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The temple is of the Greeco-Roma 

age, but this colonnade is a fine example of the later rich and ornate plant-columns, 
we their origin to the eariier architects of the Saitic age. 












COPYKICHT, 1905, 1909, BY 


Printed in the United States of America 

Published October, 1905 

New Edition January, 1909 

Reprinted March, 1910; June, 1911; June. 1912; 

March. 191(i; September, 1919; June 1921; 

March, 1923; January. October 1924; May. 1920 

3 1211 00870878 2 



The ever increasing number of those who visit the 
Nile Valley with every recurring winter should alone 
form, it would seem, a sufficiently numerous public to 
call for the production of a modern history of Egypt. 
Besides these fortunate travellers, however, there is 
another growing circle of those who are beginning to 
realize the significance of the early East in the history 
of man. As the Nile poured its life-giving waters into 
the broad bosom of the Mediterranean, so from the 
civilization of the wonderful people who so early emerged 
from barbarism on the Nile shores, there emanated and 
found their way to southern Europe rich and diversified 
influences of culture to which we of the western world 
are still indebted. Had the Euphrates flowed into the 
Mediterranean likewise, our debt to Babylon would have 
been correspondingly as great as that which we owe the 
Nile Valley. It is to Egypt that we must look as the 
dominant power in the Mediterranean basin, whether 
by force of arms or by sheer weight of superior civiliza- 
tion throughout the earliest career of man in southern 
Europe, and for long after the archaic age had been 
superseded by higher culture. To us who are in civiliza- 
tion the children of early Europe, it is of vital interest 
to raise the curtain and peer beyond into the ages which 
bequeathed our forefathers so precious a legacy. Finally, 


there is a third and possibly the most numerous class 
of those who desire an acquaintance with the history of 
Egypt, viz., the students of the Old Testament. All of 
these readers have been remembered in the composition 
of this book. 

The plan adopted in the production of this history 
is one which will in some measure also condition its 
use. The sources from which our knowledge of the early 
career of the Nile Valley peoples is drawn are of the 
meagerest extent, and most inade<iuate in character. 
They will be found further discussed herein (pp. 23 f.), 
and in the author's Aiicient Records of Egypt, Vol. I, 
pp. 3-22. As used at the present day, in the historical 
workshop of the scholar, they are accessible chiefly in 
published form. These pubHcations were in the vast 
majority of cases edited before the attairmient of such 
epigraphic accuracy and care as are now deemed in- 
dispensable in the production of such work.' To cop}' 
an inscription of any kind with acciu'acy is not easy. 
So close and fine an observer of material documents as 
Ruskin could copy a short Latin inscription with sur- 
prising inaccuracy. In his incomparable Mornings in 
Florence he reproduces the brief inscription on the marble 
slab covering the tomb which he so admired in the 
church of Santa Croce; and in his copy of these eight 
short lines, which I compared with the original, he mi.?- 
spells on: word, and omits two entire words {"et 77iagister") 
of the mediaeval Latin. This experience of the great 
art critic is not infrequently that of the schooled and 
careful paleographer as well. The best known of the 

' The remainder of this paragraph is tal<eii from the author's A7ia'enl 
Records of Egypt, Vol. I, §§ 27-8. 


Politarch inscriptions appeared in eight different publica- 
tions, each of which diverges in some more or less im- 
portant respect from all the rest, before a correct copy 
was obtained. The Greek and Latin inscriptions on the 
bronze crab from the base of the New York Obelisk 
were long incorrectly read, and the mistake in the date 
led Mommsen to a false theor}' of the early Roman 
prefects of Egypt. In the early days of Egyptology, 
when a reading knowledge of hieroglyphic was still 
necessarily elementary, it required a copyist of ex- 
ceptional ability to produce a copy upon which much 
reliance can be placed at the present day. Had the 
science of Egyptology rapidly outgrown this early in- 
sufficiency, all would now be well; but such methods 
have continued down to the present day, and although 
many exhaustively accurate publications of hieroglyphic 
documents now appear with every year, it is neverthe- 
less true that the large majority of standard Egyptian 
documents accessible in pul:)lications exhibit a degree 
of incompleteness and inaccuracy not, in the author's 
judgment, to be found in any other branch of epigraphic 

Under these circumstances the author's first obliga- 
tion has been to go behind the publications to the original 
monument itself in every possible instance. This task 
has consumed years and demanded protracted sojourn 
among the great collections of Europe. In this work 
a related enterprise has been of the greatest assistance. 
A mission to the museums of Europe to collect their 
Egyptian monuments for a Commission of the four 
Royal Academies of Germany (Berlin, Leipzig, Goettingen, 
and Munich), in order to make these documents available 


for a great Egyptian Dictionary endowed by the German 
Emperor, enabled the author to copy from the originals 
practically all the historical monuments of Egypt in 
Europe. For those still in Egypt, the author has been 
able to employ his own copies of many, especially at 
Thebes and Amarna, where he copied all the historical 
inscriptions in the tomVjs there; and in the museimi at 
Gizeh (now Cairo). Of monuments in Egypt not in- 
cluded in the author's copies, squeezes were in most 
instances found in the enormous collection made by 
Lepsius and now in the Berlin Museum. For others the 
author was given access to the extensive collations 
made for the Dictionary above referred to; now and 
then a colleague furnished the necessary collation; and 
where all other sources failed, I was able in all important 
cases to secure large-scale photographs of the originals. 
The final remainder of monuments for which the author 
was dependent upon the publications alone is very small, 
and in most cases the publication was one made on 
modern methods, and almost as good as the original 
itself. In general, therefore, it may be fairly claimed 
that this account of the historical career of the Egyptians 
rests upon the surviving original records themselves. 

The immense progress in our knowledge of the 
language achieved during the last twenty years cannot 
be said to have been applied as yet to the comprehensive 
study of the historical documents as a whole. Hence, 
in order to utilize historically the materials thus collected, 
it was essential, in the light of our improved philological 
equipment, to begin the study of the documents ab ovo, 
irrespective of earlier studies and results, and it was in 
almost all cases onlv after such unbiased studv that 


any older translation or account of a document was 
consulted. The combined results of the revised copies 
from the originals and the new grammatical study of 
the documents have been embodied in a series of trans- 
lations of the historical documents, arranged in chrono- 
logical order, beginning with the earliest surviving 
records and continuing to the final loss of Egyptian 
national independence at the conquest by the Persians 
in 525 B.C. Supplied with historical introductions and 
explanatory notes, the original documents, otherwise 
scattered through hundreds on hundreds of inaccessible 
publications, are thus accessible in English to the reader 
who desires to know upon what documentary evidence a 
particular assertion of fact rests. The numerals I, II, 
III, and IV in the foot-notes in this history refer to the 
volumes of these translations,' and the Arabic numerals 
following the four Romans designate the numbered 
paragraphs into which the translations are divided, 
unless the "p.," indicating "page," is inserted between. 
It is hoped that, by this means of keeping all technical 
discussion of sources in the four volumes of translated 
documents, the author has succeeded in unburdening 
this history of the workshop debris, which would other- 
wise often encumber it; while at the same time the 
advantage of close contact with the sources for every 
fact adduced is not sacrificed. For the average reader, a 
running fire of foot-note references to technical and 
out-of-the-way publications, known only to the inner 

'■ See Ancient Records of Egypt: The Historical Documents, by James 
Henry Breasted, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1905. Volume I, 
The First to the Seventeenth Dynasties. Volume II, The Eighteenth Dynasti/. 
Volume III, The Nineteenth Dynasty. Volume IV, The Twentieth to tiic 
Twenty-sixth Dynasties. Volume V, Indices 


circle of initiates in the science of Egyptology, would 
mean absolutely nothing. On the other hand, the other 
extreme, of divorcing the statements in this book from 
all connection with the sources from which they are 
drawn, is, in the author's opinion, almost as bad; even 
though but a vanishing proportion of its readers ever 
should turn to verify the references adduced. To that 
small number such references are invaluable, for the 
author recalls with what difficulty in his student days he 
was able to trace the currently accepted facts of the sci- 
ence to the original sources from which they had come. 
If these studies shall be considered to have made any 
contribution to modern knowledge in this field, it will be 
in the reexamination of the originals, the collection and 
focussing of all related materials with each document, 
and the assembly and translation of these materials 
complete in convenient form for reference. Any new 
results in this volum.e are due to this process and method. 
On the other hand, in the immense field of viaterial 
documents as contrasted with written documents, this 
work has made no attempt at a reexamination of the vast 
sources available. Egyptian archseology is in its infancy, 
and but few of the fundamental , studies and researches 
already completed in classical archaeology have been 
made in this province. Now and again the written 
documents have thrown new and imexpected light in 
this direction which I have not failed to utilize. The 
man with the enviable coml:)ination of archaeological 
and philological capacity would find a rich field to 
cultivate, in working for the production of an Egypto- 
logical Overbeck. Again in the realm of religion the 
mere (juantity alone of the materials made any attempt 

PREFxVCE xiii 

at an exhaustive reexamination of the documents im- 
possible. The stud}- of Egyptian rehgion has but begun, 
and decades will pass before even the preliminary special 
studies shall have been completed, which shall enable 
the student to go forward for a general survey and 
S5TTimetrical reconstruction of the phenomena in one 
comprehensive presentation, which shall be in some 
measure final. Only the Amarna period and the solar 
faith have been made the object of the author's special 
attention. All the documents on the unparalleled religious 
revolution of Ikhnaton, and all the known hymns to the 
Sun, throughout Egyptian history, were collected and 
examined — in the case of the former from the originals. 
For Egyptian religion as a whole, however, the author 
would acknowledge deep obligation to Erman's admirable 
Handbuch, an obligation often indicated in the foot-notes, 
and elsewhere frequently evident to the technical reader. 
Although over twenty years old, Erman's Aegypten is 
still the standard vade mecum on Egyptian life. It has 
often been of invaluable service in the production of this 
work. To Eduard Meyer's exhaustive and final Chron- 
ologie I am, of course, indebted, especially in the earlier 
period. I would also gratefully acknowledge the clarify- 
ing influence of his incisive treatment of the Saitic age 
in his Geschichte des alien Aegyptens. To the colossal 
labors of Maspero and Wiedemann I have been indel^ted, 
especially in the bibliography, as indicated in the Preface 
to my Ancient Records, but I would gratefully indicate 
the obligation here also. Like all who work in Egvp- 
tian history, I also owe a debt to Winckler's invaluable 
version of the Amarna Letters. 

For the illustrative materials, besides the published 


plates, frequently severally indicated, and his own 
photographs, the author would express his thanks to 
many friends and colleagues to whom he is indebted foi 
photographs, drawings, or restorations. He is particu- 
larly indebted to his friend Schaefer, of Berlin; also to 
Borchardt, Steindorff, Petrie, Zahn, Messerschmidt. 
Rev. W. MacGregor of Tamworth, and Dr. Caroline 
Ransom, for the unqualified use of photographs and 
reconstructions. To Messrs. Underwood & Underwood 
for permission to use a number of their superb stereo- 
graphs of Egj'ptian monuments ?'n situ, I desire to express 
particular obligation. At the same time, may I add for 
the benefit of those to whom a journey through the Nile 
Valley is an impossibility, that the system of travel 
represented in these beautiful stereographs makes possible 
to every one a vo^^age up the Nile which falls little short 
of the actual experience itself. Finally, I am not a little 
indebted to the great kindness of Mr. John Ward, of 
Lenoxvale, Belfast, for a magnificent series of photographs 
made specially for him, of recent excavations at Karnak, 
from which I was privileged to select a number, like the 
avenue of rams (Fig. 129). 

To Herr Karl Baedeker, of Leipzig, I owe the privilege 
of inserting two maps (Nos. 6 and 11) from his un- 
equalled guide-book of Egypt, deservedly the inseparable 
companion of all tourists on the Nile. To the authorities 
of the European museums at Berlin, London (British 
Museum, I^niversity College, Petrie Collections), Paris 
(Louvre, Bibliotheque Nationale, Musee Guimet), Vienna 
(Hofmuseum), Leyden, Munich, Rome (Vatican and 
Capitoline), Florence, Bologna, Naples, Turin, Pisa, 
Geneva, Lyons, Liverpool, and some others, I would here 


express deep appreciation of the courtesies and privileges 
uniformly extended to me during the prosecution of this 
work among them. I am indebted to Mr. R. S Padan 
and Miss Imogen Hart for assistance in proofreading. 
My wife has constantly rendered me indispensaljle cleri- 
cal aid, and never-failing assistance in reading of proof. 
It is a great pleasure here also gratefully to recognize 
the cooperation and unfailing readiness of the publishers 
to do all in their power to make the typographical and 
illustrative side of the work all that it should be. Of 
this the appearance of the finished volume is ample 

James Henry Breasted. 

Williams Bay, Wisconsin, 
September 1, 1905. 




I. The Land 3 

II. Preliminary Survey, Chronology and Docu- 
mentary Sources 13 

III. Earliest Egypt 25 



IV. Early Religion 53 

V. The Old Kingdom : Government and Society, 

Industry and Art 74 

VI. The Pyramid Builders Ill 

VII. The Sixth Dynasty: The Decline of the Old 

Kingdom 131 



VIII. The Decline of the North and the Rise of 

Thebes 147 

IX. The Middle Kingdom, the Feudal Age: State, 

Society and Religion 157 " 

X. The Twelfth Dynasty ' 177 ^ 





XI. The Fall OF THE Middle Kingdom: The Hyksos . 211 

XII. The Expulsion of the Hyksos and the Triumph 

OF Thebes 223 


XIII. The New St,\te: Society and Religion . . 233 

XIV. The Consolidation of the Kingdom: The Rise 

OF THE Empire 253 

XV. The Feud of the Thut.mosids and the Reign 

OF Hatshepsut 266 

XVI. The Consolidation of the Empire: Thutmose 

III 284 

XVII. The Empire 322 

XVIII. The Religious Revolution of Ikhnaton . . 355 

XIX. The Fall of Ikhn.\ton and the Dissolution of 

the Empire 379 



XX. The Triumph of Amon .\nd the Reorganiz.\tion 

OF the Empire . 399 

' XXI. The Wars of Ramses II 423 

XXII. The Empire of Ramses II 442 

XXTII. The Final Decline of the Empire: Merneptah 

and Ramses III 464 





XXIV. The Fall of the Empire 505 

XXV. Priests and Mercenaries: The Supremacy of 

THE Libyans 522 

XXVI. The Ethiopian Supremacy and the Triumph 

OF Assyria 537 


XXVII. The Restoration 565 

XXVIII. The Final Struggles: Babylon and Persia . 582 

Chronological Table of Kings .... 597 
Index 603 


The Roman numerals I, II, III, IV followed by Arabics refer to 
the volumes and paragraphs of the author's Ancient Records of 
Egypt. See Preface, p. xi. 

BT = Brugsch, Themnrus. 

Rec. = Recueil de Travau.r. edited hy Maspero. 

RIH = de Rouge, Inscriptions hieroyhiphiques. 

All other abbreviations are sufficiently full to be intelligible 
without further explanation. 


The Colonnaded Hall of the Temple of Esneh . Frontisjmce 


1. — One of the Channels of the First Cataract . . 6 

2. — The Inundation Seen from the Road to the Pyramids 

of Gizeh 6 

3. — Looking Across the Nile to the Western Cliffs 

near Thebes 10 

4. — The Huts and Palm Groves of Karnak, Thebes . 10 

5. — The Nile Valley, Viewed Aoross the Modern Town 

of Edfu 14 

6. — A Trifle Shaduf 18 

7. — The Cliffs of the Nile Canon 18 

8. — The Earliest Known Painting 27 

9. — Flint Knife of the Predynastic Age .... 29 

10. — Predynastic Pottery with Incised Decoration . 30 

11. — Predynastic Pottery with Painted Designs of Boats, 

Animals, Men and Women 30 

12. — A Predynastic Grave 34 

13. — Gold Bar Bearing Menes' Name 34 

14. — Alabaster Vessels of the First Dynasty. . . 34 

15. — Chair Legs, Carved Ivory, Early Dynasties . . 34 

16. — Copper Vessels, First Dynasty 34 

17. — Four Bracelets on Lady's Arm, First Dynasty . 36 

18. — ^The King Breaks Ground for a New Canal, First 

Dynasty 36 


Flo. PAOB 

19. — Magnificent Carved Ceremonial Palette of Slate 36 

20. — Portrait Head of King Khasekhem: From Tw'o 

Different Angles 38 

21. — Statue of King Khasekhem: Head in Fig. 20 . .38 

22. — Brick-lined Wooden Floored Tomb Chamber of 

King Enezib 38 

23. — Brick Tomb of King Usephais 42 

24. — Sealed Jars of Food and Drink 42 

25. — Earliest Stone Structure in the World . . 42 

26. — Ivory Tablet of King Usephais 42 

27. — Ebony Tablet of Menes, First Dynasty, Abydos, 

3400 B.c 43 

28. — King Semerkhet (First Dynasty) Smites the 

Beduin of Sinai 43 

29. — The Palermo Stone 46 

30.— The Celestial Cow 55 

31. — The Goddess of the Heavens 55 

32. — The Celestial Barque of the Sun-God ... 57 

33. — Restoration of a Group of Old Kingdom "Mast- 
abas," OR Masonry Tombs 57 

34. — Ground Pl.'.n of a "Mastaba" or Masonry Tomb . 68 

35. — Restoration of the Pyramids of Abusir and Con- 
nected Buildings 72 

36. — Collection of Taxes by Treasury Officials . . 79 

37. — Villa and Garden of an Egyptian Noble of the 

Old Kingdom 90 

38. — A Noble of the Old Kingdom Hunting Wild Fowl 
WITH the Throw-Stick from a Skiff of Reedc in 

THE Papyrus Marshes 91 

39. — Agriculture in the Old Kingdom .... 92 



40. — A Herd in the Old Kingdom, Fording a Canal . 93 

41. — Metalworkers' Workshop in the Old Kingdom . 94 

42. — Shipbuilding in the Old Kingdom . . . . 95 

43. — Workmen Drilling Out Stone Vessels, Old King- 
dom 96 

44. — Papyrus Harvest in the Old Kingdom ... 97 

45. — Two Columns from an Old Kingdom Legal Docu- 
ment 98 

46. — Scenes at an Old Kingdom Market .... 98 

47. — Third Dynasty Arch 100 

48. — Diorite Statue of Khephren 100 

49. — Limestone Statue of Ranofer 100 

50. — Limestone Statue of Hemset 102 

51. — Head of the Wooden Statue of the Shekh El- 

Beled 102 

52. — Limestone Statue of an Old Kingdom Scribe . 102 

53. — Life-Size Statue of Pepi I, with Figure of His Son; 

Both of Be.\ten Copper 104 

54. — Head of the Copper Statue of Pepi I, Showing 

Eyes of Inlaid Rock Crystal 104 

55. — Painting of Geese from an Old Kingdom Tomb 

AT Medum 104 

56. — Reliefs from the Interior of an Old Kingdom 

Mastaba Chapel, Depicting Herds and Flocks. 106 

57. — Decorative Head of Lion, in Granite . . . 106 

58.— Golden Hawk of Hieraconpolis 106 

59. — Wooden Panel of Hesire 106 

60. — Fifth Dynasty Columns. Cluster of Papyrus Stems 

and Palm Capital 106 



61. — Elevation of Part of the Colonnade Surrounding 
THE Court of the Pyramid Temple of Nuserre, 
Fifth Dynasty 108 

62.^Brick Mastaba of Zoser's Reign at Bet Khallaf . 110 

63. — The "Terraced Pyramid" of Zoser at Sakkara . llC, 

64. — Pyramid Attributed to Snefru at Medum . .110 

65. — Rock Inscriptions of Amenemhet III, in Wadi 
Maghara, Sinai, including Snefru among the 
Local Gods . 114 

66. — Casing Blocks at the Base of the Great Pyramid. 
Joints Otherwise Undiscernable Indicated by 
Charcoal Lines 114 

67. — The Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) at Gizeh . 116 

68. — The Pyramids of Gizeh 118 

69. — A Granite Hall in the Great Monumental Gate 

OF Khafre 118 

70. — The Great Sphinx of Gizeh 122 

71. — Restoration of the Sun-Temple of Nuserre at 

Abusir 124 

72. — Relief Scenes from the Sun-Temple of Nuserre at 

Abusir 125 

73. — Ruined Pyramid of Unis (Fifth Dynasty) at Sak- 
kara 128 

74. — Island of Elephantine, the Home of the Lords of 

the Southern Frontier 128 

75. — Statue of an Old Empire Dwarf 140 

76. — Tomb of Harkhuf at Assuan 142 

77. — Head of King Mernere 142 

78. — Western Cliffs of Siut 142 

79. — Offices of the Nomarch Knumhotep at Benihasan 158 


no. pAiJK 

80. — A Colossus of Alabaster about Twenty-two Feet 
High Transported on a Sledge by One Hundred 
AND Seventy-two Men in Four Double Lines at 
THE Ropes 159 

8L — A Middle Kingdom Coffin and Mortuary Furniture 170 

82. — Mortuary Boat op Sesostris III 170 

83. — Restoration of the Fortress of Semneh and Kum- 

MEH 185 

84. — The Nubian Nile from the Ruined Moslem Strong- 
hold ON THE Heights of Ibrim .... 186 

85. — Ruins of the Middle Kingdom Mining Settlement at 

S.\RBUT el-Khadem, Sinai 186 

86. — View Across the Birket el-KurOn in the North- 
western Fayum 192 

87. — Obelisk of Sesostris I at Heliopolis . . . 192 

88. — Wooden Statue of Prince Ewibre .... 192 

89. — Head of Amenemhet III, from a Sphinx found at 

Tanis 196 

90. — Bust of a Statue of Amenemhet III . . . 196 

91. — Brick Pyramid of Sesostris II, at Illahun . . 196 

92. — Section of the Burial Chamber in the Pyramid of 

Hawara 199 

93. — Looking down the Axis of the Temple at Tanis . 202 

94. — Capstone of the Pyra.mid of Amenemhet III, at 

Dashur 202 

95. — Three of the Ten Statues of A.menemhet I, Found 

at His Pyramid of Lisht 202 

96.^The Harper Singing to the Banqueters . . . 208 

97. — Diadem of a Twelfth Dynasty Princess Found in 

Her Tomb at Dashur 208 

98. — Diadem of a Twelfth Dynasty Princess, Found rN 

Her Tomb at Dashur 208 


no. PAQi 

99. — Excavation of Statue of Neferkhere-Sebekho- 

TEP, ON Island OF Arko, ABOVE Third Cataract . 216 

100. — Body of Onk of the Sekenenres, showing Wound in 

Skull 216 

101. — Frag.ment of a Sitting Colossus of Khian, in Gran- 
ite 210 

102. — Walled City of El Kab, Seen through a Tomb Door 

IN the Eastern Cliffs Flanking the Town . 226 

103. — Bronze Weapons of Ahmose I 226 

104. — A Body of Spearmen of the Empire .... 234 

105. — A Chariot of the Empire 234 

106. — "UsHEBTi" or Respondent Statuettes . . 250 

107. — Heart Scarab of the ''First of the Sacred Women 

OF Amon, Isimkheb" 250 

108. — Part of the Valley of the Kings' Tombs, Thebes . 250 

109. — Ground Plan of the Tomb of Seti I ... 251 

110. — Entrance Gallery of the Tomb of Ramses V, Thebes 260 

111. — Sitting Statue of Senmut, the Favourite of H.\t- 


112. — Scenes from the Great Series of Reliefs in the Der 

EL Bahri Temple at Thebes 275 

113. — Northern Colonnades on the Middle Terrace of 
Hatshepsut's Terr.\ced Temple of Der el Bahri, 

. 280 


114. — Obelisks of H.^.TSHEPSUT at Karnak . 
115. — View Across the Amon-Oasis, or Siwa 
116. — Obelisk of Thutmose III ... 


117. — Lists of Towns in Asia Taken by Thutmose III . 294 

118. — A Pharaoh of the Empire Receiving Asi.\tic Envoys 

Bearing Tribute 300 


no. rAOB 

119. — Asiatic Prisoners in Egypt under the Empire . 308 

120. — Head of Thutmose III 326 

121. — Head of Amenhotep II, Son of Thutmose III . . 326 

122. — Head of Thutmose IV, Son of Amenhotep II . 326 

123.— Amarna Letter, No. 296 326 

124. — Costumes of the Empire 340 

125. — The Peripteral Cella-Temple 341 

126. — Perspective and Section of a Typical Pylon Temple 

OF THE Empire 342 

127. — Fragment of Carved Stone Vase Found in Crete . 342 

128. — Amenhotep Ill's Court of Clustered Papyrus Bud 

Columns 342 

129. — Avenue of Ram-Sphinxes before the Great Karnak 

Temple 346 

130. — Columns of the Nave of Amenhotep Ill's Unfin- 
ished Hall 350 

131. — Colossal Gritstone Statues of Amenhotep III (Mem- 

non Colossi) 354 

132. — Part of a Funeral Procession of a High Priest of 

Memphis 358 

133. — Lion from Amenhotep Ill's Temple at Soleb . .362 

134. — A Stool of the Empire 362 

135. — Front of the State Chariot of Thutmose IV . . 362 

136.— Royal Portrait of the Empire 366 

137. — Portrait of Amenhotep, Son of Hapi . . . 366 

KSS. — Ducks Swimming among Lotus Flowers . . . 366 

139. — Ikhnaton and His Queen Decorate the Priest Eye 

AND His Wife . 368 

140. — Great Boundary Stela of Amarna .... 370 

141. — Ikhnaton Receiving Flowers from his Queen . 370 


FIO. PA«« 

142. — Limestone Torso of Ikhnaton's Daughter . . 376 

143. — Head of Ikhnaton 376 

144. — Marsh Life 376 

145. — Hittite Soldier Armed with an Axe . . 382 

146. — Hittitk King Bearing Spear and Scepter . . 382 

147. — Egyptian Official Receiving Semitic Immigrants . 382 

148. — Harmhab as an Official Rewarded with Gold by 

the King 386 

149. — Southern Pylons of Harmhab at Karnak . . 390 

150. — Harmhab as a Peasant in the HERf:AFTER . . 390 

151.— ^BusT OF Khonsu 390 

152. — Battle Reliefs of Seti I at Karnak . . 396 

153. — Seti I Offering an Image of Truth to Osiris . . 402 

154. — Seti I as a Youth Offering the Image of Truth . 406 

155. — Cattle Inspection 412 

156. — Swamp Hunting in a Reed Boat 418 

157. — Section of One of Seti I's Reliefs at K.\rnak . 419 

158. — Head of Seti I 424 

159. — Stel^ of Ramses II and Esarhaddon in Phoenicia . 424 

160. — Scene from the Reliefs of the Battle of Kadesh . 434 

161. — Fragments of Thousand-ton Colossus of Ramses II 442 

162. — Store Chambers at Pithom 442 

163. — Heavy-armed Sherd en of Ramses II's Mercenary 

Bodyguard 448 

164.— Restoration of the Great Hall at Karnak . . 448 
165. — Nave of the Great Hall of Karnak ; . . 448 
166. — The Ramesseum, Mortuary Temple of Ramses II . 450 
167.— The Cliff Temple of Abu Simbel .... 450 


wo. PAOK 

168. — Black Granite Statue of Ramses II . . . . 450 

169. — Battle Scene from the Great Series of Reliefs of 

Ramses II on the Walls of the Ramesseum . . 452 

170.— Head of Ramses II 464 

171. — Victorious Hymn of Merneptah 464 

172. — Peleset or Philistine Prisoners of Ramses III . 464 

173. — Naval Victory of Ramses III over Northern Medi- 
terranean Peoples 480 

174. — Ramses Ill's Medinet Habu Temple .... 492 

175. — Ramses Ill's Medinet Habu Temple .... 492 

176. — Ramses III Hunting the Wild Bull .... 492 

177. — The High Priest of Amon Amenhotep Decorated by 

Ramses IX 510 

178. — Scribe's Notes on Coffin of Seti I . . . . 510 

179. — The Der el Bahri Hiding-place 510 

180.— "The Field of Abram" 536 

181. — Senjirli Stela of Esarhaddon 536 

182. — Serapeum Stela of Psamtik I .... . 536 

183. — General View of Karnak from the South . . 560 

184. — Alabaster Statue of Amenardis, Sister of Piankhi 576 

185. — Bronz Ibex from the Prow of a Ship . . . 590 

186. — Portrait Head of the Saite Age .... 590 



1. —The Town of Illahun, Showing the Crowded Quar- 
ters OF THE Poor 87 

2.— The Fourth Dynasty Cemetery at Gizeh . . . 122 

3 The Fayum 192 

4. — The Carmel Ridge, Showing Megiddo .... 286 

5. — The Modern Tell-Nebi-Mindoh, Ancient Kadesh . 300 

6.— Thebes 348 

7. — The Asiatic Empire of Egypt 384 

8. — The Vicinity of Kadesh 426 

9. — The Battle of Kadesh 428 

10. — The Battle of Kadesh 430 

11. — Plan of the Karnak Temples 444 

12. — Egypt and the Ancient World 476 

13. — General Map of Egypt and Nubia . At end of Volume 






The roots of modern civilization are planted deeply in 
the highly elaborate life of those nations which rose into 
power over six thousand years ago, in the basin of the eastern 
Mediterranean, and the adjacent regions on the east of it. 
Had the Euphrates finally found its way into the Mediter- 
ranean, toward which, indeed, it seems to have started, both 
the early civilizations, to which we refer, might then have 
been included in the Mediterranean basin. As it is, the scene 
of early oriental history does not fall entirely within that 
basin, but must be designated as the eastern Mediterranean 
region. It lies in the midst of the vast desert plateau, which, 
beginning at the Atlantic, extends eastward across the entire 
northern end of Africa, and continuing beyond the depres- 
sion of the Red Sea, passes northeastward, with some inter- 
ruptions, far into the heart of Asia. Approaching it, the 
one from the south and the other from the north, two great 
river valleys traverse this desert; in Asia, the Tigro- 
Euphrates valley ; in Africa that of the Nile. It is in these 
two valleys that the career of man may be traced from 
the rise of European civilization back to a remoter age than 
anywhere else on earth; and it is from these two cradles of 
the human race that the influences which emanated from 
their highly developed but differing cultures, can now be 
more and more clearly traced as we discern them converging 
upon the early civilization of Asia Minor and southern 


The Nile, which created the valley home of the early 
Egyptians, rises three degrees south of the equator, and 
flowing into the Mediterranean at over thirty one and a half 
degrees north latitude, it attains a length of some four thou- 
sand miles, and vies with the greatest rivers of the world in 
length, if not in volume. In its upper course the river, 
emerging from the lakes of equatorial Africa, is known as the 
White Nile. Just south of north latitude sixteen at Khar- 
tum, about thirteen hundred and fifty miles from the sea, 
it receives from the east an afiBuent known as the Blue Nile, 
which is a considerable mountain torrent, rising in the lofty 
highlands of Abyssinia. One hundred and forty miles 
below the union of the two Niles the stream is joined by its 
only other tributary, the ^tbara, which is a freshet not 
unlike the Blue Nile. It is at Khartum, or just below it, 
that the river enters the table land of Nubian sandstone, 
underlying the Great Sahara. Here it winds on its tortuous 
course between the desert hills (Fig. 84-), where it returns 
upon itself, often flowing due south, until after it has finally 
pushed through to the north, its course describes a vast S. 

In six different places throughout this region the current 
has hitherto failed to erode a perfect channel through the 
stubborn stone, and these extended interruptions, where the 
rocks are piled in scattered and irregular masses in the 
stream, are known as the cataracts of the Nile; although 
there is no great and sudden fall such as that of our cataract 
at Niagara (Fig. 1). These rocks interfere with navigation 
most seriously in the region of the first, second and fourth 
cataracts ; otherwise the river is navigable almost throughout 
its entire course. At Elephantine it passes the granite bar- 
rier which there thrusts up its rough shoulder, forming the 
first cataract, and thence emerges upon an unobstructed 
course to the sea. 

It is the valley below the first cataract which constituted 
Egypt proper. The reason for the change which here gives 
the river a free course is the disappearance of the sandstone, 
sixty eight miles below the cataract, at Edfu, where the num- 


mulitic limestone which forms the northern desert plateau, 
offers the stream an easier task in the erosion of its bed. It 
has thus produced a vast canon or trench (Figs. 3 and 7), 
cut across the eastern end of the Sahara to the northern sea. 
From cliff to cliff, the valley varies in width, from ten or 
twelve, to some thirty one miles. The floor of the canon is 
covered with black, alluvial deposits, through which the 
river winds northward. It cuts a deep channel through the 
alluvium, flowing with a speed of about three miles an hour ; 
in width it only twice attains a maximum of eleven hundred 
yards. On the west the Bahr Yusuf, a second, minor chan- 
nel some two hundred miles long, leaves the main stream 
near Siut and flows into the Fayum. In antiquity it flowed 
thence into a canal known as the "North," which passed 
northward west of Memphis and reached the sea by the site 
of later Alexandria.* A little over a hundred miles from the 
sea the main stream enters the broad triangle, with apex 
at the south, which the Greeks so graphically called the 
"Delta." This is of course a bay of prehistoric ages, which 
has been gradually filled up by the river. The stream once 
divided at this point and reached the sea through seven 
mouths, but in modern times there are but two main 
branches, straggling through the Delta and piercing the 
coast-line on either side of the middle. The western branch 
is called the Rosetta mouth ; the eastern that of Damiette. 

The deposits which have formed the Delta, are very deep, 
and have slowly risen over the sites of the many ancient 
cities which once flourished there. The old swamps which 
must once have rendered the regions of the northern Delta 
a vast morass, have been gradually filled up, and the fringe 
of marshes pushed further out. They undoubtedly occupied 
in antiquity a much larger proportion of the Delta than they 
do now. In the valley above the depth of the soil varies 
from thirty three to thirty eight feet, and sometimes reaches 
a maximum of ten miles in width. The cultivable area thus 
formed, between the cataract and the sea, is less than ten 

'IV, 224, 1. 8, note. 


thousand square miles in extent, being roughly equal to the 
area of the state of Maryland, or about ten per cent less than 
that of Belgium. The cliffs on either hand are usually but a 
few hundred feet in height, but here and there they rise into 
almost mountains of a thousand feet (Fig. 3). They are of 
course flanked by the deserts through which the Nile has 
cut its way. On the west the Libyan Desert or the Great 
Sahara rolls in illimitable, desolate hills of sand, gravel and 
rock, from six hundred and fifty to a thousand feet above 
the Nile. Its otherwise waterless expanse is broken only 
by an irregular line of oases, or watered depressions, roughly 
parallel with the river, and doubtless owing their springs 
and wells to infiltration of the Nile waters. The largest of 
these depressions is situated so close to the valley that the 
rock wall which once separated them has broken down, pro- 
ducing the fertile Fayum, watered by the Bahr Yusuf. 
Otherwise the western desert held no economic resources for 
the use of the early Nile-dwellers. The eastern or Arabian 
Desert is somewhat less inhospitable, and capable of yield- 
ing a scanty subsistence to wandering tribes of Ababdeh. 
A range of granite mountains parallel with the coast of the 
Red Sea contains gold-bearing quartz veins, and here and 
there other gold-producing mountains lie between the Nile 
and the Red Sea. Deposits of alabaster and extensive 
masses of various fine, hard igneous rocks led to the exploit- 
ation of quarries here also, while the Red Sea harbours 
could of course be reached only by traversing this desert, 
through which established routes thither were early traced. 
Further north similar mineral resources led to an acquaint- 
ance with the peninsula of Sinai and its desert regions, at 
a very remote date. 

The situation afforded by this narrow valley was one of 
unusual isolation ; on either hand vast desert wastes, on the 
north the harbourless coast-line of the Delta, and on the south 
the rocky barriers of successive cataracts, preventing fusion 
with the peoples of inner Africa. It was chiefly at the two 
northern corners of the Delta, that outside influences and 

1 „ 1 _(i\l ol 1H^ (,11 \NM I •^ OI IHL I Ik-^l I, \ I \k \L 1 
Looking northward from the Island of Phila-: ruins on Phila: in the foreKroun 


The road is on the right ; in the distance the desert plateau on which the pyramids stand. Before them the village 

of Kafr. 


foreign elements, which were always sifting into the Nile 
valley, gained access to the country. Through the eastern 
corner it was the prehistoric Semitic population of neigh- 
bouring Asia, who forced their way in across the dangerous 
intervening deserts; while the Libyan races, of possibly 
European origin, found entrance at the western corner. The 
products of the south also, in spite of the cataracts, filtered 
in ever increasing volume into the regions of the lower river 
and the lower end of the first cataract became a trading 
post, ever after known as "Suan" (Assuan) or "market," 
where the negro traders of the south met those of Egypt. 
The upper Nile thus gradually became a regular avenue of 
commerce with the Sudan. The natural boundaries of 
Egypt, however, always presented sufficiently effective bar- 
riers to would-be invaders, to enable the natives slowly to 
assimilate the new comers, without being displaced. 

It will be evident that the remarkable shape of the country 
must powerfully influence its political development. Except 
in the Delta it was but a narrow line, some seven hundred 
and fifty miles long. Straggling its slender length along the 
river, and sprawling out into the Delta, it totally lacked the 
compactness necessary to stable political organization. A 
given locality has neighbours on only two sides, north and 
south, and these their shortest boundaries ; local feeling was 
strong, local differences were persistent, and a man of the 
Delta could hardly understand the speech of a man of the 
first cataract region. It was only the ease of communication 
afforded by the river which in any degree neutralized the 
effect of the country's remarkable length. 

The wealth of commerce which the river served to carry, 
it was equally instrumental in producing. While the climate 
of the country is not rainless, yet the rare showers of the 
south, often separated by intervals of years, and even the 
more frequent rains of the Delta, are totally insufficient to 
maintain the processes of agriculture. The marvellous pro- 
ductivity of the Egyptian soil is due to the annual inundation 
of the river, which is caused by the melting of the snows. 


and by the spring rains at the sources of the Blue Nile. 
Freighted with the rich loam of the Abyssinian highlands, 
the rushing waters of the spring freshet hurry down the 
Nubian valley, and a slight rise is discernible at the first 
cataract in the early part of June. The flood swells rapidly 
and steadily, and although the increase is usually inter- 
rupted for nearly a month from the end of September on, 
it is usually resumed again, and the maximum level con- 
tinues until the end of October or into November. The 
waters in the region of the first cataract are then nearly fifty 
feet higher than at low water; while at Cairo the rise is 
about half that at the cataract. A vast and elaborate system 
of irrigation canals and reservoirs first receives the flood, 
which is then allowed to escape into the fields as needed. 
Here it rests long enough to deposit its burden of rich, black 
earth from the upper reaches of the Blue Nile. At such 
times the appearance of the country is picturesque in the 
extreme, the glistening surface of the waters being dotted 
here and there by the vivid green of the waving palm groves, 
which mark the villages, now accessible only along the dykes 
belonging to the irrigation system (Fig. 2). Thus year by 
year, the soil which would otherwise become impoverished 
in the elements necessary to the production of such prodi- 
gious harvests, is invariably replenished with fresh resources. 
As the river sinks below the level of the fields again, it is 
necessary to raise the water from the canals by artificial 
means, in order to carry on the constant irrigation of the 
growing crops in the outlying fields, which are too high to 
be longer refreshed by absorption from the river (Fig. 6).' 
Thus a genial and generous, but exacting soil, demanded 
for its cultivation the development of a high degree of skill 

•The device used (called a "shadOf") resembles the well-sweep of our 
grandfathers. Fig. 6 shows the leathern bucket suspended from one end of the 
sweep, while at the other end a huge lump of dried mud serves as a counter- 
poise. When the water is very low, as many as three or even four such 
" shadflfs " are necessary to raise the water from level to level until that of 
the field is reached. A single crop requires the lifting of 1,600 to 2,000 too* 
of water per acre in a hundred days. 


in the manipulation of the life-giving waters, and at a very 
early day the men of the Nile valley had attained a sur- 
prising command of the complicated problems involved in 
the proper utilization of the river. If Egypt became the 
mother of the mechanical arts, the river will have been one 
of the chief natural forces to which this fact was due. With 
such natural assets as these, an ever replenished soil, and 
almost unfailing waters for its refreshment, the wealth of 
Egypt could not but be chiefly agricultural, a fact to which 
we shall often recur. Such opulent fertility of course sup- 
ported a large population— in Roman times some seven mil- 
lion souls'— while in our own day it maintains over nine 
million, a density of population far surpassing that to be 
found anywhere in Europe. The other natural resources of 
the valley we shall be better able to trace as we follow their 
exploitation in the course of the historical development. 

In climate Egypt is a veritable paradise, drawing to its 
shores at the present day an ever increasing number of 
winter guests. The air of Egypt is essentially that of the 
deserts within which it lies, and such is its purity and 
dryness, that even an excessive degree of heat occasions but 
slight discomfort, owing to the fact that the moisture of the 
body is dried up almost as fast as it is exhaled. The mean 
temperature of the Delta in winter is 56° Fahrenheit, and 
in the valley above it is ten degrees higher. In summer the 
mean in the Delta is 83° ; and although the summer tempera- 
ture in the valley is sometimes as high as 122°, the air is 
far from the oppressiveness accompanying the same degree 
of heat in other lands. The nights even in summer are 
always cool, and the vast expanses of vegetation appreciably 
reduce the temperature. In winter just before dawn the 
extreme cold is surprising, as contrasted with the genial 
warmth of midday at the same season. To the absence of 
rain we have already adverted. The rare showers of upper 
Egypt occur only when cyclonic disturbances in the southern 
Mediterranean or northern Sahara force undischarged 

' Diodorus I, 31. 


clouds into the Nile valley from the west ; from the east they 
can not reach the valley, owing to the high mountain ridge 
along the Red Sea, which forces them upward and discharges 
them. The lower Delta, however, falls within the zone of 
the northern rainy season. In spite of the wide extent of 
marshy ground, left stagnating by the inundation, the dry 
airs of the desert, blowing constantly across the valley, 
quickly dry the soil, and there is never any malarial infection 
in Upper Egypt. Even in the vast morass of the Delta, 
malaria is practically unknown. Thus, lying just outside 
of the tropics, Egypt enjoyed a mild climate of unsurpassed 
salubrity, devoid of the harshness of a northern winter, but 
at the same time suflficiently cool to escape those enervating 
influences inherent in tropical conditions. 

The prospect of this contracted valley spread out before 
the Nile dweller, was in antiquity, as it is to-day, somewhat 
monotonous. The level Nile bottoms, the gift of the river, 
clad in rich green, shut in on either hand by the yellow cliffs, 
are unrelieved by any elevations or by any forests, save the 
occasional groves of graceful palms, which fringe the river 
banks or shade the villages of sombre mud huts (Fig. 4), 
with now and then a sycamore, a tamarisk or an acacia. A 
network of irrigation canals traverses the country in every 
direction like a vast arterial system. The sands of the deso- 
late wastes which lie behind the canon walls, drift in athwart 
the cliffs, and often invade the green fields so that one 
may stand with one foot in the verdure of the valley, and 
the other in the desert sand. Thus sharply defined was the 
Egyptian's world: a deep and narrow valley of unparalleled 
fertility, winding between lifeless deserts, furnishing a 
remarkable environment, not to be found elsewhere in all 
the world. Such surroundings reacted powerfully upon the 
mind and thought of the Egj'ptian, conditioning and deter- 
mining his idea of the world and his notion of the mysterious 
powers which ruled it. The river, the dominant feature of 
his valley, determined his notion of direction : his words for 
north and south were "down-stream" and "up-stream"; 

The 1..W shores mark the level of the alluvium extending back to the cliffs. 

Seen from the 


oof of the temple of Khon 
B.C.). Leading up to it is 

In the foreground is the gate < 
of sphinxes made by Am 

r propylon of Euergetes I (Ptolemy 
nhotep III, connecting Karnak and 


and when he broke through the barriers which separated 
him from Asia, and reached the Euphrates, he called it ' ' that 
inverted water which goes down stream in going up stream ' ' 
(southward).' For him the world consisted of the "Black 
Land" and the "Red Land," the black soil of the Nile valley 
and the reddish surface of the desert ; or again of the ' ' plain ' ' 
and the "highlands," meaning the level Nile "bottoms" 
and the high desert plateau. ' ' Highlander ' ' was synonymous 
with foreigner, to "go up" was to leave the valley, while to 
' ' descend ' ' was the customary term for returning home from 
abroad. The illimitable solitudes of the desert, which thrust 
itself thus insistently upon his vision and his whole economy 
of life, and formed his horizon toward both suns, tinctured 
with sombreness his views of the great gods who ruled such 
a world. 

Such was in brief the scene in which developed the people 
of the Nile, whose culture dominated the basin of the eastern 
Mediterranean in the age when Europe was emerging into 
the secondary stages of civilization, and coming into intimate 
contact with the culture of the early east. Nowhere on earth 
have the witnesses of a great, but now extinct civilization, 
been so plentifully preserved as along the banks of the Nile. 
Even in the Delta, where the storms of war beat more fiercely 
than in the valley above, and where the slow accumulations 
from the yearly flood have gradually entombed them, the 
splendid cities of the Pharaohs have left great stretches, 
cumbered with enormous blocks of granite, limestone and 
sandstone, shattered obelisks, and massive pylon bases, to 
proclaim the wealth and power of forgotten ages; while an 
ever growing multitude of modern visitors are drawn to the 
upper valley by the colossal ruins that greet the wondering 
traveller almost at every bend in the stream. Nowhere else 
in the ancient world were such massive stone buildings 
erected, and nowhere else has a dry atmosphere, coupled 
with an almost complete absence of rain, permitted the sur- 
vival of such a wealth of the best and highest in the life of 

•II, 72. 


an ancient people, in so far as that life found expression in 
material form. In the plenitude of its sj^lendour, much of it 
thus survived into the classic age of European civilization, 
and hence it was, that as Egypt was gradually overpowered 
and absorbed by the western world, the currents of life from 
west and east commingled here, as they have never done else- 
where. Both in the Nile valley and beyond it, the west 
thus felt the full impact of Egyptian civilization for many 
centuries, and gained from it all that its manifold culture 
had to contribute. The career which made Egypt so rich a 
heritage of alien peoples, and a legacy so valuable to all later 
ages, we shall endeavour to trace in the ensuing chapters. 



A RAPID survey of the purely exterual features which serve 
to demark the great epochs in the career of the Nile valley 
people, will enable us the more intelligently to study those 
epochs in detail, as we meet them in the course of our 
progress. In such a survey, we sweep our eyes down a 
period of four thousand years of human history, from a time 
when the only civilization known in the basin of the Mediter- 
ranean is slowly dawning among a primitive people on the 
shores of the Nile. We can cast but a brief glance at the 
outward events which characterized each great period, espe- 
cially noting how foreign peoples are gradually drawn within 
the circle of Egyptian intercourse from age to age, and 
reciprocal influences ensue; until in the thirteenth century 
B. C. the peoples of southern Europe, long discernible in 
their material civilization, emerge in the written documents 
of Egypt for the first time in history. It was then that the 
fortunes of the Pharaohs began to decline, and as the civili- 
zation and power, first of the East and then of classic 
Europe, slowly developed, Egypt was finally submerged in 
the great world of Mediterranean powers, first dominated 
by Persia, and then by Greece and Rome. 

The career of the races which peopled the Nile valley falls 
into a series of more or less clearly marked epochs, each of 
which is rooted deeply in that which preceded it, and itself 
contains the germs of that which is to follow. A more or 
less arbitrary and artificial but convenient sub-division of 
these epochs, beginning with the historic age, is furnished 
by the so-called dynasties of Manetho. This native historian 



of Egypt, a priest of Sebennytos, who flourished under 
Ptolemy I (305-285 B. C), wrote a history of his country 
in the Greek language. The work has perished, and we only 
know it in an epitome by Julius Africanus and Eusebius, 
and extracts by Josephus. The value of the work was slight, 
as it was built up on folk-tales and popular traditions of the 
early kings. Manetho divided the long succession of Phar- 
aohs as known to him, into thirty royal houses or dynas- 
ties, and although we know that many of Iiis divisions are 
arbitrary, and that there was many a dynastic change where 
he indicates none, yet his dynasties divide the kings into 
convenient groups, which have so long been employed in 
modern study of Egyptian history, that it is now impossible 
to dispense with them. 

After an archaic age of primitive civilization, and a period 
of small and local kingdoms, the various centres of civiliza- 
tion on the Nile gradually coalesced into two kingdoms : one 
comprising the valley down to the Delta; and the other 
made up of the Delta itself. In the Delta, civilization rap- 
idly advanced, and the calendar year of 365 days was intro- 
duced in -1241 B. C, the earliest fixed date in the history of 
the world as known to us.' A long development, as the 
"Two Lands," which left their imprint forever after, on 
the civilization of later centuries, preceded a united Egypt, 
which emerged upon our historic horizon at the consoli- 
dation of the two kingdoms into one nation under Menes 
about 3400 B. C. His accession marks the beginning of the 
dynasties, and the preceding, earliest period may be conve- 
niently designated as the predynastie age. In the excava- 
tions of the last ten years, the predynastie civilization has 
been gradually revealed in material documents exhibiting 
the various stages in the slow evolution which at last pro- 
duced the dynastic culture. 

A uniform government of the whole country was the secret 
of over four centuries of prosperity under the descendants 
of Menes at Thinis, near Abydos, close to the great bend of 

• I, 44-45. 


the Nile below Thebes, and probably also at or near later 
Memphis. The remarkable development of these four cen- 
turies in material civilization led to the splendour and power 
of the first great epoch of Egyptian history, the Old King- 
dom. The seat of government was at Memphis, where four 
royal houses, the Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Dynasties, 
ruled in succession for five hundred years (2980-2475 B. C). 
Art and mechanics reached a level of unprecedented excel- 
lence never later surpassed, while government and adminis- 
tration had never before been so highly developed. Foreign 
enterprise passed far beyond the limits of the kingdom ; the 
mines of Sinai, already operated in the First Dynasty, were 
vigourously exploited; trade in Egyptian bottoms reached 
the coast of Phoenicia and the Islands of the North, while in 
the south, the Pharaoh's fleets penetrated to the Somali coast 
on the Red Sea ; and in Nubia his envoys were strong enough 
to exercise a loose sovereignty over the lower country, and 
by tireless expeditions to keep open the trade routes leading 
to the Sudan. In the Sixth Dynasty (2625-2475 B. C.) 
the local governors of the central administration, who had 
already gained hereditary hold upon their offices in the 
Fifth Dynasty (2750-2625 B. C), were able to assert them- 
selves as landed barons and princes, no longer mere func- 
tionaries of the crown. They thus prepared the way for 
an age of feudalism. 

The growing power of the new landed nobility finally 
caused the fall of the Pharaonic house, and after the close 
of the Sixth Dynasty, about 2400 B. C, the supremacy of 
Memphis waned. In the internal confusion which followed, 
we can discern nothing of Manetho's ephemeral Seventh 
and Eighth Dynasties at Memphis, which lasted not more 
than thirty years ; but with the Ninth and Tenth Dynasties 
the nobles of Heracleopolis gained the throne, which was 
occupied by eighteen successive kings of the line. It is now 
that Thebes first appears as the seat of a powerful family 
of princes, by whom the Heracleopolitans and the power of 
the North are gradually overcome till the South triumphs. 


The exact lapse of time from the fall of the Old Kingdom 
to the triimiph of the South is at present indeterminable, but 
it may be estimated roughly at two hundred and seventy five 
to three hundred years,' with a margin of uncertainty of 
possibly a century either way. 

With the restoration of a united Egypt under the Theban 
princes of the Eleventh Dynasty about 2160 B. C, the issue 
of the tendencies already discernible at the close of the Old 
Kingdom is clearly visible. Throughout the land the local 
princes and barons are firmly seated in their domains, and 
with these hereditary feudatories the Pharaoh must now 
reckon. The system was not fully developed until the 
advent of a second Theban family, the Twelfth Dynasty, the 
founder of which, Amenemhet I, probably usurped the 
throne. For over two hundred years (2000-1788 B. C.) this 
powerful line of kings ruled a feudal state! This feudal 
age is the classic period of Egyptian history. Literature 
flourished, the orthography of the language was for the first 
time regulated, poetry had already reached a highly artistic 
structure, the earliest known literature of entertainment was 
produced, sculpture and architecture were rich and prolific, 
and the industrial arts surpassed all ijrevious attainments. 
The internal resources of the country were elaborately devel- 
oped, especially by close attention to the Nile and the inun- 
dation. Enormous hydraulic works reclaimed large tracts 
of cultiA^able domain in the Fayum, in the vieinitj^ of which 
the kings of the Twelfth Dynasty, the Amenemhets and the 
Sesostrises, lived. Abroad the exploitation of the mines in 
Sinai was now carried on by the constant labour of permanent 
colonies there, with temples, fortifications and reservoirs for 
the water supply. A plundering campaign was carried into 
Syria, trade and intercourse with its Semitic tribes were con- 
stant, and an interchange of commodities with the early 
Mycenaean centres of civilization in the northern Mediter- 
ranean is evident. Traffic with Punt and the southern coasts 
of the Red Sea continued, while in Nubia the country' between 

•I, 53. 


the first and second cataracts, loosely controlled in the Sixth 
Dynasty, was now conquered and held tributary by the 
Pharaoh, so that the gold mines on the east of it were a con- 
stant resource of his treasury. 

The fall of the Twelfth Dynasty in 1788 B. C. was followed 
by a second period of disorganization anc^ obscurity, as the 
feudatories struggled for the crown. Now and then an 
aggressive and able ruler gained the ascendency for a brief 
reign, and under one of these the subjugation of Upper 
Nubia was carried forward to a point above the third cat- 
aract; but his conquest perished with him. After possibly 
a century of such internal conflict, the country was entered 
and appropriated by a line of rulers from Asia, who had 
seemingly already gained a wide dominion there. These Ifly^ 

foreign usurpers, now known as the Hyksos, after Manetho 's ' ; 
designation of them, maintained themselves for perhaps a 
century. Their residence was at Avaris in the eastern Delta, 
and at least during the later part of their supremacy, the 
Egyptian nobles of the South succeeded in gaining more or 
less independence. Finally the head of a Theban family 
boldly proclaimed himself king, and in the course of some 
years these Theban princes succeeded in expelling the -rx^i^"^ 
Hyksos from the country, and driving them back from the 
Asiatic frontier into Syria. 

It was under the Hyksos and in the struggle with them 
that the conservatism of millennia was broken up in the 
Nile valley. The Egyptians learned aggressive war for the 
first time, and introduced a well organized military system, 
including chariotry, which the importation of the horse by 
the Hyksos now enabled them to do. Egypt was trans- 
formed into a military empire. In the struggle with the 
Hyksos and with each other, the old feudal families perished, ^ ^ 4^ 
or were absorbed among the partisans of the dominant 
Theban family, from which the imperial line sprang. The 
great Pharaohs of the Eighteenth Dynasty thus became 
emperors, conquering and ruling from northern Syria and 
the upper Euphrates, to the fourth cataract of the Nile on 




the south. Amid unprecedented wealth and splendour, they 
ruled their vast dominions, which they gradually welded 
together into a compact empire, the first known in the early 
world. Thebes grew into a great metropolis, the earliest mon- 
umental city. Extensive trade relations with the East and the 
Mediterranean world developed; Mycenaean products were 
common in Egypt, and Egyptian influences are clearly dis- 
cernible in Mycenaean art. For two hundred and thirty years 
(1580-1350 B. C.) the Empire flourished, but was wrecked at 
last by a combination of adverse influences both within and 
without. A religious revolution by the young and gifted 
king Ikhnaton, caused an internal convulsion such as the 
country had never before experienced; while the empire in 
the north gradually disintegrated under the aggressions of 
the Hittites, who iDushed in from Asia Minor. At the same 
time in both the northern and southern Asiatic dominions 
of the Pharaoh, an overflow of Beduin immigration, among 
which were undoubtedly some of the tribes which later 
coalesced with the Israelites, aggravated the danger, and 
together with the persistent advance of the Hittites, finally 
resulted in the complete dissolution of the Asiatic empire of 
Egypt, down to the very frontier of the northeastern Delta. 
Meanwhile the internal disorders bad caused the fall of the 
Eighteenth Dynasty, an event which terminated the First 
Period of the Empire (1350 B. C). 

Harmhab, one of the able commanders under the fallen 
dynasty, survived the crisis and finally seized the throne. 
Under his vigourous rule the disorganized nation was grad- 
ually restored to order, and his successors of the Nineteenth 
Dynasty (1350-1205 B. C.) were able to begin the recovery 
of the lost empire in Asia. But the Hittites were too 
firmly entrenched in Syria to yield to the Egyptian onset. 
The assaults of Seti I, and half a generation of persistent 
campaigning under Ramses II, failed to push the northern 
frontier of the Empire far beyond the limits of Palestine. 
Here it remained and Syria was never permanently recov- 
ered. Semitic influences now powerfully affected Egypt. 


.t ^j 

Fig. 6.— a TRIPLE SHADUF. 

A device for raising the Nile water in order tu irrigate the fields (see p. 8) 

(Stereograph copyright Underwood & Underwood, N. V.) 

Looking down the valley from a point west of Thebes. (Stereog 
copyright Underwood & Underwooa, N. Y.) 


At this juncture the peoples of southern Europe emerge 

for the first time upon the arena of oriental history and 

together with Libyan hordes, threaten to overwhelm the 

Delta from the west. They were nevertheless beaten back ^ 

by Merneptah. After another period of internal confusion "V^f\aJVA>\^ 

and usurpaTion, during which the Nineteenth Dynasty fell ^ 

(1205 B. C.)) Ramses III, whose father, Setnakht founded 

the Twentieth Dynasty (1200-1090 B. C), was able to main- . "^ 

tain the Empire at the same limits, against the invasions of •^^^ 

restless northern tribes, who crushed the Hittite power ; and '^ 

also against repeated immigrations of the Libyans. With 

his death (1167 B. C.) the empire, with the exception of 

Nubia which was still held, rapidly fell to pieces. Thus, 

about the middle of the twelfth century B. C. the Second 

Period of the imperial age closed with the total dissolution 

of the Asiatic dominions. 

Under a series of weak Ramessids, the country rapidly 
declined and fell a prey first to the powerful high priests of 
Anion, who were obliged almost immediately to yield to U/^"^ 
stronger Ramessid rivals in the Delta at Tanis, forming 
the Twenty First Dynasty (1090-945 B. C). By the middle Tcv^^ "^ ^ 
of the tenth century B. C. the mercenaries, who had formed 
the armies of the second imperial period, had founded pow- 
erful families in the Delta cities, and among these the 
Libyans were now supreme. Sheshonk I, a Libyan mercenary 
commander, gained the throne as the founder of the Twenty 
Second Dynasty in 945 B. C. and the country enjoyed 
transient prosperity, while Sheshonk even attempted the 
recovery of Palestine. But the family was unable to control 
the turbulent mercenary commanders, now established as 
dynasties in the larger Delta towns, and the country grad- 
ually relapsed into a series of military principalities in 
constant warfare with each other. Through the entire 
Libyan period of the Twenty Second, Twenty Third and 
Twenty Fourth Dynasties (945-712 B. C.) the unhappy 
nation groaned under such misrule, constantly suffering 
economic deterioration. 




Nubia had now detached itself and^a dynasty of kings, 
probably of Thebau origin hadariseu at Napata, below the 
fourth cataract. These Egyptian rulers of the new Nubian 
kingdom now invaded Pjgyi)t, and although residing at 
Napata, maintained their sovereignty in Egypt with varying 
fortune for two generations (722-663 B. C.)- But they were 
unable to suppress and exterminate the local dynasts, who 
ruled on, while acknowledging the suzerainty of the Nubian 
overlord. It was in the midst of these conflicts between the 
Nubian dynasty and the mercenary lords of Lower Egypt, 
that the Assyrians finally entered the Delta, subdued the 
country and placed it under tribute (670-662 B. C). At this 
juncture Psamtik I, an able djTiast of Sais, in the western 
Delta, finally succeeded in overthrowing his rivals, expelled 
the Ninevite garrisons, and as the Nubians had already been 
forced out of the country by the Assyrians, he was able to 
found a powerful dynasty, and usher in the Restoration. 
His accession fell in 663 B. C, and the entire period of 
nearly five hundred years from the final dissolution of the 
Empire about 1150 to the dawn of the Restoration in 663 B. 
C, may be conveniently designated the Decadence. After 
_1100 B. C. the Decadence may be conveniently divided into^ 
©the Tanite-Amonite Period (1090-945 B. c], the LibyanC'J 
Period (945-712 B. C), the Ethiopian Period (722-663 B. 
C), and the Assyrian Period, which is contemporary with 
the last years of the Ethiopian Period. 

Of the Restoration, like all those epochs in which the seat 
of power was in the Delta, where almost all monuments have 
perished, we learn very little from native sources; and all 
too little also from Herodotus and later Greek visitors in 
the Nile valley. It was outwardly an age of power and 
splendour, in which the native party endeavoured to restore 
the old glories of the classic age before the Empire ; while the 
kings depending upon Greek mercenaries, were modern poli- 
ticians, employing the methods of the new Greek world, 
mingling in the world-politics of their age, and showing little 
sympathy with the archaizing tendency. But their combi- 


nations failed to save Egypt from the ambition of Persia, 
and its history under native dynasties, with unimportant 
exceptions, was concluded with the conquest of the country 
by Cambyses in 525 B. C. 

Such, in mechanical review, were the purely external 
events which marked the successive epochs of Egypt's his- 
tory as an independent nation. With their dates, these 
epochs may be summarized thus : 

Introduction of the Calendar, 4241 B. C. 

Predynastic Age, before 3400 B. C. 

The Accession of Menes, 3400 B. C. 

The first Two Dynasties, 3400-2980 B. C. 

The Old Kingdom: Dynasties Three to Six, 2980-2475 

Eighteen Heracleopolitans, 2445-2160 B. C. 

The Middle Kingdom: Dynasties Eleven and Twelve, \'o 
2160-1788 B. C. 

Internal Conflicts of the Feudatories, f -d ri 

mi TT 1 > 1700— lOoO D. Li. , I 

The Hyksos, L j H 

The Empire : First Period, The Eighteenth Dynasty, 1580- 
1350 B. C. 

The Empire: Second Period, The Nineteenth and part of 
the Twentieth Dynasty, 1350-1150 B. C. 

Last Two Generations of Twentieth Dy- 
nasty, about 1150 to 1090 B. C. 
Tanite-Amonite Period, Twenty First Dy- 
nasty, 1090-945 B. C. 
The Decadence ■] Libyan Period, Dynasties Twenty Two to 
Twenty Four, 945-712 B. C. 
Ethiopian Period, 722-663 B. C. (Twenty 
Fifth Dynasty, 712-663 B. C). 
^ Assyrian Supremacy, 670-662 B. C. 
The Restoration, Saite Period, Twenty Sixth Dynasty, 
663-525 B. C. 

Persian Conquest, 525 B. C. 

The reader will find at the end of the vohime a ruller 
table of reigns. Tlte chronology of the above table is 


obtained by two independent processes : first by ' ' dead reck- 
oning," and second by astronomical calculations based on the 
Egyptian calendar. By "dead reckoning" we mean simply 
the addition of the known minimum length of all the kings' 
reigns, and from the total thus obtained, the simple compu- 
tation (backward from a fixed starting point) of the date 
of the beginning of the series of reigns so added. Employ- 
ing all the latest dates from recent discoveries, it is mathe- 
matically certain that from the accession of the Eighteenth 
Dynasty to the conquest of the Persians in 525 B. C. the 
successive Pharaohs reigned at least 1052 years in all.' The 
Eighteenth Dynasty therefore began not later than 1577 B. 
C. Astronomical calculations based on the date of the rising 
of Sirius, and of the occurrence of new moons, both in terms 
of the shifting Egyptian calendar, place the date of the 
accession of the Eighteenth DjTiasty with fair precision in 
1580 B. C.^ For the periods earlier than the Eighteenth 
Dynasty, we can no longer employ the method of dead reck- 
oning alone, because of the scantiness of the contemporary 
documents. Fortunately another date of the rising of 
Sirius, fixes the advent of the Twelfth Dynasty at 2000 B. 
C, with a margin of uncertainty of not more than a year 
or two either way. From this date the beginning of the 
Eleventh Dynasty is again only a matter of "dead reckon- 
ing." The uncertainty as to the duration of the Heracleo- 
politan supremacy makes the length of the period between 
the Old and Middle Kingdoms very uncertain. If we give the 
eighteen Heracleopolitans sixteen years each, which, under 
orderly conditions, is a fair average in the orient, they will 
have ruled 288 years.^ In estimating their duration at 285 
years, we may err possibly as much as a century either way. 
The computation of the length of the Old Kingdom is based 
on contemporary monuments and early lists, in which the 
margin of error is probably not more than a generation or 
two either way, but the uncertain length of the Heracleo- 
politan rule affects all dates back of that age, and a shift 

'I, 47-61. 'I, 38-46. 'I, 53. 


of a century either way in the years B. C is not impossible. 
The ancient annals of the Palermo Stone establish the length 
of the first two dynasties at roughly 420 years,' and the date 
of the accession of Menes and the union of Egypt as 3400 
B. C. ; but we carry back with us, from the Heraeleopolitan 
age, the same wide margin of uncertainty as in the Old 
Kingdom. The reader will have observed that this system 
of chronology is based upon the contemporary monuments 
and lists dating not later than 1200 B. C. The extremely 
high dates for the beginning of the dynasties current in 
some histories are inherited from an older generation of 
Egyptologists; and are based upon the chronology of 
Manetho, a late, careless and uncritical compilation, which 
can be proven wrong from the contemporary monuments in 
the vast majority of cases, where such monuments have sur- 
vived. Its dynastic totals are so absurdly high throughout, 
that they are not worthy of a moment 's credence, being often 
nearly or cfuite double the maximum drawn from contem- 
porary monuments, and they will not stand the slightest 
careful criticism. Their accuracy is now maintained only 
by a small and constantly decreasing number of modern 

Like our chronology our knowledge of the early history 
of Egypt must be gleaned from the contemporary native 
monuments.^ Monumental sources even when full and com- 
plete are at best but insufficient records, affording data for 
only the meagrest outlines of great achievements and impor- 
tant epochs. While the material civilization of the country 
found adequate expression in magnificent works of the artist, 
craftsman and engineer, the inner life of the nation, or even 
the purely external events of moment could find record only 
incidentally. Such documents are sharply differentiated 
from the materials with which the historian of European 
nations deals, except of course in his study of the earliest 
ages. Extensive correspondence between statesmen, jour- 
nals and diaries, state documents and reports— such mate- 

' I, 84-85. « I, 1-37. 


rials as these are almost wholly wanting in monumental 
records. Imagine writing a history of Greece from the few 
Greek inscriptions surviving. Moreover, we possess no his- 
tory of Egypt of sufficiently early date by a native Egyptian; 
the compilation of puerile folk-tales by Manetho, in the third 
century B. C. is hardly worthy of the name history. But 
an annalist of the remote ages with which we are to deal, 
could have had little conception of what would be important 
for future ages to know, even if he had undertaken a full 
chronicle of historical events. Scanty annals were indeed 
kept from the earliest times, but these have entirely perished 
with the exception of two fragments, the now famous 
Palermo Stone,' which once bore the annals of the earliest 
dynasties from the beginning down into the Fifth Dynasty; 
and some extracts from the records of Thutmose III 's cam- 
paigns in Syria. Of the other monuments of incidental 
character, but the merest fraction has survived. Under 
these circumstances we shall probably never be able to offer 
more than a sketch of the civilization of the Old and Middle 
-kingdoms, with a hazy outline of the general drift of events. 
Under the Empire the available documents, both in quality 
and quantity for the first time approach tlie minimum, which 
in European history would be regarded as adequate to a 
moderately full presentation of the career of the nation. 
Scores of important questions, however, still remain unan- 
swered, in whatever direction we turn. Nevertheless a 
rough frame-work of the governmental organization, the 
constitution of society, the most important achievements of 
the emperors, and to a limited extent the spirit of the age, 
may be discerned and sketched in the main outlines, even 
though it is only here and there that the sources enable us 
to fill in the detail. In the Decadence and the Restoration, 
however, the same paucity of documents, so painfully appar- 
ent in the older periods, again leaves the historian with a 
long series of hypotheses and probabilities. For the reserve 
with which the author has constantly treated such periods, 
he begs the reader to hold the scanty sources responsible. 

■See Fig. 2ft and I. 76- 107. 



On the now bare and windswept desert plateau, through 
which the Nile has hollowed its channel, there once dwelt a 
race of men. Plenteous rains, now no longer known there, 
rendered it a fertL'e and productive region. The geological 
changes which havp since made the country almost rainless, 
denuded it of vegetation and soil, and made it for the most 
part uninhabitable, took place many thousands of years 
before the beginning of the Egyptian civilization, which we 
are to study; but the prehistoric race, who before these 
changes, peopled the plateau, left behind them as the sole 
memorial of their existence vast numbers of rude flint imple- 
ments, now lying scattei'ed about upon the surface of the 
jiresent desert exposed by the denudation. These men of 
the paleolithic age were the first inhabitants of whom we 
have any knowledge in Egypt. They can not be connected 
in any way with the historic or prehistoric civilization of 
the Egyptians, and they fall exclusively within the province 
of the geologist and anthropologist. 

The forefathers of the peoi3le with whom we shall have 
to deal were related to the Libyans or north Africans on the 
one hand, and on the other to the peoples of eastern Africa, 
now known as the Galla, Somali, Bega and other tribes. An 
invasion of the Nile valley by Semitic nomads of Asia, 
stamped its essential character unmistakably upon the lan- 
guage of the African people there. The earliest strata of 
the Egyptian language accessible to us, betray clearly this 
composite origin. While still coloured by its African ante- 
cedents, the language is in structure Semitic. It is more- 
over a completed product as observable in our earliest pre- 
sei'ved examples of it; but the fusion of the Libyans and 



east Africans with the Nile valley peoples continued far into 
historic times, and in the case of the Libyans may be traced 
in ancient historical documents for three thousand years or 
more. The Semitic immigration from Asia, examples of 
which are also observable in the historic age, occurred in an 
epoch that lies far below our remotest historical horizon. 
We shall never be able to determine when, nor with cer- 
tainty through what channels it took place, although the 
most probable route is that along which we may observe a 
similar influx from the deserts of Arabia in historic times, 
the isthmus of Suez, by which the Mohammedan invasion 
entered the country. While the Semitic language which 
they brought with them, left its indelible impress upon the 
old Nile valley people, the nomadic life of the desert which 
the invaders left behind them, evidently was not so persis- 
tent, and the religion of Egypt, that element of life which 
always receives the stam]i of its environment, shows no trace 
of desert life. The affinities observable in the language are 
confirmed in case of the Libyans, by the surviving products 
of archaic civilization in the Nile valley, such as some of the 
early pottery, which closely resembles that still made by the 
Libyan Kabyles. Again the representations of the early 
Puntites, or Somali people, on the Egyptian monuments, 
show striking resemblances to the Egyptians themselves. 
The examination of the bodies exhumed from archaic burials 
in the Nile valley, which we had hoped might bring further 
evidence for the settlement of the problem, has, however, 
produced such diversity of opinion among the physical 
anthropologists, as to render it impossible for the historian 
to obtain decisive results from their researches. The conclu- 
sion once maintained by some historians, that the Egyptian 
was of African negro origin, is now refuted; and evidently 
indicated that at most he may have been slightly tinctured 
with negro blood, in addition to the other ethnic elements 
already mentioned. 

As found in the earliest burials to-day, the predynastic 
Egyptians were a dark-haired people, already possessed of 



the rudiments of civili- 
zation. The men wore a 
skin over the shoulders, 
sometimes skin drawers, 
and again only a short 
white linen kilt; while 
the women were clothed 
in long garments of 
some textile, probably 
linen, reaching from the 
shoulders to the ankles. 
Statuettes of both sexes 
without clothing what- 
ever are, however, very 
common. Sandals were 
not unknown. They oc- 
casionally tattooed their 
bodies, and they also 
wrought ornaments such 
as rings, bracelets and 
pendants of stone, ivory 
and bone ; with beads of 
flint, quartz, carnelian, 
agate and the like. The 
women dressed their 
hair with ornamented 
ivory combs and pins. 
For the eye- and face- 
paint necessary for the 
toilet, they had palettes 
of carved slate on which 
the green colour was 
ground. They were able 
to build dwellings of 
wattle,sometimes smear- 
ed with mud, and prob- 
ably later of sun-dried 


brick. In the furuishing of these houses they displayed con- 
siderable mechanical skill, and a rudimentary artistic taste. 
They ate with ivory spoons, sometimes even richly carved with 
figures of animals in the round, marching along the handle. 
Although the wheel was at first unknown to them, they pro- 
duced fine pottery of the most varied forms in vast quan- 
tities. The museums of Europe and America are now filled 
with their polished red and black ware, or a variety with in- 
cised geometrical designs, sometimes in basket patterns, while 
another style of great importance to us is painted with rude 
representations of boats, men, animals, birds, fish or trees 
(Fig. 11). "While they made no objects of glass, they under- 
stood the art of glazing beads, plaques and the like. Crude 
statuettes in wood, ivory, or stone, represent the beginnings 
of that plastic art, which was to achieve such triumphs in 
the early dynastic age; and three large stone statues of 
Min, found by Petrie at Coptos, display the rude strength 
of the predynastic civilization of which we are now speak- 
ing. The art of the prolific potter was obliged to give way 
slowly to the artificer in stone, who finally produced excel- 
lent stone vessels, which he gradually improved toward the 
end of predynastic period, when his bowls and jars in the 
hardest stones, like the diorites and porphyries, display mag- 
nificent work. The most cunningly wrought flints that have 
ever been found among any people belong to this age. The 
makers were ultimately able to affix carved ivory hafts, and 
with equal skill they put together stone and flint axes, flint- 
headed fish-spears and the like. The war mace with pear- 
shaped head, as found also in Babylonia, is characteristic of 
the age. Side by side with such weapons and implements 
they also produced and used weapons and implements of 
copper. It is indeed the age of the slow transition from 
stone to copper. Gold, silver and lead, while rare, were 
in use. 

In the fruitful Nile valley we can not think of such 
a people as other than chiefly agricultural; and the fact 
that they emerge into historical times as agriculturalists, 

I iiTir'*'^ 



yni " 

Fig. 9. Flint Knife of the Predynastic Aqe. 
A'ith Sheet Gold Handle, ornamented with Designs in Repoussft?. 
(AftfT de Morgan.) 29 


with an ancient religion of vastly remote prehistoric origin, 
whose symbols and outward manifestations clearly betray 
the primitive fancies of an agricultural and pastoral peo- 
ple—all this would lead to the same conclusion. In the 
unsubdued jungles of the Nile, animal life was of course 
much more plentiful at that time than now; for example, 
the great quantities of ivory employed by this people, and 
the representations upon their pottery, show that the 
elephant was still among them; likewise the giraffe, the 
hippopotamus and the strange okapi, which was deified as 
the god Set, wandered through the jungles, though all these 
animals were later extinct. These early men were therefore 
great hunters, as well as skillful fishermen. They pursued 
the most formidable game of the desert, like the lion, or 
the wild ox with bows and arrows; and in light boats they 
attacked the hippopotamus and the crocodile with harpoons 
and lances. They commemorated these and like deeds in 
rude graffiti on the rocks, which are still found in the Nile 
valley, covered with a heavy brown patina of weathering, 
such as historic sculptures never display ; thus showing their 
vast age. 

Their industries may have resulted in rudimentary com- 
merce, for besides their small hunting-boats they built vessels 
of considerable size on the Nile, apparently propelled by 
many oars and guided by a large rudder. Sailing ships 
were rare, but they were not unknown. Their vessels bore 
standards, probably indicating the place from which each 
hailed, for among them appear what may be the crossed 
arrows of the goddess Neit of Sais, while an elephant imme- 
diately suggests the later Elephantine, which may, even 
before the extinction of the elephant in Egypt, have been 
known for the great quantities of ivory from the south 
marketed there. These ensigns are, in some cases, strikingly 
similar to those later employed in hieroglyphic as the stan- 
dards of the local communities, and their presence on the 
early ships suggests the existence of such communities in 
those prehistoric days. Hence traces of these prehistoric 

(Photograph by Petrie.) 



(From de Morgan, Origines, I, pi. X.) 


petty states should perhaps be recognized in the said admin- 
istrative or feudal divisions of the country in historic times, 
the nomes, as the Greeks called them, to which we shall often 
have occasion to refer. If this be true, there were probably 
some twenty such states distributed along the river in Upper 
Egypt. However this may be, these people were already at a 
stage of civilization where considerable towns appear and 
city-states, as in Babylon, must have developed, each with its 
chief or dynast, its local god. worshipped in a crude sanc- 
tuary ; and its market to which the tributary, outlying coun- 
try was attracted. The long process by which such commu- 
nities grew up can be only surmised from the analogy of 
similar developments elsewhere, but the small kingdoms and 
city-states, out of which the nation was ultimately consoli- 
dated, do not fall within the historic age, as in Babylon. 

The gradual fusion which finally merged these petty states 
into two kingdoms: one in the Delta, and the other com- 
prising the states of the valley above, is likewise a process 
of which we shall never know the course. Of its heroes 
and its conquerors, its wars and conquests, not an echo will 
ever reach us; nor is there the slightest indication of the 
length of time consumed by this process. It will hardly 
have been concluded, however, before 4000 B. C. Our 
knowledge of the two kingdoms which emerged at the end 
of this long prehistoric age, is but slightly more satisfactory. 
The Delta was, throughout the historic age, open to inroads 
of the Libyans who dwelt upon the west of it; and the 
constant influx of people from this source gave the western 
Delta a distinctly Libyan character which it preserved even 
down to the time of Herodotus. At the earliest moment 
when the monuments enable us to discern the conditions in 
the Delta, the Pharaoh is contending with the Libyan 
invaders, and the earlier kingdom of the North will there- 
fore have been strongly Libyan, if indeed it did not owe its 
origin to this source. The temple at Sais, in the western 
Delta, the chief centre of Libyan influence in Egypt, bore 
the name "House of the King of Lower Egypt" (the Delta), 


and the emblem of Neit, its chief goddess was tattooed by 
the Libyans upon their arms. It may possibly therefore 
have been an early residence of a Libyan king of the Delta. 
Reliefs recently discovered in Sahure's pyramid-temiile 
at Abusir show four Libyan chiefs wearing on their brows 
the royal uraeus serpent of the Pharaohs, to whom it there- 
fore descended from some such early Libyan king of the 
Delta. As its coat of arms or symbol the Northern Kingdom 
employed a tuft of papyrus plant, which grew so plentifully 
in its marshes as co be distinctive of it. The king himself was 
designated by a bee, and wore upon his head a red crown, 
both in colour and shape peculiar to his kingdom. All of 
these symbols are very connnon in later hieroglyphic. Red 
was the distinctive colour of the northeni kingdom and its 
treasury was called the "Red House." 

Unfortunately the Delta is so deejily overlaid with deposits 
of Nile mud, that the material remains of its earliest civili- 
zation are buried forever from our reach. That civiliza- 
tion was probably earlier and more advanced than that of 
the valley above. Already in the forty third century B. C. 
the men of the Delta had discovered the year of three hun- 
dred and sixty five days and they introduced a calendar 
year of this length beginning on the day when Sirius rose 
at sunrise, as determined in the latitude of the southern 
Delta, where these earliest astronomers lived, in 4241 B. C. 
It is the civilization of the Delta, therefore, which furnishes 
us with the earliest fixed date in the history of the world. 
The invention and introduction of this calendar is surprising 
evidence of the advanced culture of the age and locality to 
which it belongs. No nation of antiquity, from the earliest 
times through classic European history, was able to devise 
a calendar which should evade the inconvenience resulting 
from the fact that the lunar month and the solar year are 
incommensurable quantities, the lunar months being incon- 
stant and also not evenly dividing the solar year. This 
earliest known calendar, with an amazingly practical insight 
into the needs to be subserved by a calendar, abandoned the 


lunar month altogether and substituted for it a conventional 
month of thirty days. Its devisers were thus the first people 
to perceive that a calendar must be an artificial device, en- 
tirely divorced from nature save in the acceptance of the day 
and the year. They therefore divided the year into twelve of 
these thirty day months, and a saci'ed period of five feast- 
days, intercalated at the end of the year. The year began 
on that day when Sirius first appeared on the eastern horizon J 

at sunrise, which in our calendar was on the nineteenth of 
July.' But as this calendar year was in reality about a 
quarter of a day shorter than the solar year, it therefore 
gained a full day every four years, thus slowly revolving 
on the astronomical year, passing entirely around it once in 
fourteen hundred and sixty years, only to begin the revolu- 
tion again. An astronomical event like the heliacal rising 
of Sirius, when dated in terms of the Egyptian calendar, 
may therefore be computed and dated within four years in 
terms of our reckoning, that is, in years B. C. This remark- 
able calendar, already in use at this remote age, is the one 
introduced into Rome by Julius Caesar, as the most con- 
venient calendar then known, and by the Romans it was 
bequeathed to us. It has thus been in use uninteri'uptedly 
over six thousand years. We owe it to the men of the 
Delta kingdom, who lived in the forty third century B. C. ; 
and we should notice that it left their hands in much more 
convenient form, with its twelve thirty-day months, than 
after it had suffered irregular alteration in this respect at 
the hands of the Romans. 

The kingdom of Upper Egypt was more distinctively 
Egyptian than that of the Delta. It had its capital at 
Nekheb, modern El Kab, and its standard or symbol was 
a lily plant, while another southern plant served as the 
ensign of the king, who was further distinguished by a tall 
white crown,white being the colour of the Southern Kingdom. 
Its treasury was therefore known as the ""V^Tiite House." 
There was a royal residence across the river from Nekheb. 
called Nekhen, the later Hieraconpolis. while correspondinff 

3 '- Julian. 



to it in the northern kingdom was a suburb of Buto, called 
Pe. Each capital had its patroness or protecting goddess: 
Buto, the serpent-goddess, in the North; and in the South 
the vulture-goddess, Nekhbet. But at both capitals the 
hawk-god Horus was worshipped as the distinctive patron 
deity of both kings. The people of the time believed in a 
life hereafter, subject to wants of the same nature as those 
of the present life. Their cemeteries are widely distributed 
along the margin of the desert in Upper Egypt, and of late 
years thousands of interments have been excavated. The 
tomb is usually a flat bottomed oval or rectangular pit, in 
which the body, doubled into the "contracted" or "embry- 
onic" posture, lies on its 
side (Fig. 12). In the 
earliest burials it is wrap- 
ped in a skin, but later 
also in woven fabric; 
there is no trace of em- 
balmment. Beneath the 
body is frequently a mat 
of plaited rushes ; it often 
has in the hand or at the 
breast a slate palette for 
grinding face-paint, the 
green malachite for which 
lies near in a small bag. 
The body is besides ac- 
companied by other arti- 
cles of toilet or of adorn- 
ment and is surrounded by jars of pottery or stone con- 
taining ash or organic matter, the remains of food, drink 
and ointment for the deceased in the hereafter. Not only 
were the toilet and other bodily wants of the deceased thus 
provided for, but he was also given his flint weapons or 
bone tipped harpoons that he might replenish his larder 
from the chase. Clay models of objects which he might 
need were also given him, especially boats. The pits are 

A Pbedynastic Grave. 


(3400 B.C.) 

Earliest knuwn inscribed piece of jewelry. Haskell 


t Dynasty. (Petrie, Royal Tom/'S.) 

Early Dynasties. Berlin Museum. 

t Dynasty. (Petrie, Royal Tombs.) 


sometimes roughly roofed over with branches, covered with 
a heaj) of desert sand and gravel, forming rudimentary 
tombs, and later they came to be lined with crude, sun- 
dried brick. Sometimes a huge, roughly hemispherical bowl 
of pottery was inverted over the body as it lay in the pit. 
These burials furnish the sole contemporary material for 
our study of the predynastic age. The gods of the here- 
after were appealed to in prayers and magical formulae, 
which eventually took conventional and traditional form in 
writing. A thousand years later in the dynastic age frag- 
ments of these mortuary texts are found in use in the pyra- 
mids of the Fifth and Sixth Dynasties. Pepi I, a king of 
the Sixth Dynasty, in his rebuilding of the Dendereh temple, 
claimed to be reproducing a plan of a sanctuary of the pre- 
dynastic kings on that spot. Temples of some sort they 
therefore evidently had. 

While they thus early possessed all the rudiments of 
material culture, the people of this age developed a system 
of writing also. The computations necessary for the dis- 
covery and use of the calendar show a use of writing in the 
last centuries of the fifth millennium B. C. It is shown also 
by the fact that nearly a thousand years later the scribes of 
the Fifth Dynasty were able to copy a long list of the kings 
of the North, and perhaps those of the South also (Fig. 29) ; 
while the mortuary texts to which we have referred will not 
have survived a thousand years without having been com- 
mitted to writing in the same way. The hieroglyphs for the 
Northern Kingdom, for its king, and for its treasury can not 
have arisen at one stroke with the first king of the dynastic 
age; but must have been in use long before the rise of the 
I First Dynasty; while the presence of a cursive linear hand 
at the beginning of the dynasties is conclusive evidence that 
the system was not then a recent innovation. 

Of the deeds of these remote kings of the North and South, 
who passed away before three thousand four hundred B. C. 
we know nothing. Their tombs have never been discovered, 
a fact which accounts for the lack of any written monuments 


among the conteiuporary doeumeuts, all of which come from 
tombs of the poorer classes, such as contain no writing even 
in the dynastic age. iSeven names of the kings of the Delta, 
like Seka, Khayu, or Thesh, alone of all the line have sur- 
vived; but of the southern kingdom not even a royal name 
has descended to us, unless it be that of the Scorpion, which, 
occurring on some few remains of this early age, has been 
conjectured to be that of one of the powerful chieftains of the 
South.^ The scribes of the Fifth Dynasty who drew up this 
list of kings, some eight hundred years after the line had 
passed away, seem to have known only the royal names, and 
were unable to, or at least did not record, any of their 
achievements.^ As a class these kings of the North and 
South were known to their posterity as the "worshippers of 
Horus" ; and as ages passed they became half mythic figures, 
gradually to be endowed with semi-divine attributes, until 
they were regarded as the demi-gods who succeeded the 
divine dynasties, the great gods who had ruled Egypt in the 
beginning. Their original character as deceased kings, as 
known to the earlier dynasties, led to their being considered 
especially as a line of the divine Dead, who had ruled over 
the land before the accession of human kings ; and in the his- 
torical work of Manetho they appear simply as "the Dead." 
Thus their real historical character was finally completely 
sublimated, then to merge into unsubstantial myth, and the 
ancient kings of the North and the South were worshipped 
in the capitals where they had once ruled. 

The next step in the long and slow evolution of national 
unity was the union of the North and South. The tradition 
which was still current in the days of the Greeks in Egypt, to 
the effect that the two kingdoms were united by a king 
named Menes, is fully confirmed by the evidence of the early 
monuments. The figure of Menes, but a few years since 
as vague and elusive as those of the ' ' worshippers of Horus, ' ' 
who preceded him, has now been clothed with unmistakable 

' Another possibly on the Palermo Stone and in the tomb of Methen ; see 
I, 166. n, 90. 

First Dynasty. Found at Abycios by Petrie. C 
Museum. (See p. 50.) 


tally Dynasties. (From Quibell, Hicracoiipolis, I, 360,4.) 


Detiicated by King Narmer (First Dynasty) in the temple of Hieraconpolis, See pp. 40 and 47. 
(Quibell, HuracottpoUs. I, 29.) 


reality, and be at last steps forth iuto history to head the 
long line of Pharaohs, who have yet to pass us in review. 
It must have been a skilful warrior and a vigourous admin- 
istrator, who thus gathered the resources of the Southern 
Kingdom so well in hand that he was able to invade and 
conquer the Delta, and thus merge the two kingdoms into 
one nation, completing the long process of centralization 
which had been going on for many centuries. His native 
city was Thinis, an obscure place in the vicinity of Abydos, 
which was not near enough to the centre of his new kingdom 
to serve as his residence, and we can easily credit the nar- 
rative of Herodotus that he built a great dam, diverting the 
course of the Nile above the site of Memphis that he might 
gain room there for a city. This stronghold, perhaps not yet 
called Memphis, was probably known as the "White Wall," 
in reference of course to the White Kingdom, whose power it 
represented. If we may believe the tradition of Herodotus' 
time, it was from this place, situated so favourably on the 
border between the two kingdoms, that Menes probably gov- 
erned the new nation which he had created. He carried his 
arms also southward against northern Nubia,' which then ex- 
tended below the first cataract as far northward as the nome 
of Edfu. According to the tradition of Manetho, he was 
blessed with a long reign, and the memory of his great 
achievement was imperishable, as we have seen. He was 
buried in Upper Egypt, either at Abydos near his native 
Thinis, or some distance above it near the modern village 
of Negadeh, where a large brick tomb, probably his, still 
survives. \n it and similar tombs of his successors at 
Abydos, written monuments of his reign have been found, 
and the reader may see in the accompanying illustration, 
even a piece of his royal adornments, bearing his name, which 
this ancient founder of the Egyptian state wore upon his 
person (Fig. 13). 

The kings of this remote protodynastie age are no longer 
merely a series of names as but a few years since they still 

' Newberry-Garstang, History, 20 I from unpubliahed evidence?). 


were. As a group at least, we know much of their life and 
its surroundings ; although we shall never be able to discern 
them as possessed of distinguishable personality. They 
blend together without distinction as children of their age. 
The outward insignia which all alike employed were now 
accommodated to the united kingdom. The king's favourite 
title was "Horus, " by which he identified himself as the 
successor of the great god, who had once ruled over the 
kingdom. Everywhere, on royal documents, seals and the 
like, appeared the Horus-hawk as the symbol of royalty. He 
was mounted upon a rectangle representing the facade of a 
building, probably the king's palace, within which was 
written the king's official name. The other or personal 
name of the ruler was preceded by the bee of the North 
and the plant of the southern king, to indicate that he had 
now absorbed both titles; while with these two symbols 
there often appeared also Nekhbet, the vulture-goddess of 
El Kab, the southern capital, side by side with Buto, the 
serpent-goddess of the northern capital. On the sculptures 
of the time, the protecting vulture hovers with outspread 
wings over the head of the king, but as he felt himself 
still as primarily king of Upper Egypt, it was not until 
later that he wore the serpent of the North, the sacred 
urEBUs upon his forehead. Similarly Set sometimes appears 
with Horus, preceding the king's personal name, the two 
gods thus representing the North and the South, dividing 
the land between them in accordance with the myth which 
we shall later have occasion to discuss. The monarch wore 
the crown of either kingdom, and he is often spoken of as 
the "double lord." Thus his dominion over a united Egypt 
was constantly proclaimed. We see the king on ceremonious 
occasions appearing in some state, preceded by four stan- 
dard-bearers and accompanied by his chancellor, personal 
attendants, or a scribe, and two fan-bearers. He wore the 
white crown of Upper or the red crown of Lower Egypt, or 
even a curious combination of the crowns of both kingdoms, 
and a simple garment suspended by a strap over one 

Fig. 20 -portrait HEAD OF KING 
Early Dynasties (Quibell, llierac, I, 39). 



Early Dynasties (ibid.). See translation, p. 47. 

■' ■'•J=>7^\^'' 



(First Dynasty, Abydos. From Petrie, Royal Jomlts, I, 66, r.) 


shoulder, to which a lion's tail was appended behind. So 
dressed and so attended he conducted triumphant celebra- 
tions of his victories, or led the ceremonies at the opening of 
canals (Fig. 18), or the inauguration of public works. On 
the thirtieth anniversary of his appointment by his father as 
crown-prince to the heirship of the kingdom, the king cele- 
brated a great iubilee called the "Feast of Sed," a word 
meaning "tail," and perhaps commemorating his assump- 
tion of the royal lion's tail at his appointment thirty years 
before. He was a mighty hunter, and recorded with pride 
an achievement like the slaying of a hippopotamus. His 
jpeapons were costly and elaborate as we shall see. His sev- 
eral palaces each bore a name, and the royal estate possessed 
gardens and vineyards, the latter being also named and 
carefully administered by officials who were responsible for 
the income therefrom. The furniture of such a palace, even 
in this remote age was magnificent and of fine artistic 
quality. Among it were vessels exquisitely wrought in some 
eighteen or twenty different varieties of stone, especially 
alabaster (Fig. 14) ; even in such refractory material as 
diorite, superb bowls were ground to translucent thinness, 
and jars of rock crystal were carved with matchless precision 
to represent natural objects. The pottery, on the other hand, 
perhaps because of the perfection of the stone vessels, is 
inferior to that of the predynastic age. The less substantial 
furniture has for the most part perished, but chests of ebony 
inlaid with ivory and stools with legs of ivory magnificently 
carved to represent bull's legs (Fig. 15), have survived in 
fragments. Glaze was now more thoroughly mastered than 
before, and incrustation with glazed plaques and ivory 
tablets was practiced. The coppersmith furnished the pal- 
ace with finely wrought bowls, ewers and other vessels of 
copper (Fig. 16) ; while he materially aided in the perfec- 
tion of stone vase-making by the production of excellent 
copper tools. The goldsmith combined with a high degree 
of technical skill also exquisite taste, and produced for the 
king's person and for the ladies of the royal household mag- 


nificent regalia in gold and precious stones (Figs. 13, 17),' 
involving the most delicate soldering of the metal, a process 
accomplished with a skill of which even a modern workman 
would not be ashamed. While the products of the industrial 
craftsman had thus risen to a point of excellence, such that 
they claim a place as works of art, we find that the rude 
carvings and drawings of the predynastic people have now 
developed into reliefs and statues which clearly betray the 
professional artist. The kings dedicated in the temples, 
especially in that of Horus at Hieraconpolis, ceremonial 
slate palettes, maces and vessels, bearing reliefs which dis- 
play a sure and practiced hand (Fig. 19).- The human and 
animal figures are done with surprising freedom and vigour, 
proclaiming an art long since conscious of itself and cen- 
turies removed from the naive efforts of a primitive people. 
By the time of the Third Dynasty the conventions of civi- 
lized life had laid a heavy hand upon this art ; and although 
finish and power of faithful delineation had reached a level 
far surpassing that of the Hieraconpolis slates, the old 
freedom had disappeared. In the astonishing statues of 
king Khasekhem at Hieraconpolis (Figs. 20 21), the rigid 
canons which ruled the art of the Old Kingdom are already 
clearly discernible. 

The wreck of all this splendour, amid which these antique 
kings lived, has been rescued by Petrie with the most con- 
scientious and arduous devotion, from their tombs at Abydos. 
These tombs are the result of a natural evolution from the 
pits in which the predynastic people buried their dead. The 

•The bracelets of Fig. 17 are of amethyst and turquoise mounted in gold. 
The uppermost has a rosette of gold, of exquisite workmanship. The 
of the gold bar (Fig. l.S) is unknown. 

•Fig. 19 shows both sides of the greatest of these palettes. In the top 
row (left) the king, followed by his sandal bearer and preceded by four 
standard bearers and his vizier, inspects the decapitated bodies of his fallen 
enemies. The middle row contains two fantastic animals of uncertain 
meaning, and in the bottom row, the king as a bull, breaches a walled city, 
and tramples down his enemy. The other side (right) shows the king 
smiting a fallen foe, while as a Horus hawk he also leads captive the sign of 
the North, bearing a head with the rope in its mouth. At the bottom are 
fallen foes. 


pit has now been elaborated and enlarged and has become 
rectangular. It is brick lined and also frequently has a 
second lining of wood; while the surrounding jars of food 
and drink have developed into a series of small chambers 
surrounding the central room or pit, in which doubtless the 
body lay, although the tombs had been so often plundered 
and wasted that no body has ever been found in them (Figs. 
22-25). The whole was roofed with heavy timbers and 
planking, probably surmounted by a heap of sand, and on 
the east front were set up two tall narrow stelse bearing 
the king's name. Access to the central chamber was had 
by a brick stairway descending through one side (Fig. 23). 
The king's toilet furniture, a rich equipment of bowls, jars 
and vessels, metal vases and ewers, his personal ornaments, 
and all that was necessary for the maintenance of royal state 
in the hereafter were deposited with his body in this tomb ; 
while the smaller surrounding chambers were tilled with a 
liberal supply of food and wine in enormous pottery jars, 
sealed with huge cones of Nile mud mixed with straw, and 
impressed while soft with the name of the king, or of the 
estate or vineyard from which they came. The revenue in 
food and wine from certain of the king 's estates was diverted 
and established as permanent income of the tomb to maintain 
for all time the table supply of the deceased king and of his 
household and adherents, whose tombs to the number of one 
or two hundred were grouped about his own. Thus he was 
surrounded in death by those who had been his companions 
in life; his women, his body-guard, and even the dwarf, 
whose dances had diverted his idle hours, all sleep beside 
their lord that he may continue in the hereafter the state 
with which he had been environed on earth. Thus early 
began the elaborate arrangements of the Egyptian upper 
classes for the proper maintenance of the deceased in the 
life hereafter. 

This desire to create a permanent abiding place for the 
royal dead exerted a powerful influence in the development 
of the art of building. Already in the First Dynasty we find 




^ a granite floor in one of the royal tombs, that of Usephais, 
and toward the end of the Ser^ond Dynasty the surrounding 
brick chambers of king Khasekhemui's tomb enclose a 
chamber built of hewn limestone, the earliest stone masonry 
structure known in the history of man (Fig. 25). His pred- 
ecessor, probably his father, had already built a stone temple 
which he recorded as a matter of note,' and Khasekhemui 
himself built a temple at Hieraconpolis, of which a granite 
doorpost has survived. 

Such works of the skilled artificer and builder (for a 
number of royal architects were already attached to the 
court) indicate a well-ordered and highly organized state; 
but of its character little can be discerned from the scanty 
materials at our command. The king's chief assistant and 
minister in government seems to have been a chancellor, 
whom we have seen attending him on state occasions. The 
officials whom we later find as nobles with judicial functions, 
attached to the two royal residences of the North and South, 
Pe and Nekhen, already existed under these earliest djmas- 
ties, indicating an organized administration of judicial and 
juridical affairs. There was a body of fiscal officials, whose 
seals we find upon payments of naturalia to the royal tombs, 
impressed upon the clay jar-sealings ; while a fragment of 
a scribe's accounts evidently belonging to such an adminis- 
tration, was found in the Abydos royal tombs. The endow- 
ment of these tombs with a regularly paid income clearly 
indicates an orderly and effective fiscal organization, of 
which several offices, like the "provision office," are men- 
tioned on the seals. This department of the state was but 
a union of the two treasuries of the old kingdoms of the 
North and South, the "Red House" and the ""Wliite 
House"; hence we find among the seals in the royal tombs 
the "Vineyard of the Red House of the King's Estate." 
Evidently the union of the two kingdoms consisted only in 
the person of the king. The "Red House," however, soon 
disappeared, the double administration became one of termi- 
n, 134. 








c ^^ 


2 "^ 


!S ^ 


- M 



rt "~^ 



■^ -, 



i c 

Fis. 27. Ebony Tablet of Menes, First Dynasty, Abyuos, 3400 B. C. 

One of the earliest known examples of hieroglyphics. Top row: At the 
left the royal hawk of Menes; on the right a chapel with the symbols of the 
goddess Neit in the court, over which is a boat. Second row: At the left the 
king holds a vessel marked " Electrum " (silver-gold alloy), and offers a 
libation "4 times"; on the right a bull is caught in an enclosure before a 
shrine bearing a phoenix. Third row: The Nile with boats, towns, and 
islands. Fourth row: Unintelligible archaic hieroglyphs. 

Fig. 28. King Semebkhet. (First Dynasty. ) Smites the Beduin of Sinai. 

Relief on the rocks of the Wadi Maghara, Sinai, the earliest monument 

there, and the earliest known large sculpture. (From Weill, Sinai.) 



nology and theory only, and the "White House" of the 
southern kingdom survived throughout Egyptian history as 
the sole treasury of the united kingdom. This history of 
the earlj' treasurj- is instructive as showing that the amalga- 
mation of the administrative machinery of the two kingdoms 
was a slow process which Menes was unable to complete. 
In all probability the land all belonged to the estate of the 
king, by whom it was entrusted to a noble class. There were 
large estates conducted by these nobles, as in the period 
which immediately followed; but on what terms they were 
held we can not now determine. The people, with the pos- 
sible exception of a free class of artificers and tradesmen, 
will have been slaves on these estates. They lived also in 
cities protected by heavy walls of sun-dried brick, and under 
the command of a local governor. The chief cities of the 
time were the two capitals. El Kab and Buto, with their 
royal suburbs of Nekhen or Hieraconpolis, and Pe; the 
"White Wall," the predecessor of Memphis; Thinis, the 
native city of the first two dynasties; the neighbouring 
Abydos ; Heliopolis, Heracleopolis and Sais ; while a number 
of less importance appear in the Third Dynasty. 

Every two years a "numbering" of the royal possessions 
was made throughout the land by the officials of the treas- 
ury, and these "numberings" served as a partial basis for 
the chronological reckoning. The years of a king's reign 
were called, "Year of the First Xumbering, " "Year after 
the First Numbering," "Year of the Second Numbering" 
and so on An earlier method was to name the year after 
some important event which occurred in it. thus: "Year of 
Smiting the Troglodytes," a method found also in early 
Babylonia. But as the "numberings" finally became an- 
nual, they formed a more convenient basis for designating the 
year, as habit seemed to have deterred the scribes from num- 
bering the years themselves. Side by side with this official 
year, there was doubtless a civil year which followed the sea- 
sons, and the lunar months continued to be the basis of tem- 
ple jiayments and of many business transactions, although 


it is not probable that a lunar year had ever existed. Snoh 
a system of government and administration as this of course 
could not operate without a method of writing, which we find 
in use both in elaborate hieroglyphics (Fig. 27) and in the 
rapid cursive hand of the accounting scribe. It already pos- 
sessed not only phonetic signs representing a whole syllable 
or group of consonants but also the alphabetic signs, each 
of which stood for one consonant; true alphabetic letters 
having thus been discovered in Egypt two thousand five 
hundred years before their use by any other people. Had 
the Egyptian been less a creature of habit, he might have 
discarded his syllabic signs 3,500 years before Christ, and 
have written with an alphabet of twenty four letters. In 
the documents of these early dynasties the writing is in such 
an archaic form that many of the scanty fragments which 
we possess from this age are as yet unintelligible to us. 
Yet it was the medium of recording medical and religious 
texts, to which in later times a peculiar sanctity and effect- 
iveness were attributed. The chief events of each year were 
also recorded in a few lines under its name, and a series of 
annals covering every year of a king's reign and showing 
to a day how long he reigned, was thus produced. A small 
fragment only of these annals has escaped destruction, the 
now famous Palermo Stone,' so called because it is at present 
in the museum of Palermo (Fig. 29).^ 

Already a state form of religion was developing, and it 
is this form alone of which we know anything; the religion 
of the people having left little or no trace. Even in the 
later dynasties we shall find little to say of the folk-religion, 
which was rarely a matter of permanent record. The royal 
temple of Menes's time was still a simple structure, being- 
little more than a shrine or chapel of wood, with walls of 

•I, 76-167. 

2 The front of the fragment is shown in Fig. 29. After the first row, each 
rectangle contains a year, and in the space over each row, was written the 
name of the king to whom the row of years belonged. The front contained 
the predynastie kings (top row) and dynasties one to three; the rest extending 
into the Fifth Dvnastv was on the back. 


plaited wattle (Fig. 27). There was an enclosed court before 
it, containing a symbol or emblem of the god mounted on a 
standard ; and in front of the enclosure was a pair of poles, 
perhaps the forerunners of the pair of stone obelisks which in 
historic times were erected at the entrance of a temple. By 
the second half of the Second Dynasty, however, stone tem- 
ples were built,' as we have seen. The kings frequently 
record in their annals- the draughting of a temple plan, or 
their superintendence of the ceremonious inauguration of 
the work when the ground was measured and broken. The 
great gods were those familiar in later times, whom we shall 
yet have occasion briefly to discuss; we notice i^articularly 
Osiris and Set, Horus and Anubis, Thoth, Sokar, Min, and 
Apis a form of Ptah; while among the goddesses, Hathor 
and Neit are very prominent. Several of these, like Horus, 
were evidently the patron gods of prehistoric kingdoms, pre- 
ceding the kingdoms of the North and South, and thus going 
back to a very distant age. Horus, as under the predynastic 
kings, was the greatest god of the united kingdom, and occu- 
pied the position later held by Re. His temple at Hiera- 
conpolis was especially favoured, and an old feast in his 
honour, called the "Worship of Horus," celebrated every two 
years, is regularly recorded in the royal annals (Fig. 29).^ 
The kings therefore continued without interruption the tra- 
ditions of the "Worshippers of Horus," as the successors of 
whom they regarded themselves. As long as the royal suc- 
cession continued in the Thinite family the worship of Horus 
was carefully observed; but with the ascendancy of the 
Third Dynasty, a Memphite family, it gradually gave way 
and was neglected. The priestly office was maintained of 
course as in the Old Kingdom by laymen, who were divided, 
as later, into four orders or phyles. 

The more than four hundred years during which the first 
two dynasties ruled must have been a period of constant 
and vigourous growth. Of the seven kings of Menes's line, 
who followed him during the first two centuries of that devel- 

'I, 134. 'I, 91-167 

Fragment of a copy of th' 

; of the earliest 1 
when the copy 

kings, from pretlynastic times to the 
de. Pee pp. 35. 36. 109. 

.ddle of the Fifth Dynasty, 


opment, we can identify only two with certainty: Miebis 
and Usephais ; but we have contemporary monuments from 
twelve"oFlhe eighteen kings who ruled during this period. 
The first difficulty which confronted them was the reconcilia- 
tion of the Northern Kingdom and its complete fusion with 
the larger nation. We have seen how, in administration, the 
two kingdoms remained distinct, and hinted that the union 
was a merely personal bond. The kings on ascending the 
throne celebrated a feast called "Union of the Two Lands, "' 
by which the first year of each king's reign was character- 
ized and named. This union, thus shown to be so fresh in 
their minds, could not at first be made effectual. The North 
rebelled again and again. King Narmer, who probably 
lived near the beginning of the dynastic age, was obliged 
to punish the rebellious Libyan nomes in the western Delta. 
He took captives to the number of "one hundred and twenty 
thousand," which deed must have involved the deportation 
of a whole district, whence he also plundered no less than 
"one million four hundred and twenty thousand small, and 
four hundred thousand large cattle. ' ' In the temple at Hiera- 
eonpolis he left a magnificent slate palette (Fig. 19) accom- 
panied by a ceremonial mace-head, both of which bear scenes 
commemorating his victory. Later king Neterimu smote the 
northern cities of Shemre and "House of the North. "^ As 
late as the Third Dynasty a war with the North gave king 
Khasekiiem occasion to name a year of his reign the "Year 
of Fighting and Smiting the North," a war in which he 
took captive "forty seven thousand two hundred and nine 
rebels." He likewise commemorated his victory in the 
temple of Horus at Hieraconpolis, dedicating there a great 
alabaster vase^ bearing his name and that of the triumphant 
year, besides two remarkable statues'* (Figs. 20-21) of him- 
self, inscribed with the nmnber of the captives. The later 
mythology attributed a lasting reconciliation of the two king- 
doms to Osiris.* 

' I, 140. ' I, 124. ' Hierac. I, pi. XXXVI-VIII. 

