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or in the superstitious worship of their gods, appear to have been objects of greater expense to them than to any other people of antiquity. At the annual festival of Jupiter, twenty-five tons of frankincense were burned on his altar. Next to this article, the prodigious masses of gold employed in statues and other ornaments, excite our wonder. The Babylonians were also curious in their estimation of gems; every man of any consequence is said to have worn an engraved precious stone, which was used as a signet; the most common were the onyx, the sapphire, and the emerald. The people delighted also in perfumes, the use of which was universal.

and size to lions. For the purpose of hunting wild beasts, they must have been invaluable to the kings and satraps of the east, whose favorite recreation lay in the sports of the chase.

A brisk trade was also maintained by the Babylonians with the West, by means of caravans, which traversed the Syrian desert, and visited the Phoenician marts of commerce on the Mediterranean. Besides this route, another and a far longer line of communication existed, by means of the Royal Road, which led through the north of Asia Minor to the eastern frontier of Europe. The Greek colonies were established at an early period on the northern shore of the The Babylonians carried on an extensive trade in Euxine. By the medium of these trading people, the east with Persia and northern India. From these the peltry and rich furs of Sarmatia and Scythia were ports they obtained gold, precious stones, rich dye- carried to Babylon, and diffused over the central stuffs, and other valuable articles. From the coun- provinces of Asia. On the other hand, the spices and tries now known as Candahar and Cashmere they aromatics of the east were conveyed to Europe. This procured fine wool, and the shawls which at the rich traffic was the origin of the celebrated city of present day are so highly valued. From the Bactrian Palmyra. Desert, now called Cobi, they obtained emeralds, jasper, and other rare gems. The intercourse with these countries was maintained by caravans.

The Babylonians also maintained a commercial intercourse with the trading establishments of the Phoenicians on the Red Sea, in the neighborhood of Babylon enjoyed also a large maritime commerce. the Ethiopian mines, which had been worked from the Situated in the neighborhood of those great seas and very earliest period of history. The Phoenicians likerivers by which the inmost recesses of Asia are pene- wise opened to the Babylonians the trade with Ophir, trated, this city possessed peculiar advantages for com- which is supposed to be Sofala, on the eastern coast bining inland with maritime traffic. It was chiefly of Africa.* This trade was the source of immense by the help of their commercial allies, the Phoenicians, wealth. that they were enabled to participate in the trade of the Indian Ocean. The Hebrew prophets speak of the Chaldeans, or Babylonians, as a people "whose cry is in the ships;" but it is hardly probable that they had a navy of their own, except upon the rivers. The Euphrates was navigable for boats more than three


Government, Religion, Manners, Customs, &c., hundred miles. At two hundred miles above its of the later Assyrians and Babylonians. mouth was the commercial town of Gerra, which was THE Assyrian and Babylonian empires were monone of the great marts of Arabian and Indian mer-archies in which despotism in its most severe form chandise, and a place of immense wealth. Its inhabitants rivalled the splendor of princes in their manner written code existed, to curb his arbitrary judgments, prevailed. The monarch's will was the law. No of living. Their houses shone with a profusion of gold and silver; the roofs and porticoes were crowned with vases, and studded with jewels; the halls were filled with sculptured tripods, and other household decorations, of which gold, ivory and gems, constituted the chief material.

and even ancient customs were set aside at his pleasure. He was the head of the church as well as of the crowded with as many wives as he chose to collect, state, and claimed divine worship. His palace was and these were placed under the guardianship of eunuchs, an unfortunate race of beings, first known in

The Babylonian trade in the Indian Ocean was Assyria. The priesthood seems to have been heredi

carried on between the Persian Gulf and the western coast of India and the island of Ceylon. From these countries they imported timber of various kinds, sugar cane, spices, cinnamon, and pearls. At a very early period, they formed commercial establishments on the Bahrein Islands, in the Persian Gulf, where they obtained large quantities of the finest pearls. All along the shores of this gulf, pearl oysters are abundant. The cotton plantations on the above mentioned islands were extensive, and the article surpassed in

fineness that of India.

