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present city of Mosul. To the east were Arbela and | ingly fertile. The middle portions are naturally barGaugamela, near which Alexander defeated the Per-ren, but by means of irrigation were anciently very sian army, and consequently became master of Asia. productive. The present inhabitants neglect agriculTo the south were the cities of Sumere, Opis, and De- ture, and live in a state of barbarism. The ancient metrius. These places have all vanished, with their towns have vanished. Babylon, the city that went builders. New towns and villages are scattered here back to Nimrod for its founder, and continued long and there, often built of the ruins of the ancient cities. to be the wonder of the world, on account of its wealth Bagdad, in the southern part of the territory, long the and magnificence, has crumbled into ruins. Deserted capital of the Saracen Caliphs, is still a large town. by the Euphrates, which once flowed through it, it is The country lying between the Tigris and the now a heap of unsightly bricks, earth and stone, surEuphrates has borne a variety of names, as Baby-rounded by a marsh! lonia, Chaldea, and Mesopotamia, -the latter being Near the Persian Gulf, the Euphrates and Tigris descriptive, and meaning, between the rivers. Its unite and form a river called Shatul Arab. On the present title is Irak Arabi. The greatest width of this territory is about 100 miles. Its whole extent may be 23,000 square miles or half that of the state of New York. It is a level plain; the lower portion, being annually overflowed by the Euphrates, is exceed- with a high degree of fertility.

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western bank of this is Bassora, the great centre of commerce between Persia and the countries within the valley of the Euphrates. This portion of Mesopotamia, the proper Chaldea of antiquity, is still marked

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Such is the present condition of these celebrated The history of Assyria is connected not only with countries, where history teaches us the first great em- these adjacent countries, but with all those which lie pires had their rise, and where human civilization first between India and Egypt. At one period, the Assyattained a considerable degree of development. If rian empire embraced Media and Persia on the east; the reader will now cast his eye upon the annexed map Mesopotamia and Susiana on the south; Syria, Palof The East, he will readily gain such a knowledge of estine, and portions of Asia Minor, on the west. the ancient geography of this portion of Asia as is essen- The greater portions of these countries lie between tial to a clear understanding of the history which fol- 30 and 40 degrees of north latitude, and have a clilows. He will there see that Assyria Proper is bounded mate similar to that of Georgia and the Carolinas. on the north by Armenia; on the east by Media; on Among the mountains of the north, it is colder, and in the south by Susiana; on the west by Mesopotamia. | Assyria, along the borders of Armenia, snow falls to a



considerable depth in winter. The whole may be | The climate and soil are the same now as formerly, deemed a fruitful region, producing wheat, rye, barley, but owing to the oppressive and destructive influence sesame and millet; also, grapes, and a great variety of Mahometan institutions, a great part of these fair of other fruits. In such a climate, irrigation is alone and fertile territories are marked with poverty, barrennecessary to produce abundant crops, and this was ness, and degradation. practised to a great extent in ancient times. The Among the ancient cities of Mesopotamia, beside kings and emperors caused canals, embankments, and Babylon, were Vologesia, Alexandria, and Seleucia. reservoirs, to be constructed on a vast scale, to facilitate The modern towns of note are Mosul, Disibis, Marirrigation, and owing to this liberal policy, the whole din, Orfa, and Diarbekir.* country became in the highest degree productive.


It is supposed that the founders of the Assyrian and | Babylonian empire had derived some civilization from the patriarchal ages. It is probable these people were never reduced to a savage state. The ancient Assyrians were a people of energetic character and a high order of genius. The Babylonians, or Chaldeans, were of the same original stock, and in after times they became blended into one mass with the Assyrians.

