II . THE EARLY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE EAST
4 . A JOURNEY UP THE NILE
While the men in the great tree-covered lands of Europe were still in the Stone Age, those in the East were taking the first steps to a higher level of development.
The earliest fixed societies came into being where living conditions were best -- in the basins of the great rivers, the Nile, the Tigris, and Euphrates, the Ganges, the Yangtze Kiang. In all these places the weather conditions were good and the earth was fertile and well-watered. (How important rivers and waterholes were for early societies may be seen from Genesis xxi 22-30.)
The stone-workers in two of these fertile river-basins, those of the Nile and the Tigris-Euphrates, were at the start of this new stage of development about six thousand years back. At a certain time every year the waters of these two great rivers came up over their sides and out into the flat country about them. This made farming and the putting up of housed very simple, because the fields were kept watered by the rivers, and the wet earth made good building material. In addition, the rivers were natural highways, which made trading possible between the different groups living by them, and the wide sands and the high mountains round about kept off attacks from outside for a time.
It was probably because of the good weather conditions and the natural watering of the fields every year that those living near the Nile and the Euphrates were the earliest examples of a more complex society. They were the first to be interested in a detailed knowledge of the sky -- astronomy -- and in mathematics. Here it was that men got their first training in living together in an ordered way and in the art of government, and that the keeping of records -- so necessary for a ruler -- was made possible by the invention of systems of writing and measuring. The true sense of the word 'geometry' is 'measuring the earth,' and, strange to say, the old Egyptian way of measuring fields is still in use in parts of England.
The lands round these two great river-basins are the Bible lands. Much of their history is given in the earlier part of the Bible, and recorded on early stone and brick buildings. From the Bible lands the new forms of society came slowly west -- first to Crete and Greece, then to Rome and West Europe, and, in the end, to America, where Columbus saw men who were still living in the Stone Age.
If you go through the Nile country you will see tombs for the dead and other buildings, representative of a great number of stages in the history of man. Even the small Egyptian houses of today, made of earth bricks, are not very different from those put up by the earliest men.
At the mouth of the Nile there are low masses of earth under which the bones of later stoneworkers, together with their stone instruments, have been resting for six thousand years. sometimes bits of grain or linen come to light in these old resting-places. Possibly it was from Egypt that grain and linen first came into Europe.
The 'Father of History,' Herodotus of Greece, says that the early Egyptians were " more interested in religion than any other nations." In Egypt and Babylon religion was a great force, and the men of religion were the chief support of the rulers. It was probably their desire to keep fixed days for purposes of religion which gave the early Egyptians the idea of the first calendar (in 4241 B. C. -- the earliest year in history about which we have any certain knowledge). They were the first men to make a division of the year into twelve months.
For writing, they made use of pictures of flowers, birds, and so on, signs of words and sounds. For example, the picture of a circle with a point in the middle, was representative of the word for 'sun.' Then from pictures they went on to the use of less straightforward signs, and by a connection of ideas the circle of the sun came to have the sense of 'day.' This writing was named hieroglyphics -- a word for the special signs used by the men of religion for writing on buildings. These signs, as used for everyday purposes, became increasingly shorter, till by degrees an alphabet, or system of letters representative of different sounds, was formed. It was from this simpler writing that the Phoenicians later took their alphabet, from which we get our present-day A B C. The Chinese, even to this day, have no alphabet in our sense of the word.
The Egyptians made ink ; the hollow stems of a river plant were pointed to make pens ; and 'paper' was produced from another river plant, named papyrus, by cutting it into long thin yellow bits. You see, then, that our word 'paper' comes from the old Egyptian word 'papyrus.'
It was not much more than a hundred years back that a young Frenchman named Champollion (1822) first made out the sense of the early Egyptian hieroglyphics. When Napoleon's army was in Egypt the men came across a stone with writing on it, near the Rosetta mouth of the Nile. On this 'Rosetta Stone' had been recorded certain forms of respect given by the men of religion to their King (The Greek Ptolemy, 195 B.C.). Happily for us, the record had been made in two languages, Greek and Egyptian. By a comparison of the two the Frenchman first made out the signs for the names of Cleopatra, Ptolemy, and so on, and this gave him the key to the rest of the writing. It was not till after this discovery that men of learning were able to make sense of the records of early Egyptian history.
