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state and surroundings of the nobility, their storehouses and servants. As the monuments, on which these inscriptions appear, were constructed under the orders of those whose memory they perpetuate or their friends, the purpose they subserve is primarily to attest their importance. What is shown of the condition of the lower orders of society, is merely as incident to the state of the chief. The old empire exhibits a nobility and priesthood with power over the peasants and serfs firmly established, much wealth and luxury for the higher orders, and settled habits of industry enforced on
The middle empire shows an extension of the official system, but no marked change in the organization of society or in the theory of the government. How numerous a class of independent tradesmen or small land owners existed at any period cannot be definitely determined, though there appear to have been some such.
The Twelfth Dynasty, covering the period of about the twentieth and twenty-first centuries B.C., is spoken of as a time of good government, prosperity and advancement in learning. It was the classical age of letters, in which the standard of good writing was established. Afterward followed period of weakness and decline, at the end of which the country was invaded by the Hyksos or shepherd kings from the northeast. The particulars of their invasion and rulership are not preserved, but it is clear that the ancient Egyptian people were not displaced, nor were the laws and customs of the invaders imposed on the conquered nation. They levied tribute and compelled submission to their power for a time.
The new empire began with Ahmose who drove out the Hyksos and followed them into the south of Palestine. Under his reign began the military age, in which Egyptian arms were carried into remote regions. Palestine and Asia Minor to the Euphrates were overrun by the monarchs of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth dynasties and the country to the south was subdued: Tribute was exacted from the conquered nations, but Egyptian civilization failed to take root and grow on any foreign soil. Contact with distant people had its effect on the Egyptians, and the isolation in which they had apparently lived during all of the early dynasties was at an end. With varying success they fought the Asiatics on the north and the Ethiopians on the south. Thothmes III crossed the Euphrates and received tribute from many nations. Contact with distant people gave new ideas as well as tribute to the Egyptians. Amenhotep IV attempted to reform the religion and set up the worship of the Sun god as the only living god. He sought not merely to introduce the worship of this deity but also to destroy all the old gods. The change however failed to endure, and under his successors the old worship was restored.
Under Ramses II Egypt seems to have reached the zenith of its power, and of activity in the construction of temples and other great public works. With the departure of the Hyksos and the establishment of the new empire some changes in the organization of the government took place. The ancient nomarchs and local landed aristocracy gave way to royal officials, and landed property became concentrated in the possession of the king and the priesthood. This change is by some attributed to military rewards, incident to the wars against the Hyksos, but in Genesis it is recorded, that through the policy of Joseph in storing up a vast supply of grain during the seven years of plenty and then selling it to the people during the succeeding seven years of famine, Pharoah came to own all the land except that belonging to the temples. With the ownership of all the landed property, from which the king exacted one-fifth for rent, his power became despotic, and there were no strong subjects to check it. The middle order disappeared, leaving the king and his officials at the top and a multitude of slaves at the base of the social structure. Military chiefs and foreign mercenary troops became conspicuous. It was possible for foreigners to hold high positions; thus Joseph was sold by his brethern to Potiphar, who placed him at the head of the household, and afterward Pharaoh raised him to the highest office under the crown. The family of Jacob came into Egypt in great favor, due to the influence of Joseph, but afterward were reduced to hard service under severe taskmasters.
A marked characteristic of the system of government was minuteness of details in official orders and reports. The scribe was always at hand to note down every item of revenue received, every expenditure from the treasury, as well as every public act of the officials. A large proportion of the population consisted of serfs and bondmen, organized by companies under overseers, who drove them to their tasks as mercilessly as is usual with slaveholders. The workmen were divided into companies of artisans and laborers in each different kind of employment, and were treated with rigor and contempt by their superiors. Above them were officials of all degrees from the chief of the company to the governor. The laborers employed in the tombs and on the public works received their rations from the public granaries and storehouses. Records kept by chief workmen are still extant, showing the names of the workmen, the days on which they worked and failed to work and the reasons for failure. Sometimes strikes were caused by delaying or withholding their rations. Herodotus says the people were divided into seven distinct classes. Priests, warriors, cowherds, swineherds, tradesmen, interpreters and boatmen. That interpreters should be mentioned as a class shows that in his time the intercourse with foreigners was very extensive, else there could have been no need of many of them.
