II. Continuation of the Old Kingdom of Egypt; Early Semitic Migrations into South western Asia; the City-States and the Politi cal Unification of Babylonia; the Early Minoan Age in the /Egean country; the Aeneolithic Age in Italy, 3000-2000 n.c.— In the beginning of this period the capital of Egypt was transferred from Thinis to Mem phis, whose Pharaohs of the fourth dynasty (2840-2680 "cc.) constructed as tombs for themselves the great pyramids of Gizeh. For the grandeur and strength of its buildings this age is unique in ancient history. At the same time these immense structures are evidence of a high centralization of power in the hands of the monarchs. A complex system of officials administered the details of governmental busi ness at the capital and in every nook and cor ner of the kingdom. After the age of the pyramid-builders, however, the central govern ment weakened, and the high officials became feudal lords. It was a period of great eco nomic development, involving a change from copper to bronze. The crafts were highly spe cialized. Commerce was carried on by river and caravan with the interior of Soudan; a canal was dug which connected the lower Nile with the Red Sea; and royal fleets visited the Phcenician coasts, and occasionally the lEgean islands, for the exchange of products. The people, devoted to agriculture and the indus trial arts, were peace-loving, submissive to au thority, and intensely religious.
In Asia bands of Semites, issuing from Arabia, overran all Syria. They were the Canaanites of the South, the Amorites of the North, and the Phoenicians along the coast. These larger tribes divided into small city kingdoms. Phoenician examples are Sidon and Tyre. Their civilization they obtained from Egypt and even more from Babylonia. About the same time other Semites occupied Accad in the Tigris-Euphrates valley north of the Sumerian country (Sumer, Shinar), and Assur (Assyria) still farther north. Inde pendent city-kingdoms prevailed among the Sumerians till they were conquered by Sargon, king of Accad (about 2750 a.c.). He extended his empire to Elam on the East and to the Mediterranean on the West. After that date the forces of centralization and of disintegra tion alternated till the valley of the two rivers was unified under Hammurabi, an Amorite who had gained control of Babylon (about 2000 a.c.). He is especially famous for his code, the earliest body of written law preserved to our day.
In the /Egean region the Early Minoan cul ture, including the use of copper, followed after a few centuries by bronze, prevailed. A sys tem of picture-writing was in use. For a long time the culture centred in Melos, which radi ated its influence upon the neighboring islands, and even farther, upon the Troad in one direc tion and upon Bceotia and Argolis in the other; but near the close of the period Crete began to occupy the forefront of progress. The use of i copper was introduced into Italy about 2500, probably by way of the Danube.
III. The Middle and New Kingdoms and the Empire of Egypt; Culmination and De cline of Babylonia; Beginnings of the He brews; the Middle and Late Minoan Ages; the Bronze Age in Italy and Sicily, 2000 1200 a.c.— In the beginning of the period
Thebes supplanted lyfemphis as the political centre of Egypt. The most brilliant dynasty was the 12th (about 2000-1788 B.c.). The Pharaohs of this family with a firm hand controlled the feudal lords who since the 6th dynasty had been growing strong over all Egypt, and to whom most of the famous rock-graves of the period belong. The same dynasty conquered Ethiopia (Nubia), carried on a lively trade with Syria, and had commerce with countries as far west as Crete. They built splendid temples, and regulated the waters of the lower Nile by means of a great reservoir in the Fay6m. Their utilitarian works contrast strikingly with the grand though selfish idealism of the pyramid builders.
After the 12th dynasty Egypt again weak ened. While she was in this condition, the Hyksos, who seem to have been Semites from Syria, invaded the Nile Valley, and held parts of the country in subjection a hundred years (1680-1580 a.c.). Less civilized than the natives, they brought Egypt to a lower stage of culture, but gradually their king and leading men were assimilated. Their own contribution was the introduction of the horse and the war-chariot, the use of which gradually extended to the re motest parts of Europe. After their liberation from this foreign yoke the Egyptians became a conquering people. The 18th dynasty (1580 1321 a.c.) built up an empire which extended southward through Nubia and northeastward to the Euphrates River. Cyprus and the 'isles of the Great doubtless the €gean Islands, sent their gifts, which Pharaoh regarded as tribute.
After Hammurabi, Babylonia suffered from frequent invasions of barbarian tribes. Though her political greatness vanished, her civiliza tion, however impaired by the invasions, con tinued. In the industries both Egypt and Baby lonia had reached a high stage of technical skill. The Egyptians excelled in inlaid work, the Babylonians in the engraving of gems. The architecture was massive, the Babylonian in brick, the Egyptian in stone. The sculpture, too, though lacking grace, showed great strength. The literature was looked upon by after ages as classic. In government we find a central ized monarchy with a bureaucratic administra tion. In this period the creative energy of the Egyptians had exhausted itself. Life became artificial; wealth, flowing in from conquests, substituted magnificence for taste, and in the end enfeebled the national spirit. On account of the wars the military class came into great prominence; the king, more than before, be came the proprietor of the state, and the priests gained control of the material as well as of the spiritual activities of the nation. In Hither Asia, also, artistic and industrial civilization suffered through the decline of Babylonia; for the Assyrian genius was chiefly political and military rather than artistic or intellectual. The family was monogamic, and society was defi nitely organized in classes. The prime motive power in life was religion, which, manipulated by the priests, was already reducing the ac tivities of man to a system of conventions and thus putting an end to originality.