by Frances Epps
The original chapters in this book appeared in the form of articles in The Parents' Review for 1906-8, and in that form were used by several teachers in connection with the Parents' Union School. The articles were so much appreciated that Mrs. Epps was asked to publish them in book form. The book was published in 1914.
"The study of ancient history which cannot be contemporaneous we approach through a chronologically-arranged book about the British Museum (written for the scholars of the P.U.S. by the late Mrs. W. Epps who had the delightful gift of realising the progress of the ages as represented in our great national storehouse). I have already instanced a child's visit to the Parthenon Room and her eager identification of what she saw with what she had read, and that will serve to indicate the sort of key to ancient history afforded by this valuable book....This slight study of the British Museum we find very valuable; whether the children have or have not the opportunity of visiting the Museum itself, they have the hope of doing so, and, besides, their minds are awakened to the treasures of local museums." (Charlotte Mason, Vol 6 pg 175-6)
Chapter 1 - Prehistoric Times pg 5-30
Chapter 2 - Britian--A Roman Province pg 31-44
Chapter 3 - Greece and the Greeks (pt 1) pg 45-57
Chapter 4 - Greece and the Greeks (pt 2) pg 58-74
Chapter 5 - Greece and the Greeks (pt 3) pg 75-92
Chapter 6 - Egypt (pt 1) pg 93-109
Chapter 7 - Egypt (pt 2) pg 110-125
Chapter 8 - Egypt (pt 3) pg 126-142
Chapter 9 - Babylonia and Assyria (pt 1) pg 143-157
Chapter 10 - Babylonia and Assyria (pt 2) pg 158-176
Chapter 11 - Babylonia and Assyria (pt 3) pg 177-188
Chapter 12 - How Britian Became England pg 189-212
References - pg 213-217
(a) Men of the Drift
Once upon a time, so long ago that we cannot say how many thousands or even hundreds of thousands of years, all this country of ours and Europe itself was covered with snow and ice, and we call that the first Ice Age.
Then for thousands of years it grew warmer, and that was the time when the first Englishmen lived. Some of his bones were found in a Sussex gravel pit only a few years ago. What a jaw he had ! heavy enough to crunch the strongest bone, and eye teeth like tusks, that interlocked and could tear and eat his food.
He could not stand up very straight, and his walk was shambling. He had the thickest skull, twice as thick as yours, just the skull for a fight, and he could only speak in a kind of growl.
But he made the first tools and weapons that the world has ever seen; they were the ancestors of knightly swords and Sheffield knives, of all the chisels and steel hammers and machines of modern days. You can see some of his tools in the Central Saloon, up the main staircase -- Eoliths they are called, which [pg. 6] means Dawn-stones, just as the Sussex man can be called the Dawn man -- the man at the dawn of history.
The tools are not very delicate; but that "hand-axe" of his, a pear-shaped lump of flint about six inches long, could give a terrible blow when he grasped it in his big fist, and put out all the power of his brawny arm. It is a rough flint-stone that he had chosen as of the right shape to hold, and he had chipped away the sharp end by blows with another stone till it had a sharp edge as well as a point.
At any rate, whatever the tools were like, they were all that the makers and users had to protect themselves from the wild animals around them -- and such wild animals!
Think of them: herds of hippopotami snorting and splashing in the great rivers, huge southern mammoths (bigger than the elephants in our Zoo); in the forests, deer seven feet high with antlers ten feet across; hers of little wild horses; and, worst of all, Sabretooth, the great tiger and terror of the night. (The British Museum had to put all its animal specimens in its Natural History building at South Kensington, so that is where you must go if you want to know more about these beasts of long ago.)
Even with his fist-axe, the "Dawn man" would have been afraid to meet the bigger beasts, and from Sabretooth he would run for his life. Perhaps he might sometimes find a mammoth who had fallen over a cliff; then he would get a mammoth bone to use. Perhaps, too, he might catch a fallen deer or bison and gnaw its flesh for food. Otherwise he lived upon [pg. 7] fruit and such small animals as he could manage to catch easily.
Note another flint tool or two -- one with a shape somewhat like a crescent moon, and another with a fine point that would make a hole. With the first he could scrape the skin from a dead wolf, and with the sharp borer he could pierce it. Then he could hang it up to dry in the sun, and so make the first dawn-lady's dress.
Hundreds of thousands of years passed, during which there were the second and third Ice Ages, with warm ages in between, and during the third warm spell some man began to think that it was a wearisome business hunting for flints of the exact shape he wanted; he would take the first flint the picked up and shape it himself. So with a good hard round stone he knapped away at his flint till he got the point or edge that he wanted. A great heap of these well-shaped flints were found a Chelles in France, so whenever any are found in Chelles or England, or anywhere else, they are called the Chellean or Chelles tools. Look for this name on the labels.
Towards the end of that same warm period, some different men appeared -- perhaps from across the land-bridge from Africa. They had new ideas about flint tools, and make them more beautiful than those made by the Men of Chelles. They, too, are found in many places, but the first place where they were found in plenty was at St. Acheul on the Somme, so we call them Acheulian flints. You can see some of their work in many of the cases. [pg. 8]
But there was a more wonderful thing done by the Acheulian men than improving his flints. Think of the flint-knapper at work on his flint, and one day letting a spark from his flint fall on a bit of dead leaf or wood, and then, instead of fleeing in terror as his friends did whenever a fire was kindled by nature, he suddenly felt it as a pleasant thing to warm his hands. In fact, he made the very first domestic fire.
What a wonderful thing it was, too, to frighten away the terrible wild beasts! The men put fires round their open camp at night and did not mind the cold and wet (it was getting colder and colder as the fourth Ice Age approached) so long as they could be safe from Sabretooth and his friends. And it was not long before the Acheulian women found that the meat of the hunters tasted better after a good toasting. So they were the first cooks.
Many of the things you have looked at up to now have been in the cases labelled "River Drift," because they have been found in the gravel beds on the sides of old river valleys when the face of the land was quite different from what it is now.
Change is always going on in this world of ours; sometimes suddenly as by an earthquake or a tidal wave; but more generally very slowly, as is shown in the changing of a coast-line; think of this as you draw your maps. You may have seen how the chalk cliffs have fallen at Ramsgate, or how the earthy ones have been washed away at Dunwich, between two visits, or you may have noticed how a river shifts its [pg. 9] bed, ever so little, year by year, leaving gravel and stones high and dry that it used to flow over.
So, too, during all these hundred thousand years or more that we have been talking about, the bit of Western Europe has risen and fallen. It was high during the Dawn men's time; there was no channel between Africa, and what we now call Spain, nor between France and England. The Somme, which we knew so well in the war, was a great river flowing down between the dense forests of the valley which is now the English Channel, and emptying itself far west of Land's End.
The Rhine did not find the sea till it left the land which joined Scotland to Denmark; there was no "North Sea" as we understand it, and the Thames, then so wide that its waters would have their north bank at Highbury and south bank at Clapham, joined the Rhine and went northwards too. The gravel beds tell us about Father Thames' early greatness, and the flint tools in them tell us of the Men of Dawn, or of Chelles, or of St. Acheul, who were there to see it.
When the cold Ice Age came it is easy to see how the warmth-loving southern beasts like mammoth and the hippopotamus were able to wander across the Channel valley through France and Spain to find a sunnier place; and their place was taken by strange beasts from the north with heavy coats of hair like the musk-ox, the reindeer, the woolly mammoth, and his companion the woolly rhinoceros.
Here they stopped while the earth sank and the sea [pg. 10] flowed into the English Channel, and it was a miserable and dreary home in these parts for thousands of years.
Then when the ice melted and warmer times came, the land rose so that England was once more joined to the Continent, and the woolly mammoth and woolly rhinoceros went off north with the musk-ox and the reindeer. Back came the southern mammoth, the hippopotamus, the bison, and the wild ox; with a southern rhinoceros, the cave-lion, and the cave-bear.
Changes like this show you why such strange things as the bones of bears are found in Devonshire, or of reindeer in the Thames.
(b) The Early Cave-Men
You would like to see something that tells us a little about the men who were the very first to live in homes instead of drifting about from place to place with no better shelter than some piled-up branches of trees. It is true that the new homes were only caves, and could not have been very comfortable, but they were the first step in the direction of houses, villages, and cities. It was beginning to get very cold in Europe, and men had to do something or they would have been frozen to death in the dreadful winter blizzards that started the fourth Ice Age.
It was a bold man who suggested the caves, for cave-bear, cave-lion, and hyenas had thought of it first. Why not frighten them out with burning brands and choke them with the smoke? It must have been [pg. 11] done, for deep down in the floor of the caves we find the bones of the hyena, and, above that, the tools of man.
These early house builders are found in spots all over Europe and Asia, and even in South Africa, but there is such a splendid range of caves in the limestone rock at Le Moustier in France that the men of his time are generally called Mousterians. His time was very long; he and his descendants seem to have lived on for twenty thousand years or so.
Only the other day a bit of the skull of one of these Mousterians was found deep down below the foundation of the new Lloyds' building in Leadenhall Street, so he was the first Londoner that we know.
He could sit in his cave knapping flints, and you can see, in what are called the "cave-period" cases, that he was finding an easier way of getting his flint tools. Instead of chipping down a big nodule -- working down the tool out of the lumps -- he could strike off a big flake, and then shape the flake -- a much easier job. And perhaps it was while he was flint-knapping that he began to think of what happened to his companions lying still and motionless. Surly the hunter went on hunting!
So he must be laid out on his side with his knees bent and with a hand behind his head, which should rest on a pillow of little flint chips. Then he has a flint axe and a good supply of other tools, and near his head, where he can get it easily, they put a well-roasted joint of bison meat. Anyway, these Mousterians were the first men to whom burial rites and [pg. 12] gifts were given. And those burial gifts help us to know more about those past ages.
From the moment men began to live in caves, they left their traces in a much more compact form. Like the animals who were there before them, they dropped their gnawed bones on the floor; other things too. Then during tens of thousands of years all sorts of changes happened, and earth and sand and other deposits were piled up and up.
So, nowadays, explorers of the past must dig down deep to find all that happened.
The first inhabitants of a cave naturally left their remains the deepest down; in one case it was the hyena who left his gnawed bones -- he seems to have preferred rhinoceros; next to that, the baby elephant left his milk teeth; you may see them in the Natural History Museum, in the case of things from Kent's Cavern, near Torquay. A man living there (in one cave his favourite food was hare) went out one day never to return, and left his hare bones and his chipped flints behind him.
The state in which most of these things are found, sealed up, as it were, in hard brown mud or earth, can be seen in the pieces of "breccia," as it is called, shown in the cases in the gallery, and there is also a large block from a French cave in a table-case near the centre of the room; in it you can see very plainly the bits of bone and flints. On the tope of this "breccia," in some caves, there is a thick layer of sand deposited by the floods, showing that for a long time in the caves there was no growling of beasts, no voice of man, only [pg. 13] the quiet swish-swishing of the water, or the droppings from the roof. Presently the cave became drier, and perhaps some wooly bears and their cubs used it for a home, or even a tiger -- a tiger of the saber-toothed -- made it his lair.
Then came another pause in the life of the cave, and more mould and sand laid down, and then perhaps a layer of earth containing better made and more varied implements belonging to man.
Caves may be all very well to play in now, but they were very wet and draughty for our Mousterian ancestors, so they got rheumatism and toothache. And think of the smell from all the bones they picked and threw down, with any bits of boiled mammoth or bison marrow they did not quite fancy! They could not grow any stronger or healthier in damp, smelly caves, although they managed to live all through that terrible Ice Age.
So it is not to be wondered at that when some splendid hunting men came over the land-bridge at Gibraltar, six feet tall or more, and with better weapons, the Mousterians gave way before them. Bit by bit the tall handsome Aurignacians, as we call them, raided the homes of the stumpy Mousterians, and took possession. But they seem to have lived much more in the open air (a warmer time was making things better), and sheltered only in the caves in winter.
Some of the open-air camps of that same time, or perhaps a little later, tell tales of mighty eating when clearing away was such an easy business. All that they had to do was to sling the bones behind them; [pg. 14] and so they did till, at the camp of Salutré, the bones covered acres of ground, and were ten feet high. Their favourite food was horse. How many do you think they ate? A hundred thousand! Think of the hundred thousand wild horses going down the gullets of the Salutrean hunters, and the Aurignacian before them. Plenty of reindeer, too, and a mammoth now and then, or a cave-bear and a few wild deer, to say nothing of antelopes, badgers, marmots, and hares.
The Aurignacians used to employ themselves sometimes in the winter in drawing animals on the wall of their caves, but the men of Salutré spent more time over their weapons. Beautiful weapons they made of fine flakes of flint, pruned off by using a piece of bone instead of hammering it with a stone.
In fact, they kept a few clever flint workers as professionals, and when any great hunter was to be buried, they buried with him the finest tool the knapper could make -- perhaps a delicate, transparent dagger, a foot long if they could get it.
Go up the iron staircase to see the foreign flints for these.
A few thousand years later the cave-men began to make many more and much cleverer drawings on the walls. They could see what the drawings were like that the tall Aurignacians left behind them, for they could burn some dried moss in bison fat in a funny little stone lamp, and go right into the darkest corner of their cavern. You can see lamps of this kind in the table-case. One is made of chalk.
Some most interesting caves where these people [pg. 15] lived were first found a La Madeleine in France, so we often call the people of that time Magdalenians, wherever they may have lived. Some of their caves in Southern France and Northern Spain have proved to be regular picture galleries; some of these have only been discovered since the war.
There is a narrow winding cave at Font de Garonne where the great galleries of frescoes, as we may well call them, contain eighty figures, among them forty-nine bison, fifteen mammoth, four reindeer, and four horses.
There is another great cave at Combarelles (close to where our old friends the Mousterians used to live) where the art gallery is 720 feet long and 6 feet broad, and contains about four hundred drawings of horses, rhinoceros, mammoth, reindeer, bison, stag, ibex, lion, and wolf, with just a few pictures of men.
A great many of these caves have been discovered, some quite dangerous to reach, and there are not many races of the old world who have left us anything like such a collection of pictures as these Magdalenians of ten or twelve thousand years ago. It shows us that they knew their animals very well indeed to be able to draw them so skillfully.
They left their tools on the floor, and even the palette used by the artist for his paints has often been found, for some of the pictures are coloured. His paint tube was very simple -- a hollow bone.
He made sketches too -- engravings and carvings -- and in the cave at Altamira one of his sketches was found -- a deer's head on a bit of bone -- to help his [pg. 16] memory when he went into the dark cave to draw his pictures on the rock.
Why did he draw or paint these pictures? Because he was an artist, and wanted to make beautiful pictures? No! no time for that. Besides, he didn't care a bone splinter whether they were beautiful or not -- so long as his bison was like a real bison, and his mammoth like a real mammoth, that was enough for him.
For those Magdalenians had an idea that if they had good pictures of a bison and speared the picture, then that would help them to spear the actual bison next day. So they made plenty of pictures to be sure that they should always have good hunting and a full larder.
This very old belief is known as "sympathetic magic," and exists among some people even to-day. Perhaps burning a man in effigy, which has been done in our own country not so very many years ago, is not so very far from the belief of the Magdalenians.
These people did not make such fine flint tools as the Salutreans, but perhaps they thought it was not worth while because they were using other things like bored reindeer horns. The Magdalenian was beginning to eat fish, and he found that a harpoon made of reindeer horn was very handy in the rivers. So you can fancy him going a-fishing every now and then and his wife making a fried fish meal as a change from the everyday bison steak.
He began to use bows and arrows too, and if you look at the bits of bone and reindeer horn in the Upper [pg. 17] Gallery you will see round holes in them that would just have done -- the big ones to straighten out the wet wood of a spear or harpoon shaft, and the small ones to straighten the arrow shafts. Then it was very easy to scrape them smooth with carved flint scrapes.
Look, too, at the ivory spear-thrower beautifully carved out of mammoth tusks, in the shape of an ibex head and lip. The Magdalenian who invented this was a genius, and made hunting much surer. The Esquimaux to-day use the same thing for throwing their harpoons.
Many years passed by, and the men who lived seemed to become a poorer set. See their shabby horn harpoons and tiny flint tools in the Upper Gallery.
Instead of being bold hunters, these Azilians seem to have squatted round the shores of the seas and lived on shellfish, crabs, and what other fish they could catch. All round our own coasts we find traces of them as well as in Scandinavia and in other parts of Europe.
A dreary life they had, but some of them made a rude contrivance of bits of hewn wood, and floated themselves out on the water to get bigger fish. Well, we know what came of that, thought the men who build our great liners to-day are not likely to think of those far-off beginnings.
Here and there somebody tried to make something better than a cave to live in -- the first sketch of a house. And some tried to make little bowls of clay -- in fact, the extra clever men of Campigny actually [pg. 18] got so far as to make real pots with decorations of zigzag lines.
At any rate that was the end of the Old Stone Age.
(c) Men of the New Stone Age
We have not said much about the Azilian Age. It was a hazy sort of time in which we see the beginnings, but only foggy beginnings, of the great advance to come. The Azilians could certainly go fishing from some sort of floating wood -- at least on calm days -- because they threw the crab-cases on to their shell-mounds with all their other rubbish, and we see that the crabs were deep-sea crabs. The Campigny men made huts covered with a rough kind of thatch and mud -- the Danish Azilians put up their huts on rafts in the shallow waters -- safer from wolves that way. They were beginning to find, too, that the wild dog was not so fierce as other animals -- in fact, almost friendly after they had thrown him a meaty bone or two.
Those clever Campigny men with their new-found pottery, some of it actually with handles, were keeping wild barley in it, and hit upon the idea of grinding it -- there is the first millstone. You will see plenty of millstones about -- there is one on the floor. Surely it will not be long now before some one invents bread!
There is one thing that no one quite understands. What did the Azilians do with all those little painted pebbles you see in the case up the iron staircase? They are painted with rows of dots, or parallel lines or zigzags. No one is quite sure about this, but some say [pg. 19] that perhaps they were totems, and the drawings stood for some supposed animal ancestor -- a sort of coat-of-arms.
The Azilians seem to have held some sort of sun worship -- at least, there is a grotto in Germany where a great number of Azilian heads were buried. The faces were pained with red ochre, and the girls wore coronets made of shells and teeth. Every one of them faced the setting sun in the West.
Perhaps it is not to be wondered at that men in those days worshipped the sun, for think of the tortures of the Ice Age that had gone before, and the comfort of feeling a gleam of sunshine!
In the Azilians' days the land-bridge at Gibraltar had been sinking below the sea, and the waters of the Atlantic had rushed to join those of the Mediterranean.
A similar thing had happened further north. Whole forests had been submerged as the English Channel and North Sea were formed, and the waves broke through the Straits of Dover. After that, whoever came from the East to our shore had to find something to float on across the waters, or else stay away. All this was happening when the last Ice Age had melted away, and the trees and animals were very much as every one knows them now.
If the little pigmy Azilian had thoughts beyond his food, he may have listened to a thrush singing in the spring as we do, or watched some little field-mice peeping through the wild barley.
But the Azilian in his turn passed away ten thousand years ago, and the next race of people have left [pg. 20] a very good account of themselves. Not in writing, of course; they know nothing about that; but in stone.
We call them the men of the New Stone Age, or Neolithic Men, which means the same thing.
He knew a thing or two, this Neolithic Man. Fifty thousand years before him, men had chipped weapons out of flint, but he knew a better way of finishing them -- he had discovered how to polish and grind them.
Look in the table-case and see.
His tools are much better for the job than those in the other cases that you have looked at. These implements have been found over the survace of the ground, not buried deep in gravel like the ones of the Old Stone Age people.
He put handles to them too -- wooden or horn handles, sometimes wedged into a hole, sometimes tied on by leather thongs. Look at that queer-looking tool in the case of remains from the Swiss lake-dwellings.
He could do wonderful things with it. He could hoe out the earth on a spot till he made a big round hole with the earth high up round it; then with his stone axe he could cut down the trunk of a tree and stick it in the middle of his hole, and cut smaller branches and bracken to make a sort of thatch from the middle to the outside. And so he made himself a better pit-dwelling than his ancestors. And soon the cleverer ones began to put stones instead of the earth walls, and one very smart man one day put a big long stone [pg. 21] across two upright stones at the opening of his hut, and so invented the first doorway. A great deal came of this.
Look at that curved tool in the wall-case. Clever people have looked at its edge and the peculiar shine on it, and say that only straw-cutting could make it look like that. At last we see that corn has been discovered -- probably barley in our part at first -- though the Egyptians found and grew wheat in very early times. It is clearly being deliberately grown, not merely found wild. You can also see in a wall-case the "quern" where the grain was rubbed or pounded by a stone to get the flour. Mixed with wild honey and baked among some hot stones it made hard, sweet biscuits.
Fire has now become easy to make -- bits of pyrites found in the clay knocked with a flint gave sparks, and a bit of dry bracken soon turned the sparks into a flame.
But something else has really come to stay. We had a rumour of its start in Azilian days, but in these Neolithic times it is everywhere -- real pottery made of baked clay and splendidly useful. Ornamental too, with fine shapes and simple patterns made near the rims with the finger-nail. You can see some of it in the wall-cases.
Over their hot hearths they dried apples and pears; they found them wild, as they did also raspberries, blackberries, and walnuts. The grape, too, in the warmer corners of South-Western Europe.
Put to all these the parsnip and carrot, and you can [pg. 22] see that a Neolithic dinner is a very different thing from the raw mammoth meal of the back ages.
Flax they had found too, and were weaving quite useful clothes and fishing-nets; some bits of them have been found in the peat under some of the cave-dwellings.
The dog has become a friend of the family by this time. No Neolithic man went about without his dog. It was perhaps the dog's sharp nose and quick feet that first made it possible to start keeping herds of sheep and goats, cattle, and even pigs. Anyway, it is quite easy to see that our Neolithic friend was rapidly becoming a man of property.
And then his troubles began.
He had to protect all his possessions against enemies -- the wolf from the forest, or the man from the next hill who was quite ready to take his neighbors' goods whenever he saw the chance.
So we find our Neolithic friends put their huts near together and built walls round them, and so the village began. And then we may be quite sure that some of them began to make rules for all to obey, and so laws began.
All these things, you may think, were enough for our Neolithic ancestors. But there was something else. You remember on p. 21 we noticed that some one had put a big stone across two uprights for the doorway to his hut. That idea was worked on to set up huge monuments -- sometimes the entrances to the burial chambers, which we call the "long barrows," sometimes great stone circles like our Stonehenge or Avebury. Wherever in the world you find these [pg. 23] great stone monuments you know that they were built by men in the same stage of civilization as our Neolithic ancestors who worshipped the sun at Stonehenge, and made the clever dewponds on the Sussex Downs to get water. What a work it must have been to bring those enormous tones from the place and put them just where they were wanted! It took many, many men to do it. Perhaps they helped the stones along over trunks of trees and levered them up into place with other trunks, but all the same there must have been a good deal of the push-and-pull" method about it.
(d) The Bronze and Early Iron Ages
Somewhere in the East some one in the Neolithic Age picked up some copper in the earth and found that he could hammer it with one of his stone tools. Who was the first one to get some tin and copper by accident into his fire will never be known, but by some such chance as this an alloy of those two metals was discovered. The result, which we call bronze, was wonderful stuff. It could be melted and moulded and hammered, and made wonderful tools. Any man who could get hold of such a tool was a proud man. It did not break as a flint might; he could, with great ease, resharpen it, and could do much better work with his bronze axe than any of his friends could with their flint ones. Gradually the knowledge of bronze spread westward, and traders brought a few bronze celts (like those in the table-case) over to this country. [pg. 24]
Gradually the use of bronze became more and more general, so that the round headed men who came over to settle here about 2000 B.C. were really people of the Bronze Age and scarcely used stone at all. By the time the Gaels and Celts arrived (during a couple of centuries about 700 B.C.) the people of this country had quite settled down as bronze users, though, in Egypt, the Bronze Age had come hundreds of years earlier than that.
You can see in the table-case how the skill of the metal-workers grew. They found out how to melt and mould the bronze into more and more useful shapes.
Look at the way in which the bronze spear improved from the solid dagger to the hollow leaf-shaped weapon. It took over one thousand years to effect these changes.
You see the bucket in the wall-case and the razor in the table-case.
These show that Bronze Age men had begun to shave. They must have used fat or oil for the job.
But, more interesting still, look in the wall-cases at the bridle-bit, which shows that the horse had been tamed, and was at least used as a servant. The bronze rings that you see were put round the wheels of the chariots that he drew.
Look at the beautiful pottery in the wall-cases. It is still hand-made, and has many patterns on it -- straight lines and dots and circles. One is a beaker; it would hold a good long drink, and was found near one of the burial mounds on the east coast. One was used for holding food, another held the ashes of the [pg. 25] dead who were burnt by the Bronze Age people. Perhaps the idea was to bury food, drink, and tools with the dead for the spirit to use in another world.
Wise people think that with their clever use of metal tools the Bronze Age men were able to clear big patches of the forest (which they could not do with stone axes), keep more cattle, and grow bigger fields of crops. They could live in bigger groups, and the cleverest became a chief who saw to it that the forts in which they lived were strong enough to protect them against raids. And that was probably the beginning of armies and war.
Gradually another metal came into use -- iron, and you must now go to the Iron Age Gallery. Not that bronze was suddenly thrown away, by any means, for we use bronze to this day (think of the coppers in your purse), though not for everything as the Bronze Age men did. Some one had found out that the glistening ore which he saw about could be heated with charcoal and gave him a metal, and many of the uses and decoration of this new metal -- iron -- seems to have spread here from a place called La Tène in Switzerland.
This metal, while it was still very hot, could be beaten into all sorts of cunning shapes, though it could not be melted and poured into moulds like bronze, even though the worker did quicken the fire with goat-skin bellows. In spite of that, this new metal -- iron -- was better than bronze in many ways, and the people who used the early iron tools could do many things that the Bronze Age people could not. [pg. 26]
In the wall-cases you will see plenty of weapons and other things where both bronze and iron were used. There is a bronze vessel with iron handles from Salop, and some iron swords in bronze sheaths from the Thames.
The Iron Age people were now building better huts for themselves -- often on little islands in lakes or on harder spots in the marshes and shallow water. They raised these spots and made them more solid by laying down logs of wood, stones, and clay.
A whole village of such huts has been discovered at Glastonbury in our own country as in other countries of the world. In one of the wall-cases there are some millstones and a wooden tub from this Glastonbury hut village. Queer round huts they were -- the walls about the height of a man, built of sticks and clay -- wattle and daub as we call it -- while the roof was thatched in the shape of a bell-tent. They had a clay floor, with a big stone in the middle; that was the hearthstone on which they made their fire.
As these huts were in marshy places, they sank, so new floors and hearthstones had to be put down, and in many places ever so many hearthstones have been found one above the other -- the lower ones sank into the peat hundreds of years before the top ones were put there.
Palisades of wood round their little island gave them rough landing-stages where they could tie up their canoes. They were beginning to shape their canoes more like the ones we know, and in their rough boats they went across to the big fields of corn. They [pg. 27] kept horses too, and very likely brought them on rough rafts from the mainland to live in a round hut stable in the winter.
In the little village there would be busy days; the men making knives, saws, adzes from the iron which they got from the ore. Then there would be much wood-cutting. We know, too, that they began to work a kind of potter's wheel and to make beautiful round bowls and pots like those you see in the wall-cases. Also they began to "turn" wood; they made bowls and barrels by using the first beginnings of a lathe. Wooden bowls just like them are to be found in any farmhouse to this day. Useful things from one kind of civilization last on for countless years of many changes. These Iron Age people wore tartans of bright colours and made them into kilts; vests and cloaks finished off the men's costume, but no one worse any sleeves. The women wore long tunics, and both wore funny shoes of skin tied round the ankles with thongs of hide.
Their clothes were fastened on with wonderful ornaments (look for these), beautiful belts, and brooches which some of the men decorated with lovely red enamel.
You will notice some large rusty hoops of iron in the cases near the middle of the wall. They have been found in tombs, and show that important people were sometimes buried in their chariots. There are many objects from a Gaulish (Keltic) warrior's chariot burial in one case, and in another, close by, are objects from a chariot burial in Yorkshire. This last was a woman's burial, and there is her mirror -- of iron. [pg. 28]
The Sonte Age men had learnt something vastly important -- to lay out roads uphill and down dale in a straight line. That was a great thing -- and on those roads these Iron Age, or late Keltic, people could travel and exchange their goods, using for money bits of iron as we might nowadays use silver.
The Iron Age people gave us the earliest money which, in the form of iron bars, have been found in different lengths all over England. So we see that trade went on even in those far-off days.
It is not far now to gold coinage and writing, to tribal centres forming the beginnings of towns, and the capitals of kingdoms.
In fact we are on the threshold of history and of the later Iron Age in which we now live.
An old traveller named Pytheas came to Britain about the fourth century B.C. and wrote an account of his travels, which has been used by later chroniclers, and we get from him glimpses of the life of the Ancient Britons of his day.
Pytheas was interested in the fine wheat crops of Kent, and the large barns, and saw the family dwelling-places, and tasted the mead made of wheat and honey. He may have seen the lake -- or marsh -- dwellings, somewhat like the Swiss ones, and watched men adorning the pottery with lines and dots, such as you see in the wall-cases, and admired the women wearing beautiful amber or jet necklaces like these in the table-cases.
A writer quoting Pytheas speaks of "a magnificent sacred enclosure and a remarkable temple of circular [pg. 29] shape"; it is thought that this may refer to Stonehenge, the model of which stands in the Central Saloon. As you will see on the model, it is now thought that this wonderful group of huge stones was a temple for the worship of the sun, and dates from the seventeenth century B.C.
Certainly these barrow relics, and the objects in the cases headed "Late Keltic" on the north side of the Iron Age Gallery, give life and colour to the times associated with Druids and mistletoe, with woad painting, and wicker boats. You will find a model of one of these in the end of a table-case.
In looking at the cases in the Prehistoric Saloon and Iron Age Gallery you have probably noticed that there are tools, implements, weapons from all over the world showing that people once lived there in all these prehistoric stages.
Take the Stone Age, for instance -- certain cases give you examples found in Great Britain; other cases give you similar things from Italy and Greece; others again, things from India, from Japan, or from Egypt.
But there were many thousands of years' difference between the times at which different parts of the world reached any particular stage.
To take one particular example. By about the thirtieth century B.C. the Egyptians were so advanced in civilization that they had even invented the Calendar, and the Babylonians by about 3500 B.C. had invented a kind of writing.
Although the Greeks at that time were only in the Bronze Age, yet they were building beautiful cities [pg. 30] soon after the thirtieth century B.C. The Romans were in the Iron Age by the twelfth century B.C.
But as for us, the inhabitants of these islands at that time were uncouth savages still only in the Stone Age.
Which of these old civilizations shall we look at first? that of the Egyptians whose history can be traced back 4000 years before Christ? the Babylonians and Assyrians, going back nearly as far? that of the Greeks, the most artistic people who have ever lived? or that of the Romans, the most powerful nation of ancient times?
The little guide says, "Turn to the left near the entrance." Let us do that -- and we find ourselves in the Roman Gallery -- so it is settled that we take our minds back to the time of the Romans.
