Georges Perrot,Charles Chipiez
A. C. ARMSTRONG AND SON
A history of art in ancient Egypt Vol.2 (of 2) (Illustrations) by Georges Perrot,Charles Chipiez Summary
The successful interpretation of the ancient writings of Egypt, Chaldæa, and Persia, which has distinguished our times, makes it necessary that the history of antiquity should be rewritten. Documents that for thousands of years lay hidden beneath the soil, and inscriptions which, like those of Egypt and Persia, long offered themselves to the gaze of man merely to excite his impotent curiosity, have now been deciphered and made to render up their secrets for the guidance of the historian. By the help of those strings of hieroglyphs and of cuneiform characters, illustrated by paintings and sculptured reliefs, we are enabled to separate the truth from the falsehood, the chaff from the wheat, in the narratives of the Greek writers who busied themselves with those nations of Africa and Asia which preceded their own in the ways of civilization. Day by day, as new monuments have been discovered and more certain methods of reading their inscriptions elaborated, we have added to the knowledge left us by Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus, to our acquaintance with those empires on the Euphrates and the Nile which were already in old age when the Greeks were yet struggling to emerge from their primitive barbarism. Even in the cases of Greece and Rome, whose histories are supplied in their main lines by their classic writers, the study of hitherto neglected writings discloses many new and curious details. The energetic search for ancient inscriptions, and the scrupulous and ingenious interpretation of their meaning, which we have witnessed and are witnessing, have revealed to us many interesting facts of which no trace is to be found in Thucydides or Xenophon, in Livy or Tacitus; enabling us to enrich with more than one feature the picture of private and public life which they have handed down to us. In the effort to embrace the life of ancient times as a whole, many attempts have been made to fix the exact place in it occupied by art, but those attempts have never been absolutely successful, because the comprehension of works of art, of plastic creations in the widest significance of that word, demands an amount of special knowledge which the great majority of historians are without; art has a method and language of its own, which obliges those who wish to learn it thoroughly to cultivate their taste by frequenting the principal museums of Europe, by visiting distant regions at the cost of considerable trouble and expense, by perpetual reference to the great collections of engravings, photographs, and other reproductions which considerations of space and cost prevent the savant from possessing at home. More than one learned author has never visited Italy or Greece, or has found no time to examine their museums, each of which contains but a small portion of the accumulated remains of antique art. Some connoisseurs do not even live in a capital, but dwell far from those public libraries, which often contain valuable collections, and sometimes—when they are not packed away in cellars or at the binder's—allow them to be studied by the curious. The study of art, difficult enough in itself, is thus rendered still more arduous by the obstacles which are thrown in its way. The difficulty of obtaining materials for self-improvement in this direction affords the true explanation of the absence, in modern histories of antiquity, of those laborious researches which have led to such great results since Winckelmann founded the science of archæology as we know it. To be continue in this ebook...