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In this respect we are introduced to a singularly interesting field of study, by observing the mutual relations of sacred and profane history which have been already noticed in parallel cases resulting from recent Assyrian discoveries. It is the previous study and knowledge of Egyptian antiquities, however, which has enabled the inscriptions and antiquities of Assyria to be so speedily turned to account. A single season may, to the superficial observer, appear to have sufficed for the application of recent Assyrian researches to the direct purposes of the historian, but the conclusions arrived at by Layard and Rawlinson, are in reality the results of the laborious investigations of half a century, in which some of the most learned men of Europe have engaged with unremitting assiduity.
Returning, however, to our summary of the disclosures which have been revealed by these researches among the ruins of Egypt, we reach, after another interval, the reign of the first Theban or Diospolitan king, Ames, or Chebron, the introducer of a new dynasty, believed, on good evidence, to be that "other king who knew not Joseph." He is succeeded by Amunoph I., and by Amense, the sister of the latter, a singular evidence of the peculiar customs and also of the elevation accorded to women, consequent on the great advancement the Egyptians had then made in civilization. This queen is succeeded by Thothmes I., II., and III., in the reign of the last of whom, as has already been indicated, the wondrous manifestations of divine power were displayed which are recorded in the Book of Exodus. In many cases, neither the date of accession, nor of the death of these successive monarchs, has yet been discovered; nor is it necessary, for many purposes both of the chronologist and the historian, that more than a general approximation to this should be attained. There is abundant room, however, still left for the assiduous labours of the
Egyptian scholar. Many discrepancies have to be reconciled, many dark and extremely dubious points to be cleared up. Following back their most interesting researches into ancient chronology, these patient investigators have gone back further and further in search of the beginning of things, till cautious students hesitate to follow them in their dim and dubious track. The process of investigation followed for this purpose may be very simply explained to the ordinary reader. Manetho, Eratosthenes, and other ancient authorities, have left on record consecutive accounts of the kings of Egypt, much of which was long regarded as purely fabulous, and received little serious attention from historians. Recent discoveries in hieroglyphics have led to an entire change of opinion, though not without much confusion and error. These authors are now believed to have recorded historical facts. The knowledge of the special character and meaning of the cartouche, as the mark of a royal name, has drawn attention to these abundant marks on the ancient ruins of Egypt. More careful observation discloses the important fact, that they occur, not only thus detached on various temples and tombs, but that chronologically arranged tables of them are to be found constructed in various localities and at different dates. Here then is a most important element for further investigation. Of some of the more recent of these we possess accurate historical records; and knowing the date of accession, even of the first of the Ptolemies, it is not difficult, if we are sure that we possess a complete list of the whole intervening monarchs, to ascertain a very near approximation to the epoch of the first of Pharaohs, Menes. To guess at the length of a monarch's reign, merely by knowing his name, would be a sufficiently vague and profitless riddle; but, taking one with another, the chronologist does not run great risk of error when, taking them together, he estimates the duration of the reigns of some twenty or
thirty unknown kings, as equal to the combined reigns of the same number of succeeding known kings.
We find so much that is well defined and intelligible in the most ancient of Egyptian relics, now that we have mastered the key to the hieroglyphics, that the antiquities of only a century or two old become dim and visionary, when contrasted with these revelations shining out so clearly in the far distant past, among the most venerable incidents of the infant world. The practice of carving the cartouche of the king on every building, and attaching it to mummies, pictures, temples, tombs, papyri, and even personal ornaments, along with the singularly graphic character of their pictorial representations of conquests, triumphs, religious ceremonials, &c., all furnish the most gratifying field for investigation. Compared with these, all other archæological speculations appear to be attended with the most painful uncertainty and doubt. Still much remains to be done in clearing up the evidence in relation to these historical materials before a definite general conclusion can be arrived at. Wilkinson remarks, in introduction to a chronological table which is appended to his Topography of Thebes, characterised by a very great amount of learning and research:-" In introducing some of the names given by Manetho and Eratosthenes, I neither pretend to fix the precise era of their reigns, nor the actual succession of those kings; nor can I follow Manetho in the division of his first dynasties, which have every appearance, owing probably to the inaccuracies of his copyists, of having been greatly misplaced. Indeed, the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth, do not all accord with the names remaining on the monuments, if, as there is every reason to induce us to admit, the eighteenth contains the same series of kings mentioned by that author.
"With respect to the shepherd-kings, there is a considerable difficulty in fixing the exact era of their invasion,
while some suppose it to be merely an exaggerated account of the power of the Jewish tribes in Egypt; but at all events the story of their inroads into that country, as given by Josephus, one of the copyists of Manetho, bears the evident stamp of anachronism, and in some parts of pure invention.
"Whatever may have been the motive of the mysterious secrecy observed by the priesthood respecting the original object of the pyramids, it does not appear at all probable they were the work of foreigners, or of a tyrant at variance with the priests of the established religion of the country: much less that they were accidentally made to correspond with the four cardinal points, with their faces of a certain angle, which, in other pyramids to the southward, seems to increase in proportion to the decrease of their latitude; nor would priests and grandees of succeeding ages have felt so anxious to have their tombs in the vicinity of monuments, that, according to the too credulous Herodotus, were solely memorials of their country's oppression. For my own part, I consider them purely Egyptian, and totally inconsistent with the notions of those Arab tribes, called Shepherds by Manetho, whose invasion probably dated after their erection, and whose expulsion must at least have preceded the accession of the first Osirtasen; though that of the Jews, with whom they have been confounded, appears to have happened during the time of the eighteenth dynasty.
"I am aware that the era of Menes might be carried to a much more remote period than the date I have assigned it; but as we have as yet no authority, further than the uncertain statements of Manetho's copyists, to enable us to fix the time and number of the reigns intervening between his accession and that of Apappus, I have not placed him earlier, for fear of interfering with the date of the deluge of Noah, which is 2348 B. C.
"In the fifteenth dynasty I have been guided by the
tablet of kings at Thebes, which gives one Diospolitan between Menes and the eighteenth dynasty. Manetho makes it consist of six Phænician shepherd kings!
"I have already stated my reasons for considering Amosis and Chebron one and the same king; and this conjecture gains considerable weight from the fact, that Manetho, as quoted by Syncellus, mentions the name of Amosis, without assigning any number of years for his reign; and the total of years allowed by him for the duration of this dynasty agrees exactly with that of the reigns of the remaining monarchs.
"The contemporary reigns of Shishak and Solomon are the earliest fixed epoch for the construction of a chronological table; but reckoning back the number of years of each king's reign, either according to Manetho, the dates on the monuments, or the average length of their ordinary duration, we may arrive at a fair approximation; and the epoch alluded to on the ceiling of the Memnonium, mentioned in the note on Remeses II., seems greatly to confirm my opinion respecting the accession of that prince, and, allowing for the reigns of the intervening monarchs, his predecessors, to make the Exodus of the Israelites agree with Manetho's departure of the Pastors in the reign of Thothmes III.
"But I offer this table with great deference, and shall willingly yield to any opinion that may be established on more positive and authentic grounds."
Other Egyptian chronologists have been much less cautious, and altogether heedless, of any risk of clashing with the sacred narrative,—possibly, indeed, not altogether unwilling that modern historical discoveries should give the lie to the Book of Truth. Of this, however, we have already remarked, there is no danger. Ancient chronology must indeed be revised, and many preconceived ideas abandoned, including chronological errors of Archbishop Usher and others, which have been too hastily accepted