Obrazy na stronie

The Bible and Wadern Discovery.

Egypt: Its Treasures of stroy treasures which could never be Ancient Art & Literature.

replaced. All honour to the French

savant, M. Maspero, who, with rare For forty centuries and more Egypt courage, has remained at his post as has occupied a prominent place in his

director and guardian of the Boulak tory, and now the attention of the

Museum. world is once again concentrated upon The Egyptians were from time imit. In art, architecture, and general memorial a warlike people. They carcivilization it was the pioneer of the ried their victorious arms into every nations of antiquity. The records on

country of the then known world ; and its papyrus rolls, the inscriptions on

they were themselves in turn conquered its temples and monuments, and the and ruled over by several of the great paintings on the walls of its tombs,

historic nations of the East. Being are at once the oldest and the most

artistic and literary in their tastes, instructive we possess. As each new they carved and painted on the walls discovery is made in those marvellous

of their public buildings life-pictures rock sepulchres, and as each new dis- of their famous battles and conquests: entombed writing is deciphered, fresh and they attached to them in most light is thrown upon primeval history, cases, long, minute, and graphic demanners and customs, and religions. scriptions. The wars of one monarch Egypt, in fact, as is now proved by its alone, as written, record more than a long buried remains, has influenced and thousand names of places. Their his. moulded, far more largely than is gen- torians also wrote, upon prepared leaves erally supposed, not art, letters, and

of papyrus, accounts of the campaigns philosophy merely, but the dogmas and of noted princes and generals, of their forms of the various faiths of mankind, journeys, their discoveries in science, even including Judaism and Christ

their faith, their forms of worship, ianity.

their political and social institutions Many circumstances have combined everything, in a word, calculated to to make the monuments of Egypt of illustrate their achievements and glory. inestimable value, and to invest the The monuments and papyri of Egypt country itself with surpassing interest. may thus be regarded as constituting The present, it seems to me, is a fit- an encyclopædia of primeval geograting time to call attention to these phy, history, and antiquities. They facts. English power is now supreme record the names of countries, cities, there; and every scholar in the world peoples, kings, generals ; the numbers will join with me in the expression of and equipments of armies; voyages an earnest hope that Egypt's priceless to remote regions; lists and descriptions monuments will be watched over with

of spoils and merchandise; whether religious care by British solders. This slaves, cattle, gold, silver, gems, rare is absolutely necessary; for fanaticism animals, perfumes, vases, fruits, or is rampant among certain classes of

other things peculiar to the several the population, and such a calamity at countries from which they were taken. Cairo as that which native .barbarism. Then we have portraits of leading brought upon Alexandria would de.

personages, with their dress, arms,




chariots and attendants ;

we have plans of battles and fortifications ; we have representations of execution, torture, and other punishments inflicted on prisoners, and the treatment and employment of those reduced to slavery. We can at this day see in the monumental remains of Egypt the marked features and simple costumes of the Amu or Badawy shepherds of Sinai and Arabia, who invaded the delta of the Nile in prehistoric times, subdued the Egyptians, and committed such acts of cruelty that when the patriarch Jacob entered the country

every shepherd was an abomination to the Egyptians." We can see also in the painted sepulchral chambers the enslaved Hebrews making bricks and building cities under the lash of the taskmaster. We can see, on the walls of Luxor, the siege of Kadesh, the sacred city of the Hittites, Abraham's friends, and the King Rameses in his war chariot riding triumphantly through the midst of their panicstricken hosts. We can see the wellknown figures, dress, and arms of the Assyrians, the Persians, the Phæni. cians, and strangers from India, Europe, and Central Africa, all bowing down to the proud Pharaohs, and presenting tribute, each in the products of his native land.

The Egyptians were likewise eminently religious people. The words St. Paul addressed to the Athenians might with equal appropriateness have been applied to the Egyptians : "I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.” Their noblest works of art and architecture were devoted to their gods. Magnificent temples were erected; colossal statues of deities were hewn out; sacred obelisks were reared up; vast tombs were excavated, in which the embalmed bodies of deified bulls, crocodiles, ibises, cats, serpents, and sundry other

creatures, products of degraded fetichism, were enshrined in granite sarcophagi or richly painted coffins; and the walls of the tombs themselves were covered with paintings and inscriptions giving their history and object, the rites and ceremonies by which the deities were worshipped, and in some cases detailing the doctrines held regarding a future state.