Indian dogs were valued at an extravagant rate by the Babylonians. So high was the passion for this article of luxury carried among them, that whole provinces were exempted from every other tribute, that they might be enabled to defray the expense of maintaining these animals. They are said to have been a mongrel breed of dogs and tigers, participating in the qualities of both. Marco Polo, the Venetian traveller, found these animals existing in northern India, in the thirteenth century. He compares them in strength

tary. The religion was that species of idolatry called Sabean, and consisted in the worship of the sun, moon, and stars. In later times, they added the worship of deified mortals, whom they supposed to be

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*"Whether Ophir' was on the peninsula of Malacca, contiguous to the Chinese Sea, or at Sofala, on the east coast of Africa, is doubtful. I visited Sofala, in her Majesty's vessels Leven and Barracouta, in 1824; and Malacca in 1844, in her Majesty's Steamer Spiteful; my opinion is in favor of Malacca being the true Ophir. There is a large mountain so named, contiguous to the coast, at Malacca, and it abounds in gold. In sailing close along the shore at night, the air was perfumed as if with spices and frankincense. The whole country teems with rich and rare products. Sofala, on the contrary, is a low, swampy territory; no mountain is visible; gold dust is certainly obtained there, brought from the interior, but there are no spices, frankincense, or myrrh. Its latitude prohibits the growth of those articles, while Malacca is specially adapted for them. The transition of the Jews from Malacca, up the coast, to China, was an easy matter; indeed, the the year A. D. 1150, the Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela visited several eastern countries, for the express purpose of ascertaining the residence of the lost tribes. The Rabbi found some of his brethren in Samarcand, China and Thibet; in the first city he found 50,000 Israelites."-Martin's Israelites.

Chinese themselves visited the Red Sea and Persian Gulf.




transported to heaven, or to be in some way connected and retaining impressions upon it as distinct, after the with the celestial luminaries. Eastern monarchs of lapse of 2500 years, as when first made. The Babythe present day show something of this belief, in lonians wrote on tiles and cylinders of this clay; but styling themselves brothers of the sun and moon. as their country produced no material from which, in The supreme deity of these people was named the existing state of the mechanical arts, paper could Belus, Bel, or Baal, signifying "Lord." The Greeks be made, they probably had no books. supposed him to be the same with Jupiter. Many of their religious rites were distinguished by impurity and cruelty. Human victims were offered up in sacrifice. Their religion had also much of the absurdity of modern Brahminism. Monstrous combinations of forms were attributed to the gods; their idols had many heads, and the limbs of men and brutes were combined in a grotesque manner. These had probably at first a symbolical meaning, which the priests preserved by tradition, but which was carefully concealed from the multitude.

What we have said of the manners and customs of the Babylonians will apply in general to the Assyrians of Nineveh, of the same date, that is, during the period of the second empire. The descriptions of the ancient writers alone, would not enable us to speak with much confidence on the subject; but we have now the means of knowing that there was a pretty close similarity in the modes of life of the two nations. The most particular description which we possess of Nineveh is in the Greek history of Diodorus. According to this writer, it was anciently the largest and The Greeks, who visited this country during its most most magnificent city in the world. He might be flourishing period, 330 B.C., were struck with the free-suspected of exaggeration, when he asserts that it was dom of intercourse which existed between the sexes in twenty miles in extent, and sixty in circuit; but Babylon, so unlike the unsocial jealousy of most Ori- these are said to be exactly the dimensions of the ental nations. But if the Babylonian women enjoyed modern city of Yedo, in Japan. The walls of Ninemore liberty, they were also in a more degraded con- veh are described as two hundred feet high, and so dition than their neighbors. No man had a right to thick that three chariots could easily drive abreast dispose of his daughter in marriage. When a girl upon them. They were fortified with fifteen hundred had attained a mature age, she was set up for sale in towers. This description may be understood as applythe public market, and became the wife of the highest ing to the flourishing portion of the second Assyrian bidder. The handsomest, of course, brought the high-empire.