(Chapter 1 typed by Mary Harshbarger)
Recall any pictures you may have seen of Rome, its ruins, and beautiful hills, or possibly a panorama in which the great buildings, temples, baths, palaces, theatres, reconstructed,, stand out in dazzling array: perhaps you have a post card of the ruins of the great Amphitheatre or Coliseum. Build it up again in your mind. Far, far larger than the Albert Hall, there was room to seat many thousands, tier above tier, eagerly watching the games below. Think of the sunshine, shaded by the great awnings above, the garlands of flowers, the bright clothes of the audience, their wreaths, the splendour of the Imperial party in their special "box," the impassive guards in their armour.
The noise and excitement must have been tremendous indeed when the enthusiasm of such a multitude broke beyond bounds at the sight of the skill and danger below them. "Doors closed"; well, what matter! think what there was to see outside when those marbles were fresh and perfect, the statues and columns in place, and all was alive with colour and light and human beings.
Now you ask, "But where to the multitudes come from?" [pg. 32]
If you saw a map of the Roman Empire of that time you would find it included not only all the countries round the Mediterranean Sea, but it crosses the Alps and includes Gaul, now the land of France, and the beautiful Rhine-land.
"Beyond German," says the old writer Tacitus, "lies a sea, the girdle and limit of the world, so near to the spot where Phoebus rises, that the sound he makes in emerging from the waters can be heard, and the forms of his steeds are visible!" Still one more province will appear, Britannia, our own foggy island. These countries were all conquered more or less completely, were kept in order by large armies, were colonized by Rome, were ruled by Roman law, and were taught Roman ways.
Now do you see where the crowds in Rome came from? Besides those who lived in the beautiful city and its surroundings, men were brought to the great capital by business, pleasure, or sad necessity, from north, south, east, and west. You know one man, at any rate, who made a far journey to see Rome -- St. Paul -- in the time of Nero. You will remember, too, the story of the British prince, Caractacus, brought to Rome with his family, after a long and brave defence of his country. No wonder as he looked round on the glories of Rome that he bitterly wondered why his conquerors were not contented with all they already had, without taking his poor home, so far away.
And now, let us look in the Roman Gallery, on the faces of our acquaintances. Julius Caesar -- his birthday in the seventh month gives July its name -- who paid [pg. 33] two short visits to the hitherto almost unknown island that lay in the mist, and who managed to find time to write books about his travels and wars in the midst of a most busy life. You will find another portrait of him amongst the Roman Cameos in the Gem Room. His name comes about the middle of the first century B.C., and next to it that of Augustus. Remember, as you study his face, his decree that all the (Roman) world should be taxed; remember, too, the Birth in Bethlehem, which took place while the taxing-census was being carried out in Judea.
The name of Tiberius will come next, early in the first century A.D. He was the Caesar referred to when the Jews asked our Lord, "Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar?" and when they shouted later, "We have no king but Caesar."
Claudius is interesting to us, because about a hundred years after Julius Caesar had shown the way, the conquest of Britain began in real earnest, and Claudius came himself for about a fortnight to encourage the soldiers in their great and hard work.
The hated name of Nero comes next, and there is a fine bronze statuette of him in the Roman-Britain Room. Nero is the emperor who "fiddled while Rome was burning," who persecuted the early Christians, and in whose reign occurred the terrible revolt of the Britons, under Boadicea, maddened by her wrongs. Go and look at the group on Westminster Bridge. You will see the queen standing in her war chariot with her long hair and mantle streaming behind her as she urges her soldiers on to battle and revenge. [pg. 34]
There is a bust of Vespasian in the Roman Gallery, but before he became emperor he commanded a legion in Britain under Claudius. His son, Titus, lived from 40 to 81 A.D. It was he who finished the terrible siege of Jerusalem, and in his reign Pompeii and Herculaneum were buried under the lava from Vesuvias.
Titus was a good friend to the great commander Agricola, who was for seven years governor of Britain. Agricola's daughter married Tacitus the historian, and it is from him we have the account of Agricola's voyage, of his wars and campaigns, and forts, and of his fine work in road-making, forest clearing and draining.
Domitiam it was who recalled Agricola, some say out of jealousy. Anyhow he would not let him carry on over here.
Under the next emperor, Trajan, there was a revolt in Britain, and so we come to Hadrian, who meant to have no more trouble of that kind. And that is why he built the Wall.
He comes near the beginning of the second century, and was a great traveller. You will find bronze medallions in the Coin Room, commemorating his journeys to Britain, Sicily, Syria; not for the purpose of adding to the Empire, but to see that all were well-governed and protected from fierce neighbours. He encouraged scholars and artists too.
A fine bronze of Hadrian was found a London Bridge, and is in the Roman-Britain Room.
A little past the middle of this second century we meet the name of Marcus Aurelius, who wrote such [pg. 35] wise books that they are prized even now. In one of them he says, after acknowledging what he had learned from his mother, that from his tutor he learnt "endurance of labour, to want little, to work with his own hands, not to meddle with other people's affairs, and not to be ready to listen to slander." It was in this reign that the barbarians along the frontier gave serious trouble, and Marcus Aurelius died fighting against the Germans.
At the end of this century comes Severus, who died at York, after a harassing campaign in the north. It was he who made the Praetorian Guards so strong, that practically the soldiers became the governors of the Empire.
The Romans left many coins in their British province, and you will recognize in the Coin Room the emperors you have now seen, as well as the later emperors.
Consider the soldiers who first conquered this country, and then settled in it. What a scene the arrival of the legions must have been, as the many-oared galleys swept in to the shore, discharging company after company, the general, the centurions, the standard-bearer, the legionaries; little by little they gain ground, as more press on behind. Fine organization and discipline, with oneness of purpose, tell against the mere bravery of the Britons, often bitterly quarrelling amongst themselves.
In the Roman-Britain Room you can see their fine helmets, swords, daggers, shields; on the boss of one of these is the very name of the soldier who owned it, [pg. 36] Junius of the Eighth Legion; here, too, is a small section of the scale armour worn by soldiers, and we can glean other details of their appearance from the "imperial personage in armour" close by, as well as from the two statues of Hadrian in the Roman Gallery. These helmets, breastplates, shields, sandals, may bring to your mind St. Paul's description of the Christian armour. He must have often watched his guards when he was in prison, putting theirs on and off.
You see near the door some bronze tablets, at least, pieces of them. They are the military diplomas or certificates of honorable discharge from the army. They were presented to men who had completed twenty-five years' service by which they had attained the rank of citizenship and freedom to marry. The translation of these diplomas is in a case close by.
Some tablets mentioning British soldiers have been found in distant countries, as well as in Rome itself, for the great army was always needing recruits, and the strongest of the youth of a conquered province had to go. A young Briton would be taken from his home, where he had hunted, fished, ploughed, and reaped a little, fought (perhaps a good deal) with neighbouring tribes, to become one of a great army. Then he would be disciplined, trained to obedience, and marched for days and weeks, perhaps across the Alps or Danube, or farther away still.
But the soldiers had other work besides fighting. Look again at the map of Roman Britain. As the legions made their way across the length and breadth of the country, they needed forts and camps -- castra -- [pg. 37] for shelter. These they built so strongly that we can see many of the foundations to this day, and at any rate the remembrance of them survives in the names of Chester, Lancaster, Manchester, and many more.
The quarters of the army were in the west and north of our country, where the soldiers were always on guard against troublesome neighbours.
The east and south were peaceful, and needed no soldiers, so it is there that we see how the civilians lived, and when the word "chester" comes in the name of a southern or eastern town (like Colchester or Gloucester), it does not mean that there was a military camp there, but that there was a Roman town. The Saxons often tacked on the word "chester" later to show this.
If you visit any of these places, and there is a museum, you will find the remains stored there of the times of the Romans. You will find, for instance, a baby's feeding-bottle buried with toys, beside the small owner, at Colchester; a tiny bear, spread eagle, quaint rocking-horse four inches long, at Silchester; and endless treasures at York, Lincoln, Canterbury, and Dorchester.
But these castra had to be connected by good roads, and so well did the Romans do this part of their work, helped by the Britons (who complained that their bodies and hands were worn out with the labour), that their highways are the best we have to-day. Where necessary, forests were cleared, marshes drained, bridges built.
Trace on the map of Roman Britain the chief Roman roads. There is Watling Street, which reached [pg. 38] London where the Marble Arch now stands. Exactly where it crossed London is not known, but the "Watling Street" near St. Paul's is not part of it; it is a mere name. From South-East London the Roman road went on to the Kentish coast, thus connecting Chester and Wales with far-off Dover. Ermyn Street went from London to Lincoln and York, the Fosse way from Devonshire to Lincoln.
The Milestone (mille passus, a thousand steps) by the door into the Roman-British Room, bearing the name of Hadrian, comes from North Wales, and reminds us of the measurement and careful tending of the roads.
Not only troops of soldiers would pass along these roads, but, as the country became more settled and cities were built and farms prospered, there would be trains of pack-horses or asses laden with food and merchandise. Perhaps the traders might carry some of those steelyards and weights (to be seen also in the Room of Greek and Roman Life), to measure and weigh the goods they sold on their way: they are just the same shape as those used in the carts selling fruit and vegetables in Yorkshire now. Near a mining district there would be heavy burdens of metal borne along: "pigs" of lead, stamped with the emperor's name, cakes of copper, tin, all highly prized, as well as the smaller ingots of silver.
Look once more on the map to find a further work of the soldiers -- the walls.
You have only to read the names, Picti, Caledonii, to the north of the narrow belt of Scotland, to see why [pg. 39] walls were needed. Get a picture, if you can, of the ruins of the most important wall, the one built by Hadrian, and repaired by Severus.
There were fierce scenes of warfare, on the line of the wall -- stone rampart, ditch, and roadway -- crossing the country to the Solway. At intervals there were turrets and forts, and many are the memorials of the soldiers who lived and died there; their tablets, records of their work, as well as the altars dedicated to the gods they served. A beautiful gold necklace was found on the line of the wall, with coins of Aurelius.
Now look at the case of more peaceful things -- the work of potters and glass-blowers. Some, at any rate, of these beautiful pots and jugs and vases, and those fine glass jars and vessels, will have been made here. There are also bronze ornaments of every kind, and all sorts of personal possessions, helping us to realize the growth of cities and colonies, and the families who peopled them. It has been said that when a Roman came to a new country he brought Rome with him, and impressed his ideas upon the wealthy Britons here. So we find all over the country traces of fine houses, baths, theatres, such as the Romans had had at home, and particularly of his "villa," his beautiful country-house.
In the Isle of Wight, for instance, there are the foundations of the Brading Villa, and there are many more all over the country; you can trace the rooms for every use, and you can see the furnaces which heated the baths and the villa generally. There are traces, [pg. 40] too, of the gardens with colonnades, statues, and beautiful tessellated pavements.
There are fine specimens of their pavements in our Roman portrait gallery, and if you want to see the sort of wall painting that gladdened the eyes of those who dwelt in them long ago -- such bright, clean colours -- you can find, near the Gem Room, those from the buried cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, flowers, birds, all sorts of graceful pictures, some as fresh as if done to-day. These were sealed up by the ashes and lava of Vesuvias.
Who lived in those old villas? There was the Briton's Romanized wife, in her graceful flowing robe, moving across that pavement floor. Her name will be a British one, perhaps Boadicea, not a Roman one, such as Cecilia, Drusilla, or Cornelia, which will only be borne by the highest ladies in Rome.\
You can see her shoes in the Roman-Britain Room and others like them in a table-case in the Room of Greek and Roman Life; tiny shoes of a child too. You will see that they walked with a soft, firm tread, for they had no heels to click. In the Gem Room note the golden balls that her boy will have worn. He wore a white garment too. His tutor taught him reading from books he unrolled; writing, by guiding his hand, as he used one of these pointed styli on wax spread on his wooden tablet. If the stylus slipped, there is the broad eraser he used to smooth it out. The boy had most certainly to write well, for he had to copy out his own school-books.
For his arithmetic he used counting-boards; think [pg. 41] of this Roman boy when you try to read quickly dates such as MDLVIII., MDCXCIX. Would you like to work some with his figures?
The little girls would sit beside their mother and her handmaidens and learn to use the spindles and whorls which you now see.
The garments were often woven to fit, and you can study their graceful shapes in the Terra-cotta Room; here are the needles and bodkins too. You can see what the lady used, for there are the bronze mirrors, the combs, tweezers, little pots for ointment; and as for ornaments we have an endless variety of brooches, bracelets, rings, and in the Gem Room many more still. One of the bracelets, to hold money, looks more unsafe than a modern pocket.
There are the keys to lock all away safely, near the prescriptions of the oculists -- one is for red eyelids -- near the fish-hooks, and the seal boxes and the spoons, and many other lovely things, as well as kitchen utensils.
The British father -- Roman now in all his ways -- will be home for the evening meal, so let us look at the lamps he would use. You will see plenty in the Roman-Britain Room, and again, the Fourth Vase Room, is a whole case full of terra-cotta ones; you can find the moulds in which they were made in the Room of Greek and Roman Life.
You can see by the blackened rim of the holes where they were lighted. Notice the ornamentations, gods, gladiators, animals, and one with the fox and crow fable from Aesop. So you see, whether it was Celsus, Pedens, or Marius in Rome, or young Epaticcus [pg. 42] in Roman Britain, the boy of two thousand years ago knew the same story that you know.
A splendid store of personal possessions, as well as of stones of ruined houses and other buildings, has been found about seventeen feet below the busy city of London, and to see more of these you must also go to the Guildhall and the London Museum.
At the Guildhall look for the red pottery which bears the illustration of another of old Aesop's fables, the wolf and the crane; another piece has a juggler with a skipping-rope, and there are some lamp-trimmers, some wonderful shoes, and much more that will interest you.
On your way there look towards the high ground above the old marshes (near St. Paul's) where it is just possible that there may have been some prehistoric and British settlements. These were followed by the great Roman city on the Walbrook and Fleet rivers -- one of the greatest of the Roman Empire. The Basilica (excavated in Cornhill) was the largest in the west, outside Rome itself.
On the wall of this room is a map of London where you can trace the great wall built by the Romans after the rebellion of Boadicaea. Find the street now called London Wall, near Liverpool Street Station, and then trace it round by the names of the "Gates." Billings-gate, Ald-gate, Bishops-gate, Moor-gate, Cripple-gate, Alders-gate, New-gate, Lud-gate.
Of the river wall and its water-gates we have only slight traces; it was built on piles. A busy place it must have been, with the ships of traders [pg. 43] on the river, as well as the pleasure-boats of the rich, and much traffic from the great roads, that entered at its gates from all parts of the country. Remains of great timber wharves are found whenever workmen dig fresh foundations on the riverside.
St. Alban, a British martyr for the new faith, appears near the beginning of the fourth century, and a little later comes the name of the first Christian emperor, Constantine.
You will notice as you pass through the Museum many of the altars dedicated to the old gods, the Tyrian Hercules, the Egyptian Osiris, the German goddess mothers, British gods and goddesses, as well as the Roman Mars and Sylvanus, for the Roman legionaries, as we saw, were recruited from every country.
Gradually Rome lost her great power, enemies began to close in on every side, and more and more soldiers had to be called home from distant provinces to defend the heart of the Empire, and so the legions left Britain, left the wall, and the camps, and the castles, and the cities.
There had already been terrible raids upon this land, especially towards the end of the fourth century. Scots from Ireland (that was before they migrated to Scotland), Picts from the North, and Saxons from across the sea, swarmed over the land for plunder.
These wild foes attacked the richest Roman-Britons first, and so reduced their beautiful villas to smoking ruins.
Then the Saxons began to settle down among the [pg. 44] Celtic Britons and to marry them. So the Britons became less and less Roman. At last it seemed that all that Rome had given to Britain was lost.
Rome had given Christianity to Britain, and it was now stamped out in the East, but it lived on in the West. The scholars and saints of Ireland kept it as their brightest treasure, and in the centuries to come gave back to our land the gift of Christianity that Rome had first bestowed on it.
(Chapter 2 typed by Mary Harshbarger)
"The Present moves attended
With all of brave and excellent and fair,
That made the Old Time splendid."
You remember the name of the old geographer and traveller, Pytheas, in the fourth century B.C. It is from what he wrote that we get a dim idea of what life was like in Britain and Gaul in those far-off times.
Let us follow Pytheas home. No doubt it was rough in the bay--it often is--and Pytheas, in his small boat, may have thought that the sight of the barbarians--the "unintelligible people," whose speech sounded like "bar-bar" to his Greek ear--had been scarcely interesting enough to make the expedition worth while.
However, once round the west of Spain, past the high rock that the traveller little thought would belong two thousand years later to dwellers in the foggy island he had just left, he felt safe once more in the familiar waters of the blue Mediterranean on the way to his home at Massilia (now Marseilles). There the old [pg 45] sailor could spin his yarns about the round huts, wicker boats, and great stone circles that he had seen.
Massilia was only one of a number of colonies planted on the shores and islands of the Great Sea by a country much further east.
If you imagine Pytheas' boat going on from Massilia to the Mother Country, it will pass more colonies on the south of Sicily and Italy on the way to Crete. Then, still going towards the rising sun, it will come to the see of many islands--giant's stepping-stones, they are, to the fringe of colonies at the edge of Asia Minor. Turning back a little, the ship will at last reach the wonderful little Mother Country herself. It is Hellas, the land of the Hellenes; or, as we say, following the Romans, Greece of the Greeks.
Now call to mind all that you have ever seen that is beautiful, actually or in pictures, in Cornwall, Wales, or Scotland, and then let your fancy see the blue sea gently lapping the yellow-white sand on the shores of Greece and the Archipelago. There are dark rocks and deep waters too, where the mountains seem to plunge into the sea, to raise their heads later as gay little islands.
And those solemn mountains, some rugged and bare and snow-capped, some clothed with dark woods; they seem to guard--as in truth they did--the smiling valleys between, full of flowers and fertile fields. Imagine, if you can, the warm sunshine, the clear, crisp air, and the blue sky. The people who lived in such an inspiring country--no larger than Scotland [pg 46]--have had the greatest influence throughout the centuries on all that is noble in art and literature.
Even a hurried walk round the rooms--shout twenty of them--that contain treasures from Greece will show wherein this influence lies. Those graceful forms caught in lasting marble, those perfect temples, that wonderful picture gallery of the vases, together with the treasures in the Bronze, Coin, Gem, and Terracotta Rooms, show us what the Greeks were--how they lived and thought.
We will not begin at the beginning, but will turn to the century before Pytheas, the fifth century B.C.
It opens with the clash of arms, with the trampling of huge armies, and with deeds of brave daring. You know the stories of the Field of Fennel, of the Hot Gates, of the Land-locked Bay, of the Retreat of the Ivory Throne.
Remember the great names of Marathon, Thermopyle, Salamia, Plates; your history will tell you of the Persians and how the Greeks met them, and how the message of the gods came true, and fire and sword destroyed Athens and the temples.
Standing before the model of the Acropolis in the Elgin Room, let us throw ourselves into the heart of Athens; remembering that, though Sparta was brave, Thebes dogged, and other states that went to make up the whole were fine too, yet it was really Athens that was the life and soul of Greece, and the centre of an ever-widening influence.
You see a hill, flat at the top, which is twice as long as it is broad, with steep sides as high as the cliffs at [pg 47] Dover, rising from the rocky plain on which Athens was built. You mount by the Gate Temple, and, while resting, turn to look at the glorious view; the shining sea some four or five miles off, the misty hills in the distance, the dark ones nearer, the slow, shallow streams hidden with olive groves. You will notice other hills in the town, crowned with buildings and trees.
If you dig down some little way below the surface of the Acropolis you come upon a layer of blackened and broken remains; they tell the story of the sack of Athens by the Persians.
Sad as it was, it gave an opportunity for rebuilding, and, fortunately for Greece, and the world, there were great men to make the most of it.
Close beside us is the bust of Pericles, one of the greatest rulers of Athens, who organized the work of rebuilding, and found the necessary money; there were architects too, able to plan great temples, and Pheidias, the finest sculptor the world has ever seen, to adorn the buildings with his own work and that of the pupils he inspired.
Let us move on to the model of the Parthenon, the greatest of these temples. You can see its position on the Acropolis, near its south edge, high above the great Theatre of Dionysius, from the model of the "hill of the citadel."
Walk round it slowly, notice its plan, twice as long as it is broad; the central chamber, the cella or temple itself, surrounded by massive simple columns, two rows of them at each end; above these the triangular [pg 48] gables or pediments; then, peering inside, notice the division into two large halls, and the spot where stood the great statue of Athene; there is nothing left of it now; but the small statute close by is supposed to be a Roman copy, and to give some idea of the original.
Think of it: a statute forty feet high (seven tall men standing one above the other); the face, arms, and feet of ivory; the garments, shield, and helmet of gold; the image of Victory, six feet high, standing on the outstretched hand with a golden wreath. It must have had a solemn and magnificent effect when seen in the splendid temple built to contain it.
The steps and passage round the cella seem to invite one to come thus near to the temple, to study its beauties. Look up: under the shadow of the columns and the roof they support is a continuous band of sculpture in low relief. A great part of this hand--the frieze--has been brought to England, and is arranged round the walls of this Elgin Room.
Now stand outside, and see the square blocks of sculptured stone filling up the spaces between the beams (represented in stone). These are the metopes; many of these, too, are on the walls above the frieze. In the pediments of the model are shown the remnants of the sculpture in the round, which once adorned them in their perfect beauty.
Let us take each of these three different classes of sculpture which belonged to the Parthenon, the work of Pheidias and his school, and find out enough about them to make us want to know more, and then come [pg 49] back to our model, to bring it as far as we can to our minds in its first glory, when finished, about the middle of the fifth century B.C.
Athene was worshipped in her temple for a thousand years; then Christianity was accepted in Greece--about the time when Christian missionaries from Ireland and Rome were preaching to our English forefathers--and the Parthenon was turned into a church.
Athens was then taken by the Turks in the year that Elizabeth came to the throne; and the Parthenon became a mosque. Some two hundred years later came a great calamity. The Venetians, bombarding the town, set fire to the powder kept in the chamber, where once the great mysterious statute was honoured, and there was an explosion which threw down the walls and roof as you see them in the model.
Perhaps the pediment sculptures suffered the most. You see those that have been brought to England set out on marble plinths each side of the long room; weather-worn and broken as they are, they are considered the finest series of sculptures in the world.
Take the East Pediment first: it was the one over the chief entrance farthest away from the Gate Temple, which led up to the Acropolis. You will notice first the top of one of the columns, of the simple and grand Doric order, which is placed between the two halves of the marble plinths.
Above this is a copy of a drawing made a few years before the explosion, and by its help we are able to form some idea, though by no means an exact one, [pg 50] of how the broken and prostrate figures were originally set up.
Pausanias, and old traveller, who loved old buildings and old stories, and who lived in the middle of the second century A.D., tells us that the subject of the East Pediment sculptures was the story of how the goddess Athene sprang fully armed from the head of the great Zeus, her father; so we can try to imagine the lost central group--Zeus, his daughter, and Hephaestus, who split open the god's head with his axe.
Of the various gods and goddesses grouped about them, perhaps the slight figure with the floating drapery was the beautiful messenger, Iris, the rainbow, flying to take the wonderful news to the world.
Perhaps the grand figure easily reclining on a rock is Theseus, a hero-king of oldest Athens, to whom was raised a beautiful temple below the Acropolis, standing almost perfect to this day.
The horses of Helios, the sun-god, are on the left, rising with fiery impatience above the rippling waves. Those holes show where metal bridle and trappings were once fastened.
On the other end is the downward bent head of one of the horses of the moon-goddess, Selene, about to sink below the horizon. This head, with its swelling neck and nostrils, is the finest ever sculptured.
You notice the sunrise on the left; moon-set on the right.
The West Pediment takes us back to the story of the founding of Athens, and again the drawings of the artist Carrey help us to reconstruct the groups. The [pg 51] story runs that Athene and Poseidon, god of the sea, disputed as to the possession of Attica; it was about the size of Cornwall. The gods decided that it should belong to the one who gave the best gift to the country.
So Poseidon struck the ground with his trident (Father Thames has taken the pattern of this) and a salt spring bubbled up (some say a horse appeared). Athene, the wise, stooped down and planted a seed-stone which grew and grew, as the silent company watched, to a beautiful olive tree; for long, long years the spring, the marks of the trident, and the olive tree, were shown in the Temple of Erechtheus, on the north side of the Acropolis.
The gods judged Athene's gift the best, and so the city became Athens, after its chief goddess and protector, and the olive trees spread slowly by the river banks, giving the oil of their fruit to increase the riches of the country.
It is supposed that the figures on each side of the two principal ones are gods and heroes of Attica, and sea and river gods, sympathizing with Athene or Poseidon.
Now for the metopes. You will notice how far the figures of the Centaurs, half-men, half-horses, and the men they are fighting--the Lapiths--stand out from the background. This sculpture is in the highest relief possible.
The reason for the fight is said to have been the bad behaviour of the Centaurs at a wedding-feast, where they tried to run off with a Lapith bride. You will notice the fine modelling, the expression on the faces, [pg 52] the grouping and strong section of it all, before turning to study the frieze.
One needs to go round the room many times, and slowly, to take in the spirit and feeling of this wonderful frieze. You see that it represents a procession, the great procession that once every four years assembled in the outer Potters' field and wound its way round the base of the Acropolis, up through the beautiful Gate Temple, to present a new garment to drape the little olive wood statue of Athene (believed to have fallen from heaven), or, as some say, the gold-and-ivory statue made by Pheidias.
But this procession must not remain in marble to us; we must see the colour: the white, purple, blue, crimson garments; the golden ornaments and vessels sparkling in the sun; the dazzling armour; the animated faces and shining eyes. We must hear, too, the joyful shouts as the victors in the games pass by; the strains of music and song; the trampling of the horses; the lowing and bleating of the victims for the sacrifices; and with it all is borne the smell of the fruit and flowers, sweet spices and cakes, carried in baskets and trays, through the warm, soft air and sunshine. It was a religious festival that stirred their deepest feelings; their goddess had to be honoured and propitiated with sacrifices by her own people, colonists as well as those who lived under the protecting shadow of her mighty uplifted sword. Imagine her great bronze figure, not far from the Gate Temple, forty feet high; the sailors out at sea could see the tip of that sword and the crest of the helmet. [pg 53]
If the light be good, you can find on the model the place where the procession is supposed to start, and trace it round the cella.
Examine the details: the horsemen getting ready, fastening sandals and garments, soothing the horses (one animal is licking his foreleg), the speed gradually increasing, marshals hurrying them up, and getting all in order, holding back the chariot coming on too fast; then the modest dignified girls, and the lovely folds of their simple garments!
A record has been found, belonging to the end of the first century B.C., saying that girls such as these "had performed all their duties, and had walked in the procession in the manner ordained with the utmost beauty and grace." They had also subscribed for a silver cup to be dedicated to Athene and placed in the treasury of the Parthenon.
The old men with branches, and the magistrates, belong to the quieter part of the procession, and lead up to the most important, and perhaps the most beautiful, part of it, and here we touch fable again.
There is a seated row of gods and goddesses--if it were a picture they would be in a semicircle in the background--waiting to receive the bearers of the peplos, that wondrously embroidered robe of saffron and purple wrought by the young maidens of Athens.
These figures are marvels of grace, and make us realize what fine models Pheidias, the master sculptor, must have had before his eyes, in these Greeks of the fifth century B.C.
And now, let us go back to the temple model. [pg 54]
Imagine those round pediment sculptures lifted to their place, and the metopes in position. Imagine, too, the frieze round the north and south sides of the cella, and round the band at the top of the inner row of columns, in front of the east and west entrances.
Besides all this, think of the lions' heads (there is one on the wall behind the Caryatid) fixed at each end of the pediments, and the smaller adornments along the edge of the roof, and the gleaming gold shields below the metopes and beam ends. Remember, too, that the marble now grey with age was dazzling in its pale cream colour when fresh from the quarries near by; also that a great deal of the sculpture was picked out with colour, and relieved with metal trappings and weapons.
But the Parthenon is not the only temple represented in the Museum.
Look at that beautiful strong figure, the Caryatid, one of the six supports in the south porch of the Temple of Erechtheus, where the sacred little olive-wood statue had its home, and where the trident marks, salt spring, and olive tree were shown. Perhaps you have noticed a copy of this figure in St. Pancras Church, Euston Road? You will see the difference between the Ionic columns from the eastern porch and the Doric one of the Parthenon.
In the Phigaleian Room is an interesting picture of the Temple of Apollo, built by Ictinos, the architect of the Parthenon; and some of the metopes belonging to each end, and the frieze--an inside decoration in this temple--are on the walls of the room. Here we get [pg 55] Centaurs and Lapiths again, and the battles of Greeks and the warlike Amazon women.
We next wend our way to the Mausoleum Room to find the remains of the Tomb of Mausolus, Prince of Caria, one of the Greek colonies in Asia Minor. This was built in the middle of the fourth century B.C., just a hundred years later than the work of Ictinos. It was ranked among the Seven Wonders of the World.
The two colossal figures in the middle of the room are Mausolus and his wife, Artemisia, who showed her love and sorrow by raising this most wonderful tomb to his memory. It was so ruined when discovered that no one is sure of its construction, though many scholars suppose that the royal pair stood in a chariot drawn by four horses on the top of a pyramid of steps, which was supported by columns on a high base, richly sculptured. All was highly colored and, further, ornamented with lions and marble groups.
A few minutes from the Museum is St. George's Church, at the top of which is an imitation of the Mausoleum pyramid, surmounted by George II in a Roman toga!
Up the steps from the Mausoleum Room we come to the Nereid Room with the beautiful Nereid Monument, found also in Asia Minor, in Lycia, destroyed by an earthquake. The model helps one to reconstruct it and see where the friezes and figures fitted in; the sea maidens, who give their name to the monument, give a delightful sense of easy motion, "scudding along the surface of the waves." This belongs, too, to the fifth century. [pg 56]
Look into the Ephesus Room and see the sculptured columns, the Ionic capital, and other fragments of the great temple of Artemis (Diana) at Ephesus. It was probably finished near the end of the fourth century B.C., so was already four hundred years old when St. Paul was at Ephesus.
Read about this in Acts XIX. Notice in a group of portrait heads one of Pericles, and one of Alexander the Great. It is said that the first temple at Ephesus was burnt down the night of Alexander's birth, 356 B.C., and this one was building while he was pursuing his mad career of conquest across Asia. [pg 57]
(Chapter 3 typed by Mary Harshbarger)
The Picture Gallery of the Vases
"I am one of the prizes from the games at Athens." So runs the inscription on one of the oldest Pan-Atlantic vases that the Museum possesses--the Burgon Vase--in the Second Vase Room upstairs.
It was found in Athens itself, and was won there a hundred or more years before the glorious temples and statues of the time of Pericles crowned the hill of the city.
For the procession, pictured on the frieze of the Parthenon, with the games that went before it, was no new event in the fifth century B.C.; for long years, strong, young men had trained and practised and striven to be best in certain feats of bodily skill, and the winner, besides much honour and many privileges, obtained one of these red-and-black figured amphorae, full of precious olive oil.
This may remind you of the far-away story of how Athene won her Athens by the gift of the olive tree.
Let us look well at these vases: some sixteen of the [pg 58] older ones in the Second Vase Room, and eleven in the Fourth Vase Room of later date.
Athene, with shield and spear, appears on them all, painted in a stiff, ancient style; sometimes her robe is so rich it recalls the peplos worked by the Athenian maidens. Sometimes the inside of her shield is seen, though generally the outside, and many and varied are the adornments upon it. In the Burgon Vase it is a fish; on others close by are patterns of stars, Pegasus, snakes, an ox.
