Part 2 out of 15
as we may learn from ancient Egyptian paintings.  Cattle have also been
commonly used as a kind of money. The early Greeks, whose wealth consisted
chiefly of their herds, priced a slave at twenty oxen, a suit of armor at
one hundred oxen, and so on. The early Romans reckoned values in cattle
(one ox being equivalent to ten sheep). Our English word "pecuniary" goes
back to the Latin _pecus_, or "herd" of cattle.
[Illustration: EARLY ROMAN BAR MONEY
A bar of copper marked with the figure of a bull. Dates from the fourth
The domestication of the horse came much later than that of the cow. In
the early Stone Age the horse ran wild over western Europe and formed an
important source of food for primitive men. This prehistoric horse, as
some ancient drawings show,  was a small animal with a shaggy mane and
tail. It resembled the wild pony still found on the steppes of Mongolia.
The domesticated horse does not appear in Egypt and western Asia much
before 1500 B.C. For a long time after the horse was tamed, the more
manageable ox continued to be used as the beast of burden. The horse was
kept for chariots of war, as among the Egyptians, or ridden bareback in
races, as by the early Greeks.
OTHER ANIMALS DOMESTICATED
At the close of prehistoric times in the Old World nearly all the domestic
animals of to-day were known. Besides those just mentioned, the goat,
sheep, ass, and hog had become man's useful servants. 
The domestication of animals made possible an advance from the hunting and
fishing stage to the pastoral stage. Herds of cattle and sheep would now
furnish more certain and abundant supplies of food than the chase could
ever yield. We find in some parts of the world, as on the great Asiatic
plains, the herdsman succeeding the hunter and fisher. But even in this
stage much land for grazing is required. With the exhaustion of the
pasturage the sheep or cattle must be driven to new fields. Hence pastoral
peoples, as well as hunting and fishing folk, remained nomads without
fixed homes. Before permanent settlements were possible, another onward
step became necessary. This was the domestication of plants.
The domestication of plants marked almost as wonderful an advance as the
domestication of animals. When wild seedgrasses and plants had been
transformed into the great cereals--wheat, oats, barley, and rice--people
could raise them for food, and so could pass from the life of wandering
hunters or shepherds to the life of settled farmers. There is evidence
that during the Stone Age some of the inhabitants of Europe were familiar
with various cultivated plants, but agriculture on a large scale seems to
have begun in the fertile regions of Egypt and western Asia.  Here
first arose populous communities with leisure to develop the arts of life.
Here, as has been already seen,  we must look for the beginnings of
4. WRITING AND THE ALPHABET
Though history is always based on written records, the first steps toward
writing are prehistoric. We start with the pictures or rough drawings
which have been found among the remains of the early Stone Age. 
Primitive man, however, could not rest satisfied with portraying objects.
[Illustration: VARIOUS SIGNS OF SYMBOLIC PICTURE WRITING
1, "war" (Dakota Indian); 2, "morning" (Ojibwa Indian); 3, "nothing"
(Ojibwa Indian); 4 and 5, "to eat" (Indian, Mexican, Egyptian, etc.).]
He wanted to record thoughts and actions, and so his pictures tended to
become symbols of ideas. The figure of an arrow might be made to
represent, not a real object, but the idea of an "enemy." A "fight" could
then be shown simply by drawing two arrows directed against each other.
Many uncivilized tribes still employ picture writing of this sort. The
American Indians developed it in most elaborate fashion. On rolls of birch
bark or the skins of animals they wrote messages, hunting stories, and
songs, and even preserved tribal annals extending over a century.
SOUND WRITING; THE REBUS
A new stage in the development of writing was reached when the picture
represented, not an actual object or an idea, but a sound of the human
voice. This difficult but all-important step appears to have been taken
through the use of the rebus, that is, writing words by pictures of
objects which stand for sounds. Such rebuses are found in prehistoric
Egyptian writing; for example, the Egyptian words for "sun" and "goose"
were so nearly alike that the royal title, "Son of the Sun," could be
suggested by grouping the pictures of the sun and a goose. Rebus making is
still a common game among children, but to primitive men it must have been
a serious occupation.
[Illustration: MEXICAN REBUS
The Latin _Pater Noster,_ "Our Father," is written by a flag _(pan)_, a
stone _(te)_, a prickly pear _(noch)_, and another stone _(te)_.]
[Illustration: CHINESE PICTURE WRITING AND LATER CONVENTIONAL CHARACTERS]
WORDS AND SYLLABLES
In the simplest form of sound writing each separate picture or symbol
stands for the sound of an entire word. This method was employed by the
Chinese, who have never given it up. A more developed form of sound
writing occurs when signs are used for the sounds, not of entire words,
but of separate syllables. Since the number of different syllables which
the voice can utter is limited, it now becomes possible to write all the
words of a language with a few hundred signs. The Japanese, who borrowed
some of the Chinese symbols, used them to denote syllables, instead of
entire words. The Babylonians possessed, in their cuneiform 
characters, signs for about five hundred syllables. The prehistoric
inhabitants of Crete appear to have been acquainted with a somewhat
similar system. 
The final step in the development of writing is taken when the separate
sounds of the voice are analyzed and each is represented by a single sign
or letter. With alphabets of a few score letters every word in a language
may easily be written.
[Illustration: CRETAN WRITING
A large tablet with linear script found in the palace at Gnossus, Crete
There are eight lines of writing, with a total of about twenty words
Notice the upright lines, which appear to mark the termination of each
group of signs.]
The Egyptians early developed such an alphabet. Unfortunately they never
gave up their older methods of writing and learned to rely upon alphabetic
signs alone. Egyptian hieroglyphics  are a curious jumble of object-
pictures, symbols of ideas, and signs for entire words, separate
syllables, and letters. The writing is a museum of all the steps in the
development from the picture to the letter.
As early, apparently, as the tenth century B.C. we find the Phoenicians of
western Asia in possession of an alphabet. It consisted of twenty-two
letters, each representing a consonant. The Phoenicians do not seem to
have invented their alphabetic signs. It is generally believed that they
borrowed them from the Egyptians, but recent discoveries in Crete perhaps
point to that island as the source of the Phoenician alphabet.
[Illustration: EGYPTIAN AND BABYLONIAN WRITING
Below the pictured hieroglyphics in the first line is the same text in a
simpler writing known as hieratic. The two systems, however, were not
distinct; they were as identical as our own printed and written
characters. The third line illustrates old Babylonian cuneiform, in which
the characters, like the hieroglyphics, are rude and broken-down pictures
of objects. Derived from them is the later cuneiform shown in lines four
DIFFUSION OF THE PHOENICIAN ALPHABET
If they did not originate the alphabet now in use, the Phoenicians did
most to spread a knowledge of it in other lands. They were bold sailors
and traders who bought and sold throughout the Mediterranean. Wherever
they went, they took their alphabet. From the Phoenicians the Greeks
learned their letters. Then the Greeks taught them to the Romans, from
whom other European peoples borrowed them. 
[Illustration: THE MOABITE STONE, (Louvre, Paris)
Found in 1868 A.D. at Diban east of the Dead Sea. The monument records the
victory of Mesha king of Moab, over the united armies of Israel and Judah
about 850 B.C. The inscription, consisting of 34 lines is one of the most
ancient examples of Phoenician writing.]
5. PRIMITIVE SCIENCE AND ART
FOUNDATIONS OF SCIENTIFIC KNOWLEDGE
We have already seen that prehistoric men in their struggle for existence
had gathered an extensive fund of information. They could make useful and
artistic implements of stone. They could work many metals into a variety
of tools and weapons. They were practical botanists, able to distinguish
different plants and to cultivate them for food. They were close students
of animal life and expert hunters and fishers. They knew how to produce
fire and preserve it, how to cook, how to fashion pottery and baskets, how
to spin and weave, how to build boats and houses. After writing came into
general use, all this knowledge served as the foundation of science.
COUNTING AND MEASURING
We can still distinguish some of the first steps in scientific knowledge.
Thus, counting began with calculations on one's fingers, a method still
familiar to children. Finger counting explains the origin of the decimal
system. The simplest, and probably the earliest, measures of length are
those based on various parts of the body. Some of our Indian tribes, for
instance, employed the double arm's length, the single arm's length, the
hand width, and the finger width. Old English standards, such as the span,
the ell, and the hand, go back to this very obvious method of measuring on
CALCULATION OF TIME; THE CALENDAR
It is interesting to trace the beginnings of time reckoning and of that
most important institution, the calendar. Most primitive tribes reckon
time by the lunar month, the interval between two new moons (about twenty-
nine days, twelve hours). Twelve lunar months give us the lunar year of
about three hundred and fifty-four days. In order to adapt such a year to
the different seasons, the practice arose of inserting a thirteenth month
from time to time. Such awkward calendars were used in antiquity by the
Babylonians, Jews, and Greeks; in modern times by the Arabs and Chinese.
The Egyptians were the only people in the Old World to frame a solar year.
From the Egyptians it has come down, through the Romans, to us. 
On Salisbury Plain in the south of England: appears to date from the close
of the New Stone Age or the beginning of the Bronze Age. The outer circle
measures 300 feet in circumference; the inner circle, 106 feet. The
tallest stones reach 25 feet in height. This monument was probably a tomb,
or group of tombs, of prehistoric chieftains.]
EARLY DRAWING AND PAINTING
The study of prehistoric art takes us back to the early Stone Age. The men
of that age in western Europe lived among animals such as the mammoth,
cave bear, and woolly-haired rhinoceros, which have since disappeared, and
among many others, such as the lion and hippopotamus, which now exist only
in warmer climates. Armed with clubs, flint axes, and horn daggers,
primitive hunters killed these fierce beasts and on fragments of their
bones, or on cavern walls, drew pictures of them. Some of these earliest
works of art are remarkably lifelike.
[Illustration: HEAD OF A GIRL (Musee S. Germain, Paris)
A small head of a young girl carved from mammoth ivory. Found at
Brassempouy, France, in cave deposits belonging to the early Stone Age.
The hair is arranged somewhat after the early Egyptian fashion. Of the
features the mouth alone is wanting.]
[Illustration: PREHISTORIC ART
SKETCH OF MAMMOTH ON A TUSK FOUND IN A CAVE IN FRANCE
CAVE BEAR DRAWN ON A PEBBLE
BISON PAINTED ON THE WALL OF A CAVE
WILD HORSE ON THE WALL OF A CAVE IN SPAIN.