The tombs of Egypt are among the grandest and most striking of its

The pyramids were tombs, and they are still wonders of the world. The rock-hewn sepulchres, however, which surround the pyramids, and which dot the mountain gorges of Thebes and Bene-Hassen are now probably the most instructive. Their chambers are so many museums, containing not merely the embalmed remains, but, on the inscribed and sculptured walls the whole history of the mighty dead. Nothing is overlooked or forgotten that would throw light on their lives and labours. In this way we have a most vivid picture of ancient Egypt: the victories of kings; processes in law courts; the building of cities; the hewing and transport of colossal statues and obelisks; the embalming of the dead; funeral processions; marriage ceremonies; every department of household work and family life, such as cooking, washing, dressing, shaving the head and beard, eating; trades of all kinds-goldsmiths, painters, potters, glass-blowers, bakers, weavers; games and amusementsjugglers, music, dancing; tilling the soil; irrigating the fields ; feeding and milking the cows; watering flax, reaping, threshing, grinding-all these and many other things are delineated with singular, and not unfrequently amusing, minuteness of detail. In examining those unique tombs one can study the manners and customs, the private life and public acts, the religious rites and


ceremonies, the features and dress of those who lived in cottage and palace in that country from three to four thousand years ago, with almost as much advantage as if he lived among them.

The perfect preservation of the paintings and papyri is astonishing. In this Western land of rain and frost half a century of neglect would destroy them; but in upper Egypt rain and frost are unknown. The dry and equable climate is the grand curator ; and this has been materially assisted by the desert sand, which has partially covered some of the monuments, and for long ages hermetically sealed many of the finest tombs. The figures and brilliant colouring on the walls, and the written characters upon the papyrus, have thus been preserved as fresh as if only finished yesterday, Looking at them one can scarcely believe that their age has to be reckoned by thousands of years.

The great temples and monuments, it is unfortunately true, have been shattered by time and ruthless hands of strangers. Some of them, too, have been transported to other lands, and now adorn Constantinople, Rome, Paris, London, and even New York; but they are not lost. They are instructive in their exile. They retain, wherever placed, the indelible impress of the primeval civilization, and they form imperishable memorials of the greatness and grandeur of ancient Egypt.

The most moderate estimate--and of those very remote ages only an estimate can be formed

assigns the reign of Menes, the founder of Memphis, and the earliest known Egyptian monarch, to the twenty eighth century B.C. M. Mariette, a modern Egyptologist of profound learning, places Menes, more than two thousand years earlier. At whatever time he llved, however, it seems that he planned and

perfected the gigantic works of engineering, the construction of the huge dyke which diverted the Nile from its own channel, and reclaimed for cultivation the rich plain west of Cairo. Cheop, who built the great pyramid, Aourished,'according to Mariette, eight hundred years later; and it is evident that his architect was both a mathematician and an astronomer, for the base of the pyramid is an exact square, and its sides face the cardinal points; there are besides other details of form and construction, noticed by the Astronomer Royal for Scotland, which show astonishing technical and scientific knowledge. Cheops left records of his reign, not only on cities and monuments in Egypt, but on tablets at the turquoise mines of Mount Sinai. A few years later, what is supposed to be the oldest papyrus now extant was penned by Prince Patah-hotop, and some of its sentences show that the Egyptian literati were already as deeply versed in the principles of ethics as they were in science :-“If thou art become great after thou hast been humble, and if thou hast amassed riches after poverty, being because of that the first in thy town; if thou art known for thy wealth, and art become a great lord, let not thy heart become proud because of thy riches, for it is God that is the author of them for thee. Despise not another who is as thou wast; be toward him as toward thy equal.” This reminds one of the choicest passages in the writings of Solomon; and it illustrates the force and meaning of that pointed statement of the sacred writer, “ Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” One can understand, too, how such instruction fitted him intellectually and morally for his great task as the leader and law-giver of Israel.

J. L. Porter, D.D.




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