While the great empires arose in the valley of the Euphrates, and became rich and powerful- the seat of arts, refinement, and luxury the regions to the north were occupied by the Parthians, and other rude and warlike tribes of Scythians, of whom the modern Tartars are the descendants. Media, to the east of Assyria, became powerful at an early date, and though at first a province of the empire, it afterwards caused its overthrow. Persia, also to the east, united with Media, became a conquering state, and subjected to its sway the entire region from the Indus to the Sea of Marmora. Arabia in ancient times was nearly the same as at present. Palestine was the seat of the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel - the capital of one being Jerusalem, and the other Samaria. Syria and Asia Minor were thickly peopled many centuries before the Christian era, and at a very early period we hear of inroads into their territories by the Assyrian monarchs.


The following table will be found convenient in the reading of the ensuing pages, especially those which relate to Assyria, Babylon, Media, and Persia.

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possess considerable interest. Mosul is chiefly noted as lying on
*Several of the modern cities in the northern part of Mesopotamia
the bank of the Tigris, opposite the ruins of ancient Nineveh. It
is so near the level of the river, that its streets are often flooded.
Koords. The population is about 35,000. The houses are sup-
The people are a mixture of Christians, Jews, Arabs, Turks, and
posed to be in part built of the ruins of Nineveh. The walls of
the city are in a decaying state. The mosques, coffee-houses, khans
and bazaars possess some beauty of architecture. The Greek
Christians have nine churches, and there is a Dominican convent.
The trade of the place was formerly considerable, but it has now
cises his authority with capricious despotism.
declined. Mosul is under a separate pacha or governor, who exer-

Orfa is one of the finest cities of this region; it is the ancient Edessa, and is supposed to be the Ur of the Chaldees, where slope of a hill, and is about four miles in circuit. The streets are narrow, and well paved. The houses are of stone, and well built. On the banks of a small lake, at one extremity of the city, is the Mosque of Abraham, the most splendid edifice of the kind in Asiatic Turkey. Every place of consequence in the city bears some relation to the name of the great father of the Jewish nation. The inhabitants of Orfa are well bred and polite, and the city is regarded as the most agreeable residence in the Turkish dominions.

Abraham dwelt before he removed to Haran. It stands on the

Mardin is situated on a rocky precipice, like a castle. Diarbekir, the ancient Amida, is the seat of the pachalic for the surrounding

country. It has 60,000 inhabitants, and carries on a considerable trade.

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2221 to 2000 B. C.

be pronounced certain and incontestible. It has been generally assumed as a safe conjecture, that the empire of Assyria was as ancient as the city of Babylon. Antiquity of Assyria- Tower of Babel-Dis- We are informed by Callisthenes, a Greek philosopher, persion of the People-Nimrod-Ninus-who accompanied Alexander the Great in his career Semiramis.

ASSYRIA appears to have been one of the earliest settled countries in the world; and according to all historical records, it was the seat of one of the most ancient monarchies. It therefore claims an early notice from the historian, as being connected with the origin of government, arts, and civilization.

of conquest in the East, that the Babylonians reckoned 1903 years from the foundation of their city to its capture by Alexander. This would fix the beginning of Assyria* at the year of the world 1770, or only 114 years after Noah's flood, according to Usher's Chronology.

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Assyria was, undoubtedly, the first great empire founded after the deluge. When the waters subsided, Yet, however distinguished for its antiquity, and we are told that the ark rested on the mountains of the power to which it attained, we can give no certain Ararat. These are in Armenia, a country bordering information with regard to the primitive history of on that region where the Assyrian empire afterwards Assyria. The early annalists were deeply infected arose. The sacred historian gives us few particuwith superstition and the love of fable. The records lars of the migrations of the human race after Noah of the empire, if any existed possessing the character and his family left the ark. One body of them of authenticity, have long since perished in the wrecks journeyed east to the land of Shinar, which is supof time; and the preposterous vanity of the Greeks, in posed to be Chaldea. Here they undertook a singular neglecting the history of foreign nations, or relying project, that of building a city and a tower" whose upon their own fanciful historians in preference to top might reach to heaven." Various motives have better attested documents, has involved this subject in been assigned for this enterprise. Some have explained hopeless obscurity. it by the fears of another deluge. Others imagine it was intended as a landmark, or object to be seen at a distance; that when the people wandered hither and thither with their flocks, the tower might be visible as a common point of union. Others look upon it as an indication of extravagant ambition and appetité for celebrity, which, if unchecked, might have led to the most criminal excesses. On this point, however, we can offer little except conjecture. The only distinct information we have in relation to it is, that the design was displeasing to the Almighty, and to prevent