Later he pictured an aurochs--later he pictured a bear--
Pictured the sabre toothed tiger dragging a man to his lair--
Pictured the mountainous mammoth hairy abhorrent alone--
Out of the love that he bore them scribing them clearly on bone--
A still later period of the Stone Age witnessed the beginnings of
architecture. Men had begun to raise huge dolmens which are found in
various parts of the Old World from England to India. They also erected
enormous stone pillars, known as menhirs. Carved in the semblance of a
human face and figure, the menhir became a statue, perhaps the first ever
As we approach historic times, we note a steady improvement in the various
forms of art. Recent discoveries in Egypt, Greece, Italy, and other lands
indicate that their early inhabitants were able architects, often building
on a colossal scale.
[Illustration: A DOLMEN
Department of Morbihan, Brittany. A dolmen was a single chambered tomb
formed by laying one long stone over several other stones set upright in
the ground. Most if not all dolmens were originally covered with earth.]
[Illustration: CARVED MENHIR
From Saint Sernin in Aveyron, a department of southern France.]
SIGNIFICANCE OF PREHISTORIC ART
Their paintings and sculptures prepared the way for the work of later
artists. Our survey of the origins of art shows us that in this field, as
elsewhere, we must start with the things accomplished by prehistoric men.
6. HISTORIC PEOPLES
RACES OF MAN
At the dawn of history the various regions of the world were already in
the possession of many different peoples. Such physical characteristics as
the shape of the skull, the features, stature, or complexion may serve to
distinguish one people from another. Other grounds for distinction are
found in language, customs beliefs, and general intelligence.
CLASSIFICATION OF RACES
If we take complexion or color as the basis of classification, it is
possible to distinguish a few large racial groups. Each of these groups
occupies, roughly speaking, its separate area of the globe. The most
familiar classification is that which recognizes the Black or Negro race
dwelling in Africa, the Yellow or Mongolian race whose home is in central
and eastern Asia, and the White or Caucasian race of western Asia and
Europe. Sometimes two additional divisions are made by including, as the
Red race, the American Indians, and as the Brown race, the natives of the
THE WHITE RACE
These separate racial groups have made very unequal progress in culture.
The peoples belonging to the Black, Red, and Brown races are still either
savages or barbarians, as were the men of prehistoric times. The Chinese
and Japanese are the only representatives of the Yellow race that have
been able to form civilized states. In the present, as in the past, it is
chiefly the members of the White race who are developing civilization and
INDO-EUROPEANS AND SEMITES
Because of differences in language, scholars have divided the White or
Caucasian race into two main groups, called Indo-Europeans and Semites.
 This classification is often helpful, but the student should remember
that Indo-European and Semitic peoples are not always to be sharply
distinguished because they have different types of language. There is no
very clear distinction in physical characteristics between the two groups.
A clear skin, an oval face, wavy or curly hair, and regular features
separate them from both the Negro and the Mongolian.
PRINCIPAL INDO-EUROPEAN PEOPLES
The Indo-Europeans in antiquity included the Hindus of India, the Medes
and Persians dwelling on the plateau of Iran, the Greeks and Italians, and
most of the inhabitants of central and western Europe. All these peoples
spoke related languages which are believed to be offshoots from one common
tongue. Likeness in language does not imply that all Indo-Europeans were
closely related in blood. Men often adopt a foreign tongue and pass it on
to their children.
PRINCIPAL SEMITIC PEOPLES
The various Semitic nations dwelling in western Asia and Arabia were more
closely connected with one another. They spoke much the same type of
language, and in physical traits and habits of life they appear to have
been akin. The Semites in antiquity included the Babylonians and
Assyrians, the Hebrews, Phoenicians, and Arabs.
[Illustration: RACE PORTRAITURE OF THE EGYPTIANS
Paintings on the walls of royal tombs. The Egyptians were painted red, the
Semites yellow, the Negroes black, and the Libyans white, with blue eyes
and fair beards. Each racial type is distinguished by peculiar dress and
[Illustration: Map. Distribution of SEMITIC and INDO-EUROPEAN PEOPLES]
PEOPLES OF UNCERTAIN RELATIONSHIP
At the opening of the historic period still other parts of the World were
the homes of various peoples who cannot be classed with certainty as
either Indo-Europeans or Semites. Among these were the Egyptians and some
of the inhabitants of Asia Minor. We must remember that, during the long
prehistoric ages, repeated conquests and migrations mingled the blood of
many different communities. History, in fact, deals with no unmixed
1. On an outline map indicate the areas occupied in antiquity by Semites
2. Find definitions for the following terms: society, nation, state,
government, institution, culture, and civilization.
3. Explain the abbreviations B.C. and A.D. In what century was the year
1917 B.C.? the year 1917 A.D.?
4. Look up the derivation of the words "paper" and "Bible."
5. Distinguish between the three stages of savagery, barbarism, and
civilization, and give examples of existing peoples in each stage.
6. Can you name any savages still living in the Stone Age?
7. What stone implements have you ever seen? Who made them? Where were
8. Why should the discovery of fire be regarded as of more significance
than the discovery of steam?
9. Why has the invention of the bow-and-arrow been of greater importance
than the invention of gunpowder?
10. How does the presence of few tameable animals in the New World help to
account for its tardier development as compared with the Old World?
11. What examples of pastoral and agricultural life among the North
American Indians are familiar to you?
12. Give examples of peoples widely different in blood who nevertheless
speak the same language.
13. In the classification of mankind, where do the Arabs belong? the
Persians? the Germans? the inhabitants of the United States?
14. Enumerate the most important contributions to civilization made in
 There are still some savage peoples, for instance, the Australians,
who continue to make stone implements very similar to those of prehistoric
men. Other primitive peoples, such as the natives of the Pacific islands,
passed directly from the use of stone to that of iron, after this part of
the world was opened up to European trade in the nineteenth century.
 Iron was unknown to the inhabitants of North America and South America
before the coming of the Europeans. The natives used many stone
implements, besides those of copper and bronze. The Indians got most of
their copper from the mines in the Lake Superior region, whence it was
carried far and wide.
 See the illustration, page 45.
 See the illustration, page 14.
 In the New World, the only important domestic animal was the llama of
the Andes. The natives used it as a beast of burden, ate its flesh, and
clothed themselves with its wool.
 The plants domesticated in the New World were not numerous. The most
important were the potato of Peru and Ecuador, Indian corn or maize,
tobacco, the tomato, and manioc. From the roots of the latter, the starch
called tapioca is derived.
 See page 2.
 See the illustration, page 14.
 Latin cuneus, "a wedge".
 See page 71.
 From the Greek words hieros, "holy," and glyphein, "to carve" The
Egyptians regarded their signs as sacred.
 Our word "alphabet" comes from the names of the first two letters of
the Greek alphabet, _alpha_ (a) and _beta_ (b).
 See page 186 and note 2.
 The Old Testament (_Genesis_, x 21-22) represents Shem (or Sem), son
of Noah, as the ancestor of the Semitic peoples. The title "Indo-
Europeans" tells us that the members of that group now dwell in India and
in Europe. Indo-European peoples are popularly called "Aryans," from a
word in Sanskrit (the old Hindu language) meaning "noble."
THE LANDS AND PEOPLES OF THE EAST TO ABOUT 600 B.C. 
7. PHYSICAL ASIA
GRAND DIVISIONS OF ASIA
Ancient history begins in the East--in Asia and in that part of Africa
called Egypt, which the peoples of antiquity always regarded as belonging
to Asia. If we look at a physical map of Asia, we see at once that it
consists of two very unequal divisions separated by an almost continuous
mass of mountains and deserts. These two divisions are Farther and Nearer,
or Eastern and Western, Asia.
[Illustration: Map, PHYSICAL MAP OF ASIA.]
Farther Asia begins at the center of the continent with a series of
elevated table-lands which rise into the lofty plateaus, known as the
"Roof of the World." Here two tremendous mountain chains diverge. The
Altai range runs out to the northeast and reaches the shores of the
Pacific near Bering Strait. The Himalaya range extends southeast to the
Malay peninsula. In the angle formed by their intersection lies the cold
and barren region of East Turkestan and Tibet, the height of which, in
some places, is ten thousand feet above the sea. From these mountains and
plateaus the ground sinks gradually toward the north into the lowlands of
West Turkestan and Siberia, toward the east and south into the plains of
China and India.
The fertile territory of central China, watered by the two streams,
Yangtse and Hoangho, was settled at a remote period by barbarous tribes.
The civilization which they slowly developed in antiquity has endured with
little change until the present day. The inhabitants of neighboring
countries, Korea, Japan, and Indo-China, owe much to this civilization. It
has exerted slight influence on the other peoples of Asia because the
Chinese have always occupied a distant corner of the continent, cut off by
deserts and mountains from the lands on the west. As if these barriers
were not enough, they raised the Great Wall to protect their country from
[Illustration: THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA
The wall extends for about fifteen hundred miles along the northern
frontier of China. In 1908 AD it was traversed for its entire length by an
American Mr. W. E. Geil. He found many parts of the fortification still in
good repair, though built twenty one centuries ago.]
Behind this mighty rampart the Chinese have lived secluded and aloof from
the progress of our western world. In ancient times China was a land of
India was better known than China, especially its two great rivers, the
Indus and the Ganges, which flow to the southwest and southeast,
respectively, and make this part of the peninsula one of the most fertile
territories on the globe. Such a land attracted immigrants. The region now
known as the Punjab, where the Indus receives the waters of five great
streams, was settled by light-skinned Indo-Europeans  perhaps as early
as 2000 B.C. Then they occupied the valley of the Ganges and so brought
all northern India under their control.
INDIA AND THE WEST
India did not remain entirely isolated from the rest of Asia, The Punjab
was twice conquered by invaders from the West; by the Persians in the
sixth century B.C.,  and about two hundred years later by the Greeks.
 After the end of foreign rule India continued to be of importance
through its commerce, which introduced such luxuries as precious stones,
spices, and ivory among the western peoples.
