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respect with the Greeks and Romans, the Indians, Chinese, Chaldæans and Hebrews. The question of relative antiquity of documents is easily settled as regards the two first, and, without much difficulty, the last. The others have had advocates who have claimed for them an equal rank with Egypt. The chronology of India goes back to the year 3102 B. C., the commencement of the kali juga, the age in which the world now exists; but these jugas are factitious periods derived from astronomy. The Chronicle of Cashmire carries up the list of dynasties to the year 2448 B. C., but when we come to inquire about historical documents, we find a vast chasm between the earliest that are extant and such a date as this. The Vedas in their present form cannot, according to Colebrooke's deductions from their astronomical indications, be older than the 14th century B. C.
The oldest inscriptions according to Prinsep are not earlier than the 4th or 5th. The monuments of Ellora and Elephanta are of uncertain age, but the difference between an Indian and an Egyptian climate in its effects on the works of art forbids us to attribute to them such an antiquity, as we know to belong to the pyramids and obelisks of Egypt, and they can hardly be older than the introduction of Buddhism. Chaldæa was an ancient seat of science and letters; some of the earliest traditions of human civilization are connected with the plain of Shinar. But its monuments were of perishable brick; and those which have escaped destruction contain no historical information, beyond the name of the king in whose reign they were fabricated. The cuneiform inscriptions brought to light at Nineveh, as far as they have been interpreted, carry us back only a few reigns above the destruction of the Assyrian monarchy: Ninus and Semiramis still remain in the haze of mythical tradition. Should we allow that the solar observations sent to Aristotle from Babylon really ascended to the year 1903 before Alexander's accession, i.e. to twenty-three centuries B. C., two-thirds of this interval would be historically a blank. The traditions of Chinese history go back to Fo-hi, 2953 B. c., but documents they have none earlier than Confucius, 552 B. C. We cannot trace their astronomical observations further back than 1100 B. C., when the solstitial shadow was first measured by a gnomon; and the oldest solar eclipse that can be verified by calculation, is of the year 720 B.C. None of these nations therefore can be compared in point of historical antiquity with Egypt.
Into the origin of the Egyptians and their civilization, Lepsius, we think prudently, declines to inquire, contenting himself with the remark that the people, being endowed by race with sound and vigorous bodies and minds of large powers, would develop these endowments more equably than other nations, because their position secured them against invasion, and more rapidly from the genial nature of their climate and the fertility of their soil. Among their national characteristics none was more remarkable than the early manifestation of a consciousness of their own historical unity and the desire to leave memorials of themselves a desire with which their land co-operated by furnishing them with every variety of material for carving and writing. This national passion showed itself in the incredible number of monuments which their kings and wealthy men erected. Every great town of Egypt had its temples, each metropolis its palaces, covered with sculpture and filled with statues of gods and kings appropriately inscribed, and these inscriptions, silent to so many generations of curious questioners, have at length found their voice, and revealed the history of the people by whom they were made. Writing, however, was among them not merely the constant adjunct of architecture and sculpture, but of all objects of art and the common utensils of life. No colossus is so large, no amulet so small, as not to have an inscription; every piece of furniture bears its owner's name. Time, the great destroyer of records, has spared those of Egypt beyond all other nations. No alternations of heat and moisture disintegrate the stone; even the frail papyrus has attained an existence of more than 3,000 years, and preserved its legibility. Whether we regard the character of the people, or the fulness of their historical documents, they equally deserve the description of Herodotus, who calls them λογιώτατοι μακρη των εγώ εις διάπειραν απικόμην, μνήμην ανθρώπων πάντων έπασκέοντες μάλιστα (2. 77).
These facts are sufficient to justify the claim of the Egyptians to the highest historical antiquity. Whether a firm and exact chronology can be deduced from them
must depend very much on the amount of astronomical knowledge which the Egytians possessed. Into this question Lepsius enters very fully, availing himself partly of passages in ancient writers well known to all who have paid any attention to these subjects, partly of his own and others' hieroglyphical discoveries. The discussion, obscure in itself and difficult of apprehension by the unscientific reader, is rendered more abstruse by this complication, and all that we can do is to present the results of his researches as stated by himself, only remarking that if he has not established all that he believes himself to have done, he has at least made good the claim of the Egyptians to earlier proficiency in astronomical science than any other nation can boast.
“We have established a division of time, extending below the hour to the 360th part of a minute, and above to the longest period of 36,525 years. Between these lie a variety of cycles, such as no other ancient people possessed. They were acquainted with the civil hours of the dark and light half of the day, and also with the 24 equal or equinoctial hours of the entire day, roxohuepov. Out of the days they formed the decads or Egyptian weeks, and of these the month of 30 days; they also observed the lunar months, and celebrated their beginning and end. As forms of the year they knew and carried regularly on in the calendar the oldest lunar year, the vague year of 365 days, and the Sirius year of 3654 days. The civil vague year was brought into agreement with the course of the moon after 25 years by the Apis.cycle, with the Sirius year as regarded the days, by the quadriennial lustrum, and completely after 1,461 years by the Sothiac period. The Phoenix period of 1,500 years, which was subsequently divided into three of 500 years each, according to the three seasons, served to bring it into agreement with the tropical year.