The Greek writers inform us that the early Assyrian history consisted of little more than traditions of the heroes and heroines who, at some early but uncertain period, founded a kingdom in the countries bordering on the Tigris and Euphrates. These traditions are said to have been marked by no chronological data, but to have exhibited the usual features of oriental exaggeration. The Assyrian history contained in the Mosaic writings is that of a distinct nation of conquerors, who founded an empire. This history, however, is confined to incidental notices of the wars between the Assyrians and the Hebrews. B. C., only 127 years after the deluge. The ancient histories repre*The founding of the Assyrian empire is usually fixed at 2221 The Greek historian, Herodotus, dwells briefly on the sent that at this time there were numerous and populous nations, subject of the Assyrians, but his narrative, as far as it and in a very short period after, armies amounting to hundreds of goes, confirms the scriptural account. All the his- thousands of men were brought into the field. Cities also were built, of vast extent and astonishing magnificence. These facts lead to tories, however, of these early times, are so obscure, the belief that Usher's Chronology is defective, and that a much and the statements they contain so contradictory to longer space of time elapsed between the founding of Assyria and each other in many material points, that it is impossi-ground, that Haile's Chronology is more nearly accurate than that the Deluge than is usually reckoned. The opinion is gaining ble to construct a narrative on this subject which can of Usher. See note page 23.

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its completion, he "confounded their speech, so that cities, and at length laid siege to Bactria, the capithey left off to build the city," and were dispersed over tal of Bactriana. Here he would probably have misthe face of the earth. In commemoration of this re- carried in his attempt, but for the extraordinary markable event, the place was called Babel, or Con- assistance which he received from Semiramis, the fusion. It is supposed that Babylon was afterwards wife of one of his chief officers, and one of the most built upon this spot. remarkable women of whom history has made mention.

Many traditions of the eastern world referred to this striking catastrophe. Josephus quotes one of the ancient Sibyls as having declared that mankind once spoke a common language, but having built a tower immensely high, as if with the intention of scaling heaven, the gods sent a wind and overthrew it, giving each man a new tongue; and from this Babylon derives its name. Abydenus, a Chaldean historian, makes a similar statement, and, to fix the date of this occurrence, he says, "Then began the war between Saturn and Titan." There can be little question, that, by divesting history of its poetical decorations, the celebrated fable of the war of the giants against heaven, originated in this event.


2000 B. C.

Reign of Semiramis.

SEMIRAMIS has been regarded by some persons as a fabulous being; yet the particulars of her life are related with a degree of minuteness altogether inconsistent with a supposition of this kind. Fable, however, is very liberally mixed up with her true history. We are told she was descended from the goddess DeWhatever opinion we may form respecting this creto, to whom a temple was erected near Askelon, in subject, we may very reasonably ascribe the origin of Syria. This goddess, according to the legend, atthe Assyrian empire to Ashur, who, according to the tempting to drown herself by jumping into a lake, was Mosaic record, went out of the land of Shinar, after instantly changed into a fish. Her child was prethe confusion of Babel, and built Nineveh, and other served by a flock of doves, who nourished her with cities. The reign of Ashur is not marked with any their milk, and sheltered her from the weather by other striking event. After him, Nimrod is mentioned their wings. The birds then fed her with cheese, as a ruler of great ambition and enterprise. He is said which they stole from the neighboring shepherds. to have been "a mighty hunter before the Lord!" These persons discovered the little infant, and she was which probably refers to his love of conquest and adopted by the king's principal shepherd, whose name dominion. Nimrod is, perhaps, the same with Belus was Simma. The name of Semiramis was given to or Baal, afterwards worshipped as a god. The city of the foundling, the word signifying, in Syriac, doves or Babylon is mentioned as being the capital of a king-pigeons. We have recited this legend to show how dom in the reign of Ninus, the son of Nimrod, though close a resemblance it bears, in some material points. some writers regard these two persons as the same. to the story of Romulus and Remus. The fable of All this portion of Assyrian history is involved in Semiramis, however, is much the more ancient of the a confusion which no conjectures can reduce to order. We shall only endeavor to produce as clear a narrative as the materials will admit.*


