Memphis And The Pyramids

Memphis, the "beautiful abode," the "City of the White Wall," is said

to have been founded by the legendary Menes, who in order to build it

diverted the stream of the Nile by means of a great dyke constructed

near the modern village of Koshesh, south of the village of Mitrahena,

which marks the central point of the ancient metropolis of Northern

Egypt. It may be that the city was founded by Aha or Narmer, the

originals of Mena or Menes; but we have another theory with

regard to its foundation, that it was originally built by King Merpeba

Atjab, whose tomb was also discovered at Abydos near those of Aha and

Narmer. Merpeba is the oldest king whose name is absolutely identified

with one occurring in the XIXth Dynasty king-lists and in Manetho. He

is certainly the "Merbap" or "Merbepa" ("Merbapen") of the lists and the

Miebis of Manetho. In both the lists and in Manetho he stands fifth in

order from Mena, and he was therefore the sixth king of the Ist Dynasty.

The lists, Manetho, and the small monuments in his own tomb agree in

making him the immediate successor of Semti Den (Ousaphais), and from

the style of these latter it is evident that he comes after Tja, Tjer,

Narmer, and Aha. That is to say, the contemporary evidence makes him the

fifth king from Aha, the first original of "Menes."

Now after the piety of Seti I had led him to erect a great temple at

Abydos in memory of the ancient kings, whose sepulchres had probably

been brought to light shortly before, and to compile and set up in the

temple a list of his predecessors, a certain pious snobbery or snobbish

piety impelled a worthy named Tunure, who lived at Memphis, to put up in

his own tomb at Sakkara a tablet of kings like the royal one at Abydos.

If Osiris-Khentamenti at Abydos had his tablet of kings, so should

Osiris-Seker at Sakkara. But Tunure does not begin his list with Mena;

his initial king is Merpeba. For him Merpeba was the first monarch to be

commemorated at Sakkara. Does not this look very much as if the strictly

historical Merpeba, not the rather legendary and confused Mena, was

regarded as the first Memphite king? It may well be that it was in

the reign of Merpeba, not in that of Aha or Narmer, that Memphis was


The XIXth Dynasty lists of course say nothing about Mena or Merpeba

having founded Memphis; they only give the names of the kings, nothing

more. The earliest authority for the ascription of Memphis to "Menes",

is Herodotus, who was followed in this ascription, as in many other

matters, by Manetho; but it must be remembered that Manetho was writing

for the edification of a Greek king (Ptolemy Philadelphus) and his Greek

court at Alexandria, and had therefore to evince a respect for the great

Greek classic which he may not always have really felt. Herodotus is

not, of course, accused of any wilful misstatement in this or in any

other matter in which his accuracy is suspected. He merely wrote

down what he was told by the Egyptians themselves, and Merpeba was

sufficiently near in time to Aha to be easily confounded with him by

the scribes of the Persian period, who no doubt ascribed everything

to "Mena" that was done by the kings of the Ist and IId Dynasties.

Therefore it may be considered quite probable that the "Menes" who

founded Memphis was Merpeba, the fifth or sixth king of the Ist Dynasty,

whom Tunure, a thousand years before the time of Herodotus and his

informants, placed at the head of the Memphite "List of Sakkara."

The reconquest of the North by Khasekhemui doubtless led to a further

strengthening of Memphis; and it is quite possible that the deeds of

this king also contributed to make up the sum total of those ascribed to

the Herodotean and Manethonian Menes.

It may be that a town of the Northerners existed here before the time of

the Southern Conquest, for Phtah, the local god of Memphis, has a very

marked character of his own, quite different from that of Khen-tamenti,

the Osiris of Abydos. He is always represented as a little bow-legged

hydrocephalous dwarf very like the Phoenician Kabeiroi. It may be

that here is another connection between the Northern Egyptians and the

Semites. The name "Phtah," the "Opener," is definitely Semitic. We may

then regard the dwarf Phtah as originally a non-Egyptian god of the

Northerners, probably Semitic in origin, and his town also as antedating

the conquest. But it evidently was to the Southerners that Memphis owed

its importance and its eventual promotion to the position of capital of

the united kingdom. Then the dwarf Phtah saw himself rivalled by another

Phtah of Southern Egyptian origin, who had been installed at Memphis by

the Southerners. This Phtah was a sort of modified edition of Osiris, in

mummy-form and holding crook and whip, but with a refined edition of

the Kabeiric head of the indigenous Phtah. The actual god of "the White

Wall" was undoubtedly confused vith the dead god of the necropolis,

whose name was Seker or Sekri (Sokari), "the Coffined." The original

form of this deity was a mummied hawk upon a coffin, and it is very

probable that he was imported from the South, like the second Phtah, at

the time of the conquest, when the great Northern necropolis began

to grow up as a duplicate of that at Abydos. Later on we find Seker

confused with the ancient dwarf-god, and it is the latter who was

afterwards chiefly revered as Phtah-Socharis-Osiris, the protector of

the necropolis, the mummied Phtah being the generally recognized ruler

of the City of the White Wall.

It is from the name of Seker that the modern Sak-kara takes its title.

Sakkara marks the central point of the great Memphite necropolis, as it

is the nearest point of the western desert to Memphis. Northwards the

necropolis extended to Griza and Abu Roash, southwards, to Daslmr;

even the necropoles of Lisht and Medum may be regarded as appanages of

Sakkara. At Sakkara itself Tjeser of the IIId Dynasty had a pyramid,

which, as we have seen, was probably not his real tomb (which was

the great mastaba at Bet Khallaf), but a secondary or sham tomb

corresponding to the "tombs" of the earliest kings at Umm el-Ga'ab in

the necropolis of Abydos. Many later kings, however, especially of the

Vith Dynasty, were actually buried at Sakkara. Their tombs have all been

thoroughly described by their discoverer, Prof. Maspero, in his history.

The last king of the Hid Dynasty, Snefru, was buried away down south at

Medum, in splendid isolation, but he may also have had a second pyramid

at Sakkara or Abu Roash.

The kings of the IVth Dynasty were the greatest of the pyramid builders,

and to them belong the huge edifices of Griza. The Vth Dynasty favoured

Abusir, between Ciza and Sakkara; the Vith, as we have said, preferred

Sakkara itself. With them the end of the Old Kingdom and of Memphite

dominion was reached; the sceptre fell from the hands of the Memphite

kings and was taken up by the princes of Herakleopolis (Ahnasyet

el-Medina, near Beni Suef, south of the Eayyum) and Thebes. Where the

Herakleopolite kings were buried we do not know; probably somewhere in

the local necropolis of the Gebel es-Sedment, between Ahnasya and the

Fayyum. The first Thebans (the XIth Dynasty) were certainly buried at

Thebes, but when the Herakleopolites had finally disappeared, and all

Egypt was again united under one strong sceptre, the Theban kings seem

to have been drawn northwards. They removed to the seat of the dominion

of those whom they had supplanted, and they settled in the neighbourhood

of Herakleopolis, near the fertile province of the Fayyum, and between

it and Memphis. Here, in the royal fortress-palace of Itht-taui,

"Controlling the Two Lands," the kings of the XIIth Dynasty lived,

and they were buried in the necropoles of Dashur, Lisht, and Illahun

(Hawara), in pyramids like those of the old Memphite kings. These facts,

of the situation of Itht-taui, of their burial in the southern an ex of

the old necropolis of Memphis, and of the fori of their tombs (the

true Upper Egyptian and Thebian form was a rock-cut gallery and chamber

driven deep into the hill), show how solicitous were the Amenemhats

and Senusrets of the suffrages of Lower Egypt, how anxious they were to

conciliate the ancient royal pride of Memphis.