* Ibid., pi. XXXIX-XLI. ' Louvre Stela C. 2. 


While the severe methods employed against the North 
must have seriously crippled its eeonomie prosperity, that 
of the nation as a whole probably continued to increase. 
The kings were constantly laying out new estates and build- 
ing new palaces, temples and strongholds. Public works, 
like the opening of irrigation canals (Fig. 18) or the wall 
of Menes above Memphis, show their solicitude for the eco- 
nomic resources of the kingdom, as well as a skill in engi- 
neering and a high conception of government such as we 
can not but greatly admire in an age so remote. They were 
able also to undertake the earliest enterprises of which 
we know in foreign lands. King Semerkhet, early in the 
dynastic age, and probably during the First Dynasty, car- 
ried on mining operations in the copper regions of the 
Sinaitic peninsula, in the Wadi Maghara. His expedition 
was exposed to the depredations of the wild tribes of 
Beduin, who already in this remote age, peopled those dis- 
tricts ; and he recorded his punishment of them in a relief 
uix»n the rocks of the Wadi (Fig. 28).' Usephais, of the 
First Dynasty, must have conducted similar operations 
there; for he has left a memorial of his victory over the 
same tribes in a scene carved upon an ivory tablet, showing 
him striking down a native whom he has forced to the knees 
(Fig. 26). It is accompanied by the inscription: "First 
occurrence of smiting the Easterners." This designation 
of the event as the ^^ first occurrence" would indicate that it 
was a customary thing for the kings of the time to chastise 
these barbarians, and that therefore he was expecting a 
^^ second occurrence," as a matter of course. A "smiting 
of the Troglodytes," the same people, recorded on the Pa- 
lermo Stone^ in the First Dynasty, doubtless falls in the 
reign of king Miebis. Indeed there are indications that the 
kings of this time maintained foreign relations with far 
remoter peoples. In their tombs have been found fragments 
of a peculiar, non-Egyptian pottery, closely resembling the 

' Weill, Rev. Arch., 1903, II, p. 2S1 ; and Recueil des Inscr. ^gypt. du 
Sinai, p. 96. « I., 1D4. 



ornamented .Egean ware produced by the island people? 
of the northern Mediterranean in pre-Myoenaean times. If 
this pottery was placed in these tombs at the time of the 
original burials, there were commercial relations between 
Egypt and the northern Mediterranean peoples in the fourth 
millennium before Christ. Besides the aggressive foreign 
policy in the east, and this foreign connection in the north, 
we find that an occasional campaign was necessary to 
restrain the Libyans on the west. In the temple at Hiera- 
conpolis Narmer left an ivory cylinder ' connnemorating his 
victory over them, an event which is doubtless to be con- 
nected with the same king's chastisement of the Libyan 
nomes in the western Delta, to which we have already 
adverted. In the south at the first cataract, where, as late 
as the Sixth Dynasty, the Troglodyte tribes of the neigh- 
bouring eastern desert made it dangerous to operate the quar- 
ries there, king Usephais of the First Dynasty was able to 
maintain an expedition for the purpose of securing granite 
to pave one of the chambers of his tomb at Abydos. 

Thus this strong Thinite line gradually built up a vig- 
ourous nation of rich and prolific culture and consolidated its 
power within and without. Scanty as are its surviving mon- 
uments, we see now gradually taking form the great state 
which is soon to emerge as the Old Kingdom. These earliest 
Pharaohs were buried, as we have seen, at Abydos or in the 
vicinity, where nine of their tombs are known. A thousand 
years after they had passed away, these tombs of the 
founders of the kingdom were neglected and forgotten, and 
as early as the twentieth century before Christ that of king 
Zer was mistaken for the tomb of Osiris." ^YheT\ found in 
modern times it was buried under a mountain of potsherds, 
the remains of votive offerings left there by centuries of 
Osiris-worshippers. Its rightful occupants had long been 
torn from their resting places, and their limbs, heavy with 
gold and precious stones, had been wrenched from the 
sockets to be carried away by greedy violators of the dead. 

1 Hierac. I, pi. XV, No. 7. « I. 662. 


It was on oome such occasion that one of these thieves 
secreted in a hole in the wall of the tomb the desiccated arm 
of Zer's queen, still bearing under the close wrappings its 
splendid regalia (Fig. 17). Perhaps slain in some brawl, 
the robber, fortunately for us, never returned to recover his 
plunder, and it was found there and brought to Petrie intact 
by his well trained workmen in 1902. 





There is no force in the life of ancient man, the influence 
of which so pervades all his activities as does that of the 
religious faculty. Its fancies explain for him the world 
about him, its fears are his hourly master, its hopes his con- 
stant Mentor, its feasts are his calendar, and its outward 
usages are to a large extent the education and the motive 
toward the gradual evolution of art, literature and science. 
As among all other early peoples, it was in his surroundings 
that the Egyptian saw his gods. The trees and springs, the 
stones and hill-tops, the birds and beasts were creatures like 
himself, or possessed of strange and uncanny powers of 
which he was not master. Among this host of si:)irits ani- 
mating everything around him, some were his friends, ready 
to be propitiated and to lend him their aid and protection; 
while others with craft and cunning lowered about his path- 
way, awaiting an opportunity to strike him with disease and 
pestilence, and there was no misfortune in the course of 
nature but found explanation in his mind as coming from 
one of these evil beings about him. Such spirits as these 
were local, each known only to the dwellers in a given 
locality, and the efforts to serve and propitiate them were of 
the humblest and most primitive character. Of such worship 
we know little or nothing in the Old Kingdom, but during 
the Empire we shall be able to gain fleeting glimpses into 
this naive and long forgotten world. But the Egyptian peo- 
pled not merely the local circle about him with such spirits ; 
the sky above him and earth beneath his feet were equally 
before him for explanation. Long ages of confinement to 
his elongated valley, with its monotonous, even if sometimes 



grand scenery, had imposed a limited range upon his imagi- 
nation; neither had he the qualities of mind which could 
be stirred by the world of nature to such exquisite fancies 
as those with which the natural beauties of Hellas inspired 
the imagination of the Greeks. In the remote ages of that 
earliest civilization, which we have briefly surveyed in the 
preceding chapter, the shepherds and plowmen of the Nile 
valley saw in the heavens a vast cow, which stood athwart 
the vault, with head in the west, the earth lying between 
fore and hind feet, while the belly of the animal, studded 
with stars, was the arch of heaven. The people of another 
locality however, fancied they could discern a colossal female 
figure standing with feet in the east and bending over the 
earth, till she supported herself upon her arms in the far 
west. To others the sky was a sea, supported high above 
the earth, with a pillar at each of its four corners. As these 
fancies gained more than local credence and came into 
contact with each other, they mingled in inextricable con- 
fusion. The sun was born every morning as a calf or as a 
child according to the explanation of the heavens as a cow 
or a woman, and he sailed across the sky in a celestial 
barque, to arrive in the west and descend as an old man tot- 
tering into the grave. Again the lofty flight of the hawk, 
which seemed a very comrade of the sun, led them to believe 
that the sun himself must be such a hawk, taking his daily 
flight across the heavens, and the sun-disk, with the out- 
spread wings of the hawk, became the commonest symbol 
of their religion. 

The earth, or as they knew it, their elongated valley, was 
to their primitive fancy, a man lying prone, upon whose 
back the vegetation grew, the beasts moved and man lived. 
If the sky was a sea upon which the sun and the heavenly 
lights sailed westward every day, there must then be a water- 
way by which they could return; so there was beneath the 
earth another Nile, flowing through a long dark passage with 
successive caverns, through which the celestial barque took 
its way at night, to appear again in the east at early mom- 

Fig. .30. The Celestial Cow. 

Various genii support her limbs, while in the middle, Shu, the god of the 
atmosphere upholds her. Along her belly which forms the heavens, and 
bears the stars, moves the celestial barque of the sun-god, who wears the sun- 
disk on his head. 

Fig. 31. The Goddess; of the Heavens. 

Her body is studded with stars, Shu, the\god of the air, supports her, while 
prone beneath her is the earth-god, Keb. 



ing. This subterranean stream was connected with the Nile 
at the first cataract, and thence issued from two caverns, 
the waters of their life-giving river. It will be seen that 
for the people among whom this myth arose, the world 
ended at the first cataract; all that they knew beyond 
was a vast sea. This was also connected with the Nile 
in the south, and the river returned to it in the north, 
for this sea, which they called the "Great Circle'" sur- 
rounded their earth. It is the idea inherited by the Greeks, 
who called the sea Okeanos, or Ocean. In the beginning 
only this ocean existed, upon which there then appeared 
an egg, or as some said a flower, out of which issued the 
sun-god. Prom himself he begat four children, Shu and 
Tefnut, Keb and Nut. All these, with their father, lay 
upon the ocean of chaos, when Shu and Tefnut, who repre- 
sent the atmosphere, thrust themselves between Keb and 
Nut. They planted their feet upon Keb and raised Nut on 
high, so that Keb became the earth and Nut the heavens. 
Keb and Nut were the father and mother of the four divin- 
ities, Osiris and Isis, Set and Nephthys; together they 
formed with tlieir primeval father the sun-god, a circle of 
nine deities, the "ennead" of which each temple later pos- 
sessed a local form. This correlation of the primitive divin- 
ities as father, mother and son, strongly influenced the 
theology of later times until each temple possessed an arti- 
ficially created triad, of purely secondary origin, upon which 
an "ennead" was then built up. Other local versions of 
this story of the world's origin also circulated. One of 
them represents Re as ruling the earth for a time as king 
over men, who plotted against him, so that he sent a god- 
dess, Hathor, to slay them, but finally repented and by a 
ruse succeeded in diverting the goddess from the total exter- 
mination of the human race, after she had destroyed them 
in part. The cow of the sky then raised Re upon her back 
that he might forsake the ungrateful earth and dwell in 

' II, 6fll. 



Fig. 32. The Celestial Baeque of the Sun-god. 

The rain-headed god, wearing the sun-disk is enthroned in a chapel ; tlie 
ibis-headed Thoth, his vizier, stands in the royal presence and addresses him 
like an earthly king. 

Fig. .33. Restoration op a Group of Old Kingdom " Mastabas," or 
Masonry Tombs. (After Perrot-Chipiez.) 

The door of the chapel is visible in front, and on the roof may be seen the 
top of the shaft which descends through the superstructure to the subter- 
ranean sepulchre chamber containing tlie mummy. 


Besides these gods of the earth, the air and the heavens, 
there were also those who had as their domain tlie nether 
world, the gloomy passage, along which the subterranean 
stream carried the sun from west to east. Here, according 
to a very early belief, dwelt the dead, whose king was Osiris. 
He had succeeded the sun-god as king on earth, aided in 
his government by his faithful sister-wife, Isis. A bene- 
factor of men, and beloved as a righteous ruler, he was 
nevertheless craftily misled and slain by his brother Set. 
When, after great tribulation, Isis had gained possession 
of her lord's body, she was assisted in preparing it for burial 
by one of the old gods of the nether world, Anubis, the 
jackal-god, who thereafter became the god of embalmment. 
So powerful were the charms now uttered by Isis over the 
body of her dead husband that it was reanimated, and 
regained the use of its limbs; and although it was impos- 
sible for the departed god to resume his earthly life, he 
passed down in triumph as a living king, to become lord of 
the nether world. Isis later gave birth to a son, Horus, 
whom she secretly reared among the marshy fastnesses of 
the Delta as the avenger of his father. Grown to manhood, 
the youth pursued Set and in the ensuing awful battle, 
which raged from end to end of the land, both were fear- 
fully mutilated. But Set was defeated, and Horus tri- 
umphantly assumed the earthly throne of his father. There- 
upon Set entered the tribunal of the gods, and charged that 
the birth of Horus was not without stain, and that his claim 
to the throne was not valid. Defended by Thoth, the god 
of letters, Horus was vindicated and declared "true in 
speech," or "triumphant." According to another version 
it was Osiris himself who was thus vindicated. 

Not all the gods who appear in these tales and fancies 
became more than mythological figures. Many of them con- 
tinued merely in this role, without temple or form of wor- 
ship; they had but a folk-lore or finally a theological exist- 
ence. Others became the great gods of Egypt. In a land 
where a clear sky prevailed and rain was rarely seen, the 


incessant splendour of the sun was an insistent fact, which 
gave him the highest place in the thought and daily life of 
the people. His worship was almost universal, but the chief 
centre of his cult was at On, the Delta city, which the Greeks 
called Heliopolis. Here he was known as Re, which was the 
solar orb itself; or as Atum, the name of the decrepit sun, 
as an old man tottering down the west; again his name 
Kliepri, written with a beetle in hieroglyphic, designated him 
in the youthful vigour of his rising. He had two barques 
with which he sailed across the heavens, one for the morning 
and the other for the afternoon, and when in this barque he 
entered the nether world to return to the east he brought 
light and joy to its disembodied denizens. The symbol of 
his presence in the temple at Heliopolis was an obelisk, while 
at Edfu, on the upper river, which was also an old centre 
of his worship, he appeared as a hawk, under the name 

The Moon as the measurer of time furnished the god of 
reckoning, of letters, and of wisdom, whose chief centre was 
at Shmun, or Hermopolis, as the Greeks who identified him 
with Hermes, called the place. He was identified with the 
ibis. The Sky, whom we have seen as Nut, was worshipped 
throughout the land, although Nut herself continued to play 
only a mythological role. The sky-goddess became the type 
of woman and of woman's love and joy. At the ancient 
shrine of Dendereh she was the cow-goddess, Hathor ; at Sais 
she was the joyous Neit; at Bubastis, in the form of a cat, 
she appeared as Bast ; while at Memphis her genial aspects 
disappeared and she became a lionness, the goddess of storm 
and terror. The myth of Osiris, so human in its incidents 
and all its characteristics, rapidly induced the wide propa- 
gation of his worship, and although Isis still remained chiefly 
a figure in the myth, she became the type of wife and mother, 
upon which the people loved to dwell. Horus also, although 
he really belonged originally to the sun-myth and had 
nothing to do with Osiris, was for the people the embodi- 
ment of the qualities of a good son, and in him they constantly 


saw the ultimate triumph of the just cause. The immense 
influence of the Osiris-worship on the life of Egypt we shall 
have occasion to notice further in discussing mortuary 
beliefs. The original home of Osiris was at Dedu, called 
by the Greeks Busiris, in the Delta; but Abydos, in Upper 
Egypt, early gained a reputation of peculiar sanctity, 
because the head of Osiris was buried there. He always 
appeared as a closely swathed figure, enthroned as a 
Pharaoh or merely a curious pillar, a fetish surviving from 
his prehistoric worship. Into the circle of nature-divinities 
it is impossible to bring Ptah of Memphis, who was one of 
the early and great gods of Egypt. He was the patron of 
the artisan, the artificer and artist, and his High Priest was 
always the chief artist of the court. Such were the chief 
gods of Egypt, although many another important deity pre- 
sided in this or that temple, whom it would be impossible 
for us to notice here, even with a word. 

The external manifestations and the symbols with which 
the E^gyptian clothed these gods are of the simplest char- 
acter and they show the jirimitive simplicity of the age in 
which these deities arose. They bear a staff like a Beduin 
native of to-day, or the goddesses wield a reed-stem ; their 
diadems are of woven reeds or a pair of ostrich feathers, or 
the horns of a sheep. In such an age, the people frequently 
saw the manifestations of their gods in the numerous ani- 
mals with which they were surrounded, and the veneration 
of these sacred beasts survived into an age of high civiliza- 
tion, when we should have expected it to disappear. But 
the animal-worship, which we usually associate with ancient 
Egypt, as a cult, is a late product, brought forward in the 
decline of the nation at the close of its history. In the 
periods with which we shall have to deal, it was unknown; 
the hawk, for example, was the sacred animal of the sun-god, 
and as such a living hawk might have a place in the temple, 
where he was fed and kindly treated, as anj^ such pet might 
be ; but he was not worshipped, nor was he the object of an 
elaborate ritual as later.^ 

' Erman, Handbuch, p. 25. 


In their elongated valley the local beliefs of the earliest 
Egyptians could not bnt diifer greatly among themselves, 
and although for example there were many centres of sun- 
worship, each city possessing a sun-temple regarded the sun 
as its particular god, to the exclusion of all the rest; just 
as many a town of Italy at the present day would not for a 
moment identify its particular Madonna with the virgin of 
any other town. As commercial and administrative inter- 
course were increased by political union, these mutually con- 
tradictory and incompatible beliefs could not longer remain 
local. They fused into a complex of tangled myth, of which 
we havo already offered some examples and shall yet see 
more. Neither did the theologizing priesthoods ever reduce 
this mass of belief into a coherent system; it remained as 
accident and circumstance brought it together, a chaos of 
contradictions. Another result of national life was, that as 
soon as a city gained political supremacy its gods rose with 
it to the dominant place among the innumerable gods of 
the land. 

The temples in which the earliest EgyjDtian worshipped 
we have already had occasion to notice. He conceived the 
place as the dwelling of his god, and hence its arrangement 
probably conformed with that of a private house of the pre- 
dynastic Egyptian. We have seen how the gradual evolu- 
tion of a nation has left the prehistoric temple of woven 
wattle far behind, putting in its place at last a structure of 
stone in which doubtless the main features of the primitive 
arrangement survived. It was still the house of the god, 
although the Egyptian himself may have long since for- 
gotten its origin. Behind a forecourt open to the sky rose 
a colonnaded hall, beyond which was a series of small cham- 
bers containing the furniture and imjjlements for the temple 
services. Of the architecture and decoration of the building 
we shall later have occasion to speak further (pp. 106 f.). 
The centre of the chambers in the rear was occupied by a 
small room, the holy of holies, in which stood a shrine hewn 
from one block of granite. It contained the image of the god, 


a small figure of wood from one and a half to six feet high, 
elaborately adorned and splendid with gold, silver and costly 
stones. The service of the divinity who dwelt here consisted 
simply in furnishing him with those things which formed 
the necessities and luxuries of an Egyptian of wealth and 
rank at that time: plentiful food and drink, fine clothing, 
music and the dance. The source of these offerings was the 
income from an endowment of lands established by the 
throne, as well as various contributions from the royal rev- 
enues in grain, wine, oil, honey and the like.* These contribu- 
tions to the comfort and happiness of the lord of the temple, 
while probably originally offered without ceremony, gradually 
became the occasion of an elaborate ritual which was essen- 
tially alike in all temples. Outside in the forecourt was the 
great altar, where the people gathered on feast days, when 
they were permitted to share the generous food offerings, 
which ordinarily were eaten by the priests and servants of 
the temple, after they had been presented to the god. These 
feasts, besides those marking times and seasons, were fre- 
quently commemorations of some important event in the 
story or myth of the god, and on such occasions the priests 
brought forth the image in a portable shrine, having the 
form of a small Nile boat. 

The earliest priesthood was but an incident in the duties 
of the local noble, who was the head of the priests in the 
community; but the exalted position of the Pharaoh as the 
nation developed, made him the sole official servant of the 
gods, and there arose at the beginning of the nation's his- 
tory a state form of religion, in which the Pharaoh played 
the supreme role. In theory, therefore, it was he alone who 
worshipped the gods; in fact, however, he was of necessity 
represented in each of the many temples of the land by a 
high priest, by whom all offerings were presented "for the 
sake of the life, prosperity and health" of the Pharaoh. 
Some of these high priesthoods were of very ancient origin : 
particularly that of Heliopolis, whose incumbent was called 

■I, 153-167; 213. 


"Great Seer"; while he of Ptah at Memphis was called 
"Great Chief of Artificers." Both positions demanded two 
incumbents at once and were usually held by men of high 
rank. The incumbents of the other high priesthoods of 
later origin all bore the simple title of "overseer or chief 
of priests." It was the duty of this man not merely to 
conduct the service and ritual of the sanctuary, but also to 
administer its endowment of lands, from the income of which 
it lived, while in time of war he might even command the 
temple contingent. He was assisted by a body of priests, 
whose sacerdotal service was with few exceptions merely 
incidental to their worldly occupations. They were laymen, 
who from time to time served for a stated period in the 
temple; thus in spite of the fiction of the Pharaoh as the 
sole worshipper of the god, the laymen were represented in 
its service. In the same way the women of the time were 
commonly priestesses of Neit or Hathor; their service con- 
sisted in nothing more than dancing and jingling a sistrum 
before the god on festive occasions. The state fiction had 
therefore not quite suppressed the participation of the indi- 
vidual in the service of the temple. In harmony with the 
conception of the temple as the god's dwelling the most fre- 
quent title of the priest was "servant of the god." 

Parallel with this development of a state religion, with its 
elaborate equipment of temple, endowment, priesthood and 
ritual, the evolution of the provision for the dead had kept 
even pace. In no land, ancient or modern, has there ever 
been such attention to the equipment of the dead for their 
eternal sojourn in the hereafter. The beliefs which finally 
led the Egyptian to the devotion of so much of his wealth 
and time, his skill and energy to the erection and equipment 
of the "eternal house" are the oldest conceptions of a real 
life hereafter of which we know. He believed that the body 
was animated by a vital force, which he pictured as a coun- 
terpart of the body, which came into the world with it, 
passed through life in its company, and accompanied it into 
the next world. This he called a "ka, " and it is often 


spoken of in modem treatises as a "double," thongh this 
designation describes the form of the ka as represented on 
the monuments, ratlier than its real nature. Besides the ka 
every person possessed also a soul, which he conceived in 
the form of a bird flitting about among the trees; though 
it might assume the outward semblance of a flower, the lotus, 
a serpent, a crocodile sojourning in the river, or of many 
other things. Even further elements of personality seemed 
to them present, like the shadovr possessed by every one, 
but the relations of all these to each other were very vague 
and confused in the mind of the Egyptian ; just as the 
average Christian of a generation ago, who accepted the 
doctrine of body, soul and spirit, would have been unable to 
give any lucid explanation of their interrelations. Like the 
varying explanations of the heavens and the world there were 
many once probably local notions of the place to which the 
dead journeyed; but these beliefs, although mutually irrec- 
oncilable, continued to enjoy general acceptance, and no one 
was troubled by their incompatibility, even if it ever 
occurred to them. There was a world of the dead in the 
west, where the sun-god descended into his grave every 
night, so that "westerners" was for the Egyptian a term 
for the departed; and wherever possible the cemetery was 
located on the margin of the western desert. There was 
also the nether world where the dei)arted lived awaiting the 
return of the solar barque every evening, that they might 
bathe in the radiance of the sun-god, and seizing the bow- 
rope of his craft draw him with rejoicing through the long 
caverns of their dark abode. In the splendour of the nightly 
heavens the Nile-dweller also saw the host of those who had 
preceded him; thither they had flown as birds, rising above 
all foes of the air, and received by Re as the companions 
of his celestial barque, they now swept across the sky as 
eternal stars. Still more commonly the Egyptian told of 
a field in the northeast of the heavens, which he called the 
"field of food," or the "field of Yarn," the lentil field, 
where the grain grew taller than any ever seen on the banks 


of the Nile, and the departed dwelt in security and plenty. 
Besides the bounty of the soil he received too, from the 
earthlj' offerings presented in the temple of his god: bread 
and beer and fine linen. It was not every one who suc- 
ceeded in reaching this field of the blessed; for it was sur- 
rounded by water. Sometimes the departed might induce 
';hc hawk or the ibis to bear him across on their pinions ; 
again friendly spirits, the four sous of Horus, brought him 
a craft upon which he might float over; sometimes the sun- 
god bore him across in his barque; but by far the majority 
depended upon the services of a ferryman called "Turn- 
face" or "Look-behind," because his face was ever turned 
to the rear in poling his craft. He will not receive all into 
his boat, but only him of whom it was said, "there is no 
evil which he has done," or "the just who hath no boat," 
or him who is "righteous before heaven and earth and before 
the isle,"' where lies the happy field to which they go. 
These are the earliest traces in the history of man of an 
ethical test at the close of life, making the life hereafter 
dependent upon the character of the life lived on earth. It 
was at this time, however, chiefly cereiuouial rather than 
moral purity which secured the waiting soul passage across 
the waters. Yet a noble of the Fifth Dynasty desires it 
known that he has never defrauded ancient tombs, and says 
in his mastaba, "I have made this tomb as a just possession, 
and never have I taken a thing belonging to any person. . . . 
Never have I done aught of violence toward any person."^ 
Another, perhaps a private citizen, says, "Never was I 
beaten in the presence of any official since my birth ; never 
did I take the property of any man by violence; I was doer 
Df that which pleased all men."^ Nor was it always nega- 
tive virtues which they claimed; a noble of Upper Egypt 
at the close of the Fifth Dynasty says, "I gave bread to the 
hungry of the Cerastes-Mountain (the district he governed) ; 

•Pyramid of Pepi I, 400; Mernere 570, Erman, Zeitschrift fiir Aegj'ptische 
Sprache, XXXI, 76-77. 

* I, 252. > I, 279. 



I clothed him who was naked therein. ... I never oppressed 
one in possession of his property, so that he complained of 
me because of it to the god of my city; never was there 
one fearing because of one stronger than he, so that he com- 
plained because of it to the god.'" 

Into these early beliefs, with which Osiris originally had 
nothing to do, the myth which told of his death and depar- 
ture into the nether world, now entered, to become the 
dominating element in Egyptian mortuary belief. He had 
become the "first of those in the west" and "king of the 
glorified"; every soul that suffered the fate of Osiris might 
also experience his restoration to life; might indeed become 
an Osiris. So they said: "As Osiris lives, so shall he also 
live; as Osiris died not, so shall he also not die; as Osiris 
perished not, so shall he also not perish."^ As the limbs 
of Osiris were again imbued with life, so shall the gods 
raise him up and put him among the gods. "The door of 
heaven is open to thee, and the great bolts are drawn back 
for thee. Thou findest Re standing there ; he takes thee by 
the hand and leads thee into the holy place of heaven, and 
sets thee upon the throne of Osiris, upon this thy brazen 
throne, that thou mayest reign over the glorified. . . .The 
servants of the god stand behind thee and the nobles of 
the god stand before thee and cry, ' Come thou god ! Come 
thou god! Come thou possessor of the Osiris throne!' Isis 
speaks with thee, and Nephthys salutes thee. The glorified 
come to thee and bow down, that they may kiss the earth 
at thy feet. So art thou protected and equipped as a god, 
endowed with the form of Osiris, upon the throne of the 
'First of the Westerners.' Thou doest what he did among 
the glorified and imperishable. . . . Thou makest thy house 
to flourish after thee, and protectest thy children from sor- 
row.'" Believing thus that all might share the goodly des- 
tiny of Osiris, or even become Osiris himself, they contem- 
plated death without dismay, for they said of the dead, 

1 1, 281. ' Pyramids, Chap. 15. 

» Eniian, Handbucli, pp. 96-99. 


"They depart not as those who are dead, but they depart 
as those who are living.'" Here there entered, as a salutary 
influence also the incident of the triumphant vindication 
of Osiris when accused ; for there is a hint of a similar justi- 
fication for all, which, as we shall yet see, was the most fruit- 
ful germ in Egyptian religion. The myth of Osiris thus in- 
troduced an ultimately powerful ethical element, which, while 
not altogether lacking before, needed the personal factor 
supplied by the Osiris myth to give it vital force. Thus sev- 
eral nobles of the Fifth and Sixth Dynasties threaten those 
who in the future would appropriate their tombs, that "judg- 
ment shall be had with them for it by the great god";^ and 
another says that he never slandered others, for "I desired 
that it might be well with me in the great god's presence."' 

These views are chiefly found in the oldest mortuary liter- 
ature of Egypt which we possess, a series of texts supposed 
to be effective in securing for the deceased the enjoyment 
of a happy life, and especially the blessed future enjoyed 
by Osiris. They were engraved upon the passages of the 
Fifth and Sixth Dynasty pyramids, where they have been 
preserved in large numbers, and it is largely from them that 
the above sketch of the early Egyptian's notions of the 
hereafter has been taken.* From the place in which they 
are found, they are usually called the "Pyramid Texts." 
Many of these texts grew up in the predynastic age and 
some have therefore been altered to accommodate them to 
the Osiris faith, with which they originally had no connec- 
tion—a process which has of course resulted in inextricable 
confusion of originally ditfering mortuary beliefs. 

So insistent a belief or set of beliefs in a life beyond the 
grave necessarily brought with it a mass of mortuary usages 
with which in the earliest period of Egypt's career we have 
already gained some acquaintance. It is evident that how- 
ever persistently the Egyptian transferred the life of the 
departed to some distant region, far from the tomb where 

' Ibid. = I, 253, 330, 338, 357. 

'1, 331. 'See Erman, Handbuch. 



the body lay, lie was never able to detach the future life 
entirely from the body. It is evident that he could conceive 
of no survival of the dead without it. Gradually he had 
developed a more and more pretentious and a safer repos- 
itoiy for his dead, until, as we have seen, it had become a 
vast and massive structure of stone. In all the world no such 
colossal tombs as the pyramids are to be found; while the 
tombs of the nobles grouped about have in the Old Kingdom 
become immense masonrj' structures, which but a few cen- 
turies before, a king would have been proud to own. Such a 
tomb as that of Pepi I 's vizier in the Sixth Dynasty contained 
no less than thirty one rooms. The superstructure of such 

Fig. 34. Ground Plan of a " Mastaba " or Masonry Tomb. 

a is the chapel; 6 is the " serdab " (cellar), the secret chamber containing 
the portrait statue; c is the shaft leading down to the subterranean chamber 
containing the mummy. For the elevation see Fig. 33. 

a tomb was a massive rectangular oblong of masonry, the 
sides of which slanted inward at an angle of roughly 
seventy five degrees. It was, with the exception of its room 
or rooms, solid throughout, reminding the modern natives 
of the "mastaba," the terrace, area or bench on which they 
squat before their houses and shops. Such a tomb is there- 
fore commonly termed a "mastaba." The simplest of such 
mastabas has no rooms within, and only a false door in the 
east side, by which the dead, dwelling in the west, that is, 
behind this door, might enter again the world of the living. 


This false door was finally elaborated into a kind of chapel- 
chamber in the mass of the masonry, the false door now 
being placed in the west wall of the chamber. The inner 
walls of this chapel bore scenes carved in relief, depicting 
the servants and slaves of the deceased at their daily tasks 
on his estate (Figs. 44, 56); they plowed and sowed and 
reaped; they pastured the herds and slaughtered them for 
the table, they wrought stone vessels or they built Nile boats 
—in fact they were shown in field and workshop producing 
all those things which were necessary for their lord's welfare 
in the hereafter, while here and there his towering figure 
appeared superintending and inspecting their labours as he 
had done before he "departed into the West." It is these 
scenes which are the source of our knowledge of the life and 
customs of the time. Far below the massive mastaba was a 
burial chamber in the native rock reached by a shaft which 
passed down through the superstructure of masonry. On the 
day of burial the body, now duly embalmed, was subjected to 
elaborate ceremonies embodying occurrences in the history of 
Osiris. It was especially necessary by potent charms to open 
the mouth and ears of the deceased that he might speak and 
hear in the hereafter. The mummy was then lowered down 
the shaft and laid as of old upon its left side in a fine rec- 
tangular cedar coffin, which again was deposited in a massive 
sarcophagus of granite or limestone. Food and drink were 
left with it, besides some few toilet articles, a magic wand 
and a number of amulets for protection against the enemies 
of the dead, especially serpents. The number of serpent- 
charms in the Pyramid Texts, intended to render these foes 
harmless, is very large. The deep shaft leading to the burial 
chamber was then filled to the top with sand and gravel, 
and the friends of the dead now left him to the life in the 
hereafter, which we have pictured. 

Yet their duty toward their departed friend had not yet 
lapsed. In a tiny chamber beside the chapel they masoned 
up a portrait statue of the deceased, sometimes cutting small 
channels, which connected the two rooms, the chapel and 


the statue-chamber, or "serdab," as the modern natives 
call it. As the statue was an exact reproduction of the 
deceased's body, his ka might therefore attach itself to this 
counterfeit, and through the connecting channels enjoy the 
food and drink placed for it in the chapel. The offerings to 
the dead, originally only a small loaf in a bowl, placed by 
a son, or wife, or brother on a reed mat at the grave, have 
now become as elaborate as the daily cuisine once enjoyed 
by the lord of ^he tomb before he forsook his earthly house. 
But this labour of love, or sometimes of fear, has now 
devolved upon a large personnel, attached to the tomb, some 
of whom, as its priests, constantly maintained its ritual. 
Very specific contracts' were made with these persons, 
requiting them for their services with a fixed income drawn 
from endowments legally established and recorded for this 
purpose by the noble himself, in anticipation of his death. 
The tomb of Prince Nekure, son of king Ivhafre of the 
Fourth Dynasty, was endowed with the revenues from 
twelve towns.'- A palace-steward in Userkaf's time ap- 
pointed eight mortuary priests for the service of his. tomb;* 
and a nomarch of Upper Egypt endowed his tomb with 
income from eleven villages and settlements.* The income 
of a mortuary priest in such a tomb was in one instance 
sufficient to enable him to endow the tomb of his daughter 
in the same way.^ Such endowments and the service thus 
maintained were intended to be permanent, but in the course 
of a few generations the accumulated burden was intol- 
erable, and ancestors of a century before, with rare excep- 
tions, were necessarily neglected in order to maintain those 
whose claims were stronger and more recent. Or, as in the 
temples the offerings after having been presented to the 
gods were employed in the maintenance of the people 
attached to the temi>le, so now a favourite noble of the king 
might be rewarded by the diversion to his tomb of a certain 
portion of the plentiful income which had already been pre- 

'1,200-209,231-5. =1,191. 

'I, 226-7. *I, 379. 

' Erraan, Handbuch. p. 123. 


sented at the tomb of some royal ancestor or other relative 
of the king's house.' It had now become so customary for 
the king to assist his favourite lords and nobles in this way- 
that we find a frequent mortuary prayer beginning "An 
offering which the king gives," and as long as the number 
of those whose tombs were thus maintained was limited to 
the noble and official circle around the king, such royal 
largesses to the dead were quite possible. But in later 
times, when the mortuary practices of the noble class had 
spread to the masses, they also employed the same prayer, 
although it is impossible that the royal bounty could have 
been so extended. Thus this prayer is to-day the most fre- 
quent formula to be found on the Egyptian monuments, 
occurring thousands of times on the tombs or tomb-stones 
of people who had no prospect of enjoying such royal dis- 
tinction; and in the same tomb it is always repeated over 
and over again. In the same way the king also assisted his 
favourites in the erection of their tombs, and the noble often 
records with pride that the king presented him with the 
false door, or the sarcophagus, or detailed a body of royal 
artificers to assist in the construction of his tomb.^ 

If the tomb of the noble had now become an endowed 
institution, we have seen that that of the king was already 
such in the First Dynasty. In the Third Dynasty, at least, 
the Pharaoh was not satisfied with one tomb, but in his 
double capacity as king of the Two Lands he erected two, 
just as the palace was double for the same reason. "We find 
the monarch's tomb now far surpassing that of the noble 
in its extent and magnificence. The mortuary service of 
the Pharaoh's lords might be conducted in the chapel in 
the east side of the mastaba ; but that of the Pharaoh himself 
required a separate building, a splendid mortuary temple 
on the east side of the pyramid. A richly endowed priest- 
hood was here employed to maintain its ritual and to fur- 

■I, 173, 1. 5, 241. 

' I, 204, 207, 209, 213-227, 242-249, 274-7, 370. 

■ I, 210-212, 237-40, 242-9, 274-7, 308. 



Fig. 35. Restobation of the Pybajiids of Abusie and Connected Build- 
ings. (After Borcbardt.) 

Close to each pyramid on* the hither side is the pyramidtempre. From 
two of tliese, covered masonry causeways lead down to the edge of the desert 
plateau, where each terminates in a monumental gate of massive masonry 
(see Fig. 69). Before the gate is a landing platform with steps leading 
down to the water, where boats may land during the inundation. 

nish the food, drink and clothing of the departed king. Its 
large personnel demanded many outbuildings, and the whole 
group of pyramid, temple and accessories was surrounded 
by a wall. All this was on the edge of the plateau overlook- 
ing the valley, in which, below the pyramid, there now grew 
up a walled town. Leading up from the town to the pyramid 
enclosure was a massive causeway of stone which terminated 
at the lower or townward end in a large and stately struc- 
ture of granite or limestone sometimes with floors of alabas- 
ter, the whole forming a superb portal, a worthy entrance 
to so impressive a tomb (Figs. 35, 69). Through this portal 
passed the white-robed procession on feast days, moving from 
the town up the long white causeway to the temple, above 


which rose the mighty mass of the pyramid. The populace 
in the city below probably never gained access to the pyra- 
mid-enclosure. Over the town wall, through the waving 
green of the palms, they saw the gleaming white pyramid, 
where lay the god who had once ruled over them; while 
beside it rose slowly year by year another mountain of 
stone, gradually assuming pyramid form, and there, would 
some time rest his divine son, of whose splendour they had 
now and then on feast days caught a fleeting glimpse. While 
the proper burial of the Pharaoh and his nobles had now 
become a matter seriously affecting the economic conditions 
of the state, such elaborate mortuary equipment was still 
confined to a small class, and the common people continued 
to lay away their dead without any attempt at embalmment 
in the pit of their prehistoric ancestors on the margin of the 
western desert. 



The origins of the kingship and of the customs which 
made it so peculiar in ancient Egypt, as the reader has 
already observed, are rooted in a past so remote that we can 
discern but faint traces of the evolution of the office. With 
the consolidation under Menes it was already an institu- 
tion of great age, and over four centuries of development 
which then followed, had at the dawn of the Old Kingdom 
already brought to the oflSce a prestige and an exalted 
power, demanding the deepest reverence of the subject 
whether high or low. Indeed the king was now officially a 
god, and one of the most frequent titles was the ■ * ' Good 
God"; such was the respect due him that there was reluc- 
tance to refer to him by name. The courtier might desig- 
nate him impersonally as "one," and "to let one know" 
becomes the official phrase for "report to the king." His 
government and ultimately the monarch personally were 
called the "Great House," in Egyptian Per-o, a term which 
has descended to us through the Hebrews as "Pharaoh." 
There was also a number of other circumlocutions, which 
the fastidious courtier might employ in referring to his 
divine lord. When he died he was received into the circle 
of the gods, to be worshipped like them ever after in the 
temple before the vast pyramid in which he slept. 

Court customs had gradually developed into an elaborate 
official etiquette, for the punctilious observance of which, 
already in this distant age, a host of gorgeous marshals and 
court chamberlains were in constant attendance at the palace. 
There had thus grown up a palace life, not unlike that of 



modern times in the East, a life into which we gain obscure 
glimpses in the nmnerous titles borne by the court lords of 
the time. With ostentatious pride they arrayed these titles 
on the walls of their tombs, mingled with sounding predi- 
cates indicating their high duties and exalted privileges in 
the circle surrounding the king. There were many ranks, 
and the privileges of each, with all possible niceties of pre- 
cedence, were strictly observed and enforced by the court 
marshals at all state levees and royal audiences. Every 
need of the royal person was represented by some palace 
lord, whose duty it was to supply it, and who bore a corre- 
sponding title, like the court physician or the leader of the 
court music. Although the royal toilet was comparatively 
simple, yet a small army of wig-makers, sandal-makers, per- 
fumers, launderers, bleachers and guardians of the royal 
wardrobe, filled the king's chambers. They record their 
titles upon their tomb-stones with visible satisfaction. Thus 
to take an example at random, one of them calls himself 
"Overseer of the cosmetic box . . . doing in the matter of 
cosmetic art to the satisfaction of his lord; overseer of the 
cosmetic pencil, sandal-bearer of the king, doing in the 
matter of the king's sandals to the satisfaction of his lord.'" 
The king's favourite wife became the official queen, whose 
eldest son usually received the appointment as crown prince 
to succeed his father. But as at all oriental courts, there 
was also a royal harem with numerous inmates. Many sons 
usually surrounded the monarch, and the vast revenues of 
the palace were liberally distributed among them. A son 
of king Khafre in the Fourth Dynasty left an estate of 
fourteen towns, besides a town house and two estates at 
the royal residence, the pyramid city. Besides these, the 
endowment of his tomb comprised twelve towns more.^ But 
these princes assisted in their father's government, and did 
not live a life of indolence and luxury. We shall find them 
occupying some of the most arduous posts in the service of 
the state. 

•Cairo stela, 1787. ' 1, 190-9. 


However exalted may have been the official position of the 
Pharaoh as the sublime god at the head of the state, he never- 
theless maintained close personal relations with the more 
Ijrominent nobles of the realm. As a prince he had been 
educated with a group of youths from the families of these 
nobles, and together they had been instructed in such 
manlj' arts as swimming.' The friendships and the inti- 
macies thus formed in youth must have been a powerful 
influence in the later life of the monarch. We see the 
Pharaoh giving his daughter in marriage to one of these 
youths with whom he had been educated,- and the severe 
decorum of the court was violated in behalf of this favour- 
ite, who was not permitted on formal occasions to kiss 
the dust before the Pharaoh, but enjoyed the unprec- 
edented privilege of kissing the royal foot.^ On the part 
of his intimates such ceremonial was purely a matter of 
official etiquette; in private the monarch did not hesitate to 
recline familiarly in complete relaxation beside one of his 
favourites, while the attending slaves anointed them both.^ 
The daughter of such a noble might become the official queen 
and mother of the next king.^ We see the king inspecting 
a public building with his chief architect, the vizier. As 
he admires the work and praises his faithful minister, he 
notices that the latter does not hear the words of royal 
favour. The king's exclamation alarms the waiting cour- 
tiers, the stricken minister is quickly carried to the palace 
itself, where the Pharaoh hastily summons the priests and 
chief physicians. He sends to the library for a case of 
medical rolls, but all is in vain. The physicians declare 
his condition hopeless. The king is smitten with sorrow 
and retires to his chamber to pray to Re. He then makes 
all arrangements for the deceased noble's burial, ordering 
an ebony coffin, and having the body anointed in his own 
presence. The eldest son of the dead was then empowered 
to build the tomb, the king furnishing and endowing it.® 

'I, 256. 'I, 254 flf. 'I, 260. 

• I, 270. ' I, 344. 'I, 242-9. 


It is evident that the most powerful lords of the kingdom 
were thus bound to the person of the Pharaoh by close per- 
sonal ties of blood and friendship. These relations were 
carefully fostered by the monarch, and in the Fourth and 
early Fifth Dynasty, there are aspects of this ancient state 
in which its inner circle at least reminds one of a great 
family, so that, as we have observed, the king assisted all 
its members in the building and equipment of their tombs, 
and showed the greatest solicitude for their welfare, both 
here and in the hereafter. 

At the head of government there was theoretically none 
to question the Pharaoh's power. In actual fact he was as 
subject to the demands of policy toward this or that class, 
powerful family, clique or individual, or toward tlie harem, 
as are his successors in the oriental despotisms of the present 
day. These forces, which more or less modified his daily 
acts, we can follow at this distant day only as we see the 
state slowly moulded in its larger outlines by the impact 
of generation after generation of such influences from the 
Pharaoh's environment. In spite of the luxury evident in 
the organization of his court, the Pharaoh did not live the 
life of a luxurious despot, such as we frequently find among 
the Mamlukes of Moslem Egypt. In the Fourth Dynasty 
at least, he had as prince already seen arduous service in the 
superintendence of quarrying and mining operations, or he 
had served his father as vizier or prime minister, gaining 
invaluable experience in government before his succession 
to the throne. He was thus an educated and enlightened 
monarch, able to read and write, and not infrequently taking 
his pen in hand personally to indite a letter of thanks and 
appreciation to some deserving officer in his government.' 
He constantly received his ministers and engineers to dis- 
cuss the needs of the country, especially in the conservation 
of the water supply and the development of the system of 
irrigation. His chief architect sent in plans for laying out 
the royal estates, and we see the monarch discussing with 

'I, 268-270, 271. 


bim the excavation of a lake two thousaud feet long in one 
of them.' He read man)' a weary roll of state papers, or 
turned from these to dictate dispatches to his commanders 
in Sinai, Nubia and Punt, along the southern Red Sea. The 
briefs of litigating heirs reached his hands and wei"e prob- 
ably not always a matter of mere routine to be read by sec- 
retaries. AVheu such business of the royal offices had been 
settled the monarch rode out in his palanquin, accompanied 
by his vizier and attendants, to inspect his buildings and 
public works, and his hand was everywhere felt in all the 
important affairs of the nation. 

The location of the royal residence was largely determined 
by the pyramid which the king was building. As we have 
remarked, the jialace and the town formed by the court and 
all that was attached to it, probably lay in the valley below 
the margin of the western desert-plateau, on which the pyr- 
amid rose. From dynasty to dynasty, or sometimes from 
reign to reign, it followed the pyramid, the light construc- 
tion of the palaces and villas not interfering seriously with 
such mobility. After the Third Dynasty the residence was 
always in the vicinity of later Memphis. The palace itself 
was double, or at least it possessed two gates in its front, 
corresponding to the two ancient kingdoms, of which it was 
now the seat of government. Each door or gate had a 
name indicating to which kingdom it belonged ; thus Snefru 
named the two gates of his palace "Exalted is the White 
Crown of Snefru upon the Southern Gate," and "Exalted 
is the Red Crown of Snefru upon the Northern Gate."^ 
Throughout Egyptian history the facade of the palace was 
called the "double front," and in writing the word "palace" 
the scribe frequently placed the sign of fu-o houses after it. 
The royal office was also termed the "double cabinet," 
although it is not likely that there were two such bureaus, 
one for the South and one for the North ; the division prob- 
ably went no further than the purely external symbolism of 
tte two palace gates. The same was doubtless true of the 

' Ibid. » I, 148. 



central administration as a whole. We thus hear of a 
"double granary" and a "double white house" as depart- 
ments of the treasury. These doubtless no longer corre- 
sponded to existing double organizations ; they have become 
a fiction surviving from the first two dynasties ; but such 
double names were always retained in the later terminology 
of the government. Adjoining the palace was a huge court, 
connected with which were the "halls" or offices of the cen- 
tral government. The entire complex of palace and adjoin- 
ing offices was known as the "Great House," which was 

Collection of Taxes by Treasury Officials. 

On the right the scribes and fiscal officers keep record, while deputies with 
staves bring in the taxpayers. Over these are the words : " Seizing the town- 
rulers for a reckoning." 

thus the centre of administration as well as the dwelling of 
the royal household. Here was focussed the entire system 
of government, which ramified throughout the country. 

For purposes of local government. Upper Egypt was 
divided into some twenty administrative districts, and later 
we find as many more in the Delta. These "nomes" were 
presumably the early principalities, from which the local 
princes who ruled them in prehistoric days, had long dis- 
appeared. At the head of such a district or nome there was 
in the Fourth and Fifth Dynasties an official appointed by 
the crown, and known as "First under the King." Besides 
his administrative function as "local governor" of the nome, 
he also served in a judicial capacity, and therefore bore also 
the title of "judge." In Upper Egypt these "local gov- 
ernors" were also sometimes styled "magnates of the 


Southern Ten," as if there were a group among them enjoy- 
ing higher rank and forming a college or council of ten. 
While we are not so well informed regarding the government 
of the North, the system there was evidently very similar, 
although there were perhaps fewer local governors. "Within 
the nome which he administered the "local governor" had 
under his control a miniature state, an administrative unit 
with all the organs of government: a treasury, a court of 
justice, a land-office, a service for the conservation of the 
dykes and canals, a body of militia, a magazine for their 
equipment ; and in these offices a host of scribes and record- 
ers, with an ever growing mass of archives and local records. 
The chief administrative bond which coordinated and cen- 
tralized these nomes was the organization of the treasury, 
by the operation of which there annually converged upon the 
magazines of the central government the grain, cattle, poul- 
try and industrial products, which in an age without coinage, 
were collected as taxes by the local governors. The local 
registration of land, or the land-office, the irrigation service, 
the judicial administration, and other administrative func- 
tions were also centralized at the Great House; but it was 
the treasury which formed the most tangible bond between 
the palace and the nomes. Over the entire fiscal adminis- 
tration there was a "Chief Treasurer," residing of course 
at the court. In a state in which buildings and extensive 
public works demanded so much attention, the labour of 
obtaining such enormous quantities of materials from the 
mines and quarries required the oversight of two important 
treasurjf officials, whom we would call assistant treasurers. 
These the Egyptian styled "Treasurers of the God," mean- 
ing of the king. They were the men who superintended the 
quarrying and transportation of the stone for the temples 
and the massive pyramids of the Old Kingdom; besides 
leading many an expedition into Sinai to exploit the mines 

As the reader may have already inferred, the judicial 
functions of the local governors were merely incidental to 


their administrative labours. There was therefore no clearly 
defined class of professional judges, but the administrative 
officials were learned in the law and assumed judicial duties. 
Like the treasury, the judicial administration also converged 
in one person, for the local judges were organized into six 
courts and these in turn were under a chief justice of the 
whole realm. Many of the judges bore the additional pred- 
icate "attached to Nekheu" (Hieraconpolis), an ancient 
title descended from the days when Nekhen was the royal 
residence of the Southern Kingdom. There was a body of 
highly elaborated law, which has unfortunately perished 
entirely. The local governors boast of their fairness and 
justice in deciding cases, often stating in their tombs : 
"Never did I judge two brothers in such a way that a son 
was deprived of his paternal possession."^ The system of 
submitting all cases to the court in the form of written 
briefs, a method so praised by Diodorus,^ seems to have 
existed already in this remote age, and the Berlin Museum 
possesses such a legal document pertaining to litigation 
between an heir and an executor.'* It is the oldest document 
of the kind in existence. Special cases of private nature 
were "heard" by the chief justice and a judge "attached 
to Nekhen,"^ while in a case of treason in the harem, the 
accused queen was tried before a coui't of two judges 
"attached to Nekhen," especially appointed by the crown 
for that purpose, the chief justice not being one of them.'^ 
It is a remarkable testimony to the Pharaoh's high sense of 
justice, and to the surprisingly judicial temper of the time, 
that in this distant age such a suspected conspirator in the 
royal harem was not immediately put to death without more 
ado. Summary execution, without any attempt legally to 
establish the guilt of the accused, would not have been con- 
sidered unjustifiable in times not a century removed from 
our own in the same land. Under certain circumstances, 
not yet clear to us, appeal might be made directly to the 

•I, 331, 357. =Book I, 75-76. 

»Pap. des Kgl. Mus., 82-3. * I, 307. '^ I. 310. 


king, and briefs in the case submitted to him. Such a brief 
is the document from the Old Kingdom now in Berlin, above 
noticed (Fig. 45). 

The immediate head of the entire organization of govern- 
ment was the Pharaoh's prime minister, or as he is more 
commonly called in the east, the vizier. At the same time 
he also regularly served as chief justice; he was thus the 
most powerful man in the kingdom, next to the monarch 
himself, and for that reason the office was held by the crown 
prince in the Fourth Dynasty. His "hall" or office served 
as the archives of the government, and he was the chief 
archivist of the state. The state records were called "king's 
writings.'" Here all lands were registered, and all local 
archives centralized and coordinated; here wills were re- 
corded, and when executed the resulting new titles were 
issued.^ The will of a king's son in the Fourth DjTiasty 
has been preserved practically complete,* and another from 
the beginning of the Fifth Dynastj',* both having been cut 
in hieroglyphs on the stone wall of the tomb-chapel, where 
they could defy the lapse of nearly five thousand years, 
while the papyrus archives of the vizier perished thousands 
of years ago. Several other similar mortuary enactments 
have also survived.' All lands presented by the Pharaoh 
were conveyed by royal decree, recorded in the "king's 
writings" at the vizier's offices.*' 

All administration like the palace was in theory at least 
twofold : a fiction surviving from the predynastic times, 
before the union of the two kingdoms. We thus hear of 
a "double granary" in the treasury, or a "double cabinet," 
the office of the king. And these terms, which perhaps cor- 
respond to existing realities in some cases, were retained in 
the later terminology of the government, long after such 
division into two departments had ceased to exist. Over 
the vast army of scribes and officials of all possible ranks 

•I, 268 ff.: 273. 'I, 175 II. 14-16. 

'I, 190-199. *I, 213-217. 

'I, 231 ff. and others throughout Fifth and Sixth Dynasty records. 
•I. 173. 


from high to low, who transacted the business of the Great 
House, the vizier was supreme. When we add, that besides 
some minor offices, he was also often the Pharaoh's chief 
architect, or as the Egyptian said, "Chief of all Works of 
the King," we shall understand that this great minister 
was the busiest man in the kingdom. All powerful as he 
was, the people appealed to him in his judicial capacity, as 
to one who could right every wrong, and the office was tradi- 
tionally the most popular in the long list of the Pharaoh's 
servants. It was probably this office which was held by the 
great wise man, Imhotep, under king Zoser, and the wisdom 
of two other viziers of the Third Dynasty, Kegemne and 
Ptah-hotep, committed to writing, survived for many cen- 
turies after the Old Kingdom was a memory. Such was the 
reverence with which the incumbents of this exalted office 
were regarded, that the words, "Life, Prosperity, Health," 
which properly followed only the name of the king or a 
royal prince, were sometimes added to that of the vizier. 

Such was the organization of this remarkable state, as 
we are able to discern it during the tirst two or three cen- 
turies of the Old Kingdom. In the thirtieth century 
before Christ it had reached an elaborate development of 
state functions under local officials, such as was not found 
in Europe until far down in the history of the Roman 
Empire. It was, to sum up briefly, a closely centralized body 
of local officials, each a centre for all the organs of the local 
government, which in each nome were thus focussed in the 
local governor before converging upon the palace. A 
Pharaoh of power, force and ability, and loyal governors in 
the nomes, meant a strong state ; but let the Pharaoh betray 
signs of weakness and the governors might gain an inde- 
pendence which would threaten the dissolution of the whole. 
It was the maintenance of the nomes each as a separate unit 
of government, and the interposition of the governor at its 
head between the Pharaoh and the nome, which rendered 
the system dangerous. These little states within the state, 
each frequently having its own governor, might too easily 


become independent centres of political power. How this 
process actually took place we shall be able to observe as 
we follow the career of the Old Kingdom in the next chapter. 
Such a process was rendered the more easy because the 
government did not maintain any uniform or compact mili- 
tary organization. Each nome possessed its militia, com- 
manded bj' the civil ofiScials, who were not necessarily 
trained soldiers ; there was thus no class of exclusively mili- 
tary officers. The temple estates likewise maintained a body 
of such troops. They were for the most part employed in 
mining and quarrying expeditions, supplying the hosts nec- 
essary for the transportation of the enormous blocks often 
demanded by the architects. In such work they were under 
the command of the "treasurer of the God." In case of 
serious war, as there was no standing army, this militia from 
all the nomes and temple estates, besides auxiliaries levied 
among the Nubian tribes, were brought together as quickly 
as possible and the command of the motley host, without 
any permanent organization, was entrusted by the monarch 
to some able official. As the local governors commanded 
the militia of the nomes, they held the sources of the 
Pharaoh's dubious military strength in their own hands. 

The land which was thus administered must to a large 
extent have belonged to the crown. Under the oversight 
of the local governors' subordinates it was worked and made 
profitable by slaves or serfs, who fonned the bulk of the 
population. They belonged to the ground and were be- 
queathed with it.* We have no means of detennining how 
large this population was, although, as we have before 
stated, it had reached the sum of seven million by Roman 
times.- The descendants of the numerous progeny of older 
kings, with possible remnants of the prehistoric landed 
nobility, had created also a class of land-holding nobles, 
whose great estates must have formed a not inconsiderable 
fraction of the available lands of the kingdom. Such lords 
did not necessarily enter upon an official career or partici- 

■ I, 171. 'Diodorus I, 31. 


pate in the administration. But the nobles and the peasant 
serfs, as the highest and the lowest, were not the only classes 
of society. There was a free middle cla ss^n whose hands 
the arts and industries had reached such a high degree of 
excellence; but of these people we know almost nothing. 
They did not build imperishable tombs, such as have fur- 
nished us with all that we know of the nobles of the time; 
and they transacted their business with documents written 
on papyrus, which have all perished, in spite of the enormous 
mass of such materials which must have once existed. Later 
conditions would indicate that there undoubtedly was a class 
of industrial merchants in the Old Kingdom who loroduced 
and ' sold their" owii wares. That there were free land- 
holders not belonging to the ranks of the nobles is also highly 

The social unit was as in later human history, the family. 
A man possessed but one legal wife, who was the mother of 
his heirs. She was in every respect his equal, was always 
treated with the greatest consideration, and participated in 
the pleasures of her husband and her children ; the affection- 
ate relations existing between a noble and his wife are con- 
stantly and noticeably depicted on the monuments of the time. 
Such relations had often existed from the earliest childhood 
of the pair ; for it was customary in all ranks of society for 
a youth to marry his sister. Besides the legitimate wife, 
the head of his household, the man of wealth possessed also 
a harem, the inmates of which maintained no legal claim 
upon their lord. The harem was already at this early day a 
recognized institution in the East, and nothing immoral was 
thought of in connection with it. The children of the time / 
show the greatest respect for their parents, and it was the 
duty of every son to maintain the tomb of his father. The 
respect and affection of one 's parents and family were highly 
valued, and we often find in the tombs the statement, " I was 
one beloved of his father, praised of his mother, whom his 
brothers and sisters loved. ' " As among many other peoples, 

'I, 357. 


the natural line of inheritance was through the eldest daugh- 
ter, though a will might disregard this. The closest ties of 
blood were through the mother, and a man's natural pro- 
tector, even in preference to his own father, was the father of 
his mother. The debt of a son to the mother who bore and 
nourished him, cherished and cared for him while he was 
being educated, is dwelt upon with emphasis by the wise men 
of the time. While there was probably a loose form of mar- 
riage which might be easily dissolved, a form presumably 
due to the instability of fortune among the slaves and the 
poorer class, yet immorality was strongly condemned by the 
best sentiment. The wise man warns the youth, " Beware 
of a woman from abroad, who is not known in her city. Look 
not upon her when she comes, and know her not. She is like 
the vortex of deep waters, whose whirling is unfathomable. 
The woman, whose husband is far away, she writes to thee 
every day. If there is no witness with her she arises and 
spreads her net. deadly crime, if one hearkens!'" To 
all youths marriage and the foundation of a household are 
recommended as the only wise course. Yet there is no 
doubt that side by side with these wholesome ideals of the 
wise and virtuous, there also existed wide-spread and gross 

The outward conditions of the lower class were not such as 
would incline toward moral living. In the towns their low 
mud-brick, thatch-roofed houses were crowded into groups 
and masses, so huddled together that the walls were often 
contiguous. A rough stool, a rude box or two, and a few 
crude pottery jars constituted the furniture of such a hovel. 
The barracks of the workmen were an immense succession of 
small mud-brick chambers under one i"oof, with open pas- 
sages between long lines of such rooms. Whole quarters for 
the royal levies of workmen were erected on this plan, in the 
pyramid-towns, and near the pyramids. On the great 
estates, the life of the poor was freer, less congested and 
promiscuous, and undoubtedly more stable and wholesome. 

'Pap. de Boulaq T, Ifi, 13 ff.; Ernian, Aegypten. 223. 







The houses of the rich, the noble and official class were 
large and commodious. Metben, a great noble of the third 
djTiasty, built a house over three hundred and thirty feet 
square. ' The materials were wood and sun-dried brick, and 
the construction was light and airy as suited the climate. 
There were many latticed windows, on all sides the walls of 
the living rooms were largely a mere skeleton, like those of 
many Japanese houses. Against winds and sandstorms, 
they could be closed by dropping gaily coloured hangings. 
Even the palace of the king, though of course fortified, was 
of this light construction ; hence the cities of ancient Egypt 
have disappeared entirely or left but mounds containing a 
few scanty fragments of ruined walls. Beds, chairs, stools 
and chests of ebony, inlaid with ivory in the finest workman- 
ship, formed the chief articles of furniture. Little or no use 
was made of tables, but the rich vessels of alabaster, and 
other costly stones, of copper, or sometimes of gold and 
silver, were placed upon bases and standards which raised 
them from the floor. The floors wei'e covered with heavy 
rugs, upon which guests, especially ladies, frequently sat, in 
preference to the chairs and stools. The food was rich and 
varied; we find that even the dead desired in the hereafter, 
" ten different kinds of meat, five kinds of poultry, sixteen 
kinds of bread and cakes, six kinds of wine, four kinds of 
beer, eleven kinds of fruit, besides all sorts of sweets and 
many other things."^ The costume of these ancient lords 
was simple in the extreme; it consisted merely of a white 
linen kilt, secured above the hips with a girdle or band, and 
hanging often hardly to the knees, or again in another style, 
to the calf of the leg. The head was commonly shaven, and 
two styles of wig, one short and curly, the other with long 
straight locks parted in the middle, were worn on all state 
occasions. A broad collar, often inlaid with costly stones, 
generally hung from the neck, but otherwise the body was 
bare from the waist up. With long staff in hand, the gentle- 

' I, 17.3. 

'Diimichcn Grabpalast, 18-26; Erman, Aegypten, 265. 


man of tbe day was ready to receive his visitors, or to make 
a tour of inspection about his estate. His lady and her 
daughters all appeared in costumes even more simple. They 
were clothed in a thin, close-fitting, sleeveless, white linen gar- 
ment hanging from the breast to the ankles, and supported 
by two bands passing over the shoulders. The skirt, as a 
modern modiste would say ' ' lacked fullness, ' ' and there was 
barely freedom to walk. A long wig, a collar and necklace, 
and a pair of bracelets completed the lady's costume. 
Neither she nor her lord was fond of sandals ; although they 
now and then wore them. MTiile the adults thus dispensed 
with all unnecessary clothing, as we should expect in such a 
climate, the children were allowed to run about without any 
clothing whatever. The peasant wore merely a breech-clout, 
which he frequently cast off when at work in the fields ; his 
wife was clad in the same long close-fitting garment worn by 
the wife of the noble; but she too when engaged in heavy 
work, such as winnowing grain, cast aside all clothing. 

The Egyptian was passionately fond of nature and of out- 
door life. The house of the noble was always surrounded by 
a garden, in which he loved to plant figs and palms and 
sycamores, laying out vineyards and arbours, and excavating 
before the house a pool, lined with masonry coping, and filled 
with fish. A large body of servants and slaves were in at- 
tendance, both in house and garden; a chief steward had 
charge of the entire house and estate, while an upper 
gardener directed the slaves in the care and culture of the 
garden. This was the noble 's paradise ; here he spent his 
leisure hours with his family and friends, playing at 
draughts, listening to the music of harp, pipe and lute, watch- 
ing his women in the slow and stately dance of the time, while 
his children sported about among the trees, splashed in the 
pool, or played with ball, doll or jumping-jack. )_Again in a 
light boat of papyrus reeds, accompanied by his wife and 
sometimes bj^ one of his children, the noble delighted to float 
about in the shade of the tall rushes, in the inundated marshes 
and swamps. The myriad life that teemed and swarmed all 



Fig. 37. 

Villa and Garden of an Egyptian Nobij; of the Old Kingdom. 
(After Perrot and Chipiez. ) 

about his frail craft gave him the keenest pleasure. "While 
the lady plucked water-lilies and lotus flowers, and the lad 
could try his skill at catching hoopoe birds, my lord launched 
his boomerang among the flocks of wild fowl that fairly 
darkened the sky above him, finding his sport in the use of 
the difiScult weapon, which for this reason, he preferred to 
the more effective and less difficult bow. Or again he seized 
his double-pointed fish-spear, and tried his skill in the stream, 
endeavouring if possible to transfix two fish at once, one on 



each of the two prongs. Sometimes an aggressive hippo- 
potamus, or a troublesome crocodile demanded the long har- 
poon with rope attached, and the fishers and hunters of the 
marshes were summoned to assist in dispatching the dan- 
gerous brute. Not infrequently the noble undertook the 
more arduous sport of the desert, where he might bring 
down the huge wild ox with his long bow; capture alive 
numbers of antelopes, gazelles, oryxes, ibexes, wild oxen, wild 

Fig. 38. A Noble of the Old Kingdom Hunting Wild Fowl with the 
Throw-stick fkom a Skiff of Reeds in the Papyrus Marshes. 

asses, ostriches and hares ; or catch fleeting glimpses of the 
strange beasts, with which his fancy peopled the wilderness : 
the gryphon, a quadruped with head and wings of a bird, 
or the Sag, a lioness with the head of a hawk, and a tail 
which terminated in a lotus flower! In this lighter side of 
the Egyptian's life, his love of nature, his wholesome and 
sunny view of life, his never failing cheerfulness in spite 
of his constant and elaborate preparation for death, we find 
a pervading characteristic of his nature, which is so evident 



in his art, as to raise it far above the sombre heaviness that 
pervades the contemporary art of Asia. 

Some five centuries of uniform government, with central- 
ized control of the inundation, in the vast system of dykes 
and irrigation canals, had brought the productivity of the 
nation to the highest level ; for the economic foundation of 
this civilization in the Old Kingdom, as in all other periods 
of Egyptian history, was agriculture. It was the enormous 

Agriculture in the Old Kingdom. 

Above: are plowing, breaking clods, and sowing; below: the sheep are being 
driven across the sown fields in order to trample in the seed. As the leading 
shepherd wades through the marshy field he sings to the sheep: " The shepherd 
is in the water among the fish; he talks with the nar-fish, he passes the time 
of day with the west-fish. ..." The song is written over his flock. 

harvests of wheat and barley gathered by the Egyptian 
from the inexhaustible soil of his valley, which made pos- 
sible the social and political structure which we have been 
sketching. Besides grain, the extensive vineyards and wide 
fields of succulent vegetables, which formed a part of every 
estate, greatly augmented the agricultural resources of the 
land. Large herds of cattle, sheep, goats, droves of donkeys 
(for the horse was unknown), and vast quantities of poultry, 



wild fowl, the large game of the desert already noticed and 
innumerable Nile fish, added not inconsiderablj^ to the pro- 
duce of the field, in contributing to the wealth and prosperity 
which the land was now enjoying. It was thus in field and 
pasture that the millions of the kingdom toiled to produce 
the annual wealth by which its economic processes continued. 
Other sources of wealth also occupied large numbers of 
workmen. There were granite quarries at the first cataract, 
sandstone was quarried at Silsileh, the finer and harder 
stones chiefly at Hammamat between Coptos and the Red 
Sea. Alabaster at Hatnub behind Amarna, and limestone 
at many places, particularly at Ayan or Troia opposite Mem- 

A Hebu I.N' THE Old Kingdom, Fording a Canal. 

phis. They brought from the first cataract granite blocks 
twenty or thirty feet long and fifty or sixty tons in weight. 
They drilled the toughest of stone, like diorite, with tubular 
drills of copper, and the massive lids of granite sarcophagi 
were sawn with long cop];>er saws which, like the drills, were 
reinforced by sand or emery. Miners and quarrymen were 
employed in large numbers during the expeditions to Sinai, 
for the purpose of procuring copper, the green and blue 
malachite used in fine inlays, the turquoise and lapis-lazuli. 
The source of iron, which was already used for tools to a 
limited extent, is uncertain. Bronze was not yet in use. 
The smiths furnished tools of copper and iron : bolts, nails, 
hinges and mountings of all sorts for artisans of all classes; 



they also wrought fine copper vessels for the tables of the 
rich, besides splendid oojjper weajwns. They achieved mar- 
vels also in the realm of plastic art, as we have yet to see. 
Silver came from abroad, jirobably from Cilicia in Asia 
Minor; it was therefoi-e even more rare and valuable than 
gold. The quartz-veins of the granite mountains along the 
Ked Sea were rich in gold, and it was taken out in the Wadi 
Foakhir, on the Coptos road. It was likewise mined largely 
by foreigners and obtained in trade from Nubia, in the east- 
ern deserts of which it was also found. Of the jewelry worn 
by the Pharaoh and his nobles, in the Old Kingdom, almost 

Above: at tlic left, wcigliing of precious metals and malachite; in the 
middle, the furnace with njen at blow-pipes; at the right, casting and hammer- 
ing. Below: putting together necklaces and costly ornaments. Note the 
dwarves employed on this work. 

nothing has survived, but the reliefs in the tomb-chapels 
often depict the gold-smith at his work, and his descendants 
in the Middle Kingdom have left works which show that the 
taste and cunning of the first dynasty had developed without 
cessation in the Old Kingdom. 

For the other important industries the Nile valley fur- 
nished nearly all materials indispensable to their develop- 
ment. In spite of the ease with which good building stone 
was procured, enormous (juantities of sun-dried bricks were 
turned out by the brick-yards, as they still are at the present 



day, and, as we have seen, the masons erected whole quarters 
for the poor, villas of the rich, magazines, store-houses, forts 
and city walls of these cheap and convenient materials. In 
the forestless valley the chief trees were the date palm, the 
sycamore, tamarisk and acacia, none of which furnished 
good timber. Wood was therefore scarce and expensive, but 
the carpenters, joiners and cabinet makers flourished never- 
theless, and those in the employ of the palace or on the 
estates of the nobles wrought wonders in the cedar, imported 
from Syria, and the ebony and ivory which came in from 
the south. In every town and on every large estate ship- 
building was constant. There were many different styles of 
craft from the heavy cargo-boat for grain and cattle, to the 

Fig. 42. Shipbuilding in the Old Kingdom. 

gorgeous many-oared * ' dahabiyeh, " of the noble, with its 
huge sail. We shall find these shipwrights building the 
earliest known sea-going vessels, on the shores of the Red 

While the artistic craftsman in stone still produced mag- 
nificent vessels, vases, jars, bowls and platters in alabaster, 
diorite, porphyry and other costly stones, yet his work was 
gradually giving way to the potter, whose rich blue- and 
green-glazed fayence vessels could not but win their way. 
He produced also vast quantities of large coarse jars for 
the storage of oils, wines, meats and other foods in the 
magazines of the nobles and the government; while the use 
of smaller vessels among the millions of the lower classes 



made the manufacture of pottery one of the diief indus- 
tries of the oountrj-. The pottery of the time is without 
decoration, and is hardly a work of art. Glass was still 
chiefly emiiloyed as glaze and had not yet been developed 
as an independent material. In a land of pastures and 
herds, the production of leather was of course understood. 
The tanners had thoroughly mastered the art of curing the 
hides, and produced fine soft skins, which they dyed in all 
colours, covering stools and chairs, beds and cushions, and 
furnishing gay canopies and baldachins. Flax was plen- 
tifully cultivated, and the Pharaoh's harvest of flax was 
under the control of a noble of rank.' The women of the 

Fig. 43. Workmen Drii.i.ino out Stone Vessels. 

One says, "This is a very beautiful vessel"; his comrade replies, "It is in- 
deed." Their conversation is recorded before them. 

serfs on the great estates wei'e the spinners and weavers. 
Even the coarser varieties for general use show good quality, 
but surviving specimens of the rayal linens are of such 
exquisite fineness that the ordinary eye requires a glass to 
distinguish them from silk, and the limbs of the wearer could 
be discerned through the fabric. Other vegetable fibres fur- 
nished by the marshes supported a large industry in coarser 
textiles. Among these, the papyrus was the most useful. 

'I, 172, 1. 5. 



Broad, light skiffs were made of it by binding together long 
bundles of these reeds ; rope was twisted from them, as also 
from palm-fibre; sandals were plaited, and mats woven of 
them; but above all, when split into thin strips, it was pos- 
sible to join them into sheets of tough paper. That the 
wi'iting of Egypt spread to Phoenicia and furnished the 
classic world with an alphabet, is in a measure due to this 
convenient writing material, as well as to the method of 
writing upon it with ink. While a royal dispatch in cunei- 
form on clay often weighed eight or ten pounds, and could 
not be carried on the person of the messenger, a papyrus-roll 
of fifty times the surface afforded by the clay tablet might 

Fig. 44. Papyrus Harvest ix the Old Kingdom. 

On the left tlie stalks are plucked by two men; next two more bind them in 

bundles, and four men then carry the bundles away. 

be conveniently carried about in the bosom, employed in 
business, or used as a book. That its importation into Phoe- 
nicia was already in progress in the twelfth century B. C 
is therefore quite intelligible. The manufacture of papyrus- 
paper had already grown into a large and flourishing indus- 
try in the Old Kingdom. 

The Nile was alive with boats, barges, and craft of all 
descriptions, bearing the products of these industries, and 
of field and pasture, to the treasury of the Pharaoh, or to 
the markets where they were disposed of. Here barter was 
the common means of exchange: a crude pot for a fish, a 
bundle of onions for a fan; a wooden box for a jar of oint- 
ment (Fig. 46). In some transactions, however, presumably 
those involving larger values, gold and copper in rings of 
a fixed weight, circulated as money, and stone weights were 

' IV, .'582; see below p. .517. 




already marked with their equivalence in such rings. This 
ring-money is the oldest currency known. Silver was rare 
and more valuable than gold. Business 
had already reached a high degree of 
development; books and accounts were 
kept; orders and receipts were given; 
wills and deeds were made; and written 
contracts covering long periods of time 
were entered upon. Every noble had his 
corps of clerks and secretaries and the 
exchange of letters and official documents 
with his colleagues was incessant. Under 
the scanty remnants of the sun-dried 
brick houses on the island of Elephan- 
tine, inhabited by the nobles of the south- 
ern border in the twenty sixth century B. 
C, the modern peasants recently found 
the remnants of the household papers 
and business documents which were once 
filed in the great man's office. But the 
ignorant finders so mutilated the pre- 
cious records that only fragments have 
now survived (Pig. 45). The letters, 
records of legal proceedings, and memo- 
randa, still recognizable among them, are 
now being published by the Berlin Mu- 
seum, where the papyri are preserved. 
Under such circumstances, an education in the learning 
of the time was indispensable to an official career. Con- 
nected with the treasury, for whose multifold records so 
many skilled scribes were necessary, there were schools 
where lads received the education and the training which 
fitted them for the scribal offices. Learning possessed but 
one aspect for the Egyptian, namely: its practical useful- 
ness. An ideal ])leasure in the search for truth, the pursuit 
of science for its own sake, were unknown to him. The 
learned equipment was an advantage which lifted a youth 

Fig. 45. Two Col- 
umns FROM AN 
Old Kingdom 
Legal Docu- 

Written in Hier- 
atic on Papyrus. 
See p. 81. (Orig- 
inal in Berlin.) 


above all othei- classes in the opinion of the scribe, and for 
that reason, the boy must be early pnt into the school and 
diligently kept to his tasks. While precept was incessantly 
in the lad 's ears, the master did not stop with this ; his prin- 
ciple was, "A boy's ears are on his back, and he hearkens 
when he is beaten.'" The content of the instruction, besides 
innumerable moral precepts, many of them most wholesome 
and rational, was chiefly the method of writing. The elabo- 
rate hieroglyphic with its numerous animal and human 
figures, such as the reader has doubtless often seen on the 
monuments in our museums, or in works on Egypt, was too 
slow and labourious a method of writing for the needs of 
everyday business. The attempt to write these figures rap- 
idly with ink upon jiapyrus had gradually resulted in reduc- 
ing each sign to a mere outline, much rounded off and abbre- 
viated. This cursive business hand, which we call "hier- 
atic," had already begun under the earliest dynasties, and 
by the rise of the Old Kingdom, it had develoj^ed into a 
graceful and rapid system of writing, which showed no 
nearer resemblance to the hieroglyphic than does our own 
hand-writing to our print. The introduction of this system 
into the administration of government and the transaction 
of every day business, produced profound changes in gov- 
ernment and society, and created for all time the class dis- 
tinction between the illiterate and the learned, which is still 
a problem of modern society. It was the acquirement of 
this method of writing which enabled the lad to enter upon 
the coveted official career as a scribe or overseer of a maga- 
zine, or steward of an estate. Hence the master put before 
the boy model-letters, proverbs, and literary compositions, 
which he labouriously copied into his roll, the copy-book of 
this ancient school-boy. A large quantity of these copy- 
books from the Empire, some fifteen hundred years after the 
fall of the Old Kingdom, has been found ; and many a com- 
position which would otherwise have been lost, has thus sur- 
vived, in the uncertain hand of a pupil in the scribal schools. 

' Pap. Anast. 3.3 = Ibid. 5, 8. 


They can easily be identified by the corrections of the master 
on the margin. When he could write well, the lad was 
placed in charge of some official, in whose office he assisted, 
gradually learning the routine and the duties of the scribe's 
life, until he was himself competent to assume some office at 
the bottom of the ladder. 

Education thus consisted .solely of the practically useful 
equipment for an official career. Knowledge of nature and 
of the external world as a whole was sought only as necessity 
prompted such search. As we have already intimated, it never 
occurred to the Egyjatian to enter upon the search for truth 
for its own sake. Under these circumstances, the science 
of the time, if we may speak of it as such at all, was such a 
knowledge of natural conditions as enabled the active men 
of this age to accomplish those practical tasks with which 
they were daily confronted. They had much practical ac- 
quaintance with astronomy, developed out of that knowl- 
edge which had enabled their ancestors to introduce a 
rational calendar nearly thii'teen centuries before the rise of 
the Old Kingdom. They had already mapped the heavens, 
identified the more prominent fixed stais, and developed a 
system of observation with instruments sufficiently accurate 
to determine the positions of stars for practical purposes; 
but they had produced no theory of the heavenly bodies as 
a whole, nor would it ever have occurred to the Egyptian 
that such an attempt was useful or worth the trouble. In 
mathematics all the ordinary arithmetical processes were 
demanded in the daily transactions of business and govern- 
ment, and had long since come into common use among the 
scribes. Fractions, however, caused difficulty. The scribes 
could operate only with those having one as the numerator, 
and all other fractions were of necessity resolved into a 
series of several, each with one as the numerator. The only 
exception was two thirds, which they had learned to use 
without so resolving it. Elementary algebraic problems were 
also solved without difficulty. In geometry they were able 
to master the simpler problems, though the area of a ti'ape- 

w .5 

r ^A^'--l"^-\:^>\)v''kj.i K vS>^ 


zoid caused dome difficulties and errors, while the area of 
the circle had been determined with close accuracy. The 
necessity of determining the content of a pile of grain had 
led to a roughly approximate result in the computation of 
the content of the hemisphere, and a circular granary to 
that of the cylinder. But no theoretical problems were dis- 
cussed, and the whole science attempted only those jDroblems 
which were continually met in daily life. The laying out 
of a ground-plan like the square base of the Great Pyramid 
could be accomplished with amazing accuracy, and the 
orientation displays a nicety that almost rivals the results of 
modern instruments. A highly developed knowledge of me- 
chanics was thus at the command of the architect and crafts- 
man. The arch was employed in masonry and can be dated 
as far back as the thirtieth century B. C, the oldest dated 
arches known (Fig. 47). In the application of power to the 
movement of great monuments, only the simplest devices 
were employed ; the pulley was unknown and probably the 
roller also. Medicine was already in possession of much 
empirical wisdom, displaying close and accurate observa- 
tion; the calling of the physician already existed and the 
court physician of the Pharaoh was a man of rank and in- 
fluence. His recipes were many of them rational and useful ; 
others were naively fanciful, like the prescription of a decoc- 
tion of the hair of a black calf to prevent gray hair. They 
had already been collected and recorded in papyrus rolls,' 
and the recipes of this age were famous for their virtue in 
later times. Some of them finally crossed with the Greeks 
to Europe, where they are still in use among the peasantry 
of the present day. That which precluded any progress 
toward real science was the belief in magic, which later 
began to dominate all the practice of the physician. There 
was no great distinction between the physician and the 
magician. All remedies were administered with more or 
less reliance upon magical charms; and in many cases the 
magical "hocus pocus" of the physician was thought to be 

'I, 246. 


of itself more effective than any remedy that could be admin- 
istered. Disease was due to hostile spirits, and against 
these only magic could avail. 

Art flourished as nowhere else in the ancient world. Here 
again the Egyptian's attitude of mind was not wholly that 
which characterized the art of the later Greek world. Art 
as the pursuit and the production exclusively of the ideally 
beautiful, was unknown to him. He loved beauty as found 
in nature, his spirit demanded such beauty in his home and 
surroundings. The lotus blossomed on the handle of his 
spoon, and his wine sparkled in the deep blue calyx of the 
same flower; the muscular limb of the ox in carved ivory 
upheld the couch upon which he slept, the ceiling over his 
head was a starry heaven resting upon palm trunks, each 
crowned with its graceful tuft of drooping foliage ; or papy- 
rus-stems rose from the floor to support the azure roof upon 
their swaying blossoms; doves and butterflies flitted across 
his in-door sky; his floors were frescoed with the opulent 
green of rich marsh-grasses, with fish gliding among their 
roots, where the wild ox tossed his head at the birds twit- 
tering on the swaying grass-tops, as they strove in vain to 
drive away the stealthy weasel creeping up to plunder their 
nests. Everywhere the objects of every day life in the 
homes of the rich showed unconscious beauty of line and fine 
balance of proportion, while the beauty of nature and of 
out-of-door life which spoke to the beholder in the decora- 
tion on every hand, lent a certain distinction even to the 
most commonplace objects. The Egyptian thus sought to 
beautify and to make beautiful all objects of utility, but all 
such objects served some practical use. He was not inclined 
to make a beautiful thing solely for its beauty. In sculjiture, 
therefore, the practical dominated. The splendid statues 
of the Old Kingdom were not made to be erected in the 
market place, but solely to be masoned up in the mastaba- 
tomb, that they might be of practical advantage to the de- 
ceased in the hereafter, as we have seen in the preceding 
chapter. It was this motive chiefly to which the marvellous 


Fig. 50— limestone STATUE OF HEMSET. 
(Louvre; after Capart, Rectieil dcs Monuments.) 


development of portrait sculpture in the Old Kingdom was 

The sculptor might either model his subject with faith- 
ful delineation, an intimate, personal style; or again depict 
him as a conventional type, a formal, typical style. Both 
styles, representing the same man, though strikingly dif- 
ferent, may appear in the same tomb. Every device was 
adopted to increase the resemblance to life. The whole 
statue was colored in the natural hues, the eyes were inlaid 
in rock-crystal, and the vivacity with which these Memphite 
sculptures were instinct, has never been surpassed. The 
finest of the sitting statues is the well-known portrait of 
Khafre (Fig. 48), the builder of the second pyramid of 
Gizeh. The sculptor has skilfully met the limitations im- 
posed upon him by the intensely hard and refractory material 
(diorite), and while obliged, therefore, to treat the subject 
summarily, has slightly emphasized salient features, lest the 
work should lack pronounced character. The unknown mas- 
ter, who must take his place among the world's great sculp- 
tors, while contending with technical difficulties which no 
modern sculptor attempts, has here given a real king imper- 
ishable form, and shown us with incomparable skill the 
divine and impassive calm with which the men of the time 
had endued their sovereign. In softer material, the sculptor 
gained a freer hand, of which one of the best examples is the 
sitting figure of Hemset in the Louvre (Pig. 50). It is 
surprisingly vivacious, in spite of the summarization of the 
body, an insufficiency which is characteristic of all Old King- 
dom sculpture in the round. It is the head which appeals 
to the artist as the most individual element in his model, and 
on the head therefore he exhausts all his skill. These forms 
of kings and nobles show little variety in attitude; indeed 
there is but one other posture in which a person of rank 
could be depicted. Perhaps the best example of it is the 
figure of the priest Ranofer, a s{)eaking likeness of the proud 
noble of the time (Pig. W). AVhile the character of the 
subject does not appeal to us, nevertheless one of the most 
remarkable portraits of the Old Kingdom is the sleek, well- 


fed, self-satisfied old overseer, wliose wooden statue, like all 
those that we have thus far noticed, is in the Cairo ^luseum 
(Fig. 51). As every one now knows, he has been dubbed 
the "Shekh el-beled" or "Sheik of the village," because the 
natives who excavated the figure, discovered in the face such 
a striking resemblance to the sheik of their village, that thej- 
all cried out with one accord, "Shekh el-beled!" In depict- 
ing the servants, who were to accompany the deceased noble 
into the hereafter, the sculptor was freed from the most 
tyrannical of the conventions which governed the i)Osture of 
the noble himself. With great he has wrought 
the miniatures of the household servants, as they continue in 
the tomb the work which they had been accustomed to do 
for their lord in his home. Even the noble's secretary must 
accompany him into the next world, and such is the vivacity 
with which the sculptor has fashioned the famous "Louvre 
scribe" (Fig. 52), that as one looks into the shrewd, hard- 
featured countenance, it would hardly be a surprise if the 
reed pen should begin to move nimbly across the papyrus- 
roll upon his knees, as he resumes the dictation of his master, 
interrupted now these five thousand years. Superb animal 
forms, like the granite liou's-head from the sun-temple of 
Nuserre (Fig. 57) were also wrought in the hardest stone. 
It had never been supposed that the artists of this remote 
age would attempt so ambitious a task as the production of 
a life-size statue in metal ; but the sculptors and copper- 
smiths of the court of Pepi I, in celebration of the king's 
first jubilee, accomplished even this (Figs. 53-54). Over a 
wooden core they wrought the face and figure of the king, 
in beaten copper, inserting eyes of obsidian and white lime- 
stone. In spite of the ruinous state in which it now is, in 
spite of fracture and oxidation, the head is still one of the 
strongest portraits which have survived from antiquity. 
The gold-smith also invaded the realm of plastic art. In 
the "gold-house" as his workshop was called, he turned 
sculptor, and produced for the temples such cultus-statues 
of the gods as the magnificent figure of the sacred hawk of 

















■ ^M 

^^^^ IB 

'■ >^ 


^^^^i '^s V si 

^m \ 





^^^:V^' gH 








^K Vj^H 



















(Cairo Museum.) 


(The panel has been cut in the middle ; the two t;eese eating shuuld face each other. Cairo Museum.) 


Hieraconpolia (Fig. 58), of which Quibell found the head 
in the temple at that place. The body of beaten copper had 
perished; but the head, crowned with a circlet and sur- 
mounted by two tall feather-plumes, the whole wrought in 
beaten gold, was practically intact. The head is of one piece 
of metal, and the eyes are the two polished ends of a single 
rod of obsidian, which passes through the head from eye 
to eye. 

In relief, now greatly in demand for temple decoration, 
and the chapel of the mastaba-tomb, the Egyptian was con- 
fronted by the problem of foreshortening and perspective. 
He must put objects having roundness and thickness, upon 
a flat surface. How this should be done had been deter- 
mined for him before the beginning of the Old Kingdom. A 
conventional style had already been established before the 
third dynasty, and that style was now sacred and inviolable 
tradition. While a certain freedom of development sur- 
vived, that style in its fundamentals persisted throughout 
the history of Egyptian art, even after the artist had learned 
to perceive its shortcomings. The age which produced it 
had not learned to maintain one point of view in the drawing 
of any given scene or object ; two different points of view 
were combined in the same tigure : in drawing a man a front 
view of the eyes and shoulders was regularly placed upon a 
proiile of the trunk and legs. This unconscious incongruity 
was afterward also extended to temporal relations, and suc- 
cessive instants of time were combined in the same scene. 
Accepting these limitations, the reliefs of the Old Kingdom, 
which are really slightly modelled drawings, are often sculp- 
tures of rare beauty (Fig. 56). It is from the scenes which 
the Memphite sculptor placed on the walls of the mastaba- 
chapels that we learn all that we know of the life and cus- 
toms of the Old Kingdom. The exquisite modelling, of 
which such a seulj^tor was capable, is jjerhaps best exhib- 
ited in the wooden doors of Hesire (Fig. 59). All such 
reliefs were coloured, so that when completed, we may call 
them raised and modelled paintings; at least they do not 


fall within the domain of plastic art, as do Gi'eek reliefs. 
Painting was also practiced independently, and the familiar 
line of geese from a tomb at Medum (Fig. 55) well illustrates 
the strength and freedom with which the Memphite of the 
time could dei)ict the animal forms with which he was famil- 
iar. The characteristic poise of the head, the slow walk, 
the sudden drooji of the neck as the head falls to seize the 
worm, all these are the work of a strong and confident 
draughtsman, long schooled in his art. 

The sculpture of the Old Kingdom may be characterized 
as a natural and unconscious realism, exercised with a tech- 
nical ability of the highest order. In the practice of this 
art, the sculptor of the Old Kingdom compares favourably 
even with modern artists. He was the only artist in the 
early orient who could put the human body into stone, and 
living in a society such that he was daily familiarized with 
the nude form, he treated it with sincerity and frankness. I 
cannot forbear quoting the words of an unprejudiced clas- 
sical archaeologist, M. Charles Perrot, who says of the Mem- 
phite sculptors of the Old Kingdom, "It must be acknowl- 
edged that they produced works which are not to be sur- 
passed in their way by the greatest portraits of modern 
Europe.'" The sculpture of the Old Kingdom, however, 
was superficial ; it was not interpretative, did not embody 
ideas in stone, and shows little contemplation of the emotions 
and forces of life. It is characteristic of the age that we must 
speak of this Memphite art as a whole. We know none of its 
greatest masters, and only the names of an artist or two 
during the whole period of Egyptian history. 

It is only very recently that we have been able to discern 
the fundamentals of Old Kingdom architecture. Too little 
has been preserved of the house and palace of the time to 
permit of safe generalizations upon the light and airy style 
of architecture which they represent. It is only the mas- 
sive stone structures of this age which have been preserved. 
Besides the mastabas and pyramids, which we have already 

' Perrot and Chipiez, History of Art, II, p. 194. 


GRAN'ITE. (Cairo Museum.) 


(Cairo Museum.) 

TAL (right). Berlin Museum. 


briefly noticed, the temple is the great architectural achieve- 
ment of the Old Kingdom. Its arrangement has been 
touched upon in the preceding chapter. The architect em- 
ployed only straight lines, these being perpendiculars and 
horizontals, very boldly and felicitously combined. The arch, 
although known, was not employed as a member in archi- 
tecture. In order to carry the roof across the void, either 
the simplest of stone piers, a square pillar of a single block 
of granite was employed, or an already elaborate and beau- 
tiful monolithic column of granite supported the architrave. 
These columns, the earliest known in the history of archi- 
tecture, must have been employed before the Old Kingdom, 
for they are fully developed in the Fifth Dynasty. They 
represent a palm-tree (Fig. 60), the capital being the crown 
of foliage; or they are conceived as a bundle of papyrus 
stalks, bearing the architrave upon the cluster of buds at the 
top, which form the capital (Figs. 60, 61). The proportions 
are faultless, and surrounded with such exquisite colonnades 
as these, flanked by brightly coloured reliefs, the courts of 
the Old Kingdom temples belong to the noblest architectural 
conceptions bequeathed to us by antiquity. Egypt thus 
became the source of columned architecture. While the 
Babylonian builders displayed notable skill in giving varied 
architectural effect to great masses, they were limited to this, 
and the colonnade was unknown to them; whereas the 
Egyptian ah'eady at the close of the fourth millennium before 
Christ had solved the fundamental problem of great architec- 
ture, developing with the most refined artistic sense and the 
greatest mechanical skill the treatment of voids, and thus 
originating the colonnade. 

The age was dealing with material things and developing 
material resources, and in such an age literature has little 
opportunity; it was indeed hardly born as yet. The sages 
of the court, the wise old viziers, Kegemne, Imhotep, and 
Ptahhotep, had put into proverbs the wholesome wisdom of 
life, which a long career had taught them, and these were 
probably already circulating in written form, although the 

Fig. CI. Ki.EV.\TioN oi" P.vrt of tiik Colonnade Sibroinuing the (^'oi kt ov 
THE Pyr.\mu) Temple of Xiserbe (Fifth Dynasty). (After Borchardt.) 


oldest manuscript of such lore which we possess, dates froui 
the Middle Kingdom. The priestly scribes of the Fifth 
Dynasty compiled the annals of the oldest kings, from the 
bare names of the kings, who ruled the two prehistoric king- 
doms, to the Fifth Dynasty itself; but it was a bald catalogue 
of events, achievements and temple donations, without lit- 
erary form. It is the oldest surviving fragment of royal 
annals. As the desire to perpetuate the story of a dis- 
tinguished life increased, the nobles began to record in their 
tombs simple narratives characterized by a primitive direct- 
ness, in long successions of simple sentences, each showing 
the same construction, but lacking expressed connectives.' 
Events and honours common to the lives of the leading nobles 
were related by them all in the identical words, so that con- 
ventional phrases had already gained place in literature not 
unlike the inviolable canons of their graphic art. There is no 
individuality. The mortuary texts in the pyramids display 
sometimes a rude force, and an almost savage fire. They 
contain scattered fragments of the old myths but whether 
these had then enjoyed more than an oral existence we 
do not know. Mutilated religious poems, exhibiting in form 
the beginnings of parallelism, are imbedded in this literature, 
and are doubtless examples of the oldest poetry of earliest 
Egypt. All this literature, both in form and content, betrays 
its origin among men of the early world. Folk songs, the 
offspring of the toiling peasant's flitting fancy, or of the per- 
sonal devotion of the household servant, were common then 
as now, and in two of them which have survived, we hear 
the shepherd talking with the sheep,- or the bearers of the 
sedan-chair assuring their lord in song that the vehicle is 
lighter to them when he occupies it, than when it is empty.* 
Music also was cultivated; and there was a director of the 
royal music at the court. The instruments were a small 
harp, on which the performer played sitting, and two kinds 
of flute, a larger and a smaller. Instrumental music was 

'I, 292-4, 306-315, 319-324. 'See infra, Fig. 39. 

°Zeitsclirift 38, 6.5; Davies, Der elGebrawi, II, pi. VIII. 


always accompanied by the voice, reversing modern custom, 
and the full orchestra consisted of two harps and two flutes, 
a large and a small one. Of the character and nature of 
the music played or to what extent the scale was understood, 
we can say nothing. 

Such, in so far as we have been able to condense our 
present knowledge, was the active and aggressive age which 
unfolds before us, as the kings of the Thinite dynasties give 
way to those of Memphis. It now remains for us to trace 
the career of this, the most ancient state, whose constitution 
is still discernible. 



At the close of the so-called Second Dynasty, early in the 
thirtieth century B. C, the Thinites were finally dislodged 
from the position of power which they had maintained so 
well for over four centuries, according to Manetho, and a 
Memphite family, whose home was the "White Wall" gained 
the ascendancy. But there is evidence that the sharp dynas- 
tic division recorded by Manetho never took place, and this 
final supremacy of Memphis may have been nothing more 
than a gradual transition thither by the Thinites themselves. 
In any case the great queen, Nemathap, the wife of King 
Khasekhemui, who was probably the last king of the Second 
Dynasty, was evidently the mother of Zoser, with whose 
accession the predominance of Memphis becomes apparent. 
During this Memphite supremacy, the development which 
the Thinites had pushed so vigourously, was skilfully and 
ably fostered. For over five hundred years the kingdom 
continued to flourish, but of these five centuries only the last 
two have left us even scanty literary remains, and we are 
obliged to draw our meagre knowledge of its first three cen- 
turies almost entirely from material documents, the monu- 
ments which it has left us. In some degree such a task is 
like attempting to reconstruct a history of Athens in the age 
of Pericles, based entirely upon the temples, sculptures, vases, 
and other material remains surviving from his time. While 
the rich intellectual, literary, and political life which was 
then unfolding in Athens involved a mental endowment and 
a condition of state and society which Egypt, even at her 
best, never knew, yet it must not be forgotten that, tremen- 
dous as is the impression which we receive from the monu- 


nients of the Old Kingdom, they are but the skeleton, upon 
which we might put flesh, and endue the whole with life, if 
but the chief literary monuments of the time had survived. 
It is a difficult task to see behind these Titanic achievements, 
the busy world of commerce, industry, administration, so- 
ciety, art, and literature out of which they grew. Of half a 
millennium of political change, of overthrow and usurpation, 
of growth and decay of institutions, of local governors, help- 
less under the strong grasp of the Pharaoh, or shaking off 
the restraint of a weak monarch, and developing into inde- 
pendent barons, so powerful at last as to bring in the final 
dissolution of the state;— of all this we gain but fleeting and 
occasional glimpses, where more must be guessed than can 
be known. 

The first prominent figure in the Old Kingdom is that of 
"^, Zoser, with whom as we have said the Third Dynasty arose. 
t It was evidently his forceful government which firmly estab- 
lished Memphite sui^remacy. He continued the exploitation 
of the copper mines in Sinai, while in the south he extended 
the frontier. If we may credit a late tradition of the priests, 
the turbulent tribes of northern Nubia, who for centuries 
after Zoser 's reign continued to make the region of the first 
cataract unsafe, were so controlled by him that he could grant 
to Khnum, the god of the cataract at least nominal posses- 
sion of both sides of the river from Elephantine at the lower 
end of the cataract up to Takompso. some seventj' five or 
eighty miles above it. As this tradition was put forward 
by the priests of Isis in Ptolemaic times as legal support of 
certain of their claims, it is not improbable that it contains 
a germ of fact.' 

The success of Zoser 's efforts was perhaps in part due to 
the counsel of the great wise man, Imhotep, who was one of 
his chief advisers. In priestly wisdom, in magic, in the 
formulation of wise proverbs, in medicine and architecture, 
this remarkable figure of Zoser 's reign left so notable a 
reputation that his name was never forgotten. He was the 

' Sethe, Untersuchungen, II, 22-26. 


patron spirit of tlie later scribes, to whom they regularly 
poured out a libation from the water jar of their writing- 
outfit before beginning their work." The people sang of his 
proverbs centuries later, and two thousand five hundred years 
after his death he had become a god of medicine, in whom 
the Greeks who called him Imouthes, recognized their own 
Asklepios.^ A temple was erected to him near the Serapeum 
at Memphis, and at the present day every museum possesses 
a bronze statuette or two of this apotheosized wise man, the 
proverb-maker, physician and architect of Zoser. The 
priests who conducted the rebuilding of the temple of Edfu 
under the Ptolemies, claimed to be reproducing the structure 
formerly erected there after plans of Imhotep; and it may 
therefore well be that Zoser was the builder of a temple there. 
Manetho records the tradition that stone building was first 
introduced by Zoser, whom he calls Tosorthros, and although, 
as we have seen, stone structures of earlier date are now 
known, yet the great reputation as a builder ascribed to 
Zoser 's counsellor Imhotep is no accident, and it is evident 
that Zoser 's reign marked the beginning of extensive build- 
ing in stone. Until his reign the royal tombs were built of 
sun-dried bricks, only containing in one instance a granite 
floor and in another a chamber of limestone. This brick 
tomb was greatly improved by Zoser, in whose time there 
was built at Bet Khallaf, near Abydos, a massive brick mas- 
taba (Fig. 62), through one end of which a stairway de- 
scended, and passing into the gravel beneath the superstruc- 
ture, merged into a descending passage, which terminated 
in a series of mortuary chambers.^ The passage was closed 
in five places by heavy portcullis stones. This was the 
first of the two royal tombs now usually erected (see p. 71). 
In all probability Zoser himself never used this tomb, built 
so near those of his ancestors ; but assisted by Imhotep under- 
took the construction of a mausoleum on a more ambitious 

'Schaefer, Zeitschrift, 1898, 147-8; Gardiner, ibid., 40, 146. 

2 Sethe, Unterguchungen, II. 

' Garstang, Mahasna and Bet KhallAf, London, 1902. 



plan than any of his ancestors had ever attempted. In the 
desert behind Memphis he laid out a tomb (Fig. 63), very 
much like that at Bet Khallaf, but the mastaba was now 
built of stone ; it was nearly thirty eight feet high, some two 
hundred and twenty seven feet wide, and an uncertain 
amount longer from north to south. As his reign continued 
he enlarged it upon the ground, and increased its height also 
by building five rectangular additions superimijosed upon 
its top, each smaller than its predecessor. T he result was a 
terraced structure, one hundred and nine ty five fe e^ higik- 
J n~Ti3r"st ^eS;_Uiewh ote~roughly resemi iling a nyrHiniiL It 
is often calle dthejjterraced pyra mid." and does indeed 
constitute the transitional form between the flat-topped rec- 
tangular superstructure or mastaba first built by Zoser at 
Bet Khallaf and the pyramid of his successors, which imme- 
diately followed. It is the first large structure of stone 
known in history. 

The wealth and power which enabled Zoser to erect so 
imposing and costly a tomb were continued by the other 
kings of the dynasty, whose order and history it is as yet 
impossible to reconstruct. We now know that we should 
attribute to them the two great stone jiyramids of Dashur. 
These vast and splendid monuments, the earliest pyramids, 
are a striking testimony to the prosperity and power of this 
Third Dynasty. Such colossal structures make a powerful 
appeal to the imagination, but we cannot picture to our- 
selves save in the vaguest terms the course of events that 
produced them. They leave a host of questions unan- 
swered. At the close of the dynasty, the nation was enjoy- 
ing wide prosperity under the vigourous and far-seeing 
Snefru. He built vessels nearly one hundred and seventy 
feet long, for traffic and administration upon the river;' 
he continued the development of the copper mines in Sinai, 
where he defeated the native tribes and left a record of his 
triumph.- He placed Egyjitian interests in the peninsula 
upon such a permanent basis that he was later looked upon 
as the founder and establisher of Egyptian supremacy there; 

'I, 146-7. 'I, 168-9. 



(Ordnance Survey Photo ) 


(Photograph by L. D. Covington.) 


one of the mines was named after him;' a thousand years 
later it is his achievements in this region, with which the 
later kings compared their own, boasting that nothing like 
it had been done there "since the days of Snefru";^ and 
together with the local divinities, Hathor and Soped, his 
protection was invoked as a patron god of the region by the 
venturesome officials who risked their lives for the Pharaoh 
there ^ (Fig. 65). He regulated the eastern frontier, and it 
is not unlikely that we should attribute to him the erection 
of the fortresses at the Bitter Lakes in the Isthmus of Suez, 
which existed already in the Fifth Dynasty. Roads and 
stations in the eastern Delta still bore his name fifteen hun- 
dred years after his death. ^ In the west it is not improb- 
able that he already controlled one of the northern oases. '' 
More than all this, he opened up commerce with the north 
and sent a fleet of forty vessels to the Phoenician coast to 
procure cedar logs from the slopes of Lebanon." Following 
the example of Zoser, he was equally aggressive in the south, 
where he conducted a campaign against northern Nubia, 
bringing back seven thousand prisoners, and two hundred 
thousand large and small cattle.' 
SL^ Snefru, powerful and prosperous, as "Lord of the Two 
Lands," also erected two tombs. The earlier is situated at 
Medum, between Memphis and the Fayum. It was begun, 
like that of Zoser, as a mastaba of limestone, with the tomb 
chamber beneath it. Following Zoser, the builder enlarged 
it seven times to a terraced structure, the steps in which 
were then filled out in one smooth slope from top to bottom 
at a different angle, thus producing the first pyramiji (Fig. 
64). Snefru 's other pyramid, far larger and more impos- 
ing, now dominates the group at Dashur. It was the great- 
est building thus far attempted by the Pharaohs and is an 
impressive witness to the rapid progress made by the 
Third Dynasty in the arts. A newly found inscription 

1 LD, II, 1.37 g. ' I, 731. 3 I, 722. 

« I, 165, 5; 312. 1. 21. 

' I, 174, 1. 9. 6 I, 146. 7 I. 146. 


shows that Sucfru's mortuary endownieuts hmc swnv still 
respected three liundred years later. 

With Snefru the rising tide of prosperity and power has 
reached the high level which made the subsequent splendour 
of the Old Kingdom possible. With him there had also 
grown up the rich and powerful noble and official class, 
whose life we have already sketched, — a class who are no 
longer content with the simple brick tombs of their ancestors 
at Abydos and vicinity. Their sjilendid mastabas of hewn 
limestone are still grouped as formerly about the tomb of 
the king whom they served. It is the surviving remains in 
these imposing cities of the dead, dominated by the towering 
mass of the pyramid which has enabled us to gain a picture 
of the life of the great kingdom, the threshold of which we 
have now crossed. Behind us lies the long slow develop- 
ment which contained the promise of all that is before us; 
but that development also we were obliged to trace in the 
tomb of the early Egyptians, as we have followed him from 
the sand-heap that covered his primitive ancestor to the 
colossal pyramid of the Pharaoh. 

The passing of the great family of which Snefru was the 
most i^rominent representative, did not, as far as we can now 
see, effect any serious change in the history of the nation. 
Indeed Khufu, the great founder of the so-called Fouij;h 
Dynasty, may possibly have been a scion of the Third. He 
had in his harem at least a lady who had also been a favourite 
of Snefru. But it is evident that Khufu was not a Mem- 
phite. He came from a town of middle Egypt near modern 
Beni Hasan, which was afterward, for this reason, called 
" Menat-Khuf u, " "Nurse of Khufu"; and his name in its 
full form, " Khnum-khufu, " which means "Khnum protects 
me," is a further hint of his origin, containing as it does the 
name of Khnum, the ram-headed god of Menat-Khufu. 
Likewise, after his death, one of his mortuary priests was 
also priest of Khnum of Menat-Khufu.' We have no means 
of knowing how the noble of a ])rovincial town succeeded in 

' Mariette, Les Mastabas B 1 := Rouge, Inscriptions Hifrogl., 78. 


supplanting the powerful Snefru and becoming the founder 
of a new line. We only see him looming grandly from the 
obscure array of Pharaohs of his time, his greatness pro- 
claimed by the noble tomb which he erected at Gizeh, oppo- 
site modern Cairo. It has now become the chief project of 
the state to furnish a vast, impenetrable and indestructible 
resting place for the body of the king, who concentrated upon 
this enterprise the greatest resources of wealth, skill and 
labour at his command. How strong and effective must have 
been the organization of Khufu's government we appreciate 
in some measure when we learn that his pyramid contains 
some two million three hundred thousand blocks, each weigh- 
ing on the average two and a half tons.^ The mere organiza- 
tion of labour involved in the quarrying, transportation and 
proper assembly of this vast mass of material is a task which 
in itself must have severely taxed the public offices. Herod- 
otus relates a tradition current in his time that the pyramid 
had demanded the labour of a hundred thousand men during 
twenty years, and Petrie has shown that these numbers are 
quite credible. The maintenance of this city of a hundred 
thousand labourers, who were non-producing and a constant 
burden on the state, the adjustment of the labour in the quar- 
ries so as to ensure an uninterrupted accession of material 
around the base of the pyramid, will have entailed the devel- 
opment of a small state in itself. The blocks were taken 
out of the quarries on the east side of the river south of 
Cairo, and at high water, when the flats were flooded, they 
were floated across the valley to the base of the pyramid hill.^ 
Here an enormous stone ramp or causeway had been erected, 
a labour of ten years if we may believe Herodotus, and up this 
incline the stones were dragged to the plateau on which the 
pyramid stands. Not merely was this work quantitatively 
so formidable but in quality also it is the most remarkable 
material enterprise known to us in this early world, for the 
most ponderous masonry in the ]iyramid amazes the modern 
beholder by its fineness. It was but five centuries since the 

' Petrie, Gizeh. 


crude granite floor of the tomb of Usephais at Abj'dos was 
laid, and perhaps not more than a century since the earliest 
stone structure now known, the limestone chamber in the 
tomb of Khasekhemui at the same place was erected. The 
pyramid is or was about four hundred and eighty one feet 
high, and its square base measured some seven hundred and 
fifty five feet on a side, but the average error is ' ' less than a 
ten thousandth of the side in equality, in squareness and in 
level";' although a rise of ground on the site of the monu- 
ment prevented direct measurements from corner to corner. 
Some of the masonry finish is so fine that blocks weighing 
tons are set together with seams of considerable length, show- 
ing a joint of one ten thousandth of an inch, and involving 
edges and surfaces "equal to optician's work of the present 
day, but on a scale of acres instead of feet or yards of mate- 
rial."^ The entire monument is of limestone, except the 
main sepulchral chamber and the construction chambers 
above it, where the workmanship distinctly deteriorates. 
The latter part, that is the upper portion, was evidently built 
with greater haste than the lower sections. The passages 
were skilfully closed at successive places by plug-blocks and 
portcullisses of granite; while the exterior, clothed with an 
exquisitely fitted casing of limestone (Fig. 66), which has 
since been quarried away, nowhere betrayed the place of 
entrance, located in the eighteenth course of masonry above 
the base near the centre of the north face. It must have 
been a courageous monarch who from the beginning planned 
this the greatest mass of masonry ever put together by 
human hands, and there are evidences in the pyramid of at 
least two changes of plan. Like all the pyramidoid monu- 
ments which precede it, it was therefore probably projected 
on a smaller scale, but before the work had proceeded too 
far to prevent, by complication of the interior passages, the 
plan was enlarged to the present enormous base, covering 
an area of thirteen acres. Three small pyramids, built for 
members of Khufu's family, stand in a line close by on the 

> Petrie, History of Egjpt. I, p. 40. "Ibid. 