5 . THE PHARAOHS AND THE PYRAMIDS
Going on with our journey up the Nile, away from the mouth, we come, near the old town of Memphis, which was at one time the living-place of the Egyptian Kings, to the strange land of the Pyramids. These noted building, with their square bases and pointed tops, are the last resting-places of the early Kings, and near them are other tombs in which were put the bodies of the Queens and the great men who took part in the government of Egypt.
The Pyramids were put up in the name of the Higher Beings, or gods, of the Egyptian religion -- the Sun (Ra) and the Fertile Nile (Osiris). It was the Egyptian belief that a happy existence after death was only possible if the body was kept in good condition. So the bodies were put through a special process, which kept them from the changes normally worked out by time, and even today they still have the look of men and women. Near the Pyramids are temples, where food and drink were stored for the use of the dead.
The greatest of these Pyramids is the Great Pyramid of King Cheops. Near it is the strange stone form put up in memory of him ; it has the face of a woman and the body of an animal, and its name is the Great Sphinx. These great structures of about 3000 B.C. give us some idea of how exert the men of this time had become, and what surprising things they were able to do, probably with copper instruments. Thirteen acres of land are covered by the Great Pyramid. It was the work of thousands of Kin's slaves, men who were his property, and it gives us a moving picture of a society in which great numbers of men and women were not free. This cruel system was common in all the early nations of the East.
The story of the building of the Great Pyramid was recorded some two thousand five hundred years back by Herodotus, the Greek writer of history, who made a journey to Egypt.
*"When Cheops became King," says Herodotus, "he did all sorts of things which were bad for the country. Every Egyptian was forced to give up all acts of religion in the temples and made to do work for the king. Some were ordered to take stones to the Nile from the Arabian mountains, others to get them across the river in boats, and others to take them from there to the African mountains. They did the work in groups of a hundred thousand men, every group working for three months without stopping. It took ten years of forced work to make the roadway over which the stones were pulled. This roadway was almost as great an undertaking as the Great Pyramid itself ; it is made of polished stones in which are cut pictures of living beings. Ten years were needed for this, and to make the slopes on which the Pyramids are placed and to make the rooms under the earth where Cheops was to be housed after death, and for the waterway which was made from the Nile to the Pyramid. The building of the Pyramid itself took twenty years. It is square ; the stones are polished and fixed together with the greatest care. Not one of them is less than thirty feet long.
"The Pyramid was made in steps, like the walls of a military building, or, as some say, like the High Place in a church. After the base was put down, the rest of the stones were taken up to their places by machines made of short, thick boards. The first machine took them from the base up to the top of the first step ; and when the stone had been lifted so far, it was pulled to the top of the second step by another machine. They had a machine for every step, or possibly they took the same machine, which was made so as to be readily moved, from one step to the other for the purpose of lifting the stones ; I give the two systems as I had them from those who gave me the account. At any rate, the highest parts were done first, then those a little lower, and so on till they came to the parts resting on the earth ; that is, the base.
"It is recorded on the Pyramid, in Egyptian writing, how much money was given for roots for the workmen's food, and the amount named by the man who was reading the record for me was sixteen hundred talents1 of silver. Now if this is true, what a great amount of money would be needed for the metal with which they were working ! And for the food and clothing of the men all the time they were at work on the building -- in addition to the time taken for cutting the stones and getting them up to the Pyramid, and for making the rooms under the earth !".
Near this great Pyramid was Memphis, with its low houses of bricks made dry in the sun. Some of these houses were used by the King's secretaries, who, with their river-grass pens, kept his accounts and records on rolls of papyrus. The King and his chief men were the rulers of millions of working men and women. Their name for him was 'Pharaoh,' which is, in fact, the word for the 'Great House' in which he was living.
The Pyramids and temples are themselves histories in stones. On their walls are numbers of pictures of everyday events, cut in stone and brightly painted. Here we see the first sea-going ships sailing on the Red Sea and the Mediterranean ; animals pulling plows of wood ; men producing works of art in stone ; the gold-worker making beautiful ornaments ; the potter at his wheel ; the first glass-makers ; cloth-makers with hand instruments, producing linen which is almost better than we are able to make to-day, with all our machines ; the iron-worker at work on the new metal. And here in addition, we may see the different divisions of society -- the great landowners, the free men, and the masses of slaves who kept the farms going and made the great Pyramids.