According to all the traditions, Semiramis was distinguished by great talent, and the most captivating beauty. Menon, a principal person in the household of the King of Assyria, having been commissioned to inspect the royal flocks and herds, saw Semiramis at the house of Simma, and persuaded her to accompany him to Nineveh, where she became his wife. said to have possessed a complete influence over her husband, whose power and celebrity were increased by the wise and prudent counsels of his wife.

She is

One of the first measures of Ninus, we are informed, was to enter into a league with the King of Arabia, by whose assistance his magnificent schemes of conquest were, to a great degree, accomplished. Their united forces overran a vast extent of country, from Egypt to India and Bactriana. The King of Babylon was made prisoner by Ninus, and put to the sword, with his children. He also conquered Armenia and Media, putting to death all the royal family of the latter At the siege of Bactria. Semiramis resorted to the kingdom. On his return from these conquests, we camp at the call of her husband. She pointed out the are told he established his court at Nineveh, and errors of the king in attacking the wrong parts of the adorned the city with magnificent buildings. It is enemy's works, and offered to lead herself a body of stated, both by sacred and profane writers, to have soldiers to the assault of the citadel. This was done; been at this time of great magnitude and splen- the citadel was captured, and the king became master dor. "His design," says the Greek historian Diodo- of Bactria. The extraordinary exploits of Semiramis was to make Nineveh the largest and noblest caused Ninus to entertain a wish to possess her as city in the world, and to put it out of the power of a wife. He entreated her husband to relinquish her, those who came after him ever to build, or hope to but without effect. The king, enraged at his obstibuild, such another." nacy, persecuted him so cruelly that the unfortunate man committed suicide. Semiramis, in consequence, became Queen of Assyria. The date of these events is uncertain, and varies according to different authors, from 2100 to 1200 B. C.


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Ninus, having enlarged, fortified, and embellished his capital to a wonderful extent, assembled an immense army for a campaign against the Bactrians. If we may believe Ctesias, a Greek, who wrote a history of Assyria and Persia, this army consisted of 1,700,000 foot, 200,000 horse, and 16,000 war chariots, armed with scythes. All this is, doubtless, an exaggeration. Ninus captured a great number of

* See history of Babylonia, at p. 74.

According to some accounts, Ninus was assassinated by his new queen; but others state that he died peaceably, after the birth of a son, named Ninyas. Semiramis became regent of the empire during the minority of her son. She determined to commence her administration by some mighty undertaking, that should



preceded the breaking out of hostilities, but the arrogance of Semiramis prevented all peaceable accommodation. She advanced with her prodigious army to the Indus, and attempted a passage with her boats. The two fleets encountered each other with great alacrity, and the victory was for some time uncertain. At length, Semiramis rushed into the thickest of the fight, and turned the tide of success against the Hindoos. A thousand of their boats were sunk, and an immense number of prisoners taken.

transmit her name to succeeding generations, and equipped for his service on the river. Some negotiations cause mankind to forget the obscurity of her birth. Collecting, therefore, out of the numerous provinces of the empire, no less than two millions of men, she undertook the building of Babylon,* a city whose magnitude and splendor have excited the astonishment of all subsequent times. The natural propensity of mankind, especially in a remote and superstitious age, ought certainly to induce us to receive with considerable abatement the high-wrought descriptions of ancient writers. But in the case of Babylon, of which we shall hereafter give an account, there is good evidence that the marvellous tales of antiquity did not exceed the truth.

