The prehistoric tribes probably became united at a remote date before Menses, after whose reign it is customary to treat of Egyptian history as a series of successive dynasties. These dynasties are sometimes named from the city which served as the capital, and sometimes from the conquering nation which furnished the kings. Historians and Egyptologists differ widely in respect to the dates of the earlier dynasties, but the difference grows less with the later dynasties and disappears when the period of Greek rule is reached.
At the head of the social organism stood the king, or Pharaoh, an absolute monarch, worshipped as a divinity after he ascended the throne. He was supreme in ecclesiastical as well as civil matters. Below him were the several orders of priests, the governors, scribes, and other civil functionaries, with the generals and officers of the army. These constituted a privileged, hereditary nobility, in whose hands was considerable power, and the ownership of the soil. Much that remains to us of the sculptures of the Ancient and Middle Empires is the result of the patronage of these classes. Architects and sculptors were highly esteemed, and the various artisans, musicians, and commercial traders had the same legal rights as the tillers of the soil.... [continues]
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