Ancient Mysteries Egypt History of Egypt Under the Pharaohs

History of Egypt Under the Pharaohs

History of Egypt Under the Pharaohs
Catalog # SKU3869
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 2.00 lbs
Author Name Henry Brusch-Bey, Henry Danby Seymour
ISBN 10: 0000000000
ISBN 13: 0000000000000


A History of Egypt
Under the Pharaohs

Derived Entirely From The Monuments

2 Volume Set

Henry Brusch-Bey
Translator: Henry Danby Seymour

It is now twenty years since I ventured on the attempt to lay before the friends and admirers of Egyptian antiquity, in the French language, a History of Egypt under the Pharaohs according to the evidence of the Monuments, in so far as they have been preserved from the earliest times down to our own age.



The History of Egypt, the names and deeds of its kings and princes, the varied fortunes of the Egyptian race during a course of more than sixty centuries; such is the comprehensive subject of this work. Our purpose is to collect into one view what the monuments and books tell us of the history of this most remarkable land and people on the favoured banks of the Nile, beginning with the first native king Mena, and, if God permit, finishing with the present reigning prince of Egypt, the Khedive Ismael Pasha I.

In the first portion of our work, we shall endeavour to portray the historical development of -the Egyptians under the rule of the Pharaohs. King Mena will form the starting point of our narrative, and Alexander the Great, the liberator and saviour of Egypt from the yoke of the Persians, its closing epoch. This part of the work was first published (in French) twenty years ago, when we endeavoured to bring together into one great picture the results of the examination of the monuments by ourselves as well as others, over the wide field of old Egyptian history. the task, in truth, was not an easy one, and it was certainly beyond our power at a first attempt, especially in a foreign language, not merely to place before enquiring students long lists of kings' names with lifeless numbers attached to them, but, led by the guiding hand of the monuments, to reproduce, if only in a general sketch, yet with the greatest possible truth and likelihood, the life and activity of the old inhabitants of the Nile Valley in the earliest kingdom of the world. To render the task still more difficult, there was added the serious fact, that such monuments as were then known and had been examined by learned men, yielded only a narrow range of information. For the earliest history of the Egyptians does not enjoy the advantage of having been handed down to posterity by the so-called classic writers of antiquity in its true outlines and in a connected series of events. On the contrary, the stories of the classic times, intricately confused and transformed into a caricature, have proved rather injurious than serviceable, because they have disseminated false views, and have spread a cloud of fables and tales over Egypt and her history, during a period of more than twenty centuries. Only of late have the monuments, once again brought to light and awakened to new life, torn aside the deceitful veil, revealed the truth, and furnished the evidence that in the times of classic antiquity the history of the ancient Egyptians was already an uncomprehended book, like that with the seven seals. Unhappily the revelation has come almost too late to. preserve the vast world of stone, which had been meanwhile destroyed with its countless historical inscriptions.

But yet, in spite of all that has perished, never to return, the last twenty years have brought to the light of day an extraordinary and almost unexpected wealth of new discoveries and revelations. A single walk through the rooms of the Egyptian Museum at Boulaq, the port of Cairo, brings us at each step to monuments of the most remote ages, not only of Egyptian history, but of the whole history of mankind. Thanks to the lively interest which the most enlightened prince of the eastern world has taken in these investigations, we here see an unbroken series of new witnesses of the old time, raised from the bosom of the earth into the light of day, to give us information about the long vanished past, whose starting point can no longer be reached by the remotest stages in the ordinary historical measurement of time.

The 'Tables of Kings' of Saqqarah and Abydus, both containing a selection of Egyptian monarchs from the first Pharaoh Mena onwards, give us the most authentic evidence, now no longer to be doubted, that the primitive ancestors of the Egyptian dynasties, the Pharaohs of Memphis, must be greeted as real historical personages, and that King Ramses II. (about 1350 B.C.), the Sesostris of the Greek fabulous history of the Egyptians, was preceded by at least seventy-six legitimate sovereigns: that is to say, in other words, there were so many generations of men, who lived during a space of time which is greater than the sum total of the years that have elapsed from Ramses II. down to the present day. Such a comparison of the extent of time between two epochs historically memorable teaches us to form a more impressive estimate of the astounding age of Egyptian history than any positive numbers. It gives us some approximate idea of the value of the monuments, preserved through such a space of time, for understanding the development of humanity, whose indestructible boundary stones, at the extremest limit of the political horizon, will be marked for all ages by the pyramids of Memphis.

