Page images

lapse of time, and a variety of narrators, on a his- CHAP. tory originally authentic.'


lists of


And on turning to the works of Manetho, the Manetho's earliest of native historians, who died in the third century before the Christian era, we find that such of his remains as have descended to us must be taken at third hand. His famous lists of kings commence with gods, with manes and with heroes, who are said to have held sway in Egypt for a period of more than thirty thousand years; and even if it were conceded that a writer of his age, the first Egyptian priest who had been gifted with 'historic consciousness,' was equal to the task of carrying back the annals of his country for three or five thousand years, an obstacle was lying in his way which must have stubbornly resisted all real progress. Vast as may have been the astronomi- Want of cal knowledge of the Old Egyptians, great as was their aptitude in framing chronological cycles, they 'do not appear at any time to have reckoned in

1 'We hear of no historical work of that people before Manetho.' Bunsen, Egypt's Place, I. 23. Yet the History of this native writer, as distinguished from his Dynasties, is now lost while the latter work (edited afresh in Bunsen, I. 605 sq.) is known to us only through Julius Africanus, and Eusebius, and from them through George the Syncellus, a Byzantine monk of the ninth century; of whom it should be added that he places the Creation 5500 B.C. and arranges all his dates accordingly.

2 Cf. Uhlemann, Aegypt. Alt. III. 2, 9. Both he and Lepsius are of opinion that the Sothis-period conducts us back to at least 2782 B.C. Mr Browne, the learned and labori

ous author of the Ordo Saclorum,
has, however, called in question al-
most every one of the results obtain-
ed by German Egyptologers (see his
able papers in Arnold's Theological
Critic, I. 529 sq., II. 125 sq.). Mr
Browne contends that all the native
lists of kings are based on cyclical
relations, the different cycles being
referred to different epochs. Ac-
cording to his view, the regular chro-
nology of ancient Egypt is reducible
to one cycle, dating from 1805 B.C.
(the reign of Joseph's Pharaoh). The
'reduced chronology' has also found
another learned advocate in Mr No-
lan, The Egyptian Chronology Ana-
lysed, Lond. 1848.

an initial





CHAP. their public monuments by an era, like that of the Olympiads, but only to have dated events, as we date acts of parliament, by the years of the king's Contempo- reign'.' If Egypt, therefore, was in early times divided into several petty kingdoms; or if the names of co-regents, of pretenders, of provincial governors, assuming to themselves the royal style, were entered on the lists of dynasties, the sum of all the regnal years obtained by this process would very far exceed the true number. A large exaggeration is, indeed, acknowledged now by all our Egyptologers. It is believed that rulers in the primitive nomes, or cantons, may at first have been entitled kings, and also that the starting-point of calculation coincided in particular cases not with the accession to an undivided sovereignty, but with the time at which some ruler was admitted to the rank of a co-regent: for although the sum of regnal years, commencing from the earliest of the human rulers, and ending with the last of Manetho's dynasties, amounted to at least 5000, the number actually assigned upon the same authority as the duration of the whole period was not more than 3555 years2.

But if despairing3 of results which rest on this

1 Kenrick, II. 95.

2 Lepsius is disposed to take his stand on this number, which comes down to us through George the Syncellus (cf. Kritik der Quellen, p. 499). The Egyptian years being reduced would give 3553 Julian years for the duration of the thirty dynasties of Manetho; and this, added to 339 (the year B.C. when the last dynasty expired) would also give 3892 B.C.

for the foundation of the monarchy. Uhlemann, on the contrary, persists in dating the reign of Menes, the first king of Egypt, 2782 B.C.

3 'The recovery of Egyptian chronology, except by slow degrees, and with intervals of unknown lengths between the reigns that are known, is hopeless.' Engl. Review (1846), p. 114; an article on The Pyramids and their Builders, attributed to Dr Hinckes.


precarious basis, we commence our exploration CHAP. from the age when Egypt is first drawn distinctly into the general history of the world, and so en- synchronism deavour to trace out her course in the reverse

Points of

order, with sacred

' history in

about the New


we arrive at early points of synchronism
972 B.C., when Shishak' (Sesonch) of the
dynasty' invaded Palestine, and in the fifth year of
Rehoboam 'took away the treasures of the house
of the Lord, and the treasures of the king's house'
(1 Kings xiv. 25). And as Shishak was the first
member of a new dynasty, it follows that a Pha-
raoh of the previous series was father-in-law of
Solomon (1 Kings ix. 16), and that Tahpenes, the
sister of the Egyptian queen, had been espoused
to Hadad, the Idumæan, as early as the reign of
David (1 Kings xi. 19 sq.) On these points, in-
deed, there is no longer any difference of opinion;
but the placing of the Exodus itself, the next event
where contact with the annals of the Hebrew na-
tion is undoubted, still continues to present some
formidable difficulties; inasmuch as it is found to
be entangled with a further question touching the
expulsion of the Shepherd-Kings, or Hyk-sos, and
their previous rule in Lower Egypt.