One of the most interesting is the group (in the Fourth Vase Room) of two friends--Harmodius and Aristogiton--who died in the attempt to set Athens free from tyrants. One of these tyrants--Hipparchus--was killed by Harmodius, as he was in the act of marshalling the Pan-Atlantic procession. You will remember the marshals beckoning, and holding back, on the frieze. You might date the two figures from Athene's shield towards the end of the sixth century B.C.; they are from a well-known marble group in Athens, carried off by the Persians, and either restored or copied in later times.
So much for the obverse side of the vases; on the reverse, in nearly every case, you will find pictured on it the game or race for which the prize was won. The Burgon Vase, for instance, shows the race of the two-horse chariot--the Biga; another close by shows the four-horse chariot , the Quadriga, at full gallop. Musical contests on the lyre, and the double-pipes are on two others; there are also scenes showing the honour done to the one who "receiveth the crown." The [pg 59] herald announced the victory in his clear flowing Greek, and wreaths of wild olive, bay, and parsley were won in other great games of Greece.
The tripods we shall see amongst the bronzes later on.
See these athletes of twenty-five centuries ago hurling the disk or spear, boxing, wrestling, foot-racing, jumping with weights in the hands--we shall find a pair of these "halteres" among the bronzes--generally with an instructor or umpire beside them. It was not easy to be first where all were so good; the possession of one of these vases meant years of unwearied training in the gymnasium.
Perhaps when you were looking at the relics from the Gaulish chariot burial in the Iron Age Gallery a bronze jug and cup-shaped vase in red-and-black ware caught your eye as being different from any of the other vessels from Gaulish and British graves. Its shape reminds one of the cup of a flower, and it bears the same name--a kylix. Now think of it: that vase was made in Greece in the fifth century B.C. (we shall find many more of the same style in the Vase Room of that period); it was brought by the fortune of trade or war to the cold north, to lie for centuries there in the chariot grave of the great warrior who had owned it.
Passing slowly through the four Vase Rooms we soon realize that we are truly in a picture gallery that will illustrate for us not only the daily life of the old Greeks, but will show us what ideas were passing in their minds, what their religion was, what fancies were [pg 60] inspired by their beautiful land and climate, and what poems and plays they knew. Some of the pictures are signed; signed by artists who laid down their brushes a thousand years before the Angles and Saxons came over the North Sea, to settle along the shores of Britain.
Note the shapes of the vases. The amphora is already familiar from our study of those used for prize; the kylix or drinking-cup we know, too, from the Gaulish burial; the wide-mouthed crater (compare the crater or cup of a volcano) was used for mixing wine and water after the feast; the kyathos ladled the mixture into the jug (oinochoë).
Then there is the water-jug (the hydria), with three handles which we shall often see on the vases, as well as the saucer-like phiale for pouring out offerings to the gods. Besides these are more drinking-cups and jugs that were used for pouring out il, a drop at a time. As you notice the beautiful forms of these vessels, you will not wonder that the artist-potter often signed his name as well as the artist-painter.
Some of the oldest pottery in the First Room goes back to twenty centuries B.C.; some has been dug up from the supposed site of Troy, at the north-east corner of Asia Minor, just below the "Sea of Helle," where the tired little girl loosed her hold of the golden-fleeced ram; possibly some of these light vases, ornamented with lines and patterns and queer figures may belong to the stirring times of the great siege and its heroes.
On coming into the Second Room we see a great advance in the shape and style of the vases; black [pg 61] figures painted on a red ground, which is, in fact, the clay mixed with red ochre, of which the vessel is made.
From the sixth century we note the potter on one of the kylixes at work, his heavy wheel serving as a table while he fixes a handle on a kylix, with finished vases on a shelf beside him. This is to be found in the Room of Greek and Roman Life in the case illustrating Industrial Arts.
Perhaps you have already noticed a great difference between the vases of the Second Room and those of the Third and Fourth? The potter, for instance, is painted in black on the orange-red clay. Compare this with the figure on the chariot burial kylix, which belongs to the fifth century, and, as in most of the later ones, the figure is blocked out, and remains red, while the ground is filled in with black, just the reverse of the earlier ones. The stratum of ruin on the Acropolis, the work of the Persians early in the fifth century, gives us fragments of pottery signed by the great artists of this red-figure style.
The vases in the Fourth Room cover the third and second centuries B.C.; many are large and showy, but the drawing becomes less and less good, and the subjects less noble; at last the art of vase-painting dies out.
Now what can we glean from the vases about the daily life of the people we have seen thronging the temples on the Acropolis, or packed in the great Theatre of Dionysus listening with rapt and critical attention to plays, new then, but still read, acted, and appreciated twenty-five centuries later? [pg 62]
We will begin with the babies. In the table-case illustrating Toys and Games in the Room of Greek and Roman Life are some very small vases, painted with their portraits. Are they really more than two thousand years old? you may ask, as you watch the fat baby, so like our own, creeping towards the apple or the toy beyond its reach. There is a little toy meal being set out by two very small hosts; there is a toy-cart being jerked over the floor. They must have been fond of pets, those children; look at the models of birds, dogs, and turtles, which with other toys lie round the tiny cases.
A jingling rattle, a rag-doll from the Greek colony in the Delta, looking so home-made and worn with use, and generations of terra-cotta and ivory dolls, most of them with movable arms and legs, are all there; also a wooden horse, and some whistles.
Some of these toys have been sadly collected by mother and nurse, and put beside the little one in his grave, lest he should miss his treasures, in the new unknown land to which he had gone. Others have been found in or near temples where the owners had taken them to give them up to the gods they worshipped--the boys when they grew up, the girls when they married.
Here are the words that have come down to us, used by three young people as they thus dedicated their childish playthings.
Philocles, the boy, says, "It is Philocles, O Hermes! who consecrates to thee his bouncing ball, his musical boxwood rattle, his knuckle-bones that he [pg 63] loved so much, his rapid top, playthings of his youth."
Sappho says, "O Aphrodite! do not despise the purple veils of my dolls. It is I, Sappho, who consecrate to you these precious offerings."
Timarete says, "O daughter of Latona! stretch out thy hand over the young Timarete, and protect her. She dedicates to thee, Artemis, her drum, her beloved ball, the band that bound her hair, her dolls, and her dolls' clothes." How one can enter into their feelings, especially at giving up the knuckle-bones and dolls' clothes!
Remember, too, that the stories told to those children in the land of Greece were the same as those that we love now. The fables of Æsop they learnt by heart as well as the tales of the gods and heroes. They learnt stories of the great Zeus, king of the gods and men, and his wife Hera, who dwelt in the high, calm, mountain heights of Olympus, above all storm, rain, or snow; of the brothers of Zeus, Poseidon, King of the Ocean (we call him Neptune), with his trident, and the dark Hades, lord of the realms of the dead.
All these, and many more, that come crowding to your memory--the sorrowing mother seeking her lost daughter; the jovial laughter at the wily babe of a day old, who made a lyre and stole cows; the terror of the rash driver of the horses of the sun, "who, though he failed, lost not his glory, for his heart was set on great things"; all these were familiar and real to the little listeners, and probably started with the time-honoured opening words, "Once upon a time." [pg 64]
But it was not all play and stories; close by the toys are the writing tablets, like those we saw amongst the relics of the Romans in Britain, with much the same "styli." A terra-cotta group shows how the boy's hand was guided by the teacher; there is also a fragment of a reading lesson, as old-fashioned as possible--ba, be, bi, bo, bu, etc.; and a multiplication table up to three times ten.
Just beside the table-case that holds the small vases, toys, and school-books, are the vases that show the boys of twelve to sixteen learning music.
The master is teaching the lyre to some very grave, attentive pupils before him. Behind his chair, waiting their turn, the idle boys are playing with a cat!
On another vase, there is a singing lesson going on, an exercise being corrected, a master sitting in his chair listening to recitations; chiefly from the very same poems of Homer that our boys learn now.
We have seen on the Pan-Athenaic vases how the Greek boys trained their bodies in the gymnasium, and the results. Their great object in attempting feat after feat was to be strong, and perfect in bodily size and health, so, too, in the training of their minds with music and the study of great poets; it was not for the sake of passing examinations or to earn a good living, but to try to cultivate right feelings, and so become citizens of noble character.
In the Third Vase Room table-cases are many kylikes, signed by great masters--you can distinguish their names in Greek letters, Duris and Hicron--showing [pg 65] young Athens at play: conversing, feasting, and in some cases enjoying the game of "cottabos."
Say that word several times; it is supposed to give the sound made by a successful "hit".
There is a cottabos stand on a vase in the Fourth Vase Room like a standard for a lamp, with a saucer sort of plate about half-way up the stem. A little figure was fixed on the top, and poised on that was a smaller saucer. The aim of the game, which seems to have needed much skill, was to throw the dregs of wine from the kylix at the top saucer so that it should fall with a jingle on the one below.
We can learn a great deal from these entertainment vases: how the guests reclined on couches; how the wine and water was ladled out from the crates; how the boots were hung up on the wall.
As for the girls--Sappho and Timarete--they were not troubled with many lessons, and were kept much at home as they grew up.
On the beautiful knuckle-bone vase in the Third Vase Room there is a graceful dance of young girls, and there is a charming picture on a vase close by of a girl fastening her girdle, while she holds the top of her dress with her teeth. It is easy to understand the shape of such a dress by studying the small terra-cotta figures on the shelves of the Terra-cotta Room. There are hundreds of girls' figures to be seen.
To make a "chiton," the undergarment, take some butter muslin, wet it, and wring it into a tight twist to dry. Then measure from the top of your head to the feet, and from tip to tip of your outstretched [pg 66] hands. Cut out an oblong piece of the material: your height gives the length, and the width is twice the stretch of your arms and hands; next join it; turn over the top piece (the depth of head and neck), and fasten on the shoulders with three or more buttons; put the arms through the openings each side; tie your girdle like the girl on the vase; and with a long woollen wrap over your head, or round your shoulders or waist, according to taste or weather, you are quite dressed.
As you will see from the figures, men wore much the same as women, though generally their chiton was short.
In the Second Vase Room there is an interesting vase picture showing a woman preparing the wool for spinning, another weaving on a handloom.
Another favourite subject is that of girls fetching water from the Spring Callirrhoë to the south of the Acropolis. Notice the water-jugs (hydriæ), with three handles, carried so easily on the erect heads--the little pads like those that market porters use to-day are interesting--also the stream of water from the lion's mouth, in the well-house, at which the first girl is filling her hydria.
The next one is just going to raise her left hand to bring her hydria down when the first is ready to move away. The four behind know there is time for a chat. The potter, Charinos, had such a girl in mind when he inscribed on his jug close by, "Xenodoke, methinks, is a fair maiden!"
Another picture which gives a glimpse of life about [pg 67] Athens is the olive-gathering scene: one man is up a tree, and seems to be shaking it, which others are knocking the fruit down with sticks, and a boy picks it up into a basket.
We see, too, many delightful pictures of ships: on one a lad is just taking a dive into the water, reminding us that swimming was generally taught. Some of the merchant ships are moved by sails alone, and the war galleys have banks of rowers, as well as masts for sails. These ships remind us of the colonies of Greece, all round the Mediterranean, and the enterprising Pytheas; they make us think too of the building of the fleet of Athens, and its prowess, and how it protected the people, carrying them to safety, when fire and sword destroyed both the city and the temples of the gods.
Some of the very best work in the Third Vase Room is a group of delicately painted vases, with several colours on a white ground.
Amongst them is the cover of a toilet-box, bearing a picture of a wedding procession; a torch-bearer goes first, then a musician playing on the double-pipes, followed by the bridegroom leading the bride. Sometimes we see the bride being fetched home in a carriage to the sound of festive marriage songs.
You almost need a magnifying glass to enjoy the beautiful faint drawings in these cases. Notice amongst them the men training horses and the girl plucking an apple.
The greater number of the white vases have subjects connected with burial and the tombs, and very serious [pg 68] and beautiful are the attitudes of the mourning figures. One shows the grief over the strong youth cut off in his prime; on another a young warrior is being laid in the tomb by Death and Sleep; Charon, the ferryman of souls over the Styx, is on another; having pushed his boat into the reeds he is talking to a girl. These vases were made on purpose for offering at tombs the "lekythi for the dead."
The large paintings of ladies at their toilet, and also those showing offerings at tombs must be well studied (in the Fourth Room); they throw so much light on the dress and customs of the time. It is not difficult to make out the baskets to hold work--the fans, the collars, wreaths, fillets, mirrors, and other trifles of the lady of fashion.
So much for the Pan-Athenaic vases and the illustrations of the daily life of the old Greeks.
The subjects of the rest of the pictures in this very old art gallery are from their religious beliefs and from the literature of their country, which they knew so well.
We have seen already that we share, in some small degree, the interest and delight felt by the Greeks in the stories of their gods and heroes. We now proceed to see the pictures of these stories. All your favorites are here. It is hard to know where to begin, and harder still to know where to finish, but as you go from case to case you will find some illustrations for nearly all. Do not see too many at a time, for, like all other picture galleries, it is tiring to the eyes, the head, and the feet!
Let us start with the Trojan War. The site of Troy [pg 69] or Ilion was just south of the Hellespont in what is called Phrygia in Asia Minor, and the Siege of Troy took place somewhere about the twelfth century B.C.
Long years afterwards a great poet named Homer wrote--perhaps in Chios, one of the Grecian islands--the song of the Siege of Troy, of the valour of Hector, and the wratch of Achilles. His song is called the Iliad, because it tells of the war against Ilion (Troy). This was the first of the great poems that the world has ever known, and no greater song has ever been sung.
In the Gold Room there is generally the famous Portland Vase with the beautiful illustrations of the marriage of the silver-footed Thetis and Peleus, and this subject is a favourite one in the vase rooms. Generally the transformations by which Thetis tried to get away from Peleus are shown; and the result looks like a group of struggling human beings and weird animals. It was at this marriage that the uninvited wicked fairy threw the apple of discord "to the fairest" among the guests.
Three goddesses claimed it, and Paris had to decide which had the best right to it. Many vases show him as a handsome shepherd trying to make up his mind. In one picture he is fleeing from the difficult task, but in the end he gives it to Aphrodite.
In the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris there is a lovely vase painting of the goddesses preparing for the trial. Hera, arranging her veil at a mirror--there are many such amongst the bronzes--Athene, catching in her hands the water flowing from a lion's head in a [pg 70] little fountain house; Aphrodite arranging her veil too, while her son, Eros, fastens her bracelet.
The winner, Aphrodite (or Venus), bestowed a fatal gift on Paris as a reward.
He should have the most beautiful woman in the world for his wife. That was Helen, wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta in Greece.
One of the terra-cotta plaques near the Gold Room shows Paris just stepping into the chariot in which he has placed Helen. They fled to Troy, where the father of Paris--old Priam--was king.
The Greeks were two years preparing for war to avenge their friend's loss. You remember the great names on their side? Achilles, son of Peleus and Thetis, and his friend Patroclus; Agamemnon, king of Mycenæ, brother of Menelaus; the gigantic Ajax, Odysseus; and Nestor, the wise old counsellor.
In the Second Room you can see the heroes playing at draughts while waiting for a fair wind, at Aulis, and on another, in the Fourth, the sacrifice of Iphigenia. The substitution of a hind at the last moment is shown by the animal's head and forelegs appearing in a very curious manner.
The voyage at last completed, we see many of the incidents of the long siege; long, because the Trojans, Priam, Hector, Æneas, Sarpedon, were all brave, and at critical moments, which might have been decisive, the gods and goddesses interfered to help or hinder.
We must look at Achilles with the maiden Briseis, the cause of so much strife; at Thetis, bringing fresh and glorious armour for her son straight from the [pg 71] forge of Hephæstus; at the brave Hector's body being dragged round the tomb of Patroclus; at Achilles, in ambush while Polyxena is drawing water (Polyxena who was afterwards sacrificed); at Achilles, slaying the beautiful Amazon queen.
We see, too, Ajax and Hector, Hector and Menelaus, the baby Astyanax in his mother's arms, frightened at the glittering armour of his father, Hector.
There are also scenes of the ending of the war, of the death of the aged Priam, and of his queen, Hecuba, and her daughter being led away from the sanctuary. Other museums can show you Athene making the great horse; Thetis sitting waiting for her son's armour, and many more most interesting details.
We must pass on to the return of Odysseus, and that song is called the Odyssey.
We find Penelope mourning in his absence, on a plaque near that of Helen and Paris, and a vivid illustration on the vases of the binding of Polyphemus, and of Odysseus passing out of the cave, beneath the ram.
Delightful, too, is the picture of the ship passing the Sirens: Odysseus bound to the mast, so that he cannot obey their call; the ears of the sailors being stuffed with wax, so that they shall not hear it, as they splash their oars through the dangerous passage.
You will find illustrations of the birth of Athene, a little doll-like figure, springing from the head of Zeus, with Hephæstus and his axe close by. One can hardly imagine that Pheidias would thus represent [pg 72] the great goddess over the chief entrance to her temple. The exploits of strong Heracles and Theseus are given over and over again. In both cases these heroes had to give up their freedom for a time to serve a task-master who set them works of unheard-of difficulty.
You remember the twelve labours of Heracles. You can find him here struggling with the Nemean lion; with Geryon; holding in Cerberus. But the one which will amuse you the most is the sight of the cowardly Eurystheus sheltering in a large jar (there is such a jar in the First Room), which Heracles is just going to throw the great boar upon him.
The name of Theseus takes us back to Athens; but to illustrate the time before he came to his inheritance there, we see a beautiful picture of him amongst the terra-cotta plaques lifting the stone to find his father's armour, his mother standing by. Helped by this, we see him fighting the Minotaur and performing successfully his other acts of valour.
Perseus and the grim Medusa occur again and again; on one occasion the hero is receiving the gifts of hat and sandals which were such a help in his difficult tasks.
The sorrowing Demeter is shown on many vases, and you will remember her beautiful statue from Chidos by the Ephesus Room. Often she is sending forth Triptolemus in a winged chariot to bear the knowledge of wheat growing over the world. Sometimes she is with her loved daughter, and on one occasion is saying farewell as Hades drives her away again in his chariot with fiery black horses. Perhaps [pg 73] this was after one of Persephone's yearly visits home.
Here, too, we can try to listen to the sweet strains of Orpheus, as he charms the rocks, the stones, the tress, and even the fierce Cerberus, seeking his lost wife, Eurydice. But he turned back too soon.
The fickle Jason; the cruel Medea; the silly daughters of poor old Pelias are all here, as well as Pandora, receiving a wreath from Athene; fair Europea on the milk-white bull; the wily babe, Hermes, grows up, with the infant Dionysus on his arm.
Just one more picture to finish. There is the moon setting behind a hill; the stars are fading from the sky as the sun rises, pursued by rosy Dawn. As the heat of his rays increases, the pure dew disappears from the earth.
The story is shown on a vase in the glass case where Prokris represents the dew. She was the daughter of Erechtheus, the king of Athens, whose temple we know so well on the Acropolis. Kephalos, the Sun, slew her, though he loved her, and when his day was done, he sank sadly into the Western Sea. [pg 74]
(Chapter 4 typed by Mary Harshbarger)
"A Country Without Borders"
You remember the stirring sight in the Potters' field just beyond the walls of Athens--the outer Ceramicus--of prancing horses being soothed into taking their places, of youths fastening their sandals, of busy marshals getting the procession into order? From hard buy this spot come most of the beautiful tomb-stones which are shown in the Phigaleian Room, where we saw the metopes and frieze from the Temple of Apollo, built by one of the architects of the Parthenon.
The workmen who had helped Pheidias turned to account the taste and skill they had gained under the great master by carving grave reliefs for private people. There is the mother leaving her baby to the care of the nurse; another tablet shows the beloved lad, Tryphon, in his prime, standing in the doorway, towel over shoulder, strigil in hand, on his way to or from the bath; Glykylla is shown with her bracelet and her jewel-case. The stones were clearly meant to give [pg 76] a picture of the dear ones as they looked in their old everyday life.
The votive reliefs in this room were chiefly offered to secure success in some race, or to express thanks when victory had been won. The races were those such as we saw painted on the vases. The chariot hurls by with "four-footed trampling"; and the swift torch-bearers carry, in relays, the sacred fire from one shrine to another. Look at the natural poses of the successful squad offering their torch to Artemis Bendis. Another of these tablets shows the winner being crowned with a wreath; it is a little mare, with a four-footed friend looking on.
The same wonderful art is found in the fifth-century work in the Terra-cotta Room, where we have already looked at Greek fashions in clothes.
The group of dainty little Tanagra figures (as they are generally called, after the place where they were found) show, as we have seen, the people who walked about Athens, who watched the processions, who paid visits, chatted, rested, danced, raced, played with knuckle-bones, and enjoyed life generally in sunny, clear-skyed Athens.
The earliest baked-clay figures in this room are amusingly like nursery efforts, especially in the case of the seated ladies. We saw some like them in the First Vase Room.
Even amongst quite old specimens we recognize the subjects, such as Perseus cutting off the head of Medusa; Bellerophon on his horse, Pegasus; Thetis seized by Peleus; Helle crossing the sea on the ram. [pg 77]
One of the most interesting among many of the subjects on the terra-cotta lamps is Diogenes in his tub--a large jar--such as we saw in First Vase Room, and again in the picture showing Eurystheus receiving the boar from Heracles as the result of his fourth labour.
Let us now consider the meaning of the words "Etruscan" and "Graeco-Roman," found in the guide-book, and in the rooms of the Museum, and referring to classes of objects more or less like the Greek in style.
If you look at the name of the place where the sarcophagus came from in the Terra-cotta Room, with the effigy of the good-natured, prosperous looking lady, Seianti, reclining on her elbow, as she admires her jewellery in her mirror, you will see it is Chiusi, or Clusium.
Read the "Lay of Horatius" and you will come to the verse:
"Shame on the false Etruscan
Who lingers in his home,
When Porsena of Clusium
Is on the march for Rome."
On your map you will see the position of Etruria about the centre of Italy.
It was a powerful and rich country before Rome had risen to greatness, and many are the remains now brought to light, hidden for centuries, of temples and great tombs, adorned with paintings and reliefs, besides many treasures of statues, bronzes, and gold ornaments.
You can compare them with the Greek ones, for [pg 78] in some cases they are side by side in the Museum, remembering that much of the best work in bronzes and vases is believed to have been imported from Greece.
For long years little or nothing was known of the old Etruscans; their literature has perished; a key to their language is still wanting; yet, to-day, in their wonderful tombs in Italy--there are models of some in the Graeco-Roman Basement--the little protecting genii still hang on the walls from the very same wires that were used in the far away prosperous past.
It was in the ninth century B.C. that Etruria was founded, and about the middle of the eighth century came the Foundation of Rome. In the beginning of the fifth century the sea power of Etruria was broken, and in the beginning of the third century Etruria was made subject to Rome. Lastly, in the middle of the second century, we come to the Graeco-Roman exhibits. It was then that the Hellenes--called by the Romans Graeci--in their turn, also passed under Roman rule.
The order in which the two words are placed is significant; the conquered first. You know the stories of the triumphs of successful generals? How long processions of captives in chains, of wild beasts from hot countries, of treasures of gold and silver from the East, wound through the streets of Rome, and past the Forum, adding excitement and pride to the joy of victory.
When the Romans conquered Greece and her colonies, the spoils that passed and passed were the [pg 79] silent grand forms: "In the stone that breathes and struggles, the brass (bronze) that seems to speak."
Picture the sadness of those who saw the treasures dismounted and taken away from their familiar places in the cities, from the temples and shrines of the gods; picture also the tumultuous rejoicing with which they were received and borne along in the streets of Rome.
Now, before the time of the conquest, Rome had begun to admire and copy Greek taste, and study the Greek language and literature; so when this flood of wealth, captured statues, and other works of art, poured into the country, its influence was enormous.
Romans went to study in Athens; Greek workmen crossed over to Rome; and always for years and years went on a steady rifling of the old sites for the treasures they contained, to be set up in Rome or Constantinople and other great cities.
This Greek conquest over Roman minds makes the saying true: "Captive Greece led captive her proud conqueror." So it is true that when Greece died as a nation her influence spread all over the known world, carried by Roman arms, as province after province fell before them. From that time "Greece practically became the country without borders."
As we wander through the galleries containing statuary in the British Museum, it is sad to think that of all the enormous wealth of beautiful work of the fifth and fourth centuries (the result of over a thousand years' growth) so little has survived the dark ages that followed the fall of the Roman Empire.
Barbarians of every nationality, who saw no beauty [pg 80] in them, broke them down, burnt the marble into lime, recast the bronze into weapons. What is left we owe chiefly to the protecting care of Mother Earth, which has kept them safely buried till recent times.
Let us look again at some of our greatest treasures: at Thesus on the Parthenon pediment; at Mausolus and Artemisia in their chariot; at the gentle sorrowing mother, Demeter; at the Nereids, scudding like foam on the curling waves; at the lion-headed Alexander.
When our time comes to visit other museums, perhaps even some of the old sites, we shall find others to store beside them in our minds that we now know only by pictures and casts, such as Praxiteles' Hermes carrying the baby Dionysos to his nurses, and the Victory binding her sandal.
Many of the sculptures bear the labels on their plinths, giving particulars of where they were found, and what parts of them are restored. Amongst many of great interest are the cast of the bronze charioteer of Delphi, with the garment of beautiful straight folds; Myron's disc-thrower (the Discobolos), also from a bronze statue; the little Cupid on a dolphin; the youth binding a fillet round his head.
As we read the Roman names given to the Greek ideals we realize how many words we get from them. Juno for Hera, gives us June; Ceres for Demeter, cereal; Vulcan for Hephaistos, vulcanite; besides many more.
We may linger by the Beautiful Dreamer; by Niobe and her children; by Homer, with Zeus, the nine Muses and Apollo; with Dionysus visiting at a [pg 81] Greek house, with delightful details of wreathing the walls, and of the success in a chariot race, and of the probable calling of the host.
It is interesting to compare the Graeco-Roman basket-bearing girl with her more natural and easy sister in the Elgin Room from the south porch of the Erechtheum.
We have already studied the Roman portraits, and little by little have become familiar both with their names and faces as time after time we pass through the Roman Gallery of sculpture; we shall have opportunities of testing our memory when we find the portraits on a smaller scale upstairs on the gems and coins.
If you visit the Room of Gold Ornaments you must have a good magnifying glass, and go very slowly, looking at only a few things at a time.
Look at the gems first. The subjects seem to recall what we have seen in the sculpture and vases of the best period, and how delicate and clear is the work! Here are Zeus, Athene, Medusa, Heracles; Achilles mourning his friend Patroclus; the priest Laocoon and his sons in the toils of the serpent. There are also illustrations of daily life: one pretty girl is reading from a scroll; another is seated on a rock, writing--they remind us of the Tanagra figures.
We find an athlete twisting on his boxing-glove, as we saw on the vases; another tying his sandal; a youth playing on a lyre.
Then the interesting animals; a horse falling, a mule rolling on his back, goats prancing, a camel, an [pg 82] ape, a grasshopper, and fly, a wild goose flying, and many more full of delight and charm.
This art of engraving on gems, chiefly to be used as seals, dates back to those very old times, of which we have seen relics from Cnossus and Mycenae, perhaps two thousand to sixteen hundred years B.C. These seals were found at Myceae in Argolis--a place which has given its names, as you will have noticed, to a class of specimens belonging to these far-off times found in many islands of the Eastern Mediterranean.
Amongst the cameos (the design being carved in relief, instead of "cut in" like the gems) you will find many Romans you know by sight; Julius Caesar, Augustus, Nero, Severus and Caracalla, Hadrian, and many others.
To find more we must turn to the Coin Room where are shown a series of Roman coins (electrotyped), the dates of which stretch over a period of about eighteen hundred years. Looking at this £ s. d. so spread over the world, and with which so much was effected--paying the soldiers, settling colonies, building great temples, palaces, baths--we see, besides the portraits and figures of the gods and goddesses we already know, "The Great Twin Brethren who fought so well for Rome." There were Janus, the god of beginnings, hence the name of our first moth in the year; Vesta, the goddess of the fire on the hearth, whose services was kept up by the Vestal Virgins.
Even more interesting than these are the coins that illustrate facts in history, or the manners and customs of the time, such as the priest tracing the [pg 83] walls of a city; the making of a treaty; the German Campaigns of Drusus; Caesar's Conquest of Gaul; and scores of others.
In cases just beside the Coin Room door are the electrotype copies of the wonderfully beautiful Greek coins. They are, like the gems. Untouched and unrestored, just as the artist hand finished them, and show the local style of art at different times during six hundred years. From them we can learn much that would be otherwise quite hidden from us.
Besides this, look at the names of the places where they come from; some you know well, such as Athens, Sparta, Corinth, but some bear names never heard of till the coin was found. Look further at the portraits on the later ones; amongst many less well-known faces we find Alexander, his generals, and Cleopatra, one of hers closely resembling the bust that we saw in the Hall of Inscriptions by the entrance to the Reading Room. The calm, powerful face of Mausolus too, so like that of his grand statue.
These coins moreover often show us copies of some lost sculpture, and help us to put together fragments that have come down to us.
We can only mention a few. There are the fine coins of Athene and her owl of wisdom (the slits across some of the large ones recall the Persians' trial to test the quality of the metal). E find, too, Zeus, seated on his chair, perhaps as Pheidias presented him in his great gold-and-ivory statue; pan, with his pipes beside him; Pegasus, with wings and golden bridle, whose kick was able to stop Mount Helicon as it rose heaven- [pg 84] ward with delight at the sweet song of the daughters of Pierus.
If you look amongst the earlier coins from Cnossus in Crete, you will see the labyrinth--like a very large Hampton Court maze--long believed to be the haunt of the monster who devoured the tribute of young men and maidens. Late discoveries show that King Minos' huge palace itself was the labyrinth; full of frescoes and great jars, treasure chambers, and thrones. (There is the cast of one in the Archaic Room) This Palace of the Axe--the religious symbol of a double axe was found on the walls--is intricate and vast indeed, and most necessary it must have been to have a guide, such as Ariadne and her clue of thread, to find a way out.
In the Gold Room, there are many wonderful articles of jewellery from these very distant times, that adorned the fashionable ladies from Rhodes, Crete, and Cyprus--all belonging to the old Mycenaean period. Some fine ornaments of the seventh and sixth centuries bring us on to the cases of the finest specimens of Greek jewellers' art.
Here your magnifying glass will show you wonders of fine work in threads of gold, in braids and chains and fringes of gold, in devices of winged Victories, doves, animals, almost delicate and beautiful.
The Etruscan ornaments are close by, and you will notice the use of tiny globules of gold instead of threads. The later taste was for large showy necklaces and ear-rings, which remind one of Seianti; some of the finer wreaths of gold leaves must have looked lovely, especially against dark hair. [pg 85]
The moulds in which many of the ornaments were made are shown, as well as bars of gold, in shape like sticks of liquorice. These belong to Roman times, as does the jewellery, which is of more commonplace design, and is often set with precious stones and pearls.
Some of the finger-rings are very interesting, especially the Greek one engraved with Odysseus beneath the ram, escaping from the blinded monster; a Victory driving a four-horse chariot. Another has Cupids at play in a boat; if you think of it without the wings the picture is one you may see on any shore, in any age. Notice, too, a youth fishing, a parrot on a branch.
