The Rise of Civilization in Egypt and Mesopotamia
This looks at the history of Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, and the civilizations that arose in the region over 5,000 years ago. From the beginning: "IN looking back to the beginning of civilization in any country, we have to deal with the physical changes which the land has undergone, and to consider the conditions which promoted or hindered the advance of its inhabitants. The nature of a country largely rules the nature of its people, both bodily and mentally; and it may even be true that, if sufficient time be given, the same character and structure will always be produced by equal conditions. From historical records, and the cemeteries that have been examined, it appears that the beginning of a continuous civilization in Egypt must be set as far back as about 10,000 years ago, or 8ooo B C. The question then is, how far the condition of the country at that age was similar to that now seen? The present state is quite new, geographically speaking, as the deposit of mud by the Nile, providing a suitable soil, is only a matter of a few thousand years. The accumulation of deposit is about 5 in. in a century (4-7 at Naukratis, 5-1 at Abusir, 5-5 at Cairo); and the depth of it is not less than 26 ft., and varies in different places down to 62 ft. The lower depths are, however, often mixed with sand beds, and do not show the continuous mud deposit; hence the average depth of 39 ft. is too large, and if we accept 35 ft., it will certainly be a full estimate. At the average rate of deposit, this would be formed in (1,000 years. But, on the other hand, the deposit may have been slower at the beginning, and hence the age would be earlier. Also, the lull depth may be greater, owing to some borings hitting on ground which was originally above the river. Hence the extreme limits of age of Nile deposit in different positions are perhaps 7,000 to 15,000 years, and probably about 10,000 years may be a likely age for the beginning of continuous Nile mud stratification. Hence it is clear that the start of the civilization was about contemporary with the first cultivable ground. Earlier than the Nile deposits there must have been some rainfall, enough to keep up the volume of the river, and to prevent its slackening, so as to deposit its burden. We must picture, then, the country as having enough rainfall for a scanty vegetation in the valleys, while the Nile flowed down a mighty stream, filling the whole bed as it now does in flood, and bearing its mud out to the sea, except in some backwaters which were shoaling up. Such a land would support a small population of hunters, who followed the desert game and snared hippopotami in the marshes. The Nile had been in course of recession for a long period before it began to rise again by filling its bed. The gravels high above the present Nile contain flints flaked by human work 5 much as in Sinai such flakes are found, deep in the tilling of the valleys which belong to a pluvial period. Yet after the Nile had retreated down to the present level, man appears to have been still in the Paleolithic stage, as freshly flaked, unrolled flints have been found at the lowest surface level of the desert. As the country, while drying up, and before mud deposits were laid down, would have only been suited for occupation by hunters, it seems probable that Paleolithic Man had continued in Egypt until the beginning of the Nile deposits-that is to say, till the beginning of the continuous civilization as discovered in the cemeteries."
- Paperback | 44 pages
- 152.4 x 228.6 x 2.54mm | 117.93g
- 19 Feb 2015
- United States
- black & white illustrations