The family ordinarily consisted of husband, wife and children. Polygamy was rare, though the rich made concubines of maid servants. Ramses II took three royal consorts. The marriage of sisters was practiced, and seems to have been of increased frequency after the Greek conquest, at least among the kings. Among the lower classes morals were very low, and marriages often informal and broken at pleasure. There was no seclusion of women as under Mohammedan rule. Except among the baser sort, the natural bonds of affection between parents and children appear to have been as strong as elsewhere, and a marked peculiarity of the people was their inordinate reverence for and care of the dead. This did not end with embalming the body and building a costly tomb, but the dead required a distinct department of the government. Mothers nursed their children for three years, and in their early years kept them nude, but they had dolls and toys to play with. The school boy in ancient times was dressed with a girdle. Children of the upper classes were often sent away from home to school, even at a tender age. The school course included ethics, practical philosophy and manners. The road to political station was through the school, and the statesman must first become a scribe. A generous use of the rod was deemed essential to the proper development of the student. All classes appear to have shared to some extent in learning. Considering the great attention paid to letters by the Egyptians, it seems strange that connected histories have not been preserved to us. Fragments of official documents and correspondence and the inscriptions engraved on enduring monuments furnish the disjointed writings, from which the modern scholar must form his description of Egyptian civilization. They made much progress in astronomy, divided the year into 365 days and determined the direction of the poles with accuracy. In medicine the leading idea seems to have corresponded with that not long since abandoned, that the more. filthy and repulsive the substance, the more potent as a medicine. Many and most gross superstitions, too numerous for even a general description, were indulged in by all classes of the people. Something like a picture of the times is exhibited by the record of a celebrated case which came up in the time of Ramses IX (about 1100 B.C.). Under the governor in Thebes, there was a "prince of the town" over the eastern part, and a "prince of the west" or "chief of the police of the necropolis” over the western part, the city of the dead. Complaint was entered by the prince of the town that tombs in the necropolis had been robbed. The court having jurisdiction of the case consisted of “Cha emuese the superintendent of the town and governor” assisted by Nesanni, scribe of Pharoah and Neferckere-em-per-Amun the speaker of Pharaoh. A commission was appointed by the court to examine the tombs and report. This was done, and the report describes circumstantially what pyramids and mummy pits were examined. Out of ten, nine were found
kitsimmissioners reported “The Vast. It was found that the
ini penetrated into the mummy
user way out of the outer hall will be superintendent of food under : Be that the king's burial place had L. ; in the place also where the royal
v Juried the thieves had laid hands on try and the prince vassals ordered a thor
de made, and it was proved exactly by tres had laid hands on this king and on
w of the private tombs disclosed that those ways of the high-priestess of Amon Re, King of
ami been broken into and other private tombs. “It that they had all been broken into by the thieves,
Au am the lords (i.e. the bodies), out of their coffins to of their bandages, they had thrown them on the ost they had stolen the household stuff which had been
with them, together with the gold, silver and jewels Ni in their bandages.” The commission so reported, and the prince of the necropolis sent in the names of the supAlsed thieves, who were immediately arrested. They were examined," that is "beaten with stick on their hands and feet," until they confessed that they had entered the tomb of the king and taken rich ornaments of gold from the mummies of the king and queen and divided the booty among the eight robbers. To supplement and make good their confession they were required to identify the pyramid they had robbed. The governor and royal scribe commanded them to be taken in their presence to the necropolis, where they identified the tomb of Sebekemsaf as that to which their confession referred. The court thereupon made report to the Pharaoh, who alone could pronounce sentence in the case. Meanwhile the thieves were placed in custody of the high priest of Amon and confined in the prison of the temple! On suspicion of other desecrations a metal worker of bad repute was arrested and "examined.” He confessed that he had been in