmer. Mummification has been swept away by new systems of thought, but the wash- ing of the corpse goes on. The original priestly character of this craftsman still survives in the prayers he has to speak, and the elaborate rules that complicate a simple operation. - It is commonly asserted that there are no priests in Islam. That is purely a matter of definition. What interests us here is not the definition of the man but his function. Now there is in Egypt a body of men who perform much the same functions as do priests elsewhere. If we will not call them priests because they are laymen as well, landowners perhaps or village shop- keepers, then Ancient Egypt had no priests either, for under the Old Kingdom 'nearly every person of rank assumed besides their worldly profession one or more priesthoods5.1 Priesthoods were in fact often identical with State appointments. The hereditary character of the priests is gone. Even in Roman times when it was most strict it was not absolute. Ability to read a hieratic book was then accepted as a substitute for descent. Now proficiency in the sacred books is the only basis. To be a sheikh it is necessary to know the Scriptures and the law. The seminaries of El Azhar scatter over Egypt these clerics who, as preachers, teachers, registrars, bind the country together more effectively than the administration. A peasant speaks of 4us Muslims', not of 'us Egyptians*. Even so, of old they were primarily worshippers of Ref and Amun with all the common customs that implies, and their wars were the wars of Amun. The Arabs introduced no new principle when they warred in the name of Allah. These clerics continue in the simplified and standardized form so characteristic of Islam the functions of the ancient 1 A. Erman, Aegypten und aegyptiscbes Leben^ new ed. (Tubingen, 19:13), 331.