Nearer, or Western Asia, the smaller of the two grand divisions of the
Asiatic continent, is bounded by the Black and Caspian seas on the north,
by the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, and Indian Ocean on the south, eastward by
the Indus River, and westward by the Mediterranean and the Nile. Almost
all the countries within this area played a part in the ancient history of
COUNTRIES OF NEARER ASIA
The lofty plateaus of central Asia decline on the west into the lower but
still elevated region of Iran. The western part of Iran was occupied in
antiquity by the kindred people known as Medes and Persians. Armenia, a
wild and mountainous region, is an extension to the northwest of the
Iranian table-land. Beyond Armenia we cross into the peninsula of Asia
Minor, a natural link between Asia and Europe. Southward from Asia Minor
we pass along the Mediterranean coast through Syria to Arabia. The Arabian
peninsula may be regarded as the link between Asia and Africa.
INFLUENCE OF GEOGRAPHICAL CONDITIONS
These five countries of Nearer Asia were not well fitted to become centers
of early civilization. They possessed no great rivers which help to bring
people together, and no broad, fertile plains which support a large
population. Armenia, Asia Minor, and Syria were broken up into small
districts by chains of mountains. Iran and Arabia were chiefly barren
deserts. But two other divisions of Nearer Asia resembled distant India
and China in the possession of a warm climate, a fruitful soil, and an
extensive river system. These lands were Babylonia and Egypt, the first
homes of civilized man.
8. BABYLONIA AND EGYPT
THE TIGRIS AND THE EUPHRATES
Two famous rivers rise in the remote fastnesses of Armenia--the Tigris and
the Euphrates. As they flow southward, the twin streams approach each
other to form a common valley, and then proceed in parallel channels for
the greater part of their course. In antiquity each river emptied into the
Persian Gulf by a separate mouth. This Tigris-Euphrates valley was called
by the Greeks Mesopotamia, "the land between the rivers."
PRODUCTIONS OF BABYLONIA
Babylonia is a remarkably productive country. The annual inundation of the
rivers has covered its once rocky bottom with deposits of rich silt. Crops
planted in such a soil, under the influence of a blazing sun, ripen with
great rapidity and yield abundant harvests. "Of all the countries that we
know," says an old Greek traveler, "there is no other so fruitful in
grain."  Wheat and barley were perhaps first domesticated in this part
of the world.  Wheat still grows wild there. Though Babylonia possessed
no forests, it had the date palm, which needed scarcely any cultivation.
If the alluvial soil yielded little stone, clay, on the other hand, was
everywhere. Molded into brick and afterwards dried in the sun, the clay
became _adobe_, the cheapest building material imaginable.
BABYLONIA AN EARLY CENTER OF CIVILIZATION
In Babylonia Nature seems to have done her utmost to make it easy for
People to gain a living. We can understand, therefore, why from
prehistoric times men have been attracted to this region, and why it is
here that we must look for one of the earliest seats of civilization. 
LOWER AND UPPER EGYPT
Egypt may be described as the valley of the Nile. Rising in the Nyanza
lakes of central Africa, that mighty stream, before entering Egypt,
receives the waters of the Blue Nile near the modern town of Khartum. From
this point the course of the river is broken by a series of five rocky
rapids, misnamed cataracts, which can be shot by boats. The cataracts
cease near the island of Philae, and Upper Egypt begins. This is a strip
of fertile territory, about five hundred miles in length but averaging
only eight miles in width. Not far from modern Cairo the hills inclosing
the valley fall away, the Nile divides into numerous branches, and Lower
Egypt, or the Delta, begins. The sluggish stream passes through a region
of mingled swamp and plain, and at length by three principal mouths
empties its waters into the Mediterranean.
The island was originally only a heap of granite bowlders. Retaining walls
were built around it, and the space within when filled with rich Nile mud,
became beautiful with groves of palms and mimosas. As the result of the
construction of the Assuan dam, Philae and its exquisite temples are now
submerged during the winter months, when the reservoir is full.]
EGYPT THE GIFT OF THE NILE
Egypt owes her existence to the Nile. All Lower Egypt is a creation of the
river by the gradual accumulation of sediment at its mouths. Upper Egypt
has been dug out of the desert sand and underlying rock by a process of
erosion centuries long. Once the Nile filled all the space between the
hills that line its sides. Now it flows through a thick layer of alluvial
mud deposited by the yearly inundation.
ANNUAL INUNDATION OF THE NILE
The Nile begins to rise in June, when the snow melts on the Abyssinian
mountains. High-water mark, some thirty feet above the ordinary level, is
reached in September. The inhabitants then make haste to cut the confining
dikes and to spread the fertilizing water over their fields. Egypt takes
on the appearance of a turbid lake, dotted here and there with island
villages and crossed in every direction by highways elevated above the
flood. Late in October the river begins to subside and by December has
returned to its normal level. As the water recedes, it deposits that
dressing of fertile vegetable mold which makes the soil of Egypt perhaps
the richest in the world. 
EGYPT AN EARLY CENTER OF CIVILIZATION
It was by no accident that Egypt, like Babylonia, became one of the first
homes of civilized men. Here, as there, every condition made it easy for
people to live and thrive. Food was cheap, for it was easily produced. The
peasant needed only to spread his seed broadcast over the muddy fields to
be sure of an abundant return. The warm, dry climate enabled him to get
along with little shelter and clothing. Hence the inhabitants of this
favored region rapidly increased in number and gathered in populous towns
and cities. At a time when most of their neighbors were still in the
darkness of the prehistoric age, the Egyptians had entered the light of
9. THE BABYLONIANS AND THE EGYPTIANS
INHABITANTS OF BABYLONIA
The earliest inhabitants of Babylonia of whom we know anything were a
people called Sumerians. They entered the Babylonian plain through the
passes of the eastern mountains, three or four thousand years before the
Christian era. Here they formed a number of independent states, each with
its capital city, its patron god, and its king. After them came Semitic
tribes from the deserts of northern Arabia. The Semites mingled with the
Sumerians and adopted Sumerian civilization.
HAMMURABI, KING OF BABYLONIA, ABOUT 2000 B.C.
Of all the early Babylonian kings the most famous was Hammurabi. Some
inscriptions still remain to tell how he freed his country from foreign
invaders and made his native Babylon the capital of the entire land. This
city became henceforth the real center of the Euphrates valley, to which,
indeed, it gave its name. Hammurabi was also an able statesman, who sought
to develop the territories his sword had won. He dug great canals to
distribute the waters of the Euphrates and built huge granaries to store
the wheat against a time of famine. In Babylon he raised splendid temples
and palaces. For all his kingdom he published a code of laws, the oldest
in the world.  Thus Hammurabi, by making Babylonia so strong and
flourishing, was able to extend her influence in every direction. Her only
important rival was Egypt.
[Illustration: TOP OF MONUMENT CONTAINING THE CODE OF HAMMURABI (British
A block of black diorite nearly 8 feet high, on which the code is chiseled
in 44 columns and over 3600 lines. The relief at the top of the monument
shows the Babylonian king receiving the laws from the sun god who is
seated at the right.]
The origin of the Egyptians is not known with certainty. In physical
characteristics they resembled the native tribes of northern and
inhabitants eastern Africa. Their language, however, shows of Egypt close
kinship to the Semitic tongues of western Asia and Arabia. It is probable
that the Egyptians, like the Babylonians, arose from the mingling of
MENES, KING OF EGYPT, ABOUT 3400 B.C.
The history of Egypt commences with the union of the two kingdoms of Upper
and Lower Egypt under Menes. An ancient tradition made him the builder of
Memphis, near the head of the Delta, and the founder of the Egyptian
monarchy. Scholars once doubted these exploits and even regarded Menes
himself as mythical. Recently, however, his tomb has been discovered. In
the gray dawn of history Menes appears as a real personage, the first of
that line of kings, or "Pharaohs," who for nearly three thousand years
ruled over Egypt.
[Illustration: Map, EGYPTIAN EMPIRE About 1450 B.C.]
THE PYRAMID KINGS, ABOUT 3000-2500 B.C.
Several centuries after Menes we reach the age of the kings who raised the
pyramids. Probably no other rulers have ever stamped their memory so
indelibly on the pages of history as the builders of these mighty
structures. The most celebrated monarch of this line was the Pharaoh whom
the Greeks called Cheops. The Great Pyramid near Memphis, erected for his
tomb, remains a lasting witness to his power.
[Illustration: TWO FAMOUS PHARAOHS
Khufu (Cheops) builder of the Great Pyramid
Menephtah the supposed Pharaoh of the Exodus]
[Illustration: THE GREAT PYRAMID
The pyramid when completed had a height of 481 feet. It is now 451 feet
high. Its base covers about thirteen acres. Some of the blocks of white
limestone used in construction weigh fifty tons. The facing of polished
stone was gradually removed for building purposes by the Arabs. On the
northern side of the pyramid a narrow entrance once carefully concealed,
opens into tortuous passages which lead to the central vault. Here the
sarcophagus of the king was placed. This chamber was long since entered
and its contents rifled.]
[Illustration: THE GREAT SPHINX
This colossal figure, human headed and lion bodied, is hewn from the
natural rock. The body is about 150 feet long, the paws 50 feet, the head
30 feet. The height from the base to the top of the head is 70 feet.
Except for its head and shoulders the figure has been buried for centuries
in the desert sand. The eyes, nose and beard have been mutilated by the
Arabs. The face is probably that of one of the pyramid kings.]
AFTER THE PYRAMID KINGS
For a long time after the epoch of the pyramid kings the annals of Egypt
furnish a record of quiet and peaceful progress. The old city of Memphis
gradually declined in importance and Thebes in Upper Egypt became the
capital. The vigorous civilization growing up in Egypt was destined,
however, to suffer a sudden eclipse. About 1800 B.C. barbarous tribes from
western Asia burst into the country, through the isthmus of Suez, and
settled in the Delta. The Hyksos, as they are usually called, extended
their sway over all Egypt. At first they ruled harshly, plundering the
cities and enslaving the inhabitants, but in course of time the invaders
adopted Egyptian culture and their kings reigned like native Pharaohs. The
Hyksos are said to have introduced the horse and military chariot into
Egypt. A successful revolt at length expelled the intruders and set a new
line of Theban monarchs on the throne.
