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thousand years. Indeed the peculiar civilization, which still astonishes the world by its enduring monuments, can hardly be said to have existed in full vigor much later than the twelfth century B.C.
With the rise of the Asiatic and European nations, the military spirit of the Egyptians developed for a time, and their power was extended in all directions, yet though the Greeks borrowed their arts and their learning, and the light of their ancient civilization spread into Europe and Asia Minor, they planted no colonies which presented new and advancing types of the mother country. Nor to this day has the civilization peculiar to any other country taken firm root in Egypt. To all appearances the fellah of today is very nearly what his ancestor of three thousand years ago was, but the ruling spirits, who planned the great works and ordered the affairs of Egypt, are no more. The peasant serf is there, oppressed through taxation as severely as his ancestors were under the Pharaohs. He has learned to submit without resistance to the burdens imposed by foreign masters, as his forefathers submitted to the orders of Cheops in building a pyramid. Unlike the Chinese, the Egyptians have never been able to impose the spirit of their civilization on their conquerors, nor on the other hand have the conquerors been able to imbue new life into their subjects and by education develop a new civilization. The greatest marvel is that with the constant influx of Europeans and Asiatics into the rich valley, the type of man dwelling there has been modified to so slight a degree. The valley of the lower Nile is the tomb of a once great people, and the toiling peasants of today are hardly better representatives of the ancient spirit than the mummies, which have been preserved with so much care through the long centuries. Since the Greek conquest the government and laws of Egypt have been such as a foreign ruler has seen fit to impose.
George Rawlinson: Ancient Egypt.
CHALDEA, BABYLONIA, JUDEA AND PERSIA While only a small part of the people of Europe trace their descent from inhabitants of the territory in Asia now dominated by the Turks, religious teachings have caused them to regard some spot in or near this territory as the earliest home, not only of their own progenitors, but also of the whole human race. Egyptian civilization had its influence on Greeks and Romans, yet it has been far less regarded than that of the early people of the valleys of the Euphrates and Tigris and the region bordering on the eastern end of the Mediterranean. It is impossible to accurately measure the extent to which the religion, morals, laws and governments now existing, not only throughout Europe but wherever Europeans dominate, have been moulded by the lessons transmitted to us from those people. Comparative philology teaches the kinship of people long supposed to be altogether foreign to each other, and the Persians, Brahmans of India, Germans and allied people of Europe are all assigned to one race. Nevertheless the influence of the civilization of ancient Chaldea, Babylonia, Persia, Media, Assyria, Palestine, Phoenicia and Greek Asia has not descended to us with the blood of ancestors but mainly by example and teachings. The Biblical account of creation fills a space which substantially all people fill with fanciful and romantic accounts of a beginning. Belief in a particular account usually depends on the educational influences to which the individual is subjected. Records reaching back to the origin of any race of people are of necessity wholly lacking.
The earliest clear evidence of man and his works in the regions named is derived from the ruins of ancient cities. The oldest of these of which we have knowledge are of the Chaldeans, who occupied the lower valley of the Euphrates
and Tigris and neighboring country. According to the Bible, the Israelites derived their origin from the city of Ur in Chaldea. "And Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran his son's son and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram's wife, and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees to go unto the land of Canaan, and they came unto Haran and dwelt there”.1
The first people of whom any accounts are attainable, were familiar with the leading mechanical arts, the use of money, the cultivation of the soil, the use of domestic animals and the art of writing. As in Egypt formal written contracts were common and are found on the clay tablets disclosed by recent excavations. Abraham bought land and paid for it in silver. There were cities and villages, merchants and traders as well as hunters, herdsmen and husbandmen. How much or what part of their arts, if any, were borrowed is not known. The earliest records introduce us to the land of Shinar with its cities of Babel, Erech, Accad and Calneh and out of this country went forth Asshur and builded Nineveh.
From the earliest times throughout the whole region we are considering, with some exceptions hereafter noticed, the character of the governments, of which we have historic account, was military despotism without check or limitation on the power of the kings. Nothing can be more dreary than the recital of the rise and fall of successive dynasties, always tending to reproduce the same evils. Through the ancient tablets and cylinders, the Bible and the writings of historians, we are informed of the names and the military feats of many
rs styled successively, Chaldees, Babylonians, Assyrians, Medes, Persians, Parthians, Scythians, Bactrians, Arabs, Turks and Tartars. With all of them the fundamental idea of government has been similar if not identical, paternal kingly power. While this is clearly apparent, the structure of society at different periods has undoubtedly passed through many changes and modifications. These, owing to the vanity of kings and the lack of independent historians, are difficult to trace. The influence of the priesthood and of the religious
beliefs of the people has always been very great, and it is to this portion of the earth and neighboring portions of Asia, that we look as the birthplace of all the great religious systems, which have so profoundly impressed mankind, and which are now taught throughout the world. Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Christ and Mohammed have successively taught lessons which are accepted by generation after generation as the direct and authoritative expression of divine truth. The profound influence of these various teachings, not only on private morals but on governments, human laws, customs and the structure of society, is to be noticed everywhere. In the earliest times of which we have accounts, we find the people prone to have a special god or gods for each tribe or nation which gained a well defined status as such. The early Hebrews did not deny the existence of other gods besides Jehovah, but maintained his superiority. The Old Testament mentions numerous gods of the people with whom the Israelites contended, as really existing, but unworthy to be followed. The people were taught to be faithful to their own god. It is impossible to assign a date for the earliest general adoption of a belief in a single god, not only supreme in power but without rival or participant in authority. This singleness of spiritual power accorded with the human despotisms, which have flourished in that region and contrasts with the sprightly pantheon of the Greeks, who were experimentalists and jealous of unrestrained authority. With an absolute despot at the head of the government, the distribution of inferior and local authority was on the same principle. Wherever the king delegated his power to a satrap of a district, he ruled as a despot, accountable only to the king. The general purpose of all the different rulers, of whatever particular nation they chanced to come, in extending their dominions, was to collect tribute. There seems to have been very little disposition to interfere with the modes of life of the people or the local governments, so long as the tribute was paid. Egyptian conquest in Asia merely meant tribute from Asia to the Pharaoh, and when Egypt became subject to the Assyrians, and afterward the Persians, Egypt paid tribute to