Fr.,iii th.- acsrrl .m ihe Suuthwest : Kluifu (right); Khafre (middle) : Menkure ( lefO. 

of the causeway (see Fig. 37) leading up to Khafre's (the second) Pyramid at Gizeh (see p. 120). 


east. The pyramid was surrounded by a wide pavement of 
limestone, and on the east front was the temple for the mor- 
tuary service of Khufu, of which all but portions of a splen- 
did basalt pavement has disappeared. The remains of the 
causeway leading up from the plain to the temple still rise 
in sombre ruin, disclosing only the rough core masonry, 
across which the modern village of Kafr is now built. 
Further south is a section of the wall which surrounded the 
town on the plain below, i)robably the place of Khufu 's resi- 
dence, and perhaps the residence of the dynasty. In leaving 
the tomb of Khufu our admiration for the monument, 
whether stirred by its vast dimensions or by the fineness of 
its masonry should not obscure its real and final significance ; 
for the great pyramid is the earliest and most impressive 
witness surviving from the ancient world to the final emer- 
gence of organized society from prehistoric chaos and local 
conflict, thus coming for the first time completely under 
the jjower of a far-reaching and comprehensive centraliza- 
tion effected by one controlling mind. 

Khufu 's name has been found from Desuk in the north- 
western and Bubastis in the eastern Delta, to Hieraconpolis 
in the south, but we know almost nothing of his other 
achievements. He continued operations in the peninsula of 
Sinai ;' perhaps opened for the first time, and in any case 
kept workmen in the alabaster quarry of Hatnub ; and Ptole- 
maic tradition also made him the builder of a Hathor temple 
at Dendera.- It will be evident that all the resources of the 
nation were completely at his disposal and under his control ; 
his eldest son, as was customary in the Fourth DjTaasty, 
was vizier and chief judge; while the two "treasurers of 
the God," who were in charge of the work in the quarries, 
were undoubtedly also sons of the king, as we have seen. 
The most i^owerful offices were kept within the circle of the 
royal house, and thus a great state was swayed at the mon- 
arch's slightest wish, and for many years held to its chief 
task, the creation of his tomb. An obscure king, Dedefre or 

' I. 176. ^ Dumicheu Dendera, p. 15. 


Radedef, whose connection with the family is entirely uncer- 
tain, seems to have succeeded Khufu. His modest pyramid 
has been found at Aburoash, on the north of Gizeh, but 
Dedefre himself remains with us only a name, and it is pos- 
sible that he belongs near the close of the dynasty. 

It is uncertain whether his successor, Khafre, was his son 
or not. But the new king's name, which means "His Shin- 
ing is Re," like that of Dedefre, would indicate the political 
influence of the priests of Re at Heliopolis. He built a 
pyramid (Figs. 68, 70) beside that of Khufu, but it is some- 
what smaller and distinctly inferior in workmanship. It was 
given a sumptuous appearance by making the lowermost 
section of casing of granite from the first cataract. Scanty 
remains of the pyramid-temple on the east side are still in 
place, from which the usual causeway leads down to the 
margin of the plateau and terminates in a splendid granite 
building (Fig. 69), which served as the gateway to the cause- 
way and the pyramid enclosure above. Its interior surfaces 
are all of polished red granite and translucent alabaster. In 
a well in one hall of the building seven statues of Khafre 
were found by Mariette. We have had occasion to examine 
the best of these in the preceding chapter.' This splendid 
entrance stands beside the Great Sphinx, and is still usually 
termed the ' ' temple of the sphinx, ' ' with which it had, how- 
ever, nothing to do. ^Miether the sphinx itself is the work 
of Khafre is not yet determined. In Egypt the sphinx is i 
an oft recurring portrait of the king, the lion's body sym-! 
bolizing the Pharaoh's power. The Great Sjihinx is there- v 
fore the portrait of a Pharaoh, and an obscure reference to^ 
Khafre in an inscription between its forepaws dated fourteen 
hundred years later in the reign of Thutmose IV," perhaps 
shows that in those times he was considered to have had 
something to do with it. Beyond these buildings we know 
nothing of Khafre 's deeds, but these show clearly that the 
great state which Khufu had done so much to create was 
still firmly controlled by the Pharaoh. 

'Fig. 48 and p. 103. 'II, 815. 


Under Khafre's successor, Menkure, however, if the size 
of the royal pyramid is an adequate basis for judgment, the 
power of the royal house was no longer so absolute. Moreover, 
the vast pyramids which his two predecessors had erected 
may have so depleted the resources of the state that Menkure 
was not able to extort more from an exhausted nation. The 
third pyramid of Gizeh which we owe to him, is less than 
half as high as those of Khufu and Khafre ; its ruined temple 
recently excavated by Reisner, unfinished at his death, was 
faced with sun-dried brick, instead of sumptuous granite, 
by his successor. Of his immediate successors, we possess 
contemporary monuments only from the reign of Shepse- 
skaf. Although we have a record that he selected the site 
for his pyramid in his first year,* he was unable to erect a 
monument sufficiently large and durable to survive, and we 
do not even know where it was located ; while of the achieve- 
ments of this whole grou]) of kings at the close of the 
Fourth Dj-nasty, including several interlopers, who may 
now have assumed the throne for a brief time, we know 
nothing whatever. 

The century and a half during which the Fourth DjTiasty 
maintained its power was a period of unprecedented splen- 
dour in the history of the Nile valley people, and as we have 
seen, the monuments of the time were on a scale of grandeur 
which was never later eclipsed. It reached its climacteric 
point in Ivhufu, and after probably a slight decline in the 
reign of Khafre, Menkure was no longer able to command the 
closely centralized power which the family had so success- 
fully maintained up to that time. It passed away, leaving 
the group of nine pyramids at Gizeh as an imperishable 
witness of its greatness and power. They were counted in 
classic times among the seven wonders of the world, and 
they are to-day the only surviving wonder of the seven. 
The cause of the fall of the Fourth Dynasty, while not clear 
in the details, is in the main outlines tolerably certain. The 
priests of Re at Heliopolis, whose influence is also evident 

•I, 151. 






oC^>^;;':^r\.,. -^N 

mt-J r(n Kill uv.namy *. hiitit-ui at ui/.t-ii. 

in the names of the kings following Khufu, had succeeded 
in organizing their i^olitical influence, becoming a clique of 
suflScient power to overthrow the old line. The state theol- 
ogy had always represented the king as the successor of 
the sun-god and he had borne the title "Horus, " a sun-god, 
from the beginning; but the priests of Heliopolis now de- 
manded that he be the bodily son of Re, who henceforth 
would appear on earth to become the father of the Pharaoh. 
A folk-tale of which we have a copy* some nine hundred 
years later than the fall of the Fourth Dynasty, relates how 

* Papyrus Westcar. 


Khufu was enjoying an idle hour with his sons, while they 
narrated wonders wrought by the great wise men of old. 
When thereupon prince Harzozef told the king that there 
still lived a magician able to do marvels of the same kind, 
the Pharaoh sent the prince to fetch the wise man. The 
latter, after he had offered some examples of his remarkable 
powers, reluctantly told the king in response to questions, 
that the three children soon to be born by the wife of a cer- 
tain priest of Re were begotten of Re himself, and that they 
should all become kings of Egypt. Seeing the king's sadness 
at this information the wise man assured him that there was 
no reason for his melancholy, saying, "Thy son, his son, and 
then one of them," meaning "Thy son shall reign; then thy 
grandson, and after that one of these three children. ' ' The 
conclusion of the tale is lost, but it undoubtedly went on 
to tell how the three children finally became Pharaohs, for 
it narrates with many picturesque details and remarkable 
prodigies how the children were born wearing all the insignia 
of royalty. The names given these children by the disguised 
divinities who assisted at their birth were : Userkaf, Sahure 
and Kakai, the names of the first three kings of the Fifth 
Dynasty. Although the popular tradition knew of only two 
kings of the Fourth Dynasty after Khufu, having never 
heard of Dedefre, Shepseskaf and others whose reigns had 
left no great pyramids, it nevertheless preserved the essen- 
tial contention of the priests of Re and in kernel at least the 
real origin of the Fifth Dynasty. In this folk-tale we have 
the popular form of what is now the state fiction: every 
Pharaoh is the bodily son of the sun-god, a belief which was 
thereafter maintained throughout the history of Egypt' 

The kings of the Fifth Dynasty, who continued to reside in 
the vicinity of Memphis, began to rule about 2750 B. C. 
They show plain traces of the origin ascribed to them by the 
popular tradition; the official name which they assume at 
the coronation must invariably contain the name of Re, a 
custom which the Heliopolitan priests had not been able 

> II, 187-212. 



strictly to enforce in the P^ourtli Dynasty. Before this name 
must now be placed a new title, "Son of Re." Besides the 
old "Horus" title and a new title representing Horus tram- 
pling upon the symbol of Set, this new designation "Son of 
Re" was the fifth title peculiar to the Pharaohs, later produc- 
ing the complete Pharaonic titulary as it remained through- 
out their history. Their adherence to the cult of Re as the 
state religion par excellence found immediate and practical 

Restob.vtiox of the Six-Temple of Xlseeee at Abisib. 
(After Boiehardt.) 

expression in the most si)lendid form. By the royal residence 
near later Memphis each king erected a magnificent temple 
to the sun, each bearing a name like "Favourite place of Re," 
or "Satisfaction of Re." These sanctuaries are all of the 
same essential plan : a large fore-court with cultus chambers 
on each side, and a huge altar; while in the rear, rising from 
a mastaba-like base was a tall obelisk (Fig. 71). This was 
the symbol of the god, standing exposed to the sky, and there 



was therefore no holy of holies. There are reasons for sup- 
posing that the obelisk and connected portions of the build- 
ing were but an enlargement of the holy of holies in the 
temple at Heliopolis. The interior of the walls was covered 
with sculptured representations of the production of life, 
with scenes from the river, swamps and marshes, the fields 
and the desert, and ceremonies from the state cult (Fig. 72) ; 
while the outside of the temple bore reliefs depicting the 
warlike achievements of the Pharaoh. On either side of 

Fig. 72. Relief Scenes fkom the Sun-Temple of Nusebbe at Abusib. 
In the upper right hand corner, tlie anointing of the Pharaoh's foot. 

the sanctuary on a brick foundation were set up two ships 
representing the two celestial barques of the sun-god, as he 
sailed the heavens morning and evening. The sanctuary 
was richly endowed* and its service was maintained by a 
corps of priests of five different ranks, besides an "over- 
seer" who had charge of the temple property. As the line 
of kings grew, and with it the number of temples increased, 

'I, 159, 8. 


the priesthood of the old temple assumed functions likewisi- 
in the new one. We can follow these temples one for each 
king at least into the reign of Isesi, the eighth monarch of 
the line.' Enjoying wealth and distinction such as had been 
possessed by no official god of earlier times, Re gained a 
position of influence which he never again lost. Through 
him the forms of the Egyptian state began to pass over into 
the world of the gods, and the myths from now on were domi- 
nated and strongly coloured by him, if indeed some of them 
did not owe their origin to the exalted place which Re now 
occupied. In the sun-myth he became king of Upper and 
Lower Egypt and, like a Pharaoh, he had ruled Egypt with 
Thoth as his vizier. 

The change in the royal line is also evident in the organi- 
zation of the government. The eldest son of the king is 
no longer the most powerful officer in the state, but the posi- 
. tion which he held in the Fourth Dynasty as vizier and chief 

^ judge is now the prerogative of another family, with whom 

^ ( it remains hereditary. Each incumbent, through five gen- 
j^ I erations, bore the name Ptahhotep. It would almost seem 
Q^^ ' as if the priests of Ptah and the priests of Heliopolis had 
made common cause, dividing the power between them, so 
that the high priest of Re became Pharaoh, and the followers 
of Ptah received the viziership. In any case the Pharaoh 
was now obliged to reckon with a family of his lords as 
successive viziers. This hereditary succession, so striking 
in the highest office of the central government, was now com- 
mon in the nomes, and the local governors were each gaining 
stronger and stronger foothold in his nome as the generations 
passed, and son succeeded father in the same nome. That 
the new dynasty was obliged to consider the nobles who had 
assisted in its rise to power, is also to be discerned in the 
appointment by Userkaf, the first of the line, of his palace 
steward to the governorship of a district in middle Egypt 
called the "New Towns,"- to which office he added the 
income of two priesthoods in the vicinity, which had been 

♦Borchardt, Festschr. f. Ebers, p. 13. *I, 213 ff. 


established by Menkure, aud probably previously held by a 
favourite of the Fourth Dynasty. But the endowment estab- 
lished by the Fourth Dynasty was respected. 

While Userkaf, as the founder of the new dynasty, may 
have had enough to do to make secure the succession of his 
line, he has left his name' on the rocks at the first cataract, 
the earliest of the long series of rock-inscriptions there, which 
from now on will furnish us many hints of the career of the 
Pharaohs in the south. Sahure, who followed Userkaf, con- 
tinued the development of Egypt as the earliest known naval 
power in history. He dispatched a fleet against the Phoeni- 
cian coast, and a relief just discovered in his pyramid 
temple at Abusir, shows four of the ships with Phoenician 
captives among the Egyptian sailors. This is the earliest 
surviving representation of sea-going ships (c. 2750 B. C), 
and the oldest known picture of Semitic Syrians. Another 
fleet was sent by Sahure to still remoter waters, on a voy- 
age to Punt, as the Egyptian called the Somali coast at 
the south end of the Red Sea, and along the south side 
of the gulf of Aden. From this region, which like the 
whole east, he termed the "God's-Land," he obtained the 
fragrant gums and resins so much desired for the incense 
and ointments indispensable in the life of the oriental. 
Voyages to this country may have been made as early as the 
First Dynasty, for at that time the Pharaohs already used 
myrrh in considerable quantities, although this may have 
been obtained in trade with the intermediate tribes who 
brought it overland, down the Blue Nile, the Atbara and the 
Upper Nile. In the Fourth Dynasty a son of Khufu had 
possessed a Puntite slave,^ but Sahure was the first Pharaoh 
whose records^ show direct communication with the coun- 
try of Punt for this purpose. His expedition brought back 
80,000 measures of myrrh, probably 6,000 weight of elec- 
trum (gold-silver alloy), besides 2,600 staves of some costly 
wood, presumably ebony. We find his officials* at the first 

» Mariette, Mon. div., 54 e. «!, 161, 7; 236. 

»LD, II, 23, Erman, Aegypten, 670. * I, 161, 8. 

5 De Morgan, Catalogue de Monuments, I, 88. 


cataract also, one of whom left the earliest of the long series 
of inscriptions on the rocks, doubtless an indication of expe- 
ditions into Nubia. 

We can only discern enough of the next four reigns to gain 
faint impressions of a powerful and cultured state, conserv- 
ing all its internal wealth and reaching out to distant regions 
around it for the materials which its own natural resources 
do not furnish. Toward the end of the dynasty, in the 
second half of the twenty seventh century B. C, Isesi 
opened the quarries of the Wadi Hammamat in the eastern 
desert three days' journey from the Nile. These quarries 
had perhaps already furnished the materials for the numer- 
ous breccia vases of the earlier kings, but Isesi was the first 
of the Pharaohs to leave his name' there. As the Nile at 
^ this point approaches most closely to the Red Sea in all its 

,J^ upper course, caravans leaving Coptos and passing by the 

Hammamat quarries, could reach the sea in five days. It 
was therefore the most convenient route to Punt; it was 
"^ probably along this route that the expedition of Sahure, 

^ already mentioned, had passed, while Isesi, who now also 

sent his "treasurer of the God," Burded, in command of an 
expedition" thither, must also have used it. His successor, 
Unis, must have been active in the south, for we find his 
name at the frontier of the first cataract, followed by the 
epithet "lord of countries."^ 

There is now further evidence that the overshadowing 
greatness of the Pharaohs as felt and acknowledged by the 
official class was in some measure paling. To none of the 
earlier victorious records left by the Pharaohs in Sinai had 
the officials who led these expeditions presumed to affix their 
names, or in any way to indicate their connection with the 
enterprise. In relief after relief upon the rocks we see the 
Pharaoh smiting his enemies, as if he had suddenly appeared 
there, like the god they believed he was; and there is not 
the slightest hint that each expedition was in reality led 

'LD, II, 115 1. 'I, 351. 353. 

' Petrie. Season, XII, No. 312. 




^^%' - 





F.arliest pyramid containing religious inscriptions. 



'I heir tombs are in the cliffs on the farther shore. 


by some noble functionary of the government. Under Isesi, 
however, the self consciousness of the official can no longer 
be completely repressed, and for the first time we find under 
the usual triumphant relief a single line' stating that the 
expedition was carried out under the command of a certain 
officer. It is but a hint of the rising power of the officials, 
who from now on never fail to make themselves increasingly 
prominent in all records of the royal achievements. It is a 
power with which the Pharaoh will find more and more diffi- 
culty in dealing as time passes. There is perhaps another 
evidence that the Fifth Dynasty kings no longer possessed 
the unlimited power enjoyed by their predecessors of the 
Fourth Dynasty. Their limestone pyramids ranged along 
the desert margin south of Gizeh, at Abusir and Sakkara, 
are small,— less than half as high as the great pyramid, and 
the core is of such poor construction, being largely loose 
blocks, or even rubble and sand, that they are now in com- 
plete ruin, each pyramid being a low mound with little sem- 
blance of the pyramid form. The centralized power of the 
earlier Pharaohs was thus visibly weakening, and it was 
indeed in every way desirable that there should be a reaction 
against the totally abnormal absorption by the Pharaoh's 
tomb of such an enormous proportion of the national wealth. 
The transitional period of the Fifth Dynasty, lasting prob- 
ably a century and a quarter, during which nine kings 
reigned was therefore one of significant political develop- 
ment, and in material civilization one of distinct progress. 
Art and industry flourished as before, and great works of 
Egyptian sculpture were produced; while in literature king 
Isesi 's vizier and chief judge composed his proverbial wis- 
dom, which we have already discussed. The state religion 
received a form worthy of so gi'eat a nation, the temples 
throughout the land enjoyed constant attention, and the 
larger sanctuaries were given endowments^ commensurate 
with the more elaborate daily offerings on the king's behalf. 
It is this period which has preserved our first religious liter- 

'I, 264, 266. 8 1, 154-167. 



ature of any extent, as well as our earliest lengthy example 
of the Egyptian language. In the pyramid of Unis (Fig. 
73), the last king of the dynasty, is recorded the collection 
of mortuary ritualistic utterances, the so-called Pyramid 
Texts which we have before discussed. As most of them 
belong to a still earlier age and some of them originated in 
predynastic times, they represent a much earlier form of lan- 
guage and belief than those of the generation to which the 
pyramid of Unis belongs. 



In the fullest of the royal lists, the Turin Papyrus, there 
is no indication that the line of Menes was interrupted until 
the close of the reign of Unis. That a new dynasty arose 
at this point there can be no doubt. As the reader has 
already perceived, the movement which brought in this new 
dynasty was due to a struggle of the local governors for a 
larger degree of power and liberty. The establishment of 
the Fifth Dynasty by the influence of the Heliopolitan party 
had given them the opportunity they desired. They gained 
hereditary hold upon their offices, and the kings of that 
family had never been able to regain the complete control 
over them maintained by the Fourth Dynasty. Gradually 
the local governors had then shaken off the restraint of the 
Pharaoh; and when about 2625 B. C, after the reign of 
Unis, they succeeded in overthrowing the Fifth Dynasty, 
they became landed barons, each firmly entrenched in his 
nome, or city, and maintaining an hereditary claim upon 
it. The old title of "local governor" disappeared as a mat- 
ter of course, and the men who had once borne it now called 
themselves "great chief" or "great lord" of this or that 
nome. They continued the local government as before, but 
as princes with a large degree of independence, not as 
officials of the central government. We have here the first 
example traceable in history of the dissolution of a central- 
ized state by a process of aggrandizement on the part of 
local officials of the crown, like that which resolved the Car- 
lovingian empire into duchies, landgraviates or petty prin- 
cipalities. The new lords were not able to render their 



tenure unconditionally liereditai y, lint here the Pharaoh still 
maintained a powerful hold ujjon them; for at the death of a 
noble his position, his fief and his title must be conferred upon 
the inheriting son by the gracious favour of the monarch. 
These nomarchs or "great lords" are loyal adherents of the 
Pharaoh, executing his commissions in distant regions, and 
displaying the greatest zeal in his cause; but they are no 
longer his officials merely; nor are they so attached to the 
court and person of the monarch as to build their tombs 
around his pyramid. They now have sufficient indepen- 
dence and local attachment to locate their tombs near their 
homes. We find them excavated in the cliffs at Elephan- 
tine, Kasr-Sayyad, Shekh-Sa'id and Zawiyet el-Metin, or 
built of masonry at Abydos. They devote much attention 
to the development and prosperity of their great domains, 
and one of them even tells how he brought in emigrants from 
neighbouring nomes to settle in the feebler towns and infuse 
new blood into the less productive districts of his own nome.* 

The chief administrative bond which united the nomes to 
the central government of the Pharaoh will have been the 
treasury as before; but the Pharaoh found it necessary to 
exert general control over the great group of fiefs, which 
now comprised his kingdom, and already toward the end of 
the Fifth Dynasty he had therefore appointed over the whole 
of the valley above the Delta a "governor of the South," 
through whom he was able constantly to exert governmental 
pressure upon the southern nobles ; there seems to have been 
no corresponding "governor of the North," and we may 
infer that the lords of the North were less aggressive. More- 
over the kings still feel themselves to be kings of the South 
h^ governing the North. 

The seat of government, the chief royal i-esidence, as before 

■f^ in the vicinity of Memphis, was still called the "White 

L_ Wall," but after the obscure reign of TetiJI, the first king 

of the new dynasty, the pyramid-city of his successor, the 

powerful Pepi I, was so close to the "White Wall" that 

'I, 281. 


the name of his pyramid, " Men-nofer, " corrupted by the 
Greeks to Memphis, rapidly became the name of the city and 
"White Wall" survived only as an archaic and poetic desig- 
nation of the place. The administration of the residence 
had become a matter of sufficient importance to demand the 
attention of the vizier himself. He henceforth assumed its 
immediate control, receiving the title "governor of the pyra- 
mid-city" or "governor of the city" merely, for it now 
became customary to speak of the residence as the "city." 
Notwithstanding thorough-going changes, the new dynasty 
continued the official cult maintained by their predeces- 
sors. Re remained supreme and the old foundations were 

In spite of the independence of the new nobles, it is evident 
that Pepi I possessed the necessary force to hold them well 
in hand. His monuments, large and small, are found 
throughout Egypt. Now began also the biographies of the 
officials of the time, affording us a picture of the busy life 
of the self-satisfied magnates of that distant age; while to 
these we may fortunately add also their records at the mines 
and in the quarries. Loyalty now demands no more than 
a relief showing the king as he worships his gods or smites 
his enemies ; and this done the vanity of the commander of 
the expedition and his fellows may be gratified in a record 
of their deeds or adventures, which becomes longer and 
longer as time passes. Pepi I sent his chief architect and 
the two ' ' treasurers of the God, ' ' besides the master builder 
of his pyramid, and a body of artisans, to the quarries at 
Hammamat to procure the necessary fine stone for his pyra- 
mid, and they left in the quarry, besides two royal reliefs, 
three other inscriptions, giving a full list of their names and 
titles.' At the alabaster quarry of Hatnub the governor of 
the South, who was also "great lord of the Hare-nome, " 
recorded his execution of a commission there for Pepi I;^ 
while a military commander perpetuates his achievement of 
a similar commission for the same king in the Wadi 

•I, 295-301. 'I, 304-5. 



Maghara in Sinai.' The pride of office among the official 
class is undiminished. So many titles have now become 
purely honourary,— high sounding predicates worn by nobles, 
who performed none of the duties once devolving upon the 
incumbents, that the actual administrators of many offices 
added the word "real" after such titles. We have a very 
interesting and instructive example of this official class 
under the new regime, in Uni, a faithful adherent of the 
royal house, who has fortunately left us his biography. 
Under king Teti II he had begun his career at the bottom 
as an obscure under-custodian in the royal domains.^ Pepi 
I now appointed him as a judge, at the same time giving 
him rank at the royal court, and an income as a priest of the 
pyramid-temple.^ He was soon promoted to a superior cus- 
todianship of the royal domains, and in this capacity he 
had so gained the royal favour that when a conspiracy against 
the king arose in the harem he was nominated with one col- 
league to prosecute the case.* Pepi I thus strove to single 
out men of force and ability with whom he might organize 
a strong government, closely attached to his fortunes and to 
those of his house. In the heart of the southern country he 
set up among the nobles the "great lord of the Hare-norae," 
and made him governor of the South; while he married as 
his official queens the two sisters of the nomarch of Thinis, 
both bearing the same name, Eneklines-Merire, and they 
became the mothers of the two kings who followed him.' 

The foreign policy of Pepi I was more vigourous than that 
of any Pharaoh of earlier times. In Nubia he gained such 
control over the negro tribes that they were obliged to con- 
tribute quotas to his army in case of war, and when such war 
was in the north, where safety perm itted, these negro levies 
were freely employed. The Beduin tribes of the north, 
having become too bold in their raiding of the eastern Delta, 
or having troubled his mining expeditions in Sinai, Pepi 
commissioned Uni to collect such an army among the negroes, 
supplemented by levies throughout Egypt. The king over- 

■ I. 302-3. ' I, 294. a I, 307. « I. 310. > J, 344-9 


looked many men of much higher rank, and placing Uni in 
command of this army, sent him against the Beduin.' He 
of course scattered them without difficulty, and having devas- 
tated their country, returned home. On four more such 
punitive expeditions Pepi I sent him against the tribes of 
this country; and a final show of hostility on their part 
at last called him further north than the region on the east 
of the Delta. Embarking his force, he carried them in troop- 
ships along the coast of southern Palestine, and punished 
the Beduin as far north as the highlands of Palestine." This 
marks the northernmost advance of the Pharaohs of the Old 
Kingdom, and is in accordance with the discovery of a 
Sixth Dynasty scarab at Gezer below Jerusalem, in strata 
below those dated in the Middle Kingdom. The naive ac- 
count of these wars left by Uni in his biography is one of 
the most characteristic evidences of the totally unwarlike 
spirit of the early Egyptian. 

Having thus firmly established his family at the head of the 
state, the fact that Pepi I's death, after a reign of probably 
twenty years, left his son, Mernere, to administer the king- 
dom as a mere youth, seems not in the least to have shaken 
its fortunes. Mernere immediately appointed Uni, the old 
servant of his house, as governor of the South,^ under whose 
trusty guidance all went well. The powerful nobles of the 
southern frontier were also zealous in their support of the 
young king. They were a family of bold and adventurous 
barons, living on the island of Elephantine (Fig. 7-1) just 
below the first cataract. The valley at the cataract was now 
called the "Door of the South" and its defense against the 
turbulent tribes of northern Nubia was placed in their hands, 
so that the head of the family bore the title "Keeper of the 
Door of the South. ' ' They made the place so safe that when 
the king dispatched Uni to the granite quarries at the head 
of the cataract to procui'e the sarcophagus and the finer 
fittings for his pyramid, the noble was able to accomplish 
his errand with "only one warship, " an unprecedented feat.^ 

'I, 311-313. M, 314-315. aj, 320. « I, 322. 


The enterprising young niouarcli then commissioned Uni to 
establish unbroken connection by water with the granite 
quarries by opening a succession of five canals through the 
intervening granite barriers of the cataract; and the faithful 
noble completed this difficult task, besides the building of 
seven boats, launched and laden with great blocks of granite 
for the royal pyramid in only one year.' 

The north was too difficult of access, too distinctly sep- 
arated by natural limits from the valley of the Nile for 
the Pharaohs of this distant age to attempt more in Asia 
than the defense of their frontier and the protection of their 
mining enterprises in Sinai. The only barrier between 
them and the south, however, was the cataract region. Mer- 
nere had now made the first cataract passable for Nile boats 
at high water, and a closer control, if not the conquest of 
northern Nubia was quite feasible. It was not of itself a 
country which the agricultural Egyptian could utilize. The 
strip of cultivable soil between the Nile and the desert on 
either hand was in Nubia so scanty, even in places disap- 
pearing altogether, that its agricultural value was slight. 
But the high ridges and valleys in the desert on the east con- 
tained rich veins of gold-bearing quartz, and iron ore ^ was 
plentiful also, although no workings of it have been found 
there. The country was furthermore the only gateway to 
the regions of the south, with which constant trade was now 
maintained. Besides gold, the Sudan sent down the river 
ostrich feathers, ebony logs, panther skins and ivory; while 
along the same route, from Punt and the countries further 
east, came myrrh, fragrant gums and resins and aromatic 
woods. It was therefore an absolute necessity that the 
Pharaoh should command this route. We know little of the 
negro and negroid tribes who inhabited the cataract region 
at this time. Immediately south of the Egyptian frontier 
dwelt the tribes of Wawat, extending well toward the second 
cataract, above which the entire region of the upper cataracts 

1 I, 324. 

'Rossing, Geschichte der Metalle., pp. 81, 83 sq. 


was known as Kush, although the name does not commonly 
occur on the monuments until the Middle Kingdom. In the 
upper half of the huge "S" formed by the course of the Nile 
between the junction of the two Niles and the second catar- 
act, was included the territory of the powerful Mazoi, who 
afterward appeared as auxiliaries in the Egyptian army in 
such numbers that the Egyptian word for soldier ultimately 
became "Matoi," a late (Coptic) form of Mazoi. Probably 
on the west of the Mazoi was the land of Yam, and between 
Yam and Mazoi on the south and Wawat on the north were 
distributed several tribes, of whom Irthet and Sethut were 
the most important. The last two, together with AVawat, 
were sometimes united under one chief.' All these tribes 
were still in the barbarous stage. They dwelt in squalid 
settlements of mud huts along the river, or beside wells in 
the valleys running up country from the Nile ; and besides 
the flocks and herds which they maintained, they also lived 
upon the scanty produce of their small grain-fields. 

Doubtless utilizing his new canal, Mernere now devoted 
special attention to the exploitation of these regions. His 
power was so respected by the chiefs of Wawat, Irthet, Mazoi 
and Yam that they furnished the timber for the heavy cargo- 
boats built by Uni for the granite blocks which he took out 
at the first cataract." In his fifth year Mernere did what 
no Pharaoh before him had ever done, in so far as we are 
informed. He appeared at the first cataract in person to 
receive the homage of the southern chiefs, and left upon the 
rocks a record of the event,— a reliefs depicting the Pharaoh 
leaning upon his staff, while the Nubian chiefs bow down in 
his presence. The unprecedented nature of the event is inti- 
mated in the accompanying inscription : ' ' The coming of the 
king himself, appearing behind the hill-country [of the cat- 
aract], that he might see that which is in the hill-country, 
while the chiefs of Mazoi, Irthet and Wawat did obeisance 
and gave great praise."^ 

Mernere now utilized the services of the Elephantine 

•1,336. =1,324. '1,316-318. * Ibid. 



nobles in tightening bis hold upon the southern chiefs. 
Harkbuf, who was then lord of Elephantine, was also ap- 
pointed governor of the South,' perhaps as the successor of 
Uni, who was now too old for active service, or had meantime 
possibly died ; although the title had now become an honour- 
able epithet or title of honour worn by more than one deserv- 
ing noble at this time. It was upon Harkhuf and his relatives, 
a familj" of daring and adventurous nobles, that the Pharaoh 
now depended as leaders of the arduous and dangerous expe- 
ditions which should intimidate the barbarians on his fron- 
tiers and maintain his prestige and his trade connections in 
the distant regions of the south. These men are the earliest 
known explorers of inner Africa and the southern Red Sea. 
At least two of the family perished in executing the 
Pharaoh's hazardous commissions in these far off lands, a 
significant hint of the hardships and perils to which they 
were all exposed. Besides their princely titulary as lords 
of Elephantine they all bore the title "caravan-conductor, 
who brings the products of the countries to his lord," which 
they iM'oudly display upon their tombs, excavated high in 
the front of the clitf s facing modern Assuan, where they still 
look down upon the island of Elephantine, the one time home 
of the ancient lords who occupy them.- Here Harkhuf has 
recorded how Mernere dispatched him on three successive 
expeditions to distant Yam.'' On the first, as he was still 
young, he was therefore accompanied by his father Iri. He 
was gone seven months. On the second journey he was 
allowed to go alone and returned in safety in eight months. 
His third expedition was more adventurous and correspond- 
ingly more successful. Arriving in Yam, he found its chief 
engaged in a war with the southernmost settlements of the 
Temehu, tribes related to the Libyans, on the west of Yam. 
Harkhuf immediately went after him and had no difiBculty 
in reducing him to subjection. The tribute and the products 
of the south obtained in trade during his stay were loaded 
upon three hundred asses, and with a hea\'y^ escort furnished 

1 I, 332. s Fig. 74. 'I, 333-6. See also Fig. 70. 


by the chief of Yam, Harkhuf set out for the north. The 
chief of Irthet, Sethu and Wawat, awed by the large force 
of Egyptians, and the escort of Yamites accompanying 
Harkhuf, made no effort to plunder his richly laden train, 
but brought him an offering of cattle and gave him guides. 
He reached the cataract with his valuable cargo in safety, 
and was met there by a messenger of the Pharaoh, with a 
Nile boat full of delicacies and provisions from the court, 
dispatched by the king for the refreshment of the now weary 
and exhausted noble. 

These operations for the winning of the extreme south 
were interrupted by the untimely death of Mernere. He 
was buried behind Memphis in the granite sarcophagus pro- 
cured for him by Uni, in the pyramid for which Uni had 
likewise laboured so faithfully, and here his body survived 
(Fig. 77), in spite of vandals and tomb-robbers, until its 
removal to the museum at Gizeh in 1881. As Mernere 
reigned only four years and died early in his fifth year 
without issue, the succession devolved upon his half-brother, * *-^ 
who, although only a child, ascended the throne as Pepi II. 
His accession and successful rule speak highly for the sta- 
bility of the family, and the faithfulness of the influential 
nobles attached to it. Pepi II was the son of Enekhnes- 
Merire, the second sister of the Thinite nomarch, whom Pepi 
I first had taken as his queen. Her brother Zau, Pepi II 's 
uncle, who was now nomarch of Thinis, was appointed by 
the child-king as vizier, chief judge and governor of the resi- 
dence city.^ He thus had charge of the state during his 
royal nephew's minority, and as far as we can now discern, 
the government proceeded without the slightest disturbance. 

Pepi II, or in the beginning, of course, his ministers, imme- 
diately resumed the designs of the royal house in the south. 
In the young king's second year, Harkhuf was for the fourth 
time dispatched to Yam, whence he returned bringing a 
rich pack train and a dwarf (Figs. 41, 75) from one of the 
pigmy tribes of inner Africa. These uncouth, bandy-legged 

'I, 344-9. 




creatures were highly prized by the noble class in Egypt ; they 
were not unlike the merry genius Bes in appearance, and 
they executed dances in which the Egyptians took the great- 
est delight. The land from which they came was connected 
by the Nile-dwellers with the mysterious region of the west, 
the sojourn of the dead, which they called the "land of 
spirits," and the dwarfs from this sacred land were espe- 
cially desired for the dances 
with which the king's leisure 
hours were diverted. The 
child-king was so delighted 
on receiving news of Hark-- 
huf's arrival at the frontier 
with one of these pigmies 
that he wrote the fortunate 
noble a long letter of instruc- 
tions, cautioning him to have 
it closely watched lest any 
harm should come to it, or 
it should fall into the Nile; 
and promising Harkhuf a 
greater reward than king 
Isesi had given to his "treas- 
urer of the God," Burded, 
when he brought home a 
dwarf from Punt. Harkhuf 
was so proud of this letter 
that he had it engraved on 
the front of his tomb (Fig. 
76), as an evidence of the 
great favour which he en- 
joyed with the royal house.' 
Not all of these hardy lords of Elephantine, who adven- 
tured their lives in the tropical fastnesses of inner Africa 
in the twenty sixth century before Christ were as fortunate 
as Harkhuf. One of them, a governor of the South, named 
Sebni, suddenly received news of the death of his father, 

'I, 350-354. 

Fig. 75. Statue of an Old Empire 

Dwarf. (From I\Iaspero's 

Archaeology. ) 


prince Mekhu, while on an expedition south of Wawat. 
Sebni quickly mustered the troops of his domain, and with 
a train of a hundred asses marched rapidly southward, pun- 
ished the tribe to whom Mekhu 's death was presumably due, 
rescued the body of his father, and loading it upon an ass, 
returned to the frontier. He had before dispatched a mes- 
senger to inform the Pharaoh of the facts, sending a tusk of 
ivory five feet long, and adding that the best one in his cargo 
was ten feet long. On reaching the cataract he found that this 
messenger had returned, bearing a gracious letter from the 
Pharaoh, who had also sent a whole company of royal em- 
balmers, undertakers, mourners and mortuary priests, with 
a liberal supply of fine linen, spices, oils and rich perfumes, 
that they might immediately embalm the body of the de- 
ceased noble and proceed to the interment. Sebni then went 
to Memphis to pay his respects to the Pharaoh and deliver 
the rich cargo which his father had collected in the south. 
He was shown every mark of royal favour for his pious deed 
in rescuing his father's body. Splendid gifts and the "gold 
of praise" were showered upon him, and later an official 
communication from the vizier conveyed to him a parcel 
of land.' 

A loose sovereignty was now extended over the Nubian 
tribes, and Pepinakht, one of the Elephantine lords, was 
placed in control with the title "governor of foreign coun- 
tries. "^ In this capacity Pepi II sent him against Wawat 
and Irthet, whence he returned after great slaughter among 
the rebels, with numerous captives and children of the chiefs 
as hostages.^ A second campaign there was still more suc- 
cessful, as he captured the two chiefs of these countries them- 
selves, besides their two commanders and plentiful spoil 
from their herds.^ Expeditions were pushed far into the 
upper cataract region, which is once called Kush in the Ele- 
phantine tombs, ^ and, in general, the preliminary work was 
done which made possible the complete conquest of lower 
Nubia in the Middle Kingdom. Indeed that conquest would 

'1,362-74. n, 356. n, 358. * I, 359. »I, 361. 


now have beeu begun had not internal causes produced the 
fall of the Sixth Dynasty. 

The responsibility for the development of Egyptian com- 
merce with the land of Punt and the region of the southern 
Red Sea also fell upon the lords of Elephantine. Evidently 
they had charge of the whole south from the Red Sea to the 
Nile. Not less dangerous than their exploits in Nubia were 
the adventures of the Elephantine commanders who were 
sent to Punt. There was no water way connecting the Nile 
with the Red Sea, and these leaders were obliged to build 
their ships at the eastern terminus of the Coptos caravan 
route from the Nile, on the shore of the sea in one of the 
harbours like Koser or Leueos Limen. Sailing vessels were 
much improved in the Sixth DjTiasty by the mounting of the 
ancient steering oar on a kind of rudder post and the attach- 
ment of a tiller. "VMiile so engaged, Enenkhet, Pepi II 's 
naval commander, was fallen upon by the Beduin, who slew 
him and his entire command. Pepinakht was immediately 
dispatched by the Pharaoh to rescue the body of the unfor- 
tunate noble. He accomijlished his dangerous errand suc- 
cessfully, and having punished the Beduin, he returned in 
safety.^ In spite of these risks, the communication with 
Punt was now active and frequent. A subordinate official 
of the Elephantine family boasts in his lord's tomb that he 
accompanied him to Punt no less than probably eleven times 
and returned in safety.- It will be seen that the usually 
accepted seclusion of the Old Kingdom can no longer be 
maintained. Far from allowing himself to be isolated by 
the deserts which enveloped his land on east and west, or 
the cataract which had once formed his southern boundary, 
the Pharaoh was now maintaining an active and flourishing 
commerce with the south ; while the royal fleets brought cedar 
from the heights of Lebanon on the north. Under these cir- 
cumstances direct commercial intercourse with the distant 
island civilization which preceded the Mycenaean culture in 

'I, 360. 'I, 361. 

Fig. 76.— tomb OF HARKHUF AT ASSUAN. 

The end of the letter of p. 140 is discernible on the right edge. (From 
stereograph copyright by Undenvood & Underwood, X. Y.) 

Fig. 77.— head OF KING MERNERE. 
(Cairo Museum.) 


lontainiiig tombs of Ninth and Tenth Dynasty Nom- 
archs. {From stereograph copyright by Underwood 
& Underwood, N. Y.) 


the north would have been nothing remarkable, and arehEeo- 
logical evidence now shows that it existed. 

Pepi II, having ascended the throne as a mere child, doubt- 
less born just before his father's death, enjoyed the longest 
reign yet recorded in history. The tradition of Manetho 
states that he was six years old when he began to reign, and 
that he continued until the hundredth year, doubtless mean- 
ing of his life. The list preserved by Eratosthenes avers 
that he reigned a full century. The Turin Papyrus of kings 
supports the first tradition, giving him over ninety years, 
and there is no reason to doubt its truth. His was thus the 
longest reign in history. Several brief reigns followed, 
among them possibly that of the queen Nitocris, to whose 
name were attached the absurdest legends. Two kings, Iti 
and Imhotep, whose officials visited Hammamat to secure 
the stone for their pyramids and statues,' may possibly 
belong in this time, though they may equally well have ruled 
at the close of the Fifth Dynasty; but after the death of 
Pepi II all is uncertain, and impenetrable obscurity veils 
the last days of the Sixth Dynasty. When it had ruled some- 
thing over one hundred and fifty years the power of 
the landed barons became a centrifugal force, which the 
Pharaohs could no longer withstand, and the dissolution of 
the state resulted. The nomes gained their independence, 
the Old Kingdom fell to pieces, and for a time was thus 
resolved into the petty principalities of prehistoric times. 
Nearly a thousand years of unparalleled development since 
the rise of a united state, thus ended, in the twenty fifth 
century B. C, in political conditions like those which had pre- 
vailed in the beginning. 

It had been a thousand years of inexhaustible fertility 
when the youthful strength of a people of boundless energy 
had for the first time found the organized form in which it 
could best express itself. In every direction we see the 
products of a national freshness and vigour which are never 
spent ; the union of the country under a single guiding hand 
which had quelled internal dissensions and directed the com- 
bined energies of a great people toward harmonious effort, 

' I, 386-390. 


had brought untold blessing. The Pharaohs to whom the 
unparalleled grandeur of this age was due not only gained 
a place among the gods in their own time, but two thousand 
years later, at the close of Egypt's history as an independent 
nation, in the Twenty Sixth Dynasty, we still find the priests 
who were appointed to maintain their worship. And at the 
end of her career, when the nation had lost all that youthful 
elasticity and creative energy which so abounded in the Old 
Kingdom, the sole effort of her priests and wise men was 
to restore the unsullied religion, life and government which 
in their fond imagination had existed in the Old Kingdom, 
as they looked wistfully back upon it across the millennia. 
To us it has left the imposing line of temples, tombs and 
pyramids, stretching for many miles along the margin of the 
western desert, the most eloquent witnesses to the fine intel- 
ligence and titanic energies of the men who made the Old 

I Kingdom what it was; not alone achieving these wonders 
of mechanics and internal organization, but building the 
earliest known sea-going ships and exploring unknown 
waters, or pushing their commercial enterprises far up the 
Nile into inner Africa. In plastic art they had reached the 
highest achievement; in architecture their tireless genius 
had created the column and originated the colonnade; in 

^ government they had elaborated an enlightened and highly 
developed state, with a large body of law; in religion they 
were already dimly conscious of a judgment in the hereafter, 

^ and they were thus the first men whose ethical intuitions 
made happiness in the future life dependent upon character. 
Everywhere their unspent energies unfolded in a rich and 

^ manifold culture which left the world such a priceless heri- 
tage as no nation had yet bequeathed it. It now remains to 

\ be seen, as we stand at the close of this remarkable age, 
whether the conflict of local with centralized authority shall 
exhaust the elemental strength of this ancient people; or 
whether such a reconciliation can be effected as will again 
produce harmony and union, permitting the continuance of 
the marvellous development of which we have witnessed the 
first fruits. 







The internal struggle which caused the fall of the Old 
Kingdom developed at last into a convulsion, in which the 
destructive forces were for a time completely triumphant. 
Exactly when and by whom the ruin was wrought is not now 
determinable, but the magnificent mortuary works of the 
greatest of the Old Kingdom monarchs fell victims to a car- 
nival of destruction in which many of them were annihilated. 
The temples were not merely pillaged and violated, but their 
finest works of art were subjected to systematic and deter- 
mined vandalism, which shattered the splendid granite and 
diorite statues of the kings into bits, or hurled them into the 
well in the monumental gate of the pyramid-causeway. 
Thus the foes of the old regime wreaked vengeance upon 
those who had represented and upheld it. The nation was 
totally disorganized. Prcm the scanty notes of Manetho it 
would appear that an oligarchy, possibly representing an 
attempt of the nobles to set up their joint rule, assumed 
control for a brief time at Memphis. Manetho calls them 
the Seventh Dynasty. He follows them with an Eighth 
Dynasty of Memphite kings, who are but the lingering 
shadow of ancient Memphite power. Their names as pre- 
served in the Abydos list show that they regarded the Sixth 
Dynasty as their ancestors ; but none of their pyramids has 
ever been found, nor have we been able to date any tombs 
of the local nobility in this dark age. In the mines and 
quarries of Sinai and Hammamat, where records of every 
prosperous line of kings proclaim their power, not a trace 
of these ephemeral Pharaohs can be found. It was a period 


of such weakness and disorganization that neither king nor 
noble was able to erect monumental works which might have 
survived to tell us something of the time. How long this 
unhappy condition may have continued it is now quite impos- 
sible to determine. In the alabaster quarries at Hatnub 
quantities of inscriptions nevertheless record work there by 
the lords of the Hare-nome, thus indicating the gathering 
power of the noble houses who disregard the king and date 
events in years of their own rule. One of these dynasts even 
records with pride his repulse of the king's power, saying: 
"I rescued my city in the day of violence from the terrors 
of the royal house.'" A generation after the fall of the 
Sixth DjTiasty a family of Heracleopolitan nomarchs wrested 
the crown from the weak Memphites of the Eighth Dynasty, 
who may have lingered on, claiming royal honours for nearly 
another century. 

Some degree of order was finally restored by the triumph 
of the nomarchs of Heracleopolis. This city, just south of 
the Fayum, had been the seat of a temple and cult of Horus 
from the earliest dynastic times, and the princes of the town 
now succeeded in placing one of their number on the throne. 
Akhthoes, who, according to Manetho, was the founder of 
the new dynasty, must have taken grim vengeance on his 
enemies, for all that Manetho knows of him is that he was 
the most violent of all the kings of the time, and that, having 
been seized with madness, he was slain by a crocodile. The 
new house is known to Manetho as the Ninth and Tenth 
Dynasties, but its kings were still too feeble to leave any 
enduring monuments; neither have any records contem- 
porary with the family survived except during the last three 
generations when the powerful nomarchs of Siut were able to 
excavate cliff-tombs (Fig. 78) in which they fortunately left 
records^ of the active and successful career of their family. 
They offer us a hint of what the state of the country had 
been when the Heracleopolitan princes restored order, for 
the nobles of Siut say of their own domains: "Every official 

•I, 690. 'I, 391-414. 


was at his post, there was no one fighting, nor any shooting 
an arrow. The child was not smitten beside his mother, nor 
the citizen beside his wife. There was no evil-doer . . . 
nor any one doing violence against his house.'" "When 
night came, he who slept on the road gave me praise, for he 
was like a man in his house ; the fear of my soldier was his 
protection. ' " 

These Siut nomarchs enjoyed the most intimate relations 
with the royal house at Heracleopolis ; we first find the king 
attending the burial of the head of their noble house; and 
while the daughter of the deceased prince ruled in Siut, her 
son, Kheti, then a lad, was placed with the children of the 
royal household to be educated.^ When old enough, he 
relieved his mother of the regency, and if we may judge of 
the entire country from the administration of this Siut noble, 
the land must have enjoyed prospei'ity and plenty. He dug 
canals, reduced taxation, reaped rich harvests, and main- 
tained large herds ; while he had always in readiness a body 
of troops and a fleet. Such was the wealth and power of 
these Siut nobles that they soon became a buffer state on 
the south of inestimable value to the house of Heracleopolis, 
and Kheti was made military "commander of Middle 
Egypt. "^ 

Meantime among the nobles of the South a similar pow- 
erful family of nomarchs was slowly rising into notice. 
Some four hundred and forty miles above Memphis, and 
less than one hundred and forty miles below the first cat- 
aract, along the stretch of Nile about forty miles above the 
great bend, where the river approaches most closely to the 
Red Sea before turning abruptly away from it, the scanty 
margin between river and cliffs expands into a broad and 
fruitful plain in the midst of which now lie the mightiest 
ruins of ancient civilization to be found anywhere in the 
world. They are the wreck of Thebes, the world 's first great 
monumental city. At this time it was an obscure provincial 
town and the neighbouring Hermonthis was the seat of a 

II, 404. 'I, 395, 1. 10. »I, 413. * I, 410. 


family of nomarchs, the Intefs and Mentuhoteps. Toward 
I the close of the Heracleopolitan supremacy, Thebes had 
5 — gained the leading place in the South, and its nomarch, Intef, 
y was "keeper of the Door of the South.'" The South stood 

>^' together and in time of scarcity we see the nomes aiding each 

other with grain and provisions.- Intef was soon able to 
^ organize the whole South in rebellion, mustering his forces 

from the cataract northward at least as far as Thebes. He 
and his successors finally wrenched the southern confedera- 
tion from the control of Heracleopolis, and organized an 
independent kingdom, with Thebes at its head. This Intef 
was ever after recognized as the ancestor of the Theban line, 
and the monarchs of the Middle Kingdom set up his statue 
in the temple at Thebes among those of their royal prede- 
cessors who were worshipped there.^ 

At this juncture, the unshaken fidelity of the Siut princes 
was the salvation of the house of Heracleopolis ; for Tefibi 
of Siut, perhaps a son of the nomarch Kheti, whom we first 
found there, now placed his array in the field against the 
aggression of Thebes. He marched southward to stem an 
invasion of the southerners, and meeting them on the west 
shore of the river, drove them back, recovering lost territory 
as far south as "the fortress of the Port of the South," prob- 
ably Abydos.* A second army which was advancing to meet 
him on the east shore was likewise defeated ; the ships of a 
southern fleet were forced ashore, their commander driven 
into the river and the ships apparently captured by Tefibi."^ 
His son Kheti was now appointed as "military commander 
of the whole land, ' ' and ' ' great lord of Middle Egypt. ' '« He 
continued loyal support of his sovereign, Merikere of Hera- 
cleopolis, and was the veritable ""king-maker" of that now 
tottering house. He suppressed an insurrection on the 
southern frontier, and brought the king southward, appar- 
ently to witness the submission of the rebellious districts. 
Returning northward with the king, Kheti narrates with 

»I, 420. 'I, 457-9. 'I, 419. 

• I, 396. ' Ibid. • I, 398, 403, 1, 23. 


pride how his (Kheti's) enormous fleet stretched for miles 
up the river as he passed his home. At Heracleopolis, where 
they landed in triumph, Kheti says/ "the city came, rejoic- 
ing over her lord . . . women mingled with men, old men 
and children." Thus in the tomb inscriptions (Fig. 78) of 
these Siut lords we gain a fleeting glimpse of the Heracle- 
opolitan kings, just as they are about to disappear finally 
from the scene. 

Meanwhile the fortunes of Thebes have been constantly 
rising. Intef, the nomarch, had been succeeded (whether 
immediately or not is uncertain) by another Intef, who was 
the first of the Thebans to assume royal honours and titles, 
, V thus becoming Intef I, the fi rst ki ng of the dynasty. He 
.. " pressed the Heracleopolitans vigourously, pushed his frontier 
.<^- northward, and captured Abydos and the entire Thinite 
jT nome. He made its northern boundary the "Door of the 
>^ North,"- that is, the northern frontier of his kingdom, as 
y' Elephantine at the first cataract was the ' ' Door of the South. ' ' 
His "Door of the North" was in all probability Tefibi of 
Siut's "fortress of the Port of the South. "^ His long reign 
of over fifty years ended, he was followed by his son, Intef 
II, of whom we know little beyond the fact of his succes- 
sion.^ It was now that the accession of a line of Mentuho- 
teps, probably a collateral branch of the Theban family, 
established the universal supremacy of Thebes. Mentuho- 
tep II evidently brought the war with the North to a trium- 
phant close. He boasted with impunity of his victories over 
his countrymen and on the walls of his temple at Gebelen 
he depicted himself striking down Egyptian and foreigner 
together, while the accompanying inscription designates the 
scene as the "binding of the chiefs of the Two Lands, cap- 
turing the South and Northland, the foreign countries and 
the two regions [Egypt], the Nine Bows [foreigners], and 
the Two Lands" [Egypt]. ° About the middle of the twenty 
second century B. C, therefore, the Heracleopolitan power, 

'I, 401. =1, 422, 423 D, 1. 4. 

' See above, p. 150. ♦ I, 42.3 G. » I, 423 H. 


never very vigourous, completely collapsed, the supremacy 
passed from the Xorth to the South, and thus, jjerhaps nearly 
three centuries after the fall of the Sixth Dynasty and the 
close of the Old Kingdom, Egypt was reunited under a 
strong and vigourous line of princes, capable of curbing in 
a measure the powerful and refractory lords, who are now 
firmly entrenched in the nomes all over the land. Nothing 
is certainly known of the family relations of this new Theban 
house. The kingship presumably passed from father to son, 
but there are clear evidences of rival claims to the sceptre, 
nor is the order of the kings entirely certain. 

Royal expeditions abroad, long interrupted, were now 
resumed. Nibtowere-Mentuhotep Ill's vizier, Amenemhet 
left a series of very interesting inscriptions in the Hamma- 
mat quarries, telling of his twenty five days' sojourn there 
for the purpose of procuring the blocks for the king's 
sarcophagus and lid, with an expedition of ten thousand 
men, the largest thus far known in the history of Egypt. 
Min, the god of the region, granted them the greatest mar- 
vels in furthering their work ; a gazelle ran before the work- 
men and dropped her young upon the very block which 
they were able to use for the sarcophagus-lid; and later a 
rain-storm filled the neighbouring well to the brim. The 
work was thus speedily comjiletcd, and Amenemhet boas*b 
"My soldiers returned without loss; not a man perished, 
not a troop was missing, not an ass died, not a workman 
was enfeebled.'" The men for these expeditions were 
drawn from all parts of the kingdom ; it is thus evident 
that the last three Mentuhoteps controlled the whole coun- 
try, and that they had restored the power and prestige 
of the Pharaoh's office. Its relation to the local lords and 
nomarchs we shall soon be able to discern more clearly, as 
the Theban family known as the Twelfth Dynasty presently 
emerges into view. 

The forces of expansion, latent for several centuries, now 
found opportunity in Nubia again, as in the Sixth I)v- 

' 1, 434-45.3. 


nasty, before the fall of the Old Kingdom. Nibhepetre- 
Mentuhotep IV was so fully in control of the country 
that he could resume the designs of the Sixth Dynasty 
for the conquest of Nubia, and dispatched his treasurer 
Kheti with a fleet into Wawat^ in his forty-first year. 
Building enterprises, so long interrupted, were again under- 
taken, and on the western plain of Thebes Mentuhotep IV 
erected a small terraced temple under the cliffs, which after- 
ward served as the model for queen Hatshepsut's beautiful 
sanctuary beside it at Der el-Bahri. Its ruins, recently dis- 
covered, constitute the oldest building at Thebes. It was 
evidently of mortuary character, and the reliefs on the walls 
depicted foreign peoples bringing tribute to the Pharaoh. 
Mentuhotep IV 's long reign of at least forty six years gave 
him ample opportunity to solidify and organize his power, 
and he was regarded in after centuries as the great founder 
and establisher of Theban supremacy. His successor, Men- 
tuhotep V, was also able to continue the long interrupted 
foreign enterprises of the Old Kingdom Pharaohs. He 
united the responsibility for all commerce with the southern 
countries in the hands of a powerful official, already exist- 
ent in the Sixth Dynasty, under the old title "keeper of the 
Door of the South." Mentuhotep V's chief treasurer, 
Henu, who bore this important office, was dispatched to the 
Red Sea by the Hammamat road with a following of three 
thousand men. Such was the efficiency of his organization 
that each man received two jars of water and twenty small 
biscuit-like loaves daily, involving the issuance of six thou- 
sand jars of water and sixty thousand such loaves by the 
commissary every day* during the desert march and the stay 
in the quarries of Hammamat. Everything possible was 
done to make the desert route thither safe and passable. 
Henu dug fifteen wells and cisterns,' and settlements of colo- 
nists were afterward established at the watering stations.* 
Arriving at the Red Sea end of the route, Henu built a ship 
which he dispatched to Punt, while he himself returned by 

1, 420. M, 430. 'I, 431. • I, 456. 



way of Ilamniauiat, where Le .secured and l)rouglit back with 
him fine blocks for the statues in the royal temples.' Meu- 
tuhotep V ruled at least eight years.^ 

After this succession of five Mentuhoteps, we find that 
the Eleventh Dynasty was then displaced by a new and 
vigourous Theban family with an Amenemhet at its head. 
We have already seen one powerful Amenemhet at Thebes 
as the vizier of Mentuhotep III. This new Amenemhet was 
able to supplant the last son of the Eleventh Dj'nasty, and 
; assume the throne as first king of the Twelfth Dynasty. 
i It is very probable also that the new king had royal blood 
- in his veins; in any case his family always regarded the 
-: nomarch Intef as their ancestor ; they paid him honour and 
^ placed his statue in the Karnak temple of Thebes.^ After 
a rule of a little over one hundred and sixty years^ the 
Eleventh Dynasty was thus brought to a close about 2000 
B. C. They left few monuments ; their modest pyramids of 
sun-dried brick on the western plain of Thebes were in a 
perfect state of preservation a thousand j^ears later,'^ but 
they barely survived into modern times and their vanish- 
ing remains were excavated by Mariette. Nevertheless they 
laid the foundations of Theban power and prepared the 
way for the vigourous development which now followed 
under their successors. 

It was not without hostilities that Amenemhet gained his ex- 
alted station. We hear of a campaign on the Nile with a fleet 
of twenty ships of cedar,' followed by the expulsion of some 
unknown enemy from Egyjit. Victorious in these conflicts, 
Amenemhet was confronted by a situation of the greatest 
difficulty. Everywhere the local nobles, the nomarchs whose 
gradual rise we witnessed in the Old Kingdom, were now 
ruling their great domains like indejiendent sovereigns. 
They looked back ujion a long line of ancestry reaching 
into the generations of their fathers, whose power had caused 
the fall of the Old Kingdom; and we find them repairing 

■I, 432-433. =1. 418. 'I, 419. 

• I, 418. "IV, r,U. •!, 40.5. 


the fallen tombs of these founders of their houses.' While 
the Eleventh Dynasty kings had evidently curbed these am- 
bitious lords to some extent, Amenemhet was obliged to go 
about the country and lay a strong hand upon them one 
after another. Here and there some aggressive nomarch 
had seized the territory and towns of a neighbour, thus gain- 
ing dangerous power and wealth. It was necessary for the 
safety of the crown in such cases to restore the balance of 
power. "He established the southern landmark, perpet- 
uating the northern like the heavens; he divided the great 
river along its middle; its eastern side of the 'Horizon of 
Horus' was as far as the eastern highland; at the coming 
of his majesty to cast out evil shining like Atum himself; 
when he restored that which he found ruined ; that which a 
city had taken from its neighbour; while he caused city to 
know its boundary with city, establishing their landmarks 
like the heavens, distinguishing their waters according to 
that which was in the writings, investigating according to 
that which was of old, because he so greatly loved justice."" 
Thus the nomarch of the Oryx-nome relates how Amenemhet 
proceeded at the installation of his grandfather as nomarch 

To suppress the landed nobles entirely and to reestablish 
the bureaucratic state of the Old Kingdom, with its local gov- 
ernors, was however quite impossible. The development 
which had become so evident in the Fifth Dynasty had now 
reached its logical issue; Amenemhet could only accept the 
situation and deal with it as best he might. He had achieved 
the conquest of the country and its reorganization only by 
skilfully employing in his cause those noble families whom 
he could win by favour and fair promises. With these he must 
now reckon, and we see him rewarding Khnumhotep, one 
of his partisans, with the gift of the Oryx-nome, the boun- 
daries of a part of which he established as we have already 
learned from the above record in a famous tomb^ of the 
family at Benihasan. The utmost that Amenemhet could 

•I, 688-9. 'I, 623. 'I, 619-639. 


accomplish, therefore, was the appointment in the nomes of 
nobles favourably inclined toward his house. The state 
which the unprecedented vigour and skill of this great states- 
man finally succeeded in thus erecting, again furnished 
Egypt with the stable organization, which enabled her about 
2000 B. C. to enter upon her second great period of produc- 
tive development, the Middle Kingdom. 



It had been but natural that the kings of the Eleventh 
Dynasty should reside at Thebes, where the founders of the 
family had lived during the long war for the conquest of 
the North. But Amenemhet was evidently unable to con- 
tinue this tradition. It is easy to imagine reasons why he 
concluded that his presence was necessary to maintain his 
position among the Northern nomarchs, who may still have 
felt leanings toward the fallen house of Heracleopolis. 
Moreover all the kings of Egypt since the passing of the 
Thinites a thousand years before had lived there, except the 
Eleventh Dynasty which he had supplanted. The location 
which he selected was on the west side of the river some 
miles south of Memphis. The exact spot cannot now be iden- 
tified, but it was probably near the place now called Lisht, 
where the ruined pyramid of Amenemhet has been discov- 
ered. The name given to the residence city was signifi- 
cant of its purpose; Amenemhet named it Ithtowe, which 
means "Captor of the Two Lands." In hieroglyphic the 
name is always written enclosed within a square fortress 
with battlemented walls; from this stronghold Amenemhet 
swayed the destinies of a state which required all the skill 
and political sagacity of a line of unusually strong rulers 
in order to maintain the prestige of the royal house. 

The nation was made up of an aggregation of small states 
or petty princedoms, the heads of which owed the Pharaoh 
their loyalty, but they were not his officials or his servants. 
Some of these local nobles were "great lords" or nomarchs, 
ruling a whole nome ; others were only "counts" of a smaller 



domain with its fortified town. It was thus a feudal state 
not essentially different from that of later Europe which 
Amenemhet had organized. It was a state which could exist 
only as long as there was a strong man like himself in the 
palace at Ithtowe; and the slightest evidence of weakness 
meant its rapid dissolution. We are dependent for our 
knowledge of these barons upon their surviving tombs and 
mortuary monuments. All such remains in the Delta have 
perished, so that we can speak with certainty only of the 
conditions in the South, and even here it is only in Middle 
Egypt that we are adequately informed. 

The noble families of the provincial aristocracy, as we 
have seen, could in some cases look back upon a line of an- 
cestry reaching into the Old Kingdom, four or five centuries 
earlier;* they had thus gained a sti'ong foothold in their bar- 

rio. 79. Offices of the Nomarch Kiinumhotep at Beniiiasan. 
On the left is the chief treasurer before whom gold and silver are being 
weighed; in the middle is the steward of the estate, who records the amount 
of grain brought in and deposited in the granary on the right. 

onies and domains. We recall also that under the weak 
Pharaohs of the decadence following the Old Kingdom they 
had ruled as almost independent dynasts, dating events in 
years of their own rule and no longer in those of the reign 
of the Pharaoh, whom in some cases they had defied and 
even successfully resisted.- The nomarch had indeed be- 
come a miniature Pharaoh in his little realm, and such he 
continued to be under the Twelfth Dynasty. On a less 
sumptuous scale his residence was surrounded by a personnel 
not unlike that of the Pharaonic court and harem ; while his 
government demanded a chief treasurer, a court of justice, 

» I, 688-9. ' I, 090. 


with offices (Fig. 79), scribes and functionaries, and all the 
essential machinery of government which we find at the 
royal residence. The nomarch by means of this organiza- 
tion himself collected the revenues of his domain, was high 
priest or head of the sacerdotal organization, and com- 
manded the militia of his realm which was permanently 
organized. His power was considerable ; the nomarch of the 
Oryx-nome led four hundred of his own troops into Nubia 
and six hundred through the desert to the gold mines on the 
Coptos road.* The nomarch at Coptos was able to send an 

Fig. 80. A Colossus of Alabaster about Twenty-two Feet High Teans- 

PORTEU ON A Sledge by 172 Men in Four Double Lines at the 

Ropes. (I'rom a Middle Kingdom Tomb at El Bersheh.) 

expedition of his own to the Hammamat quarries which 
brought back two blocks seventeen feet long, and a second 
expedition which returned with a block twenty feet six inches 
long drawn by nearly two hundred men along the desert road 
over fifty miles to the Nile.^ The people of the nomarch of the 
Hare-nome dragged from the quarrj' of Hatnub ten miles to 
the river a huge block of alabaster weighing over sixty tons 
and large enough for a statue of the nomarch some twenty 
two feet high. Such lords were able to build temples * and 

'I, 520-521. 
3 1, 694-706. 

2 1, p. 225, note c. 

* I, 40.3 ; 637, and note a. 


erect public buildings iu their principal towns.' They taught 
the crafts and encouraged industries and their innnediate 
interest and direct personal oversight resulted in a period of 
unprecedented economic development.- One of the Siut 
nomarchs of the Heracleopolitan domination furnishes a hint 
of what was to follow, saying : " I was rich in grain. "When 
the land was in need I maintained the city with kha and 
heket [grain-measures], 1 allowed the citizen to fetch for 
himself grain ; and his wife, the widow and her son. I 
remitted all imposts [unpaid arrears] which I found counted 
by my fathers. 1 filled the pastures with cattle, every man 
had many breeds, the cows brought forth twofold, the folds 
were full of calves. ' '^ A new irrigation canal which he made 
doubtless contributed much to the productivity of his do- 
mains.* Faithful officials of the nomarch show the same 
solicitude for the welfare of the community over which they 
were placed ; thus an assistant treasurer in the Theban nome 
residing at Gebelen in the Eleventh Dynasty tells us: "I 
sustained Gebelen during unfruitful years, there being four 
hundred men in distress. But I took not the daughter of 
a man, I took not his field. I made ten herds of goats, with 
people in charge of each herd; I made two herds of cattle 
and a herd of asses. I raised all kinds of small cattle. I 
made thirty ships, then thirty more ships, and I brought 
grain for Esneh and Tuphium, after Gebelen was sustained. 
The nome of Thebes went up stream [to Gebelen for sup- 
plies]. Never did Gebelen send ui)-stream or down-stream 
to another district [for supplies].'"^ The nomarch thus 
devoted himself to the interests of his people, and was con- 
cerned to leave to jwsterity a reputation as a merciful and 
beneficent ruler. All the above records are taken from tomb- 
inscriptions, records designed to perpetuate such a memory 
among the people. Still more positive in the same direc- 
tion is a passage in the biography of Ameni, nomarch of the 
Oryx-nome, as inscribed in his tomb at Benihasan: "There 

'I, 637. «I, 638. 3l, 408. •!, 407. ^J, 459. 


was no citizen's daughter whom I misused, there was no 
widow whom I oppressed, there was no peasant whom I re- 
pulsed, there was no herdsman whom I repelled, there was no 
overseer of serf-labourers, whose people I took for [unpaid] 
imposts, there was none wretched in my community, there 
was none hungry in my time. When years of famine came 
I ploughed all the fields of the Oryx-nome, as far as its 
southern and northern boundary, preserving its people alive, 
and furnishing its food, so that there was none hungry 
therein. I gave to the widow as to her who had a husband ; 
I did not exalt the great above the small in all I gave. 
Then came great Niles, rich in grain and all things, but I did 
not collect the arrears of the field.'" After making all due 
allowance for the natural desire of the nomarch to record 
the most favourable aspects of his government, it is evident 
that the paternal character of his local and personal rule, in 
a community of limited numbers, with which he was ac- 
quainted by almost daily contact, had proved an untold bless- 
ing to the country and population at large. 

The domains over which the nomarch thus ruled were not 
all his unqualified possessions. His wealth consisted of 
lands and revenues of two classes: the "paternal estate," 
received from his ancestors and entailed in his line ; and the 
"count's estate,"^ over which the dead hand had no control; 
it was conveyed as a fief by the Pharaoh anew at the 
nomarch 's death. It was this fact which to some extent 
enabled the Pharaoh to control the feudatories and to secure 
the appointment of partisans of his house throughout the 
country. Nevertheless he could not ignore the natural line of 
succession, which was through the eldest daughter; and as 
we have observed at Siut, she might even rule the domain 
after the death of her father until her son was old enough 
to assume its government.^ The magnificent tombs of the 
lords of the Oryx-nome at Benihasan reveal very clearly the 
influence of these customs in the fortunes of this family. At 
the triumph of Amenemhet I, as we have seen, he appointed 

•I, 523. 2 1, 536. »I, 414. 




one of his partisans, a certain Khnumhotep, as count of 
Menet-Khufu, chief city of the "Horizon of Horus," an 
appanage of the Oryx-nome, to which Khnunihote)) also soon 
" ^ succeeded as nomarch. As a special favour of Sesostris I, 
^ after Amenemhet I's death, Khnumhotep 's two sons Inher- 

ited their father's tiefs, Nakht being appointed count of 
7 Menet-Khufu, and Ameni, of whose beneficent rule we have 
(^, just read, receiving the Oryx-nome. Their sister Beket 
married a powerful official at the court, the vizier and gov- 
ernor of the residence-city, Xehri, who was nomarch of the 
neighbouring Hare-nome; and the son of this union, a second 
Khnumhotep, thereupon by succession through his mother, 
was appointed to succeed his uncle Nakht as count of Menet- 
Khufu. Observing the value in the Pharaoh's eyes of being 
the son of a nomarch 's daughter, this second Khimmhotep 
himself married Kheti, the eldest daughter of his neighbour 
on the north, the nomarch of the Jackal-nome. Thus the 
eldest son of Khnumhotep the second had a claim through 
his mother upon the Jackal-nome, to which in due course 
the Pharaoh api)ointed him ; while the second son of tlie mar- 
riage, after honours at court, received his father's fief of 
Menet-Khufu.' The history of this line through four gen- 
erations thus shows that the Pharaoh could not overlook the 
claims of the heir of a powerful family, and the deference 
which he showed them evidently limited the control which 
he might exert over a less formidable dynasty of nobles. 

To what extent these lords felt the restraint of the royal 
hand in their government and administration it is not now 
possible to determine. A royal commissioner, whose duty 
it was to look to the intei'ests of the Pharaoh, seems to 
have resided in the nome, and there were "overseers of the 
crown-possessions" (probably under him) in charge of the 
royal herds in each nome;- but the nomarch himself was the 
medium through whom all revenues from the nome were con- 
veyed to the treasury. "All the imposts of the king's house 
passed through my hand," says Ameni of the Oryx-nome. 

'I. fil9 ff. 'I, 52-2. 


The treasury was the organ of the central government, which 
gave administrative cohesion to the otherwise loose aggre- 
gation of nomarchies. It had its income paying property 
in all the nomes. Some of this property, as we have ob- 
served, seems to have been administered by government 
overseers, while to a large extent it was entrusted to the 
noble, probably as part of the ' ' count 's estate. ' ' The ' ' gang- 
overseers of the crown possessions of the Oryx-nome" gave 
to Ameni three thousand bulls, of which he rendered an 
annual account to the Pharaoh, saying, "I was praised on 
account of it in the palace [of the Pharaoh]. I carried all 
their dues to the king's house; there were no arrears against 
me in any office of his.'" Thuthotep, the nomarch of the 
Hare-nome, depicted with great pride in his tomb at El 
Bersheh "great numbers of his cattle from the king and his 
cattle of the [paternal] estate in the districts of the Hare- 
nome. ' '- AVe have no means of even conjecturing the amount 
or proportion of property held by the crown in the nomes 
and "count's estates," but it is evident that the claims of 
these powerful feudatories must have seriously curtailed the 
traditional revenues of the Pharaoh. He no longer had the 
resources of the country at his unconditional disposal as in 
the Old Kingdom, even though it was officially only by the 
king's grace that his lords held their fiefs. Other resources 
of the treasury were, however, now available, and if not en- 
tirely new, were henceforth more energetically exploited. 
Besides his internal revenues, including the tribute of the 
nomes and the Residence, the Pharaoh received a regular 
income from the gold-mines of Nubia, and those on the 
Coptos road to the Red Sea. The traffic with Punt and the 
southern coasts of the Red Sea seems to have been the exclu- 
sive prerogative of the crown, and must have brought in a 
considerable return ; while the mines and quarries of Sinai, 
and perhaps also the quarries of Hammamat, had also been 
developed as a regular source of profit. The conquest of 
Nubia, and now and then a plundering expedition into Syria- 

'I. 522. 2 1, 522, note a. 


Palestine, also furuished not uuweleonie contributions to 
the treasury. 

The central office of the treasury was still the "White 
House," which through its sub-departments of the granary, 
the herds, the "double gold-house," the "double silver- 
house," and other jjroduee of the country, collected into 
the central magazines and stock-yards the annual revenues 
due the Pharaoh. Whole fleets of transi)oi-ts ' upon the river 
were necessary for the conveyance of the great fiuantities 
of commodities involved. The head of the "White House" 
was as before, the chief treasurer, with his assistant, the 
"treasurer of the God," and the vigourous administration 
of the time is evident in the frequent records of these active 
officials, showing that notwithstanding their rank, they often 
personally superintended the king's intei'ests in Sinai, Ham- 
mamat, or on the shores of the Red Sea at the terminus of 
the Coptos road. It is evident that the treasury had become 
a more highly developed organ since the Old Kingdom. The 
army of subordinates, stewards, overseers and scribes filling 
the offices under the heads of sub-dejjartments was obviously 
larger than before. They began to display an array of 
titles, of which many successive ranks, heretofore unknown, 
were being gradually differentiated. Among these appear 
more prominently than heretofore the engineers and skilled 
artisans who were exploiting the mines and cjuarries under 
the administrative officials. Such conditions made possible 
the rise of an official middle class. 

Justice, as in the Old Kingdom, was still dispensed by 
* the administrative officials ; thus a treasurer of the god boasts 
that he was one "knowing the law, discreet in exercising 
it."- The six "Great Houses" or courts of justice, with 
the vizier at their head, sat in Ithtowe.' There was besides 
a "House of Thirty," which evidently possessed judicial 
functions, and was also presided over by the vizier, but its 
relation to the six "Great Houses" is not clear. There was 

'Tombstone of a commander of one of tliese fleets, Cairo, No. 20,14.'}. 
M, 618, 'Sharpe, Eg, Inscr. 1, 100, 


now more than one ' ' Southern Ten, ' ' and ' ' Magnates of the 
Southern Tens" were frequently entrusted with various 
executive and administrative commissions by the king. As 
we shall see, they had the census and tax records in charge; 
but their connection with the judicial administration cannot 
be determined with clearness. Magistrates with the sole 
title of "judge," whose tomb-stones are occasionally found, 
may have been well-to-do middle class citizens who assumed 
judicial functions within a restricted local jurisdiction. The 
law which they administered, while it has not survived, had 
certainly attained a high develo^jment, and was capable of 
the finest distinctions. A nomarch at Siut makes a contract 
between himself as count, and himself as high priest in the 
temple of his city, showing the closest differentiation of the 
rights which he possessed in these two different capacities.' 

The scanty records of the time throw but little light upon 
the other organs of government, like the administration of 
lands, the system of irrigation and the like. P^or the pur- 
pose of carrying on public works, as well as for taxation and 
census records, the country was divided into two adminis- 
trative districts of the South and the North, and the ' ' Mag- 
nates of the Southern Tens" served in both districts, showing 
that they were not confined to the South alone. The office 
of the governor of the South had disappeared, and already 
before the close of the Old Kingdom the title had become 
merely an honourable predicate, if used at all. An elaborate 
system of registration was in force. Every head of a family 
was enrolled as soon as he had established an indepen- 
dent household, with all the members belonging to it, includ- 
ing serfs and slaves. His oath to the correctness of the 
registration-list was taken by a "Magnate of the Southern 
Tens" in the land-office, one of the bureaus of the vizier's 
department, where all this registration was tiled. These 
enrollments probably occurred at fixed intervals of some 
years and there are some indications that the period may 

'I, 568 ff. 


have been fifteen years.' The office of the vizier was thus 
the central archives of the goverumeut as before, and all 
records of the land-adrainistration with census and tax reg- 
istration were filed in his bureaus. Thus he calls himself 
one "confirming the boundary records, separating a land- 
owner from his neighbour. ' '^ As formerly, he was also head 
of the judicial administration, presiding over the six "Great 
Houses" and the "House of Thirty"; and when he also held 
the office of chief treasurer, as did the powerful vizier Men- 
tuhotej) under Sesostris I, the account which he could give of 
himself on his tomb-stone read like the declaration of a king's 
powers.^ That he might prove dangerous to the crown was 
evident in the history of Amenemhet I 's probable rise from 
the viziership. His high office brought with it the rank of 
prince and count and in some instances he ruled a nome. 

It was now more necessary than ever that the machinery 
of government should be in the hands of men of unques- 
tioned loyalty. Young men were brought up in the circle 
of the king's house that they might grow up in attachment 
to it. Thus Sesostris III wrote entrusting a commission to 
his chief treasurer, Ikhernofret: "My majesty sendeth thee, 
my heart being certain of thy doing everything according 
to the desire of my majesty; since thou hast been brought 
up in the teaching of my majesty; thou hast been in the 
training of my majesty and the sole teaching of my palace."* 
Even then the closest surveillance was constantly necessary 
to ensure the king's safety and prevent the ambitious noble 
in the Pharaoh's service from gaining dangerous power. 
We shall discover the officials of Amenemhet I abusing his 
confidence and attempting his life; in far off Xubia Men- 
tuhotep, Sesostris I's commander there, like Cornelius Gallus 
under Augustus, made himself so prominent upon the tri- 
umphal monuments of the king that his figure had to be 
erased, and in all likelihood the noble himself was dismissed 
in disgrace.'"' Discreet conduct toward the Pharaoh was the 

' Kalmn Papyri, pi. IX-X, pp. 19-20. 

•I, 631. 'I, 530-534. « I, 665. s I, 514. 


condition of a career, and the wise praise him wlio knows 
how to be silent in the king's service.' Sehetepibre, a mag- 
nate of Amenemhet Ill's court, left upon his tomb-stone an 
exhortation to his children that they serve the king with 
faithfulness, sajing among many other things: "Fight for 
his name, purify yourselves by his oath, and ye shall be free 
from trouble. The beloved of the king shall be blessed ; but 
there is no tomb for one hostile to his majesty ; and his body 
shall be thrown to the waters."^ 

Under such conditions the Pharaoh could not but surround 
himself with the necessary power to enforce his will when 
obliged to do so. A class of military "attendants" or liter- 
ally "followers of his majesty" therefore arose. They were 
professional soldiers, the first of whom we have any knowl- 
edge~ln~ahcient Egypt. In companies of a hundred men 
each they garrisoned the palace and the strongholds of the 
royal house from Nubia to the Asiatic frontier. How numer- 
ous they may have been, it is now impossible to determine. 
They formed at least the nucleus of a standing army, 
although it is evident that they were not as yet in sufficient 
numbers to be dignified by this term. Whence they were 
drawn is also uncertain, but their commanders at least were 
of higher birth than the middle class. We shall find them 
as the most prominent force in all the Pharaoh 's wars, espe- 
cially in Nubia, and also in charge of royal expeditions to 
the mines, quarries and Red Sea ports. Nevertheless the 
great mass of the army employed by the Pharaoh at this 
time was composed of the free born citizens of the middle 
class, foi-ming the militia or the permanent force of the 
nomarch, who at the king's summons placed himself at their 
head and led them in the wars of his liege-lord. The army 
in time of war was therefore made up of contingents fur- 
nished and commanded by the feudatories. In peace they 
were also frequently drawn upon to furnish the intelligent 
power applied to the transportation of great monuments or 
employed in the execution of public works. All free citizens, 

■I, 532. 2 1, 748. 


whether priests or not, were organized and enrolled in "gen- 
erations," a term designating the different classes of youth, 
which were to become successively liable to draught for mili- 
tary or public service. As in the Old Kingdom, war con- 
tinues to be little more than a series of loosely organized 
predatory expeditions, the records of which clearly display 
the still unwarlike character of the Egyptian. 

The detachment of the nobles from the court since the 
Sixth Dynasty had resulted in the rise of a provincial so- 
ciety, of which we gain glimpses especially at Elejjhantine, 
Bersheh, Beniliasan and Siut, where the tombs of the nom- 
archs are still preserved, and at Abydos, where all other 
classes now desired to be buried or to erect a memorial stone. 
The life of the nobles therefore no longer centred in the 
court, and the aristocracy of the time, being scattered 
throughout the country, took on local forms. The nomarch, 
with his large family circle, his social pleasures, his hunting 
and his sports, is an interesting and picturesque figure of 
the country nobleman, with whom we would gladly tarry if 
space permitted. Characteristic of this age is the promi- 
nence of the middle class. To some extent this prominence 
is due to the fact that a tomb, a tomb-stone and mortuary 
equipment have become a necessity also for a large propor- 
tion of this class, who felt no such necessity and left no such 
memorial of their existence in the Old Kingdom. In the 
cemetery at Abydos, among nearly eight hundred men of the 
time buried there, one in four bore no title either of office or 
of rank.^ They sometimes designate themselves as "citi- 
zens of the town,"- but ordinarily the name stands alone 
on the tomb-stone, with no hint of the owner's station. Some 
of these men were tradesmen, some land-owners, others arti- 
sans and artificers ; but among them were men of wealth and 
luxury. In the Art Institute at Chicago there is a fine coffin 
belonging to such an untitled citizen which he had made of 
costly cedar imported from Lebanon. To such we should 
undoubtedly add those who occasionally prefix to their names 

'Catalogue Cairo, Nos. 20.001-20,780. Mbid. passim. 


au iudieatiou of their calliug, like "master sandal-maker," 
"gold-smith" or "copper-smith," without other designa- 
tion of their station in life. Of the people bearing titles of 
office on these Middle Kingdom tomb-stones of Abydos, the 
vast majority were small office-holders, displaying no title 
of rank and undoubtedly belonging to this same middle class. 
The government service now offered a career to the youth 
of this station in life; the assistant treasurer, who, as the 
reader will recall, was so solicitous for the maintenance of 
the Theban nome in time of famine,' expressly refers to 
himself as a "citizen." The inheritance by the son of hia 
father's calling, already not unconnnon in the Old Kingdom, 
was now general. The tomb-stones of the time exhort the 
passers-by, as they would that their children should inherit 
their offices, to pray for the deceased. Such a custom must 
necessarily lead to the formation of an official middle class. 
Their ability to read and write also raised them above those 
of their own station who were illiterate. A father bringing 
his son to be educated as a scribe at the court-school exhorts 
him to industry, and taking up calling after calling, shows 
that every handicraft abounds in difficulties and hardships ; 
while that of the scribe alone brings honour, ease and wealth.^ 
Although the state of the arts shows clearly that the crafts- 
men of the time were often men of the finest ability, whose 
station in life could not have been undesirable, the scribal and 
official middle class thus looked down upon them, and exalted 
the calling of the scribe above all others. From this time on 
we shall tind the scribe constantly glorying in his knowl- 
edge and his station. While the monuments of the Old 
Kingdom revealed to us only the life of the titled nobility 
at the court and the serfs on their estates, in the Middle 
Kingdom we thus discern a prosperous and often well-to-do 
middle class in the provinces, sometimes owning their own 
slaves and lands and bringing their offerings of first fruits 
to the temple of the town as did the nomarch himself.^ The 
nomarch showed great concern for the welfare of this class 

'See above, p. 160. 2 Pap. Sallier II. 3 I, 536. 


and the reader will recall his gifts of grain to them in time 
of famine. One of them has left a short record of his pros- 
perity on his tomb-stone, saying: "I was one having goodly 
gardens and tall sycamores; I built a wide house in my city, 
and I excavated a tomb in my cemetery-cliff. I made a 
canal for my city and I ferried [people] over it in my boat. 
I was one ready [for service], leading my peasants until the 
coming of the day when it was well with me [day of death], 
when I gave it [his wealth] to my son by will.'" At the 
bottom of the social scale were the unnamed serfs, the ' ' peas- 
ants" of the inscription just read, the toiling millions who 
produced the agricultural wealth of the land,— the despised 
class whose labour nevertheless formed the basis of the eco- 
nomic life of the nation. In the nomes they were also taught 
handicrafts and we see them depicted in the tombs at Beni- 
hasan and elsewhere engaged in the production of all sorts 
of handiwork. Whether their output was solely for the use 
of the nomarch's estates or also on a large scale for traffic in 
the markets with the middle class throughout the country, 
is entirely uncertain. 

In no element of their life are there clearer evidences of 
change and development than in the religion of the Middle 
Kingdom Egyptians. Here again we are in a new age. 
The official supremacy of Re, so marked since the rise of the 
Fifth Dynasty, had continued through the internal conflicts 
which followed at the fall of the Old Kingdom and at the 
rise of the Twelfth Dynasty his triumph was complete. The 
other priesthoods, desirous of securing for their own, per- 
haps purely local deity, a share of the sun-god's glory, grad- 
ually discovered that their god was but a form and name of 
Re; and some of them went so far that their theologizing 
found practical expression in the god's name. Thus, for 
example, the priests of Sobk, a crocodile god, who had no 
connection with the sun-god in the beginning, now called 
him Sobk-Re. In like manner. Anion, hitherto an obscure 
local god of Thebes, who had attained some prominence by 

' Florence, Stela 1774, from my own photograph. 

Including boats, servants preparing fuud and beer, and a Innise (In the middle). Berlin Mnseun 

Fig. 82.— mortuary BOAT OF SESOSTRIS III. 

Frum his pyramid at Dashur. It is 30 feet long, 8 feet wide, 4 feet deep, of cedar of Lebanon. (Field Columbian 
Museum, Chicago.) 


the political rise of the city, was from now on a solar god, 
and was commonly called by his priests Amon-Re. There 
were in this movement the beginnings of a tendency toward 
a pantheistic solar monotheism, which we shall yet trace to 
its remarkable culmination. 

While the temples had probably somewhat increased in 
size, the official cult was not materially altered, and there 
was still no large class of priests. Sesostris II 's temple of 
Anubis at Kahun by the Fayum had over it only a noble 
with the office of "overseer of the temple," assisted by a 
"chief lector," with nine subordinates. Only the "overseer 
of the temple"' and the "lector" were constantly in service 
at the sanctuary, the nine subordinates being laymen, who 
served the temple only one month in the year, giving place 
each month to a new nine, to whom they turned over the 
temple property each time. Besides these, the menial duties 
of the sanctuary demanded six door-keepers and two ser- 

The triumph of Osiris was not less sweeping than that of 
Re, although for totalh' different reasons. The supremacy of 
Re was largely due to his political prominence, added to the 
prestige which the suu-god had always enjoyed in the Nile 
valley; while that of Osiris had no connection with the state, 
but was a purely popular victory. That his priests contrib- 
uted to his triumph by persistent propaganda is nevertheless 
probable, but their field of operations will have been among 
the people. At Abydos the Osiris-myth was wrought into 
a series of dramatical presentations in which the chief inci- 
dents of the god's life, death and final triumph were annually 
enacted before the people by the priests. Indeed in the pres- 
entation of some portions of it the people were permitted 
to participate ; and the whole was unquestionably as impres- 
sive in the eyes of the multitude as were the miracle and 
passion plays of the Christian age. We find upon their 
tomb-stones not uncommonly the prayer that in the future 

' Borchardt, Zeitschrift fiir Aegyptische Sprache, 1900, 94. 
« I, 662, 669. 


they may be able to come forth from the tomb and view these 
festal presentations. Among the incidents enacted was the 
procession bearing the god's body to his tomb for burial. It 
was but natural that this custom should finally result in iden- 
tifying as the original tomb of Osiris the place on the desert 
behind Abydos, which in this scene served as the tomb. 
Thus the tomb of king Zer of the First Dynasty, who had 
ruled over a thousand years before, was in the Middle King- 
dom alreadv regarded as that of Osiris.' As veneration for 
the si)ot increased, it became a veritable holy sepulchre, and 
Abydos gained a sanctity possessed by no other j)lace in 
Egypt. All this wrought powerfully upon the people; they 
came in pilgrimage to the ]ilace and the ancient tomb of Zer 
was buried deep beneath a mountain of jars containing the 
votive offerings which they brought. If possible the Egyp- 
tian was now buried at Abydos within the wall which 
enclosed the god's temple until the tombs began to encroach 
upon the temple area, and the i)riests found it necessary to 
erect a wall around them, cutting them off from further 
absorption of the sacred enclosure. From the vizier himself 
down to the humblest cobbler, we find them crowding this 
most sacred cemetery of Egypt. AVhere burial at Abydos 
was impossible, however, as in the case of the nomarch, the 
dead of the noble class were at least carried thither after 
embalmment to associate with the great god and participate 
for a time in his ceremonies; after which they were then 
carried back to be interred at home. But the masses to 
whom even this was impossible erected memorial tablets 
there for themselves and their relatives, calling upon the 
god in prayer and praise to remember them in the here- 
after. Roj-al officials and emissaries of the government, 
whose business brought them to the city, failed not to im- 
prove the opportunity to erect such a tablet, and the date 
and character of their commissions which they sometimes 
add, furnish us with invaluable historical facts, of which we 
should otherwise never have gained any knowledge." 

> Ibid. 2E. g. I. 671-2. 


As the destiny of the dead became more and more closely 
identified with that of Osiris, the judgment which he had 
been obliged to undergo was si;pposed to await also all who 
departed to his realms. Strangely enough it is Osiris him- 
self who presides over the ordeal to which every arrival in 
the nether world was now supposed to be subjected. He 
had already been known as a judge in the Old Kingdom, but 
it was not until the Middle Kingdom that this idea was 
clearly developed and took firm hold upon the mortuary 
beliefs of the time. Before Osiris, enthroned with forty 
two assistant judges, hideous demons, each representing one 
of the nomes into which Egypt was divided, the deceased 
was led into the judgment-hall. Here he addressed his 
judges, and to each one of the forty two assistants he pleaded 
not guilty to a certain sin, while his heart was weighed in 
the balances over against a feather, the symbol of truth, 
in order to test the truth of his plea. The forty two sins, 
of which he says he was not guilty, are those which are con- 
demned as well by the modern conscience of the world. 
They may be summed up as murder, stealing, especially 
robbing minors, lying, deceit, false witness and slander, revil- 
ing, eaves-dropping, sexual impurity, adultery, and trespass 
against the gods or the dead as in blasphemy or stealing of 
mortuary offerings. It will be seen that the ethical standard 
was high; moreover in this judgment the Egyptian intro- 
duced for the first time in the history of man the fully 
developed idea that the future destiny of the dead must 
be dependent entirely upon the ethical quality of the earthly 
life, the idea of future accountability,— of which we found 
the first traces in the Old Kingdom. The whole concep- 
tion is notable; for a thousand years or more after this no 
such idea was known among other peoples, and in Babylonia 
and Israel good and bad alike descended together at death 
into gloomy Sheol, where no distinction was made between 
them. Those who failed to sustain the ordeal before Osiris 
successfully were condemned to hunger and thirst, lying in 
the darkness of the tomb, from which they might not come 


forth to view the sun. There were also frightful execu- 
tioners, one of which, a hideous combination of crocodile, 
lion and hippopotamus, was present at the judgment, and 
to her the guilty were delivered to be torn in pieces. In 
harmony with the triumjjh of the notion of judgment, it is 
noticeable in the Middle Kingdom that the desire to enjoy 
at least the reputation of a benevolent and blameless life 
was more general than before. "We now more often read 
upon the tomb-stones such words as we noticed in the Old 
Kingdom, "I gave bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, 
clothing to the naked and a ferry-boat to the boatless"; or 
"I was father to the orphan, husband to the widow, and a 
shelter to the shelterless." We have already referred to 
the benevolence of the feudal lords of the time. 

The blessed dead, who successfully sustained the judgment 
each received the predicate "true of speech," a term which 
was interpreted as meaning "triumphant," and from now 
on so employed. Everj* deceased person, when spoken of 
by the living, received this predicate ; it was always written 
after the names of the dead, and finally also after those of 
the living in anticipation of their happy destiny. The pre- 
vailing notions regarding the future life had not been clari- 
fied by the universal sway of Osiris. On the contrary, all 
the old beliefs were now intermingled in inextricable con- 
fusion, only worse confounded by the efifort to accommodate 
them to the Osiris faith, with which in the beginning they 
had had nothing to do. The favourite idea is still that the 
departed sojourn in the field of Yarn, enjoying peace and 
plenty, to which they contribute by cultivating the fruitful 
plains of the isle, which bring forth grain twelve feet high. 
At the same time they may dwell in the tomb or tarrj' in its 
vicinity ; they may mount the heavens to be the comrades 
of Re ; they may descend to the realm of Osiris in the nether 
world; or they may consort with the noble dead who once 
ruled Egypt at Abydos. 

In one important respect the beliefs of the Egyptian 
re^rdmg his future state have suffered a striking change. 


He is now beset with innumerable dangers in the next world, 
against which he must be forewarned and forearmed. Be- 
sides the serpents common in the Pyramid Texts, the most 
uncanny foes await him. There is the crocodile, who may 
rob the deceased of all his potent charms, the foes of the air, 
who may withdraw breath from his nostrils; water may 
burst into flame as he would drink; he may be deprived of 
his mortuary food and drink, and be forced to devour the 
refuse of his own body ; he may be robbed of his throne and 
place; his body may fall into decay; his foes may rob him 
of his mouth, his heart, or even of his head ; and should they 
take his name away, his whole identity would be lost or 
annihilated. None of these apprehensions existed in the 
Pyramid Texts, which have since fallen into disuse ; but, we 
repeat, the deceased must now be forewarned and forearmed 
against all these dangers, and hence a mass of magical formu- 
laries has arisen since the Old Kingdom by the proper utter- 
ance of which the dead may overcome all these foes and 
live in triumph and security. These charms are accom- 
panied by others enabling the dead to assume any form that 
he wishes, to go forth from the tomb at will, or to return and 
rejoin the body. The judgment also is depicted in detail 
with all that the deceased must be prepared to say on that 
occasion. All this was written for the use of the deceased 
on the inside of his coffin, and although no canonical selec- 
tion of these texts yet existed, they formed the nucleus of 
what afterward became the Book of the Dead, or, as the 
Egyptian later called it, "The Chapters of Going Forth by 
Day," in reference to their great function of enabling the 
dead to leave the tomb. It will be seen that in this class 
of literature there was offered to an unscrupulous priest- 
hood an opportunity for gain, of which in later centuries 
they did not fail to take advantage. Already they attempted 
what might not inappropriately be termed a "guide-book" 
of the hereafter, a geography of the other world, with a 
map of the two ways along which the dead might journey. 
This ' ' Book of the Two Ways ' ' was Drobably composed for 


no other purpose than for gain ; and the tendency of which 
it is an evidence will meet us in future centuries as the most 
baleful influence of Egyptian life and religion. 

In the material equipment of the dead, the mastaba, while 
it has not entirely disappeared, has largely been displaced 
by the excavated clitif-tomb, already found so practical and 
convenient by the nobles of Upper Egypt in the Old King- 
dom. The kings, however, continue to build pyramids as 
we shall see. The furniture suj)posed to accompany the 
dead in the tomb is now frequently painted on the inside of 
his coffin. Besides this an elaborate equipment (Fig. 81) 
was placed beside the coffin, including a model boat with all 
its crew, in order that the deceased might have no difficulty 
in crossing the waters to the happy isles. By the pyramid 
of Sesostris III in the sands of the desert there were even 
buried five large Nile boats (Fig. 82), intended to carry the 
king and his house across these waters. In addition to the 
statue of the noble in his tomb, the king now rewarded 
deserving servants of the state by the gift of another por- 
trait statue, bearing a dedication in the noble's honour, which 
was set up in one of the larger temples, where it shared in 
the offerings, which, after they had been presented to the 
god, were distributed for other use ; and what was even more 
desired, it enabled the deceased noble to participate in all 
the feasts celebrated in the temple, as he had been wont 
to do in life. 



We have seen that under the vigourous and skilful leader- 
ship of Amenemhet I the rights and privileges attained by 
the powerful landed nobles were for the first time properly 
adjusted and subjected to the centralized authority of the 
kingship, thus enabling the country, after a long interval, 
again to enjoy the inestimable advantages accruing from 
a uniform control of the nation 's affairs. This difficult and 
delicate task doubtless consumed a large part of Amenemhet 
I's reign, but when it was once thoroughly accomplished, 
his house was able to rule the country for over two centuries. 
It is probable that at no other time in the history of Egypt 
did the land enjoy such widespread and bountiful prosperity 
as now ensued. Amenemhet himself says of it: 

I was one who cultivated grain and loved the harvest-god; 
The Nile greeted me in every valley ; 
None was hungry in my years, none thirsted then; 
Men dwelt in peace, through that which I wrought, conversing 
of me.' 

In the midst of all this, when Amenemhet fancied that he 
had firmly established himself and his line upon the throne 
of the land which owed him so much, a foul conspiracy to 
assassinate him was conceived among the official members 
of his household. It would seem that it even went so far 
as the final attack upon the king's person in the night, and 
that he only escaped with his life after a combat with his 
assailants in his bed-chamber. However this may be, the 
palace halls rang with the clash of arms, and the king's life 

'I, 483. 

12 177 


was in danger.' In 1980 B. C, probably no long time after 
this incident, and doubtless influenced by it, Amenemhet 
appointed his son Sesostris, the first of the name, to share 
the throne as coregent with him. The prince brought to his 
high office a new fund of energy, and as the internal affairs 
of the country were finally made more and more stable, he 
was able to devote his attention to the winning of the extreme 
South, an enterprise which had been interrupted by the rise 
of the feudal barons and the fall of the Sixth Dynasty. In 
spite of the achievements of that dynasty in the South, the 
country below the first cataract as far north as Edfu was 
still reckoned as belonging to Nubia and still bore the name 
Tapedet, "Bow-Land,"- usually applied to Nubia. In the 
twenty ninth year of the old king the Egyptian forces pene- 
trated Wawat to Korusko, the termination of the desert 
route cutting off the great westward bend of the Nile, and 
captured prisoners among the ]\Iazoi in the country beyond.' 
We can hardly doubt that the young Sesostris was the leader 
of this expedition. "Work was also resumed in the quarries 
of Hammamat,^ while in the North "the Troglodytes, the 
Asiatics and Sand-dwellers" on the east of the Delta were 
punished. This eastern frontier was strengthened at the 
eastern terminus of the Wadi Tumilat by a fortification, 
perhaps that already in existence under the Old Kingdom 
Pharaohs ; and a garrison, with its sentinels constantly upon 
the watch towers, was stationed there.'' Thus in North and 
South alike an aggressive policy was maintained, the fron- 
tiers made safe and the foreign connections of the kingdom 
carefully regarded. 

As the old king felt his end approaching, he delivered to 
his son brief instructions' embodying the ripe wisdom which 
he had accumulated during his long career. The reader 
may clearly discern in these utterances the bitterness with 
which the attempt upon his life by his own immediate circle 
had imbued the aged Amenemhet. He says to his son : 

' I. 479-480. M, .'jOn, !. 4. M. 472-3, 483. * I. 466-8. 

:, 469-71; 483, 1. .3. = 1, 49:i, 11. 17-19. ' I, 474-483. 


Hearken to that which I say to thee, 

That thou mayest be king of the earth, 

That thou mayest be ruler of the lands. 

That thou mayest increase good. 

Harden thyself against all subordinates. 

The people give heed to him who terrorizes them ; 

Approach them not alone. 

Fill not thy heart with a brother. 

Know not a friend. 

Nor make for thyself intimates. 

Wherein there is no end. 

When thou, guard for thyself thine own heart ; 

For a man has no people. 

In the day of evil. 

I gave to the beggar, 

I nourished the orphan; 

I admitted the insignificant. 

As well as him who was of great account. 

But he who ate my food made insurrection ; 

He to whom I gave my hand, aroused fear therein.^ 

The story of ingratitude which was finally capable of a 
murderous assault upon him, then follows, in order to en- 
force the embittered counsel of the old king. It was probably 
not long after this that Sesostris was dispatched at the head 
of an army to chastise the Libyans on the western frontier. 
During the absence of the prince on this campaign in 1970 
B. C, Amenemhet died, after a reign of thirty years. Swift 
messengers were dispatched to inform Sesostris of his 
father's demise. Without letting the army know what had 
happened he quickly left the camp that night and hastened 
to the Residence at Ithtowe, where he assumed the throne 
before any pretender among the sons of the harem could 
forestall him.^ The whole proceeding is characteristic of 
the history of every royal line from the earliest times in the 
orient. Similarly, the news of the old king's death, acciden- 
tally overheard in the royal tent of Sesostris, threw a certain 
Sinube, one of the nobles there, into a state of abject terror, 

'I, 478-9. «I, 491. 


such that he immediately eoncealed himself, and watching 
his opportunity fled into Asia, where he remained for manj' 
years. Whether he had been guilty of some act which in- 
curred the displeasure of the prince coregent, or whether 
he had some indirect claim upon the throne which became 
valid at Amenemhet 's death, is uncertain ; but his precipi- 
tate flight from Egypt is another striking evidence of the 
dangerous forces which were liberated by the death of a 

The achievements of the house of Amenemhet outside of 
the limits of Egypt: in Nubia, Hammamat and Sinai, have 
left more adequate records in these regions than their benefi- 
cent and prosperous rule in Egypt itself; and the progress 
of the dynasty, at least in inscribed records, can be more 
clearly traced abroad than at home. It will therefore be 
easier to follow the foreign enterprises of the dynasty before 
we dwell upon their achievements at home. Profiting by his 
ten j-ears' experience as coregent with his father, Sesostris 
I was able to maintain with undimmed splendour the pres- 
tige of his house. He proved himself quite capable of con- 
tinuing the great enterprises which he had inherited. The 
conquest of Nubia was pushed as before; the feudatories 
were called upon to muster their quotas, and Ameni, later 
nomarch of the Oryx-nome, relates in his Benihasan tomb 
that his father, who had been appointed nomarch by Ame- 
nemhet I, was now too old to undertake such a campaign, 
and that he himself, therefore, as his father's representa- 
tive placed himself at the head of the troops of the Oryx- 
nome, and penetrated Kush under the leadership of his liege, 
Sesostris I. The war was thus carried above the second cat- 
aract into the great region known as Kush, which now 
becomes common in the monumental records, although the 
name occurs but once upon the monuments of the Old King- 
dom. ' We know nothing of the course of the campaign, 
but it did not involve serious fighting, for Ameni boasts 
that he returned without the loss of a man.^ The nomarch 

« I, 486 ff. I, 361. s I, 519. 


of Elephantine, as in the Sixth Dynasty, also played a prom- 
inent part in the war and it was perhaps upon this expe- 
dition that an elephant was captured, to which he refers 
in his tomb at Assuan.' The campaign is notable as the first 
in a foreign country ever led by the Pharaoh personally, in 
so far as we know. The date of the expedition is unknown, 
but it was doubtless earlier than that which occurred eight 
years after the death of the king's father, for Sesostris I 
then no longer regarded it as necessary to lead the conquest 
of the South in person. He therefore dispatched Mentu- 
hotep, one of his commanders, on a further campaign in 
Kush. Mentuhotep left a large stela^ at Wadi Haifa, just 
below the second cataract, recording his triumph and giving 
us the first list of conquered foreign districts and towns 
which we possess. Unfortunately we know so little of 
Nubian geography in this distant age that only one of the 
ten districts enumerated can be located. It was called Shet, 
and lay above the second cataract some thirty or forty miles 
south of Wadi Haifa, near modern Kummeh. It is thus 
probable that Mentuhotep 's stela was erected close to, if not 
in the region which he conquered. To this stela we have 
already referred as the one on which Mentuhotep made him- 
self so prominent that his figure was erased and that of a 
god placed over it. All appearances would indicate that 
the successful commander was deposed and disgraced. 
The country was now sufficiently subjugated, so that the 
chiefs could be forced to work the mines on the east, in the 
Wadi Alaki and vicinity, and Ameni of the Oryx-nome was 
dispatched to Nubia at the head of four hundred troops of 
his nome to bring back the output of gold. The king im- 
proved the occasion to send with Ameni the young crown- 
prince, who afterward became Amenemhet II, in order that 
he might familiarize himself with the region where he should 
one day be called upon to continue the process of subjuga- 
tion and of incorporation into the Pharaoh's kingdom.^ 
Similarly the gold coiuitry on the east of Coptos was now 

• I, p. 247, note b. ■' I, 510-514. 'I, 520. 


exploited, and the faithful Ameni was entrusted with the 
missiou of convoying the vizier, who had been sent thither, 
to convey the precious metal safely to the Nile valley. This 
he successfully accomplished with a force of six hundred 
men, mustered from the Oryx-nome.' The development of 
Egypt's foreign interests was evidently closely watched by 
Sesostris I, and it is under him that we first hear of inter- 
course with the oases. While the Pharaoh was not yet able 
to take possession of them, it is evident that he was in com- 
munication with their towns. Ikudidi, a steward of Sesos- 
tris I, was dispatched by him to the great oasis of El 
Khargeh on the west of Abydos, whence the caravans 
started thither. His visit in the city of the holy sepulchre 
of Osiris was an opportunity improved by Ikudidi, as by 
so many of his colleagues; and he erected a memorial stela 
there, praying for the favour of the god. His incidental ref- 
erence on this monument to the occasion of his visit at 

1 Abydos is our sole source of information regarding his expe- 

dition to the oasis.^ 

^ It was doubtless the realization of the evident advantage 

I which he had enjoyed by the association with his father as 
"^ coregent that induced Sesostris I to appoint his own son in 
the same way. When he died in 1935 B. C, after a reign 
of thirty five years, his son, Amenemhet II had already been 
coregent for three years,* and assumed the sole authority 
without difficulty. This policy was also continued by Ame- 
nemhet II and his son Sesostris II had also ruled three 
years* in conjunction with his father before the latter 's 
death. For fifty years under these two kings in succession 
the nation enjoyed unabated prosperity. The mines of 
Sinai were reopened,* and the traffic with Punt, resumed by 
Amenemhet II, was continued under his son.^ The road 
across the desert from Coptos, five days to the Eed Sea, had 
already been supplied with wells and stations by the Theban 

> I, 521. ' I, 524-8. » I, 460. 

