Chaldea - From the Earliest Times to the Rise of Assyria
by Znade A. Ragozin
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From the Earliest Times to the Rise of Assyria

(Treated As a General Introduction to the Study of Ancient History)



Member of the "Societe Ethnologique" of Paris; of the "American Oriental Society"; Corresponding Member of the "Athenee Oriental" of Paris; Author of "Assyria," "Media," Etc.

"He (Carlyle) says it is part of his creed that history is poetry, could we tell it right."—EMERSON.

Fourth Edition

London T. Fisher Unwin Paternoster Square

New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons










Sec. 1. Complete destruction of Nineveh.—Secs. 2-4. Xenophon and the "Retreat of the Ten Thousand." The Greeks pass the ruins of Calah and Nineveh, and know them not.—Sec. 5. Alexander's passage through Mesopotamia.—Sec. 6. The Arab invasion and rule.—Sec. 7. Turkish rule and mismanagement.—Sec. 8. Peculiar natural conditions of Mesopotamia.—Sec. 9. Actual desolate state of the country.—Sec. 10. The plains studded with Mounds. Their curious aspect.—Sec. 11. Fragments of works of art amidst the rubbish.—Sec. 12. Indifference and superstition of the Turks and Arabs.—Sec. 13. Exclusive absorption of European scholars in Classical Antiquity.—Sec. 14. Forbidding aspect of the Mounds, compared with other ruins.—Sec. 15. Rich, the first explorer.—Sec. 16. Botta's work and want of success.—Sec. 17. Botta's great discovery.—Sec. 18. Great sensation created by it.—Sec. 19. Layard's first expedition.



Sec. 1. Layard's arrival at Nimrud. His excitement and dreams.—Sec. 2. Beginning of difficulties. The Ogre-like Pasha of Mossul.—Sec. 3. Opposition from the Pasha. His malice and cunning.—Sec. 4. Discovery of the gigantic head. Fright of the Arabs, who declare it to be Nimrod.—Sec. 5. Strange ideas of the Arabs about the sculptures.—Sec. 6. Layard's life in the desert.—Sec. 7. Terrible heat of summer.—Sec. 8. Sand-storms and hot hurricanes.—Sec. 9. Layard's wretched dwelling.—Sec. 10. Unsuccessful attempts at improvement.—Sec. 11. In what the task of the explorer consists.—Sec. 12. Different modes of carrying on the work of excavation.



Sec. 1. Every country's culture and art determined by its geographical conditions.—Sec. 2. Chaldea's absolute deficiency in wood and stone.—Sec. 3. Great abundance of mud fit for the fabrication of bricks; hence the peculiar architecture of Mesopotamia. Ancient ruins still used as quarries of bricks for building. Trade of ancient bricks at Hillah.—Sec. 4. Various cements used.—Sec. 5. Construction of artificial platforms.—Sec. 6. Ruins of Ziggurats; peculiar shape, and uses of this sort of buildings.—Sec. 7. Figures showing the immense amount of labor used on these constructions.—Sec. 8. Chaldean architecture adopted unchanged by the Assyrians.—Sec. 9. Stone used for ornament and casing of walls. Water transport in old and modern times.—Sec. 10. Imposing aspect of the palaces.—Sec. 11. Restoration of Sennacherib's palace by Fergusson.—Sec. 12. Pavements of palace halls.—Sec. 13. Gateways and sculptured slabs along the walls. Friezes in painted tiles.—Sec. 14. Proportions of palace halls and roofing.—Sec. 15. Lighting of halls.—Sec. 16. Causes of the kings' passion for building.—Sec. 17. Drainage of palaces and platforms.—Sec. 18. Modes of destruction.—Sec. 19. The Mounds a protection to the ruins they contain. Refilling the excavations.—Sec. 20. Absence of ancient tombs in Assyria.—Sec. 21. Abundance and vastness of cemeteries in Chaldea.—Sec. 22. Warka (Erech) the great Necropolis. Loftus' description.—Sec. 23. "Jar-coffins."—Sec. 24. "Dish-cover" coffins.—Sec. 25. Sepulchral vaults.—Sec. 26. "Slipper-shaped" coffins.—Sec. 27. Drainage of sepulchral mounds.—Sec. 28. Decoration of walls in painted clay-cones.—Sec. 29. De Sarzec's discoveries at Tell-Loh.



Sec. 1. Object of making books.—Sec. 2. Books not always of paper.—Sec. 3. Universal craving for an immortal name.—Sec. 4. Insufficiency of records on various writing materials. Universal longing for knowledge of the remotest past.—Sec. 5. Monumental records.—Sec. 6. Ruins of palaces and temples, tombs and caves—the Book of the Past.—Secs. 7-8. Discovery by Layard of the Royal Library at Nineveh.—Sec. 9. George Smith's work at the British Museum.—Sec. 10. His expeditions to Nineveh, his success and death.—Sec. 11. Value of the Library.—Secs. 12-13. Contents of the Library.—Sec. 14. The Tablets.—Sec. 15. The cylinders and foundation-tablets.




Sec. 1. Nomads.—Sec. 2. First migrations.—Sec. 3. Pastoral life—the second stage.—Sec. 4. Agricultural life; beginnings of the State.—Sec. 5. City-building; royalty.—Sec. 6. Successive migrations and their causes.—Sec. 7. Formation of nations.



Sec. 1. Shinar.—Sec. 2. Berosus.—Sec. 3. Who were the settlers in Shinar?—Sec. 4. The Flood probably not universal.—Secs. 5-6. The blessed race and the accursed, according to Genesis.—Sec. 7. Genealogical form of Chap. X. of Genesis.—Sec. 8. Eponyms.—Sec. 9. Omission of some white races from Chap. X.—Sec. 10. Omission of the Black Race.—Sec. 11. Omission of the Yellow Race. Characteristics of the Turanians.—Sec. 12. The Chinese.—Sec. 13. Who were the Turanians? What became of the Cainites?—Sec. 14. Possible identity of both.—Sec. 15. The settlers in Shinar—Turanians.



Sec. 1. Shumir and Accad.—Sec. 2. Language and name.—Sec. 3. Turanian migrations and traditions.—Sec. 4. Collection of sacred texts.—Sec. 5. "Religiosity"—a distinctively human characteristic. Its first promptings and manifestations.—Sec. 6. The Magic Collection and the work of Fr. Lenormant.—Sec. 7. The Shumiro-Accads' theory of the world, and their elementary spirits.—Sec. 8. The incantation of the Seven Maskim.—Sec. 9. The evil spirits.—Sec. 10. The Arali.—Sec. 11. The sorcerers.—Sec. 12. Conjuring and conjurers.—Sec. 13. The beneficent Spirits, Ea.—Sec. 14. Meridug.—Sec. 15. A charm against an evil spell.—Sec. 16. Diseases considered as evil demons.—Sec. 17. Talismans. The Kerubim.—Sec. 18. More talismans.—Sec. 19. The demon of the South-West Wind.—Sec. 20. The first gods.—Sec. 21. Ud, the Sun.—Sec. 22. Nin dar, the nightly Sun.—Sec. 23. Gibil, Fire.—Sec. 24. Dawn of moral consciousness.—Sec. 25. Man's Conscience divinized.—Secs. 26-28. Penitential Psalms.—Sec. 29. General character of Turanian religions.


Professor L. Dyer's poetical version of the Incantation against the Seven Maskim.



Sec. 1. Oannes.—Sec. 2. Were the second settlers Cushites or Semites?—Sec. 3. Cushite hypothesis. Earliest migrations.—Sec. 4. The Ethiopians and the Egyptians.—Sec. 5. The Canaanites.—Sec. 6. Possible Cushite station on the islets of the Persian Gulf.—Sec. 7. Colonization of Chaldea possibly by Cushites.—Sec. 8. Vagueness of very ancient chronology.—Sec. 9. Early dates.—Sec. 10. Exorbitant figures of Berosus.—Sec. 11. Early Chaldea—a nursery of nations.—Sec. 12. Nomadic Semitic tribes.—Sec. 13. The tribe of Arphaxad.—Sec. 14. Ur of the Chaldees.—Sec. 15. Scholars divided between the Cushite and Semitic theories.—Sec. 16. History commences with Semitic culture.—Sec. 17. Priestly rule. The patesis.—Secs. 18-19. Sharrukin I. (Sargon I) of Agade.—Secs. 20-21. The second Sargon's literary labors.—Secs. 22-23. Chaldean folk-lore, maxims and songs.—Sec. 24. Discovery of the elder Sargon's date—3800 B.C.—Sec. 25. Gudea of Sir-gulla and Ur-ea of Ur.—Sec. 26. Predominance of Shumir. Ur-ea and his son Dungi first kings of "Shumir and Accad."—Sec. 27. Their inscriptions and buildings. The Elamite invasion.—Sec. 28. Elam.—Secs. 29-31. Khudur-Lagamar and Abraham.—Sec. 32. Hardness of the Elamite rule.—Sec. 33. Rise of Babylon.—Sec. 34. Hammurabi.—Sec. 35. Invasion of the Kasshi.



