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EGYPTIAN HISTORY - PART 4
Egyptian Threshing Machine
In so doing he opened a new epoch. Whereas before Egypt had been self-contained, content to remain within its northern borders, and only advancing in conquest toward the south, now the road to Asia became familiar, and the age of conquest began. With surprising rapidity she became a warlike nation, and soon carried her arms to the Euphrates and to the Sudan. Mementos of the northward movement are seen in the introduction of the worship of Baal and Astarte, and in the use of many foreign names.
Following are some of the principal events of the dynasty. Amenophis I., the third king, subdued the Libyans at the west of the Delta. Thothmes I., his successor, marched southward to the third cataract in his first campaign, and Cush became an Egyptian province under a special governor, who was a person of prestige at court.
His second expedition took him through Palestine and Syria to the Euphrates, on whose farther bank he erected a monument to record his prowess. He was followed by Thothmes II., HATASU (q. v.), and THOTHMES III. (q. v.), all his children, but by different wives, the mother of Thothmes III. not being of royal blood. Hatasu is noteworthy for the expedition which she fitted out to bring incense, wood, animals, such as the cynocephalus, or dog-headed ape or baboon, etc., from the land of PUNT (q. v.).
Stone Lions Guard a Sacred Way
The record is preserved in stone in the temple walls at Der-el-Bahari (see THEBES), with pictured details of great interest. But it was under Thothmes III. that Egypt gained its greatest extension of power. Fifteen expeditions made him master of the lands west of the Euphrates and south of Amanus. In his first he marched unresisted to Megiddo, and there overthrew his allied foes. In his sixth he overcame the Hittites, who first appear during his reign, and captured their chief city, Kadesh. In the Sudan he was also active. By a remarkable chance his mummy has been preserved to us.
The two following kings held their own, but Amenophis IV. scattered the seeds of internal discord when he undertook to supplant the current solar religion by a novel and monotheistic phase of the same. He discarded his earlier name, which was tainted with the name of Amon, and chose a new name compounded with aten, the title of the sun-disk, Khunaten (q. v.). For similar reasons he left the earlier residence of the kings, and established himself at TELL el-AMARNA (q. v.). His relations with the Semitic races of the East have been revealed by the clay tablets found at Amarna. Not long after his death his city was destroyed, and the anti-reform movement triumphed, through the efforts of the priests.
With the nineteenth dynasty the old status was restored, and after a brief interval the policy of conquest was again adopted. Conditions in Palestine and Syria had changed. The kingdom of the Hittites had become consolidated and powerful. SETI I. (q. v.), the first king, claimed to have overcome them, but his victory is doubtful, to say the least. It is true, however, that he overthrew the Libyans and their allies from the "islands" of the sea. RAMSES II. (q. v.), his successor, made several expeditions: in his first year through Palestine, in his fifth year as far as Kadesh on the Orontes, and finally in his twenty-fifth year he made a treaty of peace with the Hittite king, and took his daughter to wife.
Osiris and Isis and the Four Children of Horus
This treaty lasted through his long reign, and probably till the fall of the Hittites at the hands of the hordes of the north, the "inhabitants of the islands," whoever they may have been. During the long reign of sixty-six years of Ramses II Egypt saw many changes. It has been estimated that half of the buildings in Egypt bear his cartouche. This leaves out of account, however, his constant practice of usurping monuments by replacing earlier royal names with his own, usually in so slovenly a manner that it is quite possible to read the original characters. Nevertheless, genuine remains are found, from his colossus at Tanis to the rock-cut tombs of Abu-Simbel (see IPSAMBUL) in Nubia - indications of his amazing power.
MENEPTAH (q. v.), his son, confined his attention to the Libyans on the west, and overthrew them in his fifth year, though they returned under his successors. During his reign probably occurred the Exodus (q. v.) of Israel, indicating a weakened condition of the land, which continued under Seti II. and lasted for years. The twentieth dynasty opened with Ramses III., who reigned thirty-two years. He worked the mines of Sinai and traded with the south. The Libyans who had settled as far south as Memphis were driven out, and in his eighth year he gained a victory over unknown races called "the people of the north, in their islands," who appear to have subdued the Hittite kingdom and to have advanced by land and water against Egypt.
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