most probable truth: and that the hieratic from which it is derived is expressly the hand of the XIIth dynasty, and not that of the XVIIIth, or later times. If so the Phoenidan alphabet must therefore have been developed before 2000 B.C., as in later centuries its prototype was not seen or known, and could not be imitated. Next, those who have considered the subject agree that the Cypriote syllabary with its numerous signs could never have come into use in the face of the compact and simple Phoenician alphabet, in its close neighbourhood. And therefore the Cypriote forms must have been in use before the Phoenician alphabet. Therefore, although no Cypriote or Phoenician inscriptions are known that require us to date them before about 900 B.C. ; yet the historical development, as at present generally accepted, shows that at least we must expect to find the Phoenician alphabet in course of evolution at or before 2000 B.C., and the Cypriote alphabet already established then.
On turning to the discoveries of this year, it is seen at once that - startling as they may seem at first sight - they are only two stages, exactly such as we should expect according to the accepted theory of the alphabet. The mixture of well-known signs, and of others which have not survived, is only what would be probable during the course of natural selection which was going on during the centuries in which the later order of things was being established. And the mixture of signs known in diverse alphabets of later times is also what we should expect to see at a time when the various alphabets were very likely unseparated, and still in one confused use. In fact, the very confusion of these marks is the best proof of their age being anterior to the clean division into the separate well-defined alphabets that we know in later ages.
85. But these marks do not stand alone, they must be taken with the many proofs of foreign inhabitants in both Kahun and Gurob which we have just detailed. So far as a temporary working hypothesis may be permissible, it seems most likely that during the war of S-ankh-ka-ra, the last kmg of the XIth dynasty, with the Ha-nebu, or "lords of the north" - a name which always means the Aegean peoples, at least in later times - the Egyptians became acquainted with the Mediterranean races. Perhaps at first as captives, they employed them in their public works, but certainly commercial intercourse was maintained with the northern home, as the weights are foreign and not Egyptian. These labouring foreigners were very probably not educated to the complex Egyptian system of writing, but lived only with Egyptian masons. From these masons they may have learned the use of masons' marks, which were originally formed from hieroglyphs, and to which many of the signs here bear a resemblance. Then these marks came to be used for the sounds attached to them, and so at last words - such as that on the wooden cylinder (XXVIII, 85) - were written down in the new signs. These signs were carried out into the Mediterranean in the commercial intercourse which went on, and then rose from a mere workman's convention into the sole mode of writing, and thus founded the alphabetic system. It is plain that similar causes may have been at work with Cypriotes and Phoenicians in Babylonia, and that some of the signs found here may have been brought in from similar developments there in progress. The problem then stands thus. Given as elements the Egyptian hieroglyphs, hieratic, and mason's marks, and the cuneiform, and perhaps Hittite characters. Given as final products the Cypriote syllabary, the Phoenician, Lydan, Celtiherian, Lybian, and other alphabets. What relation do these intermediate stages of sign-writing in the 26th century and the 13th century B.C. bear to the elements and the products? And in what way can a connection be traced between the beginnings and ends of these chains of development, by means of the intermediate links here brought to light?
86. Catalogue of special finds which serve to guarantee the age of the Greek pottery and signs. Burial, intrusive, in the ruined town of Kahun, without any objects later than the XIIth-XIIIth dynasty around it; bodies wrapped in palm sticks; sandals of leather, 2 head-rests, fluted stems, good work; wooden knife?; 2 scarabs (XXIII, 66, 67) about Tahutmes IV period, piece of blue painted pottery of the end of the XVIIIth dynasty ; 2 vases, types XXI, 13, 15, the former of white smooth flat-faced pottery ; wooden ushabti, probably XIXth dynasty ; false-necked vase, like XXIX, 1, but rather smaller; dark blue glass vase with wavy yellow and white lines, the so-called Phoenician glass. Date of the burial about the beginning of the XIXth dynasty, say, 1300 B.C.
Find in a house at the north town of Gurob: spindle ; basket-work ; copper foil ; half a wooden tray, with carving of a girl playing a guitar amid the water plants, style of XVIIIth-XIXth dynasty; blue ring (XVIII, 96), style of late Khuenaten, or
home - previous page - next page