THE EGYPTIAN EMPIRE
The overthrow of the Hyksos marked a new era in the history of Egypt. From
a home-loving and peaceful people the Egyptians became a warlike race,
ambitious for glory. The Pharaohs raised powerful armies and by extensive
conquests created an Egyptian Empire, reaching from the Nile to the
IMPERIAL SPLENDOR OF EGYPT
This period of the imperial greatness of Egypt is the most splendid in its
history. An extensive trade with Cyprus, Crete, and other Mediterranean
Islands introduced many foreign luxuries. The conquered territories in
Syria paid a heavy tribute of the precious metals, merchandise, and
slaves. The forced labor of thousands of war captives enabled the Pharaohs
to build public works in every part on their realm. Even the ruins of
these stupendous structures are enough to indicate the majesty and power
of ancient Egypt.
RAMESES II, ABOUT 1292-1225 B.C.
Of all the conquering Pharaohs none won more fame than Rameses II, who
ruled for nearly seventy years. His campaigns in Syria were mainly against
the Hittites, a warlike people who had moved southward from their home in
Asia Minor and sought to establish themselves in the Syrian lands. Rameses
does not appear to have been entirely successful against his foes. We find
him at length entering into an alliance with "the great king of the
Hittites," by which their dominion over northern Syria was recognized. In
the arts of peace Rameses achieved a more enduring renown. He erected many
statues and temples in various parts of Egypt and made Thebes, his
capital, the most magnificent city of the age.
[Illustration: HEAD OF MUMMY OF RAMESES II (Museum of Gizeh)
The mummy was discovered in 1881 AD in an underground chamber near the
site of Thebes. With it were the coffins and bodies of more than a score
of royal personages. Rameses II was over ninety years of age at the time
of his death. In spite of the somewhat grotesque disguise of
mummification, the face of this famous Pharaoh still wears an aspect of
majesty and pride.]
DECLINE OF THE EGYPTIAN POWER
Rameses II was the last of the great Pharaohs. After his death the empire
steadily declined in strength. The Asiatic possessions fell away, never to
be recovered. By 1100 B.C. Egypt had been restricted to her former
boundaries in the Nile valley. The Persians, in the sixth century, brought
the country within their own vast empire.
10. THE PHOENICIANS AND THE HEBREWS
The Phoenicians were the first Syrian people to assume importance. Their
country was a narrow stretch of coast, about one hundred and twenty miles
in length, seldom more than twelve miles in width, between the Lebanon
Mountains and the sea. This tiny land could not support a large
population. As the Phoenicians increased in numbers, they were obliged to
betake themselves to the sea. The Lebanon cedars furnished soft, white
wood for shipbuilding, and the deeply indented coast offered excellent
harbors. Thus the Phoenicians became preeminently a race of sailors. Their
great cities, Sidon and Tyre, established colonies throughout the
Mediterranean and had an extensive commerce with every region of the known
The Hebrews lived south of Phoenicia in the land of Canaan, west of the
Jordan River Their history begins with the emigration of twelve Hebrew
tribes (called Israelites) from northern Arabia to Canaan. In their new
home the Israelites gave up the life of wandering shepherds and became
farmers. They learned from the Canaanites to till the soil and to dwell in
towns and cities.
PERIOD OF THE JUDGES
The thorough conquest of Canaan proved to be no easy task. At first the
twelve Israelitish tribes formed only a loose and weak confederacy without
a common head. "In those days there was no king in Israel, every man did
what was right in his own eyes."  The sole authority was that held by
valiant chieftains and law-givers, such as Samson, Gideon, and Samuel, who
served as judges between the tribes and often led them in successful
attacks upon their foes. Among these were the warlike Philistines, who
occupied the southwestern coast of Canaan. To resist the Philistines with
success it was necessary to have a king who could bring all the scattered
tribes under his firm, well-ordered rule.
REIGNS OF SAUL AND DAVID
In Saul, "a young man and a goodly," the warriors of Israel found a leader
to unite them against their enemies. His reign was passed in constant
struggles with the Philistines. David, who followed him, utterly destroyed
the Philistine power and by further conquests extended the boundaries of
the new state. For a capital city he selected the ancient fortress of
Jerusalem. Here David built himself a royal palace and here he fixed the
Ark, the sanctuary of Jehovah. Jerusalem became to the Israelites their
dearest possession and the center of their national life.
[Illustration: Map, CANAAN as Divided among THE TRIBES]
REIGN OF SOLOMON, ABOUT 955-925 B.C.
The reign of Solomon, the son and successor of David, was the most
splendid period in Hebrew history. His kingdom stretched from the Red Sea
and the peninsula of Sinai northward to the Lebanon Mountains and the
Euphrates. With the surrounding peoples Solomon was on terms of friendship
and alliance. He married an Egyptian princess, a daughter of the reigning
Pharaoh. He joined with Hiram, king of Tyre, in trading expeditions on the
Red Sea and Indian Ocean. The same Phoenician monarch supplied him with
the "cedars of Lebanon," with which he erected at Jerusalem a famous
temple for the worship of Jehovah. A great builder, a wise administrator
and governor, Solomon takes his place as a typical Oriental despot, the
most powerful monarch of the age.
[Illustration: A PHOENICIAN WAR GALLEY
From a slab found at Nineveh in the palace of the Assyrian king,
Sennacherib. The vessel shown is a bireme with two decks. On the upper
deck are soldiers with their shields hanging over the side. The oarsmen
sit on the lower deck, eight at each side. The crab catching the fish is a
SECESSION OF THE TEN TRIBES, ABOUT 925 B.C.
But the political greatness of the Hebrews was not destined to endure. The
people were not ready to bear the burdens of empire. They objected to the
standing army, to the forced labor on public buildings, and especially to
the heavy taxes. The ten northern tribes seceded shortly after Solomon's
death and established the independent kingdom of Israel, with its capital
at Samaria. The two southern tribes, Judah and Benjamin, formed the
kingdom of Judea, and remained loyal to the successors of Solomon.
[Illustration: Map, SOLOMON'S KINGDOM]
DECLINE OF THE HEBREW POWER
The two small Hebrew kingdoms could not resist their powerful neighbors.
About two centuries after the secession of the Ten Tribes, the Assyrians
overran Israel. Judea was subsequently conquered by the Babylonians. Both
countries in the end became a part of the Persian Empire.
11. THE ASSYRIANS
GREATNESS OF ASSYRIA, 745-626 B.C.
Assyria, lying east of the Tigris River, was colonized at an early date by
emigrants from Babylonia. After the Assyrians freed themselves from
Babylonian control, they entered upon a series of sweeping conquests.
Every Asiatic state felt their heavy hand. The Assyrian kings created a
huge empire stretching from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf, the
Mediterranean, and the Nile. For the first time in Oriental history
Mesopotamia and Egypt, with the intervening territory, were brought under
CHARACTER OF ASSYRIAN RULE
This unification of the Orient was accomplished only at a fearful cost.
The records of Assyria are full of terrible deeds--of towns and cities
without number given to the flames, of the devastation of fertile fields
and orchards, of the slaughter of men, women, and children, of the
enslavement of entire nations. Assyrian monarchs, in numerous
inscriptions, boast of the wreck and ruin they brought to many flourishing
[Illustration: AN ASSYRIAN
From a Nineveh bas-relief. The original is colored.]
SARGON II, 722-705 B.C.
The treatment of conquered peoples by the Assyrian rulers is well
illustrated by their dealings with the Hebrews. One of the mightiest
monarchs was an usurper, who ascended the throne as Sargon II. Shortly
after his succession he turned his attention to the kingdom of Israel,
which had revolted. Sargon in punishment took its capital city of Samaria
(722 B.C.) and led away many thousands of the leading citizens into a
lifelong captivity in distant Assyria. The Ten Tribes mingled with the
population of that region and henceforth disappeared from history.
[Illustration: ANCIENT ORIENTAL EMPIRES
Map, THE ASSYRIAN EMPIRE about 660 B.C.
Map, LYDIA, MEDIA, BABYLONIA and EGYPT about 550 B.C.]
SENNACHERIB, 705-681 B.C.
Sargon's son, Sennacherib, though not the greatest, is the best known of
Assyrian kings. His name is familiar from the many references to him in
Old Testament writings. An inscription by Sennacherib describes an
expedition against Hezekiah, king of Judea, who was shut up "like a caged
bird in his royal city of Jerusalem." Sennacherib, however, did not
capture the place. His troops were swept away by a pestilence. The ancient
Hebrew writer conceives it as the visitation of a destroying angel: "It
came to pass that night that the angel of Jehovah went forth, and smote in
the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand; and when
men arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies." 
So Sennacherib departed, and returned with a shattered army to Nineveh,
[Illustration: AN ASSYRIAN RELIEF (British Museum, London)
The relief represents the siege and capture of Lachish, a city of the
Canaanites, by Sennacherib's troops. Notice the total absence of
perspective in this work.]
DOWNFALL OF ASSYRIA, 606 B.C.
Although Assyria recovered from this disaster, its empire rested on
unstable foundations. The subject races were attached to their oppressive
masters by no ties save those of force. When Assyria grew exhausted by its
career of conquest, they were quick to strike a blow for freedom. By the
middle of the seventh century Egypt had secured her independence, and many
other provinces were ready to revolt. Meanwhile, beyond the eastern
mountains, the Medes were gathering ominously on the Assyrian frontier.
The storm broke when the Median monarch, in alliance with the king of
Babylon, moved upon Nineveh and captured it. The city was utterly
[Illustration: THE ISHTAR GATE, BABYLON
Explorations on the site of Babylon have been conducted since 1899 A.D. by
the German Oriental Society. Large parts of the temple area, as well as
sections of the royal palaces, have been uncovered. The most important
structure found is the Ishtar Gate. The towers which flank it are adorned
with figures of dragons and bulls in brilliantly colored glazed tile.]
PARTITION OF ASSYRIA
After the conquest of the Assyrian Empire the victors proceeded to divide
the spoils. The share of Media was Assyria itself, together with the long
stretch of mountain country extending from the Persian Gulf to Asia Minor.
Babylonia obtained the western half of the Assyrian domains, including the
Euphrates valley and Syria. Under its famous king, Nebuchadnezzar (604-561
B.C.), Babylonia became a great power in the Orient. It was Nebuchadnezzar
who brought the kingdom of Judea to an end. He captured Jerusalem in 586
B.C., burned the Temple, and carried away many Jews into captivity. The
day of their deliverance, when Babylon itself should bow to a foreign foe,
was still far distant.