We must give a passing glance to the silver-plate of the sumptuous Romans, and a very interesting figure wearing a crown like the walls of a city. The figures of deities above her head represent the days of the week. Read them: Saturn, the Sun, the Moon; Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus. English names from the first three--Saturday, Sunday, Monday; French ones from the last four--Mardi, Mercredi, Jeudi, Vendredi.
The three silver gilt votive tablets to Jupiter carry us back to the temples and the mob that roared from hours for fear their trade should be taken from the, and remind us that he gods and goddesses were not only honoured by marble statues and reliefs, but by a great wealth of metal ones of every kind, chiefly bronze.
So we now end our way to the Bronze Room close by to see the examples the Museum possesses of those that have escaped the melting-pot. When the dark [pg 86] days came, and the treasures that had been taken from Greek temples were scattered and neglected, only those escaped destruction that were buried and out of sight of the destroyers.
So, looking round this room, we find but few traces of the wonderful large statues in bronze so admired by Pausanias and other ancient travelers and writers. You remember the great bronze figure of Athene on the Acropolis; the bronze group of the two liberators of Athens from the Tyrant; the famous wounded Amazon in bronze that won a first prize? All have perished.
Amongst those which show us what has been we have the figure of Apollo with inlaid eyes; the fine large head of a goddess, broken off from a great statue; the beautiful winged head of Sleep; also a splendid fragment of a leg from a colossal male figure.
The boy playing morra is an interesting link with the Italy of to-day; the game of guessing the number of fingers held up by two players at the same time was played by the Roman soldiers who conquered the world, as well as by the street boys of Italy to-day.
There are numbers of small statues, chiefly of gods, from Zeus to Cupid, and of animals; some very fine, many of them Roman, and echoes of greater works now lost.
The bronze reliefs are very beautiful, especially those beaten out from the back--repoussé. Look very carefully at the fragment from the shoulders of a cuirass, found in the River Siris, the figures--a Greek and an Amazon--are very wonderful.
So, too, are many of the reliefs on the backs or [pg 87] cases of mirrors. On one of these mirrors is an amusing picture, incised on the metal, of graceful Aphrodite playing at the game of five-stones, with a grotesque Pan with goat legs. He holds up a finger to the Beauty, as much as to say "Play fair."
A great many of the small bronzes are now arranged in the cases so helpfully set out and classified in the Italic Room and Room of Greek and Roman Life.
We have already looked at the table-case of toys and games. We can still linger amongst the babies and school children and understand their games and pleasures. We read of a boy who gained as a writing-prize eighty beautiful knuckle-bones, such as these near the dolls, and what treasures those fine glass striped marbles must have been.
Near the writing materials are the painters' palettes and colours, and the remains of a portrait in an "Oxford" frame. The scraps of painting--you can easily understand how these would perish in the course of years--remind us of the pictures painted on the walls of the cities, buried under the dust and ashes of Vesuvius. A good many are shown close by, as well as in the Gold Room, their colours being still fresh and bright, and the subjects very familiar.
In the case illustrating Industrial Arts we have a picture of the forge of Hephaestus, the worker in metal. You remember the story of the devoted mother, Thetis, hastening to this forge to obtain a new set of glittering armour for her great son Achilles, to replace that lost on the body of his friend? [pg 88]
On one of the Etruscan bronzes--it may have been brought over from Greece--there is the picture of a Nereid crossing the sea on a sea-horse, carrying the helmet of Achilles. Bellerophon leading Pegasus with a halter--fancy a winged horse submitting to a halter!--is on another, also the sacrifice of Trojan captives at the funeral pyre of Patroclus.
Another ancient art is finely shown by the picture of the potter at his wheel, by the tools and the moulds used; also by a model of the kiln used to fire the objects when ready. The heap of spoiled, overbaked lamps must have been a disappointment to the man who made them.
The specimens of fretwork and delicate products of the lathe, in marble as well as in softer material, are particularly interesting; so too are the illustrations of spinning and weaving in the case of the Domestic Arts.
Note the shuttle, the spindles and whistles, the clay loom weights, the pictures of the industrious girls, one spinning as she walks along, the other with a handloom on her knee. Here, too, are specimens of the woven material, as well as netting-needles; pins of every description, starting with a thorn; a thimble, pair of scissors, needle-case full of needles, all complete.
The case of toilet articles carries us back to the fine ladies we saw on the latest vases, and their care for their complexions, hair, and ears! Those mirrors are dull now; they once reflected radiant faces, pleased with their fine jewels and wreaths and becoming attire! [pg 89]
Dancing or running must have been very easy in those fine specimens of footwear.
The safety-pin brooches, some ornamented with a little animal or figure (here is one with a very tame Centaur), also the hook-and-eye fastening, and the cork soles, all remind us of the fact that there is little new under the sun.
The case illustrating acting shows the masks worn to give the required expression of sadness or laughter, and here, too, are inscriptions on metal, telling of old treaties; the Athenian jurymen's tickets, with their names and homes written on the, and a very pathetic medal belonging to a slave. Imagine having to wear round your neck such words as these, "Hold me, lest I escape, and take me back to my master, Viventius, on the estate of Callistus."
One wonders if the hoard of tiny copper coins, found in the terra-cotta jug, were the savings of some very poor man; and those Athenian silver coins, and those corroded ones from Pompeii--how were they earned, how spent?
Weapons seem much the same all the ancient world over, but here we have, besides spears and daggers, relics from the Field of Fennel--Marathon--that heroic day when the Athenians defeated the Persians under Darius I.
We must turn now to the cases round the walls. We have already looked at the Etruscan corner and seen things that were buried and lost to sight for some twenty centuries.
It was when the sea power of Etruria was being [pg 90] broken, early in the fifth century, that that helmet fell from an Etruscan soldier's head at the battle near Naples. It was taken as booty and dedicated to Zeus at Olympia.
Passing the cases of armour, we come to the objects illustrating the public games; the view on the top of a lamp of the circus while a chariot race is going on; the disc for throwing, like the one in the hand of the Discobolus statue; the pair of jumping weights, halteres, held in the hands and swung up high, as we saw on the vases to give an impetus.
The series of models of wheels, animals, hands, legs, ears, plaits of hair, deposited in the temples of the gods in prayer, or in thanksgiving, remind us of the votive tablets in the Phigaleian Room. Clothes and toilet articles were also much dedicated in this way (you remember the dolls' clothes of Sappho and Timarete), and here we have lists of various articles, amongst them is "a little tunic, with a washed-out purple border."
A list of the treasures in the Parthenon--you remember the treasure chamber in the model?--at the beginning of the fourth century, includes two specially interesting things; one is "a gilded Persian sword." How the heart of an Athenian, who had heard the story from his grandfather, would throb at the sight of the ruined and burnt city, the escape of the country, the enthusiasm of restoring and beautifying the sacred Acropolis.
The other treasures was some of the "golden olive [pg 91] petals" from the wreath of the Victory that stood, six feet high, on the hand of Pheidias' great gold-and-ivory statue of Athene the Virgin.
We must pass on the wall-case showing methods of burial and see the tablet of the dog, with speaking ways, and the urn holding human ashes, near which you can see the tiny coin found amongst them, still adhering to the jawbone. This was the fee for ferryman, Charon, for the passage across the Styx, place in readiness between the lips of the dead.
The illustrations and models of shipping in old days set one dreaming of the blue tideless Mediterranean, and the journeys for pleasure or profit on the great highway of nations. The more we look at the remains from the countries round its shores, the more we realize how much their inhabitants must have traveled about and traded together.
The specimens of Roman building materials, such bright marbles and alabaster, help us to see the great city in its glory; below them is the slab with the print of a dog's paws; he had run over it--so dog-like!--before it was dry, and here are the marks fro all time.
The scales and weights, both Greek and Roman, are a study in themselves, and so is the water apparatus, which made the baths of Rome so perfect. Here we see many strigils and other bath necessities.
The kitchen department contains not only every variety of ladle and implement, including an egg-whisk, pepper-castor, egg-spoons, with pointed ends to get the snails out of their shells, and moulds for stamp- [pg 92] ing cakes, but also a basin of eggs from Rhodes, charred nuts and corn from Pompeii. Then come the lamps, the bronze ornaments for seats and couches, the candelabra, and the brazier with tongs and fuel for a chilly day.
(Chapter 5 typed by Dawn Taylor)
"The Egypt to which the Hellenes come in ships is . . . a gift of the River."
We have already seen much in the Museum that has brought vividly before our eyes the fluttering of sails and the glancing of oars on the Great Sea.
We have made acquaintance with the Greek traveler, Pytheas, in his distant home at Massilia; we have seen vases won in games at great festivals in the Mother Country, carried to the victors' homes in North Africa, to be found there, centuries later, in their graves.
Those beautiful coins from Sicily and South Italy (called Great Hellas) have shown us how important and rich were their owners, living in the colonies across the Ionian Seas; while fragments of fine temples and tombs, from Asia Minor and the islands of the Aegean, have helped us to feel that the art and power of the Hellenes (Greeks) were their splendid birthright, and found expression in works of beauty wherever they settled.
This chain of Greek-speaking seafarers, traders, [pg 94] artists, all round the shores of the Mediterranean was made complete, so to speak, in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C., when enlightened rulers of Egypt threw open to Greek merchants, ports which had hitherto been closed to foreigners. The newcomers flourished, and many and interesting are the remains that have been dug up from the Greek towns in Egypt.
If you were to fill your brush with green paint and make a triangular-shaped lotus flower, extending the point at the apex into a long, bent stalk, finishing off with a bud on the left side, a little below the flower, you would have a rough sketch of the rive Nile.
The flower is the Delta, to which "the Hellenes came in ships"--you remember the ships on the vases? The stalk is the course of the river, with the country watered by it on each side; the bud is the district called the Fayyum.
Think of the position of the Mediterranean and the Red Sea on the north and east of your green sketch, and you will have an idea, not only of the Nile, but of Egypt--the real habitable Egypt--as well, for though you may see straight boundary lines on a map, marking out the confines of the country, it is nearly all desert beyond the influence of the river.
For countless years the great river has silently been at work, bringing down fertile mud from the highlands through which it passes. It will interest you to trace the mighty river up to one of its sources in Abyssinia, and then journey on to the huge parent lakes in the heart of Africa. Can you image a river twenty times as long as the Thames, and in parts many times wider [pg 95] than our river is at London Bridge? Where the course is rocky and steep there are rushing cataracts, but from the point where the Nile enters Egypt it flows on steadily to the sea, forming the great natural highway of the country.
If you measure the Delta by the scale on a map you will find it is about ninety miles in the widest part, and that the point of the triangle, near Cairo, is about ninety miles from the sea, also that the length of the Nile from here to the boundary of Egypt at the First Cataract is about as far as from Land's End to John o' Groat's.
You may have noticed in harbours, or when passing under bridges on the Thames, figures to show the daily rise of the tides. Now Cairo and other places in Egypt there is a Nile measurer-not to show tides, for there are none, but to show the rise of the inundation.
Year by year the great river rises out of his usual bed and spreads the rich mud he has carried from afar over the low-lying country around, watering and fertilizing it in a truly wonderful manner. You know already how fertile Egypt was in old times, for did not neighbours such as Abraham, about the twenty-first century B.C., and Joseph's brothers, about the eighteenth century, come to Egypt seeking food when it was scarce in their own land?
There was terrible distress in the country of the Nile if it rose too high and drowned the farmers and villages, or if it began to sink before the life-giving waters had spread far enough.
The Egyptians of old felt so much reverence and [pg 96] awe for this river that they worshipped it as a god, under the name of Hapi, "the Hidden," for they knew not whence it came, nor why the stream rose and fell; nor why it was now red, now green. They addressed many beautiful hymns to the "Hidden" one.
"Hail to thee, O Nile!
Thou showest thyself in this land
Coming in peace, giving life to Egypt,
Shine forth in glory, O Nile!"
Now in the fifth century B.C., already so full of importance, there came a traveler to Egypt, who also kept a very careful and full notebook from which he afterwards wrote a history. His name was Herodotus; he was a Greek, born at Halicarnassus in Caria, Asia Minor--that name is already familiar to you. Do you remember the picture in the Mausoleum Room, showing the restoration of the tomb that was once one of the wonders of the world?
More than a hundred years before Mausolus and his queen, Artemisia, lived and died, and left their mark on the world of the fourth century B.C., the boy Herodotus played about under the blue sky--chiefly one would believe, about the rocky harbour of Halicarnassus--eagerly watching the ships, and listening to the talk of the sailors and merchants, and of soldiers home from the war.
Think of the fifth century: six years before Herodotus, the "Father of History," was born, the battle of Marathon was fought; so he was four when the struggle between the Persians and Greeks was continued at Thermopylae and Salamis. [pg 97]
As you think over the map of the then known world, try to feel the spirit of those times, the wave of relief as the huge Persian armies straggled back to the lands in Asia whence they had come; and try, too, to understand the energy, the patriotism, and the pride that nerved Greeks to make good what the hated enemies had burnt and destroyed.
You can then realize a little the thoughts passing through the minds of Herodotus as he traveled from Babylon to South Italy, from the Black Sea to the First Cataract of the Nile. Especially can you feel with him on his second visit to Athens when, passing through the Colonnade of the new Gate Temple, he saw the dazzling fresh beauty of the Parthenon before him. As he gazed from the Acropolis he would mentally picture all he had gathered about Salamis and the other battles that had saved not only his country, but Europe beyond.
Perhaps you are wondering why he went to Egypt at all, when the object of his book was to give the true history of the struggle between Europe and Asia. Now the "First Artist in Prose"--this is another of his pleasant names--liked, above all things, to begin at the beginning, so he traces the steps by which the Persians became so numerous and powerful; and as one of these steps was their invasion and conquest of Egypt some years before the attempt of Greece, a description of that country had to come into his scheme.
Herodotus was filled with wonder as he traveled by the Nile, and found much to say about its size, its [pg 98] mouths, it s floods, its sources, as well as about the people who lived on its banks.
When he saw the valley from Cairo to the First Cataract lying under water, and the Delta like a great lake with towns and villages studding its surface like islands, the Greek traveler was reminded of the islands of the Aegean. It was he who called the Delta the gift of the Nile; we can go further, now so much more is known about the soil of Egypt and the sources and course of the Nile, and say that practically the whole habitable country lies in its gift.
The observant traveler was greatly struck by sharp contrasts in Egypt. The flowing, wide river, with its border, now narrow, now wider, of fertile fields, teeming with busy life and labour, shut in on each side by the silent, lifeless, rocky desert! He must have enjoyed the glorious colours of the sun rising and setting, and his unclouded passage day by day across the smiling valley! Small wonder that the sun was another Egyptian god. We shall meet with him constantly under the name Ra.
As we slowly pass along the ground floor galleries we realize how much Herodotus had to see and admire, and take notes about, besides the beauties of Nature.
Look at the stand of photographs. Those pyramids which he passed on leaving the Delta had stood there, in their plain grandeur and gigantic size, for more than twenty-four centuries.
That takes you back to the twenty-ninth century B.C. Some of the pyramids have been built later, [pg 99] but that is generally considered the great century of pyramid building.
How can we realize the size of these monster tombs? The base of one of the largest covers about the same ground as Lincoln's Inn Fields; it is over a hundred feet higher than St. Paul's. Think of the thousands of men toiling in the sun, year after year, to build such enormous structures for the honour and glory of the reigning Pharaoh, and to hold his body when life had left it.
There are a few stones from the pyramids in the Museum in the Northern Egyptian Vestibule. The eyes of Abraham, Joseph, Herodotus, Alexander, have all rested on the pyramids!
Again, many of these massive stone statues and columns from temples and tombs were standing in the time of Herodotus, as well as the obelisk we know so well on the Embankment. We call it Cleopatra's Needle, and it belongs to the fifteenth century B.C., like Stonehenge perhaps. Look at the great granite face of Thothmes III. Smiling down the gallery, if you would see the Pharaoh who set it up; the famous Cleopatra lived many centuries later.
Egyptian history was almost twice as old as ours is now when Herodotus traveled on the busy Nile, notebook in hand, in the fifth century B.C., and many families or dynasties of rulers had conquered, held their own for a time, and passed away; many changes of all kinds had come and gone. The Pharaoh who employed Greek soldiers and allowed Greek traders to settle in the Delta reigned [pg 100] from the middle till nearly the end of the seventh century B.C., and belonged to the twenty-sixth dynasty; another king of this dynasty, a hundred years later, also favour the Greeks, and in his reign Naucratis became a great city. Then came a dynasty of Persians in the fifth century; then some native kings of the thirtieth and last Egyptian dynasty.
One of these, Nekht-hor-ehbe, was buried in the great stone sarcophagus in the South Egyptian Gallery; you will notice that it is a sculptured inside and out with writing and pictures referring to the passing of the night sun through the other world. You can find the Sun god in the boat in which he traveled from his setting to his rising. Behind this is the beautifully cut black slab with the figure of the last king of this dynasty.
After him the Persians again ruled in Egypt for a few years till they in their turn were set aside by Alexander the Great. You know his brilliant story well; his control of the spirited horse, of his army, of the fierce nations in his path of conquest; in short, his control of everything except himself.
As you look again at his portrait in the Ephesus Room, and on the coins, think especially of his connection with Egypt. You will recall his romantic journey across the desert, to sacrifice to his imaginary ancestor, the god, Jupiter Ammon; and to this day the second city in Egypt is called after his name, Alexandria. He planned it and founded it, and for many centuries after his death it continued to grow in importance and learning. For the race of kings who succeeded. [pg 101]
Alexander, the Ptolemies (sixteen of them, the first of the name being one of Alexander's generals, and the last, Caesarion, the son of Caesar and Cleopatra) honoured the city of the great founder of their fortunes.
One started the immense library and the museum, or rather, university, and encouraged learned Greeks to settle there. Another Ptolemy built the tall light-house, the Pharos, also one of the wonders of the ancient world; then there was the great causeway that divided the harbour into two parts, and the remarkable buildings which held statues and other works of art, also the bodies of Alexander and his successors.
The Ptolemies were famous builders and restorers, as may be seen in the stands of photographs in the Egyptian Gallery. Notice particularly the Temple of Edfu, its splendid towers and gateways, and further still up the Nile, near the First Cataract, on the island of Philae, the temple called Pharaoh's Bed, and the Temple of Isis.
A few years ago a huge dam was made six miles below Philae in order to regulate the flow of the water; this caused Philae at certain seasons to be flooded, and probably this work of the Ptolemies may be destroyed. Many of the race were great book collectors, fortunately for their own times. Unhappily for us, most of the books were afterwards burnt.
Near these are other relics of interest in the Southern Gallery on the ground floor; the cast of the tablet or stele from Canopus, inscribed with three different [pg 102] kinds of writing, also the slab with Greek writing; the granite shrine, with holes for the perch of the sacred bird.
Chief among the treasures here is the Rosetta Stone.
Examine it carefully. It came into the possession of the English about a hundred years ago, and scholars worked hard for many years to discover what the writing upon it meant. You will notice that there are three different kinds of writing, as on the tablet close by. That at the top is the picture writing, called hieroglyphic, which you will see on the toms, columns, and stones all round you; next is the same decree in the writing used for business and social purposes, called Demotic; both these are in the Egyptian language. The writing below this is in the Greek language, so familiar to scholars, and therefore it served as a key-with other help-to unlock the meaning of the hitherto unknown inscriptions.
How little did the Greek ruler of Egypt, in B.C. 196, who ordered this decree to be written thus, think of what immense use it would be in opening out the history of the country to nations then unborn.
Leaving now the long Egyptian Gallery on the ground floor, we will pass on to the Egyptian rooms at the head of the north-west staircase. Here before you are two large rooms full of mummies and their cases, in every variety of style, according to the age to which they belong. Let us leave the very early ones for the present and, in the Second Egyptian Room, examine a few of those that come from the [pg 103] later times. Herodotus gives a very full account of how mummies were made and bandaged and decorated.
The Egyptians, through all their history, wished to preserve the bodies of their dead, hence all this care, and the use of stone coffins, and great tombs, which they hoped no one would enter and disturb.
You see the picture in the corner of the Second Egyptian Room of a mummy on a bier and a human-headed bird hovering over its chest? That was the Egyptian idea of how a soul-the ka-revisited the body in which it had dwelt during life; and to sustain and supply all the needs of a mummy and the ka the Egyptians buried in the tombs everything that had been used and enjoyed in life; in some cases pictures seem to answer the purpose.
There are many cases in the Egyptian Rooms full of these things, from a handsome wig, three thousand years old, to roast ducks and toys.
Look around this Second Egyptian Room. Here are the bodies of fellow-creatures who lived and died and were mourned on the banks of the Nile while the early Britons were spending their lives hunting and fighting, and were burying their dead in great mounds; and of all these Britons we know not one single name!
But here before us are chiefly illustrious persons, lying in these glass cases in the light of day, for all to see, after two or three thousand years of the dark stillness of the tombs on the borders of the desert. In most cases their names and professions are painted [pg 104] on their wrappings or coffins; also their dates and ages, the names of their parents and their dwelling-place.
You will find high officials of the court and palace, priests and priestesses, musicians-you notice the cymbals lying on the body of Ankh-Hapi? We can guess at many particulars of their appearance in life, the shape of their heads, their height. In many cases they are covered with painted shrouds, on which are shown the chief gods connected with the world of the dead; you can easily distinguish Osiris, the form of the Sun god after he had set, and the giver of eternal life; Isis, his wife; Horus, their son; Anubis, the jackal-headed god of the mummy chamber and of the cemetery; Thoth, the scribe of the gods.
As well as the painted shroud, there is often a painted portrait over the face, in examples in the First Room; one of the most lifelike and interesting of these is one of a Greek settler in Egypt; this mummy comes from the Fayyum, and is of late date, being about eighteen hundred years old. The face is a beautiful dark one; rather sad and thoughtful, with truthful-looking eyes. There is a wreath painted on the hair like those we have seen in the Gold Room, and on the red mummy-covering are painted in gold many scenes connected with the gods of the dead, and of the soul revisiting the body. You can find the Greek words over the chest which sound very tender and pathetic, and mean, "O Artemidorus, farewell."
The children, too, close by, seem to be high-born like their elders. There is little Cleopatra Candace, [pg 105] with a comb put in amongst the bandages on the left side of her head, and a withered wreath. Her age is given very exactly--eleven years, one month, twenty-five days.
Another child carries a bunch of red flowers in her left hand, according to an old funeral custom; another girl is painted with a yellow tunic under a robe of red trimmed with green, and wears snake bracelets on her wrists. There is, too, six-year-old Tphous, whose short life was passed during the reign of Hadrian, our wall-builder and patron of the arts.
In the First Egyptian Room the eye is caught at once by the mummies of animals in the wall-cases--cats beautifully bandaged, with varying expressions; crocodiles, bulls, apes, and many others, that were held sacred in various parts of Egypt.
In the Fourth Egyptian Room we must glance at the collection of ushabti figures, the "answerers" to the bidding of the dead with whom they were buried. They were supposed to do the work that fell to the share of their masters in the fields of the blessed. Notice the hoe, cord, and basket many of them hold, and the endless variety in their shape, colour, and material. The collection of "pillows," placed under the heads of mummies in the tombs, comes next. These hard head-rests are like those used in many parts of Africa at the present time.
The models of the funeral boats close by show how the mummy was ferried across the Nile to the west bank where most of the cemeteries were. Some of the other class of boats show the shapes and kinds of river [pg 106] boats belonging to different periods, and, like the models of houses, barns, labourers at work, were believed to be of use to the dead beside whom they were placed. Note the symbols of "life," "good luck," "stability," the "Eye of Horus," the various scepters, and crowns, all of which and many more will be found in the table-cases on the Fifth Egyptian Room; many of them come from the wrappings of mummies.
The case of shoes in the Fourth Room is particularly interesting; the small wearers of the red and green leather sandals, and the fine green leather shoes, must have felt much satisfaction in possessing them; some might have fitted Cleopatra Candace and Tphous. Very dainty ladies must have owned those white leather shoes and the ones with embroidered toes.
Amongst the writing materials in the Sixth Room we have specimens of "paper," pens, and ink. School exercises in Greek, one on a wax tablet, another on a piece of pottery, consisting of lines from a Greek play, are exhibited in the MSS. Department.
Other pieces of pottery--like broken-up flower pots--show receipts for all sorts of payments, and help us to understand life in Egypt when the thirteen Ptolemies were kings. There were plenty of taxes evidently. Here is a receipt for one on vines; another is for a land tax, a fish tax, even a poll tax. It is believed that there were about seven million people in Egypt under the Ptolemies, and nearly everything that they used or possessed was taxed to support the law courts, the police, and the general order and comfort of the country. [pg 107]
Many other interesting relics are in these rooms, from the times of the Ptolemies and later. There are the "Happy New Year" vases; the amusing figures of Horus dressed as a Roman soldier; jars and their seals from the wine cellar of the period; bronze figures of Egyptian and Greek gods and heroes; Aphrodite, with the head-dress of Isis; Isis, in the form of a Greek matron, nursing Horus; a bronze plaque of Pegasus; school exercises, scribbled drawings.
If we glance again into the Second Vase Room we find early pottery from Naucratis, also ornaments and ivory work. In the familiar case of dolls and toys in the Room of Greek and Roman Life are several treasures from Egypt, notably the rag doll, the reading exercises and writing tablet, the lawyer's notebook, and the papyrus letter from Alexandria, asking for pure drugs--"none of your rotten stuff."
Let us look for a moment at the faces of the Ptolemies, as shown on their coins, especially comparing that of Cleopatra with her bust in the Hall of Inscriptions.
It has been said that no country in the world has written so many or such good books as Greece; we have already seen how the Ptolemies collected these books, and that thousands of them have perished.
Still, rich treasures of Greek manuscripts are being discovered year by year, chiefly in Egypt, and often hidden in tombs, beside the mummies. Some of these are shown in the case near the middle of the Manuscript Room, headed "Greek manuscripts." Many of them are either the only known copies of ancient [pg 108] writers or the earliest copies that have yet been found.
You will see some familiar names, amongst them a poem of Sappho, and copies of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, though it would be hard to gather the well-known stories from the fragments of papyrus before us. Then there is a part of Psalm xii., described as one of the earliest manuscripts of any portion of the Bible known to be in existence.
The petition from the old recluse at Memphis, complaining of the Egyptians assaulting him because he was a Greek, makes one feel that the two nationalities did not always get on together in 161 B.C. There are other complaints of injuries, and many census returns, and records of loans of all kinds, and receipts for payments of lands and olive yards, as well as demands to furnish soldiers to help in collecting "imperial dues," and a request to send a boat to convey sailors and workmen.
The certificates granted to labourers to say that they had performed the required five days' work on the embankment, with the exact date, August 2, A.D. 49, help us to realize the constant effort to arrange fro the inundation, and to make the most of its benefits. This is even now still one of the great difficulties in Egypt.
It has been well said that "it is the shadow of Rome, which ever lengthening towards the East, marked, stage by stage, the history of the decline of Egypt under the Ptolemies."
If you have seen the play of Anthony and Cleopatra [pg 109] you will know the tragedy of the end of Egypt's greatness-Anthony's despair and death, and the passing, when all was lot, of the great Queen, to whom Tennyson gives these words:
"I died a Queen. The Roman soldier found
Me lying dead, my crown about my brows,
A name for ever!"
Just after the middle of the first century B.C., you will remember, Julius Caesar was in Egypt; then came the burning of the library of Alexandria; then Egypt was made a Roman province. As you look back, and then forwards, you will see that this was about a hundred years after Greece fell before the world-conquerors, and about a hundred years before Claudius set the seal on his soldiers' success in Britain.
(Chapter 7 typed by Dawn Taylor)
"The House of Bondage"
Can you imagine a lighthouse three times as high as the Monument? The Great Pharos set up by the second Ptolemy is said to have been about that height; be this as it may-and it was one of the seven wonders of the world--for long centuries the flare has been extinguished which once guided the ships of the learned Greeks, the rich merchants, the poor fishermen, safely into the double harbour of Alexandria. Moreover, of the huge tower itself, not a trace remains.
But this same Ptolemy did succeed in sending beams of light along the centuries, which will never be quenched, for it was he who caused the Hebrew Scriptures, our Old Testament, to be translated from the original and difficult language, understood by comparatively few, into Greek--a tongue destined to become the chief study of scholars.
Another light-giving work of this same king was his plan of setting an Egyptian priest and scribe who [pg 111] had had a good Greek education to write a history of Egypt and her religion in Greek.
Now, the actual records that Manetho put together from the information he could glean all over the country have disappeared as completely as the stones that built up Ptolemy's tower on the little island. Fortunately other writers, who lived not very long after his time, have copied from his works, and so we get, amongst other details, lists of kings, and particulars of their reigns, which throw light on the great and long past on the banks of the Nile.
On these banks themselves, as we have already seen, we have a direct message from the Pharaohs to later days, for it was they who ordered the inscriptions and pictures to be cut on the walls and columns of tombs and temples, which we can read to-day.
Walk through the long Egyptian Gallery, past the Rosetta Stone and other reminders of the Greek kings of Egypt, onwards to the relics of earlier times. You will perhaps notice first the lists of kings' names, standing out in new red, from the old granite slabs of Bubastis, and also the lists from the fragments from Abydos.
From these, and from many names monuments close by, it is easy to see how the royal names are always written in what looks like oval loops of knotted rope--cartouches--to keep them, as it were, apart from common things. A little study, guide-book in hand, will show how often certain signs are repeated; take, for instance those that stand Fa, ka, nefer, mer; you will find the translation quite easy. [pg 112]
Besides the bare lists, there are the illustrated stories of the lives and greatness of the kings of the "Double House," inscribed on the columns, tablets, statues, all round us, also on the walls of temples as shown in the stands of photographs.
But there are many blanks in our knowledge, and so there are many differences of opinion among those who try to fit in the records of the other ancient peoples who were Egypt's neighbours beyond the Isthmus of Suez.
A model canal has now been cut across this isthmus, with electric lights on the banks; and the narrow channel is marked out by floating buoys on the lakes through which it passes, now cut through rock or stony desert.
As we stand before the map near the end of the gallery, we see how protected Egypt was on the east by the Red Sea, and how the hundred miles of country between it and the Mediterranean were as a causeway between the continents of Asia and Africa.
There is a broad stony plateau between two of the lakes used by the canal in its passage, which cost much labour to cut through. The old, old name of this plateau is the Bridge of Nations, for it was here that the huge armies from either side tramped across between east and west, now in the pride of victory, now in the bitterness of defeat.
We will look more closely at these armies later. For the moment let us call to mind four very familiar figures from the number of travellers who have crossed this highway through the ages. [pg 113]
The first scene takes us to (perhaps) the seventeenth century B.C. A caravan of wild-looking traders, with asses bearing the spices to Egypt so much needed in making mummies, are crossing the isthmus, and in their train is a handsome lad, torn from his father, sold by his brothers to these traders, with nothing but slavery before him in an unknown country. His eyes must have been sad, and his thoughts hard, as he passed through this dreary land of rocky desert and biter lakes.
The second scene, equally familiar, belongs to some twenty years later. We see a company of about seventy people--men, women, and children--led by an old man, in whose eyes burn a trembling joy and excitement. He is greatly honoured and cared for by the strong sons around him, and all are thankful when the long dusty journey at last comes to an end in the green, fertile country on the nearest side of the Delta. Some of the party are in wagons--a new, exciting experience for the children--some are on foot; there are asses, to be urged on, bearing loads; slow-going sheep and cattle to be kept together. Who welcomed them?
