Numismata Hellenica: A Catalogue of Greek Coins by William Martin Leake

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William Martin Leake
Forgotten Books
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Numismata Hellenica: A Catalogue of Greek Coins

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Excerpt from Numismata Hellenica: A Catalogue of Greek Coins

The geographical knowledge which, in late years, has been acquired of the countries occupied by the civilized nations of antiquity, together with the monumental discoveries which have simultaneously been made in them, has opened to the present generation a view of ancient history, much more correct and comprehensive than the learned of the last century had the means of giving to the public; these sources of historical truth are far from being exhausted.

Of Egypt and Assyria we know scarcely any thing, but from their monuments. The kingdom of the Pharaohs was not open to the historical researches of the Greeks until after it had been subdued by the Babylonians and Persians; in the time of the Ptolemies, nothing of its history was left but its monuments, and two or three conflicting catalogues of royal names, with a single date resting on a scientific basis. In Assyria, the Old Testament alone can be relied on for the interpretation of the monuments. Nor have geographical knowledge and monumental evidence been less useful in enlarging, correcting, and improving the history of Greece; not so much in its annals, as in the far more important and instructive part of the history of a great nation; its manners and institutions; its proficiency in art and science; and particularly in proving the vast extent of the influence of those qualities, which rendered the Greeks superior to every other ancient race. So great, however, has been the destruction of Greek literature by triumphant barbarism, ignorance, and bigotry, that of the immense number of Greek writings, anciently collected in the libraries of Egypt, Greece, and Italy, those which have been saved of a date cotemporary, or nearly cotemporary with the events related, is extremely small; the remainder requiring the severest criticism to separate the trustworthy parts from the fabulous or doubtful, and all, without exception, standing in need of the light afforded by geography and the monuments.

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