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On the Physical Characters of the Egyptians

Researches into the Physical History of Man (London: Arch, 1813), pp. 376-388

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connection between Egypt and 'Ethiopia. The people of the latter country, especially those tribes who bordered on the Nile, and were subject to the kings of Meroe, resembled the Egyptians in manners, in religion, and in so many different respects, that there is no doubt of their having constituted a portion of the same nation with them at an early period.

They had a similar practice of embalming the dead and of preserving them in mummies. (a)

The Egyptians, as Diodorus informs us, had two kinds of characters used in writing: one of these was commonly known to the vulgar, and the other peculiar to the priests, and considered as sacred. The same author assures us, that the last mentioned characters were in universal pre-valence among the civilized Ethiopians, who boasted that they first had communicated them to the priests of Egypt. These were not literal characters, but a sort of hieroglyphics. They appear to have been symbols not representing words, but connected by an intermediate association with the thing signified, somewhat after the manner of those used by the Chinese. Thus

(a) Herod. lib. 2. Diodor. lib. 3.

Indeed the structure of the mummies which have been found in Egypt and examined in European Museums agrees better both with the description given us by Herodatus of the Ethiopian method of preserving bodies, than it does with the detail of the process used by the Egyptians themselves. (Blumenbach, Phil. Trasact.)

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