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CHAPTER VIII.—IMPORTANT RESEARCHES IN EGYPT
The Royal Tombs at Abydos: Reconstruction of the First and Second Dynasties: The Ten Temples at Abydos: The statuette of Khufui: Pottery and Pottery Marks: The Expedition of the University of California.
Some interesting explorations have been conducted in Egypt by the Exploration Fund during the four years 1900-04, under the guidance of Prof. W. M. Flinders Petrie, whose enthusiasm and patience for the work in this field seem to increase with the years of labour. In the winter of 1899-1900, Professor Petrie and his zealous helpers began their investigation of the royal tombs of the first dynasty at Abydos. Commenting on this undertaking, Professor Petrie writes:
“It might have seemed a fruitless and thankless task to work at Abydos after it had been ransacked by Mariette, and had been for the last four years in the hands of the Mission Amelineau. My only reason was that the extreme importance of results from there led to a wish to ascertain everything possible about the early royal tombs after they were done with by others, and to search even for fragments of the pottery. To work at Abydos had been my aim for years past; but it was only after it was abandoned by the Mission Amelineau that at last, on my fourth application for it, I was permitted to rescue for historical study the results that are here shown.
“Nothing is more disheartening than being obliged to gather results out of the fraction left behind by past plunderers. In these royal tombs there had been not only the plundering of the precious metals and the larger valuables by the wreckers of early ages; there was after that the systematic destruction of monuments by the vile fanaticism of the Kopts, which crushed everything beautiful and everything noble that mere greed had spared; and worst of all, for history, came the active search in the last four years for everything that could have a value in the eyes of purchasers, or be sold for profit regardless of its source; a search in which whatever was not removed was deliberately and avowedly destroyed in order to enhance the intended profits of European speculators. The results are therefore only the remains which have escaped the lust of gold, the fury of fanaticism, and the greed of speculators in this ransacked spot.
“A rich harvest of history has come from the site which was said to be exhausted; and in place of the disordered confusion of names without any historical connection, which was all that was known from the Mission Amelineau, we now have the complete sequence of kings from the middle of the dynasty before Mena to probably the close of the second dynasty, and we can trace in detail the fluctuations of art throughout these reigns."*
At the time when Professor Maspero brought his history of Egypt to a close, the earliest known historical ruler of Egypt was King Mena or Menes.**