• Ibid. » I, 602. • I, 604-6, 618. 



kings of the Eleventh Dynasty.' The route was north of 
the Hammamat road and terminated in a small harbour at 
the mouth of the modern Wadi Gasiis, some miles north of 
the later harbour of Koser, the Leucos Limen of the Ptole- 
mies. Two of the commanders who sailed from this ]X)rt 
(Wadi Gasus) left inscriptions' there to commemorate their 
safe return. The distant shores of Punt gradually became 
more familiar to Egyptian folk and a popular tale narrates 
the marvellous adventures of a shipwrecked seaman in these 
waters. The Nubian gold-mines continued to be a source 
of wealth to the royal house, and Egyptian interests in 
Nubia were protected by fortresses in Wawat, garrisoned 
and subject to periodical inspection.^ With the death of 
Sesostris II in 1887 B. C, all was ripe for the complete and 
thorough conquest of the two hundred miles of Nile valley 
that lie between the first and second cataracts. 

Sesostris III was possibly the only one of his house who 
had not enjoyed a period of joint power with his father in 
preparation for the duties of his high office. Nevertheless 
he proved himself worthy of the great line from which he 
sprang. Immediately on his accession he took the prelimi- 
nary steps toward the completion of the great task in Nubia. 
The most important of these measures was the establishment 
of unbroken connection by water with the country above 
the first cataract. It was over six hundred years since the 
excavation of the canal through the cataract by Uni in the 
Sixth D>*nasty, and meantime it may have been demolished 
by the action of the powerful current. In any case, we 
hear nothing more of it. At the most difficult point in the 
granite barrier the engineers of Sesostris III cut a channel 
through the rock some two hundred and sixty feet long, 
nearly thirty four feet wide and nearly twenty six feet deep. * 
It was named " Beautif ul-are-the-Ways-of-Khekure " (the 
throne name of Sesostris III), and many a war-galley of 
the Pharaoh must have been drawn uj) through it during 

'See above, p. 153. »I, 604-0, 617-lS. n, 616. • I, 642-4. 


the early campaigns of this king, of which we unfortunately 
have no records. In the eighth year it was found to be 
choked uj) and had to be cleared for the expedition then 
passing up river.' The subjugation of the country had 
then made such progress that Sesostris III was in that year 
able to select a favourable strategic position as his frontier 
at modern Kummeh and Semneh, which are opposite each 
other on the banks of the river just above the second cat- 
aract. This point he formally declai'ed to be the southern 
boundary of his kingdom. He erected on each side of the 
river a stela marking the boundary-line, and one of these 
two important landmarks has survived; it bears the follow- 
ing significant inscription : ' ' Southern boundary made in 
the year eight, under the majesty of the king of Upper and 
Lower Egypt, Sesostris III, who is given life for ever and 
ever: — in order to prevent that any negro should cross it 
by water or by land, with a ship, or any herds of the 
negroes ; except a negro who shall cross it to do trading . . . 
or with a commission. All kind treatment shall be accorded 
them, but without allowing a ship of the negroes to pass 
by Heh [Semneh] going down stream, forever."- It was 
of course impossible to maintain the frontier in this way 
without a constant display of force. Sesostris III had there- 
fore erected a strong fortress on each side of the river at 
this point. The stronger and larger of the two, at Semneh, 
on the west side, was called "Mighty is Khekure" (Sesos- 
tris III),^ and within its fortified enclosure he built a temple 
to Dedwen, a native god of Nubia. These two strongholds 
(Fig. 83) still survive, and although in a state of ruin, they 
show remarkable skill in the selection of the site and 
unexpected knowledge of the art of constructing effective 

Four years later disturbances among the turbulent Nubian 
tribes south of the frontier again called the king into Nubia. 
Although Egypt did not claim sovereignty in Kush, the 
country above the second cataract, it was nevertheless nec- 

'I, 645-7. 'I, 652. = I, 752. 



essary for the Pharaoh to protect the trade-routes leading 
through it to his new frontier, from the extreme south— routes, 
along which the products of the Sudan were now constantly 
passing into Egypt. It will be noticed that the declaration 
of the boundary permitted the passage of any negro who 
came to trade, or bore a matter of business from some 
southern chief. From now on it was more often south of 
his frontier that the Pharaoh was obliged to appear in force, 

Fig. 83. Restoration of the Fortresses of Semneh and Kummeh. 
(After Perrot and Chipiez.) 

than in the country between the tirst two cataracts. More- 
over, there was rich plunder to be had on these campaigns 
over the border, so that the maintenance of the southern 
trade routes was not without its compensations. Sesostris 
III was able to send his chief treasurer, Ikhernofret, to 
restore the cultus image of Osiris at Abydos with gold cap- 
tured in Kush;* it continued to be more plentiful and there- 
fore less valuable than silver. The letter written by the 

M, 665. 


king to the treasurer on this occasion we have already read 
in the preceding chapter.' 

The Kushite tribes including the barbarians on the east 
of the Nile valley, must have made an unusual raid over 
the border just before the sixteenth year, for in that year 
Sesostris III undertook an extensive campaign against them, 
in which he devastated their country, burnt their harvests 
and carried off their cattle. He then renewed his declara- 
tion of the southern boundary at Semneh, erecting a stela ^ 
in the temple there bearing his second proclamation of the 
place of the frontier, and exhorting his descendants to main- 
tain it where he had established it. He also erected on the 
boundary a statue^ of himself as if to awe the natives of the 
region by his very presence. At the same time he strength- 
ened the frontier defenses by a fortress at Wadi Haifa, prob- 
ably due to him, and another at Matuga, twelve miles further 
south, in which his name was found. He erected also 
another stronghold on the island of Uronarti, just below 
Semneh. Here he placed a duplicate of the second proc- 
lamation.^ He called this new fort "Eepulse of the Troglo- 
dytes,'" and an annual feast bearing the same name was 
established in the temple of Semneh, where it was main- 
tained with a regular calendar of offerings. This feast 
was still celebrated and its calendar of offerings renewed 
under the Empire.* Three years later a campaign, which 
may have been only a journey of inspection, was led into 
Kush by the king himself, and as far as we know this was 
his last expedition thither.' He seems to have led all his 
wars there in person; his vigourous policy so thoroughly 
established the supremacy of the Pharaoh in the newly won 
possessions that the Empire regarded him as the real con- 
queror of the region, and he was worshipped already in the 
Eighteenth Dynasty as the god of the land.' Thus the 
gradual progress of the Pharaohs southward, which had 
begun in prehistoric times at El Kab (Nekhen) and had 

1 See above, p. 106. ' I, 6.53-(iG0. » I, 6G0. • I, 654. 

6 Ibid. «1I, 167 ff. 'I, 692. Ml, 107 ff. 

SI I OM HOI II l)\ I HI 111 l( li IS ol III IM 
(Sterc ^Mph pvrsl t l\ U Jer V iVL ier 1 \ \ ) 

{Ordnance Survey photnjrraph, ) 


absorbed the first cataract by the beginning of the Sixth 
Dynasty, had now reached the second cataract, and had 
added two hundred miles of the Nile valley to the king- 
dom. While this conquest had been already begun in the 
Sixth Dynasty, it was the kings of the Twelfth Dynasty who 
made it an accomplished fact. 

It is under the aggressive Sesostris III also that we hear 
of the first invasion of Syria by the Pharaohs. Sebek-khu, 
one of his military attendants, at that time commandant of 
the residence city, who had also served in Nubia, mentions 
on his memorial stone ' at Abydos that he accompanied the 
king on a campaign into a region called Sekmem in Retenu 
(Syria). The Asiatics were defeated in battle, and Sebek- 
khu took a prisoner. He narrates with visible pride how 
the king rewarded him: "He gave me a staff of electrum 
into my hand, a bow, and a dagger wrought with electrum, 
together with his [the prisoner's] weapons." Here is a 
trace of the military enthusiasm, which two centuries and a 
half later achieved the conquest of the Pharaoh's empire in 
the same region. Unfortunately we do not know the loca- 
tion of Sekmem in Syria, but it is evident that in some 
degree the Pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom were prepar- 
ing the way for the conquest in Asia, as those of the Sixth 
Dynasty had done in Nubia. Already in Sesostris I's time 
regular messengers^ to and from the Pharaonic court were 
traversing Syria and Palestine: Egyptians and the Egyp- 
tian tongue were not uncommon there, and the dread of the 
Pharaoh's name was already felt. At Gezer, between 
Jerusalem and the sea, the stela of an Egyptian official of 
this age has recently been found ^ within the precincts of 
the "high place" in the "fourth city" from the bottom of 
the Gezer "tell." Khnumhotep of Menet-Khufu depicts in 
his well known Benihasan tomb the arrival of thirty seven 
Semitic tribesmen, who evidently came to trade with the 
nomarch, offering him the fragrant cosmetics so much used 

> I, 676-687. 2 1, 496, 1. 94. ' PEFQS 1903, 37, 12S. 


by the Egyptians.' Their leader was a "ruler of the hill- 
country, Absha, " a name well known in Hebrew as Abshai. ^ 
The unfortunate noble, Sinuhe, who fled to Syria at the 
death of Amenemhet I, found not far over the border a 
friendly sheik, who had been in Egypt, further north he 
found Egyptians abiding.' While a fortress existed at the 
Delta frontier to keep out the marauding Beduin,* there can 
be no doubt that it was no more a hindrance to legitimate 
trade and intercourse than was the blockade against the 
negroes maintained by Sesostris III at the second cataract. 
This Suez region and likewise the Gulf of Suez were 
already connected with the eastern arm of the Nile by canal, 
the earliest known connection between the Mediterranean 
and the Red Sea. Fragmentary but massive remains of 
the temple buildings erected by this dynasty in the cities 
of the northeastern Delta, like Tanis and Nebesheh, show 
their activity in this region. The needs of the Semitic 
tribes of neighbouring Asia were already those of highly 
civilized peoples and gave ample occasion for trade. The 
tribesmen in the Benihasan tomb wear garments of finely 
patterned, woven, woolen stuff and sandals of leather, carry 
metal weapons and use a richly wrought lyre. Already the 
red pottery produced by the Hittite peoples in Cappadocia, 
of Asia Minor, was possibly finding its way to the Semites of 
southern Palestine. Doubtless the commerce along this route, 
through Palestine, over Carmel and northward to the trade- 
routes leading down the Euphrates to Babylon, while not yet 
heavy, was already long existent. Commerce with southern 
Europe had also begun. The peoples of the ^Egean, whose 
civilization was now rapidly developing into that of the My- 
cenaean age, were not unknown in Egypt at this time. They 
were called Haunebu, and a treasurer of the Eleventh Dy- 
nasty, whose duty was the maintenance of safe frontier 
ports, boasts of himself as one "who quells the Haunebu."^ 
This shows that their intercourse with Egypt was not always 

' I, p. 281. note d. ' II Sam., 10: 10. » I, 493, 1. 26, 494. 

« I, 493, 11. 16-19. •!. 428. 


peaceful. A scribe of the time likewise boasts that his pen 
included the Haunebu also in his records. Their pottery has 
been found at Kahun in burials of this age, and the ^gean 
decorative art of the time, especially in its use of spirals, is 
influenced by that of Egypt. Europe thus emerges more 
clearly upon the horizon of the Nile people during the Middle 

While Sesostris Ill's campaign into Syria was evidently 
no more than a plundering expedition, as far from achieving 
the conquest of the country as were the expeditions of the 
Sixth Dynasty into Nubia, nevertheless it must have added 
much to the reputation of his house. As the first Pharaoh 
who had personally led a campaign in a foreign land, the 
Nubian wars of Sesostris I had brought undying prestige 
to the name, a prestige which had been greatly increased 
by the achievements of Sesostris III. To the name Sesos- 
tris, therefore, tradition attached the first foreign conquests 
of the Pharaohs. Around this name clustered forever after 
the stories of war and conquest related by the people. In 
Greek times Sesostris had long since become but a legendary 
figure which cannot be identified with any particular king. 
That some of the deeds of Rameses II were possibly also 
interwoven into the Greek legend of Sesostris is not the 
slightest reason for identifying Sesostris with that Nine- 
teenth Dynasty king; nor, we repeat, will the preposterous 
deeds narrated of the legendary Sesostris permit of his iden- 
tification with any particular historical king. 

For thirty eight years Sesostris III continued his vig- 
ourous rule of a kingdom which now embraced a thousand 
miles of Nile valley. He had even succeeded in suppress- 
ing the feudal nobles; and their tombs, as at Beni-Hasau 
and Bersheh, now disappear. As old age drew on, he 
appointed his son as coregent, and an account of the 
appointment was recorded on the walls of the temple at 
Arsinoe in the Fayum. At Sesostris Ill's death in 1849 


B. C, this ooregent son Amenemhet, the third of the namf . 
seems to liave assumed the throne without difficulty. 

A number of peaceful enterprises for the prosperity of 
the country and the increase of the royal revenues were suc- 
cessfully undertaken by Amenemhet III. WHiile operations 
in the mines of Sinai had been resumed as early as the reign 
of Sesostris I, the foreign projects of the dynasty had else- 
where quite surpassed their achievements here. It remained 
for Amenemhet III to develop the equipment of the stations 
in the peninsula, so that they might become more permanent 
than the mere camp of an expedition while working the 
mines for a few months. These ex])editions suffered great 
hardships and an official of the time describes the difficulties 
which beset him when some unlucky chance had decreed that 
he should arrive there in summer. He says that "although 
it was not the season for going to this Mine-Land," he went 
without flinching, and in spite of the fact that "the high- 
lands are hot in summer and the mountains brand the skin," 
he encouraged his workmen who complained of "this evil 
summer season," and having accomplished the work brought 
back more than had been required of him. He left a stela ' 
there telling of his experience and encouraging those of his 
posterity who might find themselves in a similar predica- 
ment. Under such conditions ])ermanent wells and cisterns, 
barracks for the workmen, houses for the directing officials, 
and fortifications against the marauding Beduin were indis- 
jjensable. While some of these things may have been 
already furnished by his jiredecessors, Amenemhet III made 
the station at Sarbut el-Khadem a well equipped colony for 
the exploitation of the mineral wealth of the mountains. He 
excavated a large cistern in the rocks and opened it with 
festival celebrations in his forty fourth year.^ A temple 
for the local Hathor was erected, and we find an official of 
the treasury journeying thither with offerings by water, a 
fact which shows that the Gulf of Suez was commonly util- 
ized to avoid the wearisome desert journey.'' The mines 

' I, 733-740. 2 I, 725-727. ' I, 717-71S; similar nflerings I, 738. 


were placed each under charge of a foreman, after whom 
it was named, and at periodic visits of the treasury officials 
a tixed amount of ore was expected from each mine.' The 
occasional raids of the neighbouring Beduin were doubtless 
of little consequence in view of the troops still controlled by 
the "treasurer of the god," who could easily disperse the 
plundering bands that might venture too close to the colony. 
Here Egyptians died and were buried in the burning valley 
with all the equipment customary at home, and the ruins still 
surviving (Fig. 85) show that what had before been but an 
intermittent and occasional effort had now become a perma- 
nent and uninterrupted industry, contributing a fixed annual 
amount to the royal treasury. 

It is doubtless true that the circumstances in which these 
kings of the feudal period found themselves forced them to 
seek new sources of wealth outside of the country; but at 
the same time, as we have before intimated, they raised the 
productive capacity of the land to an unprecedented level. 
Unfortunately, the annals or records of these achievements 
have not survived. It was particularly Amenemhet III of 
whom we have evidence of attention to the irrigation system. 
His officials in the fortress of Semneh at the second cataract 
had instructions to record the height of the Nile on the 
rocks there, which thus in a few years became a nilometer, 
recording the maximum level of the high water from year 
to year. These records,^ still preserved upon the rocks, are 
from twenty five to thirty feet higher than the Nile rises at 
the present day. Such observations, communicated without 
delay to the officials of lower Egypt in the vizier's office, 
enabled them to estimate the crops of the coming season, 
and the rate of taxation was fixed accordingly. 

In Lower Egypt a plan was also devised for extending 
the time during which the waters of the inundation could 
be made available by an enormous scheme of irrigation, 
which was carried out with brilliant success. A glance at the 

II, 731. 

2 LD II, 139; Lepsius, Sitzungsber. der Berliner Akad. 1844, 374 flf. 



map (No. 13) will show the reader an opening in the western 
highlands of the Nile valley some sixty five miles above the 
southern apex of the Delta. This gap in the western hills 
leads into the great depression of the Libyan desert known 
as the Fayum, a basin which does not differ from those of 
the western oases, and is indeed an extensive oasis close to 
the Nile valley, with which it is connected by the gap already 

Map 3. The Fayum. (After Maj. R. H. Brown, R.E.) 

mentioned. Shaped like a huge maple-leaf, of which the 
stem, pointing nearly eastward, represents the connection 
with the Nile valley, it is generally speaking about forty 
miles across each way. Its lower tracts in the northwest, 
occupied to-day by the lake called Birket el-Kurun (Fig. 
86), are very much depressed, the surface of the lake at 



(Stereograph copyright by Underwood & Under- 
wood, N. Y.) 

Fig. 88.— wooden STATUE OF PRINCE 
EWIBRE. (Cairo Museum.) 


present being over one hundred and forty feet below sea- 
level. In prehistoric times the high Nile had tilled the entire 
Fayum basin, producing a considerable lake. The kings of 
the Twelfth Dynasty conceived the plan of controlling the 
inflow and outflow for the benefit of the irrigation system 
then in force. At the same time they undertook vast reten- 
tion walls inside the Fayum at the point where the waters 
entered, in order to reclaim some of the area of the Fayum 
for cultivation. The earlier kings of the Twelfth Dynasty 
began this process of reclamation, but it was especially Ame- 
nemhet III who so extended this vast wall that it was at last 
probably about twenty seven miles long, thus reclaiming 
a final total of twenty seven thousand acres.' These enor- 
mous works at the point where the lake was most commonly 
visited gave the impression that the whole body of water 
was an artificial product, excavated, as Strabo says, by king 
"Lamares, " in which we recognize with certainty the throne 
name of Amenemhet III. This then was the famous lake 
Moeris of the classic geographers and travellers. Strabo, 
the most careful ancient observer of the lake, supports the 
vaguer description of Herodotus, and states that during the 
time of high Nile, the waters replenished the lake through 
the canal which still flows through the gap; but that when 
the river fell again, they were allowed to escape through 
the same canal, and employed in irrigation. Strabo saw the 
regulators for controlling the inflow and the outflow as well. 
The attention given the Fayum by Amenemhet III would 
indicate that this system of control was at least as old as the 
works near the entrance of the famous lake which gave him 
the reputation of having excavated it. Modern calculations 
have shown that enough water could have been accumulated 
to double the volume of the i-iver below the Fayum during 
the hundred days of low Nile from the first of April ou.^ 

The rich and flourishing province recovered from the lake 
was doubtless royal domain, and there are evidences that it 

' Maj. R. H. Brown, R.E. The FayOm and Lake Moeris, London, 1892. 
« Ibid. 


was a favourite place of abode with the kings of the latter part 
of the Twelfth Dynasty. A prosperous town, known to the 
Greeks as Crocodilopolis, or Arsinoe, with its temple to Sobk, 
the crocodile-god, had already arisen in the new province, 
and an obelisk of Sesostris I lies at Ebgig far out in the 
heart of the reclaimed land. Two colossal statues of Ame- 
nemhet III, or at least of the king reputed to be the maker 
of the lake in Herodotus 's time, stood just outside the great 
wall in the midst of the waters. In the gap, on the north 
bank of the inflowing canal, was a vast building, some eight 
hundred by a thousand feet, which formed a kind of relig- 
ious and administrative centre for the whole country. It 
contained a set of halls for each nome where its gods were 
enshrined and worshipped, and the councils of its govern- 
ment gathered from time to time. It would seem from the 
remarks of Strabo that each set of halls was thus the office 
of the central government pertaining to the administration 
of the respective nome, and the whole building was there- 
fore the Pharaoh's seat of government for the entire coun- 
try. It was still standing in Strabo 's time, when it had 
already long been known as the Labyrinth, one of the 
wonders of Egypt, famous among travellers and historians 
of the Grseco-Roman world, who compared its intricate com- 
plex of halls and passages with the Cretan Labyrinth of 
Greek tradition. It is the only building of this remote age, 
not exclusively a temple, known to have survived so long; 
and Strabo 's description of its construction accounts for its 
durability, for he says: "It is a marvellous fact that each 
of the ceilings of the chambers consists of a single stone, and 
also that the passages are covered in the same way with 
single slabs of extraordinary size, neither wood nor other 
building material having been employed. ' ' The town which 
had grown up around this remarkable building was seen 
by Strabo; but both have now completely disappeared. 
Sesostris II had also founded a town just outside the gap 
called Hotep-Sesostris, "Sesostris is Contented," and he 
later built his pyramid beside it. Under these circum- 


stances the Fayum had become the most i^rominent centre of 
the royal and governmental life of this age; and its great 
god Sobk was rivalling Amon in the regard of the dynasty, 
whose last representative bore the name Sobk-nefru-Re, 
which contains that of the god. The name of the god 
also appeared in a whole series of Sobk-hoteps of the next 

For nearly half a century the beneficent rule of Ame- 
nemhet III maintained peace and prosperity throughout 
his flourishing kingdom. The people sang of him : 

"He makes the Two Lands verdant more than a great Nile. 
He hath filled the Two Lands with strength. 
He is life, cooling the nostrils; 

The treasures which he gives are food for those who are in his 

following ; 
He feeds those who tread his path. 
The king is food and his month is increase."^ 

Business was on a sound basis, values were determined in 
terms of weight in copper, and it was customary to append 
to the mention of an article the words "of a; deben [of 
copper]," a deben being 1404 grains.^ Throughout the land 
the evidences of this prosperity under Amenemhet III and 
his predecessors still survive in the traces of their extensive 
building enterprises, although these have so suffered from 
the rebuilding under the Empire that they are but a tithe 
of what was once to be seen. Moreover the vandalism of 
the Nineteenth Dynasty, especially under Ramses II, oblit- 
erated priceless records of the Middle Kingdom by the most 
reckless appropriation of its monuments as building mate- 
rial. Probably all the more important towns of the country 
had received modest temples at the hands of the Old King- 
dom Pharaohs, but these have left almost no trace, and we 
can gain no comprehensive picture of what the Twelfth 
Dynasty may have found throughout the country when they 

' I, 747. 2 I, 785. 


began their own works. At Thebes, their home, which was 
only an obscure village in the Old Kingdom, they found but 
a modest chapel, which they replaced with a more preten- 
tious temple of Anion, already begun by Amenemhet I.' It 
was continued or enlarged by Sesostris I, who also built a 
dwelling and refectory for the priests of the temple" beside 
the sacred lake, a building which was still standing eight 
hundred years later.^ Amenemhet III erected the great 
brick wall around the ancient capital of El Kab (Nekheb),^ 
which still stands, as the only city wall of such age now sur- 
viving in a condition so nearly intact { Fig. 102 ) . The ancient 
temple at Edfu was not forgotten ; while at Abydos the wide 
popularity and deep veneration of Osiris demanded a new 
temple, which was surrounded with an enclosure, within 
which for some time the rich and noble were permitted to 
erect their tombs.^ The vicinity of the Fayum, as well as 
its own traditional sanctity, secured also for the temple of 
Harsaphes at Heracleopolis enlargement and a rich equip- 
ment.* Of the Fayum itself we have already spoken. Mem- 
phis and its ancient god Ptah were doubtless not neglected, 
but chance has left little evidence of the activity of the 
Middle Kingdom there. The vicinity of Ithtowe and the 
other royal residences of the time may have detracted some- 
what from its prominence. The supreme god of the state, 
the ancestor and at the same time immediate father of the 
Pharaohs, was of necessity honoured with rich contributions 
from the beginning. Sesostris I held a council at which 
he announced to the court his intention of rebuilding the 
temple of Ee at Heliopolis as soon as the plans could be 
prepared. According to immemorial custom, he himself led 
the ceremonies when the ground plan was staked out and 
the foundations of the building were begun. The dedicatory 
inscription, in which he recorded the history of the building, 
perished long ago, but a scribe's practice copy of it, as it 
stood in the court of the temple some five hundred years 

1 I, 484. 2 IV, 488-9. ' Ibid. 

* I, 741-2. ' I, 534, note b. ^ I, 674-5. 



(St. Petersburg Museum.) 



after its erection, still survives in a leather roll in the Berlin 
Museum.' In exaggerated metaphor Sesostris I boasts of 
the imperishability of his name, as enshrined in the mas- 
sive monument, saying : 

"My beauty shall be remembered in his house, 
My name is the pyramidion, and my name is the lake.'" 

The splendid temples of Heliopolis and the great city 
which surrounded them have all vanished, and with them the 
sacred lake to which Sesostris refers, but by a curious chance 
the only surviving monument on the ancient site is one of 
his obelisks (Fig. 87), still surmounted by the pyramidion, 
which, as the king boasted, has indeed perpetuated his name. 
The Delta blossomed under these enlightened rulers, re- 
freshed as it was by the waters of the Payum lake which 
their foresight stored up for summer use. All the Delta 
cities of all ages, as we have so often mentioned, have per- 
ished, and but little survives to testify to the activity of 
these kings there, but in the eastern part, especially at Tanis 
and Bubastis (Fig. 93), massive remains still show the inter- 
est which the Twelfth Dynasty manifested in the Delta 
cities. Fragmentary remains of temples built by the mon- 
archs of this line have been found at many of the chief towns 
from the first cataract to the northwestern Delta. Besides 
the great works of the kings, it should not be forgotten that 
the wealthier and more powerful of the nomarchs also 
erected temples' and considerable buildings for purposes 
of government.* Chapels for their mortuary service were 
built in the towns, ' and had the various structures due to 
these great lords survived, there is no doubt that they would 
have added materially to our impressions of the solidity and 
splendour with which the economic life of the nation was 
developing on every hand. 

Such impressions are also strengthened by the tombs of 
the time, which are indeed the only buildings which have 
survived from the feudal age; and even these are in a sad 

»I, 498-r.06. 2 1,503. « I, 637, note a. < I, 637. =1,706. 


state of ruin. We have already referred to the survival of 
the mastaba form of tomb, but it was now fast disappearing 
and the nobles were hewing out their burial chambers and 
the shafts descending to them in the cliffs of the valley. 
The chapel-hall connected with such burials, with its scenes 
from the life and activity of the departed noble, are our 
chief source for the history and life of the feudal age. The 
colonnade which sometimes formed the front of such a tomb 
was not without architectural merit. The pyramids of the 
Twelfth Dynasty kings are eIoc[uent testimony to the fact 
that the construction of the royal tomb was no longer the 
chief office of the state. More wholesome views of the func- 
tion of the kingship have now gained the ascendancy and 
the resources of the nation are no longer absorbed in the 
pyramid as in the Old Kingdom. In the Eleventh Dynasty 
the Theban kings had already returned to the original mate- 
rial of the royal tomb and built their unpretentious pyramids 
of brick. Amenemhet I followed their example in the erec- 
tion of his pyramid at Lisht ; the core was of brick masonry 
and the monument was then protected by casing masonry 
of limestone' (Fig. 9-1). The custom was continued by all 
the kings of the dynasty with one exception. Their pyra- 
mids are scattered from the mouth of the Fayuni northward 
to Dashur, just south of Memphis. Sesostris I preferred to 
lie at Lisht beside his illustrious father ; Amenemhet II was 
the first to go northward to Dashur, and his son, Sesostris 
II, selected his new town, Hotep-Sesostris, now Illahun, at 
the mouth of the Fayum, as the site of his pyramid (Fig. 
91). Sesostris III returned to Dashur, where he located his 
pyramid on the north of that of Amenemhet II, while Ame- 
nemhet III (Fig. 94) lies on the south side of Amenemhet II 's 
pyramid. The pyramid of Hawara, in the Fayum beside the 
Labyrinth, formerly supj:)Osed to be that of Amenemhet III, 
is not certainly identified, and may possibly belong to Ame- 
nemhet IV, the only king of the dynasty whose pyramid is 

• M6m. sur les Fouilles de Licht, par J. E. Gautier et G. Jfiquier, Cairoi 



not located with certainty. All these pyramids show the 
most complicated and ingenious arrangements of entrance 
and passages in order to baffle the tomb-robbers. That of 
Hawara is the most notable in this respect. It was some- 
thing over one hundred and ninety feet high and the base 
was nearly three hundred and thirty four feet square. 
The entrance is in the middle of the western half of 

ti»nr £.■ • «•• 

Fig. 92. Section of the Burial Chamber in the Pyramid of Haw aba. 
(After Petrie.) 

the south side and descending into the rock beneath the 
pyramid it turns four times until it approaches the burial 
chamber from the north side. Three amazing trapdoor- 
blocks of enormous size and weight were intended to with- 
stand the attacks of robbers, while numerous cunning and 
misleading devices were inserted to puzzle the marauders. 
The sepulchre chamber is twenty two feet long, eight feet 
wide and six feet high, but is nevertheless cut from a single 
block of intensely hard ((uartzite, weighing 110 tons. It had 
no door and the onlv means of access was through a roofing 


block weighing some forty five tons.' Nevertheless it was 
entered and robbed in antiquity, doubtless with the conni- 
vance of later officials, or even of the later kings themselves. 
The corruption of the officials in charge of the erection of 
the building is evident in the fact that of the three trapdoor- 
blocks they only closed the outer one, knowing full well 
that with this one closed no member of the royal family could 
possibly discover that the inner ones had been left open. 
The failure of these magnificent structures to protect the 
bodies of their builders must have had something to do with 
the gradual discontinuance of pyramid building which now 
ensued. Henceforward, with the exception of a few small 
pyramids at Thebes, we shall meet no more of these remark- 
able tombs, which, stretching in a desultory line along the 
margin of the western desert for sixty five miles above the 
southern apex of the Delta, are the most impressive surviv- 
ing witnesses to the grandeur of the civilization which pre- 
ceded the Empire. 

Unfortunately the buildings of the Middle Kingdom are 
so fragmentary that we can gain little idea of their archi- 
tecture. From the tombs, however, it is evident that the 
architectural elements employed did not differ materially 
from those which we have already found in the Old King- 
dom. The Theban Pharaohs of the Eleventh Dynasty in- 
troduced a new type in the remarkable terraced temple of 
Der el-Bahri, which served as a model to the great ai'chitects 
of the Empire. The few traces of the Labyrinth which enabled 
Petrie to determine the extent of its ground-plan, and the 
description furnished by Strabo, are sufficient to establish 
little more than the massiveness of its style. The domestic 
architecture has also completely perished. From the plan 
of the town which Petrie found by the pyramid of Sesostris 
II at Illahun (Map 1) we gain only an impression of the con- 
tracted quarters in which the workmen of the time were 
obliged to live, but of the houses of the rich, in which there 

• Petrie, Kahun, Gurob and Hawara, pp. 13-17. 


was opportunity for architectural effect, we have very little 

Art had made a certain kind of progress since the Old 
Kingdom. Sculpture had become much more ambitious 
and attempted works of the most impressive size. The 
statues of Amenemhet III, which overlooked Lake Moeris, 
were probably forty or fifty feet high, and we have already 
referred to the alabaster colossus of Thuthotep, the nomarch 
of the Hare-nome, which was some twenty two feet high. 
These colossi, furthermore, were now produced in greater 
numbers than ever before. Ten such portraits of Ame- 
nemhet I (Fig. 95) were found at his pyramid at Lisht, and 
Sihathor, an assistant treasurer of Amenemhet II, records 
with great pride how he was entrusted with the oversight 
of the work on the sixteen statues of the king for his pyramid 
at Dashur.' Fragments of such colossi in massive granite 
are scattered over the ruins of Tanis (Fig. 93) and Bubastis, 
and we recall that Sesostris III erected his statue on the 
southern Nubian border. ^ Under such circumstances the 
royal sculptors could not but betray to some extent the me- 
chanical and imitative spirit in which they worked. Their 
figures rarely possess the striking vivacity and the strong 
individuality which are so characteristic of the Old Kingdom 
sculpture. The long dominant canons are also showing 
their effect in suppressing the individuality of the sculptor's 
work and manner. We find a king searching the ancient 
rolls to ascertain the form of a god, that he might "fashion 
him as he was formerly, when they made the statues in their 
council, in order to establish their monuments upon earth";' 
from which it is evident that the gods were supposed to have 
held a council in the beginning, at which they determined 
for all time exactly the form and appearance of each. With 
the form of the king and his nobles the same inviolable tradi- 
tion ruled, and the art of the Middle Kingdom no longer pos- 
sessed the freshness and vigour necessary to accept these con- 
ventions and at the same time to triumph completely over 

'I, 601. =1, 060. 3 1, 756. 


them as did the sculptors of the Old Kingdom. Neverthe- 
less, there is now and then a portrait of surprising strength 
and individuality, like the superb statue of Amenemhet 111 
(Fig. 90) in St. Petersburg, the head of the same king as a 
sphinx at Tanis (Fig. 89), or the colossal head of Sesostris 
111 recently unearthed at Karnak. Such heads are master- 
pieces of P^gyptian art, embodying those qualities of super- 
human strength and imperturbable calm, of which tlie Egyp- 
tian sculptor was so completely master. The flesh-forms 
have been so summarized in the exquisitely hard medium 
that something of the eternal immobility of the stone itself 
has been wrought into the features of the great king. Such 
work contrasts sharply with the soft and effeminate beauty 
of the wooden figure of prince Ewibre (Fig. 88). The 
chapels in the cliff-tombs of the nomarchs were elaborately 
decorated with paintings depicting the life of the deceased 
and the industries on his great estates. It cannot be said that 
these paintings, excellent as many of them unquestionably 
are, show any progress over those of the Old Kingdom, while 
as flat relief they are for the most part distinctly inferior to 
the earlier work. 

The close and familiar oversight of the nomarch lent a 
distinct impetus to the arts and crafts,' and the provinces 
developed large numbers of skilled craftsmen throughout 
the country. Nat'irally the artisans of the court were unsur- 
passed. We discern in their work the result of the devel- 
opment which had been going on since the days of tlie 
earliest dynasties. The magnificent jewelry (Figs. 97-8) 
of the princesses of the royal house dis])lays both technical 
skill and refined taste, quite surpassing our anticipations. 
Had the tomb robbers of the Dasbur necropolis not over- 
looked these burials we should never have rated the capaci- 
ties of the Middle Kingdom so high. Little ever produced 
by the later gold-smiths of Europe can surpass either in 
beauty or in workmanship these regal ornaments worn by 

> I, 638. 



the daughters of the house of Amenemhet nearly two thou- 
sand years before Christ. 

Literature also left worthy monuments to witness the rich 
and varied life of this great age. We have seen how the 
art of writing was fostered by the administrative necessities 
of the state. A system of uniform orthography, hitherto 
lacking, was now developed and followed by skilled scribes 
with consistency. A series of model letters' studied by the 
school-boys of the twentieth century B. C. has survived, and 
they show with what pains composition was studied. The 
language of this age and its literary products were in later 
times regarded as classic, and in spite of its excessive arti- 
ficialities, the judgment of modern study confirms that of 
the Empire. Although it unquestionably existed earlier, it 
is in Egypt and in this period that we first find a literature 
of entertainment. The unfortunate noble, Sinuhe, who fled 
into Syria on the death of Amenemhet I, returned to Egypt 
in his old age, and the story of his flight, of his life and 
adventures in Asia became a favourite tale,^ which attained 
such popularity that it was even written on sherds and flags 
of stone to be placed in the tomb for the entertainment of 
the dead in the hereafter. A prototype of Sindebad the 
Sailor, who was shipwrecked in southern waters on the 
voyage to Punt, returned with a tale of marvellous adven- 
tures on the island of the serpent queen where he was res- 
cued, and loaded with wealth and favours, was sent safely 
back to his native land.^ The life of the court and the nobles 
found reflection among the people in folk-tales, narrating 
the great events in the dynastic transitions and a tale of the 
rise of the Fifth Dynasty was now in common circulation, 
although our surviving copy * was written a century or two 
after the fall of the Twelfth Dynasty. The most skilled lit- 
erati of the time delighted to employ the popular tale as a 

'Kahun Papyri, pp. 67-70. 'I, 486-497. 

3 Unpubli.'ihed papyrus in St. Petersburg; see Gol#nischeff, Abh. des 
Berliner Orientalistenkongresse.s. 

♦Papyrus Westcar, P>erlin, P. 303.3. 


medium for the exercise of their skill in the artificial style 
now regarded as the aim of all composition. A story com- 
monly known at the present day as the Tale of the Eloquent 
Peasant was composed solely in order to place in the mouth 
of a marvellous peasant a series of speeches in which he 
pleads his case against an official who had wronged him, with 
such eloquence that he is at last hrought into the presence 
of the Pharaoh himself, that the monarch may enjoy the 
beauty of the honeyed rhetoric which flows from his lips. 
Unfortunately much of these speeches consists of figures of 
speech so far fetched, and poetic verbiage so obscure, that 
our modern knowledge of the language has not yet made 
them very intelligible.' We have already had occasion to^ 
notice the instruction left by the aged Amenemhet I for hisl 
son, which was very popular and has survived in no less than 
seven fragmentary copies.- The instruction concerning a 
wise and wholesome manner of life, which was so prized 
by the Egyptians, is represented by a number of composi- 
tions of this age, like the advice of the father to his son on 
the value of the ability to write ;^ or the wisdom of the viziers 
of the Old Kingdom; although there is no reason why the 
Wisdom of Ptahhotep and Kegemne,* preserved in a papyrus 
of the Middle Kingdom, should not be authentic composi- 
tions of these old wise men. ' A remarkable philosophizing 
treatise represents a man weary of life involved in a long 
dialogue with his reluctant soul as he vainly attempts to per- 
suade it that they should end life together and hope for 
better things beyond this world. ^ A strange and obscure 
composition of the time represents a Sibylline prophet 
named Ipuwer, standing in the presence of the king and 
delivering grim prophecies of coming ruin, in which the 
social and political organization shall be overthrown, the 
poor shall become rich and the rich shall suffer need, foreign 
enemies shall enter and the established order of things shall 
be completely overturned. After predicting frightful calam- 

' Berlin Papyrus 302;} and 3025. M. 474 fl. 

a Pap. Sallier II. « Pap. Prissc. ^Berlin Papynus 3024. 


ities involving all classes, the prophet announces a saviour 
who shall restore the land: "He shall bring cooling to the 
flame. Men shall say, 'he is the shepherd of all the people; 
there is no evil in his heart. If his flocks go astray he will 
spend the day to search them. The thought of men shall 
be aflame; would that he might achieve their rescue . . . ' 
Verily he shall smite evil when he raises his arm against it. 
. . . Where is he this dayf Doth he sleep among you?"' 
In this strange "Messianic" oracle the prophet proclaims 
the coming of the good king, who, like the David of the 
Hebrew prophets, shall save his people. The motive of the 
composition may be a skilful encomium of the reigning 
family, by representing the prophet as depicting the anarchy 
which had preceded in the dark age before their rise, and 
proclaiming their advent to save the people from destruction. 
Specimens of this remarkable class of literature, of which this 
is the earliest example, may be traced as late as the early 
Christian centuries, and we cannot resist the conclusion that 
it furnished the Hebrew j^rophets with the form and to a 
surprising extent also with the content of Messianic proph- 
ecy. It remained for the Hebrew to give this old form a 
higher ethical and religious significance. 

So many of the compositions of the Egyptian scribe are 
couched in poetic language that it is difficult to distinguish 
between poetry and prose. All of the works thus far dis- 
cussed are to a large extent poetry; but even among the 
common people there were compositions which are distinc- 
tively poems : the song of the threshers as they drove their 
cattle to and fro upon the threshing-floor, a few simple lines 
breathing the simple and wholesome industry of the people; 
or the lay of the harper (Fig. 96) as he sings to the ban- 
queters in the halls of the rich, — a song burdened with pre- 
monitions of the coming darkness and admonishing to un- 
bridled enjojanent of the present ere the evil day come: 

1 Leyden Papyrus I, 344; see Lange, Sitzungsber. der Berliner Akad.; 
XXVII, 601-610. 


How happy is tliis good prince ! 

This goodly destiny is fulfilled : 

The body perishes, passing away, 

While others abide, since the time of the ancestors. 

The gods who were aforetime rest in their pyramids; 

Likewise the noble and the wise, entombed in their pyramids. 

As for those who built houses,— their place is no more; 

Behold what hath become of them. 

I have heard the words of Imhotep and Harzozef, 

Whose utterances are of much reputation ; 

Yet how are the places thereof? 

Their walls are in ruin, 

Their places are no more, — 

As if they had never been. 

None eometh from thence, 

That he might tell us of their state; 

That he might restore our hearts, 

Until we too depart to the place. 

Whither they have gone. 

Encourage thy heart to forget it. 

And let the heart dwell upon that which is profitable for thee. 

Follow thy desire while thou livest, 

Lay myrrh upon thy head, 

Clothe thee in fine linen. 

Imbued with luxurious perfumes, 

The genuine things of the gods. 

Increase yet more thy delights, 

Let not thy heart be weary, 

Follow thy desire and thy pleasure, 

And mould thine atfairs on earth. 

After the mandates of thy heart. 

Till that day of lamentation eometh to thee. 

When the stilled heart hears not their mourning; 

For lamentation recalls no man from the tomb. 

Celebrate the glad day ! 

Rest not therein ! 

p-^ W vuAOf. taketh his goods with him, 

Yea, no man returneth again, that is gon* ^ther. 


The earliest known example of ])oetry exhibiting rigid 
atrophic structure and all the conscious artificialities of lit- 
erary art, is a remarkable hymn to Sesostris III written 
during that king's life time. Of the six strophes, the one 
following may serve to illustrate its character and structure : 

Twice great is the king of his city, above a million arms: as for 

other rulers of men, they are but common folk. 
Twice great is the king of bis city : he is as it were a dyke, damming 

the stream in its water flood. 
Twice great is the king of his city: he is as it were a cool lodge, 
-' letting every man repose unto full daylight. 
Twice great is the king of bis city : he is as it were a bulwark, with 

walls built of sharp stones of Kesem. 
Twice great is the king of his city : he is as it were a place of refuge, 

excluding the marauder. 
Twice great is the king of his city: he is as it were an asylum, 

shielding the terrified from his foe. 
Twice great is the king of his city: he is as it were a shade, the 

cool vegetation of the flood in the season of harvest. 
Twice great is the king of bis city: be is as it were a corner warm 

and dry in time of winter. 
Twice great is the king of his city: he is as it were a rock barring 

the blast in time of tempest. 
Twice great is the king of his city : he is as it were Sekhmet to foes 

who tread upon his boundary. 

The dramatic presentation of the life and death of Osiris 
at Abydos undoubtedly demanded much dialogue and reci- 
tation, which must at least have assumed permanent form 
and have been committed to writing. Unfortunately this, 
the earliest known drama, has perished. It is characteristic 
of this early world that in neither the art or the literature, 
of which we have a considerable mass from the Middle King- 
dom, can we discern any individuals to whom these great 
works should be attributed. Among all the literary produc- 
tions which we have enumerated, it is only of the wisdom, 
the "instruction," that we know the authors. Of the litera- 
ture of the age we may say that it now displays a wealth of 
imagery and a fine mastery of form which five hundred 


years earlier, at the close of the Old Kingdom, was but just 
emerging. The cuntent of the surviving works does not dis- 
play evidence of constructive ability in the larger sense, in- 
volving both form and content; it lacks general coherence. 
It is possible, however, that the Osirian drama, which offered 
greater constructive opportunity, might have altered this 
verdict if it had survived. 

It was thus over a nation in the fullness of its powers, rich 
and productive in every avenue of life, that Amenemhet III 
ruled; and his reign crowned the classic age which had 
dawned with the advent of his family. He seems to have 
maintained his vifourous grasp of affairs to the end, for he 
completed the reservoir at Sarbut el-Khadem in Sinai and 
the great wall of El Kab in the forty fourth year of his reign. 
But when he passed away in 1801 B. C. the strength of the 
line was waning. This was possibly due to the fact that 
the prince whom he had selected as his successor and ap- 
pointed as coregent did not survive the old king himself. In 
any ease he seems to have interred in a tomb beside his 
pyramid a young and handsome prince who already bore the 
royal cartouche, with the throne-name Ewibre (Fig. 88). 
But it should be remarked that the form of the name is quite 
unlike those of the Twelfth Dj-nasty, and there is a king 
Ewibre of the Thirteenth or Fourteenth Dynasty in the 
Turin list. A fourth Amenemhet, after a short coregency 
with the old king, succeeded at the death of Amenemhet III, 
but his brief reign of a little over nine years has left few 
monuments, and the decline of the house, to whom the nation 
owed two centuries of imperishable splendour, was evident. 
Amenemhet IV left no son, for he was succeeded by the 
princess , Sebek-nef ru-Re, the Skemiophris of Manetho. 
After struggling on for nearly four years she too, the last 
of her line, disappeared. The family had ruled Egypt two 
hundred and thirteen years, one month and some days. 


"^ JKSf^^^^^l 



' .fUH' 


til it 





^^^^MMf' 'n^m.i\ 

*'* Hi^^r'^B^^^^^H 


' if'f^^^^^^^^Kt 






The transition of authority to another dynasty (the Thir- 
teenth) had seemingly taken place without disturbing the 
tranquil prosperity of the land. In any case the new house 
immediately gained full control, and the first king, Sekhemre- 
Khutowe, ruled from the Delta* to the southern frontier at 
the second cataract, where, for the first four years of his 
reign, the annual records of the Nile levels regularly ap- 
pear.^ The fortresses there were garrisoned under a com- 
mandant as before'' and the tax and census lists were being 
compiled in the North as usual/ But the reign was a short 
one. The Pharaohs who followed I'egarded themselves as 
successors of the Twelfth Dynasty and assumed the names 
of its greatest rulers; but this brought them none of its 
strength and prestige. The succession may have lasted 
during four reigns, when it was suddenly interrupted, and 
the list of Turin records as fifth king after the Twelfth 
Dynasty one Yufni, a name which does not display the royal 
form, showing that at this point the usurper, that ceaseless 
menace to the throne in the orient, had again triumphed. 

Rapid dissolution followed, as the provincial lords rose 
against each other and strove for the throne. Pretender 
after pretender struggled for supremacy ; now and again one 
more able than his rivals would gain a brief advantage and 
wear his ephemeral honours, only to be quickly supplanted 
by another. Private individuals contended with the rest 
and occasionally won the coveted goal, only to be overthrown 
by a successful rival. Two Sebekemsafs, probably belong- 

' I, 751. 2 1, 751-2. > 1, 752. 

♦ Kahun Papyri, pi. IX, 1. 1 ; p. 86. 



iug at about this time, k't't tlieir niodest pyramids at TIk'Ih's, 
for tlie pyramid of oue of them was examined by the 
Ramessid commissiouers and found robbed.' The bodies 
of the king and bis queen, Xubkhas, which had hiid undis- 
turbed for at least five hundred years, were dragged out 
of the coffins, and in a remarkable confession the thieves 
were forced by the commissioners to tell how they had 
despoiled the royal remains of their ornaments and amu- 
lets of gold and costly stones.^ It is thus certain that at 
least one group of these obscure kings resided at Thebes 
and must have been of Theban origin. At one time a 
usurper named Neferhotep succeeded in overthrowing one 
of the many Sebekhoteps of the time, and established stable 
government. He made no secret of his origin, and on the 
monuments added the names of his untitled parents with- 
out scruple.^ On a stela at Abydos he left a remarkable 
record of his zeal for the temple of Osiris there* and 
another determining certain limits of the necropolis. He 
reigned eleven years when he was succeeded by his son, 
Sihathor, who shortly^'' gave way to his father's brother, 
Neferkhere-Sebekhotep. This Sebekhotep was the greatest 
king of this dark age. He did not however advance the 
Middle Kingdom frontier southward to the Island of Argo, 
above the Third Cataract, as heretofore supposed. Bis 
statue on Argo is but life-size, not a colossus, and was 
certainly^ transported thither by some late Nubian king 
from some point in Egypt. It was but a brief restoration, 
and the monuments which had survived bear no records to 
infonn us of its character. 

The darkness which followed is only the more obscure by 
contrast. Foreign adventurers took advantage of the op- 
portunity, and one of the pretenders who achieved a 
brief success may have been a Nubian. In any" case he 
placed the word Nehsi, "Negro," in his royal cartouche. 
Another, whose second royal name was Mermeshu, "Com- 
mander of the Army," was evidently^ a military aspirant to 
the throne. The country was broken u)) into petty king- 

' IV, 517. nV, 538. 'T, 57.3. 

*I, 753-772. "Turin Pap. Frag. Xo. 80; Pet He. Scarabs, No. ,309. 


doms, of which Thebes was evidently the largest iu the 
South. Nubkheprure-Intef, one of a group of three Intefs 
who ruled there, frankly discloses the conditions in a de- 
cree* deposing an official at Coptos who had proved a traitor. 
In this document Intef curses any other king or ruler in 
Egypt who may show the culprit mercy, naively declaring 
that no such king or ruler shall become Pharaoh of the 
whole country. These Intefs were buried at Thebes, where 
the pyramids of two of them, still standing toward the close 
of the Twentieth Dynasty, were inspected by the Ramessid 
commissioners, who found that one of them had been tun- 
nelled into by tomb-robbers.- But very few of the long list 
of kings in the royal list of Turin can be found mentioned 
upon contemporary monuments. Here and there a frag- 
ment of masonry, a statue, or sometimes only a scarab bear- 
ing a royal name, furnishes contemporary testimony of the 
reign of this or that one among them. There was neither 
power, nor wealth, nor time for the erection of permanent 
monuments; king still followed king with unprecedented 
rapidity, and for most of them our only source of knowl- 
edge is therefore the bare name in the Turin list, the dis- 
ordered fragments of which have not even preserved for us 
the order of these ephemeral rulers except as we find 
groups upon one fragment. The order of the fragments 
themselves remains uncertain, so that the succession of 
the above most important groups is also questionable. 
Where preserved at all the length of the reign is usually 
but a year, or occasionally two or three years, while in 
two cases we find after a king's name but three days. With- 
out any dynastic division which can be discerned, we find 
here the remains of at least one hundred and eighteen 
names of kings, whose ceaseless struggles to gain or to 
hold the throne of the Pharaohs, make up the obscure 
history of this dark century and a half since the fall 
of the Twelfth Dynasty. Evidently some of these kings 
ruled contemporaneously, but even so, such a period of con- 

'I, 773-780. »IV, 514 f. 


stant struggle and usurpation is almost equalled during 
the days of the Moslem viceroys of Egypt, when, under the 
dynasty of the Abbasids, which lasted one hundred and 
eighteen years (750-868 A. D.), seventy seven viceroys held 
the throne of Egypt. In European history it is paralleled 
by the series of military Emperors after Commodus, when in 
about ninety years probably eighty emperors succeed each 
other.' Manetho, who knew nothing of this confused age, 
disposed of its host of kings in two lines, as a Thirteenth 
Dynasty in Thebes, and a Fourteenth from Xois, a city of 
the Delta. 

Economically the condition of the country must have rap- 
idly degenerated. The lack of a uniform administration 
of the irrigation system, which the nation owed to the king- 
ship as an institution, and the generally unstable conditions, 
unavoidably checked the agricultural and industrial produc- 
tivity of the land ; while oppressive taxation and the tyranny 
of warring factions in need of funds sapped the energies and 
undermined the prosperity which had been so ably con- 
served by the house of Amenemhet for two centuries. Wliile 
we possess no monuments which tell us of this ruin, their 
very absence is evidence of it, and the analogy of similar 
periods in Moslem Egypt, particularly under the Mamlukes, 
makes certain the unhappy condition of the nation during 
this period. 

Without centralized resources or organization the hap- 
less nation was an easy prey to foreign aggression. About 
1675 B. C, before the end of the Thirteenth Dynasty, there 
poured into the Delta from Asia a possibly Semitic invasion 
such as that, which in prehistoric times, had stamped the 
language with its unmistakable form ; and again in our own 
era, under the influence of Islam, overwhelmed the land. 
These invaders, now generally called the Hyksos, after the 
designation applied to them by Josephus (quoting Manetho), 
themselves left so few monuments in Egypt that even their 
nationality is still the subject of much difference of opinion; 

• Meyer. Aeg. Chron, p. 62. 


while the length and character of their supremacy, for the 
same reason, are equally obscure matters. The documen- 
tary materials bearing on them are so meagre and limited 
in extent that the reader may easily survey them and judge 
the question for himself, even if this chapter is thereby in 
danger of relapsing into a "laboratory note-book." The 
late tradition regarding the Hyksos, recorded by Manetho 
and preserved to us in the essay of Josephus against Apion, 
is but the substance of a folk-tale like that narrating the fall 
of the Fourth Dynasty,' or many other such tales from which 
their knowledge of Egypt's past was chiefly drawn by the 
Greeks. The more ancient and practically contemporary 
evidence should therefore be questioned first. Two genera- 
tions after the Hyksos had been expelled from the country 
the great queen Hatshepsut thus narrated her restoration 
of the damage which they had wrought : 

I have restored that which was ruins, 

I have raised up that which was unfinished. 

Hiuce the Asiatics were in the midst of Avaris of the Northland 

And the barbarians were in the midst of them [the people of the 

Overthrowing that which had been made, 
While they ruled in ignorance of Re.- 

The still earlier evidence of a soldier in the Egyptian army 
that expelled the Hyksos shows that a siege of Avaris was 
necessary to drive them from the country f and further that 
the pursuit of them was continued into southern Palestine^ 
and ultimately into Phoenicia or Coelesyria.° Some four 
hundred years after their expulsion a folk-tale,® narrating 
the cause of the final war against them, was circulating 
among the people. It gives an interesting account of them : 

"Now it came to pass that the land of Egypt was the pos- 
session of the polluted, no lord being king at the time when 
it happened ; but king Sekenenre, he was ruler of the South- 

> Infra, pp. 122-3. 

2 11, 303. 

»II, 8-10, 12. 

*II, 13. 

5 II, 20. 

• Pap. Sallier I. 


em City [Thebes] . . . King Apophis was in Avaris, and 
the wliole land was tributary to hini; the [Southland] bear- 
ing their impost, and the Northland likewise bearing every 
good thing of the Delta. Xow king Apophis made Sutekh 
his lord, serving no other god, who was in the whole land, 
save Sutekh. He built the temple in beautiful and ever- 
lasting work . , ."^ 

From these earlier documents it is evident that the Hyksos 
were an Asiatic people who ruled Egypt from their strong- 
hold of Avaris in the Delta. The later tradition as tjuoted 
from jSIanetho by Josephus in the main corroborates the 
above more trustworthy evidence, and is as follows :- 

"There was a king of ours whose name was Timaios, in 
whose reign it came to pass, I know not why, that God was 
displeased with us, and there came unexpectedly men of 
ignoble birth out of the eastern parts, who had boldness 
enough to make an expedition into our country, and easily 
subdued it by force without a battle. And when they had 
got our rulers under their power, they afterward savagely 
burnt down our cities and demolished the temples of the 
gods, and used all the inhabitants in a most hostile manner, 
for they slew some and led the children and wives of others 
into slavery. At length they made one of themselves king, 
whose name was Salatis, and he lived at Memphis and made 
both Upper and Lower Egypt iiay tribute, and left garrisons 
in places that were most suitable for them. And he made 
the eastern part especially strong, as he foresaw that the 
Assyrians, who had then the greatest power, would covet 
their kingdom and invade them. And as he found in the 
Saite [read Sethroite] nome a city very fit for his purpose 
(which lay east of the arm of the Nile near Bubastis, and 
with regard to a certain theological notion was called 
Avaris), he rebuilt it and made it very strong by the walls 
he built around it and by a numerous garrison of two hun- 
dred and forty thousand armed men, whom he put into it to 
keep it. There Salatis went every summer, partly to gather 

' Pap. Sallier 1, I. 11. 1-3. « Contra Apion I, 14. 



in his corn and pay his soldiers their wages, and partly to 
train his armed men and so to awe foreigners. ' ' 

If we eliminate the absurd reference to the Assyrians and 
the preposterous number of the garrison at Avaris, the tale 
may be credited as in general a probable narrative. The 
further account of the Hyksos in the same essay shows 
clearly that the late tradition was at a loss to identify the 
Hyksos as to nationality and origin. Still quoting from 
Manetho, Josephus says : "All this nation was styled Hyksos, 
that is, Shepherd Kings; for the first syllable 'hyk' in the 
sacred dialect denotes a king, and ' sos ' signifies a shepherd, 
but this is only according to the vulgar tongue ; and of these 
was compounded the term Hyksos. Some say they were 
Arabians." According to his epitomizers, Manetho also 
called them Phoenicians. Turning to the designations of 
Asiatic rulers as preserved on the Middle Kingdom and 
Hyksos monuments, there is no such term to be found as 
"ruler of shepherds," and Manetho wisely adds that the 
word "sos" only means shepherd in the late vulgar dialect. 
There is no such word known in the older language of the 
monuments. "Hyk" (EgyjDtian Hk'), however, is a com- 
mon word for ruler, as Manetho says, and Khian, one of the 
Hyksos kings, often gives himself this title upon his monu- 
ments, followed by a word for "countries," which by slight 
and very common phonetic changes might become "sos"; 
so that "Hyksos" is a not improbable Greek spelling for the 
Egyptian title "Ruler of Countries." 

Looking further at the scanty monuments left by the 
Hyksos themselves, we discover a few vague but nevertheless 
significant hints as to the character of these strange invaders, 
whom tradition called Arabians and Phoenicians; and con- 
temporary monuments designated as "Asiatics," "barbar- 
ians," and "rulers of countries." An Apophis, one of their 
kings, fashioned an altar, now at Cairo, and engraved upon 
it the dedication: "He [Apophis] made it as his monument 
for his father Sutekh, lord of Avaris, when he [Sutekh] 


set all lands under his [the king's] feet.'" General as is 
the statement it would appear that this Apophis ruled over 
more than the land of Egypt. More signifioant are the mon- 
uments of Khian, the most remarkable of this line of kings. 
The)' have been found from (Jebelen in southern Egyjit to 
the northern Delta; but they do not stop here. Under a 
Myoenjpan wall in the jjalace of Cnossos in Crete an alabas- 
ter vase-lid bearing his name was discovered by Mr. Evans;' 
while a granite lion with his cartouche upon the breast, 
found many years ago at Bagdad, is now in the British 
Museum. One of his royal names was "Encompasser [liter- 
ally 'embracer'] of the Lands," and we recall that his con- 
stant title upon his scarabs and cjiinders is "ruler of coun- 
tries." Scarabs of the Hyksos rulers have been turned up 
by the excavations in southern Palestine. Meagre as these 
data are, one cannot contemplate them without seeing con- 
jured up before him the vision of a vanished empire which 
once stretched from the Euphrates to the first cataract of 
the Nile, an empire of which all other evidence has perished, 
for the reason that Avaris, the capital of its rulers, was in 
the Delta, where, like so many other Delta cities, it suffered 
a destruction so complete that we cannot even locate the spot 
on which it once stood. There was, moreover, every reason 
why the victorious Egyptians should annihilate all evidence 
of the supremacy of their hated conquerors. In the light 
of these developments it becomes evident why the invaders 
did not set up their capital in the midst of the conquered 
land, but remained in Avaris, on the extreme east of the 
Delta, close to the borders of Asia. It was that they might 
rule not only Egypt, but also their Asiatic dominions. Ac- 
cepting the above probabilities, we can also understand how 
the Hyksos could retire to Asia and withstand the Egyptian 
onset for six years in southern Palestine, as we know from 
contemporary evidence ^ they did. It then becomes clear 

' Mar. Mon. div., 38. 

' Annual of British School at Athens, VII, 65, Fig. 21. 


also how they could retreat to Syria when beaten in southern 
Palestine ; these movements were possible because they con- 
trolled Palestine and Syria. 

If we ask ourselves regarding the nationality, origin and 
character of this mysterious Hyksos empire, we can hazard 
little in reply. Manetho 's tradition that they were Arabians 
and Phoenicians may well be correct.' Such an overflow of 
southern Semitic emigration into Syria, as we know has 
since then taken place over and over again, may well have 
brought together these two elements; and a generation or 
two of successful warrior-leaders might weld them together 
into a rude state. We have already seen' that the Semitic 
tribes trading with Egypt in the Twelfth Dynasty were pos- 
sessed of considerably more than the rudiments of civiliza- 
tion; while the wars of the Pharaohs in Syria immediately 
after the expulsion of the Hyksos show the presence of civi- 
lized and highly developed states there. Now, such an em- 
pire as we believe the Hyksos ruled could hardly have 
existed without leaving its traces among the peoples of 
Syria-Palestine for some generations after the beginning of 
the succeeding Egyptian supremacy in Asia. It would 
therefore be strange if we could not discern in the records 
of the subsequent Egyptian wars in Asia some evidence of 
the surviving wreck of the once great Hyksos empire which 
the Pharaohs demolished. 

For two generations after the expulsion of the Hyksos we 
can gain little insight into the conditions in Syria. At this 
point the ceaseless campaigns of Thutmose III, as recorded 
in his Annals, enable us to discern which nation was then 
playing the leading role there. The great coalition of the 
kings of Palestine and Syria, with which Thutmose III was 
called upon to contend at the beginning of his wars, was led 
and dominated throughout by the powerful king of Kadesh 
on the Orontes. It required ten years of constant campaign- 
ing by Thutmose III to achieve the capture of the stubborn 
city and the subjugation of the kingdom of which it was 

1 But see Meyer, Aeg. Chron., pp. 95 ff. 2 Infra, p. 188. 


the head; but with power still unbroken it revolted, and 
Thutmose Ill's twenty years of warfare in Syria were only 
crowned with victory when he finally succeeded in again 
defeating Kadesh, after a dangerous and persistent strug- 
gle. The leadership of Kadesh from the beginning to the 
end of Thutmose Ill's campaigns is such as to convey the 
impression that many Syrian and Palestinian kinglets were 
its vassals. It is in this Syrian domination of the king of 
Kadesh that, in the author's opinion, we should recognize 
the last nucleus of the Hyksos empire, finally annihilated 
by the genius of 'yiin^n-|nfip TIT. Hence it was that Thutmose 
III, tlje final destroyer of the Hyksos empire, became also 
the tradittonal hercTwEcPexpetleiS'tEe'invaders from Egypt; 
and as Misphragmouthosis he thus appears in Manetho's 
story as the liberator of his country. That it was a Semitic 
empire we cannot doubt, in view of the Manethonian tra- 
U^ dition and the subsequent conditions in Syria-Palestine. 
Moreover the scarabs of a Pharaoh who evidently belonged 
to the Hyksos time, give his name as JacpWier or possibly 
Jacob-El, and it is not impossible that some chief of the 
Jacob-tribes of Israel for a time gained the leadership in 
this obscure age. Such an incident would account surpris- 
ingly well for the entrance of these tribes into Egypt, which 
on any hypothesis must have taken place at about this age ; 
and in that ease the Hebrews in Egypt will have been but a 
part of the Beduin allies of the Kadesh or Hyksos empire, 
whose presence there brought into the tradition the partially 
true belief that the Hyksos were shepherds, and led Manetho 
to his untenable etymology of the second part of the word. 
Likewise the naive assumption of Josephus, who identifies 
the Hyksos with the Hebrews, may thus contain a kernel of 
truth, however accidental. But such precarious combina- 
tions should not be made without a full realization of their 
hazardous character. 

Of the reign of these remarkable conquerors in Egypt we 
know no more than of their contemporaries, the Egyptian 
dynasts of this age already discussed, who continued to rule 


in Thebes aud probably tliroughout Upper Egypt. Both 
the account in Manetho and the folk-tale above quoted state 
that the Hyksos kings laid the whole country under tribute, 
and we have already observed that Hyksos monuments have 
been found as far south as Gebelen. The beginning of their 
rule may have been a gradual immigration without hostili- 
ties, as Manetho relates. It is perhaps in this epoch that we 
should place one of their kings, a certain Khenzer, who 
seems to have left the affairs of the country largely in the 
hands of his vizier, Enkhu, so that the latter administered 
and restored the temples.' As this vizier lived in the period 
of Neferhotep and the connected Sebeklioteps, it is possible 
that we should place the gradual rise of Hyksos power in 
Egypt just after that group of Pharaohs. 

From the contemporary monuments we learn the names 
of three Apophises and of Khian (Fig. 101), besides possibly 
Khenzer and Jacob-her, whom we have already noted. 
Among the six names preserved from Manetho by Josephus 
we can recognize but two, an Apophis and lannas, who is 
certainly the same as Khian of the contemporary monu- 
ments. The only contemporary date is that of the tliirty 
third year of an Apophis, in the mathematical papyrus of 
the British Museum. The Manethonian tradition in which we 
find three dynasties of Shepherds or Hyksos (the Fifteenth 
to Seventeenth) is totally without support from the contem- 
porary monuments in the matter of the duration of the 
Hyksos supremacy in Egypt. A hundred years is ample for 
the whole period. Even if it was actually much longer, this 
fact would not necessarily extend the length of the period 
from the fall of the Twelfth Dynasty to the end of the 
Hyksos rule; for it is evident that many of the numerous 
kings of this period, enumerated in the Turin Papyrus, may 
have ruled in the South as vassals of the Hyksos, like the 
Sekenenre, whom the folk-tale makes the Theban vassal of 
one of the Apophises. 

What occasioned the unquestionable barbarities on the 

II, 781-787. 


part of the conquerors, it is now impossible to discern; but 
it is evident that hostilities must have eventually broken 
out, causing the destruction of the temples, later restored 
by Hatshepsut. Their patron god Sutekh is of course the 
Egyptianized form of some Syrian Baal ; Sutekh being an 
older form of the well known Egyptian Set. The Hyksos 
kings themselves must have been rapidly Egyptianized; they 
assumed the complete Pharaonie titulary, and they appro- 
priated statues of their predecessors in the Delta cities, 
wrought, of course, in the conventional style peculiar to the 
Pharaohs (Pig. 101). Civilization did not essentially suffer; 
a mathematical treatise dated under one of the Apophises is 
preserved in the British Museum. We have already seen one 
of the Apophises building a temple in Avaris, and a frag- 
ment of a building inscription' of an Apophis at Bubastis 
says that he made "numerous flag-staves tipped with copper 
for this god, ' ' such flag-staves flying a tuft of gaily coloured 
pennants being used to adorn a temple front. The influence 
upon Egypt of such a foreign dominion, including both 
Syria-Palestine and the lower Nile valley, was epoch making, 
and had much to do with the fundamental transformation 
which began with the expulsion of these aliens. It brought 
the horse into the Nile valley and taught the Egyptians war- 
fare on a large scale. Whatever they may have suffered, 
the Egyptians owed an incalculable debt to their conquerors. 

' Nav. Bubastis, I, pi. 35*. 




It must have been about 1600 B. C, nearly two hundred 
years after the fall of the Twelfth Dynasty, that the 
Sekenenre of the folk-tale' was ruling in Thebes under the 
suzerainty of a Hyksos Apophis in Avaris. This tale, as 
current four hundred years later in Ramessid days, is our 
only source for the events that immediately followed. After 
its account of the Hyksos, which the reader will recall as 
quoted above, there follows the brief description of a sacred 
feast, and later a council of Apophis and his wise men ; but 
what took place at this council is quite uncertain. It con- 
cerned a plot or design against king Sekenenre, however, 
for the story then proceeds: "Now many days after this, 
king Apophis sent to the prince [king Sekenenre] of the 
Southern City [Thebes] the report which his scribes and 
wise men had communicated to him. Now when the mes- 
senger whom king Apophis had sent reached the prince of 
the Southern City, he was taken to the prince of the Southern 
City. Then said one to the messengers of king Apophis, 
' What brings thee to the Southern City, and wherefore hast 
thou joined them that journey I' The messenger said to 
him, *It is king Apophis who sends to thee, saying: "One 
[that is the messenger] has come [to thee] concerning the 
pool of the hippopotami, which is in the city [Thebes]. For 
they pennit me no sleep, day and night the noise of them 
is in my ear." ' Then the prince of the Southern City 
lamented a [long] time, and it came to pass that he could 
not return [answer] to the messenger of king Apophis." 

> Infra, pp. 215-16. 



The surviviug fragments at this point would indicate that 
Sekeneure now sent gifts to Apophis and promised to do 
all that he demanded, after which, " [the messenger of king] 
Apophis hetook himself away, to proceed to the place where 
his lord was. Then the prince of the Southern City caused 
to summon his great princes, likewise his officers and leaders 
. . . , and he recounted to them all the matters concerning 
which king Apophis had sent to him. Then they were with 
one accord silent for a long time, and could not answer him 

either good or bad. Then king Apophis sent to ,"' but 

here the tantalizing bit of papyrus is torn off, and we shall 
never know the conclusion of the tale. However, what we 
have in it is the popular and traditional version of an inci- 
dent, doubtless regarded as the occasion of the long war 
between the Theban princes and the Hyksos in Avaris. The 
preposterous casus belli, the complaint of Apophis in the 
Delta that he was disturbed by the noise of the Theban hip- 
popotami is folk-history, a wave mark among the people, 
left by the tide which the Hyksos war set in motion. 
Manetho corroborates the general situation depicted in the 
tale; for he says that the kings of the Thebaid and other 
parts of Egypt made a great and long war upon the Hyksos 
in Avaris. His use of the plural "kings" immediately sug- 
j gests the numerous local dynasts, whom we have met before, 
^ each contending with his neighbour and effectually prevent- 
■ ^ ing the country from presenting a united front to the north- 
ern foe. There were three Sekenenres. The mummy of the 
last of the three discovered in the great find at Der el-Bahri, 
and now at the Cairo museum, exhibits frightful wounds in 
the head (Fig. 100), so that he doubtless fell in battle, not 
;^ improbably in the Hyksos war. They were followed by a 
^ king Kemose who probably continued the war. Their small 
pyramids of brick at Thebes have long since passed away, but 
they were still uninjured when inspected some four hundred 
and fifty years later by the Ramessid commissioners, whose 
investigation^ of the necropolis we have referred to before. 

> Pap. Sallier I, II, 1. I-lll. 1. .S. s IV, 518-19. 


It is evident that this Theban family were gradually thrust- 
ing themselves to the front with more and more successful 
aggressiveness, so that these three Sekenenres and Kemose 
form the latter part of Manetho's Seventeenth Dynasty. 
They were obliged to maintain themselves not merely against 
the Hyksos, but also against numerous rival dynasts, espe- 
cially in the extreme South above El Kab, where, removed 
from the turmoil of northern war, and able to carry on a 
flourishing internal commerce, the local princes enjoyed 
great prosperity, while those of the North had doubtless in 
many instances perished. We shall later find these pros- 
perous dynasts of the South holding out against the rising 
power of Thebes while the latter was slowly expelling the 

Following Kemose 's short reign, Ahmose I, possibly his 
son, the first king of Manetho 's Eighteenth Dynasty, assumed 
the leadership of the Theban house, about 1580 B. C, and 
became the deliverer of Egypt from her foreign lords. 
Sekenenre III had already won the friendship of the pow- 
erful princes of El Kab (Fig. 102), and by rich gifts and 
plentiful honours Ahmose I retained the valuable support of 
these princes, against both the Hyksos and the obstinate 
local dynasts of the upper river, who constantly threatened 
his rear. Ahmose thus made El Kab a buffer, which pro- 
tected him from the attacks of his Egyptian rivals south of 
that city. No document bearing on the course of the war 
with the Hyksos in its earlier stages has survived to us, nor 
have any of Ahmose 's royal annals been preserved, but one 
of his El Kab allies, named Ahmose, son of Ebana (his 
mother's name), whose father, Baba, served under Sekenenre 
III, has fortunately left an account of his own military 
career on the walls of his tomb at El Kab. He thus nar- 
rates the story of his service under Ahmose of Thebes: "I 
spent my youth in the city of Nekheb [El Kab], my father 
being an officer of the king of Upper and Lower Egypt, 
Sekenenre, triumphant ; Baba, son of Royenet, was his name. 
Then I served as an officer in his stead in the ship [called] 



'The Offering,' in the time of king Ahmose I, triumphant, 
while I was a young man, not having taken a wife . . . 
Then after I set up a household I was transferred to the 
northern fleet because of my valour." He was thus taken 
from El Kab and given service against the Hyksos in the 
north. At first, although a naval officer, he was assigned to 
infantry service in attendance upon the king, for his biog- 
raphy proceeds: "I followed the king on foot when he rode 
abroad in his chariot. One [meaning the king] besieged 
the city of Avaris ; I showed valor on foot before his majesty ; 
then I was appointed to the ship [called] 'Shining-in-Mem- 
phis.' One fought on the water in the canal Pazedku of 
Avaris. Then I fought hand to hand, I brought away a 
hand [cut off as a trophy]. It was reported to the royal 
herald. One gave to me the gold of valor [a decoration]. 
There was again fighting in this place ; I again fought hand 
to hand there ; I brought away a hand. One gave to me the 
gold of valor in the second place.'" The siege of Avaris 
was now interrupted by an uprising of one of the local 
dynasts above El Kab, which was regarded as so serious by 
the king that he himself went south to quell it, and took 
Ahmose, son of Ebana, with him. The latter thus briefly 
narrates the incident: "One fought in this Egypt south of 
this city [El Kab] ; I brought away a living captive, a man, 
I descended into the water; behold he was brought as a 
seizure upon the road of this city, [although] I crossed with 
him over the water. It was announced to the royal herald. 
Then one presented me with gold in double measure."^ 
Having sufficiently quelled his southern rivals, Ahmose 
resumed the siege of Avaris, for at this point our naval 
officer abruptly announces its capture: "One captured 
Avaris; I took captive there one man and three women, total 
four heads. His majesty gave them to me for slaves."' 
The city thus fell on the fourth assault after the arrival of 
Ahmose, son of Ebana, but it is quite uncertain how many 
such assaults had been made before his transference thither, 

' II, 7-10. « II, II. »II, 12. 


for the siege had evidently lasted many years and had been 
interrupted by a rebellion in Upper Egypt. Our naval 
officer does not tell us who were the defenders of Avaris, 
but we do not need to be told in view of what we know from 
Manetho and the folk-tale; likewise as we follow his nar- 
rative a step farther he fails to inform us who were his foes 
in the next encounter ; but it is clear that they can be no othei 
than the Hyksos, fleeing into Asia after being driven from 
Avaris, following the fall of which, our biographer says: 
"One besieged Sharuhen for three years and his majesty 
took it. Then I took captive there two women and one hand. 
One gave to me the gold of bravery besides giving me the 
captives for slaves."' This is the earliest siege of such 
length known in history, and it is surprising evidence of the 
stubbornness of the Hyksos defense and the tenacity of king 
Ahmose in dislodging them from a stronghold in such dan- 
gerous proximity to the Egyptian frontier. For Sharuhen 
was probably in southern Judah,- whence the Hyksos might 
again easily invade the Delta. But Ahmose was not content 
with driving them out of Sharuhen. We find another mem- 
ber of the El Kab family, called Ahmose-Pen-Nekhbet, 
fighting under king Ahmose I in Zahi,'' which is Phoenicia 
and Syria, and it is therefore evident that Ahmose pur- 
sued the Hyksos northward from Sharuhen, forcing them 
back to at least a safe distance from the Delta frontier. In 
the twenty second year of his reign he was still using in 
his building operations oxen which he had taken from the 
Asiatics,^ so that this or another campaign of his in Asia 
must have continued to within a few years of that time. 
Returning to Egypt, now entirely free from all fear of its 
former lords, he gave his attention to the recovery of the 
Egyptian possessions in Nubia. 

During the long period of disorganization following the 
Middle Kingdom, the Nubians had naturally taken advan- 
tage of their opportunity and fallen away. How far Ahmose 
penetrated it is impossible to determine, but he evidently met 

III, 13. 2 Josh. 19: 6. > II, 20. ♦ 11, 26-27. 


with no serious resistance in the recovery of the old territory 
between the first and second cataracts.' But his rule was 
not yet firmly established in Egypt itself, for he was no 
sooner well out of the country on the Nubian campaign than 
his inveterate rivals south of El Kab again arose against 
him. They were totally defeated in a battle on the Nile, 
and our old friend Ahmose, son of Ebana, was rewarded 
for his valour in the action with five slaves and five stat 
(nearly three and a half acres) of land in El Kab.- All the 
sailors engaged in the battle were treated with equal gen- 
erosity. Even then Ahmose was obliged to quell one more 
rebellion before he was left in undisputed possession of the 
throne ; for in closing the narrative of his service under this 
king, Ahmose, son of Ebana, says: "Then came that fallen 
one, whose name was Teti-en ; he had gathered to himself 
rebels. His majesty slew him and his servants, annihilating 
them. There were given to me three heads [slaves] and 
five stat of land in my city."* We thus see how king 
Ahmose bound his supporters to his cause. He did not stop, 
however, with gold, slaves and land, but in some cases even 
granted the local princes, the descendants of the great feudal 
lords of the Middle Kingdom, high and royal titles like "first 
king's son," which, while conveying few or no prerogatives, 
satisfied the vanity of old and illustrious families, like that 
of El Kab, who deserved well at his hands. Similarly we 
find barons who were left in possession of their old titles, 
but evidently the estates of such magnates were taken 
out of their hands and administered by the central go\'ern- 
ment, for they resided at Thebes and were buried there. 
Thus we find there the tombs of the lords of Thinis and of 
Aphroditopolis ; a lord of the former city assisted Queen 
Hatshepsut in the transportation of her obelisks.* 

There were but few of the local nobles who thus supported 
Ahmose and gained his favour; the larger number opposed 
both him and the Hyksos and perished in the struggle. 
Their more fortunate fellows, being now nothing more than 

> II, 14. s II, 15. 3 II. 10. • II, p. 138, note e. 


court and administrative officials, the feudal lords thus prac- 
tically disappeared. The lands which formed their heredi- 
tary possessions were contiscated and passed to the crown, 
where they permanently remained. There was one notable 
excejition to the general confiscation; the house of El Kab, 
to which the Theban dynasty owed so much, was allowed 
to retain its lands, and two generations after the expulsion 
of the Hyksos, the head of the house ajipears as lord, not 
only of El Kab but also Esneh and all the intervening terri- 
tory. Besides this he was given administrative charge, 
though not hereditary possession, of the lands of the south 
from the vicinity of Thebes (Per-Hathor) to El Kab. Yet 
this exception serves but to accentuate more sharply the total 
extinction of the landed nobility, who had formed the sub- 
stance of the governmental organization under the Middle 
Kingdom. All Egypt was now the personal estate of the 
Pharaoh, just as it was after the destruction of the Mamlukes 
by Mohammed Ali early in the nineteenth century. It is 
this state of affairs which in Hebrew tradition was repre- 
sented as the direct result of Joseph's sagacity.* 

> Gen. 47 : 19-20. 




The task of building up a state, which now confronted. 
A hmo se I, differed materially from the reorganization ac- 
complished at the beginning of the Twelfth Dynasty by 
Amenemhet I. The latter dealt with social and political 
factors no longer new in his time, and manipulated to his 
own ends the old political units without destroying their iden- 
tity, whereas Ahmose had now to begin with the erection of 
a fabric of government out of elements so completely di- 
vorced from the old forms as to have lost their identity, 
being now in a state of total flux. The course of events, 
which culminated in the expulsion of the Hyksos, determined 
for Ahmose the form which the new state was to assume. 
He was now at the head of a strong army, effectively organ- 
ized and welded together by long campaigns and sieges pro- 
tracted through years, during which he had been both general 
in the field and head of the state. The character of the gov- 
ernment followed involuntarily out of these conditions. 
Egypt became a military state. It was quite natural that 
it should remain so, in spite of the usually unwarlike char- 
acter of the Egyptian. The long war with the Hyksos had 
now educated him as a soldier, the large army of Ahmose 
had spent years in Asia and had even been for a longer or 
shorter period among the rich cities of Syria. Having 
thoroughly learned war and having perceived the enormous 
wealth to be gained by it in Asia, the whole land was roused 
and stirred with a lust of conquest, which was not quenched 
for several centuries. The wealth, the rewards and the pro- 
motion open to the professional soldier were a constant in- 
centive to a military career, and the middle classes, other- 



wise so unwarlike, now entered the ranks with ardour. 
Among the survivors of the noble class, chiefly those who 
had attached themselves to the Theban house, the profession 
of arms became the most attractive of all careers, and in the 
biographies' which they have left in their tombs at Thebes 
they narrate with the greatest satisfaction the campaigns 
which they went through at the Pharaoh's side, and the 
honours which lie bestowed upon them. Many a campaign, 
all record of which would have been irretrievably lost, has 
thus come to our knowledge through one of these military 
biographies, like that of Ahmose,^ son of Ebana, from which 
we have quoted. The sons of the Pharaoh, who in the Old 
Kingdom held administrative offices, are now generals in the 
army.' For the next century and a half the story of the 
achievements of the army will be the story of Egypt, for 
the army is now the dominant force and the chief motive 
power in the new state. In organization it quite surpassed 
the militia of the old days, if for no other reason than that 
it was now a standing army. It was organized into two 
grand divisions, one in the Delta and the other in the upper 
country.* In Syria it had learned tactics and proper strate- 
gic disposition of forces, the earliest of which we know any- 
thing in history. We shall now tind partition of an army 
into divisions, we shall hear of wings and centre, we shall 
even trace a flank movement and define battle lines. All 
this is fundamentally different from the disorganized plun- 
dering expeditions naively reported as wars by the monu- 
ments of the older periods (Fig. 104). Besides the old bow 
and spear, the troops hencefortli carry also a war axe. They 
have learned archery fire by volleys and the dreaded archers 
of Egypt now gained a reputation which followed and made 
them feared even in classic times. But more than this, the 
Hyksos having brought the horse into Egypt, the Egyptian 
armies now for the first time ])ossessed a large proportion 
of chariotry. Cavalry in the modern sense of the term was 

> 11, l-lf>, 17-2.5, et passim. ' Ibid. 

• 111, 350, 362. *III, 56. 

Fig. 104.— a B(.)nV (IF SPKAR.MKN OF IHE KMPIRE. 

cort of Hatshesput's expedition to Punt. From the reliefs in 
Bahri, Thebes. 

nple at Der el- 

Fir,. 105.-A CHARIOT OF THK l.MPII;! 
It is of full size, made of wood, bronze and leather. Museo Archa 


not employed. The deft craftsmen of Egypt soon mastered 
the art of chariot-making (Fig. 105), while the stables of 
the Pharaoh contained thousands of the best horses to be 
had in Asia. In accordance with the spirit of the time, the 
Pharaoh was accompanied on all public appearances by a 
body-guard of elite troops and a group of his favourite mili- 
tary officers. 

With such force at his back, he ruled in absolute power; 
there was none to offer a breath of opposition; there was not 
a whisper of that modern monitor of kings, public opinion, 
an inconvenience with which rulers in the orient are rarely 
obliged to reckon, even at the present day. With a man of 
strong powers on the throne, all were at his feet, but let 
him betray a single evidence of weakness, and he was quickly 
made the puppet of court coteries and the victim of harem 
intrigues as of old. At such a time, as has happened so 
often since in Egypt, an able minister might overthrow the 
dynasty and found one of his own. But the man who ex- 
pelled the Hyksos was thoroughly master of the situation. 
It is evidently in large measure to him that we owe the recon- 
struction of the state which was now emerging from the tur- 
moils of two centuries of internal disorder and foreign 

This new state is revealed to us more clearly than that of 
any other period of Egyptian history under native dynasties, 
and while we shall recognize many elements surviving from 
earlier times, we shall be able to discern much that is new 
in the great structure of government which was now rising 
under the hands of Ahmose I and his successors. The su- 
preme position occupied by the Pharaoh meant a very active 
participation in the affairs of government. He was accus- 
tomed every morning to meet the vizier, still the main spring 
of the administration, to consult with him on all the interests 
of the country and all the current business which necessarily 
came under his eye.' Immediately thereafter he held a con- 
ference with the chief treasurer.- These two men headed 

' II, 678. s Ibid. 


the chief departments of government: the treasury and the 
judiciary. The Pharaoh's office, in which they made their 
daily reports to him, was the central organ of the whole 
government where all its lines converged. All other rejwrts 
to government were likewise handed in here, and theoretic- 
ally they all passed through the Pharaoh's hands. Even 
in the limited number of such documents preserved to us, 
we discern the vast array of detailed questions in practical 
administration which the busy monarch decided. The pun- 
ishment of condemned criminals was determined by him, ' 
the documents in the case being sent up to him for a decision 
while the victims awaited their fate in the dungeon. Besides 
frequent campaigns in Nubia and Asia, he visited* the quar- 
ries and mines in the desert or inspected^ the desert routes, 
seeking suitable locations for wells and stations. Likewise 
the internal administration required frequent journeys to 
examine new buildings and check all sorts of official abuses. * 
The official cults in the great temples, too, demanded more 
and more of the monarch's time and attention as the rituals 
in the vast state temples increased in complexity with the 
development of the elaboi'ate state religion. Under these 
circumstances the burden inevitably exceeded the powers of 
one man, even with the assistance of his vizier. From the 
earliest days of the Old Kingdom, as the reader will recall, 
there had been but one vizier. Early in the Pjighteenth 
Dynasty, however, the business of government and the duties 
of the Pharaoh had so increased that he a]ipoiuted two 
viziers, one residing at Thebes, for the administration of 
the South, from the cataract as far as the nome of Siut ; 
while the other, who had charge of all the region north of 
the latter point, lived at Heliopolis.' This innovation prob- 
ably took place after the transfer of the southern country 
between El Kab and the cataract from the jurisdiction of the 
Nubian province to that of the vizier. 

For administrative purposes the country was divided into 

' IV, .541. Mil, 170. »1V. 4()4. 

«III. .5S. 5 Inscription of Mrs. 


irregular districts, some of which consisted of the old and 
strong towns of feudal days, each with its surrounding vil- 
lages ; while others contained no such town centre, and were 
evidently ai'bitrary divisions established solely for govern- 
mental reasons. There were at least twenty seven such 
administrative districts between Siut and the cataract,* and 
the country as a whole must have been divided into over 
twice that number. The head of government in the old 
towns still bore the feudal title "count," but it now indicated 
solely administrative duties and might better be translated 
"mayor" or "governor." Each of the smaller towns had 
a "town-ruler," but in the other districts there were only 
recorders and scribes, with one of their number at their 
head.- As we shall see, these men were both the adminis- 
trators, chiefly in a fiscal capacity, and the judicial officials 
within their jurisdictions. 

The great object of government was to make the country 
economically strong and productive. To secure this end, its 
lands, now chiefly owned by the crown, were worked by the 
king's serfs, controlled by his officials, or entrusted by him 
as permanent and indivisible fiefs to his favourite nobles, his 
partisans and relatives. Divisible parcels might also be 
held by tenants of the untitled classes. Both classes of hold- 
ings might be transferred by will or sale in much the same 
way as if the holder actually owned the land.* Other royal 
property, like cattle and asses, was held by the people of 
both classes, subject, like the lands, to an annual assessment 
for its use. For purposes of taxation all lands and other 
property of the crown, except that held by the temples, were 
recorded in the tax-registers of the White House, as the 
treasury was still called. All "houses" or estates and the 
"numbers belonging thereto,"'* were entered in these regis- 
ters. On the basis of these, taxes were assessed. They were 
still collected m naturalia: cattle, grain, wine, oil, honey, tex- 
tiles, and the like. Besides the cattle-yards, the "granary" 

I II, 71fi-74:>. 2 11, 717. 

> Inscription of Mes. * II. 916. 1. 31. 


was the chief sub-department of the White House, and there 
were innumerable other magazines for the storage of its 
receipts. All the products which filled these repositories 
were termed "labour," the word employed in ancient Egypt 
as we use "taxes." If we may accept Hebrew tradition as 
transmitted in the story of Joseph, such taxes comprised 
one fifth of the produce of the land.' It was collected by 
the local officials, whom we have already noticed, and its 
reception in and payment from the various magazines de- 
manded a host of scribes and subordinates, now more numer- 
ous than ever before in the history of the country. The chief 
treasurer at their head was under the authority of the vizier, 
to whom he made a report every morning, after which he 
received permission to open the oflBces and magazines for 
the day's business.' The collection of a second class of 
revenue, that paid by the local officials themselves as a tax 
upon their offices, was exclusively in the hands of the viziers. 
The southern vizier was responsible for all the officials of 
Upper Egypt in his jurisdiction from Elephantine to Siut;' 
and in view of this fact, the other vizier doubtless bore a 
similar responsibility in the North. This tax on the officials 
consisted chiefly of gold, silver, grain, cattle and linen; the 
mayor of the old citj^ of El Kab, for example, paid some 
5,600 grains of gold, 4,200 grains of silver, one ox and one 
"two-year old" into the vizier's office every year, while his 
subordinate paid 4,200 grains of silver, a bead necklace of 
gold, two oxen and two chests of linen. Unfortunately the 
list^ from which these numbers are taken, recorded in the 
tomb of the vizier Rekhmire at Thebes, is too mutilated to 
permit the calculation of the exact total of this tax on all 
the officials under the jurisdiction of the southern vizer; but 
they paid him annually at least some 220,000 grains of gold, 
nine gold necklaces, over 16,000 grains of silver, some forty 
chests and other measures of linen, one hundred and six 
cattle of all ages and some grain ; and these figures are short 

' Oen. 47 : 23-25. « H. 079. 

Ml, 716-745. «Ibid. 


by probably at least twenty per cent, of the real total. As 
the king presumably received a similar amount from the 
northern vizier's collections, this tax on the officials formed 
a stately sum in the annual revenues. We can unfortu- 
nately form no estimate of the total of all revenues. Of the 
royal income from all sources in the Eighteenth Dynasty 
the southern vizier had general charge. The amount of all 
taxes to be levied and the distribution of the revenue when 
collected were determined in his office, where a constant bal- 
ance sheet was kept. In order to control both income and 
outgo, a monthly fiscal report was made to him by all local 
officials, and thus the southern vizier was able to furnish 
the king from month to month with a full statement of pros- 
pective resources in the royal treasury.' The taxes were so 
dependent, as they still are, upon the height of the inunda- 
tion and the consequent prospects for a plentiful or scanty 
harvest, that the level of the rising river was also reported 
to him.^ He held also all the records of the temple estates, 
and in the case of Anion, whose chief sanctuary was in the 
city of which the vizier was governor, he naturally had 
charge of the rich temple fortune, even ranking the High 
Priest of Amon in the affairs of the god's estate.^ As the 
income of the crown was, from now on, so largely augmented 
by foreign tribute, this was also received by the southern 
vizier and by him communicated to the king. The great 
vizier, Eekhmire depicts himself in the gorgeous reliefs in 
his tomb receiving both the taxes of the officials who ap- 
peai'ed before him each year with their dues,^ and the tribute 
of the Asiatic vassal-princes and Nubian chiefs.^ 

In the administration of justice the southern vizier played 
even a greater role than in the treasury. Here he was su- 
preme. The old magnates of the Southern Tens, once pos- 
sessed of important judicial functions, have sunk to a mere 
attendant council at the vizier 's public audiences," where they 
seem to have retained not even advisory functions. They 

111,708. 2 11,709. 3 11,746-751. 

< II, 716-745. 5 11,760-761- 'JI, 712. 


are never mentioned in the court records of the time, though 
they still live in poetry and their old fame survived even 
into Greek times. The vizier continues to bear his tradi- 
tional title, "chief of the six great houses" or courts of jus- 
tice, but these are never referred to in any of the surviving 
legal documents and have evidently disappeared save in the 
title of the vizier. As always heretofore the officers of ad- 
ministration are incidentally the dispensers of justice. They 
constantly ser\'e in a judicial capacity. Although there is 
no class of judges with exclusively legal duties, every man 
of important administrative rank is thoroughly versed in 
the law and is ready at any moment to serve as judge. The 
vizier is no exception. All petitioners for legal redress 
applied first to him in his audience hall; if possible in per- 
son, but in any case in writing. For this purpose he held a 
daily audience or "sitting" as the Egyptian called it.' 
Every morning the people crowded into the "hall of the 
vizier," where the ushers and bailiffs jostled them into line 
that they might "be heard," in order of arrival, one after 
another.^ In cases concerning land located in Thebes he 
was obliged by law to render a decision in three days, but 
if the land lay in the "South or North" he required two 
months.^ This was while he was still the only vizier ; when 
the North received its own vizier such cases there were re- 
ferred to him at Heliopolis.* All crimes in the capital city 
wei"e denounced and tried before him, and he maintained a 
criminal docket of prisoners awaiting trial or punishment, 
which strikingly suggests modern documents of the same 
sort.* All this, and especially the land cases, demanded 
rapid and convenient access to the archives of the land. 
They were therefore all filed in his offices. No one might 
make a will without filing it in the "vizier's hall."* Copies 
of all nome archives, boundary records and all contracts were 
deposited with him' or with his colleague in the North.* Every 

' II, 675, 714-715. 

«II, 715. 

s 11, 686. 

« Inscription of Mes. 

MI, 683. 

• II, 688. 

' II, 703. 

» Inscription of Mes. 


petitioner to the king was obliged to hand in his petition in 
writing at the same office.' 

Besides the vizier's "hall," also called the "great coun- f 
cil," there were local courts throughout the land, not pri- 
marily of a legal character, being, as we have already 
explained, merely the body of administrative officials in each 
district, who were corporately empowered to try cases with 
full competence. They were the "great men of the town," 
or the local "council," and acted as the local representatives 
of the "great council." In suits involving real estate 
titles, a commissioner of the "great council" was sent out 
to execute the decisions of the "great council" in cooper- 
ation with the nearest local "council." Or sometimes a 
hearing before the local "council" was necessary before 
the "great council" could render a decision.^ The num- 
ber of these local courts is entirely uncertain, but the most 
important two known were at Thebes and Memphis. At 
Thebes its composition varied from day to day; in cases 
of a delicate nature, where the members of the royal 
house were implicated, it was appointed by the vizier,' and 
in case of conspiracy against the ruler, the monarch him- 
self commissioned them, though without partiality, and 
with instructions merely to determine who were the guilty, 
accompanied by power to execute the sentence.* All courts 
were largely made up of priests. It is difficult to discern 
the relation of these courts to the "hall of the vizier," but 
in at least one case, when satisfaction was not obtained at 
the vizier's hall, the petitioner recovei'ed a stolen slave by i 
suit before one of these courts.* They did not, however, 
always enjoy the best reputation among the people, who 
bewailed the hapless plight of "the one who stands alone 
before the court when he is a poor man and his opponent is 
rich, while the court oppresses him (saying), 'Silver and 
gold for the scribes! Clothing for the servants!' "" For 
of course the bribe of the rich was often stronger than the 

• II, 691. 2 Gardiner, Inscription of Mes. ' IT. 705. 

• IV, 423^. » Spiegelberg, Studien. « Pap. Anast. II, 8, 6. 



justice of the poor man's cause, as it frequently is at the 
present day. The law to which the poor appealed was 
undoubtedly just. The vizier was obliged to keep it con- 
stantly before him, contained in forty rolls which were laid 
out before his dais at all his public sessions where they were 
doubtless accessible to all.^ Unfortunately the code which 
they contained has perished, but of its justice we can have 
no doubt, for the vizier was said to be a judge "judging 
justly, not showing partiality, sending two men [opponents] 
forth satisfied, judging the weak and the powerful,"- or 
again, "not preferring the great above the humble, reward- 
ing the oppressed . . . , bringing the evil to him who com- 
mitted it."^ Even the king dealt according to law; Amen- 
hotep III called himself in his titulary "establisher of law," 
and when before one of the courts which we have already 
described, the king boasts that "the law stood firm; I did 
not reverse judgment, but in view of the facts I was silent 
that I might cause jubilation and joy."^ Even conspira- 
tors against the king's life were not summarily put to death, 
but, as we have seen, were handed over to a legally con- 
stituted court to be properly tried, and condemned only when 
found guilty. The punishments inflicted by Haremhab 
upon his corrupt officials who robbed the poor, were all 
according to "law."® The great body of this law was un- 
doubtedly very old,'' and some of it, like the old texts of 
the Book of the Dead, was ascribed to the gods ; but Harem- 
hab 's new regulations were new law enacted by him." 
Diodorus tells of five different kings before Persian times 
who enacted new laws, and in the Middle Kingdom even 
a nobleman relates having made laws, meaning, of course, 
that he had formulated them at the king's request.^ The 
social, agricultural and industrial world of the Nile-dwellers 
under the Empire was therefore not at the mercy of arbi- 
trary whim on the part of either king or court, but was gov- 
erned by a large body of long respected law, embodying the 
principles of justice and humanity. 

II. r.75. 7ia. '11,71.'?. Ml, 715. *Spiegelberg, Stiidicn. 

^III, .51 ff. 6 See above, pp. H0-H2. Mil, l),"). si, .531. 


The southern vizier was the motive power behind the 
organization and operation of this ancient state. We recall 
that he went in every morning and took council with the 
Pharaoh on the affairs of the country; and the only other 
check upon his untrammelled control of the state was a law 
constraining him to report the condition of his office to the 
chief treasurer. Every morning as he came forth from his 
interview with the king he found the chief treasurer standing 
by one of the flag-staves of the palace front, and there they 
exchanged reports.' The vizier then unsealed the doors of 
the court and of the offices of the royal estate so that the 
day's business might begin; and during the day all ingress 
and egress at these doors was reported to him, whether of 
persons or of property of any sort.- His office was the 
_means of communication with the local authorities, who 
reported to him in writing on the first day of each season, 
that is, three times a year.-"* It is in his office that we discern 
with unmistakable clearness the complete centralization of 
all local government in all its functions. This supervision 
of the local administration required frequent journeys and 
there was therefore an official barge of the vizier on the 
river in which he passed from place to place. It was he 
who detailed the king's bodyguard for service as well as 
the garrison of the residence city ;* general army orders pro- 
ceeded from his office f the forts of the South were under his 
control ;" and the officials of the navy all reported to him.'^ 
He was thus minister of war for both army and navy, and 
in the Eighteenth Dynasty at least, "when the king was 
with the army," he conducted the administration at home.* 
He had legal control of the temples throughout the country, 
or, as the Egyptian put it, "he established laws in the tem- 
ples of the gods of the South and the North,"" so that he 
was minister of ecclesiastical affairs. He had economic 
oversight of many important resources of the country ; no 
timber could be cut without his permission, and the admin- 

■ II, 678-9. 2 II, 676, 680. > II, 687, 692, 708. 711. * II, 693-4. 

« II, 695. « II, 702. '11,710. » 11, 710. 9 11,757. 


istration of irrigation and water supply was also under his 
charge. ' In order to establish the calendar for state busi- 
ness, the rising of Sirius was reported to him.^ He exer- 
cised advisory functions in all the offices of the state ;^ so 
long as his office was undivided with a vizier of the North 
he was grand steward of all Egypt, and there was no prime 
function of the state which did not operate immediately or 
secondarily through his office, while all others were obliged 
to report to it or work more or less closely in connection 
with it. He was a veritable Josepli and it must have been 
this office which the Hebrew narrator had in mind as that 
to which Joseph was appointed. He was regarded by the 
people as their great protector and no higher praise could 
be proffered to Amon when addressed by a worshipper than 
to call him "the poor man's vizier who does not accept the 
bribe of the guilty."* His appointment was a matter of 
such importance that it was conducted by the king himself^ 
and the instructions given him by the monarch on that occa- 
sion were not such as we should expect from the lips of an 
oriental conqueror three thousand five hundred years ago. 
They display a spirit of kindness and humanity and exhibit 
an appreciation of state craft surprising in an age so remote. 
The king tells the vizier that he sliall conduct himself as 
one "not setting his face toward the princes and councillors, 
neither one making brethren of all the people";' again he 
says, " It is an abomination of the god to show partiality. This 
is the teaching : thou shalt do the like, shall regard him who 
is known to thee like him who is unknown to thee, and him 
who is near . . . like him who is far. . . . Such an official 
shall flourish greatly in the place. ... Be not enraged 
toward a man unjustly . . . but show forth the fear of thee; 
let one be afraid of thee, for a prince is a prince of whom 
one is afraid. Lo, the true dread of a prince is to do jus- 
tice. ... Be not known to the people and they shall not say, 
'He is only a man.' "^ Even the vizier's subordinates are 

1 II, 697-8. ' II, 709. » II, 696. 

< Tap. Anast. II, 6, 5-6. ' II, 666. « II, 068-9. 


to be men of justice, for the king admonishes the new vizier, 
"Lo, one shall say of the chief scribe of the vizier, 'A scribe 
of justice' shall one say of him.'" In a land where the 
bribery of the court still begins with the lowest subordinates 
before access is gained to the magistrates, such "justice" 
was necessary indeed. The viziers of the Eighteenth Dy- 
nasty desired the reputation of hard working, conscientious 
oflBcials, who took the greatest pride in the proper adminis- 
tration of the office. Several of them have left a record of 
their installation, with a long list of the duties of the office, 
engraved and painted upon the walls of their Theban tombs, 
and it is from these that we have drawn our account of the 
vizier. ' 

Such was the government of the imperial age in Egypt. 
In society the disappearance of the landed nobility, and the 
administration of the local districts by a vast army of petty 
officials of the crown, opened the way more fully than in 
the Middle Kingdom for innumerable careers among the 
middle class. These opportunities must have worked a 
gradual change in their condition. Thus one official relates 
his obscure origin thus: "Ye shall talk of it, one to another, 
and the old men shall teach it to the youth. I was one whose 
family was poor and whose town was small, but the Lord 
of the Two Lands [the king] recognized me; I was accounted 
great in his heart, the king in his role as sun-god in the 
splendour of his palace saw me. He exalted me more than 
the [royal] companions, introducing me among the princes 
of the palace. ... He appointed me to conduct works while 
I was a youth, he found me, I was made account of in his 
heart, I was introduced into the gold-house to fashion the 
figures and images of all the gods."^ Here he administered 
his office so well in overseeing the production of the costly 
images of gold that he was rewarded publicly with decora- 
tions of gold by the king and even gained place in the 
councils of the treasury. Such possibilities of promotion 

' II, 670. 2 11, fi6,5-761. 

' Unpublished stela in Leyden (V, 1 ) , by courtesy of the oirator. 


and royal favour awaited success in local administration; 
for in some local office the career of this unknown official in 
the small town must have begun. There thus grew up a 
new ofificial class, its lower ranks drawn from the old middle 
class, while on the other hand in its upper strata were the 
relatives and dependents of the old landed nobility, by 
whom the higher and more important local offices were 
administered. Here the official class graduallj- merged into 
the large circle of royal favourites who filled the great offices 
of the central government or commanded the Pharaoh's 
forces on his campaigns. As there was no longer a feudal 
nobility, the great government officials became the nobles of 
the Empire. The old middle class of merchants,' skilled 
craftsmen and artists also still survived and continued to 
replenish the lower ranks of the official class. Below these 
were the masses who worked the fields and estates, the serfs 
of the Pharaoh. They formed so large a portion of the 
inhabitants that the Hebrew scribe, evidently writing from 
the outside, knew only this class of society beside the priests." 
These lower strata passed away and left little or no trace, 
but the official class was now able to erect tombs and mor- 
tuary stelae in such surprising numbers that they furnish 
us a vast mass of materials for reconstructing the life and 
customs of the time. An official who took a census in the 
Eighteenth Dynasty divided the people into "soldiers, 
priests, royal serfs and all the craftsmen,"^ and this clas- 
sification is corroborated by all that we know of the time; 
although we must understand that all callings of the free 
middle class are here included among the "soldiers." The 
soldier in the standing army has therefore now also become 
a social class. The free middle class, liable to military ser- 
vice, are called "citizens of the army," a term already 
known in the Middle Kingdom,^ but now very common; so 
that liability to military service becomes the significant des- 
ignation of this class of society. Politically the soldier's 
influence grows with every reign and he soon becomeB the 

'III. 274. 2 0«. 47: 21. »I1. p. ItiS. note a. « 1, 681. 


involuntary reliance of the Pharaoh in the execution of 
numerous civil commissions where formerly the soldier was 
never employed. Side by side with him appears another 
new and powerful influence, ffie ancient institution of the 
priesthood. As a natural consequence of the great wealth 
of the temples under the Empire, the priesthood becomes 
a profession, no longer merely an incidental office held by 
a layman, as in the Old and Middle Kingdoms. As the 
priests increase in numbers they gain more and more polit- 
ical power ; while the growing wealth of the temples demands 
for its proper administration a veritable army of temple 
officials of all sorts, who were unknown to the old days of 
simplicity. Probably one fourth of all the persons buried 
in the great and sacred cemetery of Abydos at this period 
were priests. Priestly communities had thus grown up. 
Heretofore the priests of the various sanctuaries had never 
been united by any official ties, but existed only in individual 
and entirely separated comnmnities without interrelation. 
All these priestly bodies were now united in a great sacer- 
dotal organization embracing the whole land. The head of 
the state temjjle at Thebes, the High Priest of Amon, was 
the supreme head of this greater body also and his power 
was thereby increased far beyond that of his older rivals 
at Heliopolis and Memphis. The members of the sacerdotal 
guild thus became a new class, so that priest, soldier and 
official now stood together as three great social classes, yet 
possessing common interests; their leaders were the Phar- 
aoh's nobles, who replaced the old aristocracy; but their 
lower ranks were not to be distinguished from the free middle 
class, the tradesmen and craftsmen ; while at the bottom, as 
the chief economic basis of all, were the peasant serfs. 

The priests whom we now find so numerous as to have 
become a class of society, were the representatives of a richer 
and more elaborate state religion than Egypt had ever seen. 
The days of the old simplicity were forever past. The wealth 
gained by foreign conquest enabled the Pharaohs from now 
on to endow the temples with such riches as no sanctuary 


of the old days had ever possessed. The temples grew into 
vast and gorgeous palaces, each with its community of 
priests, and the high priest of such a community in the larger 
centres was a veritable sacerdotal prince, ultimately wield- 
ing considerable political power. The High Priest's wife at 
Thebes was called the chief concubine of the god, and his 
real consort was no less a person than the queen herself, 
who was therefore known as the "Divine Consort." In the 
gorgeous ritual which now prevailed, her part was to lead 
the singing of the women who were also still permitted to 
participate in the service in large numbers. She possessed 
also a fortune, which belonged to the temple endowment, 
and for this reason it was desirable that the queen should 
hold the oflSce in order to retain this fortune in the royal 

The triumph of a Theban family had brought with it the 
supremacy of Amon. He had not been the god of the resi- 
dence in the Middle Kingdom, and although the rise of a 
Theban family had then given him some distinction, it was 
not until now that he became the great god of the state. His 
essential character and individuality had already been oblit- 
erated by the solar theology of the ^Middle Kingdom, when 
he had become Amon-Re, and with some attributes borrowed 
from his ithyphallic neighbour, Min of Coptos, he now rose 
to a unique and supreme position of unprecedented splen- 
dour. He was popular with the people, too, and as a Moslem 
says, "Inshallah," "If Allah will," so the Egyptian now 
added to all his promises "If Amon spare my life." They 
called him the "vizier of the poor," the people carried to 
him their wants and wishes, and their hopes for future pros- 
perity were implicitly staked upon his favour. But the 
fusion of the old gods had not deprived Amon alone of his 
individuality, for in the general flux almost any god might 
possess the qualities and functions of the others, although 
the dominant position was still occupied by the sun-god. 

