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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30 A HISTORY OF EGYPT

with an ancient religion of vastly remote prehistoric origin, whose symbols and outward manifestations clearly betray the primitive fancies of an agricultural and pastoral people—all this would lead to the same conclusion. In the unsubdued jungles of the Nile, animal life was of course much more plentiful at that time than now; for example, the great quantities of ivory employed by this people, and the representations upon their pottery, show that the elephant was still among them; likewise the giraffe, the hippopotamus and the strange okapi, which was deified as the god Set, wandered through the jungles, though all these animals were later extinct. These early men were therefore great hunters, as well as skillful fishermen. They pursued the most formidable game of the desert, like the lion, or the wild ox with bows and arrows; and in light boats they attacked the hippopotamus and the crocodile with harpoons and lances. They commemorated these and like deeds in rude graffiti on the rocks, which are still found in the Nile valley, covered with a heavy brown patina of weathering, such as historic sculptures never display; thus showing their vast age.

Their industries may have resulted in rudimentary commerce, for besides their small hunting-boats they built vessels of considerable size on the Nile, apparently propelled by many oars and guided by a large rudder. Sailing ships were rare, but they were not unknown. Their vessels bore standards, probably indicating the place from which each hailed, for among them appear what may be the crossed arrows of the goddess Neit of Sais, while an elephant immediately suggests the later Elephantine, which may, even before the extinction of the elephant in Egypt, have been known for the great quantities of ivory from the south marketed there. These ensigns are, in some cases, strikingly similar to those later employed in hieroglyphic as the standards of the local communities, and their presence on the early ships suggests the existence of such communities in those prehistoric days. Hence traces of these prehistoric



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