Binding and pulling grain in the Egypt of the pharaohs
The god Nu rising out of the primeval water and bearing in his hands the boat of Rā, the Sun-god, who is accompanied by a number of deities. In the upper portion of the scene is the region of the underworld which is enclosed by the body of Osiris, on whose head stands the goddess Nut with arms stretched out to receive the disk of the sun.
1. Isis suckling her child Horus in the papyrus swamps.
2. Thoth giving the emblem of magical protection to Isis.
3. Amen-Rā presenting the symbol of "life" to Isis.
4. The goddess Nekhebet presenting years, and life, stability, power, and sovereignty to the son of Osiris.
5. The goddess Sati presenting periods of years, and life, stability, power, and sovereignty to the son of Osir
Akhnaton driving with his Wife and Daughter
The charm of family life, and the sanctity of the relationship of husband and wife, parents and children, seems to have been an important point of doctrine to him. He urged his nobles, also, to give their attention to their families; and in the tomb of Panehesy, for example, one may see representations of that personage sitting with his wife and his three daughters around him.
In his capacity as Pharaoh and “son of God,” Akhnaton demanded and received a very considerable amount of ceremonial homage; but he never blinded himself to the fact that he was primarily but a simple man. He most sincerely wished that his private life should be a worthy example to his subjects, and he earnestly desired that it should be observed in all its naturalness and simplicity. He did his utmost to elevate the position of women and the sanctity of the family by displaying to the world the ideal conditions of his own married life. He made a point of caressing his wife in public, putting his arm around her neck in the sight of all men. As we have seen, one of his forms of oath was, “As my heart is happy in the Queen and her children....” He spoke of his wife always as “Mistress of his happiness, ... at hearing whose voice the King rejoices.” “Lady of grace” was she, “great of love” and “fair of face.” Every wish that she expressed, declared Akhnaton, was executed by him. Even on the most ceremonious occasions the queen sat beside her husband and held his hand, while their children frolicked around them; for such things pleased that gentle father more than the savour of burnt-offerings. It is seldom that the Pharaoh is represented in the reliefs without his family; and, in opposition to all tradition, the queen is shown upon the same scale of size and importance as that of her husband. Akhnaton’s devotion to his children is very marked, and he taught his disciples to believe that God was the father, the mother, the nurse, and the friend of the young. Thus, though “son of God,” Akhnaton preached the beauty of the human family, and laid stress on the sanctity of marriage and parenthood.
When Thothmes IV. ascended the throne he was confronted by a very serious political problem. The Heliopolitan priesthood at this time was chafing against the power of Amon, and was striving to restore the somewhat fallen prestige of its own god Ra, who in the far past had been the supreme deity of Egypt, but had now to play an annoying second to the Theban god. Thothmes IV., as we shall presently be told by Akhnaton himself, did not altogether approve of the political character of the Amon priesthood, and it may have been due to this dissatisfaction that he undertook the repairing of the great Sphinx at Gizeh, which was in the care of the priests of Heliopolis. The sphinx was thought to represent a combination of the Heliopolitan gods Horakhti, Khepera, Ra, and Atum, who have been mentioned above; and, according to a later tradition, Thothmes IV. had obtained the throne over the heads of his elder brothers through the mediation of the Sphinx—that is to say, through that of the Heliopolitan priests. By them he was called “Son of Atum and Protector of Horakhte, ... who purifies Heliopolis and satisfies Ra,” and it seems that they looked to him to restore to them their lost power. The Pharaoh, however, was a physical weakling, whose small amount of energy was entirely expended upon his army, which he greatly loved, and which he led into Syria and into the Sudan. His brief reign of somewhat over eight years, from 1420 to 1411 B.C., marks but the indecisive beginnings of the struggle between Amon and Ra, which culminated in the early years of the reign of his grandson Akhnaton.