est prices, and those who had no outward charms to Our astonishment, however, at the great size recommend them could find no purchasers; but these ascribed to Nineveh and Babylon, may be diminished were allowed the benefit of the funds raised by the sale by the very reasonable supposition that the walls of of the beauties, and in this manner husbands were these cities enclosed some open ground; that the obtained for all. Strange as this custom may seem, houses were not everywhere built in continuous streets, it has a sort of equity in attempting to balance the but stood apart in many quarters, some being surcaprices of nature in a point so important to the sex. rounded by gardens, parks and farms, the size of Herodotus informs us that sick people were carried which varied according to the rank and wealth of the to the squares and places of public resort in Babylon, respective proprietors. There must have been very that they might be seen by passengers, and obtain great inequalities of condition among the inhabitants, advice for the cure of their complaints. Such a prac- and consequently great contrasts in their dwellings. tice might be advantageous in a city frequented by While some lived in magnificent palaces, others companies of travelling merchants. The Babylonians in the immediate vicinity occupied miserable huts. had made considerable progress in the mechanical arts, Such is the character of eastern cities to the present and in mathematical science. They were somewhat day. acquainted with astronomy, but their knowledge was so Yet, making every abatement, there can be no doubt disfigured by astrological absurdities as to lose much that Nineveh was, indeed, a mighty city. Its ruins of its value. The arts of weaving and metallurgy have recently attracted great attention; and they are were practised in Babylon; the naphtha and petroleum said to verify the Scripture account, which represents with which the country abounded, furnished excellent the place as three days' journey in circumference. A fuel for furnaces; and the accounts given of their skill number of fragments of these ruins have been recently in working metals show that they had many ingenious taken to London and deposited in the British Museum.* contrivances, which supplied the deficiencies of stone and wood.

The Babylonians were one of the earliest nations that possessed the art of alphabetical writing. Whether they were the original inventors of letters, or obtained them from the Phoenicians, cannot be ascertained with certainty. Their language belonged to the class called Semitic, of which the Hebrew, Arabic and Syriac, are branches. Many of the bricks found in the ruins of Babylon are stamped with ancient characters, called Arrow-head. Elaborate attempts have been made, especially in France, to find the key to this language, and, it is said, with promising success. If these writings can be deciphered and interpreted, many historical mysteries will be solved. The clay used in the walls and buildings of Babylon was not only abundant, but so durable, when made into brick, as still to present fragments as hard as rock,

There are three points, all on the eastern side of the Tigris, at which interesting relics have been found: opposite the present town of Mosul; at Khorsabad, north of Mosul, and at Nimroud, some dozen miles to the south of Mosul. The ruins of Khorsabad have been investigated by M. Botta, the French consul, and interesting and valuable sculptures have been taken thence to Paris, where they are undergoing careful investigation, from which important results are anticipated. At Nimroud the researches have been conducted by Mr. Layard, for the British Museum. These appear to he the most ancient relics, and are of great interest. The work of Mr. Layard, just published, (1849,) gives the result of his labors, which are of great value, in a historical point of view. The Ninevan relics now in the British Museum consist of various sculptures. One of the relics is an obelisk, covered with sculptures, divided into compartments. The first compartment represents the great King, who, holding two arrows, and attended by his eunuch and bearded domestic, the captain of the guard, receives the homage of a newly-subjugated province, of which the person standing erect before him is constituted governor. The king seems to be in the act of presenting the arrows and a bow, as insignia of office. High in the back ground, between the great King and the satrap, are two remarkable emblems, one resembling the winged globe of the an



These consist of sculptures, which reveal, in an unex-| seem, also, that the Greeks obtained some of their pected manner, a knowledge of the costumes, dwell-elegant designs from Assyria. It is supposed that the ings, art of war, and customs of private life, in ancient inhabitants of Troy were originally an Assyrian colNineveh. ony, and thus, by way of Asia Minor, an early exchange of arts and knowledge may have taken place.