12. THE WORLD EMPIRE OF PERSIA
CYRUS THE GREAT, 553-529 B.C.
Not much earlier than the break-up of the Assyrian Empire, we find a new
and vigorous people pressing into western Iran. They were the Persians,
near kinsmen of the Medes. Subjects at first of Assyria, and then of
Media, they regained their independence and secured imperial power under a
conquering king whom history knows as Cyrus the Great. In 553 B.C. Cyrus
revolted against the Median monarch and three years later captured the
royal city of Ecbatana. The Medes and Persians formed henceforth a united
[Illustration: THE TOMB OF CYRUS THE GREAT
The mausoleum is built of immense marble blocks joined together without
cement. Its total height including the seven steps is about thirty five
feet. A solitary pillar near the tomb still bears the inscription 'I am
Cyrus, the King, the Achaemenian.']
CONQUEST OF LYDIA BY CYRUS, 546 B.C.
The conquest of Media was soon followed by a war with the Lydians, who had
been allies of the Medes. The throne of Lydia, a state in the western part
of Asia Minor, was at this time held by Croesus, the last and most famous
of his line. The king grew so wealthy from the tribute paid by Lydian
subjects and from his gold mines that his name has passed into the
proverb, "rich as Croesus." He viewed with alarm the rising power of Cyrus
and rashly offered battle to the Persian monarch. Defeated in the open
field, Croesus shut himself up in Sardis, his capital. The city was soon
taken, however, and with its capture the Lydian kingdom came to an end.
CAPTURE OF BABYLON, 539 B.C.
The downfall of Lydia prepared the way for a Persian attack on Babylonia.
The conquest of that country proved unexpectedly easy. In 539 B.C. the
great city of Babylon opened its gates to the Persian host. Shortly
afterwards Cyrus issued a decree allowing the Jewish exiles there to
return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple, which Nebuchadnezzar had
destroyed. With the surrender of Babylon the last Semitic empire in the
East came to an end. The Medes and Persians, an Indo-European people,
henceforth ruled over a wider realm than ever before had been formed in
CAMBYSES, 529-522 B.C.
Cyrus was followed by his son, Cambyses, a cruel but stronghanded despot.
Cambyses determined to add Egypt to the Persian dominions. His land army
was supported by a powerful fleet, to which the Phoenicians and the Greeks
of Cyprus contributed ships. A single battle sufficed to overthrow the
Egyptian power and to bring the long rule of the Pharaohs to a close. 
DARIUS THE GREAT, 521-485 B.C.
The reign of Darius, the successor of Cambyses, was marked by further
extensions of the frontiers. An expedition to the distant East added to
the empire the region of the Punjab,  along the upper waters of the
Indus. Another expedition against the wild Scythian tribes along the
Danube led to conquests in Europe and brought the Persian dominions close
to those of the Greeks. Not without reason could Darius describe himself
in an inscription which still survives, as "the great king, king of kings,
king of countries, king of all men."
[Illustration: DARIUS WITH HIS ATTENDANTS
Bas-relief at Persepolis. The monarch's right hand grasps a staff or
scepter, his left hand, a bunch of flowers. His head is surmounted by a
crown, his body is enveloped in the long Median mantle. Above the king is
a representation of the divinity which guarded and guided him. In the rear
are two Persian nobles, one carrying the royal fan, the other the royal
[Illustration: ROCK SEPULCHERS OF THE PERSIAN KINGS
The tombs are those of Darius, Xerxes, and two of their successors. They
are near Persepolis.]
ORGANIZATION OF THE PERSIAN EMPIRE
It was the work of Darius to provide for his dominions a stable government
which should preserve what the sword had won. The problem was difficult.
The empire was a collection of many peoples widely different in race,
language, customs, and religion. Darius did not attempt to weld the
conquered nations into unity. As long as the subjects of Persia paid
tribute and furnished troops for the royal army, they were allowed to
conduct their own affairs with little interference from the Great King.
THE SATRAPAL SYSTEM
The entire empire, excluding Persia proper, was divided into twenty
satrapies, or provinces, each one with its civil governor, or satrap. The
satraps carried out the laws and collected the heavy tribute annually
levied throughout the empire. In most of the provinces there were also
military governors who commanded the army and reported directly to the
king. This device of intrusting the civil and military functions to
separate officials lessened the danger of revolts against the Persian
authority. As an additional precaution Darius provided special agents
whose business it was to travel from province to province and investigate
the conduct of his officials. It became a proverb that "the king has many
eyes and many ears."
Darius also established a system of military roads throughout the Persian
dominions. The roads were provided at frequent intervals with inns, where
postmen stood always in readiness to take up a letter and carry it to the
next station. The Royal Road from Susa, the Persian capital, to Sardis in
Lydia was over fifteen hundred miles long; but government couriers, using
relays of fresh horses, could cover the distance within a week. An old
Greek writer declares with admiration that "there is nothing mortal more
swift than these messengers." 
UNION OF THE EAST UNDER PERSIA
The political history of the East fitly ends with the three Persian
conquerors, Cyrus, Cambyses, and Darius, who thus brought into their huge
empire every great state of Oriental antiquity. Medes and Persians,
Babylonians and Assyrians, Lydians, Syrians, and Egyptians--all were at
length united under a single dominion. In the reign of Darius this united
Orient first comes into contact with the rising power of the Greek states
of Europe. So we may leave its history here, resuming our narrative when
we discuss the momentous conflict between Persia and Greece, which was to
affect the course, not alone of Persian or Greek, but of all European
[Illustration: Map, THE PERSIAN EMPIRE AT ITS GREATEST EXTENT (About 500
1. On the map Physical Map of Asia, section 7. Physical Asia, topic Grand
Divisions of Asia, see what regions of Asia are less than 500 feet above
sea level; less than 3000 feet; less than 9000 feet; less than 15,000
feet; over 15,000 feet.
2. On an outline map of the Orient indicate eight important rivers, two
gulfs, three inland seas, the great plateaus and plains, the principal
mountain ranges, two important passes, and the various countries and
cities mentioned in this chapter.
3. On an outline map draw the boundaries of the Persian Empire under
Darius, showing what parts were conquered by Cyrus, Cambyses, and Darius,
4. For what were the following places noted: Jerusalem; Thebes; Tyre;
Nineveh; and Babylon?
5. For what were the following persons famous: Hammurabi; Rameses II;
Solomon; Cyrus; Nebuchadnezzar; and Darius?
6. Define and illustrate these terms: empire, kingdom, province, tributary
7. Identity these dates: 606 B.C.; 539 B.C.; and 540 B.C.
8. Why was India better known in ancient times than China?
9. What modern countries are included within the limits of ancient Iran?
10. Why was a canal through the isthmus of Suez less needed in ancient
times than to-day?
11. Can you suggest any reasons why the sources of the Nile remained
unknown until late in the nineteenth century?
12. What is the origin of the name _Delta_ applied to such a region as
13. Comment on the statement: "Egypt as a geographical expression is two
things--the Desert and the Nile. As a habitable country it is only one
14. Why did the Greek traveler, Herodotus, call Egypt "the gift of the
15. Distinguish between Syria and Assyria.
16. What is the exact meaning of the words, _Hebrew_, _Israelite_, and
_Jew_? Describe some features of Assyrian warfare (illustration, page 35).
17. What modern countries are included within the limits of the Persian
Empire under Darius?
18. Trace on the map facing page 40 the course of the Royal Road, noting
the countries through which it passed.
 Webster, _Readings in Ancient History_, chapter ii, "The Founders of
the Persian Empire: Cyrus, Cambyses, and Darius."
 See page 16.
 See page 39.
 See page 125.
 Herodotus, i, 193.
 See page 8.
 It is interesting to note that Hebrew tradition (_Genesis_, ii, 8-15)
places Paradise, the garden of God and original home of man, in southern
Babylonia. The ancient name for this district was Edin (Eden).
 The problem of regulating the Nile inundation so as to distribute the
water for irrigation when and where it is most needed has been solved by
the building of the Assuan dam. It lies across the head of the first
cataract for a distance of a mile and a quarter, and creates a lake two
hundred and forty miles in length. This great work was completed in 1912
A.D. by the British officials who now control Egypt.
 See page 50.
 Judges, xvii, 6.
 2 _Kings_, xix, 35. See Byron's poem, _The Destruction of
 See page 29.
 See page 21.
 Herodotus, viii, 98.
 See chapter v.
ORIENTAL CIVILIZATION 
13. SOCIAL CLASSES
REDISCOVERY OF THE ORIENT
Our present knowledge of the Orient has been gained within recent times.
Less than a century ago no one could read the written records of the
Egyptians and Babylonians. The decipherment of the Rosetta Stone, which
contained an inscription in both Greek and hieroglyphics, led to the
understanding of Egyptian writing. Scholars later succeeded in
interpreting the Babylonian cuneiform script. Modern excavations in the
valleys of the Nile and the Euphrates have now provided them with abundant
material for study in the shape of books and inscriptions. As these are
gradually deciphered, new light is being thrown on all features of ancient
[Illustration: A ROYAL NAME IN HIEROGLYPHICS (ROSETTA STONE)
The cut shows the symbols contained in one of the oval rings, or
_cartouches_, for Ptolemaios, the Greek name of King Ptolemy. Each symbol
represents the initial letter of the Egyptian name for the object
pictured. The objects in order are: a mat, a half-circle, a noose, a lion,
a hole, two reeds, and a chair-back. The entire hieroglyph is read from
left to right, as we read words in English.]
[Illustration: THE ROSETTA STONE.
British Museum, London. A block of black basalt, three feet seven inches
in height, found in 1799 A.D., near the Rosetta mouth of the Nile.]
THE KING AS AUTOCRAT
The Oriental peoples, when their history opens, were living under the
monarchical form of government. The king, to his subjects, was the earthly
representative of the god. Often, indeed, he was himself regarded as
divine. The belief in the king's divine origin made obedience to him a
religious obligation for his subjects. Every Oriental monarch was an
autocrat. Every Oriental monarchy was a despotism.