The mortuary beliefs of the time are the outgrowth of 
tendencies already plainly observable in the Middle King- 


dom. The magical formulae by which the dead are to 
triumph in the hereafter become more and more numerous, 
so that it is no longer possible to record them on the inside 
of the coffin, but they must be written on papyrus and the roll 
placed in the tomb. As the selection of the most important 
of these texts came to be more and more uniform, the "Book 
of the Dead" began to take form. All was dominated by 
magic; by this all-powerful means the dead might effect 
all that he desired. The luxurious lords of the Empire no 
longer look forward with pleasure to the prospect of plowing, 
sowing and reaping in the happy fields of Yarn. They 
would escape such peasant labour, and a statuette (Fig. 

106) bearing the implements of labour in the field and in- 
scribed with a potent charm is placed in the tomb, thereby 
ensuring to the deceased immunity from such toil, which 
will always be performed by this representative whenever 
the call to the fields is heard. Such ' ' Ushebtis, " or " respon- 
dents, ' ' as they were termed, were now placed in the necrop- 
olis by scores and hundreds. But this means of obtaining 
material good was now unfortunately transferred also to the 
ethical world, in order to secure exemption from the conse- 
quences of an evil life. A sacred beetle or scarabseus (Fig. 

107) is cut from stone and inscribed with a charm, beginning 
with the significant words, "0 my heart, rise not up against 
me as a witness." So powerful is this cunning invention 
when laid upon the breast of the mummy under the wrap- 
pings that when the guilty soul stands in the judgment-hall 
in the awful presence of Osiris, the accusing voice of the 
heart is silenced and the great god does not perceive the 
evil of which it would testify. Likewise the rolls of the 
Book of the Dead containing, besides all the other charms, 
also the scene of judgment, and especially the welcome ver- 
dict of acquittal, are now sold by the priestly scribes to 
anyone with the means to buy ; and the fortunate purchaser's 
name is then inserted in the blanks left for this purpose 
throughout the document ; thus securing for himself the cer- 
tainty of such a verdict, before it was known whose name 


should be so inserted. The invention of these devices by the 
priests was undoubtedly as subversive of moral progress and 
the elevation of the popular religion as the sale of indul- 
gences in Luther's time. The moral aspirations which had 
come into the religion of Egypt with the ethical influences 
so potent in the Osiris-myth, were now choked and jjoisoned 
by the assurance that, however vicious a man's life, exemj)- 
tion in the hereafter could be purchased at any time from 
the priests. The ijriestly literature on the hereafter, pro- 
duced probably for no other purpose than for gain, continued 
to grow. We have a "Book of What is in the Nether 
World," describing the twelve caverns, or hours of the 
night through which the sun passed beneath the earth ; and 
a "Book of the Portals," treating of the gates and strong- 
holds between these caverns. Although these edifying com- 
positions never gained the wide circulation enjoyed by the 
Book of the Dead, the former of the two was engraved in 
the tombs of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Dynasty kings 
at Thebes, showing that these grotesque creations of the per- 
verted priestly imagination finally gained the credence of 
the highest circles. 

The tomb of the noble consists as before of chambers 
hewn in the face of the cliff, and in accordance with the pre- 
vailing tendency it is now filled with imaginary scenes from 
the next world, with mortuary and religious texts, many of 
them of a magical character. At the same time the tomb 
has become more a personal monument to the deceased and 
the walls of the chapel bear many scenes from his life, espe- 
cially from his official career, particularly as a record of 
the honours which he received from the king. Thus the cliffs 
opposite Thebes (Figs. 131, 166), honey-combed as they are 
with the tombs of the lords of the Empire, contain whole 
chapters of the life and history of the period, with which 
we shall now deal. In a solitary valley (Fig. 108) behind 
these cliffs, as we shall see, the kings now likewise excavate 
their tombs in the limestone walls and the pyramid is no 
longer employed. Vast galleries (Figs. 109. 110) are jiierced 


The substitute of the deceased whe 
menial labor in the hereafter. S 
Institute, Chicago.) 

ISIMKHEB." See p. 249. (Field Museum, 

le entrances of two tombs are discernible at the right of the center. See pp. 250-51; 279-80. 


into the mountain, and passing from 
hall to hall, they terminate many hun- 
dreds of feet from the entrance in a 
large chamber, where the body of the 
king is laid in a huge stone sarcoph- 
agus. It is possible that the whole 
excavation is intended to represent the 
passages of the nether world along 
which the sun passes in his nightly 
journey. On the western plain of 
Thebes, the plain east of this valley, 
as on the east side of the pyramid, 
arose the splendid mortuary temples 
of the emperors, of which we shall 
later have occasion to say more. But 
these elaborate mortuary customs are 
now no longer confined to the Pharaoh 
and his nobles; the necessity for such 
equipment in preparation for the here- 
after is now felt by all classes. The 
manufacture of such materials, result- 
ing from the gradual extension of these 
customs, has become an industry; the 
embalmers, undertakers and manufac- 
turers of coffins and tomb furniture 
occupy a quarter at Thebes, forming 
almost a guild by themselves, as they 
did in later Greek times. The middle 
class were now frequently able to exca- 
vate and decorate a tomb; but when 
too poor for this luxury, they rented a 
place for their dead in great common 
tombs maintained by the priests, and 
here the embalmed body was deposited 
in a chamber where the mummies were 
piled up like cord-wood, but neverthe- 
less received the benefit of the ritual 

Fig, 109. Ground Plan of the 
Tomb of Seti I, excavated in the 
Valley of the Kings' Tombs at 
Thebes. The shaded portions 
are descending steps. I-IV and 
VII-IX are galleries, which 
descend as they advance. The 
other rooms are pillared halls. 
In hall X was the magnificent 
alabaster sarcophagus of the 
king, now in Sir John Soane's 
Museum in London. 


maintained for all in common. The very poor still buried 
in the sand and gravel on the desert margin as of old, 
but even they looked with longing upon the luxury enjoyed 
in the hereafter by the rich, and at the door of some lux- 
urious tomb they buried a rude statuette of their dead, 
bearing his name, in the pathetic hope that thus he might 
gain a few crumbs from the bounty of the rich man 's mor- 
tuary table. 

Out of the chaos which the rule of foreign lords had pro- 
duced, the new state and the new conditions slowly emerged 
as Ahmose I gradually gained leisure from his arduous wars. 
With the state religion, the foreign dynasty had shown no 
sympathy and the temples lay wasted and deserted in many 
places. We find Ahmose therefore in his twent}' second 
year opening new workings in the famous quarries of Ayan 
or Troja, opposite Gizeh, from which the blocks for the Gizeh 
pyramids were taken, in order to secure stone for the tem- 
ples in Memphis, Thebes (Luxor) and probably elsewhere.' 
For these works he still employed the oxen which he had 
taken from the Syrians in his Asiatic wars. None of these 
buildings of his, however, has survived. For the ritual of 
the state temple at Karnak he furnished the sanctuary with 
a magnificent service of rich cultus utensils in precious 
metals, and he built a new temple-barge upon the river of 
cedar exacted from the Lebanon princes.^ His greatest work 
remains the Eighteenth Dynasty itself, for whose brilliant 
career his own achievements had laid so firm a foundation. 
Notwithstanding his reign of at least twenty two years, 
■^A_> Ahmose must have died young (1557 B. C.) for his mother 
(t. was still living in the tenth year of his son and successor, 

^ Amenhotep I.'' By him* he was buried in the old Eleventh 

-> Dynasty cemetery at the north end of the western Theban 

plain in a masonry tomb, which has now long perished. The 
^ jewelry of his mother (Fig. 103), stolen from her neigh- 

bouring tomb at a remote date, was found by Mariette con- 
cealed in the vicinity. The body of Ahmose I, as well as 
this jewelry, are now preserved in the Museum at Cairo. 

' II, 26-28, 33 fT. MI, 32. 'II. 40-51. « Masp. Mom. roy.. 534. 



The time was not yet ripe for the great achievements 
which awaited the monarchs of the new dynasty. The old 
dominion of the Middle Kingdom, from the second cataract 
to the sea, was still far from the consolidation necessary to 
retain it in administrative and industrial stability. Nubia 
had been long without a strong arm from the north and the 
southern rebels in Egypt had prevented Ahmose I from con- 
tinuous exertion of force above the cataract. The Troglo- 
dytes, who later harassed the Romans on this same frontier, 
and who were never thoroughly subdued by them, now pos- 
sessed a leader, and Ahmose 's campaign against them had 
not been lasting in its effects. It was easy for these bar- 
barians to retreat into the eastern desert as the Egyptians 
approached, and then return after the danger had passed. 
Amenhotep I, Ahmose 's successor, was therefore obliged to 
invade Nubia in force and penetrated to the Middle Kingdom 
frontier at the second cataract,' where the temple of the 
Sesostrises and Amenemhets had long been in the hands 
of the barbarians, and was doubtless in ruin. The two 
Ahmoses of El Kab were with the king, and Ahmose, son 
of Ebana, reports that "his majesty captured that Troglodyte 
of Nubia in the midst of his soldiers. "^ With the loss of 
their leader, there was but one outcome for the action ; both 
the Ahmoses captured prisoners, displayed great gallantry 
and were rewarded by the king.^ Northern Nubia was now 
placed under the administration of the mayor or governor 
of the old city of Nekhen, which now became the northern 

1 II, 38-9. « II, 39. » II, 39, 41. 




limit of a southern administrative district, including all the 
territory on the south of it, controlled by Egypt, at least as 
far as northern Nubia, or Wawat. From this time the new 
governor was able to go north with the tribute of the country 
regularly every year.' 

Hardly had Amenhotep I won his victory at the second 
cataract, than anotlier~"danger on the opjjosite frontier ir 
the north recalled him thither. Ahmose, son of Ebana, 
boasts that he brought the king back to Egypt in his ship, 
probably from the second cataract, that is some two hun- 
dred miles, in two days.'' The long period of weakness and 
disorganization accompanying the rule of the Hyksos had 
given the Libyans the opportunity, which they always im- 
proved, of pushing in and occupying the rich lands of the 
Delta. Though our only source does not mention any such 
invasion, it is evident that Amenhotep I's war with the 
Libyans at this particular time can be explained in no other 
way. Finding their aggressions too threatening to be longer 
ignored, the Pharaoh now drove them back and invaded their 
country. AVe know nothing of the battles that may have 
been fought, but Amose-Pen-Nekhbet of El Kab states that 
he slew three of the enemy and brought away their severed 
hands, for which he was of course rewarded by the king.^ 
Having relieved his frontiers and secured Nubia, Amen- 
hotep was at liberty to turn his arms toward Asia. Unfor- 
tunately we have no records of his Syrian war, but he pos- 
sibly penetrated far to the north, even to the Euphrates. 
In any case he accomplished enough to enable his successor 
to boast of ruling as far as the Euphrates,* before the latter 
had himself undertaken any Asiatic conquests. Whether 
from this war or some other source he gained wealth for 
richly wrought buildings at Thebes, including a chapel on 
the western plain for his tomb' there, and a superb temple- 
gate at Karnak, later demolished by Thutmose III.* The 
architect who erected these buildings, all of which have per- 

' II, 47-48. MI, 39, 11. 27-28. » II, 42, 22. •II, 73. 

s IV, .513 and notes. « Bull, de I'Inst.. 4me ser.. No. 3, 164-5. 


ished, narrates the king's death at Thebes, after a reign of 
at least ten years.' 

Whether Amenhotep left a son entitled to the throne or 
not, we do not know. His successor, Thutmose I, was the 
son of a woman whose birth and family are' of doubtful con- 
nection, and she was almost certainly not of royal blood. 
Her great son evidently owed his accession to the kingship 
to his marriage with a princess of the old line, named 
Ahmose, through whom he could assert a valid claim to the 
throne. On making good this claim, he lost no time in 
issuing a proclamation announcing throughout the kingdom 
that he had been crowned. This occurred about January, 
1540 or 1535 B. C. The officials in Nubia regarded the proc- 
lamation of sufficient importance to engrave it on tablets 
which they set up at Wadi Haifa, Kubban and perhaps else- 
where.^ The official to whom this action was due had reason 
to make evident his adherence to the new king, for he had 
been appointed to a new and important office immediately 
on the king's accession. It was no longer possible for the 
mayor of Nekhen to administer Nubia and collect the tribute. 
The country demanded the sole attention of a responsible 
governor who was practically a viceroy. He was given the 
title "Governor of the south countries, king's-son of Kush," 
although he was not necessarily a member of the royal house- 
hold or of royal birth. With great ceremony, in the presence 
of the Pharaoh, one of the treasury officials was wont to 
deliver to the incumbent the seal of his new office, saying: 
' ' This is the seal from the Pharaoh, who assigns to thee the 
territory from Neklien to Napata."^ The jurisdiction of the 
viceroy thus extended to the fourth cataract, and it was the 
region between this southern limit and the second cataract 
which was known as Kush. There was still no great or domi- 
nant kingdom in Kush, nor in lower Nubia, but the country 
was under the rule of powerful chiefs, each controlling a 
limited territory. It was impossible to suppress these native 
rulers at once and nearly two hundred years after this we 

III, 45-6. «1I, 54-60. 3 11, 1020-25. 


still find the chiefs of Kush and a chief of Wawat as far 
north as Ibrim.' Although possessing only a nominal au 
thority, it was but slowly that they were replaced by Egyp- 
tian administrative officers. Moreover, in Thutmose I's 
time the southern half of the new province was far from 
being sufficiently pacified. The appointment of Thure, the 
first viceroy, therefore brought him a serious task. The 
turbulent tribes from the hills above the Nile valley were 
constantly raiding the towns along the river* and making 
stable government and the orderly development of the coun- 
try's natural resources impossible. Seeing that Thure was 
unable to stop this, the king went south early in his second 
year personally to oversee the task of more thorough sub- 
jugation. Arriving at the first cataract in February or 
March, he found the canal through the rapids obstructed 
with stone,' just as it had perhaps been since Hyksos days. 
Desirous of losing no time, and anxious to take advantage 
of the fast falling water, he did not stop to clear it, but 
forced the rapids with the aid of the admiral, Ahmose, son 
of Ebana, whose exploits we liave followed so long. This 
officer now again distinguished himself "in the bad water 
in the passage of the ship by the bend, ' ' presumably in the 
cataract, and was again liberally rewarded by the king.* By 
early April Thutmose had reached Taugur, about seventy 
five miles above the second cataract. ° Ahmose, son of 
Ebana, describes the battle, which probably took place some- 
where on this advance, between the second and third cat- 
aracts. The king enga'ged in hand to hand combat with 
a Nubian chief; "his majesty cast the first lance, which 
remained in the body of that fallen one." The enemy were 
totally defeated and many prisoners were taken. ^ Of these, 
the other hero of El Kab, Ahmose-Pen-Nehkbet, captured no 
less than five.' The water was now so low that the advance 
was necessarily for the most part by land; but the king 
pressed on to the third cataract. He was the first Pharaoh 
to stand here at the northern gateway of the Dougola Prov- 

'11,1037. ni, 80. m, TS. Ml, 80. 5 11, p. 2S. note b. « 11. SO. '11,84. 


ince, the great garden of the Upper Nile, through which 
there wound before him over two hundred miles of unbroken 
river. With the long advance now behind him, he erected 
here five triumphant stelte commemorating the new conquest. 
On the Island of Tombos he erected a fortress, of which some 
remains still survive, and garrisoned it with troops from the 
army of conquest.^ In August of the same year, five months 
after he had passed Tangur on the way up, he erected a 
tablet of victory^ on Tombos, on which he boasts of ruling 
from the frontier at Tombos on the south, to the Euphrates 
on the north, a statement to which his own achievements in 
Asia did not yet entitle him. Returning slowly northward 
with the Nubian chief, whom he had slain, hanging head 
downward at the prow of his royal barge, he reached the 
first cataract again some seven months after he had erected 
the stela on Tombos.'' We can only explain the slowness 
of his return by supposing that he devoted much time to the 
reorganization and thorough pacification of the country on 
his way. It was now April, and as the low water of that 
season was favourable to the enterprise, the king ordered the 
canal at the first cataract cleared. The viceroy, Thure, had 
charge of the work, and he has left three records^ of its suc- 
cessful accomplishment inscribed on the rocks by the stream, 
two on the island of Sehel and one on the neighbouring shore. 
The king then sailed through the canal in triumph with the 
body of the Nubian chief still hanging head downward at 
the bow of his barge, where it remained till he landed at 

The subjugation of the Nubian province was now thor- 
oughly done, and Thutmose was able to give his attention 
to a similar task at the other extremity of his realm, in 
Asia. Evidently the conquest of Amenhotep I, which had 
enabled Thutmose to claim the Euphrates as his northern 
boundary, had not been sufficient to ensure to the Pharaoh's 
treasury the regular tribute which he was now enjoying 
from Nubia, but the conditions in Syria-Palestine were very 

1 II, p. 28, note a. 2 II, 72. ' II, 67-73. ' II, 74-77. ' Ibid, 



favourable for a prolonged lease of power on the Pharaoh's 

The geographical conformation of the country along the 
eastern end of the Mediterranean, which we may call Syria- 
Palestine, is not such as to permit the gradual amalgama- 
tion of small and petty states into one great nation, as that 
process took place in the valleys of the Nile and the 
Euphrates. From north to south, roughly parallel with the 
coast, the region is traversed by rugged mountain ranges, 
in two main ridges, known as the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon 
in the north. In the south, the western ridge, with some 
interruptions, drops finally into the bare and forbidding 
hills of Judah, which merge then into the desert of Sinai 
south of Palestine. South of the plain of Esdraelon, or 
Jezreel, it throws off the ridge of Carmel, which drops, like 
a Gothic buttress, abruptly to the sea. The eastern ridge 
shifts somewhat further eastward in its southern course, 
interrupted here and there, and spreading on the east of 
the Dead Sea in the mountains of Moab, its southern flanks 
are likewise lost in the sandy plateau of northern Arabia. 
Between the two Lebanons, that is, in the northern half of 
the depression between the eastern and western ridges, is a 
fertile valley traversed by the river Orontes. This Orontes 
valley is the only extensive region in Syria-Palestine not cut 
up by the hills and mountains, where a strong kingdom might 
develop. The coast is completely isolated from the interior 
by the ridge of Lebanon, on whose western base a people 
might rise to wealth and power only by the exploitation of 
the resources of the sea ; while in the south, Palestine with 
its harbourless coast and its large tracts of unproductive 
soil, hardly furnished the economic basis for the development 
of a strong nation. It is moreover badly cut up by the ridge 
of Camiel and the deep clove in which lie the Jordan and 
the Dead Sea. Along almost its entire eastern frontier, 
Syria-Palestine merges into the northern extension of the 
Arabian desert, save in the extreme north, where the valley 
of the Orontes and that of the Euphrates almost blend, just as 


thej' part, the one to seek the Mediterranean, while the other 
turns away toward Babylon and the Persian Gulf (Map 7). 
The country was settled chiefly by Semites, probably the 
descendants of an early overflow of population from the des- 
erts of Arabia, such as has occurred in historic times over 
and over again. In the north these were subsequently 
Aramaeans, while in the south they may be designated as 
Canaanites. In general these peoples showed little genius 
for government, and were totally without any motives for 
consolidation. Divided by the physical conformation of the 
country, they were organized into numerous city-kingdoms, 
that is, petty principalities, consisting of a city, with the sur- 
rounding fields and outlying villages, all under the rule of 
a local dynast, who lived in the said city. Each city had 
not only its own kinglet, but also its own god, a local ba'al 
(Baal) or "lord," with whom was often associated a ba'lat 
or "lady," a goddess like her of Byblos. These miniature 
kingdoms were embroiled in frequent wars with one another, 
each dynast endeavouring to unseat his neighbour and absorb 
the latter 's territory and revenues. Exceeding all the others 
in size was the kingdom of Kadesh, the surviving nucleus 
of Hyksos power. It had developed in the only place where 
the conditions permitted such an expansion, occupying a 
very advantageous position on the Orontes. It thus com- 
manded the road northward through inner Syria, the route 
of commerce from Egypt and the south, which, following 
the Orontes, diverged thence to the Euphrates, to cross to 
Assyria or descend the Euphrates to Babylon. Being like- 
wise at the northern end of both Lebanons, Kadesh com- 
manded also the road from the interior seaward through the 
Eleuthei'os valley.' These advantages bad enabled it to 
subjugate the smaller kingdoms and to organize them into 
a loose feudal state, in which we should, in the author's 
opinion, recognize the empire of the Hyksos, as already 
indicated.- We shall now discern it for two generations, 
struggling desperately to maintain its independence, and 

1 See M»p 7 and the author's Battle of Kadesh. . « Pp. 219 ff. 


only crushed at last liy twenty years of warfare under 
Thutmose III. 

While, with this exception, these kingdoms of the interior 
showed small aptitude for government, some of them never- 
theless possessed a high degree of civilization in other direc- 
tions. In the art of war especially they had during Hyksos 
supremacy taught the Egyptian much. They were masters 
of the art of metal-working, they wrought weapons of high 
quality, and the manufacture of chariots was a considerable 
industry. Metal vessels of varied designs were also produced. 
Their more strenuous climate demanded woolen clothing, 
so that they had mastered the art of dyeing and weaving 
wool, in which they produced textile fabrics of the finest 
quality and of rich and sumptuous design. These Semites 
were already inveterate traders, and an animated commerce 
was passing from town to town, where the market place was 
a busy scene of traific as it is to-day. On the scanty foot- 
hold available on the western declivities of the Lebanon some 
of these Semites, crossing from the interior, had early gained 
a footing on the coast, to become the Phoenicians of historic 
times. They rapidly subdued the sea, and from being mere 
fishermen, they soon developed into hardy mariners. Bear- 
ing the products of their industries, their galleys were now 
penetrating beyond the harbours of Cyprus, where they ex- 
ploited the rich copper mines, and creeping along the coast 
of Asia Minor they gained Rhodes and the islands of the 
.^gean. In every favourable harbour they established their 
colonies, along the southern litoral of Asia Minor, throughout 
the ^gean, and here and there on the mainland of Greece. 
Their manufactories multiplied in these colonies, and every- 
where throughout the regions which they reached, their 
wares were prominent in the markets. As their wealth 
increased, every harbour along the Phoenician coast was the 
seat of a rich and flourishing city, among which Tyre, Sidon, 
Byblos, Arvad and Simyra were the greatest, each being the 
seat of a powerful dynasty. Thus it was that in the Homeric 
poems the Phoenician merchant and his wares were pro- 


verbial, for the commercial and maritime power enjoyed by 
the Phoenicians at the rise of the Egyptian Empire continued 
into Homeric times. 

How far west these Phoenician mariners penetrated it is 
now difficult to determine, but it is not impossible that their 
Spanish and Carthaginian colonies already existed. The 
civilization which they found in the northern Mediterranean 
was that of the Mycenaean age, and these Phoenician avenues 
of commerce served as a link connecting Egypt and the Myce- 
naean civilization of the north. The people who appear with 
Mycenaean vessels as gifts and tribute for the Pharaoh in this 
age, are termed by the Egyptian monuments Keftyew, and 
so regular was the traffic of the Phoenician fleets with these 
people that the Phoenician craft plying on these voyages were 
known as "Keftyew ships. "^ It is impossible to locate the 
Keftyew with certainty, but they seem to have extended from 
the southern coast of Asia Minor as far west as Crete. All 
this northern region was known to the Egyptians as the 
"Isles of the Sea," for having no acquaintance with the 
interior of Asia Minor, they supposed it to be but island 
coasts, like those of the JEgean. In northern Syria, on the 
upper reaches of the Euphrates, the world, as conceived 
by the Egyptian, ended in marshes in which the Euphrates 
had its rise, and these again were encircled by the "Great 
Circle, ' '^ the ocean, which was the end of all. 

In this Semitic world of Syria-Palestine, now dominated 
by Egypt, she was to learn much; nevertheless throughout 
this region the influence of Egyptian art and industry was 
supreme. Much more highly organized than the neighbour- 
ing peoples of Asia, the mighty kingdom on the Nile had 
from time immemorial been regarded with awe and respect, 
while its more mature civilization, by its very presence on 
the threshold of hither Asia, was a powerful influence upon 
the politically feeble states there. There was little or no 
native art among these peoples of the western Semitic world, 
but they were skilful imitators, ready to absorb and adapt 

• II, 492. ' II, 661. 


to their uses all that might further their industries and 
their commerce. The products which their fleets marketed 
throughout the eastern Mediterranean were therefore tinc- 
tured through and through with Egyptian elements, while 
the native Egyptian wares which they carried to Europe and 
the ^Egean introduced there the unalloyed art of the Nile 
valley. In these Phoenician galleys the civilization of the 
Orient was being gradually disseminated through southern 
Europe and the west. Babylonian influences, while not so 
noticeable in the art of Syria-Palestine, were nevertheless 
powerfully present there. Since the days of the brief em- 
pire of Sargon of Agade, about the middle of the third 
thousand years B. C, Babylon had gained in the west a com- 
mercial supremacy, which had gradually introduced there 
the cuneiform system of writing. It was readily adaptable 
to the Semitic dialects prevalent in Syria-Palestine and 
gained a footing by a process similar to that which, during 
the commercial dominance of Phoenicia, brought the Phoeni- 
cian alphabet to Greece. It was even adopted also by the 
Hittites, who were not Semites, and likewise by another 
non-Semitic nation in this region, the kingdom of Mitanni. 
Thus Syria-Palestine became common ground, where the 
forces of civilization from the Nile and the Euphrates 
mingled at first in peaceful rivaly, but ultimately to meet 
upon the battlefield. The historical significance of this 
region is found in the inevitable struggle for its possession 
between the kingdom of the Nile on the one hand and those 
of the Tigro-Euphrates valley and hither Asia on the other. 
It was in the midst of this struggle that Hebrew national 
history fell, and in its relentless course the Hebrew mon- 
archies perished. 

Other non-Semitic peoples were also beginning to appear 
on Egypt's nortliern horizon. A group of warriors of 
Iran, now appearing for the first time in history, had by 
1500 B. C. pushed westward to the upper Euphrates. At 
the rise of the Egyptian Empire therefore, these Iranians 
were already settled in the country east of the Euphrates, 


within the huge bend where the river turns away from the 
Mediterranean, and there established the kingdom of Mi- 
tanni. It was the earliest and westernmost outpost of the 
Aryan race as yet disclosed to us. The source from which 
they had come must have been the original home of that 
Aryan race behind the northeastern mountains at the 
sources of the Oxus and Jaxartes rivers. The influence 
and language of Mitanni extended westward to Tunip 
in the Orontes valley and eastward to Nineveh. They 
formed a powerful and cultivated state, which, planted thus 
on the road leading westward from Babylon along the 
Euphrates, effectively cut off the latter from her profitable 
western trade, and doubtless had much to do with the decline 
in which Babylon, under her foreign Kassite dynasty, now 
found herself. Assyria was as yet but a new and insig- 
nificant city-kingdom, whose coming struggle with Babylon 
only rendered the Pharaohs less liable to interference from 
the east, in the realization of their plans of conquest in Asia. 
Everything thus conspired to favour the permanence of 
Egyptian power there. 

Under these conditions Thutmose I prepared to quell the 
perpetual revolt in Syria and bring it into such complete 
subjection as he had achieved in Nubia. None of his records 
of the campaign has survived, but the two Ahmoses of El 
Kab were still serving with the army of conquest and in their 
biographies they refer briefly to this war also. Kadesh 
must have been cowed for the time by Amenhotep I, for, 
in so far as we know, Thutmose met with no resistance from 
her, which the two Ahmoses considered worthy of mention. 
Thus, without serious opposition, the Pharaoh reached 
Naharin, or the land of the "rivers," as the name signifies, 
which was the designation of the (>ouutry from the Orontes 
to the Euphrates and beyond, merging into Asia Minor. Here 
the revolt was naturally the most serious as it was farthest 
removed from the Pharaoh 's vengeance. The battle resulted 
in a great slaughter of the Asiatics, followed by the capture 
of large numbers of prisoners. ' ' Meanwhile, ' ' says Ahmose, 


son of Ebana, "I was at the head of our troops and his 
majesty beheld my bravery. I brought off a chariot, its 
horses and him who was upon it as a living prisoner, and I 
took them to his majesty. One presented me with gold in 
double measure.'" His namesake of El Kab, who was 
younger and more vigourous, was even more successful, for 
he captured no less than twenty one hands severed from the 
dead, besides a horse and a chariot.^ These two men are 
typical examples of the followers of the Pharaoh at this 
time. And it is evident that the king understood how to 
make their own prosperity dependent upon the success of 
his arms. Unfortunately for our knowledge of Thutmose 
I's further campaigns, if there were any, the first of these 
biographies and of course also the warlike career which it 
narrates, closes with this campaign, though the younger man 
campaigned with Thutmose II and lived on in favour and 
prosperity till the reign of Thutmose III. 

Somewhere along the Euphrates at its nearest approach 
to the Mediterranean, Thutmose now erected a stone boun- 
dary-tablet, marking the northern and at this point the 
eastern limit of his Syrian possessions.' He had made good 
the boast so proudly recorded, possibly only a year before, 
on the tablet marking the other extreme frontier of his 
empire at the third cataract of the Nile. Henceforth he was 
even less measured in his claims ; for he later boasted to the 
priests of Abydos, "I made the boundary of Egypt as far 
as the circuit of the sun,"* which, in view of the limited and 
vague knowledge of the world possessed by the Egj-ptians 
of that day, was almost true. 

Two Pharaohs had now seen the Euphrates, the Syrian 
dynasts were fully impressed with the power of Egypt, and 
their tribute, together with that of the Beduin and other 
inhabitants of Palestine, began to flow regularly into the 
Egyptian treasury.'^ Thus Thutmose I was able to begin 
the restoration of the temples so neglected since the time of 
the Hyksos. The modest old temple of the Middle Kingdom 

>II. 81. «II, 85. 5 11,478. «II, 98. 5 11.101. 


monarchs at Thebes was no longer in keeping with the 
Pharaoh's increasing wealth and pomp. His chief archi- 
tect, Ineni, was therefore commissioned to erect two massive 
pylons, or towered gateways, in front of tlie old Anion- 
temple, and between these a covered hall, with the roof sup- 
ported upon large cedar columns, brought of course, like 
the splendid silver-gold-tipped flag staves of cedar at the 
temple front, from the new possessions in the Lebanon. The 
huge door was likewise of Asiatic bronze, with the image of 
the god upon it, inlaid with gold.' He likewise restored the 
revered temple of Osiris at Abydos, equipping it with rich 
ceremonial implements and furniture of silver and gold, with 
magnificent images of the gods, such as it had doubtless lost 
in Hyksos days.^ Admonished by his advancing years he 
also endowed it with an income for the offering of mortuary 
oblations to himself, giving the priests instructions regard- 
ing the preservation of his name and memory.* 

» II, 103-4. » II, 92-96. ' II, 97. 



As Thutraose I approached the thirtieth anniversary of 
his accession to the heirship of the throne, which was also 
the thirtieth anniversary of his coronation, he dispatched 
his faithful architect, Ineni, to the granite quarries of the 
first cataract to procure two obelisks with which to celebrate 
the coming Hebsed-festival, "oF thirt^'^years' jubilee. In a 
barge over two hundred feet long and one third as wide 
Ineni floated the great shafts down the river to Thebes, and 
erected them before the pylons of the Karnak temple, which 
H he had likewise constructed for the king.' He inscribed one 
of them, which stands to this day before the temple door, 
.^ with the king's names and titles,^ but before he had begun 

)-— the inscription upon the other unexpected changes inter- 
fered, so that it never bore the name of Thutmose I. He 
was now an old mau^ and the claim to the throne which he 
had thus far successfully maintained, was probably weak- 
ened by the death of his queen, Ahmose, through whom alone 
he had any valid title to the crown. She was the descendant 
and representative of the old Theban princes who had fought 
and expelled the Hyksos, and there was a strong party who 
regarded the blood of this line as alone entitled to royal 
honours. She had borne Thutmose I four children, two sons 
and two daughters; but both sons and one of the daughters 
had died in youth or childhood. The surviving daughter, 

_L- Makere-Hatshepsut, was thus the only child of the old line. 

_r and so strong was the party of legitimacy, that they had 
forced the king, years before, at about the middle of his 

• II, 105. MI, 86-8. »II. 04. I. 11. 



reign, to proclaim her his successor, in spite of the disin- 
clination general throughout Egyptian history to submit to 
the rule of a queen. Among other children, Thutmose I had 
also two sons by other queens: one, who afterward became 
Thutmose II, was the son of a princess Mutnofret; while 
the other, later Thutmose III, had been born to the king 
by an obscure concubine named Isis. The close of Thutmose 
I's reign is involved in deep obscurity, and the following 
reconstruction is not without its difficulties.^ The traces left 
by family dissensions on temple walls are not likely to be 
sufficiently decisive to enable us to follow the complicated 
struggle with certainty three thousand five hundred years 
later. In the period of confusion at the close of Thutmose 
I's reign probably fall the beginning of Thutmose Ill's reign 
and all of the reign of Thutmose II. When the light finally 
breaks Thutmose III is on the throne for a long reign, the 
beginning of which had been interrupted for a short time 
by the ephemeral rule of Thutmose II. Thus, although 
Thutmose Ill's reign really began before that of Thutmose 
II, seven eighths of it falls after Thutmose II 's death, and 
the numbering of the two kings is most convenient as it is. 
Involved in the obscure struggle, with touches of romance 
and dramatic incidents interspersed, are the fortunes of the 
beautiful and gifted princess of the old line, Hatshepsut, 
the daughter of Thutmose I. Possibly after the death of 
her brothers she had been married to her half brother, the 
concubine's son, whom we must call Thutmose III. As he 
was a young prince of no prospects, having, through neither 
his father nor his mother, any claim to the succession, he 
had been placed in the Karnak temple as a priest with the 
rank of prophet. Ere long he had won the priesthood to 
his support, for, on the death of the old queen, Ahmose, 
Thutmose III had the same right to the throne which his 
father had once asserted, that is, by inheritance through his 
wife. To this legal right the priesthood of Amon, who sup- 
ported him, agreed to add that of divine sanction. Whether 

1 II, 307. * 11, 128-130. 


by previous peaceful understanding with Thutiiiose I, or as 
a hostile revolution totally unexpected on his part, the suc- 
cession of Thutinose 111 was suddenly effected by a highly 
dramatic coup d'etat in the temple of Anion. On a feast 
day, as the image of the god was borne, amid the acclama- 
tions of the multitude, from the holy place into the court of 
the temple, the priest, Thutmose III, was stationed with his 
colleagues in the northern colonnade in Thutmose I's hall of 
the temple. The priests bore the god around both sides of 
the colonnade, as if he were looking for some one, and he 
finally stopped before the young prince, who prostrated him- 
self upon the pavement. But the god raised him up, and 
as an indication of his will, had him placed immediately 
in the "Station of the King," which was the ceremonial spot 
where only the king might stand in the celebration of the 
temple ritual. Thutmose I, who had but a moment before 
been burning incense to the god, and presenting him with a 
great oblation, was thus superseded by the will of the same 
god, clearly indicated in public' Thutmose Ill's five-fold 
name and titulary were immediately published, and on the 
third of May, in the year 1501, B. C, he suddenly stepped 
from the duties of an obscure prophet of Amon into the 
palace of the Pharaohs. Years afterward, on the occasion 
of inaugurating some of his new halls in the Karnak temple 
of Amon, he repeated this incident to his assembled court, 
and added that instead of going to Heliopolis to receive there 
the acknowledgment of the sun-god as king of Egypt, he 
was taken up into the heavens where he saw the sun-god in 
all his most glorious splendour, and was duly crowned and 
given his royal names by the god himself. This account of 
unparalleled honour from the gods he then had engraved 
upon a wall of the temple, that all might know of it for 
all time.^ 

Thutmose I was evidently not regarded as a source of 
serious danger, for he was permitted to live on. Thutmose 
III early shook off the party of legitimacy. When he had 

' II. l;!l-l;i(i. i:!8-148. » Ibid. 


been ruling for thirteen months he restored the ancient brick 
temple of his ancestor, Sesostris III, at Semneh, by the 
second cataract, putting in its place a temple of fine Nubian 
sandstone, in which he carefully reerected the old boundary 
stela of the Middle Kingdom' and reenacted the decree of 
Sesostris endowing the offerings in the temple with a perma- 
nent income. Here he makes no reference to any coregency 
of Hatshepsut, his queen, in the royal titulary preceding 
the dedication. Indeed he allowed her no more honourable 
title than "great or chief royal wife." But the party of 
legitimacy was not to be so easily put otf. The nomination 
of Hatshepsut to the succession some fifteen years before, 
and, what was still more important, her descent from the 
old Theban family of the Sekenenres and the AJimoses, were 
things taken seriously by the nobles of this party. As a 
result of their efforts Thutmose III was forced to acknowl- 
edge the coregency of his queen and actually to give her a 
share in the government. Before long her partisans had 
become so strong that the king was seriously hampered, 
and eventually even thrust into the background. Hatshepsut 
thus became king, an enormity with which the state fiction 
of the Pharaoh 's origin could not be harmonized. She was 
called "the female Horus!" The word "majesty" was put 
into a feminine form (as in Egyptian it agrees with the sex 
of the ruler) and the conventions of the court were all warped 
and distorted to suit the rule of a woman. 

Hatshepsut immediately undertook independent works and 
royal monuments, especially a magnificent temple for her 
own mortuary service, which she erected in a bay of the 
cliffs on the west side of the river at Thebes. It is the temple 
now known as that of Der el-Bahri; we shall have occasion 
to refer to it more fully as we proceed. Whether the priestly 
party of Thutmose III and the party of legitimacy so weak- 
ened themselves in the struggle with each other as to fall 
easy victims of a third party, or whether some other varying 
wind of fortune favoured the party of Thutmose II, we can- 

III, 167-176. 


not now discerL. In any ease, when Tliutmose III and bis 
aggressive queen had ruled about five years, Thutmose II, 
allying himself with the old dethroned king, Thutmose I, 
succeeded in thrusting aside Thutmose III and Hatshepsut 
and seizing the crown. Then Thutmose I and II, father and 
son, began a bitter persecution of the memory of Hatshepsut, 
cutting out her name on the monuments and i^lacing both 
their own over it wherever they could find it. 

News of the enmities within the royal house had probably 
now reached Nubia, and on the very day of Thutmose II 's 
accession, the report of a serious outbreak there was handed 
to him. It was of course impossible to leave the court and 
the capital to the intrigues of his enemies at the moment 
when he had barely grasped the sceptre. He was therefore 
obliged to dispatch an army under the command of a subor- 
dinate, who, however, immediately advanced to the third cat- 
aract, where the cattle of the Egyptians settled in the country 
had been in grave danger. Aceoi'ding to instructions the 
Egyptian commander not merely defeated the enemy, but 
slew all their males whom he could find. They captured a 
child of the rebellious Nubian chief and some other natives, 
who were carried to Thebes as hostages and paraded in the 
presence of the enthroned Pharaoh.^ After this chasten- 
ing Nubia again relapsed into quiet; but in the north the 
new Pharaoh was obliged to march against the Asiatic 
revolters as far as Niy, on the Euphrates." On the way out, 
or possibly on the return, he was obliged to conduct a puni- 
tive expedition in southern Palestine against the marauding 
Beduin. He was accompanied by Ahmose-Pen-Nekhbet of 
El Kab, who captured so many prisoners that he did not 
count them.-* This was the last campaign of the old warrior, 
who, like his relative and townsman, Ahmose, son of Ebana, 
then retired to an honoured old age at El Kab. The imposing 
temple of Hatshepsut, now standing gaunt and unfinished, 
abandoned by the workmen, was used by Thutmose II on 
his return from the north for recording a memorial of his 

III, 110-122. '11, 125. Ml, 123-i. 


Asiatic campaign. On one of the vacant walls he depicted 
his reception of tribute from the vanquished, the words 
"horses" and "elephants" being still legible in the accom- 
panying inscription." At this juncture it is probable that 
the death of the aged Thutmose I so weakened the position 
of the feeble and diseased^ Thutmose II that he made com- 
mon cause with Thutmose III, then apparently living in 
retirement, but of course secretly seeking to reinstate him- 
self. In any case we find them together for a brief core- 
gency,* which was terminated by the death of Thutmose II, 
after a reign of not more than three years at most. 

Thutmose III thus held the throne again, but he was not 
able to maintain himself alone against the partisans of 
Hatshepsut, and was forced to a compromise, by which the 
queen was recognized as coregent. Matters did not stop 
here; her party was so powerful, that, although they were 
unable to dispose of Thutmose III entirely, he was again 
relegated to the background, while the queen played the 
leading role in the state. Both she and Thutmose III num- 
bered the years of their joint reign from the first accession 
of Thutmose III, as if it had never been interrupted by the 
short reign of Thutmose II. The queen now entered upon 
an aggressive career as the first great woman in history of 
whom we are informed. Her father's architect, Ineni, thus 
defines the position of the two: after a brief reference to 
Thutmose III as "the ruler upon the throne of him who 
begat him," he says: "His sister, the Divine Consort, 
Hatshepsut, adjusted the affairs of the Two Lands by reason 
of her designs ; Egypt was made to labour with bowed head 
for her, the excellent seed of the god, who came forth from 
him. The bow-cable of the South, the mooring-stake of the 
southerners, the excellent stern-cable of the Northland is 
she ; the mistress of command, whose plans are excellent, 
who satisfies the Two Regions when she speaks." Thus, in 
perhaps the first occurrence of the ship of state, Ineni likens 

1 II, 125. « Masp. Mom. roy., 547. 3 II, 593-5. 


her, in vivid oriental imagery, to the mooring cables of a 
Nile boat.' 

This characterization is confirmed by the deeds of the 
queen. Her partisans had now installed themselves in 
the most powerful offices. Closest to the queen's person 
stood one Senmut (Fig. Ill), who deeply ingratiated him- 
self in her favour. He had been the tutor of Thutmose III 
as a child,- and he was now entrusted with the education of 
the queen's little daughter Nefrure (Fig. Ill), who had 
passed her infancy in charge of the ancient Ahmose-Pen- 
Nekhbet of El Kab, now no longer capable of any more 
serious commission.^ Senmut was then placed in control 
of the young girl's fortune as her steward.'* He had a 
brother named Senmen,^ who likewise supported Hatshep- 
sut's cause. The most powerful of her coterie was Hapu- 
seneb," who was both vizier and High Priest of Amon. He 
was also head of the newly organized priesthood of the whole 
land;" he thus united in his person all the power of the 
administrative government with that of the strong priestly 
party, which was now enlisted in Hatshepsut's favour. 
With such new forces Hatshepsut's party was now oper- 
ating. The aged Ineni was succeeded as "overseer of the 
gold and silver treasury" by a noble named Thutiy,* while 
one Nehsi® was chief treasurer and colleague of Hapuseneb. 
The whole machinery of the state was thus in the hands of 
these partisans of the queen. It is needless to say that the 
fortunes, and probably the lives of these men were identified 
with the success and the dominance of Hatshepsut; they 
therefore took good care that her position should be main- 
tained. In every way they were at great jiains to show that 
the queen had been destined for the throne by the gods from 
the beginning. In her temple at Der el-Bahri, where work 
was now actively resumed, they had sculptured on the walls 
a long series of reliefs'" showing the birth of the queen. 
Here all the details of the old state fiction that the sovereign 

'11,341. 2 Karnak statue. » II, 344. • II, 303 ff. 5 11,348. 

» II, 388 If. ' II, 388. 8 II, 369 ff. » II, 290. '" II, 187 ff. 


should be the bodily son of the sun-god were elaborately de- 
picted. Thutmose I's queen, Ahmose, is shown in converse 
with Amon (the successor of the sun-god Re in Theban the- 
ology), who tells her as he leaves, "Hatshepsut shall be the 
name of this my daughter [to be born]. . . . She shall exer- 
cise the excellent kingship in this whole land. ' " The reliefs 
thus show how she was designed by the divine will from the 
first to rule Egypt, and hence they proceed to picture her 
birth, accompanied by all the prodigies, which both the con- 
ventions of the court and the credulity of the folk associated 
with the advent of the sun-god's heir.^ The artist who did 
the work followed the current tradition so closely that the 
new-born child appears as a boy, showing how the intro- 
duction of a woman into the situation was wrenching the 
inherited forms. To such scenes they added others, show- 
ing her coronation by the gods, and then the acknowledg- 
ment of her as queen by Thutmose I before the assembled 
court on New Year's day.^ The accompanying narrative 
of these events they copied from the old Twelfth Dynasty 
records of Amenemhet Ill's similar appointment by his 
father, Sesostris III. As a discreet reminder to any who 
might be inclined to oppose the queen's rule, these inscrip- 
tions were so framed by the queen's party that they rep- 
resent Thutmose I as saying to the court, "Ye shall pro- 
claim her word, ye shall be united at her command. He 
who shall do her homage shall live, he who shall speak evil 
in blasphemy of her majesty shall die."* On the pylon, 
which Thutmose I built as a southern approach to the 
Karnak temple, he was even depicted before the Theban gods 
praying for a prosperous reign for his daughter.' With 
such devices as these it was sought to overcome the pi'ejudice 
against a queen upon the throne of the Pharaohs. 

Hatshepsut 's first enterprise was, as we have intimated, 
to continue the building of her magnificent temple against 
the western cliffs at Thebes where her father and brother 
had inserted their names over hers. The building was in 

III, 198. 2 11, 187 ff. »n, 215. *II, 237, 11. 15-16. * n, 243 ff. 


design quite unlike the great temples of the age. It was 
modelled after the little terraced temple of Mentuhote]i II 
in a neighbouring bay of the cliflfs. In a series of three 
terraces it rose from the plain to the level of an elevated 
court, flanked by the massive yellow cliffs, into which the 
holy of holies was cut. In front of the terraces were ranged 
fine colonnades, which, when seen from a distance, to this 
day exhibit such an exquisite sense of proportion and of 
proper grouping, as to quite disprove the common assertion 
that the Greeks were the first to understand the art of adjust- 
ing external colonnades, and that the Egyptian understood 
only the employment of the column in interiors (Fig. 113). 
The architect of the temple was Senmut, the queen's favour- 
ite,' while Ineni's successor, Thutiy,^ wrought the bronze 
doors, chased with figures in electrum, and other metal work. 
The queen found especial pleasure in the design of the 
temple. She saw in it a paradise of Amon and conceived 
its terraces as the "myrrh-terraces" of Punt, the original 
home of the gods. She refers in one of her inscriptions to 
the fact that Amon had desired her "to establish for him 
a Punt in his house. "^ To carry out the design fully it was 
further necessary to plant the terraces with the myrrh trees 
from Punt. Her ancestors had often sent expeditions 
thither, but none of these parties had ever been equipped 
to bring back the trees; and indeed for a long time, as far 
back as any one could remember, even the myrrh necessary 
for the incense in the temple service had been passed from 
hand to hand by overland traffic until it reached Egypt.* 
Foreign traffic had suffered severely during the long reign 
of the Hyksos. But one day as the queen stood before the 
shrine of the god, "a command was heard from the great 
throne, an oracle of the god himself, that the ways to Punt 
should be searched out, that the highways to the myrrh-ter- 
races should be penetrated.'" For, so says the god, "It is 
a glorious region of God's-Land, it is indeed my place of 
delight; I have made it for myself in order to divert my 

111,351,11.6-7. « II, 375. a II, 295. '11,287. 5 11,285,1.5. 


•fdl).^ \ 







([i^yDsii^s* ^ 

•Sf^MMS.'} ^ 

m^m-i 7 

i^Hju'^ti ^ 




heart. ' ' ' The queen adds, ' ' it was done according to all that 
the majesty of tliis god commanded. "" 

The organization and dispatch of the expedition were nat- 
urally entrusted by the (lueen to the chief treasurer, Xehsi, 
in whose cotfers the wealth l)rought back by the expedition 
were to be stored.' With propitiatory offerings to the divin- 
ities of the air to ensure a fair wind, the five vessels of the 
fleet set sail early in the ninth year of the queen's reign." 
The route was down the Xile and through a canal leading 
from the eastern Delta through the Wadi Tumilat, and con- 
necting the Nile with the Red Sea. This canal, as the 
reader will recall (see p. 188), was already in regular use 
in the Middle Kingdom. Besides plentiful merchandise for 
barter, the fleet bore a great stone statue of the queen, to 
be erected in Punt. If still surviving there, it is the most 
remote statue ever erected by an Egyptian ruler. They ar- 
rived in Punt in safety; the Egyptian commander pitched 
his tent on the shore, where he was received with friendliness 
by Perehu, the chief of Punt, followed by his absurdly corpu- 
lent wife and three children.-'' It was so long since any Egyp- 
tians had been seen in Punt that the Egyptians represented 
the Puntites as crying out, "Why have ye come hither unto 
this land, which the people [of Egypt] know not? Did ye 
descend upon the roads of heaven, or did ye sail upon the 
waters, upon the sea of God's-Land!"^ The Puntite chief 
having been won with gifts, a stirring traffic is soon in prog- 
ress,'^ the ships are drawn up to the beach, the gang-planks 
run out, and the loading goes ra]iidly forward, until the ves- 
sels are laden "very heavily with marvels of the country of 
Punt; all goodly fragrant woods of God's-Land, heaps of 
myrrh-resin, of fresh myrrh-trees, with ebony and pure 
ivory, with green gold of Emu, with cinnamon-wood, with 
incense, eye-cosmetic, with baboons, monkeys, dogs, with 
skins of the southern panther, with natives and their chil- 
dren. Never was the like of this brought for any king who 

III, 288. «II, 285, 1. fi. 'TI, 290. « II, 252-3. 202 

«II, 251 « II, 257. ' II, 2.59. 


has been since the beginning. ' ' ' After a fair voyage, with- 
out mishap, and with no transfer of cargo as far as our 
sources inform us, the fleet finally moored again at the docks 
of Thebes.^ Probably the Thebans had never before been 
diverted by such a sight as now greeted them, when the 
motley array of Puntites and the strange products of their 
far-off country passed through the streets to the queen's 
palace, where the Egyptian commander presented them to 
her majesty. After inspecting the results of her great expe- 
dition, the queen immediately presented a portion of them 
to Amon, together with the impost of Nubia, with which 
Punt was always classed. She offered to the god thirty one 
living myrrh-trees, electrum, eye-cosmetic, throw-sticks of 
the Puntites, ebony, ivory shells, a live southern panther, 
which had been especially caught for her majesty, many pan- 
ther skins and 3,300 small cattle.^ Huge piles of myrrh of 
twice a man's statui'e were now measured in grain-measures 
under the oversight of the queen's favourite, Thutiy, and 
large rings of commercial gold were weighed in tall balances 
ten feet high.* Then, after formally announcing to Amon 
the success of the expedition which his oracle had called 
forth,' Hatshepsut summoned the court, giving to her favour- 
ites, Senmut, and the chief treasurer, Nehsi, who had dis- 
patched the expedition, places of honour at her feet, while 
she told the nobles the result of her great venture. ° She 
reminded them of Anion's oracle commanding her "to estab- 
lish for him Punt in his house, to i^lant the trees of God's- 
Land beside his temple in his garden, according as he com- 
manded." She proudly continues, "It was done. ... I 
have made for him a Punt in his garden, just as he com- 
manded me. ... It is large enough for him to walk abroad 
in It."^ Thus the splendid temple was made a terraced 
myrrh-garden for the god, though the energetic queen was 
obliged to send to the end of the known world to do it for 
him. She had all the incidents of the remarkable expedition 

'11,265. 2 11,206. '11,270-272. * 11, 273-282. 

5 11,283-8. •11,289-295. '11,295. 


recorded in relief on the wall once appropriated by Thut- 
mose II for the record of his Asiatic campaign,^ where they 
still form one of the great beauties of her temple. All her 
chief favourites found place among the scenes. Senmut was 
even allowed to depict himself on one of the walls praying to 
Hathor for the queen, an unparalleled honour.^ 

This unique temple was in its function the culmination of 
a new development in the arrangement and architecture of 
the royal tomb and its chapel or temple. Perhaps because 
they had other uses for their resources, perhaps because they 
recognized the futility of so vast a tomb, which yet failed 
to preserve from violation the body of the builder, the 
Pharaoh, as we have seen, had gradually abandoned the con- 
struction of a pyramid. With its mortuary chapel on the 
east front, it had survived probably into the reign of Ahmose 
I, but it had been gradually declining in size and importance, 
while the shaft and chambers under it and the chapel before 
it remained relatively large. Amenhotep I was the last to 
follow the old traditions ; he pierced a passage two hundred 
feet long into the western cliffs of Thebes, terminating in a 
mortuary chamber for the reception of the royal body.* 
Before the cliff, at the entrance to the passage, he built a 
modest mortuary chapel, surmounted by a pyramidal roof, to 
which we have already adverted.* Probably for purposes 
of safety Thutmose I then took the radical step of separating 
the tomb from the mortuary chapel before it. The latter 
was still left upon the plain at the foot of the cliffs, but the 
sepulchre chamber, with the passage leading to it (Figs. 
109-10) was hewn into the rocky wall of a wild and desolate 
valley (Fig. 108), lying behind the western cliffs, some two 
miles in a direct line from the river, and accessible only by 
a long detour northward, involving nearly twice that dis- 
tance. It is evident that the exact spot where the king's 
body was entombed was intended to be kept secret, that all 
possibility of robbing the royal burial might be precluded. 

' See p. 276; II. 246-295. « Infra, pp. 270-71. ' II, 345. 

«IV, ,513 and notes. « P. 2.54. 


Thutinose I's architect, Ineni, says that he superintended 
"the excavation of the clit¥-tomb of his majesty alone, no 
one seeing and no one hearing.'" ) The new arrangement 
was such that the sepulchre was still behind the chapel or 
temple, which thus continued to be on the east of the tomb 
as before, although the two were now separated by the inter- 
vening cliffs. The valley, now known as the "Valley of the 
Kings' Tombs" rapidly filled with the vast excavations of 
Thutmose I 's successors. It continued to be the cemetery \ 
of the Eighteenth, Nineteenth and Twentieth Dynasties, and 
over forty tombs of the Theban kings were excavated there. 
Forty one now accessible form one of the wonders which 
attract the modern Nile-tourists to Thebes, and Strabo 
speaks of forty which were worthy to be visited in his time. 
Hatshepsut 's terraced sanctuary was therefore her mortuary 
temple, dedicated also to her father. As the tombs multi- 
plied in the valley behind, there rose upon the plain before 
it temple after temple endowed for the mortuary service of 
the departed gods, the emperors who had once ruled Egypt. 
They were besides also sacred to Amon as the state god; 
but they bore euphemistic names significant of their mor- 
tuary function. Thus, for example, the temple of Thutmose 
III was called "Gift of Life. "^ Hatshepsut 's architect, 
Hapuseneb, who was also her vizier, likewise excavated her 
tomb^ in the desolate valley. In its eastern wall, imme- 
diately behind the terraced temple, the passage descended 
at a sharp decline for many hundred feet, and terminated 
in several chambers, one of which contained a sarcophagus 
both for herself and her father, Thutmose I. But the family 
feud was probably responsible for his construction of his 
own tomb, on a modest scale, as we have seen, and he doubt- 
less never used the sarcophagus made for him by his 
daughter. Both sarcophagi, however had been robbed in 
antiquity and contained no remains when recently discovered. 
The aggressive queen's attention to the arts of peace, her 
active devotion to the development of the resources of her 

1 II, 106. 2 II, 552. 5 II. 389. 


empire, soon began to bring in returns. Besides the vast 
income of the crown from internal sources, Hatshepsut was 
also receiving tribute from her wide empire, extending from 
the third cataract of the Nile to the Euphrates. As she herself 
claimed, "My southern boundary is as far as Punt . . . ; 
my eastern boundary is as far as the marshes of Asia, and 
the Asiatics are in my grasp; my western boundary is as 
far as the mountain of Manu [the sun-set] . . . my fame is 
among the Sand-dwellers [Beduin] altogether. The myrrh 
of Punt has been brought to me . . . , all the luxurious mar- 
vels of this countiy were brought to my palace in one col- 
lection. . . . They have brought to me the choicest products 
... of cedar, of juniper and of meru-wood; ... all the 
goodly sweet woods of God's-Land. I brought the tribute 
of Tehenu [Libya], consisting of ivory and seven hundred 
tusks which were there, numerous panther skins of five 
cubits along the back and four cubits wide.'" Evidently 
no serious trouble in Asia had as yet resulted from the fact 
that there was no longer a warrior upon the throne of the 
Pharaohs. This energetic woman tlierefore began to employ 
her new wealth in the restoration of the old temples, which, 
although two generations had elapsed, had not even yet 
recovered from the neglect which they had suffered under 
the Hyksos.^ She recorded her good work upon a rock 
temple of Pakht at Beni Hasan, saying, "I have restored 
that which was ruins, I have raised up that which was unfin- 
ished since the Asiatics were in the midst of Avaris of the 
Northland, and the barbarians in the midst of them, over- 
throwing that which had been made while they ruled in 
ignorance of Re. "^ 

It was now seven or eight years since she and Thutmose 
III had regained the throne and fifteen years since they had 
first seized it. Thutmose III had never been appointed heir 
to the succession, but his queen had enjoyed that honour, and 
it was now nearing the thirtieth anniversary of her appoint- 
ment, when she might celebrate her jubilee. She must there- 

' II, 321. II, 206 IT. » II. 30.-!. 


The standing shaft is ninety-seven and one-half feet hieh 


fore make preparation for the erection of the obelisks, which 
were the customary memorial of such jubilees. Of this, the 
queen herself tells us: "I sat in the palace, I remembered 
him who fashioned me, my heart led me to make for him two 
obelisks of electrum, whose points mingled with heaven.'" 
Her inevitable favourite, Senmut, was therefore called in 
and instructed to proceeed to the granite quarries at the first 
cataract to secure the two gigantic shafts for the obelisks. 
He levied the necessary forced labour and began work early 
in February of the queen 's fifteenth year. By early August, 
exactly seven months later, he had freed the huge blocks 
from the quarry,^ was able to employ the high water then 
rapidly approaching to float them, and towed them to Thebes 
before the inundation had again fallen. The queen then 
chose an extraordinary location for her obelisks, namely, the 
very colonnaded hall of the Karnak temple erected by her 
father, where her husband Thutmose III had been named 
king by oracle of Amon; although this necessitated the 
removal of all her father's cedar columns in the south half 
of the hall and four of those in the north half, besides, of 
course, unroofing the hall, and demolishing the south wall, 
where the obelisks were introduced. They were richly over- 
laid with electrum, the work on which was done for the queen 
by Thutiy.^ She avers that she measured out the precious 
metal by the peck, like sacks of grain,* and she is supported 
in this extraordinary statement by Thutiy, who states that 
by royal command he piled up in the festival hall of the 
palace no less than nearly twelve bushels of electrum.^ The 
queen boasts of their beauty, "their summits being of elec- 
trum of the best of every country, which are seen on both 
sides of the river. Their rays flood the Two Lands when the 
sun rises between them as he dawns in the horizon of 
heaven."^ They towered so high (Fig. 114) above the dis- 
mantled hall of Thutmose I that the queen recorded a long 

' II, 317, 11. 6-7. « II, 318. > II, 376, 1. 28. 

<II, 319, 1. 3. 5 11^ 377^ 1. 30-38. '11, 315. 


oath, swearing by all the gods that they were each of one 
block.' They were indeed the tallest shafts ever erected 
in Egypt up to that time, being ninety seven and a half feet 
high and weighing nearly three hundred and tifty tons each. 
One of them still stands, an object of constant admiration to 
the modern visitor at Thebes (Pig. 114). Hatshepsut at the 
same time erected two more large obelisks at Karnak, though 
they have now pei-ished.'^ It is possible that she also set up 
two more, at her terraced temple, making six in all ; for she 
has recorded there the transportation of two great shafts on 
the river, depicting the achievement in a relief,^ which shows 
the obelisks end to end on a huge barge, towed by thirty 
galleys, with a total of some nine hundred and sixty oarsmen. 
But this scene may refer to the first two obelisks as they were 
brought down the river by Senmut. 

Besides her obelisks, erected in her sixteenth year, we 
learn of another enterprise of Hatshepsut in the same year 
from a relief in the Wadi Maghara^ in Sinai, whither the tire- 
less queen had sent a mining expedition, resuming the work 
there which had been interrupted ])y the Hyksos invasion. 
This work in Sinai continued in her name until the twentieth 
year of her reign.* Some time between this date and 
the close of the year twenty one, when we find Thutmose 
III ruling-alone, the great queen must have died. If we 
have spent some space on her buildings and expeditions, it 
has been because she was a woman, in an age when warfare 
was impossible for her sex, and great achievements could 
only be hers in the arts and enterprises of peace. Great 
though she was, her rule was a distinct misfortune, falling, 
as it did, at a time when Egypt's power in Asia had not yet 
been seriously tested, and Syria was only too ready to revolt. 

Thutmose III was not chivalrous in his treatment of her 
when she was gone. He had suffered too much. Burning 
to lead his forces into Asia, he had been assigned to such 
puerile functions as offering incense to Anion on the return 

111, 318. Ml. 304-330. MI, .322 ff. « II. 337. 

'Petrie, Cat. of Egyptian Antiquities found in the Peninsula of Sinai, etc., 
p. 19. 


of the queen's expedition to Punt; or his restless energies 
had been allowed to ex^jend themselves on building his mor- 
tuary temple of the western plain of Thebes. Considering 
the age in which he lived, we must not too much blame him 
for his treatment of the departed queen. Around her obe- 
lisks in her father's hall at Karnak he now had a masonry 
sheathing built, covering her name and the record of her 
erection of them on the base. Everywhere he had her name 
erased and in the terraced temple on all the walls both her 
figure and her name have been hacked out. Her partisans 
doubtless all fled. If not they must have met short shrift. 
In the relief-scenes in the same temple, where Senmut and 
Nehsi and Thutiy had been so proud to appear, their names 
and their figures were ruthlessly chiselled away. The queen 
had given Senmut three statues in the Theban temples and 
on all these his name was erased; in his tomb and on his mor- 
tuary stela his name vanished. A statue of the vizier Hapu- 
seneb was treated in the same way.' Thutiy 's tomb was 
likewise visited and his name obliterated, the tomb of 
Senmen, Senmut 's brother, did not escape, and the name of a 
colleague of theirs who was buried in the next tomb was so 
effectually erased that we do not know who he was. Even 
distant Silsileh was visited at the king's orders that the 
tomb of the queen's "chief steward" might be dealt with 
in the same way.^ And these mutilated monuments stand to 
this day, grim witnesses of the great king's vengeance. But 
in Hatshepsut's splendid temple her fame still lives, and the 
masonry around her Karnak obelisk has fallen down, expos- 
ing the gigantic shaft to proclaim to the modern world the 
greatness of Hatshepsut. 

1 II, p. 160, note f. s II, 348. 



In the year fifteen Hatshepsut and Thutmose III still con- 
trolled their Asiatic dependencies as far north as the Leb- 
anon.' From that time until we find him marching into 
Asia, late in the year twenty two, we are not informed of 
what took place there; but the conditions which then con- 
fronted him and the course of his subsequent campaigns, 
make it evident how matters had gone with Egyptian su- 
premacy during the interim. Not having seen an Egyptian 
army for many years, the Syrian dynasts grew continually 
more restless, and finding that their boldness called forth no 
response from the Pharaoh, the king of Kadesh, once prob- 
ably the suzerain of all Syria-Palestine, had stirred all the 
city-kings of northern Palestine and Syria to accept his 
leadership in a great coalition, in which they at last felt them- 
selves strong enough to begin open revolt. Kadesh thus 
assumed its head with a power in which we should evidently 
recognize the surviving prestige of her old time more ex- 
tended and unchallenged suzerainty. "Behold from Yeraza 
[in northern Judea] to the marshes of the earth [upper 
Euphrates], they had begun to revolt against his majesty."^ 
But southern Palestine was loth to take up arms against the 
Pharaoh. Sharuhen, which had suffered a six years' siege at 
the hands of Ahmose in Hyksos days, was too well aware of 
what to expect thoughtlessly to assume the offensive against 
Egypt. Hence the whole region of southern Palestine, which 
had witnessed that siege, was not differently minded, but a 
small minority probably desired to join the revolt. Hence 
civil war arose in Sharuhen, as well as in the south generally, 

'II, 137, 1G2. MI, 416. 



as the allies sought to compel the southern dynasts to join the 
uprising and send a quota to the army which they were rais- 
ing.* Not only were "all the allied countries of Zahi, "^ or 
western Syria, in open rebellion against the Pharaoh, but it 
is also evident that the great kingdom of Mitanni, on the east 
of the Euphrates, had done all in her power to encourage the 
rebellion and to support it when once in progress ; for Thut- 
mose III was ultimately obliged to invade Mitanni and 
punish its king before he could maintain Egyptian suprem- 
acy in Naharin. It was natural that Mitanni, an aggressive 
and active power, competing with the infant Assyria on 
more than equal terms, should view with distrust the pres- 
ence of a new and great empire on its western borders. The 
Mitannian king had finally learned what to expect from 
Egypt and he would naturally exert himself to the utmost 
to rehabilitate the once great kingdom of Kadesh, as a buffer 
between himself and Egypt. Against such formidable re- 
sources as these, then, Thutmose III was summoned to con- 
tend, and no Pharaoh before his time had ever undertaken so 
great a task. 

In what condition the long unused Egyptian army may 
have been, or how long it took Thutmose to reorganize and pre- 
pare it for service, we have no means of knowing. The armies 
of the early orient, at least those of Egypt, were not large, 
and it is not probable that any Pharaoh ever invaded Asia 
with more than twenty five or thirty thousand men, while less 
than twenty thousand is probably nearer the usual figure.* 
Late in his twenty second year we find Thutmose with his 
army ready to take the field. He marched from Tharu, the 
last Egyptian city on the northeastern frontier, about the 19th 
of April, 1479 B. C. ' Nine days later, that is, on April 28th, 
he reached Gaza, one hundred and sixty miles from Tharu. " 
In the Egyptian calendar the day was the fourth of Pakhons, 
his coronation day, just twenty two years since the oracle of 
Amon had proclaimed him king in his father's colonnaded 

' II, 416. t 11^ 616 » See the author's Battle of Kaoesh, pp. 8-11. 

» II, 409, 415. 6 II, 409, 417. 



teniplp hall at Karnak. It had been long indeed, but the 
opportunity for whioh he had ceaselessly plotted and planned 
and striven was at last his. He was not the man to waste 
the day in a futile celebration, but having arrived in the 

P V ^ \ u 

Map 4. The Caemel Ridge. 

Sliowing llegiddo, Taanach, the Roads leading across the Ridge to Megiddo, 

and Positions of the Two Armies at the Beginning of the Battle. 

evening of the coronation anniversary, he was away for the 
north again the very next morning.' Marching along the 
Shephelah and through the sea-plain, he crossed the plain of 
Sharon, turning inland as he did so, and camped on the 
evening of May lOth at Yehem, a town of uncertain location, 
some eighty or ninety miles from Gaza, on the southern slopes 

' II, 418. 


of the Carmel range.' Meantime the army of the Asiatic 
allies under the command of the king of Kadesh, had pushed 
southward as far as the territory of their adherents extended, 
and had occupied the strong fortress of Megiddo, in the plain 
of Jezreel, on the north slope of the Carmel ridge. This 
place, which here appears in history for the first time, was 
not only a powerful stronghold, but occupied an important 
strategic position, commanding the road from Egypt between 
the two Lebanons to the Euphrates, hence its prominent role 
in oriental history from this time on. Thutmose, of course, 
regarded all this country as his own, and hence afterward 
says: "The lands of the Fenkhu [Asiatics] . . . had begun 
to invade my boundary. ' '- 

Thus far he had been advancing through friendly towns, 
or at least through regions where no open disaffection pre- 
vailed; but as he neared Carmel it was necessary to move 
with caution. At Yehem he learned of the enemy 's occupa- 
tion of Megiddo, and he called a council of his officers to 
ascertain the most favourable route for crossing the ridge 
and reaching the plain of Esdraelon.^ There were three 
roads practicable for an army leading from Yehem over the 
mountain; one which made a direct line by way of Aruna 
for the gates of Megiddo; and two involving a detour to 
either side, the first leading around southward by way of 
Taanach, about five miles southeast of Megiddo; and the 
other northward through Zefti, emerging on the northwest 
of Megiddo.* Thutmose characteristically favoured the direct 
route, but his officers urged that the other roads were more 
open, while the middle one was a narrow pass. "Will not 
horse come behind horse," they asked, "and man behind man 
likewise! Shall our advance-guard be fighting while our 
rear-guard is yet standing in Aruna'?'"' These objections 
showed a good military understanding of the dangers of the 
pass ; but Thutmose swore a round oath that he would move 
against his enemies by the most direct route, and they might 
follow or not as they pleased.® Accordingly, making his 

1 II, 419. » II, 430. » II, 420. 

* II, 421. See Map 4. = Ibid. « II, 422. 


preparations very deliberately, he moved to Aruna on the 
thirteenth of May.' To prevent surprise and also to work 
upon the courage of his army, he personally took the head of 
the column, vowing that none should precede him, but that 
he would go "forth at the head of his army himself, showing 
the way by his own footsteps."^ Aruna lay well up in the 
mountain ridge, accessible only by a stretch of narrow road; 
but he reached it in safety, and passed the night of the thir- 
teenth there. At this point his army must have been dis- 
tributed for a long distance along the road from Aruna back 
to Yehem; but on the morning of the fourteenth he pushed 
quickly forward again. He had not been long on the march 
when he came in touch with the enemy.* Had they been in 
force he must have suffered, in view of his long and strag- 
gling line of march, extended along the narrow mountain 
road. Fortunately the pass now widened and he was able 
to expand his advance in a spreading valley. Here, on the 
urgent advice of his officers, he held the enemy in check until 
his rear, which was still in Aruna, came up.* The enemy 
had not been in sufficient force to take advantage of his pre- 
carious position, and he now pushed on his advance again. 
It was just past midday when his forward column emerged 
from the pass upon the plain of Esdraelon, and by one 
o'clock Thutmose halted without opposition on the south of 
Megiddo, "on the bank of the brook Kina.'"^ The Asiatics 
had thus lost an inestimable opportunity to destroy him in 
detail. They seem to have been too far toward the south- 
east to draw in quickly and concentrate against his thin line 
of march as it defiled from the mountains. It is impossible 
to determine their exact position, but when the skirmishing 
in the mountains took place their southern wing was at 
Taanach,' doubtless in the expectation that Thutmose would 
cross the mountain by the Taanach road. From Taanaeh 
their line could not have extended as far north as Megiddo, 
otherwise it would have been impossible for the Egyptians 
peacefully to emerge from the defile and debouch upon the 

I II, 424-5. 2 Ibid. » II, 425. • II, 420. » II. 427. « II. 428. ' II, 426. 


slope south of Megiddo. Thutmose went into camp on the 
plain by Megiddo, sending out orders to the entire army to 
make ready for the battle on the morrow. Preparations for 
the conflict then went quietly on, and the best of order and 
spirit prevailed in the camp.* Late in the afternoon of the 
same day (the fourteenth), or during the ensuing night, 
Thutmose took advantage of the enemy 's position on the east 
and southeast of his own force to draw his line around the 
west side of Megiddo and boldly threw out his left wing on 
the northwest of the city.' He thus secured, in case of neces- 
sity, a safe and easy line of retreat westward along the Zefti 
road, while at the same time his extreme left might cut off 
the enemy from flight northward. 

Early the next morning, the fifteenth of May, Thutmose 
gave orders to form and move out in order of battle. In a 
glittering chariot of electrum he took up his position with 
the centre ; his right or southern wing rested on a hill south 
of the brook of Kina; while, as we have seen, his left was 
northwest of Megiddo.* To protect their stronghold the 
Asiatics now drew in between Thutmose 's line and the city, 
from which, of course, supplementary forces emerged. He 
immediately attacked them, leading the onset himself "at 
the head of his army."* "The king himself, he led the way 
of his army, mighty at its head like a flame of fire, the king 
who wrought with his sword. He went forth, none like him, 
slaying the barbarians, smiting Retenu, bringing their 
princes as living captives, their chariots wrought with gold, 
bound to their horses."^ The enemy gave way at the first 
charge, "they fled headlong to Megiddo in fear, abandoning 
their horses and their chariots of gold and silver, and the 
people hauled them up, pulling them by their clothing into 
this city; the people of this city having closed it against 
them and lowered clothing to pull them up into this city. 
Now if only the army of his majesty had not given their 
heart to plundering the things of the enemy they would have 

■ II, 429. « Proved by his position the next day. 

•II, 430, 1. 3. «Ibid., 1. 4. s II, 413. 



captured Megiddo at this moment, when the wretched van- 
quished king of Kadesh and the wretched vanquished king 
of this city [Megiddo] were hauled up in haste to bring 
them into this city.'" But the discipline of an oriental 
army cannot to this day withstand a rich display of plunder ; 
much less could the host of Egypt in the fifteenth century 
B. C. resist the spoil of the combined annies of Syria. 
"Then were captured their horses, their chariots of gold and 
silver were made spoil. . . . Their champions lay stretched 
out like fishes on the ground. The victorious army of bis 
majesty went round counting the spoils, their portions. Be- 
hold there was captured the tent of that wretched vanquished 
foe [the king of Kadesh] in which was his son. . . . The 
whole army made jubilee, giving praise to Anion for the 
victory which he had granted to his son. . . . They brought 
in the booty which they had taken, consisting of hands [sev- 
ered from the slain], living prisoners, of horses, chariots, 
gold and silver."^ It is evident that in the disorganized 
rout the camp of the king of Kadesh fell into the hands of 
the Elgyptians and they brought its rich and luxurious furni- 
ture to the Pharaoh. 

But the stern Thutmose was not to be placated by these 
tokens of victory ; he saw only what had been lost. "Had ye 
afterwards captured this city," said he to the troops, "behold 
I would have given [a rich offering to] Re this day; because 
every chief of every country that has revolted is within it; 
and because it is the capture of a thousand cities, this capture 
of Megiddo.'" Hereupon he gave orders for the instant 
investment of the city; "they measured this city, surround- 
ing it with an enclosure, walled about with green timber of 
all their jileasant trees. His majesty himself was upon the 
fortification east of the city, inspecting what was done."* 
Thutmose boasts after his return to Egypt, saying, "Amon 
gave to me all the allied countries of Zahi shut up in one 
city. ... I snared them in one city, T built around them with 
a rampart of thick wall."^ They called this wall of invest- 

1 II, 430, 1. 5. 2 II, 431. » IT. 43?. < II. 433. ^ n, 616, 440. 


ment : ' ' Tliutmose is the Surrounder of the Asiatics, ' ' ' 
according to the custom under the Empire of naming every 
royal building after the king. The closest vigilance was 
enjoined upon the troops that none might escape, and no one 
from within the city was allowed to approach the siege-lines 
unless with the purpose of surrendering. But, as we shall 
see, before Tliutmose had succeeded in closely investing the 
place, the king of Kadesh had escaped northward, which was 
exactly what Thutmose had desired to prevent in swinging 
his left wing around the northwest angle of the city on the 
night before the battle. As the siege went on, the dynasts 
who were fortunate enough not to be shut up in the city 
hastened to make their peace with the incensed Pharaoh ; 
"the Asiatics of all countries came with bowed head, doing 
obeisance to the fame of his majesty.'" Of the course of 
the siege meanwhile and of the assaults of the Egyptians, 
we are not informed. The priestly scribe of our only source 
remarks, "Now all that his majesty did to this city, to that 
wretched foe and his wretched army was recorded on each 
day by its [the day's] name . . . recorded upon a roll of 
leather in the temple of Amon to this day."^ But this pre- 
cious roll, like the book of chronicles of the kings of Judah, ** 
has perished, and our narrative suffers much from its loss. 
The season was far enough advanced so that the Egyptians 
foraged on the grain-fields of the plain of Esdraelon, while 
its herds furnished them the fat of the land. They were the 
first host, of whom we have knowledge, to ravage this fair 
plain, destined to be the battle ground of the east and west 
from Thutmose III to Napoleon. But within the walls all 
was different; proper provision for a siege had not been 
made, and famine finally wrought its customary havoc in 
the beleaguered town, which, after sustaining the siege for 
some weeks, at length surrendered. But the king of Kadesh 
was not among the prisoners. "These Asiatics who were 
in the wretched Megiddo . . . came forth to the fame of 
Thutmose III, who is given life, saying, 'Give us a chance, 

III, 4.33. m, 440. 3 II, 433. *1 Kings 15: 23. 


that we may present to thy majesty our impost.' '" Then 
they came, bringing that which belonged to them, to do 
obeisance to the fame of his majesty, to crave the breath of 
their nostrils, because of the greatness of his power. ' ' " 
"Then," says Thutmose, "my majesty commanded to give 
to them the breath of life, ' '^ and it is evident that he treated 
them with the greatest leniency. The frightful destruction 
of whole cities, of which the Assyrian kings boasted when 
recounting their treatment of rebels, is nowhere found among 
the records of the Pharaohs. To compensate for the failure 
to capture the dangerous king of Kadesh himself, they 
secured his family as hostages ; for Thutmose says, ' ' Lo, my 
majesty carried otf the wives of that vanquished one, together 
with his children, and the wives of the chiefs who were there, 
together with their children."^ 

Rich as had been the spoil on the battle-field, it was not to 
be compared with the wealth which awaited the Pharaoh in 
the captured city. Nine hundred and twenty four chariots, 
including those of the kings of Kadesh and Megiddo, two 
thousand two hundred and thirty eight horses, two hundred 
suits of armour, again including those of the same two kings, 
the gorgeous tent of the king of Kadesh, some two thousand 
large cattle and twenty two thousand five hundred small 
cattle, the magnificent household furniture of the king of 
Kadesh, and among it his royal sceptre, a silver statue, per- 
haps of his god, and an ebony statue of himself, wrought with 
gold and lapis-lazuli.* Immense quantities of gold and 
silver were also taken from the cit}', but they are combined 
with the spoil of other cities in Thutmose 's account of the 
plunder, and we cannot determine how much came out of 
Megiddo alone. The cattle, of course, came from the country 
round about ; otherwise the city would not have suffered from 
famine. Before they left, the ai-my also harvested the fields 
of the plain of Esdraelon around Megiddo, and gathered 
over one hundred and thirteen thousand bushels, after the 
army had foraged on the fields during the siege." 

'11,441. 2 11,434. > 11, 442. • II, 596. « II, 435. •11,437. 


Thutmose lost no time in marching as far northward as 
the hostile strongholds and the lateness of the season would 
permit. He reached the southern slopes of Lebanon, where 
the three cities of Yenoam, Nuges and Herenkeru formed a 
kind of Tripolis under the government of "that foe," who 
was possibly the king of Kadesh. They quickly succumbed, 
if their king had not already been among those to send in 
their submission, while Thutmose was still besieging Me- 
giddo. In order to prevent another southward advance of 
the still unconquered king of Kadesh and to hold command 
of the important road northward between the Lebanons, 
Thutmose now built a fortress at this point, which he called 
" Thutmose -is -the -Binder- of- the -Barbarians, '" using the 
same rare word for "barbarian" which Hatshepsut applies 
to the Hyksos. He now began the reorganization of the con- 
quered territory, supplanting the old revolting dynasts, of 
course, with others who might be expected to show loyalty 
to Egypt. ^ These new rulers were allowed to govern much 
as they pleased, if only they regularly and promptly sent in 
the yearly tribute to Egypt. In order to hold them to their 
obligations Thutmose carried off with him to Egypt their 
eldest sons, whom he placed in a special quarter or building 
called "Castle in Thebes."' Here they were educated and 
so treated as to engender feelings of friendliness toward 
Egypt ; and whenever a king of one of the Syrian cities died 
"his majesty would cause his son to stand in his place."* 
Thutmose now controlled all Palestine as far north as the 
southern end of Lebanon, and further inland also Damascus." 
In so far as they had rebelled, he stripped all the towns of 
their wealth, and returned to Egypt with some four hundred 
and twenty six pounds of gold and silver in commercial 
rings or wrought into magnificent vessels and other objects 
of art, besides untold quantities of less valuable property 
and the spoil of Megiddo already mentioned.* 

Early in October Thutmose had reached Thebes, and we 
can be certain that it was such a return to the capital as no 

111,548. 2 11,434. » II, 402. * II, 467. '11,402. 6 11,436. 


Pharaoh before him had ever enjoyed. In less than six 
months, that is, within the limits of the dry season in Pales- 
tine, he had marched from Tharu, gained a sweeping victory 
at Megiddo, captured the city after a long and arduous 
investment, marched to the Lebanon and taken three cities 
there, built and garrisoned a permanent fort near them, 
begun reorganizing the government in northern Palestine, 
and completed the return journey to Thebes.' With what 
difficulties such an achievement was beset we may learn by 
a perusal of Napoleon's campaign from Egypt through the 
same country against Akko, which is almost exactly as far 
from Egypt as Megiddo. We may then understand why it 
was that Thutmose immediately celebrated three "Feasts 
of Victory" in his capital. They were each five days long 
and coincided with the first, second and fifth calendar feasts 
of Amon. The last was held in Thutmose 's mortuary temple 
on the western plain of Thebes, which was now completed, 
and this may have been the first celebration held in it. 
These feasts were made permanent, endowed with an annual 
income of plentiful offerings.^ At the feast of Opet, which 
was Anion's greatest annual feast and lasted eleven days, 
he presented to the god the three towns which he had cap- 
tured in southern Lebanon,^ besides a rich array of magnifi- 
cent vessels of gold, silver and costly stones from the prodig- 
ious spoil of Retenu.'' In order to furnish income to main- 
tain the temple on the sumptuous plan thus projected, he 
gave Amon not only the said three towns, but also extensive 
lands in Upper and Lower Egypt, supplied them with plen- 
tiful herds and with hosts of peasant serfs taken from 
among his Asiatic prisoners."' Thus was established the 
foundation of that vast fortune of Amon, which now began 
to grow out of all projwrtion to the increased wealth of other 
temples. Hence the state-temple, the old sanctuary of his 
father at Karnak, was no longer adequate for the rich and 
elaborate state-cult; for even his father's great hall had been 
dismantled by Hatshepsut in order to insert her obelisks. 

' II, 409. 54n. « IT. .550-53. » II, 557. « 11, 55S. r)43-t7. « II, 555, 596. 

(From a photograph by Steindorff.) 

As it stood in Alexandria, before its removal to New York. 


On the walls of the Karnak temple (p. 306) 


There it stood, with the obelisks preventing the replacement 
of over a third of the roof, the south half without roof or 
columns, and four cedar columns of Thutraose I, with two 
of sandstone which he had himself inserted, occupying the 
north half.' It was further disfigured by the masonry which 
Thutmose III had built around Hatshepsut's obelisks." But 
it was the hall where he had been called to be king of Egypt 
by the oracle of Amon himself. Hatshepsut's partisan, 
Thutiy, had now been supplanted by another architect and 
chief of craftsmen named Menkheperre-seneb,' whose very 
name, "Thutmose III is Healthy," was indicative of his 
loyalty. He was called in and an attempt was made to 
restore the north half of the old hall, replacing the cedar 
columns by shafts of sandstone.* But the southern half was 
left untouched. In this make-shift hall the great feasts cele- 
brating his victorious return from the first campaign were 
some of them held, but for others he naturally resorted to his 
mortuary temple of Amon, which, as we have seen, was now 
complete on the western plain. Judging from the small 
temple of Ptah by the great Karnak temple which Thutmose 
also rebuilt at his return from this campaign,'^ he probably 
showed like generosity to the two ancient sanctuaries at 
Heliopolis and Memphis, of which the former was still in a 
traditional sense the temple of the state god, for Re was now 
identified with Amon. 

The great task of properly consolidating the empire was 
now fairly begun; but Egyptian power in Asia during the 
long military inactivity of Hatshepsut's reign had been so 
thoroughly shaken that Thutmose III was far from ready, 
as a result of the first campaign, to march immediately upon 
Kadesh, his most dangerous enemy. Moreover, he desired 
properly to organize and render perfectly secure the states 
already under the power of Egypt. In the year twenty four 
therefore he marched in a wide curve through the conquered 
territory of northern Palestine and southern Syria, while 
the dynasts came to pay their tribute and do him homage in 

•11,100. 2 11,306. MI, 772. < II, 600-602. s il, 609 ff. 


"every place of his majesty's circuit where the tent was 
pitched.'" The news of his great victory of the year before 
had by this time reached Assyria, now just rising on the 
eastern horizon, witli her career as yet all before her. Her 
king naturally desired to be on good terms with the great 
empire of the west, and the gifts of costly stone, chiefly lapis- 
lazuli from Babylon, and the horses which he sent to Thut 
mose, so that they reached him wliile on this campaign, 
were, of course, interpreted by the Egyptians as tribute.^ 
In all probability no battles were fought on this expedition. 
Returning to Tliebes as before, in October, tlie king imme- 
diately planned for the enlargement of the Karnak temple, 
to suit the needs of the empire of which he dreamed. 
Moreover the slowly rising bed of the river had now 
raised the waters of the inundation until they invaded the 
temple area, and it had become necessary to elevate the 
temple pavement. The splendid gate of Amenbotep I was 
sacrificed to this necessity. By the latter part of February, 
at the feast of the new moon, which happened by a lucky 
chance to fall ujaon the day of the tenth feast of Amon, he 
was able personally to celebrate the foundation-ceremonies 
with the greatest splendour.^ To render the act especially 
auspicious the god appeared and even himself participated 
in the stretching of the measuring cord as the foundation- 
plan was laid out.^ As the west end, the real front of the 
temple, was marred by Hatshepsut's obelisks, rising from 
his father's dismantled hall and he was unable or unwilling 
to build around his father's obelisks, which stood before the 
western entrance of the temple, Thutmose III laid out his 
imposing colonnaded halls at the other, or east end, of the 
temple, where they to-day form one of the great architectural 
beauties of Thebes. The greatest hall is nearly one hundred 
and forty feet long, and lies transversely across the axis of 
the temple. This hall was called "Menkheperre [Thutmose 
III] is Glorious in IMonuments. " a name which it still bore 
six hundred and fifty years later."' Behind it is the sanc- 

' II, 447, 1. 2.-). 2 II, 440. ' 11, (lOS. ♦ Ibid. ' 11, p. 237. note I 


tuary or holy of holies, while grouped about it are some half 
a hundred halls and chambers. Among these, on the south 
side, was a hall for the mortuary service of his ancestors. In 
the chamber to which this hall led he "commanded to record 
the names of his fathers, to increase their offerings and to 
fashion statues of all these their bodies.'" These names 
formed a great list on the walls, which still exists in the Bib- 
liotheque Nationale at Paris. The statues of his fathers, 
while many have perished, have recently been discovered in 
a court south of the temple, where they had been concealed 
for safety in time of war. 

The third campaign, of the next year (twenty five) was 
evidently spent like the first, in organizing the southern half 
of the future Asiatic empire, the northern half being still 
unsubdued. When he returned, his building at Karnak was 
sufiBciently far advanced to record upon the walls of one of 
the chambers the plants and animals of Asia which he had 
found on his march and brought home with him to beautify 
the garden of the temple of Amon,^ the sacred lake of which 
he supplied with a masonry coping. 

No records of the fourth campaign have survived, but the 
course of his subsequent operations was such that it must 
have been confined like the others to the territory already 
regained. It had now become evident to Thutmose that he 
could not march northward between the Lebanons and oper- 
ate against Kadesh, while leaving his flank exposed to the 
unsubdued Phoenician cities of the coast. It was likewise 
impossible to strike Naharin and Mitanni without first de- 
stroying Kadesh, which dominated the Orontes valley. He 
therefore planned a series of campaigns, directed first against 
the northern coast, which he might then use as a base of oper- 
ations against Kadesh; and this being once disposed of, he 
could again push in from the coast against Mitanni and the 
whole Naharin region. No modern strategist could have con- 
ceived a series of operations better suited to the conditions, 
nor have gone about putting them into execution with more 

' II, 604-5. 2 n, 450-52. 


indomitable energy than Thutmose now displayed. He 
therefore organized a fleet and placed in command of it a 
trusty oflScer named Nibamon, who had served with his 
father.' In the year twenty nine, on his tifth campaign, he 
moved for the first time against the northern coast cities, the 
wealthy commercial kingdoms of Phoenicia. He must have 
employed the new fleet and transported his army by sea, for 
he began operations in northern Phcenicia, which, with all 
southern Phcenicia and Kadesh still unconquered, he could 
not have reached by land. It is possible that he gained his 
first foothold by offering to Tyre special inducements to 
submit, for it is evident that some Pharaoh granted this city 
exceptional privileges, making it practically a free city.^ It 
is easily conceivable that the rich harbour-town would readily 
embrace the opportunity to save her commerce from destruc- 
tion and escape tribute, or at least a portion of the usual 
obligation in the future. The name of the first city which 
Thutmose took is unfortunately lost, but it was on the coast 
opposite Tunip, and must have been a place of considerable 
importance, for it brought him rich spoils ; and there was in 
the town a temple of Anion,'* erected by one of Thutmose 
Ill's predecessors (either Thutmose I or possibly Amenhotep 
I). The cities of the interior, seeing that this attack from 
the coast must be fatal to them if successful, had sent troops 
to assist in its defense. Thus Tunip* sent forces to 
strengthen the garrison of this unknown city, the fall of 
which would involve the ultimate capture of Tunip also. 
Thutmose now seized the fleet of the city,® and was able rap- 
idly to move his army southward against the powerful city 
of Arvad. A short siege, compelling Thutmose to cut down 
the groves about the town, as at Megiddo, sufficed to bring 
the place to terms, and with its surrender'' a vast quantity 
of the wealth of Phoenicia fell into the hands of the Egyp- 
tians. Besides this, it being now autumn, the gardens and 
groves "were filled with their fruit, their wines were found 

III, 779. 2Amarna Lttt<'rs, ed. Winckler, p. XXXIII; n. 2; 70 rev. 12 ff. 
»I1, 4.'i7-9. « II, 459. 6 11,400. « 11, 401. 


left in their presses as water flows, their grain on the [hill- 
side] terraces ... ; it was more plentiful than the sand of 
the shore. The army were overwhelmed with their por- 
tions. ' ' ' Under these circumstances it was useless for Tliut- 
mose to attempt to maintain discipline, and during the first 
days following the surrender, "behold the army of his 
majesty was drunk and anointed with oil every day as at 
a feast in Egypt. "^ The dynasts along the coast now came 
in with their tribute and offered submission.^ Thutmose had 
thus gained a secure footing on the northern coast, easily 
accessible by water from Egyjit, and forming an admirable 
base for operations inland as he had foreseen. He then re- 
turned to Egypt, possibly not for the first time, by water.^ 

All was now in readiness for the long planned advance 
upon Kadesh. It had taken five campaigns to gain the south 
and the coast ; the sixth was at last directed against his long- 
invulnerable enemy. In the year thirty the close of the 
spring rains found Thutmose disembarking his army from 
the fleet at Simyra,'^ by the mouth of the Eleutheros, up the 
valley of which he immediately marched upon Kadesh." It 
was a convenient and easy road, and the shortest route from 
the sea to Kadesh to be found anywhere along the coast; 
indeed it was then, as it is now, the only practicable highway 
for a military advance inland across the mountains toward the 
region of Kadesh. The city lay on the west side of the rentes 
river at the north end of the high valley between the two Leb- 
anons, the ridge of Anti-Lebanon dropping to the plain just 
south and east of the town (Maps 5, 7). A small tributary 
of the Orontes from the west joined the larger stream just 
below the city, so that it lay on a point of land between the 
two. A canal, still traceable and doubtless in existence in 
Thutmose 's day, was cut across the tongue of land above the 
town, thus connecting the two streams and entirely sur- 
rounding the place by water. An inner moat encircling the 
high curtain-walls within the banks of the rivers reenforced 
the natural water-defences, so that, in spite of its location in 

1 Ibid. 2 II, 462. 3 Ibid. « II, 460. s n, 463. a n, 404. 



a perfectly level plain, it was a place of great strength, and 
probably the most fonnidable fortress in Syria. In its rela- 
tion to the surrounding country also the place was skilfully 
chosen as one of great strategic importance; for, as the 
reader recalls, it commanded the Orontes valley, and. as 

Map ."). The Modf.rn TELL-XEBi-iliXDon. Ancient Kadesh. 

Showing tlie Mound of Ruins between tlie Orontes on the right and its 

Tributarj' on the left (after Koldewey). 

Thutmose had found, it was impossible to advance northward 
without reckoning with it. It will be remembered, further- 
more, that it also dominated the only road inland from the 
coast for a long distance both north and south. This was 
the road up the Eleutheros valley, along which we have fol- 
lowed Thutmose.* The capture of such a place by siege was 

' See the author's Battle of Kadcsh, pp. 13-21, 49, and infra, pp. 258-59. 



an achievement of no slight difficulty, and it is with peculiar 
regret that one reads in the narrative of the priestly scribe 
who excerj^ted Thutmose's annals, merely these words re- 
garding it : "His majesty arrived at the city of Kadesh, over- 
threw it, cut down its groves, harvested its grain.'" We 
can only discern from these laconic words that as at Megiddo 
Thutmose was obliged to fell the groves to build his siege- 
walls, and that the army lived on the forage from the sur- 
rounding grain fields during the investment, which must 
therefore have continued from early spring into harvest 
time. At least one assault was made, in which Amenemhab, 
one of Thutmose 's commanders, whom we shall meet in later 
campaigns also, captured two of the patricians of the city. 
He was rewarded in the presence of the army with two orders 
or decorations for distinguished service : " a lion of the finest 
gold" and "two flies," besides rich ornaments.^ The siege 
had now continued long enough to encourage the coast cities 
in the hope that Thutmose had suffered a reverse. In spite 
of the chastisement inflicted upon Arvad the year before, 
the opulent harbour town could not resist an attempt to rid 
itself of the annual obligation to Thutmose, which cost it so 
large a portion of its yearly gains. As soon as Kadesh fell 
and Thutmose was able to leave it, he quickly returned to 
Simyra, embarked his army on his waiting fleet and sailed 
to Arvad to inflict swift retribution.^ Sailing for Egypt as 
the rainy season drew on, he took with him the sons of the 
north Syrian kings and dynasts, to be educated at Thebes,^ 
as he had already done with the young princes of the south 
in former years. 

The revolt of Arvad, while Thutmose was still besieging 
Kadesh, showed him that he must devote another campaign 
to the thorough subjugation of the coast before he could 
safely push inland beyond the valley of the Orontes on the 
long planned advance into Naharin. He therefore spent the 
summer of the year thirty one, the seventh campaign, in 
completely quenching any slumbering embers of revolt in 

• II, 465. -i II, 585. » II, 465. « II, 467. 


the coast cities. In spite of his display of force at Simyra, 
IJllaza, a harbour-town near Simyra, had showed serious dis- 
affection, owing to encouragement from the king of Tunip, 
who sent his two sons to conduct the revolt. On the 27th 
of April, Thutmose appeared in the harbour of the recreant 
city;^ he made short work of the place and captured the 
king of Tunip 's son.- The local dynasts came in as usual 
with their submission and Thutmose collected about one 
hundred and eighty five pomids of silver from them and the 
captured city, besides great quantities of natural produce.^ 
He then sailed from harbour to harbour along the coast, dis- 
playing his force and thoroughly organizing the administra- 
tion of the cities.'' In particular he saw to it that every 
harbour-town should be liberally supplied with provisions for 
his coming campaign in Naharin. On his return to Egy^at 
he found envoys from the extreme south, probably eastern 
Nubia, bringing to the Pharaoh their tribute,^ showing that 
he was maintaining an aggressive policy in the far south 
while at the same time so active in the north. 

The organization and the collection of resources necessary 
for the great campaign now before him evidently occupied 
Thutmose all the year following his return from this expe- 
dition; for it was not until the spring of the year thirty three 
that he landed his forces in the harbour of Simyra,'"' on his 
eighth campaign, and marched inland for the second time 
along the Kadesh road. He turned northward and captured 
the town of Ketne.^ Continuing the march down the 
Orontes, he fought a battle at the city of Senzar, which he 
also took. In this action his general, Amenemhab, again 
won distinction.* Thutmose probably crossed and forsook 
the Orontes at this point ; in any case, he now entered 
Naharin and marched rapidly on. He soon met resistance 
and fought a slight action in which Amenemhab captured 
three prisoners.' But no serious force confronted him until 
he had arrived at "The Height of Wan, on the west of 

111,470. «Ibid. '11,471. « II, 472. 5 11,474-5. 

« II, 476. '11,598. » II, .584. "11,581. 


Aleppo," where a considerable battle was fought, in the 
course of which Amenemhab took thirteen prisoners, each 
bearing a bronze spear inlaid with gold.' This doubtless 
shows that the royal troops of the king of Aleppo were en- 
gaged. Aleppo itself must have fallen, for the Pharaoh 
could otherwise hardly have pushed on without delay, as he 
evidently did. "Behold his majesty went north, capturing 
the towns and laying waste the settlements of that foe of 
wretched Naharin,"^ who was, of course, the king of Mitanni. 
Egyptian troops were again plundering the Euphrates val- 
ley, a license which they had not enjoyed since the days of 
their fathers under Thutmose I, some fifty years before. 

As he advanced northward, Thutmose now turned slightly 
toward the Euphrates, in order to reach Carchemish. In the 
battle fought at that city it must have been his long unscathed 
foe, the king of Mitanni, whose army Thutmose scattered far 
and wide, "not one looked behind him, but they fled forsooth 
like a herd of mountain goats. "' Amenemhab seems to have 
pushed the pursuit across the Euphrates to the east side, as 
he was obliged to cross it in bringing back to the king the 
prisoners whom he had taken.^ This battle at last enabled 
Thutmose to do what he had been fighting ten years to attain, 
for he himself now crossed the Euphrates into Mitanni and 
set up his boundary tablet on the east side, an achievement 
of which none of his fathers could boast. ^ But without win- 
tering in Naharin, it was impossible for Thutmose to advance 
further, and he was too wise a soldier to risk exposing to the 
inclement northern winter the seasoned veterans of so many 
campaigns, whom it would have taken him years to replace. 
He therefore returned unmolested to the west shore, where 
he found the tablet of his father, Thutmose I, and with the 
greatest satisfaction he set up another of his own alongside 
it.^ It was now late in the season, his troops had already 
harvested the fields of the Euphrates valley,' and he was 
obliged to begin the return march. But one serious enter- 

1 II, 582. 

2 11, 479. 

' Ibid. 

• II, 478, 481 ; 

(ir.O, 11. 7-8. 

«II, 478. 

' II, 480. 


prise still awaited hiin before he could return to the coast. 
The city of Niy, further down the Euphrates, was still uncon- 
quered and all his work in Naharin might be undone were 
this place left unscathed. Having set up his boundary tab- 
lets, therefore, he marched down the river and took Niy 
without trouble so far as we know.' The object of the cam- 
paign having been accomplished and its arduous duties past, 
Thutmose organized a great elephant hunt in the region of 
Niy, where these animals have now been extinct for ages. 
He and his party attacked the North Syrian herd of one 
hundred and twenty animals. In the course of the hunt the 
king came to close quarters with one great beast and was in 
some danger when his general, Amenemhab rushed between 
and cut off the animal's trunk; whereupon the infuriated 
beast charged upon his hardy assailant, who escaped between 
two rocks overhanging a neighbouring pool. For thus divert- 
ing the animal at the critical moment the faithful Amenem- 
hab was of course liberally rewarded by the king.- 

Meantime all the local princes and djTiasts of Naharin 
appeared at his camp and brought in their tribute as a token 
of their submission.'' Even far off Babylon was now anxious 
to secure the goodwill of the Pharaoh, and its king sent him 
gifts wrought of lapis-lazuli.* But what was still more impor- 
tant, the mighty people of the Kheta, whose domain stretched 
far away into the unknown regions of Asia Minor, sent him 
a rich gift. As he was on the march from Naharin to reach 
the coast again their envoys met him, with eight massive com- 
mercial rings of silver, weighing nearly ninety eight pounds, 
beside some unknown precious stone and costly wood.'^ Thus 
the Kheta, probably the Biblical Hittites, enter for the first 
time, as far as we know, into relations with the Egyptian Pha- 
raohs. On Thutmose 's arrival at the coast, he laid upon the 
chiefs of the Lebanon the yearly obligation to keep the Phoe- 
nician harbours supplied with the necessary provision for his 
campaigns." From any point in this line of harbours, which 
he could reach from Egypt by ship in a few days, he was 

> II, 481. « II, 588. > II, 482. * II, 484. ' II, 485. « 11, 483. 


then able to strike inland without delay and bring delin- 
quents to an immediate accounting. His sea power was such 
that the king of Cyprus became practically a vassal of 
Egypt, as later in Saitic times. Moreover, his fleet made 
him so feared in the islands of the north that he was able to 
exert a loose control over the eastern Mediterranean, west- 
ward an indefinite distance to the ^Egean. Thus his gen- 
eral, Tliutiy, includes "the isles in the midst of the sea" as 
within his jurisdiction as governor of the north countries; 
although his control will doubtless have consisted in little 
more than the reception of the annual gifts which the island 
dynasts thought it wise to send him. 

His arrival at Thebes in October found awaiting him a 
newly returned expedition which in the midst of his respon- 
sibilities in Asia he had found time to dispatch to Punt. His 
emissaries brought back the usual rich and varied cargo of 
ivory, ebony, panther-skins, gold and over two hundred and 
twenty three bushels of myrrh, besides male and female 
slaves and many cattle.' At some time during these wars 
Thutmose is also found in possession of the entire oasis- 
region on the west of Egypt (Fig. 115). The oases thus 
became Pharaonie territory and were placed under the gov- 
ernment of Intef , Thutmose III 's herald,^ who was a descend- 
ant of the old line of lords of Thinis-Abydos, whence the 
Great Oasis was most easily reached (Map 13). The oasis 
region remained an appanage of the lords of Thinis and 
became famous for its fine wines. 

The great object for which Thutmose had so long striven 
was now achieved; he had followed his fathers to the Eu- 
phrates. The kings whom they had been able to defeat 
singly and in succession, he had been obliged to meet united, 
and against the combined military resources of Syria and 
northern Palestine under their old time Hyksos suzerain of 
Kadesh, he had forced his way through to the north. In 
ten long years of scattered and often guerilla warfare he 
had crushed them with blow on blow, until he had at last 

' II, 486. z II, 763. 



planted his boundary stone beside that of his father ou 
the frontier, won two generations before. He had even 
surpassed his father and crossed the Euphrates, an unpre- 
cedented feat in the annals of Egyptian conquest. He might 
pardonably permit himself some satisfaction in the contem- 
plation of what he had accomplished. Nearly thirty three 
years had elapsed since the day when Anion called him to 
the throne. Already on his thirtieth anniversary his archi- 
tect, Puemre, had erected the jubilee obelisks at Thebes;' 
but on his return from the great campaign the date for the 
customary second jubilee-celebration was appi'oaching. A 
pair of enormous obelisks, which had been in preparation 
for the event, were erected at the Karnak temple and one of 
them bore the proud words, "Thutmose, who crossed the 
great 'Bend of Naharin' [the Euphrates] with might and 
with victory at the head of his army." The other obelisk 
of this pair has perished, but this one now stands in Con- 
stantinople." Indeed all of the great king's obelisks in 
Egypt have either perished or been removed, so that not a 
single obelisk of his still stands in the land he ruled so 
mightily, while the modern world possesses a line of them 
reaching from Constantinople, through Rome and London to 
New York (Fig. 116). The last two, which commemorate 
his fourth jubilee-celebration now rise on opposite shores of 
the Atlantic, as they once stood on either side of the approach 
to the sun-temple at Heliopolis.' 

~^ With such monuments as these before them the people of 
Thebes soon forgot that he who erected them was once a 
humble priest in the very temple where his giant obelisks 
now rose. On its walls, moreover, they saw long annals of 
his victories in Asia, endless records of the plunder he had 
taken, with splendid reliefs picturing the rich portion which 
fell to Amon. A list (Fig. 117) of one hundred and nineteen 
towns which he captured on his first campaigns was three 
times displaj-ed upon the pylons, while from his recent suc- 
cesses in the north the same walls bore a record of no less 

> II, .S82-4. 211,020-31. 'II, fi32-6. 


than two hundred and forty eight towns which had submitted 
to him.' However much they may have impressed the Theb- 
ans, these records are for us of priceless vahie. Unfortu- 
nately they are but excerpts from the state records, made 
by priests who wished to explain the source of the gifts 
received by the temple, and to show how Thutmose was 
repaying his debt to Amon for the many victories which the 
favouring god had vouchsafed him. Hence they are but 
meagre sources from which to reconstruct the campaigns of 
the first great strategist of whom we know anything in his- 
tory. But the Thebans were not obliged to study the monu- 
ments of Karnak for witness to the greatness of their king. 
In the garden of Anion's temple, as we have seen, grew the 
strange plants of Syria-Palestine, while animals unknown to 
the hunter of the Nile valley wandered among trees equally 
unfamiliar. Envoys from the north and south were con- 
stantly appearing at the court. Phoenician galleys, such as 
the upper Nile had never seen before delighted the eyes of 
the curious crowd at the docks of Thebes; and from these 
landed whole cargoes of the finest stuffs of Phoenicia, gold 
and silver vessels of magnificent workmanship, from the 
cunning hand of the Tyrian artificer or the workshops of 
distant Asia Minor, Cyprus, Crete and the ^Egean islands; 
exquisite furniture of carved ivory, delicately wrought 
ebony, chariots mounted with gold and electrum, and bronze 
implements of war; besides these, fine horses for the Phar- 
aoh 's stables and untold (juantities of the best that the fields, 
gardens, vineyards, orchards and pastures of Asia produced. 
Under heavy guard emerged from these ships, too, the annual 
tribute of gold and silver in large commercial rings, some 
of which weighed as much as twelve pounds each, while others 
for purposes of daily trade were of but a few grains weight. 
Winding through the streets, crowded with the wondering 
Theban multitude, the strange tongued Asiatics in long pro- 
cession bore their tribute to the Pharaoh's treasury. They 
were received by the vizier, Rekhmire, and when unusually 


rich tribute was presented, he conducted them into the 
Pharaoh's presence, who, enthroned in splendour, reviewed 
them and praised the vizier and his officials for their zeal 
in his behalf. The Asiatics then delivered their tribute at 
the ofiBce of the vizier, where all was duly entered on his 
books, even to the last measure of grain. It was such scenes 
as this that the vizier and trea.sury officials loved to perpetu- 
ate in gorgeous paintings on the walls of their tombs, where 
they are still preserved at Thebes' (Fig. 118). The amount 
of wealth which thus came into Egypt must have been enor- 
mous for those times, and on one occasion the treasury was 
able to weigh out some eight thousand nine hundred and 
forty three pounds of gold-silver allo}'.^ Nubia also, under 
the Egyptian viceroy, was rendering with great regularity 
her annual impost of gold, negro slaves, cattle, ebony, ivory 
and grain; much of the gold in the above hoard must have 
come from the Nubian mines. It was a great day, too, for 
the Theban crowds when the Nubian barges landed their 
motley cargo. Similar sights diverted the multitudes of the 
once provincial Thebes when every year, toward the close 
of September or the opening days of October, Thutmose's 
war-galleys moored in the harbour of the town; but at this 
time not merely the icealth of Asia was unloaded from the 
ships ; the Asiatics themselves, bound one to another in long 
lines, were led down the gang planks to begin a life of slave- 
labour for the Pharaoh (Fig. 119). They wore long matted 
beards, an abomination to the Egyptians ; their hair hung in 
heavy black masses upon their shoulders, and they were 
clad in gaily coloured woolen stulTs, such as the Egyptian, 
spotless in his white linen robe, would never put on his body. 
Their arms were pinioned behind them at the elbows or 
crossed over their heads and lashed together; or, again, their 
hands were thrust through odd jiointed ovals of wood, which 
served as hand-cuffs. The women carried their children 
slung in a fold of the mantle over their shoulders. With 
their strange speech and uncouth postures the poor wretches 

' II, 760-1, 773. 'U, 761. 