Sec. 1. Babylonian calendar.—Sec. 2. Astronomy conducive to religious feeling.—Sec. 3. Sabeism.—Sec. 4. Priestcraft and astrology.—Sec. 5. Transformation of the old religion.—Sec. 6. Vague dawning of the monotheistic idea. Divine emanations.—Sec. 7. The Supreme Triad.—Sec. 8. The Second Triad.—Sec. 9. The five Planetary deities.—Secs. 10-11. Duality of nature. Masculine and feminine principles. The goddesses.—Sec. 12. The twelve Great Gods and their Temples.—Sec. 13. The temple of Shamash at Sippar and Mr. Rassam's discovery.—Sec. 14. Survival of the old Turanian superstitions.—Sec. 15. Divination, a branch of Chaldean "Science."—Secs. 16-17. Collection of one hundred tablets on divination. Specimens.—Sec. 18. The three classes of "wise men." "Chaldeans," in later times, a by-word for "magician," and "astrologer."—Sec. 19. Our inheritance from the Chaldeans: the sun-dial, the week, the calendar, the Sabbath.



Sec. 1. The Cosmogonies of different nations.—Sec. 2. The antiquity of the Sacred Books of Babylonia.—Sec. 3. The legend of Oannes, told by Berosus. Discovery, by Geo. Smith, of the Creation Tablets and the Deluge Tablet.—Secs. 4-5. Chaldean account of the Creation.—Sec. 6. The Cylinder with the human couple, tree and serpent.—Sec. 7. Berosus' account of the creation.—Sec. 8. The Sacred Tree. Sacredness of the Symbol.—Sec. 9. Signification of the Tree-Symbol. The Cosmic Tree.—Sec. 10. Connection of the Tree-Symbol and of Ziggurats with the legend of Paradise.—Sec. 11. The Ziggurat of Borsippa.—Sec. 12. It is identified with the Tower of Babel.—Secs. 13-14. Peculiar Orientation of the Ziggurats.—Sec. 15. Traces of legends about a sacred grove or garden.—Sec. 16. Mummu-Tiamat, the enemy of the gods. Battle of Bel and Tiamat.—Sec. 17. The Rebellion of the seven evil spirits, originally messengers of the gods.—Sec. 18. The great Tower and the Confusion of Tongues.



Sec. 1. Definition of the word Myth.—Sec. 2. The Heroes.—Sec. 3. The Heroic Ages and Heroic Myths. The National Epos.—Sec. 4. The oldest known Epic.—Sec. 5. Berosus' account of the Flood.—Sec. 6. Geo. Smith's discovery of the original Chaldean narrative.—Sec. 7. The Epic divided into books or Tablets.—Sec. 8. Izdubar the Hero of the Epic.—Sec. 9. Erech's humiliation under the Elamite Conquest. Izdubar's dream.—Sec. 10. Eabani the Seer. Izdubar's invitation and promises to him.—Sec. 11. Message sent to Eabani by Ishtar's handmaidens. His arrival at Erech.—Sec. 12. Izdubar and Eabani's victory over the tyrant Khumbaba.—Sec. 13. Ishtar's love message. Her rejection and wrath. The two friends' victory over the Bull sent by her.—Sec. 14. Ishtar's vengeance. Izdubar's journey to the Mouth of the Rivers.—Sec. 15. Izdubar sails the Waters of Death and is healed by his immortal ancestor Hasisadra.—Sec. 16. Izdubar's return to Erech and lament over Eabani. The seer is translated among the gods.—Sec. 17. The Deluge narrative in the Eleventh Tablet of the Izdubar Epic.—Secs. 18-21. Mythic and solar character of the Epic analyzed.—Sec. 22. Sun-Myth of the Beautiful Youth, his early death and resurrection.—Secs. 23-24. Dumuzi-Tammuz, the husband of Ishtar. The festival of Dumuzi in June.—Sec. 25. Ishtar's Descent to the Land of the Dead.—Sec. 26. Universality of the Solar and Chthonic Myths.



Sec. 1. Definition of Mythology and Religion, as distinct from each other.—Secs. 2-3. Instances of pure religious feeling in the poetry of Shumir and Accad.—Sec. 4. Religion often stifled by Mythology.—Secs. 5-6. The conception of the immortality of the soul suggested by the sun's career.—Sec. 7. This expressed in the Solar and Chthonic Myths.—Sec. 8. Idolatry.—Sec. 9. The Hebrews, originally polytheists and idolators, reclaimed by their leaders to Monotheism.—Sec. 10. Their intercourse with the tribes of Canaan conducive to relapses.—Sec. 11. Intermarriage severely forbidden for this reason.—Sec. 12. Striking similarity between the Book of Genesis and the ancient Chaldean legends.—Sec. 13. Parallel between the two accounts of the creation.—Sec. 14. Anthropomorphism, different from polytheism and idolatry, but conducive to both.—Secs. 15-17. Parallel continued.—Secs. 18-19. Retrospect.


BAER, Wilhelm. DER VORGESCHICHTLICHE MENSCH. 1 vol., Leipzig: 1874.


BUDGE, E. A. Wallis. BABYLONIAN LIFE AND HISTORY. ("Bypaths of Bible Knowledge" Series, V.) 1884. London: The Religious Tract Society. 1 vol.


BUNSEN, Chr. Carl Jos. GOTT IN DER GESCHICHTE, oder Der Fortschritt des Glaubens an eine sittliche Weltordnung. 3 vols. Leipzig: 1857.

CASTREN, Alexander. KLEINERE SCHRIFTEN. St. Petersburg: 1862. 1 vol.

CORY. ANCIENT FRAGMENTS. London: 1876. 1 vol.

DELITZSCH, Dr. Friedrich. WO LAG DAS PARADIES? eine Biblisch-Assyriologische Studie. Leipzig: 1881. 1 vol.

—— DIE SPRACHE DER KOSSAEER. Leipzig: 1885 (or 1884?). 1 vol.



HAPPEL, Julius. DIE ALTCHINESISCHE REICHSRELIGION, vom Standpunkte der Vergleichenden Religionsgeschichte. 46 pages, Leipzig: 1882.

HAUPT, Paul. DER KEILINSCHRIFTLICHE SINTFLUTBERICHT, eine Episode des Babylonischen Nimrodepos. 36 pages. Goettingen: 1881.

HOMMEL, Dr. Fritz. GESCHICHTE BABYLONIENS UND ASSYRIENS (first instalment, 160 pp., 1885; and second instalment, 160 pp., 1886). (Allgemeine Geschichte in einzelnen Darstellungen, Abtheilung 95 und 117.)


LAYARD, Austen H. DISCOVERIES AMONG THE RUINS OF NINEVEH AND BABYLON. (American Edition.) New York: 1853. 1 vol.

—— NINEVEH AND ITS REMAINS. London: 1849. 2 vols.

LENORMANT, Francois. LES PREMIERES CIVILISATIONS. Etudes d'Histoire et d'Archeologie. 1874. Paris: Maisonneuve et Cie. 2 vols.

—— LES ORIGINES DE L'HISTOIRE, d'apres la Bible et les Traditions des Peuples Orientaux. Paris: Maisonneuve et Cie. 3 vol. 1er vol. 1880; 2e vol. 1882; 3e vol. 1884.

—— LA GENESE. Traduction d'apres l'Hebreu. Paris: 1883. 1 vol.


—— IL MITO DI ADONE-TAMMUZ nei Documenti cuneiformi. 32 pages. Firenze: 1879.

—— SUR LE NOM DE TAMMOUZ. (Extrait des Memoires du Congres international des Orientalistes.) 17 pages. Paris: 1873.

—— A MANUAL OF THE ANCIENT HISTORY OF THE EAST. Translated by E. Chevallier. American Edition. Philadelphia: 1871. 2 vols.

LOFTUS. CHALDEA AND SUSIANA. 1 vol. London: 1857.


MAURY, Alfred L. F. LA MAGIE ET L'ASTROLOGIE dans l'antiquite et en Moyen Age. Paris: 1877. 1 vol. Quatrieme edition.

MASPERO, G. HISTOIRE ANCIENNE DES PEUPLES DE L'ORIENT. 3e edition, 1878. Paris: Hachette & Cie. 1 vol.

MENANT, Joachim. LA BIBLIOTHEQUE DU PALAIS DE NINIVE. 1 vol. (Bibliotheque Orientale Elzevirienne.) Paris: 1880.

MEYER, Eduard. GESCHICHTE DES ALTERTHUMS. Stuttgart: 1884. Vol. 1st.

MUeLLER, Max. LECTURES ON THE SCIENCE OF LANGUAGE. 2 vols. American edition. New York: 1875.

MUeRDTER, F. KURZGEFASSTE GESCHICHTE BABYLONIENS UND ASSYRIENS, mit besonderer Beruecksichtigung des Alten Testaments. Mit Vorwort und Beigaben von Friedrich Delitzsch. Stuttgart: 1882. 1 vol.

OPPERT, Jules. L'IMMORTALITE DE L'AME CHEZ LES CHALDEENS. 28 pages. (Extrait des Annales de Philosophie Chretienne, 1874.) Perrot et Chipiez.

QUATREFAGES, A. de. L'ESPECE HUMAINE. Sixieme edition. 1 vol. Paris: 1880.


RECORDS OF THE PAST. Published under the sanction of the Society of Biblical Archaeology. Volumes I. III. V. VII. IX. XI.

SAYCE, A. H. FRESH LIGHT FROM ANCIENT MONUMENTS. ("By-Paths of Bible Knowledge" Series, II.) 3d edition, 1885. London: 1 vol.

—— THE ANCIENT EMPIRES OF THE EAST. 1 vol. London, 1884.

—— BABYLONIAN LITERATURE. 1 vol. London, 1884.