1 . A weight used as a measure of value. the amount of a talent was different among different nations and at different times, but here it is probably about 64 lbs.
6 . THE GREAT CHIEFS OF EGYPT
Going up the Nile, we come across tombs of later times. These are cut into the face of the mountain, and were made for the great chiefs, who had at one time much power in Egypt under the King. We see from the wall-pictures that these chiefs had great houses with beautiful gardens. Parts of their libraries -- great rolls of papyrus -- have been uncovered. These writings give us the oldest stories on earth. They have accounts of the medical substances which were used, and of the value of certain medical oils. Among them are the first books on arithmetic, geometry, and algebra ; it was in Egypt that land was first measured, and the science of moving and lifting great masses of stone worked out.
Going on still farther up the Nile we come to the great broken walls of the building of Thebes, which is about five hundred miles south of Cairo. This was the chief town of Egypt in its last great age, when it was an Empire stretching from the Sahara to the Euphrates. At Karnak, where old Thebes was, we see again parts of great temples and tombs, and their walls are covered with copies in stone of everyday events in Egypt and Asia. Here, for the first time in history, the horse is pictured as the servant of man, and with it the wheeled carriage, which, like the horse, came from Asia.
With the money they took from Asia in the wars, the Egyptians made, in the great temple at Karnak, the greatest room with the greatest columns ever put up by man. The column, or upright support, was an Egyptian invention which came to Europe and was used hundreds of years later in the earliest Christian churches. Beautify seats and chests and jeweled boxes have been taken from the private temples of the great chiefs of the Egyptian Empire, and may now be seen in the National Museum at Cairo.
in that museum of the earliest ordered society there are examples of almost all the arts still in existence to-day -- the making of thread and cloth, of pots and glass ; building, woodworking, and painting ; ploughing and other farm operations ; boating, fishing, and watering the fields ; wine making, dancing, and music. It was a society living in peace and order, and producing not only great buildings, but the most delicate works of art.
In its complex organization every man had his special place, and in his work as a part of the group. All this is recorded on buildings which are five thousand years old.
However, at last, about 1100 B.C., the great days of Egypt came to an end. its downfall was caused by attacks from the outside, together with trouble inside the society itself.
In later history Egypt became part of Alexander's Empire. Still later it was ruled by Rome, after the last and most beautiful of Egyptian Queens, Cleopatra, had been overcome in her attempt to keep her country free. In the nineteen hundreds frequent trouble in Egypt made the interests of the European powers there very unsafe, and France and Britain in turn made attempts at keeping order. At last Britain took complete control, and kept it for more than fifty years. Today, however, Egypt is an independent country, united to Britain only by an agreement designed to take care of their common interests.
7 . THE 'PARADISE' OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
The story of the earthworks and building in that other noted river-basin, that of the Tigris and Euphrates, makes it clear that among these Asiatic groups, as in Egypt, developments were taking place in very early times.
Long before the Great Pyramid was put up in Egypt, the first men in Asia to have an ordered society were building their homes at the months of the Tigris and Euphrates. This land is sometimes named Babylonia, and sometimes Mesopotamia, which is Greek for 'the land between the rivers.' It is said to be the 'Paradise' or 'Garden of Eden' of the Bible.
To this place came the Sumerians, journeying from the mountains where the rivers have their start. They made houses of earth bricks ; they took water to their fields, like the Egyptians, by cutting waterways through them ; they had instruments of copper but not of bronze. They did their writing with pointed plant-stems on flat bricks made of earth -- not on papyrus. The points of their pens were generally square, and made marks like a solid V, so their writing is named 'cuneiform,' from the Latin word for an instrument of this form. These bricks, with the writing on them, were put in an oven to get hard so that they would keep for a very long time. One of the earliest of such records is a business account taken out of one of the masses of earth which are now all we have of the early Babylonian towns.