Where the kings of the XIIIth Dynasty and the Hyksos or "Shepherds" were

buried, we do not know. The kings of the restored Theban empire were

all interred at Thebes. There are, in fact, no known royal sepulchres

between the Fayyum and Abydos. The great kings were mostly buried in

the neighbourhood of Memphis, Abydos, and Thebes. The sepulchres of the

"Middle Empire"--the XIth to XIIIth Dynasties--in the neighbourhood

of the Fayyum may fairly be grouped with those of the same period at

Dashur, which belongs to the necropolis of Memphis, since it is only a

mile or two south of Sakkara.

It is chiefly with regard to the sepulchres of the kings that the most

momentous discoveries of recent years have been made at Thebes, and at

Sakkara, Abusir, Dashur, and Lisht, as at Abydos. For this reason we

deal in succession with the finds in the necropoles of Abydos, Memphis,

and Thebes respectively. And with the sepulchres of the "Old Kingdom,"

in the Memphite necropolis proper, we have naturally grouped those of

the "Middle Kingdom" at Dashur, Lisht, Illahun, and Hawara.

Some of these modern discoveries have been commented on and illustrated

by Prof. Maspero in his great history. But the discoveries that have

been made since this publication have been very important,--those at

Abusir, indeed, of first-rate importance, though not so momentous as

those of the tombs of the Ist and IId Dynasties at Abydos, already

described. At Abu Roash and at Giza, at the northern end of the Memphite

necropolis, several expeditions have had considerable success, notably

those of the American Dr. Reisner, assisted by Mr. Mace, who excavated

the royal tombs at Umm el-Ga'ab for Prof. Petrie, those of the

German Drs. Steindorff and Borchardt,--the latter working for the

Beutsch-Orient Gesellschaft,--and those of other American excavators.

Until the full publication of the results of these excavations appears,

very little can be said about them. Many mastaba-tombs have, it is

understood, been found, with interesting remains. Nothing of great

historical importance seems to have been discovered, however. It is

otherwise when we come to the discoveries of Messrs. Borchardt and

Schafer at Abusir, south of Giza and north of Sakkara. At this place

results of first-rate historical importance have been attained.

The main group of pyramids at Abusir consists of the tombs of the kings

Sahura, Neferarikara, and Ne-user-Ra, of the Vth Dynasty. The pyramids

themselves are smaller than those of Giza, but larger than those of

Sakkara. In general appearance and effect they resemble those of Giza,

but they are not so imposing, as the desert here is low. Those of Giza,

Sakkara, and Dashur owe much of their impressiveness to the fact that

they are placed at some height above the cultivated land. The excavation

and planning of these pyramids were carried out by Messrs. Borchardt and

Schafer at the expense of Baron von Bissing, the well-known Egyptologist

of Munich, and of the Deutsch-Orient Gesell-schaft of Berlin. The

antiquities found have been divided between the museums of Berlin and


One of the most noteworthy discoveries was that of the funerary temple

of Ne-user-Ra, which stood at the base of his pyramid. The plan is

interesting, and the granite lotus-bud columns found are the most

ancient yet discovered in Egypt. Much of the paving and the wainscoting

of the walls was of fine black marble, beautifully polished. An

interesting find was a basin and drain with lion's-head mouth, to

carry away the blood of the sacrifices. Some sculptures in relief were

discovered, including a gigantic representation of the king and the

goddess Isis, which shows that in the early days of the Vth Dynasty the

king and the gods were already depicted in exactly the same costume as

they wore in the days of the Ramses and the Ptolemies. The hieratic art

of Egypt had, in fact, now taken on itself the final outward appearance

which it retained to the very end. There is no more of the archaism

and absence of conventionality, which marks the art of the earliest


We can trace by successive steps the swift development of Egyptian art

from the rude archaism of the Ist Dynasty to its final consummation

under the Vth, when the conventions became fixed. In the time of

Khaesekhemui, at the beginning of the IId Dynasty, the archaic character

of the art has already begun to wear off. Under the same dynasty we

still have styles of unconventional naivete, such as the famous Statue

"No. 1" of the Cairo Museum, bearing the names of Kings Hetepahaui,

Neb-ra, and Neneter. But with the IVth Dynasty we no longer look for

unconventionality. Prof. Petrie discovered at Abydos a small ivory

statuette of Khufu or Cheops, the builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The portrait is a good one and carefully executed. It was not till

the time of the XVIIIth Dynasty, indeed, that the Egyptians ceased

to portray their kings as they really were, and gave them a purely

conventional type of face. This convention, against which the heretical

King Amenhetep IV (Akhunaten) rebelled, in order to have himself

portrayed in all his real ungainliness and ugliness, did not exist till

long after the time of the IVth and Vth Dynasties.


The kings of the XIIth Dynasty especially were most careful that their

statues should be accurate portraits; indeed, the portraits of Usertsen

(Senusret) III vary from a young face to an old one, showing that the

king was faithfully depicted at different periods of his life.

But the general conventions of dress and deportment were finally fixed

under the Vth Dynasty. After this time we no longer have such absolutely

faithful and original presentments as the other little ivory statuette

found by Prof. Petrie at Abydos (now in the British Museum), which shows

us an aged monarch of the Ist Dynasty. It is obvious that the features

are absolutely true to life, and the figure wears an unconventionally

party-coloured and bordered robe of a kind which kings of a later day

may have worn in actual life, but which they would assuredly never be

depicted as wearing by the artists of their day. To the end of Egyptian

history, the kings, even the Roman emperors, were represented on the

monuments clothed in the official costume of their ancestors of the IVth

and Vth Dynasties, in the same manner as we see Khufu wearing his robe

in the little figure from Abydos, and Ne-user-Ra on the great

relief from Abusir. There are one or two exceptions, such as the

representations of the original genius Akhunaten at Tell el-Amarna and

the beautiful statue of Ramses II at Turin, in which we see these kings

wearing the real costume of their time, but such exceptions are very


The art of Abusir is therefore of great interest, since it marks the end

of the development of the priestly art. Secular art might develop as it

liked, though the crystallizing influence of the ecclesiastical canon is

always evident here also. But henceforward it was an impiety, which only

an Akhunaten could commit, to depict a king or a god on the walls of a

temple otherwise (except so far as, the portrait was concerned) than as

he had been depicted in the time of the Vth Dynasty.