Ought it to cause surprise if the newly-lighted torch of knowledge does not shine deep enough into these remote ages of hoar antiquity? if in the dark corridors of primeval history the guiding clue of monumental discovery suddenly breaks off, or reaches its end when least expected-or if the attention of the writer dwells fondly upon strange names, and on the deeds of a time full of simple childlike ideas, for which the history of our own day, with its great world-stirring aims, has long since lost the standard of comparison? Though the pampered darling of our busy age may smile as scornfully as he will at the life and doings of the 'ancients' of the Nile Valley, yet by the reflecting man that venerable antiquity, with its genuine striving after the dignity of man, will be viewed in the clear light of the earliest twilight dawn of the civilization and ennobling of his race, and with a simply thankful mind he will devote his full attention to thelife and work of these forefathers of mankind, as it is portrayed by their own hands.

If, on the one hand, the monuments of this most ancient history have in our day received so remarkable an increase, that they serve to fill up in the most welcome manner many gaps in the first edition of the Egyptian history, to correct many errors, and not seldom to confirm or to contradict conjectures previously made, so meanwhile another advantage has been won for these enquiries, the importance of which for historical research may be pronounced immeasurable. the decypherment of the old Egyptian texts has, by the united labour of gifted men of science, particularly of late years, reached such great certainty, in consequence of a methodical treatment, that the contents of each inscription can be exactly determined, at least so far that gross errors are no longer possible. A sober and healthy criticism has begun to assert its full right in this province, as in others, by subjecting the course of its researches to the general laws of enquiry into that which is as yet unknown.

What conquests the growing knowledge of the old Egyptian language and writing has meanwhile won for historical research, is best shown by the numerous writings of deserving men of science, who have chosen the decyphering of the most important inscriptions of Egyptian antiquity as the object of their studies, the results of which throw such a surprising light on the most important periods of ancient history. the works of real genius by the never-to-be-forgotten Viscount E. de Rouge, (a French scholar too soon lost to science by death,) on the irruption of the Mediterranean people into Egypt in the times of the nineteenth and twentieth dynasties, and the invaluable contributions which M. Chabas, of Chalons, has made towards a knowledge of the same reigns, especially by his acute decyphering of the hieratic rolls of papyrus in the British Museum, form turning points of the highest importance in the whole province of Egyptian history, and deserve to be mentioned as real conquests of the first rank. In the presence of these venerable remains of monuments, the witnesses of a past world full of riddles and wonders, and considering the important discoveries which the acuteness of the human mind has wrung from the inscriptions in the most recent times, ||we may perhaps be permitted to indulge the modest hope, that this new edition of the History of the ancient Egyptians may at least in some degree answer the requirements which the reader is entitled to ask for in the treatment of an interesting subject, the materials of which have already been prepared by the labours of scholarship. For the scholar retires from the stage, and leaves to the historian the delightful but difficult task of exhibiting in one view that whole, whose several parts have been treated separately by the varied resources of science, often without divining or anticipating their connection.


Although, in so long a space of time as sixty centuries, events and revolutions of great historical importance must of necessity have completely altered the political state of Egypt, yet, notwithstanding all, the old Egyptian race has undergone but little change; for it still preserves to this day those distinctive features of physiognomy, and those peculiarities of manners and customs, which have been handed down to us, by the united testimony of the monuments and the accounts of the ancient classical writers, as the hereditary characteristics of this people.

Historical researches concerning a race of mankind are inseparably connected with the important and momentous enquiry after their primeval home, the cradle of their historic childhood. Nor does the historian by himself possess the means for a satisfactory solution of this question. the auxiliary sciences of the natural history of the human race and of comparative philology must be taken into council, in order to guide us, even though it be but approximately, to the origin of nations and the directions in which they have migrated.

It is not our intention to occupy; ourselves with the details of those researches, on the ground of which the first-named science has laboured to determine the primeval home of the ancient Egyptian race. It may suffice to lay down as a first settled point-although the feet is questioned by the younger school-that this science believes itself to possess positive proofs, as the result of which the forefathers of the Egyptians cannot be reckoned among the African races, properly so called. the form of the skull-so at least the elder school teaches-as well as the proportions of the several parts of the body, as these have been determined from examining a great number of mummies, are held to indicate a connection with the Caucasian family of mankind. the Egyptians, together with some other nations, form, as it would seem, a third branch of that race, namely, the family called Cushite, which is distinguished by special characters from the Pelasgian and the Semitic families. Whatever relations of kindred may be found always to exist between these great races of mankind, thus much may be regarded as certain, that the cradle of the Egyptian people must be sought in the interior of the Asiatic quarter of the world. In the earliest ages of humanity, far beyond all historical remembrance, the Egyptians, for reasons unknown to us, left the soil of their primeval home, took their way towards the setting sun, and finally crossed that bridge of nations, the Isthmus of Suez, to find a new fatherland on the favoured banks of the holy Nile. Comparative philology, in its turn, gives powerful support to this hypothesis. the Egyptian language-which has been preserved on the monuments of the oldest time, as well as in the late-Christian manuscripts of the Copts, the successors of the people of the Pharaohs-shows in no way any trace of a derivation and descent from the African families of speech. On the contrary, the primitive roots and the essential elements of the Egyptian grammar point to such an intimate connection with the Indo-Germanic and Semitic languages, that it is almost impossible to mistake the close relations which formerly prevailed between the Egyptians and the races called Indo-Germanic and Semitic.