IN the third picture we see a long mournful processing wending its way towards the land whence the old man and his family came years before. He has seen the desire of his eyes, and has died, charging his sons to bury him with his father. Sounds of wailing and sorrow rise from the chief mourners and the friends who have come with them to do them honour, as they pass over the Bridge of Nations with the stately ceremonial of the times and the country. [pg 114]
The last picture belongs to the sixteenth century B.C. or later, and is in sharp contrast with the solemn funeral procession we saw passing across the isthmus. Now all is confusion, haste, terror, as a great crowd of men and women and little ones presses to escape from the land to which their forefathers had come in so much hope.
A great leader soothes and encourages and organizes the flight; in every breeze and distant cloud of dust they seem to hear and see the dreaded chariot wheels and thud of horses' hoofs, the rattle of the horsemen, and their mocking shouts. Will they overtake and kill them, or lead them back to the hard life they could no longer endure?
You know the end. Next morning when the golden sun rose above the haze on the desert hills it looked down on the pursued safely encamped beyond the water that had barred their way the night before, and on the pursuers, all drowned and overwhelmed in their attempt to follow them.
You will recognize in the above the stories of Joseph and Jacob and of the Exodus led by Moses.
The rulers of Egypt at this time were the Shepherd or Hyksos kings, who were foreigners, without the prejudices of the native Egyptians against those who tended cattle; hence the warm welcome to Joseph's shepherd relations. These Hyksos kings rather destroyed monuments than made them, so there are very few memorials to represent them in any museum. The human face of the Sphinx in the Central Saloon used to be thought to represent the Hyksos kings, but is now believed to represent Amenemhat III., an earlier [pg 115] Pharaoh. For vivid touches of the life of their courts, how they conducted business, how they could reward faithful service, we must turn to the story of Joseph and the settlement in Egypt of his father and brothers.
Most things changed so little in Egypt from century to century that we may well borrow some of those belonging to an earlier or later date for a background to our picture of the Hyksos times.
You can imagine Joseph sitting on the ground reading from a papyrus roll to his master, as thousands of scribes did before and after his time. Details of the storing of the wheat probably absorb him and Apepi, who was supposed to be the Pharaoh who trusted to his advice as he would to his own father's.
Apepi, seated on a throne like that in pictures in the Third Egyptian Room, is arrayed in fine white linen, with handsome necklaces like those in the cases near by, and wears a wig (like that fine one all curls and tiny plaits) under the folds of his royal head-dress. You can find an ivory scepter, such as he would have held in his hand, and you can also find furniture for the palace.
The model of the granary in the case of toys gives some idea of the storing and sealing up the bins as filled, and those baskets in the wall-case remind one of the dream of the hapless chief baker.
Those country scenes painted on the walls of tombs--inspection of cattle and geese, as seen in the Third Egyptian Room--were everyday sights for centuries in Egypt, as were also the entertainments--indoors and out--and the visits of foreigners. [pg 116]
You can find Apepi's names amongst the scarabs (the form of the sacred beetle) in the Fourth Room, also those of his successors, some being unknown to history, others of great renown. Take just a few of these names from the scarabs--Thothmes (or Tuthmosis) III., Queen Hatshepsut, Amen-hetep III. and IV., Seti I., Rameses II., Meneptah or Meren-ptah. They were all makers of Egyptian history during the fourteenth to the twelfth centuries B.C.
The names may seem difficult at first, but if you can find and remember the meanings, that is a great help; Mer-en-ptah means the beloved of Ptah; other gods--Amen, Thoth, Ra--are to be found in the other names. It will be of interest to find these names when you study the monuments in the century to which they belong. You will soon discover how often a later king erased the name of an earlier one and carved his own in its place.
Under the Hyksos kings all went well with the Children of Israel; they tended their cattle and prospered in the pleasant land of Goshen by the Delta.
Then there arose kings "who knew not Joseph"; forgotten was the story of his devotion to the country, and the way in which he saved it during the dreadful famine years, and finally hard labour and bitter cruelty became the of these Hebrew dwellers in the land.
Look again at the head of Thothmes III. in the lower Egyptian Gallery (his name you know and his famous obelisk, now on the Thames Embankment). He was as great a warrior as he was a builder (note his stele with the goddess Hathor, Lady of the Turquoise [pg 117] Land), and he was one of the first Pharaohs to lead armies across the Bridge of nations and conquer the powerful nations beyond, both in the valley of the Great Rivers and in the mountains of Syria.
Of his renowned sister, Queen Hatshepsut, we have but few memorials in the Museum--the remains of furniture and some vases from her great temple at Dair al-Bahri; some scarabs and gold rings; those brushes look as if they could still be used.
As our Queen Elizabeth sent fleets to discover unknown countries, so did Queen Hatshepsut send expeditions to the land of Punt or Puenet, down the Red Sea, and interesting indeed is the account she has left of the results, on the walls of the superb temple she built near Thebes. We have there pictures of the Queen of Punt, her donkey, and the endless beautiful and wonderful things that came back in the ships. Hatshepsut tried to make herself look as much like a man as possible, and it is not known whether the green slate head of a statue in the Fourth Room is of her or of Thotmes III.
But we must pass on to the next great name, Amen-otis or Amen-hetep III., who lived in about the fifteen century. Here, again, we have heads of colossal statues, also lions, tablets, and sculptures of every kind. There are red granite lions of Tut-ankh-Amen too from the fourteenth century B.C. The photograph of the Temple of Luxor helps us to imagine these objects in their places; the beautiful pillars with palm leaf and lotus-bud capitals!
Amen-hetep III. was the builder of the two colossi [pg 118] of Memnon, so famed throughout history; you can see in the photographs how small the man and the donkey look at the base of the nearest one.
Notice the large historical scarabs of this king; to keep in mind his prowess in killing a hundred and two fierce lions in ten years. Another of these scarabs tells of his interesting wife who came from a far country and was so dutiful to her parents; she it was who strongly influenced her son, Amen-hetep IV., to give up the worship of his fathers for adoration of the sun's rays, but the priests of the older gods prevented the new religion from gaining ground.
There are casts in the Museum from well pictures of King Amen-hetep IV. Or Akh-en-aten, as he preferred to call himself--Splendour of the Sun-disk. His wife--Nefertiti--has been famous for her beauty through all the ages right up to our own time. You will find casts and pictures of her in the Fifth Room.
And now we come to the kings of the nineteenth and twentieth dynasties, who reigned from the fourteenth to the twelfth centuries. There are more monuments of this time in the Museum perhaps than of all the rest put together.
Look around you in the Central Saloon; you see the names of Seti and Rameses over and over again--huge heads, statues, columns, tablets, seated and kneeling figures, in hard stone or granite, and also wooden figures.
You will have already noticed the giant head from the north-west staircase, and can place it in front of the temple in Nubia with its three equally large companions, the photograph being on the stand. [pg 119]
Many of the mummies in the Second Egyptian Room are of priest and priestesses of Amen. While examining the beautifully painted coffins and covers we get glimpses of the dark and solemn mystery of their worship, and the multitude of gods whom they reverenced. Notice how often the mother goddess, Nut of the Night Sky, is painted as if stretching out her arms to protect her faithful servant; how Osiris, Isis, Horus, Anubis, Thoth, occur again and again.
Above the mummy cases, and also on the walls of the Second Room, run enlarged copies of some of the chapters of the Book of the Dead. You can also study the facsimile of the papyrus itself as made from the scribe Ani, probably about the sixteenth or fifteenth centuries, on the stands in the Third Room.
All through Egyptian history it was the custom to write parts of this book on the tombs, or the coffins, or on rolls to put on or near the mummies, to serve as passports or reminders in some way for the soul on its journey in the underworld. This copy, made for Ani, is one of the longest known of the period.
Read his titles--"Veritable royal scribe, scribe and accountant of the divine offerings of all the gods, the governor of the granary of the Lord of Abydos, scribe of the divine offerings of the lords of Thebes"; he must have been an important and hardworked man; and, according to the picture before us, his labours and anxieties by no means ended with death. See, for instance, the critical moment when the heart of the dead man is being weighed against the feather of the law; will the result satisfy the scribe-god, that Ani [pg 120] may proceed on his way to Osiris, or will an end be made of him by the Devourer ready waiting? Think, too, of the strain of giving the right answers to all those doorkeepers, and of making the ushabti figures work in the underworld. You remember these little "answerers," buried with the mummy for this purpose.
You will find it well worth while to go carefully along the two stands, reading the descriptions given, noting the designs of the signs of life and stability with the scepter of power; rows of serpents sitting on their tails; lotus flowers in every beautiful variety.
Do not miss the ladder by which the soul visited the mummy, the lovely fields of peace watered by streams, the two-legged serpents, the conceited-looking ram, the lions named Yesterday and The Morrow, sitting back to back.
Every time you visit the collections, spend a little while on the Book of the Dead; you will discover something fresh and interesting every time to fit in with your knowledge as it grows. For instance, you will notice perhaps that Ani is often accompanied by his wife Thu-thu, holding the sistrum of a priestess in her hand.
Now, on the floor of the case of furniture from which we borrowed for Apepi's palace, there is a square box with compartments, inscribed with the name of Thu-thu. Look inside: there is a pair of dainty pink kid slippers turned up with pointed toes, and some red elbow mats for the fine lady! Also, there are bottles of toilet preparations for the skin, and, most wonderful of all, a double tube with an ivory and a wooden stick to [pg 121] apply the contents of the tubes to the eyes. Egypt has always been a country trying to the eyes, and here Thu-thu, three thousand years ago, has one powder to apply during the inundation, and another to be used in hot weather against the sand and dust.
Or, again, you have noticed in the Book of the Dead, while Ani is playing draughts, Thu-thu sits behind and appears to be only watching. Now, underneath Queen Hatshepsut's bed (wrongly restored as a throne) there is a beautiful draught-box, and on the winning square you can see the sign for good luck.
Besides the enlarged scenes from the Book of the Dead, you will find on the walls of the upper rooms pictures which illustrate the wars of the kings, Seti and Rameses. There is quite a touching scene in the Third Room: a quiet Nubian village suddenly disturbed; one man runs away, another hides in a tree, while the women with children intercede with the king's soldiers before her hut.
Many of the details as to fortresses, chariots, tribute, are very interesting; amongst the latter, giraffes and ostriches! Opposite are records of the great wars with the Kheta--very deadly and hated enemies of Seti and Rameses--beyond the Bridge of Nations.
Great builders and warriors were these kings; but what made it possible for them to attain this fame? The lives and hard labour of thousands of soldiers and workmen. Think especially of the labour needed from sunrise to sunset to rear all these temples, and to provide for all the luxury of the gorgeous times, to build the great stone cities in the Delta, the immense [pg 122] wall across the isthmus for defence (you remember the Roman walls in Britain?) besides the always-needed attention to the embankments and the canals, and the tilling of the fields.
The thought of all this hard labour is pressed home by the names and offices of those servants of the Pharaohs, which we can read on the stelae along the walls of the galleries. Here are judges, princes and governors, scribes, chancellors, naval and military officers, superintendents and overseers of every trade, of the palace, of public works, even the chief runner and messenger of the king is remembered. What an insight we gain into the organization and bitter life of the times--"bitter hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick," and of the pressing need for thousands of hands to carry out the work. There were hands to use those tools of every description that we see in the Fourth Room (some are models, but the wooden mallets were accidentally left by the workmen), hands to work in quarries and move material as directed by the architects and artists, hands to make and place those bricks in the same room.
Look at the brick with the straw so much in evidence stamped with the name of the Pharaoh, Rameses II., in the thirteenth century. It used to be thought that he was the great oppressor who issued the cruel order to drown the baby boys, and that it was his daughter who rescued and brought up Moses, and had him educated in "all the wisdom of the Egyptians."
Though it is now thought that Moses lived three centuries earlier, yet as you look round the cases in the [pg 123] Third and Fourth Rooms their contents will help you to imagine how his early years may have been spent. Did the little boy, when he first came to the palace from his own mother, play with other children, perhaps in a delightful garden like that one with the pond full of ducks and fish? Were their toys such as those in the case?
Look at the cat with movable jaw, the spotted cow, the little rider who sits up so straight on his elephant, and the wooden doll with clay beads for hair.
If he heard music it must have been of a very tinkling kind, from instruments such as those in the case--cymbals, sistra, flutes, and harps. The tortoise-shell pierced for strings will remind you of the wily Babe Hermes.
Surely Moses must have enjoyed going in boats on the river, like the child in the picnic party where the father is fowling, the mother gathering flowers, the cat retrieving the birds, three at a time.
Later on he must have learned to write, one would think, with reed pens, red and black paint, palettes, and papyrus, such as one sees in the case below the trial sketches and scale models of the pupils.
There are poems, maxims, stories for him to read, besides extracts from the Book of the Dead. Probably he had to learn by heart that chapter cxxv., in which is the list of the forty-two offences which must not be committed. It seems likely when one compares some of them with the Ten Commandments.
As one looks at the cases of sacred animals, and the multitude of images of gods and animals used as objects [pg 124] of reverence, one can well understand the necessity for the solemn setting forth of the first and second commandments to the Hebrews.
And now, if you want to see even more plainly than the faces and forms set in hard stone can show you, what manner of men these awe-inspiring Pharaohs, Seti and Rameses II., really were, or what was the shape of their faces and heads, of their noses and chins, then you must look at the photograph of their mummies by the door of the Second Room. Can you realize that they are more than thirty centuries old?
On our way back to the scarabs to find that of Rameses' son, Mer-en-ptah, a glance at the cases of gold rings and ornaments, at the metal mirrors and other treasures will remind us of the "spoiling of the Egyptians," and the use to which the treasures were afterwards put.
As you go down the staircase, you may remember the stories of the ten plagues, and the picture will rise before you of the weak undecided tyrant who ordered the Israelites to find the necessary straw themselves, and yet make the same excessive number of bricks.
You will find Mer-en-ptah's name again on the beautiful reed column set up by Amen-hetep III. Like his father, he had a habit of having his name cut on monuments which he had not set up. On the back of a stele of Amen-hetep III. at Thebes he caused a Hymn of Triumph to be cut, in which he mentions the Israelites as among the peoples of Palestine whom he conquered. They were therefore a settled people about 1230 B.C., and Mer-en-ptah could not have been [pg 125] the Pharaoh of the oppressions or the Exodus as has been thought. The reed and the palm leaf columns in the Sculpture Gallery will make you think of the riverside that suggested the ideas to the artists, and the artists fashioned them with bright gold and deep purple colours on the buildings they once adorned.
(Chapter 7 typed by Dawn Taylor)
"How great the perspective! Nations, times, systems enter and disappear like threads in tapestry of large figure and many colours."
So far, the treasures in the Museum have helped us to get, first, a glimpse of life in Egypt as it was in the days of the Greek Ptolemies, in those centuries just before the Birth of Christ, when the history of ancient Egypt was nearing its end-in fact, the last native kings were already dead and gone-and the history of our own country was about to begin.
Next we found much to interest us in the relics from a period of four or five centuries, about the middle of the long history of the country, the times of Israel in Egypt, so familiar to us in Bible story. During those years a family grew into a nation; that nation still holds together, though it is spread all over the world, and still honours the laws given to it, on passing out of the House of Bondage between three and four thousand years ago.
Now when Joseph made that sad journey to Egypt to be sold as a slave, he may have had some little idea of the country to which he was going, through stories [pg 127] that his father Jacob had had from his father Isaac, who in turn had heard them from his father Abraham. For "Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land."
He and his followers met with a kind reception, and settled down for a while in or near perhaps the great capital of Memphis, not far from the land of Goshen, where his descendants lived later. Abraham had seen great cities in his youth, but for years had been moving about in tents, so what a change must have been life on the busy Nile, under the shadow of the great buildings, and surrounded by the luxury and pomp of the times, after the constant moving on across wide stretches of lonely country, and the long, quiet, watchful nights under the starry sky! We do not know the name of the Pharaoh, his host, who was so kind and magnanimous to him, nor what he looked like. But it is believed by many scholars that Abraham visited Egypt toward the close of a very brilliant time, somewhat about the time of the great XIIth Dynasty.
Look around you in the Northern Gallery on the ground floor. You will notice how many kings there are whose names are Amon-em-het and Senusret, and their century is given as the twenty-second or twenty first. They were not only famous warriors, but wise rulers and builders. The third Amon-em-het engineered the great lake, called afterward Moeris, in the Fayyum (the Fayyum is the lotus bud if we draw a lily and its stalk to represent the Nile). He connected this lake with the river [pg 128] by a canal piercing the hills and fitted with sluice-gates, so that the surplus waters of the inundation could be stored there for use as needed. Herodotus describes the lake and the great building on its shores, which he thought even more wonderful than the Pyramids.
Tablets and statues of the servants of these great Pharaohs of the twenty-second and twenty first centuries B.C. stand all round them in the Northern Gallery. One can well understand that officials of every kind would be needed to help in the government of the kingdom and to superintend the great works.
The tombs of this time are particularly interesting, especially those cut out of the living rock, for on the walls of these rock-tombs were the most interesting pictures of the life and customs of the times of the Senusrets and Amon-em-hets. Look at the one near the end of the Northern Gallery from Al-Barsha, showing the funeral procession of Tehuti-hetep. There are his servants carrying his litter on poles and various other things of the great man used in life, and is supposed to need in the underworld.
A very faithful friend follows on four feet-his favorite dog-and his name is written above his collar. Look closely: there is the sign of life you know so well, called "ankh", and a bird which stands for "u". Whether Ankh-u would have pricked up these sharp ears of his, if we thus pronounce his name in calling him, is another matter. For no one now knows how the Egyptian language was sounded; the lips of the last who spoke it have been silent for centuries.
Next to it, from the same tomb, comes the picture [pg 129] of the peasants sowing corn, others are ploughing, the patient cattle looking out from the corner. The hoe in the hands of one of the labourers is of the same pattern as those in the cases upstairs, and this scene, as well as the pictures of much later times that we know already, of the inspection of geese and cattle, brings vividly to our minds the farming that has been going on in Egypt for thousands of years in much the same fashion from generation to generation.
The millions of workers who through the ages raised the great monouments attended to the embankments, made the canals, and kept them in order, and laboured from sunrise to sunset in the fertile fields-all had mouths which must be fed with bread of some kind. Fruitful Egypt, too, seemed generally to have enough to spare for a starving neighbor.
On other tomb walls about this date we see pictures of travellers from beyond the Bridge of Nations, led by their chiefs, bringing presents of various things valued by the Egyptians. The children of the party ride on asses, and all have bright and many coloured clothes.
Generally these visitors came, like Abraham, on account of famine, but so many stayed that at last much of the Delta land was occupied by them, which fact made it easy later on for great hordes of their kindred folk to pour into Egypt and master it for a while; these masters were the Hykos kings, in whose time we place Joseph's eventful and brilliant career and the settlement of his family in Egypt.
But we have not yet done with the tombs of the [pg 130] Xith and Xiith Dynasties. In the Second Room, near the top of the north west staircase, are two huge outer coffins from Al-Barsha. One was made for Sen, an overseer of the palace of the king; the other for another high official called Gua.
The ornamentations are much the same on both, and in the rows of large blue-green hieroglyphs, which form panels as it were, we can easily recognize those we already know. They contain prayers for a happy burial and for abundance of funeral offerings. The two eyes of Horus, Utchats, stand out distinct, to give eternal protection to the deceased by the sky-god. Inside the coffins are painted chapters of early copies of the Book of the Dead.
The inner coffins of Sen and Gua which fitted into these are close by, and are beautifully painted in much the same fashion, both inside and out. Further, in the Third and Fourth Rooms, amongst other treasures you can find some of the funeral furniture belonging to Gua: the beautiful ivory head-rest and the funeral boat will make good illustrations for the period. There are wooden statues of other officials like Gua.
In the Fifth Room you will find the scarab and cylinder seals with the names of Senusret and Amon-em-het, also some vases from the fine collection in the wall-cases, to illustrate the shapes used from the twenty-sixth to the twentieth centruies B.C. One of the vases has part of a linen cover.
In the Fifth Room are the models of labourers' houses; you can find two or three of two stories, and [pg 131] a hut, in which to imagine those sowers and ploughmen in the models in the Fourth Room sleeping when night came at length. These models are also called "soul houses" and were put near the tombs as a shelter for the souls when they came to receive offerings.
In the Northern Gallery you will also find statues of the great Amon-em-het, who dug out the Lake Moeris, and built the huge labyrinth so admired by Herodotus seventeen hundred years later. You can also pick out many of the officials of the time of the XIth, XIIth and XIIIth Dynasties; especially notice the one whose beard of precious metal (gold or electrum) was fastened under the chin by pegs; in life these false beards were often fastened by straps behind the ears.
Some scholars think that the great Sphinx belongs to the time of the IVth Dynasty, and that the human face of the huge beast bears a family likeness to one of their kings, Khafra.
It has stood in the Desert, less hurt by the swirling sandstorms, constant and biting as their attacks have been through the centuries, than by the destructive hand of man. It seems to keep unwearied watch and ward over the great tombs of the century-the Pyramids.
You must now take your mind backwards from the Birth of Christ, past the years of the Ptolemies in Egypt, the beautiful times in Greece , past the age of the great Pharaohs, Seti and Rameses; past the days of the Amon-em-hets and [pg 132] Senusrets, and back farther to something like the thirty-first century B.C.
And who were the chief pyramid builders? The great pyramid, often called the Pyramid of Cheops, higher than St. Paul's, with a base as large as Lincoln's Inn Fields, is believed to be the work of Khufu of the IVth Dynasty. You will remember his name, so easily copied (two birds, a slug, and a shaded circle), on the lists of kings we have so often looked at on the walls and in the cases of scarabs. We can find it again in the Vestibule on the cast of the tomb of Khu-fu-ankh, one of his high officials, who was a priest and Clerk of the Works; on its sides are prayers and names of many festivals.
Imagine the enormous numbers of men needed to get the huge blocks for the Pyramid (quarried eight miles away and ferried across the Nile on barges) into place, the array of task-masters and higher officials, organizing and urging on the workers, while perhaps the Pharaoh himself and his family might be seated in state watching the progress of his great scheme.
The builder of the second pyramid was Khafra, whose name we can also easily distinguish in the lists of kings: but we can do more than this; we can stand before the cast of his lifelike statue in the Vestibule, just as those did who came into his presence so many centuries ago, to give reports of his buildings and the government of the country.
Look well at his speaking face, at his easily posed figure; notice the folds of his linen head-dress, the sacred serpent fixed in front; and the sort of kilt that [pg 133] he wears, allowing free display of the limbs so finely modeled.
Examine too, the throne on which he sits, the arms ornamented with lions' heads, and on the sides of the papyrus and lotus plants of Upper and Lower Egypt, knotted round the hieroglyph of union emblematic of the joining together of the north and south kingdoms. You will find many variations of this subject on the monuments, and they help to explain the meaning of the expressions, double houses, double kingdoms, double crown.
Part of the tomb of Teta, the overseer of the pyramid of Khafra is almost within the touch of the great king's hand; while all round in the little Vestibule, and just inside the North Gallery, are memorials of the royal kinsmen and scribes, and other important persons who peopled the courts in that great and far-off time.
There is a short, fat, good-natured looking man standing just as he did in life in the times of the IVth Dynasty to inspect his farms and staff. His keen eyes (those of the original statue are made with black crystal pupils, with a gleaming silver point to show the light) would no doubt have soon detected and neglect or cheating.
A wonderful thing about this statue-remember it must be at least four or five thousand years old-is that when it was raised from the dust and rubbish in which it had long lain, the Arab diggers cried out, "The Sheik of the village!". So like is this old farmer-man to the modern Egyptian of his class. [pg 134]
To find the builder of the third pyramid we must mount the north-west staircase and stand by the case in the Second Room, which contains what are believed to be the remains of the battered coffin and mummy of Men-kau-ra. These remains were found in the third pyramid, and were wrecked at sea on the voyage to England; what lies before us is all that was recovered of the "just and merciful" king and his coffin.
Herodotus tells us that he gave liberty to the people; let us hope the Father of History is correct, but we must remember that Herodotus visited Egypt more than two thousand years after the the body of Men-kau-ra was hidden away, and the words were painted on the coffin which we can still read; "thy mother Nut stretches herself over thee in her name of the vault of heaven; she granteth that thou mayest exist as a God by destroying all thine enemies, O King of the North and South, Men-kau-ra, living for ever." These words come from a copy of the Book of the Dead, which was already very ancient when Men-kau-ra ruled over Egypt.
We must look again at the scarabs and read the names, Khufu, Khafra, Men-kau-ra, and many others made up of Ka, neb, nefer, ra, all the times of the great pyramid builders.
Their beautiful alabaster and stone vases are in the Third and Fourth Rooms: especially interesting is the handsome funeral stand of a priest and libationer of Khufu; you can easily distinguish the figure with a vase overhead, out of which the libation seems to be pouring of itself. [pg 135]
Look up, too, the complete set of beautiful alabaster vessels of the "chief reader," Atena; note his headrest and green stone bowl and slab for holding paint or ointment-seven kinds-also the bronze models of tools found in the same tomb.
Many of the amulets worn in life, or laid in the mummy for the sake of magical protection, also date from these early times. As you look at them, think of the prayers which were written on them, and the comfort the mourners felt in the belief that the dead were thereby kept safely.
The Buckle of Isis protected them from every form of evil; the Serpent's Head kept them from being bitten by snakes in the underworld; the Two Plumes were to make them enjoy light and air; the Cartouche was to make sure that their names would not be blotted out; the Pillow was to prevent their heads being carried away; the Papyrus Sceptre was to help them to regain the youth and vigour they had lost.
Do not overlook the Two Fingers; they may remind you of King Pepi I., in the twenty-sixth century, of whom it is written "that he hath gone quickly into heaven by means of the Two Fingers of the God of the ladder." It was Horus who is said to have stretched out his two fingers to help his father up the ladder from earth to heaven.
And now, after examining the earliest of the portrait statues, let us turn back several centuries before Khufu to the thirty-third century, and here note the name of Menes, called the first historical king of Egypt, the first king of the North and South, but he [pg 136] may have been a combination of three kings. His Cartouche in the lists and on the scarabs is a simple one; it is said that he built a huge dam across the Nile to divert the steam so as to make a better and safer position for his new capital-Memphis.
Year by year more discoveries are being made about these first dynasty kings and what went before, for even in the times of Menes, some thirty-three centuries B.C., we have not yet reached the very beginning.
On the shelves near the outer coffins of Sen and Gua are pictures of a king named Narmer, killing, and then inspecting, his enemies; his sandal-bearer is an interesting person named Ur-hen. In the cases you have already seen you can match the sandals he is carrying.
There are also very animated companies of most curious looking monsters; do not miss the one standing up like a man, with a very long front tail, as well as a back one, nor the sketches of boats and animals on a vase. The animals might have been drawn from any Noah's Ark in any nursery of the twentieth century A.D.
We have now at last reached the time of the Pre-historic Man in his model grave opposite Men-kau-ra. For long centuries, even before the age of Menes, he lay undisturbed in his cramped sandy grave, covered over securely by large boulders. He and his people evidently believed there was a life to follow the short one he had led by the banks of the Nile, for see the stone implements for his use, and the simple pots which still hold the dust of funeral offerings. [pg 137]
He had fair skin, light hair, and tapering fingers unused to hard work, and he lay like that on the edge of the desert all through the centuries during which we have watched the multitudes of rich and poor passing up and down the long narrow country, farming and building, sorrowing and rejoicing, just as real human beings as we are ourselves, with just the same wishes and difficulties and feelings.
But perhaps you will say, "We have seen the children's toys and dolls, the shoes they wore, the mirrors that reflected their faces, the furniture of their houses, the belongings of their parents; but the portraits in stone, and in the pictures, are so stiff, so unreal, we cannot imagine the people alive and warm and speaking." There is much truth in this. The Egyptian sculptures are, for the most part, stiff and expressionless, while those light-as-air sea-maidens of the Nereid Monument (just behind Ramese II.) might as well be your partners in the dance, and the Tanagra maidens your play-fellows, while there is no mistaking Demeter's grief.
There are many explanations given to account for this difference; one is this, that the Greeks looked upon their models as a whole, as they saw them, and reproducing their impressions, made their spirit live in marble. The Egyptians worked on each detail of feature and limb by itself and then put them together as certain rules and customs dictated.
Look, for instance, at any of the profiles in Egyptian sculpture or painting, and notice how the eye is drawn as an eye (full front), and then put into the face already [pg 138] made up in profile of nose, mouth, and chin, regardless of how it looked.
So, too, with the feet and legs, and arranged on the completed body according to rule, but not to walk with.
Sometimes the artists flung away the bands that fettered their powers, and studied nature instead of following what was considered a correct and reverent expression of it, and then we get speaking likenesses like those in the Vestibule, and living action on the pictured walls of the tombs.
It is difficult for us to understand and enter into the feelings of the Egyptians in this matter; there was the intense reverence for religion and the gods, and the belief that the Pharaoh was one with the gods, and could do no wrong.
A large part of the artists' work consisted of portraits of the gods and kings, for which the priests laid down certain rules of style to express their solemn and unapproachable nature. It would have seemed too familiar, indeed irreverent, to use any easy everyday methods, and so arose this holding back, this keeping to old ways which cramped the art of the Nile for thousands of years. So do not be discouraged by the Egyptian stiffness, but try to feel that the man, woman, child, animal, are really there behind a sort of veil.
If you were to go to Egypt you would see labourers in the fields, and in the villages, with such a strong family likeness to their far-away ancestors, that as you watched them use their limbs in active work, you would [pg 139] feel that the stiff and expressionless faces and forms here before us in stone and fresco had come to life again.
Perhaps you have noticed that you have seen nothing so far to illustrate the years between the Exodus (sixteenth century) and the visit of Herodotus (fifth century). Shall we now try to bridge over these years? On the whole, it was a sad time in which Egypt was steadily declining and becoming less prosperous and happy, though here and there we shall find great names that shine out in the gathering darkness.
Rameses III. did his best in the twelfth century to keep up the glory of his great namesake; his face looks a strong one in the photograph of his mummy in the Second Room, and his prowess shown on the walls of his great temple (see the photograph stand) might well make the nations round "tremble as the mountain goats before a bull who stamps with his foot, strikes with his horns, and makes the mountains shake as he rushes on whatever opposes him!" He had a gentler side too, and one likes to hear that "over the whole land of Egypt he planted trees and shrubs to give the inhabitants rest under their cool shade." We have often noticed how prominent were the priests of Egypt, how great and rich were the temples of the gods they served; at last the day came when the high priest passed from being next in power to the king, to be king himself, and a dynasty of king-priests followed.
The mummies and coffins of the priests, priestesses, [pg 140] doorkeepers, incense-bearers, prophets, scribes, give us some idea of the importance of a great religious college. The coffin cases are generally beautifully painted, and amongst the faces on them are portraits, such as that of the priestess Katebet; notice the breastplate, scarab, ushabti figure on her mummy, and also that of the incence-bearer, Hu-en-amen, with the inlaid eyes. You will recognize many of the paintings of gods and scenes from the Book of the Dead.
In the case of blue glaze, which is one of the glories of the Museum in colour, you will find a few ushabti figures of the families of these kings.
Later, from a dynasty of foreigners, a man of action stands out in the tenth century; the Bible calls this king of Egypt, Shishak-you remember him as the friend of Jeroboam? He entered Jerusalem and stripped the beautiful new temple-so like in plan and construction to those by the Nile-of its treasures, as you can read in 1 Kings xiv.