As the land was measured by the Egyptians, so the sky was measured by the early Babylonians. One of their inventions was an instrument for measuring time by the sun. They made a division of the circle of the sky into three hundred and sixty degrees and of the day into the hours, minutes, and seconds which are still used. The 'astrologers' -- men who made a business of learning about the stars -- were expert enough to be able to say when there would an 'eclipse,' or covering of the sun or moon. There was a common belief that it was possible to see the future in the stars ; and when we say such things as "The stars were against it," we are gong back to the ideas of those early watchers of the skies. Five of the bodies which go round the sun still have the names of Babylonian gods, though in their Roman forms (Jupiter, Saturn, and so on).
After hundreds of years of fighting, the men from the mountains were overcome by men from the waste lands between the fertile countries of Egypt and Babylonia. These men of the sand-wastes were the Semites, under which name are grouped, among others, the Hebrews and the Arabs.
One of their Kings, under who great developments took place, was Hammurabi. In his time the earth bricks on which Babylonian traders put their accounts went into all parts of the west of Asia. There was still no money in the form of stamped bits of metal, but the value of a thing was given in weight of silver. They had schools for boys and girls, and parts of one of Hammurabi's school buildings may still be seen.
By 2000 B.C. this great King had become the ruler of all Babylonia. He made the first system of laws, and this was later recorded on a stone eight feet high which is still in existence. These laws gave special attention to the rights of persons without a father, of married women whose men were dead and the poor. "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" was to be the rule when any wrong was done. If a boy's death was caused by a house falling down, the builder's son was to be put to death.
Abraham was probably living at about the same time. He went, the Bible says, from Ur of the Chaldees (the stones of which were uncovered some years back), by way of the fertile lands near the Euphrates, to Canaan, into Egypt, and back to Canaan, where he went on living till the end of his days. So Abraham had some knowledge of Egypt and Babylon, and was in a position to make a comparison between their societies. He himself was a 'nomad' chief, that is, one living under canvas and moving from place to place. He was the owner of hundreds of sheep, cows, goats, and camels -- an animal of the greatest value for long journeys through the sand-wastes became it is able to go for days without water. He had stores of gold and silver, and great numbers of servants and women, who did the cooking and made cloth and meal with their hand-machines.
Though Abraham was forced into fighting to keep off the attacks of other groups of nomads in the waste land, he was a man of peace. In comparison with the great Babylonian King he was less important in the eyes of men ; but his ideas about God made him great. The only buildings he put up were for the purposes of religion. He was a true representative of the old Hebrews of the waste land.
8 . A LIBRARY OF EARTH BRICKS
After the death of Hammurabi another nomad group from the waste lands became the chief nation in the country between the two rivers. As early as 3000 B.C. this group had become farmers near the Tigris at Assur, north of Babylon, in the part which is now Assyria. Here they got a knowledge of writing and of living in towns from the Babylonians, and they became the greatest military experts in the early East.
they took the use of iron from the Hittites, and their armies were the first to have arms of iron.
After the fall of the Egyptian Empire they got as far as the Mediterranean. By 750 B.C. they had overcome the Babylonians, and were ruling with an iron hand every part of the fertile stretch between the mountains and the sands. Then came the development of the greatest Empire which had so far been seen.
They put up the great and beautiful town of Nineveh. Their most noted King, Sennacherib (d. 681 B.C.), overcame Palestine in the time of Isaiah, the Hebrew man of God, and put an end to the town of Babylon. He made thick walls round Nineveh and put up a royal house for himself there. It had wide steps, and the way in was formed of high arches, at the sides of which were great winged bulls of polished white stone with the head of men. The bull was a very important animal in most of the early societies, and like its female the cow, frequently had a connection with religion.
The Assyrian rule was hard and cruel. In 612 B. C. came the destruction of Nineveh by other men from the sand-wastes and mountains, and the fall of its cruel King was a happy event for everyone from the Caspian to the Nile. Today Nineveh is only a great mass of broken stones, but among them experts have made the discovery of a library of thousands of earth bricks which had been covered up for more than two thousand years.
The Chaldeans were the last men from the wastes to be the rulers of Babylonia. Nebuchadnezzar (604-561 B.C.) was their greatest King, and it was he who put an end to Jerusalem and took the Hebrews to Babylon. The beautiful 'hanging gardens' in his house were said to be among the seven greatest works of man. Not long after this the great days of Babylon came to an end.