Other buildings have been excavated by the Germans at Abusir, notably

the usual town of mastaba-tombs belonging to the chief dignitaries of

the reign, which is always found at the foot of a royal pyramid of this

period. Another building of the highest interest, belonging to the same

age, was also excavated, and its true character was determined. This is

a building at a place called er-Righa or Abu Ghuraib, "Father of Crows,"

between Abusir and Giza. It was formerly supposed to be a pyramid, but

the German excavations have shown that it is really a temple of the

Sun-god Ra of Heliopolis, specially venerated by the kings of the Vth

Dynasty, who were of Heliopolitan origin. The great pyramid-builders of

the IVth Dynasty seem to have been the last true Memphites. At the end

of the reign of Shepseskaf, the last monarch of the dynasty, the sceptre

passed to a Heliopolitan family. The following VIth Dynasty may again

have been Memphite, but this is uncertain. The capital continued to be

Memphis, and from the beginning of the Hid Dynasty to the end of the Old

Kingdom and the rise of Herakle-opolis and Thebes, Memphis remained the

chief city of Egypt.

The Heliopolitans were naturally the servants of the Sun-god above all

other gods, and they were the first to call themselves "Sons of the

Sun," a title retained by the Pharaohs throughout all subsequent

history. It was Ne-user-Ra who built the Sun-temple of Abu Ghuraib,

on the edge of the desert, north of his pyramid and those of his two

immediate predecessors at Abusir. As now laid bare by the excavations of

1900, it is seen to consist of an artificial mound, with a great court

in front to the eastward. On the mound was erected a truncated obelisk,

the stone emblem of the Sun-god. The worshippers in the court below

looked towards the Sun's stone erected upon its mound in the west,

the quarter of the sun's setting; for the Sun-god of Heliopolis was

primarily the setting sun, Tum-Ra, not Ra Harmachis, the rising sun,

whose emblem is the Great Sphinx at Giza, which looks towards the east.

The sacred emblem of the Heliopolitan Sun-god reminds us forcibly of the

Semitic bethels or baetyli, the sacred stones of Palestine, and may

give yet another hint of the Semitic origin of the Heliopolitan cult.

In the court of the temple is a huge circular altar of fine alabaster,

several feet across, on which slain oxen were offered to the Sun, and

behind this, at the eastern end of the court, are six great basins of

the same stone, over which the beasts were slain, with drains running

out of them by which their blood was carried away. This temple is a most

interesting monument of the civilization of the "Old Kingdom" at the time

of the Vth Dynasty.

At Sakkara itself, which lies a short distance south of Abusir, no new

royal tombs have, as has been said, been discovered of late years. But a

great deal of work has been done among the private mastaba-tombs by the

officers of the Service des Antiquites, which reserves to itself the

right of excavation here and at Dashur. The mastaba of the sage and

writer Kagernna (or rather Gemnika, "I-have-found-a-ghost," which

sounds very like an American Indian appellation) is very fine.

"I-have-found-a-ghost" lived in the reign of the king Tatkara Assa, the

"Tancheres" of Manetho, and he wrote maxims like his great contemporary

Phtahhetep ("Offered to Phtah"), who was also buried at Sakkara. The

officials of the Service des Antiquites who cleaned the tomb unluckily

misread his name Ka-bi-n (an impossible form which could only mean,

literally translated, "Ghost-soul-of" or "Ghost-soul-to-me"), and they

have placed it in this form over the entrance to his tomb. This mastaba,

like those, already known, of Mereruka (sometimes misnamed "Mera")

and the famous Ti, both also at Sakkara, contains a large number of

chambers, ornamented with reliefs. In the vicinity M. Grebaut, then

Director of the Service of Antiquities, discovered a very interesting

Street of Tombs, a regular Via Sacra, with rows of tombs of the

dignitaries of the VIth Dynasty on either side of it. They are generally

very much like one another; the workmanship of the reliefs is fine, and

the portrait of the owner of the tomb is always in evidence.

Several of the smaller mastabas have lately been disposed of to the

various museums, as they are liable to damage if they remain where they

stand; moreover, they are not of great value to the Museum of Cairo,

but are of considerable value to various museums which do not already

possess complete specimens of this class of tombs. A fine one, belonging

to the chief Uerarina, is now exhibited in the Assyrian Basement of the

British Museum; another is in the Museum of Leyden; a third at Berlin,

and so on. Most of these are simple tombs of one chamber. In the centre

of the rear wall we always see the stele or gravestone proper,

built into the fabric of the tomb. Before this stood the low table

of offerings with a bowl for oblations, and on either side a tall

incense-altar. From the altar the divine smoke (senetr) arose when

the hen-ka, or priest of the ghost (literally, "Ghost's Servant"),

performed his duty of venerating the spirits of the deceased, while the

Kher-heb, or cantor, enveloped in the mystic folds of the leopard-skin

and with bronze incense-burner in hand, sang the holy litanies and

spells which should propitiate the ghost and enable him to win his way

to ultimate perfection in the next world.

The stele is always in the form of a door with pyloni-form cornice. On

either side is a figure of the deceased, and at the sides are carved

prayers to Anubis, and at a later date to Osiris, who are implored to

give the funerary meats and "everything good and pure on which the god

there (as the dead man in the tomb has been constituted) lives;" often

we find that the biography and list of honorary titles and dignities of

the deceased have been added.

Sakkara was used as a place of burial in the latest as well as in the

earliest time. The Egyptians of the XXVIth Dynasty, wearied of the long

decadence and devastating wars which had followed the glorious epoch of

the conquering Pharaohs of the XVIIIth and XIXth Dynasties, turned for

a new and refreshing inspiration to the works of the most ancient kings,

when Egypt was a simple self-contained country, holding no intercourse

with outside lands, bearing no outside burdens for the sake of pomp and

glory, and knowing nothing of the decay and decadence which follows in

the train of earthly power and grandeur. They deliberately turned their

backs on the worn-out and discredited imperial trappings of the Thothmes

and Ramses, and they took the supposed primitive simplicity of the

Snefrus, the Khufus, and the Ne-user-Ras for a model and ensampler to

their lives. It was an age of conscious and intended archaism, and in

pursuit of the archaistic ideal the Mem-phites of the Saite age had

themselves buried in the ancient necropolis of Sakkara, side by side

with their ancestors of the time of the Vth and VIth Dynasties. Several

of these tombs have lately been discovered and opened, and fitted with

modern improvements. One or two of them, of the Persian period, have

wells (leading to the sepulchral chamber) of enormous depth, down which

the modern tourist is enabled to descend by a spiral iron staircase. The

Serapeum itself is lit with electricity, and in the Tombs of the Kings

at Thebes nothing disturbs the silence but the steady thumping pulsation

of the dynamo-engine which lights the ancient sepulchres of the

Pharaohs. Thus do modern ideas and inventions help us to see and so to

understand better the works of ancient Egypt. But it is perhaps a little

too much like the Yankee at the Court of King Arthur. The interiors of

the later tombs are often decorated with reliefs which imitate those of

the early period, but with a kind of delicate grace which at once marks

them for what they are, so that it is impossible to confound them with

the genuine ancient originals from which they were adapted.