We can find the gold ring with his name in the Fifth Room and also a pair of black lion-headed goddesses in the South Gallery. Reminders of his son, Osorkon I., are close by, and of Osorkon II., who was not the only king of Egypt who cut his own cartouche on other people's work.
Of the times when the kingdom was breaking up into petty states, we have no important remains, nothing flourished, the outlook became darker and more and more hopeless till, at last, in the eighth century, during the rule of another dynasty of foreigners (the Ethiopians) the storm burst. [pg 141]
The great kings, whose names and forms we shall get to know quite will in the Assyrian galleries, now attacked Egypt on her own frontier and led vast armies from the land between the rivers, over the prostrate Syria, towards the Bridge of Nations.
One tragedy of the time you will know-the mysterious destructino of Sennacherib's army at a most critical moment. Later his son overran Egypt, from the mouths of the Nile to the island of Philae, many times in a few years.
The harvests were spoiled, the people were starving, and fighting, and being carried away captive. Temples and cities and old monuments were ruined and allowed to fall into decay.
It is the conquerors who tell us all this, as they relate their dreadful deeds with pride, and describe the articles they carried away. We can find some like them in the Third and Fourth Rooms. That roll of fine linen, for instance, is inscribed with King Piankhi's name; of those alabaster jars and vases, one bears the name of Shabaka. Those statues of the gods, those gold and silver, turquoise and ivory treasures of centuries, which lie here in numbers before our eyes, all represent the spoils of the Assyrian conquerors.
Egypt revived for a little under the kings who made Sais, their capital, especially the two Psamatiks, and Nekau, and we have several examples of the fine and delicate work of this time; notice the draughtsmen of Nekau in the Toy case.
But in spite of all efforts and the help from Greek soldiers, the country was ravaged again from end to [pg 142] end, and had to submit to the Eastern Empire till that, too, fell under the new great power that arose in Asia-the Persians.
The Egyptians thought it a good opportunity to revolt when the news came of Marathon; it was between the second and third revolts that Herodotus saw Egypt, saw the mighty Nile, the battlefields, and the great monuments, in his quest for information to set down in his history of the Persian wars.
It will be a good thing to go round the galleries several times and mark off the names of the "Sons of the Sun" that you know, and to look again at the treasures that hail from their times. You can then recall as you go the pictures which they suggested.
One picture will be this: a widely flowing river, by whose brink a woman's figure stands out against the sky, as she gazes with tear-filled eyes at a little cradle of lotus flowers hidden amongst the water-reeds.
Or you may picture the important official anxiously watching the rising Nile, and giving certificates to the men who had worked for five days on the embankments; while his wife put away the ointment she had been using for her eyes while the land was parched, and got out the ointment she would use during the inundation.
Or, again, it may be the fresh scent of the lotus flowers, held by the guests at the gay parties, that comes to you across the centuries, or, from further back still, you may catch the soft patter of Ankhu's feet.
(Chapter 8 typed by Lisa Vos)
"From Under the Dust of Ages"
You must have stopped many times to look in wonder at the huge man-headed bulls and lions on our way to the Egyptian and Greek Galleries. You have certainly compared and contrasted them with the other monsters of our acquaintance - the Egyptian Sphinx or the Greek Centaur.
The number of their legs - those legs that show the great treading-down power of the bull or lion - must have puzzled us till we understood that the sculpture is a sort of double relief which had to look well from both side and front, and so a fifth leg was added for appearance's sake.
The rows and rows of neat flat curls add also to the effect, as well as the well-tied sash round the strong-looking body. The great eagles' wings suggest swiftness that cannot be tired, and towering high above us is the head which endows the monster with the intelligence and wisdom of man.
These man-headed monsters once stood at the gateways [pg 144] which led into the royal palaces of Assyria, and were looked upon as the guardians of the footsteps of the kings who made them.
Before seeking out the story of these footsteps, and of much else that came before and after, all told in the vivid language and pictures on the remains in the Assyrian and Babylonian Rooms in the British and other museums; let us first look well at the maps in the Nimrud Gallery, close to the bulls.
There is the Bridge of Nations, in the south-west corner, leading from the country of one great river, the Nile, towards the countries of two mighty streams -- the Euphrates and the Tigris. Trace their courses from the mountains in the north, noticing how far westwards the Euphrates flows in its journey to the Persian Gulf. As you see, Babylonia, with its capital, Babylon, on the Euphrates, lies nearest to the head of the Gulf, and Assyria with its capital, Nineveh, on the Tigris, lies farther north.
Babylonia was the older kingdom, which sent out colonies up the two great rivers to found cities and states. Later, these became not only independent under one king, but strong enough to conquer the Mother Country.
Next let us glance at the names of some of the neighbours of these countries on the two rivers. Beginning on the east side there is Persia, Elam, Media; to the west are the countries of the Hittites, the Syrians, and the Canaanites, part of whose land was conquered by the Israelites when they came out of Egypt.
The map shows us further that a great wedge of [pg 145] desert pushes up between the Euphrates and the strip of seaboard countries near the Mediterranean. This wedge and desert kept the nations on the banks of the Nile and those on the Euphrates and Tigris apart for many centuries. Armies could not pass by a direct way from on the other, but had to travel by two sides of a triangle and to force the key of the route where the desert was narrowest about Karkemish, the capital of the Hittites, and so reach the upper waters of the Euphrates.
As you think over this you will understand what is meant when these countries lying in the highway that connected the great powers are called buffer states. All through the years of conflict these buffer states were the scene of perpetual war; conquered first by Egypt, then by Assyria; now rebelling, now in league on against another.
The Bible history of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel relates a great deal of all this, and on Egyptian monuments are found accounts of wars with these nations of Western Asia. We have already seen that these Egyptian accounts could not be read till the key was found to unlock the mysteries of the hieroglyphic writing, and this so lately as last century.
The monuments themselves, however, to a great extent have stood on the banks of the Nile for thousands of years in the brilliant sunshine for all to see. How different has been the case with the countries in the valley of the Euphrates and Tigris! They are mentioned in the Bible, and old travellers and historians have left scattered notices of them through the [pg 146] centuries -- here and there -- but the cities themselves and their contents were no longer to be seen; only stories of their wonder and greatness survived.
If you travel in those countries to-day you will see great mounds rising to varying heights above the dreary sandy plains in the south, as well as in the more hilly country of the north. Sometimes villages are built on these mounds, sometimes crops are raised on their tops, sometimes they are gay with wild flowers.
It was only last century that people because in earnest to seek to find out what those mounds were, and what they contained. These mounds -- you can see some fine models of them at the Louvre -- are the graves in which the cities, temples, palaces, of Babylonia and Assyria have been buried and forgotten for some two thousand years.
You can fancy the excitement of the first explorers as the dust of ages was laboriously cleared away from the ruins that lay beneath. When the head of the winged bull emerged, the Arab diggers were terror-stricken, and fled to their village, thinking some dreadful monster had been roused to make an end of them; later they came to the conclusion that the English were taking it home for their queen and the rest of the unbelievers to worship!
It is not easy to understand how a country once thickly peopled, and dotted over with flourishing cities, tow of them believed to have been larger than London, could become so desolate and forgotten.
But, to begin with, much of the building was set on great platforms of bricks and earth, so as to be [pg 147] out of reach of the river floods. Then the buildings themselves were chiefly made of sun-dried bricks, which would easily turn back again into the clay of which they were made, and the roofs were supported on wooden beams and pillars. So when the conquerors set fire to the doomed city, the roofs and brick walls fell in, and the heavy rains, season after season, gradually covered all up with mud and clay.
As to the inhabitants, many were killed or taken prisoners, or settled elsewhere, and as wave after wave of newcomers passed over the land, each knew less and less of its once powerful owners in the centuries that were gone.
Now let us glance round to see the sort of remains that have come to us from the mounds.
Besides the "guardians of the path of the king," we have the sculptured slabs which once lined the walls of their palaces, se out in the Nimrud Gallery, so called from the mound of Nimrud, the site of the ancient city of Calah, about twenty miles south of Nineveh. Many more of these slabs are to be seen in the Assyrian Saloon and also in the Nineveh Gallery, from the mound of Kouyunjik, part of the ancient site of Nineveh itself.
Besides these slabs there are numberless little clay tablets, like cakes of soap, in the Babylonian and Assyrian Rooms upstairs. Some are oblong, some round, all are covered with writing, as are also the barrel-shaped and many-sided large cylinders in the upper room.
Here you will also find a large collection of cylinder seals, like long stone beads (you will remember similar [pg 148] ones amongst the Egyptian treasures), which were generally used to make an impression on the soft clay of the tablets. Round the walls are all sorts of stone and clay objects, as well as a few larger statues and memorials, standing out in the rooms.
The illustrations on the slabs and cylinder seals look stiff and often confused, but from them and from the writing on clay tablets and cylinders, looking like unending combinations of arrow-headed or wedge-shaped lines, we can gather a glowing story full of unexpected wonders.
The story is a long one, as long as that of Egypt, and it will lead us into the very presence of great kings whose names and deeds are already known to us. Visions of centuries or prosperous farming and great wealth will pass before our eyes, as well as those of the excitement of the hunt, and the desolation of war.
The contents of great libraries, too, are open to our gaze, safe in the cases, though the shelves that once help them, and the walls of their original home, have been lying in ashes for 2500 years.
When the mounds were first explored, the writing to be found on the newly found monsters, slabs, cylinders, and tablets was still a mystery, though many scholars had been at work for years trying to unravel it from various inscriptions that had been found in the countries round.
In the second Northern Gallery are not only casts of many of these inscriptions, but specimens of the paper squeezes -- they look like the raised writing for the blind -- made from a very important inscription [pg 149] in three languages, which could not be carried away from the spot like the Rosetta Stone, because it is cut high up on a great rock at Behistun, in Persia.
When the dauntless traveller and scholar arrived at the Rock to get his copy he found his ladders were too short; so he had himself lowered by a rope from the top.
Then followed months and months of hard, patient study. No one knew even one of the three languages, as had been the case with the Rosetta Stone; they only knew others like one of them, and derived from the same stock. Success came at last, and now it is possible to get grammar and dictionary, and set to work to study and read cuneiform or wedge-shaped writing, and so receive the message across the centuries, left on the clay and stone as the old king said, "for future ages, for all time."
In the beginning this writing was a series of pictures, like the Egyptian hieroglyphs; the earliest signs, for instance, for a fork, an arrow, a comb, a bird, a fish, are easily distinguishable.
This was the invention of the old inhabitants of the land between he rivers -- the Sumerians and Akkadians before the Babylonians settled there; and as time went on the writing gradually became more stiff and wedge-like and was used to express the language not only of the Babylonians and Assyrians, but of nearly all their neighbours, from Syria on the west to Persia on the east, just as Roman letters are now used nearly all over Europe.
For a long time, when the Babylonians had settled [pg 150] down amongst the older inhabitants, the languages were spoken side by side, as French and Flemish are in Belgium now. When this ceased, about 2000 B.C., the memory of the older tongues was kept up in the literature of the country, more or less till the end of its history, much as we use Latin and Greek now.
Hence, in the cases of tablets, you will find constant reference made to the Sumerian and Akkadian languages, with translations into Babylonian and Assyrian, and many spelling books, grammars, and dictionaries, for those who had to learn the dead languages.
The men with shaved heads in the sculptures are of the older race. There is a most quaint Sumerian person of high rank, with folded hands in the Babylonian Room -- the Babylonians and Assyrians were famous (like the bulls) for fine beards and heads of hair. This is a specimen of Archaic Sumerian sculpture. A very fine specimen of late Sumerian sculpture stands in the centre of the same room.
The gods of the Sumerians were also kept in memory through the ages, such as Ishtar, the great giver of victory in war, the Sun and Moon gods, and those of the earth, sky, and sea.
Some of the very earliest of the Babylonian relics in this room are the stone sockets, in which the pivot of the gates turned, also memorial tablets belonging to the governors or kings of the states which later were united under one ruler.
The exhibition of writing in the Babylonian Room will show you the gradual development of the Babylonian [pg 151] writing from the picture signs which were probably in use about 3500 B.C.
The second stage of development was the reduction of the pictures to linear signs with as few curves as possible. This was done because wet clay was used for writing.
Later on the straight lines tended to take a triangular form, and so the writing became wedge-shaped, and is called cuneiform.
You will see all these stages in the special exhibit of writing.
On one of the memorial tablets (dated perhaps about 1500) there is the name of a king of Ur, which name at once brings to mind the calling of Abraham from this very city, Ur of the Chaldees, where he lived with his family.
The bricks inscribed with the name of this king come from the temples he built to the Sun and Moon gods. Numerous other bricks of this and later date record much building of temples as well as restorations of older ones, also the cutting of a great canal. We are hereby reminded that the making of bricks, where stone was scarce and the best clay very plentiful, was one of the chief industries in a country of great builders.
A flood of light is cast upon the life of the times, which may have been near those of Abraham, by the clay tablets in a table-case. Fortunately, for later generations, these have been practically indestructible; they are the letters, annals, business documents, as well as what we call books, all written on finely prepared clay, when moist, with a three-edged stylus, [pg 152] and then hardened by heat of sun or fire. Many of the tablets are still almost perfect, in spite of occasional dampness, the destruction of the cities and temples by fire, and the long burial in the mounds.
Examine the labels slowly. There are deeds relating to buying, selling, and letting house property, gardens, fields, and plantations; others which show how slaves were bought or hired, how children were adopted, how money was borrowed.
Many letters from kings to their officials refer to the making and cleaning of the canals which crossed the country between the rivers, storing water to use on the land, and making it so fertile that it produced two crops a year.
"The land of the double spring-time" became a great corn-growing country and very rich.
Many orders refer to sending stores of all kinds to Babylon -- clothes to wear, dates, oil, and other necessaries. There is a very interesting one from the great king Khammurabi about the twentieth century. There are many of his tablets on view, but this particular one gives directions about felling trees to use in smelting metal.
Other tablets deal with the protection of fishing rights; of arrangement for the transport of sheep and lambs, and for their shearing. Another gives orders for sending images of the gods and goddesses from one place to another. The bustle and worries of the old life are very real. You realize how much it all mattered -- four thousand years ago -- how they had to rush about, clean out canals in three days, find extra [pg 153] shepherds in great haste for the shearing, travel night and day to obey the king's behest; and on all sides were the agitations of gaining and losing money, of going to law, and the ever-present terror of offending the great king.
The circular tablets are chiefly lists of fields and estates with their measurements. Very often the boundaries of these fields became changed from the flooding of the rivers. There are many interesting boundary stones in the wall-cases of different periods.
The large square tablets are chiefly accounts concerning wages -- for men, women and children -- also particulars about grain and wool for purposes of the revenue.
All this commerce must needs have been carried on by many people, whose relations to each other had to be settled by good laws. Khammurabi was the great lawgiver, and it is said of him that he "established the heart of the country in righteousness."
Look well at the cast of the pillar on which his great code of laws -- the oldest in the world, some say -- is inscribed. There is his portrait on the top receiving the laws from the Sun god. He set up the original of this pillar in Babylon, and copies of it in other cities, so that if any one felt aggrieved at any loss or bad treatment he could go and find out the law bearing on his case.
But Khammurabi's stele was not found in Babylon, but in Susa, one of the most ancient cities of Elam and Persia. It was n Elamite king who carried it there many centuries after Khammurabi had set it up. He [pg 154] stored it in his museum, where he exhibited other treasures from Babylonia. You will be interested to notice the space he had cleared at the bottom by erasing several sections of the code. Here he meant to engrave his own name and great deeds, as he has done on five other defaced monuments.
During the centuries which followed, the kings of Egypt were gradually getting more and more power over the nations that dwelt about the high road to Assyria. Thothmes III. -- you have his name in the fifteenth century, he who set up Cleopatra's Needle -- was one of them, also the manly Queen Hat-shep-sut, who sent her fleets to the Land of Punt, and who built a most magnificent temple.
In the fourteenth century we come to the names of two Egyptian kings, who not exacted tribute from the buffer states, but overran the country of the two rivers itself. Both these kings were called Amen-hetep; one the husband, the other the son, of a lady from Western Asia -- Queen Thi.
Amen-hetep (or Amen-ophis) IV. was so much influenced by his mother that he adopted the religion of her country and built a fine new city, with a temple and a palace in which to carry it out, and changed his name from "the favourite of Amen" to that of "the splendour of the Sun's rays." You can imagine how angry all this made the powerful priests of Amen.
Now amongst the ruins of his city, not far from the old tombs at Beni-Hasan, were found numbers of letters and dispatches in cuneiform writing on the familiar clay tablets. These are to be see, at least [pg 155] some of them, in a table-case in the Babylonian Room, headed Tell-el-Amarna (or Tall al-Amarnah) tablets -- this being the Arab name of a village close by.
These letters are from kings of Babylonia and Assyria, also from governors of various provinces, and give a graphic picture of the relations between the kings of Egypt and Western Asia in the fifteenth or fourteenth centuries B.C. Translations of many are to be seen in the case, and are most interesting reading. Some refer to the sending of Mesopotamian princesses as wives for the Egyptian kings and beg for an Egyptian princess in return.
Then there is a great deal about gifts of all kinds -- chariots, horses, much gold, also a gold-and-ivory throne, even the statue of a goddess. There is much complaint when equally handsome presents are not sent in return.
Many of the dispatches speak of rebellions, and beg for troops and arms and corn for food. One governor says he is shut up "like a bird in a cage"; another, that he is "stricken with fear."
These tablets all show us how much coming and going there was at this time over the Bridge of Nations; a constant passing of couriers and scribes, presents and provisions, soldiers and bridal processions.
Ever since Assyria had become independent, there had been perpetual quarrels. Chiefly about the boundaries of the two kingdoms. At last, soon after the beginning of the thirteenth century, Assyria conquered Babylonia, and managed to remain the ruling power, with occasional reverses, for over six hundred years.
[pg 156] The Assyrians were more energetic and better fighters than the Babylonians, who were very successful in commerce and agriculture, and as devoted to learning as the old Sumerians had been before them. We must remember that the climate of the hilly, northern kingdom was more bracing than that of the low plain to the south, between the slow winding rivers which were often flooded.
Towards the end of the twelfth century we learn of the removal of the slab engraved with Khammurabi's code from Babylon to Susa, while about the beginning of the twelfth century you can picture Tiglath Pileser I., a mighty old Assyrian king, who tells us on his cylinders in the Babylonian and Assyrian Room of his prowess in war -- the countries he conquered, the spoil he took, including images of the gods. There is a picture on one clay prism showing a procession of captured gods who look rather like Guy Fawkes aloft on his chair.
Tiglath Pileser I. was a great hunter too: he specially mentions leopards; and when he visited the Phœnicians, the great sailors and traders of the old world, he even "mounted" a ship and went for an excursion on the Mediterranean. Unfortunately the name of the monster of the deep (perhaps a dolphin) that he succeeded in killing is erased from the relief.
King David is believed to have lived near this time, in about the eleventh century.
In the Babylonian Room, look, in the table-case at the earliest known map of the world -- such a very small and curious world! The map is of course of clay, and was probably drawn in [pg 157] the eighth or seventh century B.C. It illustrates a story quite well known even in the fourteenth century, and seems to refer to the legend which accumulated round the heroic figure of King Sargon of Agade, who conquered an empire in Western Asia about the twenty-sixth century B.C.
There is Babylon in the centre, and the ocean round the edge; the two great rivers are also shown, with the mountains at their source, and the swamps at their mouth.
There is also to be seen part of a plan of Babylon, showing the position of the great gate of the Sun god, also several chronicle tablets giving names of Babylonian kings.
The worship of the Sun god is beautifully shown on the celebrated tablet from the Temple of Sippar. There is the god himself seated on a throne in a shrine, holding symbols of eternity. Notice the palm trunk column before him, and the disk of the sun held up by ropes, and the priest leading the king to worship.
It must have been a gorgeous temple with its gold and lapis lazuli, a fit setting for the fine garments of the priests. The tablet gives an account of the restoration of this ancient temple by a king of Babylon in the ninth century, just about the time when the kingdom of Assyria was entering the period of its greatest power and glory. It lasted for three hundred years, and during that time there are at least six or seven kings whose names (rather difficult at first sight) and bearded faces will become perfectly familiar to us as we look again and again at the relics from their times.
(Chapter 9 typed by Janel Folden)
The "Footsteps" of Seven Great Kings of Assyria
During the three hundred years when Assyria was at the height of its greatness about fifteen kings ruled one after the other at Nineveh. Of these there are seven well represented in the Museum, and most of the seven appear in the Bible story of the Jewish Monarchy.
The previous chapter ended with the sketch of the Babylonian king worshipping in the shrine of the Sun god in the city of Sippar. This was near the beginning of the ninth century B.C. Ashur-nazir-pal II. was king of Assyria about this time.
His son and successor was Shalmaneser III., about the middle of the ninth century.
A hundred years later arose the powerful king, Tiglath Pileser III., while in the last quarter of the eighth century, Sargon II., "the son of no one," usurped the throne.
His son, Sennacherib, followed at the end of the eighth century, and his reign, and that of his son, [pg 159] Esar-haddon, and of his grandson, Ashur-bani-pal, covered the seventh century.
Just inside the Nimrud Gallery is a relief showing a religious ceremony which was performed each year by the king in person, connected with the fertilizing of the date palm. Above the king, presenting a sort of cone, is a small figure in a winged circle; the small figure is that of a man finished off with feather from the waist. This is the emblem of the god Ashur, after whom the country was named, as well as so many of its kings.
Ashur-nazir-pal means "Ashur is the protector of the heir"; Esar-haddon means "Ashur has given a brother," implying that he was not the eldest son; Ashur-bani-pal means "Ashur creates a son." This god Ashur was looked upon as the father and chief of the gods, and is often represented as hovering over the kings in battle, as giving them the victory, and as demanding the punishment of the vanquished.
All round us in the Nimrud Gallery are the remains brought from the palace of Ashur-nazir-pal II. and the temple to the war god, Adar. They were dug out of the mound of Nimrud, the grave of the ancient city of Calah, twenty miles south of Nineveh.
Look first at the statue of Ashur-nazir-pal II., with his fine curled beard, his fringed robe hanging to his feet, of which only the toes show straight to the front. You can distinguish an inscription on his breast; it gives particulars of his names and titles. This is the only perfect royal Assyrian statue in the Museum.
There are many other portraits in relief of this son [pg 160] of Ashur. Some are standing at ease, as on the slab that relates his most important conquests; others show him on the march in mountainous country, or passing over rivers with his army, or receiving tribute. Do not miss the vivid picture of the soldiers swimming on inflated skins--there is a relief on which they are shown blowing them out ready to start, as one does with an air-ball--the king's chariot is ferried over on a boat and the sensible horses are swimming behind.
Like most of the Assyrian kings, Ashur-nazir-pal found his chief recreation in hunting, and we see him on the reliefs pouring libations to the gods over dead bulls and lions. The fish gods and eagle-headed divinities are fearsome objects, and must have looked more remarkable still in the days of Ashur-nazir-pal and his attendants, if we are right in believing that the reliefs were all blazing with colour when they were new and fresh. It makes on think of our own blue dragons and red lions!
Imagine the stately procession as the great king passed by the guardians of his footsteps. He could not have moved quickly in such stiff garments. Besides, as the umbrella and fly-slappers remind us, it was often hot. The musicians with the stringed instruments--sounding perhaps like zithers?--heralded the arrival in the court lined with these slabs before us.
Some idea of the details of the palace may be gathered from the cases in the Assyrian Room. The bronze and iron objects are very interesting, such as the bells, the ornamental feet of a throne, the head of the ugly demon of the south-west wind, which, in Assyria, [pg 161] was the hot dry wind that destroyed the crops, and was trying to health.
Many of the ivory objects in a case in the Assyrian Room show relations with Egypt; especially the sceptre we have seen so often in the hands of Osiris; the cartouche of the "Rising Sun:; the Egyptian ladies' heads amongst those that illustrate the fashions in Assyrian hairdressing.
Amongst the beautiful bronze repoussé bowls, also in the Assyrian Room, are some with very fine designs, and especially interesting is the one with hawk-headed lions wearing Egyptian crowns. Those of later date remind us that the palace of Ashur-nazir-pal was not the only one at Calah.
His son, Shalmaneser III., about the middle of the ninth century also built a palace there, close to his father's. One wonders how he found time for building, for he was always at war, till at last he was master of nearly all Western Asia.
Let us first look at his famous black obelisk, in the Nimrud Central Saloon, close to the bull and lion from his father's palace. The pictures and writing inscribed by Shalmaneser on his obelisk give an account of the expeditions he made during thirty-one years of his reign.
There are exciting pictures of the tribute brought by the conquered peoples in five rows of sculptures. Dromedaries, buffaloes, elephants, apes, horses figure amongst the animals; gold, silver, lead, copper, ivory, and fine garments amongst the treasures. It is the second row that interests us most, for here is shown the [pg 162] tribute of Jehu, king of Israel--bowls, dishes, cups, and other vessels of gold.
On the stele of Shalmaneser III. close by, Ahab, another king of Israel, is mentioned as one of the allies of a king of Hamath, who had rebelled against Assyria. On this is a figure of the king in relief.
To find another most important work of Shalmaneser III. we must go down to the Assyrian Saloon in the basement where the famous metal coverings of the gates, made in cedar or some other wood, are shown in a case by themselves. The bands are eight feet long by one foot wide, and record the battles and conquests of the king who set them up. Amongst the most interesting are the pictures showing the march to the source of the Tigris, and the carving of the image of a king upon a rock. There are also scenes in the Assyrian camp, in one of which the soldiers seem to be amusing themselves with some game.
About a century later than Shalmaneser III. lived the Tiglath Pileser III., who is known in the Bible by his Babylonian name of Pul. He was one of the most warlike of the Assyrian kings, and recovered some of the ground lost by those who reigned just before him.
There is an inscription inside the doorway leading to the basement recording his conquests in what may be called cuneiform large hand; these characters are the largest known, and are very easy to examine. Following on are slabs showing the king standing with one foot on the neck of a prostrate foe; also his assault on a city, the gods of which are being borne off in procession.
Near the black obelisk of Shalmaneser III. is a picturesque wall slab from the palace of Tiglath Pileser, showing the flocks and herds being driven off by the conquerors, and the women and children being taken away from the city in a cart.
You may remember that when Ahaz of Judah asked the Assyrian king to help him against his enemies, it ended in the Israelite tribes of Rueben and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh, being carried away into captivity by the Assyrians.
At the end of this eighth century the Assyrian king, Sargon II., came into actual conflict with the Egyptians, whom he defeated, after taking Samaria, and sending its inhabitants to settle another part of his empire. Torn from their country and all their belongings, whole bodies of exiles were settled in foreign lands amongst strangers. Many, no doubt, during the long and wearisome journey were grieving for dear ones killed in terrible fighting, such as we shudder to look at on the slabs.
The siege of Samaria lasted three years; think what that must have meant in the way of starvation and misery, followed by the fatigues of travel, lonely exile, and the bitter though that strangers, sent from other parts of the empire, were living in their old homes, and cultivating their fields. The Israelites felt it perhaps more keenly than others, because they loved their own country so passionately, and most of them hated to be mixed up with people who worshipped many false gods instead of the one great Jehovah.
"By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept, [pg 164] when we remembered thee, O Zion." The wailing dirge still echoes across the centuries.
Sargon II. was a great builder as well as warrior. His chief palace was at Khorsabad, a few miles north-west of Nineveh. Most of the sculptures of this king are at the Louvre, because the French explorers were first in the field at this place. The great man-headed bulls in the Assyrian Transept come from the gateways of Sargon's palace. You will notice the clearly-cut inscriptions upon them, which tell of his great deeds. His portrait on a slab close by shows him talking to his officials.
In the Assyrian Room, on the upper floor, is a large cylinder inscribed with the history of Sargon's reign; it stands between the records of his predecessor, Ashur-nazir-pal II., and those of his own famous son, Sennacherib, so well known to us in Bible story.
We must remember that Sennacherib lived at the end of the eighth century. For more than twenty strenuous years he fought in many campaigns, and not only built the grandest palace ever seen at Nineveh, but repaired the works of the kings who had gone before him.
The remains of the great palace of Sennacherib were dug out of the group of mounds, called by modern Arab name, Kouyunjik--probably from the number of sheep feeding upon them. If you study the plan of the excavations in the Nimrud Gallery you will see where Kouyunjik lies, also the shape of the city of Nineveh within its ancient walls, and how a tributary of the Tigris runs through it.
You will notice another mound called Nebi Yunus, where the prophet Jonah is said to have been buried; there is a mosque built on the mound now. One of the palaces of Sennacherib lies buried in this mound, the other, as we have seen, in Kouyunjik.
We can examine many of the slabs from this palace in the Nineveh Gallery. On one side are the reliefs which show Sennacherib's work as a builder, and here we can see for ourselves how the great palaces were set up.
Notice first the making of the mound, used as a platform. There are files of men mounting with loads of stones, bricks, earth, which they fling down, and then hasten back with empty baskets to refill and bring up again. Taskmasters with sticks stand over every gang. As in Egypt the cry ever is, "The stick is in my hand, be ye not idle!"
Next disentangle from the crowds of works the long ropes by which a sledge is pulled along over rollers, with wedges of stone and a powerful lever, worked by pulleys, to ease its passage. What is that on the sledge? Nothing less that one of the great winged bulls being dragged towards the doorway it was henceforth to guard and adorn. He is only in rough at present, having been so far shaped in the quarry from whence he has come by boat, just as the great blocks of marble and stone were brought down the Nile for the buildings on its banks. What a scene of hard labour, bustle, heat, oppression it all bring before us!
There are pictures of the marshy country (how do [pg 166] we know it is marshy? Look out for the eels!) where the great blocks of stone are shown no rafts formed of the trunks of trees lashed together. There is the maze of workmen carrying saws and hatchets, rollers, coils of rope, all sorts of materials.
You can imagine the strain and desperate tugging at the ropes by the captives and slaves under the lash of the overseers. There are numbers of soldiers, too, at hand to keep order, and to act as a guard to the king, himself superintending from his car.
Over his head runs the inscription: "I, Sennacherib, king of multitudes, king of Assyria, had the colossi male and female, the gods which had been made in the land of Balat, dragged to the lordly palace, which is within Nineveh, with exultation."
Notice the king's patterned cap, his tunic adorned with rosettes: also the pompous state in which his grand car is drawn along, and the fine umbrella with its trimmed draperies, the feathered fly-flaps, and the maces; what a brilliant patch of colour the gorgeous chariot and bright clothing of the king and his surrounding courtiers must have been in the sunshine!
The want of perspective in the drawing of all these slabs make them as difficult to understand as Chinese pictures; but persevere: try to make out the rivers and the marshes, with the disturbed animals amongst the reeds, such as the nine little pigs, answering to their mother's grunting.
Look, too, at the rafts and boats, some like British coracles of wicker covered with skins; the men fishing, and drawing up water in pails. Try as you gaze to [pg 167] imagine the babel of sound, the rumbling of the heavy sledge, the shouting of orders, the trampling of the weary workers all in the dust and heat. You can distinguish the man clapping his hands, and another blowing his horn as signals to "heave-ho" all together?
When Sir Henry Layard removed the great bulls from Nineveh some twenty-six centuries later, he found that three hundred men were needed to pull the cart on which one was placed. Many and great were the difficulties to be overcome in bringing the monsters from the Tigris to the Thames!