There are only two artists of the period who are known by name. The one was a certain Auta, who is represented in a relief dating from some eight years after the change in the art had taken place. It is a significant fact that this personage held the post of master-artist to Queen Tiy; and it is possible that in him and his patron we have the originators of the movement. The king, however, was now old enough to take an active interest in such matters; and the other artist who is known by name, a certain Bek, definitely states that the king himself taught him. Thus there is reason to suppose that the young Pharaoh’s own hand is to be traced in the new canons, although they were instituted when he was but fifteen years old
1. The head of Akhnaton. From a contemporary drawing.
2. The head of a king. From an archaic statuette found by Professor Petrie at Abydos.
3. The head of Akhnaton. From a contemporary drawing.
4. The head of a prince. From an archaic tablet found by Professor Petrie at Abydos.
5. An archaic statuette found by Professor Petrie at Diospolis, showing the large thighs found in the art of Akhnaton.
In the twelfth year of his reign, the tribute of the vassal kingdoms reached such a high value that a particular record was made of it, and scenes showing its reception were sculptured in the tombs of Huya and Meryra II. An inscription beside the scene in the tomb of Huya reads thus:—
Year twelve, the second month of winter, the eighth day.... The King ... and the Queen ... living for ever and ever, made a public appearance on the great palanquin of gold, to receive the tribute of Syria and Ethiopia, and of the west and the east. All the countries were collected at one time, and also the islands in the midst of the sea; bringing offerings to the King when he was on the great throne of the City of the Horizon of Aton, in order to receive the imposts of every land and granting them [in return] the breath of life.
A favourite figure dance was universally adopted throughout the country, in which two partners, who were usually men, advanced toward each other, or stood face to face upon one leg, and having performed a series of movements, retired again in opposite directions, continuing to hold by one hand and concluding by turning each other round.
Egyptian Crotola or Castanets
Group of Harps and other musical instruments
A framework with loose metal bars inserted, sometimes with metal rings added, shaken by the hand.
The next natural step for the use of music would be that of victory and triumph. The first notice of this kind is the song of Miriam. And here we may rightly conjecture the introduction of an Egyptian, and therefore cultured element. " Miriam took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances " (Exod. xv. 2o).
The history of the Harp may be traced with much the same clearness. The twanging of the bow probably suggested the original idea; and the variation of sound was obtained by lengthening and shortening a multiplicity of strings. These were made, at first, of some fibrous material, or the long hair of animals. Perhaps even the tresses of wives and daughters were turned to such musical use, as we read in the Greek and Roman historians that the bows of the Carthaginians were thus supplied with strings in their last war with the Romans. Harps, too, like the bow, were portable, about four feet long; and all Oriental harps, so far as we can judge from surviving sculptures, unlike ours, had no front pillar. Their bow-like shape and characteristics long remained. Without entering at greater length on their further and later development, we can easily imagine how soon the need of pegs for tightening and loosening the strings was felt; how a sounding-board was found to add to the body of sound; how Strings of fibre or hair were supplanted by those of catgut, of steel, and even of silver. Whether the fingers or whether the quill and plectrum were the first manipulators of the strings, is a matter of debate. Certainly fingers were made long before either quills or plectra! Be it as it may, after these latter had been introduced, hammers wielded by the hand in due time followed. And thus we see how the "stringed instruments" of primaeval and ancient days became the parent of the dulcimer, the spinet, the harpsichord, and the piano.
A singular instance of the wagon and funeral-boat in combination has been found on the bandage of a mummy, now preserved in the collection of S. d'Athanasi.
It is supposed by some modern authors
that Herodotus, in speaking of the religious ceremonies in honor of Mars, as performed in the city of Pampremis, refers to this vehicle. Among other things, he tells us that the priests placed an image in a wooden temple, gilded all over, which they carried to a sacred dwelling; "then the few who were left about the image draw a four-wheeled carriage containing the temple and the image."
A very showy affair is found in the next illustra-tion, rivaling the mourning equipages of modern times. Among other figures appear emblems of stability and security on the side panels. In this instance the undertaker removed a portion of the paneling so as to expose the head of the mummy-case. It would seem from this, that the modern practice of showing a coffin through a glass side is of great antiquity. Indeed, we seldom find anything new that has not an antiquarian origin, thus verifying the words of the wise man, "There is no new thing under the sun."