?^ - u 

¥ J 


were the subject of jibe and merriment on the part of the 
multitude; while the artists of the time could never forbear 
caricaturing them. Many of them found their way into the 
houses of the Pharaoh's favourites, and his generals were 
liberally rewarded with gifts of such slaves; but the larger 
number were immediately emjiloyed on the temple estates, 
the Pharaoh's domains, or in the construction of his great 
monuments and buildings,^ especially the last, a custom 
which continued until Saladin built the citadel at Cairo 
with the labour of the knights whom he captured from the 
ranks of the crusaders. We shall later see how this captive 
labour transformed Thebes. 

The return of the king every autumn, under such circum- 
stances, with the next campaign but six months distant, 
began for him a winter, if not so arduous, at least as busily 
occupied as the campaigning season in Asia. At the time 
of the feast of Opet, that is in October, shortly after his 
return, Thutmose made a tour of inspection throughout 
Egypt, closely questioning the local authorities wherever he 
landed, for the purpose of suppressing corruption in the 
local administration by preventing all collusion between 
them and the officers of the central government in extor- 
tionate oppression of the people while collecting taxes.^ 
On these journeys, too, he had opportunity of observing the 
progress on the noble temples which he was either erecting, 
restoring or adorning at over thirty different places of which 
we know, and many more which have perished. He revived 
the long neglected Delta and from there to the third cataract 
his buildings were rising, strung like gems, along the river. 
He built a new town with its temple at the mouth of the 
Fayum; while at Dendereh, Coptos, El Kab, Edfu, Kom 
Ombo, Elephantine and many other places his captives of 
war and his imperial revenues were producing the magnifi- 
cent works which he and his architects planned. Returning 
to Thebes his interests were wide and his power was felt in 
every avenue of administration. Besides the attention con- 

1 II, 756-0. 2 III, 58. 


tinually demanded by Nubian aflfairs, of wliicb we shall 
speak more fully later, he organized the other gold-country, 
that on the Coptos road, placing it under a "governor of the 
gold-country of Coptos. " ' It is evident that every resource 
of his empire was being thus exploited. The increasing 
wealth of the Anion temple demanded reorganization of its 
management. This the king personally accomplished, giving 
the priests full instructions and careful regulations for the 
conduct of the state temple and its growing fortune.^ As 
the fruit of a moment's respite from the cares of state, he 
even handed to his chief of artificers in the state and temple 
workshops designs sketched by his own royal hand for ves- 
sels which he desired for the temple service. Thutmose 
himself thought sufficiently well of this accomplishment to 
have it noted over a relief depicting these vessels on tlie 
temple walls at Karnak, after they had been presented to 
the god ; while in the opinion of the official who received the 
commission it was a fact so remarkable that he had the 
execution of these vessels by his artificers shown in the 
paintings on the walls of his tomb chapel. Both these evi- 
dences of Thutmose's restless versatility still survive at 
Thebes.' The great state temple received another pylon on 
the south and the whole mass of buildings, with the adjoining 
grove and garden, was given unity by an enclosure wall, with 
which Thutmose surrounded them. 

His campaigning was now as thoroughly organized as the 
administration at Thebes. As soon as the spring rains in 
Syria and Palestine had ceased, he regularly disembarked 
his troops in some Phopnician or north Syrian harbour. Here 
his permanent officials had effected the collection of the nec- 
essary stores from the neighbouring dynasts, who were obli- 
gated to furnish them. His palace-herald, or marshal, Intef, 
who was of the old princely line of Thinis, and still held his 
title as "count of Thinis and lord of the entire oasis- 
region,"^ accompanied him on all his marches, and as Thut- 
mose advanced inland Intef preceded him until the proximity 

'11,774. 2 11,571. Ml, 54."). 77.'i. « IT. 763. 


of the enemy prevented. Whenever he reached a town in 
which the king was expected to spend the night, he sought 
out the palace of the local dynast and prepared it for Thut- 
luose's reception, "When my lord arrived in safety where 
I was, I had prepared it, I had equipped it with everything 
that is desired in a foreign country, made better than the 
palaces of Egypt, puriiied, cleansed, set apart, their man- 
sions adorned, each chamber for its proper purpose. I 
made the king satisfied with that which I did."^ One is 
reminded of the regular and detailed preparation of Napo- 
leon's tent, which he always found awaiting him sifter his 
day's march, as he rode into the quarters each night. All 
the king's intercourse with the outside world, and the regu- 
lation of the simple court state maintained on the campaigns, 
was in Intef's hands. When the Syrian princes came in 
to offer their allegiance and pay their tribute, it was Intef 
also who had charge of the interview ; he informed the vas- 
sals what they were expected to contribute and he counted 
the gold, silver and naturalia when they were paid in at the 
camp. When any of the Pharaoh's captains distinguished 
himself upon the battlefield, it was again Intef who reported 
it to the king, that the proper reward might be rendered to 
the fortunate hero." 

Had it been preserved, the life of these warriors of Thut- 
mose would form a stirring chapter in the history of the 
early east. The career of his general, Amenemhab, who cut 
off the elephant's trunk and rescued the king, is but a hint of 
the life of the Pharaoh's followers in bivouac and on bat- 
tlefield, crowded to the full with perilous adventure and hard- 
won distinction. We shall meet one more exploit of this 
same Amenemhab, but his is the only such career which has 
survived in authentic narrative. The fame of these tried 
veterans of Thutmose, of course, found its way among the 
common people and doubtless many a stirring adventure 
from the Syrian campaigns took form in folk-tales, told 
with eager interest in the market-places and the streets of 

I II, 771. «II, 763-771. 


Thebes. A lucky chance has rescued one of these tales writ- 
ten by some scribe on a page or two of papyrus. It concerns 
one Thutiy, a great general of Thutniose, and his clever cap- 
ture of the city of Joppa by introducing his picked soldiers 
into the town, concealed in panniers, borne by a train of 
donkeys.' The tale is probably the prototype of "Ali Baba 
and the Forty Thieves." But Thutiy was not a creation of 
fancy; his tomb, though now unknown, must exist some- 
where in Thebes, for it was plundered many years ago by 
the natives, who took from it some of the rich gifts which 
Thutmose gave him as a reward for his valour. A splendid 
golden dish, which found its way into the Louvre, bears the 
words: "Given as a distinction from king Thutmose III to 
the prince and priest who satisfies the king in every country, 
and the isles in the midst of the sea, filling the treasury with 
lapis-lazuli, silver and gold, the governor of countries, com- 
mander of the army, favourite of the king, the king's scribe, 
Thutiy."^ A jewel of his in the Leyden museum calls him 
"governor of the north countries,"^ so that he must have 
administered Thutmose 's northern vassal-kingdoms.* 

Had chance so decreed we might have known not only the 
whole romance of Thutmose 's personal adventures on the 
field and those of his commanders, but also the entire course 
of his campaigns, which we could have followed step by step ; 
for a record of every day's happenings throughout each 
campaign was carefully kept by one Thaneni, a scribe 
appointed for the purpose by Thutmose. Thaneni tells us 
of his duties with great pride, saying: "I followed king 
Thutmose III; I beheld the victories of the king which he 
won in every country. He brought the chiefs of Zahi [SjTia] 
as living prisoners to Egypt ; he captured all their cities, he 
cut down their groves. ... I recorded the victories which 
he won in every land, ])utting them into writing according 

' II, 577. 

'From my own copy of the original; see Birch, M^m. sur une patSre Egypt- 
ienne du Musfe du Louvre, Paris, 1858; and Pierret, Salle hist, de la Gal. 
£gypt., Paris, 1889. No. 358, p. 87. 

' My own copy. • See p. 322. 


to the facts.'" It is these records of Thaneni upon rolls 
of leather which are referred to in the account- of the first 
campaign during the siege of Megiddo. But the priceless 
rolls have perished and we have upon the wall at Karnak 
only the capricious extracts of a temple scribe, more anxious 
to set forth the spoil and Anion's share therein than to per- 
petuate the story of his king's great deeds. How much he 
has passed over, the biography of Amenemhab shows only 
too well; and thus all that we have of the wars of Egypt's 
greatest commander has filtered through the shrivelled soul 
of an ancient bureaucrat, who little dreamed how hungrily 
future ages would ponder his meagre excerpts. 

The advancement of Egypt's Asiatic frontier to the 
Euphrates again was, in the light of past experience, not 
an achievement from which he might expect lasting results ; 
nor was Thutmose III the man to drop the work he had 
begun as if it were complete with the campaign of the year 
thirty three. The spring of the thirty fourth year therefore 
found him again in Zahi on his ninth campaign.^ Some dis- 
affection, probably in the Lebanon region, obliged him to 
take three towns, one of which at least was in the district of 
Nuges, where he had erected a fortress at the close of the 
first campaign.'* Considerable spoil was captured and the 
Syrian dynasts as usual hastened to pay their tribute and 
express their loyalty.^ Meanwhile the magazines of the 
harbour-towns were replenished as formerly, but especially 
with ships for the fleet, and with masts and spars for naval 
repairs." The tribute of the year was rendered notable by 
a present of one hundred and eight blocks of copper, weigh- 
ing nearly four pounds apiece, beside some lead and costly 
stones from the king of Cyprus, who had not heretofore rec- 
ognized the might of Thutmose in this manner.^ 

This year evidently saw the extension of his power in the 
south also ; for he secured the son of the chief of Irem, the 

111,392. 2 See above, p. 291. '11,489. * II, 490. 

s II, 491. s II, 492. ' II, 493. 


neighbour of Punt as a hostage;' and the combined tribute 
of Nubia amounted to over one hundred and thirty four 
pounds of gold alone, besides the usual ebony, ivory, grain, 
cattle and slaves.- The sway of Thutmose was absolute 
from above the third cataract to the Euphrates and his power 
was at its zenith when he learned of a general revolt in 
Naharin. It was now nearly two years since he had seen 
that region and in so short a time its princes had ceased to 
fear his power. They formed a coalition, with some prince 
at its head, possibly the king of Aleppo, whom Thutmose 's 
Annals call "that wretched foe of Naharin."'' The alliance 
was strong in numbers, for it included the far north, or ' ' the 
ends of the earth, "^ as the Egyptians called the distant 
regions of Asia where their knowledge of the country ceased. 
Thutmose 's continual state of preparation enabled him to 
appear promptly on the plains of Naharin in the spring of 
the year thirty five. He engaged the allies in battle at a 
place called Araina,"" which we are unable to locate with cer- 
tainty, but it was probably somewhere in the lower Orontes 
valley. "Then his majesty prevailed against these bar- 
barians. . . . They fled headlong, falling one over another 
before his majesty."® It is perhaps this battle which 
Amenemhab mentions as occurring in the land of Tikhsi.' 
If so, he fought before Thutmose, as the latter advanced 
against the enemy and both took booty from the field: the 
king several pieces of armour, and his general three pris- 
oners, for which act he was again decorated by Thutmose. 
The troops, of course, found rich plunder on the field : horses, 
bronze armour and weapons, besides chariots richly wrought 
with gold and silver.* The alliance of the Naharin dynasts 
was completely shattered and its resources for future resist- 
ance destroyed or carried off by the victorious Egyptians. 
Far as were these Syrian princes from Egypt, they had 
learned the length and the might of the Pharaoh 's arm, and 
it was seven years before they again revolted. 

" II, 494. 

2 II, 494-5. 

3 II, 498. 

♦ Ibid. 

' Ibid. 

• II, 499. 

■ II, 587. 

8 II, 500-501. 


Thutmose 's annals for the next two years are lost, and we 
know nothing of the objective of his eleventh and twelfth 
campaigns ; but the year thirty eight found him in the 
southern Lebanon region on his thirteenth campaign, again 
chastising the region of Nuges,^ which had felt his power for 
the first time fifteen years before on the first campaign. On 
this expedition he received not only another gift from the 
king of Cyprus, but also one from far off Arrapakhitis, later 
a province of Assyria.^ The turbulent Beduin of southern 
Palestine forced him to march through their country the next 
year, and the inevitable Amenemhab captured three pris- 
oners in an action in the Negeb.^ He then spent the rest 
of this fourteenth campaign in Syria, where it became 
merely a tour of inspection; but in both years he kept the 
harbours supplied as before, ready for every emergency. The 
tribute seems to have come in regularly for the next two 
years (forty and forty one),^ and again the king of "Kheta 
the great" sent gifts, which Thutmose as before records 
among the * ' tribute. ' ' ^ 

The princes of Syria, sorely chastised as they had been, were 
nevertheless unwilling to relinquish finally their independ- 
ence, and regard the suzerainty of Egypt as an inevitable and 
permanent condition of their rule. Incited by Kadesh, Thut- 
mose 's inveterate enemy, they again rose in a final united 
effort to shake off the Pharaoh's strong hand. All Naharin, 
especially the king of Tunip, and also some of the northern 
coast cities, had been induced to join the alliance. The great 
king was now an old man, probably over seventy years of 
age, but with his accustomed promptitude he appeared with 
his fleet off the north coast of Syria in the spring of the year 
forty two. It was his seventeenth and last campaign. Like 
his first, it was directed against his arch enemy, Kadesh. 
Instead of approaching the place from the south, as before, 
Thutmose determined to isolate her from her northern sup- 
port and to capture Tunip first. He therefore landed at 
some point between the mouth of the Orontes and the Nahr 

"11,507. 2 II, 5i]_i2. MI, 517, 580. « II, 520-527. 5 11,525. 


el-Kebir and captured the coast city of Erkatu,' the exact 
location of which is not certain ; but it must have been nearly 
opposite Tunip, against which he then marched. He was 
detained at Tunip until the harvest season, but he captured 
the place after a short resistance.- He then accomplished 
the march up the Orontes to Kadesh without mishap and 
wasted the towns of the region.^ The king of Kadesh, know- 
ing that his all was lost unless he could defeat Thutmose's 
army, made a desperate resistance. He engaged the Egyp- 
tians in battle before the city, and in the effort to make head 
against Thutmose's seasoned troops the Syrian king resorted 
to a stratagem. He sent forth a mare against the Egyptian 
chariotry, hoping thus to excite the stallions and produce 
confusion, or even a break in the Egyptian battle line, of 
which he might take advantage. But Amenemhab leaped 
from his chariot, sword in hand, pursued the mare on foot, 
ripped her up and cut off her tail, which he carried in 
triumph to the king.* Thutmose's siege-lines now closed in 
on the doomed city, and the first assault was ordered. For 
this purpose he selected all the elite of his army, in order to 
breach the walls. Amenemhab was placed in command. 
The dangerous feat was successfully accomplished, the flower 
of Thutmose's tried veterans poured in through the breach, 
Amenemhab at their head, and the strongest city of Syria 
was again at the Pharaoh's mercy.'* The Naharin auxiliaries 
in the city fell into Thutmose's hands, and it was not even 
necessary for him to march into the north. In any case, at 
his advanced age he might have been pardoned for avoiding 
so arduous an expedition after a long campaign. It is also 
probable that the season was too far advanced for him to 
undertake so long a march before the cold of winter should 
set in. However, as the event proved, no further display of 
force in the north was necessary. 

Never again as long as the old king lived did the Asiatic 
princes make any attempt to shake off his yoke. In seven- 
teen campaigns, during a period of nineteen years, he had 

111,529. « II, 530. '11,5.31. « II, 5S9. « II, 590. 


beaten them into submission, until there was no spirit for 
resistance left among them. With the fall of Kadesh disap- 
peared the last vestige of that Hyksos power which had once 
subdued Egypt. Thutmose 's name became a proverb in their 
midst, and when, four generations later, his successors failed 
to shield their faithful vassals in Naharin from the aggression 
of the Kheta, the forsaken unfortunates remembered Thut- 
mose 's great name, and wrote pathetically to Egypt: "Who 
formerly could have plundered Tunip without being plun- 
dered by Manakhbiria (Thutmose III)?'" But even now, 
at three score and ten or more, the indomitable old warrior 
had the harbours equijiped with the necessary supplies,^ and 
there is little doubt that if it had been necessary he would 
have led his army into Syria again. For the last time in 
Asia he received the envoys of the tribute-paying princes 
in his tent,^ and then returned to Egypt. There the Nubian 
envoys brought him over five hundred and seventy eight 
pounds of gold from Wawat alone.* 

One would have thought that the old king might now enjoy 
a well-earned repose for the few years that remained to him ; 
but having at last established the sovereignty of Egypt in 
Asia on a permanent basis, he turned his attention to Nubia. 
It is evident that Menkheperreseneb, the head of his gold and 
silver treasury,"' was now receiving thence six to eight hun- 
dred pounds of gold every year, for, as we now see, even 
the incomjalete data at our command show in his forty first 
year nearly eight hundred pounds." His viceroy, Nehi, had 
now been administering Kush for twenty years'' and had 
placed the productivity of the country on a high plane ; but 
it was the desire of the great king to extend still further his 
dominions in the south. In his last years his buildings show 
that he was extremely active throughout the province; as 
far as the third cataract we trace his temples at Kalabsheh, 
Amada, Wadi Haifa, Kummeh and Semneh, where he re- 
stored the temple of his great ancestor Sesostris III, and at 

• Amarna letters, ed. Winckler, 41, 6-8. 2 II, 535. » II, 533-4, 530-7. 

* II, 539. 'II, 772 ff. 11,526-27. UI, 651-2. 


Soleb. We learn through the clearance of the canal at the 
first cataract, which he was obliged to effect in the fiftietli 
year," that an expedition of his was then returning from a 
campaign against the Nubians. It is impossible to suppose 
that the aged Thutmose accompanied it. There must have 
been earlier expeditions also in the same region, for Thut- 
mose was able to record in duplicate upon the pylons of his 
Karnak temple a list of one hundred and fifteen places which 
he conquered in Nubia and another containing some four 
hundred such names. The geographj' of Nubia is too little 
known to enable us to locate the territory represented, and it 
is uncertain exactly how far up the Nile his new frontier 
may have been, but it was doubtless well up toward the 
fourth cataract, where we find it under his son. 

Twelve years more were vouchsafed the great king after 
he had returned from his last campaign in Asia. As he felt 
his strength failing he made coregent his son, Amenhotep II,'" 
born to him by Hatshepsut-Meretre, a queen of whose origin 
we know nothing. About a year later, on the 17th of March, 
in the year 1447 B. C, when he was within five weeks of 
the end of his fifty fourth year upon the throne, he closed 
his eyes upon the scenes among which he had played so great 
a part.^ He was buried in his tomb in the Valley of the 
Kings by his son, and his body still survives (Fig. 120). 
Before his death the priests of Amon had put into the mouth 
of their god a hymn of praise^ to him, which, although a 
highly artificial composition, is not without effectiveness as 
literature; and shows at the same time not only how universal 
was his sway as the priests saw it, but also how deeply he had 
wrought u])on the imagination of his contemporaries. After 
a long introduction in praise of Thutmose, Amon, his god, 
says to him: 

I have come, driving thee to smite the princes of Zahi, 
I have hurled them beneath thy feet amonp their highlands; 
I have made them see thy majesty as lord of radiance. 
So that thou hast shone in their faces like my image. 

>II, 649-650. sll, 184. » II, .592. « 11, 655 ff. 


I have come, giving thee to smite the Asiatics, 
Thou hast made captive the heads of the Asiatics of Retenu ; 
I have made them see thy majesty equipped with thy adornment, 
When thou hast taken the weapons of war in the chariot. 

I have come, giving thee to smite the eastern land, 
Thou hast trampled those who are in the districts of God's-Land: 
I have made them see thy majesty as a circling star, 
When it scatters its flame in fire and fives forth its dew. 

I have come, giving thee to smite the western land, 
Keftyew and Cyprus are in terror; 
I have made them see thy majesty as a young bull, 
Firm of heart, ready-horned and irresistible. 

I have come, giving thee to smite those who are in their marshes, 
The lands of Mitanni tremble under fear of thee ; 
I have made them see thy majesty as a crocodile, 
Lord of fear in the water, inapproachable. 

I have come, giving thee to smite those who are in their isles, 
Those who are in the midst of the great sea hear thy roarings ; 
I have made them see thy majesty as an avenger, 
Rising upon the back of his slain victim. 

I have come, giving thee to smite the Libyans, 
The isles of the Utentyew belong to the might of thy prowess ; 
I have made them see thy majesty as a fierce-eyed lion, 
While thou makest them corpses in their valleys. 

I have come, giving thee to smite the uttermost ends of the 
The circuit of the Great Curve (Okeanos) is enclosed in thy grasp ; 
I have made them see thy majesty as a soaring hawk. 
Seizing that which he seeth, as much as he desires. 

I have come, giving thee to smite those who are nigh thy border, 
Thou hast smitten the Sand-Dwellers as living captives; 
I have made them see thy majesty as a southern jackal, 
Swift-footed, stealthy-going, who roves the Two Lands. 

We have seen enough of Tliutmose to know that this was 
not all poetry, the adulation of a fawning priesthood. His 
character stands forth with more of colour and individuality 
than that of any king of early Egypt, except Ikhnaton. We 
see the man of a tireless energy unknown in sny Pharaoh 
before or since; the man of versatility, designing exquisite 


vases in a moraent of leisure; tlie lynx-eyed administrator, 
who launched his armies upon Asia with one hand and with 
the other crushed the extortionate tax-gatherer. His vizier, 
Kekhmire, who stood closest to his person, says of him: "Lo, 
his majesty was one who knew what happened; there was 
nothing of which he was ignorant; he was Thoth [the god 
of knowledge] in everything; there was no matter which he 
did not carry out."^ While he was proud to leave a record 
of his unparalleled achievements, Thutmose protests more 
than once his deep resjiect for the truth in so doing. "I 
have not uttered exaggeration," says he, "in order to boast 
of that which I did, saying, ' I have done something, ' although 
my majesty had not done it. I have not done anything . . . 
against which contradiction might be uttered. I have done 
this for my father. Anion . . . because he knoweth heaven 
and he knoweth earth, he seeth the whole earth hourly."^ 
Such protestations, mingled with reverence for his god as 
demanding the truth, are not infrequently on his lips.' His 
reign marks an epoch not only in Egypt but in the whole east 
as we know it in his age. Never before in historj' had a 
single brain wielded the resources of so great a nation and 
wrought them into such centralized, permanent and at tiie 
same time mobile etficiency, that for years they could be 
brought to bear with incessant impact upon another conti- 
nent as a skilled artisan manipulates a hundred-ton forge 
hammer ; although the tigure is inadequate unless we remem- 
ber that Thutmose forged his own hammer. The genius 
which rose from an obscure priestly office to accomplish this 
for the first time in history reminds us of an Alexander or 
a Napoleon. He built the first real empire, and is thus the 
first character possessed of universal aspects, the first world- 
hero. From the fastnesses of Asia Minor, the marshes of 
the upper Euphrates, the islands of the sea, the swamps of 
Babylonia, the distant shores of Libya, the oases of the 
Sahara, the terraces of the Somali coast and the upper cat- 
aracts of the Nile the princes of his time rendered their 

«II, 664. 2 JI, 570. 3 II, 452. 


tribute to his greatness. He thus made not only a world- 
wide impression upon his age, but an impression of a new 
order. His commanding figure, towering like an embodi- 
ment of righteous penalty among the trivial plots and treach- 
erous schemes of the petty Syrian dynasts, must have clar- 
ified the atmosphere of oriental polities as a strong wind 
drives away miasmic vapours. The inevitable chastisement 
of his strong arm was held in awed remembrance by the 
men of Naharin for three generations. His name was one 
to conjure with, and centuries after his empire had crumbled 
to pieces it was placed on amulets as a word of power. It 
should be a matter of gratification to us of the western world 
that one of this king's greatest monuments, his Heliopolitan 
obelisks,' now rises on our own shores as a memorial of the 
world's first empire-builder. 

' Of this pair one is on the Thames embankment in London, and the other 
in Central Park, New York City. See p. 306. 



The imperial age was now at its full noontide in the Xile 
valley. The old seciusiveness had totally disappeared, the 
wall of partition between Asia and Africa, already shaken 
by the Hyksos, was now broken down completely by the wars 
of Thutmose III. Traditional limits disappeared, the cur- 
rents of life eddied no longer within the landmarks of tiny 
kingdoms, but pulsed from end to end of a great emjiire, 
embracing many kingdoms and tongues, from the upper Nile 
to the upper Euphrates. The wealth of Asiatic trade, cir- 
culating through the eastern end of the ^Mediterranean, which 
once flowed down the Euphrates to Babylon, was thus di- 
verted to the Nile Delta, centuries earlier united by canal 
with the Red Sea. All the world traded in the Delta mar- 
kets. Assyria was still in her infancy and Babylonia no 
longer possessed any political influence in the west. The 
Pharaoh looked forward to an indefinite lease of power 
throughout the vast empire which he had conquered. 

Of his administration in Asia we know verj' little. The 
whole region was under the general control of a "governor 
of the north countries"; Thutmose Ill's general, Thutiy, 
being the first to hold that office.' To bridle the turbulent 
Asiatic dynasts it was necessary pemianently to station 
troops throughout Syria-Palestine. Strongholds named after 
the Pharaoh were established and the troops placed in them 
as garrisons under deputies with power to act as the Phar- 
aoh's representatives.- Thutmose III erected one such at 
the south end of Lebanon ;^ he resuscitated another founded 
by his predecessors at some city on the Phoenician coast. 

1 See p. 312. « A ma rna Letters. » 11, .'548. 



where we find a sanctuary of Anion,' the state god of Egypt, 
and thei'e was probably such a temple in each of the gar- 
rison towns. Yet another stronghold at Ikathi,^ in furthest 
Naharin, was doubtless his foundation. Remains of an 
Egyptian temple foiijid by Renan at Byblos,^ doubtless 
belong to this period. As we have seen, the city-kings were 
allowed to rule their little states with great freedom, as long 
as they paid the annual tribute with promptness and regu- 
larity. When such a ruler died his son, who had been edu- 
cated at Thebes, was installed in the father's place. The 
Asiatic conquests were therefore rather a series of tributary 
kingdoms than provinces, which indeed i-epresent a system 
of foreign government as yet in its infancy, or only roughly 
foreshadowed in the rule of the viceroy of Kush. How the 
local government of the city-kings was related to the admin- 
istration of the "governor of the north countries" is entirely 
uncertain. His office was apparently largely a fiscal one, 
for Thutiy, Thutmose Ill's governor, adds to his name the 
phrase "filling the treasury with lapis-lazuli, silver and 
gold."* But it is evident that the dynasts collected their 
own taxes and rendered a part to the Pharaoh. We are 
unable to determine what portion of his income the Asiatic 
vassal was thus obliged to contribute; nor have we the 
slightest idea how large was the Pharaoh's total revenue 
from Asia. 

As so often in similar empires of later age, when the great 
king died the tributary princes revolted. Thus when the 
news of Thutmose Ill's death reached Asia the opportunity 
was improved and the dynasts made every preparation to 
throw off the irksome obligation of the annual tribute. 
Amenhotep II had reigned as eoregent but a year when his 
father died'^ and the storm broke. All Naharin^ including 
the Mitanni princes, and probably also the northern coast 
cities, were combined or at least simultaneous in the uprising. 
With all his father's energy the young king prepared for the 

1 II, 457-S. 2 II, 787. = Roug^. Kevue arch. n. s. VII, 1863, pp. 194 ff. 

« See above, p. 312. ' II, 184. 


crisis and marched into Asia against the allies, who had col- 
lected a large army.' The south had evidently not ventured 
to rebel, but from northern Palestine on, the revolt was gen- 
eral. Leaving Egypt with his forces in April of his second 
year (1447 B. C), Amenhotep was in touch with the enemy 
in northern Palestine early in May and immediately fought 
an action at Shemesh-Edom -against the princes of Lebanon. 
In this encounter he led his forces in person, as his father 
before him had so often done, and mingled freely in the 
hand-to-hand fray. With his own hand he took eighteen 
prisoners and sixteen horses.^ The enemy was routed. By 
the twelfth of May he had crossed the Orontes for the last 
time in his northward advance, probably at Senzar and 
turned northeastward for the Euphrates.^ He fought a 
skirmish with the Naharin advance just after crossing the 
river, ^ but pushed rapidly on and captured seven of the 
rebellious dynasts in the land of Tikhsi.'' On the 26th of 
May, fourteen days after leaving the Orontes, he arrived at 
Niy, which opened its gates to him ; and with the men and 
women of the town acclaiming him from the walls he entered 
the place in triumph.' Ten days later, on the fifth of June, 
he had rescued a garrison of his troops from the treachery 
of the revolting town of Ikathi* and punished its inhabitants. 
Whether the march to this town carried him northward from 
Niy, up the Euphrates or across it and into Mitanni, is uncer- 
tain ; but the latter is the more probable, for his records say 
of him, "The chiefs of Mitanni come to him, their tribute 
upon their backs, to beseech his majesty that there may be 
given to them his sweet breath of life; a mighty occurrence, 
it has never been heard since the time of the gods. This 
country, which knew not Egypt, beseeches the Good God [the 
Pharaoh]."' As he reached his extreme advance, which 
thus probably surpassed his father's, he set up a boundary 
tablet, '"as his father and grandfather had done. His return 
was a triumphal procession as he approached Memphis, 

' II, 792, 1. 4. 2 II, 783. 3 Ibid. * TI, 784. « Ibid. 

«1I, 797. 'II, 786. MI, 787. MI, 804. '» II, 800, II. 4-'i 


The populace assembled in admiring crowds while his lines 
passed, driving with them over five hundred of the north 
Syrian lords, two hundred and forty of their women, two 
hundred and ten horses and three hundred chariots. His 
herald had in charge for the chief treasurer nearly sixteen 
hundred and sixty pounds of gold in the form of vases 
and vessels, besides nearly one hundred thousand pounds 
of copper.' Proceeding to Thebes, he took with him the 
seven kings of Tikhsi, who were hung head downward on 
the prow of his royal barge as he approached the city. He 
personally sacrificed them in the presence of Amon and 
hanged their bodies on the walls of Thebes, reserving one for 
a lesson to the Nubians as we shall see." His unexpected 
energy had evidently crushed the revolt before it had been 
able to muster all its forces, and in so far as we know, the 
lesson was so effective that no further attempt was made 
against his suzerainty in Asia. 

The young Pharaoh now directed his energies toward 
ensuring the security of the other extremity of his empire 
and establishing his southern frontier. On his arrival at 
Thebes he dispatched an expedition into Nubia, bearing the 
body of the seventh king of the land of Tikhsi, which was 
hung up on the wall of Napata, as a hint of what the Nubians 
might expect should they attempt revolt against their new 
sovereign. The operations of Thutmose III in upper Nubia 
now made it possible for Amenhotep to establish his frontier 
at the fourth cataract ; it was guarded by Napata, just below 
the cataract, and the region of Karoy, in which the town lay, 
was from this time on known as the southern limit of Egyp- 
tian administration. To this point extended the jurisdic- 
tion of the "viceroy of Kush and governor of the south coun- 
tries."^ This carried the territory of Egypt around the 
great bend in the river to the region where the stream often 
flows southward. Here Amenhotep set up tablets marking 
his southern frontier,^ and beyond these there was no more 
control of the rude Nubian tribes than was necessary to keep 

1 II, 790. 2 II, 797. ' II, 1025. * II, 800. 


open the trade-routes from the south and prevent the bar- 
barians from becoming so bold as to invade the province in 
plundering expeditious. About nine months after his return 
from the Asiatic campaign, the Nubian expedition erected 
two stelas, one at Amada and the other at Elephantine, 
recording his completion of the temi)les begun by his father 
at these places.' He there tells us of the fate of the Tikhsi 
kings, and although the second campaign had not yet taken 
place, he refers to his Naharin war as his "first campaign," 
a significant prophecy of the life of conquest which he ex- 
pected to lead. It was now regarded as a matter of course 
that Anion had pressed into the eager hand of every Pharaoh 
sceptre and sword alike. The work of Amenhotep's great 
father was so thoroughly done, however, that, as far as we 
know, he was not obliged to invade either Asia or Nubia 

In Thebes he built his now vanished mortuary temple on 
the west side of the river, by that of his father, while in the 
Karnak temple he restored the long dismantled hall of 
Hatshepsut's obelisks, setting up again the columns which 
she had removed and richly adorning them with precious 
metal. He recorded the restoration on the wall which his 
father had built around the obelisks of Hatshepsut to hide 
their inscriptions forever from view.^ Besides a small col- 
onnaded structure at Karnak, he also built at Memphis and 
Heliopolis, restoring the neighbouring quarries of Troja; 
but all his works there have jjerished. We ai*e able to discern 
little of him personally, but he seems to have been a worthy 
son of the great king. Physically he was a very powerful 
man and claims in his inscriptions that no man could draw 
his bow. The weapon was found in his tomb and bears the 
words after his name: "Smiter of the Troglodytes, over- 
thrower of Kush, hacking up their cities . . . the great Wall 
of Egypt, protector of his soldiers."^ It is this story which 
furnished Herodotus with the legend that Cambyses was 
unable to draw the bow of the king of Ethiopia. He cele- 

III, 791-8. MI, 803-fi. MI. p. 310, note d. 

Fig. 120— head OF THUTMOSE III. 
(From his mummy Cairo Museum. ) 



(Fr..m liis mummy still in his tomb at Thebes.) 

(From his mummy. Cairo Museum.) 

Fig. 123.— AMARNA LETTER, NO. 296. 
Containing list of the dowry of the Mitannian 

King Dushratta's daughter, Tadukhipa. 

(Berlin Museum,) 


brated his jubilee on the thirtieth amiiversaiy of his ap])oint- 
ment as crown prince and erected an obelisk in Elephantine 
in commemoration of the event. Dying about 1420 B. C, after 
a reign of some twenty six years, he was interred like his an- 
cestors in the valley of the kings' tombs, where his body rests 
to this day (Fig. 121), though even now a prey to the clever 
tomb-robbers of modern Thebes, who in November, 1901, 
forced the tomb and cut through the wrajopings of the 
nmmmy in their search for royal treasure on the body of their 
ancient ruler.' Their Theban ancestors in the same craft, 
however, had three thousand years ago taken good care that 
nothing should be left for their descendants.^ 

Amenhotep II was followed by his son, Thutmose IV. It 
is possible that this prince was not at first designed to be 
his father's successor, if we may believe a folk-tale which 
was in circulation some centuries later. The story recounted 
how, long before his father's death, a hunting expedition 
once carried him to the desert near the pyramids of Gizeh, 
where the Pharaohs of the Fourth Dynasty had already slept 
over thirteen hundred years. He rested in the shadow of 
the great Sphinx at noon time, and falling asleep, the sun- 
god, with whom the Sphinx in his time was identified, ap- 
peared to him in a dream, beseeching him to clear his image 
from the sand which already at that early day encumbered 
it, and at the same time promising him the kingdom. The 
prince made a vow to do as the great god desired. The god's 
promise was fulfilled and the young king immediately upon 
his accession hastened to redeem his vow. He cleared the 
gigantic figure of the Sphinx and recorded the whole inci- 
dent on a stela in the vicinity. A later version, made by the 
priests of the palace, was engraved on a huge granite archi- 
trave taken from the neighbouring Osiris-temple and erected 
against the breast of the Sphinx between the forelegs, where 
it still stands.^ 

He was early called upon to maintain the empire in Asia. 
We are, however, entirely ignorant of the course of his cam- 

' IV, 507-8. 2 Infra, pp. ".10-11. » II. 810-815. 


paign there, which, like his father, he called his "first cam- 
paign.'" It is evident, however, that he was obliged to 
advance into the far north, eventually invading Naharin, so 
that he was afterward able to record in the state tem]5le at 
Thebes the spoil, "which his majesty captured in Xaharin 
the wretched, on his first victorious campaign."- The imme- 
diate result of his appearance in Naharin was completely 
to quiet all disaffection there as far as the vassal-princes 
were concerned. He returned by way of Lebanon where he 
forced the chiefs to furnish him with a cargo of cedar for 
the sacred barge of Amon at Thebes.'' Arriving at Thebes, 
he settled a colony of the prisoners, possibly from the city 
of Gezer in Palestine,^ in the enclosure of his mortuary 
temple, which he had erected by those of his ancestors on 
the plain at Thebes. Perhaps the recognition of a common 
enemy in the Kheta now produced a rapprochemeyit between 
the Pharaoh and Mitanni, for the latter was soon to suffer 
from the aggressions of the king of Kheta. Thutmose evi- 
dentlj' desired a friend in the north, for he sent to Artatama, 
the Mitannian king, and desired his daughter in marriage.^ 
After some proper display of reluctance, Artatama consented, 
and the Mitannian princess was sent to Egypt, where she 
probably received an Egyptian name, Mutemuya, and became 
the mother of the next king of Egypt, Amenhotep III. A 
firm alliance with Mitanni was thus formed, which forbade 
all thought of future conquest by the Pharaoh east of the 
Euphrates. A friendly alliance was also cemented with 
Babylonia.*' Although it is probable that Thutmose found 
it unnecessary to invade Asia again, he was called the "con- 
queror of Syria" by his nobles," and the tribute of the Syrian 
princes regulai'ly appeared at the office of the vizier or the 
treasurer.® In the spring of the year eight news of a serious 
revolt in Nubia reached him.* After a triumphant voyage 
up the river, having stopped to greet the gods in all the 
larger temples, he passed the first cataract, and advancing 

' II, 


2 Ibid. 

'11, 822. S.SS. 



6 Amarna Lptters, 21 

, 16-18. 

8 Amarna Letters, 1, 

1. 6.3. 



• 11, 819-820. 

•11, 826. 


into Wawat, he seems to have found the enemy surprisingly 
near the northern boundary of Nubia. There was of course 
but one possible issue for the battle which followed, and 
great quantities of spoil fell into Thutmose's hands.' Again 
he settled the prisoners which he took as serfs of his mor- 
tuary temple.^ 

It is probable that Thutmose did not long survive the war 
in Nubia. He was therefore unable to beautify Thebes and 
adorn the state temple as his fathers had done. But the 
respect in which he held his grandfather, Thutmose III, led 
him to the completion of a notable work of the latter. For 
thirty- five years the last obelisk planned by Thutmose III 
had been lying unfinished at the southern portal of the 
Karnak temple enclosure or temenos. His grandson now had 
it engraved in the old conqueror's name, recorded also upon 
it his own pious deed in continuing the work, and erected the 
colossal shaft, one hundred and five and a half feet high, 
the largest surviving obelisk, at the southern portal of the 
enclosure, where he had found it lying. It now stands before 
the Lateran in Rome. Not long after this gracious act, 
which may possibly have been in celebration of his own jubi- 
lee, Thutmose was gathered to his fathers (about 1411 B. C.) 
and was buried in the valley where they slept (Fig. 122). 

The son who succeeded him was the third of the Amen- 
hoteps and the l^st of the great emperors. He was but the 
great grandson of Thutmose III, but with him the high tide . „-i 

of Egyptian power was already slowly on the ebb, and he '-w^'''^^'''"^ ' 
was not the man to stem the tide. An early evidence of the 
effeminate character, which he afterward showed, is notice- 
able in his relation with his queen. Already as crown prince, 
or at least early in his reign he married a remarkable u. . 
woman, of uncertain origin, named_Tiy. There is not a par- ' 

tide of evidence to prove her of foreign birth, as is so often ~^' \ 
claimed. In celebration of the marriage, Amenhotep issued 
a large number of scarabs, or sacred beetles, carved in stone 
and engraved with a record^ of the event, in which the unti- 

» II, 829. 2 II, 824. 3 II, 861-2. 


tied parentage of his queen fiankly follows her name in the 
very royal titulary itself, which declares her to he the (jueeu- 
consort. But the record closes with the words : ' ' She is the 
wife of a mighty king whose southern boundary is as far as 
Karoy and northern as far as Naharin";' as if to remind 
any who might reflect upon the humble origin of the queen 
of the exalted station which she now occupied. From the 
beginning the new queen exerted a powerful influence over 
Amenhotep, and he immediately inserted her name in the 
official ca])tion placed at the head of royal documents. Her 
power continued throughout his reign and was the beginning 
of a remarkable era characterized by the prominence of the 
queens in state affairs and on public occasions, a peculiarity 
which we find only under Amenhotep III and his immediate 
successors. The significance of these events we shall later 
dwell upon. 

In the administration of Lis great empire Amenhotep III 
began well. The Asiatics gave him no trouble at his acces- 
sion, and he ruled in security and unparalleled splendour. 
Toward the close of his fourth year, however, trouble in 
Nubia called him south. Early in October he had improved 
the high water to pass the cataract with his fleet. His vice- 
roy of Nubia, Mermose, had levied an army of Nubians in 
the region from the vicinity of Kubban for seventy five miles 
up to Ibrim.^ These, with the Pharaoh's Egyptians, were 
to be emi)loyed against the Nubians of the upper country, a 
striking evidence of the very Egyptianized character of lower 
Nubia. When they had reached Ibhet, which is at least 
above the second cataract, they found the enemy and engaged 
them in battle, probably on the anniversaiy of the king's 
coronation, the first day of his fifth year. They took seven 
hundred and forty prisoners and slew three hundred and 
twelve, as recorded on a tablet of victory which they set up 
at the second cataract.' The outlying villages and wells 
were visited by small parties and the inhabitants punished 
to prevent further recurrences of insubordination;^ where- 
in, 862. MI, 852. >1I. S.53-4. « H, 8.50. 


upon Amenhotep marched southward for a month, taking 
captives and spoil as he went.' Arriving finally at the 
"height of Hua, " a place of uncertain location, which, how- 
ever, occurs in the lists, together with Punt, and must have 
been a long distance south, perhaps above the cataracts, he 
camped in the land of Uneshek on the south of Hua. This 
marked his extreme southern advance.' In the land of 
Karoy, with which the reader is now acquainted as the region 
about Napata, he collected great quantities of gold for his 
Theban buildings,.' and at Kebehu-Hor, or "the Pool of 
Horus, ' ' he erected his tablet of victory,* but we are unable 
to locate the place with certainty. It was certainly not 
essentially in advance of the frontier of his father. This was 
the last great invasion of Nubia by the Pharaohs. It was 
constantly necessary to punish the outlying tribes for their 
incessant predatory incursions into the Nile valley; but the 
valley itself, as far as the fourth cataract, was completely 
subjugated, and as far as the second cataract largely Egyp- 
tianized, a process which now went steadily forward until 
the country up to the fourth cataract was effectually en- 
grafted with Egyptian civilization. Egyptian temples had 
now sprung up at every larger town, and the Egyptian gods 
were worshipped therein; the Egyptian arts were learned 
by the Nubian craftsmen, and everywhere the rude barbarism 
of the upper Nile was receiving the stamp of Egyptian cul- 
ture. Nevertheless the native chieftains, under the surveil- 
lance of the viceroy, were still permitted to retain their titles 
and honours, and doubtless continued to enjoy at least a 
nominal share in the government. We find them as far 
north as Ibrim,' which had marked the southern limit of 
Amenhotep Ill's levy of negro auxiliaries, and was therefore 
probably the extreme point to which local administration 
solely by Egyptian officials extended southward. The annual 
landing of the viceroy at Thebes, bringing the yearly tribute 
of all the Nubian lands, was now a long established custom.* 

1 II, 850, 11. 11 ' II, 847-8. » II, 889. 

4 11, 845. «II, 1037. «II, 1035-41. 


In Asia Amenhotep enjoyed unchallenged supremacy; at 
the court of Babylon even, his suzerainty in Canaan, as they 
called Syria-Palestine, was acknowledged; and when the 
dynasts attempted to involve Kurigalzu, king of Babylon, 
in an alliance with them against the Pharaoh, he wrote them 
an unqualified refusal, stating that he was in alliance with 
the Pharaoh, and even threatened them with hostilities if 
they formed a hostile alliance against Egypt.' At least this 
is the Babylonian version of the affair and whether true 
or not, it shows Babylon's earnest desire to stand well with 
the Pharaoh. All the powers : Babylonia, Assyria, Mitanni 
and Alasa-Cyprus, were exerting every effort to gain the 
friendship of Egypt. A scene of world politics, such as is 
unknown before in history, now unfolds before us. From 
the Pharaoh's court as the centre radiate a host of lines of 
communication with all the great peoples of the age. The 
Tell el-Amarna letters (Fig. 123), perhaps the most interest- 
ing mass of documents surviving from the early east, have 
preserved to us this glimpse across the kingdoms of hither 
Asia as one might see them on a stage, each king playing his 
part before the great throne of the Pharaoh. The letters, 
some three hundred in number, are written on clay tablets 
in the Babylonian cuneiform, and were discovered in 1888 
at the capital city of Amenhotep Ill's son, Ikhnaton, the 
place known in modern times as Tell el-Araarna, from which 
the correspondence takes its name. They date from the 
reign of Amenhotep III and that of his son and successor, 
Amenhotep IV, or Ikhnaton, being correspondence of a 
strictly official character between these Pharaohs on the one 
hand, and on the other the kings of Babylonia, Nineveh, 
Mitanni, Alasa (Cyprus) and the Pharaoh's vassal kings 
of Syria-Palestine. Five letters^ survive from the corre- 
spondence of Amenhotep III with Kallimma-Sin (Kadash- 
man-Bel), king of Babylonia, one from the Pharaoh and the 
others from Kallimma-Sin. The Babylonian king is con- 
stantly in need of gold and insistently importunates his 

' Amarna Letters, 7. ' Amarna Letters, l-.*!. 


brother of Egypt to send him hirge quantities of the precious 
metal, which he says is as plentiful as dust in Egypt accord- 
ing to the reports of the Babylonian messengers. Consid- 
erable friction results from the dissatisfaction of Kallimma- 
Sin at the amounts with which Amenhotep favours him. He 
refers to the fact that Amenhotep had received from his 
father a daughter in marriage, and makes this relationship 
a reason for further gifts of gold. As the correspondence 
goes on another marriage is negotiated between a daughter 
of Amenhotep and Kallimma-Sin or his son. Similarly 
Amenhotep enjoys the most intimate connection with Shut- 3,^^ 
tarna, the king of Mitanni, the son of Artatama, with whom 
his father, Thutmose IV, had enjoyed the most cordial rela- 
tions. Indeed Amenhotep was perhaps the nephew of Shut- 
tarna, from whom he now received a daughter, named 
Gilukhipa, in marriage. In celebration of this union Amen- 
hotep issued a series of scarab-beetles of stone bearing an 
inscription commemorating the event, and stating that the 
princess brought with her a train of three hundred and 
seventeen ladies and attendants.' This occurred in Amen- 
hotep 's tenth year. On the death of Shuttarna the alliance 
was continued under his son, Dushratta, from whom Amen- 
hotep later received, as a wife for his son and successor, a 
second Mitannian princess, Tadukhipa, the daughter of 
Dushratta. The correspondence between the two kings is 
very illuminating and may serve as an example of such com- 
munications. The following is a letter^ of Dushratta to his 
Egyptian ally: 

"To Nimmuria, the great king, the king of Egypt, my 
brother, my son-in-law, who loves me, and whom I love: — 
Dushratta, the great king, thy father-in-law, who loves thee, 
the king of Mitanni, thy brother. It is well with me. With 
thee may it be well, with thy house, my sister and thy other 
wives, thy sons, thy chariots, thy horses, thy chief men, 
thy land, and all thy possessions, may it be very well 
indeed. In the time of thy fathers, they were on very 

' H. 866-7. ^ Amarua Letters, 17. 


friendly terms with my fatliers, but thou hast increased 
[this friendship] still more HTid with my father thou hast 
been on very friendly terms indeed. Now, therefore, since 
thou and I are on mutually friendly terms, thou hast made 
it ten times closer than with my father. May the gods cause 
this friendship of ours to prosper. May Tishub [the god 
of Mitanni], the lord, and Amon eternally ordain it as it 
is now." 

"Inasmuch as my brother sent his messenger, Mani, 
saying: 'My brother, send me thy daughter for mj" wife, to 
be queen of Egypt, ' I did not grieve the heart of my brother*, 
and I continually ordered what was friendly. And as my 
brother wished, I presented her to Mani. And he beheld her 
and when he saw her, he rejoiced greatly; and when he 
brings her safely to mj^ brother's land, then may Ishtar and 
Amon make her correspond to my brother's wish." 

"Gilia, my messenger, has brought to me my brother's 
message; when I heard it, it seeemed to me very good, and 
I was very glad indeed and said : ' So far as I am concerned, 
even if all the friendly relation which we have had with one 
another had ceased, nevertheless, on account of this message, 
we would forever continue friendly.' Now when I wrote 
my brother I said : ' So far as I am concerned, we will be very 
friendly indeed, and mutually well disposed'; and I said to 
my brother : ' Let my brother make [our friendship] ten times 
greater than with my father,' and I asked of my brother a 
great deal of gold, saying: 'More than to my father let my 
brother give me and send me. Thou sentest my father a 
great deal of gold: a namkhar of pure ( ?) gold, and a kiru 
of pure (?) gold, thou sentest him; but thou sentest me 
[only] a tablet of gold that is as if it were alloyed with 
copper. ... So let my brother send gold in very great quan- 
tity, without measure, and let him send more gold to me than 
to my father. For in my brother's land gold is as common 
r« dust . . . . " 

In tnib Tein the men who were now shaping the destinies 
of all hither Asia wrote to one another. In resiwnse to sim- 

THE EMl'IKE 335 

ilar entreaties, Amenliotep sent a gift of twenty talents of 
gold to the king of Assyria,' and gained his friendship also. 
The vassalship of the king of Alasa-Cyprus continued, and 
he regularly sent the Pharaoh large quantities of copper, 
save when on one occasion he excuses himself because his 
country had been visited by a pestilence. So complete was 
the understanding between Eg>pt and Cyprus that even the 
extradition of the property of a citizen of Cyprus who had 
died in Egypt was regarded by the two kings as a matter of 
course, and a messenger was sent to Egypt to receive the 
property and bring it back to Cyprus for delivery to the wife 
and son of the deceased.- Desirous of holding the first 
place with Egypt, the island king even ventures to advise the 
Pharaoh against any alliance with Kheta or Babylonia, a 
policy which we shall later find practiced by Babylonia 

Thus courted and flattered, the object of diplomatic atten- 
tion from all the great iDOwers, Amenhotep found little occa- 
sion for anxiety regarding his Asiatic empire. The Syrian 
vassals were now the grandsons of the men whom Thutmose 
III had conquered; they had grown thoroughly habituated 
to the Egyptian allegiance. The time was so far past when 
they had enjoyed independence that they knew no other con- 
dition than that of vassals of Egypt. In an age of turbu- 
lence and aggression, where might was the only appeal, it 
finally seemed to them the natural condition of things and it 
was not without its advantages in rendering them free from 
all apprehension of attack from without. An Egyptian edu- 
cation at the Pharaoh's capital had, moreover, made him 
many a loyal servant among the children of the dynasts, 
who had succeeded disloyal or lukewarm fathers in Syria. 
They protest their fidelity to the Pharaoh on all occasions. 
Thus the prince Akizzi of Katna writes to Amenhotep: "My 
lord, here in this place I am thy servant. I am pursuing the 
way of my lord, and from my lord I do not depart. Since 
my fathers became thy servants this land has been thy land, 

1 Amarna Letters, 23, 30 ff. 2 Amarna Letters, 25, 30 ff. 

'XvVO. - ^^^^^^^^ 


the city of Katna thy city, and I am my lord's. My lord, 
if the troops and chariots of my lord came, food, drink, cattle, 
sheep, honey and oil were brought for the king's troojjs and 
chariots."^ Such letters were introduced by the most abject 
and self-abasing adulation; the writer says: "To my lord, 
the king, my gods, my sun : Abimilki, thy servant. Seven and 
seven times at the feet of my lord I fall. I am the dust under 
the sandals of my lord, the king. My lord is the sun which 
rises over the lands every day, etc.";^ the vassals fall down 
before the Pharaoh not only seven times but also "on breast 
and back" (see Fig. 147). They are "the ground upon 
which thou treadest, the throne upon which thou sittest, the 
foot-stool of thy feet"; even "thy dog"; and one is pleased 
to call himself the groom of the Pharaoh's horse. They 
have all been installed by the Pharaoh's grace, and he sends, 
oil to anoint them at accession to office. They inform the 
court at the first sign of disloyalty among their fellows and 
are even commissioned to proceed against rebellious princes. 
Throughout the land in the larger cities are garrisons of 
Egj'ptian troops, consisting of infantry and chariotry. But 
they are no longer solely native Egyptians, but to a large 
extent Nubians and Sherden, roving, predatory bands of 
sea-robbers, perhaps the ancestors of the historical Sardin- 
ians. From now on they took service in the Egyptian army 
in ever larger and larger numbers. These forces of the 
Pharaoh were maintained by the djTiasts and one of their 
self-applied tests of loyalty in writing to the Pharaoh was, 
as we have seen above, their readiness and faithfulness in 
furnishing supplies. Syria thus enjoyed a stability of gov- 
ernment which had never before been hers. The roads were 
safe from robbers, caravans were convoyed from vassal to 
vassal, and a word from the Pharaoh was sufficient to bring 
any of his subject-princes to his knees. The payment of 
tribute was as regular as the collection of taxes in Egypt 
itself. But in case of any delay a represensative of the 
Pharaoh, who was stationed in the various larger towns, 

• Ibid., 138, 4-13. > Ibid., 149, 1-7. 


needed but to appear in the delinquent's vicinity to recall 
the unfulfilled obligation. Amenhotep himself was never 
obliged to carry on a war in Asia. On one occasion he ap- 
peared at Sidon, and one of his officials mentions prisoners 
taken by his majesty on the battlefield,' but this may refer 
to the Nubian campaign. It was deemed sufficient, as we 
shall later see, to send troops under the command of an 
efficient officer, who found no difficulty in coping with the 
situation for a generation after Amenhotep 's accession. 
Thus one of the vassal princes later wrote to Amenhotep 's 
son: "Verily, thy father did not march forth, nor inspect the 
lands of his vassal princes."^ 

Under such circumstances Amenhotep was at leisure to 
devote himself to those enterprises of peace which have occu- 
pied all emperors under similar conditions. Trade now 
developed as never before. The Nile, from the Delta to the 
cataracts, was alive with the freight of all the world, which 
flowed into it from the Red Sea fleets and from long caravans 
passing back and forth through the Isthmus of Suez, bearing 
the rich stuffs of Syria, the spices and aromatic woods of 
the East, the weapons and chased vessels of the Phoenicians, 
and a myriad of other things, which brought their Semitic 
names into the hieroglyphic and their use into the life of the 
Nile-dwellers. Parallel with the land traffic through the 
isthmus were the routes of commerce on the Mediterranean, 
thickly dotted with the richly laden galleys of Phoenicia, con- 
verging upon the Delta from all quarters and bringing to the 
markets of the Nile the decorated vessels or damascened 
bronzes from the Mycenfean industrial settlements of the 
^gean. The products of Egyptian industry were likewise in 
use in the palace of the sea-kings of Cnossos, in Rhodes, and 
in Cyprus, where a number of Egyptian monuments of this 
age have been found. Scarabs and bits of glazed ware with 
the name of Amenhotep III or queen Tiy have also been dis- 
covered on the mainland of Greece at Mycenae. The northern 
Mediterranean peoples were feeling the impact of Egyptian 

> II, 916, 918. 2Amarna Letters, 87, 62-64. 



civilization now appearing in the north with more insistent 
force than ever before. In Crete Egyptian religious forms 
had been introduced, in one case under the personal leader- 
ship of an Egyptian priest (Fig. 127). Mycenaean artists 
were powerfully influenced by the incoming products of 
Egypt. Egyptian landscapes appear in their metal work, and 
the lithe animal forms in instantaneous postures which were 
caught by the pencil of the Theban artists were now common 
in MyceuEe. The superb decorated ceilings of Thebes like- 
wise appear in the tombs of Mycente and Orchomenos. Even 
the pre-Greek writing of Crete shows traces of the influence 
of the hieroglyphics of the Nile. The men of the Mycenaean 
world, the Keftyew, who brought these things to their coun- 
trymen, were now a familiar sight upon the streets of Thebes, 
where the wares which they offered were also modifying the 
art of Egypt. The plentiful silver of the north now came 
in with the northern strangers in great quantities, and, 
although under the Hyksos the baser metal had been worth 
twice as much as gold, the latter now and permanently 
became the more valuable medium. The ratio was now 
about one and two thirds to one, and the value of silver 
steadily fell until Ptolemaic times (third century B. C. on), 
when the ratio was twelve to one. 

Such trade required protection and regulation. Roving 
bands of Lycian pirates infested the coasts of the eastern 
Mediterranean ; they boldly entered the harbours of Cyprus 
and plundered the towns, and even landed on the coast of 
the Delta.' Amenhotep was therefore obliged to develop a 
marine police which patroled the coast of the Delta and con- 
stantly held the mouths of the river closed against all but 
lawful comers. Custom houses were also maintained by 
these police officials at the same places, and all merchandise 
not consigned to the king was dutiable.^ The income from 
this source must have been very large, but we have no means 
of estimating it. All the land-routes leading into the country 
were similarly policed, and foreigners who could not satis- 

' Amarna Letters. 28. 2 11. OUi, II. 33-4. Amarna Letters, 20; .32; .33. 


factorily explain their business were turned back, while 
legitimate trade was encouraged, protected and properly 

The influx of slaves, chiefly of Semitic race, which had 
begun under Thutmose III, still continued, and the king's 
chief scribe distributed them throughout the land and en- 
rolled them among the tax-paying serfs/ As this host of 
foreigners intermarried with the natives, the large infusion 
of strange blood began to make itself felt in a new and com- 
posite type of face, if we may trust the artists of the day. 
The incalculable wealth which had now been converging 
upon the eotfers of the Pharaoh for over a century also began 
to exert a profound influence, which, as under like conditions, 
in later history, was far from wholesome. On New Year's 
Day the king presented his nobles with a profusion of costly 
gifts which would have amazed the Pharaohs of the pyra- 
mid-age. On one such occasion the chief treasurer carried 
in before the monarch "chariots of silver and gold, statues 
of ivory and ebony, necklaces of every costly stone, weapons 
of warfare, and work of all craftsmen." They included 
thirteen statues of the king, seven sphinx portraits of the 
monarch, eight superb necklaces, six hundred and eighty 
richly wrought shields and two hundred and thirty quivers 
of the same workmanship, three hundred and sixty bronze 
swords and one hundred and forty bronze daggers, both 
damascened with precious metal, thirty ebony staves tipped 
with silver and gold, two hundred and twenty ivory and 
ebony whips, seven elaborately wrought chests, many sun- 
shades, chairs, vases and innumerable small objects.^ In 
the old days the monarch rewarded a faithful noble with 
land, which, in order to pay a return, must be properly cul- 
tivated and administered, thus fostering simplicity and 
wholesome country virtues on a large domain ; but the 
favourite now received convertible wealth, which required 
no administration to be utilized. The luxury and display of 
the metropolis supplanted the old rustic simplicity and 

J II, 916, 11. .S2-.3. » Ibid., II. 31, 36. ' II, 801 ff. 



sturdy elemental virtues. From the Pharaoh down to the 
humblest scribe this change was evident, if in nothing else 
than the externals of costume ; for the simple linen kilt from 
the hips to the knees, which once satisfied all, not excluding 
the king, has now given way to an elaborate costume, with 
long plaited skirt, a rich tunic with full flowing sleeves; the 
unpretentious head-dress of the old time has been replaced 
by an elaborately curled wig hanging down upon the shoul- 
ders; while the once bare feet are shod in elegant sandals, 
with tapering toes curled up at the tips. A noble of the 

landed class from the 
court of the Amenem- 
hets or the Sesostrises, 
could he have walked 
the streets of Thebes in 
Amenhotep III 's day, 
would almost have been 
at a loss to know in 
what country he had 
suddenly found himself; 
while his own antiqua- 
ted costume, which had 
survived only among the priests, would have awakened equal 
astonishment among the fashionable Thebans of the day. He 
would not have felt less strange than a noble of Elizabeth's 
reign upon the streets of modern London. All about him he 
would have found elegant chateaus and luxurious villas, with 
charming gardens and summer-houses grouped about vast 
temples, such as the Nile-dweller had never seen before. 

The wealth and the captive labour of Asia and Nubia were 
being rapidly transmuted into noble architecture, and at 
Thebes a new and fundamental chapter in the history of 
the world's architecture was being daily written. Amen- 
hotep gave himself with appreciation and enthusiasm to such 
works, and placed at the disposal of his architects all the 
resources which they needed for an ampler practice of their 

Fig. 124. Costumes of the Empire. 



art than had ever before been possible. There were among 
them men of the highest gifts, and one of them, who bore the 
same name as the king, gained such a wide reputation for 
his wisdom that his sayings circulated in Greek some twelve 
hundred years later among the * ' Proverbs of the Seven Wise 
Men"; and in Ptolemaic times he was finally worshipped as 
a god, and took his place among the innumerable deities of 
Egypt as ' * Amenhotep, son of Hapu. ' '^ 

Under the fingers of such men as these the old and tradi- 
tional elements of Egyptian building were imbued with new 
life and combined into new forms in which they took on a 
wondrous beauty unknown before. Besides this, the unpre- 
cedented resources of wealth and labour at the command of 

Fig. 125. The Pebiptebal Cella-Temple. 

Built by Amenhotep III on the Island of Elephantine. It was destroyed 
for building material by the Turkish governor of Assuan in 1822. (After the 
"Description" by Napoleon's Expedition.) 

such an architect enabled him to deal with such vast dimen- 
sions that the element of size alone must have rendered his 
buildings in the highest degree impressive. But of the two 
forms of temple which now developed, the smaller is not less 

• II, 911. 



effective than the larger. It was a simple rectangular cella 
or holy of holies, thirty or forty feet long and fourteen feet 
high, with a door at each end, surrounded by a jiortico, the 
whole being raised upon a base of about half the height of 
the temple walls. With the door looking out between two 
graceful columns, and the facade happily set in the retreat- 
ing vistas of the side colonnades, the whole is so exquisitely 
I)roportioned that the trained eye immediately recognizes the 
hand of a master who appreciated the full value of simple 
fundamental lines. Little wonder that the architects of 
Napoleon's expedition who brought it to the notice of the 
modern world were charmed with it, and thought that they 
had discovered in it the origin of the Greek peripteral tem- 
ple ; nor can there indeed be any doubt that the architecture 
of Greece was influenced by this form. The other and larger 

Fig. 126. 

Perspective and Section of a Typical Pylon Temple of the 

The nearer half, with its Pylon-Tower, has been cut away to expose the 
arrangement of the interior. Compare with description on p. 343. i After 
Perrot-Chipiez. ) 

type of temjile, which now found its highest development, 
differs strikingly from the one just discussed; and ])erhaps 
most fundamentally in the fact that its colonnades are all 
within and not visible from the outside. The holy of holies, 
as of old, is surrounded by a series of chambers, now larger 

Fig. 127.— FRA^,^TENT OF <."AKVl|i smXE VASE FOUND IN 

In the middle of a festal procession an Egyptian priest, with upraised 
leads singing Cretan youths. Eighteenth Century B.C. 

Luxor Temple. 


than before, as rendered necessary by the rich and elaborate 
ritual which had arisen. Before it is a large colonnaded hall, 
often called the hypostyle, while in front of this hall lies an 
extensive forecourt surrounded by a columned portico. In 
front of this court rise two towers (together called a 
"pylon"), which form the facade of the temple. Their 
walls incline inward, they are crowned by a hollow cornice 
and the great door of tlie temple opens between them. While 
the masonry, which is of sandstone or limestone, does not 
usually contain large blocks, huge architraves, thirty or forty 
feet long and weighing one or two hundred tons, are not 
unknown. Nearly all the surfaces except those on the col- 
umns are carved with reliefs, the outside showing the king 
in battle, while on the inside he appears in the worship of 
the gods, and all surfaces with slight exception were highly 
coloured. Before the vast double doors of cedar of Lebanon 
mounted in bronze, rose, one on either side, a i^air of obelisks, 
towering high above the pylon-towers, while colossal statues 
of the king, each hewn from a single block, were placed with 
backs to the pylon, on either side of the door. In the use 
of these elements and this general arrangement of the parts, 
already common before Amenhotep's reign, his architects 
created a radically new type, destined to survive in frequent 
use to this day as one of the noblest forms of architecture. 
At Luxor, the old southern suburb of Thebes, which had 
now grown into the city, there was a small temple to Amon, 
built by the kings of the Twelfth Dynasty. Amenhotep had, 
probably early in his reign, pulled it down and built a new 
sanctuary with surrounding chambers and a hall before it, 
like that of Thutmose I at Karnak. To this his architects 
had laid out in front a superb forecourt (Fig. 128), with the 
finest colonnades now surviving in Egypt. Gaining confi- 
dence, they determined to erect in front of all this a new 
and more ambitious hall than had ever been attempted before, 
to be preceded in all probability by a still larger court. The 
great hall was laid out with a i"ow of gigantic columns on 
either side the central axis, quite surpassing in height any 


pier ever before employed by the Egyptian (Fig. 130). Nor 
were they less beautiful for their great size, being in every 
respect masterpieces of exquisite proportion, with capitals 
of the graceful, spreading papyrus-flower type (Fig. 130). 
These columns were higher than those ranged on both sides 
of the middle, thus producing a higher roof over a central 
aisle or nave and a lower roof over the side aisles, the differ- 
ence in level being filled with grated stone windows in a 
clear-story. Thus were produced the fundamental elements 
in basilica and cathedral architecture, which we owe to the 
Theban architects of Araenhotep III. Unfortunately the 
vast hall was unfinished at the death of the king, and his 
son was too ardent an enemy of Amon to carry out the 
work of his father. His later successors walled up the mag- 
nificent nave with drums from the columns of the side aisles 
which were never set up, and the whole stands to-day a 
mournful wreck of an unfinished work of art, the first 
example of a type for which the world cannot be too grateful. 
Amenhotep now proceeded to give the great buildings of 
the city a unity which they had not before possessed. He 
raised a massive pylon before the temple of Karnak, adorned 
with unsurpassed richness ; stelas of lapis-lazuli were set up 
on either side and besides great quantities of gold and silver, 
nearly twelve hundred pounds of malachite were employed 
in the inlay work.^ From the river an avenue led up to it 
between two tall obelisks,^ and before it his architect, Amen- 
hotep, set up for him his portrait colossus, the largest thus 
far erected, having been hewn from a single block of tough 
gritstone sixty seven feet long, brought up the river from the 
quarry near modern Cairo by an army of men.^ The king 
also built a temple to Mut, the goddess of Thebes, where his 
ancestors had begun it, on the south of Karnak, and exca- 
vated a lake beside it. He then laid out a beautiful garden 
in the interval of over a mile and a half, which separates 
the Karnak from the Luxor temple and connected the great 
temples by avenues of rams (Figs. 4; 129) carved in stone, 

UI, 903. « II, 903, 1. 57. » II, 917. 


each beariug a statue of the Pharaoh between the forepaws. 
The general effect must have been imposing in the extreme ; 
the brilliant hues of the polychrome architecture, with col- 
umns and gates overwrought in gold and floors overlaid with 
silver, the whole dominated by towering obelisks clothed in 
glittering metal, rising high above the rich green of the 
nodding palms and tropical foliage which framed the mass,— 
all this must have produced an impression both of gorgeous 
detail and overwhelming grandeur, of which the sombre 
ruins of the same buildings, impressive as they are, offer 
little hint at the present day. As at Athens in the days of 
her glory, the state was fortunate in the possession of men 
of sensitive and creative mind, upon whose quick imagina- 
tion her greatness had profoundly wrought, until they were 
able to embody her external manifestations in forms of 
beauty, dignity and splendour. Thebes was now rapidly 
becoming a worthy seat of empire, the first monumental city 
of antiquity. Nor did the western plain on the other side 
of the river, behind which the conquerors slept, suffer by 
comparison with the new glories of Karnak and Luxor. 
Along the foot of the rugged cliffs, from the modest chapel 
of Amenhotep I on the north, there stretched southward in 
an imposing line the mortuary temples of the emperors. At 
the south end of this line, but a little nearer the river, Amen- 
hotep III now erected his own mortuary sanctuary, the 
largest temple of his reign. Two gigantic colossi of the 
king, nearly seventy feet high, each cut from one block and 
weighing over seven hundred tons, besides a pair of obelisks, 
stood before the pylon, which was approached from the river 
by an avenue of jackals sculptured in stone. Numerous 
other great statues of the Pharaoh were ranged about the 
colonnades of the court. A huge stela ^ of sandstone thirty 
feet high, inwrought with gold and encrusted with costly 
stones marked the ceremonial "Station of the King," where 
Amenhotep stood in performing the official duties of the 
ritual ; another- over ten feet high bore a record of all his 

> 11, 904 ff. « 11, 878 ff. 


works for Anion, while the walls and floors of the temple, 
overlaid with gold and silver, displayed the most prodigal 
magnificence. The fine taste and the technical skill required 
for such supplementary- works of the craftsman were now 
developed to a point of classical excellence, beyond which 
Egyptian art never passed. In mere mass alone some of 
these works of industrial art were surprising, for the bronze 
lunges and other mountings of the vast cedar pylon-doors 
weighed together some tons, and required castings of unprec- 
edented size ; while the overlaying of such doors with sheets 
of bronze exquisitely damascened in precious metal with the 
figure of the god demanded a combination of aesthetic capac- 
ity with mastery of ponderous mechanics, which is not too 
common even at the present day. 

Sculpture also flourished under such circumstances as 
never before. While there now developed an attention to 
details which required infinite patience and nicety, such 
arduous application did not hamper the fine feeling of which 
these Eighteenth Dynasty sculptors were capable; nor was 
the old method of a summary rendering of main lines for- 
saken. There appear in the works of this age (Figs. 136-7, 
151) a refinement, a delicacy and a flexibility which were 
heretofore lacking, even in the best works, though perhaps the 
striking individuality of the Old Kingdom jwrtraits was not 
so noticeable. These qualities were carried into work of 
such ample proportions that the sculptor's command of them 
under such circumstances is surprising, although not all of 
the colossal portrait statues are successful in these particu- 
lars. Especially in relief were the artists of this age mas- 
ters. In the accompanying relief (Fig. 132), now in the 
Berlin Museum, study the abandoned grief of the two sons 
of the High Priest of Memphis as they follow their father's 
body to the tomb, and note how effectively the artist has con- 
trasted with them the severe gravity and conventional 
decorum of the great ministers of state behind them, who 
themselves are again in striking contrast with a Beau Brum- 
mel of that day, who is affectatiously arranging the per- 


fumed curls of his elaborate wig. The man of whose work we 
have here a mere fragment was a master of ripe and matured 
culture, an observer of life, whose work exhibits alike the 
pathos and the wistful questioning of human sorrow, recog- 
nizing both the necessity and the cruel indifference of official 
conventionality, and seeing amid all the play of the vain 
and ostentatious fashions of the hour. Here across thirty five 
centuries there speaks to us a maturity in the contemplation 
of life which finds a sympathetic response in every cultivated 
observer. This fragmentary sketch not merely surpasses 
anything to be found among any other early oriental people, 
but belongs to a class of work totally lacking elsewhere in 
this age. It is one of the earliest examples of sculpture 
exhibiting that interpretation of life and appreciation of 
individual traits (often supposed to have arisen first among 
the sculptors of Greece), in which art finds its highest 

Now, too, the Pharaoh's deeds of prowess inspired the 
sculptors of the time to more elaborate compositions than 
had ever before been approached. The battle scenes on the 
noble chariot of Thutmose IV (Fig. 135) exhibit a complexity 
in drawing unprecedented, and this tendency continues in 
the Nineteenth Dynasty. While brute life does not afford 
opportunity for such work as that just discussed, the per- 
fection attained in the sculpture of animal forms by the 
artists of this time marks again the highest level of achieve- 
ment attained by Egyptian art, and Ruskin has even insisted 
with his customary conviction that the two lions (Fig. 133) 
of Amenhotep's reign, now in the British Museum, are the 
finest embodiment of animal majesty which has survived to 
us from any ancient people. "WTiile this may be an over 
enthusiastic estimate of their value, it must not be forgotten 
that these noble works were designed as the adornment of a 
distant provincial sanctuary at Soleb in upper Nubia.' If 
such work as this beautified the courts of a remote Nubian 
temple, what may we not imagine were the sculptures in the 

' II, 893, 896-7. 


mortuary temple of the Pharaoh himself at Thebes? But 
this sumptuous building, probably the greatest work of art 
ever wrought in Egypt, has vanished utterly. Only the two 
weather-beaten colossi which guarded the entrance still look 
out across the plain (Fig. 131), one of them still bearing 
the scribblings in Greek of curious tourists in the times of the 
Roman Empire who came to hear the marvellous voice which 
issued from it every morning. A hundred paces behind lies 
prostrate and shattered in two the vast stela, once encrusted 
with gold and costly stones, marking the "Station of the 
King," and upon it one may still read the words of Amen- 
hotep regarding the temple: "My majesty has done these 
things for millions of years, and I know that they will abide 
in the earth.'" We shall later have occasion to observe 
how this regal temple fell a prey to the impiety of Amen- 
hotep's degenerate descendants within two hundred years 
of his death. Of the painting of the time, the best examples 
were in the palaces, and these being of wood and sun-dried 
brick, have perished, but a fine perception, which enabled 
the artist in his representation of animals and birds to depict 
instantaneous postures is already observable, reaching its 
highest expression in the next reign. More elaborate draw- 
ings than any known in earlier times were, as we have seen, 
demanded by the Pharaoh in the representation of his battles, 
and the artist's powers of comjxjsition were taxed to the 
utmost. The battle scenes on the temples of this period have 
perished, but that they existed is certain, in view of such a 
composition as that on the chariot of Thutmose IV. 

Adorned with such works as these, the western plain of 
Thebes was a majestic pi'ospect as the observer advanced 
from the river, ascending Amenhotep's avenue of sculptured 
jackals. On the left, behind the temple and nearer the cliffs, 
appeared a palace of the king of woodern architecture in 
bright colours ; very light and airy, the fagade adorned with 
flagstaves bearing tufts of parti-coloured pennants, and 
having over the front entrance a gorgeous cushioned balcony 


with graceful columns, in which the king showed himself to 
his favourites on occasion ( Fig. 139 ) . The art which adorned 
such a palace was as exquisite in its refined aesthetics as in its 
technical skill. Innumerable products of the industrial artist 
which fill the museums of Europe indicate with what tem- 
pered richness and delicate beauty such a royal chateau was 
furnished and adorned. Magnificent vessels in gold and 
silver with figures of men and animals, plants and flowers 
rising from the rim, glittered on the king's table among 
crystal goblets, glass vases, and gray porcelain vessels inlaid 
with pale blue designs. The walls were covered with woven 
tapestry of workmanship so fine and colour and design so 
exquisite that skilled judges have declared it equal to the 
best modern work. Besides painted pavements (Fig. 138) 
depicting animal life, the walls also were adorned with fine 
blue glazed tiles, the rich colour of which shone through elab- 
orate designs in brilliant gold leaf, while glazed figures were 
employed in encrusting larger surfaces. All this was done 
with fine and intelligent consideration of the whole colour 
scheme. In all the refined arts it is an age like that of Louis 
XV, and the palace everywhere reflects the spirit of the age. 
Here too Amenhotep laid out an exclusive quarter which 
he gave to his queen, Tiy. He excavated a large lake in the 
enclosure about a mile long and over a thousand feet wide, 
and at the celebration of his coronation anniversary in his 
twelfth year, he opened the sluices for filling it, and sailed 
out upon it in the royal barge with his queen, in doubtless 
just such a gorgeous festival "fantasia" as we find in the 
"Arabian Nights" in the days of the inevitable Hariin 
er-Eashid. The music on such occasions was more elaborate 
than ever before, for the art had make progress since the 
days of the old simplicity. The harp was now a huge instru- 
ment as tall as a man, and had some twenty strings ; the lyre 
had been introduced from Asia, and the full orchestra now 
contained the harp, the lyre, the lute and the double pipes. 
As a souvenir of the celebration another series of scarabs, 
or beetle-amulets, was issued, inscribed with a brief narra- 


tive of the event.' Such festivals were now common in 
Thebes and enriched the life of the fast growing metropolis 
with a kaleidoscopic variety which may be only compared 
with similar periods in Babylon or in Rome under the em- 
perors. The religious feasts of the seventh month were 
celebrated with such opulent splendour that the month 
quickly gained the epithet, "That of Amenhotep, " a desig- 
nation which clung to it until it became the usual name for 
it in later ages, and in corrupt form it still survives among 
the natives of modern Egypt, who employ it without the 
faintest knowledge of the imperial ruler, their ancestor, 
whose name is perpetuated in it. In such an age literature 
doubtless throve, but chance has unfortunately preserved to 
us little of the literature of the Eighteenth Dynasty. We 
have heard a portion of the triumphant hymn to Thutmose 
III and we shall read the remarkable sun-hymn of Ikhnaton ; 
but of narrative, song and legend, which must have flour- 
ished from the rise of the Empire, our surviving documents 
date almost exclusively from the Nineteenth Dynasty. 

Among the king's favourite diversions was the hunt, which 
he practiced on an unprecedented scale. When his scouts 
brought him word that a herd of wild cattle had a]ipeared 
among the hills bordering the Delta, he would leave the 
palace at Memphis in the evening, sail north all night and 
reach the herd in the early morning. A numerous body of 
troops, with children from the villages, then surrounded the 
herd and drove them into a large enclosure, a method also 
employed in earlier times. On one occasion his beaters 
counted no less than one hundred and seventy wild cattle in 
the enclosure. Entering it in his chariot the king himself slew 
fifty six of the savage beasts on the first day, to which num- 
ber he added probably twenty more at a second onslaught, 
which followed after four days' interval of rest. Amenhotep 
thought the achievement worthy of commemoration and 
issued a series of scarabs bearing a record of the feat.^ 
When the chase-loving king had completed ten vears of lion- 



hunting he distributed to the nobles of the court a similar 
memorial of his prowess, which, after the usual royal titulary 
of himself and his queen, bore the words: "Statement of 
lions which his majesty brought down with his own arrows 
from the year one to the year ten : tiei'ce lions, 102.'" Some 
thirty or forty of these scarabs of the lion-hunt still survive. 

It will be seen that in these things a new and modern ten- 
dency was coming to its own. The divine Phai'aoh is con- 
stantly being exhibited in human relations, the affairs of 
the royal house are made public property, the name of the 
queen, not even a woman of royal birth, is constantly appear- 
ing at the head of official documents side by side with that 
of the Pharaoh. In constant intercourse with the nations 
of Asia he is gradually forced from his old superhuman 
state, suited only to the Nile, into less provincial and more 
modern relations with his neighbours of Babylon and Mi- 
tanni, who in their letters call him "brother." This lion- 
hunting, bull-baiting Pharaoh is far indeed from the godlike 
and unapproachable immobility of his divine ancestors. It 
was as if the emjieror of China or the Dalailama of Thibet 
were all at once to make his personal doings known on a series 
of medals ! To be sure, Amenhotep compromised with the 
traditions ; he built a temple in Memphis,^ where he was wor- 
shipjjed and enlai'ged the Nubian temple at Soleb also for his 
own worship^ in conjunction with that of Amon. His queen 
likewise was goddess of the Nubian temple of Sedeinga. 
Amenhotep was thus still a god in Nubia, but in fact he had 
long since broken with this court and priestly fiction. Whether 
consciously or not he had assumed a modern standpoint, 
which must inevitably lead to sharp conflict with the almost 
irresistible inertia of tradition in an oriental country. 

Meantime all went well ; the lines of the coming internal 
struggle were not yet clearly drawn, and of the first signs 
of trouble from without he was unconscious. A veritable 
"Caesar divus" he presided over the magnificence of Thebes. 
In the thirtieth year of his reign he celebrated the jubilee 

> II, 865. 2 II, p. 354, note a. 3 II, 893 ff. 


of his appointment as crown prince, which had coincided 
with his accession. It was on this occasion probably tliat the 
obelisks before the king's mortuary temple were erected. 
To render the feast still more auspicious the chief treasurer, 
in presenting to the king the enormous harvest returns from 
Nubia to Naharin, was able to report a large increase, which 
so pleased the king that the local officials of the treasury were 
all received in audience and presented with rich rewards.' 
The second jubilee, probably of the year thirty four, passed 
without incident so far as we know; and in the year thirty 
six, when the third jubilee was celebrated, the old monarch 
was still able to grant the court an audience and receive 
their congratulations." 
Z' But ominous signs of trouble had meanwhile appeared on 
/ the northern horizon. Mitanni had been invaded by the 
^littites (Kheta), but Dushratta, the Mitannian king, had 
been able to repel them and sent to Amenhotep a chariot and 
pair, besides two slaves, as a present from the booty which 
the Hittites had left in his hands. ^ But the provinces of 
Egypt had not been spared. Akizzi, the Pharaoh's vassal 
king of Katna, wrote him that the Hittites had invaded his 
territory in the Orontes valley, had carried off the image of 
Amon-Re, bearing the name of Amenhotep, and had burned 
the city as they went."* Nukhashshi, which lay still further 
north, suffered a similar invasion, and its king, Hadadnirari, 
wrote a despairing letter to Amenhotep with assurances of 
loyalty and an appeal for support against the invaders.' All 
this had not been done without the connivance of treacherous 
vassals of the Pharaoh, who were themselves attempting the 
conquest of territory on their own account. The afterward 
notorious Aziru and his father, Abdashirta, were leaders in 
the movement, entering Katna and Nukhashshi from the 
south and plundering as they went. Others who had made 
common cause with them threatened Ubi, the region of 
Damascus. Akizzi of Katna and Rib-Addi of Byblos quickly 

' II, 870-872. 2 II, 873. 3 Amarna Letters, 16, 30-37. 

'Ibid., 138, Reverse, 11. 5. 18-31. 'Ibid., 37. 


reported the defection of the Pharaoh 's vassals ; Akizzi wrote 
appealing for speedy aid: "O my lord, just as Damascus, 
in the land of Ubi, stretches out her hand to thy feet, so also 
Katna stretches out her hand to thy feet." The situation 
was far more critical than it appeared to the Pharaoh, for 
he had no means of recognizing the seriousness of the Hittite 
advance, and Akizzi assured him that the kings of Naharin 
were loyal, saying: "0 my lord, even as I love my lord the 
king, so also do the king of Nukhashshi, the king of Niy, the 
king of Senzar and the king of Kinanat. For these kings 
are all servants of my lord the king." Amenhotep, there- 
fore, instead of marching with his entire army immediately 
into north Syria, as Thutmose III would have done, sent 
troops only. These of course had no trouble in momentarily 
quelling the turbulent dynasts and putting a brief stop to 
their aggressions against the loyal vassals;' but they were 
quite unable to cope with the southern advance of the Hit- 
tites, who secured a footing in northern Naharin of the great- 
est value in their further plans for the conquest of Syria. 
Furthermore the king's long absence from Syria was telling 
upon Egyptian prestige there, and another threatening dan- 
ger to his Asiatic possessions is stated to have begun from 
the day when the king had last left Sidon. An invasion of 
the Khabiri, desert Semites, such as had periodically inun- 
dated Syria and Palestine from time immemorial, was now 
taking place. It was of such proportions that it may fairly 
be called an immigration. Before Amenhotep Ill's death 
it had become threatening, and thus Ribaddi of Byblos later 
wrote to Amenhotep Ill's son: "Since thy father returned 
from Sidon, since that time the lands have fallen into the 
hands of the Khabiri. "- 

Under such ominous conditions as these the old Pharaoh, 
whom we may well call ' ' Amenhotep the Magnificent, ' ' drew 
near his end. His brother of Mitanni, with whom he was 
still on terms of intimacy, probably knowing of his age and 
weakness, sent the image of Ishtar of Nineveh for the second 

' Ibid., 83, 28-33, 94, 13-18. « Ibid., 69, 71-73. 




time to Egypt, doubtless in the hope that the far-famed god- 
dess might be able to exorcise the evil spirits whidi were 
causing Amenhotep's infirmity and restore the old king to 
health." But all such means were of no avail, and about 
1375 B. C, after nearly thirty six years upon the throne, 
"Amenhotep the Magnificent" passed away and was buried 
with the other emperors, his fathers, in the Valley of the 
Kings' Tombs. 

1 Ibid., 20. 



No nation ever stood in direr need of a strong and prac- 
tical ruler than did Egypt at the death of Amenhotep III. 
Yet she chanced to be ruled at this fatal crisis by a young 
dreamer, who, in spite of unprecedented gi'eatness in the 
world of ideas, was not fitted to cope with a situation demand- 
ing an aggressive man of affairs and a skilled military 
leader,— in fine such a man as Thutmose III. Amenhotep 
IV, the young and inexperienced son of Amenhotep III and 
the queen Tiy, was indeed strong and fearless in certain 
directions, but he failed utterly to understand the practical 
needs of his empire. He had inherited a difficult situation. 
The conflict of new forces with tradition, was, as we have 
seen, already felt by his father. The task before him was 
such manipulation of these conflicting forces as might even- 
tually give reasonable play to the new and modern tendency, 
but at the same time to conserve enough of the old to pre- 
vent a catastrophe. It was a problem of practical states- 
manship, but Amenhotep IV saw it chiefly in its ideal aspects. 
His mother, Tiy, and his queen, Nof retete, perhaps a woman 
of Asiatic birth, and a favourite priest. Eye, the husband 
of his childhood nurse, formed his immediate circle. The 
first two probably exercised a powerful influence over him, 
and were given a prominent share in the government, at least 
as far as its public manifestations were concerned, for in a 
manner quite surpassing his father's similar tendency, he 
constantly appeared in public with both his mother and his 
wife. The lofty and impractical aims which he had in view 
must have found a ready response 'a these his two most 
influential counsellors. TJius, while Egypt was in sore need 



of a vigourous and skilled administrator, the young king was 
in close counsel with a priest and two perhaps gifted women, 
who, however able, were not of the tibre to show the new 
Pharaoh what the empire really demanded. Instead of gath- 
ering the army so sadly needed in Naharin, Amenhotep IV 
immersed himself heart and soul in the thought of the time, 
and the philosophizing theology of the priests was of more 
importance to him than all the provinces of Asia. In such 
contemplations he gradually developed ideals and purposes 
which make him the most remarkable of all the Pharaohs, 
and the tirst individual in human history. 

The profound influence of Egypt's imperial position had 
not been limited to the externals of life, to the manners and 
customs of the people, to the rich and prolific art, pregnant 
with new possibilities of beauty, but had extended likewise 
to the thought of the age. Such thought was chiefly theo- 
logical and we must divest it of all the ideas which are con- 
noted by the modern term ' ' the thought of the age. ' ' Even 
before the conquests in Asia the priests had made great 
progress in the interpretation of the gods, and they had now 
reached a stage in which, like the later Greeks, they were 
importing semi-philosophical significance into the myths, 
such as these had of course not originally ]X)ssessed. The 
interpretation of a god was naturally suggested by his place 
or function in the myth. Thus Ptah, the artificer-god of 
Memphis, furnished the priesthood there with a fruitful line 
of thought, moving in concrete channels, and thus guiding 
the thinker, in an age of intellectual beginnings, thinking in 
a language without tenninology for such processes, even 
when they had once been followed out. Ptah had been from 
the remotest ages the god of the architect and craftsman, to 
whom he communicated plans and designs for architectural 
works and the products of the industrial arts. Contemplat- 
ing this god, the Memphite priest, little used as his mind was 
to abstractions, found a tangible channel, moving along 
which he gradually gained a rational and with certain limi- 
tations a philosophical conception of the world. The work- 


shop of the Memphite temple, where, under Ptah's guidance, 
were wrought the splendid statues, utensils and offerings for 
the temple, expands into a world, and Ptah, its lord, grows 
into the master-workman of the universal workshop. As he 
furnishes all designs to the architect and craftsman, so now 
he does the same for all men in all that they do ; he becomes 
the supreme mind; he is mind and all things proceed from 
him. The world and all that is in it existed as thought in 
his mind ; and his thoughts, like his plans for buildings and 
works of art, needed but to be expressed in spoken words to 
take concrete form as material realities. Gods and men alike 
proceeded from mind, and all that they do is but the mind of 
the god working in them. A priest of Ptah has expressed 
this in a short poem, a part of which vaguely and indefinitely 
shows how the minds of the time were explaining the world : 

Ptah, the great, is the mind and tongue of the gods. . . . 

Ptah, from whom proceeded the power 

Of the mind, 

And of the tongue. 

That which comes forth from every mind, 

And from every mouth : 

Of all gods, of all people, of all cattle, of all reptiles. 

That live, thinking and commanding 

Everything that he (Ptah) wills. 

It (the mind) is the one that bringeth forth every successful issue. 

It is the tongue which repeats the thought of the mind : 

It (the mind) was the fashioner of all gods. . . . 

At a time when every divine word 

Came into existence by the thought of the mind. 

And the command of the tongue.' 

Wherever we have used the word "mind" in this passage 
the Egyptian has "heart," which word served him for 
"mind" in exactly the same way as the Hebrews and many 
other peoples frequently employ it; much in the same man- 

' See the author's account of this remarkable document, Zeitschrift fiir 
Aegyptische Sprache, XXXIX, 39 ff. 


ner indeed as we ourselves often use it, with the difference 
that the Egyptian believed the heart and +he bowels actually 
to be the seat of mind. Although such notions could have 
been entertained by very limited circles, they were not con- 
fined to the priests alone. Intef, the court herald of Thut- 
mose III, states on his tombstone that he owed his success to 
the guidance of his "heart," to which he listened implicitly; 
and he adds that the people said: "Lo, it is an oracle of the 
god, which is in every body."' "Body" is here, as com- 
monly, the word for abdomen or bowels, the seat of mind. 
The Egyptian had thus gained the idea of a single controlling 
intelligence, behind and above all sentient beings, including 
the gods. The efficient force by which this intelligence put 
his designs into execution was his spoken "word," and this 
primitive "logos" is undoubtedly the incipient germ of the 
later logos-docti-ine which found its origin in Egypt. Early 
Greek philosophy may also have drawn upon it. 

Similar ideas were now being propagated regarding all 
the greater gods of Egypt, but as long as the kingdom was 
confined to the Nile valley the activity of such a god was 
limited, in their thinking, to the confines of the Pharaoh's 
domain, and the world of which they thought meant no more. 
From of old the Pharaoh was the heir of the gods and ruled 
the two kingdoms of the upper and lower river which they 
had once ruled. Thus they had not in the myths extended 
their dominion beyond the river valley, and that valley origi- 
nally extended only from the sea to the first cataract. But 
under the Empire all this is changed, the god goes where the 
Pharaoh's sword carries him; the advance of the Pharaoh's 
boundary-tablets in Nubia and Syria is the extension of the 
god's domain. The king is now called "The one who brings 
the world to him [the god], who placed him [the Pharaoh] 
on his throne."^ For king and priest alike the world is only 
a great domain of the god. All the Pharaoh's wars are 
recorded upon the temple walls, and even in their mechanical 
arrangement his wars converge upon the temple door.^ The 

1 IT, 770. 2 11, 9ri9, 1. :i; 1000. » III, 80. 


? 'IS 

W u -i 

z « a 
3 «, ^ 


theological theory of the state is simply that the king receives 
the world that he may deliver it to the god, and he prays for 
extended conquests that the dominion of the god may be 
correspondingly extended. Thus theological thinking is 
brought into close and sensitive relationship with political 
conditions; and theological theory must inevitably extend 
the active government of the god to the limits of the domain 
whence the king receives tribute. It can be no accident that 
the notion of a practically universal god arose in Egypt at the 
moment when he was receiving universal tribute from the 
world of that day. Again the analogy of the Pharaoh's 
power unquestionably operated powerfully with the Egyp- 
tian theologian at this time ; for in the myth-making days the 
gods were conceived as Pharaohs ruling the Nile valley, 
because the myth-makers lived under Pharaohs who so ruled. 
Living now under Pharaohs who ruled a world-empire, the 
priest of the imperial age had before him in tangible form 
a world-dominion and a world-concept, the prerequisite of 
the notion of the world-god. Conquered and organized and 
governed, it had now been before him for two hundred years, 
and out of the Pharaoh-ruled world he gradually began to 
see the world-god. 

We have thus far given this god no name. Had you asked 
the Memphite priests they would have said his name was 
Ptah, the old god of Memphis ; the priests of Amon at Thebes 
would have claimed the honour for Amon, the state god, as 
a matter of course, while the High Priest of Re at Heliopolis 
would have pointed out the fact that the Pharaoh was the 
son of Re and the heir to his kingdom, and hence Re must 
be the supreme god of all the empire. Obscure gods in the 
local sanctuaries would have found similar champions in 
their priesthoods because they were now identified with Re 
and claimed his prerogatives. But historically Re's claim 
was undoubtedly the best. Amon had never succeeded in 
displacing him. The introduction of official letters still, as 
of old, commends the addresse to the favour of Re-Harakhte, 
while in the popular tales of the time it is Re-Harakhte who 


7'ules the world. But none of the old divinities of Egypt 
had been proclaimed the god of the empire, although in fact 
the priesthood of Heliopolis had gained the coveted honour 
for their revered sun-god, Re. Already under Amenhotep 
III an old name for the material sun, "Aton, " had come into 
prominent use, where the name of the sun-god might have 
been expected. Thus he called the royal barge on which 
he sailed with Tiy on her beautiful lake, "Aton Gleams.'" 
A company of his body-guard bore the new god's name, and 
there was probably a chapel dedicated to him at Heliopolis. 
The sun-god, too, was now and again designated as "the sole 
god" by Amenhotep Ill's contemporaries. 

The already existent conflict with traditional tendencies 
into which the Pharaoh had been forced, contained in itself 
difiSculties enough to tax the resources of any statesman 
without the introduction of a departure involving the most 
dangerous conflicts with the powerful priesthoods and touch- 
ing religious tradition, the strongest conservative force of the 
time. It was just this rash step which the young king now 
had no hesitation in taking. Under the name of Aton, then, 
Amenhotep IV introduced the worship of the supreme god, 
but he made no attempt to conceal the identity of his new 
deity with the old sun-god, Re. Instructing his vizier in 
the new faith, he said to him, "The words of Re are before 
thee . . . my august father who taught me their essence. 
... It was known in my heart, revealed to my face, I under- 
stood . . . "- He thus attributes the new faith to Re as 
its source, and claims to have been himself the channel of its 
revelation. He immediately assumed the office of High Priest 
of his new god with the same title, "Great Seer," as that of 
the High Priest of Re at Heliopolis.^ But, however evident 
the Heliopolitan origin of the new state religion might be, 
it was not merely sun-worship ; the word Aton was employed 
in xilace of the old word for "god" (nuter),* and the god is 
clearly distinguished from the material sun. To the old sun- 
god's name is appended the explanatory phrase "under his 

I II, 869. ' II, 945. » 11. 934. 1. 2. « II, p. 407. note e. 


name: 'Heat whicli is in tlie Sun [Aton],' " and he is like- 
wise called "lord of the sun [Aton]." The king, therefore, 
was deifying the vital heat which he found accompanying all 
life. It plays in the new faith a similar important part, 
which we find it assuming in the early eosmogonic philoso- 
phies of the Greeks. Thence, as we might expect, the god 
is stated to be everywhere active by means of his "rays," 
and his symbol is a disk in the heavens, darting earthward 
numerous diverging rays which terminate in hands, each 
grasping the symbol of life. In his age of the world it is 
perfectly certain that the king could not have had the vaguest 
notion of the physico-chemical aspects of his assumption 
any more than had the early Greeks in dealing with a similar 
thought ; yet the fundamental idea is surprisingly true, and, 
as we shall see, marvellously fruitful. The outward sjanbol 
of his god thus broke sharply with tradition, but it was 
capable of practical introduction in the many different 
nations making up the empire and could be understood at a 
glance by any intelligent foreigner, which was far from 
the case with any of the traditional symbols of Egyptian 
religion (Figs. 139-40). 

The new god could not dispense with a temple like those 
of the older deities whom he was ultimately to supersede. 
Early in his reign Amenhotep IV sent an expedition to the 
sandstone quarries of Silsileh to secure the necessary stone 
and the chief nobles of his court were in charge of the works 
at the quarry.' In the garden of Anion, which his father 
had laid out between the temples of Karnak and Luxor, 
Amenhotep located his new temple, which was a large and 
stately building, adorned with polychrome reliefs. Thebes 
was now called "City of the Brightness of Aton," and the 
temple-quarter "Brightness of Aton the Great"; while the 
sanctuary itself bore the name "Gem-Aton," a term of uncer- 
tain meaning.^ Although the other gods were still tolerated 
as of old,' it was nevertheless inevitable that the priesthood 
of Amon should view with growing jealousy the brilliant rise 

1 n, 935. ' II, p. 388, note b. s II, 937. 


of a strange god in their midst, an artificial creation of 
which they knew nothing, save that much of the wealth 
formerly employed in the enrichment of Amon's sanctuary 
was now lavished on the intruder. One of Amenhotep Ill's 
High Priests of Anion had also been chief treasurer of the 
kingdom, and another, Ptahmose, was the grand vizier of 
the realm; while the same thing had occurred in the reign 
of Hatshepsut, when Hapuseneb had been both vizier and 
High Priest of Amon. Besides these powers, the High 
Priest of Amon was also the supreme head of the organiza- 
tion including all the priests of the nation. Indeed, the fact 
that such extensive political power was now wielded by the 
High Priests of Amon must have intensified the young king 's 
desire to be freed from the sacerdotal thrall which he had 
inherited. His father had evidently made some attempt to 
shake otf the priestly hand that lay so heavily on the sceptre, 
for he had succeeded Ptahmose by a vizier who was not High 
Priest of Amon. This new vizier, Ramose, was won by the 
young king's gifts,' and a servile court followed him, even 
superintending the quarry work for the new temple, as we 
have seen. The priesthood of Amon, however, was now a 
rich and powerful body. They had installed Thutmose III 
as king, and could they have supplanted with one of their 
own tools the young dreamer who now held the throne they 
would of course have done so at the first opportunity. But 
Amenhotep IV was the son of a line of I'ulers too strong and 
too illustrious to be thus set aside even by the most powerful 
priesthood in the land ; moreover, he possessed unlimited 
personal force of character, and he was of course supported 
in his opposition of Amon by the older priesthoods of the 
north at Memphis and Heliopolis, long jealous of this inter- 
loper, the obscure Theban god, who had never been heard 
of in the north before the rise of the Middle Kingdom. A 
conflict to the bitter end, with the most disastrous results 
to the Amonite jiriesthood ensued. It rendered Thebes 
intolerable to the young king, and soon after he had finished 

> II, 944-947. 


also banished and the king assumed in its place the name 
"Ikhnaton, " which means "Spirit of Aton." 

Thebes was now compromised by too many old associa- 
tions to be a congenial place of residence for so radical a 
revolutionist. As he looked across the city he saw stretching 
along the western plain that imposing line of mortuary 
temples of his fathers which he had violated. They now 
stood silent and empty. The towering pylons and obelisks 
of Karnak and Luxor were not a welcome reminder of 
all that his fathers had contributed to the glory of Amon, 
and the unfinished hall of his father at Luxor, with the 
superb columns of the nave, still waiting for the roof, could 
hardly have stirred pleasant memories in the heart of the 
young reformer. A doubtless long contemplated plan was 
therefore undertaken. Aton, the god of the empire, should 
possess his own city in each of the three great divisions of 
the empire : Egypt, Asia and Nubia, and the god 's Egyptian 
city should be made the royal residence. It must have been 
an enterprise requiring some time, but the three cities were 
duly founded. The Aton-city of Nubia was situated opjio- 
site modern Dulgo, at the foot of the Third Cataract, and 
was thus in the heart of the Egyptian province.' It 
was named "Gem-Aton" after the Aton-temple in Thebes. 
In Syria the Aton-city is unknown, but Iklmaton will not 
have done less for Aton there than his fathers had done for 
Amon. In the sixth year, shortly after he had changed his 
name, the king was living in his own Aton-city in Egypt. 
He chose as its site a fine bay in the cliffs about one hundred 
and sixty miles above the Delta and nearly three hundred 
miles below Thebes. The cliffs, leaving the river in a serai- 
circle, retreat at this point some three miles from the stream 
and return to it again about five miles lower down. In the 
wide plain thus bounded on three sides by the cliffs and on 
the west by the river Ikhnaton founded his new residence 
and the holy city of Aton. He called it Akhetaton, "Hori- 

' II, p. 388, note b; see also my " Monuments of Sudanese Nubia," Chicago, 

1908, pp. 51-82. 


his new temple he resolved upon radical measures. He would 
break with the priesthoods and make Aton the sole god, not 
merely in his own thought, but in very fact ; and Anion 
should fare no better than the rest of the time-honoured gods 
of his fathers. It was no "Gotterdammerung" which the 
king contemplated, but an immediate annihilation of the 
gods. As far as their external and material manifestations 
and equipment were concerned, this could be and was accom- 
})lished without delay. The priesthoods, including that of 
Anion, were dispossessed, the official temple-worship of the 
various gods throughout the land ceased, and their names 
were erased wherever they could be found upon the monu- 
ments. The persecution of Anion was especially severe. 
The cemetery of Thebes was visited and in the tombs of 
the ancestors the hated name of Anion was hammered out 
wherever it appeared upon the stone. The rows on rows 
of statues of the great nobles of the old and glorious days 
of the Empire, ranged along the walls of the Karnak temple, 
were not spared, but the god's name was invariably erased. 
Even the royal statues of his ancestors, including the king's 
father, were not respected ; and, what was worse, as the name 
of that father, Amenhotep, contained the name of Anion, the 
young king was placed in the unpleasant predicament of 
being obliged to cut out his own father's name in order to 
prevent the name of Amon from appearing '"writ large" on 
all the temples of Thebes. The splendid stela ^ erected by 
his father in his mortuary temple, recording all his great 
buildings for Amon, was mercilessly hacked and rendered 
illegible. Even the word "gods" was not permitted to 
appear on any of the old monuments and the walls of the 
temples at Thebes were painfully searched that wherever 
the compromising word appeared it might be blotted out.- 
And then there was the embarrassment of the king's own 
name, likewise Amenhotep, "Amon rests," which could not 
be spoken or placed on a monument. It was of necessity 

■ II, 878 ff. 

• See Zeitschrift fUr Aefjyptische Spraclie. 40, 109-110 and II. p. 386. note b. 


zon of Aton," and it is known in modern times as Tell 
el-i^marna. In addition to the town, the territory around 
it was demarked as a domain belonging to the god, and 
included the plain on both sides of the river. In the cliffs 
on either side, fourteen large stelas (Fig. 140), one of them 
no less than twenty six feet in height, were cut into the rock, 
bearing inscriptions determining the limits of the entire 
sacred district around the city.' As thus laid out the dis- 
trict was about eight miles wide from north to south, and 
from twelve to over seventeen miles long from cliff to cliff. 
The king's oath regarding it is recorded on the extreme 
northern and southern stelas thus: "His majesty raised his 
hand to heaven, to him who made him, even to Aton, saying, 
'This is my testimony forever, and this is my witness for- 
ever, this landmark [stela]. ... I have made Akhetaton for 
my father as a dwelling. ... I have demarked Akhetaton on 
its south, on its north, on its west, on its east. I shall not pass 
beyond the southern landmark of Akhetaton toward the south, 
nor shall I pass beyond the northern landmark of Akhetaton 
toward the north. . . . He has made his circuit for his own, 
he has made his altar in its midst, whereon I make offering to 
him.' "^ Whether this statement that he would never pass 
beyond the boundary of the district, a vow which is found 
referring to all four cardinal points, is merely a legal phrase 
by which a property owner recognized that he had no rights 
beyond his just limit, the boundary of his property; or 
whether the king actually carried out this vow literally and 
remained the rest of his life in Akhetaton we cannot say. 
But the phrase is not found in any other boundary land- 
marks known to us. The region thus demarked was then 
legally conveyed to Aton by the king's own decree, saying: 
"Now as for the area within the . . . landmarks from the 
eastern mountain [cliffs] to the western mountain of Akhe- 
taton opposite, it belongs to my father, Aton, who is given 
life forever and ever : whether mountains or cliffs, or swamps 
... or uplands, or fields, or waters, or towns, or shores, or 

I II, 949-972. J II, 954. 


jieoijio, or cattle, or trees, or auything which Aton, my 
father has made. ... I have made it for Aton, my father, 
forever and ever."' And on another stela he says that they 
are to belong to the temple of Aton in Akhetaton forever 
and ever as offerings.- Besides this sacred domain the god 
was endowed with revenues from other lands in Egypt and 
Nubia,-' and probably also in Syria. The city thus estab- 
lished was to be the real capital of the empire, for the king 
himself said: "The whole land shall come hither, for the 
beautiful seat of Akhetaton shall be another seat [capital], 
and I will give them audience whether they be north or south 
or west or east."^ The royal architect, Bek, was sent to 
the lirst cataract to procure stone for the new temple,^ or 
we should rather say temples, for no less than three were 
now built in tlie new city," one for the queen mother, Tiy, 
and another for the princess Beketaton ("Maid-servant of 
Aton"), beside the state temple of the king himself.'' 
Around the temples rose the palace of the king and the 
chateaus of his nobles, one of whom describes the city thus : 
"Akhetaton, great in loveliness, mistress of pleasant cere- 
monies, rich in possessions, the offerings of Ee in her midst. 
At the sight of her beauty there is rejoicing. She is lovely 
and beautiful ; when one sees her it is like a glimpse of 
heaven. Her number cannot be calculated. When the Aton 
rises in her he fills her with his rays and he embraces [with 
his rays] his beloved son, son of eternity, who came forth 
from Aton and offers the earth to him who placed him on his 
throne, causing the earth to belong to him who made him."* 
On the day when the temple was ready to receive the first 
dues from its revenues the king proceeded thither in his 
chariot accompanied by his four daughters and a gorgeous 
retinue. They were received at the temple with shouts of 
"Welcome"; a rich oblation filled the high altar in the 
temple court, while the store-chambers around it were groan- 
ing with the wealth of the newly paid revenues. ' The king 

■ II, 966. >II, 972. »II, 957. 

*II, 955. «II. 97,3 ff. 'II, 1016-18. 

' Ibid. • II, 1000. > II, 982. 

Fig. 136.— royal PORTRAIT 

Fig. 137.— portrait OF AMENHOTEP. SON 
OF HAPI. See p. 341. (Cniro Museum.) 