Other slabs in the Nineveh Gallery show Sennacherib at war; storming fortresses, taking captives, receiving tribute. It is a relief to turn from these crowded pictures to those at the end of the gallery in which we watch a procession of beautifully kept horses, most likely on the road between the river and royal stables. Look at their cropped manes, with tuft in front, their tails tied up in a loop. Many of them are unshod, the prancing one is full of life, and all look thoroughly intelligent, and as if kindly treated.
There are some more sculptures of Sennacherib's time in the Assyrian Saloon, besides those of Tiglath Pileser III. or Pul, which show the siege, assault, and capture of the city of Lachish. (Look this up in 2 Kings xix.) The kind is there on his throne receiving the account of the siege from his officers. Above his head run the lines--"Sennacherib, king of hosts, king of Assyria, sat upon his throne of state, and the spoil of the city of Lachish passed before him."
It was after this success that Sennacherib sent a threatening message to Hezekiah, king of Judah, by his officers, his Tartan and Rabshakeh, chief generals, such as stand before him at Lachish. Two years before, the Assyrian king had laid siege to Jerusalem, after taking many cities and captives, and Hezekia was thankful to give him all the gold and silver he could take from the temple to purchase safety. Later, encouraged by Egypt, Hezekiah refused the promised tribute, so Sennacherib had two to punish--Tirhakah of Egypt and the king of Judah.
You know the story of what followed. Sennacherib with his army flushed with victory at Lachish, was resting near the frontiers of Egypt. He was on the eve of a great battle with the Egyptians, after which he hoped utterly to crush Hezekiah.
The battle was never fought, for a great disaster overtook the Assyrians in the night, and some think it was a sudden attack of plague. The Bible says "the Angel of the Lord went out and smote in the camp of the Assyrians 185,000 men." The remnant crept miserably home.
The famous six-sided cylinder in the Assyrian Room tells of many of Sennacherib's expeditions. It is worth while to read the long description on the label; it gives an insight into the style of the court historians. Although many particulars of victories are given, and of splendid tribute, even of shutting up Hezekian like a caged bird in Jerusalem, the mysterious loss of a fine army on the brink of further conquests is not mentioned.
There are several other cylinders that give the account of Sennacherib's wars and buildings.
Close to them are the cylinders of his son, Esar--or Ashur-haddon, describing conquests, expeditions, subjugations, and other details of war, also the building of a new palace at Nineveh, and the rebuilding of the great temple and the two walls of Babylon. You will remember that it was Esar-haddon who took Manasseh prisoner to Babylon, which at this time was well under the power of the Assyrians. One is glad to know that Esar-haddon let his prisoner go home again.
For the portrait of Esar-haddon we must return to the Nineveh Gallery where there is a cast from a bas-relief cut in the rock, in Syria, in the valley of the Dogs River, near Beyrout, on the ancient highway of the nations. Rameses II. left three tablets on this rock in the thirteenth century, when he passed that way; Tiglath Pileser III., Shalmaneser V., Sennacherib also "cut their names" there to tell of their presence so far from home. You will notice on Esar-haddon's relief the royal cap, and the group of sacred symbols on a level with his head, amongst them the circle of Ashur, without the feathered man.
Esar-haddon was the third of the kings whose palaces were found buried in the ruins of Calah, in the mound Nimrud. You will remember that the others were Ashur-nazir-pal and Shalmaneser III. Another splendid palace built by Esar-haddon was buried at Nineveh, under the mound called after the prophet Jonah.
The two great nations--the one on the banks of the Nile, and the other on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates--came to very close quarters in this reign. Esar-haddon conquered the Delta lands, and later, when Tirhakah revolted, one of the first things his son and successor had to do was to restore the Assyrian power in Egypt.
It is sad to think of the industrious and prosperous valley of the Nile brought so low. Cities and temples were plundered, the crops trampled down, and the people lived in misery and want as the terrors of war ranged round them.
Ashur-bani-pal reigned for over thirty years in the latter half of the seventh century, during which time Assyria rose to its greatest height of power. All round the compass the generals pushed their conquests. The slabs in the Nineveh Gallery show the terrible methods of warfare in the case of the Elamites. Ashur-bani-pal winds up the account of the victory with these words: "With the cut-off head of Te-umman (the leader of the Elamites) the road to Arbela I took with joy."
In perhaps the only domestic scene in all the sculptures in the Assyrian Saloon, Ashur-bani-pal is shown reclining on a couch in Eastern fashion, in the palace garden, drinking wine with his queen, who sits on a high throne-chair with a footstool. The head of Te-umman hangs on one of the trees close by!
There are many other slabs in the Assyrian Saloon that illustrate the life of the last of the great kings of Assyria. Look at those showing wars against [pg 171] the Arabians, Egyptians, Babylonians. The camp scenes are very lifelike, especially that one of the horses drinking. Children do not often come into pictures on the slabs, but you can find one drinking from a skin of water, another riding on a man's shoulder, others led by the hand.
Ashur-bani-pal seems to have been even fonder of hunting than of war, and the slabs that show him at his favourite sport of killing are in the finest style of Assyrian art that has come down to us.
"I, Ashur-bani-pal, king of hosts, king of Assyria, whom Ashur and Belit have endowed with might, slew four lions. The powerful bow of Ishtar, the lady of battle, over them I held, and I poured out a libation over them." So had Ashur-nazir-pal some two hundred years before, as we saw in the Nimrud Gallery.
But Ashur-bani-pal went beyond lions and bulls. Wild horses and asses, harmless deer and goats all gave him the excitement of pursuit. See the processions of beaters, and men carrying nets and stakes; you see the great powerful dogs straining against the leash, and the heavy dead lion carried by six or more men.
Do not miss the cages in which the lions were brought to the field and then let out by a man raising the bars from the top. Lions in the seventh century B.C. seem to have become more scarce than when Amen-hetep III. killed his hundred and two lions in about the fourteenth century B.C.
If you try to picture Ashur-bani-pal passing over the pavement from his palace with the beautiful lotus [pg 172] flower and bud border, you must think of him as tall and strong, with a broad face, wide-awake eyes, a straight nose, long and wavy hair.
He was certainly always well and carefully groomed, with hair and beard perfumed and curled. One of his state costumes is thus described: a high mitre of white wool striped with blue. A wide band, ornamented with rosettes in golden thread, holds it in place upon the forehead; the two ends, being tied behind, fall upon the neck. The short sleeved dress is of very deep blue, embroidered with rosettes in red cotton; it is fastened round the waist by a wide sash, edged at the ends by a fringe decorated with glass beads. The designs on the heavily embroidered vest which completes the gorgeous array are minute copies of those we saw in the Nimrud Gallery of the king adoring the sacred trees, and struggling with lions. We must add the necklet and armlets of solid gold, and the umbrella with wide ends like a pugaree, to make the sketch complete.
But Ahsur-bani-pal was more than a great warrior, sportsman, and dandy; he was a great lover and collector of books. So had been his father, Esar-haddon; his grandfather, Sennacherib; his great-grandfather, Sargon; and, during the hundred years that this powerful family had ruled Assyria, they had founded and enriched libraries in the palaces they built.
In the Assyrian Room wall-cases are shown some of the most precious and wonderful books from the Royal library at Nineveh. They are of the same shape and kind as some of the documents we have already looked at in the upper room, being cakes of prepared clay, [pg 173] written upon with a specially shaped stylus when moist, and then baked hard in an oven.
Listen to the words which nearly every important tablet in this library bears upon it: "From the Palace of Ashur-bani-pal, king of hosts, king of Assyria, who putteth his trust in the gods who have bestowed upon him ears which hear, and eyes which see. I have inscribed upon tablets the noble products of the work of the scribe--and have arranged them in classes; I have revised them, and I have placed them in my palace, that I, even I, the ruler who knoweth the light of Ashur, the king of the gods, may read them." He finishes with the Assyrian equivalent for "Steal not this book for fear of shame, for in it is the owner's name--Ashur-bani-pal."
The ancient cities of Babylonia and Assyria had long possessed libraries, and the king sent scribes to make copies for him; he also had lists of words and signs drawn up, together with copies of the old Accadian classics, with translations in the Assyrian of his day.
You can trace the marks of fire which has scorched but not destroyed the books, and can see how often they are broken, most likely by falling from the shelves of wood, on which they were arranged, when the fire consumed the library in which they were stored.
We must dip into the books and find out what they are about.
In one of the cases we have the famous creation tablets, believed to be copied from far more ancient ones. They give an account of the creation of the world, in many respects like that given in the Book of [pg 174] Genesis. If you read the labels you will learn of the great water-deep when the heavens and the earth were not, and there were no plants. You will learn, too, of the creation of the stars and the appointment of the moon to determine the days, and so on, up to the crowning creation of Man.
Here are the instructions which Marduk, the champion of the gods, gave to the first man:
"Thy heart shall be pure before they God, for that is what is due to him; thou shalt pray, thou shalt make supplication, and bow low to the earth, early in the morning. Speak no evil against thy friend and neighbour."
In this case, too, is the thrilling fairy story or legend, perhaps, one of the oldest in the world, of the exploits of a hero named Gilgamish, which somewhat remind one of those of Heracles.
On his way to the mountain of the sunset, Gilgamish passes trees laden with precious stones instead of fruit, and a scorpion man and his wife. A sailor (it reminds you of another story perhaps) comes to the rescue and helps him and his friend to cross the sea, and then he hears the story of the Flood and the Ark, the swallow and the raven, from the man who was saved when all the rest of the world were drowned.
Next, we come to some of the history books of the collection, and familiar names such as those of Sargon, Tiglath Pileser, Sennacherib, meet our eyes.
Numerous letters about public and private affairs follow.
One is called the will of Sennacherib; another is a [pg 175] letter to Ashur-bani-pal respecting the transport of some colossi on boats.
Many relate to the treatment of the sick and the calling in of doctors. In one a lady is spoken of as grievously ill and unable to eat. The treatment of those times sounds very extraordinary to us. In one case the priest casts into the fire various objects, including a pod of garlic, a date, a palm frond. The idea seems to have been that illness was caused by being bewitched, and so all sorts of means are employed to get rid of the danger by charms and prayers.
Some of the prayers to the gods are very beautiful; especially so is the Accadian hymn to the Moon god. It ends up with these words:
"Among the gods, they brethren, there is none who is like unto thee, O though king of kings, whose judgments are inscrutable, and whose divinity is unsurpassed."
Amongst the bricks from the buildings of the kings of Assyria, in the upper galleries, are many belonging to Ashur-bani-pal; there are also some fine cylinders of this king--one, a ten-sided one, gives an account of his birth and education, his campaigns, and buildings. The stone stele sculptured with the figure of his twin brother, whom he made viceroy of Babylon, opens up a tragic story of the middle of the seventh century B.C. It ended in a palace in flames, in which the owner perished rather than surrender to the brother against who he had revolted.
How little Ashur-bani-pal, in his magnificence, could have imagined, that within thirty years of his death, near the end of this seventh century, his great [pg 176] kingdom which stretched from the Sea of the Rising to the Sea of the Setting Sun--the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean--would all fall apart, and his splendid palace and library be burnt in the destruction of his capital, Nineveh, after a siege of two years.
(Chapter 10 typed by Janel Folden)
"Red of the Dawn!
Godless fury of peoples, and Christless frolic of kings,
And the bolt of war dashing down upon cities and blazing farms,
For Babylon was a child newborn, and Rome was a babe in arms,
And London and Paris and all the rest are as yet but in leading-strings."
In a case in the Assyrian Room, on the upper floor, there lies a brown and dusty skull, the fractures of which show that its owner met with a violent death. That skull is believed to have belonged to the soldier on guard in the palace of the Assyrian king when Nineveh fell.
Lurid flashes of flame light up the awful scene across the twenty-five centuries that have passed away from then to now, as we watch the fire destroying what the enemies cannot take away. And after the crackling and roaring of the fire, the shouts of the soldiers, and the bitter cries of the despairing and terrified crowds of rich and poor as they watch the destruction of the great city--their home--there comes the desolate silence.
The pomp and splendour, the busy human life, the fine buildings with magnificent adornments and [pg 178] treasures are all swept away, and rain and flood, storm and wind, settle the ruins into the burial mounds of dust and clay which have kept them safe till these later days.
"This is the rejoicing city, which dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, 'I am, and there is none beside me.' How is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in?" (Zephaniah ii.15).
The allies who overthrew Nineveh were Nabopolassar, an Assyrian general, holding a command in Babylonia, and the Medes, a race of people from the east who were the forerunners of the Persians, and who were much connected with them by conquest and marriage.
As the Medes destroyed and plundered the rest of the cities of Assyria in the same way as the capital, the country never rose again; it disappeared from history.
So, in the seventh century, Nineveh and the Assyrian Empire were destroyed, though Assyria had been a separate kingdom from the eighteenth century, or earlier.
Nabopolassar, in the second century B.C., became the first king of the Second Babylonian Monarchy, which lasted about a hundred years. Let us first find in the Babylonian Room the clay cones of this king on which are told the story of his restoration of a temple at Babylon, and the cutting of a canal from the Euphrates to the city of Sippar, the Sun god. (You should look again at the tablet showing the Babylonian king of the ninth century worshipping in the beautiful shrine.) [pg 179]
The inscription on the clay cone of Nabopolassar describes how the sides of the canal were made of bricks set in pitch, and this canal is believed to have been but a restoration of one that was cut by the great lawgiver, Khammurabi, about thirteen hundred years before.
The tablets of Nabopolassar relate to the sale of land, and various kinds of loans, as do so many of the tablets of this Second Babylonian Empire, especially those of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, whose name comes early in the seventh century.
His tablets are deeply interesting; there is one about the dowry of the bride Khamma, and the promises of her father that it shall be paid; the sale of a female slave and her baby; lists of accounts, and endless business documents to do with the sale of houses and estates. All these are very much like those of the older Babylonian Empire, which we have already seen, and as an example of the way in which the far past was ever copied and borne in mind we must look at the weight text to the cones of Nabopolassar. The inscription upon it says that it is an exact copy of a weight made by Nebuchadnezzar II., who was king of Babylon from 604 B.C. to 561 B.C. after the standard fixed by Dungi, king of Ur, who lived about 2250 B.C.!
But this is not the only link with the far past. Nebuchadnezzar was a great builder and restorer of temples and palaces, as well as an enthusiastic business man and agriculturist, and the cast of the celebrated inscription kept in the East India House reminds us of the mounds at Birs i Nimrud (the ancient city of [pg 180] Borsippa), near Babylon, traditionally (but erroneously) taken as the site of the Tower of Babel.
Nebuchadnezzar tells us that "a king of olden time had built a famous tower of great height, but he did not complete its head. Since that time the earthquake and the thunder had dispersed its sun-dried clay; the bricks of the casing had been split, and the earth of the interior had been scattered in heaps."
This tower of Borsippa, which, we find, was not the far-famed Tower of Babel, Nebuchadnezzar rebuilt in seven stories, each faced with tiles of a different bright colour, such as we can see here in the Museum cases.
There is much more that is interesting in the India House Inscription, of which there is a cast here, such as accounts of travels of Nebuchadnezzar through distant lands and over mountain ranges, and lists of the precious things he brought to Babylon. Then follow details of his great buildings which include the walls of Babylon, as well as hundreds of temples and shrines for the gods.
"I love thy habitation on high," he says in his prayer to Marduk, "even as I love mine own dear life."
The series of barrel-shaped cylinders, and the inscriptions on the bronze doorstep and numberless bricks bearing his name and titles, all confirm and add to his reputation as a builder. His name is very familiar to us in Bible history, where we hear of his wars against Egypt and the Jews; in the course of the latter wars he took Jerusalem, seized and blinded the king, and carried the nation into captivity.
Nabonidus followed Nebuchadnezzar II., a few years [pg 181]
After Nebuchadnezzar's death, and the cylinders of the king describe many building operations. He attempted to settle the dates of the ancient history of Babylonia as far back as the thirty-eighth century, but we now know that he was often wrong. Great was his satisfaction in finding monuments of Burnaburiash, one of the writers of the Tell-el-Amarna letters, a thousand years before his day, of Khammurabi--the maker of laws and canals--a thousand years (nearly) before Burnaburiash, and of Sargon I., as he thought, a thousand years earlier than Khammurabi, though actually only about 600 years earlier.
Perhaps the satisfaction of Nabonidus was all the greater because renowned builders such as Esar-haddon and Nebuchadnezzar had sought for these monuments in vain.
From the tablets of Nabonidus we can gather that the busy prosperous life was still going on in the carefully cultivated and watered fields of Babylonia, for we have lists of shepherds, husbandmen, gardeners, as well as numerous documents about the sale and transfer of land. Nabonidus made his son, Belshazzar, governor of Babylon.
Perhaps you have seen a picture of Belshazzar's Feast, for artists have more than once taken as a subject this most dazzling and exciting scene. A feast of a thousand guest in a magnificent hall, loud laughter, and revelry at its height, while wine is being drunk out of the sacred vessels which belonged to the Jewish Temple.
Suddenly there flashed familiar words on the palace [pg 182] walls. The terrified feasters could not imagine what those names of the four common weights of the Babylonian market--such as our lbs. oz. dwts.--could mean. Daniel himself, the chief of the College of Wise Men, must come and explain it to Belshazzar and his company. "The kingdom has been weighed in the scales and found wanting; it shall pass to the Medes and Persians" was the solemn answer.
Outside the walls, a great army of hardy warriors, who rode well, spoke the truth, drank water, not wine, were closing in on the careless city, and, while the noisy feast went on, were silently turning aside the course of the river that ran through it.
That night the Persians entered the city; Belshazzar was killed, and Babylonia passed to Persian rule under Cyrus.
The baked clay cylinder of Cyrus, king of Babylonia, B.C. 538, and a tablet amongst the other historical annals of the kingdom, give an account of his entry with his Persians. From them we learn that he entered the city of Babylon without battle and without fighting, and that he spared Babylon tribulation.
We must read the notes that are given in the cases, and then as we pass from one to another of the business tablets, belonging to the times of the Persian kings, we realize that life in the country went on just as it did before the Conquest. There are the same sort of documents relating to dowries, debts, and loans; a loan of 3000 bunches of onions sounds a large order!
There are also the same sales of slaves and land, with special references to date plantations, and the [pg 183] apprenticeship of slaves to learn trades such as weaving and stone-cutting, and also for providing garments for the deities. (This is like the work of the Athenian girls for Athene.)
Cyrus was especially favourable to the Jewish exiles he found in Babylonia, and at the end of the seventy years' captivity he sent a caravan of about 50,000 of them up the Euphrates valley and across the desert under Zerubbabel, to seek their old homes, and rebuild the Temple. It is thought that they cheered the long weary march of some three or four months with the beautiful strains of their national music, perhaps Psalm lxxxiv., for once more, as hopeful and free men they could happily sing the songs of Zion, which had been impossible to them as they wept by the waters of Babylon.
The wise Daniel is said to have been one of those who stayed behind, and to this time is attributed the story of the den of lions when the Great Darius had ascended the throne, after the short reign of the mad Cambyses, who wrought such havoc in Egypt and in his own family.
We have many reminders of Darius in the Museum. There is, in the Babylonian Room, a cylinder seal with his name in three languages, Persian, Susian, and Babylonian. The national god of the Persians hovers over the king, hunting in his chariot, as the Assyrian Ashur hovered over Ashur-nazir-pal and his successors.
Then there are the casts of many important inscriptions of his times and later, including the Squeezes from the Rock of Behistun, engraved as we have seen [pg 184] on the face of a very high cliff, well out of reach, even of the scholars who wished to unravel the mystery of the arrow-headed writing with their help. The name of Darius, as on the cylinder seal, is in the three languages of the chief peoples over whom he ruled. The scene cut in the rock at Behistun, showing Darius receiving the submission of ten chiefs with ropes round their necks, and the hovering god above, is very fine. Darius, who did much for trade and security in his wide dominions by settling the coinage and establishing good roads, reigned from 521 B.C. to 485.
This latter date brings us to that wonderful fifth century B.C., already so full of names. It was during the middle years of this century that we learnt about the Nile from Herodotus, the Father of History, who had also much to say about the Persians and mighty Babylon, with walls fifteen miles square, pierced by a hundred brazen gates. He showed us, too, the busy quays on the Euphrates, the wonderful hanging gardens, the brilliant temples and palaces. For, as you will remember, it was the history of the wars between the Greeks and Persians that he set out to write, while the events of that great world-struggle between East and West were still fresh in men's minds.
The struggles began in the reign of Darius with differences between the Greek colonies in Asia Minor and the Persian ruler to whom they owed taxes and service. When the Athenians sympathized with their countrymen across the blue sea of many islands and helped them burn an important town, Darius burst [pg 185] out in a rage. "The Athenians, who are they? Great Jove, grant me vengeance on the Athenians!"
The struggle that followed in the first years of the fifth century B.C. is marked by the names of Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis. Darius, with ten times as many Persians as there were Greeks, was utterly routed at Marathon; his son, Xerxes, who succeeded him, at Salamis; Thermopylae, where the Spartans were killed to a man, was for the Greeks a defeat greater than any victory.
In the Babylonian Room, we can find a deed of partnership of the reign of Xerxes, next to numerous deeds of his father's reign; there are also a few fragments of alabaster vases inscribed with his names and titles.
When his vast host--from two to five millions--failed to spread over Europe, as it would have done, but for gallant little Greece, Xerxes retired to his capital at Susa, and it is here that the Bible history (if Xerxes be Ahasuerus) admits us to an audience with the hero of the ivory throne, and the fetters fro the unruly Hellespont as in the Greek fable. He had always favoured the Jews, and we can see how much influence they had if you read the story of Esther, the beautiful Jewess he made his wife.
Artaxerxes, his son, had a Jewish cup-bearer, Nehemiah, whom he sent with Ezra to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and teach the people the Law of God. There are a few deed tablets of Artaxerxes next to those of his father and grandfather.
During the time of confusion and plots that followed [pg 186] the death of this Artaxerxes I., when the great empire of a hundred and twenty-seven provinces that stretched from India to Ethiopia, was slowly breaking up, a body of Greek soldiers, employed by one brother against another, was led into the very heart of the country, to Babylon itself. When the fortune of war failed them, the leader of their long weary homeward journey through an unfriendly country, was a young Athenian named Xenophon.
The story of their sufferings and hardships by the way, how they were borne, their shouts of joy when seeing at last, shining below them, the waters of the Black Sea, is all related by Xenophon, in one of the best known books of ancient times--The Retreat of the Ten Thousand Greeks.
Through the first part of this fourth century, the quarrels amongst the States of Greece were preparing the way for the rise of the kingdom of Macedon, which about 333 B.C. brings us face to face with Alexander, the world conqueror.
In the course of a few years what was known of Europe, Africa, Asia, fell before him. He defeated Darius III., in more than one battle, and after the death of the Persian king, became monarch of the East. Perhaps there is no picture in all the romantic story more thrilling than the meeting of the conqueror with the widow and children of the man whose splendour was now his.
When we looked at Alexander's face--the bust in the Ephesus Room, the coins in the Room of Greek and Roman Life--we thought of him chiefly as the conqueror [pg 187] of Egypt, and the founder of Alexandria. As we look at him again--remembering how Caracalla is said to have been proud to imitate the turn of his head--we stand confused and overwhelmed at the thought of his triumphs in Asia, his magnificence and mad folly. He died at Babylon, a few years after the battle of Arbela, in which the Old Persian Empire came to an end.
There are many centuries lying between Alexander's days and ours, during which the modern nations of Europe, Germany, France, England, and the rest, have been born, and have grown to what they are now. It is a long and intricate story how these centuries of growth in the West have passed chiefly in decay in the land of the Two Rivers in the East.
The few illustrative objects in the Museum are but as stepping-stones here and there with which the bridge the stream of time, as waves of conquest passed by, nations rose an fell, and misrule, neglect, ignorance, brought the once cultivated land, well watered by canals carefully kept up, back to its first desert state.
Perhaps you would like to find a few of these stepping-stones for the sake of future study. To the Persian period belong a considerable number of tablets containing scientific observations of the rise and fall of certain stars and the omens connected with them. One of them served as a reading book for students; they remind us of the Wise Men of the East led by a bright star to Bethlehem a little later. Parthian earthenware coffins, and some smaller bronze and clay objects, vases, cups, lamps, come in the centuries [pg 188] between the Greek and Roman occupations. Portraits of the rulers can be found amongst the coins belonging to the time of the Decline of Art.
The Roman necklaces of cornelian, crystal, and other beads date from the centuries when the dwellers in the Eastern Countries were fellow-subjects with the ancient Britons under the world-empire of Rome.
Of special interest are the medicine bowls dating from the third century B.C. to the fourth A.D. Fancy reciting with the doctor when one is ill the text round a bowl of water, immediately before or after drinking it!
From the Sassanian or New Persian period--from the third to the seventh centuries A.D.--we have bronze helmets and inlaid silver bracelets, rings, and cut gems, adorned with lions, bulls, and winged horses, and some with named portraits.
The beautiful copy of the Koran in the Buddhist Room (beyond the Gallery of Indian Religions) will remind us of the great power of the followers of Mahomet after the sixth century A.D. They are still paramount in the lands of the Two Rivers.
"Red of the Dawn!
Is it turning a fainter red? So be it, but when shall we lay
The ghost of the Brute that is walking and haunting us yet, and be free?
In a hundred, a thousand winters? Ah, what will our children be?
The men of a hundred thousand, a million summers away!"
(Chapter 11 typed by Dawn Taylor)
There is yet another great event in that crowded fifth century B. C. Buddhism was founded in India by the Prince Gautama Buddha; if you look into the King Edward VII. Gallery you will see there the fine pottery statue of a Lohan or Buddhist disciple--one of the famous treasures of the gallery.
And now, since there is not time for everything, let us leave the East and come back to our own country, which we have forgotten since we noted that Britain ceased to be a Roman province at the beginning of the fifth century A. D. Imagine yourself on the thick old ruined walls of Richborough Castle, near Sandwich. It was once a great fort of the Romans, but it was left like the rest of the camps, and the castles, and the walls, when the last of the legions had crossed the Channel.
You look out in these days towards the shining blue sea in the distance, over green meadows fringed with willows and dykes, full of grazing cattle. But when those grey ivy-covered walls were built, they could almost have seen their reflection in the water below, for the Stour, now choked and altered, in those [pg 190] days was deep and important, so that ships bound for the Port of London, instead of weathering the rough foreland, passed close under the castle, then on by the river's quiet course to Reculvers, and so to the Thames. Thanet was then a real island. It is strange to think that those fields have been formed since the walls were built; little by little the mud and stones were washed up, till the coast-line and the mouth of the river became quite changed. Then the birds helped a bit, dropping seeds where no foot had trod, and then man began to drain, plough, and plant, and so this little piece of dry land appeared.
Some years ago men were digging a sluice out there towards Sandwich. A few feet below the earth and mud they came upon a sandy beach scattered with shells and seaweed, and, amongst them, on the yellow sands, lay the bones of a little child, with a small Roman shoe, and a fibula brooch, like those you saw in the cases. That tells you of the Roman occupation when the walls were new.
The Britons left behind were soon to see from Richborough walls the coming of long swift galleys, their prows like swans or dragons, filled with fair-haired, hardy warriors, rowing, or sailing if the wind blew from the east, till they could safely beach their "cyulas" (and you can hear the sound of that word remaining in "keel"--"Weel may the keel row!" on the muddy sand. What a sight for the "guardian of the shore," with his peasant band drawn up hastily to resist them! [pg 191]
Soon the warriors were landing between Richborough and the shining white cliffs of Pegwell Bay. There was the clatter of shields and arms, as they shipped their oars and rushed on shore, charging with their brown, glittering swords, and long rough-handled spears.
Mingled with the loud battle-cries were the words of command from the tall chiefs; their language was neither Latin nor British, but was the true old mother-tongue of our English speech of today, which has given us more than half the words that we use.
These men, who landed in force on this shore, and hundreds and hundreds more like them, who for many summers had been landing and settling on the coast from the Humber to the Isle of Wight, these Angles, Saxons, Jutes, all tribes of one family, are our true, old forefathers. When you think of the "Coming of the English," do not only think of a coming such as this at Richborough, which met with fierce resistance and bitter fighting. But think, too, of the gradual coming, a boat or two at a time (there was often a baby sheltered under his mother's cloak), and the settlement, in chosen spots, of the family, the Billings, the Paddings, at Billinham, Paddington; or of the followers of a great chief, of Alfred or Clapa, at Alfreton or Clapham. Both sorts of comings went on till the end of the sixth century, when the conquest of Britain by the Anglo-Saxons was completed. From the first these Angles and Saxons meant to stay. They were so determined to stay that they did [pg 192] not even trouble to look after and keep the "cyulas" that brought them over the sea.
It is easy to fill in the names of the conquerors in the various parts of the land that they gained. The South Saxons in Sussex; the East Saxons in Essex; the West Saxons in Wessex, which lay between the Welsh boundary on the west, and Essex, Kent, and Sussex on the east, having on the north, Mercia, which by the eighth century stretched away to the Humber. The North-folk and the South-folk settled in East Anglia, and later on the beautiful northern land of hills, moors, and rivers became Northumbria.
The bright light thrown by Roman civilization vanished, as the newcomers established their own customs, laws, and religion, in their lots, and hams or homes, and holdings, villages, and townships. These old customs and laws have influenced English life and thought all through the centuries, and whenever we mention one of the days of the week, or even our Christian festival of Easter, we recall the gods of our heathen forefathers, such as Woden and Thor, terrible gods of war and thunder, or the gentler Eostre, goddess of spring.
If you would know more of these strong men of old--how passionately they loved the sea, how daring they were, how they gave presents and feasted, how noble warriors died and were buried, and much more besides--you must read the poems about Beowulf.
One of the great treasures in the Manuscript Room (through the Grenville Library on the right of the Entrance Hall) is "the unique manuscript of the oldest [pg 193] epic in the English language," as the catalogue describes it. You will see, too, by the label that the manuscript dates from about A.D. 1000, that is, about six centuries after the English tribes had crossed the North Sea to settle here.
The stories in this book had been sung or told round the winter fireside, handed down from father to son, for many generations, before they were written and read. You will notice at once, from the open page, reproduced in the catalogue, how different the writing looks from the present-day English; still, most of the letters are the same, and the roots of our words are there, so that with an Anglo-Saxon dictionary and grammar the fine old stories can now be translated.
There are stories of the little child who came over the sea alone in a boat, and "became a good king"; and of the king, long after him, who built a fine hall, in which he entertained his guests right royally. But there was a monster who came by night and devoured the guests, and both he and his dreadful mother were slain by the greatest of the guests, Beowulf himself. Then there is the account of Beowulf's long wise reign, and his last fight with a fiery dragon.
Truth and fable, heathenism and Christianity are mixed up in these wonderful old stories, and the scribes have made many mistakes, but the breath of the salt sea is there, with the spirit of daring courage and energy of the race, as well as its faults. There is a picture of the Queen and her daughter graciously waiting on the guests, and giving them their presents, [pg 194] weapons and rings and collars of gold. Beowulf's last directions to his "hearth-fellows" run thus:
"I may here no longer be;
Command the warlike brave
A mound to make,
Bright after the pile,
At the sea's naze,
Which shall for a remembrance
To my people,
Tower on high
That it, seafarers
Afterwards may call, Beowulf's mound.
Those who their foamy barks,
Over the mists of floods,
Drive from afar."