Riding from Sakkara southwards to Dashur, we pass on the way the

gigantic stone mastaba known as the Mastabat el-Fara'un, "Pharaoh's

Bench." This was considered to be the tomb of the Vth Dynasty king,

Unas, until his pyramid was found by Prof. Maspero at Sakkara. From its

form it might be thought to belong to a monarch of the Hid Dynasty, but

the great size of the stone blocks of which it is built seems to point

rather to the XIIth. All attempts to penetrate its secret by actual

excavation have been unavailing.

Further south across the desert we see from the Mastabat el-Fara'un

four distinct pyramids, symmetrically arranged in two lines, two in each

line. The two to the right are great stone erections of the usual

type, like those of Giza and Abusir, and the southernmost of them has a

peculiar broken-backed appearance, due to the alteration of the angle

of inclination of its sides during construction. Further, it is covered

almost to the ground by the original casing of polished white limestone

blocks, so that it gives a very good idea of the original appearance

of the other pyramids, which have lost their casing. These two

pyramids very probably belong to kings of the Hid Dynasty, as does the

Step-Pyramid of Sakkara. They strongly resemble the Giza type, and

the northernmost of the two looks very like an understudy of the Great

Pyramid. It seems to mark the step in the development of the royal

pyramid which was immediately followed by the Great Pyramid. But no

excavations have yet proved the accuracy of this view. Both pyramids

have been entered, but nothing has been found in them. It is very

probable that one of them is the second pyramid of Snefru.

The other two pyramids, those nearest the cultivation, are of very

different appearance. They are half-ruined, they are black in colour,

and their whole effect is quite different from that of the stone

pyramids. For they are built of brick, not of stone. They are pyramids,

it is true, but of a different material and of a different date from

those which we have been describing. They are built above the sepulchres

of kings of the XIIth Dynasty, the Theban house which transferred

its residence northwards to the neighbourhood of the ancient Northern

capital. We have, in fact, reached the end of the Old Kingdom at

Sakkara; at Dashur begin the sepulchres of the Middle Kingdom. Pyramids

are still built, but they are not always of stone; brick is used,

usually with stone in the interior. The general effect of these brick

pyramids, when new, must have been indistinguishable from that of the

stone ones, and even now, when it has become half-ruined, such a great

brick pyramid as that of Usertsen (Senusret) III at Dashur is not

without impressiveness. After all, there is no reason why a brick

building should be less admirable than a stone one. And in its own way

the construction of such colossal masses of bricks as the two eastern

pyramids of Dashur must have been as arduous, even as difficult, as that

of building a moderate-sized stone pyramid. The photograph of the brick

pyramids of Dashur on this page shows well the great size of these

masses of brickwork, which are as impressive as any of the great brick

structures of Babylonia and Assyria.

XIITH DYNASTY. Excavated by M. de Morgan, 1895. This is the

secondary tomb of Amenemhat III; about 2200 B.C.

The XIIth Dynasty use of brick for the royal tombs was a return to the

custom of earlier days, for from the time of Aha to that Tjeser, from

the 1st Dynasty to the Hid, brick had been used for the building of the

royal mastaba-tombs, out of which the pyramids had developed.

At this point, where we take leave of the great pyramids of the Old

Kingdom, we may notice the latest theory as to the building of these

monuments, which has of late years been enunciated by Dr. Borchardt, and

is now generally accepted. The great Prussian explorer Lepsius, when he

examined the pyramids in the 'forties, came to the conclusion that each

king, when he ascended the throne, planned a small pyramid for himself.

This was built in a few years' time, and if his reign were short, or if

he were unable to enlarge the pyramid for other reasons, it sufficed for

his tomb. If, however, his reign seemed likely to be one of some length,

after the first plan was completed he enlarged his pyramid by building

another and a larger one around it and over it. Then again, when this

addition was finished, and the king still reigned and was in possession

of great resources, yet another coating, so to speak, was put on to the

pyramid, and so on till colossal structures like the First and Second

Pyramid of Giza, which, we know, belonged to kings who were unusually

long-lived, were completed. And finally the aged monarch died, and was

buried in the huge tomb which his long life and his great power had

enabled him to erect. This view appeared eminently reasonable at the

time, and it seemed almost as though we ought to be able to tell whether

a king had reigned long or not by the size of his pyramid, and even

to obtain a rough idea of the length of his reign by counting the

successive coats or accretions which it had received, much as we tell

the age of a tree by the rings in its bole. A pyramid seemed to have

been constructed something after the manner of an onion or a Chinese


Prof. Petrie, however, who examined the Griza pyramids in 1881, and

carefully measured them all up and finally settled their trigonometrical

relation, came to the conclusion that Lepsius's theory was entirely

erroneous, and that every pyramid was built and now stands as it was

originally planned. Dr.

Borchardt, however, who is an architect by profession, has examined

the pyramids again, and has come to the conclusion that Prof. Petrie's

statement is not correct, and that there is an element of truth in

Lepsius's hypothesis. He has shown that several of the pyramids, notably

the First and Second at Giza, show unmistakable signs of a modified,

altered, and enlarged plan; in fact, long-lived kings like Khufu seem

to have added considerably to their pyramids and even to have entirely

remodelled them on a larger scale. This has certainly been the case with

the Great Pyramid. We can, then, accept Lepsius's theory as modified by

Dr. Borchardt.

Another interesting point has arisen in connection with the Great

Pyramid. Considerable difference of opinion has always existed between

Egyptologists and the professors of European archaeology with regard

to the antiquity of the knowledge of iron in Egypt. The majority of

the Egyptologists have always maintained, on the authority of the

inscriptions, that iron was known to the ancient Egyptians from the

earliest period. They argued that the word for a certain metal in old

Egyptian was the same as the Coptic word for "iron." They stated that in

the most ancient religious texts the Egyptians spoke of the firmament

of heaven as made of this metal, and they came to the conclusion that it

was because this metal was blue in colour, the hue of iron or steel; and

they further pointed out that some of the weapons in the tomb-paintings

were painted blue and others red, some being of iron, that is to

say, others of copper or bronze. Finally they brought forward as

incontrovertible evidence an actual fragment of worked iron, which had

been found between two of the inner blocks, down one of the air-shafts,

in the Great Pyramid. Here was an actual piece of iron of the time of

the IVth Dynasty, about 3500 B.C.

This conclusion was never accepted by the students of the development of

the use of metal in prehistoric Europe, when they came to know of it.

No doubt their incredulity was partly due to want of appreciation of the

Egyptological evidence, partly to disinclination to accept a conclusion

which did not at all agree with the knowledge they had derived from

their own study of prehistoric Europe. In Southern Europe it was quite

certain that iron did not come into use till about 1000 B.C.; in Central

Europe, where the discoveries at Hallstatt in the Salzkammergut exhibit

the transition from the Age of Bronze to that of Iron, about 800 B.C.