Fragment of painling from the floor of Amenhotep Ill's palace in western Thebes. See pp. 348-49. (Fn 
Tytus, Preinninary Report.) 


himself participated in such ceremonies,' while the queen 
"sends the Aton to rest with a sweet voice, her two beau- 
tiful hands bearing the two sistrums."^ But Ikhnaton no 
longer attempted to act as High Priest himself; one of his 
favourites, Merire ("Beloved of Re") was apix)inted by 
him to the office, coming one day for this purpose with his 
friends to the balcony of the palace, in which the king and 
queen appeared in state. The king then formally promoted 
Merire to the exalted office, saying: "Behold, I am appoint- 
ing thee for myself to be 'Great Seer' [High Priest] of the 
Aton in the temple of Aton in Akhetaton. ... I give to thee 
the office saying, 'Thou shalt eat the food of Pharaoh, thy 
lord, in the house of Aton.' "* Merire was so faithful in the 
administration of the tem^Dle that the king publicly rewarded 
him with "the gold," the customary distinction granted to 
zealous servitors of the Pharaoh. At the door of one of the 
temple buildings the king, queen and two daughters extend 
to the fortunate Merire the rewards of fidelity, and the king 
says to the attendants: "Hang gold at his neck before and 
behind, and gold on his legs; because of his hearing the 
teaching of Pharaoh concerning every saying in these beau- 
tiful seats which Pharaoh has made in the sanctuary in the 
Aton-temple in Akhetaton."^ It thus appears that Merire 
had given heed to the king's teachings regarding the ritual 
of the temple, or, as he says, "every saying in these beautiful 

It becomes more and more evident that all that was devised 
and done in the new city and in the propagation of the Aton 
faith is directly due to the king and bears the stamp of his 
individuality. A king who did not hesitate to erase his 
own father's name on the monuments in order to annihilate 
Amon, the great foe of his revolutionary movement, was not 
one to stop half way, and the men about him must have been 
involuntarily carried on at his imperious will. But Ikhna- 
ton understood enough of the old policy of the Pharaohs to 
know that he must hold his party by practical rewards, and 

', fi!(4, 11. 17-18. » II, 995, U. 21 f. 3 11, 985. *U. 987. 


the leading partisans of his movement like Merire enjoyed 
liberal bounty at his hands (Fig. 139).' Thus one of his 
priests of Aton, and at the same time his master of the royal 
horse, named Eye, who had by good fortune happened to 
marry the nurse of the king, renders this very evident in 
such statements as the following: "He doubles to me my 
favours in silver and gold," or again, addressing the king, 
"How prosperous is he who hears thy teaching of life! He 
is satisfied with seeing thee without ceasing."^ The general 
of the army, Mai, enjoyed similar bounty, boasting of it in 
the same way: "He hath doubled to me my favours like 
the numbers of the sand. I am the head of the officials, at 
the head of the people; my lord has advanced me because 
I have carried out his teaching, and I hear his word without 
ceasing. My eyes behold thy beauty every day, my lord, 
wise like Aton, satisiied with truth. How prosperous is he 
who hears thy teaching of life !"' Although there must have 
been a nucleus of men who really appreciated the ideal 
aspects of the king's teaching, it is thus evident that many 
were chiefly influenced by "the loaves and the fishes." 

Indeed there was one royal favour which must have been 
welcome to them all without exception. This was the beau- 
tiful cliff-tomb which the king commanded his craftsmen to 
hew out of the eastern clifTs for each one of his favourites. 
For the old mortuary practices were not all suppressed by 
Ikhnaton, and it was still necessary for a man to be buried 
in the "eternal house," with its endowment for the sup- 
port of the deceased in the hereafter.* But that eternal 
house was no longer disfigured with hideous demons and 
grotesque monsters which should confront the dead in the 
future life; and the magic paraphernalia necessary to meet 

•Description of Fig. 139; Leaning upon the cushioned balustrade of the 
palace balcony with his queen and Iiis infant daughters by his side, the king 
throws down golden collars, vessels, rings and ornaments to his favourites. 
The queen likewise throws two collars. The servants and suite of Eye dance 
with joy or bow ceremoniously. Above (that is behind) are the waiting 
chariots of Eye and his wife, while next to (below) these his scribes make 
record of the event, carefully listing all the gifts. 

« II, 994, 11. 16-17. ' II, 1002-3. * II, 99«. 



and vanquish the dark powers of the nether world, which 
filled the tombs of the old order at Thebes, were completely 
banished. In thus suppressing these base and repulsive 
devices, which the perverted imagination of a stupid priest- 
hood had imposed upon an implicit people, the king's reform 
was most salutary. The tomb now became a monument to 
the deceased; the walls of its chapel bore fresh and natural 
pictures from the life of the i)eople in Akhetaton, particu- 
larly the incidents in the official career of the dead man, and 
preferably his intercourse with the king. Thus the city of 
Akhetaton is now better known to us from its cemetery than 
from its ruins. Throughout these tombs the nobles take 
delight in reiterating, both in relief and inscription, the inti- 
mate relation between Aton and the king. Over and over 
again they show the king and the queen together standing 
under the disk of Aton, whose rays, teinninating in hands, 
descend and embrace the king.' The vulture-goddess, Mut, 
who, since the hoary age of the Thinites had appeared on 
all the monuments extending her protecting wings over the 
Pharaoh's head, had long since been banished. The nobles 
constantly pray to the god for the king, saying that he 
"came forth from thy rays,"^ or "thou hast formed him 
out of thine own rays";^ and interspersed through their 
prayers are numerous current phrases of the Aton faith, 
which have now become conventional, replacing those of the 
old orthodox religion, which it must have been very awkward 
for them to cease using. Thus they demonstrated how 
zealous they had been in accepting and appropriating the 
king's new teaching. On state occasions, instead of the old 
stock phrases, with innumerable references to the traditional 
gods, every noble who would enjoy the king's favour was 
evidently obliged to show his familiarity with the Aton faith 
and the king's position in it by a liberal use of these allu- 
sions. Even the Syrian vassals were wise enough to make 
their dispatches pleasant reading by glossing them with 
appropriate recognition of the supremacy of the sun-god.* 

• II, 1012 and infra. Fig. 139, p. 368. « II, 1000, 1. 5: 991, 1. 3. 

••II, 1010, 1. 3. « Araarna Letters, 149, 6 ff., and often. 


The source of snoh phrases was really the king himself, as 
we have before intimated, and something of the "teaching" 
whence thej^ were taken, so often attributed to him, is pre- 
served in the tombs' to which we have referred. 

Either for the temple service or for personal devotions 
the king composed two hymns to Aton, both of which the 
nobles had engraved on tlie walls of their tomb chapels. Of 
all the monuments left by this unparalleled revolution, these 
hymns are by far the most remarkable; and from them we 
may gather an intimation of the doctrines which the specu- 
lative young Pharaoh had sacrificed so much to disseminate. 
They are regularly entitled : ' ' Praise of Aton by king Ikhna- 
ton and queen Nefernef ruaton " ; and the longer and finer 
of the two is worthy of being known in modem literature. 
The titles of the separate strophes are the addition of the 
present author, and in the translation no attempt has been 
made to do more than to furnish an accurate rendering. The 
one hundred and fourth Psalm of the Hebrews shows a 
notable similarity to our hymn both in the thought and the 
sequence, so that it seemed desirable to place the most notice- 
ably parallel passages side by side. 

The Splendour op Aton. 
Thy dawning is beautiful in the horizon of heaven, 
living Aton, Beginning of life! 
When thou risest in the eastern horizon of heaven. 
Thou fillest every land with thy beauty; 

For thou are beautiful, great, glittering, high over the earth ; 
Thy rays, they encompass the lands, even all thou hast made. 
Thou art Re, and thou hast carried them all away captive ; 
Thou bindest them by thy love. 
Though thou art afar, thy rays are on earth; 
Though thou art on high, thy footprints are the day. 


When thou settest in the western Thou makest darkness and it is 

horizon of heaven, night, 

The world is in darkness likf the Wherein all the beasts of the 

dead. forest do creep forth. 

• II, 977-1018. 



They sleep in their chambers, 
Their heads are wrapt up. 
Their nostrils stopped, and none 

seeth the other. 
Stolen are all their things, that 

are under their heads, 
"While they know it not. 
Every lion cometh forth from his 

All serpents, they sting. 
Darkness reigns ( ?), 
The world is in silence. 
He that made them has gone to 

rest in his horizon. 

Day and Man 

The young lions roar afttr their 

prey ; 
They seek their meat from God. 
(Psalm 104, 20-21.) 

Bright is the earth. 

When thou risest in the horizon, 

When thou shinest as Aton by 

The darkness is banished. 
When thou sendest forth thy 

The Two Lands [Egypt] are in 

daily festivity, 
Awake and standing upon their 

For thou hast raised them up. 
Their limbs bathed, they take 

their clothing; 
Their arms upliftetl in adoration 

to thy dawning. 
Then in all the world, they do 

their work. 

The sun ariseth, they get them 

And lay them down in their 

Man goeth forth unto his work, 

And to his labour until the even- 

(Psalm 104, 22-23.) 

Day and the Animals and Plants. 

All cattle rest upon their herbage. 

All trees and plants flourish. 

The birds flutter in their marshes. 

Their wings uplifted in adoration to thee. 

All the sheep dance upon theii- feet, 


All winged things fly, 

They live when thou hast shone upon them. 

Day and the Waters. 

The barques sail up-stream and Yonder is the sea, great and 

down-sti-eam alike. wide. 

Every highway is open because Wherein are things creeping in- 

thou hast dawned. numerable 

The fish in the river leap up be- Both small and great beasts. 

fore thee, There go the ships ; 

And thy rays are in the midst There is leviathan, whom thou 

of the great sea. hast formed to sport with him. 

(Psalm 104, 25-26.) 

Creation of Man. 

Thou art he who createst the man-child in woman. 

Who makest seed in man, 

Who giveth life to the son in the body of his mother, 

Who soothest him that he may not weep, 

A nurse [even] in the womb. 

Who giveth breath to animate every one that he maketh. 

When he cometh forth from the body, 

... on the day of his birth. 

Thou openest his mouth in speech. 

Thou suppliest his necessities. 

Creation op Animals. 

When the chicklet crieth in the egg-shell. 

Thou givest him breath therein, to preserve him alive. 

When thou hast perfected him 

That he may pierce the egg. 

He cometh forth from the egg, 

To chirp with all his might; 

He runneth about upon his two feet, 

"When he hath come forth therefrom. 

The Whole Creation. 

How manifold are all thy works ! lord, how manifold are thy 
They are hidden from before us, works ! 


thou sole god, whose powers no lu wisdom hast thou made them 

other possesseth.' all ; 

Thou didst create the earth ac- The earth is full of thy crea- 

cording to thy desire. tures. 

While thou wast alone: (Psalm 104, 24.) 

Men, all cattle large and small, 
All that are upon the earth. 
That go about upon their feet; 
All that are on high. 
That fly with their wings. 
The countries of Syria and 

The land of Egypt; 
Thou settest every man in his 

Thou suppliest their necessities. 
Everj- one has his possessions. 
And his days are reckoned. 
Their tongues are divers in 

Their forms likewise and their 

For thou divider, hast divided 

the peoples. 

Watering the Earth. 

Thou makest the Nile in the Nether World, 

Thou bringest it at thy desire, to preserve the people alive. 

lord of them all, when feebleness is in them, 

lord of every house, who risest for them, 

sun of day, the fear of every distant land, 

Thou makest [also] their life. 

Thou hast set a Nile in heaven, 

That it may fall for them. 

Making floods upon the mountains, like the great sea; 

And watering their fields among their towns. 

How excellent are thy designs, lord of eternity! 
The Nile in heaven is for the strangers, 
' The other hymns frequently say, " O thou sole god, beside whom there is 
no other." 


And for the cattle of every land, that go upon their feet; 
But the Nile, it cometh from the nether world for Egypt. 

Thus thy rays nourish every garden, 

When thou risest they live, and grow by thee. 

The Seasons. 

Thou makest the seasons, in order to create all thy works: 

Winter bringing them coolness, 

And the heat [of summer likewise]. 

Thou hast made the distant heaven to rise therein, 

In order to behold all that thou didst make, 

While thou wast alone. 

Rising in thy form as living Aton, 

Dawning, shining afar off and returning. 

Beauty Due to Light. 

Thou makest the beauty of form, through thyself alone. 

Cities, towns and settlements. 

On highway or on river. 

All eyes see thee before them. 

For thou art Aton of the day over the earth. 

Revelation to the King. 

Thou art in my heart, 

There is no other that knoweth thee, 

Save thy son Ikhnaton. 

Thou hast made him wise in thy designs 

And in thy might. 

The world is in thy hand. 

Even as thou hast made them. 

When thou hast risen, they live; 

When thou settest, they die. 

For thou art duration, beyond thy mere limbs, 

By thee man liveth. 

And their eyes look upon thy beauty, 

Until thou settest. 

All labour is laid aside. 

When thou settest in the west ; 


When thou risest, they are made to grow 

for the king. 

Since thou didst establish the earth, 

Thou hast raised them up for thy son, 

Who came forth from thy limbs, 

The king, living in truth, 

The lord of the Two Lands Nefer-khepru-Re, Wan-Re, 

The son of Re, living in truth, lord of diadems, 

Ikhnaton, whose life is long; 

[And for] the great royal wife, his beloved. 

Mistress of the Two Lands, Nefer nefru aton, Nofretete, 

Living and flourishing for ever and ever. 

In this hymn the universalism of the empire finds full 
expression and the roj'al singer sweeps his eye from the fai'- 
off cataracts of the Nubian Nile to the remotest lands of 
Syria. These are not thoughts which we have been accus- 
tomed to attribute to the men of some fourteen hundred 
years before Christ. A new spirit has breathed upon the 
dry bones of traditionalism in Egypt, and he who reads 
these lines for the first time must be moved with involuntaiy 
admii'ation for the young king who in such an age found 
such thoughts in his heart. He grasped the idea of a world- 
dominator, as the creator of nature, in which the king saw 
revealed the creator's beneficent purpose for all his creat- 
ures, even the meanest ; for the birds fluttering about in the 
lily-grown Nile-marshes to him seemed to be uplifting their 
wings in adoration of their creator ; and even the fish in the 
stream leaped up in praise to God. It is his voice that 
summons the blossoms and nourishes the chicklet or com- 
mands the mighty deluge of the Nile. He called Aton, "the 
father and the mother of all that he had made," and he 
saw in some degree the goodness of that All-Father as did 
he who bade us consider the lilies. He based the universal 
sway of God upon his fatherly care of all men alike, irre- 
spective of race or nationality, and to the proud and exclu- 
sive Egyptian he pointed to the all-embracing bounty of the 
common father of humanity, even placing Syria and Nubia 

Fig. 142.— limestone TORSO OF IKH- 

Fig. 143.— head OF IKHNATON. 

Remarkable Lir 

ntly acquired 

Fig. 144— marsh LIFE. 

Fragment of painted pavement from the palace of Ikhn 
See p. 378. ( I- rom Petrie, .-I m.irmi.) 


before Egypt in his enumeration. It is this aspect of 
Ikhnaton's mind which is especially remarkable; he is the 
first prophet of history. While to the traditional Pharaoh 
the state god was only the triumphant conqueror, who 
crushed all peoples and drove them tribute-laden before 
the Pharaoh's chariot, Ikhnatou saw in him the beneficent 
father of all men. It is the first time in history that a dis- 
cerning eye has caught this great universal truth. Again 
his whole movement was but a return to nature, resulting 
from a spontaneous recognition of the goodness and the 
beauty evident in it, mingled also with a consciousness of 
the mystery in it all, which adds just the fitting element of 
mysticism in such a faith. 

How manifold are all thy works ! 
They are hidden from before us, 
thou sole god, whose powers no other possesseth. 

Wliile Ikhnaton thus recognized clearly the power, and to 
a surprising extent, the beneficence of God, there is not here 
a very spiritual conception of the deity nor any attribution 
to him of ethical qualities beyond those which Amon had 
long been supposed to possess. The king has not percep- 
tibly risen from the beneficence to the righteousness in the 
character of God, nor to his demand for this in the charac- 
ter of men. Nevertheless, there is in his "teaching," as it 
is fragmentarily preserved in the hymns and tomb-inscrip- 
tions of his nobles, a constant emphasis upon "truth" such 
as is not found before nor since. The king always attaches 
to his name the phrase "living in truth," and that this 
phrase was not meaningless is evident in his daily life. To 
him it meant an acceptance of the daily facts of living in 
a simple and unconventional manner. For him what was 
was right and its propriety was evident by its veiy exist- 
ence. Thus his family life was open and unconcealed be- 
fore the people. He took the greatest delight in his children 
and ajDpeared with them and the queen, their mother, on 
all possible occasions, as if he had been but the humblest 
scribe in the Aton-temple. He had himself depicted on the 
monuments while enjoying the most familiar and unaffected 


intercourse with his family, and whenever he appeared in 
the temple to offer sacrifice the queen and the daughters 
she had borne him participated in the service. All that was 
natural was to him true, and he never failed practically to 
exemplify this belief, however radically he was obliged to 
disregard tradition. 

Such a principle unavoidably affected the art of the time 
in which the king took great interest. Bek, his chief sculji- 
tor, api>ended to his title the words, "whom his majesty 
himself taught." ' Thus the artists of his court were taught 
to make the chisel and the brush tell the stoiy of what they 
actually saw. The result was a simple and beautiful real- 
ism that saw more clearly than evei' any art had seen before 
(Figs. 119, 147-8). They caught the instantaneous postures 
of animal life; the coursing hound, the fleeing game, the 
wild bull leaping in the swamp (Fig. 144); for all these 
belonged to the "truth," in which Ikhnaton lived. The 
king's person was no exception to the law of the new art. 
The monuments of Egypt bore what they had never borne 
before, a Pharaoh not frozen in the conventional posture 
demanded by the traditions of court propriety (Figs. 141, 
143). The modelling of the human figure at this time was 
so plastic that at the first glance one is sometimes in doubt 
whether he has before him a product of the Greek age (Fig. 
142). Even complex compositions of grouped figures in 
the round were now first conceived. Fragments recently 
discovered show that in the palace court at Akhetaton, a 
group in stone depicted the king speeding his chariot at 
the heels of the wounded lion. This was indeed a new 
chapter in the history of art, even though now lost. It was 
in some things an obscure chapter; for the strange treat- 
ment of the lower limbs by Ikhnaton 's artists is a problem 
which still remains unsolved and cannot be wholly ac- 
counted for by supposing a raal-formation of the king's 
own limbs. It is one of those unhealthy symptoms which 
are visible too in the body politic, and to these last we 
must now turn if we would learn how fatal to the material 
interests of the state this violent break with tradition 
has been. 

1 II, 975. 



Wholly absorbed in the exalted religion to which he had 
given his life, stemming the tide of tradition that was daily 
as strong against him as at first, Ikhnatou was beset with 
too many enterprises and responsibilities of a totally differ- 
ent nature, to give much attention to the atfairs of the 
empire abroad. Indeed, as we shall see, he probably did 
not realize the necessity of doing so until it was far too 
late. On his accession his sovereignty in Asia had imm edi- 
ately been recognized by the Hittites and the power s_of the 
Euphrates valley! Dushratta of Mitanni wrote to the queen- 
mother, Tiy, requesting her influence with the new king 
for a continuance of the old friendship which he had en- 
joyed with Ikhnaton's father,' and to the young king he 
wrote a letter of condolence on his father, ^Vmenhotep Ill's 
death, not forgetting to add the usual requests for plentiful 
gold.- Burraburyash of Babylon sent similar assurances 
of sympathy, but only the pass-port of his messenger, call- 
ing on the kings of Canaan to grant him speedy passage, has 
survived.^ A son of Burraburyash later sojourned at 
Ikhnaton's court and married a daughter of the latter,* and 
her Babylonian father-in-law sent her a noble necklace of 
over a thousand gems. But such intercourse did not last 
long, as we shall see. 

Meantime the power of the Hittites in nort hern Sy ria 
w as constantly o n the increase, as they werereinforced "By 
the southern movement of their countrymen behind them. 
Tnis remarkable race, who still fonn one of the greatest 
problems in the study of the early orient, were now emerging 

» Amarna Letters, 22. « Ibid., 2L ' Ibid.. 14. * Ibid., 8, 41. 


380 A lllSTUliY OF EGYPT 

from the obscurity which had liitherto enveloped them. 
Their remains have been found from the western coast of 
Asia Minor eastward to the plains of Syria and the Euphra- 
tes, and southward as far as Hamath. They were a n on- 
Semitie people, or rather peoples, of uncertain racial affini- 
ties, but evidentTj' distinct fro m, and ])receding, the Indo- 
GernianTFTTifltr^rafter 12007870. which brought in the Phryg- 
ia ns (see p. 47 8). As shown on the Egyptian monuments, 
they are beardless, with long hair hanging in two prominent 
locks before their ears and dropping to the shoulders; but 
their own native monuments often give them a heavy beard 
(Fig. 146). On the head they most often wore tall pointed 
caps like a sugar-loaf hat, but with little brim. As their cli- 
mate demands, they wear heavy woollen clothing, usually in 
a long, close-fitting garment, depending from the shoulders 
and reaching to the knees or sometimes the ankles ; while 
the feet are shod in high boots turned up at the toes. They 
possessed a crude, but by no means primitive, art which 
produced very creditable monuments in stone (Pigs. 145-fi) 
still scattered over the hills of Asia Minor. Their skill in 
the practical arts was considerable, and they produced a 
red figured pottery above mentioned which was disseminated 
in trade from the centre of its manufacture in Cappadocia 
to the ^Egean on the west, and eastward through Syria and 
Palestine to Lachish and Gezer on the south. Already by 
2000 B. 0. we remember it had perhaps reached the latter 
place. They were masters of the art of writing, and the king 
had his personal scribe ever with him.' Their pictographic 
records are still in course of decipherment, and enough 
progress has not yet been made to enable the scholar to do 
more than recognize a word here and there. F or eo rre- 
spondence they e mployed t be_Babylonian j^uneif orm arid 
must therefore have maintained scribes and interpreters 
who were masters of Babylonian speech and writing. 
Large quantities of cuneiform tablets in the Hittite tongue 
have been found at Boghaz-koi (see below). In war they 


. were f ormidable opponents. The infantry, among which 
foreign mercenaries were plentiful, bore bow and arrows, 
sword and spear and often an axe. They fought in close 
phalanx formation, very effective at close quarters; but 
t^eir chief power co ngistadjof-chariotry. The chariot itself 
was more heavily built than in Egypt, as it bore three men, 
driver, bowman and shield-bearer, while the Egyptian dis- 
dispensed with the third man. One of the Hittite dynasts 
had consolidated a kingdom beyond the Amanus, which 
Thutmose III regularly called "Great Kheta, " as prob- 
ably distinguished from the less important independent 
Hittite princes. His capital was a great fortified city 
called "Khatti" (identified in 1907), situated at modem 
Boghaz-koi, east of Angora and the Halys (Kisil-irmak) 
river in eastern Asia Minor. Active Jrade_ and ^inter- 
course between this, kingd om a nd Egypt had been car- 
ried"7)rrfrom thaJ^iiiie_or^ began not long aft^r.* This 
readied such proportions that the king of Cyprus was 
apprehensive lest too close relations between Egypt and the 
Hittite kingdom ("Great Kheta") might endanger his own 
position.^ AVhen Ikhnaton ascended the throne Seplel, the 
king of the Hittites, wrote him a letter of congratulation, 
and to all appearances had only the friendliest intentions 
toward Egypt.^ For the first invasions of the most advanced 
Hittites, like that which Dushratta of Mitanni repulsed, he 
may indeed not have been responsible. E ven after 
Ikhnato n 's rem oval to Akhetaton, his new capital, a Hittite 
embassy appeared ther e wi th gifts and gree tings.'* But 
Ikhnaton must have regarded the old relations as no longer 
desirable, f or the Hitt ite king~as¥s hiiiPwIiy he~Eas^ ceased 
the correspondence °_ which his fath_ er bJuT maintamed^ If 
be re alized the situa tion, Ikhnaton had good reason indeed 
for abandoningthe^onnection ; for the Hittite empire now 
stoo d on the northe rn Bireshold of Syria, the most for- 
midable enemy which had ever confronted Egyjit, and the 
gfeateit po wer in '^5 |J§Zrit"^s doubtful whether Ikhnaton 

' Amarna Letters, 35. 2 Ibid., 25, 49 f. 

3 Ibid., 35. * II, 981. s Amarna Letters, 35, 14 f. 


could have withstood the masses of Asia Minor which were 
now shifting southward into Syria even if he had made a 
serious etfort to do so; but no such effort was made. Im- 
mediately on his accession the disaffected dynasts who had 
been temporarily suppressed by his father resumed their 
operations against the faithful vassals of Eg>'pt. One of 
the latter, in a later letter to Ikhnaton, exactly depicts the 
situation, saying: "Verily, thy father did not march forth, 
nor inspect the lands of the vassal-princes. . . . And when 
thou ascendedst the throne of thy father's house, Abd- 
ashirta's sons took the king's land for themselves. Creat- 
ures of the king of Mitanni are they, and of the king of 
Babylon, and of the king of the Hittites."> With the 
cooperation of the unfaithful Egj-ptian vassals Abd-ashirta 
and his son Aziru, who were at the head of an Amorite 
kingdom on the upper Orontes; together with Itakama, a 
Syrian prince, who had seized Kadesh as his kingdom, the 
Hittites took possession of Amki, the plain on the north 
side of the lower Orontes, between Antioch and the Amanus.^ 
Three faithful vassal-kings of the vicinit}' marched to re- 
cover the Pharaoh's lost territory for him, but were met by 
Itakama at the head of Hittite troops and driven back. All 
three wrote immediately to the Pharaoh of the trouble and 
complained of Itakama.^ Aziru of Amor had meantime 
advanced upon the Phoenician and north Syrian coast cities, 
which he captured as far as Ugarit at the mouth of the 
Orontes,^ slaying their kings and appropriating their 
wealth.^ Simyra and Byblos held out, however, and as the 
Hittites advanced into Nukhashshi, on the lower Orontes, 
Aziru coojierated with them and ca]itured Niy, whose king 
he slew.° Tunip was now in such grave danger that her 
elders wrote the Pharaoh a pathetic letter beseeching his 
protection. "To the king of Egj^pt, my lord: — The inhabi- 
tants of Tunip thy servant. May it be well with thee, and 
at the feet of our lord we fall. My lord, Tunip, thy servant 

'Ibid., 88. 2 Ibid., 119. 125. 'Ibid.. 131-133. 

•Ibid., 123. 'Ibid, 86; 119. e Ibid.. l'?0 

Fig. 145. — HU lilt, SOI.UIEU 

Relief from Senjirli, North Syria. 
(Berlin Museum.) 

1 lu 14li.-Hl liriE KING BEARING SPEAK AND 

Relief from Senjirli, North Syria. (Berlin Museum.) 

See p. 388. Kelief from the tomb of Harmhab, p. 408. (Leyden Museum.) 


speaks, saying: 'Who formerly could have plundered Tunip 
without being plundered by Manakhbiria [Thutmose III] ? 
The gods ... of the king of Egypt, my lord, dwell in 
Tunip. May our lord ask his old men [if it be not 
so]. Now, however, we belong no more to our lord, the 
king of Egypt. ... If his soldiers and chariots come too 
late, Aziru will make us like the city of Niy. If, however, 
we have to mourn, the king of Egypt will mourn over those 
things which Aziru has done, for he will turn his hand against 
our lord. And when Aziru enters Simyra, Aziru will do 
to us as he pleases, in the territory of our lord, the king, and 
on account of these things our lord will have to lament. And 
now, Tunip, thy city weeps, and her tears are flowing, and 
there is no help for us. For twenty years we have been 
sending to our lord, the king, the king of Egypt, but there 
has not come to us a word, no not one.' '" The fears of 
Tunip were soon realized, for Aziru now concentrated upon 
Simyra and quickly brought it to a state of extremity. 

During all this, Rib-Addi, a faithful vassal of Byblos, 
where there was an Egyptian temple,^ writes to the Pharoah 
in the most urgent appeals, stating what is going on, and 
asking for help to drive away Aziru 's people from Simyra, 
knowing full well that if it falls his own city of Byblos is 
likewise doomed. But no help comes and the Syrian dynasts 
grow bolder. Zimrida of Sidon falls away and makes terms 
with Aziru,'' and, desiring a share of the spoils for himself, 
moves against Tyre, whose king, Abi-milki, immediately 
writes to Egj'pt for aid.^ The number of troops asked for 
by these vassals is absurdly small, and had it not been for 
the Hittite host, which was pressing south behind them, their 
operations might have caused Egypt very little anxiety. 
Aziru now captured the outer defences of Simyra and Rib- 
Addi continued to plead for assistance for his sister-city,'' 
adding that he himself had suffered from the hostility of 
Amor for five years, beginning, as we have seen, under Amen- 
hotep III. Several Egyptian deputies had been charged 

' Ibid., 41. 2 See above, p. 323. ' Ibid., 150. * Ibid., 151. ' Ibid., 85. 



with the investigation of affairs at Simyra, but they did not 
succeed in doing anything, and the city fiaally fell. Aziru 
had no hesitation in slaying the Egyptian deputy resident 
in the place,' and having destroyed it, was now free to 
move against Byblos. Rib-Addi wrote in horror of these 
facts to the Pharaoh, stating that the Egyptian deputy, resi- 
dent in Kumidi in northern Palestine, was now in danger.^ 
But the wily Aziru so uses his friends at court that he 
escapes. He wrote to Tutu, one of Ikhnaton's court officials, 
who interceded for him,^ and he speciously excuses himself 
to Khai, the Egyptian deputy in his vicinity.* With Machia- 
vellian skill and cynicism he explains in letters to the 
Pharaoh that he is unable to come and give an account of 
himself at the Egyptian court, as he had been commanded 
to do, because the Hittites are in Nukhashshi, and he fears 
that Tunip will not be strong enough to resist them P What 
Tunip herself thought about his presence in Nukhashshi we 
have already seen. To the Pharaoh's demand that he imme- 
diately rebuild Simyra, which he had destroyed (as he 
claimed, to prevent it from falling into the hands of the 
Hittites), he replies that he is too hard pressed in defending 
the king's cities in Nukhashshi against the Hittites; but that 
he will do so within a year." Ikhnaton is reassured by 
Aziru 's promises to pay the same tribute as the cities which 
he has taken formerly paid.^ Such acknowledgment of 
Egyptian suzerainty by the turbulent dynasts everj^iere 
m.ust have left in the Pharaoh a feeling of security which the 
situation by no means really justified. He therefore wrote 
Aziru granting him the year which he had asked for before 
he appeared at court, but Aziru contrived to evade Khani, 
the Egyptian bearer of the king's letter, which was thus 
brought back to Egypt without being delivered.'^ It shows 
the astonishing leniency of Ikhnaton in a manner which 
would indicate that he was opposed to measures of force, 
such as his fathers had employed. Aziru immediately wrote 

' Ibid., 

119; 120. 

2 Ibid., 


» Ibid., 44-5. 

< Ibid., 


« Ibid., 

45; 47. 

6 Ibid., 

46, 26-,34. 

' Ibid, 49, 36-40. 

8 Ibid., 




to the king expressing his regret that an expedition against 
the Hittites in the north had deprived him of the pleasure 
of meeting the Pharaoh 's envoy, in spite of the fact that he 
had made all haste homeward as soon as he had heard of 
his coming ! The usual excuse for not rebuilding Simyra is 

During all this time Rib-Addi is in sore straits in Byblos, 
and sends dispatch after dispatch to the Egyptian court, 
appealing for aid against Aziru. The claims of the hos- 
tile dynasts, however, are so skilfully made that the resi- 
dent Egyptian deputies actually do not seem to know who 
are the faithful vassals and who the secretly rebellious. 
Thus Bikhuru, the Egyptian deputy in Galilee, not under- 
standing the situation in Byblos, sent his Beduin merce- 
naries thither, where they slew all of Rib-Addi 's Sherden 
garrison. The unhappy Rib-Addi was now at the mercy of 
his foes and he sent off two dispatches beseeching the 
Pharaoh to take notice of his pitiful plight;- while, to make 
matters worse, the city raised an insurrection against him' 
because of the wanton act of the Egyptian resident. He has 
now sustained the siege for three years, he is old and bur- 
dened with disease;* fleeing to Berut to secure help from the 
Egyptian deputy there, he returns to Byblos to find the citj' 
closed against him, his brother having seized the government 
in his absence and delivered his children to Aziru.* As 
Berut itself is soon attacked and falls, he forsakes it, again 
returns to Byblos and in some way regains control and holds 
the place for a while longer. ° Although Aziru, his enemy, 
was obliged to appear at court and finally did so, no relief 
came for the despairing Rib-Addi. All the cities of the coast 
were held by his enemies and their ships commanded the sea, 
so that provisions and reinforcements could not reach him. ' 
His wife and family urge him to abandon Egj^pt and join 
Aziru 's party, but still he is faithful to the Pharaoh and asks 
for three hundred men to undertake the recovery of Berut, 
and thus gain a little room.' The Hittites are plundering 

I Ibid., 51. 2 Ibid., 77; 100. 'Ibid.. 100. « Ibid., "I, 23. 

5 Ibid., 96. « Ibid., 6.5; ()7. ' Ibid.. 104. » Ibid., 68. 


his territory and the Khabiri, or Beduin mercenaries of his 
enemy Aziru, swarm under his walls ;' his dispatches to the 
court soon cease, his city of course fell, he was probably 
slain like the kings of the other coast cities, and in him the 
last vassal of Egypt in the north had perished. 

Similar conditions prevailed in the south, where the 
advance of the Khabiri, the Aramaean Semites, may be com- 
pared with that of the Hittites in the north. Knots of their 
warriors are now appearing everywhere and taking service 
as mercenary troops under the dynasts. As we have seen, 
Aziru employed them against Rib-Addi at Byblos, but the 
other side, that is, the faithful vassals, engaged them also, 
so that the traitor, Itakama, wrote to the Pharaoh and 
accused his vassals of giving over the territory of Kadesh 
and Damascus to the Khabiri.^ Under various adventurers 
the Khabiri are frequently the real masters, and Palestinian 
cities like Megiddo, Askalon and Gezer write to the Pharaoh 
for succour against them. The last named city, together with 
Askalon and Lachish, united against Abdkhiba, the Egyp- 
tian deputy in Jerusalem, already at this time an important 
stronghold of southern Palestine, and the faithful officer 
sends urgent dispatches to Ikhnaton explaining the danger 
and appealing for aid against the Khabiri and their leaders.' 
Under his very gates, at Ajalon, the caravans of the king 
were plundered.^ "The king's whole land," wrote he, 
"which has begun hostilities with me, will be lost. Behold 
the territoiy of Shiri [Seir] as far as Ginti-Kinnil [Car- 
mel],— its princes are wholly lost, and hostility prevails 
against me. ... As long as ships were upon the sea, the 
strong arm of the king occupied Naharin and Kash, but now 
the Khabiri are occupying the king's cities. There remains 
not one prince to my lord, the king, every one is ruined. . . . 
Let the king take care of his land and ... let him send 
troops. . . . For if no troops come in this year, the whole 
territory of my lord the king will perish. ... If there are 
no troops in this year, let the king send his officer to fetch 

1 Ibid., 102; 104. 2 Jbid., 14f>. » Ibid., 170-185. * Ibid., 180, 55 f. 


me and my brothers, that we may die with our lord, the 
king."' Abdkhiba was well acquainted with Ikhnaton's 
cuneifonii scribe, and he adds to several of his dispatches a 
postscript addressed to his friend in which the urgent sin- 
cerity of the man is evident : " To the scribe of my lord, the 
king, Abdkhiba thy servant. Bring these words plainly 
before my lord the king: 'The whole land of my lord, 
the king, is going to ruin.' "^ Fleeing in terror before 
the Khabiri, who burned the towns and laid waste the fields, 
many of the Palestinians forsook their towns and took 
to the hills, or sought refuge in Egypt, where the Egyptian 
officer in charge of some of them said of them : ' ' They 
have been destroyed and their town laid waste, and fire 
has been thrown [into their grain?]. . . . Their coun- 
tries are starving, they live like goats of the mountain. 
... A few of the Asiatics, who knew not how they should 
live, have come [begging a home in the domain?] of 
Pharaoh, after the manner of your father's fathers since 
the beginning. . . . Now the Pharaoh gives them into your 
hand to protect their borders"^ (Fig- 147). The task of 
those to whom the last words are addressed was hopeless 
indeed, for the general, Bikhuru, whom Ikhnaton sent to 
restore order and suppress the Khabiri was entirely unable 
to accomplish anything. As we have seen, he misunderstood 
the situation totally in Rib-Addi's case, and dispatched his 
Beduin auxiliaries against him. He advanced as far north 
as Kumidi, north of Galilee, but retreated as Rib-Addi had 
foreseen he would ;^ he was for a time in Jerusalem, but fell 
back to Gaza;^ and in all probability was finally slain." 
Both in Syria and Palestine the provinces of the Pharaoh 
had gradually passed entirely out of Egyptian control, and 
in the south a state of complete anarchy had resulted, in 
which the hopeless Egyptian party at last gave up any 
attempt to maintain the authority of the Pharaoh, and those 
who had not perished joined the enemy. The caravans of 

1 Amarna Letters, 181. 2 Ibid., 179. a 111, 11. 

*Amarna Letters, 94. 'Ibid., 182. « Ibid., 97. 


Burraburyash of Babylonia were plundered by the king of 
Akko and a neighbouring confederate, and Burraburyash 
wrote peremptorily demanding that the loss be made good 
and the guilty punibhed, lest his trade with Egypt become a 
constant prey of such marauding dynasts.' But what he 
feared had come to pass, and the Egyptian Empire in Asia 
was for the time at an end. 

Ikhnaton's faithful vassals had showered dispatches upon 
him, had sent special ambassadors, sons and brothers to rep- 
resent to him the seriousness of the situation; but they had 
either received no replies at all, or an Egyptian commander 
with an entirely inadequate force was dispatched to make 
futile and desultory attempts to deal with a situation which 
demanded the Pharaoh himself and the whole available army 
of Egypt. At Akhetaton, the new and beautiful capital, the 
splendid temple of Aton resounded with hymns to the new 
god of the Empire, while the Empire itself was no more. 
The tribute of Ikhnaton's twelfth year was received at Akhe- 
taton as usual, and the king, borne in his sedan-chair on the 
shoulders of eighteen soldiers, went forth to receive it in 
gorgeous state. ^ The habit of generations and a fast van- 
ishing apprehension lest the Pharaoh might appear in Syria 
with his army, still prompted a few sporadic letters from the 
dynasts, assuring him of their loyalty, which perhaps con- 
tinued in the mind of Ikhnaton the illusion that he was still 
lord of Asia. 

The storm which had broken over his Asiatic empire was 
not more disastrous than that which threatened the fortunes 
of his house in Egypt. But he was as steadfast as before 
in the propagation of his new faith. At his command tem- 
ples of Aton had now arisen all over the land. Besides the 
Aton-sanctuary which he had at first built at Thebes, three 
at least in Akhetaton and Gem-Aton in Nubia, he built others 
at Heliopolis, Memphis, Hermopolis, Hermonthis and in the 
Fayum.^ He devoted himself to the elaboration of the 

' Amarna Letters, 11. ^ II, 1014-15. 

'II, 1017-18; see my remarks Zeitschrift fiir Aegi/ptische Sprache, 40, 110- 


temple ritual and the tendency to theologize somewhat 
dimmed the earlier freshness of the hj'mns to the god. His 
name was now changed and the qualifying phrase at the 
end of it was altered from "Heat which is in Aton" to "Fire 
which comes from Aton." Meantime the national convul- 
sion which his revolution had precijntated was producing 
the most disastrous consequences throughout the land. The 
Aton-faith disregarded some of the most cherished beliefs 
of the people, especially those regarding the hereafter. 
Osiris, their old time protector and friend in the world of 
darkness, was taken from them and the magical parapher- 
nalia which were to protect them from a thousand foes were 
gone. Some of them tried to put Aton into their old usages, 
but he was not a folk-god, who lived out in yonder tree or 
spring, and he was too far from their homely round of daily 
needs to touch their lives. The people could understand 
nothing of the refinements involved in the new faith. They 
only knew that the worship of the old gods had been inter- 
dicted and a strange deity of whom they had no knowledge 
and could gain none was forced upon them. Such a decree 
of the state could have had no more effect ujion their prac- 
tical worship in the end than did that of Theodosius when 
he banished the old gods of Egypt in favour of Christianity 
eighteen hundred years after Ikhnaton's revolution. For 
centuries after the death of Theodosius the old so-called 
pagan gods continued to be worshi]iped by the people in 
Upper Egypt; for in the course of such attempted changes 
in the customs and traditional faith of a whole people, the 
span of one man's life is insignificant indeed. The Aton- 
faith remained but the cherished theory of the idealist, 
Ikhnaton, and a little circle which formed his court ; it never 
really became the religion of the people. 

Added to the secret resentment and opposition of the peo- 
ple, we must consider also a far more dangerous force, the 
hatred of the old priesthoods, particularly that of Amon. 
At Thebes there were eight great temples of this god stand- 
ing idle and forsaken ; his vast fortune, embracing towns in 

Fig. 149.— southern PVL(J\> iiL ll.\l;M 11 ,\ I; .\ 1 R.\R.\.\K. 
Looking southwestward across the temple lake. 

In;. I.-.ll.-ll.\kMH.\I! .AS A PEASANT 


Relief from his tomb, showing later insertion 

of the royal serpent on his forehead. 

(Bologna Museum.) 

Fig. 151.— bust OF RHt.lXSU. 

End of the Eighteenth or early in the Nui 
Dynasty. (Cairo Museum.) 


Syria and extensive lands in Egypt, had evidently been con- 
fiscated and probably diverted to Aton. There could not 
but be, and, as the result shows, there was, during all of 
Ikhnaton's reign a powerful priestly party which openly 
or secretly did all in its power to undermine him. The 
neglect and loss of the Asiatic empire must have turned 
against the king many a strong man, and aroused indigna- 
tion among those whose grandfathers had served under 
Thutmose III. The memory of what had been done in those 
glorious days must have been sufficiently strong to fire the 
hearts of the military class and set them looking for a leader 
who would recover what had been lost. Ikhnaton might 
appoint one of his favourites to the command of the army, 
as we have seen he did, but his ideal aims and his high 
motives for peace would be as unpopular as they were unin- 
telligible to his commanders. One such man, an officer 
named Harmhab,' was now in the service of Ikhnaton and 
enjoying the royal favour; he contrived not only to win the 
support of the military class, but, as we shall later see, 
he also gained the favour of the priests of Amon, who were 
of course looking for some one who could bring them the 
opportunity they coveted. At every point Ikhnaton had 
offended against the cherished traditions of a whole people. 
Thus both the people and the priestly and military classes 
alike were fomenting plans to overthrow the hated dreamer 
in the palace of the Pharaohs, of whose thoughts they under- 
stood so little. To increase his danger, fortune had decreed 
him no son, and he was obliged to depend for support as 
the years passed upon his son-in-law, a noble named Sakere, 
who had married his eldest daughter, Meritaton, "Beloved 
of Aton." Ikhnaton had probably never been physically 
strong; his spare face, with the lines of an ascetic, shows 
increasing traces of the cares which weighed so heavily upon 
him. He finally nominated Sakere as his successor and 
appointed him at the same time coregent. He survived but 
a short time after this, and about 1358 B. C, having reigned 

1 III, 22 ff. 


some seventeen years, he succumbed to the overwhelming 
forces that were against him. In a lonely valley some miles 
to the east of his city he was buried in a tomb which he had 
excavated in the rock for himself and family, and where his 
second daughter, Meketaton, already rested. 

Thus disappeared the most remarkable figure in earlier 
oriental history. To his own nation he was afterward known 
as "the criminal of Akhetaton";^ but for us, however much 
we may censure him for the loss of the empire, which he 
allowed to slip from his fingers ; however much we may con- 
demn the fanaticism with which he pursued his aim, even to 
the violation of his own father 's name and monuments ; there 
died with him such a spirit as the world had never seen 
before,— a brave soul, undauntedly facing the momentum 
of immemorial tradition, and thereby stepping out from the 
long line of conventional and colourless Pharaohs, that he 
might disseminate ideas far beyond and above the capacity 
of his age to understand. Among the Hebrews, seven or 
eight hundred years later, we look for such men; but the 
modern world has yet adequately to value or even acquaint 
itself with this man, who in an age so remote and under con- 
ditions so adverse, became the world's first idealist and the 
world's first individual. 

Sakere was quite unequal to the task before him, and after 
an obscure and ephemeral reign at Akhetaton he disap- 
peared, to be followed by Tutenkhaton ("Living image of 
Aton"), another son-in-law of Ikhnaton, who had married 
the king's third daughter, Enkhosnepaaton ("She lives by 
the Aton"). The priestly party of Anion was now con- 
stantly growing, and although Tutenkhaton still continued 
to reside at Akhetaton, it was not long before he was forced 
to a compromise in order to maintain himself. He forsook 
his father-in-law's city and transferred the court to Thebes, 
which had not seen a Pharaoh for twenty years. Akhetaton 
maintained a precarious existence for a time, supported by 
the manufactories of coloured glass and fayence, which had 

' Inscription of Me». 


flourished there during the reign of Ikhnaton. These indus- 
tries soon languished, the place was gradually forsaken, 
until not a soul was left in its solitary streets. The roofs 
of the houses fell in, the walls tottered and collapsed, the 
temples fell a prey to the vengeance of the Theban party, 
as we shall see, and the once beautiful city of Aton was 
gradually transformed into a desolate ruin. To-day it is 
known as Tell el-Amarna, and it still stands as its enemies, 
time and the priests of Amon, left it. One may walk its 
ancient streets, where the walls of the houses are still sev- 
eral feet high, and strive to recall to its forsaken dwellings 
the life of the Aton-worshippers who once inhabited them. 
Here in a low brick room, which had served as an archive- 
chamber for Ikhnaton 's foreign office, were found in 1885 
some three hundred letters and disioatches in which we have 
traced his intercourse and dealings with the kings and rulers 
of Asia and the gradual disintegration of his empire there. 
Here were the more than sixty dispatches of the unfortunate 
Rib-Addi of Byblos. After the modern name of the place, 
the whole correspondence is generally called the Tell 
el-Amarna letters. All the other Aton-cities likewise per- 
ished utterly; but Gem-Aton in distant Nubia escaped. 
Long afterward its Aton temple became a temple of "Amon, 
Lord of Gem-Aton," and thus in far-off Nubia the ruins 
of the earliest temple of monotheism still stand.' 

On reaching Thebes, Tutenkhaton continued the worship 
of Aton and made some enlargement or at least repairs of 
the Aton-temple there; but he was obliged by the priests 
of Amon to pennit the resumption of Amon-worship. In- 
deed he was constrained to restore the old festal calendar 
of Karnak and Luxor; he himself conducted the first "feast 
of Opet," the greatest of all the festivals of Amon, and 
restored the temples there. ^ Expediency also obliged him 
to begin restoring the disfigured name of Amon, expunged 
from the monuments by Ikhnaton, and his restorations are 
found as far south as Soleb in Nubia. ^ He was then forced 

' See reference, p. 364, note 1. 

« Luxor reliefs, ibid., 34, 135. > II, 896. 


to another serious concession to the priests of Anion; he 
changed his name to Tutenkhamon. "Living image of 
Amon, " showing that he was now completely in the hands 
of the priestly party.' 

The empire which he ruled was still no mean one, ex- 
tending as it did from the Delta of the Nile to the fourth 
cataract. The Nubian province under the viceroy was now 
thoroughly Egj'ptianized, and the native chiefs wore Egyp- 
tian clothing, assumed since Thutmose Ill's time.^ The 
revolution in Egypt had not affected Nubia seriously, and 
it continued to pay its annual dues into the Pharaoh's treas- 
ury.' He also received tribute from the north which, as 
his viceroy of Kush, Huy claimed,* came from Syria. Al- 
though this is probably in some degree an exaggeration in 
view of our information from the Amarna letters; yet one 
of Ikhnaton's successors fought a battle in Asia, and this 
can hardly have been any other than Tutenkhaton.^ He 
may thus have recovered sufficient power in Palestine to 
collect some tribute or at least some spoil, which fact may 
then have been interpreted to include Syria also. Tuten- 
khaton soon disapi)eared and was succeeded by another of 
the worthies of the Akhetaton court. Eye, who had married 
Ikhnaton's nurse, Tiy, and had excavated for himself a 
tomb at Akhetaton, from which came the great Aton-hymn 
which we have already read. He was sufficiently imbued 
with Ikhnaton's ideas to hold his own for a short time 
against the priests of Amon; and he built to some extent 
on the Aton-temple at Thebes. He abandoned his tomb at 
Akhetaton and excavated another in the Valley of the Kings ' 
Tombs at Thebes. He soon had need of it, for ere long he 
too passed away and it would appear that one or two other 
ephemeral pretenders gained the ascendancy either now or 
before his accession. Anarchy ensued. Thebes was a prey 
of plundering bands, who forced their way into the royal 
tombs and as we now know robbed the tomb of Thutmose 
IV. ° The prestige of the old Theban family which had been 

1 II, 1019. *II, 1035. '11, 1034 ff. 

•II, 1027 ff. «III, 20, 11. 2, .5 and 8. « III, 32 A ff. 


dominaut for two hundred and fifty years ; the family which 

two hundred and thirty years before had cast out the 

Hyksos and built the greatest empire the east had ever 

seen, was now totally eclipsed. The illustrious name which 

it had won was no longer a sufficient influence to enable its 

decadent descendants to hold the throne, and the Eighteenth 

Dynasty had thus slowly declined to its end about 1350 B. C. 

Manetho places Harmhab, the restorer, who now gained the JL. , , / 

throne, at the close of the Eighteenth Dynasty; but in so 

far as we know he was not of royal blood nor any kin of 

the now fallen house. He marks the restoration of Amon, 

the resumption of the old order and the beginning of a 

new epoch. 

'/ '2 

i 'g s- 




We have already noticed that in the service of Ikhnaton 
there had been an able organizer and skilful man of affairs 
quite after the manner of Thutmose III. Harmhab, as he 
was called, belonged to an old family once nomarchs of 
Alabastronpolis ;^ he had been entrusted with important 
missions and rewarded with the gold of distinguished ser- 
vice ^ (Fig. 148). He had in charge the fugitive Asiatics 
who fled from Palestine into Egypt before the Khabiri,^ and 
he dispatched some of the officials who went out at that time 
to restore order there. Under Ikhnaton or his successors 
he had been sent on a commission to the south in connection 
with the tribute/ and in this as in all his other duties he 
showed himself a man of resourcefulness and ability. He 
had served with distinction on a campaign with one of 
Ikhnaton 's successors in Asia, probably Tutenkhaton ;® and 
during the precarious times incident to the rapid succession 
of weak kings following Ikhnaton 's death he had skilfully 
maintained himself and gradually gained a position of power 
and influence. Finally becoming commander-in-chief of the 
army and chief councillor in the palace, he called himself 
"greatest of the great, mightiest of the mighty, great lord 
of the people, king 's-messenger at the head of his army to 
the South and the North ; chosen of the king, presider over 
the Two Lands, in order to carry on the administration of 
the Two Lands ; general of generals of the Lord of the Two 
Lands. ' ' ® Such titles no officer under the king had ever 
borne. Under what ruler he thus served is not certain, 

' III, 27. 2 TII, 5-9. s III, 10-12. 

*in, 13. s in, 20. Ubid. 



but whoever he was such power in the hands of a subject 
must necessarily have endangered his throne. Harmhab 
was now the real power of the throne; for the king "ap- 
pointed him to be chief of the land, to administer the laws 
of the Two Lands as hereditary prince of all this land. He 
was alone without a rival. . . . The council bowed down 
to him in obeisance at the front of the palace, the chiefs of 
the Nine Bows [foreign peoples] came to him, South as 
well as North; their hands were spread out in his presence, 
they offered praise to him as to a god. All that was done was 
done under his command. . . . When he came the fear of 
him was great in the sight of the people; 'prosperity and 
health' [the royal greeting] were craved for him; he was 
greeted as 'Father of the Two Lands.' " ' This continued 
for some years,- until 1350 B. C, when he was in effect king, 
and the next step was but to receive the titles and insignia 
of royalty. He had the army behind him and he had won 
the support of the priesthood of Amon at Thebes; it was 
only necessary to proceed thither to be recognized as the 
ruling Pharaoh; or as the piously veiled language of his 
own record states it: "Now when many days had passed 
by, while the eldest son of Horus [Harmhab] was chief 
and hereditary prince in this whole land, behold the heart of 
this august god, Horus, lord of Alabastronpolis, desired to 
establish his son upon his eternal throne. . . . Horus pro- 
ceeded with rejoicing to Thebes . . . and with his son in 
his embrace, to Karnak, to introduce him before Amon, to 
assign to him his office of king." ^ He arrived just as the 
Theban priests were celebrating the great feast of Opet, at 
which the image of Amon at Karnak was carried to Luxor ;* 
and here Harmhab now appeared. As the priests of Amon 
had once recognized Thutmose III as king, so now the 
oracle of the god was not wanting in confirming their 
choice. But the new Pharaoh must possess some legal 
claim to the crown and this too was forthcoming; for after 
the oracle of Amon had declared him the son of Re and 

' III, 25-20. ' III, 26, I. 9. > III, 27. * Ibid. 


heir to the kingdom, Harmhab proceeded to the palace and 
was joined in marriage to the princess Mutnezmet, the sister 
of Iklinaton's queen, Nefer nefru aton. Although she was 
advanced in years, she was "Divine Consort," or high 
priestess of Amon and a princess of the royal line, and that 
was sufficient to make Harmhab 's accession quite legal/ 
The palace where this ceremony took place was in Luxor, 
and as the image of Amon was carried back to Karnak the 
priests bore it to the palace where Harmhab 's accession 
was again recognized by the god.^ His royal titulary was 
now published^ and the new reign began. 

The energy which had brought Harmhab his exalted office 
was immediately evident in his administration of it. He was 
untiring in restoring to the land the orderly organization 
which it had once enjoyed. After remaining at least two 
months at Thebes adjusting his affairs there and further 
conciliating the priestly party by his attendance at the re- 
ligious feasts,'' he sailed for the north to continue this work. 
"His majesty sailed down stream. . . . He organized this 
land, he adjusted it according to the time of Re"^ [as when 
the sun-god was Pharaoh]. At the same time he did not 
forget the temples, which had been closed so long under the 
Aton regime. "He restored the temples from the pools of 
the Delta marshes to Nubia. He shaped all their images in 
number more than before, increasing the beauty in that 
which he made. . . . He raised up their temples; he fash- 
ioned a hundred images with all their bodies correct and 
with all splendid costly stones. He sought the precincts of 
the gods which were in the districts in this land; he fur- 
nished them as they had been since the time of the first 
beginning. He established for them daily offerings every 
day. All the vessels of theii' temples were wrought of silver 
and gold. He equipped them with priests and with ritual 
priests and with the choicest of the army. He transferred 
to them lands and cattle, supplied with all equipment."® 
Among other works of this kind he set up a statue of him- 

•111,28. 2 111.30. Mil, 29. •'111,23. 5 111,31. « Ibid. 



self and his queen in the temple of Horus of Alabastron- 
polis on which he frankly recorded the manner in which 
he had gradually risen from the rank of a simple official 
of the king to the throne of the Pharaohs.* Thus Amon 
received again his old endowments and the incomes of all 
the disinherited temples were restored. The people resumed 
in public the worship of the innumerable gods which they 
had practised in secret during the supremacj- of Aton. The 
sculptors of the king were sent throughout the land con- 
tinuing the restoration begun by Tutenkhamon, reinserting 
on the monuments defaced by Ikhnaton, the names of the 
gods whom he had dishonoured and erased. Over and over 
again appear in the temple of Amon at Karnak the records 
of such restoration by command of Hannhab. All this 
must have ensured to him the united support of the priestly 
party throughout the land. At the same time, the worship 
of Aton, while not forbidden, was in many places suppressed 
by the destruction of his sanctuaries. At Thebes Harmhab 
razed to the ground the temple of Aton and used the ma- 
terials for building two pylons (Fig. 14:9), extending the 
temple of Amon on the south; and the materials which he 
left unused were employed in similar works by his succes- 
sors. In the ruined pylons of Amon at Karnak to-day one 
may pick out the blocks which foiTued the sanctuary of 
Aton, still bearing the royal names of the despised Aton- 
worshippers.^ Harmhab also sent to Akhetaton and carried 
away the materials of the Aton temple there which were 
available for his buildings. Everywhere the name of the 
hated Ikhnaton was treated as he had those of the gods. 
At Akhetaton his tomb was wrecked and its reliefs chiselled 
out ; while the tombs of his nobles there were violated in the 
same way. Every effort was made to annihilate all trace of 
the reign of such a man ; and when in legal procedure it was 
necessary to cite documents or enactments from his reign he 
was designated as "that criminal of Akhetaton."^ 

While thus uncompromising in his hostility to the 

1 III, 22-32. « II, p. 383, notes a, b. » Inscription of Mes. 

Relief from his temple at Abydos. See p. 417. 


name and the movement of Ikhnaton, and while so deter- 
mined in his restoration of the old order, Harmhab did not 
fail to conciliate wherever possible. It is probable that one 
of Ikhnaton 's old favourites at Akhetaton, named Paton- 
emhab, was appointed as High Priest of Heliopolis, over 
whose influential priesthood, as the original source of the 
Aton movement, it was necessary to place one of his parti- 
sans who would second the king in the destruction of 
Ikhnaton 's monuments there and the complete suppression 
of his influence.' The triumph of Amon was complete; as 
the royal favourites of Ikhnaton had once sung the good 
fortune of the disciples of Aton, so now Harmhab 's 
courtiers recognized clearly the change in the wind of 
fortune, and they sang: "How bountiful are the possessions 
of him who knows the gifts of that god (Amon), the king 
of gods. Wise is he who knows him, favoured is he who 
serves him, there is protection for him who follows him." - 
The priest of Amon, Neferhotej), who uttered these words, 
was at the moment receiving the richest tokens of the king's 
favour.^ Such men exulted in the overthrow of Amon's 
enemies: "Woe to him who assails thee! Thy city endures 
but he who assails thee is overthrown. Pie upon him who 
sins against thee in any land. . . . The sun of him who 
knew thee not has set, but he who knows thee shines. The 
sanctuary of him who assailed thee is overwhelmed in dark- 
ness, but the whole earth is in light. ^ 

While the process of reorganizing the priesthoods was 
but yielding to the revulsion which had followed Ikhnaton 's 
revolution, there were other directions in which the restora- 
tion of what Harmhab regarded as normal conditions was not 
so easy. Gross laxity in the oversight of the local administra- 
tion had characterized the reign of Ikhnaton and his succes- 
sors ; and those abuses which always arise under such condi- 
tions in the orient had grown to excess. Ever^-where the 
local officials, long secure from close inspection on the part of 

•HI, 22. «III, 72. »III, 71. 

♦Birch, Inscr. in the Hier., XXVl, see Erman, Handbuch. 


die central govenniient, had revelled in extortions, practised 
upon the long suffering masses until the fiscal and adminis- 
trative system was honey-combed with bribery and corruption 
of all sorts. To ameliorate these conditions Hannhab first 
infonned himself thoroughly as to the extent and character 
of the evils, and then in his private chamber he dictated to 
his personal scribe a remarkable series of special and highly 
particularized laws to suit every case of which he had 
learned. ' These laws were comprised in at least nine para- 
graphs, ^ and they were all directed against the practice of 
extortion upon the poor bj" fiscal and administrative oflBcials. 
The penalties were severe. A tax-collector found guilty 
of thus practising upon the poor man was sentenced to 
have his nose cut off, followed by banishment to Tharu, the 
desolate frontier city far out in the sands of the Arabian 
desert toward Asia.' The military age and the militaiy 
empire suffered from the same abuses at the hands of 
irresponsible soldiery, which in the orient have always ac- 
companied it, the common people and the poor being the 
greatest sufferers. The troops used in administration and 
stationed in the north and south were accustomed to steal 
the hides of the Pharaoh's loan-herds from the peasants 
responsible for them. "They went out from house to liouse 
beating and plundering without leaving a hide.' '* In every 
such demonstrable case the new law enacted that the peasant 
should not be held responsible for the hides by the Pharaoh's 
overseer of cattle. The guilty soldier was severely dealt 
with: "As for any citizen of the army concerning whom 
one shall hear, saying: 'He goeth about stealing hides'; 
beginning with this day the law shall be executed against 
him by beating him with a hundred blows, opening five 
wounds and taking away the hides which he took."* One 
of the greatest difficulties connected with the discovery of 
such local raisgovernment was collusion with the local 
officials by inspecting officers sent out by the central gov- 
ernment. The corrupt superiors, for a share in the plunder, 

' III, 50. ' III, 45-47. » in. 54. « III, .56. ' Ibid. 


would overlook the extortions which they had been sent on 
journeys of inspection to discover and prevent. This evil 
had been rooted out in the days of the aggressive Thutmose 
III, but it was now rampant again, and Harmhab apparently 
revived the methods of Thutmose III for controlling it.' 
For the collection of all the various produce of the land by 
the different departments of the treasury, laws were framed 
to prevent robbery and extortion on the part of the officials. 
In the introduction and application of the new laws Harm- 
hab went personally from end to end of the kingdom.^ At 
the same time he improved the opportunity to look for fit- 
ting men with whom he could lodge the responsibility for a 
proper administration of justice, in which direction there 
had also been great abuse since the Aton revolution. He 
gave special attention to the character of the two viziers 
whom he placed at the head of this judicial administration, 
the one in Thebes and the other in Heliopolis or Memphis. 
He calls them ' ' perfect in speech, excellent in good qualities, 
knowing how to judge the heart, hearing the words of the 
palace, the laws of the judgment-hall. I have appointed 
them to judge the Two Lands. ... I have set them in the 
two great cities of the South and North."* He warned 
them against the acceptance of a bribe: "Receive not the 
reward of another. . . . How shall those like you judge 
others while there is one among you committing a crime 
against justice?"'' In order to discourage bribery among 
the local judges he took an unprecedented step. He remitted 
the tax of gold and silver levied upon all local officials for 
judicial duties, permitting them to retain the entire income 
of their offices,' in order that they might have no excuse 
for illegally enriching themselves. But he went still fur- 
ther ; while organizing the local courts throughout the land * 
he passed a most sti'ingent law against the acceptance of 
any bribe by a member of a local court or "council": 
"Now as for any official or any priest concerning whom 
it shall be heard, saying: 'He sits to execute judgment 

•111,58. » III, 6.3. '111,63. • Ibid. 'Ibid. « III, 66. 


among the council appointed for judgment and he commits 
a crime against justice therein'; it shall be counted against 
him as a capital crime. Behold my majesty has done this 
to improve the laws of Egj'pt.'" In order to keep his 
executive officials in close touch with himself, as well as to 
lift them above all necessity of accepting any income from 
a corrupt source, Harmhab had them provided for with 
great liberality. They went out on inspection several times 
a month, and on these occasions either just before their 
departure or immediately after their return the king gave 
them a sumptuous feast in the palace court, appearing him- 
self upon the balcony, addressing each man by name and 
throwing down gifts among them. They were also given 
substantial portions of barley and spelt on these occasions, 
and "there was not found one who had nothing."^ 

All these enactments were recorded by Hannhab on a 
huge stela' some sixteen feet high and nearly ten feet wide, 
which he set up before one of his Karnak pylons for which 
he had taken materials from the Aton temple at Karnak, 
as we have already mentioned. He added the remark: 
"My majesty is legislating for Egj'pt to prosper the life of 
her inhabitants,"^ and he closed with the admonition, 
"Hear ye these commands, which my majesty has made for 
the first time, governing the whole land, when my majestj' 
remembered these cases of oppression which occur in the 
presence of this land."* These sane and philanthropic re- 
forms give Harmhab a high place in the historj^ of humane 
government; especially when we remember that even since 
the occupation of the country by the English, within the 
memoiT of almost every reader, the evils at which he struck 
have been found exceedingly persistent and difficult to 
root out. 

"With such serious tasks as these occupying him at home 
and an inheritance of disorganization and anarchy abroad, 
we shall not expect that Harmhab could have accomplished 
much in foreign wars. He had had experience in Asia, and 

< III, 64. « III, 66. »III, 45ff. ♦111,65. s ill, 67. 

Relief in his tomb at Thebes. See plan, p. 251, 


he knew what to expect thei'e. Apparently he regarded the 
foreign situation as hopeless, in view of all that was engag- 
ing his full time and attention at home. A list of names 
of foreign countries on the wall near his great code of laws 
contains the conventional enumeration of conquests abroad, 
which are probably not to be taken very seriously;' the name 
of the Hittites appears among them, but later conditions show 
that he could have accomplished no effective retrenchment 
of their power in Syria. On the contrary, we should pos- 
sibly place in his reign the treaty of alliance and friendship, 
referred to by Ramses II some fifty years later, as having 
existed before.^ In the south there was no serious need of 
aggressive action, although a revolt of the usual character 
finally forced him to appear in Nubia and punish the tribes 
there.^ He was able also to send an expedition to Punt, 
which returned with the now familiar wealth of that coun- 
try.* If Harmhab had any ambition to leave a reputation 
as a conqueror the times were against him. His accession 
fell at a time when all his powers and all his great ability 
were necessarily employed exclusively in reorganizing the 
kingdom after the long period of unparalleled laxity which 
preceded him. He performed his task with a strength and 
skill not less than were required for great conquest abroad; 
while at the same time he showed a spirit of humane solici- 
tude for the amelioration of the conditions among the masses, 
which has never been surpassed in Egypt, from his time until 
the present day. Although a soldier, with all the qualities 
which that calling implies in the early east, yet when he 
became king he could truly say: "Behold, his majesty spent 
the whole time seeking the welfare of Egypt. "^ 

How long he reigned is uncertain, but in Ramses II 's day 
the reigns of Ikhnaton and the other Aton worshippers had 
apparently been added to his reign, increasing it by twenty 
five years or more, so that a lawsuit of Ramses II 's time 
refers to events of the fifty ninth year of Harmhab.* He 

• HI, 34. » III, 377. > III, 40 ff. 

« III, 37 ff. « III, 50. « Inscription of Mes. 



therefore probably leigued some thirty five years. \\Tiile 
he was still serving the Pharaoh, in the days of his official 
career, he had built a tomb of the most superb and artistic 
workmanship at Memphis (Figs. 119, 147-8, 150). It was a 
characteristic of the man that he did not abandon this Mem- 
phite tomb and order one more splendid at Thebes in the 
Valley of the Kings' Tombs. He left untouched upon its 
walls all his old official titles as general, etc., which we have 
already quoted, merely placing alongside them his royal 
names and the Pharaonic titulary. Wherever his figure 
appeared among the reliefs in the tomb chapel, he caused 
the royal uraeus serpent to be inserted on the forehead (Fig. 
150), thus clearly distinguishing the figure as that of a 
king.' These insertions may still be traced at the present 

The fruits of Harmhab's reorganization were destined to 
be enjoyed by his successors. Whether or not he succeeded 
in founding a dynasty we do not know. It is impossible to 
discover any certain connection between him and Ra mses I, 
who now (1315 B. C.) succeeded him, but as Ramses I was 
already of advanced age on his accession, he must have had 
some legal title to the throne. Otherwise at such an age 
he would hardly have been able to make good his claims. 
He was too old to accomplish anything or to utilize the 
resources of the new nation which Harmhab had built up. 
He planned and began the vast colonnaded hall, the famous 
hypostyle of Karnak, afterward continued and completed 
by his successors. In his second year he found the new 
responsibility beyond his strength and he associated as co- 
regent with himself his son, Seti I,^ then probably about 
thirty years old. Together with his son he may have organ- 
ized a campaign in Nubia, for in any ease in the same year 
he was able to add "slaves of the captivity of his majesty" 
to the endowment of the Nubian temple at Wadi Haifa. '" 
The inscription recording this and other gifts to the said 
temple^ is the only dated monument of Ramses I's reign, 

>III, 1-21. mi, 157. 'Ill, 78. « III, 74 ff. 


and as Seti's name is appended to it at the bottom, it is not 
impossible that the young eoregent prince had carried on 
the campaign in Nubia himself and erected the tablet before 
he left. Six months after the dating of this tablet the old 
king was ah'eady dead (1313 B. C), and Seti, as sole king 
of Egypt, succeeded him. ' 

During his short coregency of not more than a year, Seti 
I must have already laid all his plans and organized his 
army in readiness for an attempt to recover the lost empire 
in Asia. The desert road leading to Palestine from Tharu, 
the frontier fort of Egypt, whither Harmhab's noseless 
exiles were banished, was again put in condition. The for- 
tified stations which protected the wells and cisterns dis- 
tributed along it were rebuilt and repaired.^ It was a march 
of ten days from Tharu through the desert to Gaza in 
southern Palestine,^ and a plentiful supply of water was 
therefore absolutely essential throughout the march. It is 
probable that Egypt was still maintaining some degree of 
control in Palestine, but the conditions which we saw devel- 
oping there during the reign of Iklmaton had received no 
serious attention since then, with the possible exception of 
an ineffective campaign by one of Ikhnaton's successors. 
The information which Seti I now received as to the state of 
the country betrays a condition of affairs quite such as we 
should expect would have resulted from the tendency evi- 
dent in the letters of Abdkhiba of Jerusalem to Ikhnaton. ^ 
They showed us the Beduin of the neighbouring desert press- 
ing into Palestine and taking possession of the towns, 
whether in the service of the turbulent dynasts or on their 
own responsibility. AVe saw these letters corroborated by 
Egyptian monuments, portraying the panic-stricken Pales- 
tinians fleeing into Egypt before these foes. Seti I's mes- 
sengers now bring him information of the very same char- 
acter regarding the Beduin. They report: "Their tribal 
chiefs are in coalition and they are gaining a foothold in 
Palestine ; they have taken to cursing and quarrelling, each 

"III, 157. 2 III, 84; 86. ^11, 400. < See above, pp. 387-8. 


of them slaying his neighbour, and they disregard the laws 
of the palace.'" It was among these desert invaders of 
Palestine that the movement of the Hebrews resulting in 
their settlement there took place. It was of little moment 
to the Pharaoh which particular tribe of Semites possessed 
the different regions of Palestine, if only they regularly 
paid their tribute to Egypt; but this was now no longer 
the case. 

In his first year Seti was able to march out from Tharu 
and lead his expedition along the desert road, past the sta- 
tions which he had restored.^ In the Negeb, or southern 
Palestinian country, he was met by the "Shasu" or "Shos," 
as the Egyptians called the Beduin of that region, and he 
scattered them far and wide.^ As he reached the frontier 
of Canaan, which was the name applied by the Egyptians 
to all western Palestine and Syria, he captured a walled 
town, which marked the northern limit of the struggle with 
the Beduin.^ Thence he pushed rapidly northward, cap- 
turing the towns of the plain of Megiddo (Jezreel), pushing 
eastwai'd across the valley of the Jordan and erecting his 
tablet of victory in the Hauran,^ and westward to the south- 
ern slopes of Lebanon, where he took the forest-girt city of 
Yenoam," once the property of the temple of Amon, after 
its capture by Thutmose III, nearly one hundred and fifty 
years before. The neighbouring dynasts of the Lebanon 
immediately came to him and offered their allegiance. They 
had not seen a Pharaoh at the head of his army in Asia for 
over fifty years,— not since Amenhotep III had left Sidon;' 
and Seti immediately put them to the test by requiring a 
liberal contribution of cedar logs for the sacred barge of 
Amon which he was building at Thebes, as well as for the 
tall flag-staves which surmounted the temple pylons.' These 
the subjects of the Lebanon felled in his presence, and Seti 
was able to send them to Egypt by water from the harbours 
which, like his great predecessor, Thutmose III, he was now 

1 III, 101,11. 3-9. « 111, 83 f. Mil, 85 f. « III. 87-8. 

'111,81. « 111, 89-90. ' See above, p. 353. 8 111,91-94. 


subduing. It is remotely possible that he advanced as far 
north as Simyra and Ullaza,' and that the prince of Cyprus 
sent in his gifts as of old. However that may be, Tyre and 
Othu'' submitted in any case and having thus secured the 
coast and restored the water route between Syria and Egypt 
for future operations, Seti returned to Egypt. The return 
of a victorious Pharaoh from conquest in Asia, so common 
in the days of the great conquerors, was now a spectacle 
which the grandees of the realm had not witnessed for two 
generations. The news of Seti's successes had preceded 
him, and the nobles of the administrative government has- 
tened to the frontier to receive him. At Tharu, outside the 
gate of the frontier fortress beside the bridge over the fresh 
water canal, which, as the reader will recall (see p. 188), 
already connected the Nile with the bitter lakes of the Isth- 
mus of Suez, they gathered in a rejoicing group, and as 
Seti's weary lines toiled up in the dust of the long desert 
march, with the Pharaoh at their head, driving before his 
chariot-horses the captive dynasts of Palestine and Syria, 
the nobles broke out in acclamation.^ At Thebes there was 
another festive presentation of prisoners and spoil before 
Amon, such as had been common enough in the days of the 
empire, but which the Thebans had not witnessed for fifty 
years or more;* and in the course of the celebration the 
king sacrificed in the presence of the gods some of the 
prisoners whom he had taken.^ 

This campaign was quite sufficient to restore southern Pal- 
estine to the kingdom of the Pharaoh, and probably also most 
of northei-n Palestine. Before Seti could continue his opera- 
tions in Asia, however, he was obliged to direct his forces 
against a threatening danger, which likewise at the begin- 
ning of the Eighteenth Dynasty had demanded the Pharaoh 's 
attention and cost him a war. The Libyans west of the 
Nile mouths never failed to improve the opportunity of lax 
government in Egypt to push into the Delta and take pos- 
session of all the territory they could hold, and the exact 

'III, 81; 92. «III, 89. » III. 98-103. Mil, 104-112. Mil, 113. 


western border of the Delta was alwaj^s more or less uncer- 
tain on their frontier. Seti spent his entire next year, the 
second of his reign, in the Delta, as a series of court bills 
for his table supplies shows ;^ and it is thus very probable 
that he carried on his operations against the Libyans in that 
year. He met them in battle at some unknown point in 
the western Delta,- and according to the meagre accounts 
which he has left us, was able to return in triumph to Thebes 
with the usual prisoners and spoil to be presented in the 
temple of Amon.^ It is possible that this return to Thebes 
did not take place immediately, but that he proceeded to 
Asia after the overthrow of the Libyans, to continue the 
restoration of Egyptian power in Syria which he had begun 
so auspiciously the season before. In any case, we next find 
him in Galilee, storming the walled city of Kadesh, which 
must not be confused with Kadesh on the Orontes. Here 
the Amorite kingdom, founded by Abdashirta and Aziru, 
as we were able to follow it in the letters of Rib-Addi, * 
formed a kind of buffer state, to which the Galilean Kadesh 
belonged, lying between Palestine on the south and the 
southern Hittite frontier in the Orontes valley on the north. 
It was necessary for Seti to subdue this intermediate king- 
dom before he could come to blows with the Hittites lying 
behind it. After harrying its territory and probably taking 
Kadesh, ' Seti pushed northward against the Hittites. Their 
king, Seplel, who had entered into treaty relations with 
Egypt toward the close of the Eighteenth DjTiasty, was 
now long dead; his son, Merasar, was ruling in his stead. "^ 
Somewhere in the Orontes vallej^ Seti came into contact 
with them and the first battle between the Hittites and a 
Pharaoh occurred. Of the character and magnitude of the 
action we know nothing; we have only a battle relief showing 
Seti in full career charging the enemy in his chariot." It 
is, however, not probable that he met the main army of the 
Hittites; certain it is that he did not shake their power in 

'111,82,2. ♦Til, 12n-l:!2. » III, 133-9. « See above, pp. 383-7. 
mi, 140-141. «ni, 375. Mil, 142-144. 


Syria; Kadesh on the Orontes remained in their hands, 
and at most, Seti could not have accomplished more than 
to have driven back their extreme advance, thus preventing 
them from absorbing any more territory on the south or 
pushing southward into Palestine. He returned to Thebes 
for another triumph, driving his Hittite prisoners before 
him, and presenting them, with the spoil, to the god of 
the Empire, Amon of Karnak.' The boundary which he had 
established in Asia roughly coincided inland with the north- 
ern limits of Palestine, and must have included also Tyre 
and the Phoenician coast south of the mouth of the Litany. 
Though much increasing the territory of Egypt in Asia, it 
represented but a small third of what she had once con- 
quered there. Under these circumstances, it would have 
been quite natural for Seti to continue the war in Syria. 
For some reason, however, he did not, in so far as we know, 
ever appear with his forces in Asia again. He possibly 
recognized the hopelessness of a struggle against the Hit- 
tites, who were now so firmly entrenched in Syria. The 
position of Egypt in Syria was indeed totally different from 
that of the Hittites, who were actually occupying the coun- 
try, the warrior class at least residing there; whereas the 
Pharaohs had never attempted to colonize the country, but 
merely to hold it in vassalage, subject to the payment of 
yearly tribute. Such a method of holding distant conquests 
was not likely to succeed at the threshold of the powerful 
Hittite kingdom, a nation unable to resist its own expansive 
force and overflowing constantly into Syria. Had the Phar- 
aoh succeeded in evicting them it would have required inces- 
sant war in northern Syria to have kept them within their 
old limits. Seti may have perceived the changed conditions 
and understood that the methods which had built up the 
empire of Thutraose III could no longer apply with a power 
of the first rank already occupying Syria. He therefore, 
either at this time or later, negotiated a treaty of peace 
with the Hittite king, Metella, who had succeeded his father, 

1 III, 145-152. «III, 377. 


Returning to Egypt, he devoted himself to the interests 
of peace, especially to the temples of the gods. The deface- 
ment of the monuments during the Aton revolution had 
been but partially repaired by Harmhab; Seti's father had 
reigned too briefly to accomplish anything in this direction, 
so that Seti himself found much to do in merely restoring 
the disfigured monuments of his ancestors, which he did with 
admirable piety. All the lai-ger monuments of the Eigh- 
teenth Dynasty from the Nubian temple of Amada on the 
south to Bubastis on the north, bear records of his restora- 
tion, with the words appended: "Restoration of the monu- 
ment, which Seti I made.'" Throughout the great quarries 
of Egypt, Assuan, Silsileh, Gebelen, his workmen were dis- 
patched.^ Captives of war were employed as of old, but 
where he utilized the labour of native Egyptians, Seti 
records with great pride the humane treatment and the gen- 
erous supplies accorded them. At Silsileh, whence the sand- 
stone was procured, every one of the thousand workmen 
employed there received daily nearlj' four pounds of bread, 
two bundles of vegetables and a roast of meat; while twice 
a month each man was given a clean linen garment.' At 
all the great sanctuaries of the old gods his buildings were 
now rising on a scale unprecedented in the palmiest days 
of the Empire, — a fact which shows that the income, even 
of the reduced empire of Seti I, reaching from the fourth 
cataract of the Nile to the sources of the Jordan, was still 
sufficient to support enterprises of imperial scope. In front 
of the pylon of Amenhotep III, forming the facade of the 
state temple at Karnak, Seti continued the vast colonnaded 
hall planned and begun by his father, and which surpassed 
in size even the enormous unfinished hypostyle of Amenhoteji 
III at Luxor. The battle reliefs on the front of Amenliotep 
Ill's pylon were covered by Seti's masonry. He completed 
some of the columns of the northern aisles as well as the 
north wall, on the outside of which his sculptors engraved 
a colossal series of reliefs (Fig. 152) portraying his cam- 

1 TIT, 200. Mil, 201 2in. Mil, 207. 


paigns. Mounting from the base to the coping they cover 
the entire wall (over two hundred feet long), converging 
from each end upon a door in the middle, toward which 
the king is shown returning to Egypt, then presenting offer- 
ings, spoil and captives to Amon; and at last sacrificing 
the prisoners before the god, at the very door itself, as if 
the king were entering to perform the ceremony.' Similar 
works existed in the Eighteenth Dynasty temples, but they 
have all perished save the remnants of Amenhotep Ill's 
reliefs just referred to, and Seti's battle-reliefs therefore 
form the most imposing work of the kind now surviving 
in Egypt. The great hall which it was to adorn was never 
finished by him, and it was left to his successors to complete 
it. Like his fathers of the Eighteenth Dynasty, he erected 
a great mortuary temple on the western plain of Thebes. It 
was located at the northern end of the line of similar sanc- 
tuaries left by the earlier kings, and as Seti's father had 
died too soon to construct any such temple, it was also dedi- 
cated to him. This temple, now known as that of Kurna, 
was likewise left incomplete by Seti.^ At Abydos he built 
a magnificent sanctuary dedicated to the great gods of the 
empire, the Osirian triad and himself, with a side chapel 
for the services of the old kings, especially of the First and 
Second Dynasties, whose tombs still lie in the desert behind 
the temple.^ The list of their names which he engraved 
upon the walls still forms one of the most important sources 
for our chronological arrangement and assignment of the 
Pharaohs. Although this temple has lost the first and 
second pylons, it still remains perhaps the noblest monument 
of Egyptian art still surviving in the land. To its artistic 
value we shall revert again. A temple at Memphis, prob- 
ably another at Heliopolis, with doubtless others in the 
Delta of which we know nothing ; and in Nubia an enormous 
cliff-temple at Abu Simbel, left incomplete* and afterward 
finished by his son, Ramses II, completed the series of Seti 's 
greater buildings. 

> III, 80-156. « III, 211-221. MM, 225-243. « III, 495. 


These works drew heavily upon his treasury, aud when 
he reached the point of permanently endowing the mor- 
tuary service of the Abydos temple, he found it necessary 
to seek additional sources of income. He therefore turned 
his attention to the possible resources and found that the 
supply of gold from the mountains of the Red Sea region 
in the district of Gebel Zebara was seriously restricted by 
the difficulties which beset the i"oute, especially in the matter 
of water. The road from the Nile valley thither left the 
river at a point a few miles above Edfu, and Seti visited 
the place himself to discover what might be done to remedy 
the difficulty. He found it necessary to go out into the 
desert some two days journey to a point about thirty seven 
miles from the river, where there was an old and probably 
disused station known to the caravans of the Eighteenth 
Dynasty.' Here, under his own superintendence, a well was 
dug, yielding a plentiful supply of water.^ Thereupon Seti 
erected a small temple by the well and established a settle- 
ment at the place.* In all probability other stations further 
out on the same route were erected. The thirsty caravaneers 
sang his praise: "Ye gods dwelling in the well give ye to 
him your duration ; for he hath opened for us the way to 
march in, when it was closed up before us. We proceed and 
are saved; we arrive and are preserved alive. The difficult 
way which is in our memories has become a good way."^ 
Then Seti established the income from the mines thus reached 
as a permanent endowment for his temple at Abydos, and 
called down terrifying curses on any posterity who should 
violate his enactments.^ Yet within a year after his death 
they had ceased to be effective and had to be renewed by 
his son.® In a similar effort to replenish his treasury from 
gold mines further south in the Wadi Ahlki, Seti dug a well 
two hundred feet deep on the road leading southeast from 
Kubban in Nubia, but he failed to reach water, and the 
attempt to increase the gold-supply from this region was 
evidently unsuccessful.'^ 

•Ill, 170. «III. 171. »I1I. 172-4. 'Ill, 195. 

'Ill, 17,^-194. «ni, 2G3. '111. 289. 


The art developed in connection with Seti's buildings 
was hardly less strong, virile and beautiful than that pre- 
vailing during the Eighteenth Dynasty. The impulses which 
had come with Egypt's imperial position, while not as strong 
as under the great emperors, were nevertheless not entirely 
quenched. The conception of the great hall at Karnak, 
although not carried out with the refinement which we found 
in the Eighteenth Dynasty, as we shall see later on, was yet 
one of the noblest fruits of Egypt's power and wealth, and 
remains to-day, in spite of glaring faults, one of the most 
impressive surviving monuments of Egyptian architectural 
genius. In sculpture, Seti 's battle-reliefs are the most ambi- 
tious attempt at elaborate composition left by the surviving 
school of the Eighteenth Dynasty, which they represent; 
while very effective as compositions, they are however de- 
fective in drawing. Nevertheless the figure of Seti with 
upraised spear, dispatching tjie Libyan chief, on this north 
wall at Karnak (Fig. 152), is one of the strongest and 
most vigourous examples of drawing to be found among the 
works of Egyptian artists; while as a composition it is 
almost equally good. The finest reliefs of the time, how- 
ever, are to be found in Seti's temple at Abydos (Fig. 153), 
in which there is a rare combination of softness and refine- 
ment, with bold and sinuous lines and exquisite modelling. 
Hardly inferior to these are the reliefs in Seti 's magnificent 
tomb (Fig. 154) at Thebes. The painting of the time also 
continues to show much of the power of the Amarna school 
of art. TheTheban tombs have preserved exquisite examples 
like the inspection of the herds (Fig. 155) or the hunt in 
the marshes, the latter exhibiting a fine touch of animal 
savagery in the fierce abandon of a lithe cat as she tramples 
two wild birds beneath her feet and sinks her teeth at the 
same moment into a third victim (Fig. 156). 

Beyond Seti's ninth year we know practically nothing of 
his reign. He seems to have spent his energies upon his 
extensive buildings, and among these he did not forget 
the excavation of the largest tomb yet made in the valley of 


the kings at Thebes. It is of complicated construction and 
descends into the mountain through a series of galleries and 
extensive halls no less than four hundred and seventy feet in 
oblique depth (Fig. 109). As the thirtieth anniversary of 
his nomination as crown prince approached Seti began the 
preparation of the necessary obelisks; and about the same 
time his eldest son, whose name is unknown to us, was 
appointed to the succession as crown prince. Desirous of 
appearing to have shared in the achievements of his father, 
this prince had his figure inserted in the scene on the nortli 
wall of his father's Karnak hall, showing him in battle with 
the Libyans. As his figure is not original here, there was 
not room for it and part of an inscription had to be chiselled 
out in order to create the necessary space. The fraud is 
visible to this day, the colour by which it was once disguised 
having now vanished. Ramses, another son of Seti, born 
to him by one of his queens named Tuya, was, however, plot- 
ting to supplant his eldest brother, and during their father's 
last days Ramses laid his plans so effectively that he was 
ready for a successful coup at the old king's death. Some 
time before the ajiproaching jubilee, while the obelisks for 
it were still unfinished, Seti died (about 1292 B. C), having 
reigned over twenty years since his own father's death. 
He was laid to rest in a sumptuous sarcophagus of alabaster 
in the splendid tomb which he had excavated in the western 
valley. The body then deposited in the tomb, and preserved 
by happy accident, like many others of the Pharaohs whom 
we have seen, shows him to have been one of the stateliest 
figures that ever sat upon the throne of Egypt, in so far as 
we can judge at this time from the remains preser^^ed to 
jis (Fig. 158). 

The plans of the young Ramses were immediately carried 
out. Whether his elder brother gained the throne long 
enough to have his figure inserted in his father's reliefs or 
whether his influence as crown prince had accomplished this, 
we cannot tell. In any case Ramses brushed him aside 
without a moment's hesitation and seized the throne. The 


only public evidence of his brother's claims, his figure in- 
serted by that of Seti in the battle with the Libyans (Fig. 
152) was immediately erased with the inscriptions which 
stated his name and titles; while in their stead the artists 
of Ramses inserted the figure of their new lord, with the 
title "crown prince," which he had never borne (Fig. 157). 

h " 

-'--:.T--'6^mJl> - 

Fig. 157. Section of one of Seti I's Reliefs at Karnak. 

The broken lines are the figure of Seti's first born son, who had himself 
inserted here long after the completion of the reliefs, so that a column of the 
original inscription now continues down into the figure. The dotted lines 
show the form of Ramses II, inserted by him over that of his elder brother 
whom he displaced and supplanted. 

The colour which once carefully veiled all traces of these 
alterations has now long since disappeared, and the evi- 
dence of the bitter conflict of the two princes involving of 
course the harem and the officials of the court and a whole 
lost romance of court intrigue may still be traced by the 
trained eye on the north wall of the Karnak hypostyle. 
Such was the accession of the famous Pharaoh, Ramses II. 
But the usual court devices were immediately resorted to. 


tliat the manner of the Pharaoh's actual conquest of the 
throne might be forgotten. When Ramses addressed the 
court he alluded specifically to the day when his father had 
set him as a child before the nobles and published him as 
the heir to the kingdom.^ The grandees knew too well the 
road to favour not to respond in fulsome eulogies expanding 
on the wonderful powers of the king in his childhood and 
narrating how he had even commanded the army at ten 
years of age.^ The young monarch showed great vigour and 
high abilities, and if his unfortunate rival left a party to 
dispute his claims, no trace of their opposition is now 

Ramses lost no time however in making himself strong 
at Thebes, the seat of power. Thither he immediately 
hastened, probably from the Delta, and celebrated in the 
state temple the great annual Feast of Opet.* Having 
gained the priests of Amon he devoted himself with great 
zeal to pious works in memory of his father. For this 
purpose he sailed down the river from Thebes to Abydos,* 
which he had probably touched on his way up to Thebes. 
At Abydos he found has father's magnificent mortuary 
temple in a sad state; it was without roof, the drums of 
the columns and the blocks for the half raised walls lay scat- 
tered in the mire, and the wliole monument, left thus unfin- 
ished by Seti, was fast going to destruction. Worse than 
this, the endowments which Seti had left for its support had 
been neglected, violated and misappropriated by the people 
left in charge of them,* in total disregard of the solemn adju- 
rations and frightful curses recorded by their royal master, 
then less than a year dead. The tombs of the hoary kings 
of the First Dynasty, who had ruled over two thousand years 
before, were also found to be in need of attention.^ Ramses 
summoned his court and announced to them his intention 
of completing and putting in repair all these works, but 
particularly the temple of his father.^ He carried out his 

1 in, 267-8. « III, 2S8, 1. 17. »III, 2.55-6, 260. <III. 261. 

'Ill, 263. •111,262. '111,264-5. 


father's plans and completed the temple, at the same time 
renewing the landed endowments and reorganizing the ad- 
ministration of its property to which Ramses now added 
herds, the tribute of fowlers and tishermen, a trading ship 
on the Red Sea, a fleet of barges on the river, slaves and 
serfs, with priests and officials for the management of the 
temple-estate.' All this, although recognized by the court 
as due to the most pious motives, was not wholly without 
advantage to the giver; for the conclusion of the enormous 
inscription^ left by Ramses to record his good deeds in his 
father's temple, represents Ramses as thus securing the 
favour of his father, who, as the companion of the gods, 
intercedes with them in his son's behalf and thus ensures 
to Ramses the favour of the divine powers who grant him a 
long and powerful reign.' This notion of the intercession 
of the dead with the gods on behalf of the living is found 
in one inscription as old as the Old Kingdom, occurs also 
in the Middle Kingdom and again, enunciated by Ramses in 
the mortuary temple of his father at Thebes which he like- 
wise completed on finding it left unfinished by Seti.* 

Perhaps the heavy draughts upon his treasury entailed by 
the mortuary endowments of his father now moved Ramses 
to look for new sources of income. However this may be, 
we find him at Memphis in his third year consulting with 
his officials regarding the laossibility of opening up the Wadi 
Alaki country in Nubia and developing there the mines 
which Seti T had unsuccessfully attempted to exploit.^ The 
viceroy of Kush, who was present, explained the difficulty 
to the king and related the fruitless attempt of his father 
to supply the route with water. Tt was now so bad that 
when the caravaneers attemi)ted the desert journey thither 
"it was only half of them that arrived there; for they died 
of thirst on the road, together with the asses which they 
drove before them." They were obliged to take enough 
water for the round trip, as they could obtain none at the 
mines. "Hence no gold was brought from this country for 

> III, 274-7. 2 111,2,51-281. » III, 279-281. 

«III, 281, 1. 103, note. 'Ill, 282-29.3. 


lack of water.'" With subtle flattery the viceroy and court 
advised another attem}>t to supply the route with water/ 
and the result of the ensuing royal command to undertake 
it was a letter from the viceroy of Kush announcing the 
complete success of the enterprise and the discovery of a 
copious spring of water at a depth of only twenty feet/ 
At Kubban, where the road leading to the mines left the 
Nile-valley, Ramses had the viceroy erect a stela commem- 
orating the achievement and bearing a record of the events 
which we have sketched/ Such enterprises of internal ex- 
ploitation were but preparatory in the plans of Ramses. 
His ambition held him to greater purposes ; and he contem- 
plated nothing less than the recovery of the great Asiatic 
empire, conquered by his predecessors of the Eighteenth 

• III, 286. ' III, 288-9. ' HI, 292. « HI, 282-29.5. 



We have seen that the Nineteenth Dynasty had inherited 
a very dangerous situation in Syria. Ramses I had been 
too old and had reigned too briefly to accomplish anything 
there ; Seti I, his son, had not been able to penetrate into the 
territory held by the Hittites, much less to sweep them back 
into Asia Minor and reclaim the old conquests of the Eigh- 
teenth Dynasty. When Ramses II ascended the throne the 
Hittites had remained in undisputed possession of these con- 
quests for probably more than twenty years since the only 
attempt by Seti I to dislodge them. The long peace prob- 
ably concluded with Seti gave their king, Metella, an oppor- 
tunity, of which he made good use, to render their position 
in Syria impregnable. Advancing southward, up the valley 
of the Orontes, he had seized Kadesh, the centre of the 
Syrian power in the days of Thutmose III, which, we remem- 
ber, had given him more trouble and held out with more 
tenacious resistance than any other kingdom in Syria. We 
have already seen the strategic importance of the location, 
an importance which was quickly grasped by the Hittite 
king, who made the place the bulwark of his southern 

Ramses 's plan for the war was like that of his great ances- 
tor, Thutmose III: he purposed first to gain the coast, that 
he might use one of its harbours as a base, enjoying quick 
and easy communication with Egypt by water. Our sources 
tell us nothing of his operations on the first campaign, when 
this purpose was accomplished. We have only the mute 
evidence of a limestone stela (Pig. 159) cut into the face of 
the rocks overlooking the Dog River near Beriit; it is so 
weathered that only the name of Ramses II and the date in 



the "year fonr" can be read. It was in that year, therefore, 
that Eamses pushed northward along the coast of Phoenicia 
to this point.' Unfortunately for Ramses, this preparatory 
campaign, however necessary, gave the Hittite king, Metella, 
an opportunity to collect all his resources and to muster all 
available forces from every possible source. All the vassal 
kings of his great empire were compelled to contribute their 
levies to his army. We find among them the old enemies 
of Egypt in Syria : the kings of Naharin, Arvad, Carchemish, 
Kode, Kadesh, Nuges, Ekereth ( Ugarit) and Aleppo. Besides 
these, Metella 's subject kingdoms in Asia Minor, like Kez- 
weden and Pedes, were drawn upon;^ and not content with 
the army thus collected, he emptied his treasury to tempt the 
mercenaries of Asia Minor and the Mediterranean islands. 
Roving bands of Lycian sailors, such as had plundered the 
coasts of the Delta and of Cyprus in the Eighteenth Dynasty, 
besides Mysians, Cilicians, Dardanians, and levies of the 
unidentified Erwenet, took service in the Hittite ranks.^ In 
this manner Metella collected an army more formidable than 
any which Egypt had ever hitherto been called upon to meet. 
In numbers it was large for those times, containing probably 
not less than twenty thousand men. 

Ramses on his part had not been less active in securing 
mercenary support. From the remote days of the Old King- 
dom Nubian levies had been plentifully sprinkled through 
the Egyptian armies; one of their tribes, the Mazoi, fur- 
nished gensdarmes-police for Ikhnaton's capital, and they 
were commonly found in similar service elsewhere in the 
Pharaoh 's realm. Among the troops used to garrison Syria 
in the days of the Amarna letters sixty years before we find 
the "Sherden," or Sardinians, who there appear for the 
first time in history. These men were now taken into 
Ramses' army in considerable numbers, so that they con- 
stituted a recognized element in it, and the king levied "his 
infantry, his ehariotry and the Sherden."* Ramses claims 
to have taken them as prisoners in one of his victories/ and 

'111,207. Mil, 30r.. >lbid. Mil, . 307. • Ihid, 


doubtless some of them were therefore the remnants of 
marauding bands, captured as they sailed in plundering 
expeditions along the coasts of the western Delta.' He must 
have commanded an army of not less than twenty thousand 
men all told, although the proportion of mercenaries is un- 
known to us ; nor is it known what proportion of his force 
was chariotry, as compared with the infantry. He divided 
these troops into four divisions, each named after one of 
the great gods : Amon, Re, Ptah and Sutekh ; and himself 
took personal command of the division of Amon. " 

About the end of A])ril of his fifth year (1288 B. C), when 
the rains of Syria had ceased, Ramses marched out of Tharu, 
on his northeastern frontier, at the head of these troo])s. 
The division of Amon, with whom the Pharaoh was, formed 
the advance, and the other divisions. Re, Ptah and Sutekh, 
followed in the order mentioned. What route Ramses took 
across Palestine it is now impossible to determine ; but when 
they reached the region of Lebanon they were on the sea- 
road, along the coast of Phoenicia, which, as we have seen, 
had been secured in the campaign of the year before. Here 
Ramses had, at that time or before, founded a city, which 
bore his name, and was evidently intended to serve as his 
base for the campaign. Its location is uncertain, but it 
may have been at or near the mouth of the Dog River, where 
his stela of the previous year is located. Here he formed 
the van of picked men and leaders of his force and turned 
inland, perhaps up the valley of the Dog River, although 
a much less precipitous road left the sea further south and 
would have carried him up the Litanj\ He then struck 
into the valley of the Orontes, and marching down that river 
northward during the last days of May, he camped on the 
night of the twenty ninth day out from Tharu, on the last 
and northernmost height of the elevated valley between the 
northern ends of the two Lebanons, overlooking the vast 
plain in which lay Kadesh, only a day 's march distant, with 

1 III, 491. 

• For the following account of the battle of Kadesh see the documents, III, 
298-348; and my Battle of Kadesh, University of Chicago Press, 1904. 




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*^ i ..#' 









t l^ ■• "<S^ 





1/ ''^ ^^''^^•s 



^*''^ *' f/5r * 

[RiblehJ Y 

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mon . 1 

--# _>/ >^ °'*'' 

anmni { 

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^-v^^-y^ /Ptah 


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of Kadesh,^v\vf 

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—Asiatics i#'' 
-Egypiians „„§" 
♦ Ramses «»»"" 




I I I I I I 

10 M. 

Map 8. The Vicinity of Kadesh. 

Showing the " Height south of Kadesh," where Ramses camped the night 
before the battle, and his position early on the day of the battle. 


its battlements probably visible on the northern horizon, 
toward which the Orontes wound its way across the plain. 
The next morning Ramses broke camp early, and putting 
himself at the head of the division of Amon, he left the 
other divisions to follow after, while he set out down the 
last slope of the high valley to the ford of the Orontes at 
Shabtuna, later known to the Hebrews as Ribleh. Here the 
river left the precipitous, caiion-like valley in which it had 
hitherto flowed, and for the first time permitted a crossing 
to the west side on which Kadesh was, thus enabling an 
army approaching the city from the south to cut off a con- 
siderable bend in the river. Reaching the ford after a 
march of three hours at most and probably less, Ramses 
prepared for the crossing. Day after day his officers had 
reported to him their inability to find any trace of the enemy 
and had added their impression that he was still far in the 
north. At this juncture two Beduin of the region appeared 
and stated that they had deserted from the Hittite ranks, 
and that the Hittite king had retreated northward to the 
district of Aleppo, north of Tunip. In view of the failure 
of his scouting parties to find the enemy, Ramses readily 
believed this story, immediately crossed the river with the 
division of Amon and pushed rapidly on, while the divisions 
of Re, Ptah and Sutekh, marching in the order named, 
straggled far behind. Anxious to reach Kadesh and begin 
the siege that day, the Pharaoh even drew away from the 
division of Amon and with no van before him, accompanied 
only by his household troojDS, was rapidly nearing Kadesh 
as midday approached. Meantime Metella, the Hittite king, 
had drawn up his troops in battle-array on the northwest 
of Kadesh, and Ramses, without hint of danger was ap- 
proaching the entire Hittite force, while the bulk of his 
army was scattered along the road some eight or ten miles 
in the rear, and the officers of Re and Ptah were relaxing 
in the shade of the neighbouring forests after the hot and 
dusty march. The crafty Metella, seeing that the story of 
his two Beduin, whom he had sent out for the very purpose 



Camp of 
Division , 

of deceiving Ramses, had been implicitly accepted, fully 
appreciated how best to utilize the rare opportunity. He 
does not attack Ramses at once, but as the Pharaoh ap- 
proaches the city the Hittite quickly transfers his entire 
army to the east side of the river, and while Ramses passes 
northward along the west side of Kadesh, Metella deftly 
dodges him, moving southward along the east side of the 
city, always keeping it between him and the Egyptians to 
prevent his troops from being seen. As he draws in on the 
east and southeast of the city he 
has secured a position on Ramses 
flank which is of itself enough, if 
properly utilized, to ensure him an 
overwhelming victory, even involv- 
ing the destruction of Ramses and 
his anny. The Egyptian forces were 
now roughly divided into two 
groups : near Kadesh were the two 
divisions of Amon and Re, while 
far southward the divisions of Ptah 
and Sutekh have not yet crossed at 
the ford of Shabtuna. The division 
of Sutekh was so far away that 
nothing more was heard of it and it 
took no part in the day's action. 
Ramses halted on the northwest of 
the city, not far from and perhaps 
on the very ground occupied by the 
Asiatic army a short time before. 

Here he camped in the early after- 
noon, and the division of Amon, com- 
ing up shortly afterward, bivouack- 
ed around his tent. A barricade 
of shields was erected around the 
camp, and as the provision trains came up the oxen were 
unyoked and the two-wheeled carts were parked at one end 


Map 9. The Battle of 
Positions of the opposing 
forces at the time of the 
Asiatic attack. 


of the enclosure. The weary troops were relaxing, feeding 
their horses and preparing their own meal, when two Asiatic 
spies were brought in by Ramses' scouts and taken to 
the royal tent. Brought before Ramses after a merciless 
beating, they confessed that Metella and his entire army 
were concealed behind the city. Thoroughly alarmed, the 
young Pharaoh hastily summoned his commanders and 
officials, ehided them bitterly for their inability to inform 
him of the presence of the enemy, and commanded the vizier 
to bring up the division of Ptah with all speed. In all 
probability the frightened vizier himself undertook the dan- 
gerous commission, in the hope of retrieving his reputation. 
Ramses' dispatch to the division of Ptah alone, shows that 
he had no hope of bringing up the division of Sutekh, which 
was, as we have seen, straggling far in the rear above Shab- 
tuna. At the same time it discloses his confidence that the 
division of Re, which had been but a few miles behind him 
at most, was within call at the gates of his camp. He there- 
fore at this juncture little dreamed of the desperate situa- 
tion into which he had been betrayed, nor of the catastrophe 
which at that very moment was overtaking the unfortunate 
division of Re. "Lo, while his majesty sat talking with 
his nobles," rebuking them for their negligence, "the Hit- 
tite king came, together with the numerous countries that 
were with him, they crossed the ford [of the Orontes] on 
the south of Kadesh, " "they came forth from the south 
side of Kadesh, and they cut through the division of Re in 
its middle, while it was on the march, not knowing and not 
drawn up for battle." A modern military critic could 
hardly better describe, in a word, what had happened than 
do these brief words from the ancient account of the affair. 
The attacking force was entirely chariotry and Ramses' 
marching infantry was of course cut to pieces under the 
assault. The southern portion of this disorganized division 
must have entirely melted away, but the rest fled northward 
toward Ramses' camp in a wild rout, having lost many pris- 
oners and strewing the way with their equipments. They 




had at the first moment sent a messenger to inform Ramses 
of the catastrophe, hut in so far as we know, the first inti- 
mation received by the Pharaoh of the appalling disaster 
which now faced him was the headlong fiight of these fugi- 
tives of the annihilated division, among whom were two of 
his own sons. They burst over the barricade into tlie aston- 
ished camp with the Hittite chariotry in hot pursuit close 
upon their heels. Ramses' heavy 
infantry guard quickly dragged 
these intruders from their chariots 
and dispatched them; but behind 
these was swiftly massing the whole 
body of some twenty five hundred 
Asiatic chariots. As they pressed 
in ujion the Egyptian position their 
wings rapidly spread, swelled out 
on either hand and enfolded the 
camp. The division of Amon, weary 
with the long and rapid march, in 
total relaxation, without arms and 
without ofiBeers, was struck as by an 
avalanche when the fleeing remnants 
of the division of Re swept through 
the camjD. They were inevitabh- in- 
volved in the rout and carried along 
with it to the northward. The bulk 
of Ramses' available force was 
thus in flight, his southern divisions 
were miles away and separated from 
him by the whole mass of the 
enemy's chariotry; the disaster was 



>?: Fugitive Egyptians 


Map 10. The Battle of 
Showing Ramses II's di- 
vided forces and his envelop- 
ment by the enemy in the 
second stage of the battle. 

Taken with but short shrift for preparation, the young 
Pharaoh hesitated not a moment in attempting to cut his 
way out and to reach his southern columns. With only his 
household troops, his immediate followers and the officers, 
who happened to be at his side, he mounted his waiting 


chariot and boldy charged into the advance of the Hittite 
pursuit as it poured into his camp on the west side. The 
instant's respite thus gained he utilized to push out on the 
west or south side of his camp a few paces and there, per- 
ceiving how heavily the enemy was massed before him, 
immediately understood that further onset in that direction 
was hopeless. Retiring into the camp again, he must have 
noted how thin was the eastern wing of the surrounding 
chariots along the river where there had not yet been time 
for the enemy to strengthen their line. As a forlorn hope 
he charged this line with an impetuosity that hurled the 
Asiatics in his immediate front pell-mell into the river. 
Metella, standing on the opposite shore amid a mass of 
eight thousand infantry, saw several of his officers, his 
personal scribe, his charioteer, the chief of his body-guard 
and finally even his own royal brother go down before the 
Pharaoh's furious onset. Among many rescued from 
the water by their comrades on the opposite shore was the 
half drowned king of Aleppo, who was with difficulty resus- 
citated by his troops. Again and again Ramses renewed the 
charge, finally producing serious discomfiture in the enemy's 
line at this point. At this juncture an incident common in 
oriental warfare saved Ramses from total destruction. Had 
the mass of the Hittite chariotry swept in upon his rear 
from the west and south he must certainly have been lost. 
But to his great good fortune his camp had fallen into the 
hands of these troops and, dismounting from their chariots, 
they had thrown discipline to the winds as they gave them- 
selves up to the rich plunder. Thus engaged, they were 
suddenly fallen upon by a body of Ramses' recruits who 
may possibly have marched in from the coast to join his 
army at Kadesh. At any rate, they did not belong to either 
of the southern divisions. They completely surprised the 
plundering Asiatics in the camp and slew them to a man. 

The sudden offensive of Ramses along the river and the 
unexpected onslaught of the "recruits" must have consider- 
ably dampened the ardour of the Hittite attack, giving the 


Pharaoh an opportunity to recover himself. These newly 
arrived "recruits," together with the returning fugitives 
from the unharmed but scattered division of Amon, so aug- 
mented his power that there was now a prospect of his 
maintaining himself till the arrival of the division of Ptah. 
The stubborn defense which now followed forced the Hittite 
king to throw in his reserves of a thousand chariots. Six 
times the desperate Pharaoh charged into the replenished 
lines of the enemy, but for some reason Metella did not send 
against him the eight thousand foot which he had stationed 
on the east side of the river opposite Ramses' position; 
and the struggle remained a battle of chariotry as long as 
we can trace it. For three long hours, by prodigies of 
personal valour, the Pharaoh kept his scanty forces together, 
throwing many an anxious glance southward toward the 
road from Shabtuna, along which the division of Ptah 
was toiling in response to his message. Finally, as the long 
afternoon wore on and the sun was low in the west, the stand- 
ards of Ptah glimmering through the dust and heat glad- 
dened the eyes of the weaiy Pharaoh. Caught between the 
opposing lines, the Hittite chariotry was driven into the 
city, probably with considerable loss; but our sources do 
not permit us to follow these closing incidents of the battle. 
As evening drew on the enemy took refuge in the city and 
Ramses was saved. The prisoners taken were led before 
him while he reminded his followers that these captives had 
been brought otf by himself almost single handed. 