As to Nineveh, there can be little doubt that its dimensions, as given by Greek writers, are nearly correct. A square of twenty miles on each side would include the ruins opposite Mosul, which have usuwith those of Nimroud, to the south, and those of Khorally been regarded as marking the site of Nineveh, sabad at the north. At these several points, vast ruins In general, it may be remarked, that the late inves- are known to lie buried in the earth: here, doubtless, tigations on the ruins on the eastern bank of the Tigris were the palaces of the kings, while the intermediate have confirmed the ancient accounts of Assyria. They spaces, now covered over with bricks and fragments pretty clearly show that there were two distinct pe- of decayed architecture, were occupied by the more riods in the history of the empire; the one beginning common dwellings of the people. The walls described at least 2000 B. C., and coming down to the eighth by Diodorus were not, probably, of such vast height as or ninth century—that is, to the time of Sardanapalus: he states, except in particular places near the palaces. another, extending from this epoch to the destruction At Nimroud, supposed to be the original site of of Nineveh, and the final overthrow of the empire, 606 Nineveh, and which lies on the east side of the Tigris, B. C. A remarkable inference from these investiga- where that river is intersected by the Zab, excavations tions is, that during this first period many of the arts have been made, which have disclosed the walls of seem, in some respects, to have been further advanced several edifices, some of them belonging to the ancient than during the second; thus showing in the early period of Assyrian history. From these researches, we Assyrians a genius more original, if not more refined, are able, in imagination, to rebuild the lost palaces of than that of their successors. A striking resemblance appears in many of the sculptures to those of the ancient Egyptians, leading to the belief that the latter borrowed many arts from the former, though it is probable there was an exchange of ideas between the two nations, especially at a later period. It would

kings, to re-people them with their ancient inhabitants, and thus to enter their halls and realize the imposing spectacles presented in their days of glory. We are able, by looking at the remains of the sculptured and painted walls of these edifices, dimly and imperfectly to read the records of the empire,-its battles, its

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are sheltered behind a wicker breast work. In front of the soldiers is a war-engine on wheels, protected by a hanging, which has been impelled against the wall of a fort up a steep ascent, on which stands a city, a levelled roadway having been evidently formed by the besiegers for the purpose. The two spears of the engine have made a breach in a tower, on the top of which is a man extending his hands as if imploring a cessation of hostilities. In front, and within view of the citizens, are three men impaled, to strike terror into the besieged. The analogy between these representations and the events which attended the siege of Jerusalem by Titus, centuries after, is altogether surprising.

In another relievo is an impetuous assault upon a town and citadel fortified by two ranges of embattled walls, the lowest of which is higher than a full-grown date-tree. A movable castle, containing archers, is thrust forward against the walls, and the battle is vigorously maintained on both sides. The dead are falling into the ditch beneath. Further from the town are soldiers felling the date-trees, and advancing with spear and shield.

In one of the reliefs, scribes are seen taking an account of the slain on the field of battle. The following is a copy.

In another relievo is the passage of a river by the army of the great king and his allies. The soldiers have taken off their clothes and accoutrements, which, with the chariots, are ferried over in boats. The horses, likewise, being relieved of their trappings, are guided by swimmers. All these are supported by skins, which they blow up as they proceed.



sieges, its conquests and its triumphs. We see amongst the ornaments. At the upper end of the around the gigantic images of the religion of the peo- hall was the colossal figure of the king in adoration ple, by which, in monstrous yet striking emblems, before the supreme deity, or receiving from his eunuch they sought to express their conceptions of divinity. the holy cup. He was attended by warriors bearing We are here introduced to the semblances of monarchs his arms, and by the priests or presiding divinities. who flourished at least thirty centuries ago; we see His robes, and those of his followers, were adorned these in their costumes of state, in all the pomp and with groups of figures, animals, and flowers, all painted circumstance of war,- in the ardor of the chase, and with brilliant colors.

