Earliest Egypt

A History of Egypt from the Earliest Times to the Persian Conquest (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1905), Chapter III, pp. 25-50

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Art & Architecture


a granite floor in one of the royal tombs, that of Usephais, and toward the end of the Second Dynasty the surrounding brick chambers of king Khasekhemui's tomb enclose a chamber built of hewn limestone, the earliest stone masonry structure known in the history of man (Fig. 25). His predecessor, probably his father, had already built a stone temple which he recorded as a matter of note, and Khasekheinui himself built a temple at Hieraconpolis, of which a granite doorpost has survived.

Such works of the skilled artificer and builder (for a number of royal architects were already attached to the court) indicate a well-ordered and highly organized state; but of its character little can be discerned from the scanty materials at our command. The king's chief assistant and minister in government seems to have been a chancellor, whom we have seen attending him on state occasions. The officials whom we later find as nobles with judicial functions, attached to the two royal residences of the North and South, Pe and Nekhen, already existed under these earliest dynasties, indicating an organized administration of judicial and juridical affairs. There was a body of fiscal officials, whose seals we find upon payments of naturalia to the royal tombs, impressed upon the clay jar-sealings; while a fragment of a scribe's accounts evidently belonging to such an administration, was found in the Abydos royal tombs. The endowment of these tombs with a regularly paid income clearly indicates an orderly and effective fiscal organization, of which several offices, like the "provision office," are mentioned on the seals. This department of the state was but a union of the two treasuries of the old kingdoms of the North and South, the "Red House" and the "White House"; hence we find among the seals in the royal tombs the "Vineyard of the Red House of the King's Estate." Evidently the union of the two kingdoms consisted only in the person of the king. The "Red House," however, soon disappeared, the double administration became one of termi-

'I, 134.

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