Ancient Egypt eBook

George Rawlinson
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 284 pages of information about Ancient Egypt.

No doubt these tales were, in the main, imaginary; but they marked the fact that in Usurtasen III. the military glories of the Old Empire culminated.

FOOTNOTES: 

[9] So Mr. A.D.  Bartlett, F.Z.S., in the “Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology,” vol. iv. p. 195.

[10] R. Stuart Poole, “Cities of Egypt,” p. 52.

VI.

THE GOOD AMENEMHAT AND HIS WORKS.

The great river to which Egypt owes her being, is at once the source of all her blessings and her chiefest danger.  Swelling with a uniformity, well calculated to call forth man’s gratitude and admiration, almost from a fixed day in each year, and continuing to rise steadily for months, it gradually spreads over the lands, covering the entire soil with a fresh coating of the richest possible alluvium, and thus securing to the country a perpetual and inexhaustible fertility.  Nature’s mechanism is so perfect, that the rise year after year scarcely varies a foot, and is almost exactly the same now as it was when the first Pharaoh poured his libation to the river-god from the embankment which he had made at Memphis; but though this uniformity is great, and remarkable, and astonishing, it is not absolute.  There are occasions, once in two or three centuries, when the rainfall in Abyssinia is excessive.  The Blue Nile and the Atbara pour into the deep and steady stream of the White Nile torrents of turbid water for months together.  The windows of heaven seem to have been opened, and the rain pours down as if it would never cease.  Then the river of the Egyptians assumes a threatening character; faster and faster it rises, and higher and higher; and further and further it spreads, until it begins to creep up the sides of the two ranges of hills.  Calamitous results ensue.  The mounds erected to protect the cities, the villages, and the pasture lands, are surmounted, or undermined, or washed away; the houses, built often of mud, and seldom of any better material than crude brick, collapse; cattle are drowned by hundreds; human life is itself imperilled; the population has to betake itself to boats, and to fly to the desert regions which enclose the Nile valley to the east and west, regions of frightful sterility, which with difficulty support the few wandering tribes that are their normal inhabitants.  If the excessive rise continues long, thousands or millions starve; if it passes off rapidly, then the inhabitants return to find their homes desolated, their cattle drowned, their household goods washed away, and themselves dependent on the few rich men who may have stored their corn in stone granaries which the waters have not been able to penetrate.  Disasters of this kind are, however, exceedingly rare, though, when they occur, their results are terrible to contemplate.

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Ancient Egypt from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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