In one instance, as in the figure, taken from a tomb in Thebes, — an attendant is shown, pouring some kind of a liquid from a jar upon the ground, over which the sledge is drawn, to facilitate its progress. Examples of this nature are frequently seen in Egyptian bass-reliefs, depicting the removal of heavy loads. On this sledge-hearse the mummy-case, enclosing the corpse, is distinctly observed. With characteristic tenderness, two females steady the mummy as it moves along over the rough surface of the ground; the priest, meanwhile, mounted in front, scroll in hand, recites a panegyric, or perhaps delivers a funeral oration in honor of the dead.
It need not be inferred from what we have written that all bodies were hidden away in the tomb. On the contrary, many were consumed on the funeral pile, some were buried in the earth, while others again, after they had come from the embalmer's shop, were kept in the house for years, until finally they were deposited in the catacombs. The mourning for a good king lasted the space of seventy days, during which the people sang hymns commemorating his virtues, reading their garments, and covering their heads with mud and dust, some three hundred persons of both sexes coming together twice each day to publicly sing a funeral dirge, the entire nation abstaining from meat and other dainties during the whole time. On the last day of mourning, or in some instances many months afterward, the time for sepulture arrived. Supposing that an embalmed king is to be laid away, perhaps in a tomb on which a lifetime of preparation has been bestowed, the body is now brought out from the closet, where it has been carefully stored since the funeral ceremonies were performed, and given to the undertaker, who comes with a sledge-hearse, as shown in the engraving.
The several figures are thus arranged: in the center appear the sacred cows, decked with elegant blankets and ornamental head and neck gear, which last (of a peculiar pattern) is found attached to the heads of all female animals, in Egyptian bass-reliefs, drag-ropes in this case being fastened to the horns, evidently " more for ornament than use," two attendants furnishing the motive-power, while the third acts as conductor. In the foreground are four more representatives of the genus homo. First, we notice the priest, as indicated by the peculiarity of his dress. He appears in the act of anointing the dead body with sacred oil, or some other liquid, from a vessel of peculiar shape. Just in front of the priest, squatting near the earth, we find a mercenary mourner, her hair disheveled, her breasts exposed, and her hands fixed in the position most expressive of grief, no doubt crying as sincerely as in hired mourning it has ever been done. Around the third figure centers the greatest interest, since it represents the dead dressed in cerements for the tomb, to which the body is now about to be carried. The fourth, supporting the corpse in a leaning position, represents an attendant, who, in all probability, officiates both as priest and undertaker.
In the Hall of the Gods, in the Egyptian Museum, there is a small bronze plaque of great antiquity, where we see in relief a man flying the two extended wings. It is true that we agree to consider this piece as a symbolic composition rather than as the representation of an aircraft.
The most renowned monarch that ever reigned over Egypt was Sesostris. The date of his reign is not precisely known; but there is a carving in stone, lately found in Egypt among the ruins of an ancient city. which is more than three thousand years old, and supposed to be a portrait of him. It is doubtless the oldest portrait in existence. This king formed the design of conquering the world, and set out from Egypt with more than a million of foot soldiers, twenty-four thousand horsemen, and twenty-seven thousand armed chariots.
His ambitious projects were partially successful. He made great conquests, and wherever he went he caused marble pillars to be erected, and inscriptions to be engraved on them, so that future ages might not forget his renown.
The following was the inscription on most of the pillars: - SESOSTRIS, KING OF KINGS, HAS CONQUERED THIS TERRITORY BY HIS ARMS. But the marble pillars have long ago crumbled into dust, or been buried under the earth; and the history of Sesostris is so obscure, that some writers have even doubted whether he made any conquest's at all.
Dredges at work in the Suez Canal
Ferdinand de Lesseps
Says Holland Rose, quoting Thiers, this Egyptian expedition was “the rashest attempt history records.” Napoleon was left in Egypt with the Turks gathering against him and his army infected with the plague. Nevertheless, with a stupid sort of persistence, he went on for a time with this Eastern scheme. He gained a victory at Jaffa, and, being short of provisions, massacred all his prisoners. Then he tried to take Acre, where his own siege artillery, just captured at sea by the English, was used against him. Returning baffled to Egypt, he gained a brilliant victory over a Turkish force at Aboukir, and then, deserting the army of Egypt—it held on until 1801, when it capitulated to a British force—made his escape back to France (1799), narrowly missing capture by a British cruiser off Sicily.