THE KING'S DUTIES
The king had many duties. He was judge, commander, and high priest, all in
one. In time of war, he led his troops and faced the dangers of the battle
field. During intervals of peace, he was occupied with a constant round of
sacrifices, prayers, and processions, which could not be neglected without
exciting the anger of the gods. To his courtiers he gave frequent
audience, hearing complaints, settling disputes, and issuing commands. A
conscientious monarch, such as Hammurabi, who describes himself as "a real
father to his people," must have been a very busy man.
[Illustration: AN EGYPTIAN COURT SCENE
Wall painting from a tomb at Thebes. Shows a Pharaoh receiving Asiatic
envoys bearing tribute. They are introduced by white robed Egyptian
officials. The Asiatics may be distinguished by their gay clothes and
black, sharp pointed beards.]
NOBLES AND PRIESTS
Besides the monarch and the royal family there was generally in Oriental
countries an upper class of landowners. In Egypt the Pharaoh was regarded
as sole owner of the land. Some of it he worked through his slaves, but
the larger part he granted to his favorites, as hereditary estates. Such
persons may be called the nobles. The different priesthoods also had much
land, the revenues from which kept up the temples where they ministered.
In Babylonia, likewise, we find a priesthood and nobility supported by the
income from landed property.
THE MIDDLE CLASS
The middle class included professional men, shopkeepers independent
farmers, and skilled craftsmen. Though regarded as inferiors, still they
had a chance to rise in the world. If they became rich, they might hope to
enter the upper class as priests or government officials.
WORKMEN AND PEASANTS
No such hopes encouraged the day laborer in the fields or shops. His lot
was bitter poverty and a life of unending toil. If he was an unskilled
workman, his wages were only enough to keep him and his family. He toiled
under overseers who carried sticks and used them freely. "Man has a back,"
says an Egyptian proverb, "and only obeys when it is beaten." If the
laborer was a peasant, he could be sure that the nobles from whom he
rented the land and the tax collectors of the king would leave him
scarcely more than a bare living.
At the very bottom of the social ladder were the slaves. Every ancient
people possessed them. At first they were prisoners of war, who, instead
of being slaughtered, were made to labor for their masters. At a later
period people unable to pay their debts often became slaves. The treatment
of slaves depended on the character of the master. A cruel and overbearing
owner might make life a burden for his bondmen. Escape was rarely
possible. Slaves were branded like cattle to prevent their running away.
Hammurabi's code  imposed the death penalty on anybody who aided or
concealed the fugitives. There was plenty of work for the slaves to
perform--repairing dikes, digging irrigation canals, and erecting vast
palaces and temples. The servile class in Egypt was not as numerous as in
Babylonia, and slavery itself seems to have assumed there a somewhat
[Illustration: TRANSPORT OF AN ASSYRIAN COLOSSUS
A slab from a gallery of Sennacherib's palace at Nineveh. The immense
block is being pulled forward by slaves, who work under the lash.]
14. ECONOMIC CONDITIONS
Such fruitful, well-watered valleys as those of the Nile and the Euphrates
encouraged agricultural life. Farming was the chief occupation. Working
people, whether slaves or freemen, were generally cultivators of the soil.
All the methods of agriculture are pictured for us on the monuments. We
mark the peasant as he breaks up the earth with a hoe or plows a shallow
furrow with a sharp-pointed stick. We see the sheep being driven across
sown fields to trample the seed into the moist soil. We watch the patient
laborers as with hand sickles they gather in the harvest and then with
heavy flails separate the chaff from the grain. Although their methods
were very clumsy, ancient farmers raised immense crops of wheat and
barley. The soil of Egypt and Babylonia not only supported a dense
population, but also supplied food for neighboring peoples. These two
lands were the granaries of the East.
[Illustration: PLOWING AND SOWING IN ANCIENT EGYPT]
Many industries of to-day were known in ancient Egypt and Babylonia. There
were blacksmiths, carpenters, stonecutters, workers in ivory, silver, and
gold, weavers, potters, and glass blowers. The creations of these ancient
craftsmen often exhibit remarkable skill. Egyptian linens were so
wonderfully fine and transparent as to merit the name of "woven air."
Babylonian tapestries, carpets, and rugs enjoyed a high reputation for
beauty of design and color. Egyptian glass with its waving lines of
different hues was much prized. Precious stones were made into beads,
necklaces, charms, and seals. The precious metals were employed for a
great variety of ornaments. Egyptian paintings show the goldsmiths at work
with blowpipe and forceps, fashioning bracelets, rings, and diadems,
inlaying objects of stone and wood, or covering their surfaces with fine
gold leaf. The manufacture of tiles and glazed pottery was everywhere
carried on. Babylonia is believed to be the original home of porcelain.
Enameled bricks found there are unsurpassed by the best products of the
The development of the arts and crafts brought a new industrial class into
existence. There was now need of merchants and shopkeepers to collect
manufactured products where they could be readily bought and sold. The
cities of Babylonia, in particular, became thriving markets. Partnerships
between tradesmen were numerous. We even hear of commercial companies.
Business life in ancient Babylonia wore, indeed, quite a modern look.
Metallic money first circulated in the form of rings and bars. The
Egyptians had small pieces of gold--"cow gold"--each of which was simply
the value of a full-grown cow.  It was necessary to weigh the metal
whenever a purchase took place. A common picture on the Egyptian monuments
is that of the weigher with his balance and scales. Then the practice
arose of stamping each piece of money with its true value and weight. The
next step was coinage proper, where the government guarantees, not only
the weight, but also the genuineness of the metal.
[Illustration: EGYPTIAN WEIGHING "COW GOLD"]
The honor of the invention of coinage is generally given to the Lydians,
whose country was well supplied with the precious metals. As early as the
eighth century B.C. the Lydian monarchs began to strike coins of electrum,
a natural alloy of gold and silver. The famous Croesus, whose name is
still a synonym for riches, was the first to issue coins of pure gold and
silver. The Greek neighbors of Lydia quickly adopted the art of coinage
and so introduced it into Europe. 
The use of money as a medium of exchange led naturally to a system of
banking. In Babylonia, for instance, the bankers formed an important and
influential class. One great banking house, established at Babylon before
the age of Sennacherib, carried on operations for several centuries.
Hundreds of legal documents belonging to this firm have been discovered in
the huge earthenware jars which served as safes. The Babylonian temples
also received money on deposit and loaned it out again, as do our modern
banks. Knowledge of the principles of banking passed from Babylonia to
Greece and thence to ancient Italy and Rome.
15. COMMERCE AND TRADE ROUTES
The use of the precious metals as money greatly aided the exchange of
commodities between different countries. The cities of the Tigris-
Euphrates valley were admirably situated for commerce, both by sea and
land. They enjoyed a central position between eastern and western Asia.
The shortest way by water from India skirted the southern coast of Iran
and, passing up the Persian Gulf, gained the valley of the two great
rivers. Even more important were the overland roads from China and India
which met at Babylon and Nineveh. Along these routes traveled long lines
of caravans laden with the products of the distant East--gold and ivory,
jewels and silks, tapestries, spices, and fine woods. Still other avenues
of commerce radiated to the west and entered Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt.
Many of these trade routes are in use even to-day.
[Illustration: Map, ANCIENT TRADE ROUTES]
COMMERCE WITH EUROPE
While the inhabitants of Babylonia and Assyria were able to control the
caravan routes of Asia, it was reserved for a Syrian people, the
Phoenicians, to become the pioneers of commerce with Europe. As early as
1500 B.C. the rich copper mines of Cyprus attracted Phoenician colonists
to this island.  From Cyprus these bold mariners and keen business men
passed to Crete, thence along the shores of Asia Minor to the Greek
mainland, and possibly to the Black Sea. Some centuries later the
Phoenicians were driven from these regions by the rising power of the
Greek states. Then they sailed farther westward and established their
trading posts in Sicily, Africa, and Spain. At length they passed through
the strait of Gibraltar into the Atlantic and visited the shores of
western Europe and Africa.
[Illustration: Map, PHOENICIAN AND GREEK COLONIES]
PHOENICIAN IMPORTS AND EXPORTS
The Phoenicians obtained a great variety of products from their widely
scattered settlements. The mines of Spain yielded tin, lead, and silver.
The tin was especially valuable because of its use in the manufacture of
bronze.  From Africa came ivory, ostrich feathers, and gold; from
Arabia, incense, perfumes, and costly spices. The Phoenicians found a
ready sale for these commodities throughout the East. Still other products
were brought directly to Phoenicia to provide the raw materials for her
flourishing manufactures. The fine carpets and glassware, the artistic
works in silver and bronze, and the beautiful purple cloths  produced
by Phoenician factories were exported to every region of the known world.
PHOENICIAN VOYAGES OF EXPLORATION
The Phoenicians were the boldest sailors of antiquity. Some of their long
voyages are still on record. We learn from the Bible that they made
cruises on the Red Sea and Indian Ocean and brought the gold of Ophir--
"four hundred and twenty talents"--to Solomon.  There is even a story
of certain Phoenicians who, by direction of an Egyptian king, explored the
eastern coast of Africa, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and after three
years' absence returned to Egypt through the strait of Gibraltar. A much
more probable narrative is that of the voyage of Hanno, a Carthaginian
admiral. We still possess a Greek translation of his interesting log book.
It describes an expedition made about 500 B.C. along the western coast of
Africa. The explorers seem to have sailed as far as the country now called
Sierra Leone. Nearly two thousand years elapsed before a similar voyage
along the African coast was undertaken.
Wherever the Phoenicians journeyed, they established settlements. Most of
these were merely trading posts which contained the warehouses for the
storage of their goods. Here the shy natives came to barter their raw
materials for the finished products--cloths, tools, weapons, wine, and
oil--which the strangers from the East had brought with them. Phoenician
settlements sometimes grew to be large and flourishing cities. The colony
of Gades in southern Spain, mentioned in the Old Testament as Tarshish,
 survives to this day as Cadiz. The city of Carthage, founded in North
Africa by colonists from Tyre, became the commercial mistress of the
Mediterranean. Carthaginian history has many points of contact with that
of the Greeks and Romans.
16. LAW AND MORALITY
It is clear that societies so highly organized as Phoenicia, Egypt, and
Babylonia must have been held together by the firm bonds of law. The
ancient Babylonians, especially, were a legal-minded people. When a man
sold his wheat, bought a slave, married a wife, or made a will, the
transaction was duly noted on a contract tablet, which was then filed away
in the public archives. Instead of writing his name, a Babylonian stamped
his seal on the wet clay of the tablet. Every man who owned property had
to have a seal.
