September 28, 1895, Sacramento Daily Union, Sacramento, California, U.S.A.
FIVE THOUSAND YEARS OLD
Curious Relics of a Strange Race Found in Egypt.
They Were the People who Invented the Game of Nine Pins
They Used Ivory Combs, Painted Their Faces, Rowed In Huge Galleys Without Sails, Made Models of the Human Figure and Fine Pottery.
The remains of a new race of people have been discovered in Egypt. The race is not new in the sense of being recent, but its existence has been unknown to modern science. Professor Flinders Petrie, the famous British Egyptologist, is the happy discoverer.
The race sprang up and probably died out in ancient Egypt thousands of years after the civilization of the Egyptians proper had been in existence, but the respectable antiquity of five thousand years is credited to it. What makes it peculiarly interesting is that it possessed a civilization of its own evidently distinct from that of the Egyptians, and one which was well developed in certain directions.
The ground where Professor Petrie made his discovery is in the Nile Valley, between Ballaa and Nagada, about thirty miles below Thebes. The last named city was the place of origin of the Twelfth or Theban dynasty of Egyptian Kings, a comparatively parvenu family, who flourished about 2,500 years before Christ. Egypt, which had already passed through a large variety of civilizations, began life anew under this dynasty. The foundation of Thebes is to a great extent enveloped in mystery. That the newly discovered race has anything to do with it seems a possibility, but that idea is not apparently entertained by Professor Petrie.
The ruins or Thebes are the most extensive in Egypt, and the region has been searched with the greatest industry by archaeologists and vandals for many years.
FOUND NEAR THE GREAT CITY OF THEBES.
The Nile flows through the ruins of the ancient city, dividing it into four principal quarters Karnak and Luxor on the east bank and Gouruah aud Medinat Habu on the west bank. Between 1500 aud 1000 B. C. Thebes attained its greatest dignity. It then supplanted Memphis, the ancient Capital of the Pharaohs. The local god of Thebes was Amen-Ra or Jupiter Ammon, representing tho force of the sun, who became the ruling deity in Egypt.
Thebes was filled with magnificent temples and palaces, to which additions were made an late as the second century A. D, by the Romans. It was enriched by the spoils of Asia and Ethiopia. Homer described it as the city of a hundred gates. In the Persian conquest of Egypt, Cambyees obtained a spoil of $10,000,000 from the city, and greatly contributed to its downfall.
At Gournah, one of the quarters of Thebes, is the Palace of the Memnoneion, containing a statue of Rameses 11 weighing 887-1/2 tons. Iin the same quarter is the Vocal Memnon, or Colossus of Amenophis III, supposed by the ancients to emit a sound at sunrise. The temple of Karnak is of bewildering extent. The great hall is 170 feet by 329, and has a central avenue of twelve columns sixty feet high and ten in diameter.
Thebes is now populated exclusively by Arabs, who guide visitors through the ruins, and have been engaged for several generations in disposing of all portable antiquities.
ON A FORMER BANK OF THE NILE.
Professor Petrie made his discovery at a spot on the border of the desert three miles from the Nile, on the west side of the river. He was no doubt led to choose this locality for his operations by the fact that it had apparently been in some past age an agreeable dwelling place. Thebes and the whole country for miles around are known to him by heart. The remains were found on the side of a plateau about 1,100 leet above the river, which in some past ago reached to that height. Its volume, it has been calculated, was then fifty times greater than it is now. The place of the discoveries was therefore originally a river bank.
The date of 3000 B.C. has been assigned to tne remains by Professor Petrie. That would place them between the Seventh and Ninth dynasties, a period of great trouble and confusion in Egyptian history. It has been conjectured that the new people were of Libyan origin, but there ia no authoritative scientific verdict on the subject. The new people did not embalm and mummify their dead, as did the Egyptians, but buried them in a sitting position, us if to help them to rest.
THE RELICS FOUND.