SCHRADER, Eberhard. KEILINSCHRIFTEN und Geschichtsforschung. Giessen: 1878. 1 vol.

—— DIE KEILINSCHRIFTEN und das Alte Testament. Giessen: 1883. 1 vol.

—— ISTAR'S HOELLENFAHRT. 1 vol. Giessen: 1874.


SMITH, George. ASSYRIA from the Earliest Times to the Fall of Nineveh. ("Ancient History from the Monuments" Series.) London: 1 vol.

TYLOR, Edward B. PRIMITIVE CULTURE. Second American Edition. 2 vols. New York: 1877.

ZIMMERN, Heinrich. BABYLONISCHE BUSSPSALMEN, umschrieben, uebersetzt und erklaert. 17 pages, 4to. Leipzig: 1885.

Numerous Essays by Sir Henry Rawlinson, Friedr. Delitzsch, E. Schrader and others, in Mr. Geo. Rawlinson's translation of Herodotus, in the Calwer Bibellexikon, and in various periodicals, such as "Proceedings" and "Transactions" of the "Society of Biblical Archaeology," "Jahrbuecher fuer Protestantische Theologie," "Zeitschrift fuer Keilschriftforschung," "Gazette Archeologique," and others.


PAGE SHAMASH THE SUN-GOD. From a tablet in the British Museum. Frontispiece. 1. CUNEIFORM CHARACTERS Menant. 10 2. TEMPLE OF EA AT ERIDHU Hommel. 23 3. VIEW OF EUPHRATES NEAR BABYLON Babelon. 31 4. MOUND OF BABIL Oppert. 33 5. BRONZE DISH Perrot and Chipiez. 35 6. BRONZE DISH (RUG PATTERN) Perrot and Chipiez. 37 7. SECTION OF BRONZE DISH Perrot and Chipiez. 39 8. VIEW OF NEBBI-YUNUS Babelon. 41 9. BUILDING IN BAKED BRICK. Perrot and Chipiez. 43 10. MOUND OF NINEVEH Hommel. 45 11. MOUND OF MUGHEIR (ANCIENT UR) Taylor. 47 12. TERRACE WALL AT KHORSABAD Perrot and Chipiez. 49 13. RAFT BUOYED BY INFLATED SKINS (ANCIENT) Kaulen. 51 14. RAFT BUOYED BY INFLATED SKINS (MODERN) Kaulen. 51 15. EXCAVATIONS AT MUGHEIR (UR) Hommel. 53 16. WARRIORS SWIMMING ON INFLATED SKINS Babelon. 55 17. VIEW OF KOYUNJIK Hommel. 57 18. STONE LION AT ENTRANCE OF A TEMPLE Perrot and Chipiez. 59 19. COURT OF HAREM AT KHORSABAD. RESTORED Perrot and Chipiez. 61 20. CIRCULAR PILLAR BASE Perrot and Chipiez. 63 21. INTERIOR VIEW OF HAREM CHAMBER Perrot and Chipiez. 65 22, 23. COLORED FRIEZE IN ENAMELLED TILES Perrot and Chipiez. 67 24. PAVEMENT SLAB Perrot and Chipiez. 69 25. SECTION OF ORNAMENTAL DOORWAY, KHORSABAD Perrot and Chipiez. 71 26. WINGED LION WITH HUMAN HEAD Perrot and Chipiez. 73 27. WINGED BULL Perrot and Chipiez. 75 28. MAN-LION Perrot and Chipiez. 77 29. FRAGMENT OF ENAMELLED BRICK Perrot and Chipiez. 79 30. RAM'S HEAD IN ALABASTER British Museum. 81 31. EBONY COMB Perrot and Chipiez. 81 32. BRONZE FORK AND SPOON Perrot and Chipiez. 81 33. ARMENIAN LOUVRE Botta. 83 34, 35. VAULTED DRAINS Perrot and Chipiez. 84 36. CHALDEAN JAR-COFFIN Taylor. 85 37. "DISH-COVER" TOMB AT MUGHEIR Taylor. 87 38. "DISH-COVER" TOMB Taylor. 87 39. SEPULCHRAL VAULT AT MUGHEIR Taylor. 89 40. STONE JARS FROM GRAVES Hommel. 89 41. DRAIN IN MOUND Perrot and Chipiez. 90 42. WALL WITH DESIGNS IN TERRA-COTTA Loftus. 91 43. TERRA-COTTA CONE Loftus. 91 44. HEAD OF ANCIENT CHALDEAN Perrot and Chipiez. 101 45. SAME, PROFILE VIEW Perrot and Chipiez. 101 46. CUNEIFORM INSCRIPTION Perrot and Chipiez. 107 47. INSCRIBED CLAY TABLET Smith's Chald. Gen. 109 48. CLAY TABLET IN ITS CASE Hommel. 111 49. ANTIQUE BRONZE SETTING OF CYLINDER Perrot and Chipiez. 112 50. CHALDEAN CYLINDER AND IMPRESSION Perrot and Chipiez. 113 51. ASSYRIAN CYLINDER 113 52. PRISM OF SENNACHERIB British Museum. 115 53. INSCRIBED CYLINDER FROM BORSIP Menant. 117 54. DEMONS FIGHTING British Museum. 165 55. DEMON OF THE SOUTH-WEST WIND Perrot and Chipiez. 169 56. HEAD OF DEMON British Museum. 170 57. OANNES Smith's Chald. Gen. 187 58. CYLINDER OF SARGON FROM AGADE Hommel. 207 59. STATUE OF GUDEA Hommel. 217 60. BUST INSCRIBED WITH NAME OF NEBO British Museum. 243 61. BACK OF TABLET WITH ACCOUNT OF FLOOD Smith's Chald. Gen. 262 62. BABYLONIAN CYLINDER Smith's Chald. Gen. 266 63. FEMALE WINGED FIGURES AND SACRED TREES British Museum. 269 64. WINGED SPIRITS BEFORE SACRED TREE Smith's Chald. Gen. 270 65. SARGON OF ASSYRIA BEFORE SACRED TREE Perrot and Chipiez. 271 66. EAGLE-HEADED FIGURE BEFORE SACRED TREE Perrot and Chipiez. 273 67. FOUR-WINGED HUMAN FIGURE BEFORE SACRED TREE Perrot and Chipiez. 275 68. TEMPLE AND HANGING GARDENS AT KOYUNJIK British Museum. 277 69. PLAN OF A ZIGGURAT Perrot and Chipiez. 278 70. "ZIGGURAT" RESTORED Perrot and Chipiez. 279 71. BIRS-NIMRUD Perrot and Chipiez. 281 72, 73. BEL FIGHTS DRAGON Perrot and Chipiez. 289 74. BATTLE BETWEEN BEL AND DRAGON Smith's Chald. Gen. 291 75. IZDUBAR AND LION Smith's Chald. Gen. 306 76. IZDUBAR AND LION British Museum. 307 77. IZDUBAR AND EABANI Smith's Chald. Gen. 309 78. IZDUBAR AND LION Perrot and Chipiez. 310 79. SCORPION-MAN Smith's Chald. Gen. 311 80. STONE OBJECT FOUND AT ABU-HABBA 312




1. In or about the year before Christ 606, Nineveh, the great city, was destroyed. For many hundred years had she stood in arrogant splendor, her palaces towering above the Tigris and mirrored in its swift waters; army after army had gone forth from her gates and returned laden with the spoils of conquered countries; her monarchs had ridden to the high place of sacrifice in chariots drawn by captive kings. But her time came at last. The nations assembled and encompassed her around. Popular tradition tells how over two years lasted the siege; how the very river rose and battered her walls; till one day a vast flame rose up to heaven; how the last of a mighty line of kings, too proud to surrender, thus saved himself, his treasures and his capital from the shame of bondage. Never was city to rise again where Nineveh had been.

2. Two hundred years went by. Great changes had passed over the land. The Persian kings now held the rule of Asia. But their greatness also was leaning towards its decline and family discords undermined their power. A young prince had rebelled against his elder brother and resolved to tear the crown from him by main force. To accomplish this, he had raised an army and called in the help of Grecian hirelings. They came, 13,000 in number, led by brave and renowned generals, and did their duty by him; but their valor could not save him from defeat and death. Their own leader fell into an ambush, and they commenced their retreat under the most disastrous circumstances and with little hope of escape.

3. Yet they accomplished it. Surrounded by open enemies and false friends, tracked and pursued, through sandy wastes and pathless mountains, now parched with heat, now numbed with cold, they at last reached the sunny and friendly Hellespont. It was a long and weary march from Babylon on the Euphrates, near which city the great battle had been fought. They might not have succeeded had they not chosen a great and brave commander, Xenophon, a noble Athenian, whose fame as scholar and writer equals his renown as soldier and general. Few books are more interesting than the lively relation he has left of his and his companions' toils and sufferings in this expedition, known in history as "The Retreat of the Ten Thousand"—for to that number had the original 13,000 been reduced by battles, privations and disease. So cultivated a man could not fail, even in the midst of danger and weighed down by care, to observe whatever was noteworthy in the strange lands which he traversed. So he tells us how one day his little army, after a forced march in the early morning hours and an engagement with some light troops of pursuers, having repelled the attack and thereby secured a short interval of safety, travelled on till they came to the banks of the Tigris. On that spot, he goes on, there was a vast desert city. Its wall was twenty-five feet wide, one hundred feet high and nearly seven miles in circuit. It was built of brick with a basement, twenty feet high, of stone. Close by the city there stood a stone pyramid, one hundred feet in width, and two hundred in height. Xenophon adds that this city's name was Larissa and that it had anciently been inhabited by Medes; that the king of Persia, when he took the sovereignty away from the Medes, besieged it, but could not in any way get possession of it, until, a cloud having obscured the sun, the inhabitants forsook the city and thus it was taken.

