CHAPTER 15 THE LEGACY TO MODERN EGYPT1

'EGYPT', says Lady Duff-Gordon, 'is a palimpsest in which the Bible is written over Herodotos and the Koran over that.' Herodotus himself was written over the Pyramid Age which overlay the predynastic, and so on even perhaps to the Palaeolithic and beyond. It is still the custom to make prints of hands with blood on doors and on Saints' tombs. Red hand-prints are found in Europe in the Upper Palaeolithic.

The new is not always written over the old, but often beside it. Thus the ancient Egyptian water-lift was supplemented, not superseded by the water-wheel, and in Hellenistic times by the water-screw. The reason is that the earlier can sometimes work where the new cannot. The water-screw, for instance, is only suitable for small differences of level. Even the water-wheel has its limits, and when the Nile is low has to be eked out with the lift. As for the latest comer, the engine pump, it requires a capital which the smallholder never possesses, or he would not be a smallholder. It is no doubt partly for the same reason that the adze which we can see in use on the reliefs of Saqqâra can still be watched at work in streets traversed by the latest type of car. It is an all-round tool, armed with which a competent carpenter can achieve much with next to no capital.

New conceptions are continually arising which form the kernel of new systems of thought. Backed by the enthusiasm of newness, these attack and break up the older cultures, as a small keen army strikes at the heart of a large inert host, destroys

____________________
1
If I have ventured at all on this study it is because I could count on Prof. H. Junker to place at my disposal both his vast knowledge of Egypt ancient and modern, and the excellent library of the German Archaeological Institute ill Cairo. I have also been helped by the kindness of Prof. Sami Gabra, 'Ali Ahmed 'Isa Effendi, Malimud Gamal ed Din Hamdi Effendi, 'Abdallah Hasaii Effendi, and other friends.

-369-

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The Legacy of Egypt
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Note v
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations ix
  • Introduction xiii
  • Chapter 1 - The Calendars and Chronology 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Political Approach to the Classical World 17
  • Chapter 3 - Writing and Literature 53
  • Chapter 4 - Egyptian Art 80
  • Chapter 5 - Mechanical and Technical Processes. Materials 120
  • Chapter 6 - Science 160
  • Chapter 7 - Medicine 179
  • Chapter 8 - Law 198
  • Chapter 9 - Egypt and Israel 218
  • Chapter 10 - The Greek Papyri 249
  • Chapter 11 - Egypt and Romez 283
  • Chapter 12 - The Egyptian Contribution to Christianity 300
  • Chapter 13 - Egypt and the Byzantine Empire 332
  • Chapter 14 - The Contribution to Islam 348
  • Select Bibliography 368
  • Chapter 15 - The Legacy to Modern Egypt 369
  • Index 395
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