The discoveries incluide skulls of the new race, with the hair still remaining; a vase with a galley, hills and ostriches painted on it; a carved figure with tattooing marks on the body; another carved figure showing the type of art followed by the new race; a portion of an ivory comb, with a human head carved on it; another ivory comb; a piece of pottery in the form of a bull, supposed to have held charcoal and to have been used as a footwarmer; a slate palette, used to grind malachite, with which those people used to paint their eyes and faces; a porphyry vase, hand made; pots on which are marks supposed to be the nearest approach to writing known by the new race, and a game of nine-pins.
The briefest consideration of these things shows that the new people were somewhat advanced in certain directions and very primitive in others.
The very neat game of nine-pins could hardly be improved upon. It is a remarkable testimony to the stupeuduous antiquity of skittles, bowling and kindred games. The pins and the balls are of syenite, a kind of rock. The latter are about the size of peas, they had to be rolled through a doorway composed of three strips of stone, which woulid be knocked down and make a throw worthless if the ball were not aimed with precision. The pins in the English game of skittles are still set up in the same way as these.
THEY PLAYED AT NINEPINS
These ancient people conld hardly have pretended that ninepins in this form was an athletic exercise. They played for the sake of the skill to be displayed, and also probably for the drinks and the stakes. They were, no doubt, a sporting people, for this sporting implement is the most skillfully devised article left by them.
Although the human remains were not embalmed, hair was found on several of the skulls. That hair is 5,000 years old! It is judged from the teeth of the combs that the hair was worn long, but there is not much of it left now. The shape of the skulls will, of course, be useful in helping to trace the origin or affiliations of the new people. They are large at the top, the foreheads are high and the general development is fairly high, although the lower part of the face is somewhat prognathous.
From the condition of many of the bones Prof. Petrie was forced to the disagreeable conclusion that the departed race indulged in what he calls "ceremonial cannibalism." He does not infer that they made use of one another as a regular diet, but that at a funeral the guests partook of certain portions of the deceased. Apparently they cooked the meat on the bone and then restored the latter. This was done, no doubt, with a solemn purpose, possibly a religious one. The same custom among other races is based on the idea that the virtues of the deceased are imparted to the eater, and that his memory is most effectively preserved in this way.
The discovery of combs is one of the facts which show a curiously unequal development of civilization. Certainly the use of combs indicates a considerable amount of refinement and cleanliness. There are many Oriental races to whom they are unfamiliar to-day.
The combs are of ivory, well made, and of a convenient shape. One of them, which has a three-branched ornament at the top, would not look out of place on the head of a Broadway girl. Another, from which the teeth are missing, would be more remarkable and more effective. The top or handle bears the head of a very peculiar-looking old gentleman.
Their pottery shows that they did not possess the potter's wheel, which is an important test of the advance of civilization. The pottery found is very plentiful. It is all handmade, but is very accurately formed. There are a great number of small vases of alabaster, porphyry, breccia and other hard stone. These substances are of course difficult to handle, but all the vessels are very symmetrically made. The curves are perfect.
THE FIGURE OF A GIRL DANCER
The new people, it is evident, had great skill with the eye and hand, but not great artistic taste. A model of a human female figure is the highest artistic achievement which has been brought to light. It is really a very creditable piece of work and nearly correct anatomically. It represents a well-formed young woman with her arms in the air. She is tattooed all over. Her head, hands and feet are missing, but from her build and attitude it would not be unreasonable to assume that she was a ballet dancer or some other kind of a dancer.
In contrast to this is the crude painting on a vase representing a galley on a river. Professor Petrie explains that it has two cabins and is rowed with oars. There are forty-three oars on a side. The oarsmen are hidden. It has a mast, but there is no indication of a sail upon it. The new people had no knowledge of the noble art of sailing. There is a crosstree on the mast, with some design carved on it which probably served to indicate the name of the boat or that of the owner. The ensign on the mast in this case is apparently five hills. Other galleys depicted on other vases have three and four hills, an elephant, a palm branch and a bow and arrow. Ranges of hills are represented on both sides of the galley, and three ostriches stride along in one corner, adding life to the scene. This picture ia certainly an old master.