And lastly the sidereal year, or the slow retrocession of the ecliptic towards the West, was known and was expressed, though with incomplete knowledge of the direction and rate of the movement, by the largest astronomical period of 36,525 years.
“ And hence we may conclude that the Egyptians early used a fixed chronological æra. It is impossible to make any real progress in astronomy and technical chronology, to determine the times and paths of the planets, to calculate the cycles of lunar and solar eclipses, and keep distinctly fixed periods extending over many years, without a chronology of events, namely, of reigns, by which the people measured time in detail
. According to the common opinion, the Egyptians were the only considerable people of antiquity who
had no chronological æra ; and yet without it every history must resolve itself into loose atoms. That events were recorded on monuments not according to an æra but to years of kings' reigns, is well known. Antiquity reckoned in no other way on public monuments and in the mouth of the people. The use of chronological æras was everywhere a scientific matter, with few exceptions. The Sothis period offered the decided advantages of a simple, regular and long-established basis, and without any learned or sacerdotal aid regulated itself by the progress of the fixed point of the year, one day in every four years. For three years in succession, the festival of the heliacal rising of Sothis, as the new year's day of the fixed year, was celebrated on one and the same day of the civil calendar; in the fourth year it advanced a day further. This vague new year's day would be better remembered by the people, on account of the great festival connected with it, than our Julian leap-year is. Whoever, therefore, for astronomical, chronological or historical purposes, desired to know the year of the Sothiac æra, had only to reckon the number of days from the first of Thoth to the festival of the Nile and Summer, of the current year, and multiply it by 4."-Pp. 234-7.
A part of the remainder of this volume is devoted to an examination of the sources of Egyptian history, in which Herodotus and Diodorus are compared, and the relation pointed out in which they stand to the monuments and to Manetho. Their discrepancies at first seem inexplicable, but if the building of the Pyramids, which the Greek historians have brought down to near the end of the monarchy, be transposed to its true place near the beginning, there is more accordance between them than we should suppose. We have already noticed the acute investigation of the merits of the Old Chronicle and the Sothis, and shall proceed to give some account of what Lepsius has written respecting the residence of the children of Israel in Egypt and the time of the Exodus.
There is little diversity of opinion among critics repecting the Hebrew Chronology, as far back as the Division of the tribes or the Building of the Temple. Difficulties are found in it, but nothing to warrant à suspicion that it has been arbitrarily made up. As we ascend from this time our received chronology rests mainly on two passages, 1 Kings vi. 1, in which the time between the Exodus and the Building of the Temple is reckoned at 480 years, and Exod. xii. 40, in which the residence of the Israelites in Egypt is reckoned at 430 years. The first of these numbers has been exposed to the suspicion of having been arbitrarily fixed, because it is natural to assume that if it had an historical basis, it must be founded on the Books of Judges and Samuel, from which however no such date can be satisfactorily made out.* The second number has been the subject of still greater doubt. The Septuagint, instead of “the time which the children of Israel dwelt in Egypt, reads “the dwelling of the children of Israel which they dwelt in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan was 430 years;" and the Apostle Paul, Gal. iii. 17, reckons the 430 years from the promise to Abraham. Josephus makes the interval between Jacob and Moses 612 years ; Africanus, 748; Eusebius, 600. Since there is so much uncertainty respecting these dates, Lepsius abandons them altogether, and adapts his chronology to the number of generations recorded in Scripture. We shall confine ourselves to the results of this method as applied to the interval between the going down into Egypt and the Exodus. His scepticism respecting the numbers of the Old Testament takes a wide range, including not only these dates, but all forties and their multiples, the 300 years mentioned, Judges xi. 26, and every other dependent
, upon them. He believes them to have been the result of a redaction which the Old Testament has undergone since the Captivity.
To justify the preference thus given to the evidence of genealogy over the positive dates of the history, he observes what a high value oriental nations have always attached to the proofs of descent, their pride in their genealogies, and the care with which they guard them, even when they are wholly illiterate and can only trust them to memory. The Arab tribes, he says, are conspicuous in this respect, and all their historical reminiscences are nearly limited to these dry registers. He has himself seen pedigrees in the possession of Arabs who had wandered as far south as Dongola, the only written records of
*“ The sum of the separate years in the Book of Judges is considerably greater than this, while the genealogies point to a much smaller sum. The Seventy read 440 for 480, and in Acts xiii. 20, 450 years are allotted to the Judges until Samuel, which is aga a difference from all the other authorities.”—Leps., p. 315.