American Egyptomania Search

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


brick. In the furnishing of these houses they displayed considerable mechanical skill, and a rudimentary artistic taste. They ate with ivory spoons, sometimes even richly carved with figures of animals in the round, marching along the handle. Although the wheel was at first unknown to them, they produced fine pottery of the most varied forms in vast quantities. The museums of Europe and America are now filled with their polished red and black ware, or a variety with incised geometrical designs, sometimes in basket patterns,while another style of great importance to us is painted with rude representations of boats, men, animals, birds, fish or trees (Fig. 11). While they made no objects of glass, they under-stood the art of glazing beads, plaques and the like. Crude statuettes in wood, ivory, or stone, represent the beginnings of that plastic art, which was to achieve such triumphs in the early dynastic age; and three large stone statues of Min, found by Petrie at Coptos, display the rude strength of the predynastic civilization of which we are now speaking. The art of the prolific potter was obliged to give way slowly to the artificer in stone, who finally produced excel-lent stone vessels, which he gradually improved toward the end of predynastic period, when his bowls and jars in the hardest stones, like the diorites and porphyries, display magnificent work. The most cunningly wrought flints that have ever been found among any people belong to this age. The makers were ultimately able to affix carved ivory hafts, and with equal skill they put together stone and flint axes, flint-headed fish-spears and the like. The war mace with pear-shaped head, as found also in Babylonia, is characteristic of the age. Side by side with such weapons and implements they also produced and used weapons and implements of copper. It is indeed the age of the slow transition from stone to copper. Gold, silver and lead, while rare, were in use.

In the fruitful Nile valley we can not think of such a people as other than chiefly agricultural; and the fact that they emerge into historical times as agriculturalists,

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