PAINTED THEIR FACES GREEN
Professor Petrie has come to the conclusion that these people painted their faces: Whether this practice was confined to the fair sex is not known, but it is not probable that it was. Man at that early period of history had not grown out of the little vanities which he has now relegated to woman. The Professor discovered the slate palettes on which they kept their paint. He believes they used principally green paint made from malachite. Taste has somewhat changed in the matter of face painting since then, but the effect must always be about an pleasing.
Another figure, which apparently represents an old man with spectacles and a pointed board, is said to show most accurately the art type followed by the new race. Its curious resemblance to an aged journalist of some notoriety in New York will be generally noticed. Many of the vases bear scratched marks, evidently made with a purpose. Probably they indicate the owners of the articles, and are the nearest approach to writing known to this people. This art, as it is understood among more civilized races, was evidently unknown to them.
The condition of the new race was in reality very primitive as compared with that of their Egyptian neighbors. They existed between the seventh and ninth dynasties, or about 3,000 years before Christ. As early as the fourth dynasty, or 3,600 years before Christ, the notation of time, the decimal system of numbers, weights and measures adjusted to a pound of 1,400 grains, the geographical division of the country and the division of the year of 365 days into twelve months and three periods of four months of thirty days were known.
STATE OF EGYPT AT THE TIME.
The form of the buildings at that early period indicates a knowledge of geometry and the mathematical sciences. A considerable knowledge ol astronomy and chemistry was also possessed, and medicine and anatomy had reached a considerable degree of development at the earliest traceable period of Egyptian civilization. The art of literary composition existed in the eleventh dynasty, and Cheops himself, the builder of the great pyramid, was an author of renown.
Architecture was one of the earliest and most highly developed of Egyptian arts. The arch was constructed in the eleventh dynasty, eight centuries belore it was discovered by the Romans. Columns were in use as early as the fourth dynasty. The symmetric arrangement of the temples, with their rectangular courtyards and halls of many columns and gateways slightly converging toward the apex, was one that for durability has never been equaled by other architects. The masonry is still the wonder of the world.
Sculpture and painting were highly developed, though on conventional lines, and were chielly adapted to architectural purposes. In the fourth dynasty the Egyptians were expert with the harp and flute; in the twelfth with the lyre, and in the eighteenth with the guitar, trumpet, drum, tambourine and a host of other Instruments. All these facts, of course, do not detract from the interest which will be taken in the discovery of a new and inferior race which intruded itself on the mother of civilization. Where did this race come from? and what became of it? will be questions that will give Egyptologists lood for thought for many a year.
THE MYSTERY OF THE SHEPHERD KINGS
Already a very perplexing feature of Egyptian history is provided by the dynasty of the Hyksos, or shepherd kings. This is said to have ueen established by a horde of nomads from Arabia and Syria, who followed the Assyrian invasion of Egypt at the close of the twelfth dynasty, about 2500 B. C. E. They gained possession of Lower Egypt, ruling through the agency of the legitimate kings, who were shut up in cities and not allowed to get away. Then came a dynasty of six Hyksos Kings, called the fifteenth.
The savage shepherds adopted the civilization of the Pharaohs as thoroughly as possible, but were hated by the people. They introduced some gods of their own into the old world and also left their impress on Egypt art. The winged sphinx is believed to be one of their artistic fancies.
It is calculated that the sojourn of the Hebrews in Egypt from 1300 B.C.E. to 1700 B.C.E. took place during the Hyksos domination.
The Hyksos were overthrown by Aahmes I., founder of the eighteenth dynasty, and a prince of the ancient royal blood. A period of foreign conquest and aggrandizement followed.
One of the monuments of this period was the obelisk, now in Central Park, which was erected by King Amenhotep II. It stood for fourteen centuries before the Temple of the Sun at Heliopolis. It was removed with theobelisk now in Paris to Alexandria by the Emperor Augustus, and there remained for nineteen more centuries.
Whether the newly discovered race has any connection with the Hyksos dynasty, about whose origin there is much doubt, is a question that may be discussed. ~ New York World.