4. Some eighteen miles further on (a day's march) the Greeks came to another great deserted city, which Xenophon calls Mespila. It had a similar but still higher wall. This city, he tells us, had also been inhabited by Medes, and taken by the king of Persia. Now these curious ruins were all that was left of Kalah and Nineveh, the two Assyrian capitals. In the short space of two hundred years, men had surely not yet lost the memory of Nineveh's existence and rule, yet they trod the very site where it had stood and knew it not, and called its ruins by a meaningless Greek name, handing down concerning it a tradition absurdly made up of true and fictitious details, jumbled into inextricable confusion. For Nineveh had been the capital of the Assyrian Empire, while the Medes were one of the nations who attacked and destroyed it. And though an eclipse of the sun—(the obscuring cloud could mean nothing else)—did occur, created great confusion and produced important results, it was at a later period and on an entirely different occasion. As to "the king of Persia," no such personage had anything whatever to do with the catastrophe of Nineveh, since the Persians had not yet been heard of at that time as a powerful people, and their country was only a small and insignificant principality, tributary to Media. So effectually had the haughty city been swept from the face of the earth!

5. Another hundred years brought on other and even greater changes. The Persian monarchy had followed in the wake of the empires that had gone before it and fallen before Alexander, the youthful hero of Macedon. As the conqueror's fleet of light-built Grecian ships descended the Euphrates towards Babylon, they were often hindered in their progress by huge dams of stone built across the river. The Greeks, with great labor, removed several, to make navigation more easy. They did the same on several other rivers,—nor knew that they were destroying the last remaining vestige of a great people's civilization,—for these dams had been used to save the water and distribute it into the numerous canals, which covered the arid country with their fertilizing network. They may have been told what travellers are told in our own days by the Arabs—that these dams had been constructed once upon a time by Nimrod, the Hunter-King. For some of them remain even still, showing their huge, square stones, strongly united by iron cramps, above the water before the river is swollen with the winter rains.

6. More than one-and-twenty centuries have rolled since then over the immense valley so well named Mesopotamia—"the Land between the Rivers,"—and each brought to it more changes, more wars, more disasters, with rare intervals of rest and prosperity. Its position between the East and the West, on the very high-road of marching armies and wandering tribes, has always made it one of the great battle grounds of the world. About one thousand years after Alexander's rapid invasion and short-lived conquest, the Arabs overran the country, and settled there, bringing with them a new civilization and the new religion given them by their prophet Mohammed, which they thought it their mission to carry, by force of word or sword, to the bounds of the earth. They even founded there one of the principal seats of their sovereignty, and Baghdad yielded not greatly in magnificence and power to Babylon of old.

7. Order, laws, and learning now flourished for a few hundred years, when new hordes of barbarous people came pouring in from the East, and one of them, the Turks, at last established itself in the land and stayed. They rule there now. The valley of the Tigris and Euphrates is a province of the Ottoman or Turkish Empire, which has its capital in Constantinople; it is governed by pashas, officials sent by the Turkish government, or the "Sublime Porte," as it is usually called, and the ignorant, oppressive, grinding treatment to which it has now been subjected for several hundred years has reduced it to the lowest depth of desolation. Its wealth is exhausted, its industry destroyed, its prosperous cities have disappeared or dwindled into insignificance. Even Mossul, built by the Arabs on the right bank of the Tigris, opposite the spot where Nineveh once stood, one of their finest cities, famous for the manufacturing of the delicate cotton tissue to which it gave its name—(muslin, mousseline)—would have lost all importance, had it not the honor to be the chief town of a Turkish district and to harbor a pasha. And Baghdad, although still the capital of the whole province, is scarcely more than the shadow of her former glorious self; and her looms no longer supply the markets of the world with wonderful shawls and carpets, and gold and silver tissues of marvellous designs.

8. Mesopotamia is a region which must suffer under neglect and misgovernment even more than others; for, though richly endowed by nature, it is of a peculiar formation, requiring constant care and intelligent management to yield all the return of which it is capable. That care must chiefly consist in distributing the waters of the two great rivers and their affluents over all the land by means of an intricate system of canals, regulated by a complete and well-kept set of dams and sluices, with other simpler arrangements for the remoter and smaller branches. The yearly inundations caused by the Tigris and Euphrates, which overflow their banks in spring, are not sufficient; only a narrow strip of land on each side is benefited by them. In the lowlands towards the Persian Gulf there is another inconvenience: the country there being perfectly flat, the waters accumulate and stagnate, forming vast pestilential swamps where rich pastures and wheat-fields should be—and have been in ancient times. In short, if left to itself, Upper Mesopotamia, (ancient Assyria), is unproductive from the barrenness of its soil, and Lower Mesopotamia, (ancient Chaldea and Babylonia), runs to waste, notwithstanding its extraordinary fertility, from want of drainage.

9. Such is actually the condition of the once populous and flourishing valley, owing to the principles on which the Turkish rulers carry on their government. They look on their remoter provinces as mere sources of revenue for the state and its officials. But even admitting this as their avowed and chief object, they pursue it in an altogether wrong-headed and short-sighted way. The people are simply and openly plundered, and no portion of what is taken from them is applied to any uses of local public utility, as roads, irrigation, encouragement of commerce and industry and the like; what is not sent home to the Sultan goes into the private pouches of the pasha and his many subaltern officials. This is like taking the milk and omitting to feed the cow. The consequence is, the people lose their interest in work of any kind, leave off striving for an increase of property which they will not be permitted to enjoy, and resign themselves to utter destitution with a stolid apathy most painful to witness. The land has been brought to such a degree of impoverishment that it is actually no longer capable of producing crops sufficient for a settled population. It is cultivated only in patches along the rivers, where the soil is rendered so fertile by the yearly inundations as to yield moderate returns almost unasked, and that mostly by wandering tribes of Arabs or of Kurds from the mountains to the north, who raise their tents and leave the spot the moment they have gathered in their little harvest—if it has not been appropriated first by some of the pasha's tax-collectors or by roving parties of Bedouins—robber-tribes from the adjoining Syrian and Arabian deserts, who, mounted on their own matchless horses, are carried across the open border with as much facility as the drifts of desert sand so much dreaded by travellers. The rest of the country is left to nature's own devices and, wherever it is not cut up by mountains or rocky ranges, offers the well-known twofold character of steppe-land: luxuriant grassy vegetation during one-third of the year and a parched, arid waste the rest of the time, except during the winter rains and spring floods.

10. A wild and desolate scene! Imposing too in its sorrowful grandeur, and well suited to a land which may be called a graveyard of empires and nations. The monotony of the landscape would be unbroken, but for certain elevations and hillocks of strange and varied shapes, which spring up, as it were, from the plain in every direction; some are high and conical or pyramidal in form, others are quite extensive and rather flat on the summit, others again long and low, and all curiously unconnected with each other or any ridge of hills or mountains. This is doubly striking in Lower Mesopotamia or Babylonia, proverbial for its excessive flatness. The few permanent villages, composed of mud-huts or plaited reed-cabins, are generally built on these eminences, others are used as burying-grounds, and a mosque, the Mohammedan house of prayer, sometimes rises on one or the other. They are pleasing objects in the beautiful spring season, when corn-fields wave on their summits, and their slopes, as well as all the surrounding plains, are clothed with the densest and greenest of herbage, enlivened with countless flowers of every hue, till the surface of the earth looks, from a distance or from a height, as gorgeous as the richest Persian carpet. But, on approaching nearer to these hillocks or mounds, an unprepared traveller would be struck by some peculiar features. Their substance being rather soft and yielding, and the winter rains pouring down with exceeding violence, their sides are furrowed in many places with ravines, dug by the rushing streams of rain-water. These streams of course wash down much of the substance itself and carry it far into the plain, where it lies scattered on the surface quite distinct from the soil. These washings are found to consist not of earth or sand, but of rubbish, something like that which lies in heaps wherever a house is being built or demolished, and to contain innumerable fragments of bricks, pottery, stone evidently worked by the hand and chisel; many of these fragments moreover bearing inscriptions in complicated characters composed of one curious figure shaped like the head of an arrow, and used in every possible position and combination,—like this:

11. In the crevices or ravines themselves, the waters having cleared away masses of this loose rubbish, have laid bare whole sides of walls of solid brick-work, sometimes even a piece of a human head or limb, or a corner of sculptured stone-slab, always of colossal size and bold, striking execution. All this tells its own tale and the conclusion is self-apparent: that these elevations are not natural hillocks or knolls, but artificial mounds, heaps of earth and building materials which have been at some time placed there by men, then, collapsing and crumbling to rubbish from neglect, have concealed within their ample sides all that remains of those ancient structures and works of art, clothed themselves in verdure, and deceitfully assumed all the outward signs of natural hills.