CODE OF HAMMURABI
The earliest laws were, of course, unwritten. They were no more than the
long-established customs of the community. As civilization advanced, the
usages that generally prevailed were written out and made into legal
codes. A recent discovery has given to us the almost complete text of the
laws which Hammurabi, the Babylonian king, ordered to be engraved on stone
monuments and set up in all the chief cities of his realm. 
SUBJECT MATTER OF HAMMURABI'S CODE
The code of Hammurabi shows, in general, a high sense of justice. A man
who tries to bribe a witness or a judge is to be severely punished. A
farmer who is careless with his dikes and allows the water to run through
flood his neighbor's land must restore the value of the grain he has
damaged. The owner of a vicious ox which has gored a man must pay a heavy
fine, provided he knew the disposition of the animal and had not blunted
its horns. A builder who puts up a shaky house which afterwards collapses
and kills the tenant is himself to be put to death. On the other hand, the
code has some rude features. Punishments were severe. For injuries to the
body there was the simple rule of retaliation: an eye for an eye, a tooth
for a tooth, a limb for a limb. A son who had struck his father was to
have his hands cut off. The nature of the punishment depended, moreover,
on the rank of the aggrieved party. A person who had caused the loss of a
"gentleman's" eye was to have his own plucked out; but if the injury was
done to a poor man, the culprit had only to pay a fine.
[Illustration: BABYLONIAN CONTRACT TABLET
The actual tablet is on the right, on the left is a hollow clay case or
IMPORTANCE OF HAMMURABI'S CODE
Hammurabi's laws thus present a vivid picture of Oriental society two
thousand years before Christ. They always remained the basis of the
Babylonian and Assyrian legal system. They were destined, also, to exert
considerable influence upon Hebrew legislation. Centuries after Hammurabi
the enactments of the old Babylonian king were reproduced in some of the
familiar regulations of the laws of Moses. In this way they became the
heritage of the Hebrews and, through them, of our modern world.
THE MOSAIC CODE
The laws which we find in the earlier books of the Bible were ascribed by
the Hebrews to Moses. These laws covered a wide range of topics. They
fixed all religious ceremonies, required the observance every seventh day
of the Sabbath, dealt with marriage and the family, stated the penalties
for wrongdoing, gave elaborate rules for sacrifices, and even indicated
what foods must be avoided as "unclean." No other ancient people possessed
so elaborate a code. The Jews throughout the world obey, to this day, its
precepts. And modern Christendom still recites the Ten Commandments, the
noblest summary of the rules of right living that has come down to us from
the ancient world.
Oriental ideas of religion, even more than of law and morality, were the
gradual outgrowth of beliefs held by the Asiatic peoples in prehistoric
times. Everywhere nature worship prevailed. The vault of heaven, earth and
ocean, sun, moon, and stars were all regarded either as themselves divine
or as the abode of divinities. The sun was an object of especial
adoration. We find a sun god, under different names, in every Oriental
BABYLONIAN BELIEF IN EVIL SPIRITS
Another inheritance from prehistoric times was the belief in evil spirits.
In Babylonia and Assyria this superstition became a prominent feature of
the popular religion. Men supposed themselves to be constantly surrounded
by a host of demons which caused insanity, sickness, disease, and death--
all the ills of life. People lived in constant fear of offending these
To cope with evil spirits the Babylonian used magic. He put up a small
image of a protecting god at the entrance to his house and wore charms
upon his person. If he felt ill, he went to a priest, who recited a long
incantation supposed to drive out the "devil" afflicting the patient. The
reputation of the Babylonian priests was so widespread that in time the
name "Chaldean"  came to mean one who is a magician. Some of their
magical rites were borrowed by the Jews, and later by the Romans, from
whom they entered Christian Europe. Another Babylonian practice which
spread westward was that of divination, particularly by inspecting the
entrails of animals slain in sacrifice. This was a very common method of
divination among the Greeks and Romans. 
[Illustration: EGYPTIAN SCARAB
The beetle, as a symbol of birth and resurrection, and hence of
immortality, enjoyed much reverence in ancient Egypt. A scarab, or image
of the beetle, was often worn as a charm and was placed in the mummy as an
Astrology received much attention. It was believed that the five planets,
comets, and eclipses of the sun and moon exerted an influence for good or
evil on the life of man. Babylonian astrology likewise extended to western
lands and became popular among the Greeks and Romans. Some of it survives
to the present time. When we name the days Saturday, Sunday, and Monday,
we are unconscious astrologers, for in old belief the first day belonged
to the planet Saturn, the second to the sun, and the third to the moon.
 Superstitious people who try to read their fate in the stars are
really practicing an art of Babylonian origin.
EGYPTIAN ANIMAL WORSHIP
Less influential in later times was the animal worship of the Egyptians.
This, too, formed a heritage from the prehistoric past. Many common
animals of Egypt--the cat, hawk, the jackal, the bull, the ram, the
crocodile--were highly reverenced. Some received worship because deities
were supposed to dwell in them. The larger number, however, were not
worshiped for themselves, but as symbols of different gods.
MONOTHEISM IN PERSIA
In the midst of such an assemblage of nature deities, spirits, and sacred
animals, it was remarkable that the belief in one god should ever have
arisen. The Medes and Persians accepted the teachings of Zoroaster, a
great prophet who lived perhaps as early as 1000 B.C. According to
Zoroaster, Ahuramazda, the heaven-deity, is the maker and upholder of the
universe. He is a god of light and order, of truth and purity. Against him
stands Ahriman, the personification of darkness and evil. Ahuramazda in
the end will overcome Ahriman and will reign supreme in a righteous world.
Zoroastrianism was the only monotheistic religion developed by an Indo-
European people. 
[Illustration: AMENHOTEP IV
A striking likeness of an Egyptian king (reigned about 1375-1358 B.C.) who
endeavored to introduce monotheism in Egypt by abolishing the worship of
all gods except the sun god. This religious revolution ended in failure
for after the king's death the old deities were restored to honor.]
The Hebrews, alone among the Semitic peoples of antiquity, were to develop
the worship of their god, Jehovah, into a lasting monotheism. This was a
long and gradual process Jehovah was at first regarded as the peculiar
divinity of the Hebrews. His worshipers did not deny the existence of the
gods of other nations. From the eighth century onward this narrow
conception of Jehovah was transformed by the labors of the Hebrew
prophets. They taught that Jehovah was the creator and ruler of the world
and the loving father of all mankind. On Hebrew monotheism two world
religions have been founded--Mohammedanism and Christianity.
EGYPTIAN IDEAS OF THE FUTURE LIFE
We do not find among the early Hebrews or any other Oriental people very
clear ideas about the life after death. The Egyptians long believed that
the soul of the dead man resided in or near the tomb, closely associated
with the body. This notion seems to have first led to the practice of
embalming the corpse, so that it might never suffer decay. If the body was
not preserved, the soul might die, or it might become a wandering ghost,
restless and dangerous to the living. Later Egyptian thought regarded the
future state as a place of rewards and punishments. One of the chapters of
the work called the _Book of the Dead_ describes the judgment of the soul
in the spirit world. If a man in the earthly life had not murdered,
stolen, coveted the property of others, blasphemed the gods, borne false
witness, ill treated his parents, or committed certain other wrongs, his
soul would enjoy a blissful immortality.
[Illustration: MUMMY AND COVER OF COFFIN (U.S. National Museum,
BABYLONIAN AND HEBREW IDEAS OF THE FUTURE LIFE
Some Oriental peoples kept the primitive belief that after death all men,
good and bad alike, suffered the same fate. The Babylonians supposed that
the souls of the departed passed a cheerless existence in a gloomy and
Hebrew underworld. The early Hebrew idea of Sheol, "the land of darkness
and the shadow of death,"  was very similar. Such thoughts of the
future life left nothing for either fear or hope. In later times, however,
the Hebrews came to believe in the resurrection of the dead and the last
judgment, conceptions afterwards adopted by Christianity.
18. LITERATURE AND ART
THE EGYPTIAN BOOK OF THE DEAD
Religion inspired the largest part of ancient literature. Each Oriental
people possessed sacred writings. The Egyptian _Book of the Dead_ was
already venerable in 3000 B.C. It was a collection of hymns, prayers, and
magical phrases to be recited by the soul on its journey beyond the grave
and in the spirit world. A chapter from this work usually covered the
inner side of the mummy case.
[Illustration: THE JUDGMENT OF THE DEAD
From a papyrus containing the _Book of the Dead_. The illustration shows a
man and his wife (at the left) entering the hall in the spirit world,
where sits the god of the dead with forty two jurors (seen above) as his
assistants. The heart of the man, symbolized by a jar, is being weighed in
balances by a jackal-headed god against a feather, the symbol of truth.
The monster in the right hand corner stands ready to devour the soul, if
the heart is found lighter than the feather.]
THE BABYLONIAN EPICS
Much more interesting are the two Babylonian epics, fragments of which
were found on clay tablets in a royal library at Nineveh. The epic of the
Creation tells how the god Marduk overcame a terrible dragon, the symbol
of primeval chaos, and thus established order in the universe. Then with
half the body of the dead dragon he made a covering for the heavens and
set therein the stars. Next he caused the new moon to shine and made it
the ruler of the night. His last work was the creation of man, in order
that the service and worship of the gods might be established forever. The
second epic contains an account of a flood, sent by the gods to punish
sinful men. The rain fell for six days and nights and covered the entire
earth. All men were drowned except the Babylonian Noah, his family, and
his relatives, who safely rode the waters in an ark. This ancient
narrative so closely resembles the Bible story in _Genesis_ that we must
trace them both to a common source.
[Illustration: THE DELUGE TABLET (British Museum London)
Contains the narrative of the flood as pieced together and published by
George Smith in 1872 A.D. There are sixteen fragments in the restoration.]
[Illustration: AN EGYPTIAN TEMPLE (RESTORED)
The building extended along the Nile for nearly eight hundred feet. A
double line of sphinxes led to the only entrance, in front of which were
two obelisks and four colossal statues of Rameses II. Behind the first
gateway, or pylon came an open court surrounded by a portico upheld by
pillars. The second and third pylons were connected by a covered passage
leading into another open court. Lower rooms at the rear of the temple
contained the sanctuary of the god, which only the king and priests could
THE HEBREW BIBLE
All these writings are so ancient that their very authors are forgotten.