Nor in passing upwards, from the origin of The Middle what is called the New Kingdom, or the first reign

1 Browne, Ordo Sæclorum, § 513. 2 See one of the best discussions of this point in Kurtz, Gesch. des Alten Bundes, II. 173-203, Berlin, 1855. He advocates the old and very plausible theory that the 'Phoenician' shepherds had invaded Lower Egypt in the period between Abraham and Joseph; and that the new dynasty (corresponding to the 18th of Mane

tho), who persecuted and enslaved
the Israelites, were princes of Egyp-
tian blood who had eventually re-
gained the sovereign power. The
only serious objection to this view
arises from the thoroughly Egyptian
aspect of the court in the time of
Joseph; but Dr Kurtz has also done
very much towards the removal of
this difficulty (pp. 199, 200).



CHAP. of the '18th dynasty' has greater concord been established among writers who profess to be our guides through the confusion of the period next preceding.

Its existence problematical.

The Old

The duration of the three dynasties ascribed to it by Manetho is found to vary in the different systems of Egyptian chronology from 511 to 953 years; while other writers, arguing from the total want of monuments which bear the dates of kings later than the 12th dynasty, and earlier than the 18th, have begun to ask with some show of reason, 'Is the Middle Monarchy a real thing or not1?' Whatever be the true answer to this question, it is plain that till far more is known with certainty respecting such important intervals, we have but little hope of framing any rational hypothesis, or of inditing a coherent narrative.

And the same perplexity must haunt us on ascending to the 'Old' division of the Pharaonic monarchy. The names of kings belonging to that era are now extant, it is true, in very great profusion2.

1 Dr Hinckes in Engl. Review, as above, p. 117. Mr Kenrick also admits the fact that 'not a single contemporaneous work of art has been found, from the 13th to the 18th dynasty.' He adds, however, (II. 194): 'These things are not sufficient to make us doubt the fact of the invasion and expulsion of the Hyk-sos; but they may excite a suspicion that the chronology of this period of oppression and confusion is not to be relied on, and that as usual it has been unduly extended.' I ought also to remind the reader at this point that M. de Rougé thinks he has at last discovered an allusion to the Hyk-sos rule on a papyrus relating to a war undertaken by a king of

the Thebaid against the shepherdking Apepi (Aphobis). The shepherds are there treated as enemies of the gods of Egypt. Revue des Deux Mondes, as before, p. 1063: cf. Brugsch, Die Geographie des alten Aegyptens, I. 50 sq. Leipzig, 1857.

2 Especially in the famous Turin papyrus, which before mutilation must have contained 3 or 400 royal names (cf. Herod. II. 142), with the precise lengths of reign attached to each: see Sir J. G. Wilkinson's Fragments of the Hieratic Papyrus at Turin (privately printed, 1851). The same author in his last work The Egyptians, &c. (1857), while granting that the high antiquity once assigned to some of the monuments is now 'brought


Monuments commencing with the time of Chufu CHAP. (Suphis, Cheops)', the builder of the Great Pyramid, continue to bear witness to the fact that even at the opening of the 4th dynasty' the lower valley of the Nile was tenanted by an ambitious and accomplished people, organised into a regular community, as in the age of Abraham and Joseph, and already in possession of the hieroglyphic character, as well as of the reed-pen and the ink-stand.



Yet in spite of all these interesting revelations, The chrolittle towards the un- problem Egyptology contributes very riddling of the old question, namely, as to which of still unthe primeval dynasties were contemporaneous, and which of them successive. One distinguished writer (as Bunsen) searches for the missing key among the chronological fragments of Eratosthenes, corrected, however, by his own hand; a second (as Lepsius) manifests no confidence in this auxiliary, and gropes his way alone to very different results; a third (as Mr Browne, or Mr Nolan, or Mr Osburn) would curtail the length of early dynasties far more than either of the previous explorers; so that on arriving at the first event distinctly traceable in the archives of the infant colony,-the founding of Memphis, by the oldest of their mortal kings, the

within more reasonable limits' is clearly of opinion that those of the fourth dynasty (the earliest of all) were executed not less than 2400 years B.C. (p. 3).

1 Kenrick, II. 133. On the identification of the names, see Dr Hinckes, as above, p. 102.

2 The author of the article Ægyptus in Smith's Dict. of Greek and Roman Geography, thinks that the word Menes is itself suspicious: it 'too nearly resembles Manu, the Minyas

C. A. E. IV.

and Minos of the Greeks, the Menerfa
of the Etruscans, and the Mannus of
the Germans [cf. Sansk. man "to
think"] to be accepted implicitly as
a personal designation.' Eratos-
thenes, however, explains Mývns as
equivalent to Alúvios, which is said
to be justified by the Old Egyptian
and Coptic use of men (unv) in the
sense of 'to persevere :' Uhlemann,
Aegypt. Alt. III. 82. On the occur-
rence of the name upon Egyptian
monuments, see Osburn, I. 226 sq.


« PreviousContinue »