The King Lion-hunting: from the Ninevan sculptures. the solemn ceremonials of religion. Passing from these scenes, we are able to make out many of the customs of household life; the furniture of the dwellings, the tools and implements of artizans, the modes of agriculture, the crops of the husbandınan; in short, the occupations and the amusements of the people in the dim and misty ages of Sardanapalus, and perhaps of Semiramis.

Mr. Layard, the fortunate discoverer of these ruins, remarks that the interior of the Assyrian palace must have been in the highest degree imposing to a stranger who entered it for the first time, during the flourishing periods of the empire. He was ushered in through the portal, guarded by the colossal lions or

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The stranger trod upon alabaster slabs, each bearing an inscription, recording the titles, genealogy, and achievements of the great king. Several door-ways, formed by gigantic winged lions or bulls, or by the figures of guardian deities, led into other apartments, which again opened into more distant halls. In each were sculptures. On the walls of some were processions of colossal figures,-armed men and eunuchs following the king, warriors laden with spoil, leading prisoners, or bearing presents and offerings to the gods. On the walls of others were portrayed the winged priests, or presiding divinities, standing before the sacred trees.

The ceilings above him were divided into square compartments, painted with flowers, or with the figures of animals. Some were inlaid with ivory, each compartment being surrounded by elegant borders and mouldings. The beams, as well as the sides of the chambers, may have been gilded, or even plated, with gold and silver; and the choicest woods, in which the cedar was conspicuous, were used for wood-work. Square openings in the ceilings of the chambers admitted the light of day. A pleasing shadow was thrown over the sculptured walls, and gave a majestic expression to the human features of the colossal forms which guarded the entrances. Through these apertures were seen the bright blue of an eastern sky, enclosed in a frame, on which were painted in vivid colors the winged circle, in the midst of elegant ornaments, and the graceful forms of ideal animals.

These edifices were great national monuments, upon the walls of which were represented in sculpture, or inscribed in alphabetic characters, the chronicles of the empire. He who entered them might thus. read the history and learn the glory and triumphs of the nation. They served, at the same time, to bring continually to the remembrance of those who assembled within them on festive occasions, or for the celebration of religious ceremonies, the deeds of their ancestors, and the power and majesty of their gods. Such was the dwelling of the monarch, at once a palace and a temple, the abode of him who united the offices of prophet, priest, and king.

The ruins of Nineveh disclose no tombs like those of Egypt, whose painted chambers, shut up from the ravages of the elements, have served to bear down to after ages the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of their ancient builders. All that remains are scattered bricks, generally marked with inscriptions, with sculptures and reliefs. The most interesting and valuable are the slabs which served as facings to the interior walls of the temples. It seems that the buildings generally were of brick, and therefore they have crumbled away beneath the wasting influence of time. The temples, constructed of stone, have partially remained, though they have been buried in rubbish for more than two thousand years. In the time of Alexander, Nineveh was forgotten; and a century before, when Xenophon passed over its ruins, the name of the place was lost to the inhabitants.




It appears that the ancient edifices of Nineveh had millet, and corn, yet they raised a variety of other no windows, but let in light through the roofs, which products. were of wood. Under the floor of each room in the

The religion was Sabean. Images of winged lions, palaces there was a drain, consisting of an earthen and bulls of solemn aspect, with other mystic devices, pipe. The inscriptions upon the walls are in the in the halls and chambers, seem to show that religion ancient arrow-head characters. It appears that these was mixed with the business of daily life, and that palaces were of one story, but of vast extent. No everything went on as if in the presence of presiding vestiges of the dwellings of the common people re- deities. In this respect the Assyrians were like the main. These were, no doubt, slight, and it is ascertained that even within the walls of Nineveh some of the inhabitants dwelt in tents. It is probable there were gardens, orchards, and perhaps farms also, within the walls.