The interest they excite is historical rather than literary. From Oriental
antiquity only one great work has reached us that still has power to move
the hearts of men--the Hebrew Bible.
Architecture, in Egypt, was the leading art. The Egyptians were the first
people who learned to raise buildings with vast halls supported by
ponderous columns. Their wealth and skill, however, were not lavished in
the erection of fine private mansions or splendid public buildings. The
characteristic works of Egyptian architecture are the tombs of the kings
and the temples of the gods. The picture of the great structure at Thebes,
which Rameses II completed,  will give some idea of an Egyptian temple
with its gateways, open courts, obelisks, and statues.
[Illustration: AN EGYPTIAN WOODEN STATUE, (Museum of Gizeh)
Found in a tomb near Memphis. The statue, which belongs to the age of the
pyramid kings, represents a bustling, active, middle-class official.]
ARCHITECTURE IN BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA
The architecture of Babylonia and Assyria was totally unlike that of
Egypt, because brick, and not stone, formed the chief building and Assyria
material. In Babylonia the temple was a solid, square tower, built on a
broad platform. It consisted usually of seven stages, which arose one
above the other to the top, where the shrine of the deity was placed. The
different stages were connected by an inclined ascent. The four sides of
the temple faced the cardinal points, and the several stages were
dedicated to the sun, moon, and five planets. In Assyria the
characteristic building was the palace. But the sun-dried bricks, of which
both temples and palaces were composed, lacked the durability of stone and
have long since dissolved into shapeless mounds.
The surviving examples of Egyptian sculpture consist of bas-reliefs and
figures in the round, carved from limestone and granite or cast in bronze.
Many of the statues appear to our eyes very stiff and ungraceful. The
sculptor never learned how to pose his figures easily or how to arrange
them in an artistic group. In spite of these defects some Egyptian statues
are wonderfully lifelike. 
[Illustration: AN ASSYRIAN PALACE (RESTORED)
The royal residence of Sargon II near Nineveh was placed upon a high
platform of brick masonry the top of which was gained by stairs and an
inclined roadway. The palace consisted of a series of one storied
rectangular halls and long corridors surrounding inner courts. They were
provided with imposing entrances flanked by colossal human headed bulls
representing guardian spirits. The entire building covered more than
twenty three acres and contained two hundred apartments. In the rear is
seen a temple tower.]
SCULPTURE IN BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA
Few examples have reached us of Babylonian and Assyrian sculpture in the
round. As in Egypt, the figures seem rigid and out of proportion. The
Assyrian bas-reliefs show a higher development of the artistic sense,
especially in the rendering of animals. The sculptures that deal with the
exploits of the kings in war and hunting often tell their story in so
graphic a way as to make up for the absence of written records.
Painting in the ancient East did not reach the dignity of an independent
art. It was employed solely for decorative purposes. Bas-reliefs and wall
surfaces were often brightly colored, The artist had no knowledge of
perspective and drew all his figures in profile, without any distinction
of light and shade. Indeed, Oriental painting, as well as Oriental
sculpture, made small pretense to the beautiful. Beauty was born into the
world with the art of the Greeks.
[Illustration: AN ASSYRIAN WINGED HUMAN HEADED BULL]
[Illustration: AN ASSYRIAN HUNTING SCENE (British Museum, London)
A bas relief from a slab found at Nineveh.]
19. SCIENCE AND EDUCATION
ARITHMETIC AND GEOMETRY
Conspicuous advance took place in the exact sciences. The leading
operations of arithmetic were known. A Babylonian tablet gives a table of
squares and cubes correctly calculated from 1 to 60. The number 12 was the
basis of all reckonings. The division of the circle into degrees, minutes,
and seconds (360 deg., 60', 60") was an invention of the Babylonians which
illustrates this duodecimal system A start was made in geometry. One of
the oldest of Egyptian books contains a dozen geometrical problems. This
knowledge was afterwards developed into a true science by the Greeks.
In both Egypt and Babylonia the cloudless skies and still, warm nights
early led to astronomical research. At a remote period, perhaps before
4000 B.C., the Egyptians framed a solar calendar,  consisting of
twelve months, each thirty days in length, with five extra days at the end
of the year. This calendar was taken over by the Romans,  who added
the system of leap years. The Babylonians made noteworthy progress in some
branches of astronomy. They were able to trace the course of the sun
through the twelve constellations of the zodiac and to distinguish five of
the planets from the fixed stars. The successful prediction of eclipses
formed another Babylonian achievement. Such astronomical discoveries must
have required much patient and accurate observation.
Geographical ideas for a long time were very crude. An ancient map,
scratched on clay, indicates that about eight centuries before Christ the
Babylonians had gained some knowledge, not only of their own land, but
even of regions beyond the Mediterranean. The chief increase in man's
knowledge of the world in ancient times was due to the Phoenicians. 
The skill of Oriental peoples as mechanics and engineers is proved by
their success as builders. The great pyramids exactly face the points of
the compass. The principle of the round arch was known in Babylonia at a
remote period The transportation of colossal stone monuments exhibits a
knowledge of the lever, pulley, and inclined plane.  Babylonian
inventions were the sundial and the water clock, the one to register the
passage of the hours by day, the other by night. The Egyptians and
Babylonians also made some progress in the practice of medicine.
[Illustration: A BABYLONIAN MAP OF THE WORLD
A tablet of dark brown clay, much injured, dating from the 8th or 7th
century B.C. The two large concentric circles indicate the ocean or, as it
is called in the cuneiform writing between the circles, the 'Briny Flood.'
Beyond the ocean are seven successive projections of land, represented by
triangles. Perhaps they refer to the countries existing beyond the Black
Sea and the Red Sea. The two parallel lines within the inner circle
represent the Euphrates. The little rings stand for the Babylonian cities
in this region.]
THE TEMPLE SCHOOL
The schools, in both Egypt and Babylonia, were attached to the temples and
were conducted by the priests. Writing was the chief subject of
instruction. It took many years of patient study to master the cuneiform
symbols or the even more difficult hieroglyphics. "He who would excel in
the school of the scribes," ran an ancient maxim, "must rise with the
dawn." Writing was learned by imitating the examples supplied in copy-
books. Some of the model letters studied by Egyptian boys of the twentieth
century B.C. have come down to us. Reading, too, was an art not easy to
learn. Dictionaries and grammars were written to aid the beginner. A
little instruction was also provided in counting and calculating.
[Illustration: AN EGYPTIAN SCRIBE (Louvre, Paris)]
Having learned to read and write, the pupil was ready to enter on the
coveted career of a scribe. In a community where nearly every one was
illiterate, the scribes naturally held an honorable place. They conducted
the correspondence of the time. When a man wished to send a letter, he had
a scribe write it, signing it himself by affixing his seal. When he
received a letter, he usually employed a scribe to read it to him. The
scribes were also kept busy copying books on the papyrus paper or clay
tablets which served as writing materials.
THE TEMPLE LIBRARY
Every large city of Babylonia possessed a collection of books. Several of
the larger libraries have been discovered. At Nippur, in Babylonia, thirty
thousand clay tablets were found. Another great collection of books was
unearthed in a royal palace at Nineveh. This Assyrian library seems to
have been open for the general use of the king's subjects. The Egyptians
also had their libraries, usually as adjuncts to the temples, and hence
under priestly control.
WIDESPREAD POPULAR IGNORANCE
Learning and education were so closely limited to a few individuals that
the mass of the people were sunk in deepest ignorance. Men could not
pursue knowledge for themselves, but had to accept every thing on
authority. Hence the inhabitants of Oriental lands remained a conservative
folk, slow to abandon their time-honored beliefs and very unwilling to
adopt a new custom even when clearly better than the old. This absence of
popular education, more than anything else, made Oriental civilization
[Illustration: EXCAVATION AT NIPPUR
Nippur was the ancient "Calneh in the land of Shinar" (_Genesis_, x, 10)
Excavations here were conducted by the University of Pennsylvania during
1889-1900 A.D. The city contained an imposing temple, a library, a school,
and even a little museum of antiquities.]
1. What was the origin of the "divine right" of kings?
2. Explain what is meant by _despotism_; by _autocracy_.
3. What European state comes nearest to being a pure despotism? What
European monarch styles himself as an autocrat?
4. What do the illustrations on pages 38, 43 tell about the pomp of
5. Why did the existence of numerous slaves in Egypt and Babylonia tend to
keep low the wages of free workmen? Why is it true that civilization may
be said to have begun "with the cracking of the slave whip"?
6. What light is thrown on the beginnings of money in ancient Egypt by the
illustration on page 47?
7. Name some objects which, in place of the metals, are used by primitive
peoples as money.
8. Interest in Babylonia was usually at the rate of 20% a year. Why is it
so much lower in modern countries?
9. On the map, page 48, indicate the trade routes between eastern and
western Asia which met in Mesopotamia.
10. The Phoenicians have been called "the English of antiquity." Can you
give any reason for this characterization?
11. Why should the Phoenicians have been called the "colossal peddlers" of
the ancient world?
12. What books of the Bible contain the laws of Israel?
13. What reasons can you suggest for the universal worship of the sun?
14. Define _polytheism_ and _monotheism_, giving examples of each.
15. Describe the Egyptian conception of the judgment of the dead
(illustration, page 56).
16. How many "books" are there in the Old Testament?
17. What is the Apocrypha?
18. How are the pyramids proof of an advanced civilization among the
19. What is a bas-relief? Select some examples from the illustrations.
20. From what Oriental peoples do we get the oldest true arch? the first
coined money? the earliest legal code? the most ancient book?
21. Enumerate the most important contributions to civilization made in
 Webster, _Readings in Ancient History_, chapter 1, "Three Oriental
Peoples as Described by Herodotus."
 See page 25.
 See page 6.
 See page 37.
 For illustrations of Oriental coins see the plate facing page 134.
 See page 4.
 See page 5.
 "Tyrian purple" was a dye secured from a species of shellfish found
along the Phoenician coast and in Greek waters.
 See I _Kings_, ix, 26-28. The site of Ophir is not known, though
probably it was in southern Arabia.
 See _Ezekiel_, xxvii, 12, 25.