9 . THE HEBREWS, OR JEWS
The nation named the Hebrews, or Jews, has had more effect on history than all the great Empires of the early East to which it was so near. At the start the Hebrews were living in the Arabian wastes, moving from place to place for grass for their sheep and goats. As we have seen one of their earliest chiefs at this stage was Abraham, who, the Bible says, "Went down into Egypt to make himself a house there." Hundreds of years after Abraham, as is recorded in the Bible, some of the Hebrews became slaves in Egypt, "where Joseph was made chief over all the land."
Moses (about 1250 B.C.), one of the greatest men in Hebrew history, got the Jews away from Egypt and took them to Canaan, the land which their god had said was to be theirs, where he gave them a system of laws -- the 'Ten Commandments.' In Canaan the Jews took up farming with their sheep and goats, though they were still not the rulers of the country.
After their peace was broken by a more warlike group, the Philistines, who had been forced out of Crete by the Greeks ('Palestine' is only a different form of 'Philistine'). By this time there were great Kings in Damascus ruling over men in a high stage of development. They made use of the Phoenician system of writing, and in time their language became general in all the Bible lands. This was the language later used by Jesus.
After they had come to Palestine the Hebrews took a King named Saul (about 1000 B.C.), who was still a nomad living under canvas like his fathers. The King who came after him, David, went a step farther and made his house a great strong building in Jerusalem. He was a great fighter and verse-maker, and was probably the writer of the Bible songs named Psalms. His son, Solomon, was a lover of comfort and good living, like the rulers of the East ; he put up a great house for himself and a beautiful temple -- the house of god -- ornamented with jewels of great value. Today there is not a stone of Solomon's Temple in existence, though we may still see it in our mind's eye when we are reading about it in the second book of Chronicles.
The Bible gives the story of how Hiram, King of Tyre, gave Solomon his help in building the Temple. The Phoenicians, like the Hebrews themselves, had come from the waste land. By this time they were the greatest sailors and traders in the Mediterranean, and their towns were all round it. They were probably, even as early as this, trading as far as Cornwall, where they may have got tin for making bronze.
In time there came to the front among the Hebrews great men of religion, named Prophets, who were moved by a desire to keep the Jews true to the god of their fathers and to his laws. These prophets were men of simple ways and deep feeling, such as Amos in his sheepskins, and they made violent protests against the loose living which had become common among the Jews of the north. Their purpose was to make an end of the gods of the new country, or 'Baals,' which were being taken up by some of the Jews, and to put Jehovah back in his place as the one god to be feared and respected.
Jerusalem was almost taken by the warlike Assyrians, under Sennacherib, who came up to its very walls. But the destruction of the town was stopped by a disease which overtook the King's army (701 B.C.). Isaiah, the prophet, put heart into the Hebrews by teaching them that their god was not like the gods of the different towns or groups, but the ruler of all the earth.
Later on Jerusalem was, in fact, taken by Nebuchadnezzar (586 B. C.). The town was pulled down, and the Hebrews were sent to Babylon. The Hebrew nation seemed to have come to its end only four hundred years after the time of King Saul.
10 . THE TRADER OF TYRE AND THE GREAT KING OF PERSIA
By 1000 B.C. -- about the time when Saul became King of the Hebrews -- the early Greeks were forming their little town on the Aegean Sea, and it was not long before their ships and traders were being angrily watched by the traders from Tyre, who had no desire for any completion.
The town of Tyre was ruled by the Phoenicians, a branch of the Semites from the Arabian wastes. The Greeks, on the other hand, were of the Indo-European group which had come from the grass-lands in the middle of Asia, and from which come the languages and nations of India, Persia, and Europe.
The Persians were the earliest Indo-Europeans to make a name for themselves in history. They got their first knowledge of metals and writing and the other arts of society from the Egyptians and Babylonians. Their writing was done on papyrus, which was now everywhere taking the place of earth and brick for writing purposes. The Persian king Cyrus and his archers overcame the great King of Lydia, and from him they got the idea of using stamped bits of metal for money. In the end they became the rulers of all the East from the river Indus to the Aegean Sea.