The records describe how the scattered Egyptian fugi- 
tives crept back and found the plain strewn with Asiatic 
dead, especially of the personal and official circle about 
the Hittite king. This was undoubtedly true; the Asiatics 
must have lost heavily in Ramses' camp, on the river north 
of the city and at the arrival of the division of Ptah; but 
Ramses' loss was certainly also very heavy, and in view 
of the disastrous surprise of the division of Re, probably 
much greater than that of his enemies. What made the 
issue a success for Ramses was his salvation from utter 


destruction, and that he eventually held possession of the 
field added little practical advantage. 

One of the Egyptian accounts claims that Kamses re- 
newed the action on the following day with such effect that 
Metella sent a letter craving peace, whereupon the request 
was granted by the Pharaoh who then returned in triumph 
to Egypt. The other sources make no reference to the 
second day's action and the events of the battle which we 
have just followed make it evident that Kamses would have 
been glad enough to secure a respite and lead his shattered 
forces back to Egypt. None of Jiis records_makes_any_claim 
thathecaptured Kades'E^as is so frequently stated in the 
current histories. 

Once safely extricated from the perilous position into 
which his rashness had betrayed him, Ramses was very 
proud of his exploit at Kadesh. Throughout Egypt on 
his more important buildings he had over and over de- 
picted what were to him and his fawning courtiers the 
most important incidents of the battle. On the temple 
walls at Abu Simbel, at Derr, at the Ramesseum, his mor- 
tuary temple at Thebes, at Luxor, at Karnak, at Abydos 
and probably on other buildings now perished his artists 
executed a vast series of vivacious reliefs depicting Ram- 
ses' camp, the arrival of his fugitive sons, the Pharaoh's 
furious charge down to the i-iver and the arrival of the 
recruits who rescued the camp. Before Ramses the plain 
is strewn with dead, among whom the accompanying bits 
of explanatory inscription furnish the identity of the 
notable personages whom we mentioned above. On the op- 
posite shore where their comrades draw the fugitives from 
the water a tall figure held head downward that he may dis- 
gorge the water which he has swallowed is accompanied by 
the words: "The wretched chief of Aleppo, turned upside 
down by his soldiers, after his majesty had hurled him into 
the water" (Fig. 160). These sculptures are better known 
to modem travellers in Egj'pt than any other like monu- 
ments in the country. They are twice accompanied by a 




report on the battle which reads like an official document. 
There early arose a poem on the battle, of which we shall 
later have more to say. The ever rei^eated refrain in all 
these records is the valiant stand of the young Pharaoh 
"while he was alone, having no army with him." These 
sources have enabled us to trace with certainty the maneu- 
vres which led up to the battle of Kadesh, the first battle 
in history which can be so studied; and this fact must 
serve as our justification for treating it at such length. We 
see that already in the thirteenth century B. C. the com- 
manders of the time understood the value of placing troops 
advantageously before battle. The immense superiority to 

Fig. 160. Scene from the Reliefs of the Battle of Kaoesii. 
The Asiatics fleeing across the Orontes. are drawn from the water hj- their 
eomrades on the farther shore. The king of Aleppo is held head downward 
by his soldiers, that he may disgorge the water he has swallowed. 

be gained by clever maneuvres masked from the enemy was 
clearly comprehended by the Hittite king when he executed 
the first flank movement of which we hear in the early orient ; 
and the plains of Syria, already at that remote epoch, wit- 


nessed notable examples of that supposedly modern science, 
which was brought to such perfection by Napoleon, — the 
science of winning the victory before the battle. 

Arrived in Thebes, Ramses enjoyed the usual triumph 
in the state temple, accompanied by four of his sons, as he 
offered to the gods the "captives from the northern coun- 
tries, who came to overthrow his majesty, whom his 
majesty slew and whose subjects he brought as living cap- 
tives to fill the storehouse of his father, Amon.'" He 
assumed among his titles on his monuments the phrase, 
"Prostrator of the lands and countries while he was alone, 
having no other with him. "^ While he might satisfy his 
vanity with such conventional honours and take great satis- 
faction in the reputation for personal valour which the ex- 
ploit at Kadesh undoubtedly brought him ; yet when he 
came to weigh and seriously consider the situation which 
he had left in Syria he must have felt dark forebodings 
for the future of Egyptian power in Asia. The moral effect 
of his return to Egypt immediately after the battle without 
even laying siege to Kadesh, and having lost nearly a whole 
division of his army, even though he had shown a brilliant 
defense, could only be subversive of Egyptian influence 
among the dynasts of Syria and Palestine. Nor would 
the Hittites fail to make every possible use of the doubtful 
battle to undermine that influence and stir up revolt. Seti I 
had secured northern Palestine as Egyptian territory, and 
this region was so near the valley of the Orontes that the 
emissaries of the Hittites had little difficulty in exciting it 
to revolt. The rising spread southward to the very gates 
of Ramses' frontier forts in the northeastern Delta. We 
see him, therefore, far from increasing the conquests of 
his father, obliged to begin again at the very bottom to re- 
build the Egyptian empire in Asia and recover by weary 
campaigns even the territory which his father had won. 
Our sources for this period are very scanty and the order 
of events is not wholly certain, but Ramses seems first to 

1 III, 351. « Battle of Kadesh, p. 47. 


have attacked the later Philistine city of Askalon aud taken 
it by storm.' By his eighth year he had forced his way 
through to northern Palestine, and we then find hhn taking 
and plundering the cities of western Galilee, one after an- 
other." Here he came in contact with the Hittite outposts, 
which had been pushed far southward since the day of 
Kadesh. He found a Hittite garrison in the strong town 
of Deper, which seems to be the Tabor of Hebrew history; 
but assisted by his sons he assaulted and took the phice,'' 
and the Hittite occupation of the region could have endured 
but a short time. It was perhaps at this time that he pene- 
trated into the Hauran and the region east of the Sea of 
Galilee and left a stela there recording his visit.* 

Having thus in three years recovered Palestine, Kamses 
was again at libei'ty to take up his ambitious designs in 
Asia at the point where he had begun them four years 
earlier. The vigour with which he now pushed his campaigns 
is quite evident in the results which he achieved, although 
we are entirely unable to follow their course. Advancing 
again down the valley of the Orontes, he must have finally 
succeeded in dislodging the Hittites. None of the scanty 
records of the time states this fact; but as he made con- 
quests far north of Kadesh that place must certainly have 
fallen into his hands. In Naharin he conquered the country 
as far as Tunip, which he also reduced and placed a statue 
of himself there.^ But these places had been too long ex- 
empt from tribute to the Pharaoh to take kindly to his 
yoke. Moreover, they were now occupied by Hittites, who 
possibly continued to i-eside there under the rule of Kamses. 
In any case, the Hittites soon stirred the region to i-evolt 
and Ramses found them in Tunip, when he again came north 
to recover them. In this it would seem that he was success- 
ful, and in storming Txmip he again met with some adven- 
ture involving his fighting without his coat-of-mail ; but 
the record is unhappily too fragmentary to disclose the 

'111,355. 2 111,356. Mil, 3r)7. .' * 111, 358. ' IIT. ,365. 


exact nature of his exploit.' His lists credit him with hav- 
ing subdued Naharin, Lower Eetenu (North Syria), Arvad, 
the Keftyew and Ketne in the Orontes valley.^ It is thus 
evident that Ramses' ability and tenacity as a soldier had 
now really endangered the Hittite empire in Syria, although 
it is very uncertain whether he succeeded in holding these 
northern conquests. 

When he had been thus campaigning probably some 
fifteen years an important event in the internal history of 
the Hittite empire brought his wars in Asia to a sudden 
and final end. Metella, the Hittite king, either died in 
battle or at the hands of a rival, and his brother, Khetasai', 
succeeded him upon the throne.-' Khetasar, who may have 
had quite enough to do at home to maintain himself with- 
out carrying on a dangerous war with Ramses for the 
possession of northern Syria, proposed to the Pharaoh a 
permanent peace and a treaty of alliance. In Ramses' 
twenty first year (1272 B. C.) Khetasar 's messengers bear- 
ing the treaty reached the Egyptian court, now in the 
Delta, as we shall later see. The treaty which they bore 
had of course been drafted in advance and accepted by 
representatives of the two countries, for it was now in its 
final form. It contained eighteen paragraphs inscribed 
on a silver tablet, surmounted by a representation showing 
engraved or inlaid figures of * * Sutekh embracing the like- 
ness of the great chief of Kheta"; and of a goddess simi- 
larly embracing the figure of Khetasar 's queen, Putukhipa; 
while beside these were the seals of Sutekh of Kheta, Re 
of Ernen, as well as those of the two royal personages. 
It is to be supi^osed that the Hittite king received a similar 
copy of the document from Ramses. This earliest surviving 
international treaty bore the title: "The treaty which the 
great chief of Kheta, Khetasar, the valiant, the son of 
Merasar, the great chief of Kheta, the valiant, the grand- 
son of Seplel, the great chief of Kheta, the valiant, made, 
upon a silver tablet for Usermare-Setepnere [Ramses II], 

1111,364-5. UIT, 306. » III, 37.5, 1. 10. 


the great ruler of Egypt, the valiant, the son of Seti I, the 
great ruler of Egypt, the valiant; the grandson of Ramses I, 
the great ruler of Egypt, the valiant; the good treaty of peace 
and of brotherhood, setting peace between them forever."' 
It then proceeded to review the former relations between 
the two countries, passed then to a general definition of 
the present pact, and thus to its special stipulations. Of 
these the most important were: the renunciation by both 
rulers of all projects of conquest against the other, the 
reaffirmation of the former treaties existing between the 
two countries, a defensive alliance involving the assistance 
of each against the other's foes; cooperation in the chastise- 
ment of delinquent subjects, probably in Syria ; and the 
extradition of political fugitives and immigrants. A codicil 
provides for the humane treatment of these last. A thou- 
sand gods and goddesses of the land of the Hittites, and 
the same number from the land of Egji^t are called upon to 
witness the compact; some of the more important Hittite 
divinities being mentioned by the names of their cities. 
The remarkable document closes with a curse on the violat- 
ors of the treaty and a blessing upon those who should keep 
it; or would logically so close save that the codicil already 
mentioned is here attached. Ramses immediately had two 
copies of the treaty engraved on the walls of his temples at 
Thebes, preceded by an account of the coming of the Hittite 
messengers, and followed by a description of the figures 
and other representations depicted on the silver tablet. - 
Recently a preliminary draught of the Hittite copy in 
cuneiform on a clay tablet, was found by AVinckler at 
Boghaz-koi in Asia Minor. 

It will be noticed that the treaty nowhere refers to the 
boundary recognized by both countries in Syria ; and we can 
only suppose that it may have been contained in one of the 
earlier treaties reaffirmed by it. It is difficult to determine 
the exact location of this boundary. The cuneiform docu- 
ments found by Winckler at Boghaz-koi since 1906 (see p. 

' 111, 373. « III. .ifiT-.ini. 


381) show that the Hittite kings continued to control Amor 
on the upper Orontes. It is not safe to affirm that he had 
permanently advanced the boundary of his father's king- 
dom in Asia, save probably on the coast, where he carved 
two more stelae on the rocks near Beriit, beside that of his 
fourth year, with which we are already acquainted.' The 
Hittite king is recognized in the treaty as on an equality 
with the Pharaoh and receives the same conditions ; but as 
commonly in the orient the whole transaction was inter- 
preted by Ramses on his monuments as a great triumph for 
himself, and he now constantly designated himself as the 
conqueror of the Hittites.^ Once consummated, the peace 
was kept, and although it involved the sacrifice of Ramses' 
ambitions for conquest in Asia, the treaty must have been 
entirely satisfactory to both the parties. Thirteen years 
later (1259 B. C.) the Hittite king himself visited Egj-pt 
to consummate the marriage of his eldest daughter as the 
wife of Ramses. Bearing rich gifts in a brilliant proces- 
sion, with his daughter at its head, Khetasar, accompanied 
by the king of Kode, appeared in Ramses' palace,'' and his 
military escort mingled with the Egyptian troops whom 
they had once fought upon the Syrian plains. The Hittite 
princess was given an Egj'ptian name, Matnefrure, "Who 
Sees the Beauty of Re," and assumed a prominent position 
at court. 

The visit of her father was depicted on the front of 
Ramses' temple at Abusimbel, with accompanying narra- 
tive inscriptions,'' and she was given a statue beside her 
royal husband in Tanis.^ Court poets celebrated the event 
and pictured the Hittite king as sending to the king of Kode 
and summoning him to join in the journey to Egypt that 
they might do honour to the Pharaoh." They averred that 
Ptah revealed himself to Ramses as the divine agent in the 
happy affair: "I have made the land of Kheta," said the 
god to him, "into subjects of thy palace; I have put it 

1 See above, p. 423. ' 111, 302. » 111, 410, 420, 424. 

* III, 304-424. 6 Til, 4ir>-417. 6 111,42.5-6. 


into their hearts to present themselves with fearful steps 
before thee bearing their impost, which their chiefs have 
captured, all their possessions as tribute to the fame of 
his majesty. His eldest daughter is in front thereof to sat- 
isfy the heart of the Lord of the Two Lands. ' " The event 
made a popular impression also, and a folk-tale, which was 
not put into writing, so far as we know, until Greek times, 
began with the marriage and told how afterward, at the 
request of her father, an image of the Theban Khonsu was 
sent to the land of the princess, that the god's power 
might drive forth the evil spirits from her afl9icted sister. 
The land of the Hittite princess is called Bekhten, probably 
meaning Bactria; and it is not improbable that some such 
occurrence took place during the intercourse between 
Khetasar and Ramses.^ In any event the friendly relations 
between the two kingdoms continued without interruption, 
and it is even probable that Ramses received a second 
daughter of Khetasar in marriage.' Throughout Ramses' 
long reign the treaty remained unbroken and the peace con- 
tinued at least into the reign of his successor, Merneptah. 

Ramses' confhet with the Hittites, involving probably 
fifteen or sixteen years of severe campaigning in Asia, 
constitutes the basis of the claim to a high place as a soldier 
usually advanced in his behalf. His only battle which we 
can closely follow bears unmistakable testimony to his 
bravery, but does not exhibit him as a skilful commander. 
From the day of the peace compact with Khetasar, Ramses 
was never called upon to enter the field again. Perhaps 
as early as his second year he had quelled unimportant 
revolts in Nubia,* and these continued after the Hittite 
war,* but it is not known that any of these Nubian expedi- 
tions was ever conducted by him in person. A Libyan cam- 
paign is often vaguely referred to on his monuments, and 
it is probable that Sherden sea-rovers were involved with 
the Libyans in aggressions upon Ramses' western Delta 

•111,410. Mil, 420-447. » 111, 427-8. « 111, 478. * III, 448-4R0. 


frontier,' but we can gather nothing as to the character 
of this war. 

With the Asiatic campaigns of Ramses II the military 
aggressiveness of Egypt which had been awakened under 
Ahmose I in the expulsion of the Hyksos was completely 
exhausted. Nor did it ever revive. It was with mei'cenary 
forces and under the influence of foreign blood in the royal 
family that sporadic attempts to recover Syria and Pales- 
tine were made in later times. Henceforward for a long 
time the Pharaoh's army is but a weapon of defense against 
foreign aggression; a weapon, however, which he was him- 
self unable to control,— and before which the venerable 
line of Re was finally to disappear. 

I III, 491. 



The dominance of Egypt in Asiatic affairs had irresist- 
ibly drawn the centre of power on the Nile from Thebes 
to the Delta. Ikhnaton had rudely broken with the tradi- 
tion of the Empire that the Pharaoh must reside at Thebes. 
It is probable that Harmhab returned thither but we have 
seen that after the rise of the Nineteenth Dynasty Seti I 
was obliged to spend the early part of his reign in the north, 
and we find him residing for months in the Delta.' Ramses 
II 's projects of conquest in Asia finally forced the entire 
abandonment of Thebes as the royal residence. It remained 
the religious capital of the state and at the greater feasts 
in its temple calendar the Pharaoh was often present, but 
his permanent residence was in the north. His constant 
presence here resulted in a development of the cities of the 
eastern Delta such as thej' had never before enjoyed. Tanis 
became a great and flourishing city, with a splendid temple, 
the work of Ramses' architects. High above its massive 
pylons towered a monolithic granite colossus of Ramses, 
over ninety feet in height, weighing nine hundred tons, and 
visible across the level country of the surrounding Delta for 
many miles.- The AVadi Tumilat, along which the canal 
from the Nile eastward to the Bitter Lakes probably already 
ran, forming a natural approach to Egypt from Asia, was 
also the object of Ramses' careful attention, and he built 
upon it, half way out to the Isthmus of Suez, a "store-city,'' 
which he called Pithom, or "House of Atum." At its wes- 
tern end he and Seti founded a city just north of Heliopolis, 
now known as Tell el-Yehudiyeh. Somewhere in the eastern 
Delta he founded a residence city, Per-Ramses, or "House 

> III, S2, 2. 2 Petrie, Tanis. 1. 22-1. 


Frrn a sitting statue of elephantine granite erected befure the second pylon of the R 

A .Jiti,^... ^w^^ 


i(:&-^ .'0"'^'':;:^ 

Fig, 162.— store CHAMBERS AT PITHOM. 

Part of a city affirmed by the Hebrew tradition to have been built by them. See pp. 446-47. 
(Stereograph, copyright by Underwood S: Underwood.) 


of Ramses." Its location is not certain, although it has 
often been thought to be identical with Tanis; but it must 
have been close to the eastern frontier, for a poet of the 
time singing of its beauties refers to it as being between 
Egypt and Syria. It was also accessible to seafaring traffic. 
Per-Ramses became the seat of government and all records 
of state were deposited there; but the vizier resided at 
Heliopolis.* Ramses himself was one of the gods of the 
city. Through these cities and Ramses' other great enter- 
prises in this region the central portion of the eastern Delta 
became known as "the land of Ramses," a name so com- 
pletely identified with the region that Hebrew tradition read 
it back into the days of Joseph and his kindred, before any 
Rarnses had ever sat on the throne. If the flourishing devel- 
opment now enjoyed by the Delta was an almost unavoid- 
able accompaniment of Ramses' projects in Asia, his ener- 
getic spirit was not less felt throughout the kingdom, where 
no such motives operated. Of his buildings at Heliopolis 
nothing remains, and only the scantiest fragments of his 
temples at Memphis have survived.- We have already 
noticed his extensive building operations at Abydos, in the 
completion of his father's splendid temple there. With 
this he was not content, but erected also his own mortuary 
temple not far from that of Seti. At Thebes he spent enor- 
mous treasure and vast resources of labour in the comple- 
tion of his father's mortuary temple, another beautiful sanc- 
tuary for his own mortuary service, known to all visitors 
at Thebes as the Ramesseum ; a large court and pylon in 
enlargement of the Luxor temple ; while, surpassing in size 
all buildings of the ancient or modern world, his architects 
completed the colossal colonnaded hall of the Karnak temple, 
already begun under the first Ramses, the Pharaoh's grand- 
father. Few of the great temples of Egypt have not some 
chamber, hall, colonnade or pylon which bears his name, in 
perpetuating which the king stopped at no desecration or 
destruction of the ancient monuments of the country. A 

: Mes Inscription. ' III, 530-37. 


NO w tN V JO 3idW3l ivaao J 



— n-.-'~s:;;S!:a>r^- 



building of king Teti of the Sixth Dynasty furnished mate- 
rial for Kamses's temple at Memphis;' he ransacked the 
pyramid of Sesostris II at Illahun, tore up the pavement 
around it and smashed its beautiful monuments to obtain 
materials for his own neighbouring temple at Heracleopolis.^ 
In the Delta he was equally unscruioulous in the use of Middle 
Kingdom monuments, while to make room for his enlarge- 
ment of the Luxor temple he razed an exquisite granite 
chapel of Thutmose III, reusing the materials, with the 
name of Thutmose thereon turned inward. Numberless 
were the monuments of his ancestors on which he placed 
his own name. But in spite of these facts, his own legiti- 
mate building was on a scale quite surpassing in size and 
extent anything that his ancestors had ever accomplished. 
The buildings which he erected were filled with innumerable 
supplementary monuments, especially colossal statues of 
himself and obelisks. The former are the greatest mono- 
lithic statues ever executed. We have already referred to 
the tallest of these in the temple at Tanis ; there was another 
granite monolith towering over the pylons of the Rames- 
seum at Thebes (Fig. 161) which, although not so high, 
weighed about a thousand tons. As the years passed and 
he celebrated jubilee after jubilee the obelisks which he 
erected in commemoration of these festivals rapidly rose 
among his temples. At Tanis alone he erected no less than 
fourteen, all of which are now prostrate; three at least of 
his obelisks are in Rome; and of the two which he erected 
in Luxor, one is in Paris.^ Besides the wealth involved in 
its erection, every such temple demanded a rich endow- 
ment. After telling how his Abydos temple was built of 
fine limestone, with granite door-posts and doors of copper 
wrought with silver-gold alloy, Ramses says of its endow- 
ment that there were "established for him (the god) per- 
manent daily offerings, at the beginnings of the seasons, all 
feasts at their times. . . . He (Ramses) filled it with every- 

> Annales, III, 29 

'Petrie. Illahtin, p. 4; Kahun. p 22; Naville, Ahnas, pp. 2, 9-11, pi. 1. 


thing, overflowing with food and provision, bulls, calves, 
oxen, geese, bread, wine, fruit. It was filled with peasant 
slaves, doubled in its fields, made numerous in its herds ; the 
granaries were filled to overflowing, the grain-heaps ap- 
proached heaven, . . . for the store-house of divine offer- 
ings, from the captivity of his victorious sword. His treas- 
ury was filled with every costly stone: silver, gold in blocks; 
the magazine was filled with everything from the tribute of 
all countries. He planted many gardens, set with every 
kind of tree, all sweet and fragrant woods, the plants of 
Punt.'" This was for the equipment of one temple only; 
similar endowment for all his numerous temples must have 
been a serious economic problem. 

Notwithstanding the shift of the centre of gravity north- 
ward, the south was not neglected. In Nubia Ramses 
became the patron deity ; no less than six new temples arose 
there, dedicated to the great gods of Egypt, Anion, Re, and 
Ptah; but in all of them Ramses was more or less promi- 
nently worshipped, and in one his <iueeu, Nefretiri, was 
the presiding divinity. Of his Nubian sanctuaries, the 
great rock-temple at Abu Simbel is the finest and deservedly 
the goal of modern travellers in Egypt. Nubia became more 
and anore Egyptianized, and between the first and second 
cataracts the country had received an indelible impression 
of Pharaonic civilization. Here the old native chiefs had 
practically disappeared, the administrative officials of the 
Pharaoh were in complete control, and there was even an 
Egyptian court of justice, with the viceroy as chief judge.^ 

Ramses' great building enterprises were not achieved 
without vast expense of resources, especially those of labour. 
While he was unable to draw upon x\sia for captive labour 
as extensively as his great predecessors of the Eighteenth 
Dynasty, yet his building must have been largely accom- 
plished by such means. There is probably little question of 
the correctness of the Hebrew tradition in attributing the 
oppression of some tribe of their ancestors to the builder of 

'III, 526-7. « in, 492-504. 3 Eriiian, Life in Ancient Egypt. J04. 


Pithom (Fig. 162) aud Ramses; that a tribe of their fore- 
fathers should have fled the country to escape such labour 
Is quite in accord with what we know of the time. Inter- 
course with Palestine and Syria was now more intimate 
than ever. A letter of a frontier official, dated in the reign 
of Ramses II 's successor, tells of passing a body of Edomite 
Beduin through a fortress in the Wadi Tumilat, that they 
might pasture their herds by the pools of Pithom as the 
Hebrews had done in the days of Joseph.' In the rough 
memoranda of a commandant's scribe, probably of the fron- 
tier fortress of Tharu, in the Isthmus of Suez, we find also 
noted the people whom he had allowed to pass : messengers 
with letters for the officers of the Palestinian garrisons, for 
the king of Tyre, and for officers with the king (Merneptah) 
then campaigning in Syria, besides officers bearing reports, 
or hurrying out to Syria to join the Pharaoh." Although 
there was never a continuous fortification of any length 
across the Isthmus of Suez, there was a line of stronghold?, 
of which Tharu was one and probably Ramses another, 
stretching well across the zone along which Egypt might 
be entered from Asia. This zone did not extend to the 
southern half of the isthmus, but was confined to the ter- 
ritory between Lake Timsali and the Mediterranean, whence 
the line of fortresses extended southward, passed the lake 
and bent westward into the Wadi Tumilat. Hence Hebrew 
tradition depicts the escape of the Israelites across the 
southern half of the isthmus south of the line of defences, 
which might have stopped them. The tide of commerce that 
ebbed and flowed through the Isthmus of Suez was even 
fuller than under the Eighteenth Dynasty, while on the Medi- 
terranean the Egyptian galleys must have whitened the sea. 
On the Pharaoh's table were I'arities and delicacies from 
Cyprus, the land of the Hittites and of the Amorites, Baby- 
lonia and Naharin. Elaborately wrought chariots, weapons, 
whips and gold-mounted staves from the Palestinian and 
Syrian towns filled his magazine, while his stalls boasted 

1 TII, 636-38. 2 III, 630-635. 



fine horses of Bnbylon ajid cattle of tlie Hittite eountrv.' 
The apjinrtenanfes of a rieh man's estate inohided a galley 
plying lietween Egy])t and the Syrian coast to bring to 
the ])aiii})ered Egyptian the luxuries of Asia ;* and even 
Seti I's mortuary temple at Abydos ]iossessed its own sea- 
going vessels, given by Ramses, to convey the temple offer- 
ings from the east.^ The houses of the rich were filled 
with the most exquisite products of the Asiatic craftsman 
and artist; and these works strongly influenced the art 
of the time in Egypt. The country swarmed with Semitic 
and other Asiatic slaves, while Phoenician and other alien 
merchants were so numerous that there was a foreign quar- 

FiQ. 103. Heavy-akmld Shebuen of Ramses II's Meece.naet Bodtquabb. 

ter in Memphis, with its temples of Baal and Astarte; and 
these and other Semitic gods found a place in the Egyptian 
pantheon. The dialects of Palestine and vicinity, of which 
Hebrew was one, lent many a Semitic word to the current 
language of the day, as well as select terms with which the 

1 Pap. Anast.. IV, 1.5, 2-17=111, 8. 2 Ibid., IV., 3, 10-11. 'Ill, 274. 


vard toward the Nile from behind the hall (see plan, p. 444). The clitTs behind the 
are seen through the main doorway. 


learned scribes were fond of garnishing their writings. We 
find such words commonly in the Nineteenth Dynasty 
papyri four or five centuries before they appear in the 
Hebrew writings of the Old Testament. The royal family 
was not exempt from such influence; Ramses' favourite 
daughter was called "Bint-Anath," a Semitic name, which 
means "Daughter of Anath" (a Syrian goddess), and one 
of the royal steeds was named "Anath-herte," "Anath is 

The effect of the vast influx of Asiatic life already appar- 
ent under the Eighteenth Dynasty was now profound, and 
many a foreigner of Semitic blood found favour and ulti- 
mately high station at the court or in the government. A 
Syrian named Ben-'Ozen was chief herald or marshal of 
Merneptah's court,' but he was never regent as sometimes 
stated. The commercial opportunities of the time brought 
wealth and power to such foreigners in Egypt ; a Syrian sea- 
captain named Ben-Anath was able to secure a son of Ramses 
II as a husband for his daughter.^ In the army great careers 
were open to such foreigners, although the rank and file 
of the Pharaoh's forces were replenished from western 
and southern peoples rather than from Asia. In a body of 
five thousand troops sent by Ramses to the Wadi Hara- 
mamat for service in the quarries there, not a single native 
Egyptian was to be found; over four thousand of them 
were Sherden and Libyans and the remainder were negroes, 
such as we have already seen in the Egyptian ranks as 
early as the Sixth Dynasty.^ The dangerous tendencies 
inherent in such a system had already shown themselves 
and were soon felt by the royal house, although powerless 
to make head against them. The warlike spirit which had 
made Egypt the first world power had endured but a few 
generations, and a naturally peaceful people were returning 
to their accustomed peaceful life; while at the very moment 

1 Mar. Ab. II, 50; Cat. gen. d'Ab., No. 1136, p. 422; RIH, 32; BT, VI, 437. 
sOstracon, Louvre, Inv. 2262, Dever. Cat., p. 202; Bee. 16, 64. 
' Battle of Kadesh, 9. 


when this reversion to their old manner of living was taking 
place, the eastern Mediterranean and the Libyan tribes 
offered the Pharaoh an excellent class of mercenary sol- 
diery which under such circumstances he could not fail to 

While the wars in Asia had not recovered the empire of 
Thutmose III, all Palestine and possibly some of northern 
Syria continued to pay tribute to the Pharaoh, while on the 
south the boundary of the pjmpire was as before at Napata, 
below the fourth cataract. There were stately pageants 
when the magniticent Pharaoh, now in the prime of life, 
received the magnates of his empire, from the crown-prince- 
down through all his exalted dignitaries to the mayors of 
the outlying towns, a brilliant procession, bringing him the 
tribute and impost of his realm from the southern limits 
of Nubia to the Hittite frontier in Syria.' The wealth thus 
gained still served high purposes. Art still flourished. 
Nothing better was ever produced by the Egyptian sculptor 
than the superb statue of the youthful Ramses (Fig. 168), 
which forms the chef d'a?vre of the Turin Museum; and 
even the colossal statues like those of Abu Simbel (Fig. 167) 
are fine portraits. Granting that art was on the decline, 
there were still masters of relief who could put into stone 
the exquisite, even if cold, features of Bint-Anath, the 
Pharaoh's favourite daughter. How ever much the refine- 
ment of the Eighteenth Dynasty may be wanting in 
the great hall at Karnak (Figs. 164-5), it is nevertheless 
the most impressive building in Egypt, and at the last, as 
even Ruskin admits, size does tell. He who stands for the 
first time in the shadow of its overwhelming colonnades, that 
forest of mighty shafts, the largest ever erected by human 
hands,— crowned by the swelling capitals of the nave, on 
each one of which a hundred men may stand together,— he 
who observes the vast sweep of its aisles— roofed with hun- 
dred-ton architraves — and knows that its walls would con- 
tain the entire cathedi'al of Notre Dame and leave plenty 

'in, 481^, 

Looking southward across the front. See p. 451. 

See p. 450. (Turin Museum.) 


of room to spare,— he who notes the colossal portal over 
which once lay a lintel block over forty feet long and 
weighing some hundred and fifty tons, will be filled with 
respect for the age that produced this the largest columned 
hall ever raised by man. And if the discerning eye is rather 
impressed by its size than by the beauty of its lines, it should 
not be forgotten that the same architects produced Ramses' 
mortuary temple, the Ramesseum (Fig. 166), a building 
not inferior in refined beauty to the best works of the Eigh- 
teenth Dynasty. In Nubia also, where the scanty margin 
between the Nile and the cliffs was either insufficient or 
could not be spared for temples of masonry, the rock- 
hewn sanctuaries of Ramses form distinct contributions to 
architecture. No visitor to the temple of Abu Simbel (Fig. 
167) will ever forget the solemn grandeur of this lonely 
sanctuary looking out upon the river from the sombre cliffs. 
But among the host of buildings which Ramses exacted from 
his architects, there were unavoidably many which were 
devoid of all life and freshness, or like his addition to the 
Luxor temple, heavy, vulgar and of very slovenly workman- 
ship. All such buildings were emblazoned with gayly col- 
oured reliefs depicting the valiant deeds of the Pharaoh in 
his various wars, especially, as we have already noticed, 
his desperate defence at the battle of Kadesli (Fig. 169). 
This last was the most pretentious composition ever 
attempted by the Egyptian draughtsman. The winding 
river, the moated city, the flying foe, the prudent king of 
the Hittites surrounded by masses of his foot, discreetly 
withholding his own person from the combat, in striking 
contrast with the furious onset of the Pharaoh,— all this is 
wrought out with skill, although obscured by unconscious- 
ness of the proper relations of time and place, always char- 
acteristic of Egyptian as well as all other early oriental com- 
positions. Although the reliefs of the time thus show 
marked progress in the art of composition, the innumerable 
figures included in such a work individually receive too 
'ittle attention and are often badly drawn. But no sucjj 

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ambitious compositions are elsewhere found in the oriental 
world for six hundred years or more. 

This last incident was not only influential in graphic art ; 
it also wrought powerfully upon the imagination of the 
court poets, one of whom produced a prose poem on the 
battle, which displays a good deal of literary skill, and is 
the nearest approach to the epic to be found in Egyptian 
literature. We are told how the foe covered the hills like 
grass-hoppers, the incidents that led up to the catastrophe 
are narrated with precision and clearness, and then as the 
Pharaoh finds himself alone in the midst of the foe the poet 
pictures him calling upon his father Amon for aid while 
the god in distant Thebes, hearing the cry of his son, 
answers and nerves his arm for the ordeal in a response 
which has all the fine and heroic spirit of the epic poem. 
The author's perception of dramatic contrasts is remarkable. 
He depicts the dismay of the royal charioteer that he may 
contrast it with Ramses' undaunted spirit and may put 
into the Pharaoh's mouth a fiery speech of encouragement. 
When it is all over and the crisis passed there is, among 
other incidents, a pleasing epic touch in Ramses' vow that 
the brave chariot-horses which bore him safely through 
the conflict shall always be fed by his own hand. A copy 
of this composition on papyrus was made by a scribe named 
Pentewere (Pentaur), who was misunderstood by early stu- 
dents of the document to be the author of the poem. The 
real author is unknown, although "Pentaur" still commonly 
enjoys the distinction. In manner this heroic poem strikes 
a new note; but it came at a period too late in the history 
of the nation to be the impulse toward a really great epic. 
The martial age and the creative spirit were passed in 
Egypt. In the tale, however, the Nineteenth Dynasty really 
showed great fertility, combined with a spontaneous natur- 
alism, which quite swept away all trace of the artificialities 
of the Middle Kingdom. Ah-eady in the Middle Kingdom 
there had grown up collections of artless folk-tales woven 
often about a historical motive, and such tales, clothed in 


the simple language of the people, had early in the Eigh- 
teenth D3-nasty gained sufficient literary respectability to 
be put into writing. While the Eighteenth Dynasty pos- 
sessed such tales as these, yet by far the larger part of our 
surviving manuscripts of this class date from the Nine- 
teenth Dynasty and later. It is now that we find the story 
of the conflict between the Hyksos king Apophis and Se- 
kenere at Thebes a tale of which the lost conclusion doubt- 
less contained a popular version of the expulsion of the 
Hyksos. The reader will recall its contribution to our 
scanty knowledge of the Hyksos.' The people now loved 
to dwell upon the exploits of Thutmose Ill's commanders, 
telling of Thutiy and his capture of Joppa by introducing 
his soldiers into the city in panniers loaded on donkeys, a 
tale which was perhaps the prototype of Ali Baba and the 
Forty Thieves. But the artless charm of the story of the 
doomed prince quite surpasses such historical tales. An 
only son, he is doomed by the Hathors at his birth to die 
by a crocodile, a serpent or a dog. Journeying to Syria, he 
succeeds in climbing a tower in which the king of Naharin 
had confined his daughter, that he among the young nobles 
of Syria whose strength of arm and steady nerve should 
enable him to swing himself aloft to the young girl's window 
might lead her away as his wife. But, as the prince had 
not divulged his real identity, having given himself out 
to be the son of an Egj'ptian officer, the king of Naharin 
refused to give him his daughter and aftei'ward would have 
killed him. At this juncture the young girl saved her 
lover by avowing her firm intention of slaying herself if 
they slew him. The king then relented and the prince 
received his bride. Having escaped the crocodile and the 
serpent it is probable that he then fell a victim to his faith- 
ful dog which had followed him from Egj'pt, but the end 
of the story is wanting. It furnishes the earliest known 
example of that almost universal motive in which a youth 
must pass through some oi'deal or competition in order to 

1 See above, pp. 215-16, 22.3-24. 


win a wife; a motive which later found place in more pre- 
tentious compositions, even Greek drama, as in the tale 
of (Edipus and the Sphinx, immortalized in Sophocles' 
tragedy. A pastoral tale of idyllic simplicity represents 
two brothers as living together, the elder being married and 
a householder, while the younger dwells with him much 
after the manner of a son. There now befell the younger 
brother an adventure later appropriated for the Hebrew 
hero, Joseph. The wife of his elder brother tempted him 
and he, proving inflexible, the woman, to revenge herself, 
maligned him to her husband. The youth, warned by the 
cattle of his herd as he drove them to the stable, fled for his 
life, and the tale here merges into a series of half mythical 
incidents not so pleasing as the introductory chapter. The 
number of such tales must have been legion, and in Greek 
times they furnished all that many Greek writers, or even 
the priest Manetho knew of early Egyptian kings. 

While much of such literature is poetic in content and 
spirit, it lacks poetic form. Such form, however, was not 
wanting, and among the songs of this period are some 
poems which might well find a place among a more preten- 
tious literature. 

There were love-songs also, which in a land where imagi- 
nation was not strong possess qualities of genuine feeling 
which do not fail to appeal to us of the modern world. Re- 
ligious poems, songs and hymns are now very numerous, 
and some of them display distinct literary character. We 
shall revert to them again in discussing the religion of 
this age. Numerous letters from scribes and officials of the 
time, exercises and practice letters composed by pupils of 
the scribal schools, bills, temple records and accounts, — all 
these serve to fill in the detail in a picture of unusual fullness 
and interest. 

By far the larger portion of the surviving literature of the 
time is religious and in so far as it is the outgrowth of the 
state religion, the impression which it conveys is far from 
gratifying. Since the overthrow of Ikhnaton and the return 


to the conventions of the past, the state religion had lost 
all vitality, and in the hands of the orthodox priests no 
longer possessed the creative faculty. Yet the religion of 
the time was making a kind of progress, or at least it was 
moving in a certain direction and that very rapidly. The 
state, always closely connected with religion, was gradually 
being more and more regarded as chiefly a religious insti- 
tution, designed to exalt and honour the gods through its 
head the Pharaoh. Among other indications of this ten- 
dency the names of the temples fui'nish a significant hint. 
Sanctuaries which formerly bore names like "Splendour 
of Splendours, " " Splendid in Monuments, " " Gift of Life, ' ' 
and the like, were now designated "Dwelling of Seti in the 
House of Amon," or "Dwelling of Ramses in the House of 
Ptah." This tendency, already observable in the Middle 
Kingdom, was now universal, and every temple was thus 
designated as the sanctuary of the ruling Pharaoh. That 
which had long been the sacerdotal theory and ideal of the 
state was now beginning to be practically realized: the 
Empire was to become the domain of the gods and the 
Pharaoh was to give himself up to the duties of a universal 
high-priesthood. The temple endowments, not being sub- 
ject to taxes, now played an important economic role, and 
we have seen Seti I and Ramses in search of new sources 
of revenue as the demands of the priesthoods increased. 
The state was being gradually distorted to fulfill one func- 
tion at the expense of all the rest, and its wealth and eco- 
nomic resources were thus being slowly engulfed, until its 
industrial processes should become but incidents in the main- 
tenance of the gods. As the wealth and power of Amon in 
particular increased, his High Priest at Thebes became a 
more and more important iiolitical factor. "We recall that 
he was head of the sacerdotal organization embracing all 
the priesthoods of the country; he thus controlled a most 
influential political faction. Hence it was that the High 
Priest of Amon under Merneiitah (Ramses II 's son and suc- 
cessor) and possibly already under Ramses himself was able 


to go further and to install his son as his own successor, 
thus firmly entrenching his family at the head of the most 
powerful hierarchy in Egypt.' While such a family like a 
royal dynasty might suffer overthrow, the precedent was 
a dangerous one, and it ultimately resulted in the dethrone- 
ment of the Pharaohs at the hands of the priests. That 
event, however, was still some hundred and fifty years 
distant, and meantime the High Priest employed his power 
and influence with the Pharaoh in enforcing ever fresh 
demands upon his treasury, until before the close of the 
Nineteenth Dynasty Amon had even secured certain gold 
country in Nubia in his own right. It was administered by 
the viceroy of Kush, who therefore assumed the additional 
title ' * Governor of the Gold Country of Amon. ' '^ Thus there 
was gradually arising the sacerdotal state described by 
Diodorus, upon which the Egyptian priests of Greek times 
looked back as upon a golden age. As the inward content 
of the prevailing religion had already long been determined 
by the dominant priesthood, so now its outward manifes- 
tations were being elaborated by them into a vast and inflex- 
ible system, and the popularity of every Pharaoh with the 
priesthood was determined by the degree of his aquiescence 
in its demands. 

Though the state religion was made up of formalities, 
the Pharaohs were not without their own ethical standards, 
and these were not wholly a matter of appearances. We 
have witnessed the efforts of Harmhab to enforce honesty 
in the dealings of the government with its subjects; we have 
noted Thutmose Ill's respect for truth. In the dedicatory 
record of his mortuary temple at Thebes, Ramses III pro- 
claims that he did not remove any old tombs to obtain 
the necessary room for the building;^ and he also wishes it 
known that he gained his exalted station without depriving 
any one else of his throne. * The barbarous disregard of the 
sanctity of the monuments of his ancestors by Ramses II 
however we have already noticed. The things for which these 

> III, 618. * III, fi40. »IV, 4. ■• IV, 188. 


kings prayed were not character nor the blameless life. It 
is material things which they desire. Ramses IV prays to 
Osiris, "And thou shalt give to me health, life, long exist- 
ence and a prolonged reign ; endurance to my every member, 
sight to my eyes, hearing to my ears, pleasure to my heart 
dail5^ And thou shalt give to me to eat until I am satisfied, 
and thou shalt give to me to drink until I am drunk. And 
thou shalt establish my issue as kings forever and ever. 
And thou shalt grant me contentment every day, and thou 
shalt hear my voice in every saying, when I shall tell them 
to thee, and thou shalt give them to me with a loving heart. 
And thou shalt give to me high and plenteous Niles in order 
to supply thy divine offerings and to supply the divine offer- 
ings of all the gods and goddesses of South and North; in 
order to preserve alive the divine bulls, in order to pre- 
serve alive the people of all thy lands, their cattle and their 
groves, which thy hand has made. For thou art he who 
has made them all and thou canst not forsake them to carry 
out other designs with them; for that is not right.'" 

A higher type of iiersonal religion was developing among 
the better class of the people than the sensual materialism 
which this royal prayer displays. A fine hymn to Amon, 
popular at this time, contains many of the old ideas preva- 
lent in the Aton-faith, while other religious poems show 
that a personal relation is gradually growing up between 
the worshipper and his god, so that he sees in his god the 
friend and protector of men. Thus one says: "Amon-Re, 
I love thee and I have enfolded thee in my heart. ... I 
follow not the care in my heart; what Amon says pros- 
pers."- Or again: "Amon lend thine ear to him who stands 
alone in the court of judgment, "^ and when the court is won 
by ricli bribes Amon becomes the vizier of the poor man.'* 
Man feels also the sense of sin and cries out : "Punish me not 
for my many sins.'"' The proverbial wisdom of the time 
shows much of the same spirit. Whereas it formerly incul- 

1 tV, 470. ' Birch, Inscr. iu the Hier. Char., pi. XXVI. 

■-Tap. Anast., II., 8, 6. « Ibid., 6, 5-0. ' Eniian, Hamlbuch. 


cated only correct behaviour, it now exhorts to hate evil, and 
to abhor what the god abhors. Prayer should be the silent 
aspiration of the heart and to Thoth the wise man prays, 
"0 thou sweet Well for the thirsty in the desert! It is 
closed up for him who speaks, but it is open for him who 
keeps silence. When he who keeps silence comes, lo he finds 
the Well."' The poisonous power of the magical literature 
now everywhere disseminated by the priests gradually 
stifled these aspirations of the middle class, and these the 
last symptoms of ethical and moral life in the religion of 
Egypt slowly disappeared. It is at this time that we gain 
our sole glimpse into the religious beliefs of the common 
people. The appropriation of the temples by the state had 
long ago driven them from their ancient shrines. The poor 
man had no place amid such magnificance, nor could he 
offer anything worthy the attention of a god of such splen- 
dour. The old modest cult of the great gods having long 
since passed away, the poor man could only resort to the 
host of minor genii or spirits of mirth and music, the demi- 
gods, who, frequenting this or that local region, had interest 
and inclination to assist the humble in their daily cares and 
needs^ Any object whatsoever might become the poor man 's 
A man writing from Thebes commends his friend to 
Amon, Mut and Khonsu, the great divinities of that place, 
but adds also, "to the great gate of Beki, to the eight apes 
which are in the forecourt," and to two trees.^ In the 
Theban necropolis Amenhotep I and the queen Nefretiri 
have become the favourite local divinities, and a man who 
accidentally thrust his hand into a hole where lay a large 
serpent, without being bitten, immediately erected a tablet 
to tell the tale and express his gratitude to Amenhotep, 
whose power alone had saved him.* Another had in some 
way transgressed against a goddess who, according to popu- 
lar belief, resided in a hill-top of the same necropolis, and 
when at last the goddess released him from the power of 
the disease with which she was afiSieting him, he erected a 

> Pap. Sallier, I, 8, 2 ff. ^ Ermaii, Ilandbucli. ' Turin Stela. 


similar memorial iu liei- liouour. lu the same way the dead 
might afflict the living, and au officer who was tormented 
by his deceased wife wrote to her a letter of remonstrance 
and placed it in the hand of another dead person that it 
might be duly delivered to his wife in the hereafter. Be- 
sides the local gods, or demigods and the old kings, the 
foi'eign gods of Syria, brought in by the hosts of Asiatic 
slaves, appear also among those to whom the folk appeal ; 
Baal, Kedesh, Astarte, Resliep, Anath and Sutekh are not 
uncommon names upon the votive tablets of the time, and 
Sutekh, a form of Set which had wandered into Syria from 
Egypt and had returned with the Hyksos, even became the 
favourite and patron of the royal city of Ramses II. Animal 
worship now also begins to appear both among the people 
and in official circles. 

The young Pharaoh under whom these momentous transi- 
tions were slowly taking place was too plastic in dealing 
with them for us to discover the manner of man he was. 
For his records are almost all of sacerdotal origin, and in 
them all the priestly adulation of the time, with its endless 
reiteration of conventional flattery, prevails so largely, or we 
may say often so exclusively that we can discern little indi- 
viduality through the mass of meaningless verbiage. His 
superb statue in Turin (Fig. 168) is proven by his surviving 
body to be a faithful portrait, showing us at least the out- 
ward man as he was. In person he was tall and handsome, 
with features of dreamy and almost effeminate beauty, in no 
wise suggestive of the manly traits which he certainly pos- 
sessed. For the incident at Kadesh showed him unques- 
tionably a man of fine courage with ability to rise to a 
supreme crisis; while the indomitable spirit evident there 
is again exhibited in the tenacity with which he pushed the 
war against the great Hittite empire and carried his con- 
quests, even if not lasting, far into northern Syria. After 
his nearly fifteen years of campaigning, in which he more 
than redeemed the almost fatal blunder at Kadesh, he was 
quite ready to enjoy the well earned peace. He was inordi- 


nately vain and made far more ostentatious display of his 
wars on his monuments than was ever done by Thutmose 
III. He loved ease and pleasure and gave himself up with- 
out restraint to voluptuous enjoyments. He had an enor- 
mous harem, and as the years passed his children multii)lied 
rapidly. He left over a hundred sons and at least half 
as many daughters, several of whom he himself married. 
He thus left a family so numerous that they became a 
Kamessid class of nobles whom we still find over four hun- 
dred years later bearing among their titles the name Ram- 
ses, not as a patronymic, but as the designation of a class 
or rank. Unable, perhaps, to find suitable wives of rank 
and wealth for his army of sons, one of them, as we have 
seen, received the daughter of a Syrian ship-captain. Ram- 
ses took great pride in his enormous family and often 
ordered his sculptors to depict his sons and daughters 
in long rows upon the walls of his temples. The sons of 
his youth accompanied him in his wars, and according to 
Diodorus one of them was in command of each of the 
divisions of his army.' His favourite among them was 
Khamwese, whom he made High Priest of Ptah at Memphis. 
But his affection included them all, and his favourite wives 
and daughters appear with noticeable frequency upon his 

As Ramses reached the thirtieth year of his reign he 
celebrated his first jubilee, placing the ceremonies of the 
celebration in charge of his favourite son, Khamwese, the 
great magician and High Priest of Ptah, whose memory 
still lived in the folk-tales of Egypt a thousand years later. 
Twenty years more passed, during which Ramses celebrated 
a jubilee every one to three years, instituting no less than 
nine of these feasts, a far larger number than we are able 
to find in the reigns of any of his predecessors.^ The 
obelisks erected on these occasions have already claimed 
our notice. With his name perpetuated in vast buildings 
distributed at all points along the Nile from the marshes 

' Diod., I, 47; comp. Battle of Kadesh, p. 34. « III, 543-560. 


of the northern Delta to the fourth cataract, Ramses lived 
on in magnifieence even surpassing that of Amenhotep III. 
His was the sunset glorj' of the venerable line which he 
represented. As the years passed the sons of his youth 
were taken from him and Khamwese was no longer there 
to conduct the celebration of the old king's jubilees. One 
by one they passed away until twelve were gone, and 
the thirteenth was the eldest and heir to the throne. Yet 
still the old king lived on. He had lost the vitality for 
aggressive rule. The Libyans and the maritime peoples 
allied with them, Lycians, Sardinians and the ^gean races 
whom he had once swept from his coasts or impressed 
into the service of his army now entered the western Delta 
with impunity. The Libyans pushed forward, gradually 
extending their settlements almost to the gates of Memphis 
and crossed the southern apex of the Delta under the very 
shadow of the walls of Heliopolis where the vizier lived. 
Senile decay rendered him deaf to alarms and complaints 
which would have brought instant retribution upon the 
invaders in the days of his vigourous youth. Amid the 
splendours of his magnificent residence in the eastern Delta 
the threatening conditions at its opposite extremity never 
roused him from the lethargy into which he had fallen. 
Finally, having ruled for sixty seven years, and being over 
ninety years of age, he passed away (1225 B. C.) none too 
soon for the redemption of his empire. We are able to 
look into the withered face of the hoary nonogenarian (Fig. 
170), evidently little changed from what he was in those 
last days of splendour in the city of Ramses, and the resem- 
blance to the face of the youth in the noble Turin statue is 
still very marked. 

rt" «»bably no Pharaoh ever left a more profound impres- 
sion upon his age. A quarter of a century later began a 
line of ten kings bearing his name. One of them prayed 
that he might be granted a reign of sixty seven years like 
that of his great ancestor,* and all of them with varying suc- 

»1V, 471. 


cess imitated his glory. He had set his stamp upon them 
all for a hundred and fifty years, and it was impossible to 
be a Pharaoh without being a Ramses. Had they possessed 
the aggressive vigour of the great Ramses' prime this influ- 
ence might have been far less unwholesome, but in a time 
when Egypt and entirely lost its expansive force the influ- 
ence of Ramses' memory served only to foster the sacer- 
dotal tendencies which were now dominant in the state. 
It was thus the Ramses of the latter half of his reign, whose 
influence was most potent, and in a day when Egypt should 
have been girding her loins and husbanding her resources 
for a struggle involving her very existence, she was relin- 
quishing her sword to mercenary strangers and lavishing 
her wealth upon temples already too richly endowed for the 
economic safety of the state. 



Egypt was now on the defensive. This was the result 
of conditions both within and without. As we have seen, 
the nation had lost its expansive power and the impulse 
which resulted from the expulsion of the Hyksos three 
hundred and fifty years before was no longer felt. The 
exploits of Thutmose Ill's generals were still narrated, 
and garnished with legendary wonders they still circulated 
among the people. But the spirit which had stirred the 
heroes of the first Asiatic conquests had now vanished. 
While this was the condition within, without all was tur- 
bulence and unrest. The restless maritime peoples of the 
northern Mediterranean, creeping along the coasts, sought 
plunder or places for permanent settlement, and together 
with the Libyans on the one hand and the peoples of remoter 
Asia Minor on the other, they broke in wave on wave upon 
the borders of the Pharaoh's empire. Egypt was inevitably 
thrown on the defensive, her day of conquest and aggres- 
sion was passed and for six hundred years no serious effort 
to extend her borders was made. For the next sixty years 
after the death of Ramses II we shall be able to watch the 
struggle of the Pharaohs merely to preserve the empire, 
which it had been the ambition of their great ancestors 
rather to extend. At this crisis in the affairs of the nation, 
after it had been under the rule of an aged man for twenty 
years and much needed the vigourous hand of a young and 
active monarch, the enfeebled Ramses was succeeded by 
his thirteenth son, Merneptah, now far advanced in years. 
Thus one old man succeeded another upon the throne. The 
result was what might have been expected. Nothing was 

r^ > f I f' «, 


Fig. 170.— head OF R.-iMSES II. 

From his mummy. (Cairo Museum/ 

Fig. 171.— victorious HYMN 

Containing the earliest-l^nown refer- 
ence to Israel. See pp. 465, 4uu, 
470, and 471-72. 

Relief on the second pvlon at Medinet Habu. 


immediately done to check the bold incursions of the Liby- 
ans and their mai"itime allies on the west. The death of 
Ramses was not followed by any disturbance in the Asiatic 
dominions in so far as we can see. The northern border 
in Syria was as far north as the upper Orontes valley, in- 
cluding at least part of the Amorite country in which Mer- 
neptah had a royal city bearing his name, probably inherited 
from his father and renamed. With the Hittite kingdom 
he enjoyed undisturbed peace, doubtless under the terms 
of the old treaty, negotiated by his father forty six years 
before. Indeed Merneptah sent shiploads of grain to the 
Hittites to relieve them in time of famine ; but he must have 
been fully paid for the shipment, although one might infer 
from his reference to it that it was a work of philanthropy.' 
By the end of his second year, however, he had reason to 
rue the good will shown his father's ancient enemy. It will 
be remembered that among the allies of the Hittites at the 
battle of Kadesh there were already maritime peoples like 
the Lycians and Dardanians. In some way Merneptah 
must have discovered that the Hittites were now involved 
in the incursions of these peoples in the western Delta in 
alliance with the Libyans. Perhaps for the sake of further 
conquest in Syria, they had given the Libyans and their 
allies at least moral support and actively stirred rebellion 
among the Pharaoh's Asiatic cities. However this may be, 
the year three (about 1223 B. C.) found widespread revolt 
against him in Asia; Askalon at the very gates of Egypt, 
the powerful city of Gezer at the lower end of the valley of 
Ajalon, leading up from the sea-plain to Jerusalem ; Ye- 
noam, one of the Lebanon Tripolis given by Thutmose III 
to Amon two hundred and sixty years before, the tribes 
of Israel and all western Syria-Palestine as far as it was 
controlled by the Pharaoh; all these rose against their 
Egyptian overlord. We have nothing but a song of tri- 
umph to tell us of the ensuing war; but it is evident that 
Merneptah appeared in Asia in his third year,^ and in 

I III, .580, 1. 24. mi. 620-35. 



spite of his advanced years carried the campaign to a suc- 
cessful issue. It is probable, indeed, that even the Hittites 
did not escape his wrath, though we cannot suppose that 
the aged Merneptah could have done more than plunder a 
border town or two. The revolting cities were severelj' 
punished and all Palestine was again humiliated and 
brought completely under the yolie. Among the revolters 
who suffered were some of the tribes of Israel who had 
now secured a footing in Palestine, as we saw at the close 
of the Eighteenth and opening of the Nineteenth Dynasty. 
They were sufficiently amalgamated to be referred to as 
"Israel," and they here make their first appearance in 
history as a people. Gezer must have cost Alernejitah some 
trouble and perhaps withstood a siege ; in any case he there- 
after styled himself in his titulary "Binder of Gezer,'" 
as if its subjugation were a notable achievement. Such a 
siege would explain why Merneptah was unable to move 
against the invaders of the western Delta until his fifth 
year, as the investment of such a stronghold as Gezer 
might have occupied him another year. When he returned 
the Egj'ptian domains in Asia had been saved, but it is 
not probable that he had advanced the inherited frontier. 

Meantime the situation in the west was serious in the 
extreme; the hordes of Tehenu-Libyans were pushing fur- 
ther into the Delta from their settlements along the northern 
coast of Africa west of Egypt. It is possible that some of 
their advance settlers had even reached the canal of Heli- 
opolis.'^ Little is known of the Libyans at this time. Im- 
mediately upon the Egyptian border seems to have been 
the territory of the Tehenu; further west came the tribes 
known to the Egyptians as Lobu or Rebu, the Libyans of 
the Greeks, by which name also the Egyptians designated 
these western peoples as a whole. On the extreme west, and 
extending far into then unknown regions, lived the Mesh- 
wesh, or Maxyes, of Herodotus. They were all doubtless 
the ancestors of the Berber tribes of North Africa. They 

1 III, 606. « III, 576. 


were far from being totally uncivilized barbarians, but 
were skilled in war, well armed and capable of serious en- 
terprises against the Pharaoh. Just at this time they were 
rapidly consolidating, and under good leadership gave 
promise of becoming an aggressive and formidable state, 
with its frontier not ten days' march from the Pharaoh's 
residence in the eastern Delta. The whole western Delta 
was strongly tinctured with Libyan blood and Libyan fam- 
ilies were now constantly crossing the western border of 
the Delta as far as the "great river" as the western or 
Canopic mouth of the Nile was called. Others had pene- 
trated to the two northern oases which lie southwest of the 
Fayum. "They spend their time going about the land 
lighting to till their bodies daily," says Merneptah's record, 
"they come to the land of Egypt to seek the necessities of 
their mouths.'" Emboldened by their long immunity, the 
Libyans assumed an organized offensive, and what had 
been but a scattered immigration now became a compact 
invasion. Meryey, king of the Libyans, forced the Tehenu 
to join him and, supported by roving bands of maritime 
adventurers from the coast, he invaded Egypt. He brought 
his wife and his children with him,^ as did also his allies^ 
and the movement was clearly an immigration as well as 
an invasion. The allies were the now familiar Sherden 
or Sardinians; the Shekelesh, possibly the Sikeli natives 
of early Sicily; Ekwesh, perhaps Achfeans, the Lycians, 
who had preyed on 'Rgypt since the days of Amenhotep III ; 
and the Teresh, doubtless the Tyrsenians or Etruscans.* 
It is with these wandering marauders that the peoples of 
Europe emerge for the first time upon the arena of history, 
although we have seen them in their material documents 
since the Middle Kingdom. This crossing to Africa by the 
northern Mediterranean peoples is but one of the many such 
ventures which in prehistoric ages brought over the white 
race whom we know as Libyans. Judging from the num- 
bers who were afterward slain or captured, the Libyan king 

1 III, 580. s III, 579. ' III, 595. Ill, 579. 


must have coiuinauded at least some twenty thousand men 
or more. 

Merneptah, at last aroused to the situation, was fortify- 
ing Heliopolis and Memphis,' when news of the danger 
reached him late in March of his fifth year. Instantly 
summoning his officials, he ordered them to muster the 
troops and have the army ready to move in fourteen days. ^ 
The aged king had a reassuring dream, in which Ptah 
appeared in gigantic stature beside him and extended him 
a sword, telling him to banish all fear.' By the middle 
of April the Egyptian force was in the western Delta, and 
on the evening of the same day came within striking dis- 
tance of the enemy.* Near a place called Perire, the loca- 
tion of which, although not exactly certain, is to be placed 
somewhere on the main road leading westward out of the 
Delta into the Libyan country a few miles in from the fron- 
tier fort and station guarding the road at the point where 
it entered the Delta. In the vicinity of Perire,* among the 
opulent vineyards of the region there was a chateau of 
the Pharaoh and thence eastward extended the broad pros- 
pect of nodding grainfields where the rich Delta harvest was 
now fast ripening for the sickle. Upon such a prospect of 
smiling plenty the barbarian host looked down as they 
pushed past the western frontier forts. By the Pharaoh's 
Perire chateau, on the morning of April fifteenth, battle 
was joined. The contest lasted six hours when the Egj'ptian 
archers drove the allies from the field with immense loss. 
As is customary in modern times at this point in a battle, 
Merneptah now immediately threw in his horse in pursuit 
of the flying enemj', who were harried and decimated till 
they reached the "Mount of the Horns of the Earth," as 
the Egyptians called the edge of the plateau on the west of 
the Delta into which they escaped.* King Meryey had fled 
from the field as soon as he saw the action going against 
him. He made good his escape, but all his household fur- 

1 III, 576. Mil, 581. Mil, 582. 

'lU, 583. 'Ill, 600. »in, 584, 600. 


niture and his family fell into the hands of the Egyptians. ' 
The energetic pursuit resulted in a great slaughter and 
many prisoners. No less than nine thousand of the in- 
vaders fell, of whom at least one third were among the 
maritime allies of the Libyans; while probably as many 
more were taken prisoner. Among the dead were six sons 
of the Libyan king.^ The booty was enormous; some nine 
thousand copper swords and of weapons of all sorts and 
similar equipment no less than over one hundred and twenty 
thousand pieces. Besides these there were the fine weapons 
and vessels in precious metal taken from the camp of the 
Libyan king's household and chiefs, comprising over three 
thousand pieces.^ When the camp had been thoroughly 
looted its leathern tents were fired and the whole went up 
in smoke and flame.* 

The army then returned in triumph to the royal residence 
in the eastern Delta bearing laden upon asses the hands and 
other trophies cut from the bodies of the slain.° The booty 
and the trophies were brought beneath the palace balcony, 
where the king inspected them and showed himself to the 
rejoicing multitude.'' He then assembled the nobles in the 
great hall of the palace where he harangued them. What 
was more important, there now came to him a letter from 
the commandant of one of the fortresses on the frontier of 
the western Delta, stating that the Libyan king had escaped 
past the Egyptian cordon in the darkness of the night ; and 
adding information to the effect that the Libyans had repu- 
diated and dethroned their discomfited king and chosen 
another in his place who was hostile to him and would fight 
him.' It was evident therefore that the aggressive party 
in Libya had fallen and that no further trouble from that 
quarter need be apprehended during the reign of Merneptah 
at least. 

In the rejoicing of the people which followed this great 
deliverance, there is a note not only of exuberant triumph 

'111,584. « III, 588. » III, 589. * III, 589, 610. 

« III, 587. 8 Ibid. ' III, 586, 610. 


but also of intense relief. The constant plundering at the 
hands of Libyan hordes, which the people of the western 
Delta had endured for nearly a generation was now ended. 
Not only was a great national danger averted, but an intol- 
erable situation was relieved. Little wonder that the people 
sang: "Great joy has come in Egypt, rejoicing comes forth 
from the towns of Tomeri [Egypt]. They talk of the vic- 
tories which Merneptah has achieved among the Tehenu : 
'How amiable is he, the victorious ruler! How magnified 
is the king among the gods ! How fortunate is he, the com- 
manding lord! Sit hajipily down and talk or walk far out 
upon the way for there is no fear in the heart of the people. 
The strongholds are left to themselves, the wells are opened 
again. The messengers skirt the battlements of the walls, 
shaded from the sun, until their watchmen wake. The sol- 
diers lie sleeping and the border-scouts are in the field [or 
not] as they desire. The herds of the field are left as 
cattle sent forth without herdman, crossing at will the full- 
ness of the stream. There is no uplifting of a shout in the 
night: "Stop! Behold one comes, one comes with the speech 
of strangers!" One comes and goes with singing, and there 
is no lamentation of mourning people. The towns are settled 
again anew ; and as for one that ploweth his harvest, he shall 
eat of it. Re has turned himself to Egypt; he was born des- 
tined to be her protector, even the king Merneptah.' " 

The kings are overthrown, saying, "Salam!" 

Not one holds up his head among the nine nations of the bow. 

Wasted is Tehenu, 

The Ilittite Land is pacified, 

Plundered is the Canaan, with every evil. 

Carried off is Askalon, 

Seized upon is Gezer, 

Yenoam is made as a thing not existing. 

Israel is desolated, her seed is not, 

Palestine has become a | defenseless] widow for EgJT)t. 

All lands are united, they are pacified ; 

Every one that is turbulent is bound by king Merneptah.* 

'Ill, 616-617. 


It is this concluding song, reverting also to Merneptah'c 
triumphs in Asia, which tells us nearly all that we know of 
his Asiatic war. It is a kind of summary of all his victories, 
and forms a titting conclusion of the rejoicing of the i^eople. 

Thus the sturdy old Pharaoh, although bowed down with 
years, had repelled from his empire the first assault, pre- 
monitory of the coming storm. He reigned at least five 
years longer, apparently enjoying profound peace in the 
north. He strengthened his Asiatic frontier witli a fortress 
bearing his name,' and in the south he quelled a rebellion 
in Nubia. "^ The commonly accepted statement that toward 
the end of his reign a Syi"ian at court gained control of 
Merneptah and became regent is entirely without founda- 
tion and due to misunderstanding of tlie titles of Ben-'Ozen, 
the Syrian marslial of his court, to whom we have already 
referred.* The long reign of Ramses II, with its prodi- 
gality in buildings, left Merneptah little means to gratify 
his own desires in this respect. Moreover, his days were 
numbered and there was not time to hew from the quarries 
and transport the materials for such a temple as it had now 
become customary for each Pharaoh to erect at Thebes for 
his own mortuary service. Under these circumstances, Mer- 
neptah had no hesitation in resorting to the most brutal 
destruction of the monuments of his ancestors. To obtain 
materials for his mortuary temple he made a quarry of the 
noble sanctuary of Amenhotep III on the western plain, 
ruthlessly tore down its walls and split up its superb statues 
to serve as blocks in his own building. Among other things 
thus apj)ropriated was a magnificent black granite stela 
over ten feet high (Fig. 171) containing a record of Amen- 
hotep Ill's buildings.* Merneptah erected it in his new 
building with face to the wall, and his scribes cut upon the 
back a hymn of victory'^ over the Libj'ans, of which we have 
quoted the conclusion above. It has become notable because 
it contains the earliest known reference to Israel.*" Mer- 

• Pap. Anast, VI, pi. 4, 1. 13-pl. 5, 1. 5. « III. p. 2.j9, note a. 

•See above, p. 44f>. * II, 878 ff. 'Ill, 002-617. 'See p. 470. 


nei)tah's desecration of the great works of the earlier Phar- 
aohs did not even spare those of his own father who, it 
will be remembered, had set him a notorious example in this 
respect. Kamses had the audacity, after a life time of such 
vandalism, to record in his Abydos temple a long appeal to 
his descendants to respect his foundations and his monu- 
ments,' but not even his own son showed them the respect 
which he craved. We tind Merneptah's name constantly 
on the monuments of his father. 

After a reign of at least ten years Mernei^tah passed away 
(1215 B. C.) and was buried at Thebes in the valley with 
his ancestors. His body has recently been found there, 
quite discomfiting the adherents of the theory that, as the 
undoubted Pharaoh of the Hebrew exodus, he must have 
been drowned in the Red Sea ! However much we may 
despise him for his desecration and shameful destruction 
of the greatest works of his ancestors, it must be admitted 
at the same time that at an advanced age, when such respon- 
sibility must have sat heavily, he manfully met a grave 
crisis in the history of his country, which might have thrown 
it into the hands of a foreign dynasty. 

The laxity which had accompanied the long continued rule 
of two old men gave ample opportunity for intrigue, con- 
spiracy and the machinations of rival factions. The death 
of Merneptah was the beginning of a conflict for the throne 
which lasted for many years. Two ])retenders wqre at 
first successful: Amenmeses and Merneptah-Six^tah.^ The 
former was but an ephemeral usurper, who through some 
collateral line of the royal house perhaps possessed a dis- 
tant claim to the throne. He was hostile to the memory of 
Merneptah, while his successor, Merneptah-Siptah, who 
quickly supplanted him, took possession of his monuments 
in turn and destroyed his tomb in the western valley of 
Thebes. We shall now find that Nubia was a fruitful source 
of hostility to the royal house. As did the Roman provinces 
in the days of that empire, Nubia offered a field, at a safe 

• HI, 486. UIT. 641. 


distauce from the seat of power, where a sentiment against 
the ruling house and in favour of some pi'etender might 
be secretly encouraged without danger of detection. It was 
perhaps in Nubia that Siptah gained the ascendancy. How- 
ever this may be, we find him in his first year installing his 
viceroy there in person, and sending one of his adherents 
about distributing rewards there.' By such methods and by 
marrying Tewosret, probably a princess of the old Pharaonic 
line, he succeeded in maintaining himself for at least six 
years, during which the tribute from Nubia seems to have 
been regularly delivered,^ and the customary intercourse 
with the Syrian provinces maintained.'' The viceroy whom 
he appointed in Nubia was one Seti, who was now also, as 
we have before observed, "governor of the gold country of 
Amon. "^ This brought him into intimate relations with 
the powerful priesthood of Amon at Thebes, and it is not 
impossible that he improved the opportunity of this inter- 
course and of his influential position to do what Siptah had 
himself done in Nubia. In any case, as Siptah now disap- 
pears a Seti^ succeeds him as the second of that name. He 
was later regarded as the sole legitimate king of the three 
who followed Merneptah. He seems to have ruled with 
some success, for he built a small temple at Karnak and 
another at Eshmunen-Hermopolis. He took possession of 
the tomb of Siptah and his queen, Tewosret, although he 
was afterward able to excavate one of his own. But his 
lease of power was brief; the long uncurbed nobility, the 
hosts of mercenaries in the armies, the powerful priest- 
hoods, the numerous foreigners in positions of rank at court, 
ambitious pretenders and their adherents,— all these aggres- 
sive and conflicting influences demanded for their control a 
strong hand and unusual qualities of statesmanship in the 
ruler. These qualities Seti II did not possess, and he fell 
a victim to conditions which would have mastered many a 
stronger man than he. 

With the disappearance of Seti II those who had over- 

'111,643 4. Mil, 644. Mil, 651. •111,640. 


thrown him were unable to gain the coveted jwwer of which 
they had deprived him. Complete anarchy ensued. The 
whole country fell into the hands of the local nobles, chiefs 
and rulers of towns, and the condition of the common people 
under such misrule was such as only the orient ever expe- 
riences. "Every man was thrown out of his right; they 
had no chief [literally, 'chief mouth'] for many years 
formerly until other times. The land of Egypt was in the 
hands of nobles and rulers of towns ; one slew his neighbour, 
great and small.'" How long the period of "many years" 
may have been we cannot now determine, but the nation 
must have been well on toward dissolution into the petty 
kingdoms and principalities out of which it was consolidated 
at the dawn of history. Then came famine, with all the 
misery which the Arab historians later depict in their annals 
of similar periods under the Maraluke sultans in Egypt. 
Indeed the record of this period left us by Ramses III in the 
great Papyrus Harris,- in spite of its brevity, reads like a 
chapter from the rule of some Mamluke sultan of the 
fourteenth century. Profiting by the helplessness of the 
people and the preoccupation of the native rulers, one of 
those Syrians who had held an official position at the court 
seized the crown, or at least the power, and ruled in tyranny 
and violence. "He set the whole land tributary before him 
together; he united his companions and plundered their pos- 
sessions. They made the gods like men and no offerings 
were presented in the temples."^ Property rights were 
therefore no longer respected and even the revenues of the 
temples were diverted. 

As might have been expected the Libyans were not long in 
perceiving the helplessness of Egypt. Immigration across 
/,. the western frontier of the Delta began again ; plundering 
«^ bands wandered among the towns from the vicinity of Mem- 

'=>j' phis to the Mediterranean, or took possession of the fields 

. ji and settled on both shores of the Canopic branch.^ At this 

^ juncture, about 1200 B. C, there arose one Setnakht, a strong 

'^ ' IV, 398. "Ibid. > Ibid. « IV, 40. 11. 20-22; 40.",. 


man of uncertain origin, but probably a descendant of the 
old line of Seti I and Ramses II ; and although the land was 
beset with foes within and without, he possessed the quali- 
ties of organization and the statesmanship first to make 
good his claims against the innumerable local aspirants to 
the crown; and having subdued these, to restore order and 
reorganize the almost vanished state of the old Pharaohs. 
His great task was accomplished with brilliant success, but 
all that we know of it is contained in the brief words left 
us by his son, Ramses III, who says of him: "But when 
the gods inclined themselves to peace, to set the land in its 
right according to its accustomed manner, they established 
their son, who came forth from their limbs to be ruler of 
every land, upon their great throne, even king Setnakht. 
... He set in order the entire land, which had been rebel- 
lious; he slew the rebels who were in the land of Egypt; 
he cleansed the great throne of Egypt. . . . Every man 
knew his brother, who had been walled in [obliged to live 
behind protecting walls]. He established the temples in 
possession of the divine offerings to offer to the gods accord- 
ing to their customary stipulations.'" It will be seen that 
the Syrian usurper had alienated the priesthoods by vio- 
lating their endowments, and that Setnaklit took advantage 
of this fact and made head against him by conciliating these 
the wealthiest and most powerful communities in Egypt. 

We shall readily understand that Setnakht 's arduous 
achievement left him little time for monuments which might 
have perpetuated his memory. Indeed, he could not even 
find opportunity to excavate for himself a tomb at Thebes; 
but seized that of Siptah and his queen, Tewosret, which 
had already been appropriated, but eventually not used by 
Seti II. His reign must have been brief, for his highest 
date is his first year, scratched on the back of a leaf of 
papyrus by a scribe in trying his pen. Before he died 
(1198 B. C.) he named as his successor his son, Ramses, 

• IV, 399. 


(Some modern pinccs and names are Inserted for convcnl<'n<-p) 


the third of the name, who had already been of assistance 
to him in the government. 

With the Ramessid line, now headed by Ramses III, 
Manetho begins a new dynasty, the Twentieth, although the 
old line was evidently already interrupted after Merneptah, 
and as we have said, probably resumed again in the person 
of Setnakht. Ramses III inherited a situation precisely 
like that which confronted Merneptah at his accession ; but 
being a young and vigourous man, he was better able suc- 
cessfully to cope with it. He immediately perfected the 
organization for military service, dividing all the people 
into classes successively liable for such service. A large 
proportion of the standing army, not exactly determinable, 
consisted of Sherden mercenaries, as in Ramses II 's day, 
while a contingent of the Kehek, a Libyan tribe, was also 
in the ranks.' These mercenaries of course served as long 
as they were eligible. Since the native contingent was con- 
stantly shifting, as class after class passed through the army, 
the Pharaoh came more and more to depend upon the 
mercenaries as the permanent element in his army. The 
affairs of the newly organized government gave Ramses no 
opportunity to deal with the chronic situation in the western 
Delta until he was rudely awakened to the necessity for 
action, as Merneptah had been. But more serious develop- 
ments had taken place since the latter 's Libyan war. The 
restless and turbulent peoples of the northern Mediterranean, 
whom the Egyptians designated the "peoples of the sea," 
were showing themselves in ever increasing numbers in the 
south. Among these, two in particular whom we have not 
met before, the Thekel and the Peleset, better known as the 
Philistines (Fig. 172) of Hebrew history, were prominently 
aggressive.- The Peleset were one of the early tribes of 
Crete, and the Thekel may have been another branch of the 
pre-Greek Sikeli or Sicilians. Accompanied by contingents 
of Denyen (Danaoi), Sherden, Weshesh and Shekelesh, the 
first two peoples mentioned had begun an eastward and south- 

'IV, 402. 'IV, 44. 


ward movement, doubtless impelled by pressure of other 
peoples advancing in their rear. Knowing nothing of their 
language or institutions, and having only a series of Egyp- 
tian reliefs, which depict these men, their costumes, weapons, 
ships and utensils, it is useless for us to speculate as to their 
racial affinities ; but their immigration evidently is one of the 
earliest instances of that slow but resistless southern shift, 
which, first observable here, is traceable far down in Euro- 
pean historj'. Moving gradually southward in Syria, some 
of these immigrants had now advanced perhaps as far as the 
upper waters of the Orontes and the kingdom of Amor;' 
while the more venturesome of their ships were coasting 
along the Delta and stealing into the mouths of the river on 
plundering expeditions.^ They readily fell in with the plans 
of the Libyan leaders to invade and plunder the rich and 
fertile Delta. Meryey, the Libyan king, deposed after his 
defeat by Merneptah, had been followed by one, Wermer, 
who in his turn was succeeded by a king Themer, the leader 
of the present invasion of Egypt. By land and water they 
advanced into the western Delta where Ramses III promptly 
met them and gave them battle near a town called "User- 
mare-Meriamon [Ramses III] is Ghastiser of Temeh"^ 
[Libya]. Their ships were destroyed or captured and their 
army beaten back with enormous loss. Over twelve thousand 
five hundred were slain upon the field and at least a thou- 
sand captives were taken. Of the killed a large proportion 
were from the ranks of the sea-rovers.^ There was the 
usual triumph at the royal residence, when the king viewed 
the captives and the trophies from the balcony of the palace, 
while his nobles rejoiced below.^ Anion, who had granted 
the great victory, did not fail to receive his accustomed 
sacrifice of living victims," and all Egypt rejoiced in re- 
stored security, such that, as Ramses boasted, a woman 
might walk abroad as far as she wished with her veil raised 
without fear of molestation.^ To strengthen his frontier 

1 IV, 39. 2 IV, 44. » IV, 52. « IV, 52-4. 

6 IV, 42, .52-5. « IV, 57-8. ' IV, 47, 1. 73. 


against the Libyans Ramses now built a town and strong- 
hold named after himself upon the western road where it 
left the Delta and passed westward into the desert plateau. 
It was upon an elevated point known as the "Mount of the 
Horns of the Earth, ' ' already mentioned by Merneptah in his 

Meanwhile the rising tide from the north was threatening 
gradually to overwhelm the Egyptian Empire ; we have seen 
its outermost waves breaking on the shores of the Delta. 
The advanced galleys and the land forces of the northern 
maritime peoples which supported the Libyans against 
Ramses III in the year five were but the premonitory skir- 
mish line of a far more serious advance, to which we have 
already adverted. It was now in full motion southward 
through Syria. Its hosts were approaching both by land, 
with their families in curious, heavy, two-wheeled ox-carts, 
and by sea in a numerous fleet that skirted the Syrian coast. 
Well armed and skilled in warfare as the invaders were, 
the Syrian city-states were unable to withstand their onset. 
They overran all the Hittite country of northern Syria as 
fas as Carchemish on the Euphrates, past Arvad on the 
Phoenician coast, and up the Orontes valley to the kingdom 
of Amor, which they devastated. The Syrian dominions 
of the Hittites must have been lost and the Hittite power in 
Syria completely broken. The fleet visited Alasa, or Cyprus ; 
and nowhere was an effective resistance offered them. ' ' They 
came with fire, prepared before them, forward to Egypt. 
Their main support was Peleset, Thekel, Shekelesh, Denyen 
and Weshesh. These lands were united and they laid their 
hands upon the land as far as the circle of the earth. "^ 
"The countries, which came from their isles in the midst of 
the sea, they advanced to Egypt, their hearts relying upon 
their arms. ' '^ In Amor they established a central camp and 
apparently halted for a time.^ 

' IV, 102, 107; III, 588, 600. 

2 Around which the "Great Circle" (Okeanos) flows (IV, 64). 

> IV, 77. * IV, 04. 


Ramses III threw himself with great energy iuto the 
preparations for repelling the attack. He fortified his 
Syrian frontier and rapidly gathered a fleet, which he dis- 
tributed in the northern harbours.' From his palace bal- 
cony he personally superintended the equipment of the 
infantry,^ and when all was in readiness he set out for 
Syria to lead the campaign himself. Where the land-battle 
took place we are unable to determine, but as the North- 
erners had advanced to Amor, it was at most not further 
north than that region. We learn nothing from Ramses 
Ill's records concerning it beyond vague and general state- 
ments of the defeat of the enemy, although in his reliefs 
we see his Sherden mercenaries breaking through the scat- 
tered lines of the enemy and plundering their ox-carts, bear- 
ing the women and children and the belongings of the North- 
erners. As there were Sherden among the invaders, Ramses 
Ill's mercenaries were thus called upon to fight their own 
countrymen. Ramses was also able to reach the scene of 
the naval battle, probably in one of the northern harbours 
on the coast of Phoenicia, early enough to participate in the 
action from the neighbouring shore. He had manned his 
fleet with masses of the dreaded Egyptian archers, whose fire 
was so effective that the ranks of the heavy armed Noi'th- 
erners were completely decimated before they could ap- 
proach within boarding distance. This fire was augmented 
and rendered still more effective by bodies of Egyptian 
archers whom Ramses stationed along the shore, he himself 
personally drawing his bow against the hostile fleet. As 
the Egyptians then advanced to board, the enemy's ships 
were thrown into confusion (Fig. 173). "Capsized and 
perishing in their places, their hearts are taken, their souls 
fly away, and their weapons are cast out upon the sea. 
His arrows pierce whomsoever he will among them, and he 
who is hit falls into the water. "^ "They were dragged, 
overturned and laid low upon the beach; slain and made 
heaps from stern to bow of their galleys, while all their 

1 IV, 65. *IV, 70-71. »IV, 75. 


things were cast upon tUe waters, for a remembrance of 
Egypt."* Those who escaped the fleet and swam ashore, 
were captured by the waiting Egyptians on the beach. In 
these two engagements the Pharaoh struck his formidable 
enemy so decisive a blow that his suzerainty, at least as far 
north as Amor, could not be questioned by the invaders. 
They continued to arrive in Syria, but Ramses III 's double 
victory made these new settlers and their new settlements 
vassals of Egypt, paying tribute into the treasury of the 
Pharaoh. The Egyptian Empire in Asia had again been 
saved and Ramses returned to his Delta residence to enjoy 
a well earned triumph. 

He was now given a short respite, during which he seems 
not to have relaxed his vigilance in the least. This was 
well, for another migration of the peoples in the far west 
caused an overflow which again threatened the Delta. The 
Meshwesh, a tribe living behind the Libyans, that is, on the 
west of them, were the cause of the trouble. The Libyans 
had undoubtedly received a chastisement in the fifth year 
of Ramses III such that they had no immediate desire to 
repeat their attempt upon the Delta; but the Meshwesh 
invaded the Libyan country and laid it waste, ^ thus forcing 
the unfortunate Libyans into an alliance against Egypt.* 
Other tribes were involved, but the leader of the move- 
ment was Meshesher, son of Keper, king of the Mesh- 
wesh, whose firm purpose was to migrate and settle in the 
Delta. "The hostile foe had taken counsel again to spend 
their lives in the confines of Egypt, that they might take 
the hills and plains as their own districts."* " 'We will 
settle in Egypt, so spake they with one accord, and they 
continuously entered the boundaries of Egypt.' "* By the 
twelfth month in Ramses' eleventh year they had begun 
the invasion, entering along the western road as in the 
time of Merneptah and investing the fortress of Hatsho, 
some eleven miles from the edge of the desert plateau, near 
the canal called "The Water of Re." Ramses attacked 

1 IV, 66. »IV. 87. 'IV, 86, 95. « IV, 95. « IV, 88. 



them under the walls of Hatsho, from the ramparts of 
which the Egj-ptian garrison poured a destructive archery 
fire into the ranks of the Meshwesh, already discomfited 
by the Pharaoh's onset. The invaders were thus thrown 
into a tumultuous rout and received the fire of another 
neighbouring stronghold as they fled.' Ramses pressed 
the pursuit for eleven miles along the western road to the 
margin of the plateau, thus fairly driving the invaders out 
of the country.^ He halted at the fortified town and station, 
"Town [or House] of Usermare-Meriamon [Ramses III]," 
which, it will be remembered, he had founded upon some 
high point at the edge of the plateau, the "Mount of the 
Horns of the Earth." Meshesher, the chief of the Mesh- 
wesh, was slain and his father Keper was captured,' two 
thousand one hundred and seventy five of their followers 
fell, while two thousand and fifty two, of whom over a 
fourth were females, were taken cajjtive.^ Ramses tells 
of the disposition which he made of these captives: "I 
settled their leaders in strongholds in my name. I gave 
to them captains of archers and chief men of the tribes, 
branded and made into slaves, impressed with my name; 
their wives and their children likewise."' Nearly a thou- 
sand of the Meshwesh were assigned to the care of a temple- 
herd called "Ramses III is the Conqueror of the Meshwesh 
at the Waters of Re."" Similarly he established in cele- 
bration of his victory an annual feast which he called in his 
temple calendar, "Slaying of the ^leshwesh";' and he 
assumed in his elaborate titulai'y after his name the epithets, 
"Protector of Egypt, Guardian of the Countries, Conqueror 
of the Meshwesh, Spoiler of the Land of Temeh."' The 
western tribes had thus been hurled back from the borders 
of the Delta for the third successive time, and Ramses had 
no occasion to apprehend any further aggressions from that 
quarter. The expansive power of the Libyan peoples, 

> IV, 102, 107. " IV, 102. 

»IV, 90, 11. 11-12; 97; 103, II. 11-12; 111. * IV, 111. 

5 IV, 40.^, » IV, 224. ' IV, 14.5. s IV, 84. 


although by no means exhausted, now no longer appeared 
in united national action, but as they had done from pre- 
historic times they continued to sift gradually into the Delta 
in scattered and desultory migration, not regarded by the 
Pharaoh as a source of danger. 

The commotion among the northern maritime peoples, 
although checked by Ramses III upon his Syrian frontier, 
had evidently greatly disturbed the vassals of Egypt there. 
Whether as of old in the days of Hittite aggression the 
king of Amor had made common cause with the invader we 
cannot now discern ; but following closely upon the last 
Libyan campaign, Ramses found it necessary to appear 
in Amor with his army. The limits and the course of the 
campaign are but obscurely hinted at in the meagre records 
now surviving.' He stormed at least five strong cities, one 
of which was in Amor; another depicted in Ramses' reliefs 
as surrounded by water was perhaps Kadesh ; a third, rising 
upon a hill, cannot be identified ; and both of the remaining 
two, one of which was called Ereth,^ were defended by Hit- 
tites. He probably did not penetrate far into the Hittite ter- 
ritory, although its cities were rapidly falling away from the 
Hittite king and much weakened by the attacks of the sea- 
peoples. It was the last hostile passage between the Pharaoh 
and the Hittites ; both empires were swiftly declining to their 
fall, and in the annals of Egypt we never again hear of the 
Hittites in Syria. Ramses places in his lists^ of conquered 
regions the cities of northern Syria to the Euphrates, includ- 
ing all that the Empire had ever ruled in its greatest days. 
These lists, however, are largely copied from those of his 
great predecessors, and we can place no confidence in them. 
He now organized the Asiatic possessions of Egypt as stably 
as possible, the boundary very evidently not being any fur- 
ther north than that of Merneptah, that is, just including 
the Amorite kingdom on the upper Orontes. To ensure the 
stability which he desired he built new fortresses wherever 

iIV, 115-135. 2 IV, 120. 3 IV, 131, 135. 


necessary in Syria and Palestine;' somewhere in Syria he 
also erected a temple of Anion, containing a great image of 
the state god, before which the Asiatic dynasts were obliged 
to declare their fealty to Ramses by depositing their tribute 
in its presence every year.* Communication with Syria 
was facilitated by the excavation of a great well in the desert 
of Ayan,^ east of the Delta, supplementing the watering 
stations established there by Seti I. Only a revolt of the 
Beduin of Seir interrupted the peaceful government of tlie 
Pharaoh in Asia from this time forth.'' 

The influence of Egyptian commerce and administration 
in Syria was evident in one important particular especially, 
for it was now that the cumbrous and inconvenient clay tablet 
was gradually supiolemented in Syria by the handy papyrus 
on which the Phoenician rulers began to keep their accounts. 
To supply the demand the papyrus factories of the Delta were 
exporting their products in exchange for Phoenician commod- 
ities.* It was of course impracticable, if not impossible, for 
the Phoenicians to keep rapid daily records on paper with pen 
and ink in the cuneiform hand which was totally unsuited 
to such writing materials. With the papyrus j^aper, there- 
fore, the hand customarily written upon it in Egypt now 
made its way into Phoenicia, where before the tenth cen- 
tury B. C. it developed into an alphabet of consonants, which 
was quickly transmitted to the Ionian Greeks and thence 
to Europe. 

The chief function of an oriental despotism, the collec- 
tion of tribute and taxes, now proceeded with the greatest 
regularity. "I taxed them for their impost evei-y year," 
says Ramses, "every town by its name gathered together 
bearing their tribute."® The suppression of occasional dis- 
orders in Nubia' caused no disturbance of the profound 
peace which now settled down upon the Empire. Ramses 
himself depicts it thus: "I made the woman of Egypt to 
go with uncovered ears to the place she desired, for no 

1 IV, 141. MV, 219. 3 IV, 406. « IV, 404. 

8 IV, 570, 582. 'IV, 141. 'IV, 1^6-8. 


stranger, nor any one upon the road molested her. I made 
the infantry and chariotry to dwell at home in my time; the 
Sherden and the Kehek [mercenaries] were in their towns 
lying the length of their backs ; they had no fear, for there 
was no enemy from Kush, nor foe from Syria. Their 
bows and their weapons reposed in their magazines, while 
they were satisfied and drunk with joy. Their wives were 
with them, their children at their side; they looked not be- 
hind them, but their hearts were confident, for I was with 
them as the defence and protection of their limbs. I sus- 
tained alive the whole land, whether foreigners, common 
folk, citizens or people male or female. I took a man out 
of his misfortune and I gave him breath. I rescued him 
from the oppressor who was of more account that he. I 
set each man in his security in their towns ; I sustained 
alive others in the hall of petition. I settled the land in 
the place where it was laid waste. The land was well satis- 
fied in my reign.'" 

Intercourse and commerce with the outside world were 
now fostered by the Pharaoh as in the great days of the Em- 
pire. The temples of Amon, Re and Ptah had each its own 
fleet upon the Mediterranean or the Red Sea, transporting to 
the god's treasury the products of Phoenicia, Syria and 
Punt.^ Ramses exploited the copper mines of Atika, a 
region somewhere in the Peninsula of Sinai, sending a spe- 
cial expedition thither in galleys from some Red Sea port. 
They returned with great quantities of the metal which the 
Pharaoh had displayed under the palace balcony that all the 
people might see it.^ To the malachite workings of the Pen- 
insula he likewise sent his messengers, who brought back 
plentiful returns of the costly mineral for the king's splendid 
gifts to the gods.^ A more important expedition consisting 
of a fleet of large ships was sent on the long voyage to Punt. 
The canal from the Nile through the Wadi Tumilat to the 
Red Sea, existent long before this age (see p. 18S), was now 
seemingly stopiied up and in disuse, for Ramses' ships, 

'IV, 410. ! IV, 211, 270, 328. » IV, 408. « IV, 409. 


after a successful voyage, returDed to some harbour ojjposite 
Coptos, where the entire cargo of the fleet was diseni])arked, 
loaded on donkeys and brought overland to Coptos. Here 
it was reembarked upon the river and floated down stream to 
the royal residence in the eastern Delta.* Navigation was 
now perhaps on a larger and moi'e elaborate scale even 
than under the great Pharaohs of the Eighteenth Dynasty. 
Ramses tells of a sacred barge of Amon at Thebes, which 
was two hundred and twenty four feet long, built in his 
yards, of enormous timbers of cedar of Lebanon. - 

The Pharaoh's wealth now enabled him to undertake 
works of public utility and improvement. Throughout the 
kingdom, and especially in Thebes and the royal residence, 
he planted numerous trees, which under a sky so prevail- 
ingly cloudless as that of Egypt, offered the peoi^le grate- 
ful shade, in a land devoid of natural forests.^ He also 
resumed building, which had been at a standstill since the 
death of Ramses II. On the western plain of Thebes, at 
the point now called Medinet Habu, he built a large and 
splendid temple (Figs. 17-4-5) to Amon^ which he began 
early in his reign. As the temple was extended and en- 
larged from rear to front the annals of his campaigns found 
place on the walls through successive years following the 
growth of the building until the whole edifice became a vast 
record of the king's achievements in war which the modern 
visitor may read, tracing it from year to year as he passes 
from the earliest halls in the rear to the latest courts and 
pylon at the front. Here he may see the hordes of the 
North in battle with Ramses' Sherden mercenaries, who 
break through and plunder the heavy ox-carts of the in- 
vaders, as we have already noticed. The first naval battle 
on salt water, of which we know anything, is here depicted, 
and in these reliefs we may study the armour, clothing, 
weapons, war-ships and equipment of these northern 
peoples with whose advent Europe for the first time emerges 
upon the stage of the early world.^ There was a sacred 

TV, 407. «TV, 209. 'IV, 213, 215, 410. 

•IV, 1-20, 189-194. »IV, 69-82. 


lake before the temple with an elaborate garden, extensive 
out-buildings and magazines, a palace of the king with 
massive stone towers in connection with the temple struc- 
ture, and a wall around the whole forming a great com- 
plex which dominated the whole southern end of the west- 
ern plain of Thebes, whence from the summits of its tall 
pylons one might look northward along the statelj' line of 
mortuary temples, built by the emperors. It thus formed, 
as it still does, the southern terminus and the last of that 
imposing array of buildings, and suggests to the thoughtful 
visitor the end of the long line of imj^erial Pharaohs, of 
whom Ramses III was indeed the last. Other buildings of 
his have for the most part perished; a small temjjle of 
Amon at Karnak (Fig. 183), which Ramses, quite sensible 
of the hopelessness of any attempt to rival the vast Kar- 
nak halls, placed across the axis of the main temple there, 
still bears witness to his good sense in this respect.^ Some 
small additions to the Karnak temple,- besides that of Mut 
on the south of the Karnak group,^ a small sanctuary for 
Khonsu only begun by Ramses III;^ sanctuaries of which 
little or no trace has been discovered at Memphis and Heli- 
opolis,^ and many chapels to various gods throughout the 
land ^ have for the most part i:)erished entirely or left but 
slight traces. In the residence city he laid out a magnificent 
quarter for Amon; "it was furnished with large gardens 
and places for walking about, with all sorts of date groves 
bearing their fruits, and a sacred avenue brightened with 
the flowers of every land."^ The quarter possessed nearly 
eight thousand slaves for its service.* He also erected 
in the city a temple of Sutekh in the temenos of Ramses 
II 's temple.* The art displayed by these buildings, in so 
far as they have survived, is clearly in a decadent stage. 
The lines are heavy and indolent, the colonnades have 
none of the old time soaring vigour, springing from 

'IV, 19.5. 

2 IV, 197-213. 

»IV, 196. 

*IV, 214. 

5 IV, 250-265, 311-328. 

«IV, 355-.361. 

• IV, 215. 

8 IV, 225. 

»IV, 362, 369. 


the pavement and carrying the beholder's eye involun- 
tarily aloft; but they visibly labour under the burden 
imposed upon them and clearly express the sluggish 
spirit of the decadent architect who designed them. The 
work also is careless and slovenly in execution. The 
reliefs which cover the vast surfaces of the Medinet Habu 
temple are with few exceptions but weak imitations of tlie 
fine sculptures of Seti I at Karnak, badly drawn and exe- 
cuted without feeling. Only here and there do we find a 
flash of the old-time power, as in the representation of 
Ramses hunting the wild bull (Fig. 176) on the walls of 
this same temple, a relief which, in spite of some bad faults 
in the drawing, is a composition of much strength and feel- 
ing, with a notable sense of landscape. A bold and entirely 
new effort of the time is the representation of the Pharaoh 's 
naval victory on the Syrian coast (Fig. 173), a relief re- 
quiring some originality and invention, but too involved 
for strength and effect. 

The imitation so evident in the art of Ramses Ill's reign 
is characteristic of the time in all respects. The records of 
the reign are but weak repetitions of the earlier royal en- 
comiums, embellished with figures so extremely far-fetched 
as to be often unintelligible. It was with a feeling of de- 
pression not easily shaken off that the author emerged from 
months of application to the vast walls of the Medinet Habu 
temple covered with hundreds on hundreds of lines of arid 
verbiage ever reiterating the valour of the king on this or 
that occasion in conventional terms which dropped from 
the pen of the fawning scribe, as such words had done for 
centuries. Taking up any given war, one finds that after 
working through difficult inscriptions covering several 
thousand square feet of wall surface, the net result is but a 
meagre and bald account of a great campaign the facts of 
which are scattered here and there and buried so deeply be- 
neath scores of meaningless conventional phrases that they 
can be discovered only with the greatest industry. The inspir- 
ing figure of a young and active Pharaoh hurrying his armies 


from frontier to frontier of his empire and repeatedly 
hurling back the most formidable invasions Egypt had ever 
suffered, awoke no response in the conventional soul of the 
priestly scribe, whose lot it was to write the record of these 
things for the temple wall. He possessed only the worn 
and long spent currency of the older dynasties from which 
he drew whole hymns, songs and lists to be furbished up 
and made to do service again in perpetuating the glory of 
a really able and heroic ruler. Perhaps we should not com- 
plain of the scribe, for the king himself considered it his 
highest purpose to restore and reproduce the times of 
Ramses II. His own name was made up of the first half 
of Ramses II 's throne-name, and the second half of his 
personal name; he named his children and his horses after 
those of Ramses II, and like him, he was followed on his 
campaigns by a tame lion who trotted beside his chariot on 
the march. The achievements of Ramses III were entirely 
dictated by the circumstances in which he found himself, 
rather than by any positive tendencies in his own character. 
But it must be admitted that he was confronted by a situa- 
tion against which he could have done little even if he had 
attempted to make head against it. All immediate danger 
from without had now apparently disappeared, but the 
nation was slowly declining as a result of decay from within. 
While Ramses III had shown himself fully able to cope 
with the assaults from the outside, he did not possess the 
qualities of virile independence which in some men would 
have dictated strenuous opposition to the prevailing ten- 
dencies of the time within the state. 

This was especially evident in his attitude toward the 
religious conditions inherited from the Nineteenth Dynasty. 
We have already pointed out that Setnakht, Ramses Ill's 
father, gained the throne by conciliating the priesthoods, 
as so many of his successful predecessors had done. Ram- 
ses III made no effort to shake off the priestly influences 
with which the crown was thus encumbered. The temples 
were fast becoming a grave political and economic menace. 


In the face of this fact Ramses III continued the policy of 
his ancestors, and with the most lavish liberality poured 
the wealth of the royal house into the sacred coffers. He 
himself says : " I did mighty deeds and benefactions, a nu- 
merous multitude, for the gods and goddesses of South and 
North. I wrought upon their images in the gold-houses, I 
built that which had fallen to ruin in their temples. I made 
houses and temples in their courts; I planted for them 
groves ; I dug for them lakes ; I founded for them divine 
offerings of barley and wheat, wine, incense, fruit, cattle 
and fowl; I built the [chapels called] 'Shadows of Re' for 
their districts, abiding, with divine offerings for every 
day.'" He is here speaking of the smaller temples of the 
country, while for the three great gods of the land: Anion, 
Re and Ptah, he did vastly more. The opulent splendour 
with which the rituals of these gods were daily observed 
beggars description. "I made for thee," says Ramses to 
Anion, "a great sacrificial tablet of silver in hammered 
work, mounted with fine gold, the inlay figures being of 
Ketem-gold, bearing statues of the king of gold in ham- 
mered work, even an offering tablet bearing thy divine 
offerings, offered before thee. I made for thee a great 
vase-stand for thy forecourt, mounted with fine gold, with 
inlay of stone; its vases were of gold, containing wine and 
beer in order to present them to thee every morning. . . . 
I made for thee great tablets of gold, in beaten work, 
engraved with the great name of thy majesty, bearing my 
prayers. I made for thee other tablets of silver, in beaten 
work, engraved with the great name of thy majesty, with 
the decrees of thy house."- All that the god used was of 
the same richness;'' Ramses says of his sacred barge: "I 
hewed for thee thy august ship 'Userhet, ' of one hundred 
and thirty cubits [nearly two hundred and twenty four feet 
length] upon the river, of great cedars of the royal domain, 
of remarkable size, overlaid with fine gold to the water 
line, like the barque of the sun, when he comes from the 

> IV, 363. siV, 199, 202. » IV, 198-210. 


east, and every one lives at the sight of him. A great shrine 
was in the midst of it, of fine gold, with inlay of every costly 
stone like a palace ; rams '-heads of gold from front to rear, 
fitted with uraeus-serpents wearing crowns.'" In making 
the great temple balances for weighing the offerings to Re 
at Heliopolis nearly two hundred and twelve pounds of 
gold and four hundred and sixty one pounds of silver were 
consumed.' The reader may peruse pages of such descrip- 
tions in the great Papyrus Harris,^ of which we shall later 
give some account. Such magnificence, while it might fre- 
quently be due to incidental gifts of the king, must never- 
theless be supi^orted by an enormous income, derived from 
a vast fortune in lands, slaves and revenues. Thus, to 
the god Khnum at Elephantine, Ramses III confirmed the 
possession of both sides of the river from that city to 
Takompso, a strip over seventy miles in length, known to 
the Greeks as the Dodekaschoinos or Twelve Schoeni.'' The 
records of Ramses III for the first and only time in the 
course of Egyptian history, enable us to determine the 
total amount of property owned and controlled by the 
temples. An inventory in the Papyrus Harris covering 
almost all the temples of the country shows that they pos- 
sessed over one hundred and seven thousand slaves;^ that 
is, one person in every fifty to eighty of the population was 
temple property. The first figure is the more probable, so 
that in all likelihood one person in every fifty was a slave of 
some temple. The temples thus owned two percent of the pop- 
ulation. In lands we find the sacred endowments amounting to 
nearly three quarters of a million acres, that is, nearly one 
seventh, or over fourteen and a half percent of the cultivable 
land of the country; and as some of the smaller temples 
like that of Khnum just mentioned, are omitted in the in- 
ventory it is safe to say that the total holdings of the temples 
amounted to fifteen percent of the available land of the 
country.* These are the only items in the temple estates 

> IV, 209. 2 IV, 256, 285. » IV, 151-412. 

«IV, 146-150. 5 IV, 166. »IV, 167. 


which can be safely compared with the total national 
wealth and resources ; but they by no means complete the 
list of property held by the temples. They owned nearly a 
half million head of large and small cattle ; their combined 
fleets numbered eighty eight vessels, some fifty three work- 
shops and ship-yards consumed a portion of the raw ma- 
terials, which thej' received as income ; while in Syria, Kush 
and Egypt they owned in all one hundred and sixty nine 
towns.' When we remember that all this vast property in 
a land of less than ten thousand square miles and some five 
or six million inhabitants was entirely exempt from tax- 
ation* it will be seen that the economic equilibrium of the 
state was endangered. 

These extreme conditions were aggravated by the fact 
that no proper proportion had been observed in the dis- 
tribution of gifts to the gods. By far too large a share of 
them had fallen to the lot of Amon, whose insatiable priest- 
hood had so gained the ascendancy that their claims on the 
royal treasury far exceeded those of all other temples put 
together. Besides the great group of temples at Thebes, 
the god possessed numerous other sanctuaries, chapels and 
statues, with their endowments scattered throughout the 
land.^ He had a temple in Syria, ^ as we have already 
noticed, and a new one in Nubia,^ besides those built there 
by Eamses II. In his twelfth year after the victorious 
conclusion of all his wars, the finally completed temple, 
which he had erected for Amon at Medinet Habu (Thebes), 
was inaugurated with a new and elaborate calendar of 
feasts, the record of which filled all one wall of the temple 
for almost its entire length.* The feast of Opet, the greatest 
of Amon's feasts, which in the days of Thutmose III was 
eleven days long, is credited in this calendar with twenty 
four days; and summarizing the calendar as far as pre- 
served, we find that there was an annual feast day of Amon 
on an average every three days, not counting the monthly 

> IV, p. 97. 'IV, 146. »IV, 189-226. 

«IV, 219. «IV, 218. «IV, 139-145. 









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feasts.' Yet Ramses III later lengthened even the feasts 
of this calendar, so that the feast of Opet became twenty 
seven days long and the feast of his own coronation, which 
lasted but one day as prescribed by the calendar, finally 
continued for twenty days each year.'' Little wonder that 
the records of a band of workmen in the Theban necropolis 
under one of Ramses Ill's successors show almost as many 
holidays as working days.^ All these lengthened feasts of 
course mean increased endowment and revenue for the ser- 
vice of Amon. The treasure rooms of this Medinet Habu 
temple still stand, and their walls bear testimony to the 
lavish wealth with which they were filled/ Ramses himself 
in another record says: "I filled its treasury with the 
products of the land of Egypt: gold, silver, every costly 
stone by the hundred-thousand. Its granary was overflow- 
ing with barley and wheat; its lands, its herds, their mul- 
titudes were like the sand of the shore. I taxed for it the 
Southland as well as the Northland; Nubia and Syria came 
to it, bearing their impost. It was filled with captives, 
which thou gavest me among the Nine Bows, and with 
classes [successive enforced levies], which I created by the 
ten-thousand. ... I multiplied the divine offerings pre- 
sented before thee, of bread, wine, beer and fat geese; 
numerous oxen, bullocks, calves, cows, white oryxes and 
gazelles offered in his slaughter yard."* As in the days 
of the Eighteenth Dynasty conquerors, the bulk of the spoil 
from his wars went into the treasury of Amon.® The result 
of this long continued policy was inevitable. Of the nearly 
three quarters of a million acres of land held by the temples, 
Amon owned over five hundred and eighty three thousand, 
over five times as much as his nearest competitor. Re of 
Heliopolis, who had only one hundred and eight thousand; 
and over nine times the landed estate of Ptah of Memphis.^ 
Of the fifteen percent of the lands of the entire country held 
by all the temples, Amon thus owned over two thirds. While, 

1 IV, 144. « IV, 236-7. ' Erman, Life in Ancient Egypt. 

* IV, 25-34. 5 IV. 190. « IV, 224. 405. ' IV, 167. 


as we have stated, the combined temples owned in slaves 
not more than two percent of the whole population, Amon 
held probably one and a half percent, in number over 
eight}' six thousand five hundred, which exceeded by seven 
times the number owned by Re.' In other items of wealth 
the same proportion is observable; Amon owned five great 
herds, numbering over four hundred and twenty one thou- 
sand large and small cattle, of the less than half a million 
head held by all the temples; of five hundred and thirteen 
temple gardens and groves, Amon owned four hundred and 
thirty three ; of the fleet of temple ships, numbering eighty 
eight, all but five were the property of Amon; and forty 
six work shops of the fifty three owned by the temples were 
his.'' He was the only god possessing towns in Syria and 
Kush, of which he had nine, but in towns of Egypt he was 
surpassed by Re, who owned one hundred and three, as 
against only fifty six held by Amon. As we know nothing 
of the size and value of these towns, the number is hardly 
significant in view of the immense superiority of Amon in 
acreage of temple lands. In income Amon received an 
annual item of twenty six thousand grains of gold, which 
none of the other temples received. This doubtless came 
from the "gold country of Amon," of which he had gained 
possession toward the end of the Nineteenth Dynasty, as 
we have seen. In silver his income exceeded by seventeen 
times, in copper by twenty one times, in cattle by seven 
times, in wine by nine times, in ships by ten times, the 
income of all the other temples combined.' His estate and 
his revenues, second onl