Remember that the writing down of the "Poems of Beowulf" was done at the beginning of the eleventh century, but that the original songs of which they are made up were most likely composed before the Angles came to their new home, and were brought with them, also that in the centuries which followed, the songs gradually developed, till at last one poet took them up to commit to writing.
Now turn to the octagonal case in the middle of the room to find Bede's History. There is a translation given of the page that is open--you will notice that it is in Latin. It is the old familiar story of Gregory the Deacon, seeing the fair-haired slaves in Rome, and of his saying that they must be angels, not Angles--they were so beautiful! And the story goes on to say that later on, when Gregory became Pope, he sent a missionary band headed by St. Augustine, to preach to the boys' heathen countrymen. [pg 195]
We must go back in imagination to Richborough and Ebbsfleet to see them land, a very different invasion from that of the fierce hosts a century and a half before, on this same sweep of sands. Cross and banners of Saints, Latin prayers and hymns, took the place of the war flag and the battle-cry and din of fighting.
You will remember the story of the reception of the missionaries by King Ethelbert of Kent, who had married the Frankish Christian, Princess Bertha? How cautious he was at first, hearing the new words; then how the baptism of thousands followed, and later the spreading of the Faith to the north, by the marriage of Ethelburgh, the daughter of Ethelbert and Bertha, to Edwin the King of Northumbria, and the preaching of Paulinus who went with her.
Penda, the fierce old warrior of Mercia, for years fought successfully against the new faith, and was the terror of the country. Still, he fell at last, and by the end of this seventh century, monasteries for monks and nuns who wished to lead a holy, quiet life, had sprung up everywhere; great schools for learning had been founded, and many bishoprics and parishes had been organized and arranged. Bede, himself, who relates all this in the History of the Church before us, lived in the first half of the next century. He describes his life in few words: "I spent my whole life in the same monastery (Jarrow, in Northumbria), and while attentive to the rule of my Order, and the service of the Church, my constant pleasure lay in learning or teaching or writing."
His quiet life was long and busy. His teaching [pg 196] must have been hard work, for his school was large; there were six hundred monks, besides the strangers that flocked to him. He, too, was always learning; Greek, Music, Arithmetic, Medicine, and much more besides, he studied in order to make text-books for his students. Then his writings: he collected facts from various districts, also letters and traditions of old men, for his chief work--this history. There is an earlier copy than the one we are looking at, in the large upright case of Latin manuscripts. He wrote most of his many books in Latin (the strangers must have been glad of this), but also translated parts of the Scriptures into Anglo-Saxon.
One of his pupils gives a touching description of the finishing of the last chapters of the translation of St. John's Gospel. The old man was determined to finish it before he died, and dictated the closing words to the weeping scribes about him, ever getting weaker and more breathless. But when the evening fell, the task was done, and the old scholar, teacher, writer, had gone home to say, "Adsum" to the Master he served so well. Next to the copy of Bede's History of the Church, in the octagonal case, is one of the copies of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle; the other copy is next to the Poem of Beowulf, in the case containing English manuscripts. Here lies before us the earliest history of this country in English; and the first part of it, from Caesar to Alfred, is believed to have been drawn up by order of that great king himself. [pg 197]
From the same creeks and sandbanks across the North Sea, whence had come the Saxon "Cyulas," poured once again, in the ninth century, heathen chiefs and their followers--the wiccings of Vikings--in long swift boats, with determined faces and long hair (you will see some of their swords and combs and pottery in the Iron Age Gallery upstairs). They belonged to the same northern family as those who came before, pursued the same terrible methods of fighting, burning, and killing, as they settled year after year along the coast of East Anglia.
Sometimes they were bought off, only to return in stronger nimbers, always hating and despising the gentleness and peace of the Faith of Christ, burning the monasteries and churches, and ruining the civilization that was then growing in the land.
By the time Alfred came to be King of Wessex, the Danish Vikings has spread over the country, and won many fierce fights: it is good though to remember that their banner with the raven on it fell into the hands of the English after a victory in Devonshire. Alfred's unquenchable spirit led to a victory in Wilshire, followed by the peace of Wedmore. He made the Danes accept Christianity, in name, at any rate, and be content with a share of the land.
He was then free to set about reforms. Briefly, these were to restore the education so cruelly stopped by the Danes, to establish the laws and teach his people to govern themselves. He also gathered round him scholars, writers, and artists, and here before us is, according to usual belief, his greatest work--the [pg 198] beginning of the earliest English History in English. His share was to compile the part up to his times from all the sources he could get at, from old manuscripts and traditions; then to give a full account of his own times. After his death, scribes in monasteries carried on, year by year, the account of events as they happened. These annals stopped in the middle of the thirteenth century.
The passage shown in the open page (there is a translation fortunately) gives an account of the great victory over the Danes by Alfred and his brother, in Berkshire, near the valley of the White Horse.
We can pore over the two copies of the Chronicle and realize the long, long years they tell about. You can fill in from your memory the names you know; Egbert, called the King of the English, in the first quarter of the ninth century; Ethelwulf, Ethelred, in the middle of that century; Alfred you already have. The great Dunstan, and Edgar, in the middle of the tenth century; the Chronicle says, that "Edgar the folks' peace bettered, the most of the kings who were before him."
You see the great point of the history being in English, instead of the more commonly used Latin. No living language stands still. Compare our speech of today with the language of the translation of the Bible about three centuries back. Compare that again, with the English of Chaucer, three or four more centuries back. So, as the writing of the Chronicle continued from the ninth to the thirteenth centuries, we are given an opportunity of tracing [pg 199] through these years the development of our mother tongue. Turning to the tall case in which are Latin manuscripts we find not far from the other copy of Bede's History the Roman version of St. Jerome's Psalter, with a translation written between the lines in Anglo-Saxon. This belongs to the eighth and ninth centuries, and is the earliest known rendering of the Psalms in English.
Above this is a very early copy of the Gospels in Latin, from the monastery of St. Augustine in Canterbury, and close by it, in the sloping section, lies the deeply interesting Liber Vitae, or lists of the benefactors of the Church of St. Cuthbert at Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, the breezy little island, across the sands from Northumbria. A goodly company of scholars and saints have crossed those sands with the deep pools, but their footsteps have left no mark, for Lindisfarne is a real island at high tide.
This "Book of Life" contains, too, the names of those entitled to the prayers of the monks. They were scattered, also their books and their treasures, when troubles came. Even the body of their sainted Cuthbert had to be carried across the sands to a place safe from the murdering and burning Danes.
But there are still many more manuscripts to examine in this case, the quiet work of the monasteries in those eighth and ninth centuries, when the English kingdoms were fighting and struggling for the over-lordship, and the Danes were harrowing the country. [pg 200]
Glance at them--lessons, prayers, hymns, litanies, commentaries, Bede's Book of Martyrs.
The manuscripts in this case are so arranged as to show the changes in handwriting as the centuries passed by. Of the books to be found on the other side of the case perhaps the Book of the Gospels, from St. Petroc's Priory in Cornwall, is the most interesting. You see those small notes on the margin? And there are more on the blank pages at the end. These are the records of the setting free, from time to time, at the altar of St. Petroc's, of serfs--slaves. There was the slave who belonged to the soil like the cattle; the prisoner of war, however noble; the man who could not pay his debts, or his fines for wrong-doings; as well as those, who, starving in times of war and famine, were driven to "bend their heads in the evil days for meat."
Men like these were freed at St. Petroc's altar, by the generosity of some fellow-man, each slave passing, as the collar was struck off, the prayer said, the weapon of the free put into his hand, from the outer darkness of dependence and injustice, to the joyous sunlight of the rights of citizenship, and the blessings of hope.
We will now leave the manuscripts for a while to seek, in the Iron Age Gallery above, the personal belongings of those far-away fathers of ours whom we learn to know in the poems of Beowulf, in Bede's History, in Alfred's Chronicle.
As we mount the stairs we cannot help noticing on the walls the wonderful Indian carvings from a Buddhist Tope (a holy spot); then as we walk through several [pg 201] rooms we can take a refreshing glance at the prehistoric treasures and those of Roman-Britain as we pass them.
You will not have time to notice more of the Oriental Saloon than the two Chinese marble figures between which you pass. Then the small room with its bold massive sculpture from Maya leads us to the Iron Age Gallery with its story of our Anglo-Saxon forefathers.
In one of the wall-cases near the middle of the right-hand side of this Iron Age Gallery you will see the remains from some great Saxon chieftain's grave at Taplow; there are the drinking horns, cups, and glasses, which having neither foot nor stand, must be drained before being set down. These carry us straight to the Palace of Heorot, where Beowulf and his "board-fellows" were so heartily welcomed by the king Hrothgar, "old and hairless," and where "the thane observed his duty, who, in his hand, bare the ornamental ale cup; he poured the bright sweet liquor."
Those little round bone pieces were the "men" for the game of draughts, and in the next case--of relics from Faversham--the draughtsmen are made of horse-teeth.
The gold thread and garnets close by are from a rich embroidery, and may remind you of the gold thread worked "in the blue and in the purple and in the scarlet and in the fine linen" for Aaron's ephod, described in Exodus xxxix. 3. These things may bring up visions of those who used or wore it; these must have been, "the [pg 202] gold adorned ones," "the dispensers of rings," "the bracelet-distributors."
And here, to hand, are beautiful buckles and clasps, ear and finger rings, brooches following in shape the Roman ones, and made of gold, silver, bronze, inlaid with gems and enamel. See, too, the fine necklaces of amber, gold, and amethyst.
Those Roman coins in a table-case, pierced to hang as pendants, and the iron weaving implements for striking home the weft threads on a loom, were all found in Anglo-Saxon graves. The toilet articles, spindle whorls, needles, bodkins, beautiful glass in blue, yellow, and green (look in the Faversham collection and other wall-cases for these), the piece of woollen stuff, and many other home treasures help us to realize that in spite of much fierce fighting and hard work in settling the New Country, these English women of old had some quiet time in which to care for their appearance, their dwellings, and families. You will see some of their work-boxes too--tiny little things with the lids attached by a chain. They hung down from the girdle, and you can see the sort of girdle hanger the women wore if you look in the wall-case of the Broomfield collection. There is a rare bit of fabric there too.
Throughout the old poems and annals we get glimpses of fine women, such as Ealhhild, "noble queen of chieftains" who gained the beautiful title of "faithful peace-weaver"' also Wealhtheow, "of mind exalted, who walked under a golden diadem," and gave noble counsels to her husband, Hrothgar, [pg 203] and his guests. Then there was the Lady of Mercia, worthy daughter of her great father, Alfred, and many more.
Here in this Iron Age Gallery are beakers, buckets, and beautiful hanging bowls as well as the weapons, such as are constantly mentioned in Beowulf--swords, spears, knives, some very rusty and decayed--remember they are more than a thousand years old.
Some of the swords are most particularly interesting, because they are inscribed with the oldest Anglo-Saxon writing (used before intercourse with Rome brought Roman letters) called "runes." One sword-knife (or Scramasax) from the Thames is like a literary document and is of great value, for it is inlaid with the Runic alphabet, which does not begin, A, B, but F, U. Another has these words on it: "Here Jonas asks to be cast into the deep"' and the names of the maker and owner in Runic letters are on one of the knives.
You may know the one rune which lasted on till a century ago. It is the one called "thorn" and came to be written like y, though its sound is "th," so if you see y (e) or y (at) that is only an old way of writing "the" or "that." You will also find more Runes round the wonderful carved box, called the Franks Casket, which stands on a pedestal near the centre of the gallery. These Runes explain the curious carvings on the sides and top of the box, such as those of the famous smith, Weland, who made Beowulf's war net; Romulus and Remus with their shaggy foster-mother; also Scripture subjects such as the worship of the Wise [pg 204] Men of the East. The runes tell, too, how the material for the box was obtained:
"The whale's bones from the fishes' flood,
I lifted on Fergen Hill.
He was gashed to death in his gambols,
As aground he swam in the shallows."
You will find Runic letters as well as beautiful interlaced patterns on many things in this room. There is some other writing, to, called Ogham, which was made up of a number of straight lines because they were easy to cut on the edges of stones. You passed five of these Ogham stones when you went through the Roman Gallery on the ground floor--they were opposite the busts of the Caesars.
In this Iron Age Gallery there is the Ogham Stone standing by the first table-case that you passed when you came into the room. It is a grave slab from Ireland.
Then there is the Llywel Stone at the other end of the room, and as it has the same inscriptions in Latin and Ogham, you can make out the Ogham alphabet.
The other big stone, right at the east end--called the Sheffield Stone--has not long been here. It is part of a fine Anglo-Saxon Cross of the eighth or ninth century. When it was found it was being used as a horse trough, which tells you why it is hollowed out at the back, and its beautiful carving lost.
There is a beautiful cross in Northumbria, at Ruthwell, of which there is a cast--not here, but in the South Kensington Museum--which, besides many [pg 205] carvings of saints, described in Roman letters, and a most interesting border of birds and animals, has cut on it, in Runes, a poem about the Holy Rood, by Caedmon.
Bede tells us about Caedmon in his history; how, like David of old, when alone in the fields, or with the animals he tended, the power came to him to make verses about the ways of God to men. Here is a translation of a few lines:
"Now we shall praise
The guardian of heaven,
The might of the creator,
And His counsel,
The glory-father of men!"
Bede tells of the help Caedmon had, being a poor unlearned peasant, from the fine strong north-country woman, the Abbess Hilda, who was able to rule over a large household of monks and nuns, and to guide scholars and priests, as well as to counsel bishops and kings.
She heard of Caedmon's gift and sent for him. Then she bade him leave his fields and herds, and come to study and write in the peace of her house on the cliff above Whitby. That was about the middle of the seventh century.
We will next look carefully at a few more relics of these early Christian times. In a table-case near the Franks Casket and the Llywel Stone you will find brooches, rings, and necklaces, and actually a silver spoon and fork make and used in the ninth century. Do you see the little writing tablet made of whale--[pg 206] bone? A scholar would carry two filled with wax inside, and he wrote on the wax with a stylus.
And look at those enormous chessmen, with a white elephant used for a Bishop.
Not far away, too, is a copy of the wonderful Alfred Jewel, which is one of the treasures in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. It was found near Athelney, in Somerset, and you can see on this model the words, "Alfred ordered me to be made."
In this same table-case are two very interesting seals. One belonged to Ethilwald, Bishop of Dunwich, in the middle of the ninth century. You may ask why there is no Bishop of Dunwich now? If you have been to Aldeburgh or Southwold you perhaps may have seen what is left of Dunwich, the crumbling cliffs, and the ruins in the field. The hungry waves settled in the fate of the old See and town of Dunwich. The other seal belonged to Godwin, a minister of the King, but not the Earl Godwin you know.
His seal was afterwards cut on the other side for "Godgytha the nun, given to God." She may have been abbess of a monastery founded by Godwin, and you see her on the seal sitting on a cushion holding a book.
She will have livedin one of the religious houses, like St. Hilda's, where education was carried on, manuscripts were written, and there was quiet for prayers and work.
Look now at those six small slabs in the wall-cases at the east end of the room. They are from the cemetery of a monastery near Hartlepool, and used to be [pg 207] called "pillow stones," because people thought that they were put under the heads of the dead. But they were really small upright stones standing above the ground. The monastery was for both monks and nuns, and St. Hilda was abbess there before she went to Whitby. Notice the cross and prayer on them.
The bronze bucket to the right of the Taplow case, containing coins of the kinds of Northumbria, should be looked at. There were 8000 of these coins (300 of them are in the Coins and Medals Gallery, near the top of the main staircase), and they were buried at Hexham to hide them from the Danes who were then invading the land. They were the coins used in the north before the penny was started by Offa of Mercia. The Danes themselves once dropped their treasure-chest near a ford of the Ribble up in Lancashire when they were defeated on their way back to Northumbria. It was full of silver coins and ornaments, armlets and necklets, rings and strap ends. Look in one of the table-cases of the Cuverdale Collection for these.
In another table-case you can see an "offering penny" of King Alfred and a coin of his son Edward. They were in another treasure find, and you will see amongst it a large "thistle" brooch like many more in the cases.
And now for the Viking's sword and the fine Danish combs, one of which has on it, in Runes, "Thorfast made a good comb."
But these Danish relics bring to our minds the burning of Hilda's Abbey standing out against the blue sky, and of Cuthbert's at Lindisfarne, of the church [pg 208] at Dunwich. Even old Richborough Castle did not escape the torches of the invaders.
The fine Irish brooches (like the famous Tara brooch in Dublin) and ornaments in the table-case must not be missed, nor the bells and their shrines in the wall-case, belonging to the sixth and seventh centuries. You will notice the names of bishops and saints on them, and on the shrines in which they are enclosed. In early times the Irish saints and monks called their people to prayer by ringing the ordinary cow-bells. Later on these bells were looked upon as holy, and put in beautiful shrines. Look specially at the shrine of St. Cuilleann's Bell. All these things--there is a bishop's crozier too--remind us of the history of the Celtic Church.
Let us look now at the belongings of the cousins of our forefathers, of those who stayed behind in the old mother countries, in Germany and Scandinavia; they are of great interest to us. The weapons and personal adornments from the Teutonic graves, and from the shores of the Baltic are just like those we have been studying. A chief was buried in his boat, as the Gaulish warrior was buried in his chariot, but unfortunately there is no boat here; we must go to Christiana to see that. There are also some combs and beads as well as the accoutrements of a Frankish soldier from Rhineland. The splendid case of Merovingian possessions makes us think of the share taken by later Frankish kinds, such as Pepin and Charlemagne, in the quarrels and struggles of the English kinds for the over-lordship. [pg 209]
Look round once more on the Saxon cases and note the many different brooches of all sorts of shapes, and some absolutely enormous--more than a foot across. These things come from a number of different places, often widely apart.
The chief places represented by treasure found in this room were named by the Saxons--Sudbury, Edinburgh, Chepstowe, Church Stretton, Hythe, Lyndhurst, Mersey, Tamworth. A good etymological dictionary will give you the meaning of these names, as well as the Danish ones. You will find Lincolnshire a sort of headquarters for names ending in "by," Danish for town, and "thorp," a village. You will be interested in tracing the fierce northern folk across the country by the names of their settlements. Look out for "caster" instead of "chester," "kirk" instead of "church," as well as "garth," "fell," and "toft."
While you make or study maps of Saxon and Danish England, picture to yourself our country as it was--over a thousand years ago--when the Saxon and Dane set up their "stead" and "ton," their "by" and "toft" along the seashore, and settled by degrees among the quiet hills and dales, moors and fens.
There are still a few more treasures to see belonging to Saxon times. Especially interesting is the ring which belonged to Alfred's sister, Ethelswith, and another that belonged to Alfred's father, Ethelwulf. Both have inscriptions and ornaments on them, and near by is a piece of bone on which an engraver has been practising his patterns. On another ring is inscribed the words "Aethred [pg 210] owns me; Eanred wrought me." The man who made it, you see, was quite proud of his work. Close by are two rings--one agate, one gold--found in different parts of the country, but both bear the same Runic inscription--a sort of charm against leprosy and fever. Besides these, in the cases against the walls, are twisted gold Viking torcs and armlets, also Celtic gold collars and adornments for man and his friend, the horse.
As we turn away from these cases, the words towards the end of Beowulf come to us:
"In the mound they placed rings and jewels,
They left the treasure of Earls
To the earth to hold,
Gold in the dust."
And now we will go down the stairs again, and turn into the Grenville Library; in the first case to our left we shall find the earliest English illuminated manuscripts. Notice the good drawing of the Figure on the Cross, the fine initial B; the beautiful initials and borders in the copy of the gospels, with the inserted copy of the charter of King Cnut.
The outline drawings in the Register of New Minster (where Alfred was buried) show Cnut and his queen placing a great gold cross on the altar.
That was near the beginning of the eleventh century. Then there is the richly ornamental charter of King Edgar, who name you remember about the middle of the tenth century, recalling as you do the story [pg 211] of the British princes of the west, rowing him on the river Dee. That half-century between Edgar and Cnut saw a bitter struggle and much suffering. Ethelred--the "Unready"--because he would take no man's "rede" or counsel, bought off the Danes, who came again and again plundering, burning, killing. Then the English massacred the Danes, when they got a chance, and brought down vengeance from King Swegen, who ravaged and fought and conquered. Ehtelred and his wife, sister of the reigning Duke of Normandy, fled across the Channel to him for protection, and so England passed to Danish kings for a time.
There is a charter of Cnut (Swegen's son) near the case of English Manuscripts in the Manuscript Room, and also one of Offa (end of the eighth century) confirming a grant of land to his thane and a sister. Look, too, at the charter of Edward the Confessor close by. His time was towards the middle of the royal race. We all know his tomb in Westminster Abbey--not the Abbey that he spent his strength and substance in building: that one passed away as the present one rose slowly in its place, to which his body was removed, and where he now lies surrounded by the kings and queens of later time.
Every reigning sovereign from his day to ours (one can scarcely count the poor little Edward V of the Tower) has been crowned a few feet from the shrine that contains the dust of one of the most reverenced and beloved of our kings. [pg 212]
He died in January. On Christmas Day in that same momentous year, 1066, William the Conqueror, the first in the long line, was crowned in the Abbey, amidst shouts of "yea," "yea" from the subjects who "bowed to him for need." His Normans outside, alarmed at the shouting, feared for the safety of their Duke, and battered at the doors in a tumult. Truly a living picture of the old order giving place to the new.
(Chapter 12 typed by Janey Phillips)
Summary Guide to the Exhibition Galleries of the British Museum. British Museum. 3d
ALLSOPP, H. Modern School History, vol. i. G. Bell & sons Ltd.
BELL, J. J. The Piers Plowman. Social and Economic Histories, vol. i., Prehistoric to 1066. Philip. 3s.
Children's Encyclopedia, The.
Harmsworth's History of the World.
MITCHISON, NAOMI. Boys, Girls, and Gods. Watts & Co. Ltd. 1s. 6d.
PEAKE AND FLEURE. The Corridors of Time. (6 vols.) Oxford University Press. 5s. each.
ROBINSON, CYRIL, M. A. History of England, vol. i. Methuen & Co., Ltd. 3s. 6d.
STODDARD, LOTHROP. The Story of Youth. Gollancz. 15s.
CHAPTER I.--PREHISTORIC TIMES
Guide to the Antiquities of the Stone Age. British Museum. 2s. 6d.
Guide to the Antiquities of the Bronze Age. British Museum. 2s. 6d.
Guide to the Antiquities of the Early Iron Age. British Museum. 2s. 6d.
BAIKIE, J., D. D. Men of the Old Stone Age. (Peeps Series.) A. & C. Black Ltd. 2s. 6d. 1928.
BOYLE, MARY E. Man before History. G. G. Harrap & Co. Ltd. 2s. 1930
CLARKE, W. G. Our Homeland Prehistoric Antiquities and How to Study Them. Homeland Association.
CLODD, E. The Childhood of the World. Macmillan & Co., Ltd. 1914.
DAVISON, D. Our Prehistoric Ancestors. Methuen & Co., Ltd. 1926.
DOPP, K. E. Early Cave Men. G. G. Harrap & Co. Ltd. 1921.
DOPP, K. E. Later Cave Men. G. G. Harrap & Co., Ltd. 1921.
HALL, H. R. Days before History. G. G. Harrap & Co. Ltd. 1s. 6d. 1926.
HALL, H. R. The Threshold of History. G. G. Harrap & Co. Ltd. 1s. 6d. 1929.
HENDERSON, K. Prehistoric Man. Chatto & Windus. 7s. 6d.
KIPLING, R. Rewards and Fairies. Macmillan & Co. Ltd.
QUENNELL, M. and C. H. B. Everyday Life in Prehistoric Times. B. T. Batsford Ltd. 1922.
CHAPTER II.--BRITAIN A ROMAN PROVINCE
Guide to the Antiquities of Roman Britain. British Museum. 2s. 6d.
Guide to the Exhibition illustrating Greek and Roman Life. British Museum. 2s. 6d.
BESANT, SIR WALTER. London. Chatto & Windus.
COLLINGWOOD, R. G. The Archaeology of Roman Britain. Methuen & Co. Ltd. 1930.
COLLINGWOOD, R. G. Roman Britain. Oxford Clarendon Press. 6s. 1932.
ELLIOTT, G. F. SCOTT. The Romance of Early British Life. Seeley, Service & Co.
IRELAND, A. J. Episodes in the History of England. Longmans, Green & Co. Ltd. 6s. 1926
KIPLING, RUDYARD. Puck of Pook's Hill. Macmillan & Co. Ltd.
KIPLING and FLETCHER. School History (verses from). Oxford University Press.
LAMPREY, LOUISE. Children of Ancient Britain. G. G. Harrap & Co. Ltd. 2s. 1928.
QUENNELL, M. and C. H. B. Everyday Life in Roman Britain. B. T. Batsford Ltd. 1924.
WEIGALL, A. Wanderings in Roman Britain. Thornton Butterworth Ltd., 1926.
Guide to the Greek and roman Antiquities. British Museum. 2s. 6d.
Short Guide to the Sculptures of the Parthenon. British Museum. 1s.
Various Guides to the Sculptures, Statues, and Reliefs. British Museum. 1s. to 4 s.
BAIKIE, J., D. D. Ancient Greece. (Peeps Series.) A. & C. Black Ltd. 2s. 6d. 1931.
BREASTED, J. H. Ancient Times. Ginn & Co. Ltd. 10s. 6d.
BREASTED, J. H., and JONES. Abridged version of above for younger children. Ginn & Co. Ltd. 3s. 6d.
CHURCH, A. J. Stories from Homer. Seeley, Service & Co. Ltd. 1915.
HAMILTON, M. A. Greece. Oxford University Press. 1926
HYDE, L. S. Favourite Greek Myths. G. G. Harrap & Co. Ltd. 1922.
MACGREGOR, MARY. The Story of Greece: told to Boys and Girls. T. Nelson & Sons Ltd. 1913.
MITCHISON, NAOMI. Cloud Cuckoo Land. Jonathan Cape Ltd.
MITCHISON, NAOMI. Black Sparta. Jonathan Cape Ltd.
MONCRIEFF, A. SCOTT. Classic Myth and Legend. Gresham Publishing Co.
MURRAY, ROSALIND. The Greeks. (How-and-Why Series.) A. & C. Black Ltd. 2s. 6d. 1931.
PYM, DORA. Readings from the Literature of Ancient Greece. G. G. Harrap & Co. Ltd.
QUENNELL, M. and C. H. B. Everyday Things in Homeric Greece. B. T. Batsford Ltd. 1929.
SNEDEKER, Mrs. C. D. The Spartan. (An adventure story of Greece and Sparta, 493-470 B. C.)
SNEDEKER, Mrs. C. D. Thera. (An Athenian schoolboy's experiences in the age of Pericles.) J. M. Dent & Son Ltd.
STOBART, J. C. The Glory that was Greece. Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd. 8s. 6d. 1929.
TAPPAN, E. M. The Story of the Greek People. G. G. Harrap & Co. Ltd. 1929.
TENNYSTON, ALFRED. Dream of Fair Women. The Lotus Eaters. Ulysses.
TUCKER. Life in Ancient Athens. Macmillan & Co. Ltd. 6s. 6d.
WALTERS, H. B. The Art of the Greeks. Methuen & Co. Ltd.
WALTERS, H. B. Greek Art. Methuen & Co. Ltd.
WESTON, W. H. Plutarch's Lives for Boys and Girls. T. Nelson & Sons Ltd. 3s. 6d. 1914.
A General Introductory Guide to the Egyptian Collection. British Museum. 2s. 6d.
Guide to the Egyptian Galleries (Sculpture). British Museum. 2s. 6d.
Guide to the First, Second, and Third Egyptian Rooms. British Museum. 2s. 6d.
Guide to the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Egyptian Rooms. British Museum. 2s. 6d.
BAIKIE, J., D. D. Ancient Egypt. (Peeps Series.) A. & C. Black Ltd. 2s. 6d. 1932.
BAIKIE, J., D. D. The Life of the Ancient East. A. & C. Black Ltd. 10s. 6d.
BAIKIE, J., D. D. The Story of the Pharaohs. A. & C. Black Ltd. 2s. 6d. 1926.
BREASTED, J. H. Ancient Times. Ginn & Co. Ltd. 10s. 6d.
BROOKSBANK, F. H. Legends of Ancient Egypt. G. G. Harrap & Co. Ltd.
BROOKSBANK, F. H. Stories of Egyptian Gods and Heroes. G. G. Harrap & Co. Ltd.
EBERS, G. The Egyptian Princess. G. Bell & Sons Ltd. 2s.
LAMPREY, L. Children of Ancient Egypt. G. G. Harrap & Co. Ltd. 1927.
MACKENZIE, D. A. Egyptian Myth and Legend. Gresham Publishing Co.
MACKENZIE, D. A. The Story of Ancient Egypt. G. G. Harrap & Co. Ltd.
PETRIE, FLINDERS. Social Life in Ancient Egypt. Constable & Co. Ltd. 6s. 1924
SMITH, G. E. Tutankhamen and the Discovery of his Tomb. G.Routledge & Sons Ltd. 1923.
CHAPTERS IX.--XI.--BABYLON AND ASSYRIA
Guide to the Babylonian and Assyrian Antiquities. British Museum.
BAIKIE, J. Ancient Assyria. (Peeps Series.) A. & C. Black Ltd. 2s. 6d.
BREASTED, J. H. Ancient Times. Ginn & Co. Ltd. 10s. 6d.
BYRON. Destruction of Sennacherib's Army.
HILL, G. F. Illustrated School Classics. Macmillan & Co. Ltd.
MACKENZIE, D. A. Assyrian Myth and Legend. Gresham Publishing Co.
VAUGHAN, D. M. Great Peoples of the Ancient World. Longmans, Green & Co. Ltd. 1925.
WORTS, F. R. Empires of Long Ago. Arnold & Co. 2s. 6d. 1930.
CHAPTER XII.--HOW BRITAIN BECAME ENGLAND
Guide to the Anglo-Saxon Antiquities. British Museum.
Guide to the MSS, Autographs, Charters, Seals, etc. British Museum.
Guide to the Department of Coins and Medals. British Museum.
BUXTON, E. M. WILMOT. A Social History of England from Anglo-Saxon Times.Methuen & Co. Ltd. 1920.
CHADWICK, H. M. The Origin of the English Nation. Cambridge Press. 1924.
ELIOT, G. F. SCOTT. The Romance of Early British Life. (Library of Romance.)Seeley, Service & Co. Ltd. 1922.
LAMPREY, LOUISE. Children of Ancient Britain. G. G. Harrap & Co. Ltd.
LEES, BEATRICE. Alfred the Great: The Truth-Teller Maker of England. (Heroes ofNations Series.) G. P. Putnam's Sons. 1919.
M'KILLIAM, A. E. The Story of Alfred the Great. (Heroes of All Time Series.) G. G.Harrap & Co. Ltd. 1926.
QUENNELL, M. and C. H. B. Everyday Life in Saxon, Viking, and Norman Times. B.T. Batsford Ltd. 1926.
ROSS, ESTELLE. The Birth of England, 449-1566. (Story of Britain Series.) G. G.Harrap & Co. Ltd.
ROBERTSON, C. G. The Making of the English Nation. Blackie & Son Ltd.
THOMSON, C. The Adventures of Beowulf. H. Marshall & Son.
WEIGALL, A. Wanderings in Anglo-Saxon Britain. Hodder & Stoughton Ltd. 1927.
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