12. The Arabs never thought of exploring these curious heaps. Mohammedan nations, as a rule, take little interest in relics of antiquity; moreover they are very superstitious, and, as their religious law strictly forbids them to represent the human form either in painting or sculpture lest such reproduction might lead ignorant and misguided people back to the abominations of idolatry, so they look on relics of ancient statuary with suspicion amounting to fear and connect them with magic and witchcraft. It is, therefore, with awe not devoid of horror that they tell travellers that the mounds contain underground passages which are haunted not only by wild beasts, but by evil spirits—for have not sometimes strange figures carved in stone been dimly perceived in the crevices? Better instructed foreigners have long ago assumed that within these mounds must be entombed whatever ruins may be preserved of the great cities of yore. Their number formed no objection, for it was well known how populous the valley had been in the days of its splendor, and that, besides several famous cities, it could boast no end of smaller ones, often separated from each other by a distance of only a few miles. The long low mounds were rightly supposed to represent the ancient walls, and the higher and vaster ones to have been the site of the palaces and temples. The Arabs, though utterly ignorant of history of any kind, have preserved in their religion some traditions from the Bible, and so it happens that out of these wrecks of ages some biblical names still survive. Almost everything of which they do not know the origin, they ascribe to Nimrod; and the smaller of the two mounds opposite Mosul, which mark the spot where Nineveh itself once stood, they call "Jonah's Mound," and stoutly believe the mosque which crowns it, surrounded by a comparatively prosperous village, to contain the tomb of Jonah himself, the prophet who was sent to rebuke and warn the wicked city. As the Mohammedans honor the Hebrew prophets, the whole mound is sacred in their eyes in consequence.

13. If travellers had for some time been aware of these general facts concerning the Mounds, it was many years before their curiosity and interest were so far aroused as to make them go to the trouble and expense of digging into them, in order to find out what they really contained. Until within the last hundred years or so, not only the general public, but even highly cultivated men and distinguished scholars, under the words "study of antiquity," understood no more than the study of so-called "Classical Antiquity," i.e., of the language, history and literature of the Greeks and Romans, together with the ruins, works of art, and remains of all sorts left by these two nations. Their knowledge of other empires and people they took from the Greek and Roman historians and writers, without doubting or questioning their statements, or—as we say now—without subjecting their statements to any criticism. Moreover, European students in their absorption in and devotion to classical studies, were too apt to follow the example of their favorite authors and to class the entire rest of the world, as far as it was known in ancient times, under the sweeping and somewhat contemptuous by-name of "Barbarians," thus allowing them but a secondary importance and an inferior claim to attention.

14. Things began greatly to change towards the end of the last century. Yet the mounds of Assyria and Babylonia were still suffered to keep their secret unrevealed. This want of interest may be in part explained by their peculiar nature. They are so different from other ruins. A row of massive pillars or of stately columns cut out on the clear blue sky, with the desert around or the sea at their feet,—a broken arch or battered tombstone clothed with ivy and hanging creepers, with the blue and purple mountains for a background, are striking objects which first take the eye by their beauty, then invite inspection by the easy approach they offer. But these huge, shapeless heaps! What labor to remove even a small portion of them! And when that is done, who knows whether their contents will at all repay the effort and expense?

15. The first European whose love of learning was strong enough to make him disregard all such doubts and difficulties, was Mr. Rich, an Englishman. He was not particularly successful, nor were his researches very extensive, being carried on entirely with his private means; yet his name will always be honorably remembered, for he was the first who went to work with pickaxe and shovel, who hired men to dig, who measured and described some of the principal mounds on the Euphrates, thus laying down the groundwork of all later and more fruitful explorations in that region. It was in 1820 and Mr. Rich was then political resident or representative of the East India Company at Baghdad. He also tried the larger of the two mounds opposite Mosul, encouraged by the report that, a short time before he arrived there, a sculpture representing men and animals had been disclosed to view. Unfortunately he could not procure even a fragment of this treasure, for the people of Mosul, influenced by their ulema—(doctor of the law)—who had declared these sculptures to be "idols of the infidels," had walked across the river from the city in a body and piously shattered them to atoms. Mr. Rich had not the good luck to come across any such find himself, and after some further efforts, left the place rather disheartened. He carried home to England the few relics he had been able to obtain. In the absence of more important ones, they were very interesting, consisting in fragments of inscriptions, of pottery, in engraved stone, bricks and pieces of bricks. After his death all these articles were placed in the British Museum, where they formed the foundation of the present noble Chaldea-Assyrian collection of that great institution. Nothing more was undertaken for years, so that it could be said with literal truth that, up to 1842, "a case three feet square inclosed all that remained, not only of the great city Nineveh, but of Babylon itself!"[A]

16. The next in the field was Mr. Botta, appointed French Consul at Mosul in 1842. He began to dig at the end of the same year, and naturally attached himself specially to the larger of the two mounds opposite Mosul, named KOYUNJIK, after a small village at its base. This mound is the Mespila of Xenophon. He began enthusiastically, and worked on for over three months, but repeated disappointments were beginning to produce discouragement, when one day a peasant from a distant village happened to be looking on at the small party of workmen. He was much amused on observing that every—to him utterly worthless—fragment of alabaster, brick or pottery, was carefully picked out of the rubbish, most tenderly handled and laid aside, and laughingly remarked that they might be better repaid for their trouble, if they would try the mound on which his village was built, for that lots of such rubbish had kept continually turning up, when they were digging the foundations of their houses.

17. Mr. Botta had by this time fallen into a rather hopeless mood; yet he did not dare to neglect the hint, and sent a few men to the mound which had been pointed out to him, and which, as well as the village on the top of it, bore the name of KHORSABAD. His agent began operations from the top. A well was sunk into the mound, and very soon brought the workmen to the top of a wall, which, on further digging, was found to be lined along its base with sculptured slabs of some soft substance much like gypsum or limestone. This discovery quickly brought Mr. Botta to the spot, in a fever of excitement. He now took the direction of the works himself, had a trench dug from the outside straight into the mound, wide and deep, towards the place already laid open from above. What was his astonishment on finding that he had entered a hall entirely lined all round, except where interruptions indicated the place of doorways leading into other rooms, with sculptured slabs similar to the one first discovered, and representing scenes of battles, sieges and the like. He walked as in a dream. It was a new and wonderful world suddenly opened. For these sculptures evidently recorded the deeds of the builder, some powerful conqueror and king. And those long and close lines engraved in the stone, all along the slabs, in the same peculiar character as the short inscriptions on the bricks that lay scattered on the plain—they must surely contain the text to these sculptured illustrations. But who is to read them? They are not like any known writing in the world and may remain a sealed book forever. Who, then, was the builder? To what age belong these structures? Which of the wars we read about are here portrayed? None of these questions, which must have strangely agitated him, could Mr. Botta have answered at the time. But not the less to him remains the glory of having, first of living men, entered the palace of an Assyrian king.

18. Mr. Botta henceforth devoted himself exclusively to the mound of Khorsabad. His discovery created an immense sensation in Europe. Scholarly indifference was not proof against so unlooked-for a shock; the revulsion was complete and the spirit of research and enterprise was effectually aroused, not to slumber again. The French consul was supplied by his government with ample means to carry on excavations on a large scale. If the first success may be considered as merely a great piece of good fortune, the following ones were certainly due to intelligent, untiring labor and ingenuous scholarship. We see the results in Botta's voluminous work "Monuments de Ninive"[B] and in the fine Assyrian collection of the Louvre, in the first room of which is placed, as is but just, the portrait of the man to whose efforts and devotion it is due.

19. The great English investigator Layard, then a young and enthusiastic scholar on his Eastern travels, passing through Mosul in 1842, found Mr. Botta engaged on his first and unpromising attempts at Koyunjik, and subsequently wrote to him from Constantinople exhorting him to persist and not give up his hopes of success. He was one of the first to hear of the astounding news from Khorsabad, and immediately determined to carry out a long-cherished project of his own, that of exploring a large mound known among the Arabs under the name of NIMRUD, and situated somewhat lower on the Tigris, near that river's junction with one of its chief tributaries, the Zab. The difficulty lay in procuring the necessary funds. Neither the trustees of the British Museum nor the English Government were at first willing to incur such considerable expense on what was still looked upon as very uncertain chances. It was a private gentleman, Sir Stratford Canning, then English minister at Constantinople, who generously came forward, and announced himself willing to meet the outlay within certain limits, while authorities at home were to be solicited and worked upon. So Mr. Layard was enabled to begin operations on the mound which he had specially selected for himself in the autumn of 1845, the year after that in which the building of Khorsabad was finally laid open by Botta. The results of his expedition were so startlingly vast and important, and the particulars of his work on the Assyrian plains are so interesting and picturesque, that they will furnish ample materials for a separate chapter.


[A] Layard's "Discoveries at Nineveh," Introduction.

[B] In five huge folio volumes, one of text, two of inscriptions, and two of illustrations. The title shows that Botta erroneously imagined the ruins he had discovered to be those of Nineveh itself.



1. In the first part of November, 1845, we find the enthusiastic and enterprising young scholar on the scene of his future exertions and triumphs. His first night in the wilderness, in a ruinous Arab village amidst the smaller mounds of Nimrud, is vividly described by him:—"I slept little during the night. The hovel in which we had taken shelter, and its inmates, did not invite slumber; but such scenes and companions were not new to me; they could have been forgotten, had my brain been less excited. Hopes, long-cherished, were now to be realized, or were to end in disappointment. Visions of palaces underground, of gigantic monsters, of sculptured figures, and endless inscriptions floated before me. After forming plan after plan for removing the earth, and extricating these treasures, I fancied myself wandering in a maze of chambers from which I could find no outlet. Then again, all was reburied, and I was standing on the grass-covered mound."