The earlier Pharaohs were not improbably regarded as incarnations of the dominant god. The falcon god Horus sits behind the head of the great statue of Chephren.
It was Cheops and Chephren and Mycerinus of this IVth Dynasty who raised the vast piles of the great and the second and the third pyramids at Gizeh. These unmeaning sepulchral piles, of an almost incredible vastness, erected in an age when engineering science had scarcely begun, exhausted the resources of Egypt through three long reigns, and left her wasted as if by a war.
Opinions upon Amenophis IV, or Akhnaton, differ very widely. There are those who regard him as the creature of his mother’s hatred of Ammon and the uxorious spouse of a beautiful wife. Certainly he loved his wife very passionately; he showed her great honour—Egypt honoured women, and was ruled at different times by several queens—and he was sculptured in one instance with his wife seated upon his knees, and in another in the act of kissing her in a chariot; but men who live under the sway of their womenkind do not sustain great empires in the face of the bitter hostility of the most influential organized bodies in their realm. Others write of him as a “gloomy fanatic.” Matrimonial bliss is rare in the cases of gloomy fanatics.
This trinity consisted of the god Serapis (= Osiris + Apis), the goddess Isis (= Hathor, the cow-moon goddess), and the child-god Horus. In one way or another almost every other god was identified with one or other of these three aspects of the one God, even the sun god Mithras of the Persians.
Egyptian Social Types (From Tombs)
Because it developed in the comparatively warm and tranquil waters of the eastern Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the western horn of the Indian Ocean, the shipping of the ancient world retained throughout certain characteristics that make it differ very widely from the ocean-going sailing shipping, with its vast spread of canvas, of the last four hundred years. “The Mediterranean,” says Mr. Torr, “is a sea where a vessel with sails may lie becalmed for days together, while a vessel with oars would easily be traversing the smooth waters, with coasts and islands everywhere at hand to give her shelter in case of storm. In that sea, therefore, oars became the characteristic instruments of navigation, and the arrangement of oars the chief problem in shipbuilding. And so long as the Mediterranean nations dominated Western Europe, vessels of the southern type were built upon the northern coasts, though there generally was wind enough here for sails and too much wave for oars.... The art of rowing can first be discerned upon the Nile. Boats with oars are represented in the earliest pictorial monuments of Egypt, dating from about 2500 B.C.;
In all these temples there was a shrine; dominating the shrine there was commonly a great figure, usually of some monstrous half-animal form, before which stood an altar for sacrifices. This figure was either regarded as the god or as the image or symbol of the god, for whose worship the temple existed. And connected with the temple there were a number, and often a considerable number, of priests or priestesses, and temple servants, generally wearing a distinctive costume and forming an important part of the city population.
The long list of gods was further increased in two ways. The priests sometimes made a new god by uniting two or three, or four into one, and at other times by dividing one into two or three or more. Thus out of Horus and Ra they made Horus-Ra, called by the Greeks Aroeric. Out of Osiris and Apis the bull of Memphis made of Osiris-Apis or Serapis. He carries the two sceptres of Osiris and has a bull's head.
Pasht, the goddess of Virtue, has a cat's head. She belonged to Lower Egypt, and was the wife of Amun-Ra and gave her name to the city Aphroditopolis.
Isis, or Isitis, the Earth, or rather the corn-bearing Land, the mother of all creation was another, and perhaps the chief favourite with the nation. She is known by the throne upon her head, because a throne form the first syllable of her name.
Horus has a hawk's head, and wears the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt, formed of a plate of gold over and around the mitre. sometimes he is a crowned hawk.
Other goddesses were attributes or feelings, made into persons, such as Athor the goddess of ove and Beauty. She has cow's horns, and sometimes a cow's head.
Anubis has the head of a dog or a jackal, or is represented as the animal a jackal. He never takes a foremost place among the gods, but usually stands at the attendant or servant of Osiris.
There was a third class of gods, who were spoken of as if they had once been mortal and had lived upon earth. These were Osiris, the husband of Isis; and their sone Horus, so named from Chori (Strong); and Anubis, Nephtthys, and the wicked Typhon, who put Osiris to death. Osiris, like Pthah is bandage as a mummy.
