Naville, Edouard ; Griffith, Francis Ll. [Hrsg.]
The Mound of the Jew and the City of Onias: Belbeis, Samanood, Abusir, Tukh el Karmus, 1887 — London, 1890

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INTEOD

UOTION.

For antiquarian research, Egypt is a land that is
quite unsurpassed. The valley of the Nile 1ms
hidden in its sandy borders a continuous series of
relics, of perhaps the earliest civilization that the
world has seen, abundantly illustrated by con-
temporary writings, and preserved in some cases
for 6000 years, not indeed by a miracle, but by
an almost rainless atmosphere. If any European
country had been so endowed, what a marvellous
and authentic picture of ancient history would
have been revealed to us through the labour of
industrious antiquaries ! Unfortunately for its
past, Egypt is not the fatherland of Germans,
Switzers, Frenchmen, or Scandinavians, but of
an oriental race which seems to stand almost
impassive before the wonderful works of its
predecessors, and is ready to destroy them on the
slightest pretext. Yet so abundant are the
treasures of that country that it has presented us
with certainly a most wonderful series of records.
It has been the hunting-ground of collectors who
have secured many beautiful and striking monu-
ments. The inscriptions especially have had a
singular attraction for those who delight in
linguistic and graphic puzzles. One great
expedition after another, one scientific tourist
after another, has gathered a harvest from the
writings of tomb and temple, and a great mass of
such materials is already available for historians
to use with confidence.

Now, when the philologist has firmly outlined
the history, is a golden opportunity for the
antiquarian to fill in the details, and show the
progress and vicissitudes of culture, its action
and reaction upon surrounding nations. A
century ago the monuments were far more com-
plete, the greed and haste of the collector and
the dealer, of the factory builder and the "dis-
coverer " had not united in Egypt as in every
other country to spoil its choicest monuments,
and tear up and waste its records. But still the
present is the golden opportunity. Egypt is easy
of access, labour is very cheap, the native
labourers are manageable. The antiquarian
spirit that now pervades Europe and America has
been of slow growth, and only lately has become
sufficiently catholic to take an interest in foreign
and extra-Hellenic lands ; but the connection of
Egypt with Palestine, Syria, Phoenicia, and
Greece, is being more clearly shown each day,
and there is no need to prove the worthiness and
many-sided interest of the field of research,
increased a thousand-fold by the ease with which
the hieroglyphics are interpreted.

Half-hearted, hurried excavations, apart from
the positive harm they do, are almost worse than
useless for science. It is a misfortune, inherent
in the nature of most archaeological evidence, that
it can be made available only by its own destruc-
tion ! A grave is excavated, and in the course of

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