The exclusively Iron Age culture of La Tene cannot be dated earlier than

the eighth century, if as early as that. How then was it possible that,

if iron had been known to the Egyptians as early as 3500 B.C., its

knowledge should not have been communicated to the Europeans until over

two thousand years later? No; iron could not have been really known to

the Egyptians much before 1000 B.C. and the Egyptological evidence was

all wrong. This line of argument was taken by the distinguished

Swedish archaeologist, Prof. Oscar Montelius, of Upsala, whose previous

experience in dealing with the antiquities of Northern Europe, great as

it was, was hardly sufficient to enable him to pronounce with authority

on a point affecting far-away African Egypt. And when dealing with Greek

prehistoric antiquities Prof. Montelius's views have hardly met with

that ready agreement which all acknowledge to be his due when he is

giving us the results of his ripe knowledge of Northern antiquities. He

has, in fact, forgotten, as most "prehistoric" archaeologists do forget,

that the antiquities of Scandinavia, Greece, Egypt, the Semites,

the bronze-workers of Benin, the miners of Zimbabwe, and the Ohio

mound-builders are not to be treated all together as a whole, and that

hard and fast lines of development cannot be laid down for them, based

on the experience of Scandinavia.

We may perhaps trace this misleading habit of thought to the influence

of the professors of natural science over the students of Stone Age and

Bronze Age antiquities. Because nature moves by steady progression and

develops on even lines--nihil facit per sal-tum--it seems to have been

assumed that the works of man's hands have developed in the same way,

in a regular and even scheme all over the world. On this supposition it

would be impossible for the great discovery of the use of iron to have

been known in Egypt as early as 3500 B.C. for this knowledge to have

remained dormant there for two thousand years, and then to have

been suddenly communicated about 1000 B.C. to Greece, spreading with

lightning-like rapidity over Europe and displacing the use of bronze

everywhere. Yet, as a matter of fact, the work of man does develop

in exactly this haphazard way, by fits and starts and sudden leaps of

progress after millennia of stagnation. Throwsback to barbarism are just

as frequent. The analogy of natural evolution is completely inapplicable

and misleading.

Prof. Montelius, however, following the "evolutionary" line of thought,

believed that because iron was not known in Europe till about 1000 B.C.

it could not have been known in Egypt much earlier; and in an important

article which appeared in the Swedish ethnological journal Ymer in

1883, entitled Bronsaldrn i Egypten ("The Bronze Age in Egypt"), he

essayed to prove the contrary arguments of the Egyptologists wrong. His

main points were that the colour of the weapons in the frescoes was of

no importance, as it was purely conventional and arbitrary, and that the

evidence of the piece of iron from the Great Pyramid was insufficiently

authenticated, and therefore valueless, in the absence of other definite

archaeological evidence in the shape of iron of supposed early date. To

this article the Swedish Egyptologist, Dr. Piehl, replied in the same

periodical, in an article entitled Bronsaldem i Egypten, in which he

traversed Prof. Montelius's conclusions from the Egyptological point of

view, and adduced other instances of the use of iron in Egypt, all,

it is true, later than the time of the IVth Dynasty. But this protest

received little notice, owing to the fact that it remained buried in

a Swedish periodical, while Prof. Montelius's original article was

translated into French, and so became well-known.

For the time Prof. Montelius's conclusions were generally accepted, and

when the discoveries of the prehistoric antiquities were made by M. de

Morgan, it seemed more probable than ever that Egypt had gone through a

regular progressive development from the Age of Stone through those of

copper and bronze to that of iron, which was reached about 1100 or 1000

B.C. The evidence of the iron fragment from the Great Pyramid was put on

one side, in spite of the circumstantial account of its discovery

which had been given by its finders. Even Prof. Petrie, who in 1881

had accepted the pyramid fragment as undoubtedly contemporary with that

building, and had gone so far as to adduce additional evidence for its

authenticity, gave way, and accepted Montelius's view, which held its

own until in 1902 it was directly controverted by a discovery of Prof.

Petrie at Abydos. This discovery consisted of an undoubted fragment of

iron found in conjunction with bronze tools of VIth Dynasty date; and it

settled the matter.* The VIth Dynasty date of this piece of iron, which

was more probably worked than not (since it was buried with tools), was

held to be undoubted by its discoverer and by everybody else, and, if

this were undoubted, the IVth Dynasty date of the Great Pyramid fragment

was also fully established. The discoverers of the earlier fragment had

no doubt whatever as to its being contemporary with the pyramid, and

were supported in this by Prof. Petrie in 1881. Therefore it is now

known to be the fact that iron was used by the Egyptians as early as

3500 B.C.**

* See H. R. Hall's note on "The Early Use of Iron in Egypt,"

in Man (the organ of the Anthropological Society of

London), iii (1903), No. 86.

** Prof. Montelius objected to these conclusions in a review

of the British Museum "Guide to the Antiquities of the

Bronze Age," which was published in Man, 1005 (Jan.), No 7.

For an answer to these objections, see Hall, ibid., No. 40.

It would thus appear that though the Egyptians cannot be said to have

used iron generally and so to have entered the "Iron Age" before about

1300 B.C. (reign of Ramses II), yet iron was well known to them and had

been used more than occasionally by them for tools and building purposes

as early as the time of the IVth Dynasty, about 3500 B.C. Certainly

dated examples of its use occur under the IVth, VIth, and XIIIth

Dynasties. Why this knowledge was not communicated to Europe before

about 1000 B.C. we cannot say, nor are Egyptologists called upon to find

the reason. So the Great Pyramid has played an interesting part in the

settlement of a very important question.

It was supposed by Prof. Petrie that the piece of iron from the Great

Pyramid had been part of some arrangement employed for raising the

stones into position. Herodotus speaks of the machines, which were used

to raise the stones, as made of little pieces of wood. The generally

accepted explanation of his meaning used to be that a small crane or

similar wooden machine was used for hoisting the stone by means

of pulley and rope; but M. Legrain, the director of the works of

restoration in the Great Temple of Karnak, has explained it differently.

Among the "foundation deposits" of the XVIIIth Dynasty at Der el-Bahari

and elsewhere, beside the little plaques with the king's name and the

model hoes and vases, was usually found an enigmatic wooden object like

a small cradle, with two sides made of semicircular pieces of wood,

joined along the curved portion by round wooden bars. M. Legrain has now

explained this as a model of the machine used to raise heavy stones from

tier to tier of a pyramid or other building, and illustrations of

the method of its use may be found in Choisy's Art de Batir chez les

anciens Egyptiens. There is little doubt that this primitive machine

is that to which Herodotus refers as having been used in the erection of

the pyramids.

The later historian, Diodorus, also tells us that great mounds or ramps

of earth were used as well, and that the stones were dragged up these

to the requisite height. There is no doubt that this statement also is

correct. We know that the Egyptians did build in this very way, and

the system has been revived by M. Legrain for his work at Karnak, where

still exist the remains of the actual mounds and ramps by which the

great western pylon was erected in Ptolemaic times. Work carried on

in this way is slow and expensive, but it is eminently suited to the

country and understood by the people. If they wish to put a great stone

architrave weighing many tons across the top of two columns, they do not

hoist it up into position; they rear a great ramp or embankment of earth

against the two pillars, half-burying them in the process, then drag

the architrave up the ramp by means of ropes and men, and put it into

position. Then the ramp is cleared away. This is the ancient system

which is now followed at Karnak, and it is the system by which, with the

further aid of the wooden machines, the Great Pyramid and its compeers

were erected in the days of the IVth Dynasty. Plus cela change, plus

c'est la meme chose.