Typhon is a hippopotamus, usually walking on its hind legs, and with female breasts, sometimes with a sword in his hand, to show his wicked nature. He is th chief author of evil.
When the land was divided into separate estates or properties, Thoth, the Pillar or Landmark at the corner of the field, became an important god; and as the owner's name was carved upon it, he was the god of letters and of all learning.
Having thus created for themselves a number of gods, their own feelings, and what they saw around them, would naturally lead them to create an equal number of goddesses. Of these Neith, the Heavens, was one.
She is often drawn with wings stretched out as if covering the whole earth. At other times she is formed into an arch, with her feet and fingers on the ground, while her body forms the blue vault overhead and is spangled with stars. At other times she is simply a woman, with the hieroglyphical character for her name as the ornament on top of her head.
Kneph, the Wind or Air, or Breath of our bodies, was supposed to be the god of Animal and Spiritual Life. He has the head and horns of a ram.
Pthah, the god of Fire, was more particularly the god of Memphis, as Amun-Ra of Thebes; and the kings in that city were said to the "Beloved by Pthah." His figure is bandages like a mummy and his head shaven like a priest.
Another great god was their narrow valley, the country in which they lived, clearly divided from the yellow desert by the black Nile-mud, y which it is covered and made fertile, and hence called Chemi, the Black Land, or when made into a person, Chem, or Ham. He was the father of their race, called in the Bible, one of the sons of Noah, and considered by themselves the god of increase, the Priapus of the Greeks.
Chem has a cap with two tall feathers like that of Amun-Ra, so large that it was necessary to give him a metal support to hold it on the head. His right arm is raises and holds a whip, his left arm is hid under his dress, which is the tight garment of the Egyptian women.
Next was Hapimou, the Nile, whose waters were the chief source of their food, whose overflow marked the limits between the cultivated land and the desert; to him they owed nothing but grateful thanks. He is a figure of both sexes, having the beard of a man and the breastes of a child-bearing woman. He carries in his arms fruits and flowers and sometimes waterfowls.
In the Western half of the Delta, the Sun is worshipped as Mando-Ra. Like Amun-Ra, he wears the two tall feathers and the Sun on his head, but he differs from him in having a hawk's face.
First among these gods of the Egyptians was Ra, the Sun, or Amun-Ra, the Great Sun, whose warmth ripened their harvests, but whose scorching rays made his power felt as much as an enemy as a friend.
Over the portico of the Theban temple there is usually a ball or sun, ornamented with outstretched wings, representing the all-seeing Providence thus watching over and sheltering the world. From this sun hang two asps wearing the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt.
The commonest of these machines is the shadoof. It is a sort of balance, with a weight at one end and a cord and bucket at the other. The arm of the balance rests upon a bar of wood, which is supported by two wooden posts, the whole resembling the horizontal bar of a gymnasium. The posts are about five feet high and two or three feet apart, and they are set up on the top of a bank, close to the edge, so that the end of the arm which bears the bucket may project over the water. This arm is made out of a slender branch of a tree, and is fastened to the horizontal bar by loops of cord. Its thicker end is loaded with a large, round ball of mud, while the other carries a long cord, or even a slender stick, at the end of which is the bucket, or bowl, in which the water is raised.
is impressed during his first days in Cairo with the spectacle of runners in front of carriages to warn people to get out of the way. These fellows have a picturesque dress and muscular legs, and their duty is to clear the way, by keeping a few yards in advance and warning people that a carriage is coming. An appendage of this sort is called a syce, and formerly it was necessary that he should be a native born Egyptian, but at present a Nubian may aspire to the position, and it is not unusual to see syces of the complexion of charcoal in front of elegant carriages.
Everywhere through Egypt water is filtered in large jars, some of them holding nearly a barrel, and it is carried on the heads of women in lesser jars that contain from four to six gallons.
Bread Seller in the streets of Cairo
Boot-Blacks of Cairo
An Egyptian Eunuch
The illustration shows a priest wearing nothing but a loin cloth and a leopard skin.