2. Although not doomed to disappointment in the end, these hopes were yet to be thwarted in many ways before the visions of that night became reality. For many and various were the difficulties which Layard had to contend with during the following months as well as during his second expedition in 1848. The material hardships of perpetual camping out in an uncongenial climate, without any of the simplest conveniences of life, and the fevers and sickness repeatedly brought on by exposure to winter rains and summer heat, should perhaps be counted among the least of them, for they had their compensations. Not so the ignorant and ill-natured opposition, open or covert, of the Turkish authorities. That was an evil to which no amount of philosophy could ever fully reconcile him. His experiences in that line form an amusing collection. Luckily, the first was also the worst. The pasha whom he found installed at Mosul was, in appearance and temper, more like an ogre than a man. He was the terror of the country. His cruelty and rapacity knew no bounds. When he sent his tax-collectors on their dreaded round, he used to dismiss them with this short and pithy instruction: "Go, destroy, eat!" (i.e. "plunder"), and for his own profit had revived several kinds of contributions which had been suffered to fall into disuse, especially one called "tooth-money,"—"a compensation in money, levied upon all villages in which a man of such rank is entertained, for the wear and tear of his teeth in masticating the food he condescends to receive from the inhabitants."

3. The letters with which Layard was provided secured him a gracious reception from this amiable personage, who allowed him to begin operations on the great mound of Nimrud with the party of Arab workmen whom he had hired for the purpose. Some time after, it came to the Pasha's knowledge that a few fragments of gold leaf had been found in the rubbish and he even procured a small particle as sample. He immediately concluded, as the Arab chief had done, that the English traveller was digging for hidden treasure—an object far more intelligible to them than that of disinterring and carrying home a quantity of old broken stones. This incident, by arousing the great man's rapacity, might have caused him to put a stop to all further search, had not Layard, who well knew that treasure of this kind was not likely to be plentiful in the ruins, immediately proposed that his Excellency should keep an agent at the mound, to take charge of all the precious metals which might be discovered there in the course of the excavations. The Pasha raised no objections at the moment, but a few days later announced to Layard that, to his great regret, he felt it his duty to forbid the continuation of the work, since he had just learned that the diggers were disturbing a Mussulman burying-ground. As the tombs of true believers are held very sacred and inviolable by Mohammedans, this would have been a fatal obstacle, had not one of the Pasha's own officers confidentially disclosed to Layard that the tombs were sham ones, that he and his men had been secretly employed to fabricate them, and for two nights had been bringing stones for the purpose from the surrounding villages. "We have destroyed more tombs of true believers," said the Aga,—(officer)—"in making sham ones, than ever you could have defiled. We have killed our horses and ourselves in carrying those accursed stones." Fortunately the Pasha, whose misdeeds could not be tolerated even by a Turkish government, was recalled about Christmas, and succeeded by an official of an entirely different stamp, a man whose reputation for justice and mildness had preceded him, and whose arrival was accordingly greeted with public rejoicings. Operations at the mound now proceeded for some time rapidly and successfully. But this very success at one time raised new difficulties for our explorers.

4. One day, as Layard was returning to the mound from an excursion, he was met on the way by two Arabs who had ridden out to meet him at full speed, and from a distance shouted to him in the wildest excitement: "Hasten, O Bey! hasten to the diggers! for they have found Nimrod himself. It is wonderful, but it is true! we have seen him with our eyes. There is no God but God!" Greatly puzzled, he hurried on and, descending into the trench, found that the workmen had uncovered a gigantic head, the body to which was still imbedded in earth and rubbish. This head, beautifully sculptured in the alabaster furnished by the neighboring hills, surpassed in height the tallest man present. The great shapely features, in their majestic repose, seemed to guard some mighty secret and to defy the bustling curiosity of those who gazed on them in wonder and fear. "One of the workmen, on catching the first glimpse of the monster, had thrown down his basket and run off toward Mossul as fast as his legs could carry him."

5. The Arabs came in crowds from the surrounding encampments; they could scarcely be persuaded that the image was of stone, and contended that it was not the work of men's hands, but of infidel giants of olden times. The commotion soon spread to Mosul, where the terrified workman, "entering breathless into the bazars, announced to every one he met that Nimrod had appeared." The authorities of the town were alarmed, put their heads together and decided that such idolatrous proceedings were an outrage to religion. The consequence was that Layard was requested by his friend Ismail-Pasha to suspend operations for awhile, until the excitement should have subsided, a request with which he thought it wisest to comply without remonstrance, lest the people of Mosul might come out in force and deal with his precious find as they had done with the sculptured figure at Koyunjik in Rich's time. The alarm, however, did not last long. Both Arabs and Turks soon became familiar with the strange creations which kept emerging out of the earth, and learned to discuss them with great calm and gravity. The colossal bulls and lions with wings and human heads, of which several pairs were discovered, some of them in a state of perfect preservation, were especially the objects of wonder and conjectures, which generally ended in a curse "on all infidels and their works," the conclusion arrived at being that "the idols" were to be sent to England, to form gateways to the palace of the Queen. And when some of these giants, now in the British Museum, were actually removed, with infinite pains and labor, to be dragged down to the Tigris, and floated down the river on rafts, there was no end to the astonishment of Layard's simple friends. On one such occasion an Arab Sheikh, or chieftain, whose tribe had engaged to assist in moving one of the winged bulls, opened his heart to him. "In the name of the Most High," said he, "tell me, O Bey, what you are going to do with these stones. So many thousands of purses spent on such things! Can it be, as you say, that your people learn wisdom from them? or is it as his reverence the Cadi declares, that they are to go to the palace of your Queen, who, with the rest of the unbelievers, worships these idols? As for wisdom, these figures will not teach you to make any better knives, or scissors, or chintzes, and it is in the making of these things that the English show their wisdom."

6. Such was the view very generally taken of Layard's work by both Turks and Arabs, from the Pasha down to the humblest digger in his band of laborers, and he seldom felt called upon to play the missionary of science, knowing as he did that all such efforts would be but wasted breath. This want of intellectual sympathy did not prevent the best understanding from existing between himself and these rangers of the desert. The primitive life which he led amongst them for so many months, the kindly hospitality which he invariably experienced at their hands during the excursions made and the visits he paid to different Bedouin tribes in the intervals of recreation which he was compelled to allow himself from time to time—these are among the most pleasurable memories of those wonderful, dreamlike years. He lingers on them lovingly and retraces them through many a page of both his books[C]—pages which, for their picturesque vividness, must be perused with delight even by such as are but slightly interested in the discovery of buried palaces and winged bulls. One longs to have been with him through some of those peerless evenings when, after a long day's work, he sat before his cabin in the cool starlight, watching the dances with which those indefatigable Arabs, men and women, solaced themselves deep into the night, while the encampment was lively with the hum of voices, and the fires lit to prepare the simple meal. One longs to have shared in some of those brisk rides across plains so thickly enamelled with flowers, that it seemed a patchwork of many colors, and "the dogs, as they returned from hunting, issued from the long grass dyed red, yellow, or blue, according to the flowers through which they had last forced their way,"—the joy of the Arab's soul, which made the chief, Layard's friend, continually exclaim, "rioting in the luxuriant herbage and scented air, as his mare waded through the flowers:—'What delight has God given us equal to this? It is the only thing worth living for. What do the dwellers in cities know of true happiness? They never have seen grass or flowers! May God have pity on them!'" How glorious to watch the face of the desert changing its colors almost from day to day, white succeeding to pale straw color, red to white, blue to red, lilac to blue, and bright gold to that, according to the flowers with which it decked itself! Out of sight stretches the gorgeous carpet, dotted with the black camel's-hair tents of the Arabs, enlivened with flocks of sheep and camels, and whole studs of horses of noble breed which are brought out from Mosul and left to graze at liberty, in the days of healthy breezes and fragrant pastures.

7. So much for spring. A beautiful, a perfect season, but unfortunately as brief as it is lovely, and too soon succeeded by the terrible heat and long drought of summer, which sometimes set in so suddenly as hardly to give the few villagers time to gather in their crops. Chaldea or Lower Mesopotamia is in this respect even worse off than the higher plains of Assyria. A temperature of 120 deg. in the shade is no unusual occurrence in Baghdad; true, it can be reduced to 100 deg. in the cellars of the houses by carefully excluding the faintest ray of light, and it is there that the inhabitants mostly spend their days in summer. The oppression is such that Europeans are entirely unmanned and unfitted for any kind of activity. "Camels sicken, and birds are so distressed by the high temperature, that they sit in the date-trees about Baghdad, with their mouths open, panting for fresh air."[D]

8. But the most frightful feature of a Mesopotamian summer is the frequent and violent sand-storms, during which travellers, in addition to all the dangers offered by snow-storms—being buried alive and losing their way—are exposed to that of suffocation not only from the furnace-like heat of the desert-wind, but from the impalpable sand, which is whirled and driven before it, and fills the eyes, mouth and nostrils of horse and rider. The three miles' ride from Layard's encampment to the mound of Nimrud must have been something more than pleasant morning exercise in such a season, and though the deep trenches and wells afforded a comparatively cool and delightful retreat, he soon found that fever was the price to be paid for the indulgence, and was repeatedly laid up with it. "The verdure of the plain," he says in one place, "had perished almost in a day. Hot winds, coming from the desert, had burnt up and carried away the shrubs; flights of locusts, darkening the air, had destroyed the few patches of cultivation, and had completed the havoc commenced by the heat of the sun.... Violent whirlwinds occasionally swept over the face of the country. They could be seen as they advanced from the desert, carrying along with them clouds of dust and sand. Almost utter darkness prevailed during their passage, which lasted generally about an hour, and nothing could resist their fury. On returning home one afternoon after a tempest of the kind, I found no traces of my dwellings; they had been completely carried away. Ponderous wooden frame-works had been borne over the bank and hurled some hundred yards distant; the tents had disappeared, and my furniture was scattered over the plain."