The brick pyramids of the XIIth Dynasty were erected in the same way,

for the Egyptians had no knowledge of the modern combination of wooden

scaffolding and ladders. There was originally a small stone pyramid of

the same dynasty at Dashur, half-way between the two brick ones, but

this has now almost disappeared. It belonged to the king Amenemhat II,

while the others belonged, the northern to Usertsen (Sen-usret) III, the

southern to Amenemhat III. Both these latter monarchs had other tombs

elsewhere, Usertsen a great rock-cut gallery and chamber in the cliff at

Abydos, Amenemhat a pyramid not very far to the south, at Hawara, close

to the Fayyum. It is uncertain whether the Hawara pyramid or that of

Dashur was the real burial-place of the king, as at neither place is his

name found alone. At Hawara it is found in conjunction with that of his

daughter, the queen-regnant Se-bekneferura (Skemiophris), at Dashur with

that of a king Auabra Hor, who was buried in a small tomb near that of

the king, and adjoining the tombs of the king's children. Who King Hor

was we do not quite know. His name is not given in the lists, and was

unknown until M. de Morgan's discoveries at Dashur. It is most probable

that he was a prince who was given royal honours during the lifetime of

Amenemhat III, whom he predeceased.* In the beautiful wooden statue

of him found in his tomb, which is now in the Cairo Museum, he is

represented as quite a youth. Amenemhat III was certainly succeeded by

Amenemhat IV, and it is impossible to intercalate Hor between them.

* See below, p. 121. Possibly he was a son of Amenemhat III.

The identification of the owners of the three western pyramids of Dashur

is due to M. de Morgan and his assistants, Messrs. Legrain and Jequier,

who excavated them from 1894 till 1896. The northern pyramid, that of

Usertsen (Senusret) III, is not so well preserved as the southern. It is

more worn away, and does not present so imposing an appearance. In

both pyramids the outer casing of white stone has entirely disappeared,

leaving only the bare black bricks. Each stood in the midst of a great

necropolis of dignitaries of the period, as was usually the case.

Many of the mastabas were excavated by M. de Morgan. Some are of older

periods than the XIIth Dynasty, one belonging to a priest of King

Snefru, Aha-f-ka ("Ghost-fighter"), who bore the additional titles of

"director of prophets and general of infantry." There were pluralists

even in those days. And the distinction between the privy councillor

(Geheimrat) and real privy councillor (Wirk-licher-Greheimrat) was quite

familiar; for we find it actually made, many an old Egyptian officially

priding himself in his tomb on having been a real privy councillor! The

Egyptian bureaucracy was already ancient and had its survivals and its

anomalies even as early as the time of the pyramid-builders.

In front of the pyramid of Usertsen (Senusret) III at one time stood the

usual funerary temple, but it has been totally destroyed. By the side of

the pyramid were buried some of the princesses of the royal family, in

a series of tombs opening out of a subterranean gallery, and in this

gallery were found the wonderful jewels of the princesses Sit-hathor and

Merit, which are among the greatest treasures of the Cairo Museum. Those

who have not seen them can obtain a perfect idea of their appearance

from the beautiful water-colour paintings of them by M. Legrain, which

are published in M. de Morgan's work on the "Fouilles a Dahchour"

(Vienna, 1895). Altogether one hundred and seven objects were recovered,

consisting of all kinds of jewelry in gold and coloured stones. Among

the most beautiful are the great "pectorals," or breast-ornaments, in

the shape of pylons, with the names of Usertsen II, Usertsen III, and

Amenemhat III; the names are surrounded by hawks standing on the sign

for gold, gryphons, figures of the king striking down enemies, etc., all

in cloisonne work, with beautiful stones such as lapis lazuli, green

felspar, and carnelian taking the place of coloured enamels. The massive

chains of golden beads and cowries are also very remarkable. These

treasures had been buried in boxes in the floor of the subterranean

gallery, and had luckily escaped the notice of plunderers, and so by a

fortunate chance have survived to tell us what the Egyptian jewellers

could do in the days of the XIIth Dynasty. Here also were found two

great Nile barges, full-sized boats, with their oars and other gear

complete. They also may be seen in the Museum of Cairo. It can only be

supposed that they had served as the biers of the royal mummies, and had

been brought up in state on sledges. The actual royal chamber was not

found, although a subterranean gallery was driven beneath the centre of

the pyramid.

The southern brick pyramid was constructed in the same way as the

northern one. At the side of it were also found the tombs of members of

the royal house, including that of the king Hor, already mentioned, with

its interesting contents. The remains of the mummy of this ephemeral

monarch, known only from his tomb, were also found. The entrails of the

king were placed in the usual "canopic jars," which were sealed with the

seal of Amenemhat III; it is thus that we know that Hor died before him.

In many of the inscriptions of this king, on his coffin and stelo, a

peculiarly affected manner of writing the hieroglyphs is found,--the

birds are without their legs, the snake has no tail, the bee no head.

Birds are found without their legs in other inscriptions of this period;

it was a temporary fashion and soon discarded.

In the tomb of a princess named Nubhetep, near at hand, were found more

jewels of the same style as those of Sit-hathor and Merit. The pyramid

itself contained the usual passages and chambers, which were reached

with much difficulty and considerable tunnelling by M. de Morgan. In

fact, the search for the royal death-chambers lasted from December 5,

1894, till March 17, 1895, when the excavators' gallery finally struck

one of the ancient passages, which were found to be unusually extensive,

contrasting in this respect with the northern pyramid. The royal

tomb-chamber had, of course, been emptied of what it contained. It must

be remembered that, in any case, it is probable that the king was not

actually buried here, but in the pyramid of Hawara.

The pyramid of Amenemhat II, which lies between the two brick pyramids,

was built entirely of stone. Nothing of it remains above ground, but the

investigation of the subterranean portions showed that it was remarkable

for the massiveness of its stones and the care with which the masonry

was executed. The same characteristics are found in the dependent tombs

of the princesses Ha and Khnumet, in which more jewelry was found. This

splendid stonework is characteristic of the Middle Kingdom; we find it

also in the temple of Mentuhetep III at Thebes.

Some distance south of Dashur is Medum, where the pyramid of Sneferu

reigns in solitude, and beyond this again is Lisht, where in the

years 1894-6 MM. Gautier and Jequier excavated the pyramid of Usertsen

(Sen-usret) I. The most remarkable find was a cache of the seated

statues of the king in white limestone, in absolutely perfect condition.

They were found lying on their sides, just as they had been hidden. Six

figures of the king in the form of Osiris, with the face painted red,

were also found. Such figures seem to have been regularly set up in

front of a royal sepulchre; several were found in front of the funerary

temple of Mentu-hetep III, Thebes, which we shall describe later. A

fine altar of gray granite, with representations in relief of the nomes

bringing offerings, was also recovered. The pyramid of Lisht itself is

not built of bricks, like those of Dashur, but of stone. It was not,

however, erected in so solid a fashion as those of earlier days at Giza

or Abusir, and nothing is left of it now but a heap of debris. The XIIth

Dynasty architects built walls of magnificent masonry, as we have

seen, and there is no doubt that the stone casing of their pyramids

was originally very fine, but the interior is of brick or rubble; the

wonderful system of building employed by kings of the IVth Dynasty at

Giza was not practised.

