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to us in the derivation of the curious proper names by which
the foreign peoples of Asia, each in its own dialect, were accustomed to designate Egypt. The Hebrews gave the land the name of Mizraim; the Assyrians, Muzur. We may feel assured that at the basis of all these designations there lies an original form which consisted of the three letters M, z, r-all explanations of which have as yet been unsuccessful." 1
It may be asked, and with reason, How is it that so many learned Egyptologists, who have studied the question, have failed to find the etymology of these words?
The answer is, indeed, most simple. It is because they have not looked for it in the only language where it is to be found -the Maya.
Egypt has always been a country mostly devoid of trees, which were uprooted by the inundation, whose waters carried their débris and deposited them all over the land. The husbandman, in order to plough the soil, had first to clear it from the rubbish; hence no doubt the names Misur, or Muzur, given to it by the Assyrians. Well, then, miz, in the Maya language, means "to clear away rubbish of trees," and muuzul "to uproot trees."
Not satisfied with these onomatopoetic names, they gave the new place of their adoption others that would recall to their mind and to that of their descendants the mother country beyond the western seas. We learn from the Troano MS., the Codex Cortesianus, and the inscriptions, that Mayach from the remotest ages was symbolized either as a beb (mulberry tree) or as a haaz (banana-tree); also by a serpent with inflated breast, standing erect in the midst of the waters
Henry Brugsch-Bey, Hist. of Egypt, vol. i., p. 12.
Aug. Le Plongeon, Sacred Mysteries, p. 115, et passim.
between the two American Mediterraneans, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, represented in the Maya writings by a sign similar to our numerical 8.1 Diego de Cogolludo in his history of Yucatan informs us that up to A. D. 1517, when the Spaniards for the first time invaded that country, the land of the Mayas was still designated as "the great serpent" and "the tree."2
The Maya colonists therefore called their new settlement on the banks of the Nile the "land of the serpent" and also the "land of the tree." The Egyptian hierogrammatists represented their country as a serpent with inflated breast, standing on a figure 8, under which is
a sieve, called Mayab in Maya; some
times also as a serpent with inflated and wings, wearing a headidentical with that worn by of the magnates pictured in the bas-reliefs at Chichen. They likewise symbolized Egypt as a tree believed to be the Persea, sacred to the goddess Athor, whose fruit in the sculptures resembles a human heart,5 which vividly recalls the on of the Mayas, that bears the alligator pear-the Laurus persea of Linnæus, so abundant in tropical America.
Can it be that all these are mere coincidences? If they be, then let us present more of them.
The river, spread as it was over the land, they designated as Hapimil, which in aftertimes was corrupted into Hapi
Aug. Le Plongeon, Sacred Mysteries, p. 120, et passim.
Cogolludo, Hist. de Yucathan, lib. i., cap. i.
Sir Gardner Wilkinson, Manners and Customs, vol. iii., p. 199.
mau. It is a word composed of two Maya primitives—ha, "water," and pim, "the thickness of flat surfaces;" hence the "thickness," the "depth of water." The desinence il is used as a suffix to nouns to denote usage, custom, or a thing having existed previously. This accords precisely with the signification given to the name Hapimau of the Nile, by Egyptian scholars, the "abyss of water."
Herodotus tells us that "anciently the whole of Egypt, with the exception of the nome of Thebes, was a marshy swamp."
The name Thebes, of the capital of Upper Egypt, was Taba among the natives. That word seems to be allied to the Maya vocable tepal, "to govern,' "to reign," which, as a noun, is equivalent to "majesty," "king," the "head of the nation."
As to Memphis, the capital of Lower Egypt, its sacred name, we are informed by M. Birch, was Hakaptah, which is a word composed of two Maya vocables-ha, "water," and kaptah, past participle of the verb kaapal, "to place in a hole." The name of the city would then signify that it was built in a hole made by water; very appropriate indeed, since we are told that King Menes, the founder of Memphis, having diverted the course of the Nile, built the city in the bed of the ancient channel in which it flowed.
The very name of King Menes may be a mere surname commemorative of his doings, since the Maya word men
means wise man, "legislator,' "builder," "architect,"
every one of these epithets being applicable to him.
Although the limits of this book allow but little space to adduce more proofs of the Maya origin of the names of places Herodotus, lib. ii., iv.