9. Fortunately it would not require much labor to restore the wooden frames to their proper place and reconstruct the reed-plaited, mud-plastered walls as well as the roof composed of reeds and boughs—such being the sumptuous residences of which Layard shared the largest with various domestic animals, from whose immediate companionship he was saved by a thin partition, the other hovels being devoted to the wives, children and poultry of his host, to his own servants and different household uses. But the time came when not even this accommodation, poor as it was, could be enjoyed with any degree of comfort. When the summer heat set in in earnest, the huts became uninhabitable from their closeness and the vermin with which they swarmed, while a canvas tent, though far preferable in the way of airiness and cleanliness, did not afford sufficient shelter.

10. "In this dilemma," says Layard, "I ordered a recess to be cut into the bank of the river where it rose perpendicularly from the water's edge. By screening the front with reeds and boughs of trees, and covering the whole with similar materials, a small room was formed. I was much troubled, however, with scorpions and other reptiles, which issued from the earth forming the walls of my apartment; and later in the summer by the gnats and sandflies which hovered on a calm night over the river." It is difficult to decide between the respective merits of this novel summer retreat and of the winter dwelling, ambitiously constructed of mud bricks dried in the sun, and roofed with solid wooden beams. This imposing residence, in which Layard spent the last months of his first winter in Assyria, would have been sufficient protection against wind and weather, after it had been duly coated with mud. Unfortunately a heavy shower fell before it was quite completed, and so saturated the bricks that they did not dry again before the following spring. "The consequence was," he pleasantly remarks, "that the only verdure on which my eyes were permitted to feast before my return to Europe, was furnished by my own property—the walls in the interior of the rooms being continually clothed with a crop of grass."

11. These few indications are sufficient to give a tolerably clear idea of what might be called "Pleasures and hardships of an explorer's life in the desert." As for the work itself, it is simple enough in the telling, although it must have been extremely wearisome and laborious in the performance. The simplest way to get at the contents of a mound, would be to remove all the earth and rubbish by carting it away,—a piece of work which our searchers might no doubt have accomplished with great facility, had they had at their disposal a few scores of thousands of slaves and captives, as had the ancient kings who built the huge constructions the ruins of which had now to be disinterred. With a hundred or two of hired workmen and very limited funds, the case was slightly different. The task really amounted to this: to achieve the greatest possible results at the least possible expense of labor and time, and this is how such excavations are carried out on a plan uniformly followed everywhere as the most practical and direct:

12. Trenches, more or less wide, are conducted from different sides towards the centre of the mound. This is obviously the surest and shortest way to arrive at whatever remains of walls may be imbedded in it. But even this preliminary operation has to be carried out with some judgment and discernment. It is known that the Chaldeans and Assyrians constructed their palaces and temples not upon the level, natural soil, but upon an artificial platform of brick and earth, at least thirty feet high. This platform was faced on all sides with a strong wall of solid burned brick, often moreover cased with stone. A trench dug straight from the plain into the lower part of the mound would consequently be wasted labor, since it could never bring to anything but that same blind wall, behind which there is only the solid mass of the platform. Digging therefore begins in the slope of the mound, at a height corresponding to the supposed height of the platform, and is carried on straight across its surface until a wall is reached,—a wall belonging to one of the palaces or temples. This wall has then to be followed, till a break in it is found, indicating an entrance or doorway.[E] The burrowing process becomes more and more complicated, and sometimes dangerous. Shafts have to be sunk from above at frequent intervals to introduce air and light into the long and narrow corridor; the sides and vault have to be propped by beams to prevent the soft earthy mass from falling in and crushing the diggers. Every shovelful of earth cleared away is removed in baskets which are passed from hand to hand till they are emptied outside the trench, or else lowered empty and sent up full, through the shafts by means of ropes and pulleys, to be emptied on the top. When a doorway is reached, it is cleared all through the thickness of the wall, which is very great; then a similar tunnel is conducted all along the inside of the wall, the greatest care being needed not to damage the sculptures which generally line it, and which, as it is, are more or less injured and cracked, their upper parts sometimes entirely destroyed by the action of fire. When the tunnel has been carried along the four sides, every doorway or portal carefully noted and cleared, it is seen from the measurements,—especially the width—whether the space explored be an inner court, a hall or a chamber. If the latter, it is sometimes entirely cleared from above, when the rubbish frequently yields valuable finds in the shape of various small articles. One such chamber, uncovered by Layard, at Koyunjik, proved a perfect mine of treasures. The most curious relics were brought to light in it: quantities of studs and small rosettes in mother-of-pearl, ivory and metal, (such as were used to ornament the harness of the war-horses), bowls, cups and dishes of bronze,[F] besides caldrons, shields and other items of armor, even glass bowls, lastly fragments of a royal throne—possibly the very throne on which King Sennacherib sat to give audience or pronounce judgments, for the palace at Koyunjik where these objects were found was built by that monarch so long familiar to us only from the Bible, and the sculptures and inscriptions which cover its walls are the annals of his conquests abroad and his rule at home.

A description of the removal of the colossal bulls and lions which were shipped to England and now are safely housed in the British Museum, ought by rights to form the close of a chapter devoted to "Layard and his work." But the reference must suffice; the vivid and entertaining narrative should be read in the original, as the passages are too long for transcription, and would be marred by quoting.


[C] "Nineveh and its Remains," and "Discoveries in Nineveh and Babylon."

[D] Rawlinson's "Five Great Monarchies of the Ancient World," Vol. I., Chap. II.

[E] See Figure 15, on p. 53.

[F] See Figures 5, 6, and 7.



"And they said to one another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone and slime for mortar."—Gen. xi. 3.

1. It is a principle, long ago laid down and universally recognized, that every country makes its own people. That is, the mode of life and the intellectual culture of a people are shaped by the characteristic features of the land in which it dwells; or, in other words, men can live only in a manner suited to the peculiarities of their native country. Men settled along the sea-shore will lead a different life, will develop different qualities of mind and body from the owners of vast inland pasture-grounds or the holders of rugged mountain fastnesses. They will all dress differently, eat different food, follow different pursuits. Their very dwellings and public buildings will present an entirely different aspect, according to the material which they will have at hand in the greatest abundance, be it stone, wood or any other substance suitable for the purpose. Thus every country will create its own peculiar style of art, determined chiefly by its own natural productions. On these, architecture, the art of the builder, will be even more dependent than any other.

2. It would seem as though Chaldea or Lower Mesopotamia, regarded from this point of view, could never have originated any architecture at all, for it is, at first sight, absolutely deficient in building materials of any sort. The whole land is alluvial, that is, formed, gradually, through thousands of years, of the rich mud deposited by the two rivers, as they spread into vast marshy flats towards the end of their course. Such soil, when hardened into sufficient consistency, is the finest of all for cultivation, and a greater source of wealth than mines of the most precious ore; but it bears no trees and contains no stone. The people who were first tempted to settle in the lowlands towards the Persian Gulf by the extraordinary fertility of that region, found nothing at all available to construct their simple dwellings—nothing but reeds of enormous size, which grew there, as they do now, in the greatest profusion. These reeds "cover the marshes in the summer-time, rising often to the height of fourteen or fifteen feet. The Arabs of the marsh region form their houses of this material, binding the stems together and bending them into arches, to make the skeletons of their buildings; while, to form the walls, they stretch across from arch to arch mats made of the leaves."[G]

3. There can be no doubt that of such habitations consisted the villages and towns of those first settlers. They gave quite sufficient shelter in the very mild winters of that region, and, when coated with a layer of mud which soon dried and hardened in the sun, could exclude even the violent rains of that season. But they were in no way fitted for more ambitious and dignified purposes. Neither the palaces of the kings nor the temples of the gods could be constructed out of bent reeds. Something more durable must be found, some material that would lend itself to constructions of any size or shape. The mud coating of the cabins naturally suggested such a material. Could not this same mud or clay, of which an inexhaustible supply was always on hand, be moulded into cakes of even size, and after being left to dry in the sun, be piled into walls of the required height and thickness? And so men began to make bricks. It was found that the clay gained much in consistency when mixed with finely chopped straw—another article of which the country, abounding in wheat and other grains, yielded unlimited quantities. But even with this improvement the sun-dried bricks could not withstand the continued action of many rainy seasons, or many torrid summers, but had a tendency to crumble away when parched too dry, or to soak and dissolve back into mud, when too long exposed to rain. All these defects were removed by the simple expedient of baking the bricks in kilns or ovens, a process which gives them the hardness and solidity of stone. But as the cost of kiln-dried bricks is naturally very much greater than that of the original crude article, so the latter continued to be used in far greater quantities; the walls were made entirely of them and only protected by an outward casing of the hard baked bricks. These being so much more expensive, and calculated to last forever, great care was bestowed on their preparation; the best clay was selected and they were stamped with the names and titles of the king by whose order the palace or temple was built, for which they were to be used. This has been of great service in identifying the various ruins and assigning them dates, at least approximately. As is to be expected, there is a notable difference in the specimens of different periods. While on some bricks bearing the name of a king who lived about 3000 B.C. the inscription is uncouth and scarcely legible, and even their shape is rude and the material very inferior, those of the later Babylonian period (600 B.C.) are handsome and neatly made. As to the quality, all explorers agree in saying it is fully equal to that of the best modern English bricks. The excellence of these bricks for building purposes is a fact so well known that for now two thousand years—ever since the destruction of Babylon—its walls, temples and palaces have been used as quarries for the construction of cities and villages. The little town of HILLAH, situated nearest to the site of the ancient capital, is built almost entirely with bricks from one single mound, that of KASR—once the gorgeous and far-famed palace of Nebuchadnezzar, whose name and titles thus grace the walls of the most lowly Arab and Turkish dwellings. All the other mounds are similarly used, and so far is the valuable mine from being exhausted, that it furnishes forth, to this day, a brisk and flourishing trade. While a party of workmen is continually employed in digging for the available bricks, another is busy conveying them to Hillah; there they are shipped on the Euphrates and carried to any place where building materials are in demand, often even loaded on donkeys at this or that landing-place and sent miles away inland; some are taken as far as Baghdad, where they have been used for ages. The same thing is done wherever there are mounds and ruins. Both Layard and his successors had to allow their Arab workmen to build their own temporary houses out of ancient bricks, only watching them narrowly, lest they should break some valuable relic in the process or use some of the handsomest and best-preserved specimens.