South of Lisht is Illahun, and at the entrance to the province of the

Fayyum, and west of this, nearer the Fayyum, is Hawara, where Prof.

Petrie excavated the pyramids of Usertsen (Senusret) II and Amenem-hat

III. His discoveries have already been described by Prof. Maspero in his

history, so that it will suffice here merely to compare them with the

results of M. de Morgan's later work at Dashur and that of MM. Gautier

and Jequier at Lisht, to note recent conclusions in connection with

them, and to describe the newest discoveries in the same region.

Both pyramids are of brick, lined with stone, like those of Dashur, with

some differences of internal construction, since stone walls exist in

the interior. The central chambers and passages leading to them were

discovered; and in both cases the passages are peculiarly complex, with

dumb chambers, great stone portcullises, etc., in order to mislead

and block the way to possible plunderers. The extraordinary sepulchral

chamber of the Hawara pyramid, which, though it is over twenty-two feet

long by ten feet wide over all, is hewn out of one solid block of hard

yellow quartzite, gives some idea of the remarkable facility of dealing

with huge stones and the love of utilizing them which is especially

characteristic of the XIIth Dynasty. The pyramid of Hawara was provided

with a funerary temple the like of which had never been known in Egypt

before and was never known afterwards. It was a huge building far larger

than the pyramid itself, and built of fine limestone and crystalline

white quartzite, in a style eminently characteristic of the XIIth

Dynasty. In actual superficies this temple covered an extent of ground

within which the temples of Karnak, Luxor, and the Ramesseum, at Thebes,

could have stood, but has now almost entirely disappeared, having been

used as a quarry for two thousand years. In Roman times this destroying

process had already begun, but even then the building was still

magnificent, and had been noted with wonder by all the Greek visitors to

Egypt from the time of Herodotus downwards. Even before his day it

had received the name of the "Labyrinth," on account of its supposed

resemblance to the original labyrinth in Crete.

That the Hawara temple was the Egyptian labyrinth was pointed out by

Lepsius in the 'forties of the last century. Within the last two or

three years attention has again been drawn to it by Mr. Arthur Evans's

discovery of the Cretan labyrinth itself in the shape of the Minoan

or early Mycenaean palace of Knossos, near Candia in Crete. It is

impossible to enter here into all the arguments by which it has been

proved that the Knossian palace is the veritable labyrinth of the

Minotaur legend, nor would it be strictly germane to our subject were we

to do so; but it may suffice to say here that the word

has been proved to be of Greek-or rather of pre-Hellenic-origin, and

would mean in Karian "Place of the Double-Axe," like La-braunda in

Karia, where Zeus was depicted with a double axe (labrys) in his hand.

The non-Aryan, "Asianic," group of languages, to which certainly Lycian

and probably Karian belong, has been shown by the German philologer

Kretschmer to have spread over Greece into Italy in the period before

the Aryan Greeks entered Hellas, and to have left undoubted traces of

its presence in Greek place-names and in the Greek language itself.

Before the true Hellenes reached Crete, an Asianic dialect must have

been spoken there, and to this language the word "labyrinth" must

originally have belonged. The classical labyrinth was "in the Knossian

territory." The palace of Knossos was emphatically the chief seat of the

worship of a god whose emblem was the double-axe; it was the Knossian

"Place of the Double-Axe," the Cretan "Labyrinth."

It used to be supposed that the Cretan labyrinth had taken its name from

the Egyptian one, and the, word itself was supposed to be of Egyptian

origin. An Egyptian etymology was found for it as "Ro-pi-ro-henet,"

"Temple-mouth-canal," which might be interpreted, with some violence to

Egyptian construction, as "The temple at the mouth of the canal," i.e.

the Bahr Yusuf, which enters the Fayyum at Hawara. But unluckily this

word would have been pronounced by the natives of the vicinity as

"Elphilahune," which is not very much like

"Ro-pi-ro-henet" is, in fact, a mere figment of the philological

imagination, and cannot be proved ever to have existed. The element

Ro-henet, "canal-mouth" (according to the local pronunciation of the

Fayyum and Middle Egypt, called La-hune), is genuine; it is the

origin of the modern Illahun (el-Lahun), which is situated at the

"canal-mouth." However, now that we know that the word labyrinth can be

explained satisfactorily with the help of Karian, as evidently of Greek

(pre-Aryan) origin, and as evidently the original name of the Knossian

labyrinth, it is obvious that there is no need to seek a far-fetched

explanation of the word in Egypt, and to suppose that the Greeks called

the Cretan labyrinth after the Egyptian one.

The contrary is evidently the case. Greek visitors to Egypt found a

resemblance between the great Egyptian building, with its numerous halls

and corridors, vast in extent, and the Knossian palace. Even if very

little of the latter was visible in the classical period, as seems

possible, yet the site seems always to have been kept holy and free from

later building till Roman times, and we know that the tradition of the

mazy halls and corridors of the labyrinth was always clear, and was

evidently based on a vivid reminiscence. Actually, one of the most

prominent characteristics of the Knossian palace is its mazy and

labyrinthine system of passages and chambers. The parallel between the

two buildings, which originally caused the Greek visitors to give the

pyramid-temple of Hawara the name of "labyrinth," has been traced still

further. The white limestone walls and the shining portals of "Parian

marble," described by Strabo as characteristic of the Egyptian

labyrinth, have been compared with the shining white selenite or gypsum

used at Knossos, and certain general resemblances between the Greek

architecture of the Minoan age and the almost contemporary Egyptian

architecture of the XIIth Dynasty have been pointed out.* Such

resemblances may go to swell the amount of evidence already known, which

tells us that there was a close connection between Egyptian and Minoan

art and civilization, established at least as early as 2500 B.C.

* See H. R. Hall, Journal of Hellenic Studies, 1905 (Pt.

ii). The Temple of the Sphinx at Giza may also be compared

with those of Hawara and Knossos. It seems most probable

that the Temple of the Sphinx is a XIIth Dynasty building.

For it must be remembered that within the last few years we have learned

from the excavations in Crete a new chapter of ancient history, which,

it might almost seem, shows us Greece and Egypt in regular communication

from nearly the beginnings of Egyptian history. As the excavations which

have told us this were carried on in Crete, not in Egypt, to describe

them does not lie within the scope of this book, though a short sketch

of their results, so far as they affect Egyptian history in later days,

is given in Chapter VII. Here it may suffice to say that, as far as

the early period is concerned, Egypt and Crete were certainly in

communication in the time of the XIIth Dynasty, and quite possibly in

that of the VIth or still earlier. We have IIId Dynasty Egyptian vases

from Knossos, which were certainly not imported in later days, for no

ancient nation had antiquarian tastes till the time of the Saites in

Egypt and of the Romans still later. In fact, this communication seems

to go so far back in time that we are gradually being led to perceive

the possibility that the Minoan culture of Greece was in its origin an

offshoot from that of primeval Egypt, probably in early Neolithic times.

