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70 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.

 

of whom was NEKU, of Sai's. In a few years, however, Tahraka returned, drove out the Assyrian garrisons, and reestablished his authority. But he, in turn, was speedily put down by Ashur-bani-pal, the successor of Esarhaddon. Several revolts were suppressed, and after a time the native princes of Egypt were won over to the Assyrian interest. Left with some measure of local independence, they accepted the yoke of Assyria, which, on the whole, was less galling than that of Ethiopia.

The dominion of Assyria was already waning in the East. On the North the ferocious Scythians were breaking through the borders of the empire. The Assyrian forces were called home to ward off the threatened danger. Egypt, for the time being, was relieved from the menace of foreign arms. Quick to seize the opportunity, PSAMETIK, prince of Sai's, raised a revolt, quelled the native rulers who opposed him, drew to his banner an army of Egyptians, Tyrians, and Greek mercenaries, set up the standard of nationality, and in a short time established Dynasty XXVI. (B. C. 685).

Under his vigorous rule and that of his successors the spirit of the Egyptians rapidly revived. But the new culture which sprang up after the revolution was no longer distinctly Egyptian. War, colonization, and commercial intercourse had filled the cities, especially the seaport towns of Egypt, with a new class of citizens: foreigners, Ethiopians, lonians, Carians, Phoenicians, Jews. The new art was no longer the classical art of Old Egypt. The Egypt of the Pharaohs was dead. The language was infected. The outlandish jargon of dragomans was already heard among the ruins of the ancient civilization. None the less, the age of Psametik 1.was a genuine renaissance, imitating the styles of Dynasties IV. and V., and adding something to the monumental glory of the past.

Even for warlike enterprises the reign of Psametik is distinguished. Lower Nubia was recovered in a struggle with Ethiopia. In an expedition across the eastern border the power of the Philistines was broken. Nor is it certain to what extent the dominion of the king might have been extended had not a mutiny in his army destroyed his prospects.

The native soldiery became jealous of the Ionian and Carian mercenaries, on whose influence the king especially relied, and broke out in a successful revolt. All efforts to reconcile the mutineers proved unavailing, and Psametik was obliged to witness their departure into Ethiopia, where they took service and received lands from the king. The opportunity which thus for a time seemed within the grasp of Egypt to become again influential in the affairs of the East faded suddenly away.

In the year 611 B. C., NEK.U II., son of Psametik, succeeded to the throne of the country. The first years of his reign were occupied with the decayed project of constructing a canal from the Red Sea into the Nile. Commerce was patronized. A navy was built, manned by Phoenician sailors, and sent by way of the Red Sea to explore the coasts of Africa. In the first summer of their voyage, and again in the second, the seamen landed, pitched a camp, sowed grain, and gathered a harvest. In the third season they returned to Egypt by way of the Mediterranean, having accomplished what, after twenty-one centuries, Vasco da Gama, sailing in the opposite course, did with so great toil and peril the circumnavigation of Africa.

But the monarch in whose reign the famous voyage was made was less fortunate in his schemes of war. Covetous of the prize offered in the East by the decay of Nineveh, he organized an army, marched to Megiddo, joined battle there with Josiah, king of Judah, whom he slew, and then advanced to Carchemish, on the Euphrates. The epoch was in the ebb between the collapse of Assyria and the rise of Babylon. After three years, however, Nabopolassar, the Babylonian monarch, sent out a powerful army, commanded by his son, Nebuchadnezzar, to drive the Egyptians from the land. The decisive battle was fought in 605 B. C., on the field of Carchemish. The army of Neku was utterly defeated, and the power of Egypt in the East forever extinguished.

PSAMETIK II. came to the throne in the year 595. His short reign was distinguished by no event except a fitful expedition undertaken against the king of Ethiopia. His son and successor, UAHABRA,1 inherited the 1 in Greek, Apries, in Hebrew, Hophra.