Back of History: The Story of Our Own Origins

By William Howells | Go to book overview

20
Egypt, Crete and the beginnings of Europe

Our own prehistory, that of Europe, drew to a close as civilization spread slowly into the West. Here, in the Mediterranean, its early home was Egypt. Greece and Rome, indeed, tended to look on Egypt as the mother of civilization, but they certainly gave her too great a share of the credit, for she drew on older sources in common with Sumer, and continuously thereafter on the Near East and Mesopotamia. Nevertheless, she had her individuality, and there is no indication that her writing and her pharaoh system were not her own developments, even if the basic notion of writing might possibly have come from Sumer. Lying in the corner of Africa, mostly in a narrow valley flanked by the desert, she was more isolated than Mesopotamia from uninvited intruders.

Egypt had a rich Neolithic culture, if you have not forgotten, before 4000 B.C. in the Faiyum Basin. This was succeeded by a sort of Copper Age culture, the Predynastic, appearing in the Nile Valley itself, known not from its villages but from its cemeteries. In these, the dead were outfitted each with some household goods and ornaments, and buried in a crouching position in a simple pit in the ground. There was plenty of well-made pottery. Men had a few weapons and women a dressing-table kit of sorts, particularly a comb, some green earth for painting the eyelids, and a small stone palette to grind this paint on. Copper tools appeared, and later on they were being made by a regular casting process.

These villages must have been growing up all along the Nile and in the Delta, doubtless with more complicated culture and

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Back of History: The Story of Our Own Origins
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Books by William Howells 2
  • Title Page 3
  • Acknowledgments 7
  • Content 9
  • Prologue 13
  • The Nature of Human Life 17
  • 1 - The Coming of Mankind 17
  • 2 - The Meaning of Society 31
  • 3 - Culture: How We Behave 45
  • 4 - Language: How We Talk 56
  • The Old Hunters--The First Step 69
  • 5 - Early Tools: The Lower Paleolithic 69
  • 6 - Early Men 82
  • 7 - The End of the Stone Age 101
  • 8 - The Last Living Hunters 118
  • The New Farmers -- the Second Step 135
  • 9 - The First Food Growers: The Neolithic 135
  • 10 - The Spread of Modern Races 154
  • 11 - Asia and the Western Farmers 168
  • 12 184
  • 13 - African Herders and Gardeners 206
  • The New Societes 223
  • 14 - The Organization of Society 223
  • 15 - The Meaning of Religion 241
  • 16 - Inventions and Changes 255
  • The New World 17 the Oldest Americans 273
  • Cities and Bronze-The Third Step 315
  • 19 - The Cradles of Civilization in Asia 315
  • 20 - Egypt, Crete and the Beginnings of Europe 336
  • Epilogue 353
  • Author's Note 363
  • Index 365
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