We will not pass over in silence a Greek account, remarkable because of its origin, according to which the primitive abode of the Egyptian people is to be sought in Ethiopia. According to an opinion strongly advocated by ancient writers, and even subscribed to by some modem historians, little conversant with the facts of the case, the honour of first founding Egyptian civilization should be awarded to a society of priests from the city of Meroe. Descending the course of the Nile-so runs the story-they are supposed to have settled on the territory of the later city of Thebes, and there to have founded the first state with a theocratic form of government. Although, on the ground of the ancient tradition, this view has been frequently repeated in the historical works of subsequent times, it is nevertheless stamped with the mark of error, as it dispenses with any actual proof. It is not to the Ethiopian priests that the Egyptian empire owes its origin, its form of government, and the characteristic stages of its high civilization; but much rather was it the Egyptians that first ascended the river, to found in Ethiopia temples, cities, and fortified places, and to diffuse the blessings of a civilized state among the rude dark-coloured population. Whichever of the Greek historians concocted the marvellous fiction of the first Ethiopic settlement in Egypt was led into the mistake by a confusion with the influence which Ethiopia exercised on the fortunes of Egypt during a comparatively late period, and by carrying this back, without further consideration, into the prehistoric age.

Supposing, for a moment, that Egypt had owed her civil and social development to Ethiopia, nothing should be more probable than the presumption of our finding monuments of the highest antiquity in that primitive home of the Egyptians, while in going down the river we ought to light only upon monuments of a later age. Strange to say, the whole number of the buildings in stone, as yet known and examined, which were erected on both sides of the river at the bidding of the Egyptian and Ethiopian kings, furnish the incontrovertible proof, that the long series of temples, cities, sepulchres, and monuments in general, exhibit a distinct chronological order, of which the oldest starting-point is found in the Pyramids, at the apex of the Delta, south of the bifurcation of the great river.

As, in proceeding southwards, we approach nearer and nearer to the rapids and cataracts of the Upper Nile, right into the heart of the later Ethiopian kingdom, the more does the stamp of antiquity vanish from the whole body of extant monuments; the more evident is the decline of art, of taste, and of beauty. In short, the Ethiopian style of art-so far as the monuments still preserved allow us to form a judgment-is destitute of all independent character. the first view of the Ethiopian monuments at once carries the conviction, that we can recognise no special quality beyond the rudest conception and the most imperfect execution of a style of art originally Egyptian. the most clumsy imitation of Egyptian attainments in all that relates to science and the arts, appears as the acme of the intellectual progress and the artistic development of Ethiopia.

According to the accounts of the Greek and Roman writers who had occasion to visit Egypt and to have close intercourse with the people of the country, the Egyptians themselves held the belief, that they were the original inhabitants of the land. the fertile valley of the Nile, according to their opinion, formed the heart and centre of the whole world. To the West of it dwelt the groups of tribes, which bore the general name of Ribu or Libu, the ancestors of those Libyans who are so often mentioned in the historical works and geographical descriptions of the ancients. Inhabiting the north coasts of Africa, they extended their abodes eastward as far as the districts along the Canopic branch of the Nile, now called that of Rosetta or Rashid. From the evidence of the monuments, they belonged to a light-coloured race, with blue eyes and blond or red hair. According to the very remarkable researches of the French general Faidherbe, they may have been the earliest representatives of that race (perhaps of Celts?) who migrated from the north of Europe to Africa, making their way through the three Mediterranean peninsulas, and gradually taking possession of the Libyan coasts.

It is a noteworthy phenomenon that, as early as the remote times of the Fourth Dynasty of Egyptian sovereigns, some people belonging to this race (men, women, and children) wandered into Egypt to display their dexterity as dancers, combatants, and gymnasts, in the public games which delighted young and old; just as at the present day the Egyptians still amuse themselves with the buffooneries and skilful tricks of wandering Moghrabins. the Libyans, however, who appear on the walls of the sepulchres from the fourth to the Twelfth Dynasty, are distinguished from the reddish-brown Egyptians by their light-grey or light-brown complexion, suggesting the probability, that they may not have had a very close relationship to the white Libyans of later times.

826 pages in 2 volumes - 7 x 8½ softcover - Print size, 12 point font

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