4. No construction of bricks, either crude or kiln-dried, could have sufficient solidity without the help of some kind of cement, to make them adhere firmly together. This also the lowlands of Chaldea and Babylonia yield in sufficient quantity and of various qualities. While in the early structures a kind of sticky red clay or loam is used, mixed with chopped straw, bitumen or pitch is substituted at a later period, which substance, being applied hot, adheres so firmly to the bricks, that pieces of these are broken off when an attempt is made to procure a fragment of the cement. This valuable article was brought down by water from IS on the Euphrates (now called HIT), where abundant springs of bitumen are to this day in activity. Calcareous earth—i.e., earth strongly mixed with lime—being very plentiful to the west of the lower Euphrates, towards the Arabian frontier, the Babylonians of the latest times learned to make of it a white mortar which, for lightness and strength, has never been surpassed.

5. All the essential materials for plain but durable constructions being thus procurable on the spot or in the immediate neighborhood, the next important point was the selection of proper sites for raising these constructions, which were to serve purposes of defence as well as of worship and royal majesty. A rocky eminence, inaccessible on one or several sides, or at least a hill, a knoll somewhat elevated above the surrounding plain, have usually been chosen wherever such existed. But this was not the case in Chaldea. There, as far as eye can see, not the slightest undulation breaks the dead flatness of the land. Yet there, more than anywhere else, an elevated position was desirable, if only as a protection from the unhealthy exhalations of a vast tract of swamps, and from the intolerable nuisance of swarms of aggressive and venomous insects, which infest the entire river region during the long summer season. Safety from the attacks of the numerous roaming tribes which ranged the country in every direction before it was definitely settled and organized, was also not among the last considerations. So, what nature had refused, the cunning and labor of man had to supply. Artificial hills or platforms were constructed, of enormous size and great height—from thirty to fifty, even sixty feet, and on their flat summits the buildings were raised. These platforms sometimes supported only one palace, sometimes, as in the case of the immense mounds of Koyunjik and Nimrud in Assyria, their surface had room for several, built by successive kings. Of course such huge piles could not be entirely executed in solid masonry, even of crude bricks. These were generally mixed with earth and rubbish of all kinds, in more or less regular, alternate layers, the bricks being laid in clay. But the outward facing was in all cases of baked brick. The platform of the principal mound which marks the place of ancient UR, (now called MUGHEIR),[H] is faced with a wall ten feet thick, of red kiln-dried bricks, cemented with bitumen. In Assyria, where stone was not scarce, the sides of the platform were even more frequently "protected by massive stone-masonry, carried perpendicularly from the natural ground to a height somewhat exceeding that of the platform, and either made plain at the top, or else crowned into stone battlements cut into gradines."[I]

6. Some mounds are considerably higher than the others and of a peculiar shape, almost like a pyramid, that is, ending in a point from which it slopes down rapidly on all sides. Such is the pyramidal mound of Nimrud, which Layard describes as being so striking and picturesque an object as you approach the ruins from any point of the plain.[J] Such also is the still more picturesque mound of BORSIP (now BIRS NIMRUD) near Babylon, the largest of this kind.[K] These mounds are the remains of peculiar constructions, called ZIGGURATS, composed of several platforms piled one on the other, each square in shape and somewhat smaller than the preceding one; the topmost platform supported a temple or sanctuary, which by these means was raised far above the dwellings of men, a constant reminder not less eloquent than the exhortation in some of our religious services: "Lift up your hearts!" Of these heavenward pointing towers, which were also used as observatories by the Chaldeans, great lovers of the starry heavens, that of Borsip, once composed of seven stages, is the loftiest; it measures over 150 feet in perpendicular height.

7. It is evident that these artificial hills could have been erected only at an incredible cost of labor. The careful measurements which have been taken of several of the principal mounds have enabled explorers to make an accurate calculation of the exact amount of labor employed on each. The result is startling, even though one is prepared for something enormous. The great mound of Koyunjik—which represents the palaces of Nineveh itself—covers an area of one hundred acres, and reaches an elevation of 95 feet at its highest point. To heap up such a pile of brick and earth "would require the united exertions of 10,000 men for twelve years, or of 20,000 men for six years."[L] Then only could the construction of the palaces begin. The mound of Nebbi-Yunus, which has not yet been excavated, covers an area of forty acres and is loftier and steeper than its neighbor: "its erection would have given full employment to 10,000 men for the space of five years and a half." Clearly, none but conquering monarchs, who yearly took thousands of prisoners in battles and drove home into captivity a part of the population of every country they subdued, could have employed such hosts of workmen on their buildings—not once, but continually, for it seems to have been a point of honor with the Assyrian kings that each should build a new palace for himself.

8. When one considers the character of the land along the upper course of the Tigris, where the Assyrians dwelt, one cannot help wondering why they went on building mounds and using nothing but bricks in their constructions. There is no reason for it in the nature of the country. The cities of Assyria—NINEVEH (Koyunjik), KALAH (Nimrud), ARBELA, DUR-SHARRUKIN (Khorsabad) were built in the midst of a hilly region abounding in many varieties of stone, from soft limestone to hard basalt; some of them actually stood on rocky ground, their moats being in part cut through the rock. Had they wanted stone of better quality, they had only to get it from the Zagros range of mountains, which skirts all Assyria to the East, separating it from Media. Yet they never availed themselves of these resources, which must have led to great improvements in their architecture, and almost entirely reserved the use of stone for ornamental purposes. This would tend to show, at all events, that the Assyrians were not distinguished for inventive genius. They had wandered northward from the lowlands, where they had dwelt for centuries as a portion of the Chaldean nation. When they separated from it and went off to found cities for themselves, they took with them certain arts and tricks of handicraft learned in the old home, and never thought of making any change in them. It does not even seem to have occurred to them that by selecting a natural rocky elevation for their buildings they would avoid the necessity of an artificial platform and save vast amount of labor and time.

9. That they did put stone to one practical use—the outward casing of their walls and platforms—we have already seen. The blocks must have been cut in the Zagros mountains and brought by water—rafted down the Zab, or some other of the rivers which, springing from those mountains, flow into the Tigris. The process is represented with perfect clearness on some of the sculptures. That reproduced in Fig. 13 is of great interest, as showing a peculiar mode of transport,—rafts floated on inflated skins—which is at the present moment in as general and constant use as it appears to have been in the same parts three thousand years ago and probably more. When Layard wished to send off the bulls and lions which he had moved from Nimrud and Koyunjik down the Tigris to Baghdad and Busrah, (or Bassorah), there to be embarked for Europe, he had recourse to this conveyance, as no other is known for similar purposes. This is how he describes the primitive, but ingenious contrivance: "The skins of full-grown sheep and goats, taken off with as few incisions as possible, are dried and prepared, one aperture being left, through which the air is forced by the lungs. A framework of poplar beams, branches of trees, and reeds, having been constructed of the size of the intended raft, the inflated skins are tied to it by osier twigs. The raft is then complete and is moved to the water and launched. Care is taken to place the skins with their mouths upward, that, in case any should burst or require refilling, they can be easily reached. Upon the framework are piled bales of goods, and property belonging to merchants and travellers.... The raftmen impel these rude vessels by long poles, to the ends of which are fastened a few pieces of split cane. (See Fig. 14.) ... During the floods in spring, or after heavy rains, small rafts may float from Mosul to Baghdad in about eighty-four hours; but the larger are generally six or seven days in performing the voyage. In summer, and when the river is low, they are frequently nearly a month in reaching their destination. When they have been unloaded, they are broken up, and the beams, wood and twigs, sold at considerable profit. The skins are washed and afterward rubbed with a preparation, to keep them from cracking and rotting. They are then brought back, either on the shoulders of the raftmen or upon donkeys, to Mossul and Tekrit, where the men engaged in the navigation of the Tigris usually reside." Numerous sculptures show us that similar skins were also used by swimmers, who rode upon them in the water, probably when they intended to swim a greater distance than they could have accomplished by their unassisted efforts. (See Figure 16.)

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