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Semiramis now pressed forward into the Indian territory, in pursuit of her fugitive enemies. According to some accounts, the retreat of the Hindoos was a stratagem to draw the Assyrian army into ambuscades. The counterfeit elephants at first terrified the enemy, but their fears were soon dissipated by some Assyrian deserters, who gave them information of the deception. The Hindoos, therefore, faced their foe, and a second battle ensued. Some advantage was at first gained by the Assyrians, but the Hindoos soon rallied, and supported by their elephants, advanced to the conflict with great courage and regularity. The counterfeit elephants proved not only useless, but embarrassing, and contributed to a speedy and most disastrous de

ALTHOUGH the building and ornamenting of so stupendous a city as Babylon might seem a sufficient work for a whole life, yet we are told that Semiramis also built several considerable cities along the banks of the Tigris. But peaceful and laborious occupations did not feat. furnish sufficient scope for the restless and boundless The two leaders of the respective armies now met ambition of this extraordinary female. She assembled in single combat. The king wounded Semiramis, a numerous army, and marched into Media. Along who, finding the battle irretrievably lost, fled from the her route she caused to be constructed many beautiful field, and re-passed the river amid a crowd of fugigardens, adorned with statues and other monuments, tives, where she had so lately passed into her enemy's to perpetuate her memory. From Media she ex-country amid shouts of triumph. With the loss of tended her progress into Persia, everywhere erecting two thirds of her immense army, she retreated homepalaces, founding cities and towns, and levelling hills ward, this being the last of all her mighty underthat obstructed the roads. From Asia she is said to takings. have marched into Egypt and the sandy desert of Thus ended the glory of Semiramis, and, shortly Libya. Her curiosity induced her to visit the cele- afterwards, her life. Having discovered a conspiracy brated temple of Jupiter Ammon, to inquire of the in the palace against her, she voluntarily resigned the oracle of that place how long she had to live. The sceptre to her son Ninyas, and withdrew into retireanswer was, that she should die when her son Ninyas ment. She died at the age of sixty-two, having conspired against her life, and enjoy divine honors

after her death.

On her return to Babylon, new projects inflamed her ambition, and she hastened to carry them into execution. She had received information of the immense wealth and boundless fertility of India, and she determined to attempt the conquest of that country. An army was collected out of all the provinces of the empire. Shipwrights from Phoenicia, Syria, and Cyprus were employed to construct the frame-work of vessels, which she proposed to transport over land, in order to cross the broad stream of the Indus. Having understood that the Hindoos relied chiefly upon their elephants in battle, she determined to produce an imitation of these animals. She accordingly ordered 300,000 oxen to be slaughtered, and their hides to be stuffed, and placed on the backs of camels, so as to make them equal in size to elephants. With these she hoped to throw terror into the ranks of her ene


Such mighty preparations could not long remain concealed from the Indian king, and this monarch, named Stabrobates, assembled an army to meet the invader. A navy of 4,000 bamboo boats was also

*Such is the account; but it is more probable that she only

undertook to enlarge and beautify Babylon, which must have been built some centuries before. See p. 75.

reigned forty-two years over a great part of Asia. It

was believed that she left this world in the form of a dove, in consequence of which the Assyrians afterwards paid divine honors to this bird.

The life of this queen must be regarded as one of the most uncertain parts of history. The extraordinary actions ascribed to her seem incompatible with the state of military science at that time. It is not improbable that the Greek historians may have blended into one narrative the actions of many of the Assyrian sovereigns, and invested a single reign with the splendor and glory which, in fact, ought to be distributed over a much wider field of history. This may have been done partly from ignorance and misconception, and partly from a love of the marvellous. The real Semiramis, however, was evidently a woman of masculine mind and wonderful force of character. Valerius Maximus states that her very presence was sufficient to quell sedition in the multitude. day, it is said, while she was engaged in dressing, she received information of a tumult in the city. Upon this, she sallied forth, with her head half dressed, and in that condition harangued the populace, completely tranquillizing and dispersing them. statue was erected in commemoration of this singular achievement, representing the queen in the attitude and habit in which she addressed the multitude.



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