That is to say, the Neolithic Greeks and Neolithic Egyptians were both

members of the same "Mediterranean" stock, which quite possibly may have

had its origin in Africa, and a portion of which may have crossed the

sea to Europe in very early times, taking with it the seeds of culture

which in Egypt developed in the Egyptian way, in Greece in the Greek

way. Actual communication and connection may not have been maintained

at first, and probably they were not. Prof. Petrie thinks otherwise, and

would see in the boats painted on the predynastic Egyptian vases (see

Chapter I) the identical galleys by which, in late Neolithic

times, commerce between Crete and Egypt was carried on across the

Mediterranean. It is certain, however, that these boats are ordinary

little river craft, the usual Nile felukas and gyassas of the time;

they are depicted together with emblems of the desert and cultivated

land,-ostriches, antelopes, hills, and palm-trees,-and the thoroughly

inland and Upper Egyptian character of the whole design springs to the

eye. There can be no doubt whatever that the predynastic boats were not

seagoing galleys.

It was probably not till the time of the pyramid-builders that

connection between the Greek Mediterraneans and the Nilotes was

re-established. Thence-forward it increased, and in the time of the

XIIth Dynasty, when the labyrinth of Amenemhat III was built, there

seems to have been some kind of more or less regular communication

between the two countries.

It is certain that artistic ideas were exchanged between them at this

period. How communication was carried on we do not know, but it was

probably rather by way of Cyprus and the Syrian coast than directly

across the open sea. We shall revert to this point when we come to

describe the connection between Crete and Egypt in the time of the

XVIIIth Dynasty, when Cretan ambassadors visited the Egyptian court and

were depicted in tomb paintings at Thebes. Between the time of the XIIth

Dynasty and that of the XVIIIth this connection seems to have been very

considerably strengthened; for at Knossos have been found an Egyptian

statuette of an Egyptian named Abnub, who from his name must have lived

about the end of the XIIIth Dynasty, and the top of an alabastron with

the royal name of Khian, one of the Hyksos kings.

Quite close to Hawara, at Illahun, in the ruins of the town which was

built by Usertsen's workmen when they were building his pyramid, Prof.

Petrie found fragments of pottery of types which we now know well from

excavations in Crete and Cyprus, though they were then unknown. They are

fragments of the polychrome Cretan ware called, after the name of the

place where it was first found in Crete, Kamares ware, and of a black

ware ornamented with small punctures, which are often filled up with

white. This latter ware has been found elsewhere associated with XIIIth

Dynasty antiquities. The former is known to belong in Crete to the

"early Minoan" period, long anterior to the "late Minoan" or "Palace"

period, which was contemporary with the Egyptian XVIIIth Dynasty.

We have here another interesting proof of a connection between XIIth

Dynasty Egypt and early Minoan Crete. The later connection, under the

XVIIIth and following dynasties, is also illustrated in the same reign

by Prof. Petrie's finds of late Mycenaean objects and foreign graves at

Medinet Gurob.*

* One man who was buried here bore the name An-Tursha,

"Pillar of the Tursha." The Tursha were a people of the

Mediterranean, possibly Tylissians of Crete.

These excavations at Hawara, Illahun, Kahun, and Gurob were carried out

in the years 1887-9. Since then Prof. Petrie and his co-workers have

revisited the same district, and Gurob has been re-examined (in 1904)

by Messrs. Loat and Ayrton, who discovered there a shrine devoted to

the worship of fish. This work was carried on at the same time as Prof.

Petrie's main excavation for the Egypt Exploration Fund at Annas, or

Ahnas-yet el-Medina, the site of the ancient Henensu, the Herakleopolis

of the Greeks. Prof. Naville had excavated there for the Egypt

Exploration Fund in 1892, but had not completely cleared the temple.

This work was now taken up by Prof. Petrie, who laid the whole building

bare. It is dedicated to Hershefi, the local deity of Herakleopolis.

This god, who was called Ar-saphes by the Greeks, and identified with

Herakles, was in fact a form of Horus with the head of a ram; his name

means "Terrible-Face." The greater part of the temple dates to the time

of the XIXth Dynasty, and nothing of the early period is left. We know,

however, that the Middle Kingdom was the flourishing period of the

city of Hershefi. For a comparatively brief period, between the age of

Memphite hegemony and that of Theban dominion, Herakleopolis was the

capital city of Egypt. The kings of the IXth and Xth Dynasties were

Herakleopolites, though we know little of them. One, Kheti, is said to

have been a great tyrant. Another, Nebkaura, is known only as a figure

in the "Legend of the Eloquent Peasant," a classical story much in vogue

in later days. Another, Merikara, is a more real personage, for we have

contemporary records of his days in the inscriptions of the tombs at

Asyut, from which we see that the princes of Thebes were already wearing

down the Northerners, in spite of the resistance of the adherents of

Herakleopolis, among whom the most valiant were the chiefs of Asyut. The

civil war eventuated in favour of Thebes, and the Theban XIth Dynasty

assumed the double crown. The sceptre passed from Memphis and the North,

and Thebes enters upon the scene of Egyptian history.

With this event the Nile-land also entered upon a new era of

development. The metropolis of the kingdom was once more shifted to the

South, and, although the kings of the XIIth Dynasty actually resided

in the North, their Theban origin was never forgotten, and Thebes

was regarded as the chief city of the country. The XIth Dynasty kings

actually reigned at Thebes, and there the later kings of the XIIIth

Dynasty retired after the conquest of the Hyksos. The fact that with

Thebes were associated all the heroic traditions of the struggle against

the Hyksos ensured the final stability of the capital there when the

hated Semites were finally driven out, and the national kingdom

was re-established in its full extent from north to south. But for

occasional intervals, as when Akhunaten held his court at Tell el-Amarna

and Ramses II at Tanis, Thebes remained the national capital for six

hundred years, till the time of the XXIId Dynasty.

Another great change which differentiates the Middle Kingdom

(XIth-XIIIth Dynasties) from the Old Kingdom was caused by Egypt's

coming into contact with other outside nations at this period. During

the whole history of the Old Kingdom, Egyptian relations with the outer

world had been nil. We have some inkling of occasional connection

with the Mediterranean peoples, the Ha-nebu or Northerners; we have

accounts of wars with the people of Sinai and other Bedawin and negroes;

and expeditions were also sent to the land of Punt (Somaliland) by way

of the Upper Nile. But we have not the slightest hint of any connection

with, or even knowledge of, the great nations of the Euphrates valley

or the peoples of Palestine. The Babylonian king Naram-Sin invaded the

Sinaitic peninsula (the land of Magan) as early as 3750 b. c, about

the time of the IIId Egyptian Dynasty. The great King Tjeser, of that

dynasty, also invaded Sinai, and so did Snefru, the last king of the

dynasty. But we have no hint of any collision between Babylonians and

Egyptians at that time, nor do either of them betray the slightest