Jews and Egyptians. Chairs, tables, couches, - the common household furniture, - had carved heads of the lion, the bull, and the ram,- all sacred animals.

The Assyrians appear to have been fond of entertainments, and these were conducted with great pomp and luxury. They had vessels of gold and silver; wine was abundant, with delicious fruits and rich viands. Women -even the wives danced naked before the guests, and the music of stringed instruments added to the festivity. Honey, incense, conserves of dates, were among the delicacies of the repast.

appears, by the sculptures, that the Ninevites were acquainted with the arch. No columns are visible in the edifices. The outsides of the palaces were probably faced with sculptured slabs of stone or marble, and colored. The country being level, they must have been seen at a distance, and the effect was doubtless imposing. The brick which constituted the chief The commerce of the Assyrians was extensive, material for common edifices, and for the walls of the though chiefly carried on by land. At a later period city, was made easily and abundantly from the soil. their maritime trade was also important. They imiThis enabled the kings to erect those vast structures tated the ships of the Phoenicians, which are pictured described by the ancient historians. There were no on the more modern sculptures. The original Assyrlarge trees in the country. In the palaces they used ian vessels appear to have been round, the ribs being alabaster, marble, and basalt, which seem to have made of willow boughs, covered with skins. There was been abundant. neither stem nor stern; they were chiefly river craft, though of sufficient size and strength to transport cattle.

In sculpture and painting, the Assyrians had made great progress. Many of the drawings on the prominent sculptures are elegant. Everything shows a taste In the decoration of arms the Assyrians were like for display. In architectural designs, and the grouping the modern Greeks. The hilts of swords and dagof flowers and animals, for the purposes of embellish-gers were ornamented with gold chasings of elegant ment, there is great richness and variety of fancy. forms, and the points of the sheaths with the beaks of The dresses of the kings show gorgeous robes, richly birds. The bow was the chief weapon of war, and embroidered, fringed, and tasselled. Sandals of wood this was often richly mounted. The chariots were or leather were in use. Caps and tiaras of silk were of wood, often costly, and richly ornamented with worn on the head. paintings. They were open behind, and panelled on


Many articles of furniture were elegant. Tables of wood and inetal, inlaid with ivory, and having legs gracefully carved, were in the houses of the rich. Elegant baskets appear to have been in use. A profusion of ornaments were employed, such as tassels, fringes, necklaces, amulets, clasps, and earrings of various forms, and of elegant workmanship. There were drinking-cups of gold and silver. Everywhere a love of elaborate and gaudy decoration is manifested. Glass, for bottles, and vases, is found among the ruins. There were skilful engravers on stone, as may be seen by the seals. They had gold, silver, lead, antimony, and iron. These they cast and wrought with taste and skill. Their swords were copper mixed with iron: they made iron into steel.


No coins have been discovered.

In weaving the Assyrians excelled. They had the art of decorating their stuffs by introducing colored threads and tissues of gold in the woof. They had the sides. They were furnished with bows, quivers indigo, cotton, and silk, in abundance. Rich figured of arrows, javelins, shields, hatchets, and battle-axes. robes were worn by the chiefs. The men appear to Three horses were sometimes yoked abreast, one being have cherished their beards, which were dressed in designed as a supply in case of loss. The wheels had long artificial curls. six spokes, The harness and trappings of the horses No agricultural implements, except the plough, were extremely rich and elegant, ribbons, tassels, have been found. Irrigation was common. The ox, fringes, and rosettes, of gay colors, profusely decorated horse, ass, mule, sheep, goat, camel, and dog, were the the head and neck and sides. The bits and ornadomestic animals. Elephants were not used. The ments of the bridles were of gold and silver. Embroidstag, gazelle, lion, tiger, and wild bull, afforded objects ered robes were sometimes thrown over the backs of for the chase. Eels, fish, crabs, and crocodiles, are the chariot horses. The charioteers and mounted figured in the reliefs. The chief food was sesame, horsemen constituted an important part of an Assyrian

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