All these lands were ruled by Darius, who was named the 'the Great'. He made a division of the Empire into separate parts for purposes of government, and put new roads which made possible the operation of a regular 'post.' His sailors went up the rivers and round the seas, and made of Persia the first Sea Empire. But it was not long before it came into competition with the Greeks, who put a stop to its expansion to the West.
Darius the Great was an early ruler of the same sort as Alexander of Greece and Augustus of Rome. Like them, he had a desire not only for power but for order and good government, and in some ways he did much for the nations who came under his rule. At Persepolis, in Persia, his last resting-place may still be seen cut into the face of the mountains
11 . BUDDHA AND THE GREAT AGE OF INDIA
Another branch of the Indo-European group had gone (about 1600 B.C.) from the level country of middle Asia to the river Indus, from which they got the name of Hindus. When they came there the country was in the hands of the Dravidians, men with flat noses, and there are still Dravidians living in the south of India.
The early Hindus had a very beautiful religion based on their observation of natural forces, and this gave birth to a great number of writings in the form of songs named the Vadas, which were in existence long before the time of Homer. Before they had a knowledge of writing, these songs were got by heart and handed down by the teachers of religion from father and son. These chiefs of religion were named Brahmins after their god Brahma, the Maker of All.
The society of the Hindus was at a high level of development, and in time they made great discoveries in medical science and mathematics, which later came to Europe through the other nations of the East. (The system of numbering by tens, named by us the decimal system is one of their inventions.) Hindu society was -- and still is today -- marked by very deep divisions, and it was a crime for persons from different groups, or castes, to get married to one another. There were four castes -- men of religion, military men, farmers and handworkers, and slaves.
Between 600 and 500 B.C. one of the greatest teachers of religion in history was living in India at the foot of the Himalayas. This was Gautama, or Siddartha, the son of a great landowner. In his early days he put into writing from memory all the old Hindu songs of religion. As a young man he had all the pleasures and comforts of a great prince. Then, when he was twenty-nine years old, he saw for the first time how hard man's existence on earth is, and he made a decision to give all his time to thought, turning his back on the desires of the body and living as simply as possible -- even going without food for days to keep his mind clear.
So he became the Buddha, or Wise One, and he was a teacher of religion at Benares and other places till his death, when he was eighty years old. His chief teaching was that the secret of being happy is to overcome self and have no desire but to be good. He was very much against the unnatural system of castes, and he said that a Brahmin was no different from a man of any other caste. He sent his teachers to Ceylon, Tibet, Burma, and China, and from China his beliefs went into Japan.
To-day, in the east of Asia, there are still millions with a belief in his teaching. At his death, says an old Hindu story, "there was a great shock all over the earth ; the sun and moon became dark ; balls of fire were seen in the sky ; and music came from the clouds."
The great landmark in Indian history, after this, is the coming of Alexander the Great, of whom we will have more to say later. Like such a number of others who have made attempts to take India, he came down with his army through the Khyber Pass, and saw to his surprise that he was in a land at a level of development in some ways quite equal to that of Europe.
Less than a hundred years after this the greatest of India's early kings was ruling over all the country. His name was Asoka (250 B.C.) and he had a deep belief in Buddha's teaching. In his time India was as forward in organization, art, and learning as the Roman Empire, and it had a much higher form of religion. It is not surprising that these early times are still looked back to, by the present-day Hindu, as the Great Age of India.
DIVISIONS OF THE BOOK
I . -- THE FIRST STAGE
II . -- THE EARLY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE EAST top
III. -- THE GREAT DAYS OF GREECE
IV . -- THE GREAT DAYS OF ROME
V . -- THE MIDDLE AGES
VI . -- THE 'NEW BIRTH' OF EUROPE
VII. -- NEW FORCES IN RELIGION AND THE GROWTH OF A NEW OUTLOOK
VIII -- THE EXPANSION OF EUROPE OVERSEAS
IX . -- THE 'GREAT KINGS' OF EUROPE
X . -- THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
XI . -- THE FRENCH REVOLUTION AND NAPOLEON
XII. -- THE BIRTH OF NEW NATIONS
XIII -- THE WORLD OF THE PRESENT DAY